Monday, December 30, 2013

Broccoli Chicken Stir Fry

It seems like I have lots of stir fry dinners on Saturday nights! I was feeling like some more vegetables, so Saturday night became a stir fry night again! I guess I'm calling this a stir fry recipe, but what exactly constitutes a stir fry?

Regardless of what the correct name for this recipe is, it's super easy and tastes great! I think I say that every recipe of mine is super easy, but really, I don't ever make anything complicated. I don't think eating healthy has to necessarily involve huge ingredient lists or tricky instructions...just focus on eating fruits and vegetables and reasonable amounts of lean protein and you'll be fine. 

Anyway, enjoy this simple stir fry (or whatever it is)!

1/2 boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" pieces
1 broccoli head, chopped up into small florets
1/3 C chopped red onion
1/3 C canned pineapple chunks
1 T Asian Toasted Sesame dressing
salt and pepper to taste
chopped peanuts (optional)

1. Steam broccoli until it's almost all the way cooked.

2. Cook chicken with red onion in a medium-sized skillet.

3. Add broccoli to chicken and onion when chicken is mostly cooked.

4. Add pineapple.

5. Add dressing and mix everything together.

6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

7. If you want, top with chopped peanuts.

And after eating up this nice and healthy dinner, my sister and I proceeded to eat a large amount of Lindor chocolates. Ah well, balance is key!

I hope you have a wonderful day!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sunday Meal Prep

Yesterday I was feeling ambitious and decided to pre-make some meals for this week. Okay, not every single meal, but I got a head-start on my lunches, which tends to be the meal I throw together last-minute every day. 

I chopped up a head of green leaf lettuce and cooked a couple chicken breasts and added it to some onion, mushrooms, carrots, feta cheese, almond slivers, and part of a Good Seasons dry Italian dressing packet. The dry dressing mix is great because it adds some flavor without me having to worry about packing a separate container for dressing to add to my salad during lunchtime. I also chopped up a couple of Roma tomatoes, but I won't add those in until the mornings when I actually pack my lunch, so there's not as much moisture hanging out in my salad making my lettuce soggy. 

Along with the salad, I cut up an apple and a banana to go along with my breakfast this morning. 

I also blended up the dry mix for my morning protein shake. I mixed up 1 scoop of vanilla protein powder, a teaspoon or so of cinnamon, and a teaspoon or so of dry butterscotch pudding mix. This morning I added some milk to it and shook it up before drinking it.

For me, preparing ahead for the upcoming week is somewhat hit-and-miss. I'd really like to be one of those people who makes almost everything for the week on a prep day, so eventually I'll get to that point. Until then, I'm happy that I at least did something! 

I hope you have a fantastic week this week!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Go-To Breakfast

All summer long I loved drinking a smoothie for breakfast. It was relatively easy to throw ingredients in a blender and my smoothies usually tasted great. I had time to chop up fruits and time to clean the blender. Since school started, I don't think I've made more than one or two smoothies for breakfast, mainly because I don't have as much time anymore to spend prepping or cleaning with the smoothie process. Excuses, excuses, I know! Along with practicality issues, I'm also just not in the mood for a smoothie since it's gotten colder here. Instead of an ice-cold drink for breakfast, I want something warm and comforting for those chilly mornings when I'm making breakfast at 6:30. So lately I've been gravitating toward oatmeal! 

Oatmeal is super-fast to make. Just put some oats in a bowl with some liquid and microwave for 90 seconds or so and you have a bowl of warm, creamy goodness. 

I used to think that oatmeal was bland and gross, but then I started playing around with different add-ins that take the flavor up about ten notches. Lately I've become obsessed with almond butter (just like every other healthy living blogger out there), so that's been the flavor base of my oatmeal. Here's the recipe for this morning's breakfast:

-2/3 C rolled oats
-1 C almond milk
-2 spoonfuls almond butter (probably about 3-4 tsp)
-1 Tbsp brown sugar
-1 tsp mapleine
-1 Stevia packet 

Combine all ingredients, microwave, stir up a little, and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite add-in for your oatmeal? 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Simple Sweet Potato Wrap

Yesterday started out great when I actually got to sleep in! It seems like this entire fall I've had things going on almost every Saturday morning, so I haven't gotten the chance to sleep in very much. For me, sleeping in is at its best when I don't have anything to set an alarm for, and I'm able to wake up whenever my body pleases. So yesterday was quite nice!

