Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

7 Ways to Include Your Partner in the Kitchen

In many relationships there is usually one person who does most of the cooking. Some people like it this way, but others definitely wish their other half would share in some of the cooking.

I feel lucky that in my relationship, both Travis and I love to cook and it’s actually one of our favorite activities to do together. From a relationship perspective, cooking with your significant other is a great way to collaborate, work together and get creative. Plus, it’s the perfect opportunity to disconnect from your phones and computers and spend time together.

In case you’re looking for an extra hand in the kitchen, here are seven ways you can include your partner in the kitchen. And by the way, many of these are good ways to get your kids, roommates, and friends involved as well.

7 Ways to Include Your Partner in the Kitchen l www.littlechefbigappetite.com

 

Get those ingredients.

Hand your partner the recipe and task them with taking all of the necessary ingredients out of the fridge and pantry and assemble everything on the counter. Sure, it might be just a two minute affair, but that way you’ll have everything in front of you while you cook without having to dig through the fridge for an ingredient.

(Just try not to let them run away after this).

Official Recipe Reader.

Having an extra set of eyes to stare at the recipe and answer you when you ask, “How long am I supposed to saute these onions?” or “What am I supposed to do after this?” can be very helpful. They might not be doing any of the actual cooking, but your partner will still be nearby and contributing.

Measure out the spices.

If you’re making a dish that requires a lot of spices, like say a curry recipe, have them measure all of the spices into a small bowl. I find it’s so much easier when I can just toss the bowl of spices into a dish, rather than measure them out while everything else is going on.

Wash and Dry.

Have them wash and dry all of the herbs, fruits and vegetables. Bonus points for scrubbing potatoes or getting all of the dirt off romaine lettuce.

Watch the clock.

Timing is everything. And sometimes watching the clock while you chop, stir, and flip, can be too much for one person to handle. Give your partner the job of timing all aspects of the meal, from boiling pasta to roasting vegetables in the oven.

Stir regularly.

Some dishes require constant attention at the stove, like a risotto or caramelized onions. Delegating this task will allow you to concentrate on another aspect of the meal while they make sure nothing burns (well, hopefully).

Beverage duty.

Okay, if all else fails, can your loved one pour a drink?

I’m sure. And let’s be honest, being bartender is a very important job and you probably cook better with a glass of wine in your hand, don’t you?

 

What about you? Do you have any additional ways to get your husband/wife, roommate or kids involved in the kitchen?

Eats Lately Fitness Tips and Tricks Uncategorized

New Week, New Month, New Goals

Hi everyone! Happy Monday AND happy November!

Let’s cut right to it. I am going to get completely real with you this morning.

awesome-monday

I feel like in every blog post recently, I’ve talked about how busy I’ve been. Ever since we got back from England at the end of August I haven’t felt like my healthy self. It’s almost as if I never got back on track after vacation…even though it’s over two months later. That is SO unlike me.

Don’t get me wrong, I still go to the gym regularly, but my workouts have been complete blah and I honestly attribute that to my not-so-great diet recently. The past two months have been filled with many work events, lots of visitors, celebrations, holidays, and more. In almost all of these situations I’ve let my diet slip (think: carbs on carbs and lots of wine). Even though I still manage to drag myself to the gym the morning after an indulgent night, my workouts are sluggish and they feel ineffective.

So that’s what led me to this blog post. I realized that I have to change a few things in order to start feeling like “myself” again. I told myself that in order to hold myself accountable, I should write down specific goals that I can look back on throughout the month. And what better way to hold myself accountable then to share these goals with you guys and the rest of the blogosphere!?

While I don’t see my crazy work schedule easing up any time soon, I know I need to make more time for myself in order to start feeling healthier and more energized.

Today I am sharing my five goals that will (ideally!) help me get back on a healthy track this November. Let’s do this!

 

1. No meals / snacks / anything (besides water!) after 8:00PM.

No late night snacking

There have been way too many nights where I’ve given into late night snacking desires. I know this is not good to do right before bed and it’s flat out gotta stop. I often see Travis having a bowl of cereal after dinner, so I’ll do the same (even if I’m not hungry!). He has the metabolism of a race car, so I really shouldn’t be emulating his eating behaviors.

Of course, there will be nights where we’ll have dinner plans with friends or other “life” things after 8PM, but my goal is to stick to this rule whenever I can.

