MEAL PLANNING 101 Why, and how I do it!

MEAL PLAN MONDAY. Why, and how I meal plan ⬇️⬇️⬇️

Buffalo chicken salad

Meal planning is a MUST in our household. Every Sunday night OR Monday morning (gotta be flexible), I sit down with my phone and my cookbooks and pick out 5-6 meals for the week. Sometimes it takes me 20 minutes, sometimes an hour if I keep getting interrupted by kids 😂

Buffalo cauliflower tacos

Here’s what I do⬇️
• In the notes section of my phone, I make a list of the 5- 6 meals I’m cooking for the week.
FOR EXAMPLE: Last week it was Lettuce wraps by @chrissyteigan, buffalo chicken salad, buffalo cauliflower tacos, veggie burger bowls, philly cheesesteak egg rolls, 1 dinner out, and 1 dinner at a friends.
• Make a checklist underneath each meal with the ingredients. I sometimes choose recipes that overlap ingredients so I’m not buying 1000000 different things that will go bad over the week
• MAKE EXTRA. I usually double the recipe or at least add 2 extra servings for leftovers the next day. For my husband for work and for me for lunch!
• MEAL PREP ➡️ I’m not a huge prepper. I choose to meal PLAN over PREP because I like to cook in the afternoon/evening while my kids play together. Or scream in my ear, either way 😂

Ground turkey lettuce wraps

Do you meal plan? I’ve got my cookbooks on my lap right now planning out this week! My favorites right now are “One and Done” by Skinny Taste and “Cravings” by Chrissy Teigan.

Sleep Training For My Sanity: How and why we successfully sleep trained my 6 month old.

Our baby is currently 7 months old, and we successfully sleep trained him at 6 months old in 3 days! 🎉🎉🎉

Let me start off by saying that this method in no way works for every family or every baby. I am not a sleep expert. and I am just sharing what we did to help our baby sleep through the night, and to help us sleep too.

It took 2 nights of crying and a few more adjustment weeks of a little bit of crying here and there but after only 2 nights of crying before bedtime he did not cry on the 3rd night, and has only whimpered for a few seconds before bed since. Here is what we did to sleep train our 6 month old baby.

I did a lot of research into the different methods of sleep training. I researched the Ferber method, the extinction method, that taking cara babies method, among others. After lots of research and thinking I decided to do my own method loosely based on the Ferber method. I chose this because it’s what worked with our 1st child and I figured I would try it with our 6 month old. I knew that I had to give it at least a week before I decided it wouldn’t work for him unless it did work.

The 1st step in this was creating a bedtime routine. We already had a very loose bedtime routine, however I wanted it to become simpler and more easy to maintain no matter where we were, since we travel a lot! Our bedtime routine looks like this:

•630 last bottle (4-6 ounces)
•645-7 in bed with big brother and mommy in brothers bed to read a story.
•7 sing goodnight song (you are my sunshine) in big brothers bed. Snuggle big brother for a few minutes.
•705 walk right into babies room, light off sound machine on pretty loud. Close door. Sing you are my sunshine 2-3 times while holding baby. Place him in crib and say key phrase “goodnight miles mommy and daddy love you” leave and close the door.

These times are all approximations. This is the USUAL time Miles goes to bed, however it can be altered as needed.

The 1st night was extremely difficult. He cried for almost an hour. I went in to look at him, pat him for a second or two, and say “It’s ok, mommy’s here. I love you” and walk out. I did it after the 1st 5 minutes, then after 8 minutes, then every 10 minutes until he fell asleep. That night he still woke up every 3 hours, and my husband and I decided to let him cry it out for every wake up in the middle of the night.

It was extremely emotional for my husband and I to let him cry! BUT we kept reminding ourselves that this was for the best for him and us as well. The lack of sleep was causing us mental and emotional stress. We just needed to SLEEP!

By the end of his 1st day of sleep training for naps he was taking a nap without crying. That night we put him to bed he only cried for about 10 minutes total before falling asleep and only woke up two times.

The 2nd full day of nap sleep training he went to each nap with only crying for a few minutes. I didn’t even have to go check on him. And the 3rd night of sleep training he fell asleep without crying.

One of the most important things I think is having the baby in the room with you holding him in the dark with the door closed for at least a few minutes before placing him into bed. This makes him feel more comfortable in my opinion. He trusts you, and knows that you will hold him before bed every night. Another important thing to note is the key phrase. I chose the simple key phrase “Good night Miles, Mommy and Daddy love you.” When he hears that phrase he knows it’s time to go to sleep, and I say it every single time I put him down whether it’s for naps or for his night time sleep.

