Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Stay on Track: Meal Prep!

Today I thought I would share a little motivation about a very valuable lesson I've learned this year. And guess what? It is all about FOOD!

Food. We all love it. Who doesn't? It is always on our minds: What am I hungry for? When can I eat next? What should we have for dinner tonight? As someone who has adjusted to a lifestyle of eating every 2 hours, I'm always thinking about what I'll be eating next, however this past year has taught me a lot about exactly what I SHOULD be eating next. You all know that I have that bizarre "I LOVE TO WORKOUT" bug in my system, but after adjusting my lifestyle and planning my meals, I've reached so many more goals. Hence this blog:

Meal prep at its finest :)
 Nutrition is SO important! Of course, balancing a healthy diet and exercise regimen is the key to success, but like they say: "abs are built in the kitchen". If you want to see serious results, an occasional gym session won't be enough. Commit yourself entirely and hop on the healthy-meal bandwagon. This blog is FULL of nutritious ideas!

As I was inspired to blog about this today, I happened to be "meal-prepping" for my next endeavor: the Miss Massachusetts Pageant- THIS WEEKEND! Today called for some intense cooking, as we "move-in" to our hotel tomorrow to begin Miss Mass Week: rehearsals, appearances, interviews, and competition! Keeping my tummy happy is crucial for me, in order to keep my brain happy, my dancer feet happy, you get it. :)
protein, almonds, stevia, here we go!
If you're looking for even more motivation to start meal-prepping, let me tell you my mini-success-story! Two years ago I really began my "healthy transformation" and much of this was trial and error. For example, eating sugary bowls of cereal for dinner was "healthy" to me at one time (bet you'll even find it on my earliest blog posts!). I started working out more, saw results, then seemed stuck. That is when I realized I needed to continue making adjustments to my diet to continue striving for a nutritious lifestyle. It is KEY to make slow, gradual changes to your diet... in my experience, drastic changes typically end in failure because it doesn't seem approachable or realistic for your body to maintain. If you slowly trick your body into a healthy lifestyle, it will respond, and thank you! So anyway.... I began kicking breads and pastas out of my diet (again, this whole transformation is scattered throughout my blog) and 3 months ago I began training with RX Strength Training of Somerville, Massachusetts. This is when I stepped up the intensity even more and meal preparation became my best friend. I would take 2 chicken breasts out of the freezer every night (which I individually bagged after buying fresh chicken breasts), and I would hard boil my eggs in the morning, cook my chicken, pack my raw almonds and greens, and go on with my busy lifestyle. For example... I was eating a homemade chicken, spinach, and broccoli salad yesterday... in the movie theater. Below you'll find me with my protein shake, water bottle, and salad... on my way to the Luke Bryan concert. Like I said, meal prep has been my best friend.
Thaw overnight, cook in the morning. You're good to go!
chicken for days (literally)
Once I began this, I started seeing the best results I've ever had in my life. After intense workouts and strict dedication to my nutrition, lower carbs, and no cheat meals for 5 weeks, I saw my body fat percentage drop from 21.5% in April, to 14.4% today, at the end of June! In only 3 months I came that far! All of my crazy meal-prep paid off, and I will keep doing this for as long as I need to. I've never felt healthier, happier, or more confident and energetic! Hope that inspires you: you CAN do whatever you set your mind to! Avoid McDonalds. Say goodbye to Dunkin Donuts breakfast bacon, egg & cheese. Start your new life, and make it a healthy one! Prep those meals, treat yourself once in a while, and be so proud of yourself!
Morgan + Protein Shaker + Tupperware Salad= BFFs
Easy ways to incorporate meal-prep into your life:
- do one large cooking session on Sunday nights, prep for the week
- when cooking dinner each night, cook extra and have that for your lunch the following day
- whatever works for your lifestyle! 

 You can take anything on the go. However, if you're spending the time to do this, make sure you are making smart choices! Think of things you don't mind reheated (or cold), and find a fridge where you work or bring a cold-pack like I do! ...And PLEASE don't forget to eat breakfast. So important.

- salads (keep the dressing on the side in a mini tupperware)
- sweet potatoes          - greek yogurt (pack cinnamon & stevia)         
- raw veggies          - fresh fruit
- chicken breasts (obviously what I do!)          - raw almonds
- hard boiled eggs
- protein shakes          -snacks fit for your nutrition goals
- water, water, water, water, water. go green, buy a water bottle
- don't forget silverware!
broccoli, protein, mmmmm :)
There you have it, meal preparation at its finest!! Remember, everything you put in your mouth contributes to your health. You can do this!
<3 Morgan

Saturday, June 15, 2013

1-Minute Clean Blueberry "Muffin"

Who loves comfort food on a Saturday morning? ...
Breakfast is my favorite part of the day. I love nothing more than waking up early when the house is quiet, pouring myself a few cups of coffee, reading the news, and of course... enjoying a great breakfast. While training for my pageant, I don't have a whole lot of breakfast options: but this morning I found a great alternative!

