Uncategorized

Good job.

As the holidays come back around this year, and I start seeing memes on facebook about new years resolutions that never came to fruition, goals that were not met, pounds that were not lost, etc. and the hope of revisiting them in the beginning of the next year, I can’t help but think… “yeah but….look at what all I did finish, I did complete, I did survive”.  I feel like the end of the year can be a time of reaping and reflecting on all the hard work we’ve put in, the sacrifices we have made, the good we have done — along with considering new goals for the next year.

For example,  if you are in school or taking classes somewhere….. did you pass? Yes? Great.  If you are working on a project… did you finish it?  Yes? Fantastic.  If you own your own business… was it profitable this year? Yes? Awesome.  If you have kids… are they happy? Are they fed? Yes? GREAT. Good job.

Don’t forget to give yourself a little pat on the back for the accomplishments – big or small that you achieved the past 12 months.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year y’all!

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Uncategorized

Operation Body Back: 2nd Check In

Just a quick update for y’all.

sma_tulips

It has been 10 1/2 months since baby girl met the world and I have officially achieved my goal of reaching pre-pregnancy weight.  It took consistent work outs (20-30 minutes every day doing SOMETHING – YouTube work out videos like this one https://youtu.be/NKtDEgKKtwc were a life saver when I couldn’t get to a gym), eating lots of protein and veggies, and allowing myself some dark chocolate and almonds every night as a reward 😉 to accomplish this goal.  And I am happy but I always have new fitness goals in mind.  I want to really clean up my diet and to tone! tone! tone! now.  And… I know what it will take….. it’s gonna take letting go of or drastically changing  some of my vices – afternoon iced coffees, pasta for dinner, wine, etc.  are only a few things that must be cut back on in order to tone my problem areas.

So…. I also have started the 2nd semester of Nurse Practitioner school and I am overwhelmed.  I start clinical rotations this Fall and I am just honestly…. scared to high heaven about it because I feel that so much rides on your clinical experiences.   The amount of information you are able to absorb and recall determines how your first year as an NP will be.  Will I emerge in my new profession with an idea of how I am supposed to do things, or will I be totally lost..?  I hate feeling totally lost.  It gives me major anxiety.

Baby girl is so much fun… and work.  She makes everybody so happy just by being around to cuddle and watch as she absorbs new sounds, smells, sights, textures.  She has been such an easy baby and we know we have been blessed by her demeanor – however – now she has 1 tooth that already has come through and others that are just waiting to pop through her gummy grin and her demeanor has changed… 🙂  Bless her heart.

She is now crawling around everywhere and pulling up and getting into EVERYTHING.  My Dad says she will be walking soon because she is fearless about letting go of the furniture once she has pulled up.. Lord help us! 🙂

Favorites for the past couple of months —

  • The Ordinaryhttp://deciem.com/brand/the-ordinary — It’s a skincare line that offers high quality skincare at a reasonable/ridiculously affordable price.  You get the real deal with these products without the frou-frou packaging and scents and advertising that tend to drive up prices.  They list out all ingredients of their products on their website and what they will do for your skin which is so stinking helpful.   I have heard awesome things about lots of their products but the ones I have personally tried and recommend include:
  • The Advanced Retinoid 2% — http://theordinary.com/product/rdn-advanced-retinoid-2pct-30ml
  • The Natural Moisturizing Factors + Hyaluronic Acidhttp://theordinary.com/product/rdn-natural-moisturizing-factors-ha-30ml

Both of these products are under $10… I kid you not! And they are awesome.

I want to try more and intend to order very soon! I want to try the lactic acid and the glycolic acid and the rose hip oil.. and the new foundation they just came out with but are out of stock!

