Hello There...

Welcome to my blog. I'm a full-time mommy of a 4-year-old & a 0-year-old, part-time waitress and a rookie blogger. Living on a farm with my son, daughter and husband among dogs, chickens, ducks and other various wildlife keeps life interesting and anything but normal!

Monday, December 28, 2015

@farmerswife_fitlife: the year in review

Like everyone, there are things in 2015 that I did well, others I could have done better and still other things that I didn't do at all (that I probably should have, like clean daily. But, ew.) While reflecting on the things I did well this year, one of them was that I finally got around to getting my butt in shape. That is one of the things, though, that also happens to fall into the "could have done it better" category. But, that's why there's 2016. I have learned so much about my body, how I lose and gain weight and what things work for me. The secret to losing weight is actually not a secret at all. It's one of those things we all know deep down, but just keep searching and hoping that there really is some miracle fix - a pill or a shake or machine that will make us fit and trim and healthy in the blink of an eye. The truth is, it takes exercise, dedication to a healthy, whole, and clean diet and a little bit of self-control (which I'm still working on, and probably always will be. Because, pizza.)

I'm totally excited for 2016. I'm armed with the tools I've acquired, the knowledge I've retained and the determination to finish/keep going. Trust me when I tell you, getting started is the hardest part.

When I started, I was determined to do this myself. I wanted to cook my own food, educate myself, find my own workouts. That being said, I think there are LOTS and LOTS of great, noteworthy programs available if you don't have that kind of time. Beach Body has done wonders for lots of fit people I know. I follow loads of girls on Instagram that are BBG (Bikini Body Guide - Kayla Itsines) followers and have had amazing results. Wild Tree, Trim Healthy Mama - great food/diet guide programs. For me, though, these programs offered things I felt I could acquire on my own. I was - and still am - determined to do this myself with some handy (free) tools I like to call Google and Pinterest. Literally, that's all I used to get started. 

Here's a little play-by-play:

December 2015
I decided once and for all that I needed to change. At 172 lbs I was the heaviest I'd ever been (aside from the whopping 224 lbs I was when I delivered my first born - I gained 70 (SEVENTY!) lbs). I was 18 months post partum (with my second - and final - born) and I couldn't get by with the baby weight excuse anymore. I truly desired a change. So I started thinking about why I had dieted in the past and what methods I used and why I constantly failed at being "healthy". When I began, it was less about losing weight and more about how I felt. Then, once I felt better, I decided it was time to shed some pounds. 

I started slow. And this is the key. In the past, I had dropped all the junk food and soda and fast food all at once. Cold turkey. That's where I went wrong. This time I took it one thing at a time. My advice to anyone who wants to change their eating habits is to figure out what you eat that is probably causing you problems. For me it was bread and starch - I LOVE bread. I LOVE potatoes. I LOVE chips and fries. So I started with gluten. I went a good 6 month stretch in 2014 gluten free and I felt fantastic. But, bread. I just thought I couldn't do it. So I tried again and I've been (mostly) gluten free for over a year now. Not only does my gut feel better, but I ditched my horrible sciatic nerve pain as well! I didn't even know that would go away, that was just an added bonus. My approach to gluten free is simple, if it has gluten, I don't eat it. I don't eat "gluten free" bread or "gluten free" cookies, I just don't eat bread and cookies. 

Now, that might sound extreme - but this is about what worked for ME. You have to figure out what's going to work for you YOU. The thing is, I can still have fries. So I allowed myself to have fries every once in a while - so I wasn't totally depriving myself of the things I love. When I had a burger,  I would wrap it in lettuce. I'm not a big fan of sandwiches so I'd have salads for lunch. Gluten freedom helped me cut out a lot of the processed foods automatically because they use wheat to make a lot of flavorings for chips and such - Pringles, for instance...even though they're "potato" chips- they're not gluten free. Ew. I don't even want to know why....which brings me to my next point.

As I started to really get into the whole gluten free kick, I did a lot more reading about what our food is made from and how it's processed. There are hidden names for gluten so I started reading about what ingredients gluten hides in. Now, listen, I don't have a medical problem related to gluten. I'm not going to have an allergic reaction to gluten if I eat it. I'm not trying to take those things lightly, either. That being said, I would consider myself to have a mild sensitivity to gluten. Because I do feel the affects of eating bread or pizza from time to time. But they generally last 12-24 hours and then I'm fine. Honestly, I think the whole world would be better off without gluten. Give it 30 days, 60 days if you're really brave. You'll feel a world of difference.

As I continued investigating how our foods are made and processed it became easier for me to ditch the things I once loved. Things I continued to slowly give up over this time period included soda, juice and basically any beverage other than water or almond milk. Almost all grains besides oats and brown rice and occasionally corn, dairy. Each thing took weeks, sometimes months to completely cut out. I tried not to eliminate another thing until I had mastered the last. 

May 2015
I decided that I needed a little motivation - because while I was making great progress in my eating habits - i.e. eating lean protein and fresh fruits and veggies, being completely gluten free, and having removed most grains and dairy from my diet - some times things would sneak back in and I would always regret the gross, pit in my stomach feeling that was totally not worth a goldfish and diet coke binge. So, I opened my pantry - and this happened.

I was like, see ya, junk food. It's been real. Hashtag: ButSeriously.

BTW, that's a real picture from my Instagram when I did my purge. It felt so good! 

June 2015
So by this time of the year I had been at this whole thing for about 6 months. I was feeling good, but despite my efforts to be super healthy I hadn't lost a ton of weight. A little bit, but nothing really life-changing. Up to this point I had tried to tell myself that I didn't need to count calories, I didn't need to be concerned with how much I ate, only with what types of foods I was eating. To an extent, I was right. But, if you want to burn calories, shred fat and gain lean muscle mass, you need to set boundaries. I just read the other day that "abs are made in the kitchen". I didn't have abs yet because even though I had cut out most of my carbs, when I ate carbs like rice or beans or potatoes, I ate a lot of them. After all, I was under the assumption that counting calories wasn't necessary, as long as I was eating whole, clean, nutrient dense foods. 

The fact that the scale just didn't budge started to change my mind. So somewhere in the beginning of June I started researching the 21 Day Fix. At the time, I thought that was just some sort of fad-diet that I could just look up the rules to. Turns out it is a whole program with food containers, protein/nutrient meal supplement shakes and work out programs. The more I read, the more I became intrigued. It was something that I really wanted to try, however, my track record with purchases in this department isn't exactly stellar. I usually make the farmer shell out a whole bunch of dough and I hardly ever follow through. So...with a hefty price tag in the neighborhood of $120, I knew there was going to be no way to convince the farmer. So I had no choice but to create my own program. 

Luckily for me, Pinterest had loads of "21 Day Fix" friendly meal plans, lists of approved foods and even some insights to how to figure out your portion control for each meal. So, for 21 days I dedicated myself to eating controlled portions, packing all my snacks and meals if we went somewhere and working out once a day. For snacks I had apples and peanut butter, nuts and seeds, carrot sticks, trail mix. Lunches and dinners were usually salads or rice bowls with chicken, beans, avocados, etc. Breakfast was easy - this farm girl loves some fresh eggs, so eggs were a staple for me during these 3 weeks. 

My workouts were very simple. Generally just circuits with jumping jacks, triceps dips, push ups, crunches, and planks. These were all plans I found on Pinterest. I would try to work out for at least 20 minutes and push myself to go longer if I could. I was not tracking my heart rate or anything and I really had no idea how many calories I was burning, but for the first time in my new lifestyle's history, I was eating clean, controlling my portions and working out all at the same time. In 21 days I lost 7 lbs. That was pretty much the same amount of weight I had lost in the whole 6 months prior, in THREE WEEKS!  

Finally, after figuring out that it really did matter how much I was eating, I tried my very best to stick to the "21 days" rules I had created for myself. I continued working out [almost] every day and I added protein shakes to my daily menus. I usually try to replace one meal every day with a protein shake. Right now, my go-to shake is 2 scoops of Vanilla Creme EAS (Lean 15) + 8 oz Unsweetened Almond Milk + 1 Frozen Banana. Blend well and it tastes like an ice cream shake. Really, I promise.

