Thursday, March 28, 2013

Eating Clean Recipes

Here are a few new recipes that we have tried and loved!

Clean Eating Slow Cooker Spinach and Chicken
Healthy Fettucine Alfredo - YUMMY!

Clean Eating Coconut Banana Green Smoothie
Chocolate Chunk Banana Bread

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Dollar Store Shopping

I need to start this off by saying that I am cheap. If I can get away with buying something on clearance or at the dollar store I will do so. I have a hard time spending money on something I know I can get for a cheaper price and/or the quality of the item isn't the first thing on my priority list and that is why I'm doing a post on Dollar Store shopping!

I've been shopping at the dollar store for some time now and after much trial and error, I have decided to let my readers in on some things I've learned and open up the idea of paying $15 for 15 items instead of $50 for 15 items.

Here are a few things I buy frequently at the local dollar store:
  • Holiday Section- Usually there is quite a selection of holiday items. Any of you that have kids know that stuff gets ripped to shreds sometimes and so the Dollar Store is a great place to buy those chinky little holiday decorations. It is okay if they get demolished because you only paid a dollar for it, if it doesn't get demolished then great, use it again next year!
  • Greeting Card Section- We all know that when you go to Walmart or Target and you need a card you head straight to their .99 cent cards....well there is a HUGE selection at the dollar store and guess what...they are only $1! You can also get packages of 4 or 6 cards per pack....**GREAT DEAL ALERT!**
  • Gift Bags, Tissue Paper, Ribbon, Party Favors Isle-this section of the store literally blows me away! Even at Walmart you cannot get away with getting a GIANT gift bag for $1, heck, or even ribbon! There is a huge selection too! In addition to gift bags and the likes, there are different colored plates and cutlery and party decorations. *From experience, the paper plates are, meh, okay, but then again it is a paper plate.*

  •  Napkins / Toilet Paper Section- The napkins are great. *We thought it would be a good idea to stock up on toilet paper for the Dollar Store, in hindsight, it was a terrible terrible idea. If I had no other option, I would rather use leaves from a tree than that stuff again...just sayin'.
  • Kid Isle- They have a whole isle dedicated to the crap kids want...and even some gag gifts!
  •  "Office Max" Isle- This isle is like walking into heaven for someone that loves office stuff. To list a few items: pens, pencils, envelopes, tape, poster board, notebooks, page protectors, peechee folders, shipping items, clipboards, note cards, and stationary galore! People, you don't need to be paying $6 for a pack of two pens...that is outrageous!

  •  Personal Hygiene Isle- I typically don't buy any of the shampoo, conditioner, or body lotion from the Dollar store, but I did see that they had toothbrushes! The next time I need to purchase a toothbrush/toothpaste, I'm getting them from here. Even though I haven't purchased their liquidy products I have purchased a shower cap (which is still in good shape), loofah scrubbers, emery boards, nail polish, makeup brushes, and bobby pins.   

  •  Food Isles- There are a couple food isles here although nothing of note, or I guess I should say healthy. They do have a candy section though and when Jordan and I go to a movie and would like to take a treat with us ( "aren't supposed to do that") we purchase our treats at the Dollar Store. There is a ton of name brand candy and in perfectly portioned sizes, aka small.
  • Storage Section- I have been very impressed recently because my local Dollar Stores have been offering storage bins! They are just like the kind you get at Walmart or Target for upwards of $5! I did purchase one and it takes an extra second or two to make sure it is clamped shut, but it works just the same! They have lots of different sizes and shapes (baskets, pitchers, water bottles, food storage containers, etc.)
  •  Cleaning Section- This section of the store it quite large with lots of variety. There are brooms, dustpans, dusters, dish scrubbers, dish soap, spray bottles, sponges, cleaning agents, and air fragrances. I've used the dish soap (it does the job), but no other cleaning agents. I've purchased their scrubber brushes and I think you get the most bang for your buck with the hard bristle ones! I've never tried any of the air fragrances, but I probably wouldn't...they look a little shady.

  • Kitchen Accessories Isle- This isle is PACKED with great items, in fact, it is one of my very favorite isle in the whole store! There are utensil type items, cheese graters, pot holders, bag clips, potato peelers, sandwich baggies, gallon baggies, foil, wax paper, brown bags, salt and pepper shakers, anything you might need, okay, not really anything, but almost anything basic. I get all my baggies here because they work great and guess what....they are only $1! My latest sandwich baggie box came with 60 baggies....that is about .016 cents a bag. **GREAT DEAL ALERT!**
  •  Some Dollar Stores also have small sections of picture frames, vases, decorative/gift baskets, silk flowers, household items, books, and balloons, to name a few. 
Some people have the concern of going to the Dollar Store and purchasing something only to have it break or not work the way they wanted it to..and to that I smart about your purchases. The quality doesn't really matter with some things, like a birthday card or foil. You can play with, try, or test just about everything you are unsure about. It is just like any other store...if it doesn't look reliable, look elsewhere to purchase.

