4 Ways to Make Change Easier

Let’s just admit this right now, change is hard. It’s rarely convenient and sometimes it really just sucks. In the health and fitness realm, nutrition is by far one of the hardest things for most of us to change. I know this from experience….

When I got into fitness in college, I was still eating whatever I wanted. I figured that if I trained hard enough I could compensate for eating whatever I wanted. So I put all my effort in at the gym in order to “earn” my food and I could throw down with the best of them…..(OK, maybe not quite like Joey. 🙂 )

This actually worked for a while, but it eventually started catching up with me. My body wasn’t where I wanted it to be and more importantly, I didn’t feel very good because my body just simply couldn’t handle all the crap anymore.

My first few attempts at changing didn’t last long. I thought if I was going to be a trainer I had to eat the perfect diet, but I just didn’t seem to have it in me. I beat myself up and figured I could never help people if I had no self control or discipline myself.  I felt helpless, being torn between not wanting my life to be consumed with food prep and never being able to eat sweets or eat out but I also was fed up with feeling bloated and like food controlled me.  So how did a food-lover like myself finally find some success?

Here’s where I finally started…..

Pick something…pick anything!

I know you’ve heard me say this before, but I don’t care. 🙂 Pick one thing to work on. I know, I know, that takes too long. We want results and we want them now. The problem with that is we have years and years of certain eating habits built into us. So just like you didn’t get out of shape overnight, it’s going to take some time to build up new habits to replace the old ones.

Here’s the thing: I want you to think about how long you’ve been trying to change the way you eat. Now go back to the first time you tried to change your eating habits and think about how far you’d be if you had started with a habit, worked at it until it was set, and then built on that.

It’s sounds so reasonable, but it’s hard to drown out this culture of quick fixes and instant gratification. We look at the 30 lbs in 30 days diet and think, “I could do just about anything for 30 days!” The problem comes 30 days after that, when we are either right back where we started (or heavier) or we have developed a binge/deprive cycle because that’s the only way we know how to stick with the program.

faddiets

The time is gonna pass either way. In a year, you could be right where you are now or you could commit to those small habits, build on them as you get better and better, and have 12 to 24 new habits that have you looking and feeling better. Dare I say, that almost sounds enjoyable. 😉

Make it easier

Life has got enough ups and downs and challenges as it is and willpower is exhaustible. There will always be an excuse. If you want to make a lasting change, you have to make it easy enough that you know for certain you can do it no matter what life throws at you.. These little changes might not feel like you’re doing enough, but trust me, you are. Willpower is like a muscle, the more consistently you train it the bigger and stronger it becomes. As you continue, these things will become habits that you don’t even have to think about!

So back to making it easier. Most of us eat (or at least prepare) the majority of our meals at home. So maybe that’s where you start. Find healthy new recipes, plan out the grocery list, and stock your fridge and pantry as necessary. Don’t worry about eating out or what you’re going to do at friends’ houses, just focus on what you eat at home.

If that feels like too much, make your focus smaller. Ask yourself, what can I change?

Can you start trying out a healthier dinner option a few times a week? Can you hard boil a batch of eggs and have them peeled and ready as an easy way to add more protein to your breakfast?  Can you change out your sandwich at lunch for a salad, wrap, or a bun-less burger? Can you replace the late night sweet with a protein shake or a piece of fruit? Can you skip the second helping?

The key here is to not let yourself get bogged down by crossing bridges you may never get to. Zero in on the target until you can easily hit it every time. Then simply move on to the next. You just might be surprised how little it takes to see change sometimes.

Forget the rules and learn what works for you

It’s actually been scientifically proven that when we are told we can’t have something, our desire for that thing increases. So what if, instead of a list of “good” and “bad” foods, no food was off limits.  What if we dropped the guilt and stopped beating ourselves up every time we slip up? This was big for me. When I stopped putting all sorts of foods on the “bad” list, I stopped binging on sweets and my ability to feel in control skyrocketed. However I ask myself these few questions first…

-Is this gonna help or hurt my goals?

