Monday, April 14, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week 50

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Once upon a time... I had the best week ever that was also one of the weirdest weeks ever. From a Saturday to a Saturday I got to lead a girl through making the life changing decision to follow Jesus, I traveled 6 hours in one day, I had the stomach bug for 5 days, my ability to eat and follow through with the meals I planned was shot for about 7 days (due to stomach bug and the recovering from the bug stomach situation), I was offered a job I really wanted (and accepted!), I found out where I'd be living next, AND I was featured in a magazine for this blog! WHAT?! Craziest week ever. So due to that stuff, I didn't bring you a meal plan next week. BUT, since I didn't have a whole meal plan last week, that means this week's meal plan is gonna have some extras! Woo!

For my first meal to cook after that dreaded stomach bug, I came up with a yummy concoction I'm calling Black Bean Enchilada Bake. It was 7 delicious filling points on Weight Watchers per serving and I will be bringing that recipe to you soon (top left picture). I also came up with a equally delicious, super low point dip/sauce/dressing/eat-it-on-everything recipe (also coming soon). We're calling it Cilantro Jalapeno Ranch (top right picture) and it's 1 point for 2 tablespoons or 2 for a whole 1/4 cup! It's pretty much delicious on everything - celery, chips, baked potatoes, tacos, sandwiches, wraps, enchilada bakes, spoons, fingers. I've also been eating avocado on pretty much everything and using every crock pot I own (okay I only have 2, I just like being dramatic for flare) to do easy meal prep. To the meal plan!


salsa chicken stuffed baked sweet potatoes (topped with green onions, avocado, and cilantro jalapeno ranch) and roasted green beans


OWLs Dinner and Prayer Club: bring roasted sweet potatoes


Missional Community meal: making waffles (of the pumpkin and buttermilk varieties)




Friendgroup party: bringing iced sugar cookies (of course) and creamy kale dip with crudites (We start and lunch and stay until after dinner and eat our snacky goods for lunch and dinner. We don't do short gatherings.)


baked salmon, roasted sweet potatoes, and spicy kale chips


Easter goodies somewhere: I'll probably bring deviled eggs

Freebie Meals: 

black bean enchilada bake, roasted kale and tomatoes, and avocado

grilled chicken tenders, baked sweet potatoes, and hummus


breakfast this week - greek yogurt, grape fruit cups, and kiwi

healthy snack option #1 - cilantro jalapeno ranch and celery sticks

healthy snack option #2 - sliced bell pepper and hummus

healthy dessert option - greek yogurt chocolate pudding

What are you eating this week? What's your favorite Easter dish? Post your weekly meal plan in the comment section below! You can also link your meal plan up over at Organizing Junkie and see even more people who are meal planning. 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

DIY Beauty

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This post is long overdue! I talk about it all the time. I've told the story of what I do SO many times. But for some reason I couldn't bring myself to type it up and put my official endorsement on it. I think mentally I wanted to REALLY make sure I believed in these beauty methods before I advertised them. I wanted to make it through sweaty months and dry months (those are the two seasons for the South right?) and make sure I still thought it worked. And guess what? I do! August 4th was the last time I used shampoo. Sometime in June or July was the last time I bought shampoo, conditioner, face wash, or scalp treatment. I haven't shampooed my hair in almost 9 months. Sitting here typing this, I haven't washed my hair at all in four days and it looks as fresh as ever. Adopting this DIY beauty routine, I went from NEEDING to wash my hair every day or every other day if I used dry shampoo, to washing it every 5 days. Intrigued? Grossed out? Keep reading! :)

My bathroom sort of looks like a pantry or science experiment these days, but I LOVE it. And let me say, these "methods" aren't just for granola/hippie/hipster people! Not that I don't love me some granola hipsters, I'm just not one of them. I like kale and chia seeds with the best of them, but I can admit when I think it's just as easy and effective to do something the "normal" way. I hate the word normal, by the way, but for lack of a better term it works. For instance, I made DIY laundry soap once. It was fine. It worked okay. But regular store bought laundry soap seemed to get my clothes cleaner! So I went back to buying it. You know I love making things from scratch. I don't believe in most cake mixes (unless you doctor them up) and I make my own chocolate syrup. I don't do these things because of additives and preservatives, I just prefer the taste AND think it's just as simple. However, I made an angel food cake from scratch once, and it was good, but it tasted pretty much exactly the same and was a heck of a lot more time consuming. Therefore, if I make angel food cake, I use a box mix OR I buy it premade (GASP!). I also love a box brownie mix, but that's another story for another day. All that to say, I'm not one of those DO EVERYTHING YOURSELF AND NATURAL people. I love those people, but I'm not one of them. So if you think this is only for those people, it's not! Do you like things that work? Do you like things that save money? Do you hate washing and drying your hair everyday? Well this is for you!     