  • OGX Coconut Milk Shampoo & Conditionerhttp://www.ulta.com/nourishing-coconut-milk-shampoo?productId=xlsImpprod560220 — If you have ever used pureology shampoo and conditioner, you know what I mean when I say, the difference is immediate after using certain shampoos and conditioners.  This is the only drugstore brand that gives my hair the same feeling that pureology products give my hair.  And this combo costs about a third of the price.  If you have dry, colored/bleached, hair… you need this.  It makes my hair SO soft and smooth.  Just trust me and buy it now.
  • La Croix Sparkling Water w/ Mango Essence –— This makes me feel special when I drink it with my lunch.  It feels like you’re treating yourself with a soda but it is a guilt-free drink as it has zero sugar, sugar alternatives, or calories.  It has a bubbly, light, fruity taste and I love it.
  • AtHome Warehouse Storeshttps://www.athome.com/ — We just got one in the city where we live and it is dangerous for me to go in because it’s like the “Home decor” section of TJ Maxx or Marshalls on steroids.  Everything is so trendy and so affordable.  I want it all.
  • Rimmel Stay Glossy Lipgloss — https://www.walmart.com/ip/Rimmel-Stay-Glossy-Lipgloss/21779193? — I like the color “Claridge’s Ruby” personally because it is a pretty pink color and I can wear it by itself and look presentable.  This gloss is not sticky but it stays for hours.  I wear it to work alot.
  • Wet ‘n’ Wild Mega Glo Highlighting Powder — https://www.walmart.com/search/?query=wet%20n%20wild&cat_id=1085666&typeahead=we — This is a great, affordable highlighter to put on after blush on the tops of your cheek bones, cupid’s bow, and collar bone.  It is just so pretty.

That’s all for now!

Hope you are all well.  Thanks for reading! 🙂

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Fitness, Mommyhood, Nutrition, Weight loss

Operation: Body Back 1st Check-In

Ok! So it’s been about a month and a half since Operation: Body Back began.  Baby girl is now 2 1/2 months and doing great! I started working as an RN full time on weekends and we just moved into a bigger apartment this week (hallelujah!).  It has been a very eventful few weeks with lots of changes in just about every aspect of our lives but we are blessed.

I am transitioning to formula feedings now that my milk supply has begun slowing down due to stress from starting a new job, moving, etc.  And it has been a nice, easy, transition I must say.  So, now that my body is officially all mine again (lol), I can officially begin doing what I need to do to lose the last 15 lbs. of baby weight.  I have lost another 5 lbs in the past 6 weeks since I began the regimen I talked about in my previous post.  It has been a slooooooooowww process.  However, we are moving in the right direction.

I have been researching a method of dieting for weight loss recently that I had never heard a term for.  It is called “CARB CYCLING”.  I was intrigued because it is supposed to be perfect for those who have done the low carb thing for a while (like myself) and who have reached a plateau even though they are doing what has always worked in the past for them.

Carb cycling in a nut shell is basically changing the amount of complex carbohydrates you consume on a day to day basis to keep your metabolism in the ultimate fat burning, keto-acidotic state.  So, first, you have to figure up how many calories you must consume in order to lose weight according to your height, age, body weight, exercise routine, etc.  This is an easy website that will calculate it for you. https://www.caloriecount.com/tools/calories-goal.

According to this website, in order to LOSE weight, not maintain, I need to consume 1,780 calories per day.

Ok.  So that’s not where we stop.  If I ate 1780 calories of sugar every day, I would basically starve to death and probably lose a bunch of muscle and not ever feel like working out.

So we have to break down what those 1,780 calories should look like in terms of how much fat, protein, and carb calories I should consume.

Basically, on  “low carb days” my calories should consist of 40% protein, 40% fat, and 20% carbohydrates.  On “moderate carb days”, my calories should consist of 40% protein, 30% fat, 30% carbohydrates. And on “high carb days” my calories should consist of 40% protein, 20% fat, and 40% carbohydrates.  So all I have to do to figure out exactly how many calories that is, is multiply 1,780 by 40%, 20%, 30%.

In a typical week, I will have  high carb day Sunday, moderate carb day Monday, low carb day Tuesday, low carb day wednesday, high carb day Thursday, moderate carb day Friday, and low carb day Saturday.

I read that you can start seeing results in like 2 weeks but that it is best to do this for 12 weeks to receive the full benefit.  If I start Sunday, like I plan to do, then I will be finished with the 12 weeks on Dec. 17.  I am hoping that I will have reached my goal of losing 15 lbs by then.

