Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa

First of all, I have to give a shout out to Kimi Jo of the “No Secrets Attached” Facebook page for this delicious recipe!! Visit her page, if you are interested in following her page for more YUMMY recipes and other health and fitness related advice:


Before I share this delicious recipe, I want to review some of the benefits of Quinoa with you. It is a super food!

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1) High in protein

2) Complex carbohydrate with low glycemic index

3) Quinoa contains all nine essential amino acids

4) Gluten free

5) Can help reduce cholesterol

6) High magnesium content promotes cardiovascular health

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Mexican Chicken and Black Bean Quinoa
I put 4 chicken breast in a crock pot with and covered with organic salsa purchased at Costco.
I let cook for 4 hours and then shredded the chicken.

1 teaspoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Garlic Gloves
3/4 cup Quinoa
1 1/2 cup low sodium chicken broth
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cans no salt added Black Beans
1/2 cup Cilantro

1.) Heat the oil on medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute.
2.) Rinse the quinoa in a strainer.
3.) Mix quinoa into the pan and cover with chicken broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper. (salt and pepper if you like) Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes.
4.) Mix in the black beans and cilantro.


Serve on a plate and then top with your shredded salsa chicken!

I used some Tapatio hot sauce on mine. It definitely was NOT “necessary” as the recipe itself had enough flavor… I just like my “mexican” style food HOT, HOT, HOT!! Personal preference 🙂

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When Kimi Jo posted this recipe on her health and fitness Facebook page “No Secrets Attached”, she asked some of her followers to be “guinea pigs” in trying the recipe. I offered to try it, but I just got to making it now.

The recipe has my stamp of approval!!

I am always looking for new Quinoa recipes, and this one was great!! If any of you are able to try it out yourselves, make sure you stop back by and comment with your own personal review!! 🙂


Hip, hip hoo-ray!

Well, not really…

This post is not meant to be a “downer” but really to inform curious family and friends about my journey and struggles that I have been experiencing with my hips.

I plan on writing in my blog a lot while I am couped up from my surgery that is scheduled for April 1st. I guess that is why I feel like sharing my perspective of my (what I consider to be) long journey leading up to this point.

As most of you know, I was pretty involved in exercising and doing an interval style workout back in 2010. After our wedding, I started a boot camp in May of 2010. As of August 2010, my hip flexors started to feel tight from time to time, but I would just stretch before and after working out. I thought it was normal and stretching seemed to help manage it. Problem fixed (or so I thought). I continued to exercise as I had been. Pretty intense.

As of April 2011, my “condition” of tight hip flexors worsened. It was to the point where my hip flexors felt tight all day, every day. In my mind, I thought that maybe my hips were just off alignment. Easy fix by a few trips to the chiropractor, right? I went to the chiropractor who thought I had a case of tendonitis. He instructed me to take a break from working out and did a series of adjustments. After about 5 weeks of adjustment and little to no improvement, the chiropractor referred me to physical therapy. I started physical therapy and went through about 5 weeks of physical therapy with also little to no improvement. The physical therapist then referred me to an orthopedic specialist at Steindler Orthopedic Clinic in Iowa City.

I started with a hip specialist there that took x-rays but really didn’t think I had a hip issues and referred be to a spine specialist thinking the issue was with my back. This spine specialist was an injection doctor. After following his recommendations and a number of injections that I literally lost track of, I was becoming very frustrated and discouraged.

Then I had a friend approach me and inform me that I should talk to his daughter-in-law, as he thought our symptoms seemed similar. He put me in contact with her. Upon our first phone call, she asked me to explain my symptoms to her (she did not tell me her symptoms, as she didn’t wanted to just hear mine to determine whether they were in alignment with her symptoms, and whether I might possibly have the same issue as her). I respected that.

I informed her that I had tight hip flexors constantly, which affected my other pelvic region muscles that would flair up randomly. I explained to her that I had developed a “knot” feeling in my right buttock, and at this point, that was the main source of my discomfort. It was a constant, 24/7 feeling that there was a knot in my right butt cheek. I told her that if I wasn’t careful with how I maneuvered that my lower back would suffer from the tightness in my hamstrings and glute muscles. (As one doctor reiterated to me in a light, airy tone “the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone. The thigh bone is connected to the hip bone”…oh, I get it all too clearly now :)….)

