Friday, February 5, 2016

Healthy Buffalo Chicken Tacos

I think there is a huge misconception that healthy, good-for-you food has to taste awful. That you probably won't like it much and because it's "better for you" you should just choke it down. But what I've been learning lately as I've been experimenting in my own kitchen is that doesn't always have to be the case.

In fact, quite the opposite!

You can make tons of substitutions like greek yogurt for cream cheese and hardly notice the difference!

Take for instance this recipe for buffalo chicken tacos that I was inspired by through my Advocare family. I seriously love me some buffalo chicken tenders, wraps, sauce, dip ...basically anything buffalo-ey (though not in the literal sense because that is something different entirely!).

These buffalo chicken tacos seriously rocked my world and my farmer hubby and kiddos liked 'em too which is a major WIN!

If you love buffalo chicken but want to try a recipe with a bit lower calorie and carb offering then give this one a whirl! You won't be disappointed!


Ingredients:
6 whole-wheat 8-inch tortillas
2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced (or cook and shred)
1 cup Greek yogurt
½ tbsp coconut oil
½ tbsp olive oil
¼ tsp salt
Pepper to taste
¼ cup cayenne pepper sauce
2 large carrots, shredded
1 head romaine lettuce, shredded
3 oz blue cheese dressing

Eating up those veggies!

Directions:
1. Preheat large skillet on medium-high heat, add coconut oil and swirl to coat. Add chicken and sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired.


2. Cook for about 10-14 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chicken should be golden brown and cooked thoroughly.

4. In a small bowl, combine and stir in yogurt, cayenne pepper sauce, blue cheese dressing, salt and black pepper. Set aside.

5. Pour sauce over chicken in the skillet. Stir for another 2 to 3 minutes. Taste and adjust spiciness (ie add more cayenne pepper sauce) to preference.

6. Place tortillas on a microwave-safe dish, cover with damp towel, and microwave for about 10 seconds.

7. To serve up, place desired amount of lettuce, carrots and chicken on each tortilla. Drizzle with more blue cheese sauce and enjoy!

PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

 


 

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

When you need something sweet and indulgent, sometimes you just gotta feed that need.

But that doesn't mean it's needs to be loaded with sugar and carbs necessarily. Now I've got nothing against sugar personally, but in an effort to alter my mild dependency on sweets, it never hurts to find alternatives!

Presently, I am on the Advocare 24-day Challenge and by the way it's in no way a diet - it is part of improving my overall lifestyle and nutritional intake. Good stuff! The fact of the matter is my previous diet was largely made up of carbs, sugar and fat. I always thought healthy food was gross and tasteless, but what I'm finding is quite the opposite. However, that's another blog post for another day. :)

Today, it's all about cookies ... the no-bake kind! These are delicious and guaranteed to satisfy your sweet tooth. This recipe makes about two dozen - plenty to pack one in your lunch bag all week. Now that's what I call #winning!

Enjoy, friends!


Healthy No-Bake Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients
 2/3 cup maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 cup skim milk
1/2 cup coconut oil
3/4 peanut butter
1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
4 cups rolled oats


Directions
1. Add syrup and Advocare Chocolate Meal Replacement Shake powder to a medium sauce pan
2. Heat pan on medium low heat (do not boil), stir with a whisk until syrup and powder mix
3. Add coconut oil and milk
4. Stir with a whisk until coconut oil melts and combines (less than a minute)
5. Remove from heat
6. Stir in peanut butter, sea salt, vanilla extract and oats
7. Drop by large spoonful onto baking sheet covered in wax paper
8. Allow to harden for an hour or until set in the fridge
9. Store in the fridge or freezer (for fudge-like texture)
10. Enjoy! 



Monday, January 18, 2016

Big White Farmhouse: KITCHEN UNVEIL!

It dawned on me recently that I never shared the final Big White Farmhouse kitchen unveil. Well without further ado, let's get right to it!

To jog your memory, here is what we started with.


This is the kitchen (and house) that Big D grew up in. So many memories shared in this kitchen even in just my 13-year memory bank. Visiting his childhood home for the first time in 2003, his parents big Christmas shin-digs over the years, our girls visiting Grandpa and Grandma and much more. This house, this place, is special to us in so many ways.