  • baking soda - baking isle for a smaller box, laundry isle for a big box (Generic brand is fine! I used to get the big box from Wal-mart for $2.50. 1 box lasts 3 months for my long hair. I recently bought a HUGE bag from Sam's. It will probably last me over a year! )
  • regular apple cider vinegar - usually by cooking oils (Generic brand is fine!)
  • raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar - sometimes with regular vinegar, sometimes in the organic section (It will say "with the 'mother'" on it. Don't ask me what that means, but it's not clear like the other kind and a little bit more expensive. I use Bragg's, but Heinz has one too I believe.)
  • organic coconut oil - sometimes on the regular cooking oils isle, but also in the organic section (All brands are pretty much the same, just get organic.)
  • essential oil - usually organic section (I use lavender, but tea tree oil smells good too. I just just have a sensitivity to it.)
  • cornstarch - baking isle (Generic brand is fine!)
  • cocoa powder if you have dark hair - baking isle (Generic brand is fine!)
  • Wilton icing bottles - specialty baking isle (They come in a pack of two, are cheap, and perfect for this! You can also use hair color bottles from Sally's.)
  • miniature spray bottle - travel section (optional)    

I'll talk about what each product can be used for, how I use it, why I think it works, and answer questions people frequently ask.



My fellow blogging, nail polish addict, and make-up loving friend Jessica over at Meet the Magnolias told me about this "no-poo" (short for no shampoo) method by sharing her experience with me! First, I don't like to call it "no-poo" because well, it should be obvious (it sounds gross!). Second, I'm much more likely to try something when someone I know tells me it really works. The link she shared that I base my mixture off of is from Mind Body Green.

Why switch? It works and it's healthier for your hair! Shampoo, though a genius marketing move, is actually really bad for your hair. Without fail when people tell me my hair looks so good and healthy and I announce that I haven't washed in 3-6 days or used shampoo in 8 months the first words out of their mouths are always, "I HAVE to wash mine everyday, it's so oily!" Our hair is oily BECAUSE of the shampoo. I used to HAVE to wash mine every day too. Shampoo strips your scalp of oils it actually needs. As a result, your scalp is constantly trying to rebuild those oils. THUS oily hair. It's a trap. You wash your hair daily because it's oily. Because you wash it daily the scalp works fast to replenish needed oils. Therefore you wash it more and more. Then it gets and feels unhealthy because of all the washing. Therefore you have to spend more money to buy treatments and super strength conditioners. Whew! That makes me tired enough to try something else. And... I don't know very many women who ENJOY blow drying their hair everyday. Which guess what? Blow drying every day is also bad for your hair!

Do note that there is a transition phase! You probably will have to wash more often in the beginning. Give yourself 4 to 6 weeks and then  you'll start to see the benefits -- faster growing hair, healthier hair, less frizzy hair, stronger hair, etc. Just google it! Tons of people have written about it and the benefits. Google baking soda shampoo or no-poo shampoo. My transition phase was about 2 weeks, but I had already trained my hair to go 2 to 3 days without washing. If you are an every day washer, your phase might take longer. Just give it 6 weeks! During the 6 weeks, DO NOT wash your hair every day. This method isn't actually good for you hair if you do it everyday! The point is to not need to wash it daily. Be sure to find a dry shampoo you like because you will need it during transition phase.


The formula that seems to work best for me is 1 part baking soda to 2-3 parts water for my "shampoo" mixture. Different blogs vary for the ratio, but I've tried many and for me this is perfect. For my length hair, which is on the longer side, about mid back, I use 3 tablespoons of baking soda and 7ish tablespoons of water. I keep a tablespoon measuring spoon in my bathroom along with a mason jar of baking soda (and other things you'll hear about later). I keep my mixing bottles in the shower. On the mornings I need to wash my hair, I measure out the baking soda into the bottle, add the water, and shake. It can settle if it takes a long time from the time  mixed to the time of use, so shake it again before application. You can make it the night before as well and just shake it before use in the morning. I wet my hair in the shower first, just like you would for normal shampooing. Then I squeeze the mixture all around my scalp, concentrating first on oilier parts (for me the hair line, front, and crown). I squeeze the rest of the mixture on the back of my scalp and any leftover down my hair. I rub it in and scrub with my fingertips just like I would with shampoo -- just sans foaming. I do this in the beginning of my shower routine so it can sit on my scalp for several minutes and then rinse it out. For most washing days I follow with a vinegar, lavender oil, water mixture for shine and detangling that I'll discuss under the vinegar section. 

-FAQs on Baking Soda as Shampoo-

  • Is it safe for color treated hair? I color my hair every 3-4 months at home. I personally think it makes my color keep longer. I'm a fake red head, red fades the fastest, and mine really doesn't fade all that much. When I color my hair, I DO use all the components of the kit. It doesn't mess me up. I've read suggestions for people who get color in salon to definitely let them wash your hair when you get it colored (necessary!), just request a sulfate free shampoo. Apparently 99.9 % of salons have it. According to my reading, it only sets you back a few days in the training you've done to your hair. 
  • Don't you miss suds? I did at first! I'm used to it now. The benefits outweigh the luscious feeling of a lather. 
  • What if you have a scalp condition? I have scalp psoriasis. It neither makes my scalp better or worse. It burns slightly, but so do expensive shampoos I buy for my scalp. I can't speak for whether it makes dandruff worse. Usually in the winter I get a little normal dandruff along with my scalp psoriasis, but this winter while using this method I did not. 
  • What about working out? I pull my hair up in a no crease hair tie, pin back any bangs and pieces that don't fit, and I'm fine. I know some people get sweaty scalp, but I don't! If I do, it's around the edges, and once I get home I wipe around my face and the face framing portions of my hair with a baby wipe then blow dry any damp pieces. 
  • What about salon visits? Having someone wash my hair and the salon when I go in for a cut is what I miss most! Someone else washing your hair is just a lovely feeling. But I willingly gave it up! If you prefer a wet cut like I do, wash before you go. I wash my hair right before I go, and then I opt for letting them fix it. It feels just as relaxing for someone to dry and style your hair to me as it does for them to wash it. 


