How to Get Back in Shape After the COVID-19 Lockdown

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Happy Sunday all! Today, I am featuring a guest blog post from a fellow blogger. His name is Gabriel Patel. He enjoys writing about health and wellness, and co-founded Health Well Wise with a group of friends who share the desire to help people live happy, healthy lives. Have a blessed rest of your Sunday.

Photo via Rawpixel

If you gained weight during the coronavirus quarantine, you’re not alone. It’s normal — and completely okay — to put on a few pounds when you’re experiencing periods of stress and a serious change to your regular routine. However, self-isolation may have left you feeling less than your best. Whether you’re looking to lose weight or simply regain the energy you had pre-lockdown, check out the following tips to reclaim your wellness and get back on track!

Clean Up Your Diet

For many of us, the lockdown meant living off of freezer meals, instant noodles, and other forms of quick, easy, and accessible processed foods. But it’s time to get some nutrients back in our diets! Fortunately, there are all kinds of healthy meals you can make with basic ingredients you already have in your pantry, such as spinach tortellini soup, legume quesadillas, skillet rice, and stew. The beauty of these recipes is that you can mix in whatever vegetables or proteins you have in your kitchen. Casseroles are also great for this! Get creative and have fun coming up with nutritious meals based on the ingredients you have on hand.

If you could use some help creating a clean diet plan, consider working with a professional dietician. You can use job boards to find qualified pros, such as freelance dieticians, who can answer all of your nutrition-related questions, help you build a healthy meal plan, and coach you through any barriers you may be facing. Some other freelancers who can support you on your wellness journey include online personal trainers, yoga instructors, and therapists.

Take Steps to Avoid Injury

When you get back into exercise, do it slowly; pushing yourself too hard after an extended period of inactivity could lead to injuries. This is especially true if you’re going back to the gym. Remember, you may not be able to work out at your previous level, so go easy on yourself by reducing your reps and weight. The most important thing to remember is to listen to your body.

If you’re hesitant about returning to the gym, try at-home workouts, running, or hiking — or just go for a walk! If you were unfortunate enough to contract the coronavirus, CNET recommends talking to your healthcare provider about when it would be safe to start exercising again. Try to stick to short bursts of gentle exercise in the days and weeks following your recovery.

Get More Sleep

When it comes to fitness and overall well being, sleep is underrated. Getting enough sleep plays an important role in muscle recovery, stress reduction, and weight management — all of which will help you meet your post-lockdown fitness goals. If you’re not getting at least seven hours of good-quality sleep every night, take some steps to improve your bedroom environment and help your body wind down in the evening. Make your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet; develop a relaxing bedtime routine; avoid caffeine in the afternoon; and limit alcohol late in the evening.

Conquer Stress

Stress is one of the largest barriers to a healthy lifestyle. Stress can disrupt your sleep patterns, affect your eating habits, and reduce your motivation to exercise. Of course, we’re all experiencing heightened stress with everything that’s going on in the world right now. Even if you can’t control what’s happening all around you, you can bring a greater sense of control to your own life by taking active steps to reduce stress. Make time for your hobbies, socialize with friends and family members who make you happy, get in the habit of positive self-talk, and try to exercise daily — even if you’d rather do anything else.

While it was easy to let healthy habits fall by the wayside during the corona virus lock-down, now is the time to regain control over your fitness. Exercising, eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and combating stress will do a lot to improve how you feel — and you may even lose a few pounds! Start working towards your goals today!

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Eggplant, Lentil, & Rice Casserole

Eggplant Lentil and Rice Casserole, healthy eating, vegan food, quinoa, food, food photography, katina horton, simple functional grace-filled living

With everything going on, it becomes very important to keep a routine, practice wellness/self-care, and continue to let our creativity juices flow. I have been continuing to make my weekly concoctions. For the last month now, Culver’s has been a Friday treat for me. It eliminates me having to cook, and I can immediately begin to enjoy my weekend.

