Apr 202015

In Mid-April, I began the #ProteinChallenge, a 30 Day guided challenge that aims to help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.  Some of the more remarkable benefits of eating protein throughout the day include feeling satisfied after a protein-packed meal, which helps reduce mindless eating. Also, meals with protein helps to build muscle and reduce body fat.  You can read more about the challenge and our participation in this #ProteinPartner collaboration from my RD partner, Melissa Joy Dobbins here: Join Us on the 30 Day Protein Challenge


Monday April 13 – Sunday April 19

This Week I Learned… It doesn’t matter how many times I start and stop food journaling/tracking, whenever I go back to it I always learn SOMETHING.  This time around there were a few things I noticed on day 6 of the challenge when reflecting on the first 5 days of journaling.

Off the bat I was surprised at how most of my breakfasts were really close to my goal of 23-30 grams of protein without trying.  I found that most of my morning meals hit at about 18-25.

Reflection on my journaling experience also helped me realize that I had fallen into the eating for the sake of eating habit.  Where did my intuitive eating awareness go?  I’m thankful for this wake up call pointing me back in the right direction of paying attention to the reasons I am eating what, and how much, of what I’m eating.

I was also reminded of my natural habit of healthy choice making becoming easier and more frequent whenever I’m focusing on any one specific area of my diet [upping my greens, leveling sodium, or in this case, counting my protein intake.]  It also helps that I’m in a healthy choice making challenge with some good friends and giving myself POOOOOOOOOOOINTS! every day for certain healthy decisions I make while also trying to log #100MilesbySummer along with many of friends who love TIU so much that they’ve convinced me to play run along.


Favorite Meal of the Week: I’m going with breakfast as a whole.  I recently spent one day of a 3-day weekend doing food prep, specifically filling the freezer with microwavable breakfasts.  I was pleasantly surprised when I first started adding the breakfasts I made into my food journal and saw that I wasn’t far off from my protein goal for the meal.

I made four different freezer breakfasts and I’m loving them all:

Omelet and Potato Breakfast Bites from Ella Claire Inspired
18-23 grams of protein, 320-390 calories for 2 bites, depending on mix-in combos
I used the base of this recipe and cleaned out the freezer [shredded hash browns and sweet potato tots,] the crisper drawer [broccoli, peppers, and spinach,] and the deli drawer/leftover spot [shredded cheese, feta, leftover sausage and shredded beef] to create a bunch of different muffin tin combos. I love how you can totally go wild with the mix ins here to bring variety in.

Baked Breakfast Taquitos for the Freezer from Healthy Delicious
10 grams of protein, 230 calories for 2 taquitos // served with 6oz Greek yogurt = 24 grams of protein, 380 calories
Unique and absolutely delicious, I’ve been eating these at times outside of breakfast, too.  It’s really nice to not have every breakfast be the exact same as the day before and these flavors help mix up the week for sure. SO GOOD.

Loaded Breakfast Biscuits from Richly Rooted
12 grams of protein, 320 calories for 1/8th of recipe // served with 5.3 oz non-fat Greek yogurt = 22 grams of protein, 420 calories 
These would be easily customizable, but I stuck with the recipe and am loving eating a couple of these smeared with fruit preserves or dipped in barbecue sauce [because, honestly, I dip EVERYTHING in barbecue sauce.]

Deli Meat Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches – see my recipe below!
23 – 26 grams of protein, 304-310 calories  each sandwich
These are so easy and would be a great way to use leftover roast or ham in the future, too.  Our local market has great deli counter sales every week so I’ll likely rotate the kind of meats I use based on the sales paper for sure.


Snacking Notes: Thanks to a freebie from the Blue Diamond Tastemakers Program, I have fallen obsessed with these Honey Dijon BOLD almonds.  BOLD is right, they are super flavorful and 1 ounce of almonds [about 28 almonds] brings in 6 grams of protein.  I can see myself reaching for some almonds to add on to my lunches or breakfasts  when they fall a little short of my goal 25 – 30 grams.

Other between meal snacks include pieces of fruit [I’ve been big on oranges and pears lately!] and crackers with sliced cheese [I’m digging this Farmhouse Reserve and White Oak cheddar blocks from Cabot.]  Overall though I’ve noticed I’m not reaching for snacks as often because I’m paying closer attention to what I’m eating and how hungry I am when I’m reaching for food.

