Aware + Menu

This week we were asked to shine a little light on students and/or other teachers that we think have gone above and beyond or just need some recognition, before we get out for Christmas. Our counselor always has a super cute bulletin board that shows off the lessons she is teaching and the work the kids have done. The idea is great and so difficult. I wanted to highlight all the teachers and all of my students but felt that a simple ‘all teachers’ and ‘all 4th-grade students’ would not be very heartfelt. I only had a handful of lights to write on, so I really tried to put some serious thought into it.

This year has been one of the most emotionally taxing years for me as a teacher. My students this year, current and a few past students, have been put through the wringer. I have so many students that do not have the love they deserve, experience physical and mental abuse, neglect, etc. I have cried over and prayed for specific students more this year than I have in all my other years combined. My children at home are spoiled rotten compared to some of my students, simply because they know what love is and have both of their parents at home. My children at home have clothes and shoes that fit them and are appropriate for the weather. They have more toys than they actually need, get read books every night, good food to eat, and never have to question whether any of that will be provided for them or not.

It is enough to make you breakdown to know your students don’t get the same kind of care and compassion…but I can’t breakdown, I need to teach them and not let them know, that I know what is going on in their homes. Their home life isn’t something a teacher talks to the students about unless they bring it up. You simply have to show them grace in moments where you want to fuss, hug them, and tell them you love them daily. Love and affection is not something they get very often, after all.

While studying to be a teacher of elementary-aged children I learned that every action, positive or negative, is a form of communication. Kids aren’t just bad to be bad, there is a reason for it all. If a child is acting badly, chances are they are trying to communicate something or trying to gain something from that action. It is pretty hard to remind yourself of that when one of your students is busy typing cuss words instead of entering in data. It is hard not to lose your cool when one child just won’t stop distracting others from learning. I mean won’t stop shifting the desks in his row, won’t stop yelling names and other random words. If you lose your cool, then you are even further behind on what you need to teach, that kid feels even less love, but you have to teach.

The balance is hard. So very hard.

I wanted to highlight all my students on the new bulletin board, but couldn’t. I wanted to put those that had acted out, those who were seeking attention in a negative way on there but didn’t feel as if that was fair to those that always behave. Those that blend in they are so well behaved. Those students deserve attention too and get overlooked so often.

Then there are those teachers that deserve the spotlight too. So many teachers do so many great things within their four walls, that no one ever notices or gives them credit for. They aren’t the ones snapping pictures, recording videos of themselves singing, and making everything extra cute. They are just teaching. There are some teachers that don’t advertise how great they truly are, but 100% deserve recognition.

Those kids that need extra love, I tell them I love them daily, constantly. Those teachers that are “extra” don’t need me to put their name on the spotlight board, someone else is sure to do so. I wanted to recognize those that blend in and truly deserve to have kindness shined on them. We often overlook the quiet ones, that never cause a scene. The ones that are on task, helping others without seeking recognition, and most certainly need a pat on the back.

We need to be aware of those that blend in, they still need encouragement and love too. They are not asking for it, but I am sure they need it. They don’t want to be put into the spotlight, even though they deserve to be recognized for their good deeds. Those that constantly post about the good deeds they have done, might truly have their hearts in the right place, but begging to be recognized makes the whole thing seem dirty. No one needs to know that I put their name on the board, they just need to see it on the board. No kids at school need to know that I have helped give them Christmas. Turning your good deed into a spectacle gives you the attention, not the person that deserves it. Selflessly give love and affection, selflessly give praise and rewards, without expecting anything in return you will get back so much more than you realize.


Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken and Orzo

Greek Chicken Traybake

Rosemary, Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Salad

Chicken Kabobs

Steak + Broccoli Soup

Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken and Orzo

I haven’t made this dish before but I am excited to try it.

I probably should stick to my usual go-to meals here at the holidays, but I just love cooking new dishes. It is an added stress, but it makes my menu less boring and keeps me excited for meals during the week. Someone asked me this week what I normally have for lunch when they saw me eating a sandwich at 10 o’clock. I love being able to say that I don’t eat the same boring thing for lunch everyday like most meal-preppers do. My food is always different and never leaves me wishing I didn’t count my macros or meal prep.

I will do a review of my food next week. Next week, will likely be boring food since everyone is going to be bouncing around for the holidays or I might do the menu a bit different and spotlight those dishes that I look forward to the most during the holidays.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil 
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or small thighs
*chicken breast
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
kosher salt and black pepper
2 tablespoons butter
*1 tablespoon 
1 medium shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 cup dry orzo pasta
*3/4 cup
1/3 cup dry white wine, such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc
*3 ounces
1 cup heavy cream
*1/2-3/4 cup whole milk 
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup oil packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained
*1/3 cup
juice of 1 lemon
*more lemon juice to offset less liquid of oil
fresh rosemary, for serving (optional) 

Greek Chicken Traybake

I loved this dish! I was pretty skeptical because I don’t cook much with artichoke hearts and have never been a fan of them on my pizza. Sometimes it just takes one ingredient to ruin a whole dish. This dish was SUPER healthy and full of flavor. I stopped people to recommend it to them that are watching their calories. I don’t usually do that. I added rice to my meal because I do need the extra calories, but without the rice, it was the perfect “cut meal”. Make sure you try this one, it would be great for a large crowd and sure to please everyone!