On yesterday, I was talking to my mom, and I decided to look out the window. There were chipmunks chirping, and a bluejay flying mid-air. Before I got a chance to tell my mother about the blue-jay, I noticed a nice-sized animal in the yard. It appeared to get along with the squirrel that was standing there. I couldn’t figure it out for the life of me. I ended up sending my mother and son a picture. Then, I sent one to my neighbor next. After tossing ideas back and forth, and googling their responses, I was able to come to the conclusion that what was in my front yard was a ground hog. Of all things! I told my neighbor, “There’s never a dull moment as far as what we will see on this property”. She agreed.

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Photo by Katina Horton

Well, here’s the recipe. I hope that you will enjoy it. Have a blessed rest of your Father’s Day!

Eggplant, Lentil, & Rice Casserole

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggplants cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup of black lentils
  • 2 cans of Hunts’s garlic and herb pasta sauce
  • 5 tablespoons of cumin, onion powder, curry, turmeric, garlic powder, parsley, chili powder
  • 2 cups of Mexican cheese
  • 1 cup of rice
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup of quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of avocado oil

Directions:

  • Boil your lentils in about 5 to 6 cups of water for about 50 minutes.
  • While the lentils are boiling, boil your rice and quinoa for about 20 minutes.
  • Stir-fry the diced tomatoes and eggplant.
  • Dump all of the above into a wok and stir-fry for about twenty minutes, making sure to add the oil and seasonings.
  • Grab a casserole pan and dump all of the above ingredients into the pan along with the cheese.
  • Stir with a wooden spoon.
  • Pour the cans of pasta sauce on top, garnishing with parsley.
  • Bake at 425 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Spaghetti Casserole

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Last week I decided that I wanted to have a big breakfast at some point during the Memorial Day weekend since I had a three-day holiday from work. I made Belgian waffles, grits with cheese, eggs with cheese, oatmeal, and breakfast sausage. I was grateful to God that everything turned out good. I had been wanting to use the Belgian waffle snap-in plates for two months. Unfortunately, I allowed fear to get in the way of me jumping in and giving it a try. I used Amber Honey for the waffle topping, and it was soooo good.

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Photo by Katina Horton

Normally, when there’s a holiday involved, I usually start cooking early. However, this past Monday, Memorial Day, I didn’t start cooking my dish until around 4:15 p.m. or so. I wanted to have an easy Monday and not have to rush to do anything. My son and I were eating by 5:30 p.m., which was nice. The spaghetti casserole that I decided to make was a literal concoction that I came up with on the Friday before the holiday. I hope you are enjoying some beautiful weather this weekend. Bless you all!

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Photo by Katina Horton

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 bunches of swiss chard
  • 1 (8 oz.) pack of sliced mushrooms
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes (no salt)
  • 2 red peppers
  • 2 green peppers
  • 1 box of whole wheat spaghetti
  • 1 pack of Mexican shredded cheese
  • 2 cans of Hunt’s pasta sauce (1 four cheese can & 1 garlic and herb can)
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 2 cups of avocado oil
  • 5 tablespoons of each: garlic powder, curry, onion powder, chili powder, turmeric, cumin, parsley, ginger.

Directions

  • Boil about four cups of water in avocado oil, then add the spaghetti.
  • While the pasta is preparing, Saute the mushrooms, diced tomatoes, and peppers in the avocado oil. Add all the seasonings to the mixture.
  • Once the above is ready, drain the spaghetti and dump it into a big bowl.
  • Dump the vegetables on top and mix it as best you can. You don’t have to worry about it being perfect. It’s kind of like a “messy casserole mix”.
  • Grab a 9 x 13 Casserole dish and cover the bottom with cheese.
  • Dump the contents of the bowl into the casserole pan.
  • Pour the two cans of pasta sauce on top.
  • Place in the oven on 425 degrees for 30 minutes.
  • Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top before eating. Man, that was so good mixed with the Mexican cheese.
  • Enjoy!

Simple Vegan Tacos

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One of my favorite things to do as of lately is to whip up something quick and tasty. This past weekend, I ended up making some super, simple vegan tacos for Mother’s Day. I also made two different cakes, oatmeal raisin pecan cookies, two loaves of carrot bread, and two loaves of banana chocolate chip bread. Thankfully, it wasn’t all on the same day.