When I realized baking soda actually worked for shampooing, I was amazed and wanted to know what else it did. This post and this post convinced me to try DIY beauty full force, and now I'm sold. In a mini mason jar with a plastic lid, I keep a mixture of 1 part baking soda to 1 part water to use for face wash. I'm uncertain on exact measurements of this, but it should be a liquidy paste consistency. Runnier than toothpaste, but not as liquid as your shampoo mixture.It shouldn't feel too gritty. I rub a little between my palms each morning then gently rub my face to cleanse it. I can't answer questions about how this works for problem-prone skin. I was blessed with freckles and clear skin. The most blemishes I've ever had at once are 2. It's perfect and gentle for me. I have combination oily/dry skin and I'm fair, so slightly sensitive skin, and it feels gentle, cleanses my face perfectly, and leaves my skin feeling ridiculously smooth. You can use less water to use it to exfoliate.

There are even more ways you can use it for healthy skin from this site! Apparently it can even be used for sunburn relief or a detox bath!


DON'T do this everyday! I'd do it one time a week at most. I usually do it once or twice a month. That being said, you can dip your wet toothbrush into a little baking soda and gently brush your teeth with it for whiter teeth.


I use the same mixture I use for washing my face mixed with a tiny bit of coconut oil for shaving "lotion" and it works perfectly!



For a conditioning rinse to follow the baking soda shampoo, I use regular (not the organic) apple cider vinegar mixed with water and lavender essential oil. You can use the organic here if you'd like, but I tried both and don't notice a difference and the regular is cheaper! This is also in the Mind Green Body post and the other DIY beauty posts I mentioned. The vinegar rinse helps add shine to hair, and also releases tangles. For my length hair it does not release all tangles, but it definitely helps! Under coconut oil I'll discuss a option for additional detangling help.

One thing to note about this is that if you know for some reason you'll be getting your dry hair wet, you might want to skip the rinse for that washing day. So for instance if it's 100% chance or rain for 3 days and you aren't good at remembering to have your umbrella handy or if you'll be going to the beach or swimming. Once you dry your hair, or once it air dries, the smell is completely gone. But for some reason when it gets wet the smell is slightly reactivated.


Again, I also keep a mason jar full of this in my bathroom. In one of my Wilton bottles, I fill it 1/4th of the way with vinegar. I add 5-6 drops of lavender oil and fill the rest of the bottle with water. For my length hair, I use the entire amount. You might not have to. After rinsing my baking soda shampoo out, I squeeze this mixture all over my hair. I turn the water to as cold as I can handle it, and rinse it out with cool water. Rinsing with cool water also helps with shine.

-FAQs on ACV for Conditioner-

  • What about the smell? As mentioned above, it really does go away when it's dry! With the lavendar oil, the smell left behind is faint. But once it's dry, especially if you blow dry, it's gone. 
  • What if my hair is still tangled? Read below about coconut oil detangler! You can also use a normal detangler, but this is about DIY methods! Be sure to only spray detanglers on the ends of your hair as spraying them on roots can add some extra, unneeded oiliness. 


Use diluted organic apple cider vinegar to spot treat blemishes! If I have one and do this the night before, it's usually gone by morning. You can also dilute it even more and use it as toner. I'd suggest adding some lavender oil with it though for smell. But don't forget to dilute! It will make your face red if you use it all over at full strength. 


TMI here, BUT it works so I'm sharing. I had one of those hideous underskin infections on my leg last summer. I knew it had potential to get worse, and I had read that organic apple cider vinegar and some antibacterial properties. I put some on a cotton ball full strength, spot treated the infection, the next morning it was GONE! NOTE: Do not do this on any sort of open infection or sore. I would imagine that would burn like heck and have no idea if it's good for it.


You can actually drink a little organic apple cider vinegar every day and it's good for your immune system! There is lots of information out there and I am not an expert and can't speak on it. I do it and it seems to help. When I feel a cold coming on I drink 1 tablespoon of organic ACV a couple of times a day mixed with cranberry juice and chased with water (it's nasty, fair warning). There is lots of info and lots of "recipes" for daily elixers to drink. Just google apple cider vinegar drink.



In a travel size spray bottle I mix a little coconut oil, less than 1/4th of a bottle, and fill it with warm water. I spray it on my ends to aid in combing out tangles before blow drying. Coconut oil is a hard oil, so the oil will harden between uses. I hold the bottle under hot water each time I need to use it to dissolve the oil then shake it up and use it. 


Coconut oil is sort of magical and has healing powers (again, I'm not an expert, google it!). Coconut oil can be used in place of neosporin under a bandaid. It can also be used on a burn where the skin isn't broken (I used it on a curling iron burn recently). I also use it when I have sores on my scalp from my psoriasis (how much more TMI can this post get...). To use it in these ways, I scoop some out of the jar I keep in my bathroom, let it sit in my palm for a minute to melt or rub some between my palms to melt it, and then dip a qtip in the melted oil and spot treat the areas in need. 


Coconut oil can be rubbed into cuticles to soften them and push them back. I also always rub my feet down with coconut oil after a pedicure and cover them with socks for a little bit to let it absorb into my skin. 


Rub some into the palm of your hands to get it into liquid form, and use it on any excessively dry areas! 


Rub some into the palm of your hands to melt it, then with a gtip or cotton ball or finger tip, apply to eye area to easily remove mascara and eye liner. 



