Simple, Healthy Spaghetti Sauce

I have always been a big pasta fan! Family dinners growing up often consisted of my Dad’s pasta sauce, more than one helping and a few pieces of Italian bread.  Surprisingly, we’re not Italian!

Over the years, as I’ve gotten older, carbohydrates, large portion sizes, and 3 pregnancies had really hit the waistline!! I switched from traditional pasta to wheat pasta; and recently I developed a huge love for Spaghetti Squash. Seriously, it’s soooo good! I also made adjustments to the Sauce I was using and thought I would share this simple, yet healthy recipe.

What you’ll Need:

  • Olive Oil (for cooking)
  • 1 Pepper (any color)
  • 1 Onion (red or sweet)
  • 1- 14 oz. can Diced Tomatoes (plain or with seasonings)
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Minced Garlic
  • 1 Jar Organic Spaghetti Sauce (I used Pellicano’s)

**This is a chunky vegetable sauce, but you can add 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey to make it a meat sauce and add some protein.**

Step 1: Diced the Pepper and Onion.

Step 2: Saute the vegetables in Olive Oil with 1 tsp minced Garlic (1-2 cloves) and 1 tsp Italian Seasoning. Cook until softened.

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Step 3: Add the can of diced tomatoes. Let cook 1-2 minutes then add the jar of Spaghetti Sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes.

 

Step 4: Serve over Pasta of your choice, or as I mentioned, my new favorite Spaghetti Squash. Enjoy!!

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Condensed Recipes Details

Ingredients:

  • Olive Oil (for cooking)
  • 1 Pepper (any color)
  • 1 Onion (red or sweet)
  • 1- 14 oz. can Diced Tomatoes (plain or with seasonings)
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Minced Garlic
  • 1 Jar Organic Spaghetti Sauce (I used Pellicano’s)

**This is a chunky vegetable sauce, but you can add 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey to make it a meat sauce and add some protein.**

  1. Diced the Pepper and Onion.
  2. Saute the vegetables in Olive Oil with 1 tsp minced Garlic (1-2 cloves) and 1 tsp Italian Seasoning. Cook until softened.
  3. Add the can of diced tomatoes. Let cook 1-2 minutes then add the jar of Spaghetti Sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  4. Serve over Pasta of your choice, or as I mentioned, my new favorite Spaghetti Squash. Enjoy!!

 

Until next time……Thea 🙂

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February’s Successes and Failures

I heard on the news that February here is the Rochester area was the coldest month on record! It was a doozy of a month…! It was so cold and snowy all month that it left everyone cranky and full of cabin fever! I tried to stay positive and did take some really cool pictures (below), but I am ready for warmer weather and some time outside!

The picture on the left is of Lake Ontario. Check out how frozen it is!! I don’t ever recall seeing ice as far as the eye can see, pretty cool! The other pictures are of my side and back yards.

Winter Collage

With all the cold and snow, well, I just can’t run outside safely. There is very little shoulder on the sides and snow and ice all over the roads. With my track record of injuries and the state of my back, it just hasn’t been worth chancing it. So my half marathon training really just started yesterday. It was a sunny, 20 degree day and the roads were pretty clear for the first time in a long time. It felt great to get out!

Here’s an overview of my successes and failures for February in regards to my resolution goals. (2015 Resolutions)

Health and Fitness:

  • Even though I got in limited running miles for the month I am still feeling confident I’ll be able to get in enough training for my half marathon in late April.
  • I did however do strength training twice a week, Yay! I am going to switch out my cross training to one day of yoga for runners and one day of Pilates. This will help me keep a focus on my core (which needs constant work to support my back issues; especially after 3 c-sections), but also keeping my cross training activities impact low and focusing on stretching and flexibility.
  • So far for the year I have lost 8 pounds. I’m actually at the lowest weight I have been in about 8 years!!! It’s crazy when I think of that. I’ve done the clean eating challenge three times since the New Year and I am also following the Weight Watchers program online. Well, being honest, I haven’t been as committed to tracking on Weight Watchers, but one thing I have learned over the years of having children, and losing weight, is that even following the program 75% of the time helps me maintain and lose small amounts.