After waking up, I went for a little 4-mile run on the Eagle section of the Boise greenbelt. If you're ever in the area, I highly recommend going for a run or even a walk on it, especially during the fall. This part of the greenbelt isn't really paved, so it feels somewhat like trail running. Right now the changing leaves on the trees are beautiful.

I've been doing P90X for the past few weeks, which I intend to keep doing, but I'd like to start incorporating some more runs into my workout schedule. I realized this week that I really miss running! Since daylight savings happened, it's not really an option for me to run most evenings, since it's already dark by the time I'm done teaching piano. Luckily, I do have a couple days in the week that I can fit a run in, so I'm going to start doing that more. I'm really enjoying the strength aspect of P90X, but I miss running as my form of cardio.

By the time I got back from my run, it was lunchtime, so I threw together some vegetables put them in a wheat tortilla. It turned out pretty well! Here's the recipe:

1 medium sweet potato
1/2 green pepper, chopped
1/4 C red onion
1 large carrot,chopped
3 T corn
1-2 T garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
grated parmesan cheese

1. Peel sweet potato and chop into medium-sized pieces
2. Put chopped sweet potato into a tupperware with a little bit of water and steam in the microwave for about 2 minutes, or until somewhat soft (they don't need to be totally cooked at this point)
3. After sweet potato is done, steam chopped carrot as well (same as the sweet potatoes, they don't need to be totally cooked - this just speeds up the cooking process)
4. Spray a medium-sized skillet with non-stick spray and put on the stove on medium to high heat
5. Add vegetables, garlic powder, salt and pepper and saute for 5-10 minutes or until sweet potatoes and carrots are as soft as you would like them

6. Serve in a whole-wheat tortilla and top with parmesan cheese. Wrap your tortilla up however you choose!

Makes enough to fill 2 tortillas

I think that overall it doesn't matter a ton how you combine vegetables. Sure, some combinations taste better than others, but you're pretty safe in cooking and serving a bunch of vegetables together. My go-to quick lunch or dinner usually involves some combination of veggies thrown together in a pan with some seasonings, and it usually turns out decently!

What is your favorite combination of vegetable to eat?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Soy Sauce Chicken Stir Fry

For dinner last night, I ended up throwing things together in a saucepan. Lately I've been trying to eat more protein, and chicken sounded good, so that became the base of my dish. I recently started the P90x workout series, and the nutrition plan that goes with it recommends a lot of protein in order to build more muscle, so that's been my focus for my diet as of late.

Basically, you could do this with any vegetables and meat you have on hand. If you want a more Asian-tasting dish, you could leave out the tomato and put in some broccoli instead.

Soy Sauce Chicken Stir Fry

6-7 oz. chicken breast, cut into small pieces
1/4 tsp rice vinegar
1 1/4 tsp soy sauce
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1-2 mushrooms, diced
1 small roma tomato
garlic powder (probably about 1/2 to 1/4 tsp., but I didn't measure)
onions (I used a sprinkling of dehydrated ones, but fresh onions would taste great too. Just add as much as you feel is necessary!)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Cook the chicken in a medium-sized saucepan with 1/2 tsp soy sauce
2. Add the bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic powder, onions, and rest of the soy sauce
3. Cook for 5 or so more minutes, or until peppers are as cooked as you'd like them
4. Add tomato and cook for another 30 seconds or so before removing from heat
5. Add salt and pepper and enjoy! 

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I need to stay awake!

Behold, my messy kitchen.

 Currently I'm in the process of studying for my government test tomorrow morning. I've heard rumors that it's hard, so I'm stressin' a little. Oh, and I still have to write an entire essay for the same class about the views of philosophers that influenced the Constitution. Haven't even touched that yet! Did I mention that it's past 10:00?

To keep me awake, I have to do something that keeps me moving. I've figured out that it does not work for me to sit down cross-legged on my bed with my textbook and hope to stay awake. So I decided to do some food prep! I'm steaming some carrots, which may or may not end up being eaten before I go to bed tonight, and I'm cooking some chicken to go with my breakfast and lunch tomorrow. I might do some sort of a tabata workout within the hour to further keep me awake. Who knows what time that essay is going to be finished!

Why does life have to be so crazy all the time? Je ne sais pas. Oh yeah, I have a French assignment due tomorrow too...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Motivation Monday?

Happy Monday, everyone!

