Oven Roasted Seasoned Asparagus

Oven-Roasted Seasoned Asparagus

It is extremely satisfying to watch my husband and toddler chow down on a meal that is not only delicious but nutritious as well.  As a mother of a two-year-old and a nursing infant, I don’t have time to spend all day in the kitchen making an extensive meal.  Therefore, I’m sharing an easy prep meal that is a go-to favorite in our home.

I’m overwhelmed with the mass amount of information on what foods are good for our bodies and what is not.  Within my religion, there is a law of health that I have loved relying on. The law of health includes:

  • Abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and hot drinks
  • Eating meat sparingly but with thanksgiving
  • Eating fruits, vegetables, and herbs within its season
  • Using grain as the staff of life

As I live this law of health, I try to eat fresh produce. I love finding different ways to cook and season vegetables! Hope you enjoy this recipe!

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch asparagus spears, trimmed
  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • sea salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • garlic powder to taste
  • onion powder to taste

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 350°  F.
  2. Spray baking sheet with olive oil cooking spray.
  3. Rinse and trim asparagus spears, then place them lined up single-layer on a baking sheet.
  4. Spray asparagus with olive oil spray. Sprinkle salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder on asparagus to taste.
  5. Cook for 30 minutes.
  6. Enjoy!

Resources:

http://www.michiganasparagus.org/our-team

Oven-Roasted Seasoned Asparagus

Memorial Day Weekend Safety

What are your plans for Memorial Day Weekend? Take advantage of the long weekend to play outside and have fun! Oftentimes when there is increased thrill-seeking activity outside, the risk of injury increases too!

Therefore, I give you tips on how to stay safe and healthy during Memorial Day Weekend!

On the Road

Oftentimes we travel to fun destinations to enjoy the long weekend. With that, car travel is required. Make sure your car is in proper working order and know what pit stops you should make! When driving, make sure you use a buddy system. Don’t drive alone or at least let friends or family know where you are at. Don’t drive drowsy or under the influence of drugs, alcohol, and CELL PHONE distraction. Have an emergency car kit if the car breaks down. Know who you can call for help in a predicament! Bring extra water and food if you get stranded somewhere. Have a first aid kit in the car to be ready for any injuries or accidents that might occur. Watch out for motorcycles!

On the Water

Two words. LIFE JACKET! I cannot stress enough how important it is to wear life jackets when playing on the water. I heard too many stories last summer about children drowning. It makes me so sick to think about losing children that way. As a parent, keep tabs on where your children are. Have your kids use a buddy system when playing in the water! Also, SUNSCREEN is so important. Skin damage has short-term and long-term disadvantages. A gnarly burn can be painful and uncomfortable, especially to young children. Long-term effects of skin damage are early aging and skin cancer! No thank you!

On the Land

If riding bikes or any off-road vehicles, wear HELMETS and protective gear! A brain injury is no laughing matter! Wear other protective clothing when there is an increased risk for injury or accident.

My husband lost a toe to dirt biking, and would have lost more than that if he would not have had dirt biking boots on! Be so careful!

On the Inside

When attending barbecues and parties, make sure the food is cooked thoroughly and is clean. Nobody wants to spend their long weekend cooped up at home with an upset stomach.

I love party food and as my momma always says, “any activity is more fun with good food!” However, be mindful of what you eat. Don’t stuff yourself. You don’t want to feel sick later.  Eat food that will give you the energy to play hard!

When vacationing, our food choices change. With that, sometimes constipation can occur. Drink lots of water and fresh fruit and vegetables!

Have so much fun and thank you to all those who have died while serving in the country’s armed forces!

Refreshing Strawberry Rhubarb Lemonade

Refreshing strawberry rhubarb lemonade is a perfect pink picnic drink, sweet strawberries, tangy rhubarb, and sour lemons make for the perfect combination of flavors!

