Blogcation Summer-2017

Blogcation
bläɡ/ˈkāSH(ə)n
noun

  1. Unplugging your mind from all outlets of your social media world. Taking a break from regularly updating a website or web page, taking an extended leave of absence to enjoy oneself, family, and the outdoors all while enjoying any form of recreation, especially one spent away from your home or in traveling.

verb

  1. take a blogcation often

  2. I will be taking a blogcation this summer

  3. Taking a blogcation is a must in this saturated social media

  4. To live a balanced life you must schedule a blogcation 2-3 times a year

In the form of a sentence
NJAPP is taking a blogcation, so I will see you in September! My Life-Break will be spent breathing in and out, gardening with my kids, reading my bible, sitting on my darling husband's lap, laughing with my children, getting my palette a little dirty while balancing my clean eating lifestyle. Moms set the tone in the house and I am setting one right now. See ya later...

 

2017 Summer Must-Haves

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Sunshine is the best medicine!

5 Summer Must-Haves 

  1. Thank You Notes: Summer can seem like one big party, and relaxing seems to be at the top of everyone's summer buket list. Hopping from BBQ to BBQ may keep you busy, but let us not be to busy to send that thank you note to the host of those BBQ's. Handwritten Thank You notes are slowly becoming a lost art in the world today. Moms, I encourage you to teach your children when and how to write a proper thank you note. Along with addressing the envelope too. Trust me these millennials have no idea the power of a handwritten "Thank You" note.
  2. Sandals: My summer go-to shoe tends to be a Sixties-inspired Tory Burch leather Gigi Flat Sandal. It works with everything from jeans to dresses and more.
  3. Foot Spray: I know it may be unladylike to talk about sweaty stinky feet at the dinner table, but proper foot hygiene is extremely important to me. Especially, since I ran a podiatry office for 10+ years. 
  4. Summer Salad: The ultimate summer "What can I bring?" question can be answered right here. Check out NJAPP's Summer Salad recipe that will keep your summer healthy path. 
  5. A Fabulous Nude Lipstick: I think that description says it all. Personally, a nude lip with a few strokes of mascara and a sunskissed face is all the makeup a girl needs for the Summer. I am definetly looking foward to my first nude summer listick application. 

ASK B4 U SNACK

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Last week was a hectic one.  Not only did 47 child/school/family events and activities seem to converge in a single week, but I was honored to be speak at JNAs annual Ladies Night! My trainer, Alina Branda, asked if I could give a motivational talk to the group and also serve up one of my favorite post workout snacks.  I immediately Burpee Star Jumped at the opportunity, because why not add a fitness related 48th item to the weekly To-Do List? 

In addition to creating a catered snack for 50+ women, I shared my “ASK B4 U SNACK” strategy.  This strategy entails a group of questions that I make sure to ask myself before I reach for that unnecessary snack. 

The event was a blast and the trainers really motivated everyone to do that extra push up and extra lap. After a quality workout, everyone fueled up on my Power Snack +5 dish and there was even enough time for some great giveaways.  If you missed out on hearing my suggested questions to ask yourself when (or just about to) snacking, I have listed them below for you.

·ASK B4 U SNACK·

  1. Did I drink enough water today?
  2. Should I get out of the kitchen for 20 minutes?
  3. Will a piece of gum satisfy my tastebuds?
  4. Did I eat enough protein today?
  5. Should I go brush my teeth or gargle?
  6. Will a piece of dark chocolate help?
  7. Are my emotions taking over?
  8. Is it time for a hot cup of tea?

Power Snack +5

Part 1

Cooked ingredients:

  • Protein: 12-16 oz of cooked and chopped chicken breast, cooled to room temp.
  • Grain: 1 cup of cooked and cooled wheat berries.
  • Fruit: 1 segmented naval orange.
  • Veggie: 1 cup of blanched string beans, chopped.
  • Good fat: 4 tbs toasted sunflower seeds.

Part 2

Dressing Ingredients

  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ½ ground pepper
  • ¼ tsp of garlic powder
  • ½ tsp of opnion powder
  • 1 tbs of fresh chopped mint
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 cup of orange, coconut zico drink. (save some for later in case your mixture dry out)
  • 2 tbs melted coconut oil (do not mix your coconut oil with your other cold liquids, because your coconut oil will solidfy the moment it mixes with the cold liquids.)

Step 1

Mix all these cooked ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. Mix together your chicken, wheat berries, orange pieces, string beans & sunflower seeds. Set aside.

Step 2

Pour your melted coconut oil over your cooked, chopped ingredients. Give that Power Snack +5 ingredients a good mixing, and make sure your coconut oil is well mixed. Optionl: Sprinkle a little salt and pepper over the mixture and give it one more stir.

