Tuesday, May 11, 2021

A 2 week Nutrition Plan anyone can follow!


Well it's been awhile!

And a lot has happened. But the biggest personal thing that has happened to Cody and me is our combined 80+lb weight loss. 

How? A combination of amazing 6 day a week workouts (Message me for info!) and Noom.

Noom is an app that reeducates you on your diet and nutrition. But the reality is that Noom doesn't tell you what to eat - so that's why we've put together our list for you. 


This is separated into four categories: 

  •     Breakfast
  •     Lunch
  •     Dinner
  •     Snacks
Our eating schedule: Breakfast, Lunch, Snack, Dinner, Snack. (Cody doesn't usually have the evening snack that I do!)

The best part: these are easy recipes and the ingredients are available readily at Trader Joe's and at Kroger locations. 

Let's get to it!

Breakfast. CHOOSE ONE:

    Quaker Instant Oatmeal (make with water)
            2 varieties we recommend: the fruit and cream (lower calorie already) and the reduced sugar variety pack. 


    2 Scrambled Eggs


    Trader Joe's Whole Wheat English Muffins with a dollop (small!) of peanut butter. You can top this with 1/2 a banana as well! I do sub any whole wheat or organic English Muffin if Trader Joe's is out.

DRINKS: Coffee with a splash of creamer is totally fine! Watch your heavy sugared drinks for breakfast - they tend to be loaded with calories. You should drink 8oz or so of water with breakfast as well.

SUPPLEMENTS: I always start my day with a health shot. It's currently being tested so I can't tell anyone about it just yet. I also use Beachbody's Energize when I work out in the mornings and after I workout I use Beachbody's orange recover. These things protect my muscles and enhance my exercise routines.


Every day for lunch I have a salad. I can't tell you the importance of tons of fruits and veggies, but the reality is that you'll feel fuller when you have a huge bowl of salad. 

    Mixed spring greens, butter lettuce, spinach - it doesn't matter the variety you choose, but keep in mind the darker the leaf the more nutrient rich it is. FILL THE BOWL! FILL IT WITH GREENS!

Toppings: use more veggies! I use carrots, celery, Trader Joe's mini bell peppers, red onion, blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, and chop everything up and add it to my greens. 
Be careful with avocado - it's very high in calories!

I have a protein normally: 1/4c of cooked chicken, one hard boiled egg, etc. Don't over do this - 1/4 cup is all you need. Don't do fried chicken.

Toppings continued: you should use 2tbsp of dressing and no more. Check your labels! Some salad dressings have 250 calories a serving, which is more than your entire lunch with out it! I use and love the Trader Joe's salad dressings. But my absolute favorite is Olive Garden's Italian dressing. 

I also will put 1/8 cup of fat free feta or bleu cheese or goat cheese on my salads. 

    With a wrap, think about making a salad in a wrap. Marinated chicken, tons of veggies, olives, tahini sauce, and a LOW CALORIE tortilla/wrap. We have found the holy grail of those: HERE!

    A can of lower calorie Progresso soup is a good choice, too!

Dinner. CHOOSE ONE: 

White Chicken Chili

Servings 6
Calories per serving 135
8oz chicken breast
1 yellow onion
2 cloves of minced garlic
24oz chicken broth
1 can of great northern beans drained and rinsed (Dillon’s clicklist gave us butter beans so that’s what I usedšŸ¤¦‍♂️)
1 can of whole kernel corn drained
2 cans of diced green chilies (we use mild but if you want spicier you can use hot)
1 can of Rotel
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of black pepper
1 tsp of cumin
3/4 tsp of oregano
1/2 tsp of chili powder
1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
Hand full of fresh chopped cilantro
4oz fat free cream cheese
1/4 cup of milk or half and half
Toppings: (optional)
Fat free cheddar
Light sour cream
Tortilla strips
-Thaw chicken breast and place in the bottom of your crockpot and top with salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne pepper.
-Poor in chicken broth and add garlic, diced onions, corn, great Northern beans, diced green chilies, rotelle, and cilantro. Stir.
-Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 8hrs.
-Remove chicken and shred them return to crock pot and stir.
-Add cream cheese and milk, stir. Cook for additional 15-30 minutes until chili is creamy and slightly thickened.
-Top with desired toppings and enjoy.

