Fruit & Yogurt Teething Pops (plus a bonus kitchen tip!)

It’s been a little while since I checked in, I’ve been working hard on some projects lately and had to take a break from something to make it all work. Even though everything in the works is a positive development I’ve still missed you all! So I’m popping in today with a new recipe – I hope you enjoy!

Fruit & Yogurt Teething Pops

PJ has been teething like a fiend lately, which has not been fun for any of us, to put it mildly. Teeth Are Not For Biting is now required bedtime reading. He finds it hilarious.

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I’m trying to keep cold things on hand, so I made up a batch of these babies today. Start with plain, low fat yogurt. Add a little coconut water to thin it, frozen fruit for flavor, and a teaspoon of extract to round it out.

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Then I blend it all up to the consistency of a smoothie and pour it into Popsicle molds. I have two sets now, one that is soft and squeezy and one traditional type with a stick. PJ prefers the squeeze kind because he can (mostly) feed himself with them.

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At this point, he realized what I was doing and insisted on a taste test – how pitiful is this face?!

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It’s probably a good idea that he did, because he let me know very quickly that I forgot to add a sweetener – oops! I use honey if I’m making these and not freezing them, or organic cane sugar if they’re going in the freezer like this batch. So after I added the sugar and poured them into the molds, I had the dreaded blender cleanup ahead of me, ugh!

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Bonus Kitchen Tip!

With all the blending I do for my morning shakes and these pops, I got really sick and tired of all that blender cleaning. Then I found this tip and it changed my life. I really wish I remembered which site I saw it on to give them credit, but it was months ago and I forget – sorry! If anyone knows, please tag them in a comment!

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After a quick rinse in hot water, I fill the blender about halfway with hot water, add a teaspoon of baking soda, and a squirt of dish soap. Then zhuzh it up like this…

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I don’t have to tell you to keep the lid on while zhuzhing right? Anyway, afterwards I dip out some of the foam to clean the lid and the counters, and when I dump it out I wipe out the sink too for good measure. It takes way longer to write all this out than it does to make, and Mommy and Daddy have been known to sneak a “teething pop” or two for a snack – they’re delicious!

Teething Pop Recipe

3/4 container of plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp flavored extract
1-1/2 cups frozen fruit
4 oz coconut water
Sweetener to taste (honey for smoothies, sugar if freezing)

Put everything in the blender and blend until smooth. Freeze for 2-3 hours.

Big Reveal – PiYo Round 1 Results!

This is going to be one of those posts where I have to shut my eyes to hit send. I’ve got some photos to share with you today that are pretty embarrassing, but I hope they’ll help other people realize that “you don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.”

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At the beginning of July, I took a big step out of my comfort zone and ordered one of those Beachbody kits – you know, the ones from all those infomercials. I had seen the infomercials for P90X, Insanity, Body Beast, and was so intimidated by all those buff bodies that I never really considered that I could do something like it! Then I started seeing the 21 Day Fix spot and thought “Now that’s more my speed!”

So when I called my friend Pam, who has had AMAZING results with several Beachbody programs, especially T25, that’s what I thought I’d be doing. I was all set to get 21 Day Fixed, and started saving my pennies to order the full challenge pack with Shakeology. Then I called her back and told her I was almost ready to order, and she said, “Before you do, I wanted to let you know that Chalene Johnson [creator of TurboJam and TurboFire] has a new program that I think you will LOVE! It’s called PiYo, and it’s brand new. If you want to wait one more week until it’s released, we can both order it and do it together.”

When she explained that PiYo is a pilates/yoga inspired workout that is focused on building strength and flexibility using just your body weight, I was intrigued. I’ve always enjoyed both pilates and yoga, and loved the idea of having someone to go through the program with. So I placed my order and joined Pam’s challenge group at the beginning of July.

One of the first things she told me to do was take “before” pictures and measurements as well as weighing myself. I was REALLY not happy about this, for reasons that all be obvious when you see the pictures a little later on! But I did it, and now I’m glad I did because changes are so gradual that is really hard to see any other way.

The program itself was great. There are multiple workouts on three DVD’s, so even though I was working out six days a week, I wasn’t getting bored with the repetition. The pack even included a calendar so that I didn’t have to try to figure out which workout to do next or when it was time to move on to some of the more advanced routines. And within each workout, Chalene and her team of instructors demonstrate each move with modifiers for the beginners and also for more advanced people.

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That girl on the right is Modifier Michele – she’s my new best friend. No offense to my current best friends, but Michele and I hung out for at least one move in every workout for the last 60 days. I kind of feel like I owe her a Christmas card now! But I hardly ever manage to get cards in the mail anyway, so hopefully she’ll just see this blog and know that I appreciate her haha.