As warm weather and summer approaches, thoughts of backyard parties and picnics come to mind! Refreshing strawberry rhubarb lemonade is a perfect pink picnic drink, sweet strawberries, tangy rhubarb, and sour lemons make for the perfect combination of flavors!

Ranch Life and Lemonade

The first time I was formally introduced to rhubarb was on my senior trip to Bedford, Wyoming. After high school graduation in 2010, a group of my friends, two guys, and four girls traveled to my friend’s family’s farm and ranch.  They had cattle and a beautiful spread of fresh produce.

During the trip, we helped move sprinkler pipes in the pasture and pick produce. On our trip, we hiked to Periodic Spring (the largest rhythmic spring in the world), floated the Salt River, and enjoyed the acreage surrounding the ranch and farm. I’ve always had an attraction to country life and experiences like this solidified my love of it. Now I’m married to a handsome cowboy, live on horse property, and enjoy raising produce and livestock.

After a long day of playing on the ranch, we went and picked a bunch of produce, which included rhubarb that we brought back for dinner. That night, with our help, my friend’s grandma prepared a whole spread of delicious vibrant homemade food.  We enjoyed greens from their garden, freshly picked vegetables, and warm homemade bread.  Nothing beats self-grown and homemade food and cooking!

She also made strawberry rhubarb lemonade! It was so refreshing and new! I love lemonade so obviously, I was hooked. Rhubarb is the perfect addition to lemonade with its tangy and tart taste!

Country Living

Speed up to now, my husband and I bought a home in 2015 that is on the property that allows livestock. A portion of the property is pasture and our home, garden, and yard are on the rest. In the north-west corner of our yard, we have a patch of soil for gardening.  My neighbors, who I consider another set of grandparents, had a line of rhubarb in their garden and let me have a start. So I transferred the plant starts and hoped for the best.

Last gardening season, I didn’t do much with the rhubarb. However, this year as I am working on developing my skills as a nutritionist and gardener; I am putting in the time and effort to learn how to grow, care and cook with fresh produce. As I was brainstorming what I could make with my rhubarb this year, I remembered the strawberry rhubarb lemonade I enjoyed on that picturesque Wyoming ranch. I loved it so much, I wanted to share it with you all!

Ingredients

  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1/2 pound rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup sugar OR 3/4 teaspoon stevia powder or extract
  • 2 three-inch strips of lemon zest removed with a vegetable peeler plus additional for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 cup sliced strawberries plus additional for garnish
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

Instructions

  1. In a saucepan, stir together the water, rhubarb, sugar, strips of the zest, and vanilla. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring until the sugar is dissolved, and simmer it, covered, for 8 minutes.
  2. Stir in the strawberries and boil the mixture, covered for 2 minutes.
  3. Let the mixture cool and strain it through a coarse sieve set over a pitcher, pressing hard on the solids. Stir in the lemon juice.
  4. Divide the drink among stemmed glasses filled with ice cubes, and garnish each glass with additional zest and strawberries.
  5. Enjoy!

How to Lead Group Fitness Challenges

An effective way to gain motivation, accountability, and confidence in your fitness journey is to participate in group fitness challenges.  Whether you lead or participate in a challenge, there is a huge opportunity for personal growth and development. Not only will you be benefited physically, but you will receive social and emotional rewards too. Friendships will be made, goals will be crushed, and a higher level of fitness will be achieved!

“All the flowers of all the tomorrows are in the seeds of today” – Indian Proverb

The Memorial Day Fitness Challenge

In one of my previous posts, Workout Motivation and Goal Setting, I discussed what helps me, personally, stay motivated to workout. When I set specific goals for myself I am significantly more motivated. As a postpartum mom, I need a new challenge to help me regain strength, stamina, and flexibility. Knowing what gets me motivated, I reined in my cowboy husband to compete in a fitness challenge, which includes working out five times a week for at least twenty minutes a day up until May 26th, the Friday before 2017 Memorial Day weekend. This is an eight week challenge, starting April 7th and ending May 26th.