Chicken spinach mushroom white lasagna
Makes 2 servings. 315 calories per serving.
Hearts of palm palmini lasagna noodles
8oz chicken breast
2 handfuls fresh spinach (ours was from our cold bed)
1/2 white onion diced
4oz mushrooms
1/4 cup Low fat ricotta
2 wedges laughing cow cheese
2tbsp milk
2tbsp low fat sour cream
1/4 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp garlic minced
1tsp oregano
1tsp basil
1/4tsp white pepper
1/4 mozzarella shredded cheese
Parmesan or low calorie Prego for topping
Preheat oven to 350
Slow cook chicken and shred. Set aside.
In one pan cook onion, basil, oregano, garlic, mushrooms until moisture is gone from mushrooms
Stir in spinach until wilted
Stir in chicken
Remove from heat
In a bowl mix ricotta and milk.
In separate bowl, mix 2 laughing cow, sour cream, chicken broth and white pepper. Microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time stirring until mixed through.
Add a few spoonfuls of sauce to deep 9x9 baking dish
Lay down 2 lasagna noodles, making a 2x2 grid
Top with 1/4 of ricotta mixture
Top with chicken mixture
Layer on top more sauce
Repeat noodle, ricotta, chicken, sauce until all ingredients are placed. Top last layer with mozzarella and cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 350 for 30min or until cheese is melted.
Broil for 2-3 minutes to finish off! Bon Appetit!


By far one our favorite dinners in our regular rotation. Chicken Shawarma wraps, can also make into a salad. We stumbled across using this recipe from a Noom food blog and off we went for our 1st trip to Trader Joe’s! The Ole Xtreme wellness tomato basil wraps are amazing, a green food per Noom’s food tracker, 50 calories, and 4 grams of net carbs!
Trader Joe’s Chicken Shawarma marinated chicken thighs
English cucumbers
Red onion
Cherry tomatoes
Greek Kalamata olives
Trader Joe’s Tzatziki creamy cucumber dip
Trader Joe’s fat free feta
Ole Mexican foods Xtreme wellness tomato basil wraps
Curry powder (optional)
Cook the chicken and while the chicken is cooking dice up all of your veggies. Once the chicken is done I thinly slice the meat and return to the pan to evenly coat the meat in the seasoning.
Set up your veggies buffet style to accommodate any variety of tastes!
Then it’s time to assemble your wraps. Do it any way you please! We top ours with a dash of curry powder.
This can also be made into a salad if you want to eliminate the wraps!

Chicken and broccoli Alfredo.

One of our easier and honestly healthier dinners. We substitute Hearts of Palm, Palmini for our pasta and use a low calorie Alfredo sauce that we make on our own. Less than 300 calories per serving!
Chicken breasts or thighs (2 servings)
Hearts of Palm (1 bag or can linguine style)
Laughing cow spreadable cheese wedges ( 2 wedges)
Broccoli florets (2 hand fulls)
Milk, we use 2% because that’s what our kiddo drinks but you can use skim for less calories or whole if you want (1 Tbsp)
1. Cook chicken until done and set aside. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning.
2. While chicken is cooking boil broccoli in water for 5 minutes.
3. We do boil the palmini for 5minutes to soften it!
4. For the sauce: while the chicken and and broccoli are cooking, in a small bowl stir together the laughing cow cheese, sour cream and milk.
Microwave the sauce for 20 second intervals, whisking between each 20 seconds until smooth and creamy.
5. Plate and enjoy. Top with Parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper, low calorie marinara sauce, fresh basil, or diced cherry tomatoes.