Connections:

Vday me and Jon

  • The Hubs:
    • This month my husband and I were able to get out on Valentine’s Day for an afternoon lunch at Cheesecake Factory and then to see American Sniper! It’s been so nice to have one-on-one time, out of the house, two months in a row. I am definitely going to keep this as a priority going forward.
    • My sister also let us borrow all except the final season of Sons of Anarchy, which is really awesome! We’ve already watched two seasons this month. One of my favorite things is to just sit together and watch TV, I have no idea why, but it’s my fav. That being said, we don’t always like the same shows so when we find something we both enjoy and want to watch together it’s a total win!
  • Friends:
    • Weather and sickness really put a damper on seeing many friends this month. I had to cancel dinner and a movie with one of my best girlfriends because the roads were just terrible and it was about 2 degrees! Plus, we had to reschedule a family gathering because my girlfriend and her daughter were sick. Really, Spring, you can come now!!
    • I was able to see some good friends to celebrate their daughter’s birthday this month. Only Piece’s and I were able to go because our younger two were sick, big surprise I know! Our busy, growing families have made our get togethers limited, so we rarely see each other anymore. I was very happy that I was able to see them since they moved this weekend out of state.
  • Family:
    • We were able to have some great family fun this month. I went with Pieces & Mr. Man, my Mom, Sister, Nephew, and a few cousins and their child to Disney on Ice. It was SOOO much fun! I love to just watch them watch and experience new things. The look on their faces is priceless!
    • My big girl Piece’s got her hair cut yesterday! This might not seem like a big deal, but she cut off 10 inches to donate to Lock of Love, so it was indeed a big deal and so exciting! I think I was more nervous than she was. I am definitely attached to my hair! But man, I was so proud of her for being so brave and donating her hair to a great cause! (picture below)

Reese Hair cut Collage

De-cluttering:

  • Yikes, as usual this was my downfall! As I mentioned in an earlier post this month, (Little Victories), I did have some small successes but I didn’t come close to my 40 bags in 40 days challenge or make much progress with de-cluttering other areas of the house. This week however I was able to clean out the main floor bathroom closet. I couldn’t believe how much stuff was in there! I am going to work on this area in March.

March Goals:

  • Stick with my training schedule for the half marathon and follow the Weight Watchers program more closely. I have considered doing the Beach Body 21 Day Fix but I haven’t been able to come up with the money for the cost yet, so we will see.
  • Reschedule and have that movie and dinner night with my girlfriend G!
  • Date night with the Hubs
  • We have two family get togethers scheduled already for this month. Looking forward to them!
  • Make a cleaning schedule for each week on Sundays.
  • List the items I have been accumulating to sell on eBay!
  • De-cluttering; clean out the two other closets on the main floor AND sort through and get rid of some older, unused toys! We have WAY too many!

Hoping I can keep to these goals and really make March count after a lack luster February! I’ll likely be posting only 1-2 times a week because as much as I love it, it does take up a lot of time. Plus, I’m picking up a part time job once a week and with all the additional running I’ll be doing, I am going to need to cut back!

Have a great month everyone!!

Until next time… Thea 🙂

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2015 Resolution- January Recap

It was a busy, fun month trying to keep with these resolution goals! Here’s a recap of what I was able to accomplish this month along with some new helpful tips!

Health and Fitness:

  • Nutrition: I did the free 5 day clean eating challenge twice in January and was able to lose 6lbs! I generally eat pretty healthy but it was great to have my meals planned out for the day with the correct calories already calculated.
  • Fitness: This past week I didn’t get in any runs, but I did 4 circuit strength training workouts. I have a treadmill but I prefer to run outside and it’s just been too cold and slick on the roads. I’m going to be making my training calendar for my first half marathon of the year and will be posting it for anyone interested in seeing how I train, or possibly training as well!
  • HELPFUL FITNESS TIP:If you have Time Warner Cable they offer FREE On Demand workouts on the Sports and Fitness on Demand channel. They are under the Sportskool category. They have Yoga, Pilates, strength training and even kids workouts available!

Connections: I had a GREAT month with my little family and was also able to spend some great time with friends, family and of course my love. Here’s a list of a few things I was able to fit in!

  • Date night for some sushi with my the hubs
  • Our daughter started dance and our son started soccer
  • Movie night with a girlfriend
  • NYC with my sister and cousins
  • 2 family outings to visit with friends
  • And two hikes with the kids at my parents

Organization:

