Breakfast Hash Brown Cups

Breakfast

One of my favorite memories growing up is helping my dad cook our big Sunday breakfast every week…or probably more accurately, stealing pieces of bacon while chatting with my dad in the kitchen. I wish I would’ve paid more attention to his cooking skills, but I loved that Sunday morning tradition and hope that my husband and I can recreate it for our kids!

This recipe is your basic breakfast: sausage, eggs, and hash browns–yummy! It’s perfection because it combines my favorite breakfast items into one perfect muffin-sized piece of heaven. And even better? These little cups won’t leave you feeling greasy or guilty! Sign me up!


Smartpoints: 4 points for one
Serves: 6 (makes twelve cups, we had two each)
Adapted from: Emily Bites

Ingredients:

  • 20 oz refrigerated shredded hash brown potatoes (ex. Simply Potatoes)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • 4 turkey sausage patties
  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 egg whites
  • 6 Tbsp shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:

  1.  Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a 12-cup muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine hash browns, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Mix until well coated.
  3. Spoon hash browns evenly into each of the muffin tins. Then, press the hash browns down into the cups and up the sides. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until edges are lightly browned.
  4. Meanwhile, cut the sausages into small pieces. Spray a skillet with cooking spray and cook the sausage on medium heat until browned.
  5. In a separate large bowl, combine eggs and egg whites. Whisk together until thoroughly beaten. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Evenly spread the browned sausage pieces and shredded cheese into each hash brown cup.
  7. Then, spoon the egg mixture over the top of each cup. Put the cups back into the oven, and bake for an additional 15 minutes (or until the eggs are set and cups are golden brown).

Skinny Chimichangas

skinnychimichangas
I hope everyone reading this has experienced the amazing creation that is a chimichanga. If not, you are missing out and need to go try one ASAP. It’s pretty much a deep-fried burrito…cue the heart attack, am I right? But so worth it!

I love a good challenge in the kitchen, and ever since joining Weight Watchers, my challenges have been all about finding yummy recipes that are still healthy. I came across this skinny chimichanga recipe and hoped and prayed it would be amazing haha and it didn’t disappoint! This is a new family favorite–the husband and sister ask me to make it on a weekly basis.

I definitely recommend whipping up some guac to throw on top (of course, it’ll add some points, but it’s definitely worth it)! Try these skinny chimichangas out–I promise you’ll love them!


Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

Smartpoints: 7 points for one
Serves: 3 (we had two each between the three of us)
Adapted from: Recipe Girl

Ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 8 ounces of salsa
  • 7 0z can of diced mild green chiles
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • Six 8-inch flour tortillas

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
  2. Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat.
  3. Add turkey, onion, garlic, chili powder, oregano and cumin. Break up the turkey and let cook until browned.
  4. Stir in salsa and chiles, bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat and simmer until the flavors are blended and the mixture thickens slightly, (about 5 minutes).
  6. Remove from heat and stir in the cheese.
  7. Meanwhile, wrap the tortillas in tin foil and place in the oven to warm for 10 minutes.
  8. Place about 1/2 cup of the filling into the center of each tortilla. Fold in the sides, then roll to enclose the filling. Place the chimichangas, seam-side down, on the baking sheet.
  9. Lightly spray the tops of the tortillas with nonstick spray. Bake until golden and crispy, about 20 minutes (do not turn).

Your Doctor Isn’t God…and other Medical Revelations

yourdoctor

Being a parent is challenging in so many different ways.

But do you want to know what one of the hardest things is? You are literally in charge of a person’s life. Their health and medical decisions are up to you.

I’m sure most parents feel the pressure of this great responsibility. I have a hard enough time figuring out my own medical decisions, let alone an infant’s!


When I got pregnant, I assumed I’d go with the flow and do whatever the doctors told me was right in regards to the health of my child.

But as the time got closer to having my baby, everything changed.

I was 36 weeks pregnant and went in for my weekly checkup. Upon my arrival, I was told about the Tdap vaccine. (Well, not so much told about, more like guilted about.)

The doctor explained that it was very routine and they were giving it to pregnant women around this time in the pregnancy, in the hopes that it might transfer to the baby before birth, so they could be protected out in the world from whooping-cough.

I had never even heard of this. And yet, I almost just said, “Sure thing, Doc! Load me up!” But something in me took pause, and I told her I’d think about it and let her know at my appointment the following week.

So I went home and did research. I wanted to know more about this, as my gut reaction was skepticism. I asked relatives and friends who had babies just a few years earlier and discovered none of them were given a vaccine in their third trimester. That’s when I learned it was a very recent recommendation by the CDC.