We started the first floor renovation including the kitchen, pantry, laundry and half-bath re-do in early August and finished a long 2+ months later and that's not counting odds and ends like hanging pictures and curtains.

It was a arduous two months with our master bedroom serving as our family kitchen, dining room and living room. I'm not going to lie it was a bit of a nightmare and not one I'm willing to relive anytime soon.

But it was all worth it to end up with our dream kitchen. I loved it in October after finishing touches and I love it today. I love that I handpicked every detail and design element specific to what we love. It's perfectly us.

I'm so excited to make memories with our family and friends for many many years to come in our beautiful new kitchen in the Big White Farmhouse!


Shiloh Cabinets

Custom granite counters and stools from Wayfair




The kitchen sink is in the same location as it was before before but with a new, slightly bigger window above it.

We were able to keep most all of our appliances (except the counter top microwave) and saved a ton of cash. 

Love the window pane glass door on the corner cabinet and that pretty crown molding.

Custom Mason jar pendent light fixture from Etsy.  LOVE! 

Added a total of 12 can lights in the kitchen and the dining room. The view here is from the dining room. Previously, there was only an open door way because on either side were two covered chimneys. We removed both chimneys and were able to open up the room entirely. We now have about a 40-foot span for the kitchen and dining room space. Perfect for entertaining!



This is the door way we moved (it was on the opposite side) and found a door in the attic with a glass panel at the top. We replaced the glass panel with new frosted glass and had etched stencil letters made to read Pantry. We took the laundry room, reduced its size, took out a small closet and were able to make room for a walk-in pantry. 

Shelving in the pantry. This is slightly better organized now with baskets and well just more food. 


We made the pantry big enough and deep enough to fit our standing freezer. We love to have the extra space for freezer food and for it to be so conveniently located is a major plus. Now if I only had a beer and wine fridge handy!

This is the view from the kitchen to the dining room. Since this photo was taken, we have added curtains. 


This was previously a big beautiful picture window, but with a crack. Picture windows are so  so expensive. So we saved some cash by replacing it with three smaller windows. I would've loved to had the big picture window back but my checking account says this will do fine too. 

There are a few more projects to share ... a half-bath and the laundry room. And for 2016, I have an entry way to tackle and some outdoor entertaining space to work on. But for now, it's cold and I'm going to make some hot tea and cocoa for the girls and I in this lovely new us space!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

A Fit Farmwife: How to Get Started

I remember the doctor's appointment in 2009 when she told me, "You should really consider losing a few pounds because it will be harder to lose weight when you're older."

I was 27.



I nodded like I was in agreement, but in reality I thought she was rude and completely nonsensical.

I mean I saw myself in the mirror and thought sure I'm not a skinny minny, but I'm not too big either. I'm just fine - I'm average.

I thought people who worked out didn't have better things to do with their time. I certainly did.

I thought people who ran for fun just liked to live in misery. I only ran when being chased. Duh!

I was blessed with a decent metabolism (props to good genetics!) so I ate whatever I wanted and however much I wanted and I worked outside with cattle and horses regularly so I considered that enough physical fitness for me.

But five years and two children later, I was the heaviest I'd been in my whole life. My energy level was deplete and I could no longer eat whatever I wanted without having to unbutton the top of my pants after a meal.



At that time I drank probably close to 64 oz of Dt. Mt. Dew a day and considered myself a connoisseur of fast food French fries. My mid-day snack was a King size Reese's PB cup or Little Debbie swiss cake rolls.

I changed jobs in 2013 and my new employer had a gym with a personal trainer and lots of free fitness classes to choose from. I started going to Beginner's Boot Camp and messing around on the elliptical machine a few times a week.

I remember how I felt after the first Boot Camp. My muscles hurt so bad that I physically could not walk up my stairs at home. I had to crawl. For reals.

And then I crawled right back into the gym for more.

Thankfully after that it got much better. But I thought at the time this is crazy and my muscles freaked out too - I don't blame them. Remember I have not one athletic bone in my body and was the one who absolutely despised gym class growing up.