Step 3

In a separate glass bowl combine all your wet & dry dressing ingredients. Once everything is whisked together, pour your dressing mixture over your Power Snack +5 mixture and stir till everything is well dressed and mixed. Serve yourself a cup of this amazing Power Snack +5 and enjoy.

Step 4

Store your Power Snack +5 in a glass meal prep container or in small round snack containers for on the go snacking. Enjoy and remember to ASK B4 U SNACK.

Protein Snacks OTG

Memorial Day is about 3 weeks away and my head is spinning like I am on the amusement park ride Tilt-A-Whirl. I know most of us moms are dealing with end of the school year activities, making the gym a priority. All while trying to keep up with the exfoliating process one starts to do right before bathing suit season. Trust me no matter who you are May is a very busy month. If meal prepping isn't manageable right now for you don't stress you will get there. Maybe this easy on-the-go snack will get you motivated to take the first step. Over the next couple months I will be sharing 5 Protein On-The-Go Snacks that have kept my hands out of the pantry and have kept me satisfied till my next healthy meal. Over the past year I have learned that by choosing a protein filled snack rather than a high carbohydrate snack made my body perform better and has stopped my craving throughout the day. Trust me there are days when I am eating in the car and rushing to my next appointment. Choosing the proper fuel for my body while running around has kept me mentally and physically stronger. I hope that one of these OTG snacks will keep you focused while you are On-The-Go too!

NJAPP’s Protein Snacks OTG (On-The-Go) 1/5   

Cottage Cheese +3

  • 1 cup of Munna Cottage Cheese
  • ½ tsp of fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tbs of sliced almonds
  • Pinch of Himalayan Pink Salt

Step 1

Open your cottage cheese, add your pepper and give it a little mix.

Step 2

Add your almonds on top of your cottage cheese.

Step 3

Top your Protein On-The-Go with your Himalayan Pink Salt and Go!

NJAPP Pro Tip: Munna Cottage Cheese has 19 grams of protein. The more protein a snack has the more satisfied you will feel. This snack option will keep you focused and on the right path to crushing your fitness goals!

Inter-Life-Mezzo

Inter-life-mezzo

in·ter·life·mez·zo

ˌin(t)ərˈlīf/metsō/

noun

  1. Taking a little moment to re-set from your everyday responsibilities.

  2. Taking a mini-break from looking at one's social media, or regularly updating a website or web page, taking a couple mini-breaks to enjoy oneself.

  3. Taking your time to enjoy the person you were created to be.

verb

  1. Take a Inter-life-mezzo often.

  2. I will be taking a Inter-life-mezzo several times throughout the next 2 weeks.

  3. Taking a Inter-life-mezzo is a must in this saturated social media world!

  4. To live a balanced life in this non-stop world sometimes you must schedule an Inter-life-mezzo to cleanse your "life" palate and refresh your soul.  

In the form of a sentence

NJAPP will taking multiple Inter-life-mezzos over the next couple weeks. Everyone needs to stop and take a brief rest in-between their own day to day responsibilities. I will see everyone when my Life-Palate has been refreshed and awakened. Moms set the tone in the house and I am setting one right now. NJAPP’s Inter-life-mezzo starts now!

NJAPP's Intermezzo

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of frozen mango chunks
  • 2 tsp of minced ginger
  • 1 cup of orange flavored seltzer

Step 1

Combine the flavored seltzer, mango and minced ginger in a blender. Blend until frothy and smooth. Serve right away for the best flavor.

Step 2

Enjoy & Breath in the Sunshine!

Easter Traditions

Easter Story Cookies

For the last few years, Darling (my husband) and I have been teaching our children the story of our Savior’s Resurrection through a very yummy and memorable recipe. I hope you too enjoy this sweet recipe, but most of all enjoy the quality time you are spending with one another learning about the Easter Story.

Ingredients

  • 1c. whole pecans
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 3 egg whites
  • a pinch salt
  • 1c. sugar
  • zipper baggie
  • wooden spoon
  • tape
  • Bible (I like to use the NIV or KJV)

1. Preheat oven to 300

2. Place pecans in zipper baggie and let children beat them with the wooden spoon to break into small pieces. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, the Roman soldiers beat him. Read John 19:1-3.

3. Let each child smell the vinegar. Put 1 tsp. vinegar into mixing bowl. Explain that when Jesus was thirsty on the cross he was given vinegar to drink. Read John 19:28-30.

4. Add egg whites to vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. Read John 10:10-11.

5. Sprinkle a little salt into each child's hand. Let them taste it and brush the rest into the bowl. Explain that this represents the salty tears shed by Jesus' followers, and the bitterness of our own sin. Read Luke 23:27.

6. So far the ingredients are not very appetizing. Add 1c. sugar. Explain that the sweetest part of the story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He wants us to know and belong to Him. Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16.

7. Beat with a mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff peaks are formed. Explain that the color white represents the purity in God's eyes of those whose sins have been cleansed by Jesus. Read Isaiah 1:18 & John 3:1-3.

