Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Easter Weekend & a Whole Long Giant Recap

I'm back!! I was honestly in shock when I realized I hadn't posted in 11 days, and I'm so sorry about my bad blogging! I hurried up and got my post about form posted so at least there'd be something new haha! I've had a lot of other stuff going on, and just didn't realize I had been absent for so long. So today is basically going to be a giant recap post!

Let's start with the important part: CHIPOTLE <3

Amanda stopped last Thursday and picked me up a leetle treat, and as always it was my go-to: chicken salad (no dressing), fajita veggies, mild salsa, and extra lettuce on top! I swear they always think I'm crazy when I ask for lettuce because it's like "you want extra lettuce...on a salad?" Yes, yes I do.

I also finally began making zoats! For those of you who don't know, you can add zucchini to your oats (I know, sounds so weird) for some added volume. It's amazing for two reason: 1. it works and 2. you can't even taste the zucchini! I'll do a post about how I made it and the recipe. 

Then, Friday we went to a friend's church for a Good Friday service. We went to dinner beforehand but I didn't get any pictures. The service was really good, though, and I really like going to their church. My mom even tagged along so it was nice to get her out and about.

Saturday morning Amanda had the day off from her usual Bible study meeting, which meant I had a gym buddy! She's been coming more to the gym with me, and I'm super excited about it because I love having a lifting buddy. I also put her through some killer workouts :)

I spent the morning per usual: Jesus + coffee. Amanda was sleeping in so I was waiting for her lazy butt to get out of bed so we could go squat. My Bible study is reading Revelation this year but I also read on my own. I randomly started with Galatians and I've been working my way through Paul's stuff. Right now I'm just about to finish up 1 Thessalonians, and once I get to Revelation I think I'll read some of Old Testament since I think that's just as important to study as well. I haven't read a lot of the minor prophets in awhile so I'll probably start there.

We got our Saturday sister squats done! My lower back has been doing great these past couple weeks, and I couldn't be more thrilled about it. I'm squatting and deadlifting a few times a week now at this point in addition to bench and hip thrusts with accessory days. And of course some cardio thrown in! My new programming (designed by myself) focuses a lot more on athletic training and I have since dubbed myself an OlyPowerBuilder haha! I do a mix of Olympic lifts, power lifting, and bodybuilding. I absolutely love it and I'll write a post about it later on. My main focus right now is just build a heck lot of strength and not worry about aesthetics. Of course, ironically, the less I focus on aesthetics, the better my muscles respond! 

I woke up on Friday with a sore throat which is always my warning sign of a cold coming. As usual, I ignored it and went about my workouts as usual on Friday and Saturday. Well, come Saturday afternoon I was knocked off my feet. I even took a nap (gasp) which if you know me is UNHEARD of. I actually hate taking naps and when I tell people this they question if I'm human. But I do. I hate naps and only take them when I'm sick, which is how you know if I'm truly sick or not. And since I was sick, what turned into a 20 minute power nap lead to me not getting out of bed for about 2 hours haha. 

I had some cute company though...

If you've been following my Instagram then you know all about how I gave up peanut butter for Lent. I thought it'd be impossible and a lot harder than it actually was to be honest. I'd say the last week was probably the hardest as the cravings began to set in. I got my fix though Sunday morning! I dug into a fresh jar of salted caramel Jif Whips (#2 bae as Layla is #1 lolz), and then enjoyed a Reese's egg with my coffee! 

During the afternoon, we had a lazy day. Amanda gave up TV for Lent so we had a movie marathon and caught up on some shows that she had missed. My friend from work came over to join us, which Layla was thrilled about! 

We went to a friend's house for dinner since my grandma had dinner on Saturday (I didn't go since I was sick) and my dad had dinner on Monday. They cooked us a feast and it was delicious! There was pork tenderloin, green beans with almonds, sweet potatoes, baked pineapple (I need to get that recipe from her), fresh fruits, and I can't even remember what else since it was all so amazing. I had some leftovers on a salad Monday for lunch. 

 And of course peanut butter oats made their comeback!