I tried running once and could go about 2 minutes without having to slow down to a walk. The personal trainer told me I would do better to improve my endurance and burn more calories if I used the treadmill.

Fine, I'll try it ......

So I started slow, going only 5 minutes jogging (4.8 mph) on the treadmill at first and about dying. My knees hurt and my body told me to stop. I bought new tennis shoes and my knee problems went away.

I started taking a daily vitamin and the painful cramps during running went away.

And I kept moving.

Gradually, I increased the duration of time I jogged and eventually I didn't feel like I was going to die every single step that I took.

It's all about starting at your own pace. And it's Ok if that pace is slow. Honestly, I'm still pretty slow. You don't want to make it a painful experience that you have no desire to subject yourself to.

Sure, you should push yourself but have fun too!

So how do you get started?

First, you have to make the decision and the commitment to change your life. Find a reward to give yourself when you accomplish your first goal. Hello new purse!

Maybe your first goal is a weight loss (5 pounds or whatever) or inches lost or just working out 3 days a week for 3 weeks solid. You need to make some achievable goals, meet those goals and then set newer higher ones for yourself.

I am testament to the fact that you can do anything you set your mind to! You really can!

Find your inspiration. Find someones story that you can relate to. I was inspired by this amazing lady's story three years ago and I have been following her faithfully ever since. I love reading other women's stories of triumphs - it feels so empowering as a woman to know you can do anything!!

And find a buddy to join you. Working out with a friend who can keep you accountable makes it all that much more fun!

Oh and yea ... start replacing some of those unhealthy habits with better ones. Try one less soda a day and one bottle of water in its place, but don't go cold turkey. (I think I've been in Indiana too long - I used to call it pop!)

Start slow and make a plan.

More grilled chicken less fried and switch out the French fries for a side salad.

Don't keep the junk aka swiss cake rolls in the house. You'll be less likely to eat them if you don't having them staring at you in the pantry.

True story.

Big D still has to hide his double-stuff Oreos from me - I could eat an entire package in a week's time.

Girl's still got a sweet tooth.

But ultimately it's about feeling good in your own skin. I was fine for a long time but decided for my girls that I needed to make a change if I was ever going to keep up with them. There is a lot of running happening with a 2 and 5 year old y'all.

And I want to make them proud and be a good role model for them in any way I can! For me that makes it all worth it!



I know there is a ton of pressure in our society to look a certain way or be a certain size but let that NOT be your motivation.

Find your motivation within and from above.

Be the best form of YOU in whatever size or shape that is!

Sunday, January 10, 2016

How One Unhealthy Farm Mom Turned Her Life Around


My blog is about to take a different turn. 

For the new year I have recommitted to my blog and you will see many changes over the course of the next several months. Blogging is my creative outlet and a place that I have truly missed for at least the last two years. I have changed careers in the last couple months and it has enabled me to have a bit more free time for my family and for me. And for that I am truly thankful! 


So to kick the new year off, how about a New Year's resolution. I know, how novel. 

Challenge. That's what it's all about. I want to challenge myself in ways I never have. Challenge myself to grow as a mother, wife, daughter and friend. Challenge myself to work harder in everything I do but especially in my new career. Challenge myself to let go of the negativity including the negative people that may surround me. I really do think 'kill them with kindness' is kinda overrated. How about just surrounding yourself with the type of people who you can just be yourself around and who treat you with respect and kindness! 

And finally challenge myself to continue on a path of better health. 

Almost three years ago (about when I slowed down majorly on my blog writing), we welcomed Miss Ruby May in our lives. I was about 35 pounds heavier than what my driver's license said I was. Whatever.

Before I had our precious Ruby, I never really cared too much about my weight because I was comfortable enough in my own skin. But having two children and a full-time job put a serious strain on my energy level. It was hard to keep up and I was exhausted like all the time. Plus my jeans were getting tighter everyday and that bothered me more and more especially because I was too stubborn to buy any bigger pants. 

I looked in the mirror one day and thought I can do better. I know I can feel better than I do right now at age 31. 

