Hard Things + Menu

I can do hard things. This is what keeps me going during a tough season in life or a tough workout. I know that I am capable of handling the hard things that are thrown my way, but giving up is very tempting at times. When I feel like I am going to throw up and my feet cannot possibly move another step, I know I can and keep moving. I know that my mind will quit before my body does. I know that stopping and starting make the task much harder to complete.

I have plenty of reasons (excuses) to be lax and not give it my all, but I know better. I know that if I backslide too far, it will be even harder to come back. I have not been to a 5 a.m. class in almost a year. I only seem to make it to the gym on Saturday and the rest of my days are spent attempting to workout with a 3-year-old and 11-month-old. I hate it. My gym time was my only release and “alone time”. I know I can get through this season of life but it is not going to be easy. My mind will give up before my body does. My body can do afternoon workouts with two under 3, but my mind sure does not want to.

What keeps me going during a hard time or gets me motivated are the comments from people about my dedication and progress. Knowing that I am held to a certain standard is enough to keep me going. When my husband is complimentary to my dedication to counting macros for us and tells me how it keeps him in check, that pushes me to continue doing it. We know what is and is not good for our bodies by now, but having it handy in an app and being held accountable makes a difference. I tend to undereat if I do not track and under-eating when I get to workout is not going to enhance my performance.

Just know you can do hard things. Where you spend your time is where your priorities are and if you are not putting in the effort to do those hard things to reach your goal, then mentally you are not ready and maybe it really is not a priority after all. I told my class this past week I was on the bus called Struggle, but just sitting around doing nothing to change the circumstances will not make the problems go away. I cannot keep riding that bus and expect things to magically change on their own. It is time to work and go after what you want. It is not time to sit on the couch drowning in all of the world’s problems. Having a weak mindset will only lead you down a path of regret and disappointment. In this world, you have to be tough to make it and can overcome the doubt that your mind produces.


I have not been testing out new recipes lately, just sticking to the same routine foods to keep me sane.

Throwing up an old menu so you don’t get bored with the same old thing.

M E N U

Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

Spaghetti

Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops  + Simple Kale Salad

Flat Iron Tortas 

Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Baby Spinach, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes


Tomato Cucumber Avocado Salad

This is a new recipe but I have a feeling that it is going to be super easy and a hit. To make this a complete meal I am going to add orzo pasta and shrimp to the dish. The one thing to really be careful of in this dish is the pesto. Most pestos are going to be packed full of fat, so go with a homemade version that does not require oil or check your labels well! I have a ton of pesto in my garden so I will be making my own low-fat version.

If you want to keep things vegetarian but need some extra protein I would suggest eating this over carba-nada. Just make sure to keep it to one serving you will be eating more calories than you think.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients:
1/2 pound red cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 pound yellow cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes, halved
*10-15 tomatoes per serving 
*1 ounce avocado per serving 
*1/2 cup cucumber per serving 
1/3 cup red onion , diced
*homemade basil pesto: 1 cup basil, 1 clove garlic, 60-80 grams reduced fat parmesan, juice of 1-2 lemons, salt & pepper to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
*add orzo or carbanada
*add shrimp or chicken

Spaghetti

The spaghetti sauce I use is adapted from a bolognese lasagna sauce. It is a thicker sauce, with lots of meat and vegetables.

To make the sauce, dice the onion and bell pepper, and saute’ with the minced garlic until soft. Add the mushrooms to the pan (mushrooms are not in the lasagna). Once the mushrooms have cooked down, drain any excess water. Add the vegetables to a large pot, along with the canned tomatoes. Once the meat has cooked thoroughly, drain and add to the tomatoes and vegetables.

Stir in the milk and wine, if you are going to put those in. Let the spaghetti simmer on low. Add the tomato paste to thicken the sauce if needed. The amount of tomato paste you add depends on how thick you want your sauce to be. I use to add the whole milk and wine but have recently opted out of putting it in, to simply cut down on the calories. Save the wine and just drink it. It is delicious with or without the wine and milk.

I like to add dried oregano, thyme, salt, pepper, parsley, and any other Italian herbs I have on hand. I don’t use noodles anymore with my spaghetti. If you still want noodles, Carba-nada is a great low-carbohydrate noodle option!

Once I tried spaghetti squash I never went back. It really is not that difficult to make. I cut my squash lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, spray with olive oil and bake in the oven at 425 degrees until I can stick a skewer all the way through the squash to the outside (not through the outside). I allow the squash to cool and then use a fork to scrape noddle-like strands out of the squash. 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash is 42 calories, 10 grams of carbohydrates, and 0.5 grams of fat.

