Today + Menu

Today’s World

Right now, the pandemic issue has taken a back seat on the media outlets. I can’t say that I miss hearing about the virus, but I would much rather be told (on repeat) to sanitize, wear a mask, and stay home than see all the destruction on the television. We had/have curfews, limited business hours and openings, and limited numbers allowed in stores that are open. Those things are still in place in most areas, but now along with those limitations, there is the added worry of am I going to run into a “less-than-peaceful” protest.

Luckily for my family and me, we live in a small town, that at this moment is peaceful. We have not had the calls for the killing of our police and firemen/women. I have heard of a handful of questionable posts and such, but the protests that I have seen have been peaceful and friendly. My kids and I frequently walk to the square. On one of our walks, there were people protesting. Anderson of course asked what everyone was doing. I tried to explain the best I could on 4-year-old terms what they were doing. There was a sign that said ‘honk if you agree’ so there were lots of honks as we sat outside eating shaved ice. His response was sweet. He said oh, it sounds like they are having a parade. He later told me that people have different skin colors, just like we all have different names. I love hearing what he thinks and his rationalizations.

Even though we live in this peaceful small town, there are fears. There are moments where you wonder if things will take a turn for the worse as they have in so many large cities. There have been calls for riots to happen in rural areas, but nothing yet. I would love to think those that live here take pride in where they are from and value the lives of those around them too much to partake in such ridiculous behavior. It is hard not to have irrational fears during this time though.

Running at the 5 a.m. class in the dark, I am usually worried about getting hit by a car but never worried that someone might intentionally harm me. If I lived in a large city, I would not be running in the dark, I would be inside rowing. Things that never crossed my mind, as far as staying safe, now are in the forefront of my mind. I have never been too worried about being safe while walking with my children until the pandemic and riots. With the increasing number of people not working, there was more foot traffic than usual on our walks when the virus first hit. Now, there is no telling if you will meet someone that is angry and looking for their own justice. It is sad, but those are the things that I must think about when I go for walks with my children. No longer do I just have the “normal worries” of a car not stopping to let you walk or your child getting struck by a vehicle or if there will be a wreck while you are walking.

During the pandemic time, we went on a walk every day. On one of our walks, we were followed and circled by a guy on his bike. His behavior was so odd and I have never felt more concerned for my children and me. Anderson even noticed him and asked questions about the guy. Normally I would not point out whether he was white, black, purple, pink…but you know, it today’s time that seems to really matter. He was white. My assumption of this guy was he either wanted to rob us, harm us or was riding around picking up drugs and we just happened to be on his route. There was not one single happy thought about his guy. The point of this is I never judge someone by what they look like, but by their actions and I am teaching my children the same thing.

Maybe I am in the minority, but I would like to think the majority of people are judged for their actions and not what they look like. Maybe since I am a teacher I know not to judge a book by its cover, but by what is inside. I have students of all shapes, sizes, and colors come into my room. I never look at someone’s color, but I certainly watch their behavior.

When I am handed my class list, there are a few things I look for. First I look to see the split of boys and girls, trust me that matters, then I look to see what kind of “flags” there are. These flags let me know if any students in my class have medical conditions, learning disabilities, custody concerns, or accommodations. There are no flags to indicate race because that has nothing to do with a child’s ability to learn in my room. The race of a child has nothing to do with their ability to be kind, loving, hard-working, honest, smart…all of the things you wish for your child to be.

As a teacher, I know all too well that a student’s home life and support system out of the classroom has much more to do with their rate of success than any other factor. While teachers are superheroes in their own right, I can only do so much within the 180 days (if we are lucky) I am with them. There are cases where a student has a horrible home life and no support but is still extremely successful in their school career because that is all they have. There are no extras for them, like sports/video games/after school jobs, to occupy their time so they focus on their school work and are highly successful.

My fourth-grade team is strong and like a family. When we get a new group of students, my grade partner and I make sure our students know we are all family and we are friends. There is no room for drama and rudeness. My grade partner says it best. She tells all the students ‘There are 3 things I don’t like: liars, bullies, and thieves’. I love that quote because it covers most of the bases and lays a good foundation of expectations in our classrooms. If a student is being rude to another, you can use that line. If a student lies about their homework you can use that line. If a student takes something from someone else, you can use that line. Granted there are other things that could arise that don’t fit inside those guidelines, but with young kids, you need to keep it simple.

Creating simple rules and a trusting-family environment has never been because we feel like we need to fight against racism, it is just how we run our room. If you are worried about what the girl/boy in the back of the room thinks of you, then you probably aren’t listening to a single word that I am saying during my lesson. If we are all like family and treat each other as such, we focus on what is important (what the teacher is saying). If my students don’t feel valued and loved, they likely will not participate and will not learn from me.

