My Family’s Favorite Salad : {Kids Eat It Too}

Getting my kids to eat vegetables is almost impossible…but I honestly don’t sweat it that much because I know it will eventually grow on them, they take vitamins, and they seem healthy enough.  But one vegetable they do eat regularly is this Dole Sunflower Crunch Chopped Salad.  No joke…this isn’t an ad, we seriously just love this salad.  We eat it on average at three meals a week at lease I would say!  Because the dressing is a little sweet, and the lettuce, kale and cabbage is chopped so little….the girls gobble it up!  So I thought I would pass it along in case any of you mom’s are looking at a salad to get your kids to try, or an easy salad to take to a BBQ or party.

If I get invited to a party;  I bring this salad.  If I am bringing a meal to a new mom;  I bring this salad.  If I am cooking BBQ;  I make this salad.  I used to get the Sweet Kale salad from Costco that has the craisins and pumpkin seeds in it…but I like this one even better!  The only problem is it’s hard to find at times.  I have only found it at Ralphs & Kroger.  It comes in small bags (like in my picture), and big bags.  Good luck! 
The Salad comes with Bacon, Sunflower seeds, and the sweet onion dressing.  The dressing is kind of a creamy.  Just pour in and toss!

Easy Lemon Salmon

I finally got both my daughters to eat salmon!  Mom victory!!  My oldest (4 year old) has been eating it for a year, and my 2 year old just started eating it a couple of weeks ago and I am so pumped because 1. I hate making them other food when I want salmon, and 2. it’s so good for them!

What got them into it was lemons.  They love “decorating” the uncooked salmon with the lemons I cut because they look like flowers, and then at the dinner table I have more lemons they get to squeeze on it themselves.  Plus, lets not underestimate how cool it is for them when we go to Costco and they can look at the dead packaged fish and then we talk about eating it at home.

Recipe:

I make this salmon once a week at home, and it’s super easy and simple.  I buy the big salmon filets at Costco, and then cut them up into smaller fillets, put them in ziplock baggies, and freeze them for later use.  Then when I know I am going to make salmon, I just defrost them in the fridge the night before.  First thing I do is throw a little olive oil on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then I place my pre-cut fillets on top and kinda smear the fillets around to make sure they have a small amount of olive oil on them so they don’t stick.  (You can also use olive oil spray).  Then all I do is salt and pepper both sides of the fillets.  (Not too much pepper if you are feeding it to the kids).Next I cut the skin off a lemon, then slice it into the “lemon flower” shape my kids love.Then just place 2 “lemon flowers” on each fillet.   Now bake for about 20 minutes on 350 and thats it! *
*Just don’t eat the cooked lemon that is on the fillets.  Remove them from the fish and just toss them….cooking them makes them taste more bitter and won’t be good.  If you love lemon and want more, just squeeze some fresh juice on top when serving.  Also…it’s very important to use ripe lemons or they will get too bitter and ruin the taste.

Minute Corn : {Trick to Fast Steamed Corn}

Cooking dinner with the kids running around and my husband still at work can get a little crazy.  Why is it they always want to play in the kitchen when I am in there??  Anyway, my kids love steamed corn on the cob and my mother in law taught me this quick and easy way to steam corn…I call it minute corn…really its a minute and a half but whos counting?

Here is how to make it:
Wet a single paper towel (Don’t wring it out) Wrap the wet paper towel over each ear of corn
Place in the microwave on high for a minute thirty and cook one ear of corn at a timeAnd voila, steamed corn!

