Plates + Menu

I am not a takeout kind of mom/wife/cook, but this week I wished so many times that I was. It has been a hard, hard week of pre-planning. I know that everyone is feeling pressure to perform, to have everything just right before schools open up, have plans, back-up plans, plans for back-up plans, etc. It has really been draining, but knowing that everyone is in the same boat, rowing against the same strong current is the only comfort I have right now.

Just when I think my plate is full and nothing else could possibly be added, one more thing gets added. One more disappointment. One more task to check off. One more hoop to jump through. When I think that things can’t get much worse, they get worse. Everything is constantly changing, which makes planning feel pointless. Planning is a must though when you are opening up and people are counting on you. Plans have to be made for any situation that could arise, but I can’t help but feel as though I am barely treading water. I know there are things that will come up that no one has thought about. I have no doubt that I will find myself in a situation that I never thought of, but that is when I will pick up my phone and annoy my coworkers/administration to help me figure out the right path to take. If I were in this alone, I would have never even gotten started.

Teaching and getting everything just right for students to come back from summer break is a difficult task. Add in the pressure to keep all the little hands germ-free, safely spaced out during every situation, bridge the even larger gap of summer regression, prepping for digital learning, all the paperwork, the constantly changing rosters, etc. it is hard to know what belongs at the top of the list.

I am not a very emotional person. When I am upset I tend to shutdown versus outwardly showing my feelings. Typically, I am really quiet and keep to myself, but man I have been emotional this week. Josh is completely the opposite. He lets his emotions fly and is done with it. I over-analyze things, get super quiet, and try to sort through what is worth my time to be upset over. I have cried more times this week than I have all year. There is so much emotion and nowhere for it to go, that all I can do is cry. I can’t just shut down and avoid, I have to deal with all of it because all of my tasks are important and necessary.

I have thought many times about what I need to eliminate off of my plate to make things easier, but I do not overload myself with what I feel like are unnecessary to-dos, so everything I do feels super important. Do I quit the gym? Do I give up my nutrition and start picking up to-go plates? Do I quit answering texts and calls about nutrition? Do I stop one-on-one consults? Should I cancel Anderson’s birthday party? Do I quit my job? Stop cleaning and doing laundry…that one would be nice to quit.

There isn’t anything that I feel like I can give up that would make things easier for me. I am not willing to quit my healthy habits or help others with their healthy habits, because I am stressed. Stressful situations do pass but quitting is hard to come back from. Keeping things the same might be stressful right now, but I know that keeping my routine/habits the same gives me a sense of normalcy when life still feels so up in the air. I am not going to quit something that brings me joy, even if it is hard. I am not going to quit doing something that is good for me, because life is stressful.

For most, the gym and nutrition are the first things to go when life gets hard, and then they never get back into the habit of making healthy decisions when life is no longer extra stressful. Healthy food is not convenient, but it is worth it. Carving time out to go sweat for an hour is not convenient, but it is worth it. Planning meals and cooking for a few hours at one time is not ideal, but it is worth it. If it were easy to be in shape, everyone would be in shape. It takes time and effort to make healthy choices. It takes a strong mind to not give up when giving up is so easy to do. When life is stressful instead of running away from the things that make you feel and look good (but also require more effort), cling to them. Cling hard to the things that make you who you are instead of pulling away and being lazy. You will be grateful you never had to start all over again and relearn those healthy habits.


Pulled Pork Sandwich

30 Minute Chicken Fajitas with Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

Skirt Steak Fajitas 

Hamburgers + Sweet Potato Fries

Lemon Parmesan Salmon+  Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette Dressing

Pulled Pork Sandwich

There is no link for this recipe because it is so simple that you don’t need anything to guide you. I love being able to get a pork butt to cook it one way and make two completely different meals. Usually, I will have a sandwich and tacos or a pork bowl on the menu.

I used to cook the meat in the crockpot for 8 hours on low. Now, we smoke the pork butt on the RecTec util it is to temperature and season with the honey bacon bbq seasoning from Meat Church. Delicious. If you can’t get that seasoning, what we used to put on our meat is a great go-to basic seasoning that can be used for any recipe.