My apologies for being missing in action the past few weeks. Starting back with school kind of knocked me off my feet and I'm just now starting to get into a normal routine.

Today's post is just going to be some general tidbits and items of randomness that have been floating around in my head the past few weeks. Maybe you'll find some motivation in it?

You can't always fit everything in!
When I'm not doing much (during the summer months, for example), I fill my time by pursuing slight obsessions that aren't quite so productive. Think Pinterest, YouTube makeup videos, lots of reading, etc. On the more productive side, exercising most days of the week was essential this summer, and blogging became a part of my schedule as well. When my life gets busier (when school starts again!), I want to keep doing everything I was doing during the non-busy time, along with fulfilling my school-related obligations. Social media and books are fun, right? Yeah, I tried that for about a week this time around before realizing that there's no way I can fit it all in and still go to bed at a decent hour each night. Prioritizing has been key lately. Although I wish it were otherwise, school has priority over running or reading or even blogging. I've realized that I just need to chill out and stop trying to be a super lady. That just leads to stress, and stress is definitely not healthy!

Life works better if you relax.
This is kind of similar to the last tidbit, but can still stand independently. If you're stressed out every second of the day, it's hard to really enjoy life. And we're supposed to enjoy life, right? I definitely think so! Life is a happy place! If you need to drop one or two things off of your schedule in order to take care of the stress, do it, and don't look back! I've figured out that I'm so much happier on a day-to-day basis if I keep my schedule on the simple side, and if I don't stress out when I happen to have a busier day here and there.

Savor the run.
Running is a privilege. Having been injured and out of commission for part of the summer, and now being too busy to fit in a run sometimes, I have a greater appreciation for the opportunity to run. Don't discount even the smallest run. I'm grateful for the time and ability I have to get my little "easy runs" done during the week. If you don't have time to do your preferred hour-long workout on a weeknight, try for ten minutes. Even the littlest effort is better than none.

It's all mental.
You have control over yourself. If you want to start - or continue - eating healthy, you're the one who ultimately has the power to make that happen. Find some good motivation, stay motivated, and keep your mind on track. You have the power to choose how you take care of yourself.

Those are the general, main ideas that have been floating around in my head lately. I've been trying to focus on the most important things, and add in the less-important, more-enjoyable things as I go. Hopefully blogging will be one of those add-ins! I've missed it ! Hopefully I'm back to blogging on a regular basis! Let me know if there is anything specific you want me to blog about! Motivation, tips, workouts, recipes...? Tweet me (@tessabrynnk) or leave a comment on this post!

Thanks, as always, for reading! Have a lovely day! 

Question of the Day:
How do you transition best between less-busy and more-busy times of the year? Any tips?

Monday, September 2, 2013

Portable Lunches

The start of the new school year means going back to packing a lunch every day. It's not my favorite arrangement; I'd rather spend my lunchtime at home everyday, but that's not quite an option.

This week I set off with a running start, but who knows how long my lunch creativity will last. By the end of the year, I'm usually just throwing things in a brown bag, but for now I'm enjoying making my lunches unique.

I picked up the tupperware container (it's Ziplock brand) at Fred Meyer for about three dollars a week or so ago. It makes it a lot easier to portion-control what I pack, which is nice. I put together my lunch at night, then stick it in the fridge until the morning.

Hopefully you'll find some inspiration in what I packed!

 -Wrap (Flat Out bread, hummus, lettuce, 1 roma tomato, 1 slice ham, cheese)
-1 apple 
-1/4 C blueberries
-carrots (they have frost on them because I stuck this container on the top shelf of the refrigerator overnight, and they froze)
-hummus mixed with salsa (to dip the carrots in)

*I had some camera malfunctions, so the picture got cut off on the bottom!
 -quesadilla (black beans, cheese, Flat Out wrap)

-fruit salad (blueberries, 1 orange, 1 apple, grapes)
-Cheerios and peanuts

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Classic PB & J (healthified!)


I love me some PB&J! There's just something about that particular combination of flavors that is perfectly delicious. Unfortunately, normal, store-bought jellies are loaded with sugar, as is a lot of peanut butters. The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich isn't quite the healthiest.