TONE IT UP Workout : {Birthday Workout With My Gals}

IMG_5066 I love celebrating my birthday every year with my girlfriends….yes I love my birthday and I’m not ashamed to admit it!  This year, we were lucky enough to go to a free group workout by my fave fitness trainers…..Karena and Katrina from Toneitup.com ! I am a Tone it up member and I love this program and these ladies (even if my waistline doesn’t always show it lol).  They are so positive and encouraging and you can’t help but want to be healthy when watching their videos or following them on social media.  So when I found out they were having a workout in Manhattan Beach, CA (35ish minutes from me)….I begged my girlfriends to come join me as a birthday celebration and luckily most of them could make it!  It was so much fun…but holy cow was it exhausting! These girls kicked my butt!
IMG_5069We worked out at an empty sound stage on a studio lot.IMG_5067They had a table set up in the back with free Perfect Fit protein shake samples and Perfect Fit Tone It Up brownies. 
IMG_5068The brownies where flourless and made with bananas and the protein powder…I want the recipe!IMG_5077They gave everyone a little bag with a sample of the Perfect Fit Vanilla protein powder, a recipe card, and a cute little Perfect Fit drink umbrella!IMG_5071IMG_5070We are ready to workout!…or so we thoughtIMG_5078It was a bit of a quiet room which surprised me…I kept giving out little hoots because I was so excited when they came out!
IMG_5156This pic is from their instagram of the event…best part…LIL JON was the DJ!!  It was so bomb!  I wanted to stop working out and just have a dance party! Our initial stretch was to his song and we said “To the window (stretch one direction), to the wall (stretch the other direction), ’til the sweat drops down your exercise ball!” (giggles ensued)IMG_5087Seriously we were dead after!  I have never sweated so much in my entire life…plyo jumps are no joke!IMG_5095We quickly freshened up and changed clothes in the parking structure, applied a lot of deodorant and body spray, and headed out to a celebratory dinner (we earned it right??).  We went to Hudson House in Redondo Beach.  (If you are a top chef fan…the owner is runner up contestant Brooke Williamson).IMG_5094They had delicious cocktails (like this tiki drink), and the truffle fries and pretzel burger where to die for! 
IMG_5171And there we are, front and center (well a little to the left).  Such a fun time! Thanks K & K for a great birthday!  If you have never checked out their workout videos…do it! So fun!  

XOXO,
Care

Nékter Cleanse : {A Review}

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I was searching for a cleanse to kick start my eating healthy/weight loss for the new year, and my sister recommended the Classic Nékter Juice Cleanse.  You can do it for 1, 2, 3, or 5 days.  They recommend 3 days to fully rid your body of toxins.  I however, I only did 2…3 sounded so scary!  But the cleanse was SO much easier than I thought!….I could have easily done the 3 days, and probably will next time I cleanse.

The Classic cleanse consists of 6 Juice’s you drink each day, one juice every two hours.  If you get hungry and just have to eat something, you can have raw almonds or some avocado slices wrapped in lettuce.  I only got hungry once because I skipped Juice #4 and ate almonds instead.  Besides that, the juice’s, tea, and drinking lots of water kept me totally full and satisfied!

How did they taste?  I am not one of those girls who enjoys green juices.  I go with my Mom to Mother’s Market sometimes and she loves getting huge juices full of spinach, beets, kale, etc.  And I just gag!  I tried the Master Cleanse once and I only lasted 2 days.  Not because I was hungry, but because I just couldn’t stomach the taste.  Which is why I couldn’t drink Juice #4 from this cleanse…..it has the EXACT same ingredients as the Master Cleanse.  (Can’t handle the Cayenne Pepper!)  But if you are someone who is cool with veggie juices, then this cleanse will be extra easy for you.  As for me, I plugged my nose and chugged most bottles.  Only bottle #6 could I really sip and enjoy….that thing is like eating chocolate cake after you have been eating dirt all day.  (Dramatic much?)

Even though I didn’t love the taste of most of the juices, I loved the cleanse.  It was doable, I rarely was hungry, I lost 5 pounds in water weight, and I felt great after!  It was exactly what I needed to kick start my healthy eating and living!  And you get to keep the cute green cooler bag which I have been using to carry all my healthy lunches to work!  I will definitely do it again!

Here is a description of the different juices:

Drink #1 
Your first drink of the day is a blend of delicious vegetables like kale and spinach with a refreshing kick of cucumber, apple and mint. Day One is packed with antioxidants and vitamins to detox your kidneys, liver, pancreas, and blood. It’s a fresh start for your system and already it’s singing “Thank You for this amazing drink!”

Drink #2 
You’ll continue your day’s cleanse with a light and delicious trio of pineapple, cucumber and coconut water. The pineapple acts as an anti-inflammatory. Electrolytes are bursting out of the bottle to help you stay hydrated. This will leave your insides feeling happy and clean.

Drink #3
Halfway through! This alkalizing green blend features the Mean Greens: spinach, kale, and parsley. We’ve added lemons as a natural antiseptic to help zap the toxins. This blend will help detoxify and stimulate the antibodies. Snack on some almonds if you need to!

Drink #4 
Meet Skinny Lemonade. We’ve blended lemons and cayenne pepper, a little sweet and a little spicy, to give you a refreshing, but very important drink. The cayenne helps bring blood to the surface and allows those toxins to easily leave your body. A NEW you is just around the corner.

Drink #5 
You’re almost there! The very last green drink of the day, we made sure was a tasty one. Apples are added for sweetness and packed with soluble fiber to help clear those nasty toxins from the colon.

