Tasty Tuesday: Crock-pot Rotisserie Chicken

This is by far the easiest recipe ever. I don’t even know if it qualifies as a recipe. It’s just a chop, dump, and turn-on-the-pot kind of recipe. The hardest part is remembering to take the chicken out to thaw the night before. Really.

The crock-pot is one of my favorite things. Could there be a better invention for a busy mom then something that will cook dinner for you while you’re away? Throw everything in the pot in the morning before work or taking the kids to school, and that little crock-pot works all day, filling the house with wonderful smells. It’s almost like having a personal chef. (Except you do have to do a little work.)

I’m especially grateful for my crock-pot in the middle of a busy school year. I can throw something in the pot in the morning and dinner is done. Maybe I have to toss a salad together for dinner, but seriously. Done.

What’s great about this recipe, besides the ease of it, is that you have plenty of leftovers for the next day’s lunch to make quesadillas, tacos, sandwiches, whatever. And the recipe itself is super versatile.

To start, you need 2 plain ole yellow onions, a couple stalks of celery, a couple carrots, a few cloves of garlic, and a bay leaf or two. (Bay leaves not pictured.)

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Give it all a rough chop and throw it in the bottom of your crock-pot. (I don’t even bother to peel the carrots; I can be kinda lazy.)

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Go ahead and nest it all in your slow cooker. It doesn’t have to be a single layer; just toss ’em in and make them be friends.

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On to the chicken. I always try and use organic chicken, but what’s great about using a whole chicken is that is becomes much more economical to use organic. The price per pound is almost always cheaper than breasts or even thighs. (If you struggle with being able to afford organic, try buying the whole bird; you get so many uses out of one little bird, stocks, broths, and plenty of meat that you can stretch out over 3 of more meals.) If you need another reason to start buying whole chickens, the risk of salmonella is much less since you deal with only one bird instead of several as you would in a package of breasts or thighs.

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Can you tell I’m a fan of using whole chickens?

Anyway, back to the recipe. Just lay the entire bird on top of the veg and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. This is where you can add more seasonings if you want: lemon zest and dill, chili and cumin, whatever! The basic recipe is yummy all by itself, but you can jazz it up with whatever you want.

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Toss in the bay leaves and cook on high for 5-6 hours. That’s it.You’re welcome.

Bonus: As the chicken cooks, you’ll notice that a good chunk of liquid accumulates around the bird, even though you didn’t add any liquid. DO NOT THROW OUT! This stuff is liquid gold, I tell ya. I call it chicken jello, but it’s all the delicious and nutritious stuff from the bones. It makes a fantastic flavor base for anything: soups, rice, quinoa, sauteed veggies, whatever! It has all of the wonderful benefits from the bone marrow and it’s soo flavorful. I just strained into a bowl or container and put it in the fridge. The fat rises to the top and you can scrape it off and toss it,  or, if the chicken’s organic, use that schmaltz for cooking. The gelatinous goo left behind is the gold.

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Crock-pot Rotisserie Chicken

Ingredients:

2 onions

2-3 celery Stalks

2-3 carrots

2-3 garlic cloves

1-2 bay leaves

1 whole (preferably organic) chicken

Roughly chop veg and line the bottom of the slow cooker. Place chicken on top of the veg and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Cook on high for 5-6 hours or until chicken is done. To serve: remove skin and pull meat from the bones.

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6 Weeks Post: Let’s Do This!

6 weeks, baby! Finally got to this point! Although in truth, I feel like the time flew by in a blur; funny how having a newborn makes time both slow down and speed up simultaneously. This will be my last weekly update. I will still be providing updates each month and posting regularly, but now that I’m 6 weeks, the major postpartum stuff is over.

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I’ve been cleared to return to everything. I’ve started to add more speed work to my runs and I will be started lifting and weight training now. Maybe even hitting up a boot camp class.

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I’m a goal kind of person. I love making goals for myself to keep me motivated and focused, whether it’s in fitness, home life, work life, whatever. I think making goals or a plan is such a key to growing as a person and becoming the best version of yourself. Otherwise we’re all just kind of bopping along with no real plan.