I baked the cookies on Friday night. The bread was baked on Saturday night. Lastly, I made the two cakes on Sunday morning. I didn’t anticipate spending four hours in the kitchen on a Sunday morning. However, with baking two cakes, I’m not quite sure how much time I thought they would take either. Trust me, I am laughing with you. The first cake was one where I got the recipe from Delicious Miss Brown’s Show. This cake was a Caramel Apple Cake. On her show, she used a bundt cake pan. However, when I went to Walmart to buy the pan, they were all out. I ended up purchasing two 9″ round cake pans and making a two-layer caramel apple cake.

The second cake is one that I literally adlibbed on, and used a recipe off of Pinterest to make the cream cheese, substituting the powdered or confectioner’s sugar for organic cane sugar and a little bit of brown sugar. I also used vegan butter instead of regular butter. I ended up filling this one with fresh strawberries. This one was for my son. He said that the taste reminded him of cheesecake. I have included pictures of both cakes below.

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Photo by Katina Horton

My mother was very excited for her Mother’s Day gifts. It made my heart happy to see her after two months, as well as to treat her with the sweets and food that I knew were right up her alley.

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Photo by Katina Horton

After finishing both cakes on Sunday morning, I made the Simple Vegan Tacos and then made a breakfast wrap for myself and my son. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. Now, on to the Simple Vegan Taco Recipe. Maybe it’s something that you might even think about trying to make for yourself tonight. Enjoy! Blessings to you all!

Simple Vegan Tacos

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Photo by Katina Horton

Total Prepping and Cooking Time

25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 packs of Lightlife Smart Ground Mexican Vegan Crumble
  • Unsalted Diced Tomatoes – 2 cans
  • 1 pack of La Preferida taco seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons of the following: onion powder, garlic powder, parsley, turmeric, curry
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1 bag of Pepperjack Daiya cheese
  • 1 18-pack of taco shells
  • Optional: add salad mixture into the tacos

Directions

  • Place the oil in a skillet or pan.
  • Add the vegan crumble and diced tomatoes to the skillet.
  • When the mixture is almost done, dump in the seasonings and cheese.
  • Heat up the tacos on a cookie sheet in the oven.
  • Add the mixture to inside of the hard-shelled tacos.
  • Optional: add a salad mixture to shells as well.
  • Treat yourself to a cold glass of lemonade. (That’s what my mom and I did! 🙂 )

Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs

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turkey meatballs, recipes, food photography, spaghetti, food, healthy living, pasta sauce, parsley
Photo by Katina Horton

This past Friday was Valentine’s Day, and so I decided to treat myself with an aloe vera plant, and a meal. Then, on Saturday morning, I made some oatmeal chocolate chip raisin w/pecan cookies. One thing that I hadn’t done in a while, was to dunk my cookies in milk. Let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed.

A few days ago, I decided that I had better quick make something from the ground turkey that I had let thaw out. The end result: spaghetti with turkey meatballs. The meal came out pretty good, and I realized later that the spices that I used made all the difference. I made the turkey meatballs the first night, and then the spaghetti the second night.

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. pound of ground turkey meat
  • 3 tablespoons of parsley, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, curry, cumin, turmeric
  • 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 3 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
  • (1) 1 lb. box of spaghetti
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • (2) 16 oz. cans of garlic and herb pasta sauce

Directions:

  • Dump the panko, oatmeal, flaxseed meal, and all the seasonings into a mixing bowl.
  • Mix and stir this concoction.
  • Use a cookie scoop to make the balls, and then your hands if necessary.
  • Place the balls in a wok or skillet with olive oil.
  • Cook for about 20 minutes.
  • While the turkey meatballs are cooking, bowl 5 cups of water with olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking.
  • Add the pasta and then drain when done cooking.
  • Dump the pasta back into the pot and add all of the above seasonings into the pot.
  • Add the pasta sauce on top and enjoy!!

Have a blessed week!

Almond Cookies

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Background on Almond Cookies-Lately, I have realized that baking and cooking does the same thing for me that writing does. First, It helps to open up those creative and healing juices. Secondly, it helps me to see the unending possibilities of connecting certain things together.