Jicama street tacos!
Who doesn’t like TACOS!! We started substituting Jicama wraps from Trader Joe’s for tortillas. They taste delicious and provide that crunch of the taco shell but at 15 calories and 3g of carbs in 2 wraps you can indulge without going over your limits for the day.
Trader Joe’s Pollo Asado (seasoned chicken breast) 4oz serving is 130 calories
Trader Joe’s jicama wraps
Sides: (open for variation) we use
Fresh cilantro
Trader Joe’s spicy, smoky, PEACH salsa
Trader Joe’s corn and chili salsa
Light sour cream
Fat free feta
Trader Joe’s Green Goddess salad dressing (for that awesome šŸ„‘ taste without the calories!)
Fat free cheddar
Diced red onion
Diced jalapeƱos
Directions: cook the chicken on the stovetop, when it’s done shred it! Move to a plate and keep warm.
In the same pan, heat 3-4 jicama wraps until they’re a little brown and warm.
Move the jicama wraps to a plate. Dish the chicken onto the wraps and choose your toppings!
The calories on this vary based on your toppings, but we use one 4oz serving of chicken and the jicama wraps as our base. With the oz of chicken we usually make 4-5 tacos per person!

Shrimp and grits!

This is the first recipe I made for Cody when we were dating. Modified from an old sailors book that I found doing my pirate research! Yes seriously! šŸ„°
20-30 medium cooked shrimp, peeled, deveined, de-tailed
3 bell peppers - color doesn’t matter
1 onion red or yellow
2 tablespoons divided Balade light butter with sea salt
1/4 cup chicken broth or bouillon
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup Quaker instant grits
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (you can use low fat or no fat!)
1-2 tsp of hot sauce
Chop and sautƩed veggies in 1tbsp butter until soft. Add 1/4 cup of chicken broth, simmer. SautƩ shrimp in remaining butter in separate skillet until pink and tender. Season with cayenne, Cajun, garlic, salt and pepper.
While shrimp and veggies cook, prepare the grits according to package instructions. I usually substitute half of the water for milk!
When the grits are done, stir in the cheese until melted. Add the hot sauce.
Serve veggies and shrimp over grits! Enjoy!
Calories: 800 total!
Optional: mushrooms in with the peppers is also really good!

Easy Crockpot turkey chili
Makes 8 servings
125 calories per serving
Main Ingredients:
1lb lean ground turkey
2-3 cans of diced tomatoes. We use our own canned tomatoes from our garden!
1 can of light or dark red kidney beans
1 packet of chili seasoning
Optional toppings:
Spicy or regular pickles
Fat free cheddar cheese
Low fat sour cream
Red onion
Fritos (go easy on these!)
Ritz crackers (again easy!)
Brown the turkey in a skillet until it’s cooked through then add all ingredients to the crock pot and mix well. Cool on low for 4-5 hrs or on high for 2hrs stirring occasionally.

Honey Dijon chicken and mushrooms!

3 boneless skinless chicken thighs
16oz Baby Bella mushrooms
1/2 cup chicken broth
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp honey Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp Light Sour Cream
Spray large skillet with calorie free cooking spray. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and cook until no longer pink. Set aside.
In the same pan, add mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid. Add chicken broth, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, honey. Simmer and reduce for 5min.
Turn heat off and add sour cream. Mix well. Chop chicken if desired and add chicken back to pan.
Service over riced cauliflower, Konjac rice, or rice of your choice! Or just eat it as is! šŸ˜‹
Calories: 255 per serving or 510 for the whole thing! That’s if you use the Konjac rice. Factor in your own rice configurations as needed!

Wonton soup.

Using frozen Wontons is really easy and this is a filling yet low in calorie healthy meal! We modified this recipe from Skinnytaste.
6 cups chicken broth or your ratio of bouillon (we always use bouillon!)
1” piece of grated fresh ginger
Large bok choy, chopped
8oz fresh shiitake mushrooms
1 package (200g) Konjac or Shirataki noodles
6 Pork & Shrimp Wontons (these are higher in calories at 190cal per 6! You can omit them, but I like the flavor they bring)
16 Trader Joe’s Chicken Cilantro Wontons
1 tsp Trader Joe’s organic sesame oil
1 tbsp soy sauce
Boil the broth with the fresh ginger. After 2-3min, add the veggies and noodles. Stir! Add the wontons. Bring to boiling, boil for 5min or until the wontons are cooked. Add your sauces! Stir! Enjoy!
20 minutes or less folks!
Calories: 570 for the entire pot! We usually eat half a pot each for dinner!

SNACKS - I have 2 a day!

These are my GO TO for protein bars! I absolutely crave them and can't survive without them! 

Yogurt: Dannon Lite & Fit is great! I mix in berries and a tbsp of chocolate chips! Make sure your yogurt calories aren't really high.