My fitness goals are a bit trickier to plan. Mostly because as  moms, especially ones who have just had a baby, we need to be flexible. Things come up. Kids get sick, schedules get crazy, injuries happen. That’s just the reality. So while I’m sharing my goals with you, please know that the number one priority is simply to try my best.

Goal # 1: Half marathon in July. I’d love to break 2:00, but I’d be thrilled with just a PR or even to finish. Body after baby is always a tricky thing to figure out, and while I feel great, you can’t predict injuries or schedules.

Goal #2: Sprint Triathlon in August. This one is totally up in the air. I’ve always wanted to do one, and never have before. I’m kind of waiting on my sister-in-law to confirm whether or not she wants to do it with me. Either way, it’ll encourage me to start cross training more.

Goal #3: 10k in September. I’ve never done a 10k before and there’s a small, easy one very close to me. The dream goal is to place within my age group. But no matter what, I’d set a 10k PR.

Goal #4: Marathon in November. This one is a stretch. Marathon training takes a lot of time and dedication, but we’ll see how it goes. My past two marathons have been quite disastrous. Rookie mistakes, injuries, etc. I would love to have a better marathon experience and to hit my goal time of about 4:30. (That hasn’t happened yet.)

Goal #5: Back to pre-baby weight by September (five months post). This is also a hard one to predict. I’ve said before that I have a hard time losing while breastfeeding, so I’ll do my best, but it may not happen. I don’t typically start weaning until about 6 months, so the weight loss might not happen until then. Who knows. I have about 13 pounds to lose, which, normally, would be a totally doable goal by September.

I’ll keep you posted throughout on the progress, but for now, here is the latest, (and last weekly) update:

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Baby Girl: She’s great. I’m almost feel bad saying that she’s been sleeping through the night pretty consistently for the last couple weeks. Her growth is great, and she’s starting to observe and watch more of the world around her.

Workouts: I’ve upped the mileage, and managed to work up to a 5 mile easy run. Since I started  speed work this week, I back off the mileage a bit, and will incorporate a day of speed work and a “long” run of 6 miles this coming week. It’s so important if you want to increase speed to incorporate speed work. It also is a BIG help for weight loss. Also will be starting weight training!

Nutrition: Still hit and miss. Sigh. I always plan out my meals and snacks a week in advance so I really shouldn’t have an excuse. (Which by the way, is such a great key to weight loss. You can see my blank menu planner here and fill it in yourself to help keep you on track.) Just be sure to stick to it and don’t go grazing outside of what you plan. And drink plenty of water!

Weight loss: Now that I’m at the 6 week mark, I am actively trying to lose weight. Workouts have always come easily for me and they are an excellent tool to lose or maintain weight, but nutrition is a HUGE part of weight loss. (It might be even more important than exercise.) It took me a long time to learn that you can’t outrun a bad diet, and I still struggle with it. The good news is, once I reach my goal weight, I can relax on the diet a LITTLE bit, and just continue working out to maintain my fitness.

I’m so happy to be at this point, and while I certainly have my work cut out for me, I know that time and hard work are all I need to reach my goals. It won’t be without it’s ups and downs (as you saw in my last post), but by setting goals and keeping myself accountable, I can do it. Let’s do this!

5 Weeks Post: Ups and Downs

It’s amazing the range of highs and lows a person can go through in one week’s time. But that’s life isn’t it? Postpartum is a journey just like every other aspect of our lives, and that journey comes with plenty of struggles. If you read my last post, you got an uncensored view of some of the struggles we face as moms.

The struggle is real, ladies.

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When that happens, you cannot throw in the towel. Absolutely not. Don’t do it. Seriously. Don’t. Every part of you will regret it if you give up now.

Gosh, I hope I wasn’t unclear.

Because something happens when we’re in the middle of drowning and we give up completely. We feel worse. It’s true. Whether we get sick of our house always being messy so we stop vacuuming because it’s futile, or we throw our hands in the air because no matter what we do, we can’t seem to lose the weight.

So we stop trying.

And you know what? We end up in exactly the same place we were before, and none too happy about it.