That's it for now! And this time I PROMISE I will get better at blogging and posting more stuff on here! Hope you all had a wonderful Easter!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Tips On Cleaning Up Your Form

So this is sort of piggy-backing off my post about deadlifts but I wanted to do a post in general about how to clean up your form when lifting. The first thing, obviously, is to educate yourself about proper form. This can be difficult as a lot of different sites and people will tell you different things but my recommendation is shop around and find trustworthy people. Two of my favorite sites are: and as I have found both super helpful in learning about proper form for exercises. I also listed some people I like to follow/learn from in my post about deadlift tips :)

1. Videotape your sets

My second piece of advice is again to videotape yourself. In my opinion, this is important for several reasons. First, I don't like anything messing up my concentration while I'm lifting. I don't want to constantly be checking the mirror to check form because it'll break my focus on the mind-muscle connection. As I'm lifting, I like to FEEL the exercise. I mentally check how my body is moving and try to incorporate internal feedback so that my body is learning proper movement patterns. My main goal is to rely on internal feedback to tell me how I'm executing a lift and the video (external feedback) is a secondary source of information that will let me know whether my internal feedback was correct or not. 

Secondly, checking your form in the mirror can actually compromise your form. For example with deadlifts you want to keep a neutral neck which won't happen if you keep looking up in the mirror to watch yourself. With squatting, you have a lot of weight on your traps so turning your head left or right can not only mess up your neck but also affect your balance. So I stick with videos as they'll tell me a lot of things I might not be able to spot in the mirror. 

Thirdly, taking videos enables you to really break down your form. I can't tell you the number of times I will watch my videos because I focus on a lot of different aspects. I check my bar path, my back, my knees, my rep tempo, check for any weak muscle spots etc. This allows me to give proper focus to each area and allow me to make any necessary adjustments for the next time. 

Fourth, videos will tell you if the weight is truly right or not. If your form consistently seems off and you just can't seem to get it right, lower the weight. No buts about it. Form > weight every single darn time. Feeding your ego is not worth the injury risk. I had to swallow my pride and begin at square one with squats at 115lbs because of my lower back when I was squatting about 185 this time last year. Life happens. 

I don't tape all my sets but I will usually tape at least the first set and the last set. I do this so that I can check and see where I lag once I'm getting tired. It helps me identify my weak spots so I know what to work on in the future. Once I know where I need work when I start to get tired, I can mentally focus on not doing that during my end sets. If I have to, I will do additional accessory work in order to strengthen those weak spots. For example, my lower back can be a big weak spot so I do a lot of accessory work like hyperextensions and core work to help build it up. Whatever your weakness is, work on it until it becomes a strength.

When watching your videos, some general areas that you want to check are your back, your knees, foot placement, and the alignment of your neck. That will tell you a lot of where you are keeping the weight, body mechanics, any potential risks for injury, and if you're keeping proper form or not.

2. Breathing

Another thing that I have found which can truly impact form is the way you are breathing. When I first started lifting, I paid no attention to my breathing patterns but now it's something I am very intentional with each rep. Especially for my heavier compound lifts like deadlifts, squats, and bench (those are my main three lifts). Before each rep I take a big deep breath and hold it out until I'm done with the rep. This is important for a very big reason: it will activate your core which will protect your back. The deeper the breath, the more it will expand your abdomen which will remain tight and you will be able to better stabilize your core and back.

 I do not breathe at the top of a rep because deflating my stomach will put my lower back in a more vulnerable position-- with deadlifts that would be when you're standing up and about to start the eccentric movement down, for squats that's when you're squatting at the bottom about to begin the concentric movement up, and for bench that's when you bring the bar to your chest (please note: there is a HUGE debate between whether or not arch in your back during the bench press. I personally do not like to arch my back as it aggravates my lower back so I keep mine flat against the bench. Breathing this way helps me to do so but if you prefer benching with an arch then by all means be my guest. It varies from person to person.). All of those are very crucial moments where your back could become injured so do all you can to protect it! I keep holding my breath the whole rep and release it at the end of each one.

3. Accessory work is key

As I said before, I use my videos to show me my weak spots. A lot of people do not consider any other muscles during the lift besides the prime mover (the main muscle doing the work). In isolation work (ex: bicep curls) it may not be such a huge deal to overlook synergistic muscles but in compound lifts you are using multiple muscle groups in conjunction. This means that accessory work can really help you clean up your form by strengthening any weak muscle groups.

Take me for example: my hamstrings are the weakest part of my legs. I didn't really like working hamstrings, I didn't really care if they grew or not, and I hardly paid them any attention. But, I wanted to deadlift. And I wanted to deadlift well. I know that I am a quad dominant lifter and that I can also have lower back problems, which meant it was important that I really nailed my form and got my hamstrings strong. I didn't want to risk any lower back injuries or my quads trying to compensate for my weaker hamstrings. So I worked and worked and worked my hamstrings in TONS of accessory work. My hamstrings have grown an insane amount over the past few months because of it but the cool thing is it only happened once I focused on strength. I told myself that I was going to work on building them up strength-wise because I knew I'd need all parts of my legs to be strong for the upcoming programming I had in mind. I didn't want to squat and deadlift multiple days a week with weak parts of my legs.