Another key phrase I have is when he wakes up from his naps or from his night time sleep I always say, “Good morning Miles!” I say it at least 2-3 times so that he knows I’m picking him up and it’s the morning and he’s done sleeping.

The last important thing for our family, was that picking up Miles during the sleep training was not an option. I had tried that when I tested out another system of sleep training at 5 months and every time I picked him up and put him back down it made his screams so much worse. Again, this is just my experience with my child.

We also ended up taking the binky away at night cold turkey. Previous to sleep training I would give him the binky at night to help soothe him. But my husband and I decided if we were going to do the 6 month sleep training and we want it to work quickly we would have to nip all sleep assistance in the bud. And it worked.

Sleep training is very controversial for a lot of reasons. One is that people think that it can be traumatic for babies to cry for long periods of time. Others are worried it can be traumatic for parents because listening to your baby cry that long for long periods of time can be very stressful, which I have to admit it is. Others believe that it plainly is not kind to let your baby cry and should be soothed to sleep every night.

It was getting to a point where neither of us were sleeping and we couldn’t decide whose sleep was more important, and should sleep elsewhere. Obviously, that was just a temporary solution to a long term problem, or something that could become a long term problem if we didn’t fix something right now. I was getting to the point where mentally I was having trouble getting through the day, because my anxiety is triggered by lack of sleep. I was probably only sleeping for 2 to 3 hours at a time and then when the baby would wake up I would comfort him back to sleep at least 4-5 times a night. Whether he was in our bed or in his crib he still woke up a lot. I also struggle a lot with falling back to sleep in the middle of the night so sometimes even if the baby was asleep I would wake up and not be able to fall back asleep for hours. We had sleep trained our 1st son who is now 3 years old and it was very successful. I was traveling a lot for work at the time and I was allowed to take my son with me, however I was so exhausted from lack of sleep that I was having a lot of panic attacks while driving and it wasn’t safe while he was in the car with me or at all really. So we sleep trained him at 5 months and it was the best decision we ever made. He still sleeps through the night and has since he was 5 months old. Of course there are times when sometimes he does wake up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom, or has a nightmare or something like that, but most of the time he sleeps completely through the night from 630pm to 7:00 a.m.

Miles and I are as bonded as ever!

We are now about a month in, and he sleeps from 7pm to 6-7am with no wakeups, or maybe 1 that he will get himself back down. When he hears his sound machine and/or hears me sing “you are my sunshine”, he starts rubbing his eyes and his head into my chest. This method is not foolproof and sometimes he still struggles with falling asleep for naps and might cry for about 5 to 10 minutes. But I fully believe that this system has been a miracle for our family, because my husband and I are sleeping better and Miles is sleeping better which is the most important thing.

Please feel free to email me with any questions you may have about my experience sleep training. Again, I am not an expert however I wanted to share my experience in case it could help someone going through a really rough patch with sleeping or their baby staying asleep. Healthfulchel@gmail.com or DM @healthfulchel on Instagram.

Carne Asada Sweet Potato Nachos

Do you ever just want NACHOS?!

Duh. Of course you do.

When I’m craving comfort food, sometimes I go for the real deal, and sometimes I want a healthier, lighter option. Using sweet potatoes as the replacement for the tortilla chips adds nutritional value and a healthier source of carbs and fiber to the nachos. I went light on the cheese and upped my protein by using steak instead of beans or chicken.

These nachos are such an awesome lunch, dinner, party snack, late night snack, whatever you need it to be. They are filling, healthy, full of protein, veggies, and fiber.

RECIPE

Carne Asada Nachos (serves 2)

  • Preheat oven to 400. Meanwhile, slice 1 sweet potato into 1/8 inch rounds. Put on prepared baking sheet spaced apart and spray oil and salt and pepper on top. Bake for 22-25 min, flipping halfway
  • The steak: I used a sirloin filet. Season it with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cumin. Broil for a couple minutes on each side, or until internal temp reaches at least 145.
  • When the sweet potatoes are done and browned, place them all touching. Sprinkle on queso fresco and/or shredded Mexican blend cheese, the steak chopped up, and sliced jalepeños if you like spicy like me! Black beans are also really good on this.
  • Bake for an additional 5-8 minutes at 400.
  • Take out, top with pico de gallo and scallions. Enjoy!

Step by step photos below!