If you have lighter hair, you can use straight cornstarch as dry shampoo! If you have darker hair, you can mix cocoa powder with it to get your desired color consistency. I use a makeup powder brush to apply it around my hair line, along my part, and at the crown of my head and store it in an emptied, cleaned makeup container.


Okay, that was A LOT of info. Possibly the longest post I've ever written. Whew! Do you understand why it took me so long to write now?? Okay, so now I'll recap JUST the hair part of what I do to not have to wash my hair but every 5-6 days. Some washes last 5 days, some last 6 days. On a 5 day wash my hair starts getting oily a little earlier or it was an exceptionally humid week or I had to use too much hair spray earlier in the week for "fancy" hair. On a 6 day wash the first 3 days are pretty perfect. I'll discuss the routine for both. 

A perfect 6 day wash:

Day 1 - Wash hair with baking soda water shampoo mixture. Rinse hair with apple cider vinegar lavender water mixture. Detangle hair with coconut oil water mixture. Blow dry and style hair. 

Day 2 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends). 

Day 3 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends and sometimes on this day I might pin back my bangs if they are looking a little oily from touching them too much).

Day 4 - Use DIY dry shampoo and style hair (you get the picture of what styling involves).

Day 5 - Use store bought dry shampoo on oily areas and style hair.

Day 6 - Wear hair in an updo or braid.

A little less than perfect 5 day wash: 

Day 1 - Wash hair with baking soda water shampoo mixture. Rinse hair with apple cider vinegar lavender water mixture. Detangle hair with coconut oil water mixture. Blow dry and style hair. 

Day 2 - Style hair (which usually just involves brushing it, straightening any pieces that got unruly in the night or curling the ends). 

Day 3 - Use DIY dry shampoo and style hair (you get the picture of what styling involves).

Day 4 - Use store bought dry shampoo on oily areas and style hair.

Day 5 - Wear hair in an updo or braid.

And for a final note... Many times when I've told someone I only wash my hair every 5 days, they immediately say, "I have to shower every day!" Hair washing does not equal showering! I shower [almost] everyday! I just pull my hair back with a no-crease hair tie, push my bangs back with a loose head band, and shower. PLEASE SHOWER EVERY[ISH] DAY! 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Weight Watchers A to Z

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Remember a million years ago when I was doing Weight Watchers and lost 43 lbs and posted all the time about it and was kinda obsessed with it? Well, this week I joined again! Long story short - wanted to lose 100 lbs, lost 43, almost half way there, dad got sick for a while then passed away, grief, stress, lost motivation, gained all but 10 of those 43 lbs back. I'm in a great place emotionally, better than I've ever been, more reliant on God and the power of the Holy Spirit in my life than I've ever been, and I prayed one day last week about having more energy, being healthier, and positive stress relieving outlets. The prayer wasn't about losing weight, it was about wanting to be the best version of me that I could be. I asked the Holy Spirit to give me supernatural motivation to workout and said if losing weight can happen and me not get obsessed with it or discouraged by the journey then I need Holy Spirit level supernatural power for that too. That day my place of employment sent out an email saying they needed two more people to sign up for Weight Watchers at Work to be able to start the program. I knew I was supposed to be one of those people. I signed up and that afternoon I worked out for the first time since I hurt my back this past August. A million years ago when I did Weight Watchers, I started a post called Weight Watchers A to Z. I never posted it because I wasn't practicing Weight Watchers principles anymore. But now... I'M BACK! And back with much excitement and motivation I might add. So I thought I'd finish and post this post as a refresher to myself on the things that worked for me before, and maybe even a help and encouragement to others. 

This will probably be cheesy at times, but you're use to that because that's just me. I have thought of every tip and trick I can think of to share, and therefore, this will be LONG. (But full of helpful, useful info, so long is okay right?)

1. The NEED TO KNOW WW Blog: Skinny Taste! This blog is a life saver! She posts at least 3 recipes a week and they are all REALLY good and have no weird ingredients. A lot of healthy eating food blogs use weird ingredients like tofu, blech! I want to be able to cook with stuff I'm familiar with and like and she helps achieve that goal. I have made and fed her recipes to lots of people and they always love it. She posts everything! Sweets, pasta dishes, holiday favorites, everything. And she always included the points for each meal. 

2. Other great WW friendly blogs:

3. Use Pinterest! Go to Pinterest and type in Weight Watchers. A ton of recipes will come up. There is a big Weight Watchers community on Pinterest. Also... Instagram! Search the hastag #weightwatchers and be inspired by all the other people doing this right along with you and their fantastic meal and snack ideas. 

4. Calculating: To be a dedicated tracker (and you must be for WW to work!), you need a points calculation tool. You can buy the point plus calculator at your WW meeting or from the WW site ($14). You can also sign up for eTools ($15 a month). OR, you can buy a "copy cat" app. I had a calculator, but I lost it! I had eTools for over 2 years, but it actually hurts me more than it helps me (I need to actually go through the process of writing out my points and food on the traditional paper tracker). So I did some research and found an app called Ultimate Value Diary. It does allow you to track your points in the app, but I don't use it for that. It comes with a points plus calculator function, an activity calculator function, a how many points you get calculator function, a bar code scanner function, and a meal builder function. It was $3.99 and I use it multiple times a day. I'm not advocating for not supporting WW, but I pay for my weekly meetings, and paid for eTools for 2+ years and never used it! So I personally don't feel bad about using this app. If you do, I support you! Try one of the other methods, but the point is... you need to be able to calculate and you HAVE to track. 