**NOTE** When I say “fat” calories I mean monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, fatty acids, etc.  NOT saturated fat.  And when I say “complex carbs” I mean things like brown rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, whole wheat bread, etc.

Here we go!

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Uncategorized

Operation: Body Back

Written on August 2, 2016

Hello All!  I’m officially a Mommy! Wow! I’ve been asked a lot lately (obviously) how it feels….

The answer I give is it feels… hard. amazing. natural. wonderful. crazy.

I just love it.  In a way I could not have imagined before actually holding her for the first time. She is amazing and we are SO obsessed and in love with this baby girl.

I will give a more detailed “mommy life” post at a later time because I am still being so inspired daily on what I want to write involving this new transition.

In related news, today marks Day 3 of my Operation: Body Back.  This is just the title I have given to document my efforts to lose these 20 pounds that are left to get back to pre-pregnancy weight.

For the first 20 pounds, I did little more than breastfeed and some very light cardio.  I was not really dieting–although I was trying to eat healthy since another human is still being directly effected by my food choices for the time being–until I began a strict low carb/high protein diet a couple days ago.  I was amazed at how fast the first 20 pounds came off in the first 2 1/2 weeks postpartum– probably a good amount of water and fluid if we’re being honest, however, I started noticing that I kind of stopped losing a few days ago at 3 1/2 weeks postpartum and realized that I would have to work for the last 20 pounds – dang it!

I am currently a little over 4 weeks postpartum and although I have not been to my 6 weeks postpartum check up with my OBGYN obviously, I feel strong enough to begin working out regularly again.  Everyone is different though.

When I want to lose weight I know what I have to do personally — increase protein, eat plenty of good fats (mono- poly- unsaturated fats from sunflower seeds, olive oil, safflower oil, avocado, supplements) cut out breads, rice, pasta, sweets, increase water, exercise consistently (especially cardio). If you’re interested here is a log of my daily meals and exercise so far:

Day 1: Breakfast — 2 Scrambled eggs (canola oil), 1 cup of coffee with 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp of creamer

Snack — Nectarine

Lunch — Mixed greens, Salmon, Shredded cheddar cheese, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, apple                                    cider vinaigrette

Snack — Handful of Almonds, stick of cheese

Dinner — Stir Fry Vegetables with Sirloin Steak Strips, Olive Oil, seasoning

Dessert — Breyer’s Carb Smart Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberries

Exercise — 40 minutes cardio

Day 2: Breakfast — 2 Scrambled eggs (canola oil), 1 cup of coffee with 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp of creamer

Snack — Nectarine, Almonds

Lunch — Mixed greens, 4 slices of turkey, bacon bits, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, apple                                     cider vinaigrette

Snack — Low carb protein shake Muscle Milk brand

Dinner — Chicken breast cooked in crockpot with honey, mustard, onion powder, Green beans

Dessert — Breyer’s Carb Smart Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberries

Exercise — 40 minutes of pilates

Day 3: Breakfast — 1 cup of coffee with 2 tsp sugar and 2 tsp of creamer, 8 mini wheat biscuits

Snack — apple, peanut butter

Lunch — Leftover chicken and green beans from dinner the night before

Snack — Nectarine, Almonds

Dinner — Garlic shrimp sauteed in safflower oil and seasonings, Fried okra, Peas

Dessert — Breyer’s Carb Smart Vanilla Ice Cream

Exercise — 30 minutes of cardio, 10 minutes of resistance training (bicep curls, shoulder raises,          squats, lunges, etc.)

That’s how it’s going so far and I am feeling great! You’ll notice I have to change up my exercise routine or I get bored. (not the case with my dessert choice ;))

Note: I am still breastfeeding during this time so I cannot decrease my caloric intake too much or it may effect milk supply.

My goal is to lose 10 of the 20 pounds before I start work on Aug 15.  Which gives me about 2 weeks from when I started 2 days ago.  I will let y’all know how it goes!

