Wednesday, August 16, 2017

6 Ways to Increase Veggie Consumption

I am always looking for ways to increase my vegetable intake. I actually really like most vegetables, but for some reason, they are still something I have to really be intentional about putting into my diet. They just aren't something I gravitate towards most of the time. I could honestly go a few days without a single veggie if I wasn't careful, which is why I have to plan for them and make sure I'm getting them in. I know this is something a lot of people struggle with, so I thought I'd share some things that work for me to up my veggie intake!

one. Buy prepackaged. 
I don't buy a ton of prepackaged veggies, but there are some things that are just SO convenient. For example, I absolutely loathe cutting up sweet potatoes, so when I buy them, I never use them, except maybe cooked in the microwave. If I want to add them to eggs, or dice up for a soup or something, I just never get around to using them and they sit on my counter until I eventually toss them. So, paying a little bit more to have diced and ready sweet potatoes is totally worth it for me to get them in! Another good example for me is riced cauliflower. I know it's not that hard to make, but I never do it. Honestly you can buy just about every veggie pre packaged these days, so if there are things you are having a hard time getting into your body because of the prep work, consider choosing one or two to buy already ready for ya! 

two. Choose one veggie and master it. 
A lot of the time, I think that people don't know how to prepare many different veggies. This leads to burning out on eating raw carrot sticks all the time. To simplify things, choose one vegetable and master the heck out of that thing! Keep fixing that veggie until you have absolutely mastered that thing and it is so delicious even your pickiest kid eater asks for it daily. Then, master another one. And another. 

three. Prep veggies at one time. 
We all know that prepping food ahead of time makes life easier. Finding the time and energy to do actually do it isn't always easy, though. Take 10 minutes after you've gone to the store to cut up and store all of your veggies for the week. I usually leave all my greens as is until I am ready to use them, but I love having cucumbers, bell peppers, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, etc. washed, cut and ready to go. If you've actually taken the time to do this, there is a lot higher chance you'll actually eat what you've purchased. When I am rushing to get lunch ready for 4 kids, I am not likely to put red peppers on their plates if I have to do more than just open the container and get them out. 

four. Green smoothies. 
If you aren't making green smoothies on the regular, why not?! My kids and I prefer using spinach to any other green (you honestly cannot taste the spinach, promise) and I add several heaping handfuls each time I make smoothies, which is several times a week. I can 100% guarantee you that 0% of my kids would eat spinach in any other form. They get 1-2 servings of veggies (and leafy greens at that!) in one sitting to start their day. 

five. Prepare one veggie several ways.
My kids used to like broccoli, then they decided that it's the worst thing on the planet. A couple weeks ago, I steamed broccoli and melted a little butter with garlic salt over the top, and they decided it was alright again. There are so many ways to prepare each and every vegetable. Choose one veggie, and see how many different ways you can prepare it! Steam it, boil it, grill it, sautee it, eat it raw, roast it, eat it with dip, make it savory, make it sweet.....

six. Make a veggie plate.
Remember all of those veggies that you prepped ahead of time? If you're still having trouble getting your veggies in, make yourself a little snack plate of veggies. Pile a few of each kind of veg that you prepped and munch on them during lunch, or for a snack. Sometimes, in order to really get enough vegetables in our bodies, we just need to make it happen.

What other tips do you have for increasing vegetable consumption?! Do you have any awesome recipes for veggies? If so, please share! 

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Branson Trip 2017

Every summer we get together with one side of my family. The last few years we have tried to meet somewhere semi close to the middle, since we are about 16-18 hours apart. This year it was Branson! We came a few years ago, and enjoyed it so we were excited to go back. This time it was our family of 6, plus my dad, step mom and sister who were coming from Houston. This was only our 2nd time taking our little ones out of the state, so we weren't sure how they would do on the trip (they aren't great in the car to begin with), but the drive there went surprisingly smoothly! All the kids did so well, and we only made 2 stops the whole way!

We arrived in Branson Sunday afternoon. Everyone was antsy and ready to get out of the car, so we let the kids run around while we got unloaded. My dad and step mom were gracious to use some time share points to get us all a place to stay. The place we stayed was a Holiday Inn resort, but kind of like condos. We had a private entrance, and entry way, and then there were 2 little "apartments" off of that. We stayed in one side and they stayed in the other, which was perfect because we could just prop the doors open and let the kids be all over, and then during naps or after bedtime, all the adults could be on one side playing games and not have to be quiet, and the kids could be asleep on the other. 
So Sunday we arrived, and it was close to dinner time so we pretty much got unloaded and my step mom cooked dinner while we started unpacking. My sister and I went to the store to get a few things, like breakfast for the next morning. The kids ate dinner round 1, and then we got them down for bed, and then we ate. It kind of worked out perfectly. We stayed up late playing Uno that night and catching up. 
Monday the kids were up bright and early, so we got breakfast for them and put on a show. We don't have cable (just Netflix), so they don't watch a ton of TV and were entranced with it while they ate and we waited for everyone to wake up. Eventually we checked to see and my Dad was awake, so he came over and ate and then we all got dressed and went to one of the playgrounds on the resort property while my step mom and sister slept. We decided around 10 to head back and get an early lunch so we could swim right after, before naps. By the time we got to the restaurant, ordered and waited for the food it was already something like 11:30 and I don't think we made it to the pool until sometime between 12-1. It was a good plan, though. We stayed and swam for a couple of hours, which was a blast. The little ones were not thrilled about the pool-they never do very well with new things and the last time they swam was last year on vacation. By the end one of them was swimming on his own, but the other was done and sat out with my dad the rest of the time.