I've equipped myself with more tools that help me workout better and stay on track. All while trying to keep my investments at a minimum. I purchased some inexpensive hand weights and a yoga mat at Target. I spend less than $20 on my protein powder and it lasts me quite a few weeks. I have not spent more on groceries than I did in the past. I shop at Woodman's and frequent their reduced produce section where you can buy giant bags of fresh fruits and vegetables for $0.99 each!  I still use coupons and try to purchase meat when it goes on clearance at Target and stack it with coupon and Cartwheel savings. It takes a little work, and a little luck (hitting sales/clearance) but when you shop smart, eating healthy doesn't have to break the bank!

Here's the thing. I get it. I'm a stay at home mom that has pretty much as much time as I'd like to dedicate to researching healthy food and planning grocery hauls and working out whenever I can fit it in. This is why making my own program works for me. I get it when you're working and adulting and being a mom all in the same day that it can seem next to impossible to fit these things in. I seriously get it. Working out either has to be done super early in the morning or super late at night - both of which are very daunting times of the day. Not to mention making grocery shopping enjoyable. Trying to navigate things you don't understand (maybe) - trying to find gluten free options, get the right amount of produce so that you eat it and it doesn't go wasted, finding recipes that your family will enjoy and finding the time to cook and prep meals and snacks for the days ahead. But, it's all part of living a healthy lifestyle. And that's where the noteworthy programs come in that I mentioned in the beginning. If you're not opposed to shelling out a little dough, you can purchase meal plans, portion control containers, work out programs, and even have "coaches" contact you and keep you in check. There are lots of options out there, you just have to pick one that works for you and START.

If you'd like to try it my way, in the end it comes down to how bad you want it. And it comes back to my original point - taking it one step at a time. If you start small by just eliminating one thing at a time, it won't seem so huge. You don't have to plan a week's meals, snacks and prep it all after grocery shopping for 2 hours after you put the kids to bed only to have to get up and work out for 45 minutes at 4 am because there's no other time. I think a lot of people (especially working moms) feel that way. And I agree - I wouldn't want to do it either if I had to do that, that right there sounds like a living hell. 

But if you just stop taking that snack break in the afternoon and grabbing a snickers and a pepsi from the vending machine at work. Or stop picking up the super calorie packed lattes in the morning. Pick ONE thing. You'll save money, AND you'll feel better. Stop drinking 4 sodas a day and drink 1. Replace your soda with water. Or just drink more water in addition to your soda. Switch from milk chocolate to a dark chocolate that's at least 60% cacao. Limit your fast food to once a week. Then once every 2 weeks. Then once a month. Until you don't even miss it, in fact, when you do run through a drive thru out of desperation, you'll feel so sick after you eat it that you'll swear off the stuff for a lifetime. Slow and steady wins the race, friends. You need to find out what your one thing is going to be. Mine was gluten. Then it was soda. Then it was processed/fast food.

Once you master one thing, pick another thing. After a few months (yes, this will take months) your diet will look totally different. Hopefully it will be full of lean protein, fresh fruits and vegetables and an occasional dark chocolate bar. Then, whenever you're ready, start some sort of work out regimen. Take a walk on your break. Do push ups and crunches before bed. Run when you go take the mail out to the mail box. Do something small at first, and add to it over time. Before you know it, you'll miss your workout when you skip it. And suddenly it will fit itself into you day. 

Finally, find some friends that can rally around you and encourage you. I have to say that one of the best things I have found with my healthy lifestyle is that I have reconnected with friends who live the same way and met some new friends along the way. We stay in touch and hold each other accountable and ask each other how its going. It helps so much. And, when you do start seeing results those remarks from people about how great you look will be the only fuel you need to keep going. But even before that - the changes that you see and feel will keep you going, keep you pushing yourself to the next level. It will take time, but it will be totally worth it!

Take progress pictures. Even if you never show them to anyone. It will help keep you going. There was a period of time in summer when i felt like nothing was working. I was doing all this for nothing. Then I snapped a picture of myself in my bathing suit and compared it to another of myself in the same suit just 3 weeks earlier. The difference to me was astonishing. It might be hard to see at first, and that's why taking before, during and after pictures is so critical. If for nothing else than your own motivation. Also, to show your husband and be like, "See honey - this is why we eat brown rice and boiled chicken every. single. day. Aren't you so happy now?!"

But seriously, you can do it! I did it, and I know you can too. Make 2016 your best year yet. You've got this.

The Farmer's [sort of] Fit Wife
[Trying to] live a Fit Life

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Friday, December 4, 2015

When its not "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year"

 This post is for me. Since Facebook has been doing "memories" each day - I know I am going to need this reminder in my news feed next year at this time, and the next year, and most-likely every single year to follow. Because this is just something I struggle with.

I understand that I'm in the minority when it comes to this, but I have a feeling that quite possibly there is someone out there that feels this way too. So this is also for you, dear brother or sister who has a hard time pretending that this is, in fact, "the most wonderful time of the year".

See, back in August, when everyone is all

I'm over here like

It's S U M M E R!!
Why do you need to tell me how many Fridays there are until Christmas!? Like, let's just cross that bridge when we get there, k?

It seems like it comes faster with each passing year. Fourth of July hits and it's all down hill from there. Pretty soon we're at Labor Day, school starts and then forget it. Once the school supplies get put away the Halloween decorations start and if that's not too much, like a week before Halloween even comes they're putting Christmas decorations out already! Thanksgiving is like the middle child that gets forgotten at the grocery store. Seriously.

And once Thanksgiving does come and go in a flash, it all starts. The lists and the shopping and the decorating (or lack there of, in our case) and the baking and the date planning and the scheduling family events and the school programs and don't forget the miserable cold Wisconsin weather. So driving anywhere is a nightmare. It's just so much. And selfishly, I must admit, that since my birthday falls just 11 days before Christmas I always feel like an afterthought this time of the year. I wish it didn't overwhelm me so much, but it does.

It just does.

I mean, ask the Farmer how many melt downs I've had about how much I hate December.
And it's only December 4th.

I'm not proud of myself.

I'm sure for others who can't wrap their heads around this "wonderful time of the year" it's because of missing loved ones, burnt bridges with family, lack of family - a spouse, children, parents, etc. There are many reason that people dread this season. And reflecting on just that is what has helped me change my attitude (at least start to) this year. Because I have been blessed beyond measure. I have a beautiful family, parents and in-laws whom I love, siblings to celebrate with, too many nieces and nephews to count, a beautiful home. I have my health, a car to drive, a job, plenty of money to buy all the gazillions of presents for everyone on my list. I have absolutely nothing except my own selfishness to blame my dislike for this time of the year.

I heard a song on the radio (because you know, they think it's acceptable to play Christmas music on November 1st) and the lyrics said *something like* (because my memory fails me and I can't seem to find the song online) "God show me the wonder of heaven touching earth". The kids at church are singing a song that says "But God displayed his mercy, the greatest gift of love, when we could not reach heaven, heaven came to us."

Yes, THAT.

Heaven came to us. 

And that's why this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Not because of presents, or cookies, or family, or presents.

So over the past 4 days - well, 8 days because my meltdowns generally start on or before Thanksgiving - I've been praying for God to show me the wonder of heaven touching earth. When I start to feel overwhelmed by it all, I take a breath and remember that I'm clearly not worthy of heaven, so heaven so generously came to me. In the form of a baby. The King of Heaven humbled himself, came down from his throne. "He made a way in a manger, a way to the cross". Wrap your minds around that for a second.

I know.

Mind. Blown.

Because when I think about how insignificant my anxieties are this time of year, I feel terribly guilty and selfish - which adds to my overall dislike for the season. But when I reflect on the beauty of a tiny little baby coming to this world, who would grow into a sinless man, a perfect sacrifice for my sin, I'm humbled. And I celebrate. Thank you, Jesus.

And in the end, the shopping always gets done. The gifts always get wrapped, the cookies get baked, the schedules all align and it's always a happy ending. It's getting there that has been such a challenge for me. God's power is so much more than enough, but I need to remember and rest in His strength, not my own.

In conclusion, Merry Christmas! Happy Birthday to the King! May His light shine this season - and may I remember exactly the reason for the season and not be overwhelmed by all the minor details.

