Lines + Menu

During this extended summer break, I have felt this overwhelming feeling as if I am walking a fine line. I don’t like to sit and do nothing all day, I like to feel productive. It makes me feel like I have contributed to our household when I am not actually working. Playing with our kids is not exactly productive in the sense of checking to-dos off my list, but is completely necessary (for them and myself). Doing the dishes and clothes are not exactly what I consider productive because those are just a necessary evil. I want to feel productive, but I also do not want to neglect my children and normal household chores for the sake of getting things done around the house. Hence, I have walked a fine line during this break.

For me, there hasn’t been any time for alone time. None. I mean, I guess if you count going to the grocery store and my workouts, I have had alone time, but I would rather not count that. I feel like alone time is crucial for someone to decompress and feel as though they have something that is their own. Trying to juggle everything without giving yourself a break can be disastrous. It can leave me feeling bitter and that is not a good feeling. Maybe it is the pregnancy or maybe I am just a little selfish, but I would like some time to just sit or do something that I want to do, without feeling like I am neglecting someone/something else.

From sorting through baby clothes for Thomas to cutting down trees to scraping and repainting trim I have had extra little hands wanting to help. My timeline and how I want things done goes out the window when the kids are helping. Josh says nesting is in my head, but all the moms out there know differently. Nesting is a real thing and I know that has contributed to my stir-crazy feeling, with no space to actually “nest”. Scarlett’s idea of being helpful when I am attempting to prepare for Thomas is to take apart all the sock matches and lay them in a nice neat stack. Anderson’s idea of helping is picking out clothes he wants to hang up for Thomas to wear to “fancy” places, all of which are seven sizes too big or taking out all the clothes I have put into boxes so he can use it for his next “imagination adventure”.

Their intentions are sweet and genuine, but different than what I have planned and I have to be okay with that. My controlling nature has to take a backseat and I have to remind myself that it will all work out and if it doesn’t then it just doesn’t. I envy the moms that are always patient and calm. I am calm and patient, but more like a duck. On the inside, I am losing it- throwing the legos and shoes out the door that I have picked up for the 100th time that day, but on the outside, I am calm and just pick up the legos and shoes yet again, maybe with a few huffs and deep breaths thrown in there.

With Anderson and Scarlett, I was able to plan out a nursery and bring it to life. I was able to wash and fold all the baby clothes, taking my time, imagining what he/she would look like. Not this time. What I thought was more than enough time to get our yard cleaned up completely, have the whole house freshly scraped and painted, and have what I could ready for Thomas has proven to be mission-impossible. Spoiler alert, none of it is totally done. It is a start, but none of it is crossed off my list. Honestly, the yard will likely be a constant to-do, but the other things on my list could have been crossed off. With no nursery to focus my attention on, I turned to things that have been neglected over the years and none of it is done yet. Walking that fine line between quality time with my family and getting things done, was not so easy.

This pandemic has not changed my mind on whether I would stay home with my children or not, I would still love the freedom to be at home with my babies while they are young. These times we find ourselves in are not typical. This was not a normal summer break for us. When you are extremely limited to where and when you can spend your time, going stir crazy becomes a real thing. My children and I are definitely better off with structure. Being stuck at home for so long I can only offer so much structure. Being stuck at home I have had to be more flexible, I have to walk that fine line of having rules but not being too overbearing. Anderson has asked me several times why other kids don’t have rules, ha. I try and explain they do have rules, they are just different from ours. Let’s hope these “rules” are helpful in the end.

With all these lines I seem to be walking, I have to make sure to keep it all balanced, without losing sight of my needs/wants. My top priorities are not what is on my to-do list anymore, but more so what is on the to-do list of my children/family, that is mom-life in a nutshell. Priorities can change with each season, but self-care doesn’t ever need to completely take a backseat. Through pregnancy and pandemic, my self-care routine has not taken a backseat simply because it was not convenient or easy. Trust me, still holding tight to my routine of tracking macros and working out could have easily just gone to the bottom of my list, but those are things that I identify with.

Tracking and working out, gave me the sense of normalcy that I needed when everything else was totally out of my control. When I needed to feel like I had something that was still for me, I had those two things to turn to. It might not have been ideal or relaxing, but it was for myself and that is reason enough to keep it going. I like to feel like I have some control over things that are happening and lately, it feels as if no one is in control of anything. Everything feels as though it is just up in the air and however it lands, is just how it lands. Control what you can and let go of what you can’t. Worrying about all the things that are not in your control or that do not completely go the way you wish them to, will only cause you more stress. Being flexible with my to-do list and holding tight to the things that make me feel like myself has been the only way that I have not completely lost my mind.

May the odds ever be in your favor.


M E N U

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Cilantro Lime Chicken + Mango Salsa

Crispy Chicken Tinga Taquitos + Lime Avocado Crema

Orzo + Zucchini and Tomato 

+ Yogurt Mashed Potatoes


Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

I put up a whole bunch of squash and zucchini when companies were selling it by the bushel. I love having vegetables like this on hand to make easy meals. Granted the frozen vegetables are only good for pasta or soups, but who doesn’t love a good pasta?

This pasta was everything I expected and so much more the first time I made it. I had planned to add chicken to the dish the first time I made it, but left it as a side and ate a steak with it instead. If you are a vegetarian then PLEASE give this a try! And if you aren’t vegetarian, try it too!

I was a little skeptical of this dish with so few ingredients, but it was delicious and more flavorful than I was expecting! The great thing about this pasta is there is no cream used. The sauce comes from the mashed zucchini, butter, and cheese. Healthy-ish.