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 red bell pepper cut into 2 inch pieces
1 yellow bell pepper cut into 2 inch pieces
*10-12 ounces total bell peppers
1 red onion cut into eighths
2 cups cherry tomatoes
*around 50 
165 grams artichoke hearts
1 lemon
2 large chicken breasts, cut in half or 4 chicken thighs
*chicken breasts (3-4 for 4 servings)
2 cloves garlic crushed
1/4 cup olive oil
1 1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
2/3 cup black olives
*15 grams per serving
1/4 cup chopped feta (omit for Paleo/Whole30) 
*12-14 grams per serving nonfat feat crumbles

Rosemary, Chicken, Bacon, Avocado Salad

I love a good salad, especially one that doesn’t kill my macros, even more so one that I can turn into a bowl but leaves me feeling STUFFED. I loved this salad. It had an amazing dressing…the fresh rosemary on the chicken and the dressing is KEY. I used a TON of rosemary because other than salt and pepper that was the only seasoning used.

I did not use any oil and stuck to the bacon and avocado as the main sources of fat. I will cook one slice under one ounce per bowl and split 2-3 ounces of avocado into 4 servings. It is all about moderation and counting those macros.

When I put this salad into my app I only made a recipe for the dressing. I add the actual ingredients for the salad/bowl one at a time. This way I can customize how much fat, protein, and carbs are in each bowl. My husband doesn’t always need as much fat as I do and usually requires more protein, so he may have a different amount of bacon, avocado, and chicken.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

4 slices thick-cut bacon
*1 piece per salad, less than 1 ounce cooked
1/2 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
*omit, spray olive oil
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
6 cups spring greens and/or butter lettuce
*rice for more carbohydrates  
1 bunch watercress
*arugula if needed or omit for a bowl
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large avocado, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup olive oil
*lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
salt and pepper 

Chicken Kabobs

Technically we aren’t going to make kabobs. Putting the chicken and vegetables on skewers sure makes for a great presentation, but can be very time-consuming. We are going to take a few short cuts and still come out with the same results. I linked a basic kabob recipe in case you don’t feel like searching for one.

We are going to grill chicken breasts and use the vegetable basket to grill the vegetables, then throw it all over rice. Simple and easy. Good food doesn’t have to be complicated. If it is too cold outside, I am going to turn this into a sheet pan dinner and still come out on top.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 lb boneless skinless chicken thigh or breast
2 tablespoons olive oil
*spray olive oil
2 tablespoons of your favorite whole 30 compliant poultry seasoning
1/3 of each veggie of choice per pound of meat (orange and yellow bell peppers, zucchini, and red onion) 
*2 green bell peppers, 1 red bell pepper, 2-3 zucchini, yellow onion

Steak + Broccoli Soup

Right now it is cold and raining outside which just makes me want a good soup and a fire in the fireplace. I love the simplicity of this soup and its macros. The last time I made this soup, it was six servings of 101 calories, 2.7 grams of protein, 16.9 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.4 grams of fat.

I have not made this soup since last winter. My sister made it for me when I gave birth to Scarlett to have some food in the fridge when I got home and it has held a special place in my heart since then. Scarlett and I came home to an empty house. The guys were quarantined with the flu at my father-in-law’s house. It was a precious time with just her and I, but it still wasn’t the same without all four of us together. Luckily my sister had cooked and cleaned for me. My mom stayed a few extra days to keep me company, which I needed. Scarlett will be two very soon, so this soup is extra special this time of year.

I know the amounts I used last were 1 Tbsp of olive oil, 11.9-ounces of potato, 4 cups of broccoli, 4 cups of vegetable broth, and 1 cup of chopped onions. I like to add a little bit of hot sauce to each serving, just for a little bit of extra flavor.

I am going to cook steak with this. We have a lot of backstrap from Josh’s deer this season. If we don’t have backstrap to eat, we will get sirloin to cook because it has less fat than other cuts of meat, Season with your preferred seasoning. I cook my backstrap on the stove in a castiron pan. Depending on the thickness of your cut you might need to cook your meat for 4-5 minutes per side.

*Changes I make based on my macros

2 bunches broccoli
*4 cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
*spray with olive oil 
1 onion, chopped
4 cups vegetable stock
1 russet potato, peeled, cut into 1” pieces
*11-12 ounces 
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper 

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