Joy + Menu


Someone tried to steal my joy. Someone tried to make me feel like a bad parent and for about an hour I felt that way. A comment was made to “so-and-so”, by “Joe-Blow”. Well, “so-and-so” isn’t so good at keeping secrets and has a completely different parenting style from my husband and me.

Wouldn’t you know that negative comment about how weird my kids are made it back to me? The negative comments always do. No one ever wants to gossip about the good stuff. It turns out that “Joe-Blow” doesn’t want their kid to be weird like mine, they want their kid to be easy like “so-and-so’s” kid. Awesome. Good luck.

As a parent you take all comments about your kids personally, at least I do. I always have. When Anderson was born the constant “Oh he’s so small.” really, really got old. I felt offended as a mother that was solely breastfeeding, being told my child was too little. I was offended when people would say I’m not eating enough sugar to give him the proper nutrition. Not kidding. That was actually said…sugar is obviously what gives your breast milk the nutrients it needs to support a growing child.

My children are a direct reflection of Josh and me. When someone says something negative about someone you carried around for close to ten months, nursed, constantly sacrifice for, and love unconditionally…it is very difficult to not take their words personal.


Weird? How are my children weird?

After Josh told me about this comment I was mad, completely ready to confront the person that said this and ask questions. Then I went and sat with our kids and watched them. I watched them pretending to sell me coffee made out of play dough, which turned into ice cream because that is way better than coffee. I even asked Anderson if he thought he was weird and he said: “No silly, I’m not weird.”

As I sat watching them, still steaming from the comment, I thought about how amazing Scarlett is doing at potty training. How she keeps me laughing with her spunky attitude and pulling my hair out at the same time. I remembered Anderson telling us at the family table (what he likes to call the dining room table) about how Jesus helped him go to the bathroom in the middle of the night alone and get back in bed. I thought about when he said, “Hey mama, did you know that Jesus turned water into blood?” as we were headed to the store the other day. I said you mean water into wine, and he quickly said no, water into blood because the Pharoh was letting his people die. I thought to myself that we must be doing something right.

As I watched my weird kids it finally hit me that I don’t care. I don’t need to justify to someone else about my kid’s schedules and what works for them. I don’t need someone else to approve the sacrifices I am making to make them good humans. I like structure and a schedule. Ask any teacher or doctor and they will (likely) tell you that kids thrive better when they have structure and are on a schedule. I am doing the best I can do and know how to do if that is weird to you and you don’t want your kid to be like mine that’s perfectly fine.

I am still a little salty over the comment if you can’t tell, but I am not sure that I fully believe it or maybe I don’t want to believe it. I would like to think that I would be aware of any weird habits or strangeness…I am a teacher, I see plenty of that. Being a teacher makes me extra sensitive to how I feel my children need to be raised.

With every broken home, comes a broken child. With every love-less, rule-less, structure-less home there is bound to be a behavior issue-child. I know what causes the issues and to be told I am contributing to an issue for my children because I like structure just rubs me all kinds of wrong. No child is the same, therefore you should not judge the way, someone parents, simply because you don’t want to parent in the same manner.

If I have to miss a get-together or if I have to be the first to leave because my children need to be in bed by a certain time, I am okay with that. It doesn’t affect you. It affects my social life, which I am 100% willing to sacrifice for my children. I am not going to drag my children around to different parties for the sake of socializing, let them fall asleep wherever they land, only to wake them up when they get home and in return have a sleepless night. My children aren’t good sleepers, they need that structure and schedule so that is what I do for my sanity. I know my children and what works for them. No two children are alike, so yours might not be “weird” like mine. You might not have to give up your late nights and freedom, but I did. I gave it up for something so much better.


Flat Iron Tortas (steak sandwiches)

30 Minute Chicken Fajitas with Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta

Greek Orzo Stuffed Red Peppers

Roasted Vegetable Bowls + Green Tahini

Flat Iron Tortas (steak sandwiches)

I found this recipe a long time ago and it is still one of my go-to easy weekday recipes. I normally only make these when we have cubed steak in the freezer. I searched long and hard to find some healthy recipes for cubed steak that did not involve oil and a frying pan.

You can meal prep the whole dish and reheat the meat before you assemble the sandwiches. The sauce is super simple and you can make it as spicy or mild as you like, depending on how many jalapenos you use. Warning: I always over-do it with the jalapenos, start with just a little bit and add in more if you want it spicier.

I usually skip the avocado on these sandwiches because the steak has a decent amount of fat. If you are on a high-fat diet, be my guest. I would opt for a smaller brioche bun or do an open-faced sandwich or wrap if you are on a low-carb diet.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 pound flat iron (top blade) steak
*any tender low fat steak or cubed venison
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 chewy, crusty rolls, split
*fresh baked brioche bun
1 cup finely sliced romaine lettuce
1 large carrot, grated
*matchstick carrots
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
*single serving container nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
Juice of 1/2 lime
*1/4 cup lime juice 
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeño peppers, plus more as desired 

30 Minute Chicken Fajitas with Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

This recipe is pretty identical to the 20-minute shrimp tacos I have made, which were delicious. If you haven’t made them yet, run and go make them now! Seriously, one of my favorite salsas yet. The shrimp version had more ingredients in the salsa, but I like that this recipe is a bit more simple.