Teaching gives me a different perspective on life and how to treat others because I have seen the worst of students and it never has anything to do with the color of their skin. I have heard the saddest home-life stories and it never has anything to do with the color of their skin. All the issues I have seen start at home, not with what color of skin they are born with. I cannot undo values taught at home, but I can create an environment where my students feel safe, loved, appreciated, respected, and equal. It is hard to remember at times, but I always try to treat the children in my care like I would want my own children treated.


Crispy Chicken Tinga Taquitos + Lime Avocado Crema

Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

California Chicken, Veggie, Avocado + Rice Bowls

Salmon + Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette Dressing

Best Super Easy Penne

Crispy Chicken Tinga Taquitos + Lime Avocado Crema

I know these were just on the menu, buuuuut here they are again this week, this time I will do them a little differently. This is one of those meals I could have every week and never tire of. Enchilada Tuesday might become a new thing.

Do yourself a favor and make these! You won’t be sorry. For goodness sake, don’t skip putting the tortillas in the oven. We are going to change the meat in these this week and might eat them over rice instead of in tortillas or both (tortillas at supper and rice bowl for lunch).

Originally I had 28 grams of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce. I subtracted the weight of the peppers because I’m not going to eat those. I added them to the sauce for flavor. I only want to calculate what I’m actually going to eat. Instead of using ground chicken or pork, I used chicken breast to not add to the fat content.

To lower the macros a bit you can use one tortilla and eat the extra meat in a bowl. I did this for Josh and split his portion of cheese and avocado sauce between the tortilla and bowl. PS- wait to add the enchilada sauce to the chicken until you have your meat portioned out. This makes the macros more accurate. Lots of extra little steps, but it allows me to be as accurate as possible. Most food labels round-up on the calories, so I need to make sure my method is flawless to not add more errors to the calculations.

If you are back at work and do not have access to an oven, I would opt to skip the crunchy tortilla. A crunchy tortilla in the microwave is not going to taste very good. Keep the tortilla and stuffing separate, heat the meat with the sauce, then assemble with cheese and avocado. Keep your fat intake in mind when using the avocado and cheese. It is delicious but can easily put you over on your calories.

We have tried this over rice and it was amazing. I skipped sauteing the onions and left them crunchy for the bowl. Josh tired this last week with shrimp in one wrap and he said it was amazing and immediately requested them again for the following (this) week.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for rubbing
*spray olive oil 
1 pound ground chicken, beef, or turkey
1 yellow onion, chopped
2-3 chipotle peppers in adobo finely chopped, use to your taste
*30-50 grams            
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup red enchilada sauce homemade or store-bought
*100-120 grams
16-20 corn tortillas warmed
*1-2 high fiber/low carb tortilla per serving
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
*20-22 grams per serving 
pineapple salsa, shredded lettuce, and pickled onion, for serving

1 avocado, halved
*3 ounces
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 cup pickled jalapeños
juice from 2 limes
kosher or flaky salt

Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

I recently had the B E S T burger of my life from Liam’s in Thomasville. I am still trying to perfect our burger to match theirs. They are well known for their cheese, so it was not just your basic cheeseburger by any stretch of the imagination.

Hamburgers will never go out of style and can be healthy if you don’t smother them in cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. When I track my hamburger I weigh out my meat after it has cooked. This is controversial in the world of tracking food, but I think that it makes sense. The fat is going to cook out of the meat, so I don’t actually end up eating all of the fat that was originally in the raw meat.

I am going to add some sweet potato fries with the hamburgers for the kids. I will eat them as a snack later on, but not with this meal. Hamburgers have your fats, protein, and carbs (if you eat a bun). The only thing I do is eat a second hamburger patty without a bun to get in more protein. Macro-wise there is no reason to add a side dish. I know everyone loves fries with their hamburger but you are doing some major calorie intake if you do that.

I will add cheese to this burger and saute’ the onions before putting them on the patty. Don’t use just an basic cheese if you are going to have cheese, you might as well get the good stuff.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

80/20 meat 
Brioche buns 
Heirloom tomatoes 
Yellow mustard 
Cheese (optional- good cheese, not basic Kraft singles)

1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled
2 tablespoons olive oil
*spray olive oil 
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
fine sea salt, to taste

California Chicken, Veggie, Avocado + Rice Bowls

So. Much. Food. For less than 400 calories you can’t beat this meal. I upped the number of vegetables and lowered the amount of avocado. I love the creamy avocado sauce mixed in with the rice, vegetables, and chicken. When I went to the grocery store to get the groceries, all the avocados were hard as bricks. I am hoping to still find one before I cook all the meals.

