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v day fell on a sunday this year so our day started with heart pancakes cause clichés are SO fun, right! and don't you just love the mesmerizing sounds of the dish washer? as i made those cakes i thought to myself "i live in a house full of boys.... nobody cares about this stuff but me!"
a special guy deserves a special plate. tried to get fancy with my 25 cent squeeze bottle.
sooooo Sonny's plans included church, gym, sending me off to get a much needed pedi, and then dinner, but we didn't do ANY of that. after breakfast we all (us and both boys) somehow ended up back in bed.
now there's something we haven't done in...IDK how long. it was great to just do absolutely nothing for once. together. k, we did make it on time our dinner appointment though. lol
yet another place i've passed two billion times and never entered! La Colombe d' Or was a nice, intimate look.
he knows how to pick'em. oh, the restaurant was great too. hahaha
i plan my outfit based on how much food i plan on eating. it was a flowy dress kinda night.
my H & M dress is currently ON SALE by the way! i paid full price for it, but you definitely won't. get it here.
on holidays and special occasions, we definitely relax, enjoy ourselves, and ease up on our maintenance meal plans. appetizers! lobster bisque, jumbo lump crab tower, and a house salad with mixed greens, fresh vinaigrette, roasted goat cheese & sliced tomatoes.
Sonny ordered the chicken fried filet mignon,
and i went waaaaay outta my comfort zone and skipped over salmon this time. #WUT! i went with their homemade linguine and lobster dish. i have not ordered pasta while dining out in years. the portion sizes are almost always crazy big and usually covered in a fatty, buttery, creamy or heavy sauce. truth be told, i ate the lobster off the top, the asparagus of course, and maybe 2 forkfuls of pasta. bravo, hubs.
we had our final course at The Chocolate Bar about a mile away.
so, i'll post an Instagram pic of something utterly & sinfully indulgent on my IG eeeeevery blue moon... but even then it still comes with a price. a price in the form of one of our 6 Pack USA clients asking/requesting for that particular food item to be added to their meal plan. lol. anyway, there are SO many delicious, lighter, dairy-free ice cream options these days that it will blow your mind!!! this lactose intolerant girl is unbelievably grateful for them. however, we lived life on the edge that night and i ordered 3 scoops of dairy & full fat (rocky road, toffee chip, tiramisu ) ice cream. yes, it's my time of the month. LOL. PMS hormones make me do some cray-cray stuff. long story short, i only got through half of it and left looking 8 months preggo. worst tummy ache and bloating on the ride home, ever. you win again, dairy. *raises white flag*
we enjoyed some kid-free time together above all else!
we haven't exchanged actual gifts on V day in a couple of years, but we did flip through this book i picked up at Urban Outfitters a while back by Lisa Currie.
food, yes, flowers, no! i've never been a girly girl but i do love fun couples stuff like this! 15 years and i'm still learning new stuff about Sonny along this marriage journey of ours. no matter how busy life gets, don't let your connection with your spouse slip away. plan & prioritize some distraction-free (NO PHONES ALLOWED) time and no matter what, don't flake. how much time you have, whether you can get the kids watched, etc., etc., depends on your specific situation, but make it happen.
seriously, as a home-cooking blogger, there is nothing more gratifying than someone making your recipe. the cherry on top is when they send a pic!
your social media tags and emails mean EVERYTHANG. thank you to my fellow fitness instructor and friend, Maria, for making my Burger King Hershey Sundae Pie recently!!
hope ya didn't miss this dairy-free gem!
Q: do you acknowledge / celebrate Valentines Day?
'i want to be healthier.'
you do? ok, read!
first off, breathe. don't over-complicate things. this process does not go from 0-60 in 3 seconds and you won't either. it's a gradual thing. a lifestyle thing. one that you will see and feel the effects of if you just stick with it. little by little, a little becomes a lot. we know by now that proper nutrition and physical fitness is a package deal. can't have one without the other. i will be focusing on the nutrition part of the equation for now as this is where your journey begins:
here is a staple starter grocery list to save, print out, and take with you to the grocery store. i go into detail about each section below and provide some of my favorite brands and where to get'em. keep reading.
WF = Whole Foods
SFM = Sprouts Farmers Market
WM = Walmart
TG = Target
TJ = Trader Joes
HEB = HEB Pantry (local)
K = Kroger (local)
ALL = available at all listed stores
grains / cereals / breads
- Ezekiel brand breads and tortillas WF, SP
- Ezekiel cereal varieties WF, SP, WM, K, HEB
- Alvarado Street Bakery brand bread WF, SP
- La Tortilla Factory tortillas & wraps WF, SP, WM, K, HEB
- Nature's Own Double Fiber Wheat Bread WM, K, HEB, TG
- Sara Lee 45 Calories & Delightful brand bread HEB, WM, K, TG
- Trader Joe's whole grain breads TJ
- Sprouts Farmers Market whole grain breads SFM
i find that rolled, quick oats, oat bran, rice, quinoa, and couscous are cheapest when bought in bulk. whip out your calculator and do the math if you must and compare the price per lb to whatever way you previously purchased these items. yeah, those Uncle Ben's single serving rice pouches are DELICIOUSLY easy to prepare and taste so good, but they just aren't cost-effective and you know it! buy your rice in bulk and season it yourself.
