My Secret to Painless Meal Prep

Meal planning was not something that came naturally to me. I mean let’s be honest what in heaven’s name is natural about cooking in the kitchen for hours on end, not to mention the amount of dishes you are left with afterwards?! I was a hater for sometime, not even going to lie.  I did not like the idea of meal planning, UNTIL….wait for it…

I found a way to make it work! I cooked a week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and now I want to share my method with you!

Whether you are a hater or have been converted into a meal plan lover, this article is meant for anyone and everyone who meal preps or wants to give it a try!

It seems the easiest way to explain how I did this would be to go in chronological order, so first step is the planning portion. What meals are you going to eat? This is obviously the most important step in the meal planning process.  My issue that I had with planning is I would get bored with the same food.  I have a taste for variety and eating the same meal 5 nights in a row would not fly with me.  Then I realized I could plan what I ate and that meal planning doesn’t necessarily mean the same meal every night.

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Tip 1: Plan for meals that can be interchangeable. Plan meals that use similar ingredients, but have different flavors.  For example, I used ground turkey, black beans, sweet potato and onions and made stuffed peppers for one dinner and took the same concoction added a little organic BBQ sauce and BAM! I had a BBQ lettuce wrap. Two totally different meals, but easy to make since I used similar ingredients. I also made a couple sides to pull for meals if I was looking for something different. I had broccoli and then a salad kit from Dole that was easily split into at least 3 servings. Similar ingredients and easy side dishes helped keep cooking time down to a minimum.

 

Tip 2: Cut it all up! If you are using any sort of veggie or fruit that needs to be cut.  Do that first.  I found that it was much easier to start cooking with having all my ingredients ready to go.

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Tip 3: Be smart about your kitchen appliances.  What are you making that needs to go in the stove? What can you make without using the oven? What will go in the fridge and what will go in the freezer? Where will I find the space to fit all these plastic containers? That last one was a serious struggle, LOL.  I went in order and started with breakfast items.  One dish was a yogurt parfait in a mason jar  ( which took 5 minutes) Second was an egg, black bean and cheese breakfast burritos that I was able to freeze and pull throughout the week.  Used stove top and counter space, total time: 20 minutes.

On to lunch and dinner. I made 4 servings of salmon and asparagus in the oven, made cauliflower chicken fried rice on the stove top, put the stove top on low so I could make a turkey wrap for lunch.  The way that I used my appliances helped cut down on time.  Even though this portion of the process took longer, I ended up with most of the cooking being done for the week.

Tip 4: Get healthy pre-packaged snacks.  This one helps cut down time tremendously! Some of my favorite healthy snacks are the individual size bags of skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, unsweetened applesauce, rice cake with Peanut Butter and snap pea crisps (wasabi ranch flavored to be specific). I also have halo top, which is my go to for desserts! It’s a protein based ice cream and the chocolate almond crunch flavor I bought was only 280 calories for the whole pint!  Not to mention, it does not have a watery taste, it has the consistency of creamy ice cream! In case you were not already aware, my excessive use of exclamation points translates to me highly recommending this product!!! <– There.. three more for the road…okay I’m done, I promise.

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These key points are what made it possible to make a whole week’s worth of meals in 2 hours and if I can do it, ANYONE can do it. Trust me. My last tip would be to stay patient, sometimes things don’t go the way you planned, but the work definitely pays off!  Coming home after work and NOT having to think about what I am going to eat or cook is priceless.  The extra time allows me to focus on other things like working out, walking my dog and writing blog posts of course! Meal planning has definitely given me a balance that I have been missing out on. I am thrilled to say that I am no longer drinking the hater-ade and have officially been converted into a meal plan lover.

Thank you for reading!  In case you wanted to see what meals I had and what each day looked like, I listed them all below!

Day 1 & 3:

Breakfast- yogurt parfait

Lunch-Turkey, spinach and cranberry pinwheels with a side of celery, apples and PB

Dinner-Salmon with orange fig glaze and garlic parmesan asparagus

Day 2 & 4:

Breakfast-Breakfast Burrito

Lunch- chicken cauliflower fried rice

Dinner-(day 2)BBQ lettuce wrap (day 4) stuffed peppers

Day 5:

Breakfast-scrambled eggs & turkey bacon

Lunch-left over salad (Dole Kale Lemon Vinagrette)

Dinner-Turkey Polish sausage and vegetable skillet

Sides/snacks: cooked broccoli, Dole Kale Lemon vinagrette salad kit, apple & PB, rice cake & PB, unsweetened apple sauce, skinny pop white cheddar popcorn, natural cheese and beef stick, celery, nuts and wasabi snap pea crisps.