 

 

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Favorite Things, Uncategorized

Favorite Things June 2016

So it has been a while since I posted a list of ~ My Recent Favorite Things ~ so I figured, now that I have time (!), I will talk about some of the beauty products, grocery store finds, recipes, etc. that I have been using and enjoying this Spring 🙂

Suavitel “Morning Sun” Fabric ConditionerSuavitel Morning SunI don’t know what my deal is but I am a little worried at myself for how much I am obsessed with the smell of this fabric softener/conditioner. I feel like every time I wash clothes and add this stuff in I inhale it and fight back an urge to drink it. haha just kidding. 😉 But it has SUCH an awesome smell! It smells so fresh and clean and it’s potent but not overwhelming once the clothes have been dried. It is also one of the cheaper brands of fabric softener at Wal-Mart and, surprisingly, it does not cause my skin to break out like some delicious smelling brands like Gain do. Bonus: it makes your home smell amazing while the clothes are washing 😀

Arnold “Healthfull” flax and sunflower 100% whole grain bread – My husband actually bought this bread the first time we had it and felt that it was healthier because of the good, unsaturated fats and fiber it contained compared to the Nature’s Own “Honey Wheat” he usually prefers. I thought, “why not?” and made some toast with peanut butter and a sliced banana the next morning with it. It is delicious! The slices are smaller but more dense and filling and it was a good way to include complex carbohydrates and good fats for breakfast.

Rimmel Lasting Finish 25 hour foundation comfort serum with SPF 2025 Hour Lasting FoundationI had been wanting to try this foundation for awhile because of youtube beauty gurus’ multiple reviews and suggestions that it was a great, affordable, full coverage, long lasting, drug store foundation. I use the shade “Soft Beige”. As I mentioned before in an earlier post, I have had noticeably oilier/acne-prone skin since I have been pregnant and it has been difficult to find foundation that will cover blemishes and scarring and actually last all day. This foundation was like 6 or 7 dollars at CVS and it has been an awesome foundation for me. I mean it STAYS all day long and I have even slept in it and had it still look decent the next morning (!!???) If you hate full coverage/thicker foundations, then this isn’t for you probably and I don’t use it every day because I don’t want a full face of make up every day but for those times when you just want your skin to look flawless and for your make up to LAST–like for pictures, events, a date, or to just have an awesome “make up day”, then I would try this out. It’s great!

Vitabath Spa Day “Sage and Green Tea” fragrance mistVitaBath Green Tea & Sage Fragrance Mist I have been overdosing on this antioxidant-rich body spray the past couple of months because it is so light, fresh, and spring-y smelling! This fragrance spray has a superfruit blend of acai, goji, coffee, noni, pomegranate, green tea, and mangosteen. I picked it up at Marshall’s in their bath and beauty section because I had heard that Vitabath was a great shampoo/lotion/bodywash brand infused with vitamins E, B3, C, B5 and when I saw that they had the sage and green tea mist at Marshalls for a discount, I had to try it! It smells clean but earthy and it is one of the most unique fragrances I have ever smelled – in a good way!

Silk Almond Creamer “Hazelnut” – Recently we have been cutting more dairy out of our diet because of my husband’s tummy issues and have been buying almond milk instead of our normal 1% cow’s milk. We like milk. We drink a lot of milk in our house, so it was important that this substitution taste good and fulfill the craving. I am happy to report that my husband is now a lover of almond milk and it has no doubt been better for his digestive system. While I was looking at the almond milk at the grocery store, I happened to see that Silk also makes almond milk creamers – and in flavors! I grabbed the hazelnut flavor and I was so pleasantly surprised to find it incredibly satisfying and delicious in my morning cup of coffee. I can’t wait to try the Vanilla and Caramel flavors!

Wet N’ Wild Contour paletteContour palette I bought this little contour palette at Wal-Mart and was very surprised at how great the quality of the contour and highlighting powder was for the price! There is no shimmer, both the powders are completely matte, and the “dulce de leche” shade matched the undertone in my skin perfectly! The matte brown contour shade works great as an eye shadow as well as an “ashier” bronzer if the warmer/orangier bronzers are not your thing. The highlight powder is great for setting concealer and doubles as an awesome eyelid color that is comparable to the Too Faced shade “Heaven” in their “Natural” eye shadow palette.

