Cooking Tip: Crushed Tomatoes

This pantry item is very common; however, the quality can be quite different depending on what brand you buy. Did you know that some brands contain high fructose corn syrup as an ingredient? I went to the pantry this morning to grab a can of crushed tomatoes and that’s when I realized all I had was tomato paste.

I decided to make my own crushed tomatoes with the stem tomatoes that had been sitting on the counter. To make your own crushed tomatoes, you can pulse canned whole tomatoes in a food processor or do what I did – cut the stem tomato in half and then squeeze each half through your hands into a bowl. The skin of the tomato was thick so after squeezing each half of the tomato, I then cubed each half. I was pleasantly surprised how easy it was to make my own crushed tomatoes! Each summer, our garden is over flowing with various kinds of tomatoes. I will now be able to have more confidence in the quality of what I’m putting into my dishes.

crushed tomatoes, stem tomatoes, DIYCrushed Tomato - 2Crushed Tomato - 3

Crushed Tomato - 4

Crushed tomatoes were used in my Parmesan Pork Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats (all pictures associated with this blog post are copyrighted by www.LLHealthyFit.com)

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

 

3 – Day Refresh and Pumping

If you have been following me on my Facebook page and Instagram last week, I did a 3-Day Refresh and had great results even with adding a few extra portions. I modified the 3-Day Refresh so that I was able to maintain my milk supply for my son who turned 1 year old on April 10th. I lost 5 pounds and could tell that I lost inches too based on how my clothes fit after the refresh! It sure feels good to kick bad habits to the side and kiss the bloat goodbye. The 3-Day Refresh is a way for you to break through a plateau that you may experience on your journey.

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As promised, I wanted to share what I did during my 3-day refresh so that both my son and I were happy!

The thing I like about the 3-Day Refresh is that there is no guesswork involved in knowing what to eat. The 3-Day Refresh consists of three daily shakes, a fiber drink, plenty of water, plus a wide array of fresh fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats throughout the day to keep your energy and metabolism going. I do caution that the 3-Day Refresh is low calorie and for this reason I went into the 3-Day Refresh knowing that I would modify in order to maintain my milk supply and be able to make a fast, clean break from some bad eating habits.

What You’ll Eat and Drink During the 3-Day Refresh

So this is what I did with modification for Day 1 through 3. Please keep in mind whether you are producing milk or not, you must drink at least half your body weight in ounces of water each day – if not more! You do not want your body to get dehydrated while it is working hard to get rid of the bad and we all know that water does help control hunger. The other tip that I have is to prep everything so that you will be less tempted to reach for something that isn’t in the 3-Day Refresh plan. Do yourself a favor – prepare – you’ll set yourself up for success!

Day 1:

  1. Upon waking drink 8-10 ounces of water
  2. Breakfast: Within one hour of waking, I made my Chocolate Shakeology (choose either the vegan or whey Shakeology option) with a handful of Spinach, 1 tsp of Vanilla Extract, 10 ounces of unsweetened almond milk, and ice – blended together and then topped with Coconut Flakes. I also had 2 servings of fruit (oranges). **Shakeology is my daily multi-vitamin.
  3. Optional Morning Tea: I opted to not drink morning tea; however, for any nursing moms you could drink Mother’s Milk tea (to promote healthy lactation) as well as add 1 snack such as 1 cup of fruit. I know some moms will take Fenugreek tablets to help with lactation just in case.
  4. Mid-Morning: Fiber Sweep (digestive health drink) (*My best suggestion is to mix the Fiber Sweep with water and immediately chug!) The Fiber Sweep has a blend of soluble and insoluble fibers to gently and naturally eliminate waste for your digestive system while supporting healthy intestinal flora. It contains flax and chia seeds which are sources of healthy omega-3 fatty acids.
  5. Lunch: Vanilla Fresh Protein shake blended with 8 ounces of water and cinnamon sprinkled on top. I had pineapple along with my vegetable and healthy fat. I like to eat red pepper strips and hummus or Brussel sprouts and avocado. The Vanilla Fresh Protein shake is an excellent source of fiber and it’s both dairy and soy-free. There is no artificial flavors, colors, preservatives or sweeteners.
  6. Afternoon Snack: 2 servings of a vegetable along with 1 serving of a healthy fat.
  7. Optional Afternoon Tea: Again, I opted to not drink the afternoon tea; however, I did add a cup of fruit.
  8. Dinner: Vanilla Fresh Protein shake blended with half of a banana this time (the 3-Day Refresh guide says don’t blend with anything). I also made myself the Cucumber and Tomato Salad meal from the “dinner options” on the 3-Day Refresh guide. I modified by adding in an extra cup of vegetables.
  9. Optional Evening Tea: I was satisfied after dinner and opted to not drink the herbal tea.

