Mexican Zucchini Lasagna

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I saw this recipe from Food Faith Fitness and it has been on my mind for about two weeks now! I finally made it last night and it is cheesy and healthyish and delicious and really pretty easy to put together. You can even prep everything in advance so that it’s super fast to put together to pop in the oven. She says it freezes great too but these leftovers aren’t going to last long so I will have to try freezing it next time! I am sure if you don’t have zucchini coming out your ears from your garden that you have a few neighbors who would love to get rid of a few!

This would be great with regular lasagna noodles but if you are trying to be a little healthier this is a great option to  use zoodles. You won’t even taste the zucchini in here so don’t let that worry you. Try them out, I promise you will like them!

I changed a few things from the way the recipe was written, I will add those notes in.

For the zoodles:
3-4 Large zucchinis (I used to extra large ones from the garden!)
1 T Salt

For the lasagna:
2 T Olive Oil
1 lb Ground Turkey (you can easily sub hamburger for this)
1 Cup Onion, diced (1 small onion)
1 T + 2 tsp Garlic, diced
1 T + 1 tsp Taco seasoning
Pepper
3/4 Cup Tomato Sauce
3/4 Cup Salsa, of choice
**I had a bottle of this that I picked up at Smith’s and wanted to use it up, it was delicious but next time I will use the tomato sauce/salsa combo**

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1 15 oz Container of light or fat-free ricotta cheese
1 Large egg
1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped + additional for garnish
2 cups grated cheese (I used Monterrey Jack and a Mexican blend)
1 Large red pepper, chopped

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Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Using a mandolin, slice the zucchini into thin slices, about 1/8 inch thick. Lay them out flat onto 2 cookie sheets and sprinkle with 1 Tbsp salt. I overlapped the slices so that they would all fit, they cooked just fine this way.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes, until just lightly beginning to brown, to get all the moisture out.

While the zucchini cooks, heat the olive oil over medium/high heat in the large pan. Add in the ground turkey, diced onion, diced garlic, taco seasoning. Cook until the onion is soft and the turkey is browned.

Once the zucchini is cooked, transfer them to a long piece of paper towel, cover with another piece of paper towel, and gently press out as much excess moisture as you can. Set aside. You don’t have to do this step but if you don’t your lasagna might end up a little watery from the water that seeps out of the zucchini.

In a medium bowl, stir together the tomato sauce and salsa.

In a separate, medium bowl, use a fork to beat together the ricotta cheese, egg and a pinch of pepper. Set aside.

Now the fun part, putting it all together:

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Spray a 9×13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Start by pouring half the sauce mixture on the bottom, spread it out evenly, and then half the turkey. Layer half the zucchini noodles in a single layer, lightly overlapping them, followed by half the ricotta mixture. Carefully spread out the ricotta mixture, it’s a little tricky but you can do it! Sprinkle half the cilantro over and then finish with half the grated cheese.

Repeat the layers once more, except add the chopped pepper on top of the last layer of grated cheese.

Bake, covered, for 35 minutes. Uncover and bake for another 10-15 until everything is bubbly! Let it sit for about 5 minutes and then cut out a big huge piece and enjoy every single bite of it. It is delicious, you will want more!

If you prep the ingredients earlier in the day or the day before and they are cold, you will want to add 10-15 minutes on to the bake time.

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#Itsgonnabeokay

Sorry, not sorry, for all the music lately. But I am a music person. Music just speaks to my soul.

I can’t sit still when I hear music. My mom said as a little kid we would be in the grocery store and I would be dancing up and down all the aisles. I took dance for a lot of years and between that and playing the piano, I just have music in my soul. Olivia is the same way. This little girl is a mover and a shaker and can’t sit still when music is on. She has different dances for different styles of music and it is adorable.

But back to me. I love music because it fits any mood. There is so much good music out there and sometimes it just speaks to me. It sometimes is the perfect way to explain how I may be feeling. Sometimes it puts me in my place and tells me to snap out of it! Other times it motivates me. It gets that fire burning in me to want to make a change. And tonight this song just made me feel better about life. I hope it does for you too…because like they said, “This Is Exactly What You Need to Hear Today”.

Just Move!

As you know my workouts have changed a lot since Olivia came to our family. A. LOT. Sometimes I feel bad after a workout, I know dumb right? I worked out therefore I should be happy, not feel bad. But sometimes I think that because I am not dripping sweat and exhausted from an intense workout that it means it did nothing for my body. I know this isn’t true. I know that thinking is SO so so wrong! Yet I still find myself doing it all the time. I have tried to focus a lot more on listening to my body and knowing what it needs.

Olivia was sick the last week and I think I caught a minor version of her cold. I wasn’t feeling awful but not absolutely great. And I was tired from taking care of her and accomplishing everything else that was on my plate. There was a night where I was so completely exhausted when she went to bed but thought, crap, I need to workout. And then I thought no, what my body needs tonight is to just relax and recover. So I let myself curl up on the couch and watch a show and then I went to bed early. I felt better in the morning because of it! There were a couple of days where instead of doing some crazy cardio workout I just did some yoga instead. My body felt better because of it. I wasn’t dripping sweat but I felt good.