Jesus is the Reason for the Season.

The Farmer's Humbled Wife

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Meal Prep Monday, Recipes & Award-Winning Chili

Well hey, it's been a hot minute.

Or twelve.

But who's counting?

I've been dying to blog about food and I've actually had a few friends ask me to, but ya know. Life happens and blogging gets shoved way, way, way, wayyyyyyy down on the list of important things to do. On the list of things I wish I could do while neglecting anything resembling responsibility? First.

I sincerely wish I could get my act together and make time in my day to write more, but it would most likely be at the expense of my precious beauty sleep. And that ain't happening.

But, I digress.

So it's been like all summer and then some. Many things have happened on the farm - the Farmer and Jack got a boat and spent most of the summer hours fishing and tubing and all the fun things that come along with owning a boat. We had a garden again but it wasn't very plentiful for some reason - tons of cucumbers, a handful of tomatoes and a couple green peppers. But the orchard was quite fruitful even in its infancy. We got a couple peaches, a couple apples and a couple pears. As summer slowly fades away I'm already longing for the days of warmth and swimming and late nights out. Oh sweet summer.

I enjoy fall, don't get me wrong. The crisp air in the morning is one of my favorites - so long as it warms up to 65ish degrees during the day - I LOVE the crisp air. Fall brings with it a bunch of fun events at church - one of which is probably my very favorite event all year. The chili cook off!

This year, like every year in the past, I entered a chili. Each year I have cooked in the chili cook off I use a different recipe. I wrote about it once. I've used recipes online, I've made my own up. I've won and I've lost.

I'm not even going to go into what kind of crazy, stupid day I had the morning of this year's chili cook off - it's really quite amazing that I even decided to cook chili and even show up.

But whatever.

This year, my homemade, self-invented chili recipe started a few days before the cook off. I was at my favorite store - Woodman's - perusing the reduced produce. Every morning between 8:30-9:30 AM they put out produce that will likely spoil within a couple days. Honestly, some of it is already kind of spoiled. It's to the point where you desperately need to cook it, freeze it, can it -- something to it, like, immediately. There was an entire bag - I mean like 9 or 10 red bell peppers for $0.99! So I grabbed them - I LOVE bell peppers in everything and they're really easy to prepare ahead of time.

I cut them in half, pulled out the ribs and seeds and laid them skin-side-up on a parchment lined baking sheet. Then I put them into my 350 degree preheated oven and let them roast for a good 45ish minutes to an hour (depending on your oven temps, my oven temps tend to be slightly lesser than normal ovens) You want to get them to a soft roast where the skin starts to blister. If you've never roasted peppers before you might open the oven door and flip out because you burnt them. But it's totally fine if the skin is blistered and black. - if they're over cooked they'll turn into mush, which isn't ideal - so you want them to be soft and skin blistered.

You can also do this at a higher heat for less time. Just Google "oven roasted peppers" and there's tons of ways to do it.

When I take them out of the oven I just let them rest on the baking sheet until they are cool enough to handle. Then you can peel off the skins and place them in a bowl or on a plate or straight in a Ziploc. Then repeat the same thing but with poblano peppers. If you have two sheets you can roast them at the same time just switch racks half way in between. When I roasted the poblanos I also peeled about 2 whole heads of garlic as much as I could into individual cloves. And I quartered 4-5 shallots and threw the garlic, shallots and peppers all on the tray to roast. When the garlic comes out of the oven, the remaining layer of paper peels off pretty easily and you're left with this awesome, soft, roasted-garlic that compliments the roasted peppers so well!

After I peeled everything I threw it all in a gallon sized Ziploc and threw it in the fridge. It sat there for the next two days until I made my chili. Maybe the flavors melded together even better, maybe not. I've also roasted the peppers, onions and garlic the same day I've made the chili - so either way, just do what's easiest!

I'll spare you the nitty gritty details about browning meat and chopping onions, I'll just give you the good stuff. Behold, the recipe to my Cook-Off-Winning Chili:

Roasted Pepper Chipotle Chili

1 lb Chorizo
1 lb ground beef
2 lb ground pork
4-5 poblano peppers, roasted and peeled
2-3 jalapeno peppers, roasted and peeled
3-4 red bell peppers, roasted and peeled
1 can Chiles in Adobo sauce (ribbed and seeded depending on how spicy you want it)
1-2 heads of garlic, roasted and peeled
3-4 shallots, roasted (or yellow onions work too)
2 cups beef stock
50 oz of your favorite salsa
Beans (optional)

Add the roasted peppers, chiles in adobo, roasted garlic and shallots to your blender or food processor. Blend until pureed, add just a little olive oil if it gets too thick. This should be the consistency of like tomato paste or slightly thinner. Set aside.

Brown meats and add to a stockpot, do not drain (if you're picky about grease then drain partially but the chili gets a lot of its flavor from keeping the drippings in the pot. Note that I also do not have any added salt or seasonings, so the savory flavors come from the meat's drippings.) When all meat is mixed together in the stockpot, over med-low heat, add the pureed roasted pepper mixture. Mix until the puree coats the meat well. Add the salsa and stir well. Finally, since this will be a very hearty, thick chili, add up to 2 cups of beef stock to thin it out. If you like a thinner chili, feel free to add more salsa and more beef stock. I added one 28 oz can of black beans to my chili - but beans are a preference so they're optional. Bring it up to a boil, stirring often, then let it simmer for as long as you'd like - I put mine in a roaster/crock pot and let it simmer for 3-4 hours on low, stirring occasionally.

I love this chili because I didn't use any dry seasonings. The chili was seasoned entirely from the roasted peppers, onions, garlic and with the flavors from the meats and salsa. It has a medium heat - but I would not say that it's spicy. If you'd like a completely mild chili - you can keep out the chiles in adobo and if you'd like it spicier, you can keep some of the seeds in the peppers and keep the seeds in the chiles in adobo.

These little guys pack a punch so it can help determine the spice level of your chili. I use an entire can but ribbed and seeded and I add a little of the sauce when I puree my peppers.

And that's it. I'm not sure if that seems like a lot of work or not, but it's seriously the most delicious chili I've ever had. I have made it twice now  - once for the chili cook off and once just two days ago when I did my meal prep for the week. I think one of the best things about chili is it lasts a while, freezes well and can be done in a day while you are doing other things because most of the time it's just simmering.

Speaking of meal prep, I had a crazy awesome "Meal Prep Monday" yesterday! I stopped at Woodman's after I dropped Jack off at school and picked up some reduced produce. I had a big bag of tomatoes in the fridge that needed to be prepped and I picked up 2 big bags of bell peppers and jalapenos and I had two containers of mushrooms and a zucchini that needed to be used. In all I paid less than $5 for all the produce! As soon as I got home I cut the tomatoes in half and placed them skin-side-up on a parchment lined baking sheet. I roasted them for about 30-45 minutes at 350 degrees. When they were cool enough to handle I peeled the skin off and threw them in my ninja blender. I pureed them into a smooth sauce. Jarred them up and now I have the makings of marinara sauce for dinner on Thursday. I plan on adding some Italian sausage that I have in the freezer (also purchased in the Woodman's reduced meat section for less than $2) So for around $3 I have an entire meal that will feed my family and probably yield leftovers!

The peppers I roasted and used in my chili. I did save out one and a half roasted red bell peppers and two cloves of roasted garlic and pureed them separately. I saved this puree in a small container. These are the makings of a red bell pepper cream sauce that we will be having with risotto and steak tomorrow night. I have made this grilled skirt steak in the past and I intend to make it again tomorrow with parmesan risotto and use the red bell pepper cream sauce as a garnish.

Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce
2 roasted red bell peppers
3 cloves of roasted garlic

Basic Cream Sauce:
1 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoons all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream

Add the roasted peppers and garlic to your blender and puree until smooth, adding a small amount of olive oil if it seems too thick. Set this mixture aside.

Prepare a basic béchamel with the butter, flour and heavy cream. Start by melting the butter in a sauce pan, add the flour and whisk until the flour is well incorporated and the flour taste has cooked off (about 1-2 minutes) slowly whisk in 1/2 of the heavy cream and whisk constantly until it begins to thicken (about 1 minute) then add the remainder of the cream and whisk until it is a smooth, creamy sauce. Then you can add the roasted pepper and garlic puree. Combine well.