If you aren't sure if the Dollar Store will sell what you are looking for just go and check it out, look around, and be creative. With a little imagination you may just be able to come up with your own Pinterest idea! ;)

I highly recommend taking a trip to your local Dollar Store establishment to see how much money you can save. I have not been paid by any companies to write this article/review/post, these opinions and recommendations are given of my own free will and the pictures were taken covertly and secret-agent-spy like. 

Happy shopping ya'll!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Cabbage Soup

We took our first trip to the store Sprouts last week. We were getting fruits and veggies and I think we went a little haywire and just bought what looked yummy. After my head of savoy cabbage sat in the fridge for almost a week I finally decided to do something with it and out came cabbage soup. This is a subtle and light soup, yet really yummy! I used a base recipe, but spiced it up to my liking. Here is my recipe:

Cabbage Soup

By: Lexi Lott
Adapted from: The Gracious Pantry

  • 1 head of savoy cabbage or regular green cabbage
  • 1/2 pound of lean ground beef (used for flavor non substance)
  • 1 small-medium white onion
  • 2-4 garlic cloves (depending on what you like)
  • 2 medium russet potatoes
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 2-3 cups water
  • a few shakes of caraway seeds, basil, and parsley
  • salt and pepper to taste

First, get the meat cooking in a separate pan with some caraway seeds, basil, parsley, salt and pepper. (We are using such a small amount of meat to highlight the cabbage, not take over the dish. We are using it for flavor, not substance.) Once the meat is cooking, fill your biggest pot with the low-sodium chicken broth and water and turn the heat on high.

Chop potatoes into small cubes. Chop fine the onion and garlic. Shred cabbage, make sure there aren't any long bits of will be difficult to get onto the spoon and into your mouth otherwise.

Put the browned meat, chopped potatoes, onion, garlic, a few shakes of caraway seeds, basil, salt and pepper into the boiling broth. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Once the potatoes have softened up, add the shredded cabbage and put the lid on the pot. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Once the cabbage has softened up, soup is ready!


Monday, March 18, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last night Jordan and I were hankerin' for somethin' sweet. I looked online for maybe 10 minutes for a clean eating treat and finally we decided upon cookies.

I used this recipe as a base, but we didn't have some of the stuff so we had to do all sorts of substitutions and so I'll post the recipe we used after all was said and done.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

By: Lexi Lott

  • 2 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup Truvia natural sweetener
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup almond milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl mix together flour,Truvia, salt, and baking soda. In a separate bowl blend eggs, soft butter, and vanilla.

Put wet ingredients into the flour mixture and mix well. (At this point we realized there was not enough liquid in the original recipe, so we started adding almond milk. Add little by little until your dough has the right consistency.) Add chocolate chips into the dough.

Make your cookies into flat balls, bake for 10 minutes.

Our cookies turned out really well and look just like the cookies in the link above. Just remember a cookie is still a cookie and to eat in moderation!

Lott Family Update

The past month has been a huge whirlwind of craziness and stress and all that "stuff" adults have to deal with. Now that a majority of the drama and business has passed, I have gained a little perspective and I can now write about it all.

First things first, Jordan no longer works at the dry cleaner. I know... pretty big news! There were a couple nights we sat down and really had to hash out what we wanted, what our future held, our goals as a family, our goals as individuals, and all that kind of "life-changing" stuff. We came to the conclusion that Jordan needed to go back to school to finish up his Bachelors, and quite honestly he just could not do that working long long days at the dry cleaner. Also, because of the long hours it was really difficult to spend time together or even really go do anything at night because he had to be in bed by 8:30 p.m. in order to be well rested and ready to get up at 5:30 a.m. The combination of the two, going back to school and long hours, was enough to motivate him to leave the dry cleaner.

He now works typical 9-5 hours with a parking management company about a half hour from home. He really likes it and says it will be a good place for him! He will start school back up next month.

As for me, I still work at the pick-up/drop-off dry cleaner location. Although, I did get my dream job...can you guess where? Yup, Joann Fabric & Crafts! I'm so ecstatic! I'm sure lots of you are thinking to yourself "Why is she so excited? It is just a retail job!" Well, let me tell you. A majority of my working experience is in retail, not because I was "stuck" there, but because I liked it. I really enjoy how fast paced the environment is, all the different people that come in, and the opportunity for quick advancement. I like working in the retail environment and I LOVE crafting so, hey hey, look at that..a perfect fit! I start on Thursday and am getting antsy.

