Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Does anyone else adore the fall season? The temps cool down here in squashWisconsin and the leaves change into beautiful shades of yellow, orange, and red. Football is underway and so are those yummy fall recipes that involve apple, cinnamon, pumpkin, etc. There is nothing better than entering a warm house and smelling the scent of something representing the fall. Except maybe the TASTE of something representing the fall! We have been using up the last of our squash and this recipe is an oldie but a goodie. It is simple to prepare, fits right into our healthy eating plan, and it’s a great side to add to any main dish.

Do yourself a favor and make this today!

Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash Recipe

 

Ingredients

1 large butternut squash (~3 lbs), peeled, seeded and cut into 1 inch cubes

1 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 1/2 tablespoons pure maple syrupmaple-cinnamon-squash

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

salt and black pepper to taste

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray.
  3. Spread butternut squash cubes out on baking sheet. Drizzle evenly with olive oil, then sprinkle with ground cinnamon, salt, pepper and maple syrup. Toss all the ingredients together, using tongs or your hands, ensuring all the cubes are coated.
  4. Place in the oven and roast for 35 – 40 minutes minutes (rotating pan if necessary half-way) until squash is tender.  They will get darker and even crispy on the sides.  This part is caramelized and it is delicious!
  5. Remove from oven and serve immediately or allow to cool.

For the original recipe, here is the link: http://lifemadesweeter.com/2014/10/maple-cinnamon-roasted-butternut-squash/

 

Summer Series – Kids in the Yard

Garden PearlHello friends! Summer is a great time to get some outdoor projects done around the house, but it can be difficult to get our kids to help out when they would rather just play outside or hang out with their friends. Because yard work can seem like a chore (at least to my family!), why not turn it into a fun family activity that can also be a great learning experience for children of all ages? Helping out around the yard can teach kids responsibility, dedication, and appreciation for nature while they work with you and learn how to take care of plants. Here are a few easy tips for getting the kids involved and excited about helping with the yard this summer!

  1. Bring the little ones outside – Toddlers/preschoolers may not be able to help with every outdoor project, but they do love to dig in the dirt and spend time outside! Instead of keeping the little ones out of your flowerbed, give them small tasks like digging holes for planting, watering flowers with a child-sized watering can, or pulling a couple weeds. The earlier you can get toddlers and young children participating in yard work activities, the more they will want to help out and feel that their work is valued! My four year old loves for me to give him special “job” in our garden.  Purchasing colorful, child-sized tools can make them feel like the job is theirs and that they’re “big kids” who can do what Mom does!  Don’t forget the child-size garden gloves too.
  2. Teach your kids about nature – Take advantage of the opportunity to teach your kids about nature and all of the interesting things happening with plants in the summer. Maybe it’s explaining to your child how bumblebees help to pollinate flowers, which lets us have more pretty flowers! Maybe it’s watching a tiny seed grow into a flowering plant together, and talking about what things plants need to grow, just like kids need healthy food and lots of water to grow big and strong! The yard provides a hands-on, fun way to teach kids about the science behind the world around us.
  3. Make yard work a game – Work always goes faster and is a lot more fun when there are games involved, right? Try racing to see who can pull the most weeds while singing the ABCs! Have a mini contest to see who can pick up the most sticks in the backyard! There are many different ways to turn yard work from a tedious chore into an energetic game. Harness your creativity and find what works best for your family, and your kids will be giggling in no time!
  4. Give them their own space – Why not section off a small part of your garden and let your little one grow what they want to there? Pick out seeds together, and allow your child to plant them, water regularly, and weed to gain a sense of responsibility and ownership for their special space. When the flowers bloom or the tomatoes grow, your child will be proud of their hard work and that much more excited to take care of more plants!  We have not done this yet but have a plan for it next summer!
  5. Have a positive attitude – Although yard work may not be our favorite activity, if we have positive attitudes, our children are much more likely to be cheerful about helping out around the yard. It’s important to take time to play after the work is done, and to reward good attitudes. Run through the sprinklers together, or play tag in the yard. If you have a smile on your face, so will your kids.

Instead of letting your kids spend so much  time inside this summer or watch TV to entertain themselves, invest in building positive character traits like responsibility, hard work, and helpful attitudes! Working together in the yard doesn’t have to be boring or tedious. If you have more great ideas about how to get your kids excited about helping around the yard, let me know!