Let me know your favorite nachos toppings! I’m always trying new things. Leave it in the comments or on Instagram @healthfulchel

Cashew Butter Protein Truffles

Happy Friday friends! I’m so excited to be sharing this with you. These cashew butter truffles are keto friendly, refined sugar free, gluten free, made with Ancient Nutrition bone broth protein, AND my favorite Lily’s chocolate for the chocolate coating.

I am always looking for a sweet snack after almost every meal, and these are small, sweet, poppable, and full of protein. Let’s just jump right into the recipe.

CASHEW BUTTER PROTEIN TRUFFLES

  • 1 scoop protein powder of choice (I used Ancient Nutrition Vanilla Bone Broth Protein. Use code HEALTHFULCHEL for a discount!)
  • 1 /2 cup + 1 tbsp cashew butter
  • 1 tbsp flax seed meal
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 chocolate bar of choice (I used Lily’s Sweets Milk Chocolate. No sugar sweetened with stevia.)
  • 1 tsp coconut oil
  • Mix protein powder, cashew butter, flax meal, honey, and vanilla together. It should be a little sticky dough, and a little fluffy.
  • Roll into 12 balls and place in parchment paper in the freezer for 45 minutes or until almost frozen. It’s okay if they aren’t perfectly round, no need for perfection and they flatten a little bit when you place them on the parchment.
  • Meanwhile melt your chocolate with the coconut oil.
  • When the cashew butter bars are hard, dip them in the chocolate mixture (I only dipped them halfway) and then place back in the freezer for 10 minutes.
  • These are best kept stored in the freezer. Let thaw for a few seconds before eating! They are messy but delicious. Enjoy!

1 week vegan challenge. My thoughts and favorite recipes!

I am surprised to say that I am sorry that my vegan week is over. For those that don’t follow me on Instagram, I challenged myself and my husband to go 7 days of eating purely vegan foods. The purpose of this experiment was not because I wanted to become a full time vegan. I just wanted to try new recipes, new proteins, and learn something about the way my body reacted to a week of purely plant based living. We already eat very healthy, and this experience was for curiosities sake as well! Here is my experience.

It was nice having a label to the week, although I don’t like labels. The reason I say it was nice having a label is because it was easy to pin down what recipes I wanted to make. Instead of just looking up “healthy recipes”, I could type in vegan Asian food, or vegan Mexican food, or whatever I was in the mood for or whatever I wanted to plan for the week. It really narrowed down my choices and helped me to find flavors and ingredients that I would enjoy.

I noticed that I was full more quickly after meals then I was normally. My husband and I were both surprised by that, seeing as we didn’t feel that we were eating as much protein. However the vegetables were very filling and there were more of them in each meal then we were used to. Also, I notice that I was snacking a lot less. Usually around the 3 or 4 o’clock mark of the day I am ready for a snack. I need something small to make it to dinner. However during this week I did not snack nearly as much. This sometimes became a problem because I felt like I should be eating more. Yes the vegetables were more filling, however sometimes I needed more calories in my day since I lift weights almost every day. If we were to do this again which I would like to, I would definitely want to add even more protein than I did this time period or come up with some quick vegan snacks I could have during the day.

Over the course of the week I made stir fry with a delicious sauce over rice, vegan curry with sweet potatoes, tofu sofritas bowls, banana bread muffins, a vegan oatmeal ,vegan egg rolls, homemade vegan burgers, and a vegan chili. (Recipes are all at the bottom of this post.)

I can honestly say I have never liked tofu but using it in my vegan egg rolls and sofritas this week was a game changer. I love to crumbling it up and having the sauce soak in to each and every tiny crumbled. It was so flavorful and the texture was perfect. That is something I will be adding to my meal prep going forward.

I also learned that I really didn’t miss meat dairy or eggs as much as I thought I would. I didn’t crave any of those things and I enjoyed the challenge of looking for something different to add as my protein.Now I don’t think my husband, the avid hunter, would agree with that statement for himself. However I am very proud of him for embarking on this week long challenge with me.

I would say that my favorite recipes that I made were the vegan curry, and the sofritas bowls. We had never added sweet potato to curry before and it’s soaked up the curry sauces so nicely and made it really filling. I loosely based my curry off of Cookie and Kate’s recipe. The Chipotle sauce for the sofritas bowls was absolutely delicious. I got the recipe from A Pinch Of Yum. I will definitely be making that again. I dare say it was better than Chipotle.

I feel like this is something I would like to do once in a while, just to try new things as I said before as well as challenge myself to Add more plant based recipes into my day-to-day life. If you have any plant based or vegan recipes that you love please email me at healthfulchel@gmail.com, or DM me on Instagram @healthfulchel. I look forward to learning more about a vegan lifestyle and incorporating it into my life in my own way.

