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Monday, September 23, 2013

See You at the Top

My friend Marci shared this today, and I HAD to pass it along!  My new motto for the next 90 Days is, "See You at the TOP!"  Who wants to join me?

"How do we get to the view on top? What a great reminder on my trail run today....


I took off to get in nature & go for mtn run to "fill up" for me. As I was running, I came upon this couple who had stopped basically at the base of where the mtn went UP & got really steep.
They said... Is this the trail?
Looks like it I replied...
But... It's so steep, they cautioned as I continued.
That Just means there is an even greater view on top I said... And as long as u stay on the trail moving frwd, u will get there.
Sadly, they decided to turn back... The view ahead appearing too steep
The fear of Failure & the perception they were looking at it through that it would be "too HARD".
What they didn't know is that life is not about PERFECTION but PROGRESSION.
It is only as HARD or as EASY as we want to choose it to be.
If they chose to not look up to the top of the mtn, & instead focused on one step at a time... that their journey is their perfect process of growth, & that it is ok to even stop on the steep hill experience of life to breathe, take a mini break & look for the beauty, gifts & what they r learning in that exact spot on in their journey...
What if they dropped all the attachments to what we "think" it has to look like to be a success & knew instead it got to look like whatever they wanted, & success for each of us can b what we want it to be that is perfect for us vs someone else.... Then they might've realized focusing on just one step at a time..."inch by inch, life is a cinch" that through progression they would eventually reach THE SUMMIT, the PEAK offering the GRAND VIEW of life & getting to the RESULTS they wanted.

The journey was beautiful . . . Each & every step, but because my focus was just 1 step at a time . . . I was blessed to see the gorgeous changing colors of the leaves & THE VIEW FROM THE TOP."

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Love Box

My good friend posted this thought, "Marriage Box" on her wall this morning.  And it was such a perfect lead into some of the thoughts and feelings that have been flooding my heart these last few days that I felt it was inspired and time to try to put them on paper.

First - read it. Important foundation.  Did you do it?  So good, isn't it?

This led me to think about my relationship with my husband, which naturally led me to think about my relationship with my children. 

My son is 3 months old.  When I look at his face, stare into his beautiful deep-blue eyes, do you know what I see?  Acceptance.  Pure love. Love that transcends anything and everything, that buoys you up through any hard day, any trial, any struggle, any tears that may be falling from my eyes and heartache that may be happening in my world.  There is no judgment in his eyes.  I see the way he looks at me and feel cherished.  I feel adored.  I feel like I am the most beautiful person in the world and there is nothing he would rather be doing than staring lovingly into my eyes and laying happily in my arms.

After shedding a few thousand tears as these thoughts washed over me, I realized that those things are EXACTLY what he gets when he stares into MY eyes, when he looks into MY face, when he feels the warmth of MY smile.  Because babies only know what they see in front of them, only know what they have been given.  So I must be giving him what he is giving me, teaching him what he is teaching me. He must look into my eyes and see my love for him, my acceptance of him, my adoration for him, that he is the most precious, beautiful thing in the world to me.

I then looked at my three other children, some days while they were fighting, yelling, ignoring me, making huge messes; and some days while they were playing peacefully together, making me smile with every sentence, pulling my heartstrings with their love, hugs, kisses, "I love you, Mommy" actions and words.  And I was appalled to think that there are moments when they DON'T get from me what my baby does.  Times when they DON'T look in my eyes/face and see and feel all of those beautiful things that he does.  Moments when they receive from me the exact thing I am frustrated with receiving from them.

Does that resonate with you at all?  I know Moms are human, and we CANNOT be "on" all the time!  We are going to make bad choices right along with our children.  We are learning motherhood in WAVES instead of trickles. 

But motherhood is also a box.  Our relationships with our children are also a box.  If we are doing it right, we are putting love in our relationships with our children.  We are putting more love in our children than frustration.  We are putting communication, forgiveness, prayer, priority.  They learn it all first-hand through us.  And because we aren't perfect, they learn forgiveness, humility, persistence, dedication, repentance.  They also learn the art and habits of giving, loving, serving, praising, keeping the box full by constantly contributing TO it. 

On the other hand, if they learn to take more than they put in, they are also learning to live in an empty box. 