Obviously then I started thinking, “Well if my mom didn’t have it and these more recent moms didn’t have it, and all of those babies were fine, why do I need it?”

I couldn’t find a single article, not on google or any scientific publication, that proved the theory that getting this vaccine so late in my pregnancy would do any good. There were no studies done that showed positive or negative side effects. And yet, they could recommend it to the point of guilting me about it.

So with that, I decided it was not a good idea.

In addition to this, I had gotten the Tdap a few years prior, and it supposedly is good for ten years.

So I went to my appointment the following week, and felt like I had to give a huge speech on why I didn’t want to get the vaccine. At the end, the nurse wrote down, “Patient refused Tdap.” “Refused?” I thought to myself. I just politely declined after being made to feel like I would be killing my baby for doing so.

**Sidenote: The day after my son was born, I got the Tdap vaccine in the hospital to make sure I was all up-to-date so people would calm down about it.


After my son was born, I had more interesting encounters with medical professionals.

When we started going to see the pediatrician for his visits, we were given a sheet with the CDC’s recommended vaccination schedule–I was shocked.

How could they give this itty, bitty human three or four shots at one time?!

Now, I feel like I need to be clear here: I am very pro-vaccines! I want my children to be vaccinated–I just want to do it differently. This is something I hadn’t planned on before having kids.

But when I looked at the schedule handed to me and then at my brand new baby, my mama instincts told me something wasn’t right. And if there’s something I’ve learned since day one of being pregnant, it’s that you should always listen to your mama instincts.

I decided that it would be irresponsible for me as a parent to allow my baby to be shot up with various vaccines, especially in one sitting, if I had no idea what was in those vaccines. Are doctors typically looking out for your health and well-being? Of course. But I decided it was my duty as a parent to do what was best for my child, not what is best or easiest for the doctor’s office or the government.

So I did research. Lots of it. And I didn’t like what I learned.

How can doctors safely recommend giving multiple vaccines with loads of aluminum or mercury in one sitting? I understand that some vaccines need these components to fight off otherwise deadly or scary diseases, but can’t they alter their schedules so that only one of these vaccines is given at a time then?

I’m not saying such vaccines will lead your child to have autism or permanent damage. I’m just pointing out the obvious: when did we decide it was okay to inject a brand new human with ALUMINUM and MERCURY?!

After doing as much research as I could handle, I found an alternate plan that I really felt comfortable with. The plan would allow my son to still get all of the vaccinations before he reached school-age, but would just break up the amount of shots given in one sitting, especially in consideration of those containing sketchy components.

All this plan did was require more work for me–it meant instead of getting four shots at his every-other-month checkup, he would get two at the checkup, and two the next month when I’d bring him just to get two more shots (and not have a checkup).

This plan didn’t bother me in the slightest, because it gave me comfort. I knew if he had a reaction, we’d know it was from one of two shots he had (instead of four), and that I was helping him get the safest amount of aluminum/mercury possible (if you can call putting any amount of that into one’s body safe).

From day one, my son’s doctor seemed okay with our beliefs. However, the office didn’t, as they first sent out a form explaining the dangers and risks of an alternative schedule (CHILL OUT, he’s not going to get polio)!

One time when we brought him in on the “off-month” for just the shots, a nurse said, “When I had kids, we never questioned the doctors.”

I’m not even surprised to get backlash anymore, I just expect it.

I never thought I would question a doctor or be one to follow my own plan, but having my own child changed how I perceive so many things.


Here’s what I’ve learned: The doctor is NOT God. The CDC is NOT God. They are not omnipotent or omniscient. They do not know my child like I do, nor do they care about my child like I do. In the end, I am going to do what’s best for my family, regardless of how that aligns with anyone else’s plan. We’re all just trying to do the best that we can, and that looks different for each and every family.

Greek Chicken Salad

greekchickensalad
Sometimes I just crave a good salad.

And I’m not talking about a wimpy, little side salad. I love my salads loaded up with lots of veggies and protein so I’ll be satisfied.

I’ve discovered some amazing salads at restaurants, but this Greek Chicken Salad takes the cake (or, veggies haha). I ate it three days in a row and still think it’s one of the best salads I’ve ever had! It’s super healthy and full of flavor!

I hope you love it as much as I do!