8. Fold in broken nuts. Drop by teaspoons onto wax paper covered cookie sheet. Explain that each mound represents the rocky tomb where Jesus' body was laid. Read Matt. 27:57-60.

9. Put the cookie sheet in the oven, close the door and turn the oven OFF. Give each child a piece of tape and seal the oven door. Explain that Jesus' tomb was sealed. Read Matt.27:65-66.

10. GO TO BED! Explain that they may feel sad to leave the cookies in the oven overnight. Jesus' followers were in despair when the tomb was sealed. Read John 16:20 and 22.

11. On Easter morning, open the oven and give everyone a cookie. Notice the cracked surface and take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter Jesus' followers were amazed to find the tomb open and empty.

He is Risen & Happy Resurrection Sunday!

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NJAPP Pro Tip: My children look forward to making and eating these traditional cookies. Unfortunately, they would rather leave the nuts out of the mix if they had the choice.  If your children feel the same, you may just want to hold off on folding the “broken nuts” into the recipe but be sure to read the verse and discuss the significance of those pecans. 

NJAPP's Favorite "Bean"

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The signs of spring are everywhere, from pretty little crocuses that faithfully pop up every year to the slightly warmer rays of sunshine that seem to be lasting a little longer each day. My home is filled with decorative bunnies (which seem to be multiplying like real bunnies), vintage milk-glass vases with fresh cut white tulips, and green moss balls tucked into various corners of various rooms.  My home looks like a woodland fantasy land fit for magical little pixies or fairies. Along with adorable decorations, this month is filled with many beautiful traditions that my gooses and I love to do together. One of our traditions is watching the movie “Hop” as a family. My favorite scene in that movie is when E.B. poops jelly beans and Sam O’Hare (Kaley Cuoco) eats them without batting an eye. As I watch Sam eat those yummy jelly beans I find my myself salivating causing this clean eater’s self-control hop right out of the window. I wish I could say that NJAPP’s tastebuds did not crave those yummy little pieces of candy but they do (I am only human. Well, sort of...). I have found that not restricting myself while maintaining a consistent clean eating lifestyle has kept this mom on track. Today I am sharing 3 ways that I have kept from overindulging on jelly beans for the last few years.

  1. Out of Site: I have given my Vintage Jelly Bean Jar a new location. I am always in the kitchen cooking, and I would stare at that jar of jelly beans that was sitting on my kitchen counter all day long. I am not going to lie but I would take a couple jelly beans samples throughout the day, and by the end of the day I would have consumed far too many calories than one should have consumed in one day for a sweet treat. Now I keep my vintage Jelly Bean Jar downstairs in the family room where I rarely go until evening and by that time it’s just too late to eat them.  

  2. Limit yourself: I limit my jellybean purchase to a one time purchase. This is difficult but it works. I only purchase 1 small container of my favorite jelly beans for the entire month. This way they have to last me the whole month. This forces me to only snack on them when I really want some.  When the month is over into the ground they go (literally). DYK that Jelly beans are lollipop seeds (wink wink). My kids and I plant the jellybeans because “April showers bring May flowers”.

  3. NO GMO’s: Finally I stopped eating those GMO filled jelly beans. May I suggest If you are going to eat candy at least make sure you can pronounce the ingredients.  “Candy is still candy but too much Red Dye #40 is not good for you.”  

NJAPP TIP:  Remember change is good and just because you may have grown up eating a specific jelly bean brand doesn't mean you cannot expand your tastebud horizons. Marich’s Natural Green “Beans” are NJAPP’s favorite “Bean” of all time. If reading ingredients like turmeric and saffron scare you, may I suggest closing your eyes and just start chewing.  You can hippity hop over to your local Whole Foods or you can just order them online. Either way you have to try them or plant them (see #2).  

NJAPP-Guest Contributor: Mary Wallis

CNBC’s Celebrity Makeup Artist Mary Wallis takes a break from her colorful, fast paced life to talk to NJAPP about sweat and you guessed it… “MakeUp”.

NJAPP Before we talk you must unzip your cosmetics bag and tell me what amazing products you use.

MW Laura Mercier Oil Free tinted moisturizer ($44), Cargo Blush in Catalina ($26), Murad Acne Treatment Concealer ($21), Loreal Voluminous Waterproof Mascara ($5.89),  NYX Gel Liner ($8.99) and The Honest Company Truly Kissable Lip Crayon ($18).

NJAPP Tell me a little bit about this phase of your life right and where “fitness” comes in. And Is there anything you battle with?

MW As a working Mom to a beautiful 20 month old girl, I found working out to be the last thing on my to-do list. My day consists of waking up at 4am, driving into the city for a major news station as a makeup artist, back over the GWB to make it home by 11am to start my favorite job (which is being a mom). All while I manage my own wedding makeup business which is 24 hrs a day.