There are a lot of empty boxes in this world.  But I truly believe that if our children leave our homes with full boxes, leave full boxes behind them in the relationships they had while at home, our children will create a world of FULL boxes.  They won't know how to do any different!

Truly the hand that rocks the cradle IS the hand that rules the world.  And parenthood is the key that will give this world a lot more FULL boxes!

So that, my friends, is my Deliberate Mom goal for this week.  Fill my children's boxes to overflowing.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Week One

This has been such an awesome week!  I feel really good.  Really. Really. Really. Good.  I want everyone to feel this good!!!  I have been living REALLY healthy -- for the last year, it has been a lifestyle.  We don't have junk in our house.  The most processed things we eat are homemade spaghetti sauce and bread.  My kids don't have pretzels and crackers and granola bars in our house to snack on.  We got rid of cold cereal. You get the picture!  But still, my baby is three months old, and up until this last week, the scale had only gone down about 2 pounds in three months. Well, this week I'm down 3.4 pounds.  WOW!  And I've never felt better!  And my baby is going through a growth-spurt or something because he has gotten even chunkier this last week! LOL!  My husband just laughs and says, "His face is getting really round!  Look at those cheeks!!!  Hey there my little chunky monkey!"  And. he. is. ;-)

So - what did our first week's challenge rules consist of?
1) 4-5 Servings of Fruit and Vegetables every day.
2) No sugar.
3) No carbs (other than fruit, vegetables, nuts, and beans)
4) Include 2 shakes a day and 5 meals a day.
5) Get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.
6) Exercise 30 min., 3 days

That's it!  Pretty easy, right?  I know some people will say that "you shouldn't cut out carbs, it isn't healthy for you or your baby."  Well - we didn't!  We just specified what our carb sources were going to consist of for this first week.  The shakes are a perfect balance of carbs, protein, and healthy fats, so I knew I was getting carbs there.  And seriously - that's what I love about doing this week-by-week.  You can tweak it, see how you feel, watch your baby and your milk supply, etc.  Nutritionally, I've never felt better!  Energy-wise, I've never felt better!  And that is SO IMPORTANT if I'm going to keep up with my four little ones.

First $50 safe.  This week, going for $60!

Oh - if you missed what this Challenge is all about, you can read about it here!  Love having you along for this journey!

We Don't Do Yelling

Photo from SheKnows.com
One of my friends recently posted that her little 2-year-old heard her yelling at her son, came in the room covering her ears and said, "No, Mommy!  We no do yelling!"  It was a reminder to her of what she had told those little 2-year-old twins to keep the noise level down in their home.

But for me, it was a game-changer.  See, we've become a little too prone to "yelling" around here.  Though I didn't notice it in myself, I definitely have started to notice it in my children - as they yell angrily at each other to stop, to give it back, to leave them alone, etc.  So yesterday we had a little discussion and talked about our family goal for the week: No yelling!  I explained to my children that, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"  I told the kids that this meant I would correct them when they yell, I would tell them, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"  I also told them there would be days when Mommy would need THEM to remind me, that if I started yelling, they would stop me and remind me that, "In our family, we don't do yelling!  We do communicating!"

I know this isn't going to change thing overnight, but I also know it's a very good first step!

What other family declarations do you have?  How have you helped your children (and yourself) correct a bad behavior before it became a defining habit?

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calling All Shoes - Walk This Way!!!

Do you want to be part of a miracle? Because we are creating one.

My good friend Amanda is trying to adopt to complete their family.  After losing their baby a few years ago and not being able to get pregnant again, their arms are ready to give these children a home -- and you can help raise the money to do it!

From Amanda:
Join us as we collect 40,000 gently used but still wearable shoes THIS MONTH to raise the funds needed for the adoption of two children. We can take ANY type of shoe - boots (we LOVE boots, since they pay us by the pound), flip flops, high heels, tennis shoes, dressy shoes, sports shoes, cleats, anything. For men, women and children. As long as there aren't gaping holes . . . and they match . . . we'll take them! You declutter, we earn much needed adoption money AND the shoes go to third world countries. WIN, WIN and WIN!!!

To find the drop location nearest you (we are in 10 states) and to read our story, see our blog for details: www.lacesforlove.blogspot.com.