Anyways, on with my story…

After a long discussion with my friend’s daughter-in-law discussing my symptoms, she told me that she was diagnosed with a labral tear. She asked me about the diagnosis and treatment that I had gone through thus far. I told her about the x-rays, the MRI, and injections that I had done. She informed me that I needed to request an MRI with contrast dye, as a labral tear would most likely not show up with a standard MRI.

I went to my doctor at Steindler Clinic and requested that he order an MRI with contrast dye, Lesson learned. Doctors do not like to be give “suggestions”. He immediately disregarded my request and insisted that my problem had nothing to do with my hips and was still convinced that I was experiencing symptoms due to back related issues. My thought was that insurance covers it, so why not rule it out as an option? If I am wrong, you can tell me “I told you so”. I finally convinced him to order an MRI with contrast dye.

A few days later, I received a call from my doctor’s nurse at Steindler and sure enough, I had a labral tear. I wanted so badly to scream in my doctor’s face “I TOLD YOU SO” but I refrained. I thought, let’s just move on and fix this, now that we know what is wrong. Wishful thinking. Not that simple apparently.

First of all, my doctor at Steindler claimed that there were no reputable doctor’s in the state of Iowa that he would refer me to for the surgery necessary to repair a labral tear. He would refer me to a doctor at the Mayo Clinic, if I wanted. That was not an option for me due to insurance. Okay? So that is it? Yup. You’re on your own. You may want to call the UIHC (University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics) to see if they know if any doctors that can help you. I asked if he or his nurse might be able to look into it and make a referral but no. At this point, it was pretty clear to me that since I no longer wanted or needed injections that his doctor was done “helping” me. Again, lesson learned.

I did a little research and found Dr. Amendola at the UIHC. I did all the leg work to get my records sent from Steindler to the UIHC. After some consultations and following treatment recommendations of Dr. Amendola, he referred me to Dr. Noiseux at the UIHC. He just didn’t feel like he had all the answers I needed. He had a great quality of care, and even told me to come back to him if I didn’t get the answers I needed. I was very impressed with Dr. Amendola.

Dr. Noiseux diagnosed me with hip dysplasia after taking some additional x-rays and running some other tests. He then referred me to another doctor, Dr. Ilgenfritz at the UIHC, based on my diagnosis. After the consultation with Dr. Ilgenfritz, he explained to me that I was a surgical candidate for a surgery that he performs called periacetabular osteotomy (PAO) surgery. Essentially, my hip sockets retroverted and are so shallow that eventually the cartilage will completely wear away leading to the possibility that I would need future total hip replacement. The PAO surgery is preventative of having to have total hip replacement in the future.

I have done a lot of research and talked to a lot of people with hip dysplasia that have had this surgery. After my research, I have determined that this is the best option for me at this time. I hope I am making the right decision. A few of the things that I have found that guided my decision to get the surgery:

-a main symptom of a number of people that have hip dysplasia and get the surgery is buttock pain and discomfort (ME)

-research shows that the younger (mid to late 20s being the optimal age) you are with more mild to moderate symptoms the more success you have with the surgery (ME)

-the surgery is preventative of total hip replacement (of course something I would want to avoid)

There are a number of other reasons, but those are just to name a few.

Am I nervous? HECK YA! I thought I would sense nothing but relief, but I cannot help but be slightly anxious as there is no GUARANTEE that this surgery will give me the relief and answers I have been looking for. There is no GUARANTEE that all of my symptoms will be relieved and that I will be able to get back to my regular lifestyle. I have never relinquished more faith in God to guide me that this is the right decision for me. I am leaving it up to him for now, and hoping and praying that it will give me the relief and answers that I have been looking for.