When I first made this dish I was a little impatient and didn’t let the marinade sit long on the chicken. I put the chicken on a sheet pan, sprayed both sides with low-calorie olive oil, and seasoned up. I love it when a marinade has tons of fresh herbs. I skipped mixing the herbs and seasonings with olive oil and used lemon juice instead. You might want to use parchment paper when cooking this in the oven because juices will usually burn. You can obviously cook the chicken on the stovetop covered and it will not burn and usually turns out more juicy.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders
*chicken breast 
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
*lemon juice 
1 tablespoon lemon zest
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup fresh parsley or basil, chopped (or 1 tablespoon dried)
kosher salt and black pepper

2 red bell peppers, cut into fourths
1 zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
*3-4 zucchini depending on size
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit olive oil 
2 avocados, mashed very well
*3 ounces
juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced or grated
2 cups cooked basmati rice
*1/2 cup cooked rice per serving jasmine rice or your preference of rice
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
*8-10 per serving
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped
*omit walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled feta, goat, or blue cheese
*non-fat feta or goat cheese

Salmon + Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette Dressing

Salmon is by far my favorite fish and I never order it when we go out to dinner. The way that Josh cooks it is my favorite way. I honestly have never attempted to cook the salmon any other way than we do now. I don’t want it to ruin my taste for salmon.

I prefer to grill our salmon, but if it is cold, the oven works just fine. We use lemon zest, lemon slices, garlic powder, onion powder, and Tony Chachere’s seasoning. Rub or spray the fish down with olive oil, season, and wrap in tin foil.

We just recently started eating beets again and I am not sure why we ever took a break from them. This is by far one of my favorite beet salads to make. If you aren’t so sure about beets, try the golden ones and this recipe. You are sure to like them then!

This recipe has oranges and uses orange juice in the dressing. I make sure to weigh out my orange juice and not to overdo it on the orange slices. The juice/dressing is where you will really get a lot of calories if you are not mindful. To track your dressing, make sure you are weighing every ingredient. Get the total weight of the dressing and then divide it into equal servings.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Salmon (skin on or off) 
1 lemon (zest and slices)
Tony Chachere’s seasoning  
Garlic powder 
Onion powder  

1/4 Cup Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice
1/4 Cup Olive Oil
*omit oil 
2 Tablespoons Honey
* 1 Tablespoon Honey 
1/2 teaspoon Stone Ground Mustard
* 1 Tablespoon Mustard 
Pinch Salt/Pepper

Fresh Baby Romaine or a Peppery Greens Salad Blend
Micro Greens
4-5 Cooked Beets - cut into chunks
Goat Cheese Crumbles
*1 serving per salad  
1 Orange - segmented 
*1/4th of an orange per salad 

Best Super Easy Penne

I previously said that you needed to fast to eat this dish…and I might have stuck my foot in my mouth. I went back and made a few more changes and ended up with a decently low-calorie meal, compared to the 500+ that it originally was.

Without any pasta or pasta substitution, this sauce was the first time I made it 214 calories. If I add one cup of spaghetti squash it would add 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat. Not too bad. Add in your chicken or beef meatballs and you are in business. The second time I made the sauce I cut back on the marinara and it was 110 calories per serving, for 5 servings.

The meatballs will get you. You think that 3 meatballs are not enough but trust me, it is more than enough and likely even more than what you need. The spaghetti squash will even that out some and if you opt for ground chicken instead of beef, you will save some fat and calories. Make sure you cook the meatballs separately, you don’t want all the fat from the meat to be in your sauce.

I could have made the sauce into more servings, but it tasted SO good that I wanted as much as possible. I might make it into 5 servings this time if the calories with the meat are too high. There really are not a whole of ingredients in this dish. It is super simple but can be really high on the calories if you don’t make any adjustments. For four servings the sauce was 10 ounces and I added at least 5 ounces of meat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1 cup extra virgin olive oil
*spray olive oil
25 to 30 garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated 
*pre-peeled bag of garlic 
1 tablespoon dried oregano plus fresh oregano, for serving 
1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
2 24 ounce jars marinara sauce
*1302 grams 
Kosher salt and black pepper
3/4 pound spicy ground Italian sausage or chicken sausage
*ground beef meatballs cooked separately or ground chicken
1 pound dry penne pasta
*Carba-nada or spaghetti squash 
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving 
*low fat parmesan cheese 60-80 grams add to sauce

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