Life is hard. Motherhood is hard. Running is hard. But what do we gain from giving up when we face struggles? Nothing. That’s right, nothing but a guilty feeling and a messy house.

It’s often in the dark and painful places that we grow the most. They’re called growing pains for a reason. It’s not pleasant. It’s not fun. But these painful and difficult experiences are what mold you as the mother, person, and runner you need to be. Nobody gets call themselves a marathoner without experiencing pain. And nobody gets to enjoy the amazing blessings of motherhood without first going through pain. The more it’s worth doing, the greater the pain.

This past week was a struggle for me, and I had my moments of giving up. (Hello, Culver’s Concrete Mixer! If you don’t know what that is, it’s delicious ice cream.) But I kept running. Because I know when I start letting that go, the rest will follow. I refuse to let that happen.

(Random side note: on my worst day, I had the best run. Funny how things work out like that!)

Here’s the 5 week update:

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5 weeks post

Baby Girl: She’s settled into a bit of a routine, but I’m not getting my hopes up. Let’s be honest, this week’s routine is next week’s joke. But she’s been fun, and able to spend a bit more time not being held, so that’s a blessing. She’s grown so much already! I can’t believe she’s already a month old. Just crazy. It actually kind of makes me wish time would slow a little. Kind of.

Workouts: I was able to get 4 runs in, and I made it up to 4 miles. Slowly increasing my mileage, and the speed is naturally coming along. I do plan on starting speed work soon, but definitely waiting until 6 weeks post for that. I want to double check with my doc before really upping the intensity. Still working on the old core, and I increased the intensity of that. As antsy as I get, it’s so important to start slow and build from there.

Nutrition: Well, still not the best, but not the worst either.When I was having a bad day, I couldn’t get enough chocolate. Go figure. I think many of us are stress eaters or blues eaters, and that’s something I need to work on. Some of the best advice to follow is, when your stressed or upset, don’t eat. Find stress relief or an outlet somewhere else. Not food.

Weight loss: Nada. Sigh. I have to tell myself to be patient and just relax. I have one more week before I really focus on losing the weight and I just have to chill out. Baby Girl seems to be thriving, so I have no worries about my milk or our routine, but I will make myself wait until the 6 week mark.

We all face struggles, whether in our running, motherhood, or just life. But those struggles will only defeat us when we throw in the towel and quit. How do you deal with the struggles in your life?

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Truth: Postpartum Kinda Sucks

Warning: This is a frustrated rant from a frustrated momma.

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If you’ve been following this blog, perhaps you’ve been a little disconcerted by the positive tone. (At least I’ve tried to keep it positive.) The whole, “Keep going! You can do it! Don’t stop believing – yada, yada!” chirps like an annoying friend who keeps trying to get you to try sushi or join her gym. I want to motivate you as well as myself because sometimes we need a kick in the pants.

But sometimes we hit a wall.

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I hit one today. And I hit it pretty hard. Now, this should be the point where I say I smashed through that wall and came out stronger, but that would be a lie. The wall won. I walked away from the wall bloodied and broken. Ouchie.

Because the truth is: sometimes postpartum sucks. It’s not all rainbows and kittens, people. It’s ups and downs, never a spare moment, no more dates, and your pants don’t fit kind of sucking. Man, does your self esteem take a royal beating. You feel ugly and fat. You’re sleep deprived, and you haven’t showered in two days.You have no patience or sympathy for your children or random strangers. You’re not pleasant to be around. You want to share these feelings with your husband, but the your too physically and mentally exhausted to get the words out.

So you write a blog post instead covering all the uncomfortable truths that are beating you down:

Truth #1: Being overweight sucks. I’ve tried to be upbeat about the baby weight, and I’ve bared my post baby belly for the world to see. Maybe you think I’m showboating. Maybe you think I’m brave. But the truth is, I’m carrying 15 extra lbs that I don’t like. I think most of us don’t like being overweight. Whether it’s that last 5 lbs to fit into a wedding dress, the 30 lbs of baby weight, or the 100 lbs that keep you from truly loving your God-given body, it sucks. (And if you are overweight and love your body, good for you!) This isn’t about comparison or competition. It’s commiserating. I don’t like my body right now, and I know I’m not the only one who feels that way. So can we please spread the love? Love each other, encourage each other, and support each other because we have enough suckiness.