So until I prove myself at Joann, which I don't anticipate will take very long, I will work both jobs part-time. Not the most enjoyable thing in the world, but I've done it before...several times, so I'm not intimidated.

Also, some other new changes in our lives:
   - We are working really hard at eating clean. So far we have done pretty well and I am pleased with the new foods we've been trying, the way I feel, and my adventures to healthy/whole food stores.
   - We purchased a new car! It is a manual Honda Fit. It is a compact car, but the interior is surprisingly spacious! It compliments our Xterra nicely, I like to call our cars Bumblebee because of the yellow and black, I'm clever I know!

 - We are both trying to be more social. After we got married we went to church with people we knew were just going to move away in a semester so we didn't really try to get to know anyone. The first ward we were in when we moved to Texas was made up of mostly "older" families. I got to know some women, who I'm still friends with, but Jordan and I didn't really "fit in" because we are just a young couple with no kids and there was maybe one other couple like us. Our ward now, I absolutely love! There are a lot of "starter" families and young couples like us. I have gotten to know a ton of ladies and I love them dearly! Jordan hasn't really gotten to know anyone because he teaches kids every Sunday, so that limits him in meeting people, but he has expressed the desire to get to know some people...which is a great thing, in my opinion!

I think that is all of my exciting news! Lots of good changes happening and about to happen. I'm excited for life again and I recognize that the Lord knows me better than I know myself and blesses me with everything I could ever need.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Veggie Stew

When I made this soup I didn't follow a recipe, I just took a look in my fridge and pantry and threw in a little of everything. If you don't have an ingredient I've listed, don't worry about it. If you want to add something I didn't list, go for it!

Veggie Stew

By: Lexi Lott

  • 2-3 C water
  • 20 oz low sodium chicken broth
  • 1-1.5 lb. lean ground beef (you could use ground turkey or even chicken)
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 1 large onion
  • 2-4 carrots
  • 4-5 stalks of celery
  • 2-3 florette of cauliflower
  • 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 can of tomatoes (do not drain)
  • olive oil
  • dried herbs of your choice (I used herbs de province, parsley, and a couple bay leaves)
  • salt and pepper
  • Parmesan


Brown meat in hot olive oil. Add minced garlic, herbs, and salt and pepper.While your meat is cooking add to a separate pot, water, chicken broth, chopped zucchini, onion, carrots, celery, cauliflower, black beans, tomatoes (do not drain, dump in the whole can), and bay leaves.
Once the meat is cooked through and garlic is translucent add to the pot, cover, and simmer 30 to 40 minutes. When ready to serve, top with a little parmesan and voila! 

Makes: 5-6 servings

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Getting Healthy

Last Sunday at church we had a lesson based on the talk Of Regrets and Resolutions by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. At the start of the lesson, the teacher, which happens to be one of my good friends, asked us to write down some regrets of the past year. I had a few initial thoughts, but as I went home and really thought about the lesson I started thinking not of my regrets, but of how I could stop having regrets.

One of my biggest regrets is my health. When I was a kid I played multiple sports and was ALWAYS on the field, court, or track! Sports were my life until my junior year of high school when I tore my ACL. Everything that I had ever known was gone and I had to find new things to fill my time. That is when my activity level went to zero and I started gaining weight. Since then I have not worked out consistently and have not really taken charge of the food that goes into my body. Since last Sunday I have realized that my health has consistently been a looming disappointment and regret for me. I've decided to finally take charge! No, I don't have any grand plans to workout or become the ripped goddess that is so readily pushed on me by the media, but I have decided to become more vigilant and decisive about the food that goes into my body.

A couple days ago I watched a video called Vegucated (on Netflix). This documentary is all about Veganism. I had never explored the vegan option, but after watching this documentary I was appalled at the treatment of animals, disgusted with the idea of animal food products, and ready to change my diet to be plant based rather than meat and dairy based. Now, I'm not saying I'm going to choose the vegan route, mainly because I know it would be very difficult for me to entirely cut out all meat and dairy products, but there was a quote in the documentary that I felt was completely relevant to my attitude. "Being vegan is about minimizing the suffering of animals," or in other words I can minimize my intake of animal products. I'm not going to become an animal activist and and I don't believe that our meat eating culture will change any time soon, but I do believe that as Americans we overeat animal products as well as sugar, unhealthy fats, and a limitless amount of other products. I guess it boils down to this: I learned how meat comes to be in stores, our bodies don't need all that meat to sustain life, and there are alternate options to the meat and potatoes diet.