-Am I gonna feel better or worse after I’ve eaten this? (body, not mindset, wise. Remember: no guilt!)

-Is this something I really want and how often do I get a chance to have this?

-Is it worth it?

Over time, you’ll learn what foods are worth it and which ones aren’t….for you. No it’s not easy at first, but it become easier as your body starts to look and feel better, your preferences start to change, and you build up your will power.

habits

Focus on  ADDING

Instead of focusing on all the things you “shouldn’t” have, start focusing on what you can add into your diet to make it better. The more protein you add into each meal the less room there will be for other things. The more healthy recipes you start add to the menu, the less room there is for other less healthy recipes. The water you drink, the less cravings and less soda you’ll have room for.

How about adding some intermediary foods? These are the foods that bring you down off the ledge. These are foods that make you feel like you’re indulging without derailing your goals. They keep you sane and satiated but also help build up that will power. Liiiiike wine, avocados, nut butters, or chocolate. Because what is life without a little chocolate?!

There are also some cool websites out there, like this one, that offer tons of great ways to substitute flour with protein powder and make delectable baked goods like this:

It's a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June's almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!......ahem, anyways back to my post

It’s a 4th of July flag cake! Can you believe June’s almost over?! Seriously how is that possible?!……ahem, anyways back to my post

See, what I’m really trying to do here is get you to look at nutrition from a different mindset. A much healthier mindset.  Fat loss is a process, but it can be a positive one! It doesn’t have to involve crazy deprivation/binge cycles or you just white knuckling your way through it. You won’t always do it perfectly, but if you persist I promise it will be worth it! No more searching and confusion, no more money down the drain on another fad diet, no more yo-yo dieting that leaves you feeling worse than before, no more guilt and self-loathing; just YOU knowing what works for YOU. So don’t be afraid to start small. Don’t roll your eyes at it either. Like most change, there’s never a perfect time for it. Ya just gotta start.

 

Stuffed Bell Peppers

This is another family favorite. I was originally attracted to this recipe because it only had 4 ingredients and looked easy. Like if you can brown meat you can make this dish easy. Yep, that’s how I pick recipes. Not only that, but it doesn’t take much time at all. (By myself, it wouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.) On top of that, it’s really flexible so you can play around with the spices or ingredients and it’d still be pretty hard to mess up. This is seriously my kind of dish!! I made a few tweaks to make it healthier and  wallah! A super easy, delish nutrish dish. 😉

Ingredients

  • 2 Medium Green Bell Peppers (cleaned out)
  • 1 lb lean Ground Beef
  • Provolone Cheese
  • ~1 Medium Onion (chopped)
  • ~2 T Garlic (minced)
  • Spices of your choosing (I just use Famous Dave’s Rib Rub)

*The above amounts always leave us with a little leftover meat, so if you don’t stuff them as full or use smaller peppers you could definitely make 3, if not 4 stuffed peppers instead.

bell pep recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a skillet, brown beef with onion, garlic, and chosen spices.

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Smells SOO yummy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fill each bell pepper with 1 piece of provolone and as much meaty deliciousness as you prefer. (Gotta get that protein, so we stuff as much in as we can!)

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Add another slice on top of pepper and bake 8-10 minutes.

*To make cheese a crispy brown, turn to broil for the last 1-2 minutes, but watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn….I was too lazy to do that this time. 🙂

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And there you have it! You can eat it just by itself or pair it with a baked potato or potato wedges.

Enjoy!

 

 

So You Wanna Look Like A Superhero… (part 2)

In part 1, I talked about why it’s unrealistic and detrimental to your body and mind to compare yourself to anyone or expect perfection, but what can we take away from our actor friends? The obvi answer is that while they might not look like the perfected version we see on screen or in pics, they do still have to get into good enough shape to look fit!  So what’s their secret?! The answers might surprise you….

When asked what she did to get in shape for Black Widow, Scarlett Johannson’s typical reply is, “I workout like a dude.”