This sauce is really good with seafood or chicken over pasta also. I love it with parmesan risotto!

...back to meal prep.

I used the zucchini and mushrooms to stuff peppers for tonight's dinner. I diced up the mushrooms and zucchini and sautéed them with a little onion and olive oil. I roasted whole peppers at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes - until they were soft but not totally roasted - I'm not looking for the blistered skin for these. I added the stuffing to the peppers and they are now waiting to hit the oven again to be warmed up for meal time. I had enough stuffing for 7 peppers so there are now 5 in the freezer for future meals!

Thursday's dinner will be Italian sausage marinara over spaghetti (zucchini noodles for me), but I have not yet decided on how I am going to prepare my marinara. I can update when I find a recipe for that.

As it stands, we're set to eat pretty well this week and I only spent $3 out of the grocery budget for November! I spent more than that on lunch supplies - but for the dinners that I prepared on Monday I literally only used what I had in my freezer and the $4 or $5 worth of produce I had sitting in my fridge! Now that feels like a serious accomplishment!

Here's to making this a new habit! Happy meal prepping!

From the kitchen,
The Farmer's Wife

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Moments for Teaching Grace

As I've said before, I'm not much a spiritual blogger - but sometimes, things during my day will leave me broken and overwhelmed and sometimes in the midst of the brokenness and sadness I am overcome with such a grace-filled attitude that I am certain  the only explanation is the Holy Spirit.

Today, I had one of those moments.

We were at Target, of course. Jack had already put in a full day at Bible camp and I needed to get caught up on all the things on my checklist for my big church event this weekend. We started at Starbucks (as we so-often do) and the chocolate milk and vanilla bean frappuccino bought me a few precious, non-drama-filled moments perusing the glorious aisles of Target.

I took my time and the kids were being [sort-of] good. Somewhere in the middle, Jack had asked for some neon colored pencils, fresh from the fully-stocked school supply aisle. I asked him if he'd be willing to pay me back for them (they were $2.99 for 8 measly pencils) and he agreed and made it clear that he really, really wanted these pencils. He'd been good and had listened so I said he could get them. We then hit the candy aisle to buy some prizes for the event and I let him pick out a bag of candy that he would be able to share with the Farmer's softball team later in the evening.

...and then it all went down hill from there...

I'm really not sure what happened, but it was like he hit a wall. When he's over tired he gets overly emotional, he shuts down and he gets angry and naughty. He began bossing his sister around, yelling at her to get back in the cart and when I kindly asked him to stop and reassured him that I would take care of corralling princess back into the cart, he didn't let up. I mean, it was weird. For those of you that know Jack, he has the kindest heart, the sweetest disposition and is rarely upset or angry. And it got to the point where I had had enough.

As we made our final walk down the main aisle to the check out, he broke the last straw. I asked him 3 separate times to not climb in and out of the cart because his dear sister insists on copying his every move and would end up hurting herself. He continued to ignore my requests and I calmly said - "that's it, they're going back - both of them" and I set the treat and the colored pencils back on a shelf and we walked away.

His heart shattered. I immediately saw the repentance and shame in his eyes. He knew he had hurt me by not listening. I know that sweet boy and he doesn't like to disappoint me. So I'm not sure what hurt him more, the fact that he had failed me, or the fact that he didn't get his treasures. He cried, but tried to fight back the tears. He didn't put up a fight or throw a tantrum, he just sat down and silently wept to himself because he knew he was wrong. He knew that losing the treats was his fault.

I explained on the rest of the walk to the register that when we disobey there are consequences and that he had disobeyed too many times today so he wasn't going to get his treats.

And then something inside me hit me like a Mack truck.

How many times have I failed my God? Countless.

And how many times has He remained faithful, generous and loving? Countless.

I don't deserve any of God's grace, but He gives it so willingly anyways. And that was on my heart in that moment. I felt like it was such a clear way to show how much we don't deserve God's love, yet it's always there.

I passed up the party bag aisle and sent Jack down to pick out 4 party bags for me that I needed for the prizes. As he obliged, I told him I forgot one thing and I'd be right back to pick him up in that aisle. I snuck back to the shelf I had discarded his treat and pencils on and hid them under the piles of picnic supplies in my cart. We picked Jack back up in the party aisle and headed to the checkout.

AND, as luck would have it, or as God so cleverly planned, Jack needed to go to the bathroom as we approached the lanes. So he went to use the men's room and I paid for his goodies and hid them in my purse.

After I was all checked out and loaded up with all my purchases, I waited for Jack outside the restrooms. He walked out, his head still hung in sadness. I knew, that he knew he was wrong. So I asked him why those things were taken away from him.

He said "because I didn't listen."

I reminded him, though, that there's good news.

"What good news?" he asked, grumpily.

I asked him - what do we know is true when we mess up?

He knew the answer - but it took a little coaxing. "What is always true?"

"God and Jesus forgive us, all the time." He finally answered.

And I explained that since Jesus took the penalty for our sins, God could forgive us when we mess up. And since God always forgives, we need to always forgive each other. And I asked him "you know what that means?"

"You forgive me?" He said with tears in his eyes. And I nodded my head and hugged him.
He cried a very hard, sad cry with his arms wrapped tightly around me. It was a moment that I don't want to forget because I felt his repentance in his embrace and in his tears. He was truly sorry.

I continued, "God's forgiveness is a gift that we don't deserve." And I pulled the two little treats out from my bag and handed them to him. "Just like you don't really deserve these treats, neither do we deserve the grace that God gives through Jesus. But He loves us SO much that he sent Jesus in our place."

But now, we need to work on being better. We're never going to be perfect and there's no such thing as earning grace. Grace is FREE. It came at a cost - Jesus' life. The price has been paid. In full.

This might be really far fetched, but for a 6-year-old brain to try to comprehend God's never-failing, never-ending grace, I just thought I'd give it a try. I mean, really I still have a hard time wrapping my 29-year-old brain around God's love. Then I told Jack I loved him - and reminded him that the God of our Universe loves him even more than I ever could - how AWESOME is that?

On the way out to the car that we talked about how we need to work on obeying the first time and remember that since we were so wonderfully forgiven that we, too, should forgive. When someone hurts us or sins against us, we should not be mean or harsh, but show love and forgiveness.

I don't have all the answers. Some people might think I did the wrong thing by giving him the treats even though he disobeyed. But I feel like moments like this are so few and far between for me. And God spoke so clearly to my heart and so quickly (sometimes I feel like it happens after-the-fact and I think "gosh, that would have been a great way to teach him ____") that I would have regretted not acting on my instincts. I'm glad I did.

The colored pencils sit on the kitchen table awaiting a new day to be colored with. Jack decided to forgo the softball game and instead helped me with my work out. I worked out - he ate candy. I snuggled with him and talked about his day before bed and I continue to treasure every moment I have while he's this impressionable. I've read far too many blog posts lately about how kids with have their "lasts" or how fast they grow up. And the one line that rings in my mind just about every day...

"There will be a time when you put him down and don't pick him back up" 

Oh, my heart breaks to think of that day.

Tonight Jack prayed for all the people in the whole entire world to have good dreams and no nightmares. Tonight, I'm thankful for teachable moments and pray that I have more of them everyday.

God is good, all the time.

The Farmer's Wife

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Home Stretch and Lactation Cookies

Well everyone, Sunday marks day 22 of my "21 Days" which means I would have officially completed 21 days of clean eats and working out. I'm still down 5 lbs, my workouts have not gotten harder, but they've not gotten easier...so there's that. I need to push myself. I had a goal to lose another 7 lbs before the end, but I'm just not sure it's going to happen. As far as eating, I've been doing great staying on track. My biggest "fail" was today, I made quesadillas for dinner, I made mine in a corn tortilla and put minimal cheese on it, but when the Farmer left a piece of his *loaded with cheese and sour cream in a flour tortilla* version, I finished it because I didn't want it to go to waste - rather than make myself another in a corn tortilla. So for the sake of the budget I had to "take one for the team"....I guess. But, honestly, it could have been worse. I'm going to push hard to the end here and eat less starches - we had potatoes with dinner last night - and load up on salads and veggies.

