Joyful + Menu

Lately, I am lucky if I can make it to the gym twice during the week. I have to be honest and say that I have not even bothered trying to substitute with at-home workouts on the days that I cannot make it. Thomas is doing great at night and is usually sleeping through the night, but is waking up right at 5. As I said, he is doing wonderful and your normal person would not be upset about this at all, but that is right when I need to be going to the gym. Last week I was very frustrated and felt some serious ‘bottom-of-the-totem-pole’ blues.

The afternoons just do not work for me. My kids don’t want to be at the gym, well they would actually love to be at the gym, but they want to be there working out, not sitting waiting for me to finish my workout. Thomas wants to nurse until it is time to go to bed, supper has to be put together, I would have to go between classes…nothing seems to line up just right. I really don’t have the motivation to even go after being at work all day. I think I have just become accustomed to working out in the morning that I feel as though there is no point once the afternoon rolls around, which is silly and untrue.

This morning at 4 a.m. as I laid awake waiting for Thomas to wake up, I put a workout in my head that I could do this afternoon and hope to stick to it. I knew he would not wake up in time for me to go and I certainly do not want to wake him to eat. I even debated on going in the playroom and just getting it over with until he woke up, but the playroom/sunroom/mudroom is right beside Scarlett’s room and I do not want to wake her up either. It feels like it is constantly a struggle.

This or that always seems to happen and it does not get accomplished. Throughout the pandemic and having all three kids from time to time while I was attempting to work out, I got used to not getting a workout in. It was okay, to begin with since I was trying to get back into shape, but now I want to get a good sweat in. I have gotten used to leaving the gym disappointed in what I was able or unable to accomplish. It used to be a really big deal if I overslept and did not make it to the gym. It would put me in a bad mood. Now, I am in a season of life where getting to workout is just icing on the cake. I want so badly to go, but there are other things that are more important right now.

I felt so ridiculous for being upset that Thomas was sleeping until 5 and I could not go. I knew it was, but I was still frustrated with it, feeling like my needs and wants are always coming last. It is my choice to nurse, no one else pressures me to do that. It is easy to nurse your baby but at the same time so much more demanding. I had to remind myself of my word for the year.

My word this year is ‘joyful’. I am trying to slow down now and find the joy in these moments and every other situation or curveball. Every night when we pray with our children, I am thanking God for all of the small positive things that happened that day. I want to focus on the intangible joys in our lives and help my children see those things too, not just the immediate happiness that tangible objects bring. Happiness is fleeting, but true joy is unwavering. I have so much to be joyful about and focusing on that true joy allows all of the other background noise to fade away.


M E N U

Chicken Salad Wrap

Zesty Shrimp and Sweet Peach Salad

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

Greek Chicken Traybake

Chipotle Chicken + Avocado Rice Soup


Chicken Salad Wrap

This chicken salad is not like your local chicken salad sandwich with mayo, pecans, and grapes. Honestly, it is boring and very healthy. You MUST season this dish like there is no tomorrow and add some hot sauce to the wrap as well. I like to drizzle sriracha on my chicken salad once I have it wrapped up in a low carb, high fiber tortilla shell.

I always boil chicken breasts or cook covered on the stovetop, just because it is easier when meal prepping. If you aren’t worried about macros or meal prepping, a whole rotisserie chicken would be much easier. If you boil the chicken it will be pretty bland from so make sure to season it a lot more than normal when you cut it up to mix with the sauce.

