Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 39 - Birthday Week!!!

After planning and executing our Son's 5th birthday this past weekend, and visiting with family all week, we are trying to get back to our normal routines.  Our son's actual birthday is tomorrow, and my birthday is Wednesday.  I'm giving myself permission to take the week (mostly) off from cooking.  I made some homemade chicken vegetable soup today, and I plan to make my famous meatballs (at Owen's request) for dinner tomorrow night.  But other than that, between running the kids around, teaching, and hubby's busy schedule, I'm going to get my very favorite take-out foods for dinners this week.  Yup, I think that's okay to do every now and then. 

In the meantime, I will do my best to update the blog with some delicious recipes I've been working on.  At least, in between celebrating birthdays and trying to enjoy my own special day. ;)  And can I just say, I'm so emotional that my baby is turning 5!  He was just so very tiny 5 years ago...where does the time go?   I tear up every time I think about it...

Enjoy your week!

Happy Cooking!

Week 39- September 28, 2014

Sunday:  chicken vegetable soup

Monday:  Owen's birthday dinner - spaghetti and meatballs

Tuesday:  take-out after I finish class

Wednesday: my birthday dinner:  anything I don't have to prep, make, or clean up after is fine with me

Thursday: take-out after I finish class

Friday:  pizza and family movie night

Saturday:  date night

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 38 - Pep talk

As you know, I've been working hard at spreading the word about healthy habits making a difference for you and your family.  I believe that we rely too much on doctors and medicines to help our ailments rather than feeding our bodies the proper fuel to begin with.   I'm on a mission - to spread the word about all the health benefits that come from eating clean 80% of the time and doing consistent, moderate exercise.  

I know what you are thinking right now - you've heard all of this before.  Oh no, not again, right?  So have you made some changes for you and your family?  Are you still thinking about it but just haven't pulled the trigger?  What is holding you back?  I'm going to get serious for a moment...what emotions are keeping you from making the decision that could lead to a longer, healthier, more fulfilled life for you and your kids?  These are difficult questions but they are necessary.  It's more than just weight-loss, it's an emotional journey.  We all have our inner demons, the voices inside our heads that tell us we are not good enough, that we don't deserve it.  I'm here to tell you that you are loved, you are worthy, and you can do anything you put your mind to. 

Your biggest competitor is yourself!  Once you defeat your own negativity and self-doubt, you can accomplish anything!!!  Don't let your fear paralyze you...take the first step and let me help you along the way.  It's not just about weight-loss or how you look, it's about the confidence you will gain, the energy levels that spike, the inside of your body that works more efficiently for you. 

You don't have to make these changes on your own.  Research shows that you will go further, be more successful, and maintain a positive attitude if you are part of an environment that will support and motivate you.  The Home Healthy Revolution is one of those places.  Reach out to me, I am here to help you start making those little changes that add up to a BIG difference.  We can do it together. 

If you want to read about how my journey here began, please read my original Healthy Home Revolution post:

If you want to get started now with extra accountability and resources, you can sign up for a free health and fitness account through Beachbody with ME, Sarah Barker, as your coach.  You will have access to recipes, workouts, advice - all for FREE.  Once you join, you can also be a part of one of the many Facebook challenge groups available for motivation, accountability and support.  Just go to

So now to my usual Sunday update - the weekly meal plan...
My husband is in China on business and my parents are here for the week helping out with the kiddos.  My brother and his wife will be joining all of us on Thursday so that we can celebrate my son's 5th birthday on Saturday.  So excited to all be together!  With all of these events going on, I don't feel the need to plan out my week, but rather accommodating my guests and being a bit more spontaneous (having extra help around allows me to do that - <3).  If you need some meal inspiration for the week, check out the links below...a great start to clean eating.  I've also included a link to my first Healthy Home post, a list of essentials for anyone just starting out.

Lastly, Please share this place with your friends who value health and nutrition.  And please pass this message along to anyone who may need to hear my message.  Together we can begin a Healthy Home Revolution and inspire others to join us.   Let's take the first step together. 

Happy Cooking!

