Thursday, January 29, 2015

Cauliflower Goulash Mashup

In my efforts to eat more whole foods, I am always looking for ways to still have the recipes I love without the refined carbs. I have found that vegetables can be used in replace of bread, rice and pasta in many dishes such as: spaghetti squash in replace of spaghetti noodles, zucchini sliced longways to substitute for lasagna noodles, zucchini sliced in half lengthwise and covered in sauce, cheese and toppings in replace of a french bread pizza, cauliflower riced and used in cabbage rolls, cauliflower mashed to replace potatoes and cauliflower "potato" salad.

So, when my husband asked for one of our favorite family recipes - Hungarian Goulash, I decided to try to find a way to replace the macaroni noodles.

Cauliflower - Goulash Mash up

  • I began by making cooking up about 1 cup diced onion and 1 cup diced green peppers in a stock pot with some coconut oil. 
  • Once the onions were translucent, I added in about 1-1/2 lbs ground turkey. 
  • Once the turkey was cooked through, I drained the excess fat and then separate the mixture into two pots - one for the traditional recipe and one for my mashup. 
  • I added to both pots a 16 ounce can of diced tomatoes and two 16 ounce cans of tomato sauce with about a 1/2 can of water. 
  • I added into each pot salt and pepper (to taste)
  • Next, I added about 1 tbsp garlic powder, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp oregano, 1 tsp basil and 1/4 cup Parmesan-Romano cheese to each pot.
  • Meanwhile, I boiled two pots of water and added the macaroni noodles to one pot and chopped, fresh cauliflower in a steamer basket to the other. 
  • When the noodles were soft, I added them to one pot.
  • When the cauliflower was tender, I drained the basket and added it to the second pot.
  • After letting each pot cook for 10 minutes on medium, dinner was served!

The verdict? 

A perfect mashup. I got all the yummy flavor of the goulash without the refined carbs.

What are your go to mash ups?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

7 Tools to Help Keep Your Diet Resolution

We are at that point in the New year when 50 percent of people have, by now, ditched their resolution. 

How are you doing? 

Did you have a diet or exercise related resolution that you may need some help sticking too?

Well, if you have fallen off the wagon it really is not too late. Making an investment in your health is a lifelong journey. And for those who particularly struggle with maintaining a healthy weight, the journey is often one of two steps forward, three steps back. The key is getting back on the trail no matter how long  or how far the detour.

This year, my health related resolution is consistency. Consistency is my downfall. Having been on a diet of some sort or the other since I was NINE, I really do know what to eat and what not to eat. I know 80 percent of success is in nutrition. I know my specific health issues require me to eat a protein based diet and to stay away from sugar, soy, gluten and non-food ingredients like caramel color and HFCS. It really is just a matter of me consistently putting my knowledge in to practice.

I have fallen to the "all or nothing" trap so many times. I have gone deprivation or glutton and every step in between. All this yoyo dieting the past four years has resulted in my scale going up and down the same 20 pounds, with each cycle netting a softer, more squishy physique.  I am now dedicated to a sensible, primarily clean eating, protein-based, sugar-free lifestyle. I have a food formula that I know works. I will allow myself planned treats and not go off the deep end, throwing all my progress down the drain, when I have them. I know the 20 percent part of the equation is still important and am committing to consistent exercise with a HIIT program to help blast the fat and replace it with muscle. I will take daily, small positive steps toward change and keep my eye on my goal of losing 30-40lbs by summer. The number is variable because muscle weighs more than fat, and I am more interested in how my body looks and feels and my clothes fit than a certain number on the scale.

Below are 7 Tools to Help You Stick to a Diet Resolution:

The Why Bracelet

I wanted to have a visual reminder that will keep my reasons for getting to a healthy weight and shape in front of me at all times to help me resist temptation and get over the deprivation I feel sometimes when faced with foods I love but know are toxic for me. I decided to create my own bracelet using the popular snake chain and beads. I chose beads that had personal meaning to my health goals:

  • a bead with the faces of children
  • two beads that say family
  • a red dress to remind me of the great clothes awaiting me in my closet when I trim down
  • a bead that says "live, love, laugh" to know I will do that longer when healthy
  • a red heart to remind me that I need to reduce my risk for heart disease
  • a bathing suit to inspire me to feel better on Spring Break and at the pool
  • "Best Mom" bead because I am a better mom when I am a healthy mom
  • a sneaker to remember what it feels to be an athlete
  • a heart that says "wife" because I want to be a sexy one

The bracelet costs me approximately $55.