Strength in Numbers

Of course a little healthy competition with my s/o was energizing, but how much better would it be to involve my group of friends and followers on social media? Therefore, I extended the invite to my peers and received messages back that they had accepted my challenge! I created a private Facebook group to run the challenge. Within the group we have:

  • DAILY or WEEKLY check-ins
  • DISCUSSION of goals
  • REPORTING to the group if we worked out that day and what we did to exercise
  • SHARING
    • Favorite workouts and healthy recipes
    • Tips on nutrition and fitness
    • Wins and struggles in regards to their fitness journey

“Optimism is contagious!” – Bre

Personal Growth and Development

Initially, I was nervous to extend the invite to others to join my challenge. One thought in particular nagged at me, “What if nobody joins me and how do lead a group fitness challenge?”

Even so, I pushed past those worries as I brainstormed ideas on how to start a group fitness challenge. My excitement and motivation was growing by the minute. As responses poured in from others who were joining my challenge, I could hardly contain my contentment. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to build confidence in myself as I encouraged others to do the same. Leading a group fitness challenge has turned out to be an empowering opportunity for powerful personal development.

Build Others Up

When you lead a group fitness challenge, you are not responsible for other’s success in their fitness journey. However, you have the opportunity to inspire and motivate them to find success while they return the favor by keeping you inspired, motivated, and driven too.

I love using positivity and humor in my posts and responses to my challenge members. Optimism is contagious!  As you lead a group fitness challenge, you have the opportunity to build confidence in others. It is a great way to connect with like-minded people working towards similar goals. I love my #brehealthy tribe and #eatmovelive community!

The Reward

As a reward to my local friends for achieving or trying to complete the challenge, we will all go out for dinner, celebrating the hard work of everyone working towards achieving their fitness goals.

Health and physical fitness are the greatest reward for accepting and participating in group fitness challenges.

“Friendships will be made, goals will be crushed, and a higher level of fitness will be achieved!” – Bre

5 Ways to Fight Water Retention

Why Talk About Water Weight?

After the labor and delivery of my first child, I weighed more the week after my delivery then I did during my whole pregnancy due to water retention. As I approach the delivery of my second child, I want to research ways to prevent retaining water post-delivery through nutrition and fitness.

I worked as a registered nurse full-time on a medical oncology floor up until the week I delivered my first child. Despite my efforts, I didn’t always eat balanced meals at normal times and stay adequately hydrated. #nurseproblems

I would assume that I wasn’t sufficiently hydrated at the time I went into labor. During my labor, I had an IV pushing fluids through me to keep me hydrated and maintain my blood pressure. I had a smooth and uncomplicated labor and delivery. However, post-delivery I retained a lot of fluid! That following week my lower extremities were swollen and puffy. Glamorous, I know!!!

Human Physiology

The amazing human body contains many systems to maintain homeostasis. The complex systems are hard at work maintaining a stable internal environment while confronted with many changes from the external environment. One function of major importance is fluid and electrolyte balance.

Dehydration and Functions Of Water In the Body

If the body is in a state of dehydration with inappropriate levels of electrolytes, problems with excess water weight and fluid retention can arise. The body tends to store fluid when it is dehydrated. If an individual is not drinking enough, the salt/water ratio becomes unbalanced and the body will hang on to any extra fluids until the balance is restored. If our bodies are adequately hydrated, our body systems work more efficiently.

Water plays such an important role in regulating the major physiologic systems in our bodies. Water moistens tissues and mucus membranes, protects body organs and tissues, helps gastrointestinal regularity, helps dissolve minerals and nutrients to make them accessible to the body, carries nutrients and oxygen to cells, regulates body temperature, lubricates joints and flushes out waste products in the kidneys, liver and colon.