Popcorn: 100 calorie packs are fantastic!

Fruit: any! Grapes, Cuties, oranges, apples! Eat away!

Hummus & Carrots/Celery/Veggies

Chips & Salsa - do the mini round chips and organic salsa.

THESE! Cauliflower bites have taken over my chip craving!

Focused Energy Bevvy is part of my routine as well. It helps with a little energy burst and also has a tea supplement that helps me get to dinner.

THAT'S IT! This weight loss plan is a sustainable one. We've been eating this way since September with great results! As always, ask a doctor for your special dietary needs!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Waiting for Cardinals

95 days separated the deaths of two people who were instrumental in making me who I am. One was completely unexpected, the death of a friend who probably never knew how much she influenced me. Gone, at 31 from an aortic dissection. I spoke at her funeral (click here). The other I was in denial about, although I could have read the signs of my grandfather’s days coming to an end. In and out of the hospital for months, and a little less “him” every time I saw him. I spoke at his funeral, too, recalling memories that made me feel so special, and the certain way he always smelled of coffee when you hugged him. 
            Both deaths stung in the way that grief does – utter sadness just for the plain fact that you will miss them. Denial in the fact that you won’t see their smile or hear their laugh. But like a river, life rolls on. My daughter is growing more and more aware of my subtly expressed grief. She recognizes when I am sad and pats my back and wipes my tears and tells me, “Don’t cry mama, it’ll be okay.” She and my husband keep me busy and keep me from melting down on days when the grief is too real to bear. I suppose in some ways my family is simply a distraction from the truth.
            The truth is, I’m incredibly sad. When I am alone it is palpable…coursing through my heart so hard I get sick to my stomach and find it hard to function. (I am not alone very often, which I am grateful for. My daughter keeps my spirits high and my heart and mind busy most of the time.) It is still unbelievable that I will never see these two people’s faces again. When the realization hits, mourning comes full force. It comes at work when I’m shutting off the lights of the shop where I work, or in the mornings when I’m alone doing my paperwork in the spring sunlight. I feel their loss so plainly.
Some nights I wake from dreams of memories, or worse, plans that will never come to pass and weep in the darkness. Sleep comes irregularly after those dreams and I find myself desperately hoping to see their faces again in slumber. But when I long to see them in dreams, just as I long to see them in real life, they do not come.
Instead I look for their signs, subtle and probably completely erroneous. But it helps me get through my days of grief. I talk about my loved ones and their signs constantly. My daughter does too, probably because I have introduced her to the signs each person holds for me.
For my friend Lindsey, signs are songs we shared together. Pink clouds. Sour candy, especially when I just find the wrappers. Anything Lord of the Rings, and our random early 2000's pop culture favorites. I was gifted some of her clothing and when I’m feeling particularly needful of her courage and closeness, I wear them. I dream of her constantly.
For my grandfather, the main sign is cardinals. Red birds that dotted his yard when I was a child, appearing there even on cold winter days. His other reminders are fruit trees, hymns he loved (they are sometimes in my head when I wake from dreams), piano music, and the smell of coffee. His vegetable garden is close in my memory as I run black dirt through my hands planting with my daughter. I hear his voice distinctly when I do something for or with my grandmother. In a breeze or through the wind, I hear him thanking me.
 I find myself waiting for cardinals and pink clouds, searching my pockets for sour candy wrappers and scanning the radio for something that tells me they’re nearby. Clinging to something that will help me remember what it was like when I had them both fully. Waiting for signs of their existence as now all proof lies in photographs and memories. Waiting for a laugh that echoes through my head. Waiting for someone to tell me they understand, but the truth is, no one possibly could. My relationship with both Lindsey and my grandfather were my own, and no else knew what it was like exactly. That is why I have chosen to write about them. In some way it is to help me figure out what I do now with all of these feelings. In other ways it is to just simply tell everyone that I’m still hurting, and I don’t know if I will ever be completely the same.
I am beginning to define my own meanings of birth, life, death, and the afterward. I hope my afterward is a place where it is always June. Where, when the occasional thunderstorm rolls in, I can turn on my memories like I'm in a movie theater, in perfect clarity. The rolling thunder becomes words of those I loved. The lightning flashes of laughter. Memories I had forgotten play – perfect, alive.
And maybe if I’m lucky, the ones I loved can find me after I’m gone, wandering in my summerland full of clover meadows, waiting for the next passing storm. Or perhaps my spirit will choose to come back some day, whisper a message, leave a sign for someone who loved me, watch a little, or become a wind in their hair. I don’t fear death for myself. I only fear it for those around me. I love my people, and when death comes again, I know the burden of the sadness that will come with it. That is the only thing I fear.
Out of my open window I can hear the redbird in my yard. The thing about signs is that when I need them, they’re always there for me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Dear Lindsey, I spoke at your funeral