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So my point is, do whatever it is that you want to do or love to do or try something new. But just do something! Get up and move! Whether it’s a lap around your neighborhood or weeding your flower beds, mowing your lawn or a kick butt Jillian Michael’s workout. Just move! Your body will thank you for it and regardless of what it was, you will feel better because of it.

And most importantly, don’t forget to listen to your body. Cut it some slack when it is exhausted and make sure to give it a break when it is telling you it needs one. It will work better for you because of it!

 

Will It Always Be A Fight?

I have been feeling pretty defeated today. I feel like nothing is going right. My little girl has had a cold for a few days and just wants to cry all day long. I feel so bad for her and am doing everything I possibly can to make her feel better but not much helps. She was SO tired so I put her down for a nap and she should have gone right to sleep…yet she is still in there awake an hour later. I mentally just can’t get her up and deal with a sick baby who has been awake from nap one since 9:45 this morning and try to keep her happy till bedtime.

Then I found out that wordpress hasn’t been posting any of my posts to Facebook. How nice of them. I think that problem is fixed now.

I have written previously about all of the major changes in my life over the past 2.5 years. Change is hard and I often struggle with it and these past 2+ weeks have been so full of change. Good change but it is still hard. We shopped for and bought a house. We left our apartment and our ward and lots of friends there. Rob and I both struggle to make friends and I felt like I was just starting to get some good ones and it was hard to leave them. We are trying to get settled in our new house and new surroundings and new ward and it is all great, but still hard. Rob moved warehouses with Costco and he is closer to home but still a change to get used to. I started working from home as a consultant for Usborne books and things started out great for me, I was able to contribute a tiny bit to our income and that was great. But the last 6 weeks have been rough and I feel like I am trying so hard to book parties to help my family out but just getting a bunch of no’s. I was so excited to find something to do from home to help my family but have been getting a little discouraged.

Usually it’s my eating that suffers. I haven’t been happy with my eating choices, which really weren’t all that bad, just a little worse than I usually do. I think I have been stress and emotional eating a little more than normal. So that makes me not happy with myself. I started thinking, will this ever get easier? Why does life seriously have to be so challenging sometimes? I have so many friends and family members that are dealing with hard things and I sometimes wonder if any of us will catch a break?

So I forced myself to think of good things today. I have a beautiful daughter who is growing and learning and is my pride and joy. I have a healthy body that may not look exactly like I want it to but it is healthy and for the most part let’s me do what I want. I have a great husband that works SO hard to provide for us and because of that we were able to buy a little house to make our home. I have what I need. I have an amazing family and married in to an incredible one and have so many people to love and be loved by. I live in a beautiful area and can go on walks every morning alongside fields and away from the busyness of the city and that is heaven to me. I realized I am so so lucky. And I am working on changing my thinking and finding something good in every hard thing or change that comes my way.

It’s so easy to get drug down, I feel like it’s harder to stay positive and that just isn’t fair sometimes. But I am going to keep working at it. If life is going to have it’s challenges, and I know it will, then why not go into those with a happy attitude? Why not keep fighting to be where I want to. It’s a process and I have come so far so why would I want to give up now? And I am going to work really hard to just let things go, all of the things from my past that I have help on to. All of the negativity in my brain and the self doubt I am just letting it go. I am not waiting for the new year, I am making those resolutions now!

I was trying everything to keep Olivia happy this afternoon and I had the though to put on music. This little girl was born with music in her soul and she is ALWAYS dancing and it is adorable. I think she is like me and music just speaks to her. Music can always lift my spirits. So I sat with her on my lap in front of the computer and turned on the Piano Guys. And the first song on the list was a mashup of Amazing Grace and Fight Song. Super weird combination I thought the first time I saw it but read at the end about why they chose those two songs, makes so much sense. Olivia sat on my lap, with a smile and danced and in that moment I was so grateful and the song just spoke to me and I cried. I can keep fighting.

And I know it is probably super cliche put seriously just let it go. That is what I am working on. This song popped up next and I decided these two songs will be my theme songs for the next little while! Ever have a song that just speaks to you? I definitely do…here is to great changes and more positivity!

Pretty Happy

I am not usually the person that goes to the section in the library where there are diet books or how to eat healthy books or the “I am a celebrity and can afford personal trainers and people to cook every meal so I am super healthy and have all the secrets” books. I hate them. Hate. Them. I feel like they are so far out there, aren’t realistic at all and no normal human being could do them AND keep it up for the rest of the week let alone the rest of their life. Don’t hate me if you love reading that stuff but I just don’t like it. I think they just over complicate things and things really don’t have to be complicated.