flours / nuts / oils
- Bob's Red Mill flour varieties WF, SP, HEB, K, WM, TG
- flours & nuts from the bulk bins of WF, HEB, or SP
- choose unrefined, virgin, and cold-pressed oils ALL
- roasted & unsalted mixed nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews, pecans) in bulk WF, SP, HEB
- fresh & frozen are best. if you must do canned, look for a low/no sodium option. these are veggies that are carbohydrate rich, higher in sugar content, have an adverse affect on blood glucose levels, and load you with energy. any on the list above will do; pick your fave. if unsure about how to classify a particular veggie, use this helpful list of starchy veggies. ALL
- fresh & frozen are best. if you must do canned, look for a low/no sodium option. these are veggies that contain fewer calories and carbs, lower sugar content, and have little to no effect on blood glucose levels and are loaded with essential vitamins, minerals. any on the list above will do; pick your fave. if unsure how to classify a particular veggie use this helpful list of non-starchy veggies. ALL
- fresh & frozen are best. beware of packaged and canned fruit which can contain crazy high amounts of sugar. read your labels! don't forget avocado is a fruit and high and good fat. we know fruit is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and natural sugar, but the sugar content does vary per fruit, so choose wisely. here's a chart of some of the most popular and available fruit choices that gives you an accurate depiction of the sugar content for a 1 cup serving. ALL
here's a more detailed list:
- Lactaid brand milk & cottage cheese ALL
- Greek yogurt brands: Fage, Chiobani, Oikos, Trader Joes ALL
- Laughing Cow Spreadable Cheese Wedges ALL
- Mini Babybel light cheese ALL
- Blue Diamond, Silk unsweetened vanilla and original almond milk ALL
- Lisanatti Almond Cheese (cheddar, pepper jack, mozzarella) WF, SFM
- Tofutti non-dairy cream cheese spread WFM, TJ, SFM, HEB, K
- Trader Joe's canned light coconut milk TJ
meat / seafood / protein
- boneless & skinless turkey and chicken breast ALL
- 97-99% extra lean ground turkey, chicken, and beef ALL
- choose cuts of beef with the least marbling
- leanest beef cuts: eye of round, sirloin tip and steak, top & bottom round roast & steak ALL
- shellfish: scallops, mussels, lobster, shrimp, crab ALL
- choose low sodium canned beans and rinse beans under cold water before cooking: navy, kidney, black, lima, chick peas, pinto, black-eyed peas. ALL
- HEB & Crystal Farms egg whites ALL, HEB
- fish: cod, salmon, tilapia, flounder, trout, halibut, mahi mahi, perch, snapper, sole, tuna (canned and packed in water) ALL
seasonings / sauces / sweeteners
- Bragg's Liquid Aminos WM, WFM, SFM, K, HEB
- Bragg's Apple Cider Vinegar WM, WFM, SFM, K, HEB
- all fresh herbs (sage, cilantro, oregano, basil, dill) ALL
- any salt-free standalone spice or seasoning blend (Mrs. Dash, McCormick, Trader Joes, Generic brands ALL
- use fresh lemon / lime just for natural seasoning, flavoring & marinating ALL
- liquid smoke WM, TG, K, HEB
- Heinz low carb ketchup ALL
so do you just go buy the entire list at once? no! remember, i spoke with Tiara in HEB the other day and here's that grocery shopping advice i gave her in a nutshell: 'depending on how ambitious you feel, pick 2, or 3 recipes you know you'll be making in the next 2 weeks or so and do your grocery shopping based on those ingredients. else, there's a good chance you may not use everything you purchased and have to throw it away. we know some items have longer shelf lives of course, but the majority of what is thrown away is spoiled produce.' i try to limit my store visits to 2-3 times a month. i make large batches of a recipe at a time, and we have those meals/leftovers for the next 2-3 days before switching to something new. sometimes i'll cook two large batches of two different recipes at a time and alternate those meals for more variety.
grocery shopping tips:
- buy fresh AND frozen produce
- only buy produce in-season and on sale to save $
- make a list first and stick to it
- don't shop when you're hungry
- set a monthly or bi-weekly budget and don't go over it
- buy meat in bulk and freeze what you don't use immediately
- buy generic brands whenever possible
- shop the perimeter of the store (fresh meat, bread, produce, dairy). processed foods tend to rule those isles.
Q: questions? FIRE AWAY! what would you like to see MORE of? what wasn't covered or covered in enough detail? i need your feedback. email me or comment below.
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