Motivational quote

Healthy Home Revolution Tips to Starting Off

A few of My favorite quick, easy, healthy recipes:

Turkey Meatballs

Shredded Buffalo Chicken (for tacos or sandwiches)

Greens and Beans with Italian Sausage

Grilled Salmon with Cucumber Salad

Chipotle Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Burgers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Protein Packed Banana Muffins

Okay guys...these are my new favorite muffins.  They are moist and delicious, but not too sweet.  I love healthy muffins, full of clean ingredients, to grab and go in the morning or to feed the kids at snack time.  This recipe is an adaption of a recipe I found in a kids cookbook I got out of the library.  I wanted to beef up the protein (no pun intended) and make it a more well rounded snack for myself to enjoy.  Feel free to add chopped nuts or blueberries.  You could even substitute pumpkin puree instead of banana.  So good!

This recipe makes 12 muffins, and according to the original recipe and my approximate calculations, each muffin should have 110 calories, 2 g fat, 18 g carbs, 5 g protein.  Slather on some almond butter and you have a quick breakfast or snack - Awesomeness!

I hope your family enjoys them as much as we do!

Happy Cooking!

Protein Packed Banana Muffins
1 cup of whole wheat flour
1 scoop of vanilla protein powder (or one serving, depending on serving size of at least 16g)
2 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup quick rolled oats
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg
3 T honey
1/2 cup of milk
1 T coconut oil
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix wet ingredients in one bowl until well combined.  In other bowl, combine the dry ingredients.   Add the dry ingredients to the wet, and stir together only until just combined.  Over-mixing will create a tough muffin.  Put paper liners in the muffin tin and fill 3/4 of the way with batter. 

Bake at 400 degrees until muffins are slightly brown, about 18-20 minutes. 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 37 - first cold of the season

The weather has really changed in the last few days - it really feels like fall.  I love it!  Apples picking, cider donuts and apple cider, hayrides, pumpkin lattes...all those quintessential New England fall activities that white girls do.  Ha! 

Along with all those wonderful things also comes cold and flu season.  Unfortunately, we've been struck with our first cold of the year and it's slowly making its way around the family.  Since I have a house full of whiny, sick kids and a husband who is traveling on and off this week, I'm planing some more crockpot meals for the week and a few quick skillet recipes.   And to help me along, I plan to prep all the meals today or tomorrow.  For the freezer meals I will be placing ingredients in freezer bags, and some straight in the freezer until I need them.   The others I will be prepping the veggies so I don't have to chop stuff up in the morning.  So here's to trying new things that will make our life easier!   Have a great week!

Happy Cooking,

Week 37 - September 14, 2014

Sunday:  leftovers

Monday: easy skillet meatsauce with whole wheat pasta and steamed broccoli

Tuesday:  Crockpot Chicken Fajitas

Wednesday:  Slow Cooker Beef Roast with Potatoes and Carrots

Thursday:  Potluck Family Picnic at my son's school (I'll bring a HUGE green salad)

Friday:  pizza and movie night

Saturday: Crockpot Chicken Pot Pie with homemade "clean" biscuits

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Crockpot Chicken Chili Verde

The crockpot is my best friend this week!  I've gone ahead and and gave up trying to cook at the most chaotic time of the day.  Especially during these first weeks of September - when we are all finding our new normal with the start of the semester for my husband and I, and the start of school for my oldest.  Its even an adjustment for my little one who doesn't have her big brother home with her every day.   Instead, she's been helping me make dinner each morning - she does love that she doesn't have to take turns using the measuring cups with her brother.  Ha!

So this chili...I love traditional chili, and I love tortillas soup.  This is sort of combining the both of those together.  You might see it as white chicken chili on a menu (because its using white beans instead of red) or you might see it as chili verde because of the green broth base.  Either way, it's delicious!!!  And completely nutritious too!  I added some shredded carrots and lots of baby spinach to boost the veggie factor.  The kids won't even notice the vegetables in there because its so good.  Its truly a one pot, fix-it-and-forget-it meal that the whole family will love!

By the way, if you are worried that your kids won't like it, sell it as something familiar - something they like.  For example, I tell my kids that it's chicken taco soup because they LOVE tacos and it has all of those familiar flavors.  Call it whatever you have to to get them to try it and never look back.  It doesn't hurt that they get to decorate their own soup with crushed tortilla chips, shredded cheddar, and avocado (if they like that stuff too).   The cheese and chips are a big hit with my kids!

So let me know if you give this a try!  I would love your feedback. Enjoy!