I was at the library and looking at cookbooks and wandered down the next aisle and a book title grabbed me. Pretty Happy and then I saw it was Kate Hudson’s book  and my first thought was oh geez. But for some reason I picked it up. The tagline is “healthy ways to love your body”. And standing there in the Orem library that spoke to me. Because right now, honestly, I am struggling. My body is way softer than it used to be and that bothers me. I just feel frumpy and unkempt and like I don’t have it together at all. And I really want to get to where I love my body so I picked it up and looked in it. One of the first pages says:

Being body smart means connecting to and honoring your body–where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It means being truly honest with yourself and acknowledging both your strengths and those parts of yourself that can get you into trouble. When you start from this place of acceptance, you set yourself up for true success.

So don’t take this as an endorsement because I am not far into the book…moving through a kind in my reading time…but I am going to read it. Or least most of it. Or skim parts, we will see what happens. Don’t forget I do have an almost 16 month old and reading time doesn’t happen often unless it’s kids books! If that quote intrigues any of you then get a copy of the book and read along with me, I would love to have people to discuss it with! I will share some thoughts or insights I get on here and am hoping this will help me come with a game plan to love my body! Olivia is down for the night…better start reading…

Food Storage

One of my greatest weapons in helping me to eat healthy and feed my family healthy food is to have food storage. Pretty simple huh? I grew up in a home where food storage was important and that is something I have carried with me.

I always had food storage in college even if it was a smaller version of a food storage. A good number of my roommates would run out of food in the middle of the week and live off fast food until they got around to going to the store again and that was always SO weird to me! I always had food I could whip up, even if it was just a PB&J. I just couldn’t (and still can’t) fathom running out of food. I rarely ate out because I always had stuff at home and it just didn’t make sense to me to spend money to eat out when I had plenty right in my house.

Once I was married and didn’t have to share the space with roommates it became even more important to me to have a food storage. In our apartment, the spare bedroom became the “storage room”. We put up shelves and stored our food storage there. It has kept us many many nights from going out to eat. And it also makes me feel good knowing that if something were to happen that we would be ok, we wouldn’t go hungry.

In our new house I have shelves in the garage and a pantry! I am so excited to finally have a pantry and have the food closer to where I cook! I had a lot of fun last night while Rob worked late unpacking all our canned food and organizing things. I know…I am a nerd…

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So these are my reasons why you should have food storage and some reasons on how to build it up easily:

Saves you money. You are less likely to go out to eat when you have a good supply of things at home that you can throw together.

Watch for case lot sales. Most stores here in Utah have them at least twice a year. Whenever I get those adds in the mail I look at what we have, what we are running low on and make a shopping list. I always have a case of diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, assorted beans, refried beans, mandarin oranges, green chiles and green beans. I also will stock up on pasta, olives, Progresso soups, chili, canned peaches…whatever else is a good deal but I don’t want an entire case of. Buying a case may seem like a lot at first but you save a lot buying it that way!

You will eat out less. Most people end up eating out because there is no food at their house. If you have things that enable you to throw meals together quickly you are less likely to go grab fast food. Saves you SO much money in the long run but just staying home for dinner!

You eat less. Portions in restaurants are WAY bigger than you should be or need to be eating. Yes I know sometimes it’s fun to indulge a little, I do it too, but if you are always eating out the odds are that you are always eating way too much food.

You are trying to be healthy and working out and those meals that you eat at home are going to be much healthier than anything you would grab in the drive through! Don’t undo all of your hard work by eating greasy food every night. Sometimes it’s ok, just not all the time.

When you have unexpected guests you have the resources to throw together meals at any given time. This always seems to happen to me on a Sunday so I am extra grateful to have the ability to make something!

Start small, you don’t have to go and drop a ton of money on a truckload of food but start stocking up. We set aside a little money each month for our food storage so that when the case lot sales come around we are able to stock up because we already have the money set aside for it. You won’t be sad if you start, I promise!

My “Mom” Workouts

As I have told you before, my workouts changed drastically after having a baby. I had high hopes of getting to Spin class at least 3 times a week before I had Olivia but then reality set in. Sleepless nights found me not being able to get up at 4:30 a.m. to go to the gym like I had been doing so I had to find something else.

YouTube is great for SO many things and workouts are one of those things. You don’t have to purchase expensive DVDs, you can find just about anything you could ever want for a workout right on your computer. I have taken a few Barre classes and loved them so I started out looking for that. My newly soft and squishy body needed something not too extreme. I stumbled upon JessicaSmithTV and fell in love from the get go. She has so many great barre workouts that range from all levels of ability to all time ranges. If I only have 10 minutes, there is something for me. And if I am super ambitious and want to get an hour workout in (because I can’t sleep) then she has those for me too! And everything in between…

I had been doing the same couple of workouts and then one day decided to look at her YouTube channel. There are SO many workouts, I couldn’t believe it. Whether I want to walk, do Zumba, lift some weights or try a HIT workout there were videos and videos for some many other things! So if you are looking for something new to shake up your routine, try out some of her stuff. I think you will be like me and love it! And if you need suggestions on any specific workouts to try out just let me know, I would be happy to recommend some!

And know, Jessica Smith doesn’t have a clue who I am. I am just a fan and love her workouts…but if she did know me I think we would be great friends! 😉