  • 40 bags Challenge- Let’s just say I’m still very behind! I’m doing this to be honest so I’m not going to lie. I may need to complete this within 50-60 days, and I’m ok with that. I just want to keep making progress! Trying to do this challenge along with the clean eating challenge has been difficult to say the least!! Instead of having a goal to fill a certain number of bags I’m going to be making a weekly plan of what area of the house I want to focus on to de-clutter and organize.
  • January Accomplishments:
    • Organized and cleaned all of the kitchen counters and recycling area. (More before and after below)
    • Cleaned out and scrubbed the refrigerator
    • Cleaned out 4 cupboards and 3 drawers. (one of which was the junk drawer)
    • Went through and matched all the socks from my overflowing unmatched sock bin. Threw away the old unmatched socks and left a small bin for the remaining.
    • I shined my sink for the first time in my life. I mean, obviously I clean it but I ended up accidentally shining it in 5 minutes. Check out my helpful tips below to see how!
  • HELPFUL CLEANING TIPS:I can’t tell you how many random cleaners I used to try to get stuff cleaned and sanitized that don’t work very well. But honestly, mother knows best! My mom has told me that baking soda and vinegar is a cheap easy cleaner and vinegar is actually a sanitizer. I’ve used them for a while to sanitize the drains and so on but this week I had a brillo scrubber I was scrubbing it with and it started to shine up really nice. It took me about 3-5 minutes of scrubbing to get the sink sparkling! Here’s a link to some info regarding vinegar uses and cleaning benefits: http://greencleaning.about.com/od/GreenCleaningResources/g/Vinegar.htm. And here is a link regarding how to make all natural vinegar spray cleaners: http://www.theyummylife.com/Natural_Citrus_Vinegar_Cleaners

counter beforeoven counter after

February Goals:

I read a resolution article that recommended making a MONTHLY resolution instead of a yearly one. I LOVE this idea! I’ve found that focusing on weekly goals in fitness has helped me be able to do things I never thought I could do, like run a half marathon and so on. So I’m going to be setting monthly goals for this year to help me keep on track. Details on my goals to come soon!

Happy Monday everyone! Now off to build an obstacle course for the kids on our first snow day of the year!

Until next time…… Thea 🙂

Progress and Helpful Tips

Hello All! Here’s a brief overview regarding my progress on my yearly goals and some helpful tips I thought I would share.

  • Resolutions:
    • Health and Fitness:
      • I’ve been trying some new Clean Eating recipes and will be doing another 5 day Challenge this week. I’ll be posting my weight loss for the month next weekend. Accountability! (If you are interested in doing a Free 5 Day Clean Eating Challenge feel free to let me know. It is through a Facebook Group!)
      • I’ve gotta amp up my strength training; the past 2 weeks I’ve only gotten in 1 workout a week in that area. I’ve still been playing soccer and running weekly though.
        • Helpful Tip: I’ve had many people over the years ask me how I fit in workouts being home with my kids. I don’t have a gym membership so I do a lot while my kids nap (if I get them all napping at the same time!). Here is a sample workout that I do right in my living room while watching TV. 
          • Do as many as you can of each exercise for one minute. (Complete each cycle 2-3 times for a 20 -30 minute workout. (If you aren’t sure how to do the exercise check YouTube for a brief demo.))
            1. Jumping Jacks
            2. Push Ups (Regular or on your knees)
            3. High Knees or Knee Lifts
            4. Plank
            5. Squats or Jumping Squats
            6. 30 second Side Plank (each side)
            7. Side Kicks
            8. Russian Twists
            9. Back Kicks
            10. Rest
          • (If you try the workout I’d love to know your feedback!)
    • Connections:
      • This weekend my husband and I had our date night! Yay! Sushi and a movie rental at home while the kids had an overnight at my parents. 🙂
      • Saturday we had a cousin day at my parents with my sister and my nephew. We’ve been going on a hike through the woods with the kids which has been so fun and cute!
      • We also had a Family Date Night with some close friends. (Family Date Night= Adults and kids all hang out at someones house for some relaxing and fun!)
      • And last weekend I spent in NYC with 3 cousins, my sister, and a friend. We attempted to party like we were 21 and ended up back at the hotel in bed by 11:00 each night! I think that means it was a success?! Hahaha, getting OLD!
    • Home Organization:
      • Sooooo, I’m WAY behind on my 40 bags challenge! I’m at 15 but I’m still plugging along. I’ve got my “pit of doom” my office, to tackle still and lord knows that could have 20 bags all on its own! I’m confident I will catch up!!
      • I have cleaned out 5 cupboards in my kitchen and organized my kid’s school nook. I’ve been trying not to spend money by reusing items in my house, so I stole one of the baskets from my sons room that I used for baby stuff when he was little. I also cut up an old filing folder that I had in my office to make dividers in order to organize their school papers in the basket. Here are some before and after pictures.

counterbefore011115School Nook After

  • Here’s two other views. The counter area on the left in the first picture below is where the basket/kids school nook is. And the black cabinet has two hooks on the far side for my daughter and husbands lunch boxes.

Counters after          Lunch box

Helpful Tip: We finally broke down and got a new vacuum this weekend. I’ve been trying to find a good deal for months and I don’t like spending money if I don’t have to but our old one was barely working. I recently discovered Big Lots (http://www.biglots.com/)! They offer a Rewards Program and this weekend they had a 20% off sale. They have a variety of vacuums, many refurbished, and I was able to get a Hoover Wind tunnel 3 Pet Pro vacuum for $72!! Regular price is $169.99 on a new one at other retail stores. Big Lots also offers baby food, some organic, gluten-free and whole wheat options for VERY affordable prices! Definitely worth checking out!