Bikini Body Mommy 3.0 Challenge

Bikini Body Mommy is an online workout program developed by a mom who lost 100 pounds. She films her challenge workout videos in her home with her child beside her getting in the way just like mine and my dog do. She is relatable, open, and real and thousands are following her challenges. On Jan. 5, I joined her 3.0 Challenge. The workouts are about 20 minutes a day and I am committed to getting them in every day for 90-days. I joined a Facebook group of others going through the challenge and have an online accountability partner to stay encouraged.

Purpose and Pause Planner

The Purpose and Pause Planner is a planner I designed because I wanted one place to go to set my yearly, monthly and weekly goals, track progress, plan my month/week/day, journal and track my food. While I do use My Fitness Pal, I cannot always log it immediately on the phone app. I like to have a place to write it down first.

4 Key Apps

My favorite fitness apps are My Fitness Pal to track my overall goal (weight, nutrition, exercise, etc), Pacer to track my daily steps (and it syncs with My Fitness Pal), Move to remind me hourly to get up and move with suggested activity prompts and Workouts for a quick video-led workout I can do on the go with whatever time I have.

Sunday Prep Day

Fail to plan and plan to fail. Sunday is my day to plan the week's menu and prep food from breakfast and dinners to snacks. Consistently setting this prep time ensures I can make good choices when busy, tired and stressed during the work/school week.

What tools for success do you use to keep you on track? 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Purpose and Pause: Planning for a Remarkable Year

Happy New Year! 

I love turning the page on a new year with the promise of new beginnings ahead. It is that time of year to assess where you have been and make adjustments for the year ahead to get where you want to be. It is also the time of year where good intentions are likely to fade within a few weeks. So how can you act now to set yourself up for success?

As the old adage goes, fail to plan and you plan to fail. Setting a little time aside to reflect on your goals and make an action plan to meet them will go along way to increasing your odds for success. Returning to those goals and working your plan consistently is where true success is realized.

I have created the Purpose and Pause 2015 Planner as a tool to do just that. Crafting a remarkable life takes both purpose and pause, my multi-functional planner serves as a tool to visualize your ideal life, set goals to achieve your vision, layout a healthy living strategy, plan for daily work and play, track your progress, and capture your most memorable moments along the way!

I am excited to be testing this planner with a few friends this year and plan to have the 2016 version ready to go to market by end of summer. To help you plan a remarkable 2015, I am sharing with you my goal setting tools for a remarkable 2015! Download your free 4-page goal planner here. I would love your feedback!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Crafting A Remarkable Advent Season

The season of advent is upon us. 

I think mothers are given a unique understanding of this season. this period of waiting of anticipation of a birth. the Christ child. We can put ourselves in Mary's shoes. Imagining what it would be like to be carrying our Savior. Anticipating his coming with the understanding there will be the struggles ahead but to hope in the promise of a new born child who would be King.

As a mother to a child with special needs, I can imagine how Mary felt knowing he would not be accepted by some, that the world may not understand the potential of a baby born in a manger to a women from Nazareth. Yet, Mary always believed that God would show the world the true worth of his Son and the world would come to love Him.

As usual, this season is busy and full of opportunities to craft special memories with the kids and teach valuable life lessons of faith, hope, charity, temperance and self-control. As we run from holiday gatherings, to birthday parties, to holiday dances, open the boxes of our Advent calendar, go to Mass, make Christmas crafts, bake goodies, shop the malls for the perfect gift and bring our lists to Santa, I try to find ways to reinforce the true meaning of Christmas and bring anticipation for the Christ child.

This year, we are adding a cradle to our Christmas tree to serve as the manger awaiting the Christ child. We will fill it with "hay"and on Christmas morning find the baby Jesus laying in it in swaddling clothes. We will also have a birthday cake for Jesus on Christmas day.

Here is a link to last year's Advent post with several ideas for marking the season and to a recent review I did of Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas, if you are wondering how to reconcile Santa and Christ.

Another project I am working on this busy season is developing the Sheran Memories Purpose and Pause Daily Planner. It is an all encompassing planner/food journal/diary/memory catcher for the busy mom with versions for working moms and bloggers. It addresses all areas of one's life and is a guide to help you purposefully craft the remarkable life you desire.