Dessert: Chocolate Almond Crunch Halo Top!

Everything made was doubled for 2 people.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will be sharing some of the recipes I used for this meal prep!

 

XOXO

-The Mod Maven

Morning Mindfulness

Hello loves! Todays post is highlighting the importance of a self-care routine at the start of your day.  I am not writing this because I am an expert.  In fact, I am not what I would call a “morning person” to say the least.  I am writing this because I am learning what self-care means for me and through that discovery I now understand the importance of taking time for yourself in the morning.

 

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There are days I literally crawl out of the covers and my mornings seem very rushed.  The next thing you know I am throwing on my shoes and out the door without ever eating breakfast.  I recently was given a promotion and my schedule changed to mornings.  So… to be perfectly honest I was not a morning person, but was somewhat forced to become one (which is perfectly okay with me since I love my new job!!!).  There was an adjustment period, but as I started to incorporate self-practice this is what I found:

1. I feel more prepared to take on my day

2. I am more productive

3. I feel more energized

4. I now look forward to mornings!

 

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Now that I have found something that works, I’d like to share it with all you lovely people!  My routine can be broken down into three categories:

MIND. BODY. SOUL.

First category is MIND!  There are so many decisions you have to make throughout the day.  Start your day out right by preparing your mind for the interactions and decisions you have to make that day.  Some ideas I came up with that fall under the mind category include:

-Read a self improvement novel

-Meditate for 10 minutes

-Work on a crossword puzzle or sudoku

-Words with friends ( or a trivia app, lumosity, etc.)

-Watch part of a Ted talk discussion on youtube

I usually incorporate this specific step of self-care while I eat breakfast, or if I meditate I do it first thing in the morning.

 

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Second category is BODY! This portion can give you the energy you need to make it to the end of the day.  Here is what I came up with for Body:

-Stretch for 10 minutes

-Go on a brisk walk around the block (and if you have furry friends that love to walk, take them with you!)

-Try out different yoga poses for 20 minutes

-Fuel your body with a smoothie full of veggies & fruits

-Turn hot water on in the shower and let the room become steamy..Stand outside the shower and deeply inhale/exhale (the steam also has great benefits for your skin and lungs)

 

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Last category is SOUL! I look at this as a time of reflection and a way to connect to your higher power, whatever that may be.  It can also be used as a time to connect with yourself and give thanks.  Here are some ideas for soul:

-Keeping a Gratitude journal

-Prayer

-Scripture reading

-Soul writing/ reflection journal

-Look in the mirror and compliment yourself

 

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These can be done in any order! By focusing on mind, body and soul, I have felt more balance during the early morning and on throughout the day!  I would love to hear what y’all are doing for self-care morning routines! Let me know in the comments or find me on Instagram: @the_modmaven or Facebook!

 

Peace & love,

 

-The Mod Maven

 

(This is not a sponsored post)

 

 

 

Just Start.

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I’m sure by now that you are all aware that this is a health/wellness blog.  In case this is your first time visiting I want to point out that I too am on my own health journey.

Some questions that have come from starting this blog include, “What did you do to start getting healthy?”  “How did you manage to get started?”

That is the one question that I can answer in three words.

I JUST… STARTED.

I simply began.  I literally grabbed my sneakers and went on a run.  It hurt like hell and I thought my knees were going to give out the whole time, but I still did it.  I am not a fitness guru,  I have failed and that makes me human.  I understand how hard it can be to get started or to have failed and have to start again. In this post I am mostly referring to health and fitness, however, it can be carried over to a number of things.

 It could be conquering a new skill, like playing the guitar.

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Or creating something new that you can share with others.

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No matter what it is, you have to take that step to START.

After you achieve certain goals, you realize that choosing to start becomes a daily choice.  After the initiative is there,  you have to decide what is the purpose of starting?

For me in terms of health,  it is not a diet, but a lifestyle.  Not for him or for her, but for me.  Not for a day, but every single day.  Not to feel good in skinny jeans, but to feel good in my skin.  Not for the beach, but for my mind.  Not to compete with anyone, but to compete with myself to become the best version of myself.  Every single day.

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That is why I choose to start.  The beauty is that it is never too late to get going and if you fail, you can start again.  Have faith and believe in the power of beginnings.

XOXO

-The Mod Maven

 

 

 

Less negative. More positive.