Before my run, I found came across an amazing recipe on Pintrest and figured I just HAD to give it a try so I could share it with you all :) I figured a few carbohydrates from the oatmeal would fuel my morning workout, and boy was I right! Ladies and gentlemen: treat yourself this morning with a guilt-free treat. Introducing the:

1-Minute Clean Blueberry "Muffin":
1-Minute Clean Blueberry Muffin
 How DELICIOUS does that look? Let me tell you, for how healthy this is AND how good it tastes, I will never eat a fat-filled blueberry muffin again. Ready to give it a try yourself?

1/4c. quick oats
1 egg
1/4c. blueberries
1 packet/sprinkle Stevia/Truvia
1 T. unsweetened almond milk
dash of cinnamon
Blueberry "Muffin" ingredients. So simple!
Combine all of your ingredients in a coffee mug and mix it together. Put your 'batter' in the microwave for 1 minute (watch to make sure it doesn't over flow!). If the 'muffin' top isn't firm, continue to microwave for 30 second intervals. I used my biggest coffee mug, and my microwave time was closer to 2 minutes total.
fresh out of the microwave!
Once you are happy with the consistency, flip your mug over onto a plate... and get ready to enjoy your Clean Blueberry "Muffin!"
I devoured this in about... 2 minutes.
Nutrition Facts:

Calories: 171
Fat: 7g
Carb: 19g
Fiber: 3g
Sugar: 4g
Protein: 9g

Let me know what you think! I added the dash of CINNAMON because I love it, and cinnamon also has great benefits! Stabilizing blood sugar levels, reducing body fat percentages, increasing lean muscle mass, and the fact that it is an anti-viral are just a few of the perks! 
If you can't eat EGG, you can try substituting for a "flax seed egg" : combine 1 T. flax seed meal with 3 T. water, let it sit for about 2 minutes, then add it in place of an egg. **I have not tried this with this recipe yet!

Hope you enjoy your new Saturday morning "comfort" food :)

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Goodbye Sodium, Hello Not-So-Boring Chicken! Salsa Time!

Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. Chicken. And more chicken.
As Miss Boston, I've spent months and months preparing for the Miss Massachusetts pageant, which includes paying extra attention to my nutrition... and eating so. much. chicken. Pageant girls and fitness advocates la-la-la LOVE our protein! Over the last few months, my chicken breasts not only started to bore me, but my mouth didn't even want to chew them anymore. Alas: it was time to get creative.

As many of you know, there are hundreds of toppings you could pair with a chicken breast to make it more delicious. What you may not know, is most toppings are jam-packed with sodium! BOOOO! We don't like sodium. Not only does it cause higher blood pressure (which could lead to hypertension... heart disease... okay now the nurse in me is coming out), but it bloats you! The phrase "water follows salt" has been pounded into my head through nursing school, but this also holds true when you're training to get in a bikini for summertime... or for a pageant in front of hundreds of people :) So I said "adios" to salt, salty seasonings, ketchup, barbeque sauce, dressings, and most recently, salsa. All I've been seasoning my chicken breasts was herbs, like oregano, basil, pepper, and onion powder. Lately salsa was my go-to topping for chicken, until my trainer suggested, "make your own! The stuff in the jar has a ton of sodium." ... Darn it! Well, this set me up for a little experiment, and I can say my chicken is now delicious, salt-free, and flavorful! 

Introducing: Easy, Fresh, Homemade Salsa
Now, this was the easiest stuff in the world to make and I do not own a food processor! If I did, I'm sure I would have tried this long ago, but on a rainy day like today I had no excuse but to chop, chop, chop all of my ingredients! First of all, let me give you an idea of how much chicken I've actually been eating:
Yes, this occured in one day. Typically I only eat 2 chicken breasts/day.
Oops! There is my jar-salsa. Hi sodium.
I'm not suggesting you start eating 6 chicken breasts a day (unless you are excessively training for a bodybuilding competition or have some serious muscle-gaining goals), but I do suggest that you take in as much lean protein as you can in the day. Fish or chicken breasts are best, especially compared to any red meats. Since I don't like fish, I'm stuck with chicken and protein shakes to accomplish my protein goals each day! Now do you see why I was so desperate for a flavorful topping?

Lets get started! 
1 tomato, finely diced
1/4 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves
1 T. minced fresh cilantro
juice from 1/2 lime
black pepper
serrano pepper (optional)
 Dice up ALL of your ingredients, combine in a bowl, and you are set! 
Squeeze that lime, dice that onion, mince that cilantro!
I didn't use diced serrano pepper for my first batch, simply because I didn't have it. It is a great way to add more flavor, though!
Keep in mind, you can alter this however you would like! This was strictly an experiement for me (that turned out to be refreshing for summer and delish). Add 1-2 mashed avocados to turn this into a guacamole. Add minced jalapeno pepper if you like a kick. Add more garlic if you're a garlic lover!
Homemade Salsa
Store it in tupperware in the fridge!
You can use this salsa for anything. I LOVE it with my egg whites. Obviously pairing it with chicken puts a smile on my face. Mix it up with ground turkey breast while it is simmering. Do whatever you want with it, and don't feel guilty- there is no sodium, fat, bad stuff :) I used 2 Tablespoons on my chicken breast, and it looks like my tupperware-full will last me for a good 4 servings! Obviously, if you cook for more than just yourself, increase the recipe to feed your family/boyfriend/farm/whoever.
<3 Morgan