All shoes must be gathered by March 31st so we are in the final stretch! WE CAN DO IT!
Help us complete our family. Sole by sole.
Thank you.

Communicating with My Kids

One of my goals this year is to start each day with my "Power Hour" - 20 minutes of meditation, 20 minutes of fitness, 20 minutes to learn something new.  As I thought about what kinds of "learn something new" things I wanted to focus on, I instantly knew that I needed to find a new way to communicate with my head-strong kids NOW so that - when they get older - we have that solid foundation of love, openness, and respect to lead us through the teenage years.

I went to Amazon and found this book - highly recommended and rated: Parent Effectiveness Training: The Proven Program for Raising Responsible Children.  I was looking into How to Listen So Your Kids Will Talk and Talk So Your Kid Will Listen, but this one was in the comments/reviews as more thorough/hands-on, so I decided to start with it and see where it leads.

What are some of your favorite parenting books?  I'd love some suggestions for future Power Hour Learning Topics!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

120 Day Healthy Mama/Healthy Baby Challenge

Now that I've been nursing my babe for almost 3 months and established a great milk supply, I am ready to ditch this postpartum baby body for GOOD!  I just embarked on Monday on my own, personal 120-Day challenge (countdown to my 33rd birthday) and am excited to invite all of you to follow along!  Want to do your own challenge?  Here are my step-by-step suggestions of what I've done to ensure success:

1) Start with a Plan and a Buddy!  
My good friend Camille - who lives in Alaska and I have not seen for YEARS - and I decided we were going to hit this together!  We set up some ground rules for our first 30 Days and each put $50 in the pot!  The catch? It's ALL OR NOTHING!!!  This isn't about the highest score at the end of the day -- this is about being IN IT to WIN IT!  So if we fail to complete even ONE of our "ground rules" even ONE day - we lose ALL $50 to the other person!  Know how we're going to keep it really fun?  We're adding $10 each week to the pot!!!  So after we have our PERFECT first week, we move on to week #2 with $60 at stake - and so on and so forth!!!  When we finish without ANY mess-ups, we not only get to enjoy PERFECT health and fitness, we also get to enjoy a girls' weekend and/or shopping spree to celebrate!

2) Focus on Nutrition! 
This is ESPECIALLY important if you are a nursing momma!  Your baby can't get from you what you don't have to give -- and this first year is SO IMPORTANT for those little ones!  In addition to the prenatals, I am starting each day with a delicious, organic, nutrient-dense, perfectly-balanced meal replacement shake to keep up on the minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and nutrients my body needs but doesn't always get from food!  I mix it with an energizing Orange Electrolyte drink to really boost my energy and focus for the day (tastes like a creamsicle or orange julius and gives me some added Vitamins A, B, and C without any artificial colors, flavors, or sugars).  I am also taking the IsaOmega Supreme (best I've found in purity and quality - and no fish oil burps -- YUCK!) for my and my baby's brain development.  Other than that, though, the FOCUS is on CLEAN eating!  Raw when I can stomach it -- whole foods ALWAYS -- organic when I can afford it! :-)

3) Don't Forget Exercise!
A perfect fitness plan for optimal health includes two things: Cardio and Resistance.
  • For Cardio -- especially if you are like me and took a vacation on fitness for your pregnancy or longer -- I HIGHLY recommend the Couch to 5K Running program!  "But Melinda," you say, "I am not a runner!"  PERFECT!  Cuz this running program is for COUCH POTATOES who want to BE runners! :-)  But, to help with your transition, you might consider adding a supplement to your diet to help with cardiovascular health.  I am following the C25K program up with a Half Marathon Training -- running the Legacy Midnight Run on July 19. (WITH GLOW STICKS -- doesn't that sound FUN?  And really, if you were running 13.1 miles in JULY, wouldn't YOU choose a midnight run, too? I thought so!) "But, Melinda," you say, "my knees won't allow me to run like that!"  Well, that's why I'm taking this amazing joint support supplement to help my body adjust to this extra weight I've dumped on it and still carry me to the finish line!
  • For Resistance -- I just started doing my morning POWER HOUR!  In that POWER HOUR, I do 20 min. of resistance training.  Since I am a busy mom with 4 kids, ages 4 to 3 months, I rarely have the time for a BIG routine!  And if it includes weights right now -- well, I end up spending the entire workout routine struggling with my kids about why I need my weights more than they do!  Can you relate? So thank goodness my friend Sarah introduced me to Tracy Anderson's routines on YouTube! For this first month, I'll be doing her Arms, Legs, Abs - and in 20 minutes, without props, I can do a little of each (even if my kids join me - no fighting over who gets the fun equipment).  
4) Make sure you SLEEP!
Yeah - I know.  The word sleep holds no meaning to the mother of small children.  BUT - I will explain later how IMPORTANT sleep is to your health and why you -- yes, YOU -- absolutely MUST get enough of it every day.  For yourself, your baby, your whole family!  If you need some help getting into a good sleep routine at first, I highly recommend this all-natural, melatonin-based spray - formulated to help even the most untrained sleeper get his/her body back into the routine.  It's non-habit-forming and will help you get healthy, deep sleep (which synthetic sleep support doesn't do - FYI).   Oh - and I heard you say that melatonin doesn't work for you -- yes, I DID hear you!  Well, I have turned non-believers who thought THEY couldn't get enough power from melatonin-based products into believers and helped them get off their prescription drug dependence for sleep. Don't knock it til you try it -- for only $13 a bottle (which could last you up to 3 months), you can't afford not to! ;-)