To help Anne Hathaway build muscle and learn to ‘move and react like a cat,’ Anne’s trainer put her through ‘grueling’ routines of squats, lunges, strength training, kettlebells, and intensive circuit training, including ‘box jumps, pull-ups and handstand push-ups.’

Jennifer Garner was known for getting up early to get an hour of full body circuit training in before shooting began.

Jessica Biel’s trainer puts her through circuited weight training and they end with high intensity cardio work, like sprints.

superhero women

So let me break down for you what all of these ladies do to get into awesome shape.

They Strength Train.

You’ll notice, in the picture above, they all look great. That’s 4 different body types that all did strength training and none of them look “bulky”. Whether it’s body weight exercises or with weight, all of these ladies are doing one variation or another of the same big movements:

  • Squats
  • Lunges
  • Pushes (push ups, bench press)
  • Pulls (rows, pull ups)
  • Core work (planks)
  • Hinge movements (deadlifts, swings)

I’m gonna give you a trainer secret right here. Take a look at any athlete, actor, model, trainer, or fitness enthusiast’s workout and you’ll usually see a common thread woven through all their workouts. It’s these movements above and it’s because they work.

lifting

Jennifer & Jessica- lifting weights

Sure there’s always accessory stuff as well. Sometimes to zero in on specific areas, sometimes to keep it fresh and keep the body guessing. But the above exercises are the foundation. Get really good at them and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger, leaner, fitter version of yourself.

They Include High Intensity, Explosive Cardio.

Kettlebells, running sprints, metabolic circuits, these are all versions of high intensity, explosive interval training. Interval training is simply alternating between high and low intensity exercises. The idea is to jack up your heart rate with super higher intensity moves (like sprints, swings, or box jumps) for a shorter period of time, then you alternate between rest and really high intensity work. This is the ideal cardio to rev up your metabolism and fat burning potential.

This type of training is a great substitute for long slow cardio. Even though it’s more intense, it’s been shown that more people stick to it because it takes less time and is more effective in burning fat while keeping muscle tone and improving heart health.

Jessica Biel running sprints

Jessica Biel running sprints

 

They Do Full Body Circuits.

Splitting up the muscle groups and working a different one each day is a body building tactic. Since most actresses and women are just looking to get stronger and more toned, full body circuits is the more efficient way to train. Circuits usually consist of 4 to 10 exercises that you do back to back. Each exercise works a different body part and you move quickly from one exercise to the next with little rest.

The reason most trainers use this is because it’s an ideal way to get the heart rate up and improve strength and muscle tone all in a small amount of time. Again this has major fat burning potential by taxing the whole body and the cardiovascular system at the same time.

They Kept Their Nutrition In Check.

Rarely do you hear an actress talk about getting in shape without mentioning a strict nutrition plan. None of these ladies would have gotten the same results without watching what they ate. Now this goes back to what I was saying in part 1 about having a specific end goal. It is always easier to be really strict with your nutrition when there is an end in sight. (When you hear most actresses talk about it, it would seem they eat pretty healthy on a regular basis but they go really strict when preparing for a movie.)

The point is, if you want to look and feel fit, you must take a look at (and most likely change) your eating habits. Start by keeping a food journal. Nowadays that is much easier with all the apps out there like Calorie King or My Fitness Pal. Sure it’s still kind of inconvenient, but you don’t have to do it forever and it will help raise your awareness so that you can start figuring what needs to change. Most women will realize they are eating too many fats or carbohydrates and not nearly enough protein. But try it out for yourself and see!

In short, for best results your workouts should prioritize full body strength training. Shorten your cardio sessions but bump up the intensity. Start that food journal! And if you feel completely lost or feel like you’ve tried these things without any success, hire an expert and do what they tell you to do. (Trainers are another thing the Hollywood types have in common. ;))

There’s still no quick fix, even for the rich and famous. (OK, no natural quick fix.) But if you’re willing to work at it, you can look and feel amazing! Most importantly remember: Start small. Focus on one habit at a time and make it so easy you can’t fail!