Wet N’ Wild 1 Step Wonder Gel Nail Polish1 Step Wonder GelThese gel polishes are super impressive. They are only 4 dollars at the drug store and they last longer than any other nail polish I have ever tried (Essie, OPI, etc). There is no UV light or base coat required. It is literally 1 step and the polish lasts about 5 days without chipping. I have the colors “Stay Classy” which is a mauve-y, neutral, purpley-pink, and “Coral Support” which is a pretty, bright, summery coral color. I do put a top coat of Sally Hansen’s Big Shine (shout out to my sister for telling me about this stuff!) because I just feel like it adds another layer of protection but even without the topcoat this nail polish lasts and I even had a nail tech tell me she thought it was a UV light gel manicure done at a salon because of how great it looked!

Now On to recipes!

One pan dinner – chicken, green beans, red potatoes – I love easy, healthy dinners! This dinner is a quick clean up, sure to please everybody, healthy, filling, week night meal that Wyn and I love. All you need is a large pyrex dish, some aluminum foil, 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, some fresh green beans from the produce section, 5-6 red potatoes (or even 2 cans of the sliced potatoes!), salt and pepper, olive oil, minced garlic, and onion powder. First, heat the oven to 400 ◦F, wash your potatoes and green beans, slice your potatoes and set to the side. Place your chicken in the pyrex dish and drizzle some olive oil over and coat the chicken in it, sprinkle the salt, pepper, onion powder and roll the chicken in the seasonings, then cover the dish with aluminum foil and put it in the oven to cook for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, add in the green beans and red potatoes and drizzle more of the olive oil over the veggies and sprinkle with the salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic and replace the aluminum foil and allow that to cook 20 more minutes. Once the 20 minutes is up, remove the aluminum foil and let it cook uncovered for 10 more minutes. Note* the cooking times will vary based on how thick your chicken and potatoes are cut. To cook faster, slice the potatoes in thin circles and cut the chicken breasts long ways in half. * Take the dish out of the oven and serve your one pan meal and enjoy the quick clean up afterwards!

Balsamic Chicken in the Crockpot – Another super easy, healthy, recipe – We just ate this on Wednesday (the day I took the NCLEX) because I was going to be gone most of the day and knew I wouldn’t feel like cooking when I got home late that afternoon. To make this super flavorful chicken, I first mixed up some of the balsamic salad dressing that I make every week for our salads (so much better than bottled salad dressings!), I put 4 frozen chicken breasts in the crock pot, poured about half of the mixture of the salad dressing over the chicken and stirred them around in it, and set the timer on my crockpot to cook on low for 7 hours. And that was it! When I got home I cooked two sweet potatoes in the microwave and pan fried some okra real quick and it was an awesome, delicious dinner. The chicken was falling apart and had so much flavor.

         To make the balsamic salad dressing: Step 1. Buy the Good Seasons brand Italian Salad Dressing and Recipe Mix.Good Seasons Step 2. Make according to directions! :p But seriously, you just mix the seasoning packet with 1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar, add 3 Tbsp. of water, mix well, then add 1/2 cup of olive oil and mix until blended. My mom used to make this when we were kids and it really made me look forward to eating salads as a kid, teen, and now an adult. There really is not a better dressing in my opinion.

To cook a sweet potato in the microwave: Step 1. Wash the sweet potato Step 2. take a paper towel and dampen it with water Step 3. wrap sweet potato in damp paper towel, Step 4. Place in microwave on a plate and cook on high for 5 minutes (depends on the size of the sweet potato of course), check the sweet potato after 5 minutes and if it is not done roll it over and cook another minute, continue until the sweet potato is the desired softness.

Shew! Alright so there are some of my favorite things! So now you can see why I had to wait a while to post these because there is a lot to be said about these awesome things and I needed the time to talk about them! Let me know some of your favorites and what is out there that I need to have in my life ASAP! 🙂 To read about more of my favorite things –> Some recent favorite things!