 

2. Get back on the early morning gym routine.

photo1

With my previous job, the only time I had to go to the gym was at 5AM before work, and I was seriously committed to that routine. I talk about my old morning routine and tips to help you work out in the morning in this blog post.

My current job allows me to begin my day a little later, but instead of using that extra time in the morning, I’ve been starting to just sleep in. My goal is to force myself out of bed by 6AM every morning and get my tushie right to the gym. That way I will still have time to do other things (blog, meal prep, etc.) before I leave for work. There have been far too many mornings when I pull myself out of bed around 7AM, have my coffee and breakfast, play around on my computer, and then before I know it, BAM, no time for the gym. Not good.

 

3. Be smarter about what I eat at work.

Pumpkin Souffle CHAYA Downtown

I work for a restaurant group and part of my job is taste-testing new menu items. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an awesome perk and I love it. But, do I really need to lick a dessert plate clean at 2PM on a Tuesday afternoon? (Guilty as charged!)

What I should be doing is just trying one small bite of a dish (just like the judges on Chopped and MasterChef, you know?). I really have to stick to that.

 

4. Meal plan every weekend.

Meal Plan - Little Chef Big Appetite

I used to be SO good about this, but have completely fallen off the bandwagon. I’ve mentioned that with the serious heat wave we’ve had, the last thing I wanted to do was turn on the oven or stove, so we resorted to a lot of take out.

No can do anymore! More meal planning –> healthier eating.

 

5. Two drink maximum when I am out to dinner, at social events, etc.

Cocktail

Enough said. Alcohol leads to low energy and crappier/missed workouts.

 

Okay, now who is with me!? I need all the support I can get in order to stick to these new goals.

Groceries Tips and Tricks

How I Meal Plan

I am often asked how I have time to cook every night and since I do cook often, how I am not constantly running to the grocery store. My answer? It’s all about planning!

Over the last few years, I’ve developed a weekly meal planning process that works very well for us. Planning helps us to save time, save money, and keep us on a healthy track throughout the week. Since I get so many questions about this, I thought it would be fun to put together a post about how I meal plan.

I always love learning about how other people plan for the week and how often they choose to cook at home vs. eat out. So please feel free to share your process and any tips you have in the comments section below!

Meal Planning Tips from Little Chef Big Appetite

 

1. Travis and I go grocery shopping together on either Saturday or Sunday every weekend. Before we head to the store, we select 3-4 recipes we want to make that week. Why not more? Because let’s be honest, life happens, and realistically we won’t have time to cook every night. Sometimes one of us has to work late, has plans to meet up with friends, or we simply don’t feel like cooking.
Meal Planning Tips from Little Chef Big Appetite

Just so you get a sense, here is what last week’s meals looked like for us:

Monday: BBQ Chicken Skewers with a Grilled Charred Broccoli

Tuesday: Halibut with Balsamic and Cherry Tomatoes

Wednesday: Turkey Meatballs with Roasted Vegetables

Thursday: Travis was out, so I ate breakfast for dinner (always my go-to when I am on my own).

Friday: Dinner out

Saturday: Whole Wheat Pasta with Chicken, Sun-dried Tomatoes, and Basil

Meal Planning Tips from Little Chef Big Appetite

 

2. When choosing which recipes to make, we generally try to mix up proteins (chicken, turkey, ground beef, white fish, salmon, etc) to keep things interesting. We select a few new recipes to make that week as well as some old favorites. You can read my post about how I organize my recipes here. By selecting recipes in advance, we never suffer the dreaded, “what should we do for dinner” conversation at night when we’re both already hungry.

Since Whole Foods is often our store of choice (it’s walkable from our apartment), I also like to check out what’s on sale before we hit the store and sometimes we dictate our meal plan around that.

In case this may interest you, here’s a list of grocery items that are typically cheaper at Whole Foods.

Meal Planning Tips from Little Chef Big Appetite

 

3. Based on the recipes we select, I create a list (either on my phone or a piece of paper) of all the items we need to pick up. This list also includes any staple items we use on a weekly basis (bananas, eggs, etc.)  As you can see in the photo below, I always make sure to pick up a few healthy snack foods for the week as well: greek yogurt, Kind bars, fresh fruit, etc.

