Gluten Free Crock Pot Turkey Stuffed Peppers

I am ALL about the quick easy meals that taste like you slaved over the stove all day (crock pot recipes for the win!). These turkey stuffed peppers are a healthy dinner option that can be quickly prepped the morning of, or meal prepped and frozen weeks in advance until you are ready to use. I hope you enjoy this easy recipe as much as I do!

Ingredients:

  • 4 bell peppers (any color)

  • 1 lb ground turkey

  • 1 clove garlic (minced)

  • 1/2 cup gluten free bread crumb alternative (my favorite brand is Nut Crumbs)

  • 1 yellow onion (diced)

  • 24 oz jar of marinara sauce 

  • Salt and pepper

Instructions:

  1. Clean peppers and cut the tops off

  2. In a large bowl mix ground turkey, garlic, bread crumbs, onion, and 4 tablespoons of marinara sauce. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. 

  3. Divide the mixture between the four peppers, stuffing each pepper with equal parts turkey.

  4. Place peppers in crock pot and pour in the rest of the marinara sauce.

  5. Cook on low for 6 hours and enjoy!

Tips and Tricks for a Successful Grocery Store Trip

Enjoy this photo of me from college fresh off of my meal plan and not knowing any of the tips or tricks in this post.

Enjoy this photo of me from college fresh off of my meal plan and not knowing any of the tips or tricks in this post.

Going to the grocery store is an inevitable part of growing up and “adulting”. I can still remember going to the grocery store after going off my meal plan in college and realizing for the first time that I was responsible for feeding myself (yikes). Even though I had been to the grocery store thousands of times before, that day was completely different. Where do I start? What are the basics? What do I need to buy organic? Why isn’t this something they teach you in school? Should I just plan on going out to eat every day for the rest of my life? It can be overwhelming, which is why I believe so many of us struggle with healthy eating. We are never taught how to grocery shop and it is so easy to fall into the traps of buying the quick, processed, and cheap food that could not be less nourishing for our body. Over the years, going to the grocery store has become second nature and I have even compiled some of my favorite grocery store hacks for you.

First, a little bit of grocery store psychology before we get too far ahead of ourselves. I recommend always going to the grocery store with a full stomach and a list. Any time I do not follow this rule, I end up buying things I had no intention of purchasing. If you are looking for a healthy shopping list, one resource I have found to be helpful is Diane Sanfilippo’s healthy shopping list. She provides a free healthy food shopping list for a number of different grocery stores, which may be helpful if you are just getting started on your healthy eating journey. If for whatever reason, you need to skip the list and the full belly rule, please make sure you are shopping intentionally.

I always recommend people start on the outside of the grocery aisles. These aisles have almost everything you need, and this is typically where you will find all of the fresh food. Avoiding the middle aisles, where the processed snack food is typically found, helps to make sure you are making healthier choices. Start with the outer isles and work your way to the middle if you know you need specific items. Be mindful about it.

Another way to intentionally shop is to understand how grocery stores are marketing certain products to you. Products found at eye level (second and third shelves from the top) are the products that the store wants you to buy. I tend to look right below this section to find similar products for a lot less. Start paying attention to products you are drawn to and notice where they are placed

It is also common for grocery stores to stock their impulse buys right by the check out registers. They know that you will be tempted while you are waiting and they want to entice you to impulsively spend more money on products you do not need. It is unfortunate that these products tend to be sugary candies and snacks that many of us are trying to avoid. Being mindful of these marketing tactics and how they may be influencing you can help you to be more intentional with your purchases.

Now that you have mastered your grocery store mindset, we will move on to what foods you should be looking for and how to pick them. As I mentioned before, you can find almost everything you need in the outside aisles. Shopping for nutrient dense whole foods is what I recommend everyone aims for. Your shopping cart should consist of primarily real, unprocessed food.