Until next time….. 🙂 -Thea

The week in review: Reality Check

It has been a BUSY week! I’ll admit my goals were lofty and I feel I did a pretty good job. BUT it was a reality check with my husband back at work and the kids back at school. My kindergartner needs to be dropped off and picked up from the bus stop and I take my 3 year old to preschool on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. That means I have a jam packed schedule keeping naps, meals, activities, baths and bed time on schedule. Other mom’s out there I’m sure you can relate! So here is a review of my progress made this week.

Fitness and Weight Loss: The clean eating challenge I did was actually pretty great. I’m a big believer in everything in moderation, so I don’t really buy into cut out diets. Meaning you completely cut out certain foods/drinks. The first two days I felt a little light headed and had a headache because it limited carbs and sugar. But after those first two days I felt really good and wasn’t craving anything sweet. I have a big sweet tooth so that was a change. In the 5 days I lost 3.2 lbs and 2 inches. Not bad! The only downside was the prep time for the meals and my son is a picky eater so I found myself making two meals most days. But I have to say the recipes were great and it was free through a Facebook group so I’ll definitely do it again.

I also met my workout goals for the week! Yay! Monday I played soccer, Tuesday and Thursday I did a strength training workout in my home, Wednesday I ran 3 miles on the treadmill and yesterday I had a nice cold 6 mile run in a blustery 18 degrees along Lake Ontario! Here’s a picture post run. I hope you enjoy the kids play stroller in the background!

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Connections: Girls movie night scheduled for Tuesday and date night with the hubs scheduled for later in the month! Super excited for both! I did want to mention though, in my resolutions post I’ve talked a lot about my goals and plans regarding my relationships with my family, friends and husband. But I do want to point out that #1 on my priorities list would be my children. I mean, I’m a stay at home mom! I made a decision to stay home leaving a good sales job. I did that because I wanted to focus on being a Mom and to give my husband the opportunity to focus more on his career and advancement. It has been the best decision of my life, but it has not been easy! It has been an adjustment and a constant battle to find the balance in my life for me as a mother, wife and individual. That being said I thought I would add some fun updates regarding the kids. My 5 year old daughter started dance class and my 3 year old son started soccer this week. It was so great to see them excited to start new activities and enjoy being active. I know that as the months and years pass by our life and schedule is going to get even more hectic with their activities but I’m really looking forward to it!

De-cluttering/Organization: Full disclosure, this was my challenge for the week…! I fell into my old priorities putting my workouts ahead of my cleaning and organization. I have about 45 minutes to 1 & 1/2 hours a day while my 3 & 1 year olds nap to get things done. When your kids are that little its not like you can just start cleaning out the cupboards or organizing a closet without leaving them unattended. And doing anything with them is completely impossible! Being honest, I much prefer working out so that’s why I keep having these issues with home organization and up keep. My husband even pointed out that my recycling area was overflowing! The bin helped but I need to empty it daily! Even though I struggled in this area I’ve still filled 9 bags so far for my 40 bags in 40 days challenge. I know I can catch up! I decided to make a list of the areas I want to tackle so I can get more focused and set specific goals and time frames to accomplish them. I think in doing that I’ll inadvertently complete the 40 bags challenge so that’s going to be my plan.

The week ahead: Here are my goals!

  • Connections:
    • This coming weekend I’ll be going on a much needed girls weekend with one of my sisters, a friend and a few cousins to visit our cousin living in NYC. Very excited for the trip but that means I have limited time to get other tasks done.
    • I also plan to have some planned quality time with the kids since I’ll be gone over the weekend. I’m thinking about a couple fun things like making cut out cookies and maybe watching a movie with popcorn one day after school.
  • Health and Fitness:
    • I plan to follow the clean eating menu for 3 days during the week.
    • Soccer game and strength training two days. (I know there will be a lot of walking for cardio come the weekend!)
  • Organization: Tidy the counter area that is my kids nook. (Picture below of the current state, eek!) I bought a desk calendar and two magazine bins to hold the kids stuff for school and manage our schedule but the magazine holders don’t hold papers well so I end up stacking the papers covering the calendar. It’s just a mess and nonfunctional. I also plan to move my cook books and other items in that area to cupboards. Which means I need to clean out and organize the cupboards I haven’t done yet. I’ll have an after picture once it’s done.

counterbefore011115

Here’s to another week! Until next time….. 🙂