Meal Planning Tips from Little Chef Big Appetite

 

4. One more important tip! In case a new recipe turns out to be terrible (yup, it happens!), we always have some backup options in the freezer.  Just last week, I went to cook some cod we’d frozen a few weeks ago, only to find it did not smell right after it defrosted. Instead of taking a gamble, I chucked the cod in the trash and immediately went to Plan B: a frozen Udi’s pizza. Delicious, satisfying, and absolutely no stress.

Having healthy backups is also great for when you home exhausted and don’t feel like cooking – it’s faster, cheaper, and healthier than getting take-out. When shopping, just make sure you look at the ingredient lists – if there are chemicals and additives you can’t pronounce, put it back in the freezer case. Additionally, say no to Lean Cuisines and other frozen meals with excessive sodium levels – they’re doing you no favors.

Here are some of my favorite, healthy frozen and “backup” foods:

Dr. Praegers California Vegetable Burgers

Udi’s Gluten-Free Margherita Pizza

Applegate Chicken Sausages

Frozen Vegetables (great as a side to any meal)

 

Now that I’ve shared my meal planning process with you guys, I am curious about you! How do you mean plan for the week? Let me know!

 

Poultry Slow Cooker Tips and Tricks

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

Hey guys, happy hump day! I hope your week is going well. My week has been extremely busy with work so far, which is why I am only now getting a chance to get this post up.

Today, I am sharing the EASIEST way to cook chicken in the slow cooker. I use this method all the time and we use the shredded chicken in salads, pastas, soups, and so much more. For those of you who like to meal prep on Sundays or cook in bulk for your families, this is a great option because it takes no time to prep in the morning and you let the slow cooker do all the work!

 

So without further ado, watch how easy this is:

Place two chicken breasts at the bottom of the slow cooker. (Yum, who doesn’t love a picture of raw chicken…)

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

Pour one cup of low-sodium chicken broth over the chicken breasts. Then season the breasts with salt, pepper, and any other herbs you like. Here, I added fresh rosemary. For additional flavor you can also add some crushed garlic and chopped onions, but I usually don’t bother when I am in a hurry.

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours.

 

Slow Cooker Chicken

Once the timer goes off, remove the lid and the chicken breasts will be cooked through. You will notice that some fat will be surrounding the breasts – no biggie, it will fall right off the chicken when you remove it from the slow cooker.

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

Remove the chicken and place it on a cutting board or large plate. Using two forks, shred the chicken breasts. Make sure you reserve some of the broth and chicken juices from the slow cooker. I always add a few tablespoons of it to the shredded chicken to make it nice and moist.

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

Season the chicken as desired and use the chicken in salads, pastas, whatever you want! You can also toss it with some BBQ sauce or pesto and add it to lettuce wraps or sandwiches – I’m full of ideas!

Easy Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe

How easy was that? A weekday meal cooked while you’re not even home!

 

Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken Recipe
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Serves: 4-6
Ingredients
  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh herbs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Place chicken breasts at the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour one cup of low-sodium chicken broth over the chicken. Season the breasts with salt, pepper, and any other herbs you like.
  2. Place the lid on the slow cooker and set it to HIGH for 3 hours or LOW for 5-6 hours.
  3. Remove the chicken, and use two forks to shred the breasts. Make sure you reserve some of the broth and chicken juices from the slow cooker to add it to the shredded chicken for some extra moisture.
 

Fitness Tips and Tricks

Four Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. I was recently invited to become a Blue Diamond Tastemaker, and as a longtime customer, I am incredibly thankful for this opportunity. As always, all opinions are my own and I truly appreciate your support!

 

Summer is SO CLOSE. Can’t you feel it? It’s right about this time every year that you start seeing hundreds of articles about how to slim down and get that perfect bikini body. While many of these tips are good, sometimes they can be unrealistic. We’re busy! We work, we have social lives, there are going to be times when we want to treat ourselves, and we should. A healthy lifestyle is all about balance.

So today, I want to share with you four easy ways to be healthier for summer. No calorie counting, crazy diet tricks, or anything of the sort. Just REAL tips that YOU can do to be healthier.

 

1. Schedule your workouts.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

Do you try to wake up early to workout, but end up pressing snooze over and over again? Or do you try to go after work, but end up telling yourself you’re just too tired? If you start thinking of your workouts like you do your work meetings, you will stop skipping them.