Enter fresh fruit and PB2! If you mash up fruits like peaches, raspberries, or strawberries, they become the consistency of a good, homemade jam. Add some stevia, and it tastes even better. As for the peanut butter factor, PB2 is my best friend. PB2 is powdered peanut butter, which may sound like a strange idea, but it works wonderfully. Just measure out the powder, add some water, stir it around, and you have peanut butter. PB2 is a lot lower in calories than normal peanut butter, plus you're able to determine the thickness of your peanut butter. If you like it smoother, add more water. If you like it thicker, add less.

With some whole wheat bread, fresh fruit "jelly," and PB2, you have a much healthier - but still delicious - classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

2 slices whole wheat breat
3 T PB2 (in powder form)
1 1/2 T water
1/4 C fresh raspberries
1 stevia packet

1. Mash up raspberries and add stevia packet.

 2. Add water to PB2 and mix.
3. Spread raspberries and peanut butter on bread.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Motivation Monday: Write a Mission Statement

Happy Monday! For me, I have school to look forward to this week, although at least now I have some yummy, healthy cookies from yesterday's baking experiment take with me. Okay, it's not much, but it's a slight consolation prize for being forced to sit through classes all day. Sigh.

Anyway! Back to the topic of motivation!

The other day, I had another brain-spark: to stay motivated, write a mission statement for yourself. Schools and businesses and other organizations have mission statements, so why not normal people?

Huh? Just bear with me! I'll explain!

First, get out a piece of paper and writing utensil. (What would be super extra fantastic is if you got out the notebook or planner you keep yourself organized with!) At the top of your paper, write "Who Am I?"

Then answer the question! Technically you can write anything about yourself, not just fitness-related things, but be sure to include some of those in there too. If you eat healthily about half of the time, but get thwarted by food temptation the other half, write in what you wish to be - in the form of a true statement.

Is this getting confusing? Here's an example:

I'm Tessa Kohler. I'm a daydreamer, and a romantic, and I'm obsessed with New York City, and I'm going to live there someday. I eat clean. I choose to eat food that is good for me because I care about my body enough to fuel it right. I exercise regularly, no matter how sluggish I may be feeling. I am a runner. I am dedicated and I make sacrifices because I know it is all worth it.

Is it maybe making more sense? For me, eating super clean and waking myself up to exercise in the mornings is what I struggle with. I'm not perfect at it by any means, however in my mission statement I wrote that I do eat clean and I do exercise regularly, no matter what. 

When you write down strong statements about yourself, based on your goals and aspirations, you will be more likely to actually believe that they're possible. Really, it all comes back to believing in yourself, which is absolutely crucial if you want to get anywhere with your goals.

Put your mission statement somewhere you will see it regularly - maybe next to your list of goals. Let it be your motivation and your support on those days when you feel like you will never be done with trying and failing. Let it be the thing that helps get you back on your feet, working even harder than before.

Have a wonderful week! Tweet me and let me know if you wrote your mission statement (@tessabrynnk)!

Question of the Day:
If you were to answer "Who Am I?" in only once sentence, what would it be?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Healthified Chocolatey Oatmeal Cookies (With Optional Raspberry Topping)...a baking success!

I have a love-hate relationship with "the healthy cookie." I've tried a recipe or two that was too dense and wasn't as sweet as a normal cookie. I've also tried the famous banana-oat cookie, which I'm really not a fan of. As much as my healthy instincts want me to like it, I just can't handle the overpowering banana taste. Does anyone else have this problem? Warm, gooey banana...yuck.

One of my favorite cookie recipes is oatmeal chocolate chip. So this afternoon I set out to healthify that recipe. There was only one issue: I had no idea what the essential components of a cookie actually are. Yeahhh, slight problem.

So I took my oatmeal chocolate chip recipe and searched the internet for things to replace the unhealthier ingredients (shortening, brown sugar, etc.). After a lot of Google searches, and lots of pencil marks on my recipe, I came away slightly overwhelmed. The substitution values for ingredients differed a lot from site to site, and I wasn't sure which websites had the best information.

I ended up just going at it in the kitchen, throwing in different ingredients that seemed like they would work, based on all the healthy cookie recipes I've seen. My goal, however, was to make these taste like mostly normal cookies, and not like a banana food-substance.

The end result? SUCCESS! While still using bananas, I was able to mask the banana flavor. The rest of the ingredients somehow combined to form something that actually tastes like a cookie. That may or may not be due to the large amount chocolate chips and cocoa powder I put in. I added the raspberry part last-minute. The cookies still taste good without it, but I think the raspberry taste is a nice complement to the chocolate.