Thanks for reading my LONG, LONG post of my journey thus far. I wanted to give a background to my readers to give you an idea of what I have been experiencing up until now, so that the rest of my journey makes more sense. I am just slightly over one month out from surgery. I will be using this blog as a way to share my story, to keep family and friends updated, but also as a way to cope and to vent. Thanks again for following 🙂 Stay tuned!

“Love the Skin You’re In”

In the spring of 2010, just after our wedding, I decided to join a local boot camp/gym that offered a unique style of exercising, combining interval training, resistance bands, light weights, plyometrics, and cardio. It became my addiction. I got great results and thoroughly enjoyed going each and every day. Part of the reason that it was so enjoyable was because of the motivation that the members all give each other during workouts, constantly cheering each other on and pushing each other to keep going. Through this, I had the honor and privilege of meeting this AWESOME and AMAZING girl that still continues to be a inspiration and motivation to me today, despite the fact that I have not been able to participate in the boot camp for awhile now due to my hip issues. Her name is Kimi Jo.

I know that I am not the only person she has been an inspiration to. She took over expanding and running boot camps herself, and she is constantly offering advice and motivating people to make healthy lifestyle choices. She cares so much about people, and she is able to reach out and offer the help people need to make healthy lifestyle changes.

I haven’t talked about it much, but I have been struggling with issues in my hip area for approximately 2 1/2 years now. I will follow-up with a post about that in more detail. Anyways, throughout all of the struggle with my hip, I have not been able to be as physically active as I would like to be or know I am capable of when I am able. With that reality, along with the unhealthy lifestyle of working overnights (which thank goodness is now a thing of the past for me) I have gained unwanted weight back. I have lost the AWESOME tone that I had from doing boot camp. Like I said, boot camp was my addiction, and I love the results it gave me. I love how I looked. I loved how I felt. I was on a high of life!!

Then BAM, life hits you with a whammy and all that you’ve worked so hard for feels like a long distance memory. While learning to cope with and manage my hip issues and trying to get back into being physical active, despite the increased pain that it causes, I have had to learn to accept that I can’t be where I was and where I want to be right now. It is hard to accept, and hard to admit. There are so many unwanted feelings associated with it that are hard to explain.

Which is why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE when people like Kimi Jo come into my life and remind me that being healthy and happy isn’t always about how you “look”, that number on the scale or needing to look like that model on the front page of Glamour magazine (nothing against her).

I can preach it all day long, but I don’t always practice what I preach. I constantly am telling people to end “fat talk” and that everyone is beautiful in their own way, and I truly believe that. However, why is it so easy to tell others that and not accept it for yourself? I guess that brainwashing that society feeds us about body image is that toxic?

So again, this is why I am so thankful for people like Kimi Jo that come around and inspire us all to “Love the Skin You’re In”. I would like to introduce you all to a project that she is doing on her Facebook page “No Secrets Attached”. Kimi Jo has challenged her followers to post a picture in their workout attire with the following information to accompany the picture: Send your name, age, weight, favorite workout or activities, and then finish the following sentence, “I love the skin I’m in because ____________.”

Here is my post:

To learn more go visit the “No Secrets Attached” Facebook page (link below) . Go check it out and “like” the page to be able to follow and be equally inspired through her postings about living the healthy life, which includes workouts, recipes, and other healthy lifestyle tips and advice. I promise you won’t be disappointed!!

No Secrets Attached Facebook page:

Freezer Meal Swap

This weekend my sister, one of her best friends, and myself made freezer meals. My sister and her friend had done this one time before, and since I am prepping for a surgery and won’t be as mobile to make meals while recovering, I thought it might be a good idea to join them this time. It was quite the experience!


Some of the ingredients

To start the day we had a “minor” technology mishap. My sister had used an app on her iPad the previous time they made freezer meals. The app was very convenient, as you can upload the recipes and select how many of each meal you would like to make, select the ingredients you need, and the app generates a grocery list for you.


We made a lot of meals with chicken 🙂

Sounds great, huh? Until the app decides to not work properly, and you don’t have a grocery list for three people making eleven different freezer meals. Bless my sister’s heart for being able to figure it all out manually because her friend and I were already overwhelmed and clueless about coordinating this whole freezer meal preparation. The idea of freezer meal preparation is a great concept, but it can also be very intimidating at first. We were a little worried about forgetting something or not having enough of a certain ingredient, but my sister knocked it out like a pro! Her friend and I put all of our faith and trust in her and it worked out beautifully!


