Healthy Meal Ideas for the Week

If you’re like me, you spend a part of your weekends meal prepping and grocery shopping.  On Saturday and Sunday mornings you can usually find me searching the internet and other health blogs for some new meal ideas to keep things fresh and different. Here’s a few super healthy, and mostly easy, ideas for your weekly meals!

Monday:  Lemon Artichoke Salmon with steamed asparagus

IMG_0448Directions: Marinate the salmon in fresh lemon juice, fresh garlic, marinated quartered artichokes, a little bit of olive oil, and white wine vinegar.  Bake it in the oven in the marinade in a baking dish at 450 for about 12-15 minutes.

Tuesday: Spaghetti squash in a meat sauce with zucchini

IMG_0383Directions: Bake spaghetti squash in oven at 450 for about 30 minutes, give or take depending on the size of the squash. Squash is done when you’re able to easily take out the squash in strands with a fork.  For the sauce, combine canned crushed tomatoes, with already cooked ground turkey, and sautéed zucchini with fresh garlic, basil and oregono.

Wednesday: Turkey burgers in lettuce wraps and sweet potato fries


IMG_0381Directions:  I bought my turkey burgers pre-made and cooked them on the stove top, wrapped them in iceberg lettuce with sliced tomatoes, salt-free ketchup and mustard.  For the sweet potato fries, I cut the potatoes into french fry shapes, coated them with coconut oil by shaking them in a ziplock with the oil.  I baked them in the oven at 425 degrees for about 25-30 minutes.

Thursday: Crock Pot Shredded Chicken Chili — this one is super easy and great for a long, rushed day when you’re too tired to cook or don’t have much time to cook.

IMG_0366IMG_0374Directions: Boil chicken breasts in water.  Oncefully cooked, take them out and shred them on a cutting board.  Then combine chicken broth, a jar of black bean and corn salsa, and a santa fe veggie mix (or something similar) into the crock pot. Cook on low for about four to five hours.

Friday: Buffalo Chicken Meatloaf with Cauliflower mash and a side spinach salad IMG_0342Directions:

Meatloaf – combine 1 lb of ground chicken with chopped celery, onion, and carrot, a low sodium buffalo sauce, one egg, and 1/4 cup oat flour (just grind/blend whole oats if you don’t have oat flour), and bleu cheese or to stay on  the lighter side, a Laughing Cow cheese wedge.

Cauliflower mash – Blend or food process steamed cauliflower with a little bit of milk of your choice and some parmesan cheese, salt, pepper, and chives.

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All-In-One Leg and Cardio Blast

Hello!  I have a new workout for you guys today!  If you can’t decide whether to love me or hate me after reading those words.  Hate me now, love me later.  It sucks, but you’ll be glad when it’s done and you’ll feel like you got a worthwhile workout in!

I went to the gym on leg day last week crunched for time.  I had a little less than one hour before I had to be in the shower and off to work.  I always strive to get in around a half hour of cardio in addition to my strength training.  I typically do cardio first and strength after.  Since I was so tight on time, I combined my cardio and strength into one workout.

I did the stairmill at an INTENSE level for 90 seconds between each exercise to really accelerate the heart rate.  I’m talking around 90% of your max heartrate. Those last 15 seconds should be brutal!  I also did some plyometrics in there to get my heart rate up.  Overall I also just kept moving from exercise to exercise.  Any rest I had between sets, I kept myself moving in someway.  I was never still.

The payoff for a nonstop, crazy hard workout…where you can constantly feel your heart beating through your chest, is that the amount of time you need to be doing that is not that long.  The goal is to be the most effective in what little amount of time you have.

Alright…enough babbling….onto the workout!  Please please please use my tips and advice stated above about really giving 150% effort on everything.  It’s the only way you’ll make effective use of your time in the gym!

Any questions on anything in the workout, feel free to comment!

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Is it possible to think yourself thin??

Happy Monday everyone!  How was your weekend?  Mine was good and pretty relaxing, since my Thursday night got a little crazy – more to come on that later, maybe.  Today I am actually going to be sharing a post that I had to write for a biological psychology class of mine.  Much more of an introduction isn’t really necessary so here it is! Hope you guys like it :)

Think about any weight loss advice you have ever heard. Eat less, move more. Calories in, calories out, right? A study done by Crum, Corbin, Brownell and Salovey (Crum, Corbin, Brownell & Salovey, 2011) shows it may not be that simple. There could be another key player in this seemingly simple equation, and that player is your mindset.