Just another example of actresses lifting some legit heavy weights and not getting big or bulky. (Skip to 1:10-2:05 for the good part.)

Beware of Trendy Enemies

“Every generation laughs at the old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

~Henry David Thoreau

Ah, trendiness. Even though we understand that from a marketing perspective moderation doesn’t sell products, it’s still hard to shut out all of the differing messages from magazines, celebrities, and tv commercials. We watch as they tout the latest trends knowing full well that in 6 months they will be pushing some new, and most likely contradictory, one. As a culture that is inundated with media, moderation and balance often take a back seat.

This is no exception in the health and fitness world. Indeed, if they keep us thinking there is always a new or better way to do something we will keep buying their products. In the ’80s, low fat was king. So everything from dairy to dessert became good for you as long as they were fat-free. Then there was low calorie, then low carb, now gluten will kill you! Paleo says to eat like a caveman. Dr. Oz says to eat smaller meals every 2-3 hours. Never skip breakfast….unless you’re intermittent fasting?! Zone and Atkins and vegans, oh my!

friends nutrition

Sure don’t.

And we wonder why we have the highest rates of both eating disorders AND obesity in the history of our country. As Dan John puts it, “Take a walk through the grocery store and you’ll notice yesterday’s diet crazes are today’s staples”. So how do we even begin to know where to start?

Let’s take a look at a couple of the biggest “enemies” of today. But first let me remind you, the more restrictive the diet the less sustainable it is. Focusing on one small habit at a time proves most effective in reaching and maintaining your goals. So I’ll be giving some suggestions for possible small habit changes.

Public Enemy #1: The Evil Carbohydrate

Carbohydrates have gotten quite the bad rap. Here is why you don’t need to fear them.

Indeed, many people who try low-carb dieting are initially pleased by an immediate weight loss… which is mostly water and glycogen. So, in the short term, it seems like low-carb diets are superior.

But does long-term evidence support low-carb dieting?

Research says no. Over the long haul, any differences between low-carb and other diets even out.*

More important is quality and quantity and how you feel with each. As far as quality goes, minimally processed, whole and fresh foods are best. Unfortunately there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for quantity. Most of us will do well with some. A cupped handful for women and 2 cupped handfuls for men is a great place to start. However, this will depend on your goals, genetics, and lifestyle. For example: the more sedentary you are the less carbohydrates you will need. Pay attention to how you feel when you have more or less: Are you low energy? Do you feel less bloated?

Small habit #1: Limit carbs to a cupped handful per meal. (If that seems too hard, make it easier! Limit them in one meal. Have 1 potato instead of 2. You get the gist.)

Public Enemy #2: The Dreaded Non-Organic Food

I used to get so overwhelmed by the organic vs. non-organic talk that in college I ended up in the middle of the produce section calling my mom crying because I couldn’t afford organic fruit. According to the Environmental Working Group, the health benefits of a diet rich in fruits and vegetables outweigh the risks of pesticide exposure. And ultimately, conventionally grown fruits and veggies are still better for you than most of the stuff you’d end up replacing them with. My approach now is to buy organic when it is within my means. I have my priorities based on the stuff we eat the most and this list. If not, I wash them off before I eat them and leave the rest up to God.

Small habit #2: Eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal.

Public Enemy #3: The Rebellious Breakfast Skipper

For years and years, we have been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. That is until recently when intermittent fasting became the only thing anybody was talking about, ever, in the world…at least it felt like that in the fitness world, anyways. So which is it?! Research seems to be finding that ultimately eating the right foods in the right amounts is much more important than when you eat them. So, do you wake up hungry? Eat breakfast. Does eating breakfast feel a bit like pulling teeth? Skip it! But listen to your body. Pay attention to your energy levels and hunger ques. If you skip breakfast then end up tired and dragging by 10 am, try eating a small breakfast for a week and see how you feel. No matter which works best for you, try this small habit out.