As for “working out” I love my morning and afternoons with my daughter. Her nap time at this stage has been around 2pm, which I then go do my workout or sit on the couch and slowly talk myself out of it (haha).  Tomorrow I will begin my workout!  Consistency has always been my battle. At times I will work out 4-5 days a week, and then there are seasons when it almost seems non-existent. I have learned not to get down on myself, but move forward and click the reset button. I find when I work out and eat right, my mood and energy increases and I am a better mother as well!

NJAPP Do you have a makeup regimen for working out or is makeup a no-no at the gym?

MW My makeup regimen for working out, is no makeup on the skin. Whether heading to the gym or working out in my basement after work, I always take a makeup remover wipe and remove my face makeup, while leaving mascara and eyeliner on.  Wearing makeup to the gym is a somewhat controversial topic of discussion. While some women want to look their best, wearing makeup is not the most practical thing to do.  Depending how hard the workout is, you will be sweating. Makeup will melt away and become smudgy as well as potentially clogging your pores and causing breakouts.

NJAPP What product(s) would you advise your clients to use if they needed or wanted to wear makeup while working out?

MW  

1.  Use an oil-free tinted moisturizer and a powder blush: If you have a blemish to conceal, use spot concealer only.  Make sure to use salicylic acid on blemishes to heal at the same time. Do not let dirt, sweat settle into your pores. Wash your face right away.

2.  Waterproof mascara: There is nothing worse than seeing yourself in the mirror post workout with raccoon eyes!

3.  Waterproof eyeliner: A waterproof pencil or gel liner will work great and will not smudge at all.

4.  Lip tints:  Use lip tints instead of lip-gloss. Gloss will get sticky and depending on the hair situation, may get caught in the hair.

NJAPP  What advice would you like to leave my NJAPP readers.

MW Regardless of what outlook you have and how you want to look at the gym, remember to be confident in who you are. There is not another you in the world.

Eat the Rainbow

You will need:

  1. Red: Strawberries

  2. Orange: Cantaloupe

  3. Yellow: Mangos

  4. Green: Green Grapes

  5. Blue: Blueberries*

  6. Purple: Purple Grapes

  7. Marshmallows

  8. Gold Chocolate Coins

  9. Lucky Charms Cereal

Wash and cut your fruit.

Assemble them in “Rainbow” color order on a serving platter.

Add your marshmallows & chocolate coins to finish off your rainbow.

Serve alongside a bowl of Lucky Charms. Sometimes a little “Red Dye #40” is magically delicious (Wink Wink).

NJAPP Pro-Tip: Save some of your extra fruit for your 3 day meal prep snacks. You can also store some of the extra fruit in freezable baggies for easy smoothie prep too!  You don't need “Luck” to take care of yourself, you just have to know you are #WORTHIT to do so.


*Unfortunately, my gooses are not big fans of blueberries. I ended up leaving the blueberries out of the Rainbow to make everyone happy.

My BFF charm is going to ... My C.I.S (Cast-iron skillet)!

Who gives a kitchen tool half of their BFF charm you must be wondering?  Well, I do. When it seems every social media post features an indulgent meal and every cooking show's key ingredient is either butter, oil or creamy sauce, the only one you can turn to may be an inanimate object.  I heart my pre-seasoned cast-iron skillet that makes my (and can make yours) Clean Eating life so much easier!  Why am I giving half my “charm” to this ultra-versatile cooking tool? Let me count thy ways:

  1. The C.I.S can go from the stovetop to oven with no problem at all (saute and bake)

  2. The C.I.S can hold heat evenly which can make your single serving of coconut oil go a long way. (which lessens your calorie & fat intake)

  3. The CIS helps you avoid harmful chemicals found in common, everyday cookware. I am sure you have heard of PFC’s. If you haven't, they form the chemical repellent coating that keeps food from sticking to Teflon and many other types of nonstick pots. Unfortunately, they are a very harsh chemical and have been linked to many diseases, including cancer. If adding chemicals to your cooking isn't your cup of tea then cooking with a traditional cast iron skillet is the way to go.(Less chemical intake makes for a happier and longer life).

  4. The CIS makes you feel like a strong pioneer woman when you're cooking with it. Yeehaw!

  5. Lastly I love the weight of my CIS. When a quick calorie squat blast is in need, my BFF weighs me down, but in a good way (of course).

Want something delicious to cook in your C.I.S.? Check out my NJAPP Hash recipe >>

Over the Rainbow Excited!

I get “Dorothy” excited when I happen upon little items that I can use for meal prep motivation. One afternoon last week, as I was shopping at Michael's for science fair project supplies (my 5th grader has a sudden interest in chemical reactions), I just so happened to glance over at one of the oddly placed aisle paper bins.  Actually, I practically tripped over one of those bins, which always seem to be out of place, even in a store like Michael's.  Anyway, despite the disorder, it was all for good because what caught my eye sent me clicking my heels with excitement. I had found (umm, fallen into) the world's cutest sticky notes (one was a rainbow thus the Dorothy references) that had ever been created.  I am not sure if this reaction is normal but I am sure it’s good for my waistline because my heart rate began to increase, which can only mean that I am burning calories!