Truth #2: Being sleep deprived sucks. It’s a form a torture, really. People will tell you to sleep when baby sleeps, but guess what? When you have other children, or a job, or insomnia, you can’t sleep! There is nothing more powerful than a newborn who will deny you sleep. Talk about bringing grown woman to tears on a nightly basis. I can get mad, or frustrated, or scream into a pillow, and it doesn’t change a thing. That tiny little person refuses to sleep, and she wants company.

Truth #3: Hormones suck. One moment I’m Mary Freaking Poppins, and the next I’m the Wicked Witch of the West, green face and everything. I can get irrationally angry and impatient. I can burst into tears over a commercial. (The one with the Olympians and their moms? I weep.) I can snarl and snap like a rabid dog, and then turn around and need a big, giant hug from my husband. And then get mad that he didn’t shave. (Please pray for my husband, the poor guy.) There’s nothing to do about it except wait it out. Thank you, hormones.

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Truth #4: Kids sometimes suck. I love my children more than life itself, but sometimes they kind of suck. They’re sinners, they screw up, and they have bad days. My four year old deliberately spits water on the floor. My two year old screams and throws an epic tantrum when his brother calls him a “bad guy.” My newborn projectile spits up down my chest. Potty accidents, poop, vomit, spit up, blood, tears, boogers – so many gross bodily fluids! I keep telling myself it’s a good thing they’re cute.

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Truth #5: Peeing yourself sucks. A sneeze, a hearty laugh, a small jump, and OOPS! It doesn’t always happen, but heaven help you when it does. Luckily there are products you can purchase to deal with the LBL, but still. Not really a boost to the ego. And of course, when you’re sleep deprived, dealing with children, and overweight, the sudden leakage can lead to tears. (See Truth #3)

With all this weighing me down, what did I do?

I went running. Then I wrote this. Then I had ice cream.

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It might not be the perfect solution, but it took away some of the suckiness. Now I just hope I can get some sleep.

(Note: I good chunk of this was written one handed while holding a little night owl.)

 

 

4 Weeks Post: Getting Back to Me

As I mentioned in my last post, I started running. It’s been great. Not because I always feel great, but because it allows me to reconnect with the part of me that doesn’t have baby poo on her face (true story) or playdough under her finger nails.

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Some of my runs this past week have actually been kind of a struggle. Turns out that coming back after a baby isn’t jumping right back into my pre-pregnancy fitness. Who woulda thunk, right? The good news is I’m at the fitness level that took probably about 12-18 months after my second baby to achieve, and very close to pre-pregnancy. I’m hopeful I can get back to pre-pregnancy fitness within 6-8 months. (Just in case you needed more motivation to continue your fitness throughout pregnancy!)

But as I was saying, these short runs this past week have been such a blessing. There’s something that happens after a woman has a baby. She transforms from a beautiful, intelligent woman who can carry on a conversation, wear high heels, and has time to do her hair, to a crazy, sleep-deprived zombie who days are spent changing diapers to a soundtrack of the Paw Patrol theme song. High heels have been traded in for yoga pants, and intelligence has been turned into “Mommy brain.”

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The “Mom Brain” is real.

What happened?

It’s easy for us to get tied up with all the “mommy” jobs we have to do, and often that leaves nothing left for ourselves. I’m not saying sacrifice your children’s needs just to make sure you get your hair done. That would be selfish and irresponsible. But I do think it’s important to reconnect with the things we enjoy that help make us who we are. It could be anything really, but one of the things for me is running.

I’ve been running since I was fourteen. That’s a seventeen year relationship. Have I always been consistent? No. But having that one outlet where I can just plug into my thoughts and get back to me is pretty fantastic. It helps remind me that I’m strong and can endure.