5. Quick Tips:
  • Take your points plus calculator to the store with you. Compare things before you decide what to buy. Once you get used to what options are best you won't need to do this likely! 
  • Once you've calculate how many points something is in your fridge or pantry, write it on the container. Later on once you've memorized things you won't need to do this, but it's REALLY helpful in the beginning. 
  • Buy a cheap food scale at Wal-mart or Target. The food book will say this many points for 4 oz chicken breast, etc. If you guess on how many ounces something is you're usually wrong. I bought mine for less than 15 dollars at Target. 
  • Make sure you have a good set of measuring cups. The scoop measuring cups like these are easiest. They also sale 1 cup and 1/2 cup measuring spoons at the meetings, which I love. But the scoop cups will work just as well. When it says 1 cup of pasta, 1 cup or rice, 1/4 cup or this or a 1/2 cup of that per serving, measure it out! Don't guess. 
  • Don't take the things you love away! Modify them or make space for them. The Weight Watchers motto is that it's not a diet, it's a lifestyle. Success comes when you don't feel like you are keeping your self from things. I bake something usually at least once a week! I use Weight Watchers sites and recipes and do healthier things, but they are still just as yummy and a treat. Even your favorite candy isn't off limits. 10 M & Ms are 1 point! 1 Dove Chocolate square is 1 point. Don't deprive! 

Quick Tip - Cut off the top of a kiwi and eat/scoop it with a spoon! 

6. Breakfast: ALWAYS eat breakfast. It's proven that people who eat breakfast loose more weight, make better food choices, and splurge less. Some ideas that I love: 
  • I actually blogged about breakfast ideas the last time I did this:
  • Greek Yogurt - This is my go to. It's easy and comes prepackaged for you! I always thought I hated yogurt, and I do hate normal yogurt, but I love Greek yogurt. Points vary by brand, but 90% of the time a container of Greek yogurt and some sort of fruit is my breakfast of choice. 
  • Crustless Quiches or Egg Muffins - I've made minis and regular sized muffins. The minis are 1 point for 2. The biggies are 2 points each. 
  • Banana Pancake Muffins - These are also good to freeze and keep on hand for breakfast. They are 3 points for 4. 
  • Frozen Waffles - I like the multi grain frozen waffles. They are 3 points for 2 and I usually spread them with Nutella or peanut butter if I'm on the go. If I have time to sit down I'll use Mrs. Butterworths sugar free syrup and some yogurt butter. 
  • Oatmeal - I only like to eat oatmeal when it's cold outside, but it's a good, filling, low point breakfast. Just be careful which packets you get. Always check points before buying. 
  • Overnight Oats - Aka cold oatmeal. Yummy, healthy, delicious, and so filling! I have recipes here and here. They range from 7 - 10 points. 
  • Fruit Parfaits - Yogurt, cottage cheese, and fruit yumminess. 
  • Breakfast Burritos - 5 points each and VERY filling. You can make them ahead and freeze them! I like things like that. 
  • Bagel and Cream Cheese - Mini bagels or bagel thins are 3 points each. There are lots of varieties of spreadable cream cheese. 1 tbsp of reduced fat is 1 point. You buy a container of the reduced fat plain or just a block of reduced fat plain (whichever is cheaper) and make you owm cream cheese variations. I've done cinnamon (cinnamon and sugar to taste added in and whipped up). I also love pumpkin spice.
  • Breakfast Sandwich - Whole wheat reduced calorie English muffins are 3 points. I toast them, add 3 slices of deli ham for 1 point, and add a piece of reduced fat cheese for 1 and microwave it for 25 seconds. It's a fake healthy McMuffin type thing. You can also use Oscar Mayer Fully Cooked bacon (2 points for 4 slices!)
  • Cereal - I do like cereal in the summer and spring time because it's light and cold. Special K varieties are usually good, about 3 points per cup. I'm sure Kashi is good. But my secret favorite is Kroger brand bagged puffed wheat! It's like sugar smacks without the sugar and 1 cup is 1 point! I usually have 2 cups, add some splenda, 1/2 cup milk, and strawberries or a banana chopped in it. Total it's 3 points! 2 for the cereal, 1 for the milk. 
  • Fruit - Add fruit. I always always have some fruit item with whatever breakfast I have. It's 0 points and you are required to get in 5-8 servings of fruit or vegetables a day. I basically eat one or the other with every meal or snack. I also love to take splenda sweetened or no sugar added fruit cups (0 points) and top them with 1/4 cup of fat free or low fat cottage cheese (1 point). 
  • Toast -  I like cinnamon toast for 2 points (2 slices of reduced calorie bread for 2 points. Spray each side with Parkay spray butter for 0 points. Sprinkle with Splenda and cinnamon 0 points). I also like Nutella or peanut butter toast (2 slices of reduced calorie bread for 2 points. 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter or Nutella for 2 points).
  • Banana sandwich - Really filling. 2 slices of reduced calorie bread toasted (2 points). Spread with 1/2 tbsp of peanut butter or 1/2 tbsp Nutella (2 points). Slice a banana and build the sandwich. 4 points total.  
  • Weight Watchers shakes - You can buy the packets from the class. They are 2 points if you use water, 4 if you use skim milk. I like the chocolate, but they do have other flavors too. I always use milk to get in my 2 dairy servings for the day. I have made mine in the blender with frozen strawberries as ice cubes. I've also made them with 1 cup of ice and 3 tsp of instant coffee granules. Mocha frappe-ish. 
  • Egg Mugs - These are really good and very easy! You can find tons of recipes here, here, here, here, or here. Hungry Girl does these and most are 2-3 points depending on what ingredients you add. It's scrambled eggs in a cub basically. My favorite ways are with sundried tomato basil laughing cow cheese and either bacon bits or sliced deli turkey meat and green onions. I always add salt, pepper and onion powder to mine too. 
  • Boiled Eggs - 2 points each