Finishing the program this week was bittersweet. There was a HUGE sense of accomplishment, and I am thrilled with my results…but I’m going to miss waking up and seeing Chalene’s smiling face every morning! There will be a round two of PiYo in my future, but after this weekend I’ll be moving on to the 21 Day Fix to mix things up a little.

Here are the three main pillars of the program as I followed it:

– 30 minute PiYo workout, 6 days a week

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– 1 Shakeology daily

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– 4-5 small meals a day based on clean eating principles (the challenge pack comes with a nutrition plan)

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It really was easy to follow, I would do my workout and shake first thing in the morning and go about my day. I did well with eating clean, although I’ll never claim that I was perfect at it! I would probably have even more dramatic results if I had been perfect at it, but I was never aiming for a total transformation in only 8 weeks. I’m looking at this as the first 8 weeks of the rest of my life, and I will always need to make room for imperfection, because that’s how life works, right?

So how did these three pillars work out for me? Take a look and see!

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I set a goal to lose 10 pounds and 10 inches in my 8 weeks on this program.

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I missed one goal by a little, but I smashed the other one! I lost a total of 7 pounds and 16 inches by the last day. Most of the inches came off of my waist and my thighs, which is a-ok with me!

So there you have it, my “after” photos for PiYo, that have just become my “before” photos for 21 Day Fix! If you’re considering starting a fitness program, there is no time like the present. I’ve become a Beachbody coach as part of my journey, and would love to help you reach YOUR goals! I can hook you up with any of the workout programs Beachbody offers, and I’ve got challenge groups set up for the month of September, send me a message and I’ll get you enrolled!

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PJ’s Diary: My Rather Extensive Vocabulary

I really like to tease my mommy! I fake sneezes so she will say “Bless you, PJ!” and I like to crawl away real fast and hide when she’s not looking.

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I wonder how she always finds me so fast?

But my favorite way to tease Mommy is the “new word game” – I learned alllll these words before I let her know I can say “Mommy!”

Uh oh
Hi!
Daddy (that’s my favorite!)
Wawa
PopPop
Kitty
Doggie (also pronounced “Kitty”)
Frog (also pronounced “Kitty”)
Pretty
Wow wow wow!
Mickey
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No!
Go!
Bye bye
Nana
Nice
Cookie
AFLAC
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Cracker
Whereditgo?
I did it!
Fishie

Buuuuuuut….Now I had enough fun teasing Mommy, so I gived her a big kiss tonight and said “Mommy.” And then I fake sneezed on her and laughed and laughed!

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Ooooh look! Fishie! I love you, Mommy!

How To: Eat Clean(er) In Restaurants

Clean eating at home isn’t exactly easy, especially when you’re juggling a family and a busy schedule. But at least you have the advantage of controlling your ingredients and your environment. So if we ate at home for every meal, the path to healthy eating habits would be relatively smooth. But of course we live in the real world, and that means eating at other people’s homes and at restaurants sometimes too. The easy way out is to say “Oh, it’s a special occasion, and I’ll have whatever I want *just this once*.” But when *just this once* becomes every couple of days, it’s easy to get off track in a hurry.

So here are some of my survival strategies to be able to eat out and enjoy my time with family, friends, and colleagues without throwing away all my hard work and exercise:

Don’t Arrive Too Hungry

Just like grocery shopping, if you are starving when you walk into a restaurant, the unhealthy choices are more likely to jump out at you and you’re more likely to overeat in general. It’s also much easier to say “No thanks” to a bread basket if you aren’t entertaining a herd of rampaging wildebeests in your tummy (what? Just me and PJ?) Eat a high protein snack before you go and it’ll be easier to stay on track.

Say No To Soda
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Regular soda is full of empty calories, and diet versions actually stimulate your appetite and craving for sugar. Stick to water and unsweetened teas for your main drink, and save your beverage calories for a glass of wine instead.

Skip The Salad

This may seem counterintuitive to a healthy eating strategy, but think about this – which of these three dishes is going to give you a bigger bang for your vegetable buck?

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The typical house salad at many restaurants may make you feel good when you order it, but is usually just a pile of lettuce with a couple of tomatoes and/or cucumbers and it’s not at all satisfying to eat. And a lot of entree salads are loaded with fatty fried chicken, and covered with high fat dressings and other unhealthy items. You’re better off ordering the pizza with lots of veggies (that are ironically not often included in the salads!) or another entree with some nutritional value than suffering through a boring plate of lettuce or thinking you were “good” because you ordered a salad and then binging on dessert….or so I’ve heard!

Read Like A Chef

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When you’re looking for a healthy entree, pay attention to the ingredients and also to how it’s prepared. Look for broiled, grilled and baked items, and stay away from smothered ones. Sauteed is a tricky one, because it CAN be done with a light touch, but most of the time it isn’t. You’ll probably be looking at a lot of unnecessary fat and oil with a sauteed dish. If you don’t understand a term and how it relates to fats used in cooking, ask your server or look it up.