Lindsey Louise Lewis

I wanted to write about you today. About how I spoke at your funeral.

And it was exactly what I needed to feel like the Lindsey I loved was represented. 

I hesitated, after your sisters invited people up to the microphones. No one moved. And I heard this voice say, cmon, you know I’d do this for you. (Sorry Lindsey, how could I have hesitated?)

So I got up, and grabbed the mic and talked about you; introduced myself as your best friend in high school, which was strange because I never thought of myself that way. You had a few other girls who you spent time with, and a lot of people in your large social group. But after a few days of reflection after your passing, I realized that I was most myself around you, even into adulthood. That’s rare. I’ll claim best friend. 

You wrote me letters, thanking me for my influence. Ha! If only you knew how crucially important you were to me. To my life and my beliefs, my ability to stand firm on what I saw as important. It was all because you taught me to be myself unabashedly. You were very firmly yourself, and by and by I became that way too.

I told the story about how I leapt off the cliff of a rock quarry with you- I can still smell the water dripping from our hair, feel the freckles on my shoulders emerging in the midsummer Kansas sun. It was one of those days that I felt infinitely young. No worries. No responsibilities. Leaping into oblivion with my friend.

I told of how you kept me sane during my wedding, and how I will always remember the dance you choreographed with my bridesmaids. You danced around me in a circle, your obnoxious purple dress floating about. You danced and sang to me and calmed my nerves - it was impossible to be nervous when I was hysterically laughing.

I told of how you came to my baby shower. You drove for hours to come, and I did not expect to see you. I opened the door of our little house and you walked in with a smirk and immediately rubbed my belly. Smiled so big and said “Jill!!!” Like only you could. You wrote me a card, gave us a high chair. You were there when I didn’t expect you, and when I needed you most.

Then I did something I think you would have loved...
I asked the packed audience who knew the last scene of The Breakfast Club? When that fist goes in the air while Don’t You Forget About Me plays- and I made us put our fists up for you.

You are unforgettable. Your life was LIVED. You saw the world and fell in love and made friends and saw your favorite bands play. You loved to dance and sing and eat and drink. You loved to stay up late and make bad decisions. You loved to give gifts and make people feel special and important. You loved to fight and argue and make your point known. You loved life! You loved those who few others could love - the basketcases, the jocks, the criminals, the brains, and the princesses.

You would have loved your funeral. Sour candy, open bar, 100 chicken nuggets made special for you by the owner of McDonalds, your best friends talking about your, the playlist your sister made, the Obama and Legolas cardboard cutouts, the pink flowers, the Love Spell perfume I brought for you (which one of your sisters immediately sprayed all over herself), the packed house, the awkward reunions. The tears, the laughter, the slideshow. I won’t ever forget how utterly Lindsey it was. 

And I could have sat there, afraid to say anything at my best friends funeral. But I hopped up and knew you would guide me. Knew you would let me know what to say and I was right - it was easy. I shook afterward and our friends held my hands to get me through it. And I cried and cried. And I got in my car afterward and drove home to the soundtrack of our youth and wondered what it was like where you are now. 

I can’t say I’m ok now, but I’m better. Thanks for the nudge, Lindsey. I’m glad I got up and talked. I’m glad I knew you. I’m so sad you’re gone.

The truth is, I won’t ever be the same because you made me different to start with. Thank you. Send your messages, send the signs, like the pink clouds on my walk last night and the songs on the radio. Rest. Enjoy the weird afterlife that no one is sure of. I’ll miss you. I’ll see you again.