Drink #6 
You made it! Your very last drink. We like to refer to it as dessert because it is sweetly flavored with vanilla beans that have anti-nausea and calming properties. Plenty of protein and minerals that aid the lymphatic system in waste elimination make this a perfect, last drink. Congratulations on a successful Cleanse! We hope you feel great!

Healthy Smash Cake : {Healthy Banana Bread}

IMG_3412When it came time for my daughters 1st birthday party I immediately got nervous about her cake.  I know it’s tradition to give your child their first bit of sweets on their birthday but I desperately didn’t want to.  Now TRUST ME when I say I am not judging other moms that have, this is personal.  I am someone who LOVES sweets and has struggled my whole life to eat them in moderation…and I guess I don’t want my daughter to have that struggle.  Also she has already had sugar haha.  I came home from work one day to find out that my mom had fed my daughter donut holes for breakfast (this was months ago btw)…so she has had enough for the year.  Plus I already struggle with getting her to eat the fruit and veggies on her tray over her toast and meats…so why add another food distraction for her?  (My little sister was like this….I think she would only eat Cheeto Puffs and macaroni and cheese for the first 5 years of her life haha).  Anyway, so in order to give E a smash cake, I decided to make a healthy banana bread cake.

The Bad News:  I couldn’t for the life of me figure out a healthy frosting so she got regular whipped vanilla frosting.  AND she didn’t eat any of the cake or frosting at her actual party!  In a nutshell she had a meltdown with frosting all over and wanted out of that chair ASAP.

The Good News:  The day before when I was leveling off the cake to make even layers I gave her the excess and she loved it!  (With no frosting) 

And who cares that the picturesque cake smash didn’t go as planned haha…I have enough “cute” moments with this girl to last a lifetime!

Ingredients:

  • 4 Ripe Bananas
  • 2 Individual Unsweetened All-Natural Applesauce Containers
  • 3tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 Eggs (Beaten)
  • 1/4 Cup Non-Fat Greek Yogurt
  • 1 1/2 Cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/2tsp Salt
  • 1tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4tsp Nutmeg
  • (Optional): Nuts & sugar or natural sweetener such as honey, agave, or stevia

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.
IMG_3369 Rachael Ray says instead of peeling bananas and mashing them, squish them inside the peel, then peel and place in the bowl.  Supposedly when using bananas to cook with, it helps make the bread fluffier. 
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My bananas were not fully mashed which left chunks in my bread…this wasn’t a problem for me, but if you don’t want chunks, then take a spoon and mash the bananas down a little more in the bowl.IMG_3383I didn’t measure the applesauce, I just used two of these individual containers.IMG_3374Combine applesauce, bananas, yogurt and vanilla.IMG_3378 Beat the eggs prior to mixing into the applesauce/banana mixture.IMG_3379 In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients, then combine with the wet ingredients.IMG_3382Pour into two 6″ greased cake pans.  (Just divide the batter in half), bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes.  (Toothpick center of cake to make sure it is done).
IMG_3385You can see the banana chunks in mine.IMG_3398Clearly I didn’t divide my batter in half haha! (Do as I say, not as I do).  Let cool on a wire rack.  It’s a pretty solid cake and won’t break easily, so let them cool flat side down.  IMG_3401 Once cakes are cool, level off the tops using a sharp knife.  (I used a serrated knife)IMG_3404After in was leveled and cooled I placed them on top of each other to ensure they were level and then placed on a cardboard cake base prior to frosting.  This is key because you need to be able to move it from your cake stand to the high chair!DSC_8955

Stuffed Bell Peppers & Zucchini : {Low Carb}

IMG_2133This is our go-to healthy meal in the Johnston house…stuffed bell peppers.  The great thing is you can change up the filling to whatever you want.  On Pinterest I have seen stuffed peppers with rice but I don’t like rice so I just stuff them with veggies or beans..plus that is healthier.  When whipping these up I saw that I had extra zucchini so I stuffed some of those too and they were so good as well and more filling!

We also love SUPER spicy food so we use 2 packs of taco seasoning and jalapeños when making these!

Simple Directions:

Cut in half, clean out seeds, stuff with whatever you like, back uncovered for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.  That’s it!  Have fun making your own stuffed peppers (or zucchini)!  *Tip: Orange bell peppers are the best to stuff because they are the sweetest.  The green are bitter and I find the skin of the red peels off sometimes when cooking.