The only thing to really track in the salsa is the pineapple and tomatillos. The tomatillos are awesome roasted with the other ingredients. If you can’t find tomatillos, you can use a jar of premade Verde. Add the Verde, garlic, jalapeno, and spices to a mixer pulse together until blended well.

These fajitas always turn into rice bowls for me instead of tacos. I love salsa so much and the macros are so great that I can have a lot of it. If you are going low carbohydrate, then skip the rice and just eat in the tortilla or alone. Some fresh cilantro, lime, and maybe avocado to top it off and you are set!

*Changes I make to fit my macros

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips 
*pulled pork, shrimp, or chicken breast
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
*Spray with oil 
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder 
2 teaspoons smoked paprika 
1 teaspoon dried oregano 
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder kosher salt and black pepper 
2 bell peppers, sliced
*2-4 depending on size 
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced 
6-8 small flour tortillas, warmed 
*High fiber/Low carb tortilla or rice 
crumbled cotija or shredded cheddar cheese mashed avocado and limes 
*Omit cheese OR avocado 

6 small tomatillos, husked 
*verde if you can’t find tomatillos 
1 jalapeño 
4 green onions 
juice of 1 lime 
1/4 cup cilantro, roughly chopped 
1 cup diced pineapple

Lemon Ricotta & Spinach Pasta

This is a new one for me, but I have a feeling it is going to be delicious. I love meals that don’t make me feel like I am cutting calories. I am going to add in either cooked chicken breast or shrimp for protein. I feel like either would be a great option. Shrimp is more expensive and it takes more per ounce to get the same amount of protein as chicken. Either one you choose will be great!

1/2 lb pasta (I used linguine)
*spaghetti squash 
1 shallot, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
5 ounces fresh spinach (about 3 cups or 1/2 of a 10 oz bag)
1 cup ricotta cheese
*1/2 to 3/4 cup skim milk ricotta
1/2 cup reserved pasta water (see below)
1 lemon, juiced and zested
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
Grated parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes (optional), for topping 
*60 grams for 4 servings reduced fat parmesan
*add in cooked chicken breast or shrimp 

Greek Orzo Stuffed Red Peppers

Again, another meatless wonder that I stuffed with meat anyway and it turned out wonderful. I don’t think I could ever get tired of this dish. I loved this dish so much. It is beautiful and delicious.

This is one of those meals that you tuck away in the back of your mind for the next time you have company and want to impress them without having to try too hard. I simply loved it and the macros weren’t that bad either.

You can definitely cut back on the amount of orzo used and bring down the carbohydrates. I originally used 1 cup, but with Josh cutting calories, I am going to use around 3/4 of a cup this time so I don’t push him to the edge of his calorie limit.

Tracking the macros on the peppers was not super difficult. I made sure each pepper had the same amount of pasta, chicken, and toppings so that no matter which pepper was picked, they were the same.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

3 red bell peppers, halved 
*4 peppers 
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated 
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil 
*spray olive oil  
3 sprigs fresh oregano 
kosher salt and pepper 
1 cup dry orzo or quinoa 
*285 grams or less 
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives 
*76 grams  
2 pepperoncini, chopped 
*66 grams 
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts, chopped 
*Omit nuts 
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese 
*non fat feta  
Lemony Basil Tomatoes: 
1 cup fresh basil, chopped 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
*lemon juice  
crushed red pepper flakes 
zest from 1 lemon kosher salt  
*add cooked chicken breast to peppers

Roasted Vegetable Bowls + Green Tahini

I have never made this dish before. I probably should stick to the basics while Josh is cutting calories, but I love finding new recipes to tweak and try. This recipe calls for tahini and while I don’t mind the taste of it, I don’t love the calories that come along with it. I am going to use it, but I am going to use very little of it.

1/4th of a cup of tahini isn’t a lot, so if the macros look scary I will make it into 5 or 6 servings, not 4.

Roasted Vegetables
8 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 golden potatoes, chopped
*2 sweet potatoes 
1 head of broccoli, cut into florets
1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets
olive oil and salt
*spray olive oil 

Green Tahini
1/2 cup olive oil (mild tasting)
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup tahini
a big bunch of cilantro and/or parsley
1 clove garlic
squeeze of half a lemon (about 2 tablespoons)
*whole lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt (more to taste – I like 3/4 teaspoon)

Optional Extras:
hard boiled eggs
chicken, tofu, any other protein

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