In a world that is constantly pulling us different ways, self-care has never been more important.  I find the action of taking care of one self can be mistaken for selfishness, and that my friends is just not the case.  Before we delve into the conversation of what self-care looks like, I find it best to define the word.  Self-care has been defined differently throughout the interwebs, but overall describes the same concept.  In my own words, self-care includes any intentional thought or action you take to care for your mental, physical and spiritual health.  When it comes to incorporating these thoughts or actions, it is easy to take other people out of the picture.  Self-care means taking time for you, right?! Well, what about the people you surround yourself with?

 

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If you spend time with one person or a group of people whether that be a significant other, friends, family or co-workers, it is usually because you spend this time with them intentionally.  Now that brings us to the question, what effect do they have on your life?  Is it positive?

 

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During the past few years I have learned to be true to myself and continue relationships or put them to an end depending on the effect they had on my life.  I’ve been in toxic relationships before and I quickly saw the effects they had (not only to my mental health, but to my physical and spiritual health).  Eventually the “self” I embodied, the very  existence I had once was gone.  I am lucky to have realized these feelings and emotions were not healthy for me.  However, sometimes it is easier said than done.  After many periods of trial and tribulations, I can say I feel comfortable with where I am and who I spend my time with.  Sometimes it is hard to let people go, but if it is the right thing to do for you and your personal well-being, you will thank yourself down the road.  I have been blessed with a partner in life that is GOOD for me.  He loves every weird quirk, including my insane obsession for ranch and I love him more then I thought I could ever love someone.  I have a family that is supportive and caring and have had friends who stuck by my side through it all.  This place where I am took a long time to get to, but I am thankful for this season of life.

I now write directly to you.  You are important.  Your time is valuable and you have the ability to choose who you spend it with.  If you feel that someone does not value your worth, then move along.  Be weary of the people who come around for conveniences and who do not put forth the same effort into your relationships.  By removing the toxicity and negativity you are taking the initiative to better yourself.  You are deserving.

 

Sending love to you all,

 

XOXO

-The Mod Maven

Small Town…Big Beach.

So here’s the deal. My fun-loving kooky clan decided to take a family road trip to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a six day vaca. We thought it would be fun to try someplace new since Florida is usually our go to vacation spot. Why Gulf Shores you ask? It seemed like a place where we could enjoy the beach, but without the hustle and bustle of a big city.

 

It ended up being six days of pure relaxation and after coming back I feel completely rejuvenated from our little adventure! So let’s recap shall we?!

 

My sister, my boyfriend and myself endured the 12 hour drive down to Gulf Shores with a pit stop in Kentucky at one of our favorite restaurants. When I was younger my family traveled quite often, and one of the places we loved to visit was Kentucky Lake. Right off the interstate there is this amazing restaurant called Patti’s Settlement with THE BEST southern comfort foods. I am pretty sure they invented the fried pickle because I have yet to find a place that does it better. Another staple item is their flowerpot bread with homemade strawberry butter. YUM!  If you’re passing through the area I highly recommend stopping by, you do not know what you’re missing!

patti's 2

 

After a long day in my car we made it to Alabama where we met up with my mom, dad, brother, sister in-law and my niece. Most of the houses were built on stilts to avoid any water or storm damage.  Our condo followed this common beach house design. It was interesting to have the ability to park your car under the house.  The best part?  It was only a five minute walk to the beach!

 

houses GS

Our days were spent lounging on the beach, playing board games, visiting the zoo and enjoying the local shops and community. While at the zoo, I found that the goats in particular were very photogenic.  See featured selfie below.

 

goat selfie GS

 

All silliness put aside, we really enjoyed this magical small town where the beaches stretched for miles.  My boyfriend and I enjoyed a little parasailing excursion on our last full day.

 

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When you are on the boat it is loud and you feel the movement of the waves, but once you are up in the air it gets so quiet.  Both of us had a profound moment where you realize just how small you are and how beautiful the world is from a different point of view.

shrimp GS

This was the delicious meal I had on our last night.  The shrimp tasted like it was caught the same day.  So good!  My family went out for dinner to celebrate my parents being married for 31 years.  Way to go parental units!

On the way home my boyfriend and I stopped in Mattoon, IL for his stepbrothers wedding, and what a beautiful wedding it was!  As cheesy as it sounds, we love celebrating love.  Congrats again Katlin and Quinton!  We had a great time.

wedding GS

Overall, it was a wonderful week and a half spending time with loved ones.  Thanks Gulf Shores for making it so hard to leave and thanks to our families who made it a memorable trip!

“TRAVELING.  It leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.”