Have a wonderful weekend!

-K

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Thoughts, Uncategorized

No Matter What

No Matter What.mp4_snapshot_02.52_[2012.08.27_15.49.38]        Even though my husband and I have talked about it and I shared in my first post of the year how many big things were going to be happening in the next few months, it is still crazy, awesome, and surreal when it all starts actually happening. The fulfillment of God’s promises, the end of some long journeys and tests, big changes, the stretching of faith – it is an amazing time in our lives. It has been so trying and difficult for me at times throughout the past year to remember that He is still there, that I have not been abandoned, that He is working things out for my good.
I am an anxiety-ridden, doubting and forgetful child of God and He shows me OVER and OVER who He is and why I am so blessed to be His.
I am obviously so overjoyed to share my testimony of His goodness and faithfulness – Within the past few months, I have graduated with my bachelors of science in nursing, I studied my booty off and passed boards (!), I accepted a position as a registered nurse in the emergency department of the hospital which is literally 7 minutes from where we live, we got a contract on our house and it sold (!), my sister got into the nursing program I just graduated from, I chopped off 11.5 inches of my hair (!!), I have reached the 37th week of pregnancy and will be welcoming our baby girl very soon…. and this is not the end of it. It’s only June, everybody! We will be moving into a bigger apartment (hopefully) in September, I will be starting my new job, and we will be figuring out our new life with our first child!
So much to be thankful for. So humbling to remember how it all started out as an idea, a thought, “what if..”.  I remember how lost I felt at moments along the journey and it humbles me and reminds me how much I still have to learn about my God. He is more concerned with our character than He is with our comfort and I have to continuously remind myself of this. My husband always says that God needs to be needed and this is evident when every time we feel as though “we got this”, we are reminded that we actually do not “got this” and we are once again challenged to trust in Him only. I encourage you to not give up, to ask forgiveness for your doubts and anxiety, to cling to His promises, to continue to give your best, and to ultimately realize that the point of it ALL is to glorify Him – no matter what.
I hope this post finds you well!
-K

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Uncategorized

…Spring is coming…

As I sit here on my little apartment porch I am at such peace today.  I can feel the sun–intense, bright, soaking into my pale, parched, sun-starved, winter skin.  I feel the little life in my tummy moving around every so often and giving me a sense that everything is okay in her world and therefore, it is okay in mine.  In this moment, I don’t mind that I am starting to get rounder, that my clothes aren’t fitting, that our house hasn’t sold yet, that I cannot work full time because of nursing school, etc.  I just feel like God is giving me this moment to feel completely wrapped in peace.  I repeat, “thank you for this, Jesus” over and over because He has given me what only He knows my soul needs at this time.  Rest. Peace. Security.  Hope and peace come with Spring.  I believe it is a very fitting season to celebrate His resurrection.

I am, surprisingly, enjoying this day that I have to myself.  I love days where I am productive but also relaxed.  I woke up, had one (just one!) cup of coffee and went for a jog (I don’t call them “runs” anymore because I am embarrassed of how slow I am right now and don’t feel that it would accurately describe what ensued this morning), made a long grocery list with ingredients listed for a few meals I am making this week, came home and put them all away while organizing my fridge, started chili in the crock pot, ate a salad, and started some laundry.  It has been a “catch up with life” day and it’s only 2:30!

Ok enough about my great day…. ha

So some people have asked about what I cook for dinner during the week.  Here are some of the recipes I use over and over and over because they are 1. cheap, 2. easy, 3. have left-over potential, and 4. are low-carb/high protein (for the most part).spring veggies