The next video I watched is called Hungry for Change (also on Netflix). This was an absolutely amazing video! It was really educational and was put in terms that a non-scientist could understand. It touched on the fact that there is sugar in nearly everything in grocery stores, that Americans are eating more food than ever and yet not getting any nutrients, and that health is 80% based on the food you eat! The video emphasized the importance of eating clean foods and putting the required nutrients into your body. Our bodies are not sure how to break down and store all the crap we put in it so when we put good foods into it, it recognizes the change and immediately begins functioning and looking how it ought we all want it to.

I would highly recommend watching these two videos if you are in need of inspiration to change your eating habits!

As I was searching for some kind of eating clean guide I stumbled upon a book at the library by Tosca Reno. Her website, Eating Clean, is great! Eating clean is about eating lean protein, complex carbs, and good fats, aka fruits and veggies, lean meat, eggs, seeds and beans, and SO many other healthy options.

I've already started changing my attitude towards food and being healthy by watching the above mentioned videos and by reading clean eating  articles and books. This is going to be a permanent change and lifestyle for me and my family. It is not about me not being able to have a slice of cake, it is about me having the option to have the cake but not wanting the cake.

To go back to last Sunday and the lesson that started this all: my life on this earth is short and precious and I want to be my best self in order to enjoy each moment. I have been blessed with this wonderful body that used to be agile enough to jump hurdles, quick enough sprint down a court, and strong enough to kick a soccer ball the length of the field. I may not be able to do those things anymore, but at least I can look like I can!

Monday, March 4, 2013

A Visit from My Mamma!

I think those of us that that live far away from our families have a deep and resounding excitement for family visitors, especially our mothers! Well, at least that is the case for me. I was on the count down 5 weeks prior to her coming! The last time I saw my mom was June of last year...that is 8 months....EIGHT months! Whew...long time.

So she arrived last Saturday. Our first stop, per her request, was some real Tex-Mex! I had never been there, but we decided to go to La Hacienda. I'm not a huge fan of Tex-Mex so I didn't really know what to expect, but when we walked in and found cowhide tablecloths, horseshoe condiment holders, plates piled high with food, and a deep smoky BBQ smell, I knew we were in the right place. 

Jordan and I split this plate of food and STILL had leftovers!

After we had lunch, we took Mom for a drive to see Frisco area in all of its glory. We took her to see the nice neighborhoods, the shopping centers, the this and the that. We ended up going to Best Buy after that and upgrading our phones.....sorry Jordan and I subjected you to that, Mom! The rest of the night we just relaxed and let mom wind down from traveling. 

Sunday was also a relaxing day. Jordan and I went to church and then I came home a little early to be with Mom. We ended up spending the afternoon going on a walk around the pond and sitting by the pool in the sun. We had a great dinner and spent the evening watching the Oscars.

Monday we spent the day out and about and nothing really noteworthy happened. Oh okay, well we did go to Costco and Garden Ridge, which are both momentous experiences! In the evening I made her a nice birthday dinner, her birthday was February 4th, and then gave her the gift of getting a massage!

Tuesday we went shopping! Now, my mamma doesn't really like to go shopping, so we ended up just doing some browsing at Joanns, Bed, Bath & Beyond, and she had never been so I had to take her to Sam Moon!

Oh dang! Do you think I look like my mom a little?

Mom! Open your eyes! Haha, at least we both look a little silly! ;)

After a little shopping we got PEDICURES!! We both love love love getting pedicures. The last time I took her to get a pedi it was a bad experience, so I wanted to take her to a really nice place that was decently priced and guess what.....we went to Picasso Nails and had a GREAT time!

We decided to get matching green toes in honor of St. Patrick's Day!

After our pedicure we went home, mom did a little work, we worked on redecorating my apartment, watched a movie, ate some cake and hit the hay. 

Wednesday morning we woke up nice and early and in hopes of finishing some of the decorating we started the night before we ran to Lowe's and the Dollar Store and got some last minute things.

We did some planting to get a little green in the apartment! She thought it would be a good idea and now that we have them planted and around the house they look great! Once we finished and got some of the soil cleaned up we packed up her bags in the car and headed to the airport. 

My mom was here in Texas for about 4 and 1/2 days and went by so fast! I didn't realize how much of a mamma's girl I am. I've been on my own and away from my mom for a few years now that every moment I can spend with her is so precious. She is such a cool lady and I enjoy being with her not only because she is my mom, but also because she is my friend.