Sometimes one just needs to have a little visual stimulation to get excited in order to stay focused on their goals.  As you may have noticed, I am continuously speaking, blogging, tweeting and Instagramming about “Meal-Prepping” but there are some days I feel like I need a pick-me-up.  Seeing those cute little sticky notes gave me the visually stimulating pick-me-up that I needed.  My love of meal prepping brings me almost as much joy as pink flamingos, so accenting my meal prep containers with those cute little guys (and rainbows) helped me to be that much more loyal to my healthy food and left me slamming the refrigerator door (on bad snacks) with a big smile on my face.

I hope that these Craft Smart Story Sticky notes can keep you as focused as they keep me. But, if flamingos or even stickers aren’t you thing, find something that will get you excited about taking care of yourself and add it to your meal prep mix in your own personal way.  Trust me, just a little extra excitement can give you the initial push or jump start that you need to be successful.

How Do I Love Thee?

Valentine’s day fell on a weekday (i.e. school day) this year, which meant leisurely waking up and making breakfast was not an option, which only added to the love-filled chaos of the week!  I’m not sure what the annual household norm is when it comes to this Hallmark holiday, but in NJAPP’s home, there is major “love” build up to February 14th.  From the daily, handwritten, heart-shaped “Encourage Notes” taped to each child’s door, to each meal served on heart shaped plates (with coordinating napkins, straws and cups of course), to Valentine’s Day morning signified by the smell of NJAPP’s irresistible waffles, to the finale where the cousins fight for bragging rights at the annual “XOXO” tic tac toe tournament, the chaos, um love, can get quite intense.  If turning V-Day into the the twelve days of Christmas doesn’t appeal to you, there is nothing wrong (in fact, everything right) with going with the single task of  preparing NJAPP’s Irresistible Waffle recipe for your loved ones.

This month I have been reciting to myself, “How do I love thee? Let me count the ways...”  Editor’s note:  The last line has been changed only to increase your love for waffles.

“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” by Elizabeth Barrett Browing

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height

My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight

For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.

I love thee to the level of everyday's

Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.

I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.

I love thee with a passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.

I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints, --- I love thee with the breath,

Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if God choose,

I shall but love thee better after WAFFLES

NJAPP-Guest Contributor: Lauren "The Good Cooker"

Lauren (AKA The Good Cooker) was kind enough to step away from the stove to spend a heart-2-heart moment with NJAPP.

NJAPP:  Have you ever turned an insecurity into a strength? If so, how did you do it?

The Good Cooker: As far as turning an insecurity into a strength, I went through a very traumatic event when I was 24: my significant other passed away suddenly.  We had just bought our first house and we were about to move in when he died.  I was with him for six years and I really didn't know how to be alone. I was very depressed during this time and really thought I would never find true love again.  When I started dating again I was very insecure about how I looked. I felt pathetic most of the time and I wasn't good to myself.  It took me a long time to gain back my sense of independence and self-worth, but once I made the decision to leave the town where this tragedy happened and be closer to my family, I began to recognize myself again.  Today I am happily married to the love of my life, we have three beautiful children and I'm just so thankful that I took the steps I needed to take to get out of that black hole.  Now when I have a bad day, I can reflect back on that devastating time in my life and see how far I've come...life is such a gift. I can have a bad day but I won't waste any time dwelling on the bad when there's so much good to cherish.

NJAPP: Thank you for putting your burners on simmer to inspire and show us that broken hearts can heal if you are willing to take the first step towards healing. Your hopeful words have strengthened my heart, and your recipe for “Magic Soup” will most definitely warm our bellies this weekend.

The magic of soup…

The Good Cook: My husband and I are huge vegetable lovers… my kids?  Not so much.  But one day I discovered that when I pureed veggies into a velvety soup, all of the sudden they became HUGE fans.  It was like magic.  I’m not sure why this works but I’m just content knowing that it does.  Here is a list of vegetables that my kids won’t touch on a plate but will devour if unrecognizable in a bowl.

• Broccoli
• Cauliflower
• Peas
• Carrots
• Parsnips
• Fennel
• Onions
• Leeks
I am always on the quest for healthy meals that are delicious AND kid approved…pureed soups definitely fit the bill.  The only required vegetable for this recipe is the peas, you can add any combination of the other vegetables listed above and the soup will turn out great, I promise!  I picked out a few to share with you today…

Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 2 hrs 30 minutes
Equipment needed: Immersion Blender

• 1 head cauliflower (coarsely chopped)
• 1 – 16 oz. bag dry split peas
• 1 onion (coarsely chopped)
• 1 leek (cleaned and coarsely chopped)
• 32 oz. chicken or vegetable stock
• 32 oz. water
• 1 tbsp dried thyme
• Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• Salt and pepper to taste

1. In a large stock pot or dutch oven, sauté the onion in a drizzle of olive oil.  Once the onion begins to soften, add the leak (or any other vegetables you choose) and continue to cook.  