Small habit #3: Eat until you’re 80% full. In other words, you should feel satisfied but not stuffed.

friends

Ever felt this way? Me too!

Whether you’re reading what the latest actress did to get in shape or the newest fad diet, one thing you’ll start to notice is there always seems to be one common denominator: protein. Protein always seems to come out on top. I found this very interesting.

One recent study asked: Do low carb diets work because they restrict carbs or because they tend to increase protein?

Over the course of one year, the researchers compared four different conditions:

  1. normal protein, normal carbohydrate
  2. normal protein, low carbohydrate
  3. high protein, low carbohydrate
  4. high protein, normal carbohydrate.

Interestingly, the two groups eating the high protein lost the most weight.

And the real kicker? Varying the levels of fats and carbs seemed to make no difference to body composition.*

So there you have it. Might I suggest, if you don’t eat much protein, this is the best place to start.

Small habit #4: Get some protein in each meal.

The battle is not so much about organic vs. non-organic or low carb vs. low fat. The battle is choosing real food over convenience while it’s staring you in the face down every aisle and on every street corner. The battle is practicing moderation in the face of enormous portion sizes and ever available junk food. Most importantly, the battle is learning how to eat FOR YOU.

“Every man is the builder of a temple called his body.” ~ H.D.Thoreau

*Precision Nutrition blog – Carb Controversy: Why low carb diets have got it all wrong

Helpful Tips from One Sugar Addict to Another

When I asked my clients the other day what their biggest struggle is when it came to their health, I grimaced at the resounding reply of SUGAR. How am I supposed to talk about this when I have my own sweet tooth that often feels out of control?!?! Then it hit me: maybe this makes me MORE qualified to talk about it because I understand it. Oh boy, do I understand it. If most of you are thinking, ‘Oh sure she “struggles with sugar,”’ this past holiday season I took down almost an entire double batch (I think Joel may have had a few) of pumpkin chocolate chip cookies in about 2 weeks’ time.

Seriously, this is how I feel about food that doesn’t contain sugar…..

friends-funny

So I’d say I’m qualified to talk on this subject, no?

Now that I’ve established that, the question is: how do we break the hold that sugar has over so many of us? I’ve tried a lot of things, but here’s what works for me….

Start small

One of the best ways to make a change is to pick 1 habit you want to change and focus all of your energy on that one habit for 2-4 weeks. Write it down. I write my goal in my calendar and track it there. (I can’t be the only one who gets a high from checking stuff off, right?!) Make it realistic and make it easy…. so easy, in fact, that you have no doubt you can do it!

For example, I knew I needed to start dealing with my sugar habit. So I started small. My goal was to have only 4 sweet treats a week. I figured that’s still the majority of days per week that I get to have my precious… ack! Sorry, a sweet treat. That first week I stuck to the number, but I went all out when I could have it. I’m talking Dairy Queen Blizzards, multiple graham crackers dipped in copious amounts of peanut butter and dark chocolate, and I honestly can’t remember the others but you get the idea. Did I beat myself up about it? Nope. Cuz I had stuck to my goal. However, I also knew that this kind of behavior wasn’t ultimately going to get me where I wanted to be, so I made slight changes each week that inched me more toward that ultimate objective. The next week I was still allowed 4, but one of those sweets could only be 2 squares of dark chocolate. Of course, if you really struggle to make your goal on the first week then there’s no need to up the ante the next week.

Some of you might be thinking this sounds too hard while others might find it too easy – the point is to choose something that feels attainable for you while still moving you in the right direction. If you’re like me and you can literally hear the chocolate calling to you over the sound of the TV, I’ve found this to be one of the easiest ways to start. If you’re the all-or-nothing type, I give you this little factoid: according to Leo Babauta, author of The Power of Less, when only one habit is adopted per month, success rates can be as high as 80%. However, when we get too ambitious and attempt to adopt even just 2 habits simultaneously, the success rates drop to below 20% for either habit! Wow….yowza….

Most of us have taken years to build our bad habits, so don’t expect to change them overnight. Don’t be afraid to relax into it and set yourself up for success!

