If you answered yes, you need to make this! It is sooo good! This really helps get over the craving for some yummy fried chicken!

Southern "Fried" Chicken Fingers with Mashed Sweet Potatoes

1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/2" chunks
3 large garlic cloves
5 Tbsp ground flax-seed
1 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg white
1 Tbsp water
3/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 Tbsp white whole wheat flour
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 Tbsp nonfat dry milk
1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp hot-pepper sauce + extra to taste
2 scallions, sliced

1. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees. Line baking sheet with foil, coat with cooking spray
2. Place potatoes and garlic in 8" round or square microwaveable baking dish. cover with plastic wrap, leaving a small vent. Microwave on high, tossing mixture occasionally without removing plastic, 10 minutes, or until very soft. Remove and set aside, covered.
3. Combine flax-seed, poultry seasoning, and 1/3 teatpoon of the salt on sheet of waxed paper. Mix with fingers. Beat egg white and water with fork in the bowl.
4. Lay tenders in single layer on work surface. Place flour in small, fine sieve and sprinkle evenly and lightly on both sides of tenders. Dip the tender into egg white mixture, shaking off excess. Dip into flax mixture to coat evenly. Place on prepared baking sheet. press any remaining flax-seed mixture evenly on top of chicken. Drizzle with oil. Bake 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink and juices run clear.
5. Remove plastic from potatoes. Add dry milk, nutmeg, and 1/2 teaspoon of the hot=pepper sauce, and remaining salt. Smash potatoes and garlic with potato masher to reach desired smoothness. (For softer mash, mix in 1 to 2 Tbsp hot water.) Sprinkle chicken and potatoes with scallions. Serve with extra hot-pepper sauce.
There are so many blogs out there now a days. You could find a blog on how to tell if a dog sees in black and white or color I'm sure. Do you follow any blogs? Well I hope you do since I'm kinda hoping you are reading mine right now!

There are tons of blogs that help you find exercises, how to decorate your home, how to cook clean foods, how to keep care of your kids and how to be a good wife and mother. My point being, there are tons of blogs that offer you what you want to hear. But take caution, some of those blogs might be full of ... well you know. Especially when it comes to your health and exercises. Please read the blog with a grain of salt, unless it comes from an educated person and what they are saying makes sense! You don't want to follow a persons blog that talks about having to only do cardio and only eat eggs on Tuesdays because of the rotation of the sun and the gravitational pull :) ...

In order to be healthy, you have to live a healthy life. A healthy life consists of a balanced diet (YES balanced! Not giving up one type of food), incorporating flexibility, strength and cardiovascular fitness into your life and having these things be a way of life, not a 2 week fix to get you into a small size for bikini season only to gain it back when you drink some water.

This thing you are doing, isnt just for kicks and giggles. It isnt just so you can fit into a swimsuit and look decent while at the beach. This ... is ... your ... life! Your health, the thing that is going to keep you around so you can still play with your grandchildren instead of being stuck in a rocking chair and walking with a cane! Okay, soap box moment over! So, lets take a look at a few things you should look for and some to look away from ...

1. Do not buy into the hype if the person blogging has nothing to do with fitness/nutrition etc except that they have lost tons of weight. Just because they lost weight doesn't mean they know what they are talking about. And different things work for different people. Fitness pros can usually take things into consideration and tell you to do something and it will work. And if it doesn't, they can reevaluate things and get you on the path to your success, not Jim Bob's or Sue Ellen's success!

2. Look for credibility. Usually all blogs have an "about me" section. Well what did they go to college for? What certifications do they have? Do they have an interest in what they are talking about? (i.e. they are promoting a supplement that they created and are making money off of?)

3. If it seems incredible how someone lost so much weight in such a short amount of time ... just too good to be true? Guess what ... its not true! Oh just cut out all red foods and you will lose fat like immediately! Even if they give you good sounding reasoning behind it (The chemical in red foods causes a reaction to your fat cells which make them hold onto everything more) ... don't believe it!

If you have a question about something you see on a blog, ask someone with credentials to explain it to you! If you have a problem with something you see on my blog ... ask me, I'd be more than happy to explain it to you and why being fit and healthy is not an immediate thing you can get in two weeks :) slow and steady wins the race .... slow to go my friends!! Love ya'll and peace out!