I did days 2 and 3 the same way; however, I picked different fruit, vegetable, healthy fat, and dinner options as detailed in the 3-Day Refresh guide. Below are pictures of the foods that I ate for Day 1 through Day 3.

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Although it is not a requirement, to get the full benefit of the 3-Day Refresh, it is suggested to refrain from drinking coffee for the three days you are on the program. Also, cheese is not an option for food.

Please know that the 3-Day Refresh isn’t a starvation diet or an all-liquid fast. I mentioned that it is low in calories per day (this is why I modified to add additional servings from the food groups that I was allowed during the program to maintain my milk supply), but it is packed with protein and fiber. The increase in fiber that you consume during the 3-Day Refresh might cause some gas or bloating while it works to help clean things up especially if your body is not used to fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. There are low gas-producing options in the vegetable list and dinner recipe options to help you minimize discomfort.

As far as exercise, I worked out to PiYO by streaming it via my Beachbody On Demand membership. Mild to moderate exercise is recommended during the 3-Day Refresh.

While the 3-Day Refresh is simple, I will say that it is challenging mentally and physically. You might not be used to eating clean, but it is for 3 day! You absolutely can do this and have the option of my virtual accountability group for support. You are never alone on your health and wellness journey!

3 day refresh, refresh, nursing mom, break the plateau

Other Questions

  • What are the next steps after the 3-Day Refresh? The key is to keep it simple, stay realistic, and remember you are going to make unhealthy choices along your journey. Acknowledge when you start to get off course so that you can learn and make healthier choices again.
    • Keep hydrated
    • Don’t be afraid of good fats
    • Increase your vegetables and fruits (*eat fruit early in the day)
    • Choose healthy and lean protein sources and go organic whenever possible to avoid the antibiotics, hormones, pesticides, and herbicides associated with conventional farming. Remember that plant-based protein can be easier for your body to break down.
    • Practice portion control
    • There is no single way to eat clean; however, pay attention to how food makes you feel.
    • Stay away from the junk – here are some 21 Day Fix Snack ideas or review my Nutritious Recipes for more options.
  • How long did you wait to do the 3-Day Refresh after your son? I completed the 3-Day Refresh 1 week before my son’s 1st Birthday. Honestly, my priority was producing milk and I wanted to ensure my son’s digestive system was matured. I personally would not try the 3-Day Refresh even with modification until you have a good supply and routine established with your baby.
  • I already have a low milk supply. I would not risk doing the 3-Day Refresh. Just wait until you are done nursing and are ready to start a long-term fitness and nutrition plan with me to help you get on track. The 21 Day Fix is a great program to start with and to help you learn about portion control/balanced eating.
  • Are you a doctor or a nutritionist? No, I’m not a doctor or a nutritionist, but I do know MY body well. I pumped for 18 months with my daughter and I currently have been pumping for 12 months and counting with my son. I know how to stay in the “safe zone” of caloric intake. I am simply sharing MY experience and this blog post is not meant to push anyone to try the 3-Day Refresh.
  • Did I have concern with any of the ingredients in the 3-Day Refresh Program? I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to eat the foods in the program to get me back on track versus eating the processed foods and genetically modified (GMO’s) found at the grocery store and fast food restaurants. We could all use some help learning how to choose healthier food options, meal preparation, and eating balanced throughout the day! I have been drinking Shakeology since January 2015 – it is a no brainer for me.
  • Can I purchase the 3-Day Refresh by itself? Yes, the 3-Day Refresh can be purchased with or without Shakeology (if you already are purchasing Shakeology monthly then you can get the 3-Day Refresh without Shakeology). The majority of my customers purchase a challenge pack that includes their fitness program, 30-day supply of Shakeology, and the 3-Day Refresh. This way they are starting into the next phase of their health and wellness journey after completing the 3-Day Refresh. If you have any questions, please email me at Melissa@LLHealthyFit.com to determine which option works best for you.