 We got the littles down for a nap and the girls and Daddy had some quiet time while the adult girls got cleaned up, and then headed out to do some shopping. My big girl had lost an earring and I didn't bring any extra pairs, so I wanted to get one so her holes didn't close up during the week (of course that night when we went to bed, my husband found the earring in our bed...of course). So we hit a few stores before dinner, and then the guys and kids met us at the Branson Landing for dinner. We ate at a restaurant called Black Oak Grill, which was super yummy and a great atmosphere!

 After dinner the kids had a dance party around the landing, we hit a few more shops and then headed home for bed.

After the kids went down, we went over to the other side and played Phase 10. Somehow the topic of Frosty's came up, and then everyone wanted some, so my sister and husband went on a Frosty run for everyone around 10. 
Tuesday, we woke up and pretty much had a lazy morning, same as Monday. The girls eventually made their way to the other side and played Uno with Baba for awhile. My husband and I decided to take the littles and go to the grocery store to get some lunch stuff, as well as snacks and more breakfast stuff since we basically had no food. We got back and I got lunch ready for everyone, and I have no idea what happened, but 3/4 kids were just losing their minds about various things. We were going to put them down for an early nap so we could maybe have more time to do something in the afternoon, but my step mom talked to one of the tourist places and got a really great deal for some tickets to a show that night, so we decided to hit the indoor pool and wear the kids out for 30-45 minutes, and then come back for a late nap. The indoor pool was FREEZING, so the kids didn't last terribly long, which was fine with us! We got them home, showered and into bed by about 2. My husband went to work out and I started on this post! I am never alone when we are on vacation, so I soaked up about a half hour to myself, which was nice. After some alone time, my step mom, sister and I headed for the outlet malls! I have been looking everywhere for Adidas Superstars for my oldest, and nowhere has them in her size and I wanted to try them on her so didn't want to order online. The Adidas outlet hooked me up. They had one pair in her size (gold) and after them already being cheaper because of outlet prices, being on sale, AND the store had an additional 30% off, I got them for about half price! I got my boys some new shoes on an insane deal also, and then went back later to get another pair of superstars for my other daughter, because when they're that good of a deal, you can't not. We shopped until about dinner time. My husband got dinner cooked (taco bar), and we came back to the resort and ate, then we all got ready to head to the show. We saw the Haygoods, and it was really good!

 It didn't start until 7:30 and my kids usually go to bed at 8, but they all did so good. The lights, music, and awesome effects kept them all entranced. The music was great, and the atmosphere was really fun! (And can I just say I'm SO happy my boys are finally starting to get to the age where we can do stuff like this again and it's not a giant meltdown disaster?! Sweet freedom!)

Wednesday morning we got up and headed for Krispy Kreme! We don't have one, and you just have to get them when you're near one! We scarfed breakfast because we had tickets to another show. I can't remember the official name, but it's the Pets show. I think it's somewhat well known in Branson. Basically a trainer does a bunch of tricks with pets. The kids loved it and it was very entertaining. My big (usually timid and shy at first) girl went up on stage with some other kids a couple times, and even got an autograph. This was definitely out of her comfort zone so I was really proud of her, and it was fun to watch her up there :)

We had lunch and naps and then we went back to Black Oak Grill for dinner. After dinner, the kids had another dance party on the landing (and entertained many passersby), and then my dad took them on a train ride on the little train that went around the landing!

Thursday, my husband, sister and I took the kids to one of the smaller pools in the resort.

 There was one kid and grandpa there for the first little bit, and then we had the place to ourselves! One of my boys sat out the entire time, except when I made him do a loop around the pool with me, and the rest of the kids were total fish. My oldest is really crushing swimming this year!

After we got cleaned up, we did lunch and naps for all the little kids. The girls played games and had some quiet time on the other side.

 My step mom and I went to the store to get things for one last dinner, and then my husband grilled all the meat and I made the sides. After dinner, the girls headed out for a girls night at Ink Ink. We had just passed by and seen it on our way around town and some of us wanted some things done, so we googled it and found out they've been on a reality show, so that was kind of cool. It's an all female tattoo parlor and the atmosphere was really cool. I got my nose re pierced. I had it pierced years ago and have wanted to get it redone. My kids were worried they wouldn't recognize me (lol), but they all ended up liking it once it was done. I am excited for it to heal so I can put in a tiny stud.

 We had one last adult game night (and my sister and I made one last Krispy Kreme run, because, well, obviously).
Friday morning we had to be out of there by 10, and of course this was the one day our kids slept in, so we didn't get woken up until 8:30. It was a mad rush to pack everything and get the place back in order by 10.

 After all of the chaos (it wasn't actually that bad), we headed to chick fil a to let the kids run off some energy in the play place before we sat in the car for 8 hours. We stayed until about 11:30, then got our food to go and ate in the car on the way home. Thankfully, the way back was also pretty smooth. I honestly expected the boys to be full on meltdown mode after a week of vacation (and now that they knew they'd be trapped in car seats for an entire day), but once again they crushed it! I feel like we have so much more freedom now that they are doing better in the car. Last year, I am not exaggerating when I say that one of them slept for 15 minutes of a 10 hour drive. FIFTEEN MINUTES. Then woke up his brother, who cried for about the last 6-7 hours of the drive. Nothing we did could make him stop crying. It was awful for everyone, so I was a little paranoid about this year but it went very well!
Saturday and Sunday were spent unpacking, doing laundry, getting groceries and jumping back into real life! It was a great trip! 
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