Those moments I’m able to dedicate to me, make me a better mom. I’m happier when I’m able to get out and run. (Heaven help the child  who throws a tantrum when I haven’t had a run. We’ll both be crying.) I have more patience and energy to keep up with my kids. And it gives me a much needed mental break. It’s amazing what physical activity can do for the mood and mind!

Once I hit the 6 week mark, I plan on incorporating more strength training and speedwork to my workouts as well as tweek my diet to start shedding some of this baby weight.

Here are the 4 week updates:

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4 weeks post

Baby Girl: She’s been doing really well; noticeably filling out. Gotta love the baby cheekers! She still sleeps like a champ. In fact, one night she gave us almost 9 hours! I almost had to wake her because my chest hurt so badly. She still wants to be held all the time, and I’m trying not to get frustrated, but sometimes things need to get done. (Like feeding my other two children.) These newborn snuggles last only a short while, and I need to enjoy them while I can!

Workouts: I managed about 5 runs this past week ranging from 1-3 miles. Pace is actually quicker than my pregnancy pace by about a minute and slower than my pre-pregnancy easy pace by 30 seconds. I’m pretty happy with that considering after both previous pregnancies I was running about 2-3 minutes slower per mile. I’ve lessened the yoga to about 2 times this past week but I’m still working on that core regularly. The good news is the DR is basically gone. I have about a 1-2 finger gap around my belly button which is actually pretty normal.

Nutrition: I did kind of fall off the wagon this week. Between indulgences on Mother’s Day and some sick kiddos, my nutrition got a little out of wack. (C’mon, I think on Mother’s Day, Momma can use a little frozen custard, right?) So I’m trying to reign that back in. But that’s life isn’t it? Holidays and parties, sick kids and busy jobs. Sometimes we’re not perfect, but it’s not about perfection. It’s about trying to be consistent and not completely throwing in the towel when we stumble.

Weight loss: Uh, I actually gained a couple pounds. Not really what I wanted, but things have been a little crazy and my diet was out of wack so that factors in. Maybe water retention, maybe growth in muscle, maybe stress,  maybe my scale was just a jerk. (A girl can dream, right?) Either way, I wasn’t thrilled. Gotta tell myself to not freak out. I’m not in weight loss mode yet; still giving myself a couple weeks before I start that to ensure Baby Girl and I have a good breastfeeding rhythm down. Sometimes you just gotta take what your body gives you.

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I’m look forward to getting out more this week and upping my mileage slowly but surely. It’s already getting easier!

Introducing Tasty Tuesday: Banana Chocolate Shake

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In my effort to encourage healthy living, I decided to add a feature to this blog. Here is the first Tasty Tuesday recipe!

Every Tuesday, (or the Tuesdays I can), I plan to share a favorite recipe with you: easy dinners, guilt-free treats, kid friendly meals, etc. I enjoy cooking, but I REALLY enjoy eating, and I love finding ways to enjoy food, real food.

I may be generalizing when I say that women crave chocolate. But I don’t care. I love chocolate, and I think most women do. Perhaps it’s something about our hormones, cycles and magnesium levels. Perhaps not. Whatever the reason, the chocolate craving is real. Most of the time, I say go for it; get yourself some really good dark chocolate (I prefer mine frozen, don’t ask why) and enjoy every little bit.

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But when you’re trying to lose weight, eat more healthfully, or just want to add a little more nutrition, a girl’s gotta get creative.

This banana chocolate shake was something I came up with when I did Whole 30 with my husband. I wanted something nutritious, and chocolaty without any sugar or other garbage. And it’s a cinch to make! Best of all? 4 ingredients. Seriously.

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Banana Chocolate Shake

  • 1-2 bananas (depending on size)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (be sure there is no sugar)
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1-2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk (depending on desired thickness)

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Blend together in a blender, food processor, or baby food grinder. (Which is what I use. No joke.)  You could also add a scoop of protein powder just to up the nutrition factor. Enjoy!

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About Me

Welcome! I’m Cate and I’m a runner, momma of two little boys and a baby girl, and teacher. I live in Wisconsin, and love it. Encouraged by my family and faith, I try to balance life as a mother, teacher, and wannabe fast runner. Have a look around and thanks for stopping!