Mind over matter

In my experience, the process of habit change is made drastically more difficult if you don’t figure out the Why. Why am I so attached to sugar?? One of the things I started to realize (as my head cleared and the sugar shakes subsided) is how much I associated sugar with happiness. I was so emotionally attached to sugar that I would often think that this or that party would not be fun if I couldn’t eat dessert. No matter that these parties were often filled with some of my most favorite people in the world, good conversation, fun games, and laughter. That realization hit me like a bomb. What a ridiculous way to think!! Sugar has no power to actually give us the satisfaction that we crave…ever. While I knew that in my head, my heart (and stomach) had decided otherwise.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love food. I believe we were made to enjoy food or else God wouldn’t have given food its flavor or us our taste buds! “There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil.” But the two had become so connected in my head that I could no longer separate them.

To combat this, I would decide ahead of time that at the next party I would not splurge even though I still had some cheats left. And you know what I found? At the end of the night, I was still alive. Not only that, but I was mentally freed up to engage with and really enjoy all of the many other blessings I was surrounded by. How liberating to be at a party and not spend half of the time mentally waging war over ‘to eat or not to eat’! I still thoroughly enjoyed myself. Plus, my stomach felt a lot better the next morning!

I’m not saying you need to do this every time, but try it every once in a while. You might be surprised by how easy it is when you know going in that indulging is just not an option.

Diversion

Often times – when I find myself craving something sweet – I’ve learned that if I take the time to listen to my body I tend to realize that I am not actually hungry at all. The hubs and I have coined the term “mouth hungry”, meaning that my stomach feels satisfied but my mouth is still craving. This most often happens to me at night, when I have mentally relaxed and am watching TV or hanging out with friends. Most trainers would tell you to turn off the TV and go to bed or go for a walk. Well, here it is: I like my stories! And I live in Colorado, so it’s too fargin’ cold to go for a walk right now! What I can do is see it for what it is: a mental craving. I make the decision right then and there to stop letting these thoughts take over and focus instead on the show. If I’m at a party, I focus fully on the people and the conversation. Usually, once I let go and focus my attention elsewhere, I start enjoying the show or company more and the craving passes.

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If, however, the craving is really strong, I will also find ways to distract my mouth. First, I make sure that I am drinking enough water. It’s amazing how easily a craving can be dealt with by a glass of water. After that, gum is one of my go-to’s while Joel likes tea. We also love oranges and berries, but I try to save those for the times when I’m actually still hungry.

(One caveat: I do actually love going for late night walks in the summer time. And there are plenty of times where I would say that if you’re not watching something that’s good on the ol’ tele, turn it off and pick up a good book or hit the sack. These are just what things that work for me, but again, you have to find what diversions work for you.)

Create Accountability

Find someone who will hold you accountable. My husband does this for me. Spouses are great for this because they are usually around you the most, but I will caution you that this can backfire. You have to find that person that will be persistent and know the right thing to say at the right time – whoever it may be. Otherwise, the next thing you know, you’re both headed to Dairy Queen because someone feels bad telling the other person ‘No’ OR you’re in a fight because you’re sure he just called you a cow. Those examples were just off the top of my head…. never actually happened to me before. 😉

Another option would be to get a friend that you check in with every night, even if it’s just over text. The power of accountability can be awesome when you find the right accountability partner. It just takes a little trial and error sometimes.

Plan Ahead

Here’s that whole moderation thing again. If I know I’m going to have a dessert, I try to eat a meal higher in protein and lower in carbs and I stop eating before I normally would. Because nothing is very enjoyable when you’re eating it on an already full stomach. Believe me, I know. During the holidays, I try to eat really clean at home so I can splurge and enjoy a few extra treats at parties and get-togethers. As with so many things in health and fitness and LIFE, it’s all about balance.