7. Lunches: Lunch is hard! The key to doing well at lunch is planning and doing things ahead. Eating out is not recommended, BUT doable if you plan for it. I'll post eating out tips later. 
  • Sandwiches - I did a post about sandwiches and great sandwich topping and additions: Sandwiches can be great if you don't let them get boring. Most deli meat is pretty low fat. I get the 99.6 or 8 or something fat free ones. The thin sliced turkey, chicken, or ham are usually 1 point for 4-6 slices depending on the brand. I prefer the Land O'Frost brand. Add veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, or cucumbers for free. I love the sandwich slider pickles. Dill pickles are 0 points. I also enjoy thinly sliced apple, like super super thin, on my sandwiches some times too. Laughing Cow cheese has lots of great varieties for 1 point a wedge to spread on. Weight Watchers also has 1 point spreadable wedge cheese. Reduced fat sliced cheese isn't bad either. 1-2 points a slice. Mustard is free! There are so many great varieties of mustard. Dijionaise is free to add a little creaminess. Fat free mayo (a tbsp or less) is also free if you need to have mayo on your sandwiches.
  • Chicken Salad - On Sundays before the work week starts I often mix up a batch of chicken salad and/or tuna salad to use for lunches. DON'T use premade and don't make it the "normal" mayo heavy way. I buy the big cans (13 oz) of chicken breast from Sam's in a 5 pack or something. You can buy the 13 oz cans anywhere though. I mix that with 2 tbsp of Kraft Fat Free mayo, 2 tbsp of fat free sour cream (you can also use greek yogurt), 1/2 cup of grapes sliced, 1/4 cup chopped celery, 1 tbsp of dill relish, salt, pepper, a little sage, and some green onions. It makes 4 hearty helpings for sandwiches and is 4 points per serving. 
  • Tuna Salad - I mix 1 can of drained tuna, 2 chopped hard boiled eggs, 2 tbsp of fat free mayo, 2 tsp of mustard, 2 tbsp chopped onion, 1 tbsp of dill relish. Makes 2 servings. 4 points per serving.
  • Avocado Chicken Salad - I'm always obsessed with this when avocados are in season. Recipe here. Use one avocado instead of 2. It makes 4 servings and is 6 points a serving. It's great on a sandwich or on a salad. 
  • Salads - Salads are great but kind of complicated to bring to work as you need so many containers to not wilt lettuce and such. And then I discovered this idea! I didn't make mine like hers, but definitely borrowed the idea! Mine looked like this. The key is making sure the dressing doesn't touch the lettuce. I layer mine with dressing (most low calorie and fat free varieties are pretty good), onions, cucumbers, carrots, tomatoes, mushrooms, reduced fat cheese, chicken, and then salad greens. I used spinach for one and and romaine for the other. They keep for up to 5 days in the fridge. I made a couple on Sunday for lunches for the week. I usually have shredded chicken on hand that I make in the crock pot for salads and recipes, but I also buy bagged precooked chopped chicken from Kroger in the frozen section sometimes. I warm it up in a skillet with some cooking spray and Tony's. 
  • Sides - Veggies, veggies, veggies! I always bring sliced cucumbers, carrot chips, grape tomatoes, or bell pepper. I often bring a dill pickle spear. All zero points. Every two weeks or so I mix up fat free ranch dip (16 oz container of fat free sour cream, dry ranch packet, mix in the container, 1 point for 1/4 cup). I bring a 1/4 cup of the ranch dip or to dip veggies in to make them more enjoyable. A couple of tbsp of hummus is 2-3 points and good with veggies too. Veggie chips or straws (from Sam's) are good and usually 3 points for 20 or so. Special K chips are 3 points for 30. Normal chips are 3 points for 15 or less. Stay away. 
  • Leftovers are great too. Just be sure to portion them out and know what you're eating. (I probably bring leftovers more for lunch than anything else.)
  • Smart Ones frozen meals put Weight Watchers points right on the package. There are other varieties of healthy frozen meals that are low in points too (Healthy Choice, Leah Cuisine, the Great Value healthy options). I like making homemade things too much to eat these often, but in the beginning I did eat them for lunches just because it was so easy (and I didn't know all the tips I'm sharing with you yet). 

8. Dinner Tips:
  • Plan plan plan plan! I can't stress that enough. Weight Watchers will be a breeze if you plan. I am an avid meal planner. I post my meal plans every Monday(ish) and wrote a long post on the basics and reasons for meal planning (go here). If you have a recipe builder or meal builder, you can easily figure out how many points your meals and dishes are per serving. You can do it by hand also (add total ingredients and points for everything and then divide by serving size). 
  • Chicken breasts are your friends. Tilapia (or any fish) is your friend. Ground turkey is your friend! I pretty much use ground turkey in the place of any recipe that calls for ground beef. I buy chicken breasts at Sam's and tilapia there too. Lean meats are lower in points.
  • Swap things out. Use whole grain pasta (Wal-mart and Kroger have cheaper store brands). Use wild rice or brown rice (I still use white rice too though). I still use white flour, but I always keep wheat flower on hand and usually do half and half. I still use sugar, but I substitute Splenda in a lot of things. 

