One of the best things you can do in the kitchen is to play around with ingredients. You can create so many awesome dishes with just a little imagination and creativity.

Sometimes, I just throw a ton of ingredients in my slow cooker and surprise an amazing dish was just brought into the world.

This cheesy chicken casserole was no exception. We enjoyed this for dinner and lunch for 3 days in my house, yes it was that good.

Ingredients:

  • Chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken tenders)
  • Red bell peppers diced
  • 1 yellow onion diced
  • Spinach leaves torn into smaller pieces
  • 1 ½ cups chicken broth
  • ¼ cup light cream cheese
  • 1 ½ cups brown rice
  • 2 wedges of Laughing Cow cheese (any flavor)
  • 1 jar of mild salsa
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
  • Salt and pepper as desired
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Casserole by www.juliewilcoxson.com
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Casserole

 

Directions:

  1. Place chicken into slow cooker, I used 5 pieces of frozen chicken tenders.
  2. Cook on high for 1 hour and medium for 5-6 hours.
  3. The last 30 minutes add in brown rice (I use individual Minute Brown Rice), black beans, add spinach, salsa, peppers, onion, cream cheese, and laughing cow cheese and mix together. Cook on medium for 30 minutes and serve.
  4. Lasts in the fridge for 3-4 days in a covered dish.
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Casserole by www.Juliewilcoxson.com
Slow Cooker Cheesy Chicken Casserole

There are so many alternatives you can do with this recipe. I only added red peppers because that is what I had, but you can add yellow and orange peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, whatever vegetables you like. You could also do a variety of rice or even quinoa. Make it your own and have fun with it.

 

Juliewilcoxson.com

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If you are anything like me, brownies are the absolute bestest thing ever. I love a dark chocolate fudgy brownie ever once in awhile (everything in moderation, right).

I am always on the lookout for one that has less ingredients, less sugar, and a bit more on the healthier side. Well, as healthy as a brownie can be. I was browsing on Pinterest and came across Chelsea’s Messy Apron and was immediately drawn in by these beauties.

I followed the ingredients to a T and was a little nervous when I saw oat flour BUT oh my are these to die for. These are an absolute win in my book and the family agreed.

Who Can Resist a Fudgy (less calorie) Brownie by www.juliewilcoxson.com
Frosted Brownie

Ingredients:

Brownies:

  • 1 and ½ cup dark chocolate chips, separated (I use Enjoy Life dark chocolate dairy free chips)
  • ¼ c + 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (I used plain Greek)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup coconut sugar (brown sugar can be substituted)
  • ¾ cup oat flour (blend regular oats in your blender)

Optional Frosting:

  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • 2 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 Tablespoons vanilla Greek yogurt
  • ¾ – 1 & ¼ cups powdered sugar

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8 x 8 pan with foil or parchment paper and then spray with nonstick spray.
  2. In a bowl place 1 cup of chocolate chips or chopped and measured dark chocolate.
  3. Microwave the coconut oil and measure the coconut oil in its melted, hot state.
  4. Pour the hot melted coconut oil over the dark chocolate and stir until chocolate is melted.
  5. Add in Greek yogurt. Make sure the yogurt is thick and not watery.
  6. Stir in the vanilla, salt, baking soda, and coconut sugar
  7. In a blender or food processor put in quick oats or old fashioned oats. Blend or process until oats resemble flour.
  8. Stir into the mixture and remaining ½ cup chocolate chips.
  9. Spread the mixture into prepared pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until fork comes out clean.
  10. Do not over bake (slightly under-baked gives a more fudge like consistency).
  11. Allow to cool completely
Who Can Resist a Fudgy (less calorie) Brownie by www.juliewilcoxson.com
Remove from oven

Optional Frosting:

  1. In a microwave safe bowl combine the chocolate chips and milk. Microwave in 15 second segments stirring each time
  2. Stir in yogurt and then whisk in powdered sugar.
  3. Start with ¾ a cup and add as needed.
  4. Refrigerate the frosting (covered in an airtight container) for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Cover the brownies with the frosting.
  6. Remove the brownies using the overhang of the parchment paper or foil.

Enjoy these little precious beauties

  1. Who Can Resist a Fudgy (less calorie) Brownie by www.juliewilcoxson.com
    Time to Enjoy

     

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The lies we tell ourselves, I will start tomorrow?