#ProteinChallenge Reflections: One of my favorite things about this challenge is that it is realistic for a busy lifestyle.  You don’t jump in on day one and expect to devote 100% of your priority and focus to a new way of living.  The focus is really on making a lifestyle change by shifting the protein you are eating over the course of the challenge.  Take a look at the 30-Day #ProteinChallenge calendar to see what I mean.  You’ll see lots of days of “eating as you normally would” or “rest days” which help from challenge-burnout and creating effective, lasting change.

And now – BREAKFAST!

DIY Frozen Breakfast Sandwiches

DIY Frozen On-the-Go Breakfast Sandwiches


  • 1 package Arnold’s 100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins
  • 8 Eggs
  • 6 ounces deli meat of choice [I used half Boar’s Head Buffalo Chicken and half Gabriel’s store-made Roast Beef]
  • 8 slices cheese of choice [look for a cheese that has 5-8 grams of protein a slice]


  • Preheat oven to 350.  Spray a large muffin tin with nonstick spray in eight cups.
  • Add one egg to each copy, seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • Bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on your egg preference.
  • Meanwhile, prepare either 8 small freezer bags or eight squares of both parchment and aluminum foil, placing an Arnold’s Thin on each.
  • Add 3/4 oz of deli meat on each sandwich, half using buffalo chicken and half using roast beef.
  • Add a slice of cheese to each sandwich.
  • When eggs are done in the oven, remove and place muffin tin on cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool for several minutes before spooning one egg onto each sandwich.
  • Wrap and stack in freezer.
  • When ready to eat, remove from freezer, wrap in paper towel and microwave for 90 seconds.
    Cooking time may vary in your microwave.

Nutritional Info

  • Servings Per Recipe: 8
  • Amount Per Serving
  • Calories: 304.8
  • Total Fat: 14.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 224.3 mg
  • Sodium: 402.8 mg
  • Total Carbs: 23.4 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 5.0 g
  • Protein: 24.6 g

View full nutritional breakdown of DIY Freezer Breakfast Sandwiches calories by ingredient

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  Though this post is NOT directly sponsored by The Beef Checkoff, my participation in the Protein Challenge does full under my Bureau membership activities, which is a paid position.

Apr 132015

Hi, everyone!  Just a quick post today to remind you about the 30-Day #ProteinChallenge I’m starting today – and hoping you’re starting today, too!


As a reminder, I’m facing the challenge Partner style with Melissa Joy Dobbins, the Registered Dietitian and Media Specialist behind Sound Bites – the blog AND the podcast. I’m super pumped for the opportunity of having a nutrition science professional on my healthy, happy living team! 


Melissa and I have spent time together on a couple of trips over the past year and I am so thankful to have her in my life!  She is a barrel of fun, kindness and a WEALTH of knowledge. She’s been a great source of encouragement and a wonderful resource when it comes to my nutrition questions and having her by my virtual side to tackle this Protein Challenge feels like the luckiest win of the year!  [You can read Melissa’s take on the challenge here: Join Me on the 30 Day Protein Challenge! ]

We’d love if you joined us in the challenge, too! 


Reminders & Resources:

  • This is not a “perfection” challenge – take a look at the 30 Day calendar layout to see what I mean!  This challenge is really rooted in a lifestyle change that benefits you and YOUR lifestyle. If you ask me, the reflection and rest days are key to evaluating where you are and finding what works best for you, your life, and your body.
  • Are we REALLY getting enough protein?  Are we paying enough attention to protein in our diets? Do we need a reality check when it comes to the some of the assumptions we hear and perpetuate in the media?  Check out Sound Bites Podcast: The Power of Protein – Interview with Doug Paddon-Jones for a great discussion on the macronutrient! 
  • It’s not too late to start the #ProteinChallenge!  You can start at ANY TIME and I love that the first several days take NO effort in changing how your eating. It makes starting [which is often the hardest part] this thing EASY!  And you can do easy!
  • Sign up HERE and check out all the great tools to support your 30 Day journey including a food journal, protein cheat sheet, meal and snack ideas, protein tips and more!

I hope you’ll join us on the #ProteinChallenge <<< I love seeing this hashtag popping up in my TweetDeck and Instagram feed!  If you are participating in the challenge, I’d love to see/read about your experience!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.

Apr 062015

One of the coolest things about being a person who has lost a whole bunch of weight during my lifetime [you know, after gaining a whole bunch of weight during my lifetime] is that when friends and friends-of-friends decide they want to make a change in their own life for the healthier, they sometimes come to me to share their goals. I love getting to be a source of encouragement and sharing my favorite resources with a dose of “you can do it!” – it is one of the best opportunities that has come from sharing my story here on the internet.


It’s not uncommon for me to get an email asking for tips or direction from people who want to lose weight or start running. A lot of the time, people want to know where to start from someone who has experienced starting herself.  Sometimes they ask me “Do I need to re-haul my life?” 