2. Add the liquid, peas, and thyme.  Cover loosely with a lid and cook over medium low heat for about 2 hours, stirring the mixture every 20 minutes.

3. Once the peas have softened completely, add the cauliflower and continue to cook until soft.  You can always add more liquid to the soup if needed.

4. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until all of the clumps are gone.

5. Season with a tsp of salt and ½ tsp of pepper to start.  Add more if desired.

This is so filling and packed with nutrients, my husband and I get to enjoy a satisfying and healthy meal and the kids are happy too, total win/win.  These soups also refrigerate and freeze very well, I’m always taking leftovers to work.

A tip for enticing kids to try this out is to set up a soup “toppings bar”.  Just put out bowls of homemade croutons, cubed ham, cheese, etc.  They love the idea of customizing their own soup. It gives them some decision making power and let’s face it, everyone loves a good bar!  

I hope you try this soup recipe with your family…you just might make some magic happen.

My Delicate Orchid

There is no greater love than the one that is shared between a mother and daughter.

“She has opened my eyes to wonders anew. She has captured my heart with her love because there is nothing as beautiful as her”

5 things that I love about my delicate orchid:

  1. Her selfless, compassionate heart.

  2. Her ability to see the good in every situation.

  3. Her confidence in her own skin.

  4. Her love for all things pure and righteous.

  5. The unfailing love she shows me daily.

Xoxo

Mommy

Mulberries

I may just need to put a lock on my pantry door in order to keep me from devouring the latest item that has quickly taken up permanent residence in NJAPP's kitchen.  I simply cannot get enough of these sort of crunchy, but sorta chewy, naturally sweet fruit clusters with a texture that falls somewhere between a dried fig and golden plump raisin.  The only thing wrong with these clean-eating clusters of heaven is my failure to procure a super-sized version of the package! I think singing the following lyrics will quickly put you in tune with my latest dried-fruit snack obsession. Cue piano.....

🎶Here we go round the mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush,
The mulberry bush.
Here we go round the mulberry bush
So early in the morning.

This is the way we prep our snacks,
Prep our snacks.
Prep our snacks.
This is the way we prep our snacks
So early in the morning.

I may have altered a verse or two of this childhood nursery rhyme favorite, but I think we all know where I was going with that one. If you guessed mulberries, you are correct.

So next time you're at the food store, hum or skip your way to the dried fruit aisle and pick up a bag of these dried mulberries. You may even find yourself making up a verse to that childhood nursery rhyme while checking out.  Cue piano one more time....

🎵This is the way we make our shake
Make our shake
Make our shake
This is the we make our shake
By adding mulberries to the top!

Check out my Mulberry Protein Shake Recipe >>
 

NJAPP- Guest Contributor Cintya Angotti

1st Time Bikini Body Competitor.

This STRONG woman took home some well-deserved trophies on September 24, 2016. Cintya received 3rd place in novice and 4th in her class. Cintya was coached by @karenyoakum_ifbbpro . I am so proud of this woman for turning her insecurity into a strength. 

NJAPP: Have you ever found yourself lost or not knowing what your purpose in life is?

Cintya: Yes, that was me after having my daughter. I had the healthiest and most precious little girl, a loving and supportive husband and family, but I found myself sad and depressed most days. Baby-blues? Postpartum depression? I'm not really sure what it was but I dealt with it on my own. I took it day by day. I was unhappy and I had no reason for it. I was blessed to have everything I ever dreamed of having. The perfect little family.

16 months after having my daughter, I decided I needed to focus my energy on something else besides my daughter and my husband. I needed to do something for MYSELF. I needed to feel like my old self. I needed to find myself again. Pregnancy wasn’t easy for me, mentally or physically. So I went on and hired a coach to help me transform and get me stage ready for my first ever bikini competition. After all, fitness has always been the thing that brought me sanity and mental clarity. Competing was one of the things on my bucket list and this was the perfect time to pursue it. I have always been into health and fitness but I just needed to be more disciplined with my diet and training. I just needed to commit. So 16 months postpartum I went for it.

NJAPP: Were you active or into fitness before you started preparing for your 1st competition?

Cintya: Yes, I was active before I started prepping for my show.  I was lifting weights and doing cardio but I wasn’t being consistent.

NJAPP: How were your eating habits pre-competition?

Cintya: I would have considered myself a healthy eater. I also ate healthy foods but in big quantities and some days I wouldn't eat enough. I wasn’t measuring my portions and often had too many cheat meals.