5 Ways To Fight Water Retention

H2O

Drinking enough water and staying sufficiently hydrated will help eliminate extra fluids and sodium within the body. Eat your water by adding hydrating foods to your diet such as watermelon, cantaloupe, strawberries, grapefruit, cucumbers, tomatoes, baby carrots, celery, bell peppers, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli and green cabbage.

Hydrating with sport drinks are appropriate when exercising strenuously and for long periods of time. Sport drinks replace electrolytes such as sodium and potassium but can also contain high amounts of carbohydrates. Fruit drinks and juices may have too little sodium and too many carbohydrates as well.

The Cleveland Clinic’s article Avoiding Dehydration, Proper Hydration was a great reference on this subject.

Low Sodium

Sodium is essential in small amounts in the body to help it function properly. However, when intake of sodium is in excess, the sodium attracts and holds water. When the body holds onto water, it increases the blood volume which leads to fluid retention in the cells.

Processed and prepared foods contain high amounts of salt and additives that contain sodium. Therefore, decreasing intake of processed foods and prepared meals can help minimize water retention. Canned food, bread, pizza, cold cuts, bacon, cheese, soup and fast food items contain high amounts of sodium. Be aware of the amount of salt that is added to recipes and on food. It is recommended to limit sodium to less than 2,300 mg a day and less is best!

Take time to learn how to season food with spices, zests, citrus juices and herbs to give flavor and variety to food. Cooking with fresh fruits, vegetables and meats will help cut back on sodium. Low sodium products and labels are preferred options as well. Removing the salt shaker and high-sodium condiments from dishes and from the table will help lower the intake of sodium.

Potassium

Potassium plays a critical role in normal tissue function, helping to maintain cellular fluid volumes. A diet rich in potassium helps to offset some of sodium’s harmful effects on fluid retention. It is important to have appropriate levels of BOTH sodium and potassium. Food sources of potassium can be found in bananas, leafy greens, fruits from vines, root vegetables and citrus fruit.

Fiber

Fiber helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. When the body has a lack of fluid in the digestive tract, it is unable to operate properly and the body’s waste products have a hard time moving through. The body will remove the fluid from the colon and store any remaining water in the body’s tissue. This can lead to water retention, dehydration and constipation. Fiber not only helps speed up the release of waste and fat, but helps the body process food more slowly and absorb more nutrients.

Move

Exercising and working up a sweat will help eliminate extra fluid. Not only does exercise promote perspiration, it helps reduce inflammation within the body, reducing water retention overall.

As I have made a goal to stay active during my current pregnancy, I have not experienced problems with swollen feet or water retention.

My Game Plan to Fight Water Retention

 

H2O: Push fluids and track water intake daily. Include cucumbers, baby carrots, celery, bell peppers, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach and broccoli into my meals.

Sodium: Don’t eat cheese in excess and use less canned and boxed foods. Season food with spices, zests, citrus juices and herbs instead of salt.

Potassium: Include bananas, sweet potatoes and citrus fruit in my diet.

Fiber: Continue to eat whole grains and a variety of fruits and vegetables.

Move: Continue to workout throughout the week. Go on daily walks before and after delivery. Post-delivery, stretch and do yoga until body is recovered enough to perform more strenuous workouts.

Resources:

http://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/articles/avoiding-dehydration

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/sodium/art-20045479

https://medlineplus.gov/potassium.html

Workout Motivation and Goal Setting

My overall fitness goal is to be strong, energized and durable. To be an example of a woman who possesses a positive body image, not because of what my body looks like but what my body can do: run long distances, serve a fast tennis ball, hike up a steep mountain, go on a day-long horse ride, ski down a steep slope and bike with a trailer full of children. As we compliment our children’s bodies on what they can do instead of what their bodies look like, we vaccinate them against having a low-self esteem. When we radiate self-love and self-acceptance, our children will try to follow our example.

Exercise has numerous benefits. Exercise reduces blood pressure, mild anxiety, depression and the risk of injury. Physical activity prevents osteoporosis, controls body weight and improves self esteem and muscle tone (Fentem, 1994, p. 1291-1295). Obviously, I want to reap all of the benefits that exercise give.