T minus 3 days and counting. And really, I don't think much will change come day 22...in fact, I'd like to start over again on Monday. I have a church lunch meeting on Sunday (which worked out perfectly) and I'm ordering Jimmy Johns, so I'm probably going to indulge...and then jump right back in on Monday for another 21 days. And so on....

Cooking has been a lot of fun! Trying new recipes and cooking with healthier fats, staying away from refined sugar, grains and starches and being completely gluten free (minus the 1/4 of a flour tortilla tonight) for the past 18 days has been wonderful. I haven't felt this good in quite sometime - hence not really wanting to stop! I've also been able to prepare some good, healthy meals for my incredible brother-in-law and his wife who just had triplets.


As in: THREE babies. At. One. Time.

They are rock stars. These three, healthy, beautiful babes are just so beyond loved and their mom and dad are just rocking out at being new parents. I went to drop off dinner last night....I kid you not, the house was in order, the dog greeted me silently at the door and you could have heard a pin drop it was so quiet. Marlie, Dylan and Dax slept peacefully, nestled comfortably in their own sleep-baby-gadget. I got to hold and snuggle sweet Dylan for a bit and I just couldn't get her precious face out of my brain for the rest of the night. I mean, seriously. I love those kiddos more than words.

Oh, and my sister-in-law, who also happens to be my hero, is breastfeeding all the babies. Like, exclusively. I mean, c'mon! So when she texted me and asked if I could look into some lactation cookie recipes for her - I was like HECK YEA, MOM!

Since I sucked at nursing my own babies, I find pure joy in helping this mom (and dear sister of mine) totally succeed at nursing not one, not two, but all three of her precious miracles. And I got to do more research on healthy foods, grain free baking and experiment with new recipes - duh! Win-win. These cookies smell so good! And you don't have to be a nursing mom to get health benefits from them. Flax seed, brewers yeast, fenugreek and oatmeal have tons of nutrients that keep all humans healthy - but the specific combination of those ingredients also happens to have a direct effect on milk supply for nursing moms.

I followed this recipe from Mother Nature Network to a T. The good news is I have lots of the fenugreek, flax meal and brewers yeast left over so I'll be figuring out other ways to incorporate these ingredients into treats for her! Not to mention, this recipe yielded 3 dozen cookies - which is more than usual for grain-free recipes. They tend to be on the smaller side, but this was like making a normal batch of chocolate chip cookies. My next endeavor is something cleverly coined "Booby Bites" - that's on my agenda for tomorrow!

So that's it. If you are a nursing mom and want to increase your milk supply - just head over to Pinterest! There are tons of recipes and ideas for using these ingredients (Flax, Fenugreek & Brewer's Yeast) and they're relatively easy to find (I bought all of them at Woodman's pretty inexpensively). Wish I would have had Pinterest when I was a new mom. Or when I got married...ugh, Pinterest wedding boards make me queasy. Oh the things I could have done!

Oh well, happiness cannot be pinned on a board.

Alright, here's to tomorrow going well - I'm excited to try some of the *official* Shakeology protein shakes - my cousin kindly sent me some samples. And I may sneak one of the lactation cookies ;)

Good night!
-The Farmer's Wife

Thursday, July 9, 2015

21 Days

11/21: Half way there!

I have been doing a "21 Day Fix" of sorts. I kind of modified it to work for me. And by modified it, I basically mean that I didn't purchase a program and I'm not doing the certified beach-body-shakology-21-day-fix-program. I have been doing a lot of reading about the program and studied meal plans, figured out my target caloric intake, found a few good work outs that  I've been doing (about 4x a week - I'm still working on getting that up to at least 6) and I'm doing the "21 Day Fix" by myself.

Just to set the record straight, its not because I have anything against the program, obviously I think it's worth while if I'm willing to go to all this trouble to mimic it.

BUT. I have a hard time spending money and staying consistent. The farmer can vouch for how many failed gym memberships I have bought and he paid for. I went a couple times and then quit. I didn't want to set myself up for that type of failure again. You'd think when you invest money that would be the best type of motivation - so you at the very least get your "money's worth". But, nope. Not me. I rarely do things that make practical sense. Hence my homegrown version.

If I do a good job and get results (which I already have!) I am going to consider trying the actual thing. I have lots of friends and family that have done it and so I have endless resources. One of my cousins, Katie, has started her health and wellness overhaul and her results are nothing short of an inspiration! I follow her progress on Facebook and knowing that someone with the same genes as I can look so incredible and make such a transformation is so encouraging! So, shout out to Katie- you've been a great encouragement in helping me stay on track - thanks and keep up the good work!

In a nut shell, I've eaten totally clean for the last 11 days with no cheats and no failures. I've prepped most of my meals and if I find myself in a bind and need to eat on the go - which has only happened once -  I grab a salad with NO dressing (lemon wedges and sea salt, does the trick every time!) I usually have a protein shake or two during the day to help supplement my meals. My snacks are usually fruit or veggies or nuts/seeds. Breakfast is usually a protein shake + banana or some of the Paleo Pecan bars I made the other day. I usually still have my coffee - either black or with a splash of almond milk and I drink water. All. Day. Long. 

It is an incredible feeling to have been successful this far. I did have 3 fries from the kids McDonald's bag yesterday. And in 11 days that was it. And I weigh 5 lbs less thanks to my dedication. I can start to see my arms looking more toned and my belly is flatter - now just to get it a little leaner. And I feel great! Back in December I bought a pair of pants in a size 10 - which fit but were tight. Now those pants practically fall off of me! And today I just purchased a size 6 jeans!! So from a 12 to a 6 in 7 months is pretty exciting for me! 

I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that I think I may be completely transformed. Because since December 15 I've had "practice" in eating clean. I certainly had my bad days in there, but as a whole I've eaten much healthier than any other time in my life. I no longer crave the same foods I once craved and french fries remain my one and only weakness. And honestly there's not too much wrong with french fries in and of themselves, but they are fried and salty and they taste even better drenched in ranch...so there's that. But being down 3 full sizes and feeling amazing is totally worth it! And after this first round of "21 Days" I will have a few fries. But then I'm going to start again.

There's something about 21 days that just doesn't sound super intimidating. It's completely attainable. I just keep the end goal in mind and it's not a big deal to skip treats and junk food. Not to mention I hate how I feel after I eat that stuff! I started on June 29th and I made it through July 4th fireworks and a couple cook outs and parties with friends and wasn't even tempted to cheat and have a treat or two. It's been liberating.

I just want to end with a challenge. People - if I can do this, ANYONE can do it. But YOU have to do it. There's no magic pill or secret diet. Seriously though, it's really not hard, it just requires 100% dedication. Eat healthy and exercise. I'm still working on the exercise part - but I do work out at least 4x per week which for me is a huge increase! I'm working on getting that up to 6x.

I do have one little tip - but it's really not a secret. Anyone who eats healthy and lives a clean lifestyle will tell you this. FOOD PREP IS KEY! If you want to eat well and not be tempted with treats and junk, then you NEED to prepare your food. It's the only way to be 100% in control of what you're putting into your body. I use one day a week to prepare at least one type of protein (enough for 4-5 meals) so that if I find myself pressed for time I can at least count on something quick. Other days when I have the time, I just cook all my meals when I eat them. I also bake/prepare snacks and quick eats to have for breakfast and snacks throughout the day. My shaker bottle has a compartment for an extra serving of protein powder so I make sure to take that with me along with a big bottle of water so in the very least I can have a protein shake if I am feeling hungry and don't have anything.

I'm so happy I decided to take control of my eating habits. Obviously, for some of us it's a bigger deal than others. If you're like the farmer, you can eat anything and everything and just burn it all away doing your everyday activities. Others of us, though, need to be intentional and dedicated and put much thought into what we do and don't eat and how we burn off the unneeded calories. It sucks to have to think about it, but it's totally worth it.

So there's my challenge - take control of your health! If it's not about losing weight then let it be about being healthy. Whether you gain weight or not when you eat junk food it's still not good for you. Our bodies were not designed to process all those chemicals and additives. Do your body a favor and clean up your diet, you'll be so thankful you did!