NJAPP: Can you give me an example of what you were eating pre-competition?

Cintya: Breakfast would consist of a protein shake (your typical protein, banana, peanut butter shake).

Lunch: A grilled chicken wrap

Dinner: Maybe a salad or greek yogurt with fruit and nuts for dinner.

NJAPP: Would you say you meal prepped a lot or went out to dinner mostly?

Cintya: I would go out for dinner a lot which just showed me that there wasn’t much consistency in my diet.

NJAPP: How long did it take you to prep for your first competition?

Cintya: It was a 12 week preparation (diet & fitness) period. I started cooking and measuring my food for every week for 12 weeks.  

NJAPP: How many times a day did you eat and work out? Did your diet and workouts change throughout your preparation for competition?

Cintya: I was eating 6 small meals throughout the day and I was working out 7 days a week. I was lifting weights for about an hour and a half, plus an additional hour of cardio. At the end of my prep, my cardio increased to 1 hr 45 min. My diet was personalized and it changed as I progressed. I was eating lean meats, complex carbohydrates and veggies. Chicken, tilapia, lean ground beef, sweet potatoes, oatmeal, brown rice, broccoli, green beans, brussels sprouts, spinach. Mostly any type of veggies I would eat.

NJAPP: Did you reach your goal? How did it feel to reach your goal?  

Cintya: I achieved my goal of getting into the best shape of my life and I showed it all off on stage. What a great feeling of accomplishment! Prepping for the show made me a stronger person in every aspect of my life and it brought back that confidence I was missing when I had the baby blues. I had my ups and downs like with everything else in life. I still managed to be the best mom and wife I could be while working on myself.

NJAPP: Once the competition was over did you just stop working out and eating those 6 meals a day?

Cintya: No, I definitely didn't do that. I was advised by my coach and had to reverse diet out of my show by slowly increasing my calories and still keeping my training consistent.

NJAPP: Are you still the same weight you completed at in September 2016?

Cintya: No, I have put some weight back on and I'm focusing on getting stronger and building some more muscle before I decide to compete again. I am being a lot more flexible with my diet now and enjoying more cheat meals with my family.

NJAPP: Anything else you want to tell me about your experience?

Cintya: Bodybuilding, training and fitness have become a huge part of my life but it still revolves around my faith and family.  I personally think a healthy lifestyle means maintaining balance and enjoying the journey in all facets and stages of life.

#Resolutions

3, 2, 1, HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! ... 2017 is here and, if you are like most, there’s a good chance you didn’t see your 2016 resolutions through to 2017.  If that’s the case, this needs to be the year that you stop looking backwards and start looking forward (a sprinter who looks behind herself will always get passed) and pressing towards the mark.  It’s time to focus on not only achieving your goals but demolishing them.  Close games are nice but nothing beats a 49-0 thrashing by your favorite team.  I have learned that setting unreachable goals/resolutions just sets us up for defeat which will inevitably lead to a self destructive donut binge and the resulting sense of failure and self loathing.  

The good news is you can pick your opponent by setting attainable goals.  Instead of the typical January “lose 20 lbs by Memorial Day” resolution, why not resolve to simply promise to like and value yourself just a bit more than the year before.  Remember, there really is no one like you.  You are fearfully and wonderfully made. Don’t get me wrong ... losing weight is always a good idea, but building lean muscle is more important, more sustainable and frankly, more aesthetically pleasing and healthy.  Although I am I biased towards Joe & Alina, I truly do love my gym’s 2017 body image campaign, “Not a new you ... A better you!” that they are running right now.  A better you is a great idea and great resolution.  You have the power to change and make smart choices and those choices will lead to lean muscle, a fit, trimmer body and 2017 resolution success! Set attainable goals, demolish them and like what you see in the mirror. Make that your 2017 resolution. Happy New Year!

Resolution

rezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. a firm decision to do or not to do something.

  2. "she kept her resolution to like what she sees in the mirror.”

  3. “I will try meal prepping for myself for 3 days”

NJAPP’s 2017 Resolutions

  1. I will be proud of the person I see in the mirror everyday.

  2. I will hug my children more each day.

  3. I will organize my pantry by Spring, maybe even write a post about it (maybe).

  4. I will learn to make a killer lemon meringue tart.

  5. Drink more water and less caffeine (well, maybe a little less caffeine-haha).

Blogcation - See you in 2017

bläɡ/ˈkāSH(ə)n,

noun

  1. Unplugging your mind from all outlets of your social media world. Taking a break from regularly updating a website or web page, taking an extended leave of absence to enjoy oneself, family and the outdoors all while enjoying any form of recreation, especially one spent away from your home or in traveling.

verb

  1. take a blogcation often

  2. I will be taking a blogcation here and there during the winter months

  3. Taking a blogcation is a must in this saturated social media

  4. To live a balanced life you must schedule a blogcation 2-3 times a year

In the form of a sentence

NJAPP is taking a winter-blogcation, so I will see you some time in the new year! My Life-Break will be spent throwing a snowball or two, reading my bible, sitting on my darling husband's lap, sipping some homemade hot cocoa, putting together our annual winter puzzle with my children, getting my palette a little dirty while balancing my clean eating lifestyle. Moms set the tone in the house and I am setting one right now. 