5) Get Your Water In!
Water.  Pure, clear, undefiled.  The perfect, most refreshing, health-enhancing drink out there.  You need more than you think!  I'll write about that later as well, but for now -- aim to drink 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water. So if you weigh 150 pounds, you need to drink 75 oz. of water (minimum).

6) Two Words: Rest and Relaxation
After you've planned all that physical stuff in to help you get healthy, plan in a little R&R for yourself. Studies have shown that even 15 minutes of some form of meditation reduces inflammation in your body immensely!  So - do yourself a favor and plug in some R&R.  If you don't, you'll be coming back and telling me you can't lose weight (not to mention you are incredibly moody, stressed, and un-focused/unhappy in your life) -- and I'll kindly re-direct you to one source of your problems! :-)

7) It's a Kodak Moment
Take a before picture. Not so you can show the world, but so you'll remember if you get back here after the next baby that you were here before - and it wasn't the end of the world. So you can see how far you've come and not get discouraged if your body stalls and adjusts a few times. So you can remember on the days when you feel like you aren't doing anything right that you ARE!  And - in the end - YES! So you can brag your head off about all your hard work, how far you've come, and that it IS possible to any naysayers in your world (and even inspire others to overcome the naysayers in their worlds -- even themselves -- and embark on their own journey to optimal health). Take your measurements, too - the scale is NOT the predictor or definition of HEALTH!

There you go, friends! Welcome to my 120-Day Healthy Baby/Healthy Mama Challenge!  I'm delighted to have you on board!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Creating a Love Affair - With Yourself!!!

From Voicesofglass.com
I love this from Tiffany Peterson - one of my favorite professional development coaches out there!!!  Today's tip is for YOU, MOM -- Yes, YOU!!!  Trust me!!!  The best thing about DOING these things: when your children leave home, these habits will be natural for them; they won't even have to THINK about it - they'll just expect it for themselves and from the world.  Imagine a world full of children like THAT! I'm smiling just THINKING about it! ;-)

Your self esteem is like your set of fingerprints - they're on everything you touch: your bank account, your relationships, your health, you name it. It has a direct influence to how we show up in life and the results we're creating - or sabotaging.

The good news? You can build your confidence & self esteem like any other muscle to make it stronger and healthier in your life. You also can go to work on you, which in turn will go to work on everything in your life.

Consider this - do you treat yourself like a top priority in your life? Do you cheer yourself on or tear yourself down? Do you put everyone else first and yourself last, or not at all?

Quick Inventory: Where would you rate your current level of self esteem?

Now, ask yourself, what's one thing I can do to improve it? Begin doing it immediately! Part of building great self esteem is trusting ourselves and taking action on what our heart or intuition guides us to do.

This topic is deep and broad and we could literally do a 3 day workshop just on self esteem together. To help you get started on a path to enhancing your self esteem and therefore your life, consider these few insights to support you:

1.    Trust. Self confidence comes from having a deep sense of trust within ourselves. Do you trust yourself? If no, can you forgive yourself and commit to repairing trust within you? Stephen Covey teaches that the fastest way to build trust with ourselves and others is "to make and keep commitments"...whereas the opposite is also true. Every time we make and break commitments, we erode trust. Tighten up your word with yourself so you feel confident that you're in integrity with the boss - you!