You wouldn’t tell your boss, “Sorry, I just wasn’t feeling up to that 2PM meeting,” so you shouldn’t let you tell YOURSELF that either. When setting your schedule for the week, or even just the next day, figure out when you can squeeze in a workout. For me, I always prefer morning workouts because I get it out of the way and it is a really positive way to start the day! You can read my tips to help you workout in the morning.

 

2. Pack Healthy Snacks

In my job, I am constantly on the go. Since I spend a good amount of time in the car, I always make sure to have healthy options to munch on. That way, I am never tempted to reach for the first unhealthy thing I can find. Also, when you let yourself go hungry for too long, you’re more lucky to overeat later on.

Read this post to see some of my favorite healthy work snacks. Recently, I always have almonds, a healthy protein bar, or fresh fruit like apples and bananas with me in the car or at my desk.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I’ve always been a loyal Blue Diamond customer, so when their team sent me their new Honey Roasted Cinnamon Almonds to review, I was PUMPED. If you’re a cinnamon-sugar fan like me, you’re going to love these almonds. They taste indulgent, but they’re actually not loaded in sugar. From a nutrition standpoint, they are everything I want in a snack: packed with protein, healthy fats, and SUPER delicious. The only problem is that they are incredibly addicting, so I have to be careful about how many I eat in one sitting, which leads me to my next tip…

 

3. Portion Control

Portion control is something I am actively working on. It is so easy to sit in front of the TV or computer and mindlessly munch on a bag of chips or popcorn.

I’ve have had these bowls from Sur La Table for a few years now. They come in a set of five and I love them for cooking and baking because there are measurement markers on the inside of each bowl.

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I’ve recently started using these bowls for snacking, as well, because I can measure out a proper serving of almonds, popcorn, cereal, etc. rather than just guessing. If I left it up to my eyes, I would probably eat a double portion (or more!) of everything.

I am certainly not telling you to count calories, but try measuring out a proper serving of a snack you tend to “binge” on. Portion control is a key component to weight loss and healthy living.

 

4. Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!

4 Easy Ways to be Healthier for Summer

I can’t stress this one enough. Often times, when we feel hungry, our bodies actually just need water. Over the next few weeks, practice carrying a water bottle with you wherever you go.

I love my Bobble, especially for travel. It contains a water filter, so I have no qualms filling it up in the airport sink because I am confident that that my water will be filtered, just like from my Brita at home.

If you struggle to drink enough water, try adding sliced fresh fruit like strawberries or oranges. I am considering getting one of these infuser water bottles.

 

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts: what other easy ways can we be healthier? Share your ideas in the comments below!

 

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a certified nutritionist. These are simply tips that work for me and help me to create a healthier lifestyle.

 

 

 

Bread and Muffins Cookies Tips and Tricks

6 Tips for Perfect Whole Grain Baking

I try to bake with whole grain flours as much as possible. We all know that whole grains are much healthier than simple white flour, but do you know why? It’s because whole wheat flour has almost four times more fiber than all-purpose flour and provides more potassium, magnesium and zinc. However, if you’ve baked with whole wheat flour before, you know that it can be tricky and it is not always as simple as substituting whole wheat flour for white in every recipe.

Over the last eight years or so, I have slowly swapped out all the white flour in my kitchen for whole grain flours and I’ve learned a lot along the way. Today I want to share with you some my best whole grain baking tips to help you transition to healthier, heartier baking.

 

Simple Tips for Whole Grain Baking

 

1. Start Gradually

If you’re new to baking with whole grains, don’t expect to be able to substitute all whole wheat flour for all-purpose and like the end result. Start by gradually substituting 1/3 of the flour in the recipe for whole wheat. Your family won’t taste the difference and you’ll boost the nutritional content of whatever you’re making. With time you’ll be able to swap out all the white flour for whole grains and you won’t want to go back!

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

 

2. It’s not always one to one.

If you are trying to substitute whole wheat flour in a recipe that calls for all-purpose, a good rule of thumb is to use only 3/4 cup whole wheat for 1 cup all-purpose. This is because whole wheat flours are denser and true baking is a science based on weights.

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

 

3. Sometimes you need more liquid.

When baking cupcakes, muffins and cakes with whole wheat flour, you will likely need more liquid. Try adding an additional tablespoon or two more of wet ingredients (oil, butter, applesauce, etc.) to your batter.