I typically start with fruits and vegetables. I have my staples that I buy almost every week, but I typically try and discover a new produce item at least once or twice a month. I like to make sure I am mixing up my routine and ensuring a variety of different nutrients. One fun way to make sure you are incorporating different fruits and vegetables into your diet is by aiming to shop seasonally. One of my favorite resources to look up seasonal food is the seasonal food guide. Seasonal shopping also tends to be easier on the wallet and ensures you are getting a variety of different nutrients. Some weeks I will even just ditch the grocery store and get inspired at the farmers market where I know that everything is local and in season.

Another resource that has drastically improved my grocery shopping trips, is the list put out every year by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG ranks fruits and vegetables based on their pesticide contamination. They have two lists I have familiarized myself with – the dirty dozen and the clean fifteen. These lists have helped me to prioritize which products are non-negotiable to buy organic, and which produce I don’t need to stress as much about. If I am unable to find an organic version of a fruit or vegetable on the clean fifteen, or it is significantly cheaper to buy non-organic, I try not to worry about it. However, I will always prioritize buying organic fruits and vegetable on the dirty dozen.

“Topping the list of foods with the most pesticide residues, the Dirty Dozen for 2018 are:

Strawberries, Spinach, Nectarines, Apples, Grapes, Peaches, Cherries, Pears, Tomatoes, Celery, Potatoes, Sweet bell peppers”

“For 2018, the Clean Fifteen--produce items that tend to have the least pesticide residues are:

Avocados, Sweet corn, Pineapples, Cabbage, Onions, Sweet frozen peas, Papayas, Asparagus, Mangos, Eggplant, Honeydew melon, Kiwi, Cantaloupe, Cauliflower, Broccoli”

Another quick tip I have for fruits and vegetables is to make sure that you are checking to see if they are ripe or not. Do not be afraid to smell it, squeeze it, weigh it, and really use all of your senses. With experience, you will be able to familiarize yourself with the typical characteristics that come with ripened fruit. That being said, make sure you keep in mind that you may not want to buy all ripe and ready to eat produce if you are hoping to make your grocery haul last throughout the week. Try and plan accordingly. Also, if you are trying to find the freshest items, don’t be afraid to reach in the back or dig to the bottom. Grocery stores typically stock their oldest merchandise on top, because they want you to buy the oldest produce first.  

Now onto a much more controversial topic, meat. When you are buying meat, you should always shoot for organic, and humanely sourced. Aiming for 100% grass-fed beef and free-range, organic chicken, organic pork, and wild caught fish is the best way you can do it. That being said, at least try to eliminate buying meat with antibiotics and hormones added. I also make sure to chose organic, free range eggs (always check the carton before purchasing to make sure there aren’t any cracks).

I personally do not buy meat at the grocery store because I am so particular about the quality and where my meat is coming from. I use a subscription box called Butcher Box to make sure I am getting the best quality meat every month (I will write a separate blog on my experience with that). If you only take one thing from away from this post, please understand that not all meat is created equally. The nutrient composition that you get from organic and humanely sourced meat is completely different than what is found in meat from most conventional farm animals. Please support farmers who are doing it right. If you are going to splurge on any of your grocery items, please let it be meat.

By now, you have explored the outside isles and may need to hit a few of the middle isles to complete your shopping list. If you are going to buy packaged products, my biggest tip is to take a look at the ingredient list. You won’t catch me counting calories, but I am almost always checking out the ingredient list. It seems counter-intuitive, but the fewer the ingredients, the better the product. Also pay attention to what the first ingredient is – if it is sugar, or a name you can’t pronounce, I recommend you put it back on the shelf. I also try to avoid canola oil or hydrogenated oils, high fructose corn syrup, and anything that might say MSG, just to name a few biggies. As a rule of thumb, aim for the smallest ingredient list you can find and limit your processed food intake as much as possible.

In time, you may learn to love roaming the grocery store as much as I do. There is no magic hack to shopping for healthy foods but if you can find the beauty in nutrient dense whole foods you are well on your way! Happy shopping, my loves!