Prep time: 20 minutes
Smartpoints: 6
Serves: 4
Adapted from: Weight Watchers

Ingredients:

  • 6 tbsp water
  • 1.5 tbsp olive oil
  • Zest from one lemon
  • Fresh lemon juice from one lemon
  • 1.5 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1lb of chicken breasts
  • 4 cups of romaine lettuce, thickly shredded
  • 1 cup of canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 of a red onion, diced
  • 1/2 of a red bell pepper, diced (or roasted red pepper if you prefer)
  • 1/2 of a cucumber, sliced
  • 1/4 cup of feta cheese, crumbled

Instructions:

  1. Cook/grill chicken.
  2. In a bowl, combine water, olive oil, lemon zest & juice, garlic, and salt & pepper (this is your dressing).
  3. Place lettuce on plates and arrange vegetables, chickpeas, chicken, and cheese on top. Drizzle dressing over salad.
  4. Enjoy!

Five Things Young Moms Are Tired Of Hearing

fivethingsyoungmoms

When I was younger, I envisioned some things about my future, one of which included having children at a young age. I thought about my future and I saw myself getting married young, having kids, staying at home with said kids until they went to school, and then starting my career. This made perfect sense to me, and this is the journey I’m currently on.

Despite the fact that I’m doing what I love, young moms are made to feel like they’re wasting their lives or are missing out on life. Here are commonly said things to young moms that we’re tired of hearing.

1.  “You’re missing out on your twenties.”

I got engaged my junior year of college. And while I attended a small Christian university where marriage was talked about ALL the time, it was still unusual to most people to be engaged at the age of 21. My husband and I got married when I was 22, and we had our first baby when I was 23.

After announcing our pregnancy, I felt things shift in some of my friendships. Maybe people started to view me as old or boring, or thought that I would change significantly. While I still felt like the old me, and still do, my priorities have definitely shifted. I’m in bed by 10 every night because I love sleep, I look forward to quiet time for myself, and a special date night with the husband is our favorite take-out and a movie on netflix. I recently had a friend suggest that I was missing out by not being able to go to bars and get drunk. My initial thought was, “Why would I want to go to a dirty bar? What’s the point of getting drunk?!” Followed by, “Eh, I can do anything I want in my 40s when my kids are all grown and out of the house.”

While some people might see being a parent in your 20s as a waste of your youth, I differ. I have so much energy at this stage in my life, I can’t imagine trying to handle a newborn ten or fifteen years from now. For me, there is nothing more fulfilling I could be doing in my twenties than raising my babies!

2. “You have your whole life to have kids.”

I have never understood the concept of making your career your life. If you’re doing something that you truly love and that brings you joy, then that’s amazing and most of the world is probably pretty envious of you.

For me, I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Most of my peers always seemed to be pretty career-driven. When older adults asked them what they wanted to do when they grew up, they could name it. But when I was asked, I never felt as passionate about any career as I did about being a mom. To me, that is the most important job in the world.

Whenever someone said to me, “You have your whole life to have kids,” I disagreed wholeheartedly. Every day is a gift, and no tomorrow is a guarantee. In my opinion, I have my whole life to get a job. Right now, I’d rather live in the today and do what makes me happy, and that’s being a mom.

3. “Why did you even go to college?”

Yes, I have a college degree. Yes, I have lots of student loans I’ll be paying off for years for said degree. I loved college. I love learning and I’m a huge nerd. I went to college because at some point, I would like a “real career”–it’s just that having a “real career” was never my first priority. I knew I would at some point like to work in my field, but I always knew that would be in my 30s, once my kids were in school (and starting a career in your 30s is still young by the way)!

4. “Are you really religious or something?”

I’m a Christian, but my faith is not correlated with my decision to have a baby. Believe it or not, some people actually want to have babies at a young age.

5. “Kids are so expensive! How can you afford one?”

While kids do add more expenses to one’s budget, the truth is, having a baby at a young age makes this easier for us. We never lived a “luxurious” life. We’ve always had to have a strict budget and live frugally–this is nothing new to us. Our son has been exclusively nursing for his first nine months of life (with the exception of some pureed fruits/veggies and table food), so there has been no increase in our grocery bills. Most of his clothes for the first year were given to us as gifts. Honestly, there haven’t been too many out-of-pocket expenses yet. I know there will be, but we’ve always been careful with our money so this is never something we’ve been concerned about.

 

The average age a woman in America has her first child is steadily increasing. Is that because women want to be more successful in the workplace? Or maybe some women just don’t even want children. That’s fine. You do whatever you want to do. But next time you come across a young mom, don’t make assumptions about her based on your own experience. For example, just because I couldn’t imagine becoming a mom in my late 30s, doesn’t mean I need to criticize others for making that decision. We are all different and have different goals in life. Wouldn’t it be great if we could come together and support one another in the choices we make for our own lives?