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

 

4. Whole Wheat flours expire more quickly than all-purpose.

Check your package’s expiration date and try to use the flour within three months of opening. I’m not messing around with this one. The smell and taste of rancid flour is awful. Trust me.

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

 

5. Find the right flour.

There are so many brands and varieties of whole grain flours out there. I find that while regular whole wheat may work well for one recipe, it can yield dry, bland results in another. There are so many varieties of flour: whole wheat, white whole wheat, whole wheat pastry flour, oat flour, and so on. It can get confusing! My favorite is whole-wheat pastry flour. It’s lower in protein and milled from a softer wheat—yielding more tender results than regular whole-wheat. I also love white whole wheat flour because the flavor is milder, making it most similar to white flour. BUT, it has the same nutritional value as regular whole wheat flour. Win, win!

My go-to brands are King Arthur Flour and Bob’s Red Mill and I truly believe that higher quality flour yields a better baked good.

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

6. Follow a recipe.

If you’re new to baking with whole wheat flour, follow a recipe! Chances are the end product will be much better than if you just played around on your own the first time. Check out some great examples below!

Whole Grain Baking Tips That Will Take Your Baking to the Next Level

I asked some of my blogger buddies to share their favorite whole grain recipes with you guys. Some of these use a mix of different flours and others are 100% whole wheat.

Blueberry Banana Marscapone Coffee Cake from Jenna Braddock

Vegan Jacoma Almond Fudge Cookies from Chelsea’s Healthy Kitchen

No Bake Banana Nut Protein Bars from Healthy Helper Blog

Mini Snickerdoodle Biscotti from Barr and Table

 

More from Little Chef Big Appetite:

Whole Wheat Apple Honey Muffins

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Whole Wheat Bagels

 

What about you? Do you have any other whole grain baking tips? Share them in the comments below! 

 

Gluten-Free Tips and Tricks Vegan

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses

As promised,  today I’m sharing a very simple recipe for homemade pomegranate molasses. Some of you have reached out asking where to buy bottled pomegranate molasses, and admittedly, not all grocery stores carry it – not even all Whole Foods.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

Recently my go-to Whole Foods was out of it, so I considered making my own but assumed the process would be a hassle. After a quick internet search, I discovered making homemade pomegranate molasses was so easy! The only ingredients required are pomegranate juice, granulated sugar and fresh lemon juice, and luckily I had all three in my fridge and pantry at the time.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

Now for those of you who have seen pomegranate molasses listed as an ingredient in some of my recipes, such as Muhammara and this Pomegranate Molasses Dressing, and thought it was silly to buy a bottle (or make your own!) for just one recipe – you’re wrong! Pomegranate Molasses is so versatile. I use it in sauces for poultry dishes, dips, salad dressing, and so much more. The flavor is so unique, adding a sweet and tangy component to any dish.

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses Recipe

If you follow this recipe, your homemade pomegranate molasses will stay in the fridge for at least 6 months. I made this batch less than three weeks ago and I am almost out already. Yes, it’s THAT good!

 

Homemade Pomegranate Molasses
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups pomegranate juice
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Place the pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar has completely dissolved, stirring occasionally.
  2. Once the sugar has dissolved, reduce the heat to low and cook until the mixture has reduced to ½ cup, 40-45 minutes. It should be the consistency of thick syrup.
  3. Remove the molasses from the heat and allow to cool in the saucepan for 20 minutes. Transfer to a glass jar and allow to cool completely before covering and storing in the refrigerator.
 

Tips and Tricks

Meal Prep Recipe Roundup

Every weekend, I meal prep at least one recipe for the work week. Meal prepping is great for people with busy schedules (ahem, all of us!) because you can simply grab and go meals and snacks when you’re on the run. It is also perfect for constantly hungry people (me!!) because there is always something healthy in the fridge for me to eat, so I don’t have to turn to junk food.

Today, I wanted to do a roundup of some of my favorite recipes for meal prep! Some people just meal prep their lunches for the work/school week, but I also like to make large batches of breakfast and snacks as well! All of the recipes in this roundup are easy to make in bulk and keep very well over the course of a week.