2.    Self Care. Do you take time to exercise, get good sleep, pray or meditate - or any other activity that helps your physical and emotional well being? Do you make time for you? If not, begin with 15 minutes per day to start investing in you. This simple practice will add up to a big deal.

3.    Date Yourself. (I loved typing that by the way!) What I call a "Joy List", choose to do at least one thing a week that is just for you - a massage, a game of golf, hiking, baking your favorite treat - whatever brings you joy on any level, free to expensive, that brings you a sense of joy to your life. Ideally you do something daily or multiple times a week, but at least begin with one a week. You are responsible for your happiness - so go create it!

When our BEHAVIOR backs up the BELIEF that we're valuable and deserving, amazing things happen. Affirmations without action are simply "make believe." If your behavior doesn't align with the belief that you're fabulous, worthy, valuable, etc. then you'll struggle to really believe it and live it.

Deliberate Mom Assignment:

Create your own joy list - whether on a note pad, your laptop, or smart phone - begin adding things to it as you go that bring you joy - and then do them! Begin this week with doing at least one thing for yourself that brings you joy.

Whether you start small or go big, make yourself and your self esteem a top priority in your life.  You'll not only feel better, but you'll also attract better results to you.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Secret

photo from cnn,com
"What day is it today?" asked my 4-yr-old daughter as soon as she got out of bed.  "Is it Sunday? Saturday? Thursday?"  She found out it was Friday and leaped for joy as she ran down the stairs to excitedly tell her daddy that it was Friday, the day they were going to do "the secret."

Earlier in the week during prayer, this little girl had excitedly told me that she and Daddy had a secret.  And she told me that she couldn't say what it was and then proceeded to say thank you in her prayer for "the secret."  I cannot express how impressed I was with her for keeping it, too.  Even "I" had NO IDEA what the secret was - nor did I remember it even existed.

So when she woke up ecstatic this morning, I was very curious.  I didn't have to wait long to be told by my excited little girl that she and Daddy were going to make VERY SPECIAL NECKLACES with VERY SPECIAL BEADS today.

Now in all fairness, I woke up this morning with some excitement as well!  All I wanted to do was drive around and look at my list of potential houses to buy in the area.  I had researched them, plotted them out, narrowed them down, etc.  So when I woke up, I also ran downstairs excitedly to tell Daddy about MY PLAN for the day!

My daughter, usually my sidekick in looking at and dreaming about houses, told me she didn't want to go and look at houses with me today - that we could do it tomorrow - because today was the day for putting together VERY SPECIAL NECKLACES with Daddy.

Guess what?  Changing the oil in the car, an unplanned business call, an extra hungry baby with a few unplanned blowouts and baths, some turkey soup to take to a friend who had a baby, grocery shopping for the week, a wrong turn detour, and a few e-mails later . . . it was dark. And we couldn't see the houses I wanted to see.

I. Was. Upset.  Annoyed, frustrated, a little angry, and ultimately heartbroken.

But that was NOTHING compared to a little girl who realized as the sun went down that the day was over . . . and she had NOT gotten to have a special day or make her special necklace with Daddy and his special beads.

As she sobbed in the back seat, my first inclination was to be stern and get her to stop crying.  I mean, I was aggitated about my plans that had fallen through that day; I was in NO MOOD for a sobbing child in the closed confines of our car.

But it suddenly occurred to me that SHE was more upset by her plans falling through than I was.  She was heartbroken.

Once home, she broke down again - sobbing uncontrollably.  It was then that Daddy told me he had told her earlier in the week that on FRIDAY they were going to make special necklaces with special beads.  The dots connected; the light of understanding turned on.  As I headed upstairs to change a diaper, I heard her sobbing quietly in her room and mumbling under her breath about not getting to do her special project with Daddy.

It was at that moment that I realized that she needed to be understood.  She needed a hug.  She needed to feel validated in her feelings.  She needed to know it was okay to be heartbroken and cry.  She needed to know I understood the value of very special things and time with Daddy.  And she needed to understood that I "got" her - that I knew she was a person and not just a child!