4. Practice, practice, practice

This one seems like another no-brainer: the more you practice, the better you get. Some days I'll literally just do squats on squats on squats to practice my form. Last week I did 10 sets of 10 (at a lighter but still challenging weight) to simply practice. I taped each set, would analyze over my rest period, and then make any necessary adjustments. I also like to compare old practice videos with my newer ones to see what overall changes I have made.

5. Leave your ego at the door

Now this has been a difficult one for me #realtalk because like I said this time last year I was squatting about 50 pounds more, and now I stick to 135 MAX. Usually for most of my working sets I use 115-120lbs and then will occasionally test out 135 just to see where I am strength-wise. It honestly all depends on my volume of training for the day and what percentage of my max I'm working with. However, form is oh so much more important than the weight you are lifting. Sometimes you just gotta suck up your pride and work with a lighter weight. It's not worth the injury, and you'll thank yourself in the long run. Instead of feeding your ego, feed your quads muahahaha. But really, feed your muscles.

So there you have it! Just a few simple tips that I have found effective while improving my form. As always, it's a work in progress but I promise you that if you put in the time and work, you'll get the results. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Strawberry Snickerdoodle Smoothie

I haven't made a smoothie in awhile but this one is one of my favorites! I wasn't sure at first if I'd like the combination of strawberries and snickerdoodle protein powder but I am oh so glad that I made it anyway. The first words out of my mouth were "oh my gosh" because it was that good and left me speechless haha! 

So here's what was in it: 
31g PEScience Snickerdoodle protein powder (it's 1 serving)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk 
100g strawberries
1/2 tablespoon almond butter

Then blend it all together and enjoy! I topped mine off with whipped cream. 

And I may or may not have already had one of these every single morning this week already, and don't plan on stopping! 

If you try it out, let me know :) 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

The Easiest Homemade Granola Ever

I told Rachael that I'd get this post up awhile ago and in my defense it's been a draft since December but ya know it is me after all so it took some time haha! This is probably one of the simplest recipes I've ever made but people go crazy for this granola (in particular Rachael and Margot) so I thought I'd finally share it! I'm not even really sure where we picked the recipe up, it's literally just written on a sticky note that we keep on the fridge. Needless to say, though, it's a keeper!

It's only 4 ingredients and takes a little over an hour but this is one of those things you sort of have to babysit while it's baking. But other than that, it's easy to make!

So here's what you'll need:

3 cups of oats (not quick-cooking)
1/4 cup oil (I use sunflower seed but any light/mild oil will do)
1/4 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar (I also use coconut sugar too)

And those are the ingredients!

To make it, first combine the oats and then use the oil first because that'll come in handy next. Since you use the same 1/4 cup for both the oil and honey, if you do the oil first then the cup will be nice and greased for the honey to come out smoothly. It saves me a lot of time and hassle trying to get the honey to all come out.

The lighting was perfect in the kitchen while I was making this so I got a little artsy with the honey pictures haha!

Then add in the brown sugar. 

Mix it all together until it's well combined.

You'll want to grease the pans VERY well because honey cooking will make everything nice and sticky. Amanda found that out the hard way one time where she forgot to grease the pans, and the granola was like a giant hard blob baked into the pan. 

Bake at 250 for about an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. I said you kind of have to babysit it because you have to stir it every 15 minutes to make sure the granola doesn't burn in place and that it can bake evenly. 

Then let it cool and jar it up!

The macros aren't too bad either: 1F/4C/1P for 1 tablespoon.


Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Monday's Quads Workout

You know you had a good workout when your legs are still toast 2 days later. I worked quads on Monday and this morning for the first time I was finally certain that I'd be able to walk normally again haha! I haven't shared a workout on here in awhile and figured a killer leg one was a good one to post. If you're wondering where my usual Monday deadlifts are it's because I started a little bit of a mini cut the start of last week so I didn't do deadlifts last Monday or this Monday since it was a more hypertrophy-focused quad lift plus some more supersets to keep my heart rate up high. Once I'm back to reversing, I'll be doing more strength-based lifts. 