 

Breakfast

Cardamom Granola

Cardamom Granola with Almonds, Pistachios, and Raisins – I talk about this recipe on the blog a lot, but that is because it is THAT GOOD. I make big big batches of this granola to eat with Greek yogurt. I also love eating it by the handful when I am craving a little something sweet. This granola is packed with fiber so when you pair it with Greek yogurt (hello protein!), you’ve got yourself a very healthy breakfast or snack.

Steel Cut Overnight Oats – Make four servings of this recipe and simply reheat one serving in a microwaveable bowl every morning before work or school. Super healthy and filling!

 

Lunch / Dinner

Kale Salad

Kale and Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette – My favorite thing about kale is that you can dress it in advance and it won’t get soggy because the leaves are so darn tough! I was amazed the first time I made this recipe and saw how the salad held up over the course of a few days. Most lettuce would be a soggy mess after letting it sit in dressing for only 30 minutes! This kale salad is also a great for potlucks and BBQs because it is easy to make in bulk and transport in a large bowl.

Farro Salad with Apples, Almonds, and Smoked Mozzarella – Everyone I’ve ever made this recipe for LOVES it. It is the perfect combination of sweet and salty and it is packed with protein and fiber thanks to the farro and mozzarella. It is a great one for Meatless Mondays!

Healthy Turkey Chili – Now that the temperature is starting to drop, I know I am going to be making a lot of this chili. Travis and I made this recipe up one night when I was back in college and it is has been a favorite ever since. For those of you who love spicy food, feel free to amp up the heat with extra red pepper flakes.

 

Snacks

Nut Butter Protein Bites

Nut Butter Protein Bites – If you love peanut butter and almond butter, you’ll LOVE these bites! Made with oats, chia seeds, and a little bit of honey, these nut butter protein bites are super satisfying.

Chia Protein Bars – These chia protein bars are the most popular recipe on my blog! This recipe spread like wildfire over Pinterest and for good reason. Chia seeds are a superfood and these bars are packed with wholesome goodness!

Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic, Thyme, and Rosemary –  When I was in college I made large batches of these roasted veggies because they’re so delicious served with any dish. When I was reaaaally hungry running between classes, I would even eat them cold right out of the fridge.

 

What do you guys meal prep? Are there certain recipes you love making in bulk for the week? Share them in the comments below – I am always looking for new ones!

 

 

 

Fitness Tips and Tricks

5 Tips to Help You Workout in the Morning

If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, you know I prefer to workout in the morning, as opposed to after work. When I first began a full-time job after college, I tried to workout after work, but I kept skipping my workouts because I was too tired or I’d make alternate plans. I quickly realized that if I was going to get all of my workouts in, I would have to go before work….and that meant really early.

It took a few weeks of training myself, but eventually I found a great routine. The first few mornings were very difficult. I had to be at work by 7:30AM, which meant if I was going to squeeze in an hour long workout, I had to set my alarm for 5AM. Oof. Getting yourself out of bed in the 5 o’clock range is difficult when you know that you don’t have to – it takes a whole lot of willpower.

After a few weeks in my new routine, I actually began to look forward to my morning workouts. It was a great feeling of accomplishment leaving the gym at 6:30AM, having my workout completed before most people were even awake. I loved arriving to work, knowing that my whole evening was free to relax and do things other than go to the gym.

I’ve been able to convert many of my friends to early morning gym-goers and today I want to share 5 tips that will help YOU workout in the morning, too!

 

1. Lay out EVERYTHING you need the night before.

Workout

Every night before I go to bed, I lay out my gym shorts, top, sports bra, socks, sneakers, headphones, iphone armband, and a filled water bottle. Doing this, can help you get out the door in under 10 minutes!. I find that if I have to dig in my closet for clothes while I am half-awake then I will just make an excuse to  climb back into bed. Heck, I even UNTIE my shoelaces the night before because the less I have to think about in the morning the better!

 

2. Go to bed at a reasonable time.

photo

If you’re a night owl, this will take some practice. You can’t go to bed at your usual time and then expect to get out of bed two hours earlier than usual. I had to force myself to be IN BED by 9:30PM in order to be asleep by 10PM, allowing myself a solid 7 hours of sleep. Put away your computer and phone and just get some shut-eye!

 

3. Make a mantra.

images

Okay, this may sound totally silly to you. Sometimes when I really don’t want to get out of bed in the morning, I ask myself, “Have you ever regretted a workout?” The answer is always a big fat “NO!” Even if I get in just 20 minutes of cardio, weights, abs, or SOMETHING I feel so much better than having done nothing at all. I know you will feel the same way. Find a mantra that works for you. Whether it’s something about a goal dress size or simply telling yourself not to be lazy, it will work!