I developed this planner because I got tired of having multiple calendars and places to log the important things in my life (daily food and exercise, diary, goals, to do lists, etc). While I am a person who loves all things digital and have used several apps for organization and planning (I still use my ical and Trello in conjunction with the written calendar), I found I wanted everything in one place. Additionally, I was having trouble remembering to log my food on My Fitness Pal each day and then my go-to journal entry app closed down. Finally, I am making an effort to spend time away from my digital devices.

I find it somewhat therapeutic to actually write things down during my planning and reflection time. I still use my phone/tablet as a source and these devices are the things I turn to when on the run. So, I have been self testing and developing my planner for the past five months and now I am finishing up the 2015 inaugural edition. I'm excited to have friends test it this year so I can go to market completely for 2016. It is a fun process. Stay tuned for how you can get your copy.

In the meantime, enjoy the season.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is a digital device on your kids gift list? How to handle growing up social.

It's that time of year when our kids are shouting from the other room when the commercials come on "Mom, I want this!"

It is the time we begin to organize our Christmas lists and prep for a big week of sales, Monday before Thanksgiving, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Tech Tuesday! Phew!

I've been putting careful consideration into what I get our kids this year. I am concerned that they don't get enough active play, so I want them to get something that encourages movement. I want to encourage hobbies. I want to get them reading print! (Book/print reading, as opposed to reading on a digital reader promotes focus and creativity, it is calming and relaxing and is linked to increased intelligence and brain activity.) And then there is this issue of technology. 

At our home my husband, teen, and I have smart phones and I have an iPad. Increasingly, my four and six year olds are taking over our devices! Now filled with their apps, my storage is low, the power is always running low and they are sticky (if I can get a hold of one). I believe that technology has a lot of positive benefits. I can see it in my son, who has Down syndrome. He is a visual learner and these apps have helped him learn words and colors. But research shows that too much time can actually be detrimental to brain development. Not to mention other dangers involved with social media I must consider for my teen. 

I recently read this post pointing out that as GenX parents, we are the first to face this parenting dilemma and straddle the divide between traditional media consumers and digital natives. So what are we to do? How do we handle this territory that is relatively untested? How will our decisions impact our kids' futures?

I've considered getting each their own devices this year. Nabi has child friendly tablets with great parental controls such as time limits, Internet blocking, etc. They even have versions for ages 4-6, 6-12 and teens at reasonable prices between $99-$200. But how to make sure I put the right controls in place to reap the benefits and limit the negatives?

Fortunately, I have a guide. Dr Gary Chapman and Arlene Pellicane have written a guide for us called Growing Up Social. In Growing Up Social, Chapman and Pellicane acknowledge that we all want to equip our children to show affection, appreciate others, deal with anger, learn to apologize, and pay attention. Through research and stories, they illustrate how screen time can affect our ability to equip our children in these areas and give us strategies to work around the negative aspects of screen time, such as:

  • Reduced attention span
  • The need for instant gratification
  • Lack of patience
  • Overstimulation
  • Not able to relax
  • Sleep issues
  • Poor concentration
  • Lack of empathy
Growing Up Social addresses how the digital world has affected the A+ skills of affection, appreciation, anger management, apology and attention and provides solutions for ensuring these skills are taught and embraced. The book also addresses the affects of screen time and brain development, shyness, security, parental authority, single parenting and us! The authors point out obstacles and challenges and provide sound advice. The authors are not preachy and fully accept the fact that the digital world is here to stay. They want us to be aware of the affects and consequence and have tools and skills to work around these to provide a right balance for our families.

So, I will likely go ahead and get these devices for our kids fully using the time limit features. I plan to set up a system to earn screen time and to lay a few ground rules:
  • Must read printed words for at least 20 minutes before screen time
  • Must have active play for 40-60 minutes per day
  • No screens while doing homework, unless needed for research
  • No screens during meals
  • Screen time daily limits according to age
  • Devices must be checked in and out by parents in order to use
  • Teen phone must be on charger upstairs by 9 p.m. each night
  • App purchases must be pre-approved
  • Must have all usernames and passwords
  • Teen must review and sign agreement to social conduct/safety standards
  • People first, tech second
In the people first, technology second arena, we will make sure that face time takes precedence in the areas of affection, appreciation, anger management, apology and attention. If you are concerned with how screen time can affect your kids and your family and what you can do to minimize the negative affects, pick up a copy of Growing Up Social, or comment with your family tech tips/guidelines below for a chance to win your own copy!