To season, I evenly coat all sides with yellow mustard, then season with preferred seasoning. Once the meat is in the crockpot I add in soy sauce and apple cider vinegar so the meat does not dry out and soaks up some extra flavor. Once the meat is cooked thoroughly, let it cool and then separate the meat from the fat. It really does defeat the purpose of healthy tacos and sandwiches if you leave the fat in there. Plus it is just gross.

I do not add the BBQ sauce until I am ready to eat each serving. I make sure to weigh out my sauce for every sandwich before I put on the bun. I make sure to get a low carbohydrate sauce, so I don’t over waste too many of my carbs on the sauce. Simply put the bowl on the scale, weigh out the meat and the sauce in grams or ounces, depending on the nutritional label. Toast your bun, top with the meat, and pickles, and enjoy!

*Changes I make to meet my macros 

1 Boston Butt 
honey bacon bbq spice 
Yellow Mustard 
Onion Powder 
Chili Powder 
Garlic Powder 
1/4 cup Soy Sauce 
1/2 cup Apple Cider Vinegar

Brioche Bun 
Low Carbohydrate BBQ Sauce

30 Minute Chicken Fajitas with Roasted Pineapple Salsa Verde

This recipe is pretty identical to the 20-minute shrimp tacos I have made, which are delicious. If you haven’t made them yet and you have some shrimp on your hands, 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. This is my go-to bowl when I want to use pulled pork in a taco or rice bowl.

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!

I interchange pork and chicken breast in this recipe often. Since I am making pork sandwiches this week, I will have extra pork on hand. Pork is probably my favorite way to eat this bowl, so I am really looking forward to this meal.

*Changes I make to fit my macros

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips 
*chicken breast or pulled pork
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 
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 
1-2 cup diced pineapple
*1/4 -1/3rd cup per serving

Skirt Steak Fajitas 

It has been a while since I made these but I am trying to make my week as simple as possible with school starting. I love that I can throw this into the oven and let it go while I prep something else.

I have marinated the meat overnight and just a few hours before and it doesn’t make much of a difference in the taste. I am not going to use the marinade with the meal so I am not going to count it with my macros. Most of the soy and juice will not soak into the meat and will cook-out.

If you aren’t into meal prepping yet, do the marinade a day ahead and just cook the meat the night you plan to eat it. You can always roast the vegetables beforehand because those do not have to be crisp when you eat them. Make sure to have the toppings you want to complete this meal. Don’t go too crazy with the avocado, especially if you are planning on having a fattier cut of steak than sirloin or cubed deer meat.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

1/3 c. soy sauce
*low sodium soy sauce
1/3 c. fresh squeezed lime juice
1/3 c. canola oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 T. brown sugar
1 t. cumin
1 t. chile powder

about 2 lb. skirt steak
*cubed steak or sirloin  
2-3 bell peppers, ends trimmed, cored and seeded, cut into a couple large pieces
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into 1/2-3/4-inch slices (keep the slices intact)
18 6-inch flour tortillas
*low carb/high fiber tortilla or jasmine rice
lime wedges 
toppings of your choice such as, cilantro, salsa, cheese, sour cream  & avocados or guacamole
*0.5-1 ounce of avocado

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. If you add cheese, don’t use just any 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

Lemon Parmesan Salmon+  Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Orange Vinaigrette Dressing

Oh my goodness, I didn’t think I would like salmon any other way than how we normally cook it, but this was great. High protein, low carb, low fat. This left all the room for some good snacks.

Usually, I like salmon our way and try to never deviate from it, but this was too good not to try. Since purchasing a  RecTec Grill, we don’t wrap the salmon in tin foil any more with it being on a pellet grill. It does have a different taste to it, but I really loved it the last time we ate it. It is well worth the money in my opinion.

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

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
*spray olive oil 
kosher salt and black pepper 
4 (5-6 ounce) salmon fillets 
2 teaspoons smoked paprika 
4 cloves garlic, minced or grated 
zest of 1 lemon 
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes 
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese 
*10 grams reduced fat parmesan per serving

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 


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