So here's what I did on Monday! 

For the smith machine lunge-lunge-squat, you do a reverse lunge on each leg and then a squat and all that equals 1 rep so you do it 8 times for a total of 1 set. For the leg press, it was technically 8 sets since 6 were with 8 reps and then I did 2 sets at the end with my max. 

Also, for the circuit you're going to want to use lighter weights than you usually do. It was KILLER since I did zero rest and you do not want to compromise your legs for the box jumps because if something goes wrong with those (ouch) talk about a painful mishap. So I would recommend lighter weights that are still challenging but won't completely fatigue your legs that it would affect your form. The whole workout took me about 45 minutes and I cooled down for 15 minutes with some incline walking to get the feeling back in my quads lololol. 

If you try this workout out let me know! 

Monday, March 7, 2016

How to Make a Protein Smoothie Bowl

Happy Monday everyone! Today I wanted to share my recipe for the smoothie bowls I always make because I get a lot of requests for how I make them. I have made so many different flavors, used various protein powders, and always switching up the toppings so one of the best things about this is how versatile it is! Instead of giving you a direct recipe for a certain flavor, I'm just going to show you how I make the base for all of my smoothie bowls. The flavor and toppings are up to you! But of course I have included some of my favorite smoothie bowls for a little inspiration :) 

When choosing your protein powder, I recommend a whey-based powder. Amanda uses a plant-based powder which sort of works but it doesn't make it as smooth and creamy as a whey-based protein powder does. Of course it's not totally necessary to use whey if you prefer plant protein powder but just know that the texture will be affected. Still delicious though! A whey/casein blend produces the best texture but I have found that casein doesn't sit well with me all the time. I have it very sparingly because PEScience is one of my favorite brands of protein powder, and it will give you an amazingly soft and fluffy smoothie bowl. 

My favorite brand to use because it gives almost as good a texture as PEScience but without the casein is Cellucor, and they have a birthday cake flavor so I was sold haha! For vanilla, I've been trying out Pure Protein and I really like it as well. So my top three brands in order are: Cellucor, Pure Protein, and PEScience. 

Okay, once you pick out your protein powder that you like best, the rest is easy! 

Here's what you'll need: 
32-38g of protein powder (depends on the serving size/how much protein you need)
~1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
Few handfuls of ice cubes
1/4-1/2 tsp xanthan gum 

And that's it for the base! Like I said, I switch up the flavor of the protein powder but everything else always stays the same. I don't really measure the ice cubes or xanthan gum but eyeball it and it doesn't affect the recipe at all. Just don't do more than 1/2 tsp of xanthan gum or it'll taste kinda weird (I learned that the hard way). 

To make the smoothie bowl: 

1. Combine the protein powder, 1/2 cup almond milk, ice cubes, and xanthan gum in a blender. 

2. Blend on high until it's smooth and there aren't any chunks of ice. 

3. Add a couple more ice cubes and a dash of almond milk.

4. Blend on high again until the texture is smooth like soft-serve ice cream. 

5. Top with whatever you like and enjoy! 

You definitely don't have to do steps 3 and 4 to add in more ice cubes but I find that it makes it a little thicker and I get more without adding any macros haha! After step 1 if you find it's not blending all that well then just add another dash of almond milk and stir everything around. I find that I have to do that a lot and it's no big deal if it happens. 

So here are some of my top smoothie bowls! 

PEScience snickerdoodle topped with vanilla Arctic Zero, vanilla cupcake Goldfish grahams, Walden Farms caramel sauce, and sprinkles. 

You will find out by these pictures that sprinkles are never optional for me. 

Cellucor birthday cake topped with vanilla cupcake Goldfish grahams, Walden Farms chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. 

Pure Protein vanilla topped with whipped cream, Walden Farms chocolate sauce, and sprinkles (this was obvi a poverty macro day a.k.a. low carb day haha!). 

Cellucor vanilla topped with whipped cream, mini Oreos, Walden Farms chocolate sauce, and sprinkles. 

Just a quick tip that came to mind before I end this post. I use a lot of flavor extracts to amp up flavors, too. For vanilla protein bowls, I obviously use vanilla extract haha but for cake batter if you use butter extract it will really give a cake flavor kick! 