XOXO

-The Mod Maven

 

Victorious Vaca

pool raft

Vacation (noun): an extended period of consuming copious amounts of food……oh and a (insert amazing landmark).  

vāˈkāSH(ə)n,vəˈkāSH(ə)n/


That description was my own personal rendition, but often times going on vacation is associated with the freedom of eating “bad foods”.

The aftermath: you find yourself back home, your jeans are a little more snug and you are overwhelmed with a sense of guilt.   I myself haver certainly gone overboard, but maybe if we changed our mentality of “all or nothing” we might find more success.  The all or nothing mentality can be described two ways.   You choose to eat extremely healthy and avoid all “bad foods”, or you indulge in “bad foods” and avoid healthy food.  PLOT TWIST: there can be a happy medium!  Finding a middle ground can ease you back into a healthy routine when you get back home from your vaca.  Here are my tips for not going overboard!

 

1. BYOB….Bring your own breakfast.

strawberry B-fast

 

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to prepare in my opinion.  Packing some steel cut oats, fruit, or even some turkey bacon makes for a nutritious breakfast without all the added calories that you find in a restaurant breakfast combo.  If you are not staying somewhere with a kitchen, my go to is RX bars.  They have all natural ingredients and a variety of flavors to choose from.  Providing your own breakfast will save money and allow you to spend it elsewhere!

 

 

2. Sharing is caring.

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Realistically, you might go out to eat at least once.  If that is the case, try sharing different dishes instead of ordering an individual entree to yourself.  By splitting a dish in half you are less likely to overeat and can sense when you begin to feel full.  This is great for portion control!  Plus, you might find a new favorite dish while sharing the culinary experience with a friend or family member!

 

 

3. Small plate magic trick.

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When I try to avoid overeating I ask the waitress to put my entree on a smaller plate.  My plate looks fuller, which tricks my body into thinking it’s getting more food.  Even though it is the same amount, I end up eating half and taking the other half home since it feels like I am eating more.  This illusion is definitely worth giving a try if you’re trying to avoid overeating.

 

 

4. Sweet Substitute.

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The sweet tooth is real when it comes to vacation.  Whenever I am craving something sweet I try to have a healthy alternative on hand.  If your searching the menu for a healthy option check to see if the restaurant has some sort of fruit.  There is still a lot of sugar in fruit, but it will be more beneficial than eating a carb loaded cupcake or piece of cheesecake.  Another substitution would be dark chocolate.  I normally buy the 80-90% dark cacao bar and eat a small portion (2 squares).  The dark chocolate can be a little bitter but melt it over half a banana with a sprinkle of cinnamon and you have yourself a sweet alternative.  Finding substitutions can be fun, find what works for you!

 

Again, if you want a cupcake have a cupcake.  If you decide that is what you want to treat yourself, enjoy the cupcake and be aware of the rest of your meals that day.  Maybe you choose a light lunch, half of a chicken entree and then go for the cupcake.  Or maybe you have a burger, but you don’t eat the bun. It’s all about balance.  These tips are just a few that have helped me focus on portion control and have eliminated the continued bad habits after coming home from vacation.  Don’t be afraid to treat yourself, but remember to  feed your body nutrients that do not leave you feeling sluggish when you come home.  Finding that happy medium is the key!

 

XOXO

-The Mod Maven

 

 

Thanks for reading! Please comment, share, and follow for more posts on health and wellness.  This post was not sponsored.

Furry Fitness.

As some of you may know, I recently have taken on the role as dog mom to a sweet, but sometimes mischievous three month old cockapoo named Samoa.  The past two months have been filled with trials and tribulations as she settles into her new environment.  Before taking her home, I did research on what to expect when getting a puppy and tips for the months to follow.  One common theme I discovered was a recommendation to spend as much time as possible with your pup during their first year of life.  I consider myself fortunate to have a job that allows flexibility with my schedule and allows me to spend time with her.  I find myself taking walks, going hiking  and having play sessions to ensure she is getting her daily exercise. Through that responsibility of making sure my pet is healthy, I have a new found love for being active.

 

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I’ve always enjoyed working out and the endorphins that come along with it, but it is much more pleasant having a furry friend to share it with.  Samoa may be little, but she is fast!  I swear sometimes she is walking me and not the other way around.  Above and below are pictures from a recent hiking trip to Moraine View State Park, where not only did I enjoy the scenery, but Samoa was also loving the views and smells of nature.