IMG_2138 IMG_2139 IMG_2140 IMG_2147IMG_2152 IMG_2151 IMG_2154IMG_2158I had this much extra of turkey, beans, and corn that I combined it to save for soft tacos later.
IMG_2159IMG_2163IMG_2168We love to serve it on shredded lettuce with sour cream and salsa.  When my husband doesn’t want it “Low Carb” he chops it all up and stuffs flour tortillas to make soft tacos out of it all.  It’s all easy and delish!

Cocoa & Pumpkin Fruit & Nut Bars {Paleo}

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I am a snacker…especially at work.  This is because I get up so early (3am) that “normal meal times” sorta go out the window.   So I am always looking for a quick snack that is somewhat healthy.  But of course I often fail and go for whatever is easy and close.  The traditional granola bar frustrates me because it is usually loaded with tons of bad sugars and unwanted extras….or is super expensive!  So after seeing this fruit and nut bar recipe (compare to lara bars) on fitsugar.com I was inspired to make my own batch, make a few changes, and add some other flavors!  I like this recipe because it is super easy to modify with your preferred fruits, nuts, spices, etc.

Ingredients: {Yields approx. 12 Bars}

  • 2 Cups Nuts (I used 1 1/2 cup almonds/1/2 cup walnuts)
  • 18 Large pitted dates
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit (I used 1/4 cup raisins & 1/4 cup apricots)
  • 2 tbsp  Spice(s) of choice!  (I split the batch and did one with pumpkin pie spice and the other raw cocoa)

*You can also add unsweetened coconut flakes to add more flavor, texture and thicken the bar OR if you have a sweet tooth you can add some dark chocolate chips.

Directions:  {So easy to make}

  • Combine fruit and nuts and process in food processor approx. 2 minutes until everything is finely chopped.
  • You may need to process fruits and nuts separately (depending on food processor size) and then combine by kneading together with your hand (which is what I did).
  • Place mixture between wax paper and roll out until 1/2 inch thick.  Try and roll into a rectangle which will help with cutting even bar shapes.  To keep the same shape you may need to cut off uneven sides and re-roll them in the center of the mixture.
  • Freeze rectangles for 1 hour to solidify mixture a little more, then cut, and wrap individually in plastic wrap!

*Keep them in the fridge.  Also be careful not to freeze longer than an hour in the wax paper or it will stick to the bars.  You can also use plastic wrap instead of wax paper.

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Fresh Watermelon Goat Cheese Salad

Years ago my husband and I went to Puerto Vallarta for vacation. On the beaches of Puerto there are many places where beachfront restaurants cater to you with cool towels, cabanas, drinks, etc. as long as you buy their food. We would hang out at these places all day, tasting different dishes, reading, and getting our bronze on. One of these dishes was an amazing watermelon and goat cheese salad. It was my first time having goat cheese and I loved it!

So when thinking of a fun summer salad to make for Karla & Jason’s Baby-Q shower last week, I thought trying to make that phantom watermelon and goat cheese salad would be perfect! But when looking online for the recipe I couldn’t find one just like the salad I remembered…so I took the only watermelon/goat cheese recipe I could find (this one), and altered it a little. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

  • Lettuce (I buy organic spring mix blend)
  • Blanched Slivered Almonds (In Puerto it had toasted pine nuts…both are delish)
  • Thin Sliced Red Onions
  • Cubed Watermelon
  • Crumbled Goat Cheese (If they only sell it solid that is fine…just be sure to cube it small)
  • 1/2 Cup of Orange Juice (No pulp)
  • 1/2 Cup of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Red Wine Vinegar
  • Salt & Pepper (About 5 dashes each)

{With this salad the only thing I measure is the dressing ingredients…everything else I just throw in depending on the size of salad and taste. For example the onions really bring out a different flavor in the salad…which I love…but not everyone loves onions so you may adjust it. Also, I usually double the dressing ingredients and store in the fridge for multiple uses.}

Directions:IMG_1628 IMG_1629Cube the watermelon

IMG_1632Thinly slice the onions. I have a mandolin and I sliced, then chopped them to make them smaller.

IMG_1634Combine olive oil, orange juice, red wine vinegar, and salt and pepper.

IMG_1640Whisk/blend ingredients….I used a milk frother (you will need to do this before using every time because the liquids separate).

IMG_1643Combine dry ingredients with lettuce, add dressing to taste, and toss!…This isn’t tossed but just a taste test for me before the party…you know….just to make sure its good!

IMG_1783Tossed and at Karla & Jason’s Baby-Q