I love that this meal doesn’t have any actual mayo. You make your own with egg, lemon juice, and dijon mustard. I don’t use any oil in this mayo and it makes it low calorie and cut friendly. The last time I made this I had 26.8 ounces of cooked chicken breast. It made 6 servings, each at 134 calories, 27.1 grams of protein, 0.3 grams of carbohydrates, and 2.7 grams of fat, without a tortilla. Make sure to grab a low carbohydrate tortilla. The ones I use are only 50 calories, 1.5 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein. Not too bad compared to the normal 45 grams of protein that most tortillas have.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:  
1 whole roasted chicken or 2 pounds of chicken
*chicken breast
½ cup finely chopped celery
Juice from 1 lemon (about 2-3 Tablespoons)
⅓ - ½ cup Paleo mayonnaise (see recipe below)
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Creole Seasoning

Mayo
1 large egg, at room temperature (very important to be at room temperature)
2 teaspoons lemon juice, at room temperature
1 cup light olive oil (or 1/2 cup olive oil + 1/2 cup avocado oil)
*omit oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, optional

Zesty Shrimp and Sweet Peach Salad

Oh, this salad gets me so excited for supper and lunch the next day. To say I loved this salad is an understatement. I have used the zesty seasoning so many times since then and it never disappoints.

The first time I made this dish, I did a mixture of shrimp and chicken last time, which was a great cheap way to get more protein in. The chicken was great, but the shrimp were right on the money. So good. The lemon and lime zest mixed with the spices, and one ounce of honey…such a good combination! This time I am going to use backstrap. It is super lean and we have a good bit of it saved up in the freezer right now.

To be 100% honest it is SO frustrating trying to calculate the macros for this dish because there are so many separate parts to it. I put everything into one recipe on my app, but keep all the ingredients separate to divide evenly to each salad. It is tedious, but worth it to get the exact macros. When I made this dish before, the macros were 286 calories, 42.2 grams of protein, 20.6 grams of carbohydrates, and 5.7 grams of fat. I did add some extra shrimp for the second day because the calories are very low and the shrimp was amazing.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined 
*meat of choice 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling 
*zero calorie olive oil spray
2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder 
1 teaspoon smoked paprika 
1 teaspoon honey
*1 ounce 
zest of 1 lemon and 1 lime 
kosher salt and pepper 
4 thick slices ciabatta bread 
*omit 
6 cups mixed greens spinach or arugula 
1 peach, thinly sliced
*245 grams (split into 4 servings) 
2 ears, grilled corn, kernels removed 
*1 cup sweet corn 
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved if large 
AVOCADO VINAIGRETTE 
1 avocado, halved and pitted
*3 ounces 
1 cup fresh cilantro 
1 jalapeño, halved and seeded, if desired 
juice of 1 lime 
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
*4 Tablespoons 
1 pinch of kosher salt 

Simplest Basil Zucchini Parmesan Pasta

I put up a whole bunch of squash and zucchini when companies were selling it by the bushel before this summer. I love having vegetables like this on hand to make easy meals. I have one bag left now. Granted 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 will either add shrimp or chicken to this meal. 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 tablespoon
1 cup grated parmesan or manchego cheese
* 3/4 cup 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

Greek Chicken Traybake

This is probably one of my favorite dishes to make. It is super easy to throw it all in one dish and just cook until the chicken is done. I love finding new recipes for chicken that have a ton of vegetables. 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!

To get the most accurate macros, you can cook the rice separately and take out the pieces of chicken to add to servings as needed. In doing this, it allows you to get the amount of protein and carbs that your macros dictate.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients 
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 total tomatoes 
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
*omit 
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

Chipotle Chicken + Avocado Rice Soup

This is a new recipe for me and I can already tell you that itis a do-over. I did not use as much rice and broth so it is a bit thicker and I skipped the avocado this time because there were no ripe ones at the store.

The macros on this are amazing and it is a ton of food. Without the meat it was 17.5 ounces of soup for only 148 calories! Give this one a try when it is cold out and you don’t want to consume a lot of calories.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1-2 jalapeños, seeded if desired, and chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated
1 pound boneless skinless, chicken breasts
1 rounded tablespoon chipotle chili powder
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
kosher salt and black pepper
6 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (14 ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
2 cups cooked white or brown rice
juice of 2 limes, plus more for serving
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped, plus more for serving
2 avocados, chopped
crumbed feta cheese and tortilla chips, for serving

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