I know what you are doing; I have been there myself a million times. You get gung ho about starting a new fitness program or you decide you want to start eating healthy. You may even do great for a couple of days until your girlfriend calls and invites you out for dinner and some wine. The diet quickly goes out the window; but you tell yourself its okay because you will do better tomorrow.

Do You Have a Habit of Breaking Promises by www.juliewilcoxson.com
It’s just one cupcake, right?

Tomorrow arrives but the kids want pancakes and you love pancakes, a couple will be okay besides you will eat well at lunch. But you forgot that it is Lisa’s birthday at the office and they are catering in with pizza and of course there is going to be cake, so the cycle begins.

The Fitness Promise

Maybe, for you it is beginning a fitness routine and the same scenario above plays out. Your girlfriend invites you to dinner during your normal workout time so you skip it. When you get home, you are way too tired to get it in, besides you are too full from all the extra calories at dinner, you cannot work out on a full stomach, RIGHT!?

How many times have you done this vicious cycle where you make a promise to yourself that this is the time that you are going to get that body that you once had or always wanted ONLY to keep breaking the promises you made to yourself?

Would you keep inviting a friend to dinner if they kept canceling on you every time something “better” came along?  I don’t think I would be friends with that person for very long. It would make me feel like a loser if they cancelled our plans because something more interesting was going on.

What is a promise?

Just so we are clear, a promise, as defined by Webster Dictionary, is: “a declaration that one will do or refrain from doing something specified.

When we don’t keep a promise to someone, it communicates to that person that we don’t value him or her. We have chosen to put something else ahead of our commitment. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/lights-camera-happiness/201005/why-keeping-your-promise-is-good-you

Did you read that part? I put it in bold for you? Breaking a promise, especially a promise to yourself is still a promise; it communicates to that person (you) that you don’t value yourself. We have to start keeping the promises we have set for ourselves to prove that we are worth the time and effort that it takes to be healthy. I have 5 simple steps to help you to NEVER break a self promise again.

These 5 simple steps are designed to help you start feeling better about yourself so that you start to value your worth. As I already mentioned to you, that you won’t take care of something that you don’t value and this is the first place we need to start.

Step 1: Start drinking water every single day. I want you to take your weight in pounds and divide it in half. The number you get is what I want you to drink in ounces every single day 365 days a year without excuses. For example if you weigh 150 lbs then you will need to drink 75 ounces a day (that’s just over 9 glasses of water a day). I know you probably think this is silly but it works. When your body is hydrated, you have more energy (remember when you said you didn’t work out because you felt worn out).  By giving your body the water it needs and desires it can perform the necessary daily functions it needs to do in order for you to feel good.

Step 2: Go to bed 30 minutes earlier than you do right now. Another reason we don’t feel like doing the things needed to take care of ourselves is because we are walking around sleep deprived. We try to fit a million things in a day (I didn’t say productive things but things). Realize you cannot do all the things in one day. You have 6 other days that you can work things into by making a list by priority in which your workouts should be at the top of the list.

Step 3: Move. Movement is life. Our bodies were never meant to sit for 8-10 hours a day. We sit at our desks, we sit during long commutes, we sit in meetings, we sit at the ball field, we sit and we sit and we sit. You need to get up and move, get in your workout every day. Get up every hour and just walk around and stretch. Not only will your body movement patters improve, you will have better mental focus, you will wake up without the caffeine, your body will be happier, and you will feel better overall and you will experience less tightness.

Have you ever flown on a plane and during the safety demonstration they tell you in case of an emergency put your oxygen mask on first and then your child’s. The reason for that is you cannot possibly help your children or anybody else for that matter, if you are incapable of doing so.

If you feel guilty setting aside time for yourself then think of the story of the flight safety demonstration.

Step 4: Feed your body well balanced meals. Think colorful meals loaded with lots of colorful fruits and vegetables. Our body and our skin needs the antioxidants and vitamins they provide. Have your choice of lean protein to help build your muscles, include some healthy fats in order to regulate your hormones, have a little complex carbs to provide energy you need for that scheduled workout. Don’t skip on meals, don’t starve your body, instead fuel it.

Step 5: Have gratitude. I didn’t do this one for a long time and then I realized I wasn’t living in the moment therefore, I wasn’t seeing all the beauty right in front of me. I am one that is always reaching for the next goal immediately after one is accomplished. When I started keeping a gratitude journal every night of 10 different things I was thankful for during that day, my life really changed. I saw my surroundings and I started to live in the here and now. If you can’t think of 10 things then start with just 5, but I promise you can think of 10. It can be anything from that fresh brew coffee in the morning, to the easy drive into work, or the great conversation you had with a friend.