Find awesome reusable containers that meet your snacking needs! 

9. Snack Smart: Don't use all your points on meals. Snacks are important. Try to do at least 2 snacks a day. I usually try to keep it to 2 points or less, but sometimes up to 4. I'll share a few ideas. 
  • FRUIT! It's free. I include it in almost every snack. Add fat free cool whip to strawberries. Bananas sustain! 
  • Boiled Eggs - they stick with you!
  • Almonds - 1/4 cup is 4 points but they really do last you all afternoon on hunger level AND they are a healthy oil and protein
  • Veggies and Ranch Dip or Hummus
  • Healthier Chips - Special K, Veggie Straws, Etc. 
  • Microwave Mini Cake - 5 points
  • Edamame - 3 points for the individual portioned bags from Sam's
  • Frozen Yogurt Bites
  • Granola Bar
  • Crackers and Cheese - 5 saltine crackers are only 2 points, I usually have 8 with two slices of reduced fat cheese, melt for a few seconds, quick easy snack
  • Deli meat - 4-6 slices are 1 point! Have a few slices with some grapes 
  • Reduced fat cheese stick

Cut up fruits and veggies for easy snacking access. 

10. Eating Out: Eating out is part of life! It happens, it's fun, it's social. Plan ahead. Most places have menus online. Don't be afraid to ask to have your meal differently. At Margarita's my order is so complicated but they do it [mostly] willingly (Fajita Taco Salad, no shell, extra lettuce, no cheese sauce, shredded cheese, sour cream, and guacamole on the side). At Red Lobster (the one time I've eaten there in 4 years), I asked them to prepare mine without butter. They listen! Don't be scared. A tip they always tell you at meetings is to ask for a to go box as soon as you get your food. Split it in half before you eat it and take the rest home. Applebee's actually has Weight Watchers items on their menu with points listed. There are a couple online resources that have points calculate for many popular restaurants as well. 

11. Favorite Products: These are some of my favorite products that I've discovered while doing Weight Watchers
  • Wal-mart Brand Splenda - Cheaper than regular
  • Oscar Mayer Full Cooked Bacon - Microwaveable, center cut so less fat, 2 points for 4 slices
  • Fat Free Cottage Cheese - I could never eat it by itself, I add it to baked potatoes, fruit, and salads
  • Fat Free Sweet Condensed Milk - 1 point per tablespoon. I love to drizzle it over strawberries or as an icing glaze on the microwavable cake
  • Fat Free Cool Whip - Walmart doesn't have a generic brand but Kroger does. 2 tbsp is 0 points. Great on fruit or desserts
  • Fat Free Kraft Mayo - Perfect for dips and salads. 2 tbsp is 0 points
  • Fat Free Greek Yogurt - great to use in place of sour cream or mayo in recipes. 2 tbsp is 0 points 1/4 cup is 1
  • Fat Free Sour Cream - great for dips and adding dollups to things, 2 tbsp is 0 points, 1/4 cup is 1 
  • Brummel & Brown Yogurt Butter - 1 tbsp is 1 point
  • Parkay Spray Butter - O points! Great on toast or baked potatoes
  • Fat Free Salad Dressings - Kraft has lots, they are usually 1 point for 2 tbsp
  • Sugar Free Pudding & Jello - Buy the box and make the mixes. Sugar free pudding is 2 points per serving and sugar free jello is 0
  • Grape Tomatoes - I live on these things. I get the big box of them from Sam's and it's $5 for a lot. They are much more expensive at the groceries stores. 
  • Strawberries
  • Angel Food Cake Mix - Lightest easiest cake around. I make it into trifles, add crushed pineapple to it, top it with spelnda sweetened strawberries and fat free cool whip. 
  • Cocoa Roasted Almonds
  • Reduced Fat Cheese Sticks - I get Sargento 2% Cheddar ones, 2 points each
  • Kellog's Fiber Plus Bars - 4 points but good fiber and filling

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week LATE (AKA 49)

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I know I know. It's Wednesday. Meal plan = Monday. I know! It's been a crazy busy few weeks with job interviews and baking orders and more. BUT, expect more consistent meal plans and posts because I started Weight Watchers again yesterday! I have a high need to feel connected and share when on the weight loss/getting healthier journey, therefore I can't do this without being able to share things with you! On to the plan.


Sam's Club grocery and dinner trip. Clearly I needed a horrible for you hotdog on the day before I started Weight Watchers! 


Black Bean Quesidillas, Smashed Avocado, & Crudities 


Honey Sesame Crock Pot Chicken & Rice (my missional community offerings)




Smorgasbord (aka random) Leftovers


Traveling Food (will be on my way home from Louisiana during dinner time)


Grilled Greek Veggie Pizza


Greek Yogurt Chocolate Pudding for healthy desserts. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Transformational Jesus Time

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In case you didn't know, I also manage another blog and blog along with seven other women for an organization called Total Woman U. Each of the eight of us submit one post a month for the blog. My first post was a two part post about something I'm very passionate about - having transformational and consistent time with Jesus. I'd love for you to read the posts and get to know my heart a little more!