Have What She’s Having

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Ok, I love this movie. And you don’t need to be quite as high maintenance as Sally, but she really is onto something with all her “on the side” orders. I always ask for dressings and sauces on the side, because they add flavor but also add a ton of fat and calories most of the time. So I dip my fork into the dressing or sauce before each bite to get the flavor, and rarely use more than a quarter of what they send out.

Divide & Conquer

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It’s no secret that restaurant portions are typically way outside the norm in their size and amount of calories involved. One good strategy to manage this is to take a good look at your plate before you take that first bite or Instagram photo, and decide where your stopping point is. I usually eat half of my plate and then stop for a couple of minutes to decide if I’m still hungry or if I’m talking the rest home for lunch. It’s easy to get caught up in conversation and finish a whole huge plate before you know it, so deciding where you stop before you start can be a big help.

These are my six favorite strategies for keeping on track away from home – what are yours? Leave them in the comments!

PJ’s Diary: My Mom Is So Weird

I’ve been wondering for awhile now what happens after me and Bunny falls asleep. I used to think that everything stops until I wake up again, but now I’m not so sure.

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I spend hours and hours creating a high quality mess, and then it gets cleaned up while I sleep – it’s almost like Mommy & Daddy are still awake and doing things without me, but that can’t be right, can it? I mean, without me around to play with they just shut off like my fishie lamp, right?

So the other morning I decided I needed to get up early and investigate. I roared like a dinosaur to let my mommy know it was time for her to get up too, and let me tell you she took her sweet old time coming to rescue me from my crib! But she showed up eventually and we had a nice snuggle and a bottle.

Then she tried to tell me to play with my toys, and moved my Lego table across the room. I got a funny feeling that she’s done this before, she knew just where to put it to leave a big space on the rug. Then she pulled out this fun runway that she’s apparently been hiding from me. She said “OK, PJ, be a good boy and play so Mommy can do some PiYo.” But all I wanted to play was “crawl back and forth on the runway” – it’s fun, you should try it sometime!

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I wasn’t done crawling yet, but Mommy scooped me up and popped me in my bouncer! I was mad for a minute, but then she put my buddy Mickey on and we were totally cool. I made her use the little TV to do her exercise, Mickey just can’t be squished like that Chalene lady can!

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Mommy was doing some pretty weird stuff while I was watching Mickey, but she seemed like she was having fun so I just let it slide. But afterwards, she made a yummy shake and wouldn’t share any of it with me, can you believe that?

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I think my mom is pretty cool just the way she is – nice and soft and squishy to hug, just the way I like her! But if she wants to keep doing these weird PiYo things and get real strong so we can run and play, that’s OK with me I guess. And maybe I’ll give it a try, I think I can do this Crouching Crow thing –

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Oooops, falled over!

10 Minute, Zero Guilt Dinner Recipe

Fridays have become our adventure days here in Neverland! Today I and my friend Marisia took our littles for their first visit to Chanticleer Gardens. Her 2 year old enjoyed the flowers and exploring the beautiful stone carvings, but PJ’s Diary entry would just read “Meh!”

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Too bad kiddo, this is one of Mommy’s top five favorite places in the Philly area and you’ll be spending a lot of time there! Although Marisia and I did decide that we need to make a sans enfants trip back there soon to drink in all that artistic inspiration.

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So after our trip to the gardens, I was wiped out but I really didn’t want to take the easy easy out and go out to dinner or order in since we indulged in our favorite Mexican restaurant the night before. And then I remembered that I had everything to make a fast, mostly veggie dinner. Score!

I pulled out my new Veggetti (handiest little thing!) and spiraled up some delicious squash.

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And then I pulled out my trusty bag of baby spinach, a chunk of Parmesan cheese, snipped some basil off the plant on my windowsill and tossed in a handful of walnuts. I threw everything in my food processor and pushed play.

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After the pesto was done,  I sautéed my veggie noodles in a splash of olive oil then tossed everything together.

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Voilà! Dinner on the table in less than 15 minutes! The pesto pairs well with regular pasta too – my husband doesn’t care for the veggie noodles too much, but he does like the pesto when I use it on pasta.

Here’s the recipe:

Veggetti and Spinach Pesto

Ingredients:

1 medium sized squash per person
Olive oil
2 cups spinach
About 10 basil leaves
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 cup walnuts

To make:

1 – Spiral cut the squash.  Sprinkle with salt to absorb the excess moisture and set aside.

2 – Combine spinach, basil,  cheese, and walnuts in good processor bowl. Stream in olive oil to desired consistency as processor runs.

3 – Sauté cut squash in olive oil for 5-7 minutes until just cooked through.

4 – Combine noodles with pesto and serve!

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And seriously, go spend an afternoon at Chanticleer. You won’t regret it!