If you're a little more health-conscious, you can use dark chocolate chips (vegan ones would be even better), or less chocolate chips, or even no chocolate chips at all. You can also try adding in nuts for some extra crunch, or some raisins if you're an oatmeal raisin cookie kind of person.

If you make this recipe, let me know how it goes! Tweet me pictures at @tessabrynnk! Let me know what add-ins you used in your rendition. 

Side-note: After combining my random assortment of ingredients, I got smart and searched the internet for a website to help me create a legit cookie. I came across this great post that I'll definitely turn to the next time I want to make my own cookies.


2 bananas
2 C rolled oats
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C whole wheat flour
2 egg whites
2 stevia packets
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 C honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C cocoa powder
3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips

Raspberry Filling:
2 C raspberries
1 stevia packet

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine all ingredients (just for the cookie dough) in a mixer.
3. Spoon dough onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

4. If using raspberry filling, mash raspberries in a bowl.

5. Add stevia packet and mix together.
6. Make an indentation in each cookie with a spoon.

7. Spoon raspberry mixture into the indentation.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Nutrition (without raspberry filling)
Calories: 94 | Fat: 2.6 g | Sodium: 83 mg | Carbs: 16.7 g | Protein: 1.9 g
Serving size: 1 cookie

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Couple of Everything Salads

Happy weekend, everyone!

The past few days have been nice and relaxing, but a little bittersweet at the same time. We went on a little getaway, which was lovely, but it's also the last weekend before school starts, so that's the bittersweet part.

On Thursday I drove with my family to Oregon for a little three-day camping trip. We camped at a spot near past Baker City, Oregon that my dad and his extended family used to camp at when he was growing up. Later that day his cousin and her family joined us, as well as another family we have known for a long time.

It was pretty much a normal camping trip with hiking, exploring, talking around the campfire, eating s'mores and other yummy food, and all that great outdoors-y stuff. On Friday I went for a little four-mile run along the dirt road next to our camp, which was great! I love switching up the scenery of my run once in a while. My neighborhood, the park by my house, and everything in the general vicinity of my house gets a little boring as far as running scenery goes.

After eating some pancakes and packing up our gear this morning, we headed back to Boise. Aaaand now summer is pretty much officially over. Sigh. It's been a good one! Even though I didn't really go very many places, it was nice to spend so much time with family and just chill.

For dinner this evening I opted for a couple "everything" salads. I'm not going to lie, delicious camping food got me once again, (although not as bad other times) so I was ready for some freshness. I pretty much just opened up my fridge, chopped up almost everything I saw, and threw it all together.

Veggie Everything Salad

romaine lettuce
cherry tomatoes
green bell pepper
feta cheese
almond slivers
sunflower seeds
light Italian dressing

Fruit Everything Salad

Pink Lady apple
vanilla yogurt

What are your favorite salad fixings?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hotel Room Workout

Staying in a couple hotels last weekend inspired me to come up with this quiet workout that is perfect for a hotel room. There isn't any jumping involved, so if you're on an upper floor, you don't have to worry about the people below you being bothered. This also works great if you live in a dorm room or an apartment.

I'd say this is a beginner-to-moderate workout. The less rest time you give yourself between exercises, the more difficult it is (obviously). When I did this workout, it took me between 30 and 40 minutes to complete.

What's your go-to plan for working out while staying in a hotel?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chickpea Turkey Wraps

We're finally going grocery shopping this morning! Our poor fridge is all white and bare inside.

Eating meals that aren't boring can get tricky when you're getting down to the end of your groceries. On Monday I really didn't want to just eat an apple and some random snacky items for lunch, so I dug around and scrounged up some ingredients for something more interesting. This is what I came up with!

1 tortilla (wheat is best, but we didn't happen to have any wheat tortillas on hand)
2-3 T hummus
2 romaine lettuce leaves
1 slice turkey
2-3 T chickpeas
1-2 T feta cheese

1. Spread hummus on tortilla.

We buy our hummus in powdered form in bulk at WinCo, then add some water and olive oil to reconstitute it. It doesn't taste any different than normal hummus.

2. Tear up lettuce and turkey and put on tortilla.

3. Add chickpeas and feta cheese.

4. Roll up and enjoy!

*Note: I made this again yesterday for lunch and added olives, which tasted great too!

Question of the Day:
What are your favorite wrap fillings?