-The Farmer's Wife
(someday hoping to sign this the Farmer's "Fit" Wife, almost there, but not quite!)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Good News & The Bad News: Agave and Chia

The Good News: Chia seeds are legit a really good choice for healthy eating. The are loaded with tons of nutrients including fiber, antioxidants, omega 3 fatty acids and protein. They really don't have much flavor so adding a tablespoon here or there doesn't really affect the taste of your food - but it packs it with extra healthiness! I read a few articles about them, but this one was the most straight-forward, easy to understand. I'm excited to start using these in more of my baking and cooking. In fact, I made a blueberry smoothie this morning and added a good heaping tablespoon.

Blueberry Protein Smoothie
1 Packet EAS Vanilla Protein powder
1 cup Almond Milk
A whole lot of blueberries - I used probably 2 cups, but I needed to get rid of them because they were nearing the end of their freshness - so it was smoothie or garbage, so I just used them all.
1 tablespoon Chia Seeds

I blended this all together in my ninja blender and it tastes great! I had one of my chocolate chip muffins with it for breakfast - I am still nursing the smoothie because it's huge! It filled up like a 24 oz mason jar. I mean, it's HUGE.

Win for the chia seeds! I plan to add them to oatmeal and I see a lot more smoothies in my future! Thanks to some couponing magic, I have about 20 packets of EAS protein powder in my pantry that I got for FREE! It was actually a huge money maker. At the time I only bought it because they literally paid me like $1.50 to take 2 packets out of the store- I had multiple coupons so I have a whole bunch of the stuff just taking up space in my cabinet. I'm excited to finally use it!

The Bad News: Agave nectar is probably the worst possible choice for a "natural" sweetener. I'm literally better off using granulated cane sugar. Big healthy fail on that one. It's so yummy though, and much easier to use than honey. Oh well. Glad I decided to do a little research before I kept using it! I have a whole bottle unopened in my pantry - I wonder if Woodman's would let me return it?

Turns out it's really high in fructose which is not easily digestible so it is also really high in carbohydrates - exactly what I'm trying to stay away from! I also read a bunch of articles about Agave nectar and really didn't find anything positive about the stuff. This one had the most helpful information.

So there you have it.

Oh, more good news: I DID get up and run this morning! It was short because I found a great new jogging stroller on a Facebook rummage site that I went and picked up right away because I always miss the good stuff! So I cut my run short so that I could get my hands on that...and it is awesome! I love it-can't wait to take princess for another [longer] run later when the boys are at softball.

Happy Thursday everyone!
-The Farmer's Wife-

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Coconut Flour Muffins & Other Adventures

Today I dabbled in grain-free baking.

Grain. Free.

Wait, what?

I know what you're thinking. I promise - I thought so too.

But these muffins are really pretty good. And I only say "pretty good" because if you eat full gluten and enjoy "regular" muffins with no second thoughts, then you will probably know the difference between these and "regular muffins".


If you are looking for a reasonable substitute for easy eats (like muffins) without all the processed sugar, carbs and calories - then look no further.

First, I did what every red-blooded American does when they need something, I Googled "Paleo Blueberry Muffins". Google introduced me to this handy link: PALEO GRUBS. I studied a few of these recipes until I found one that contained mostly ingredients that I already had on hand. I was planning a trip to the store, but didn't really want to invest a whole bunch of money into ingredients to just try this, ya know?

Enter, THE BEST LOW CARB BLUEBERRY MUFFINS. The only thing I did not have on hand was Chia seeds - which quite honestly I'm still not even sure what they are, but they sound super healthy and I'm pretty sure I saw them on a Super Food list on Pinterest.

Seems legit.

So off to the store I went, got my Chia seeds and I was back in business. I sort of followed this recipe-but made a few minor modifications based on what I had on hand and what I like.

I don't really do the whole Stevia thing. I don't know, it just seems weird. But honey, agave nectar and maple syrup are my friends. I use those in place of any and all other sweeteners. I also had a whole boat load of fresh blueberries I wanted to use up so I skipped the frozen thing. Or I 'let it go', if you will.


Ok, focus. I also kept out the vanilla extract because (gasp) I only had IMITATION vanilla - ew. Ok, but for real. I just read a whole bunch of stuff about MSG and Vanillin and this stuff was basically 100% chemicals. So I figured I was better off keeping it out of my precious paleo muffins.

Then I dumped out the whole rest of the bottle of fake vanilla.

Then I went to Sendik's and bought real vanilla extract. Ok, I'm getting ahead of myself. I went later - after dinner. I digress....

So this is what my version of the recipe for Paleo Blueberry Muffins is:

Set oven to 350 Degrees

1/2 Cup Almond Milk (because I didn't have coconut milk)
1/2 Cup Coconut Flour
1 TBSP Chia Seeds
2 TSP Baking Powder
3 Eggs *laid TODAY*
3 TBSP (plus an extra drizzle, for good measure) Raw Agave Nectar
*some* Lemon Zest - I just kind of zested some in there - it was supposed to be measured, but I got all Martha Stewart and just eye balled it.
1/2-3/4 Cup Fresh Blueberries

Combine it all - I just used a wire whisk then folded in the blueberries when the batter was completely incorporated. Pour the batter into greased or paper-lined muffin tins. I yielded 7 muffins, I probably could have gone lighter on the batter in each cup and squeaked out a few more.

Bake them for 25 minutes and let them cool completely before you take them out of the tin.

I just greased the tins, and they did stick a little to the bottom, so you might be better off using paper liners.

So there you have it. Oh, and they tasted really good. I put some butter on it - and you know what? I kind of felt like I was at Panera for a second. Because I don't care what you say, Panera Bread has THE BEST blueberry muffins that ever were in the history of the world. The end.

So those were so yummy that I figured I really should try it with the actual vanilla extract and heck, throw some dark chocolate chips in and it would be like healthy person dessert! So I went to Sendik's.

I wish I had millions of dollars. Because I would shop at Sendik's. But, I wanted nice steaks for dinner and they have the best so I went to Sendik's and spent 5% of my entire month's budget on steak and vanilla extract. Hashtag: moneywellspent.

And after we ate our steaks (which were delicious, if you wanted to know) I baked some even-more-delicious-than-the-blueberry Chocolate Chip Muffins. Using what I knew from the other recipe -I invented this recipe using my favorite ingredients.


1/2 Cup Coconut Flour (Bob's Red Mill)
1/2 Cup Almond Milk (Califia Farms)
3 TBSP (plus an extra drizzle for good measure) Raw Agave Nectar
1 TSP Pure Vanilla Extract
1/2 TSP Pure Almond Extract
1/2-3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (53% Cacao)
1 TBSP Chia Seeds
2 TSP Baking Powder

Combine it all together with a wire whisk, pour into lined muffin tins and bake for 25 minutes at 350 degrees. I got a half a dozen from this recipe. They're super yummy with a little butter.

So yea....go me. Between these coconut flour delicacies and the homemade granola bars I made last week-my breakfasts have been pretty fantastic! Add my home-brewed iced coffee with a splash of coconut milk and seriously I'm hashtag livingthelife!

Assuming I can keep up with the food prep that is required with this type of lifestyle, I should be made in the shade. I eat so well and I haven't sacrificed too much of the convenience. I'm still trying to make up the ground I lost in my relapse - but I've only got 3 more pounds to go until I'm back to where I was just a few weeks ago.

Here's to running tomorrow morning, like I said I would. I have been getting up early, but filling my time with other things. I cleaned the laundromat today at 6:30 AM because I could go without the kids - and going to the laundromat with kids during a busy time is pretty much suicide. So that, in my opinion, was time well spent.  

But tomorrow, tomorrow I have NO excuses.

So there.

Ok, good night.

6:30 AM comes awfully early.

*The Farmer's Wife*

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Relapse and Recovery

April was a rough patch in my healthy living journey. I had a ton of stuff going on and I used my busyness as an excuse to eat whatever I wanted. I started with a "cheat day" to reward myself for all my hard work and planning with some events for church and slowly slipped down the slippery slope of unhealthy living. I consider the last month a relapse and I'm on the road to recovery now!