I called her into my room and gave her a HUGE hug and said, "I am so sorry that you didn't get to do your necklaces today with Daddy."

She stopped crying, hugged me back, and said, "Thank you, Mommy!  I really wanted to do that all day.  Do you think we can do them tomorrow? Can we make tomorrow a day full of ALL the special things?"  Of course my answer was yes - and I may or may not have been near tears myself as her excited face and shining eyes and forgiving heart shone up at me.

I think sometimes we get lost in "parenting" our children.  We are teaching them, making them food, disciplining them (sometimes too much of that, huh?), correcting them, cleaning up after them, trying to get them to clean up after themselves, running here and there, telling them to be patient as we try to keep up with the constant demands, etc.  Sometimes in the midst of all of that, we forget they are just people like us.  They understand a lot more than we give them credit for.  They may be little, but that doesn't give them a lesser place of importance, a smaller voice in our home.

If we will just love them, respect them, understand them, validate them, include them, give them a role, and listen to them, we'll find that more frequently than we realized, they are the teachers; we are the students. But mostly, we really aren't that different.

My deliberate mothering goal is to give my children more of a voice in planning our days, in making decisions and setting goals, in choosing consequences for decisions, in creating a healthy menu that they will enjoy, etc.

Any tips and insight would definitely be welcome.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Healthy in NO TIME!

Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers from JillianMichaels.com
I just LOVE a nice, warm, healthy meal.  But I don't always (or ever lately) have time to start from scratch when I FINALLY have time to start from scratch!  Today I wanted to share a few of our favorite, healthy go-to meals and a link to some yummy-looking freezer meals you can prepare once a month and have when you NEED them!

As a general rule of thumb, we avoid ALL processed and white-flour carbohydrates.  We also try to avoid gluten/limit it to one meal a day/five days a week (including lunches).

Also - when looking at the ingredient list, you want to recognize all of the ingredients, and avoid anything that has sugar - in any form (including corn syrups of any kind) - in the first five ingredients. 

We also follow the MyPlate.Gov guidelines for portion sizes and prepare our food - even freezer meals - in correct portions.

If you have a favorite/go-to meal that is healthy and delicious, please message me!

Here's the link to some good options -- tweak a few of the ingredients for the above guidelines; but otherwise really healthy options!

Avocado Hummus:
Directions: Simply add the following to your food processor:
- 1 can of white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 avocado, cubed
- Juice from 1/2 of a lime
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon of olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt -1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or powered chipolte

Blend until smooth....Serve with veggies - peppers, carrots, celery, etc.!!!

Coconut Chicken and Lemon-Broccoli:
I made this last night, and it was SOOOO good!

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Pan grill 2-4 chicken breasts until the crust outside is golden brown but not fully cooked through. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut, 1 TBSP coconut oil or REAL butter (not margarine), and 2 minced garlic cloves, and microwave until oil/butter is melted. After Chicken is done on the stove top, pile your coconut mixture on top and then put in oven for 10-15 minutes or until coconut mixture has browned, but careful not to burn.

Steam broccoli and then add some lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil and S&P.

This dish goes so great together and is really tasty!

Homemade Peanut Butter:
So here's how I make homemade peanut butter if you love having 1-2 Tbsp as a snack with celery like I do! You can buy "natural" peanut butter at the store like Adam's, but I prefer making it myself because I use coconut oil! So dang delish and healthy. You will need a high powered blender (we have a Blendtec).

Ingredients:
dry roasted/non-salted peanuts
unrefined/cold pressed coconut oil

How to:
Melt about 1/2 cup of coconut oil in the microwave and pour a tiny bit into the blender. Add about 1 cup of peanuts and gradually go back and forth with small amounts of coconut oil/1 cup peanuts until a smooth consistency. Don't pour tons of peanuts in there at once because it won't blend! You can add salt in the end, but we like it without since it has such a nice flavor. I use about 4-5 cups peanuts to 1/2 cup coconut oil--it just depends so go with the flow:)

Black Bean Salad:
Cook some ground turkey with a can of black beans (including the juice). Season it with Lemon Pepper Salt, Minced Onions, and a handful of flax meal. Serve over a bed of lettuce/spinach, no salad dressing needed because of the juice from the beans.
Melinda Added: A Black Bean salad like this also makes an amazing Southwest Salad when made with some taco seasoning cooked in with the turkey and some tomatoes, finely-diced cilantro, and cucumbers mixed in with the lettuce/spinach.