  1. Exactly what is in my crock-pot at this moment… CHILI!  It drives me nuts when people are like.. “yahhh I was kinda bad last night and ate some chili…”…huh??! Since when are protein/fiber packed beans and vitamin C rich tomatoes, and Iron-full lean beef bad?  C’mon folks. As long as it’s not on top of a hot-dog and french fries.. don’t apologize.  Here is a tried and true recipe:   1 lb. of lean ground beef or turkey, one packet of McCormick’s Mild Chili seasoning, 2 – 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes, 1 – can of original Rotel, 3 – cans of pinto beans/red kidney beans/whatever beans you want, 1 little can of tomato paste, 1 little can of tomato sauce.  Brown the meat, drain, pour into the crock pot, open all your cans, drain and rinse the beans (trust me!), pour all the beans and tomatoes and rotel in, pour in the seasoning, and stir.  Cook on “low” for 6 hours, or “high” for 2-4 hours depending on how fast your crock pot cooks.  Mine is a beast so I have to make sure I don’t burn things usually. Top with sour cream and cheese if ya like.
  2. Baked Ranch Chicken.   I got this one off of Pinterest and it has become a staple because of how much flavor is in this chicken and its great potential for putting on top of a salad the next day for lunch!  You need 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts or 2 lbs of chicken tenders, 1 packet of ranch seasoning, 1/2 cup of bread crumbs, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese.  I like to cut the chicken breasts in half to make them thinner so that they will bake faster and more evenly.  Spray some pam on a casserole dish.  Mix the ranch seasoning, mayo, breadcrumbs, and cheese together in a bowl (it will be very lumpy).  Place the chicken in the casserole dish and spread the ranch mixture across just the top of the chicken (it makes a delicious crust).  Put the casserole dish in the oven to bake for about 35 minutes at 375 degrees F.  Take out the chicken, let it sit while you are finishing your veggie side dishes.  And Serve!
  3. Salmon Patties.  This one is a throwback to my childhood.  I don’t know about y’all.. but we had these ALL the time when I was growing up.  And I still love them!!  Ya just need 2 cans of salmon, an egg, 1 cup of Italian style breadcrumbs, 1 Tbs. mayonnaise, salt/pepper.  The first step is gross and no fun.  You have to take out the bones and skin from the salmon.. I know. But you’re a grown up now. .. so just do it!  :p  Then mix the cleaned salmon with the mayo, breadcrumbs, egg and salt/pepper.  Mix well! You’ll probably have to use your hands for mixing and then the next step, which is making patties!  You take about 2 tbs of the salmon mixture and flatten and pat until you have a nice patty.  Then you heat up some olive oil in a non-stick frying pan and place the patties down in the pan.  Let them cook for about 5-7 minutes on one side, then flip them and cook 5-7 minutes on the other side.  Place them on a plate with a paper towel under them to let them drain and cool.  Serve with LeSeur peas and another side of your choice.
  4. Spinach-Feta stuffed Meatloaf.  Don’t scroll down because you saw the word meatloaf.  It’s really good.  I used to hate meatloaf but this one is awesome.  First you take 1 lb. of lean ground beef, add one egg, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, breadcrumbs and mix it together (with your hands).  Then lay a large piece of saran wrap on the counter and pour the meat mixture onto it.  Flatten the beef until you have a layer of meat about 1 in. tall.  Take some fresh spinach and some feta cheese and lay it in the middle of the layer of beef.  Then, take the sides of the saran wrap and lay them across so that the meat makes an envelope around the spinach and feta.  This is really hard to explain without picture/video.  Hmm.. shall I video it? 😉  Anyways, you should not be able to see the spinach and feta after you finish making your loaf/envelope.  Then place your loaf in the crock pot and pour a layer of tomato sauce over the just the top of the meat loaf.  Cook on high for 4-5 hours.  Serve with a salad.

Ok.. so you may have noticed there are a lot of southern elements that go into my most used recipes: mayonnaise for one!  I don’t shy away from it.  I know it’s not the best as far as saturated fat but if you buy the kind made with olive oil then that helps some 😉  These are just 4 of the recipes I use over and over.  They’ll get you started!
I encourage y’all to try these and go on Pinterest.com for more easy peasy recipes that don’t have the word “helper” on the box.  I will post more later!  Let me know if you happen to try one and if you make changes for the better! 🙂

I hope your February was awesome!  Here’s to March!!

-K

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