Happy Fathers day to all the daddy's out there, I hope all you fit and hot mommas made it special for those daddy's out there ... it takes a real man to be a daddy :)
The last blog I wrote I talked about how to get started with your exercise regime. Although exercise is very important to a healthy lifestyle and becoming the fit mom you (we all) want to be ... there is another equally, perhaps more important part to the equation. It is ... are you ready? Healthy eating! I know we all hate to think about it, but lets take a look at this aspect and see where it takes us?

First of all ... what do you consider "healthy"? Society, mainstream, the world .. whatever you want to call it, considers healthy staying in a certain calorie range and eating from the food pyramid, right? We have all thought, for the longest time, that as long as we didnt go over 1500 or so calories a day, we should be good and lose weight ... oh but we would have to also exercise a ton seeing that we have more calories OUT than we have coming IN right? What if I told you ... which many people know already, that you didn'
t have to count calories? That as long as you eat what your body requires that you can just eat?

Living the lifestyle of eating clean has become so many peoples "saving grace" when it comes to the whole diet cycle (You know the one, you count calories, lose a few pounds then stop and you gain it all back, or you count and count calories but whatever you do it never seems to help you lose weight?).  The most important principles of clean eating are:

 - Eat every 2.5 to 3 hours
 - Eliminate all refined foods including white flour, sugar and rice
 - Shop the outer perimeter of the super market, staying away from the processed foods in the center aisles.
 - Load up on Veggies and lean meats and throw in a splash of fruit and whole grains.
 - Drink only water and non decaff drinks.

Following these "simple" rules will make a complete difference in your health. An added benefit is that you could lose a few pounds too :)
You know, sometimes the hardest part of any exercise program is getting started! Do you ever feel like if someone just carries you to the gym and puts you on the machine, then you would workout? :) Starting does not have to be hard, actually its quite simple. Whether you are starting at the gym, outside or at home ... There are many ways to get your workout going.

First things first, you must make the resolution to ... GO! Thats right, just go! If you are going to workout at home, as Nike always says, "Just do it!" After you resolve to do it here are a few basics for either the gym or at home:

Gym Workouts
*First suggestion is to talk with the front desk there. Most gyms offer an orientation for free which is basically a one time personal training session. They can help you get started and comfortable with the basics and are always there to answer any questions you have.

Warm up-
You can do this on any type of machine; treadmill, bike, elliptical. If you walked to the gym, you can count that as your warm up. Now I'm not talking about if you walked from your car to the gym, that doesnt count! If you dont want to use a machine, go in the gym and run a bit, do a few sprints, jumping jacks or something that gets your blood pumping and your muscles all nice and warm!

Workout -
Strength Training:Your best bet if you are completely new to working out is to follow their weight machine circuit. Its all the machines to work all of your muscles all in neat rows in order of how you are supposed to do them. Each machine tells you exactly how to perform each exercise. If you do these, opt for lighter weight and minimal weights to begin with until you are confident in performing the exercise properly. Then you can up the weight and reps. Always take it easy the first day, you dont want to get too sore then not go back again.
Your cardio exercise can be the same as your warm up, just perform it for 20 minutes if you are just starting out. If you have been exercising, perform your cardio for about 45 minutes or so with intervals worked in. This will help your aerobic and anaerobic systems get more conditioned.

Cool Down - 
Please, please, please perform a cool down after you have exercised. This is usually done after your cardio session and gives your heart a chance to slow down gradually instead of a sudden stop, which when it comes to your heart, your really dont want! This can be the same as the warm up, the same as the actual cardio you just performed, just at a slower speed and intensity. Gradually slow down and let your heart rate get back to normal (usually below 120 is a good indicator that you can stop the cool down). 
Flexibility: Every workout session that you do should include flexibility. One of the best things you can do now for your body later is stretch. It will help with your ease of movement when you get older if you have a strong base in flexibility. Make sure to always do this after your cardio sessions, stretching cold muscles will result in a very negative way! Every gym has posters on how to stretch each body part, usually located by the stretching mats or the Stability balls.

At Home Workout
Your at home workout will be very flexible yet to some it can be very difficult. If you find you have enough intrinsic motivation to get up from what you are doing or should be doing (dishes, laundry, etc etc) and workout, then working out at home can be very rewarding! There are so many different workouts you can do and you are not limited to a machine or a treadmill.