I would love to hear from you. Enjoy that beautiful summer sun! – Mindy

 

 

PiYo Program – Honest Review

Hey friends! I am really looking forward to starting a new online accountability group in June and it is a program I haven’t done for a long time. Introducing, PiYo! My body (and mind!) has been craving this type of workout and I decided to try again today. There have been a lot of questions coming my way about this program and I get it; it’s an investment of both time and money and you want to make sure it’s a good fit for you. As a Healthy Lifestyle Coach, I will only promote programs and prodyogaucts that I believe in and will field any questions you have. Here is my honest review:

This is a low impact workout. I have done the 21 Day Fix Extreme, Hammer & Chisel, and 22 Minute Hard Corps over the last year and all three program have involved jumping, lunging, and squatting with weights. Though these programs have given wonderful results, it feels great to take a break from the higher impact workout to only use my bodyweight during PiYo. This program works well for anyone, no matter his or her shape, size, or fitness level.

There is a nice variety between workouts.   PiYo workouts range in duration of time, 20 – 45 minutes, and each have a different focus such as upper body, lower body, buns, or all over body workouts. I love that I can do one workout alone, two in a row, or even complete one of these workouts after going for a run. I tend to bore easily and need to switch up my workouts and the PiYo program does an excellent job with this. I also like that I can do one late at night if necessary and it doesn’t necessarily amp me up right before bed.

These workouts not only feel good but also offer amazing results. Yes, it is a combination of Yoga and Pilates but you will be constantly moving (they call this fluid motion) and burning fat as you lengthen and tone your muscles. The faster tempo makes me feel like I am doing cardio but I can feel my core working as I am gaining strength and flexibility. I definitely feel great after these workouts. My heart rate is up and I am sweaty but I can also still function without lying on the floor exhausted.

PiYo is great for my mental health. I absolutely love the movements that stretch me out and somehow it makes me feel more focused and centered afterwards. I can definitely tell that I am more relaxed and ready to tackle to the day after completing one of these workouts in the morning. The music is soft and relaxing too, which helps.

Not a huge weight loss program. If you want to burn a ton of calories and change your body entirely, this may not be the program for you. Of course, eating clean will help you lose weight with any workout program you choose, but this program alone isn’t intense enough to drop you a few clothing sizes. It does however get your heart rate up and will make you sweat as you work on toning and lengthening your muscles. As a cardio junkie, I love to go for a run and then come home and do my PiYo workout!

As you can see, I have many positive things to say about this program. I get excited anytime I hear about someone trying it out because it feels good, it’s effective, and it works for mostly anyone. I am so excited to pair this program with a healthy eating plan and some specific attention towards self-care. Please consider joining my Stress Free Summer June PiYo group and I will coach you alongside an amazing group of busy women who want to slow down and re-focus on their health goals. If you are interested, contact me here via the contact form, email me at mindycourt@gmail.com or head on over to my business site to order your PiYo Challenge Pack (PiYo dvd’s plus a 30 day supply of my FAVORITE protein shake, Shakeology!).  You can also choose to order the program to do on your own but working with a group is way more fun!

www.beachbodycoach.com/mindycourt

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Warm Asparagus and White Bean Salad

Hey friends, I’m back!  And I am so ready to share our favorite recipe so far this week.  This salad was crunchy, creamy, citrusy, and salty all at the same time.  I realize that may sound weird but YOU HAVE TO TRY IT.  It was super easy to make and a healthy and tasty addition to our baked chicken breasts.  Enjoy!
If you want more information on this recipe, here is where I found the original:
http://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/nutrition/warm-asparagus-and-white-bean-salad-recipe?repeat=w3tc
Ingredients
  • 2 tsp. oFullSizeRender-1live oil
  • 1 bunch asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 12 spears)
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 cup canned white beans (or cannellini beans or navy beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 medium avocado, chopped
  • 20 raw pistachios, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel (lemon zest)
Instructions
  1. Heat oil in medium nonstick skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add asparagus; cook, stirring frequently, for 2 to 3 minutes, or until asparagus is tender-crisp.
  3. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
  4. Place asparagus mixture, beans, baby spinach, avocado, pistachios, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a medium bowl; toss gently to blend.
  5. Divide evenly between four serving bowls.

8 Daily Habits of Successful People

 

Daily HabitsYou don’t create your future; you create your daily habits and they create your future. Okay, I absolutely love this quote. It is something I have been working on for the last year and I have definitely seen my life change and the vision of how these habits will continue to make a positive impact on my future. Everyone will create different habits for themselves but the key is to practice these habits daily. Make them a part of your daily routine and schedule them in your planner or on the calendar if you have to. I treat some of my habits as valuable as a medical appointment, which I wouldn’t miss. Here are eight habits of successful people that make the most of their daily routines.