Me being the butcher for the day 🙂

We started off our shopping at Aldi, but we ended up not getting much there. After leaving Aldi, we made a trip to Sam’s, which is where we got most of our ingredients. M y sister has a membership at Sam’s, but I do not usually shop there because I don’t care to buy groceries in bulk; however, I must say that I was impressed with the price of certain items. Once we got what we needed, we headed home to begin the freezer meal preparation process.


Chicken… it’s what’s for dinner!

My sister labeled all of the freezer bags by color code and name of the recipe. Like I said, she is a pro at this! Each of us had our own color that my sister differentiated by using a colored sharpie marker to label the bags. While she was doing that, I was pretending to be the butcher for the day, and I cut all of the chicken. My sister’s friend prepped the food by removing all of the lids, opening cans, etc. I cleared out a space in the deep freezer to be able to stack our meals in three separate piles and be able to lay them flat. Once all of the ingredients were prepped, we were ready to start assembling the meals.


My sister, “the pro”, labeling the freezer bags!

(She had a little “helper” there too!) 🙂

Surprisingly, the grocery shopping and preparation of the ingredients was more daunting of a task than putting the meals together. When we got to assembling the meals, the time flew by before we knew it. It was a fun day and great bonding time with my sister and her friend.


Assembling the freezer meals…the “easy” part

(It looks like she had a good “observer” there too! I am sure that her husband was interested, as he will be able to partake in benefiting from the fruits of our labor!) 🙂

I transported all of the meals to my house from my parents in their handy dandy freezer baskets, allowing me to keep the bags lying flat, which is essential for optimal storage in the deep freezer. Thank you to my sister and her husband for letting us use their deep freezer for the meantime! I should be all set for surgery, and this will allow me to continue to eat healthy when I won’t be so mobile after surgery. It will also allow my husband to not be so overwhelmed when he is the one that has to take care of me. Knowing all of this going into surgery helps to ease my mind a bit.


Finished product 🙂

As you all know I budget every dime, so naturally I had budgeted to account for making quite a few freezer meals, as I will be somewhat immobile for awhile after surgery. I was delighted when we calculated the costs, and the total cost of my portion of the freezer meals came in one-third under my budget. Talk about being frugal with freezer meals! Best of both worlds! Cost saving and great bonding time! 🙂

Of course, Pinterest was a great resource for finding some good meals to prepare. Here is the link to my Pinterest board, which can link you to some of the posts:

There are links to recipes, tips for organizing meal swaps, and other considerations when you are coordinating a freezer meal swap. It was a great experience. I highly recommend it, and we plan on doing it again in the future.

Have any of you done a freezer meal swap?

52 lists – Week 8

Here is my weekly post of my 52 lists weekly challenge for the year 2014. This is week eightand the challenge is to “list your favorite albums artists”.

I changed it up a bit because I am not really a huge “album” person, but I do have favorite artists! I am sure I forgot some. 🙂

Here is my list:


florida georgia line.jason aldean.luke bryan.rascal flatts.miranda lambert.blake shelton.mumford&sons.jack johnson.john mayer.carrie hill.tim mcgraw.darius rucker.taylor strait.brad paisley.kenny chesney.dierks bentley.eli young band.zac brown band.the band perry.lady antebellum.sugarland.gary allan.garth brooks.josh turner.billy currington.eric church.parmalee.big&rich.brooks&dunn

52 Lists-Week 7

Here is my weekly post of my 52 lists weekly challenge for the year 2014. This is week seven and the challenge is to “list the things that make you feel healthy”. Here is my list:


exercise.drinking water.tea.sleep.fruits + veggies.healthy food.smiling.laughing.being back.spending time with my family + friends.being positive.self-improvement.warm sun.massage.reading.vitamins.walking.listening to music.relaxing.showering.bubble freedom.learning.blogging