I tried to evaluate what happened and how I got so far off course. It really came down to convenience and needing to eat on the go. Today marked my new starting point and I used the better part of the day to prep my meals and snacks for the next week as to prevent the temptation to run through a drive thru because I don't have time to make something. It's also much more cost effective! I ran to Woodman's last night and purchased a few things that I needed to assemble my meals and today I went to town prepping. I spent $49 and I got: raw agave nectar, dried cranberries, 60% cacao chocolate chips, 2 pints of blackberries, 2 pints of raspberries, 2 pints of strawberries, almond coffee creamer, rolled oats, 2 heads of romaine lettuce, 5 lbs of broccoli, 1/2 lb of jalapenos, 12 oz of feta cheese, 2 red onions, 4 lbs of brown rice, 1 mango.
When I got home from the store last night I made a jar of pico de gallo - 2 minced jalapenos, 3 diced roma tomatoes, 1/2 minced red onion juice from a small lime and some salt. Mixed it all together and it made the perfect addition to my rice bowl lunch!

This morning I prepped 2 cups of rice, 4 chicken breasts and 2 lbs of broccoli. I also made homemade granola bars. One of my other down falls is breakfast. I often skip it and being the "most important meal of the day" I figured I should probably start eating it. The granola bars are AMAZING, not to mention super easy to make. I'll share in detail what I did, in case you're interested.

Homemade Granola Bars - adapted from the recipe found here.
2 1/2 Cups Rolled Oats (old fashioned oats) - not quick oats
1 Cup Nut Butter (I used all natural peanut butter)
1/2 Cup Agave Nectar
1/2 Cup Coconut Oil
1 Cup Udi's Gluten Free Granola (Vanilla)
Handful of dark chocolate chips (Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips)

Combine nut butter, agave nectar and coconut oil in a sauce pan on medium low heat, stirring until smooth and melted. Add Granola and oats and combine well. Spread with spatula into a 9x13ish pan (mine was a tin foil 10 x 8 so my bars were just a bit thicker). Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm. Cut into squares or bars and store in the refrigerator - either individually wrapped in plastic or in an air tight container with wax or parchment paper separating the layers.

These were seriously delicious. I ate a couple small pieces with half a banana for breakfast with my coffee and I was stuffed until lunch time. I mean I was almost still too full to eat lunch, but my lunch was amazing so I couldn't not eat it.

This Califia Farms Almond Milk creamer is pretty awesome too. I used a little too much for my tastes, but it tasted just like having a vanilla latte with only 15 calories! I love that I can have my Starbucks(ish) coffee in the morning without the guilt of added empty calories. I NEED my coffee.

The rice, broccoli and chicken prep was surprisingly simple. Rice pretty much cooks itself - but I have to say I was nervous since the only rice I generally make is like instant rice or risotto. The suspense nearly killed me - you just put the stock and rice in the pot, cover it and don't touch it for like an hour. I about died because I like to have constant control over the status of things I cook, so this was really new for me. I know, I'm nuts. But seriously, I couldn't take it. While the rice was cooking I cut up a large head of broccoli into florets and preheated my oven for the chicken. I baked the chicken with just a little Montreal chicken seasoning and some kosher salt at 375 for probably 30 minutes. I baked them until the internal temp was 160. I steamed the broccoli in a large skillet filled with about 1/2 inch of water for like 10 minutes until it was bright green and cooked but crunchy. When my rice was done I spread it in a tin foil pan to let it cool, I put the broccoli and a storage container and let it cool with the cover off - same with the chicken.

I know a lot of people do meal prep in individual containers for each day, but since I'm mostly a stay at home mom I just did them each in their own large container and if I am going out at all I will just package myself up a box for that day. This way I can have the flexibility of making it for home or more than one serving if the farmer happens to want some of this deliciousness (instead of Taco Bell). 

Today I used some of the pico de gallo that I made last night and the rice, chicken, black beans and an avocado to make a burrito bowl. O. M. G. It was fantastic. And it didn't even have sour cream or cheese! Who knew. I mean it was so good I had it again for dinner. Tomorrow I'm going to have chicken, broccoli and rice for lunch. 
So there you have it, my recovery has been a success so far. Today was good. I ate well and until I was full and I was not tempted to run through a drive-thru at all. My fitness goals include running every day and doing some type of ab/strength work out. My goal is to continue getting up at 7 AM (the time I get up to take Jack to school) through the summer and do my workout from 7-8 AM before the farmer leaves for work. These sound lofty, but I think I can do it. After all, I have been getting up at 7 AM for the past 9 months and I KNOW I will have so much more energy and get so much more accomplished during my day if I take the time to work out and exercise. 

Looking forward to tomorrow!
-The Farmer's Wife

Monday, March 9, 2015

Food on the Farm

I'm currently beginning month 4 of gluten freedom. I have had a coupe rough patches where I ran out of will power and just needed a piece of bread. But they were few and far between. I ate fast food for the first time in almost 4 months on Saturday, the Farmer and I went on a day road trip to Green Bay and we stopped at Burger King. Last time I got a salad and I was less than impressed so I figured if I was going to eat something gross and terrible for me, I might as well enjoy a little bread, right?! So I had a chicken sandwich - it was OK. I sincerely do not miss fast food. French fries, though....they continue to be my biggest weakness. They're technically gluten free- but they're fried and salty and ranch dressing makes them so irresistible. Baby steps!

This morning I tried those 3 Ingredient Paleo Pancakes you've seen floating around Facebook and Pinterest and since social media claims they're amazing I figured I would give them a try....
To put it lightly, they left something to be desired. 

I was expecting a stack of fluffy, delicious pancakes. Instead, I managed to not screw up 2 of them. They were tricky to flip and the first 4 didn't make it past the first side. The final product was more like banana flavored scrambled eggs than the fluffy short stack I had envisioned. I even cooked them with coconut oil and used Agave Nectar instead of syrup. I added fresh strawberries to the top and ate both of them and I am full. They weren't terrible, but probably won't be on my menu list regularly. The person who claimed these things were so amazing must have never had the real thing because we're talking about apples and oranges here. There was no comparison.

So that's it, that was just my little review of the 3 ingredient pancakes that Facebook is raving about.

 In case you'd like to try them anyways, here's what I did:

 I started with 2 eggs, 2 bananas peeled and mashed, a dash of cinnamon and a little bit of vanilla extract. Whisked it all together with a fork and it becomes a nice little batter.

I warmed a skillet on medium heat and sprayed it with some expeller pressed coconut oil. Like I mentioned flipping them was a little tricky and in order to get them to flip and not fall apart I turned the heat down a little after pouring the batter and cooked them for 3-4 minutes per side.

They never reached the sightly crispy hard exterior that I was expecting - like with traditional pancakes. They were just soft - like scrambled egg consistency. The flavor was fine, just not what I was expecting texture wise.

So there you have it. Don't let me discourage you - again, they weren't terrible and I am pretty full considering I only had 2. This recipe probably would have yielded 6-8 pancakes had I not screwed 3/4 of them up.

If you're interested in a recipe that I actually really LOVED and will be adding to my regular rotation then I'll share with you what I had for dinner last night! SALMON EN PAPILLOTE which sounds super fancy and if you ever want to impress someone with your culinary skills (whether you actually possess any or not) make this dish! Seriously requires little to no cooking skill. Sometimes if you don't cook a lot making something like salmon can be intimidating. But making anything en papillote (which literally means in paper) is super easy and dummy-proof!

I followed the recipe found here at Jessica Gavin  Culinary Scientist. I also just looked at the date on this post and it was 12/15/14 - the exact day I changed my eating habits for the better....funny coincidence.

I made a few minor mods. I didn't have carrots so I just omitted them. I started with my asparagus (trimmed the bottoms a little) on the bottom of my paper pouch (I followed her recommendation of 15"x 18" piece of parchment paper cut into a heart shape) topped the asparagus with thinly sliced red onion, then my salmon which I seasoned with a little minced garlic (about 1 tsp or less) kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. I skipped the lemon zest and just put a pinwheel of lemon on top with a little bit of chopped fresh chives. Finally (not pictured) I put a couple dollops of the basil compound butter she had in the recipe - it's pretty amazing, but if you're satisfied with conquering one culinary trick at a time then regular butter will suffice!