I decided at that point it was time to make a change. I started on a path to a healthier me both through cardio and strength training and a more balanced diet. Now it's an important part of my life. But I'm still no perfect picture of health, but I'm better. 


If you would've told me 15 years ago that I'd ever enjoy running and lifting weights, I would've said you'd fallen off the crazy train and hit your head hard! 

I have never been an athlete or a runner, heck I couldn't even touch my freaking toes until a few months ago. 

Now I can run 5 miles and like keep moving the whole time and I actually like it. I'm slow as all heck but I'm moving and sweating. 

I love free weights and feel so strong and powerful after a good workout. 

I eat a little better than I used to. I make better choices and I try to practice moderation, but I still love pizza and wine and donuts. 

I stopped drinking pop in May of 2015 and that was a major change. I lost the last couple pounds I'd been working on after I replaced my soda intake with water and Spark. More about Spark later! Oh my I do love Spark like more than I love cookies which is a lot!

This isn't me bragging this is me saying if I can do this - if I can find the motivation - YOU can too. 

I am just an average working mom trying to keep all the balls in the air. And I need all the energy I can get. 

Once I started on a path toward better health I noticed my energy level change dramatically. I came home from work and was ready to play and engage with the girls. No more couch potato - well not as much anyways. 

I love how I feel and the healthy habits I'm passing on to my girls. It's not necessarily about the weight loss for me as much as just feeling good about myself. But I will say losing 25 pounds does feel pretty damn good - just to say you did it. It's hard, really hard, but it's worth it.

Join me in 2016 as I share more struggles and triumphs of a fit farmwife. Cardio and strength training tips you can try at home, nutritional info and healthy recipes. This is going to be a great year! Let's do this 2016!  




Wednesday, September 2, 2015

The Big White Farmhouse: Kitchen Inspiration

Progress on the kitchen this week has been a little slow....

However, the walls are primed and painted in the kitchen as well as the dining and pantry rooms ... so that's good. And today, the hardwood floors were partially installed (kitchen only) and tomorrow the cabinets go in.

Hallejuah!!! (if you can't sense my excitement - then imagine me doing about four back flips in a row - which would be pretty wild since I can't even do one let alone a single cart wheel!).

By Friday, a different group will come to take final measurements for the granite countertops that will be installed about one week later. That is ... if .... everything goes smoothly.

In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share some photos that inspired the design of my kitchen, in addition to a few unique pieces that I've picked up along the way!

I started this kitchen design journey on Pinterest, pinning everything I loved with a variety of designs and color schemes. The kitchens that dreams were made of. Eventually, I transitioned over to Houzz, which is similar to Pinterest in that it is a digital bulletin board but only for home design.

But whether it was Pinterest or Houzz, I kept coming back to the same general look ... soft white cabinets, hickory hardwood floors, a rustic oak island and golden granite countertops.


The picture above is the No. 1 inspiration for my kitchen. Now some of the features such as backsplash and inset refrigerator will not be in my kitchen, but the floors and cabinets will look similar.

I also loved this one ...


The island. In one word - fabulous!

And this one ...


Love the copper backsplash and ... the sink! For some reason, I could not sell my hubby on a farmhouse sink, but that's a battle I was willing to lose since everything else I got the green light for.

I've learned through this farmhouse remodel that I'm kind of a light nut meaning I'm a bit particular about my light fixtures. I think it all started with my closet light. The closet light spoiled me on all future lights.

I'm an Etsy lover too. God bless Etsy. I found this amazing light fixture for above our center island and knew it was just perfect. It should be delivered this week and I'm almost as excited about this staggered Mason Jar light fixture as I am the entire kitchen. Yes. I am weird.

And I went back and forth on stools for the kitchen island. I kinda liked this tractor seat stool - but the hubby thought it was a bit too country. Yah I know. Too country? Is that like too much fun?




I love Wayfair! I can do some serious damage on that site! They have great variety, excellent quality and the site is simple and easy to navigate! And ... they often have deeply discounted items and always free 2 day shipping even on the big items. Love you Wayfair! Thanks for being a winner in my book!