Christmas Cards, Carols & Truffles Oh My!

Tis’ the season to send out these sweet cards while snacking on some sweet NJAPP truffles. December traditions have me baking up a storm so that I can share yummy cookies and sweets with my family, friends and neighbors.  If you have been following my blog, you already know that baking cookies (and possibly eating too many of them) is what kinda got me in that situation where I needed to be on that NBC reality show, STRONG. The good news is that I have found a new sweet indulgence, without the guilt, to make this clean eating girl feel a little healthier.  I decided to add a new treat, which I call the NJAPT (Not Just A Pretty Truffle), to my Christmas cookie repertoire this year.  These truffles will leave you feeling satisfied and full of energy without that guilty-sweet-tooth sort of feeling. You can even use these as a pre-workout snack (how amazing is that?) if you are in a pinch. Now, if that isn’t a perfect Christmas gift for the clean eater then I don’t know what else to do (haha) for you. Tis’ the season to throw on the pounds--to  our squat rack, not your waistline...and cue the carolers...

We Wish You A Merry Christmas NJAPP style!

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

We wish you a Merry Christmas,

And a Happy New Year!

 

Good tidings we bring for you and your kin;

We wish you a merry Christmas

And a Happy New Year!

 

Now bring us some almond milk & truffles

Now bring us some almond milk & truffles

Now bring us some almond milk & truffles

And bring it out here!

 

We won't go until we get some

We won't go until we get some

We won't go until we get some

So bring it out here!

 

Good tidings we bring for you and your kin;

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

December Traditions

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire...” is playing (the classic Nat King Cole version) in the background as we are driving over the GWB (George Washington Bridge) into New York City for our annual family “Christmas in the City” get-a-way tradition. As I look out over the Hudson River, that timeless Christmas carol reminds me of my grandmother and how she made this season, especially Christmas Eve, so memorable for me growing up.  Although she peacefully passed away this past October (2016), the strength of the bond her and I had since I was born seems to manifest as a simple song takes me swiftly back to her table at Christmas Eve.  It’s at that table, which she would let me set (under her guidance of course) the silverware and napkins, where our bond would grow each year and where the foundation for many of my family traditions would be born.

I didn't realize this then, but as I grew up and started my own family, I came to truly savor her life lessons. I learned so much more than just where the knife and fork would be perfectly placed. I learned that childhood memories are priceless and that certain holiday traditions, like eating chestnuts during dessert time on Christmas Eve, are more than just robotic holiday activities.  It’s the memories of those actions that become traditions that bring me joy and excitement and keep me looking forward to the next time I can do it all over again.  

The daydream of my grandmother fades as we cross 7th Ave, and I can already see the joy in my gooses’ faces when we arrive at our hotel.  I can see that this trip is more than jumping on fluffy white hotel beds, Rockefeller Center, Saks & Ladurée. It is a piece of me that is being passed on to my children. They may not think (the way I think of my grandmother, Norma) of me when they see the chestnuts being sold on the NYC street corners, but they will remember the quality time we spent as a family laughing, hugging and posing for endless photos. I hope that my children will get that warm feeling (kinda’ like the feeling you get when you drink Ladurée’s hot chocolate or when I eat a warm chestnut from the oven) each year the moment December comes around.  That feeling of anticipation of those activities they know are to come because we have continued traditions of the past and created new ones of our own.

The month of December seems to be a crazy one, but sowing into your children’s family memories are definitely #WORTHIT. Who knew all those years when my grandmother, Norma, served roasted chestnuts that they would become such a priceless memory for me. I may be missing my grandmother a little more this year, but what better way to remember her than to roast up a batch of chestnuts and reminisce about everyone's favorite holiday traditions…all while listening to that famous Christmas carol classic by Nat King Cole. Yes, it has been said many times and many ways, but really I do hope you have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful holiday month.

NJAPP Pro Tip: My brain was recently blown when I found out that chestnuts were on the ‘“Nice List” rather than the “Naughty List”.   I grew up knowing they were good for you, but I was under the assumption that they were fattening because of their starchy consistency. Who knew that they are anything but fattening. Chestnuts provide many health benefits and are extremely nutritious, containing four grams of fiber per serving with only a fraction of the fat found in other nuts. Chestnuts also have a higher starch content, which is what contributes to feeling fuller longer (NJAPP gives that fact an A++).  These nuts have been linked to the promotion of weight loss, lowering one's cholesterol and many more positive reasons to start peeling one open ASAP.