  1. They read books.
  2. They wake up earlier.
  3. They drink hot water with lemons every morning.
  4. They DO sweat the small stuff.
  5. They seek advice, and often.
  6. They make their bed.
  7. They take their health very seriously.
  8. They set aside personal time.

For more information on each habit, find the article here:

http://www.bustle.com/articles/104933-8-daily-habits-of-successful-people-so-you-can-make-the-most-of-your-daily-routine

Do any of these habits sound familiar to you? Maybe they are already implemented into your daily routine or maybe you keep hearing about them and would like to make them habitual. For me personally, five of these habits are on my daily to do list. I am happier and healthier right now than I ever have been before. It would be easy to start making my bed every day, to read actual paper books instead of scrolling through everything online, and to drink hot water with lemon. I am willing to try these new things if I know that these small changes may make a huge difference in my personal life, career, and general happiness. What will you change today?

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget to subscribe to this site and receive updates on when I post anything on taking a mindful approach to fitness, food, and family. I truly appreciate your support. -Mindy

 

Hydration Help

We are in the middleHydration of the winter season and our bodies are showing it. Dry skin, dry lips, dry cuticles, etc. One way to nourish our bodies during this season is to make sure we reach our hydrations goals. The simple formula for this is to figure out half your body weight and drinking at least that many ounces of water each day. You will need to drink more than that if you are exercising on a regular basis. I have collected some tips over the past few years that have definitely helped me to take a more mindful approach to drinking water.

  1. Every time the water bottle touches your lips, take ten gulps of water. You will be done in no time! This is known as the 10 Gulp Rule.
  1. Cut up fruit or herbs and add them to your water infuser bottle for extra taste. I love adding lemon/lime or watermelon chunks and sometimes a mint leaf. Let it sit in your fridge for a few hours while it infuses for maximum taste.
  1. Use a phone app to keep track of how much water you are drinking. There are many to choose from and plenty of free ones! My app is simply called, Water, and is somewhat interactive. Even my children like to use it!
  1. Save cash and calories by only ordering water at restaurants. Refills are free too and you can ask them to add lemon. This definitely helped me get over my addiction to Diet Coke at lunchtime!
  1. Drink 16 ounces of water before you eat to keep you from overeating. It definitely makes a difference when you already feel somewhat full at the start of your meal. Sixteen ounces is the same as a typical dinner glass.

drinkmorewater

  1. Keep a water bottle on your nightstand so that you can reach for that during the night and first thing when you wake up in the morning. I don’t know about you but I wake up so thirsty and it helps to down a bottle of water before I even get out of bed, especially since I workout in the morning.

 

  1. Set reminders for yourself. This is something you could use your phone or watch to do. Space out your ounces of water and make sure to finish one glass or bottle by a certain time or you may get dinged!
  1. Keep your water bottle with you as much as possible. Your bottle should be in your purse, in your car, at your desk, by your yoga mat, at your bedside… You definitely won’t reach your hydration goals if the water is not easily accessible.
  1. Spice up your food. Those who add spicy seasonings, like crushed red pepper flakes, tend to reach for their water more often.
  1. Buy a nice water bottle, something that is fun to drink out of. This is not something you HAVE to do but I have heard it helps J

I’d love to hear even more tips from those of you who rock at meeting your hydration goals each day. It is an ongoing battle for me but I am definitely doing better and better and feeling the health benefits. As always, thanks for ready friends and enjoy the rest of your week. ~Mindy

FullSizeRender (64)

Mental Health Matters – Pass It On

IMG_5666It is a new year and most of us have made new plans for ourselves. I am assuming most of you have goals set for your new fitness and nutrition plan. One thing that often gets overlooked though is our mental health needs.  If you struggle with anxiety, depression, or seasonal affective disorder than it is time to prioritize your mental health and make a plan for it just as you would your physical health.  You can be as skinny or as fit as you want but if you don’t feel good on the inside, you are not going to get very far.  I recently found an interesting article that outlined sixteen things we can do to be proactive with our mental health in 2016.  For the full article, visit:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/how-to-improve-mental-health_56684e10e4b0f290e52154ba

Here is the short version of the list.  I hope you find these ideas helpful either for yourself or someone you know who struggles with mental health!  Thank you for reading everyone.  May you have a healthy and happy start to 2016.  ~Mindy

  1. Talk to your doctor.

The first initial step of any health transformation is to consult a medical professional. They can then refer you to a clinician who is able to tailor to your specific needs.