I settled on these stools and was able to purchase them less than $100 each - which if you've ever priced stools most are $150 and up. I think they will fit in perfect - give the kitchen some vintage country appeal but also not detract from the beauty of the kitchen.

For our floors, I wanted something that would be true to form for our old 100 plus old farmhouse so we went with a Mohawk hickory hardwood - a narrow board - which is not necessarily in the in-style but it is what was installed in our home when it was first built. As they begin to install the floor today - I learned that I love it even more than the day I saw the sample.

Can't wait to see how this all comes together!

More next week ...









Monday, August 24, 2015

The Big White Farmhouse Renovation - Part 5

When my friends are all like my house is a mess ... my kitchen is a disaster - I sigh and say ... "I betcha mine is worse!" 

It really is folks, because right now my kitchen is a bare room with nothing but new drywall to its name. 

We are in the middle of the kitchen, pantry, dining room and laundry room renovation on the first floor of our Big White Farmhouse Renovation (See Part 1, 2, 3, 4 here). Currently, our kitchen, dining room and pantry stuff is resting in our living room mostly covered in reno dust. It sounds pretty gross and it kinda is. 

Since we have no kitchen, dining or living room, our finished upstairs is our entire house and main oasis. We enjoy dry breakfast upstairs and most all other meals at my mom's or anyone else who is willing to cook us dinner including McDonald's or Chicago's Pizza. I kid ... surprisingly we haven't ate out much at all - good thing because my waist line would kick my butt for that! 

We began the reno on the first floor on August 3rd - that puts us about 3 weeks in with at least 3 weeks to go. Patience is key - this is what I keep telling myself. This will all be over soon and I'll have a kitchen again and it will be fabulous! 

So enough talking - let's get down to the lath board of this first floor reno ... 

First let's check out the before ... 

Dallas' parents who owned the house before us renovated the house shortly after they were married in 1974. Lots of memories and special times shared in this kitchen over the years. Excited to create new ones with our girls in our new space!


This door leads to the pantry/side entry/stairs to the basement. This doorway will be covered up since there is an additional door to the entry/basement stairs from the living room. We will be creating a new pantry space.

Eat-in kitchen table. This will be replaced by a center island with stools. 

On August 3rd the demolition of the kitchen began ... cabinets, island and appliances are removed.

Corner where the fridge once stood.


One week in and the wall between the kitchen and the dining room (seen here) is almost out. We took two chimneys and a laundry shoot out upstairs to make more space. The second phase of the chimney removal is the first floor. This will give a more open floor plan to the kitchen and dining space. 


View into the kitchen. One chimney is out on the right. You can see the old laundry shoot in silver on the right. Cool but not very practical because our laundry is not in the basement.

Drop ceiling is out in the kitchen and ceiling is also down in the dining room.


Corner where the refrigerator once stood. Down to the lath board now.

You can see our old laundry room to the left. We are creating a pantry room and laundry room from this space. The pantry will have a door from the kitchen. The laundry will have an entry from the back room which is the same as it's always been. 


Future pantry area.

Second chimney is about to come down.

Giant hole in the floor from the chimney.

Lath board

Goodbye chimney with no fireplace. Hey if the chimney was in the living room I would be all about it. 

Wall is completely down between the dining room and kitchen. Looking so much more open! 


This pocket door is closed to the living room. When open these three rooms (kitchen, dining, living room) will feel very open. 

Moving the doorway for the pantry and beginning the electrical updates. Can lights will be installed in the kitchen, dining room, a custom light fixture over the island and a chandelier in the dining room.  


Room framed up for the new pantry. 


Last week the kitchen and dining room were drywalled. Starting to look like a house again. 

Pantry is drywalled too.

New window in the kitchen, just a smidgen bigger than the one that was there before. 

Doorway is drywalled over where you could entry the former pantry/basement steps.



Loving how it's coming along!

This space just feels huge to me!

 This week, they will take down the rest of the wallpaper in the dining room and start painting. Also, my new hardwood floors are in. Cabinets are set for install on September 3 - so far we are on target!

The end is in sight, folks ... I'm excited to see the finished product! Stay tuned!!




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