But first, let me explain a little background information on hunger and the body’s response to it. Ghrelin, a hunger hormone, is a major component of this study. When the stomach is empty, it releases Ghrelin.  Ghrelin travels through the blood stream into the brain. In the brain, ghrelin communicates with the hypothalamus and the brain’s pleasure areas (Kyle, 2014). Ghrelin is responsible for initiating the feeling of hunger and, therefore, eating.   Ghrelin is indicative of a lack of energy (Crum et al., 2011).   Ghrelin also slows metabolism. This goes back to evolutionary times when people did not know when their next meal would be coming since they constantly migrated and food could be scarce. They needed to conserve what energy they did have until they found food again.

Leptin is another hunger hormone that does the opposite of Ghrelin. Once food enters the stomach and the body has energy, leptin is released and travels to the brain to inhibit eating. Leptin will also speed up metabolism to start breaking down all the calories the body has just consumed (Kyle, 2014).

In the study, Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response, the researchers discover that our belief of what we have consumed factors into our biological response to that food. In the study by Crum et al., they had forty-six participants. The researchers had all participants drink a 380-calorie milkshake and told them it was an “indulgent” 620-calorie milkshake.


Figure 1: The nutrition label the participants saw for the believed indulgent 620-calorie milkshake. Source: Crum et al., (2011).

The researchers measured the level of Ghrelin in the blood at three different points throughout – once before the study began to get a baseline measure, again after reading the fake nutrition label, and one last time after participants consumed the milkshake. A week later, they had participants drink the same 380-calorie milkshake, but this time told them it was a “sensible” 140-calorie milkshake.


Figure 2: The nutrition label the participants saw for what they believed to be the sensible 140-calorie milkshake. Source: Crum et al., (2011).

Again, researchers measured the levels of ghrelin at the same three points. Crum et al. found that there were higher levels of ghrelin in the participants after consuming what they believed to be the “indulgent” 620-calorie milkshake than after consuming what they believed to be the “sensible” 140-calorie milkshake. Below is a video from National Public Radio (2014) that reiterates the explanation of the study.

In essence, we have some control over our metabolism and feelings of hunger. Perhaps it is not just as simple as the age-old equation of calories in must equal calories out.   Rather, this is a perfect example of a mind-body connection. Our bodies are a lot more complex than we think. We can basically trick our bodies into thinking we have eaten more or less than what we actually have eaten.

Not only does thinking we ate a lower calorie or lower fat food make us feel less satiated after consumption, but it also slows down the metabolism. A slower metabolism means a slower burning of the just consumed calories.  I don’t think anyone wants a slower metabolism.

Think about all those foods that are labeled low-fat, non-fat, low-calorie, light or diet. Those labels may actually be more detrimental to our health than helpful (Geersten, 2014). According to the previously discussed study, Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response, if we think we are consuming fewer calories, we are likely to be left with a feeling of unsatiety, and end up eating more of that food. When eating, we need to understand that not only do our stomachs have to be left feeling full, but our minds do as well.

In the study, the participants never saw the real nutrition facts before consuming. This is not necessarily applicable to the real world. We do not have someone putting fake nutrition facts on all of our foods. Outside of this study, are we still able to trick ourselves? If we look at a nutrition label and see the true nutrition facts, is it possible for us to think a food is more filling than what it actually is? Will we still see a lesser amount of ghrelin in the blood post-consumption than we would if we believed in the actual nutrition facts. Vice versa, is it possible for us to trick ourselves into thinking a food is less filling than what it actually is, and see a higher amount of ghrelin in the blood post-consumption than we would if we believed the actual nutrition label.

This study is an excellent example of the mind-body connection.  Our bodies are programmed to ensure our survival with hormones that excrete to initiate the feelings of hunger and feelings of satiation. Stomach is empty? Okay, ghrelin is released, and appetite kicks in, we eat, filling up our stomachs.  These hormones – grehlin and leptin – also work to adjust our metabolism, to help us store fat for survival. Yet, in spite of the innate mechanics of our bodies, our brain can convince us that we need to eat more than what is really necessary. The brain is a powerful and influential control center – and we can use it to manage our intake of food if we remain conscious of the connection between mind and body. With will power, we should be able to adjust our mind to work in tandem with the body’s hormonal gears.


Crum, A. J., Corbin, W. R., Brownell, K. D., & Salovey, P. (2011). Mind over milkshakes: Mindsets, not just nutrients, determine ghrelin response. Health Psychology30(4), 424-429. doi:10.1037/a0023467

Geersten, L. (2014, May 12). “Mind over Milkshakes” – Think yourself full!  Retrieved from

Kyle, Ted. (2014). Ghrelin: The “Go” hormone. Retrieved from

NPR. (2014, April 14).  A milkshake experiment. [Video file]. Retrieved from

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