Disclosure: I was given a copy of the book by the publisher for an honest review.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Saving Christmas

I don't know about you, but when the Christmas decorations started popping up before Halloween, I became really annoyed. It is not even Thanksgiving and we are already seeing Christmas ads on TV and hearing carols on the radio!

Then there's all the drama in Christian circles about what is okay and not okay to observe and do: Santa or no Santa? Elf on the shelf? Jesse Tree? Is the Christmas tree a pagan symbol? On and on...

Well, Kirk Cameron (a childhood crush of mine), is out to save Christmas and make it a little less stressful for us all in his new movie Kirk Cameron's Saving Christmas. Although a little corny in its execution and acting (I think intentionally so), the message is one I was grateful to hear. Cameron explains to his scrooge of a brother-in-law who has determined Christmas should be done away with altogether, how the symbols and traditions of the holiday are all a part of and reflect God's story and ours. He illustrates Biblical foreshadowing in the manger and the tomb, the swaddling cloths and burial cloth, in the tree and the cross. He shows how Santa is really a defender of the faith and gives us all permission to embrace and take back the holiday once again to let the light of Christ shine in each of the lights that we hang this season.

Now, I have already seen the haters online accuse Cameron of trying to make money off of Christmas himself and bowing to pagan traditions. The extreme Protestants that hate anything coming out of Rome are online saying he has been duped by the antichrist. They prove his point exactly. All of that criticism, division and bickering about Christmas and its origins does nothing to shine a light on Christ and the fact that God came to earth as an infant to eventually die for us all.

So, if you are struggling with all of the confusing messages around this holy season, take a break and visit a theater near you this weekend (check for a theater near you). You just might join Kirk Cameron in saving Christmas.

Disclosure: I was given the opportunity for an advance viewing of this film in order to give an honest review.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Their Name Is Today

Last month, my 13 year old asked to go trick or treating with some friends in the neighborhood. They wanted to leave from school and go to a kids house and leave from there. I have never met these kids or their parents so I had cause to be concerned. Truth be told when I was her age, in the same neighborhood, I had a group of girls meet at my house to get ready and roam the neighborhood on. Halloween, but today is so very different.

I ended up not allowing her to go and she had friend come with us. They did go out on their own, but just on the few streets near our house and we were nearby. Call me protective but the dangers of things such as sex trafficking, sex offenders and reckless/distracted drivers just scare me. Halloween is a night that has unseen dangers if not careful. 

It's sad that so much has changed since I was a child. In the book Their Name Is Today, Johann Christoph Arnold talks about the need to reclaim childhood in a hostile world and I agree much has been lost. But, he claims that parents and teachers can turn the tide by giving children the time and space they need to grow.
"I am getting older; my life is coming to an end, but I still have a great urge to use my remaining strength to help anyone within reach, especially children. Working in schools for forty years, counseling many struggling families, as well as veterans and prisoners, I have seen much human need and tragedy. So often, the roots of this suffering began in childhood."
At the root of it is a need for cultural change in the way society views and treats children. We have
become a society that:

  • pushes children to the edge of our busy schedules
  • is always striving for overachievement
  • does not allow enough time for play
  • relies too much on screen time
  • focuses on material rewards over true signs of affection
  • is slack and inconsistent with discipline
Arnold writes this guide book for parents and teachers to offer insights into how to raise and influence a new generation of children to be more compassionate, considerate, courageous, bold, independent, secure and thoughtful. His perspective stems from the premise that children are to be cherished and every child has a right to joy and wonder.

"For whatever else may define childhood, one thing is constant: it is the gathering place of life's first and most indelible memories- the unalterable frame for all the experiences that accompany us through life. And this in the end, the task of bringing up children is not only a question of effective parenting, and even less one of educational insights, theories or ideals. It is, first and foremost, a matter of the love we give them, which has the power to awaken more of the same, even years down the road."

If you struggle to keep up and wonder if your priorities are right or if you are an educator wondering if you are really making a difference, grab a copy of Their Name is Today - Reclaiming Childhood in a Hostile World.