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

Crockpot-Sweet & Sour Pork

Plain and simple – this recipe is a must to add to your meal plan! This recipe reminds me of the Spicy Rice Bowl – Pick Your Meat, but with a twist on ingredients. For any pineapple lovers, you can always add a can of pineapple or freshly chopped pineapple to the ingredients.

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 can of tomato sauce (or homemade sauce)
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 TBSP brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP soy sauce
  • 3 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 TBSP ground ginger
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1.5 pounds of pork shoulder, cubed

WHAT TO DO:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot with the pork shoulder added last. My initial plan for dinner tonight were barbeque country spare ribs. I make the ribs by placing them in a crockpot with enough water to cover the bottom; cook for 6-8 hours on low. I add barbecue sauce when served since my children prefer to dip the pork in sauce. Once the ribs were cooked, I decided to debone and cube the country spare ribs to try this sweet & sour recipe. Thus, for this recipe, I used country spare ribs instead of a pork shoulder.
  2. Cook on high for 3 to 4 hours OR on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  3. Serve over brown rice.

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

Sweet and sour pork over brown rice

Guilt Free Muffins-5 Ingredients

Most healthy sweet treats have peanut butter and bananas as main ingredients. Well this doesn’t help me much because my husband doesn’t exactly prefer when I make desserts that are the slight bit healthy! This recipe though was different and it left him wanting more peanut butter banana chocolate chip muffins after trying one when I was out of sight. You know, after my initial offer and his prompt reply of “no thanks”! My daughter enjoyed the muffins with whip cream and a raspberry on top. Once you try this recipe, please share if you add any different toppings from the ones suggested below.

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 cup peanut butter (*once measured-melt PB for 30-45 seconds in microwave)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 medium sized bananas, very ripe (brown)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Take a mini muffin pan and lightly coat with cooking spray
  3. Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until mixed well. I use a Vitamix blender.
  4. Pour batter into mini muffin panGuilt Free Muffins, peanut butter, chocolate chip, walnuts, bananas
  5. Add toppings of choice (mini chocolate chips, finely chopped walnuts, coconut, etc.) into each spot of the mini muffin pan. You will want to gently press the toppings into the batter.Guilt Free Muffins, Chocolate Chips, Peanut Butter, walnuts
  6. Place mini muffin pan in the oven and bake for approximately 8 minutes – do not over bake!

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

Guilt Free Muffins, Peanut Butter, Chocolate chips, walnuts

Wedding Soup – FIXATE

I’m always looking for healthy recipes that feed my family. You are probably on the lookout for the same ones; do not take a lot of preparation BUT taste delicious! The extra wedding soup was shared with my parents – which they let me know was excellent. A big thank you to my dad for trying the foods I cook and for being honest with how they taste!

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 cups chicken broth
  • 6 cups spinach, cut into bite size pieces (*I lightly packed the measuring cup – added close to 8 cups)
  • 20 Italian meatballs (*If smaller size meatballs – add more to the soup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 TBSP Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Add broth; bring to a boil.
  5. Add spinach; reduce heat to gently boil; covered, for 10 minutes. I used more than 6 cups of spinach. You could use other greens such as Swiss Chard or Escarole.wedding-soup2
  6. Add meatballs; cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. For this recipe, I used frozen meatballs that were baked for approximately 15 minutes in the oven before adding to the soup. I baked the meatballs in the AM and made the soup in the afternoon.
  7. Combine eggs and cheese in a small bowl; mix with a fork to blend. I did add additional Parmesan cheese to the soup when served; 2 TBSP was not enough for my family!
  8. Slowly pour egg mixture into the hot soup, stirring constantly. Gently boil until egg bits are just set (as you stir), about 30 to 60 seconds.
  9. Season with salt and pepper; serve immediately or reduce heat to low to cook more until ready to serve.