Keeping a Journal and finding my voice

Journal

My relationship with writing has completely caught me by surprise. I have never, ever, ever thought of myself as a writer. Truthfully I still don't, but I can't deny the recent need to get all of my thoughts, ideas, goals, emotions, anything, and everything I can in writing.

My parents gave me a journal on my birthday a few years ago and it was filled with some inspirational quotes throughout some of the pages. The rest of the pages were left blank for me to fill out as I embarked on my next chapter after I graduated college. Up until recently, I was convinced it was far too special of a gift to write in. I didn't want to "ruin it" or "waste" any of the pages until I had something really important or exciting to share. I brought it with me to San Diego in hopes that I could find that voice that I had keep quiet for so long.

Thank goodness I have finally recognized how dangerous and destructive that thought process was. My words are powerful and they are absolutely monumental in my journey towards finding and living my purpose. This is the understanding I will have moving forward and always continue to build on.

I can attribute many things to "finding my voice" in recent months, but keeping a journal is definitely one of them.  I have realized it is nearly impossible to hide your unapologetic, authentic self when you are writing from the heart. It is easy for me to look back at my life and remember times where I was simply existing... I wasn't working towards my dreams. In fact, I had no idea what those dreams even were. Finding that authentic honestly was exactly what I needed to be doing during these times, but being honest with yourself when you are feeling unfulfilled can be absolutely terrifying. To write it all down and leave record of this honest reality would be to acknowledge that fact that you aren't exactly where you want to be. What used to instantly trigger a panic attack now triggers growth, inspiration, and thought provoking discussions with friends and family. The only thing that has changed is my mindset. 

I encourage anyone and everyone to go find a journal and then go find your voice. It has made all of the difference in my life. 

Thrive Market, a solution to healthy living on a budget

When I first dedicated myself to this whole "healthy eating" thing I was just starting out in Philadelphia with my first job after graduation. Not exactly rolling in the dough, I was constantly using the high prices of healthy foods as a way to justify buying junk food. It was mind blowing to me that products with fewer ingredients were significantly more expensive than products loaded with ingredients - pretty counter-intuitive, right?

After months of using my finances as an excuse, I sat down to do some research and stumbled across Thrive Market. Thrive is basically the Costco of health foods - offering natural products and healthy foods at wholesale prices. I quickly found so many of the brands and products that I love for a fraction of the price I had been paying.

When you first sign up with Thrive you get a free 30-day trial period. I figured I had nothing to lose so I decided to give it a shot and stock up on some of my favorites. I ended up saving so much on my first order alone that the yearly membership fee of $59.95 seemed like a great deal. Having made back the membership fee and then some in savings that first free trial month, I was able to completely justify paying the yearly membership fee and continue using Thrive.

Thrive Market

I still use Thrive today and cannot stress enough how much fun it is walk into a store like Whole Foods and know that I can get so many of the big name brands for a better price (I still love you though, WF). Although you won't be able to buy everything on Thrive, and I am still buying produce and meat elsewhere (thank goodness for Trader Joes and California farmers markets), I can feel good knowing that I am buying a significant amount of healthy food for 25-50% less than I would spend at most healthy grocers. For my meat eating readers, Thrive just recently added a "Meat & Seafood" category to their website, and while I am happy using Butcher Box  for my meat (blog post about that to come), I will definitely be doing my research on the meat options that Thrive is now offering. 

One function I really appreciate about Thrive's website is the ability to filter my search by "values". Some of Thrive's top values include gluten-free (my personal favorite), paleo, raw, and vegan, but they have a value for almost every dietary need and lifestyle you could think of. I personally love using the values option because I know everything I am getting is going to be gluten free, or whatever value I choose. I am still relatively new on my gluten free journey, so knowing that every product I am looking at is safe for me makes shopping a lot more efficient and fun again. I have to say though, my favorite thing about Thrive is the fact that you order it online and it gets shipped right to your door. The sheer convenience of being able to "grocery shop" from your couch and not have to think about it again until it is delivered is honestly unbeatable. 