Ingredients:  
4 cans Fire Roasted Tomatoes 
1 can Tomato Paste (about 1 cup)
3 cloves Garlic
1 Yellow Bell Pepper (diced)
1 Onion (diced)
8 ounces Mushrooms (diced) 
2-4 pounds 80/20 cooked and drained (depending on amount of people serving, I use 3.5 pounds typically and always have leftovers for the kids)
8 ounces Whole Milk (optional)
4 ounces Red Wine (optional)
Italian Herbs 
2-3 spaghetti squash or noodles of your choice

Apple Butter and Sage Pork Chops  + Simple Kale Salad

Believe me when I tell you this salad is as simple as it gets and surprisingly so good. The secret is all in the dressing. The only thing I change to this dressing is omitting the olive oil and adding more lemon juice. Other than that, I make it exactly as it says.

I was so nervous about the macros the first time I made these pork chops. I was not familiar with apple butter, I just assumed it had to be loaded down with carbs like jelly was and then adding apples too! I couldn’t imagine that these would be good for my macros, at all. I just knew that I would be blowing my carbohydrates for the day. I don’t usually calculate macros before I decide to cook a dish, typically I can make some pretty good guesses on what needs to be altered to make things healthier. 

The second time I increased the apple butter and it still did not push my macros to the limit. I was so happy to find a new tasty recipe for pork chops. Just like chicken breast, pork chops get really boring after a while if you don’t mix things up. This is the perfect recipe to mix things up with.

To make sure each pork chop has the same macros for apple butter, I add it to each chop individually. I make sure that each pork chop gets the same amount. Each pork chop will weigh differently, but they will still have the same macros for the apples and apple butter.

*Changes I make to meet my macros 

Ingredients: 
*4-6 pork loin chops 
*zero calorie olive oil spray 
Kosher salt and black pepper
*1 tablespoon butter 
12 fresh sage leaves
2 garlic cloves, smashed
*around 50-70 grams apple butter
*2 apples, for 4 servings
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme 

Kale Salad: 
2 bunches kale, fibrous stems (in the middle of the leaf) removed
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
*9-12 almonds per serving

For the dressing:
* 2 lemons squeezed  
½ teaspoon garlic, grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
½ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper 

Flat Iron Tortas (steak sandwiches)

We are in the short rows waiting for baby Thomas to arrive, so I am trying to clean out the freezer and make room for milk (and deer meat). For these sandwiches, I use cubed deer meat but you can use any cut of lean tender steak that you like.

It is such an easy delicious recipe. 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. 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 aren’t into spicy, try using 1 tablespoon of butter + 44 grams of reduced fat blue cheese + fresh basil on the meat. This mixture should be split between 4 servings, not intended for one sandwich. Top off the meat with lettuce and tomato.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
*any tender low fat steak
1/2 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*fresh baked brioche bun
1 cup finely sliced romaine lettuce
*matchstick carrots
1 small avocado, thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
*single serving container nonfat plain Greek yogurt 
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 tablespoons finely chopped pickled jalapeño peppers, plus more as desired 

Roasted Pork Loin Stuffed with Baby Spinach, Mushrooms and Pine Nuts + Yogurt Mashed Potatoes

We need to make room in the freezer with a baby coming (milk) and deer season right around the corner. Since we have two loins in the freezer, we are going to use those up this week. Normally anytime you stuff something, you don’t think it could possibly be healthy, but this recipe is very healthy. I try not to overdo it on the oil when I brown the sides of the pork, so I don’t waste my calories on invisible fats.

I really enjoy this stuffed loin because it is low in calories when compared to other pork loins. I do not rub down my loin with olive oil or mix any into the stuffing. The mushrooms let out enough water that you do not have to add any oil to keep them from sticking to the pan. If you lightly spray the pan you will be fine. I go easy on the pine nuts or omit them altogether because the loin will have a layer of fat that you need to account for. If you do not eat the fat from the meat, make sure you weigh it after your meal and subtract that from what you had accounted for.

Making sure that this meal is 100% accurate when tracking is difficult because you cannot control how much stuffing is in each piece. I make sure that I track all the ingredients in the stuffing and make a recipe with that and the total weight of the loin after the center has been cut out. Don’t throw out the center that you have cut out, cook it, and keep it for a healthy snack throughout the week! You want to make sure the pieces of stuffed loin are the same size/weight, which is harder than it sounds. You might have some pieces that require you to add or take some away from to ensure they are all the same weight. Often times the ends are more meat than stuffing, so those are not ideal pieces to eat if you are looking for the most accurate.

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.

*Changes I make to meet my macros

Ingredients: 
*spray with olive oil 
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
*8 ounces mushrooms total
*2 cups baby spinach
3/4 teaspoon coarse sea salt divided
1 (2.0-pound) center-cut boneless pork loin roast, butterflied
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

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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