Each serving would equate to 2 green and 1 red if following the color coded container system. The recipe makes enough for 6 servings.

The color coded containers and the FIXATE cookbook are available for purchase in my fitness shop.

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

wedding soup, FIXATE, Clean eating, healthy

Chicken Noodle Soup – FIXATE

On Saturday, my daughter and I sat down together to come up with the meal plan for the week. Looking through the pictures from the FIXATE cookbook she immediately pointed to the soups. Chicken noodle soup was her choice and we decided to make it today. Perfect for a chilly day and this recipe does not take much effort to prepare, but tastes delicious – a win for this momma. We set aside approximately 10 minutes in the morning to cut up the carrots, onions, and celery. The chicken for this meal was frozen so we placed water in a pot and boiled the chicken on medium to low heat. Once cooked, the chicken was shredded with a fork. The extra shredded chicken will be used for chicken fajitas later in the week!

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INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 cups celery,  sliced (about 4 medium stalks)
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 3 cups chicken, cooked & shredded
  • 1 1/2 cups carrots, sliced (about 3 medium)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cups pasta
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

  1. Heat oil in large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion and celery; cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until onion is translucent.
  3. Add broth, pasta, chicken*, carrots, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil for about 10 minutes. *I like to prepare chicken in advance for the week by boiling in water. Once chicken is cooked – shred chicken with a fork. For the chicken soup recipe, I cut up all of my vegetables and boiled the chicken in the morning. Late in the afternoon, I prepared the chicken noodle soup per the recipe.
  4. Reduce heat to low and allow to cook for another 10 minutes.
  5. Add cilantro before serving.

Each serving would equate to 2 green, 1 1/2 yellow, and 1 red if following the color coded container system. The recipe makes enough for 4 servings.

The color coded containers and the FIXATE cookbook are available for purchase in my fitness shop.

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

fixate, 21 day fix approved, chicken noodle soup

Peanutty Peanut Butter Squares – Fixate

This momma is always on a mission to find healthy snacks that my daughter and I can make together. Now that my son is almost 10 months old…he is joining in on the baking fun too! I purchased the FIXATE cookbook to help take the guesswork out of my nutrition plan. There are large colorful pictures to compliment each recipe – I’m a big fan of the pictures when it comes to cookbooks! There’s so many amazing recipes in this book ranging from Gluten Free to Paleo to Vegan and Vegetarian. Not to mention each recipe indicates the seven color coded container equivalents per serving. We all know that nutrition plays a huge role in helping each of us achieve our fitness goals. It’s not a matter of figuring out what to eat; it’s also a question of figuring out how much to eat. Of course, I was excited to see the desserts included in the FIXATE cookbook and I couldn’t wait to make the Peanutty Peanut Butter Squares with my kids. A definite win in our family!

peanut butter, FIXATE, 21 Day Fixed Approved

INGREDIENTS YOU WILL NEED:

  • 1 1/2 cups peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)
  • 1/2 cup raw honey
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs (at room temperature)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

WHAT YOU NEED TO DO:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Lightly coat 8 x 8 inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  3. Combine peanut butter, honey, vanilla extract, eggs, and baking soda in a large mixing bowl; mix well.
  4. Evenly spread batter into 8 x 8 inch baking pan; smooth top with a spatula.
  5. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes. Squares may be a little soft when coming out of the oven, but they will continue to cook. The cooking time using my stove was closer to 27 minutes.
  6. Allow to cool and then cut into squares.

Each serving would equate to 1 yellow and 2 1/2 spoons if following the color coded container system. The recipe makes enough for 16 servings.

The color coded containers and the FIXATE cookbook are available for purchase in my fitness shop.

For more tips, support, recipes, meal planning, and other health and wellness assistance, please apply here by completing my get support form!

FIXATE, family baking, peanut butter