I swear by the simplicity in #make1healthydecision living, and it’s true – healthy living doesn’t need to be hard – but seriously committing yourself to weight loss or starting a fitness program of any kind isn’t necessarily easy. Making your goal your priority takes discipline.  Losing weight, becoming a runner – it all takes work. The good news is that the process in itself is good for you, as are the physical health benefit that occur thanks to the healthy changes you are making.  

What happens after the cause and affects of setting and chasing these sorts of goals is the formation of healthy life habits.  Learning to eat intuitively while trying to cut back on overeating is a tool that will be with you long after you’ve lost the 10 pounds you want to drop.  Choosing a more satisfying afternoon snack rather than your normal candy bar won’t simply go away 5 days a week when you’ve hit your goal once you realize how AWESOME a healthy snack makes you feel at 3:30 PM.  Every foot that has ever crossed a finish line is attached to a person who decided to start running one day. 


There may be something in the air, but it seems like everyone – me included – is on a “happier, healthier” kick these days.  Through conversations with coworkers, emails received from internet pals, invitations to fitness challenges or events, and generally just reading the internet it seems to me that a whole bunch of us are hungry for a change in our lives. 

Last fall I gave a test drive to the 30 Day #ProteinChallenge.  I’m stoked to share about this challenge with you because I think it’s a really great fit for everyone, no matter where you are on your health journey. My friend/Protein Partner Melissa and I have been planning so many fun surprises to go along with our doing the Protein Challenge again, this time at the same time as one another for some built in accountability. 

We are starting next week Monday, April 13th and would LOVE to have you join us, too.

Want to know more about the challenge? Here’s a bunch of details to help you realize you should jump on board the #ProteinChallenge train, Protein Partner style! 


What is the 30 Day Protein Challenge? 

· The #ProteinChallenge is an fun, step-by-step 30-day plan that will help you get a balanced amount of protein at each meal.

· I personally think this challenge is unique in that it doesn’t ask TOO much from people with busy lives.  Check out the calendar to see what I mean: 30 Day Protein Challenge Calendar  Lots of reflection and rest days, and no expectations of perfection. Woot!

Why should you take the Protein Challenge?

· Protein gives you the control you need to take on the day and make the right food choices – all day.

· A growing body of research shows it may be beneficial to spread out your protein intake over the course of the day.  This challenge helps you do that!

· Consuming the right amount of protein helps with weight loss goals by reducing mindless snacking, building muscles after a workout and protecting muscle mass. Learn more about the Benefits of Protein [infographic].

How does the #ProteinChallenge work?

· Take control of your appetite by working your way up to eating 30 grams of protein at every meal for one month.

· You keep track of your food, hunger and moods to see how simple diet changes can make a difference in your overall health and wellness for 30 days and beyond.

· The resources provided by The Beef Checkoff help keep you organized and on track throughout the challenge.  You can find lots of tools online [Getting Protein While Dining Out and this Protein Pantry Cheat Sheet are both super helpful!] and once you officially sign up to start the challenge, you get daily emails to help you easily stay on track with your challenge progress. 

How do you get started?

· You can start the challenge at ANY time, but if you want to start with us for added group and social media accountability, sign-up on March 13. 

· Sign up for the Protein Challenge at BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com to get all the tools you need, plus daily tips to keep you on track. 

· Share your progress and engage with other Protein Challenge participants on social media using #ProteinChallenge.

Why should you take the Protein Challenge along with Melissa and Me, Protein Partner style?

· I’m a firm believer in the power of group accountability and friend challenges. I always do SO MUCH BETTER at keeping with a goal if I have a pal that I’m checking in with through the week, sharing about my progress and my struggles.

· As I mentioned before, we’ve got a bunch of fun Protein-packed surprises for the Protein Partnership that we can’t wait to share with you.  Melissa is the RD behind Sound Bites and I feel extremely lucky to get to benefit from her dietitian expertise while I work my way towards a protein-powered lifestyle shift. 

· Melissa and I will each share a reminder blog post filled with resources on Monday.  The post will remind you that it’s day one of our Protein Partner #ProteinChallenge and that you should sign up for the emails if you want to join us :)  Make sure you are subscribed to our feeds so you don’t miss the reminder!

· Because it’s going to be fun facing the challenge together, of course!  What do you say?  Are you going to be joining us for the #ProteinChallenge starting Monday, March 13?  Please become our Protein Partner!!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Beef Expert Bureau.  This post is sponsored by The Beef Checkoff.