Live in the moment so you can thrive in the next….

 

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I love Italian food, give me all the bread and pasta in the world BUT I cannot get away with it like I used to. So when I find a healthier version of lasagna that I can actually eat and SHARE that is an amazing event. You won’t believe this recipe. I found the original at Cafe Delites which by the way if you don’t subscribe to her blog you need to. I get a lot of my recipes from her site. She has “Julie approved” recipes that I make for my family and pass along to clients and plenty of quick slow cooker recipes.

 

Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup www.juliewilcoxson.com
Set it and forget about it

 

This slow cooker lasagna soup was no exception either. It didn’t take but 30 minutes, maybe to prepare and then you just set it and go about your day while the slow cooker does the rest. The way this recipe is set up, you have less noodles and much less cheese which drops the calories down to a much more reasonable number. The author Karina breaks it down to around 327 calories per serving. Mine would be different as I made mine with a few changes so if you want her original recipe then please follow the link above.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped mushrooms
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 jar low sugar marinara sauce
  • 1 x 14.5 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 4 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 cups water

Topping at the end:

  • 1 cup (8 oz) reduced fat ricotta cheese
  • 1/3 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, plus extra for garnish
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil
  • salt to taste
  • 6 large lasagna sheets broken into pieces  ( I used Instant Lasagna sheets)

Directions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until browned, be sure to break up any large pieces. Season with salt and pepper as desired. Once the turkey is browned, add in onion and minced garlic and saute until translucent. Transfer mixture to preheated slow cooker.
  2. Add in the remaining ingredients and cook on high 1 hour and on low for 6 hours.
  3. In the last 30 minutes of cooking add the lasagna noodles to the top
Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup www.juliewilcoxson.com
Add the instant lasagna sheets
  1. Meanwhile in a medium bowl combine the topping ingredients together and season with salt and pepper as desired.
  2. Divide lasagna into individual bowls and scoop a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture on top and sprinkle with a little extra chopped parsley and finely grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
Healthy Slow Cooker Lasagna Soup www.juliewilcoxson.com
Time to Enjoy

I hope that you and your family enjoy this recipe as much as I did. This would be a great slow cooker recipe to have on hand during the craziness of the holidays especially on those cold winter nights. Who wouldn’t want to come home to this delightful and warm dish of goodness?

 

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For years I worked my legs with heavy weight but wasn’t seeing the results that I thought I should have. Instead I suffered with low back ache and hip issues and yes jumping was an issue after having two children. Until I discovered this beautiful and easy exercise of and started incorporating them into my daily routine. This exercise can be done daily; remember practice makes perfect. Watch the video at the end and start applying them into your routine.

Want to stop peeing every time you jump or sneeze? Keep reading….

Let’s face it we all want tighter butts and strong noticeable abs, am I right? You may be doing rep after rep of crunches, leg lifts, and squats without seeing any improvement. What I have found in my 20 plus years of working with clients is that they are not engaging the mid section which is leaving their lower back to take the brunt of all those crunches. Now in order to explain this in detail I am going to have to get a little scientific on you, bare with me I have a purpose.

The Abdominal Muscles

We have external and internal abdominal muscles the rectus abdominis and the external obliques are the external muscles. The transverse abdominis and external lumbar multifidus are the inner muscles.

The external muscles aid in crunching and the twisting. The inner muscles support posture, back support, and deep breathes during big movements. The inner muscles are usually weaker because of not engaging them during movements. By strengthen these inner abdominal muscles you can elevate back pain, engage the glutes better, eliminate urinary incontinence, and create a tighter mid section.

The Vacuum is Your Golden Exercise

Many people have never heard of this exercise and are missing out on an extremely important game changer. The vacuum is an isometric contraction of the Transverse Abdominis which works together with the pelvic floor muscles to stabilize the lower back and pelvis. (are you sensing my message of the pelvic floor). Ladies, if you have children you have probably been told to do your Kegel exercises to help with incontinence when jumping or sneezing, but have you ever been told about the vacuum? This is a MUST and it is never too late to start working these important abdominal muscles.

Watch my video on the most important exercises when it comes to tighten the mid section and working the glutes. If you apply the vacuums daily you will put an end to the urinary incontinence issue and can also reduce your waist line by 1-3 inches.


 

Juliewilcoxson.com

 

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