3 crockpot recipes and 2 BIG reasons why you need one

I think I had my crock pot for about 3 years before I ever used it for the first time. Once I finally did, it was like the movie where the girl realizes that the person she’s in love with is the guy who’s been there all along. I couldn’t believe that I had this hidden treasure sitting right under my nose for all those years.

Here’s the thing about the crock pot: it’s kind of a game-changer when it comes to making a healthy diet easier.

How so? Sure, we all know that  cooking takes time, energy, and a whole bunch of dishes. 🙂 The crock pot pretty much does away with all of that. It’s less time-consuming, budget-friendly, and usually provides some leftovers as well. But that’s not even what I’m talking about! There are 2 reasons why I especially love the crock pot.

#1. It takes willpower out of the equation. Willpower is like a battery….a cell phone battery unfortunately. You start out fully charged in the morning, but you use it up throughout the day. By dinner time, most of us are running pretty low. This is the reason most people cite breakfast as their healthiest meal of the day and dinner as the hardest.

The crock pot allows you to take your end-of-day willpower out of the equation.

Just throw everything in first thing in the morning when you’re still fresh and energetic and it’s done. Come home to a delicious & healthy meal ready and waiting. No extra energy required and no fighting the mental war of pizza delivery versus making a meal at home. Not sure if it gets much better than that. 😉

#2. PROTEIN. Protein is so important to a healthy diet. It helps you avoid overeating by filling you up quicker and keeping you full for longer. Plus, it’s a lot less likely to be stored as fat because the body burns extra calories just working to digest it. The crock pot allows for a super easy way to cook meat until it’s tender and juicy.

*I strongly suggest you get a crock pot with a timer, so that it will automatically switch over to warm after the allotted time.

To get you started, here are 3 delicious crock pot recipes to try. (Disclaimer, I did not come up with any of these! Two are from friends and one’s from a magazine. 🙂 )

Mexican Chicken

4 chicken breasts
1-2 cans rotel
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1 T adobo seasoning
~1/2 C water (just enough so chicken won’t burn)

– Everything in crock pot for 2 hours on high
– Pull meat apart
– Cook on low for additional 2 hours
– Serve w/rice and a sprinkle of cheese & sour cream

Pulled Chicken (I got this recipe from Shira Nelson over at Mom Beyond Baby)

6-8 chicken breasts
1 large jalapeno, finely chopped, seeds removed
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, minced
+ 1-2 cloves, smashed (and just thrown in the crock pot)
1 T sea salt
1 1/2 T chili powder
1 1/2 T lime juice
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T olive oil

– Throw everything but chicken into the crock pot and stir it all together.
– Add chicken & coat with mixture
– Cook on high ~2.5-3 hours if thawed or 4 hours if frozen (depending on your crock pot)- When chicken starts to pull apart take it off the heat so it won’t dry out
– Love this with a big salad and some avocado!

BBQ Pulled Pork

2-lb boneless pork roast
1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
2/3 C chili sauce
1/2 C cola
1/4 C ketchup
1 T. yellow mustard
1 1/2 t. chili powder
1 1/2 t. apple cider vinegar
1 t. cumin
1/2 t. paprika
1/4 t. salt & pepper
1/8 t. ground red pepper

– Trim fat from meat
– Meat and onion in crock pot
– Combine everything else in small bowl and  pour over meat
– Cook on low for 12 hours or high for 6 hours
– Slice thinly or shred
I love this as an open faced sandwich with cucumbers and a little bit of bbq sauce and a salad on the side. So Good!

Hey, let’s help each other out! I would LOVE for you guys to share your favorite crock pot recipes with me and everyone else who might be reading over on my facebook page or in the comment section below!!

Is breakfast really the most important meal of the day?

These days, there’s a lot of debate in the health and fitness world as to whether or not breakfast really is the most important meal of the day. For many people, it’s a great way to get the metabolism going and can help keep hunger and energy levels more stable throughout the day. However, it has clearly been proven that it’s not as necessary for fat loss as we used to think. Others have had great success with the popular 16/8 intermittent fasting system, in which they have an 8 hour window to eat each day. This usually means skipping out on breakfast in favor of a larger lunch and dinner.

Many people are having great results with IF and skipping breakfast while some report not noticing much of a difference one way or another. Then there are the others who have reported negative side effects such as hormonal issues, sleep disruption, or low energy. Overall, men seem to do better with IF then women.

The point is that I’ve seen both ways work which leads me to conclude that breakfast is actually not the most important meal of the day. If you’re eating it and you feel like it’s working for you, absolutely keep it up! If you don’t care for it and it feels like a chore to choke down something first thing in the morning, then skip it. Just be sure to keep an eye on your hunger, energy, and cravings. Keep your HEC in check, as Metabolic Effect would say. 🙂 As long as those 3 things are in check and you’re achieving the results you want, there’s no need to change it.

What’s more important is what we’re eating and how. So for variety’s sake, I’m always on the hunt for more breakfast recipes….well, and because in our house “breakfast” is free game for any meal of the day.  As you all know, my criteria for recipes is pretty simple: it’s gotta be easy. 🙂 The less ingredients the better. So to add to my usual standby’s of omelets, oatmeal, and protein shakes, I’ve got an oldie and a newbie for you today and both are awesome!

**Both of these recipes have a good amount of protein in them which is not just to improve satiety. Protein is also integral in just about every major metabolic activity in your body! So not only will eating enough help increase your metabolism, but it also helps your body and muscles recover from a workout. Protein is not just for men! It will not cause you to “bulk up”, ladies! Protein is important for every body and integral for maintaining a healthy body composition!

OK, on to the good stuff…

Protein Pancakes

This pancake has been rocking my world lately. I love pancakes and this thing is packed with protein and super yummy at the same time. I found this recipe on the Tone It Up website. While I might not love their exercise style, they have some really tasty recipes…

Ingredients:pancakes

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1 T almond milk
  • 1/4 C egg white
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • ~ 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1 t ground flaxseed (optional)

 

Heat pan on low to medium heat. With a fork, mash banana and almond milk together in a bowl. Add the rest of ingredients and mix together until texture is fairly smooth. Spray pan before pouring mixture in. Flip when bubbles form on top.

*Top with strawberries and a little bit of real maple syrup.

**You can also make these in the evening by just replacing the banana with 1/4 of an avocado. This will give it some moisture without the carbs.

McBurns “Egg McMuffin”

I have a confession. I love McDonald’s Egg McMuffins! Back in college, in a moment of inspiration and pure genius ;), I realized I could make a healthier version of this at home! It’s super easy, and in my humble opinion, even better than McDonald’s. (Whodda thunk?)

Ingredients:photo

  • Whole wheat English muffin
  • 1 whole egg (I also like to add some extra egg whites, but it’s totally optional)
  • 1 slice of cheddar cheese
  • 1-2 pieces of turkey sausage

             OR

  • 1 slice of mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 slices of Canadian bacon

 

Obviously, you can use any meat/cheese combo you like. Fry egg over medium heat. I use our bigger pan, so that I can also throw the meat in to heat it up at the same time. Toast English muffin in toaster. Layer as desired and BOOM. Delish. 🙂

**I like to add a side of veggies, like some cherry tomatoes or bell pepper slices.

So there you have it! I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

What do you think? Do you eat breakfast? If so, what’s your favorite healthy breakfast item?? Please share over on the Beth Burns Fitness Facebook page!

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.

image

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!)

image_1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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. 🙂

image (2)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

Enjoy!

 

 

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.