Oven heated to 450 degrees and popped these babies in for about 10 minutes. Once you fold over the pouches, put them on a cookie sheet for easy handling. 

The finished product:
Just cut open the pouch and serve! She explains the science behind how it cooks but basically the steam cooks the fish and veggies perfectly inside the pouch. So no flipping, sauteing or boiling necessary. Just super flavorful food not to mention extremely healthy. And the Farmer LOVED it. So that's a triple win!

and probably shrimp risotto - because when I'm not sure what to make I just default to risotto.

I also invented an amazing home made chicken salad recipe that I was eating for lunch last week. I'm going to attempt to recreate it this afternoon and hopefully post about it later. It was fabulous wrapped in some big lettuce leaves or just over greens as a salad. Yum, now my mouth is watering. Time to go!

Happy cooking - from the Farm,
The Farmer's Wife

Friday, January 23, 2015

Broken Record

Remember this post? The one about how I said I was fed up with my old eating habits and I was going to eat "clean"? 

[excuse me]
HAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHhahahahahahahahahahaha. Ha ha. Ha. 

Okay, but really. I really thought I could do it. And I even said I was dead serious. Because I was. I really wanted to change. But, cheeseburgers. And Ranch. Hashtag: EPIC FAIL. I think I made it an entire week. Seven days. Then I quit. Why do I suck at this so much? 

An entire calendar year has passed since those posts and I've thrown the towel in on eating unhealthy again. And I'm not even going to make any promises this time because....well....because you've seen how that works out. I feel like a broken record every time I tell the farmer "I'm on a diet". Bless his heart, he doesn't even react anymore if those words come out of my mouth because he knows it's most likely going to be a short lived jaunt down diet alley filled with hormonal imbalances, "hangry" tantrums and just plain starvation. Diet pills? I've taken them. Lemonade/juice cleanses? I've tried them. Being vegetarian? (excuse me again....hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha) I've tried it. Paleo? Yep. 

So what now? How is this time different? This time I really think it's actually going to be different. #knockonwood

This time I've armed myself with knowledge. I have decided to take all the failures of my past attempts and learn from them. Every year around December - on the heels of a new year - I decide the week of my birthday I'm going to indulge and eat/drink whatever I want and after that day, I am starting fresh. In that respect, this year was no exception. December 14 came and went and on December 15 I began my "fresh start". I hate New Year's resolutions because - let's be honest - no one keeps them anyways! So I always resolved to a "new" me on December 15. 

Last time I tried this I dropped everything at once. I went from Taco Bell drive thrus and Starbucks latte's and hot dogs, nachos, mac n cheese and highly processed everything in one day, to strictly veggies, lean protein and water the next day. I pretty much just set myself up for failure. So knowing what I know now, I've decided to take baby steps into this new food paradigm. 

Baby Step 1.  GLUTEN
I decided to go gluten-free on December 15 and I haven't looked back. I actually don't miss it, and I'm being completely honest! In addition to taking cues from my past failed attempts I've taken the time to read and learn about what impact the food we eat has on our bodies. Blogs have been the most helpful as well as some friends who are gluten free. And though it sounds complicated because gluten is in a lot of things - it really hasn't been that hard at all. I started with this helpful post on how to transition to being gluten free. It suggests to, rather than buy things that are "gluten free", to just eliminate things with gluten all together. And honestly, I think that's the best approach. Because you can have corn tortillas with your tacos, you really don't need bread, and you can have rice instead of pasta. Being gluten free has also helped me to cut out most processed foods and most importantly, fast food. Because of this, for me, gluten was a good first choice.
I have, on occasion, indulged in a little gluten. Fortunately for me, eliminating gluten is not a medical necessity, so there were 3, maybe 4 occasions in the past month that I have indulged in gluten - and boy did I pay for it! It's amazing to think that something that is in so many things could have such an impact on the way you feel. I realized how big of an impact gluten really had on how I felt only a week after giving it up. It was the week of Christmas and I figured I would splurge. I was at Starbucks and ordered a vanilla latte and a chocolate chip cookie. The cookie was delicious, but entirely not worth the horrible cramps, gas and bloated feeling I had for hours following it's consumption. I mean, seriously....it made me a believer in this whole gluten-free movement. The other two occasions were social functions where I didn't want to be a rude guest and reject the awesome food that had been provided by the hosts. I indulged a little each time and one time I really paid for it and the other time it didn't seem to effect me as much. 

So what does being gluten free look like for me? I have carved out a space in my pantry just for my gluten free foods, which really aren't that bazaar. I have some gluten free granola (that I found on clearance!) Larabars, soft corn tortillas, Arborio rice, Chex (yes, some regular food is naturally gluten free!) and tortilla chips (see?). My guilty pleasure snacks are Snyder's Gluten Free Onion and Mustard pretzels and chips and salsa. I made these 2 ingredient, gluten free, Nutella brownies and they hit the spot if I'm craving something sweet (which I rarely do, in all honesty). For starches I eat potatoes and black beans. Gluten freedom has helped me to cut down on processed foods (no more cheez its, frozen pizza, mac n cheese, jar sauce, etc) so it's been like giving up lots of things with only really giving up one.

Baby Step 2. MSG
In deciding to only give up one thing at a time, I've found freedom in indulging when I want to (ice cream, french fries and chocolate) and it doesn't make me feel like I'm suffocating beneath a pile of frozen diet meals and green tea pills. The more reading I do about the toxins found in processed food and drink, the less I want to eat/drink them - no matter how much I've loved them in the past. Literally the key to success is knowledge.  When I read about how horrible and gross MSG is, I wanted to never eat it again. I've done research and found the names of ingredients that MSG hides in and I've become a label-reading Nazi!
Maybe this seems a bit extreme. But that's the beauty in these baby steps. Inevitably there's going to be a day when I'm not going to be able to read the label and I'll probably eat things with MSG in them many more times in this life. But if I choose to avoid it when its in my control, then I'm much better off than I was when I just ate whatever I wanted because it tasted good. Which is another funny thing, because things I thought tasted so good - just a few weeks ago - I now find to be repulsive. I splurged at lunch yesterday and had beer battered perch with french fries. It was so good, and totally worth the gassy, upset stomach I had at bed time last night. But I figured with my splurge I would have a Coke. I loved Coke ... it used to be something I drank without thinking twice. Now I consider it a treat. Well, yesterday I couldn't even drink a glass of it. I made it through half of my glass (with ice - so probably only like 6 oz of soda) before I just switched to water because it tasted like straight poison. No lie. So I pretty much just took myself to the next step without even trying!

Baby step 3, SODA/JUICE
Juice isn't that hard for me because I didn't drink a ton of it before, but now that I've cut out soda I have been drinking a bit more of it. But what's wrong with juice as long as it's 100% juice, you say? Well there's just so much sugar in it, even if it's naturally occurring sugar, it's still unnecessary. So that's it really. Water is really my beverage of choice these days and I don't mind at all. I still have coffee on occasion, but that's probably going to be my next baby step. But for a girl who's drank coffee regularly since the ripe age of 4 (yes, four), that's going to be a tough one. I've cut back considerably, but to give it up altogether will be pretty difficult for me. 

Well, if you made it this far, thanks for reading the inner thoughts of my crazy. This has been an interesting journey to say the least, and I'm so excited about my progress and my ability to stay on track this time. If you're interested, I've actually dropped 9 lbs since December 15 - part of this lifestyle change has also had a weight loss goal. My clothes fit better, my gut feels better and I'm more motivated to keep going than ever before. I am by no means an expert on any of this. I've been meaning to get to the library to take out a few good reads on the subject. Wheat Belly and Grain Brain are a couple books that have been recommended to me by friends. I'm excited to learn more. 

My next baby step is regular exercise and physical activity. I've purchased a couple yoga/Pilates and cardio work out videos, I just have to keep reminding the farmer to hook up the DVD player for me. That's on this week's "to do" list....to really help kick-start my weight loss. 

Until next time (judging by my last post should be sometime in April),
The Farmer's Wife.