Happy Cooking,
Crockpot Chicken Chili Verde
my version was based on 

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (I used 3, but kept one of them out after shredding it all up...I wanted extra shredded chicken for chicken salad)
2 -15 oz cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 large carrots, shredded
1 large yellow onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 - 4 oz can diced green chilies
1 ½ tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 T chili powder
½ tsp salt
½-1 tsp red chili flakes (depending on your heat preference)
***please note:  if you like it spicy, you can add 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced - I didn't not use one because I have young children and I wanted them to eat the soup too
3 cups low-sodium chicken stock
4 heaping cups of baby spinach
crushed tortilla chips, diced avocado, shredded cheddar, and cilantro for topping 
Place everything in the crockpot except for the spinach (no spinach yet!!!) and cook on low for 6 hours (you can cook it for up to 8 hours if you won't be home).  It's so easy, even a toddler can do it! 
And after!
Take out the chicken and set aside.  Meanwhile, using an immersion blender, blend some of the chili to thicken it up, but be careful to leave some chunky.  You want the right consistency.  If you don't have an immersion blender, just place 1 cup of the beans into a regular blender until smooth and add it back to the chili.  (It's totally fine if the onions and chilies are in there too...its the ratio of blended to non blended that's important). 
Now, take the chicken breast and shred them with a fork.  Add the chicken back to the chili along with the baby spinach. 

Cook on high for an additional 30 minutes or until the spinach is wilted.  You can taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if necessary.  
Serve immediately topped with your favorites!  Enjoy!  

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Healthy Crockpot BBQ Chicken with Vegetables

This recipe is a winner - not only because it's delicious and healthy, but because it makes two meals out of one recipe.  Plus you have the option to freeze them, or make one today and freeze the other for another week.  Love that!!!

I played around with the healthier BBQ sauce so that it would taste more like the BBQ sauces I am familiar with.  I left out any spicy ingredients because my kids were going to eat it, but if you like spicy things, you should add some red pepper flakes.   I loved it!  I served it over some whole wheat couscous, but it would be delicious over brown rice or quinoa too.

Please let me know if you give this one a try and give me some feedback.  I would love to hear from you!

Happy Cooking!

Healthy Crockpot BBQ Chicken with Vegetables
 my version of this recipe was inspired by

2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces, about 2 cups
1 large green pepper, roughly chopped, about 2 cups
1 large red pepper, roughly chopped, about 1 cup
2 small to medium sized zucchinis, roughly chopped, about 2 cups(I usually chop these really small since my entire family has themselves convinced that they don't like zucchini - I have, however, successfully sneaked it into several dinners with no one the wiser).
2 medium onions, chopped, about 2 cups
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed of all fat
28 oz can of tomato sauce
4 T brown sugar
2 T Worcestershire sauce
2 T apple cider vinegar
2 T plain yellow mustard (not the powder, the kind in your fridge)
1 T garlic powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 T of corn starch (or any thicker you would like to use)

Chop up all your veggies and divide them evenly among two freezer bags, or between 1 freezer bag and your crockpot (as I did in the photos).  Quick tip: be sure to label and date your bag before you start filling it up.

Place 1 pound of chicken thighs in each container.  Now mix up the ingredients for your healthier BBQ sauce.  Combine the tomato sauce, brown sugar, Worcestershire, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic powder, salt and pepper with a whisk until well combined.  Add the corn starch and whisk until it disappears.  Pour half the sauce in each container. 

When you are ready to cook it, you can just place the contents of your frozen bag in the crockpot.

 Cook on high for 4-6 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours depending on your slow cooker.

 I served mine over some whole wheat couscous.  Enjoy!!!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 36 - fix it and forget it!

It's back to school time for us!  And if you are anything like me, I'm trying to juggle the chaos of our new schedule.  Enter my favorite trick for saving time: the crockpot!  (Anyone else hear that choir of angels?)  Yup - it's the fix it and forget it solution to your dinner time blues.  If you don't have, it's a must for your Christmas list this year.  I'm trying out a few new recipes this week, all healthy, lean and clean.  Anyone want to join me?  Just check out the links below, make a shopping list, and comment on how your recipes turn out.  I'll blog about my versions later this week.  So who's in?

Happy Cooking!
This recipe is my Crockpot Short Ribs,,  pictured with mashed potatoes, asparagus, and roasted brussel sprouts  
Week 36:  September 7, 2014
we have a few parties and events going on, so I'm only cooking 4 nights this week (not including today).  Let me know if you have any questions about my recipes or the ones I'm going to try for the first time this week.  

Sunday:  football party!!!