Recipes

Vegan Curry: https://cookieandkate.com/thai-red-curry-recipe/


Vegan Chili: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7lOKeupW9R/?igshid=1a2madtvs5gju

Vegan tofu sofritas bowl:
https://www.instagram.com/p/B7a72ReJBdm/?igshid=1mcve7rbk5pv8
https://pinchofyum.com/spicy-sofritas-veggie-bowls

Vegan banana bread muffins:
https://minimalistbaker.com/vegan-banana-crumb-muffins/

Broccoli and No Beef Stir Fry:
https://www.instagram.com/p/B7FL84PJYKa/?igshid=cdvsni23zwbc

Vegan egg rolls:
https://www.instagram.com/p/B7YWwmiJszm/?igshid=1hvbon7t56hdu

Vegan burgers:
https://runningonrealfood.com/chickpea-veggie-burgers/

The BEST Roasted Beets

I only became a fan of beets in the past year. I loved juicing them (I actually like the earthy taste) but I never ate them any other way.

Enter: roasted beets. I was inspired by my love of homemade sweet potato chips to try some beet chips as well. However, I realized that in my opinion, beets taste best crispy on the edges, and soft and slightly crispy on the insides. And for this recipe, you dont even need to peel the beets. Just make sure you scrub them first!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Step 2: Rinse and Scrub 1 large beet

Step 3: Slice into 1/4 inch (or slightly thinner) slices

Step 4: Toss beet slices in 1(ish) tbsp of avocado oil, and a bunch of salt.

Step 5: Spread beet slices out onto a pan. Make sure they aren’t touching! Bake for 12 minutes.

Step 6: Take beets out and flip! Bake for 12 more minutes.

That’s it! I top mine with goat cheese or eat them as is. You can leave them in a little longer if you want them more crisp. Up to you!

Sprouting Seeds and Almonds – How to, and How Easy!

I first got interested in sprouting my own almonds after reading a post on Lil Sipper about how it is WAY better for your digestion, and also how easy it was to do it on your own. Buying sprouted nuts is really expensive, and with how easy it is to do it on your own, it is more cost effective to try it yourself! Here’s how:

Fill a mason jar about 3/4 way with raw almonds. Cover with water, and let sit overnight in the fridge. (About 10-12 hours). When you wake up, the almonds will have sprouted at the tip! I peeled mine because the skins are hard on your gut, but that is your choice. They are softer, but generally taste the same! Store in the fridge for freshness.

sprouting2
Before –> After

sprouting6
Sprouted Almonds

sprouting7
Sprouted Almonds

Now, seeds. My husband recently heard on a podcast that broccoli sprouts are one of the most nutritious veggies you can consume. They are SUPER high in enzymes, which boost the immune system. They are high in antioxidants. The nutrients and minerals in sprouts are easily and more rapidly absorbed into the body. AND! The best part, they are high in sulforaphane, which is an anti-cancer compound. WHAT? It’s true. Sulforaphane is found in cruciferous veggies such as broccoli and cabbage, but it is super high in broccoli sprouts.

sulforaphane
Infographic by: http://balancedlifestyle.blog/sulforaphane-benefits

My husband purchased organic broccoli sprouting seeds, as well as sprouting lids from Aozita on Amazon. Linked here.

Fill a quart mason jar about a half inch high with your seeds. Then, fill up the mason jar with water, and screw on your sprouting lid. Let it sit for 24 hours to soak. Then, drain the water from the sprouting lid (it has holes in it). Take the lid off, fill the jar with water, put the lid back on. Drain the water out through the holes, and then put the jar upside down on an angle (we leaned it against some dishes, or the wall). Every day for the next 4-5 days do the same thing. Rinse the sprouts, drain the water out, put the mason jar upside down on an angle. The sprouts grow FAST! After 4-5 days they will be edible. We usually freeze 1/2 for smoothies, save half fresh for toppings.

sprouting1
First Step (2 broccoli sprouts, 1 wheat grass)

After 1 day of rinsing

sprouting4
End Result (1 wheat grass, 2 broccoli sprouts)

Let me know if you have any questions about the sprouting process! I can tell we will be doing this for a long time, and will experiment with other seeds and sprouts soon. Any you suggest? I’m thinking mung beans next!

Disclaimer: The wheat grass experiment was not as successful as it looks! It did not grow properly in the jar, which made it very difficult to get out and use for juicing. Although it looks fruitful, it really wasn’t. This is why I am not explaining how to grow wheat grass in a jar because I wouldn’t do it again, or recommend it.