  1. Practice gratitude.

Life’s so much better when you’re acknowledging the bright side. Research suggests that expressing what you’re thankful for — from your dog to your favorite song on the radio — will improve your mental well-being.

  1. Try meditation.

The practice has a host of health benefits, from better concentration to improved mental well-being. There are multiple methods of meditation that offer varying degrees of investment. That being said, the practice doesn’t have to be complicated: Try just setting aside five minutes for meditation when you wake up or before you go to bed. You’ll likely either start or end your day on a positive note.

  1. Write in a journal.

Putting pen to paper can be a liberating. Try keeping a journal or even just writing your anxieties and tossing them in the trash.

  1. Go to therapy.

Just like you’d see a doctor for a physical illness, the same standard should apply to mental illness. There are multiple methods, from talk therapy to behavioral therapy, and a mental health professional can help you figure out the avenue that works best for you.

  1. Exercise at least a few times per week.

When you exercise, your brain releases the feel-good chemicals, giving you an instant mood boost. Additionally, try to take your workout outdoors. Research suggests group walks (yes, walking is considered exercise) in nature can help ease depressive symptoms.

  1. Lean on your support system.

After all, what are friends for? Research also shows that social connection is imperative to mental health. Spend as much time as possible with your loved ones, whether it’s going to dinner or just watching a movie together.

  1. Educate yourself.

Mental health conditions are much easier to manage when you know what’s really happening inside the mind. For example, did you know that some disorders may be genetic? Did you know that many conditions have physical symptoms? Learn as much as you can about what you’re dealing with or what your loved ones are experiencing. 

  1. Adopt a well-balanced diet.

Put good in, get good out. Eating well is key to overall health, including your mental well-being. Try incorporating fruits and vegetables in your diet more often along with brain-boosting foods like walnuts and spinach.

  1. Listen to sad music.

Research shows sad songs may help you heal after a breakup. They also may prompt a few tears which science says is good for you. One recent study found that a good cry can help boost your mood.

Sometimes a change of perspective involves a change of scenery. Research suggests that planning a vacation can increase your overall happiness as you anticipate your trip. If you’re looking for travel suggestions, someplace with water may be a good place to start. Studies show being near the ocean can make you calmer.

  1. Sleep more.

Who doesn’t love an excuse to sleep in? Research shows sleep deprivation can make it difficult for someone to regulate their emotions. Try going to bed just 10 minutes earlier every night work your way up to a healthy amount of sleep. 

  1. Do a digital detox.

Research suggests that people can feel depressive symptoms from scrolling Facebook, likely due to the internal social comparison that’s taking place. The antidote? A break. Ditch those devices every so often for the sake of your mental health.

  1. Express kindness toward someone else.

Want to feel good yourself? Make someone else feel good. Studies show that kindness can be cyclical. When you do a good deed for others, that makes them happier, which in turns make you happier, too. Even the smallest gesture can make a difference. Pay it forward every so often and reap the benefits.

15. Learn to say no.

Burnout happens easily, in the office and outside of it. Make sure to spend some time alone and prioritize your well-being. If you don’t want to go to a party, don’t do it. If you feel overwhelmed by your workload, speak up. Self care is not selfish.

  1. Talk to others about mental health.

You never know who you may be helping by opening up about your own experience. You will feel better after opening up too!

 

 

veggie lassagna 8

Friday’s Dinner: Veggie Lasagna

Happy Friday!  TGIF, right?!?  The weather here in Wisconsin was wet and cold all day so I couldn’t wait to make this veggie lasagna recipe for the family tonight.  There is nothing better than a warm, comforting plate of cheesy goodness.  Notice this midwestern girl focused on the cheese instead of all the healthy veggies and whole grain pasta!  Overall, we loved this recipe!  There was a sweetness to it and just the right amount of cheese.  The veggies were pretty well mixed in the sauce so even those who don’t prefer them,       wouldn’t really know they are there!

Thank you again for tuning in each night this week!  It was fun sharing our dinner recipes with you and I hope you found it helpful to have some new ideas.  Healthy eating feels great and keeps you feeling full longer.  I will be doing a variety of accountability groups in the months to come that include clean eating, daily fitness, and overall health.  I take a lot of pride in my role as a healthy lifestyle coach and will walk you through each step of the preparation and follow through with each program.  If you are interested in more information, please contact me @mindycourt on FB or IG or you can email me at mindycourt@gmail.com.