If you guys make any smoothie bowls be sure to tag me on Instagram. I want to see all of your creations! 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Oatmeal & Cream of Wheat Combo

For post-workout my two favorite carb sources are oats and cream of wheat, and sometimes (all the times) I have a hard time deciding between the two! It usually comes down to one thing: if I need more fiber or iron for the day. Oatmeal has more fiber and cream of wheat has more iron. So I usually let my micros decide which one I'll be having for breakfast. 

But then I always end up missing the other one that I didn't have haha! I know, I need to get real problems. Now, though, I don't have to miss either one because I combined them! It was really easy and a lot simpler than I thought but you have to make sure you get the same kind like if they're fast-cooking or not. Both my oatmeal and cream of wheat are the quick cook ones so they only need about 2 minutes to cook. 

All you do is take 1/2 serving of cream of wheat (about 16.5g) and 1/2 serving of quick oats (20g) and combine them with 3/4 cup water. Put it in the microwave for 1 minute then whisk and I also like to add in some vanilla. I put it back in the microwave for another minute and 30 seconds where I stirred every 30 seconds until it was fully cooked. And that was it! 

I topped mine off with fresh strawberries, almond butter, and sweetened with some stevia. 

I am in love with this combination and now I don't have to miss either one! The texture was nice and fluffy, and had a ton of volume. I had some egg whites on the side for some added protein, but I think next week I'll try adding them in like I've done with my egg-white oatmeal before. 

You guys have asked for more recipes so I'll do my best to post more on here! Next up, I'm planning on posting about how I make my smoothie bowls so I'll get that up soon. 

Have a great weekend! :) 

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Deadlift Tips

So it's no secret that deadlifts are my favorite lift, and I have spent a lotttt of time trying to improve my form (still not perfect as I'm always learning but much better than what it used to be!). I'd say I've been doing them as heavy as possible on a consistent basis the past six months even though I've been lifting for over a year and a half. I often struggled so much with low back problems that I was afraid to deadlift, but once that injury healed I really buckled down on my form and haven't had pain since! I've gone from pulling 115lbs to 195lbs in the past six months and couldn't be more excited with my progress! 

I've gotten a few questions about how I did this and my main two pieces of advice are: 1. GO SLOW. Leave your ego at the door and just work with a much lighter weight. Form > weight every. single. time. 

My second piece of advice is 2. Do your research like crazy. I specifically would google pain that I would have after deadlifting and what that would mean for certain aspects of my form. I watched tons and tons of videos about deadlifting, various articles, muscle activation during the lift, how to slowly increase strength, etc. Bottom line is you get out what you put in. If you don't do it the right way, you won't see the progress you want. 

Today I'm just going to walk you all through my set-up, common form problems I had, and basic tips on how to improve your form. 

The first thing you should do is video tape yourself. DO NOT use a mirror because ironically using the mirror to check your form will actually impair your form. A neutral neck is key during a deadlift so if you're looking over to the side or up to look at the mirror in front of you, your neck will not be neutral. This is one of the biggest things I see with people at my gym because they keep their heads up the whole time to watch themselves in the mirror. Instead, I set my phone up so that it tapes me from the side where I'm able to properly see the alignment of my neck, back, and hips. 

When I first approach the barbell, I make sure to keep my feet hip-distance (shoulder-distance is too wide) and the bar is across the middle of my foot. If it's too far back (closer to your leg) your shins will be in the way of the bar path. If it's too far forward then you can risk compromising your back as you'll have to pull the bar back towards you after the initial pull. 

Often times people will brag about their messed up shins from deadlifting, etc. as "battle scars" but if your shins get bloodied and scraped up on a continual basis then your form is wrong. There is of course some mild scraping involved as you have to keep the bar close to your legs BUT it should not cause any actual pain or damage. 

Your neck should be in line with your back and your back should be flat, you don't want it arched or rounded as that will lead to back pain. To help keep your neck neutral, focus on a fixed position. I use the edge of the mat but you could always place your water bottle or something else to look at to keep your neck neutral. Don't look down at your feet or the bar since your neck will now be extended. 

Your hips should be low but not as low as when you do a squat, they should be above parallel. A helpful way to check your hip position is to draw a pretend vertical line from your shoulder blades to the barbell. If it's straight then your hips are at a good position. 