Curry Seasoned Chicken Breast:
Place the chicken breasts into a glass dish and sprinkle Curry and Seasoning Salt on them (make sure it's organic/doesn't have sugar in the first five ingredients or MSG's added). Cook in cooking spray, olive oil, coconut oil or just broil in the oven. Cut them up into strips for future easy-access protein. Serve with steamed brown rice, baked sweet potatoes, or quinoa. YUM! 

Spaghetti:
Make with spaghetti squash and a low-sugar marinara sauce, serve with extra lean hamburger, grilled chicken, shrimp, or salmon.

Turkey Burgers:
2 ½ lbs of ground turkey made with 2 finely-diced onions, ¼ red and ¼ green peppers, add in 2 packages of taco seasoning, a few dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, and two eggs. Mix all ingredients together, weigh out into individual portion sizes, grill and freeze extras. It makes 10 servings and is SO GOOD! You could also make this into a meatloaf and cut it into 10 servings.

Tuna, turkey, or chicken wraps, no cheese:
You can use mayonnaise for your fat and do melts/sandwiches for your family.

Marinated Chicken:
We eat this a lot! You can buy the McCormick marinades, tenderize the chicken a bit, poke it full of holes with a fork, and marinade it. 4 days in a Ziploc in your fridge. Cook on the grill and you have the BEST, most tender chicken you have EVER had! ;-D

Beef Stir-Fry:
WinCo actually has a frozen bean mixture – white, yellow, and green beans with carrots. I buy sirloin steak at Costco in bulk and slice, season, and cook it. Then I measure out individual servings of meat in containers and set it aside. Next, I sauté some onions and the frozen bean mixture in a few servings of olive oil, add in some eggplant or zucchini or squash, season it, measure out ½ cup servings, and then add it to the cooked beef. This is great to freeze for later! Actually makes a TON and goes a LONG WAY!

White Chili:
We use lentils, celery, onions, carrots, and green chilis and cook them in a crockpot until they are tender. You can use any beans, or add chicken/turkey, but the chilis really add a lot of flavor. And we use the mild ones for our kids. Then we do just a small amount of plain yogurt/Greek yogurt to give it the creaminess you are expecting. It’s awesome!!!

Black Bean Soup:
Again, just black beans, onions, carrots, celery, seasonings – it’s awesome! Sometimes I add salsa, sometimes I don’t. Always serve with a salad.

"Lasagna":
Steam or sauté your veggies (squash, zucchini, broccoli, green beans, etc.) and layer with cottage cheese and low-sugar marinara sauce. Top with cheese and melt the cheese.  Even my kids love it!  Or you can serve it over Spaghetti Squash! Or layer sliced zucchini in place of the noodles!

No-crust Quiche/Frittata:
I don’t know the difference between the quiche and frittata, so I don’t know what you would call it. ;-D
I just made this last week. I used eggs and egg beaters together, a little water for the fluffy egg/omelet effect, and then filled it with veggies – sautéed peppers, broccoli, onions, and fresh tomatoes. We serve it with salsa.

Taco Salad:
Make a normal taco salad, just leave out the chips and the dressing and add in one serving of your low-sugar dressing when you eat it.  Or use salsa and a little ranch together - awesome!

Omelet:
Make a breakfast omelet with veggies and one serving of protein; or do eggs and turkey or canadian bacon with sauteed green and red peppers.

Chicken Fajitas:
Lots of onions with one red and one green pepper and a low-sugar Fajita Seasoning mix. Serve over a bed of shredded lettuce (any kind) and a serving of ranch.  Or - serve in whole wheat tortillas with a small dollop of sour cream. YUMMY!

Cauliflower Pizza:
 I haven't tried this, but I have seen it pinned all over Pinterest - add some meat/veggies for your topping, and you're set! Makes one 9-12in pizza – 6 slices

Crust:
2 cups shredded cauliflower
1 egg
1 cup finely shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp salt

Topping:
1/2 cup piza sauce or marinara sauce
1/2 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
topping of choice