10-Week Wellness Challenge Update & A Giveaway

I can’t believe that we are almost finished with the 10-Week Wellness Challenge!  It seems like only yesterday that The Iowa Food & Family Project invited me to join their team!  I was so excited when they did and I had such high hopes of blowing it out of the water this year!  HA!  Well, then life happened!Wellness Challenge

I’ve struggled with being healthy for the majority of my adult life!  I’m, what I call myself, a coping anorexic!  If you look at me today you wouldn’t guess that to be the case, but it’s true!!  You see,  being healthy has several different definitions.  Obtaining a healthy lifestyle depends on your own personal situation.  For me, being healthy is finding a balance with my eating and exercise.  All of this, along with “life” during the 10-Week Wellness Challenge has gotten me to these realizations:

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Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

Just when we think Spring has arrived in Iowa (70 on Monday), Mother Nature proves us wrong (8 inches of snow on Sunday). So, while I was wallowing in the turn of the weather, I decided to whip up a batch of my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread for the boys and myself! It’s one we all enjoy because really…who doesn’t enjoy a warm sweet bread loaded with chocolate chips?!

There seems to be nothing like the smell of freshly baking bread in the oven when you’re dreading the impending snow storm!  We all know there is nothing like snacking on a warm sweet bread straight from the oven either!  There are probably hundreds of pumpkin chocolate chip bread recipes and while mine is nothing unique and there is nothing that sets it aside from the others, it’s pretty dang good, a classic, and super easy to throw together!

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Wordless Wednesday: Rescued

Colossians 1:13-14 “For he rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin.”

Creamy Parmesan Pork Chops

Do you ever have a random “ah-ha” moment when trying to figure out what to make for supper, well that’s exactly how these Creamy Parmesan Pork Chops came to be! No need to stand at the grill in the middle of Iowa winter to get a juicy flavorful pork chop with this recipe!

But first, an update!  Life has actually slowed down for our family!  Most of you know by now that we live sports season to sports season during the school year and we are in that happy month-long sabbatical from sports currently!  It’s the down-time between basketball and track! (Don’t worry, our first track meet is March 14th, so it’s literally only a month long!)  This means with less running, we get more time at home, more time together as a family!  T and I spent a warm 4 days in Branson a couple weeks ago.  We took R and a friend to an Iowa State basketball game recently, while M and I have played many games of Skip-Bo!  It’s all been bliss!

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Danna’s Bar-B-Que & Burger Shop: Branson, MO

Danna's Bar-B-Cue

Who doesn’t love some good barbecue?!  And who doesn’t love a quaint locally owned joint?!  That’s exactly what you get at Danna’s Bar-B-Que & Burger Shop in Branson, MO!  T and I recently returned from a 5 day getaway to Branson! Can you believe we haven’t had a vacation (just the two of us) since our honeymoon over 5 years ago?!  We decided it was time and Branson was an easy choice since we loved it so much last summer!

Picking where to eat when we are on vacation or going on a date can be the longest undertaking!  Usually I’m craving a specific cuisine or I can’t decide at all!  The first night we were in Branson, I left all the picking and deciding up to T!  This doesn’t happen often, so he took advantage of it!

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Beef & Barley Soup: Clean Eating

Winter in Iowa isn’t over and this Beef & Barley Soup not only is easy, but it is comforting on these cold, blustery days.  Weekends without lots of commitments means we stay home a lot and this means that I can experiment with recipes!  It also means I’m get lots of quality time with my three favorite guys and you all know how happy that makes me!

When I was about 8, I had really good beef and barley soup at a local restaurant and I’ve never forgotten that!  That was probably 27 years ago and I’ve never had beef and barley soup since! Now, I’m currently eating clean and working to incorporate more veggies and good grains into my diet.  And with this diet has come the joy of experimenting with my foods!

I Tame The Leftover Roast

When we cook a roast we seem to always have some left over!  Traditionally, I like to make my Saucy Beef Sandwiches, Easy Shredded Beef Enchiladas, or my Shredded Beef Tostadas.  Unfortunately, these aren’t exactly “clean” and so I needed to come up with something to use up leftover roast I have in my freezer! As I perused the grocery store my eyes fell on a box of barley and I instantly got excited! I knew that a batch of Beef & Barley Soup was in my future and that’s exactly what I set home to do!

Beef & Barley Soup: Clean Eating
Cuisine: Soups & Stews
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 3 cups cooked medium barley
  • 6 cups low-sodium beef broth
  • chopped carrots
  • celery, chopped
  • chopped onion
  • shredded beef
  • 1 tablespoon each: minced garlic, oregano, and parsley
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Cook the barley according to the directions on the box!
  2. Drain any excess water off barley when it is done cooking.
  3. In a large pot, combine the broth, carrots, celery, onion, and shredded beef.
  4. Add in the oregano, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  5. Allow this to simmer while the barley cooks.
  6. Once the barley is cooked, add to the broth and beef soup.
  7. Simmer for at least 15 minutes.

A few cooks notes: the amount of chopped carrots, celery, and onion are completely up to you!  I use about 1/2 cup each of celery and carrots and about 1/4 cup chopped onion.  As far as the shredded beef, use whatever is your preference, but I use about 2 cups worth.

Like with most soups, the longer you allow this soup to simmer, the better it will taste.  It also reheats exceptionally well, so it’s perfect for lunches!



Diner Night: A Family Tradition

Tradition…what does it mean to you?!  To me, it means almost anything centered around my family!  Are you ready for a rare sneak peak at our “at-home” life? It’s fun, I promise! Welcome to Diner Night!  This past weekend we enjoyed Diner Night and I wanted to share it with you because well…it’s so dang fantastic!

I can’t take credit for this tradition, T started this with the boys before I came around, but they welcomed me into this tradition and it’s still one our favorite at home activities. It’s nothing complicated, nothing fancy, but it’s ours and we all love it! Well, T might not enjoy it as much as the rest of uf since he’s the burger and malt guru, but still…

So, what will you need for a diner night?!  You’ll need burgers, french fries or tater tots, and supplies for malts/shakes.  Oh, and don’t forget your fun attitude and a game or two wouldn’t hurt either!

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“Clean” Open-Faced Tuna Melt – A Healthy Alternative

I love tuna and could eat it on a very regular basis. Ok, I’ll be honest, I really do eat it pretty regularly and I’ve recently fell in love with the tuna packets that don’t require you to drain the tuna.  And while I know they are more expensive, my time and energy are clearly worth more than that to me! Plus, who can actually successfully drain a can of tuna without losing some down the drain?!

I’m in the middle of another 21 Day Fix round as well as participating in the Live Healthy Iowa 10-Week Wellness Challenge.  Basketball season (hello, concession stand food) as well as my own bad habits have made it more difficult this time around and it’s cold which means I want creamy, gooey, warm foods!  Why are comfort foods so unhealthy?!

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