In these pictures, you can see on the left that I had my hips a little too low because my shoulders were in line with the barbell and you want them to be in front. I corrected that in the right picture where my hips are slightly higher so that the bar is more in line with my shoulder blades. My neck is also slightly up in the right picture but I think I screenshotted too early on in the video (whoops) before I finally had my neck in position. 
So that is the initial set-up and now I'm going to talk more about the areas of form I personally struggled with. For me, the part I have to watch is the eccentric phase of the lift (when you lower the bar) because often times I would bend at my back rather than the hips. DO NOT bend at the waist as it will put too much strain on your lower back. Instead think of your hips as hinges and bend those first as you lower the weight, and then bend your knees once the bar has passed them. If you're coming down with the bar similar to a Romanian deadlift then you are not bending your hips and knees properly, which can put a lot of strain on your lower back once the bar passes your knees. 

To prevent arching or rounding of the back during the concentric phase (the initial pull) flex your legs a couple times to really focus on the mind-muscle connection. I sort of brace myself and actively think about using my legs so that there will be little strain on my back. If you are consistently having problems with your back arching or rounding, the weight is too heavy. 

I watch each video after the lift while I'm at the gym so that I can check if I made the improvements I needed to make. Usually I have things running through my head during the lift like "BEND AT THE HIPS, BEND AT THE HIPS" haha! Or whatever things I need to fix up about my form because that allows me to work on my internal feedback (a.k.a. listening to my body and feeling the movement). Then, the video (external feedback) lets me know if I in fact implemented the necessary changes and thus allows me to mentally connect the dots with my body. If the movement felt good (internal), looked good (external) then my body will slowly start to learn the proper movement sequences. If you consistently lift with improper form, that's the movement your body will learn and keep executing which is what will result in injury. 

Okay, so one of my final tips is to pay attention to the bar path. You want it to go up and down in a vertical smooth line. If it swings out too much then you're not keeping the bar close enough to your legs and vice versa. Bar path will tell you a lot about what you might need to change in your form. If/where you get pain after deadlifting will also clue you in to what you might be doing, and that's how I was able to fix up my form. 

So to sum everything up: 

1. Don't worry about weight but focus on improving form first. 

2. Videos > mirrors

3. For the setup: keep the bar across mid-foot, feet hip-distance, neck in line with the spine, shoulders in front of the bar, and hips above parallel. 

4. To avoid back pain/injury make sure during the concentric phase you don't arch or round the back, and to bend at the hips for the eccentric phase. 

5. Pay attention to bar path and any pain as that will help you identify problem areas as well. 

6. FEEL the movement (internal feedback) and compare that with the videos (external feedback) to teach your body proper form. 

Alright so I hope this was beneficial and informative! As I said, I'm no expert but I've done plenty of research combined with my own experience so I thought I'd share. If you have any questions or comments as always feel free to send me an email :) 

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Cranberries

On Sunday, I spent the afternoon at my dad's house and we whipped up dinner together. While getting cookie supplies on Thursday we had found some roasting chickens on sale which are one of my dad's specialty. Neither of us had had one in forever so we picked one up! We already had plans for Sunday so it worked out perfectly. Me and Layla headed up to his house after lunch and had a relaxing day around the house. It was much needed after a busy day on Saturday at a friend's wedding.

My dad might be Layla's second favorite person (I'm obviously the first haha!) so she was super excited to be at his house again. As soon as I opened the car door, she shot out like a rocket to run to the front door! The weather was gorgeous and we were able to open the deck doors to let some fresh air in. 

For dinner, we made some green beans to go with the chicken. My dad also made a pasta dish but Sundays are my low-carb days so it was no pasta for me! Since my step-mom is out of town, my dad has been cleaning out the cabinets so we just threw something random together but it turned out great! We found the green beans and I spied some slivered almonds and dried cranberries and suggested we put them together. 

So the chicken was super easy to make! My dad's secret to making the chicken perfect is to take an apple and slice it into quarters and then stuff that into the chicken to keep it moist while it's roasting. Then, we sliced up about 1/2 a stick of butter into smaller pieces which we stuffed underneath the skin for it to get crispy. Lastly, we seasoned it with some salt and pepper, and that was it! We roasted it in the oven according to the directions based on the weight of the chicken. 

For the green beans, we took a bag of frozen beans that we thawed in the microwave. While the beans were defrosting, we toasted the slivered almonds (about 1/4 cup) in a pan with some butter. When the beans were ready we put them in with the almonds and seasoned with salt, pepper, and olive oil. About 1-2 minutes before the dish was ready, I put in a couple tablespoons of dried cranberries. It was a really good combination! The almonds added some crunch and the cranberries a hint of sweetness and tartness. 

It was a delicious dinner, and I'll definitely be making these green beans again soon! 

Did you guys do anything fun this weekend?