To achieve my goal, I need to be SMART about goal setting. This article about SMART goal setting has been a wonderful tool I have used to achieve better fitness.

In high school, I was able to stay active by participating in high school and community sport organizations. I ran long distance track and was on the varsity tennis team. I played comp soccer and tumbled. On my own time, I would go skiing, biking, walking and hiking with my friends and family. I am grateful for the opportunities I had early on to learn about proper form and prevention of injury during exercise. I am grateful that healthy fitness habits were taught and formed early on in my life.

Once college started, I focused on nursing school and working as a registered nurse. Therefore, I lost sight of some of my fitness habits. After working as a nurse and completing school, I had my first child and decided to stay at home with her. Although family life is just as busy, I have been able to include better fitness habits into my daily life.

I gained motivation and better fitness habits after my first baby by setting a SMART goal.

SMART Fitness Goal:

Specific: Finish a half marathon with my brother and sister by July 30, 2016. Run at least two days a week, with increasing mileage up until the race.

Measureable: 13.1 miles. Train at least twice a week.

Attainable and Accountable: I purchased a Planet Fitness gym membership for a couple of months so I could train in the winter. I would go after my husband and I got our daughter down for bed at night. My husband made it possible for me. Love that man.

Signing up for a race and gym membership helped motivate me to train. If I didn’t train, I wouldn’t be prepared to run 13.1 miles. I also didn’t want my money to go to waste with a gym pass. As a new mom, I was able to regain my strength back and prevent postpartum psychological problems.

Realistic: 13.1 miles was quite the lofty goal for me to achieve. However, I had always wanted to run a half marathon. I was able to run 9 out of the 13.1 miles, which I was very proud of. My next running SMART goals will be 5ks and 10ks. Those distances are the distances that I would be able to train for with children in a jogging stroller.

Timely and Tangible: I signed up in January 2016 to run on July 30, 2016.

As I approach the delivery of my second baby, I have set a new goal for myself.

SMART Fitness Goal:

Specific: Workout each day up until my delivery date excluding Sundays, which reasons are twofold. First, religious and second, because it is important to plan recovery time, especially when weightlifting. Workouts have to be at least 20 minutes long.

Measurable: Either I worked out that day for 20 minutes or I didn’t.

Attainable and Accountable: 20 minutes of low-impact at home workouts.

To keep me motivated and accountable, I made a contest with my husband that whoever worked out the most days up until my delivery date would win a cash prize. I was happy to have this opportunity because we were still practicing some not-so-healthy fitness habits. My husband and I would watch a television show after putting our daughter down to bed. Usually when we sat down to watch a show, snacking before bed was involved.  Now, neither of us have missed a day of working out since we started our contest and we workout instead of snacking.

As I approach my delivery date, it is getting harder and harder to find the motivation to workout. This contest has kept me motivated.  Some friendly competition with your significant other can go a long way.

Realistic:  Low-impact at-home-workouts during the winter months.

Timely and Tangible: 20 minutes a day up until my due date.

I am grateful to have found tools to help me stay motivated. Strength training and yoga during my pregnancy has decreased the musculoskeletal aches and pains that are often experienced during pregnancy. Training has better prepared my body for labor, delivery and postpartum recovery. I’ve experienced less indigestion and reflux as I have worked on maintaining a healthy and fit lifestyle.

Stay in touch, for in a couple months I’ll be sharing my postpartum SMART fitness goal. It’ll be focusing in on weightlifting and training for a distance race. I would love to hear your smart goals.

Disclaimer: I am not a certified health coach or fitness trainer. If you are needing personalized fitness advice, find a certified fitness personnel to help you with your needs.

Fentem, P. H. (1994). ABC of Sports Medicine: Benefits of exercise in health and disease. Bmj, 308(6939), 1291-1295.