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The sense of companionship that comes along with having a pet is something I would not trade for the world.  It is just an added bonus that having a pet has promoted a healthier lifestyle for myself.  There are several studies on the relationship between having a pet and a healthy heart.  According to the American Heart Association, owning a pet can be related with lowering risk of heart disease, decreasing blood pressure, cholesterol and triglycerides.  Although there are many variables that go into the findings of this study, it is common that pet owners will reach their physical activity by going on daily walks and playing with their animals.  That alone can have positive results on someone’s health.  Now if you do have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, I am not saying buying a puppy is the answer because it most certainly is not, but having a pet CAN promote exercise which in return can have a positive effect on a persons health and well-being.

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Putting physical health aside, having a pet has improved my social and mental health. Often times I find that my puppy sparks conversation with random strangers. “What breed is she?”  “How old is she?”  “What’s her name?” are just a few examples that come to mind.  When I get home from work, nothing is more delightful than seeing my little girls happy smile and wagging tail after a long stressful day.  She will take naps with me, run errands with me and cuddle with me while watching Grey’s Anatomy (No Shame).  She is a great furry fitness pal, and if you are thinking about getting a pet or already have a pet, I can say without hesitation that these benefits are just a few that you have to look forward to.  For me, Samoa is exactly what the doctor ordered.  Cheers to a long and healthy life, filled with squeaky toys & slobbery kisses.

Must have self-care items that won’t break the bank!

Ladies & gents, let’s talk about self-care!

When was the last time you invested in yourself?

If you had to think about that for more than 30 seconds….it is time my friends for some beautiful, soulful, self-care chat.

Listed below are my favorite items that personally have been positive towards my self-care regime. They are sure to leave you and your wallet happy!  Enjoy!

1. Food for your brain

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Engaging in “thinking games” such as sukoku or crosswords can melt the stress away and help you stay in the present moment by focusing on what’s in front of you.  It also supports mental stimulation, which is just as important as physical exercise.  You can find puzzle books for under five dollars, it’s a win win for everyone.

 

2.  Aromatic Senses

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Our brain associates different scents with certain emotions and some fragrances in particular have physical & psychological benefits.  Aromas including lavender, vanilla, camomile, and peppermint are known to aid in relaxation.  Try lighting a candle while you get ready for bed or as you read a book!  I also recommend shutting the lights off to have a few minutes to unwind and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.   Pictured is the Mahogany teakwood candle from White Barn.  It is my absolute favorite, but obviously go with what appeals to your senses!

 

3.  Get your JAM on.

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As well as being creative and mentally stimulating, learning how to play a musical instrument  can help you master the skills of patience and concentration.  In some cases it can actually be a social experience for some people if they choose to play in a group setting.  Once you learn, you can have the pleasure of taking time to enjoy making music.  This ukulele was a saving grace.  I purchased it for 27 dollars on amazon, and since then have delved into more YouTube tutorials then I care to admit, but it was all worth it!  When I am stressed or feeling weighed down, I take an hour to myself and either play songs that I’ve learned or try to add a new song to my growing set list.  Whether its a ukulele or a bagpipe, get your jam on.

 

4.  The Facial Factor

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Great facial care is a great way to treat yourself.  The mask on the left is a charcoal based mask from Origins that opens and cleans your pores.  I recommend wrapping your face with a hot towel first and then apply this mask, after 10 minutes wash with warm water.  Hello new found glow and clean skin!  My other favorite that I use once a week is the LUSH Mask of Magnanimity.  This china clay mask with fresh peppermint exfoliates and gets my skin feeling squeaky clean.  The ingredients are all natural and don’t leave that harsh feeling on your skin afterwards.  Both of these I highly recommend and both products are under twenty dollars.  There are so many facial masks out there so don’t be afraid to dabble with other brands, just remember to look at the ingredients! The more natural and fresh the ingredients, the better it will be for your skin!     

5. When in doubt, foam roll it out.

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Meet my best friend.  Honestly, purchasing a foam roller was one of the better choices I have made in my 24 years of existence.  I bought this beauty from WalMart for under twenty dollars.  Essentially after each workout your muscles tighten, the foam roller breaks down adhesions and scar tissue in your muscles and connective tissue.  I use it before and after every gym sesh and have noticed a tremendous difference in how I feel the day after an intense workout.  Obviously it is not a quick fix for serious injuries, but it is a great way to prevent an injury by taking care of your muscle and connective tissue.  It rolls the unwanted stress away both literally and figuratively.

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Easy. 5 items that make you feel like you are indulging and treating yourself without the financial burden that follows.  Now, go ahead with ya bad selves and get your self-care on!  Much love.

 

-The Mod Maven

Thank you for reading!  Like, comment, and share with whomever your heart desires!

(This is not a sponsored post)