The recipe tonight was from one of my favorite resources for healthy eating, the Beachbody Blog.

http://www.beachbody.com/beachbodyblog/nutrition/veggie-lasagna

Total Time: 2 hrs. 7 min.
Prep Time: 20 min.veggie lassagna 1
Cooking Time: 1 hr. 47 min.
Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients:
1 lb. dry whole grain lasagna pasta
Hot waterveggie lassagna 2
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped (I used 1/2 the onion)
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium carrot, shredded
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 cups + 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce, no sugar added, divided use
2 Tbsp. finely chopped fresh basil
Sea salt (or Himalayan salt) and ground black pepper (to taste; optional)
2 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheeseveggie lassagna 3
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. Cook pasta in water according to package directions. Drain. Set aside.
3. Heat oil in medium saucepan over med-high heat.
4. Add onion, bell pepper, and carrot; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes, or until onion is translucent.
5. Add garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
6. Add 3 cups tomato sauce and basil. Season with salt and pepper if desired; cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
7. Combine spinach and ricotta cheese in a medium bowl; mix well. Set aside.
8. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses in a small bowl; mix well. Set aside.

9. Lightly coat a 4-quart (or 13 x 9-inch) rectangular baking dish with spray; place remain
ing 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce in the bottom. Top with a layer of pasta, one fourth vegetable mixture, one third spinach mixture, and one fourth cheese mixturveggie lassagna 7e. Repeat twice. Top with pasta, vegetable mixture, and cheese mixture. Cover with aluminum foil.
10. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
11. Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Thursday’s Dinner: Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage with Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Sweet Italian Chicken Suasage 1

We decided to save the Smoked Apple Sausage for another day.

Happy Thursday everyone! We had numerous activities tonight, an extra houseguest, and a sick kiddo so I decided to change dinner plans at the last minute. Luckily I had just made a Trader Joe’s stop TODAY and had some things that needed barely any prep. This is real life and even when I am fully planned out for the week, life happens! I am excited to resume tomorrow with a wonderful vegetable lasagna recipe. Thanks for following all week long!

 

Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage

We heated these up in the good old microwave tonight.

 

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Ingredients:

Trader Joe’s pre-packaged butternut squash chunks

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 Tbsp. brown sugar

½ tsp. ground cinnomon

1 tsp. salt

Dash of cayenne pepper

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.
  2. Spread out over a foil lined baking sheet.
  3. Bake at 425 degrees for 35 minutes, flipping squash and turning pan once during cooking.Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage 2

Wednesday’s Dinner: Chili Spiced Chicken Salad

Chili Spiced Chicken Salad 1Welcome back for a third easy and healthy dinner idea. This is the first meal I made from the Chisel & Hammer program and nutrition guide. For those who may not know, Chisel & Hammer is Beachbody’s newest fitness program. It comes with the dvd’s, portion control containers, and a clean eating plan. My hubby and I are currently on day three (out of 60) of this program and it is going really well. I can’t wait to try more of the recipes they have recommended for us because eating clean looks good, tastes great, and truly gives me the energy I need to keep going on a busy day. I hope you enjoy this meal as well. Notice that we omitted the pumpkin seeds and added chopped apple. Tune in tomorrow for a new recipe!

Chili Spiced Chicken Salad

Ingredients:Chili Spiced Chicken Salad 2

3 Tbsp.     low-fat Greek Yogurt

2 Tbsp.     fresh lime juice

1 tsp.         ground chili powder

3 cups      chopped chicken breast, boneless and skinless

½               med. red onion, finely chopped

½ cup       raw pumpkin seeds

8                large lettuce leaves

2 cups      baby spinach

Chili Spiced Chicken Salad 3

We used a red apple but a green apple would have been delicious with this.

  1. Combine yogurt, lime juice, chili powder, and honey in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside; this will be your dressing.
  1. Combine chicken, onion, pumpkin seeds, and dressing; toss gently to blend. We also added chopped apple which really brought some needed sweetness to this dish.
  1. Top four serving plates each with two lettuce leaves. Top evenly with spinach and chicken salad; serve immediately.

 

Chili Spiced Chicken Salad 4

Two lettuce leaves filled with the mixture was the perfect serving size for me.