20 Tips for Better Sleep

Plain and simple, sleep is important and is an integral part of achieving health and wellness. Current research shows that “Individuals with sleep durations far outside the normal range may be engaging in volitional sleep restriction or have serious health problems. An individual who intentionally restricts sleep over a prolonged period may be compromising his or her health and well-being (Hirshkowitz et al., 2015).

As a registered nurse, I am quite aware of all the medications and supplements that are on the market to aid with sleep. However, I would rather use non-medicinal ways to achieve better sleep.

When I was working as a nurse, I often worked graveyard shifts and my health suffered. I experienced bad headaches, acid reflux, ulcers, and fluctuations in my weight and energy levels. Not to mention, I become very emotional when I do not have enough sleep. Bless my sweet family and husband’s hearts. As I have taken steps to improve my sleep habits these past couple of years, my health has benefited.

As a soon to be mother of two, my body has been training itself for late night and early morning feedings. Having a hard time sleeping while expecting might be inevitable, however, I have put a list together to help me improve my sleep routine and wanted to share it.

20 Tips for Better Sleep:

  1. The bedroom is only for sleep and relaxation. Avoid eating, working or watching television.
  2. At bedtime, keep the bedroom dark and cool.
    1. Circadian Rhythms are influenced by signals in the environment, such as light. The absence of light at night signals the body to produce more sleeping-inducing hormone, melatonin. Being exposed to sunlight in the morning and day-time hours helps properly control circadian rhythms as well (Circadian Rhythm Fact Sheet).
  3. Keep the room clean and clutter-free. Don’t forget fresh bedding and sheets! Waking up in a peaceful environment helps me start the day on the right foot.
  4. Invest in comfortable bedding. Comfortable mattress and pillows are a must! Decorate your room to create an inviting peaceful atmosphere!
  5. If needed, use white noise, earplugs and/or sleep mask. Soft music, fans, white noise apps, and machines are great options.
  6. Read a book or magazine that you enjoy but can put down. Personally, reading makes me sleepy. This is a good time for my husband and me to do some couple reading and studying.
  7. Think of what you are grateful for. Say your prayers with gratitude and thank God for all of your blessings.
  8. No caffeine, alcohol or high sugar food items before bed.
  9. Remove makeup, shower, brush and floss your teeth. I love jumping into bed feeling clean.
  10. Tidy up the home. Clean home = clean mind. I love being able to start a new day with a clean palette. I can start on my daily projects instead of cleaning.
  11. Prepare for the next day. Write down goals to accomplish and lay out your outfit and anything you might need the next day. Set your alarm. Keep a notebook by your bed to jot down thoughts or ideas you might have that might prevent you from settling down for bed.
  12. Finish eating dinner a couple of hours before bed. If a small snack is easy on your stomach before bed, enjoy that too.
  13. If you exercise in the afternoon, do it at least two hours before bed. Exercise, especially an aerobic workout, improves sleep quality (National Sleep Foundation: Sleep and Exercise).
  14. Have a set bedtime. An hour or two before you would like to be settled into bed, start your routine to help you wind down.
  15. Use aromatherapy. Lavender is a before bedtime favorite, however, any scent that you enjoy and can associate with sleeping can help trigger your mind that it is bedtime.
  16. Before getting into bed, stretch, meditate and do yoga.
  17. When in bed, perform deep breathing and relaxation exercises.
  18. Stop working, studying and stressing. Put your mind at rest from the stresses of the day.
  19. Journal. Journaling helps you work through the emotions that you experienced that day.
  20. Decrease screen time on phone or computer. Turn off electronics an hour and a half before bedtime. If you need to have your phone by your bedside, turn it on night mode and/or decrease light emitted by it.

Invest in your sleep. Your mind and body will thank you.

Hirshkowitz, M., Whiton, K., Albert, S. M., Alessi, C., Bruni, O., DonCarlos, L., … & Neubauer, D. N. (2015). National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary. Sleep Health, 1(1), 40-43.