Warm up -
Any movement of your body that gets your blood pumping. This can be jumping jacks, jump squats, running in place, high knee raises, step ups, and really the list can go on and on, use your imagination and later I will try to provide some pictures of different exercises you can do! Perform these exercises for again, 3-5 minutes. The goal is to get your heart going, warm up those muscles and tell the rest of your body your about to kick it into high gear!

Workout -
Strength Training: This could actually be one of the simplest things you do at home to increase your health and fitness level. Even if you do no cardio, you can work your strength training in a way that you do it all at once! This is what we are going to do! Are you ready? Because I'm super excited to show you how to kick it into high gear in a short amount of time!
Perform this circuit 1x every other day (3x for a week) for the first few weeks if you are just starting out. Otherwise, do it 3x a week and perform the circuit 2-3 times. Perform each individual exercise for 1 minute a piece, then move on to the next exercise in line.

Split squat*
Side Knee Raises

Cardio needs to be done at an all out pace, this is only for a minute, so kick it into high gear girlie! Can be any of the warm up exercises listed above or anything else that gets your heart pumping and YOU moving!
Push-ups can be done girlie style, with hands on a wall or desk, or if your tough enough like a man! :)
Split Squats: Stand with your back to a chair or the sofa, put the top of one foot on the the chair and squat down. Make sure your front knee does not go over your toes, so stand far enough away from the chair that you can do that. Switch feet at 30 seconds. If you do 2 circuits, switch feet on the next circuit so each leg gets 1 minute a piece.

Cool Down -
Even though you are working out at home and not doing a huge long run on the treadmill, you still need to cool down! Your body just had a major workout, your heart got pumped, so let it cool down properly and slowly so you dont do any harm to it!
Flexibility: Okay so your not at a gym reading a poster on how to stretch, but here ya go ... the basics of stretching until I can get pictures up to show you. Sit on the ground with legs out in the shape of a V ... slowly lean to one side, trying to touch your toes. Don't go too deep to cause pain, you want to feel a slight stretch, not like your about to tear a leg off! Now hold that stretch for about 30 seconds and switch to the middle, bringing your hands out as your lean down in between your legs. Again, just enough to feel a slight stretch. Hold for 30 then go to the other side. Stand up and bring one foot behind you, bending at the knee and grab your heel to hold it there. Stretch for 30 seconds and switch legs again. To stretch your chest out, since we just worked it too (!) all you have to do is reach your arms behind you and try to grab your hands. If you cant reach all the way back, just reach as far as you can. You can move slightly in this stretch, going deeper each time you go, but do not move fast in this movement. It must be a slow and controlled movement!

Okay there is your beginner workout! For either the gym or the home, you now have no excuse to NOT go workout! Lets go and lets get started on our Fit Journey, Fit Moms!!
There is one exercise out there, that if you are one of the few that can do it, you are considered an elite, so to speak. That exercise? The Pull-up! Can you do it? Would you like to learn how to train your muscles to perform this elitist's exercise? Check out the exercises below ..

Lets start the basics, in order to perform a pull-up you have to use what mucles? Well your upper, lower and middle back, your whole shoulder area, your biceps, forearms, chest and neck. Not to mention your abs and lower back that help stabilize you as well. So, its pretty much every single upper body muscle group that needs to be worked. So what can you do to enhance your ability to be able to do one?

When doing your upper body workouts, you want to work the largest muscle groups first; chest, lats (back), then the smaller muscles next; biceps, traps, shoulders, abs, lower back. So lets get started (finally right?!).

Perform 3 sets of each exercise 8-12 times
* Bench Press
* Lat Pull Downs (Email me for different exercises if you dont have access to a machine)
* Round Robins (Start with DB out to the front, shoulder height ... bring to side and down, then back up the front and repeat)
* Bicep Curls

Once you get about 3 or 4 weeks in of training, suppliment the lat pull downs with an assisted pull-up machine. After you complete a few more workouts of this, do the negative pull-up ... just getting your chin over the bar. If you cannot support your own body weight for the pull-up just yet, do this: take a bar and place it so that you can hang down from it with your bottom just a few inches off the floor with legs extended. Pull your body up to the bar and repeat (Kind of like reverse bench press). Each time you can perform the allotted sets/reps move the bar up a few more inches until you are supporting your own body weight, then you can move on to a grown up pull up :)

Enjoy and let me know how it goes!
When trying to start eating healthy after a time of just feeding your family convenient, processed foods ... It can be hard to get out of that habit. Once you have made the move, the resolve, to eat healthier, its then hard to get your kids off of that processed, over sugary and convenient foods they are so used to. Here are some tips to getting your kids, and yourself, to eat more healthy.