 

4. Find a workout buddy.

Emily Workout

Waking up early to workout is so much easier when you have someone else on board. Try to find someone to workout with, whether it is your spouse, boyfriend/girlfriend, roommate, whomever! In college, my workout buddy was my BFF, Emily. Like me, Em prioritizes health, so she was always down to squeeze in a workout despite us both having very busy schedules. There were times we studied flashcards on the elliptical together and other times when we forced ourselves to go to 6AM spin classes (which is basically unheard of in college!). When you know there is another person counting on you to get up, it is a lot more difficult to make excuses. (Thanks, Em! I miss you!)

 

5. Prepare breakfast the night before.

Oatmeal

You MUST eat breakfast if you workout in the morning. Okay, you must eat breakfast REGARDLESS, but especially after your workout. Since mornings are rushed as it is, one of my biggest pieces of advice is to prepare breakfast the night before. I love my overnight oats and overnight steel cut oatmeal as quick and healthy options! The night before I leave out everything I can. If I made overnight steel cut oatmeal, then I even place a bowl and spoon on the kitchen counter. I also make sure that my travel coffee mug is clean and sitting right next to the coffee maker, so I don’t waste a second cleaning or looking for anything.

Coffee

 

I hope you found these 5 tips helpful — I promise you that they work! Maybe I even persuaded you to try switching up your workout routine!

For those of you who like to workout in the morning, what else helps you get out the door?

Tips and Tricks

Recipe Organization: My Method

I subscribe to way too many food magazines. I kept receiving free or heavily discounted offers, so I just continued to sign up for one after the other. I read all of them, but in the last year my stockpile became a bit ridiculous.

Recipe Organization

I began hoarding magazines on the bookshelf in our living room because I couldn’t part with them. As I read these magazines, I dog-ear pages that I intend to look back on: recipes, restaurant reviews, wines to try, cleaning methods, grilling techniques, etc.

Travis, on the other hand, prefers to tear out pages he wants to save as he reads each magazine. This always used to make me cringe. You see, I am somewhat of an organization maniac (you never would have guessed that based on all of the magazines I’ve hoarded), so when Travis pulled out pages I used to think, “No! Now the pages aren’t in order. What if I want to reference something on the other side of the page!?” It was a bit silly of me because in reality, over the past year I’ve rarely gone back and looked at any of the pages I dog-eared. If I remembered a recipe I saw in one of my Cooking Light issues, I’d have to sift through at least four of them until I found what I was looking for. It was a big waste of time.

Recipe Organization

So I finally succumbed to Travis’ way of doing things. The past few weeks I have started to sift through these magazines again, tearing out pages I want to save. I do this just a few magazines at a time, usually on the coffee table in our living room in front of some mindless reality TV show. At the beginning, I looked at the massive pile of magazines I had to go through and dreaded this process, but it has actually been very enjoyable! I’ve loved looking back at recipes I meant to make, but never did. I’ve been kicking myself for not doing this sooner because there are so many delicious things I could have been cooking all this time!

So I finally succumbed to Travis' way of doing things. The past few weeks I've taken a big batch of magazines at a time and starting cutting out any page I wanted to save.

I bought one of my favorite multi-section file folders to organize the cut-out pages into different sections.

So I finally succumbed to Travis' way of doing things. The past few weeks I've taken a big batch of magazines at a time and starting cutting out any page I wanted to save.

I used these expanding folders all the time in college to organize important papers and class work and it works just as perfectly for this purpose.

Recipe Organization

I’ve organized all my recipes into the categories you see above as well as “wines and cocktails,” “grilling and kitchen tips and tricks,” and “travel and restaurants.” Every week before I go to the grocery store I pull out a few recipes from each section that I want to try that upcoming week.  This makes our dinners so much more exciting because we are constantly trying new things. The recipes that turn out well I put right back into the file folder, but the ones that we don’t like, I just throw away (and make room for new recipes!).

So far this process is working great for me! My pile of magazines is gone and I feel much more organized now.

How do you organize your recipes? Do you put them in a folder like me? Or do you prefer digital versions such as bookmarks and/or Pinterest?

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