ENJOY IT

Last but not least, when you do finally partake in whatever deliciousness you choose, don’t waste the calories on something you could do without. Make it something you really really love. Then savor every dang bite. You’ll be amazed at how much less you will want when you take the time to really taste your food. Then be done with it. You won’t gain 5 pounds from one dessert. You won’t have thrown away all that you’ve worked for. (You just might even benefit every once in a while from giving in to that sugar craving.) So enjoy it and then move on. End of story.

I hope these tips are helpful to you. My ultimate goal is not to never eat sugar again, but to be free of the unrealistic expectations I have placed on this particular food group. I’m not there yet, but it is getting easier. Even though the physical cravings have subsided for the most part, I have easier weeks and harder ones. But I refuse to be controlled by it.

Unfortunately the all-or-nothing mindset seems to almost always leave people frustrated and back at nothing. Sure moderation isn’t sexy and it takes commitment and discipline, but with it comes freedom. I love this quote from A.J. Heschel: “Self respect is the fruit of discipline; the sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself.” Nothing in this world worth having is easy to attain – and that applies to our nutrition as much as to our fitness, our jobs, our relationships, or anything truly important in life.

I love this little guy!

I love this little guy!

Have some tricks or tips of your own? I’d love to hear them, so please share below!

Easy & Delicious Veggie Quinoa

First of all, I’d just like to start by saying that I knew nothing about cooking until a few years ago when I got married. Before then I knew how to make pasta, eggs, and cookies. So you can trust me when I say if I can do it, you can do it!

I decided to put this on the blog because recently I’ve been getting a lot of compliments on my quinoa recipe. The funny thing is they always start with something about how they’ve tried cooking it before and it never turned out right or how they just couldn’t get into it. Then they go on to tell me how awesome and amazing my recipe is and that they need it immediately so they can rush home and make some more! (Ok, I might be embellishing a tad, but peeps really do love this recipe. 🙂)

quinoa

Ok, so this is not my picture but my dish looks a lot like this one. 🙂

The fact is I only recently discovered my own love for quinoa. I always knew it was a good choice if you’re trying to stick to healthier carbohydrate options or if you’re trying to stay away from gluten. Buuut I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food, especially the kind that I can’t figure out how to pronounce based on how it is spelled! (I’m still uncomfortable when I have to talk about açaí berries.) However, thanks to my awesome little sis who showed me how to make this, I’m now a big fan of quinoa. The great thing about this recipe is that it’s really easy and flexible, so you can use whatever stuff you like. So without further ado, I give to you my recipe for veggie quinoa.

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup of quinoa
  • 2 T Olive Oil
  • 1 T Garlic (minced)
  • Veggies (I love zucchini squash, tomatoes, bell pepper, & onions, but you can really use whatever you’ve got or prefer)
  • garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper

 

Directions:

  • For the quinoa, I honestly just follow the directions on the back of the bag, but here are a couple tips
  1. Normally I would totally skip something like this, but make sure to rinse the quinoa first. Otherwise I hear it can have a bitter taste. I use a mesh strainer and run cold water over it for about a minute or so. 
  2. Ya gotta wait until the quinoa has “popped” and most of the water is gone. Lacey likes to say it looks like little bugs….it sounds weird but once you see it, well, it kinda does. 😉

quinoa-cookedvs.uncooked

  • Like I said you can use any veggies you like. I like a lot of veggies. So I usually end up using about 2 zucchini or yellow squash, half an onion, half a large bell pepper, and a handful of cherry tomatoes. (Sometimes I’ll throw spinach in there too, if I’m trying to use it before it goes bad. 🙂
  • Chop veggies up into bite sized pieces.
  • Saute veggies in ~ 2T of olive oil, starting with 1 heaping T of garlic, onions, and squash. With a few minutes left, add in the bell peps and tomatoes.
  • Sprinkle quinoa with garlic powder, salt, and pepper, then combine with veggies
  • Salt and pepper to taste (quinoa is pretty bland so you might have to add a little more to your own serving)

Pair it up with some grilled chicken and there you have it! A healthy and delicious meal. Try it out and let me know how it goes.