Monday: crockpot lentil sweet potato soup (meatless Monday)

Tuesday:  crockpot chicken chili (based on the recipe below, but I plan on adding spinach, zucchini, and/or shredded carrots to boost the veggies inside the chili)

Wednesday:  healthy BBQ chicken in the crrockpot with veggies

Thursday: ladies night out (kids & hubby can have leftovers)

Friday: block party (catered event - no cooking for

Saturday: Crockpot Lasagna Soup (one of my favorites!!!)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Weeks 34 and 35 - Gearing Up & Staying Healthy

We are all getting ready for a new school year, and while it makes me sad how fast time is moving, I am looking forward to more structure during the day.  Last week was freshman orientation at the University where we work (and live next to).  I taught a few group exercise classes for a pre-orientation group, and my husband was working 14 hour days going from one welcome event to another and speaking at Matriculation ceremonies.  It was a very busy and hectic week.

This week marks another first - the first week of classes at the University.  I taught my first undergraduate PE class, a bootcamp class, yesterday.  It was so much fun!  Things are a little crazy right now as we get adjusted to our new schedule, but we aren't done yet - kindergarten starts next week for my oldest.  I can't even believe he's almost five!!!

Anyway, I haven't been planning the meals as much as usual.  I am, however, still eating very clean and sticking with the 21 day fix style of eating.  I have been maintaining my weight now for quite sometime, but I am still working on toning up and building muscle, so lean meats, and whole, fresh, foods are key to my lifestyle.  I've packed my refrigerator with lots of fresh vegetables and fruit from the farm stand along with the ingredients I need to throw together my favorite lunches and snacks, and a few easy dinner stand-bys.  So instead of a list of meals for these weeks, you are getting some of my favorite quick & easy clean meals and snacks. 

Wishing you all a great week! 

Happy Cooking!

Weeks 34 & 35 - August 24 and August 31, 2014

I realized that I don't have any pictures of my typical breakfasts, but here are some of my favorite go-to's:
 - whole wheat english muffin or ezekiel bread toasted with almond butter
 - steal cut oatmeal with a side of scrambled eggs and some fresh fruit
- whole grain, high fiber, high protein cereal with almond milk

Snack attack: Greek Yogurt with Fruit & Yogurt
Okay, I know its so convenient to grab one of those flavored Greek yogurts for snack time.  But they are full of added sugars that you really don't need.   Just have some plain non-fat Greek yogurt, top it with your favorite fruit, or whatever is deliciously in season, and drizzle it with a little bit of honey for some added sweetness.  So good and great for you...high in protein and the perfect snack to tie you over until your next meal. 
Grilled Vegetable Quinoa - a delicious side with some grilled chicken or fish.  Just grill your favorite veggies and toss it with some cooked quinoa, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, and a little olive oil and vinegar.  So simple, so yummy!

Huevos Rancheros with Tomato & Cucumber Salad
There is nothing more delicious than tomatoes and cucumbers when they are in season.   Sometimes I like to cut them up and serve them with my favorite vinaigrette (or just a little olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper) - so yummy.  Today, I had my veggies with my favorite quick lunch dish- my version of huevos rancheros.  I just take some leftover rice and beans topped with 2 fried eggs.  I top it off with some salsa and guacamole...I cannot describe how delicious this is guys...and so easy!!!  I like my yolks a little runny so it oozes all over the rice and beans.  It tastes so decadent, but virtually no fat (I only used a little cooking spray when cooking my eggs over-easy).   I would eat it again right now if I still had some leftover rice and beans. 
Whole Wheat Pasta Toss
This was inspired by a bunch of leftovers I had in the fridge.  Whenever I create a new recipe, I just think about the balance of ingredients:  I want it to be about 1/2 vegetables, then the other half has to be mostly protein with some whole grain, high fiber carbs too.   I had some leftover chicken sausage from our Labor day cookout and some veggies that needed to be used up.  So I ended up combining sauteed mushrooms, onions, red peppers, and spinach with the sausage, whole wheat pasta, and no-sugar added tomato sauce.  So good!  I made it all in less than 15 minutes, including prep. 

Grilled Salmon with Steamed Green Beans and Arugula, Mushroom Salad
I love salmon and I try to eat seafood at least once a week, sometimes twice if I don't go meatless one night.  You can marinade it or just salt and pepper it.  During the winter when I can't grill, I usual broil or pan fry it.  (You can easily find all of these cooking methods by Googling - I often use the Food Network and their celebrity chefs as my go-to place for tips and recipes).   This simple grilled salmon was served with some fresh green beans I got at the farm stand, along with some arugula and mushrooms tossed with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.  Delish!