1. Have regular family meals.
Sitting down as a family will encourage your children to eat what you are eating. It helps to create a very special bond between everyone and when you are eating healthy food it strengthens that bond knowing that you are doing everything you can to give them a good start to their life!

2. Serve a variety of healthy foods and snacks.
There are so many healthy foods and snacks out there, do a little research and look in different cookbooks to find things your children might be interested in. Serve the color of the rainbow in fruits and veggies and make games out of it. There are so many wonderful flavors out there ... Here are just a few
- applesauce with a half or quarter PB sandwich made with whole wheat bread
- apple with PB
- Celery with PB
- Yogurt with granola mixed in
- Banana with PB
- All fruits and veggies

Its so easy to just grab an unhealthy, over processed, over sugary snack ... but is it the best thing for our kids?

3. Be a role model by eating healthy yourself.
Kids imitate you. Eat healthy and your kids will likely eat healthier as well. Dont buy the junk food and have it sit in the house, dont go and get fast food because you dont want to cook. If you show your kids what it looks like to eat healthy, they will too! Be the example you want your children to be!

4. Avoid battles over food.
This one can be tough, but if you dont buy junk food ... or unhealthy food, then it wont be too terrible. If your child wont eat healthy, be the parent ... whichever method works best for you (they sit at the table until they eat it, or they go to bed hungry) then do that method ... dont worry, your children wont starve. But let them know who is boss!

Okay, so here is a more "PC" way of acting ... If your kids want Mac and Cheese ... then make it, homemade! Use whole wheat noodles, skim milk and 1% cheese for the cheese sauce. Try to find butter to use that does not have additives or preservatives in it (Its out there, trust me because I buy it!) Add in chopped up broccoli so they get a veggie in there too. Find different ways of making the foods your kids like! Only healthier!

5. Involve kids in the process.
Kids absolutely love to help their mamas in the kitchen! Get t hem to help you prep, cook and serve the dinner! Ask them what they want to eat, make them feel like they took ownership for dinner and praise them like crazy when they help you! Take the Mac and Cheese ... have them help you stir it, pouring in the ingredients and then putting it on plates (All with adult supervision/help of course!) .. Have them help set the table and feel like they are doing something! It really does work wonders!

Stay tuned and I will add in some kid friendly recipes that they can help you make! Let me know how it goes!!!

Do you get so beyond yourself trying to do things for others that you forget about yourself?

I have recently taken the huge step of finishing my Masters degree. All I needed was my internship and I am finally doing it! Way to go Me! Well, along with "working" full-time, being a full-time "single" mom, and trying to live a healthy life ... something falls to the wayside. Unfortunately its usually the last thing isn't it? I am so tired that I dont wake up on time. That one little act, affects so many different parts of my day. I don't have the time to do my daily devotionals, I don't get a chance to eat breakfast because I'm running behind, I don't have time to pack my lunch or healthy stuff and if that happens, I end up eating poorly.

I am also taking my personal trainers certification exam on the 10th of April and am studying for that right now. That has to wait until my daughter is in bed, which is usually when I would lay out our clothes for the next day and pack my lunch. Can you see where it all gets put to the side because of that one "little" act of hitting the snooze too many times! Its just crazy.

I need to change it. So tonight, this weekend ... I am setting up a schedule of how I would like my days to go. What is best for me and my daughter right now. When to get up, what to do in the morning and what to do after work etc. I'm going to make a plan of when to pack my lunch, what to eat for my meals (so I can continue to eat clean and feel healthy and not resort to unhealthy options), when to clean and what to clean on what days. Seems like its a little rigid? Too spelled out, no room for error? EXACTLY ... I'm not doing it and I'm letting a whole bunch of error seep in ... Not anymore! It all Changes this weekend!

Want to join me in the adventure?