Transformational Jesus Time: Part 1

Sneak Peak: I was motivated to read my Bible every day so I could check it off of a list, because doing the things on that list seemed to be the opposite of spending eternity in a fiery pit.  I was motivated by a "supposed to", not by love (love for my Savior, and believing and understanding His love for me.) 

Tranformational Jesus Time: Part 2

Sneak Peak: Stop believing lies.  Let your Savior woo you back to Him.  Don't be motivated by a "supposed to" or check off list.  Be motivated by your Savior's complete, beautiful love for you.  When someone loves us that much, and we actually believe it, giving Him a little bit of time can become natural and not a hassle.  God knows you.  He made you.  He knows what you need, how your brain works, and wants you to love and enjoy spending time with Him.  Start today. 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Meal Planning 101: Week 48

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Stay tuned for the ever familiar speech on why I missed two weeks of posting meal plans... 1. The week after the aforementioned wedding weekend/mini vacation, I literally didn't cook for 10 days (GASP). I had three social things that week that involved meals. I lived off leftovers, random things, gross fast food, and avoided the grocery store that week. 2. Last week was Spring Break! I did in fact cook, but I also focused majorly on investing in friendships, being on my computer less, reading, writing, being outside, spending time with Jesus, and doing other assorted things on my Spring Break goal list.

Posting a meal plan didn't make the cut. BUT... I'm back! Back with a meal plan and some sort of blogging mojo. I have more than one post scheduled for this week. WHAT?! Spring break was good for me guys. So good. Recipes coming at you soon: Green Chili Avocado Turkey Burger Sliders & Crock Pot Buffalo Wings. And the long awaited DIY beauty post is also coming!


GREEN THINGS, you know I love a themed meal! Kale Chicken Pasta & Sauteed Artichokes & Kale


OWLs Dinner Club - bring Sauteed Kale


Missional Community Meal


Black Bean Burritos & Guacamole


Wedding Food via Friendgroup Wedding


Friend Dinner


Crock Pot Greek Chicken Pitas, Tzatziki, and Crudites


What are you eating this week? Post your weekly meal plan in the comment section below! You can also link your meal plan up over at Organizing Junkie and see even more people who are meal planning. 

Friday, March 14, 2014

#SheSharesTruth Psalm 38

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Confession. When I read this passage on Monday when SheReadsTruth announced it as the reflective passage for the upcoming SheSharesTruth on Friday, I was unaffected. In that moment, I felt I had it all together. I had given up something for Lent, messed up once towards the beginning, repented, and felt like my heart was in the right place. I even felt lead to add another thing, and it was going well too. I made a note in the journaling margin of my handy ESV Journaling Bible that read, "So good for those moments when we have to come back again because we went away again." And I was good. And my heart was right. I decided I had nothing to share for SheSharesTruth this week. But then...

For two days I unintentionally stopped remembering why I was fasting from things: to depend on God to heal my wounds - big and little - instead of relying on other things that bring me a therapeutic sense of security in some way. So quickly I went away again and needed to come back again. I thought myself to be fickle, incapable of fasting from the things I cling to for 40 days. I had mentally decided, not verbally admitted, that I was giving up on my Lent callings.

Last night, I hung out with a college friend I haven't been active friends with since college until now. In college, I still operated in a shame based identity. Because I'm so open and transparent about most things now, I sometimes forget that people I knew then don't know many of the things about me that people I've met sense do. I unhesitatingly shared many things about my childhood and family without emotion, not emotionally closed off or anything, I am just so far removed, that it's normal to talk about. My friend, fighting back tears, said that she wished she had known these things about me, my life, and my family in college. She often thought no on else had been through things like she had. She said it made so much sense, the way I'm different now, released from all of the shame. In my sleepiness, I was thankful, but not reflective enough to be fully moved.

I sat down this morning at my normal Starbucks table, determined to come back and not give up on my Lent calling to fast. I was reminded of Psalm 38. I began to fight back tears and spill my coffee as I reached for it in an attempt to distract myself from crying [again] at Starbucks. I knew that what on Monday I decided not to write about, today I needed to write about. I was back in one of "those moments" needing to come back again because I went away again.

My sin, my iniquities...

"like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me." Psalm 38:4b

"I am feeble and crushed. I groan because of the tumult of my heart." Psalm 38:8

"O Lord, all my longing is before you; my sighing is not hidden from you. My heart throbs; my strength fails me." Psalm 38: 9-10a

Utterly aware of my weakness and need to return, I was reminded of last night's conversation with my friend and able to process how far away from chaos God has taken me, how much He's done. I have been released. I wrote on the coffee and tear stained pages of my journal, "Why do I live in THAT [chaos, lacking control, the past, being characterized by who I was and how I was raised and how I should have turned out] place when You have brought me so far?! I am released to run after You!"

"But for you, O Lord, do I wait; it is you, O Lord my God, who will answer." Psalm 38:15

"I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin." Psalm 38:18

And then Ellie Holcomb's song Marvelous Light in perfect timing had it's turn on shuffle and filled my ears with even more applicable truth.

"I am not who I once was, define by all the things I've done [and things I used to believe]. Afraid my shame would be exposed. Afraid of really being known. But then you gave my heart a home. From fear of shame into the hope of life."

Friends, we are released! Free from shame, free from the past, free from lies. Yes, we mess up and need to come back often, but we're free! We GET to come back. We are released to run after Him!