Not having the finances to eat healthy is BY FAR the most common excuse I hear from my friends and family. While I know that this is a very serious issue for a lot of people (including myself), there are options out there to help make it more affordable. I would also like to point out that you can easily drop $59.95 on ONE weekend going out with your friends. Prioritizing where your money goes is absolutely crucial if you want to commit to this lifestyle on a budget. Maybe try inviting your friends over for a cozy game night instead?

You can get 25% off of your first order by using this link. There are definitely other options than Thrive when it comes to eating healthy without breaking the bank, but for me, this was great place to get started.

*In complete transparency, I do get a credit towards my next Thrive purchase if you become a PAYING member using my link. That being said, I recommend you take advantage of either the general 15% off that Thrive offers new members or the 25% using my referral link and stock up on your favorite products even if you don't plan on becoming a paying member. You can cancel at any time during the free 30-day membership trial! I would NEVER try and sell anyone on anything that hasn't been helpful in my own journey. 

 

Sharing My Soul, Living My Purpose, And Finding My Courage

IMG_5019.jpg

As some of you might know, I am a highly sensitive, empathetic, and intuitive individual. I feel EVERYTHING so deeply that it sometimes takes control over my life. I can walk into a room and take on the energy of everyone around me. I often get messages from my angels and spirits that I use to guide my everyday life, and I have an innate clairvoyant ability that is scary accurate. As I am writing this out now, I am truly proud of these gifts I have been blessed with. Unfortunately, this pride has not always been there.

I have always been so incredibly terrified to express this side of myself. In fear of being different than everyone else, I have tried my hardest to be "normal" and block out everything I was experiencing. I was so scared of what people would think that I buried my passions deep, deep inside of me. Here is the funny thing about that though, your passion and purpose do not just go away. I was born to heal and share my message with the world and that is exactly what I will do. 

As a child, I was always considered sensitive. I was referred to as an old soul by most adults who knew me and my parents always said I had healing hands. I was in 6th grade the first time I heard of reiki. I thought it was the coolest thing ever and I could't believe something like that existed. I knew instantly that it would be a part of my life. I am truly blessed to have parents and a family who have shown an overwhelming amount of support in any and all of my spiritual interests. They are open-minded and and have recognized my gifts from a young age. Without them, my journey would be much different.

A few years later I saw a reiki training advertised at one of the local yoga studios and knew I had to go. I was by far the youngest person there as to be expected, but I fell in love with everything about it. I did reiki on my very close friends and family, but it was certainly not something I was ready to share with many people. I was embarrassed and did not have the courage to face what people might think of me.

As I went to college, my gifts only got stronger. I remember the first time I truly communicated with spirit. I was blow drying my hair in my sophomore year dorm room and I received a message. I wasn't planning on ever sharing this message, but a few days later the opportunity presented itself and next thing I knew it was just spilling out of my me. Without getting into any personal details, the recipient was left in tears and I truly feel as though they needed to hear the message from their loved one at that exact moment.

Even after the gratitude and support I received, I was honestly mortified that I let myself share that message. I had just transferred to my new college and the last thing I needed was to stand out as "that" girl. After that weekend, I did everything I could to shut off my gifts. I managed to make it through the rest of college and my first year of "adulting" somewhat blending in with the crowd.

I am writing to say that I will no longer be doing that. I will no longer feel ashamed for this beautiful gift. I will no longer fear what people will think. I will embrace who I am instead of running away from it. If somebody chooses not to like me because I want to heal and send good energy into this crazy world then I will accept it and move on. I know this will be an ongoing journey for me and I still have so much to learn. The only difference now is that I am truly comfortable with this being a part of my life and feel excited to be living a life that feels authentic and aligned with my purpose. 

I don't expect everyone to understand, I am only writing to hopefully inspire everyone to take a deep look as to what makes you "different". Do not run away from it. Run towards it with no fear. Find reassurance in the fact that you are exactly who you are meant to be.