I am going to add chicken to the dish this time. To track everything accurately I will leave the sauce, noodles, and meat separate until ready to plate. I weigh out one serving of the cooked pasta, then add in the chicken that I need (usually not much since the pasta I use has a good bit of protein), and then weigh out a serving of the sauce.

I discovered carba-nada pasta a while back and I can’t tell you just how happy I am to find a substitute for pasta that isn’t a vegetable. It has 15 grams of protein, 24 grams of carbohydrates, and 1.5 grams of fat per servings. It really is so good! I don’t mind spaghetti squash with my spaghetti, because it is chunky and loaded with other vegetables. For just a regular pasta dish, I don’t want mushy noodles. I want some consistency with my noodles. Carba-nada was the answer to this solution.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
1 pound pasta, use your favorite cut
*carba-nada pasta
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
*omit oil
3-4 medium zucchini and or yellow summer squash, chopped
*6-7 depending on size
3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
kosher salt and black pepper 
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese
* 3/4 reduced fat Parmesan cheese
1 cup fresh basil, roughly chopped
lemon juice, for serving (optional)
*meat of choice on the side or mixed in with the pasta

Cilantro Lime Chicken + Mango Salsa

This isn’t a new recipe for me, but it has only been on my blog a handful of times. That is what happens with more seasonal recipes. The fun, colorful salsas get tucked away for the summertime dishes. I am going to make this a bit different than it is intended.

Last time I ate this with black beans in a tortilla. This time I am going to eat this over rice and leave off the beans. I want to really pile on the salsa and mask the chicken. Being pregnant meat is just never very appealing to me, so it is all about the toppings and seasonings right now. You could definitely eat this with fish or shrimp over rice or in a tortilla and it would be fantastic.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
Chicken Marinade
1 and 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (can also use thighs)
*chicken breast
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice, separated
*1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup + 1 teaspoon olive oil, separated
*omit oil
1/3 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, separated
1 and 1/2 teaspoons lime zest, separated
1 tablespoon honey
*0.5 ounce
1 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon cumin, separated
2 and 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro, separated

Mango Avocado Salsa
1 ripe mango
*1/3 cup per serving
1 ripe avocado
*0.5 ounce per serving
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
1 tablespoon finely chopped jalapeno, optional
Fine sea salt and freshly cracked pepper

Serve over rice

Crispy Chicken Tinga Taquitos + Lime Avocado Crema

I know these were just on the menu, but when you find a tasty easy meal you keep it in constant rotation, so here they are again this week. This is one of those meals I could have every week and never tire of. Enchilada Tuesday might become a new thing. I need to get some of the ground deer meat out of the freezer, so I am going to use ground deer instead of chicken or shrimp.

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 meat 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 had this over rice and it was amazing. I skipped sauteing the onions and left them crunchy for the bowl. Rice would be a better option if you are reheating this for lunch.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus more for rubbing
*spray olive oil 
1 pound ground chicken, beef, or turkey
*ground venison 
1 yellow onion, chopped
*2 onions if sauteeing for 4 servings
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 or rice 
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese
*20-22 grams per serving 
*optional toppings- pineapple salsa, shredded lettuce, and pickled onion, for serving

LIME AVOCADO CREMA
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

Orzo + Zucchini and Tomato 

Sometimes a dish is so simple that you think there’s no way it’s going to be good. This is one of those dishes…I was completely surprised at how great it was, being so simple. Lemon juice, LOTS of tomatoes, zucchini, and orzo. I need simple with school gearing back-up. I have really enjoyed my relaxing meal-prep Monday with the kids, but meal-prep Sunday with all the time constraints is back.

Parmesan, basil, salt, and pepper. Nothing fancy but so good and fresh! I added chicken breast but this would be a great side dish or meal if you’re vegetarian. I’d swap the orzo for #carbanada if you leave off the meat to get in some protein. This time I am going to use pork loin chops as the main dish and leave the pasta as a side dish.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
5 oz uncooked orzo pasta
*200-250 grams (weighed uncooked)
1/2 large zucchini, 1/4-inch dice (5 ounces total)
*2-3 zucchini
1 small plum or Campari tomato, diced
*10-15 cherry tomaotes per serving
2 cloves garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
*1 lemon juiced
kosher salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup fresh grated Parmesan or Pecorino
*20 grams reduced fat parmesan per serving

Pork loin chops, 1.5 inches thick 
preferred seasoning: honey hog 
*spray olive oil

Back-strap Steak+ Yogurt Mashed Potatoes

One night we decided to make some mashed potatoes to go along with our steak. Friday and Saturday night is usually not planned but we still try to keep pretty healthy. I saw that I had some non-fat Greek yogurt in the fridge and threw it in there. Josh thought it was sour cream and I just let him think that until he tasted it. Once he gave the approval, I let him in on my secret. Since then that is how I have made our potatoes, even for guests and they have never been able to tell the difference. Make sure to use caution when adding in the yogurt, the more you use the sweeter the potatoes will taste.

Going along with cleaning out the freezer for more deer meat and milk for Thomas, we are going to have back-strap venison with the mashed potatoes. If you don’t have any back-strap left over from last deer season, just pick a lean cut of meat, tenderloin or sirloin are of course my top picks. To cook the back-strap I season with salt and pepper and cook in a cast iron pan with a tablespoon of grape seed oil.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
Venison back-strap or lean cut of steak 
salt 
pepper
grape seed oil 

Yogurt Mashed Potatoes: 
900-1000 grams red potatoes 
65-75 grams non-fat Greek yogurt 
1 tablespoon butter 
6-8 ounces fat free milk 
salt, pepper, minced garlic, fresh diced rosemary

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