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When you are writing, one thought can connect to five other thoughts, and then, in turn, inspire you to a Holy Spirit-infused bible story and revelation. When you are cooking and baking, one ingredient can get the wheels turning to the possibilities for other ingredients. And with me, this starts the whole beginning of my concoction madness.

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Within the last week, I have baked over 120 cookies. It was therapeutic, as I was using my hands, measuring, adding a dash of this and that. And then at the same time, praying that everything came out fine.

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I finally tried out my “head idea” of making almond cookies. Of course, as you know me, I added oatmeal of course. However, these Almond cookies turned out so “almondy”, and of course, that isn’t a word, that you don’t even notice the oatmeal. The slivered almonds added a nice, extra crunch to the cookie.

A week ago, I made the recipe again. However, I substituted the slivered almonds for pecans just to try out something different. I promise you, they didn’t disappoint.

Here’s the recipe:

Yields about 24 cookies

Ingredients:

  • Almond flour -1 1/4 cup
  • Oatmeal – 1 1/4 cup (Rolled Oats give a chunkier look and feel!)
  • Brown sugar – 1/2 cup
  • Almond Extract- 1/2 teaspoon
  • Slivered Almonds- 1/3 cup (Can also substitute with pecans!)
  • Almond Oil- 2 tablespoons
  • Almond milk- 3/4 cup
  • Flaxseed Meal – 2 Tablespoons

Directions

  • Mix all of the above ingredients into a large bowl using a whisk
  • Use a small cookie scoop to make the balls, making sure that you press the side of the bowl with the cookie scoop to get any excess liquid off
  • Place scoops on parchment paper-lined cookie sheets
  • Bake at 330 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes depending on your oven.
  • Enjoy!

Oatmeal Raisin Pecan Cookies

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Last week, I had a sweet tooth for cookies. And so, on Friday I purchased some pecans, and got to making this desire a reality on Sunday after church. I was surprised that they came out pretty good since it was my first time trying out the oatmeal raisin cookie combination.

I will definitely have to make these cookies again. If you are feeling adventurous enough to try them out, send me an email and a picture letting me know what you think. Have a blessed week!

oatmeal raisin pecan cookies, recipes, healthy eating. lifestyle, food photography,food, katina horton, blogger, food blogger, simple functional grace-filled living
Photo by Katina Horton

Total Prepping and Cooking Time

35 minutes

Ingredients

  • oatmeal- 1 1/2 cups
  • raisins- 1/2 cup
  • almond milk – 1 cup
  • chopped or whole pecans – 1/2 cup
  • sugar – 1/2 cup
  • almond flour – 1 1/2 cups
  • flaxseed meal – 3 tablespoons

Directions

  • Mix all of the above ingredients in a large bowl using a whisk or wooden spoon.
  • Using a cookie scoop, grab one scoop at a time, making sure that you press against the side of the bowl to rid of any excess liquid.
  • Place the scoops on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Bake on 350 degrees for 25 minutes.
  • Enjoy!

Barbecue Vegetarian Meatballs

katina horton, lifestyle, vegetarian meatballs, healthy eating, barbecue, simple functional grace-filled living, lifestyle, blogger, blog, food, food photography, family time, grace, intentionality

Background on Vegetarian Meatballs

As our kids are in the process of becoming young adults, it gets more and more challenging to carve out connection time. They have their lives. You have yours. And to top it off, if both of you are working, then you are presented with even more of a challenge.

About a week and a half ago, my son was home to visit. We were both working and extremely busy. However, we were able to carve out some connection time together a little bit before he left, and we decided to explore listening to French music, catch up on each other’s lives, and make vegetarian meatballs.

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Photo by Katina Horton

I hope that you enjoy them as much as we did.

Here’s the recipe:

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Photo by Katina Horton

Ingredients

  • 1 pack of Lightlife Smart Ground Mexican crumble (little bit of a spicy kick to it) per bowl
  • 4 teaspoons of chili powder, garlic powder, parsley, cumin, curry, onion powder, and garlic powder per bowl
  • 1 pack of shredded cheese
  • bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup of oatmeal
  • 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal
  • 4 eggs (2 per bowl)
katina horton, lifestyle, vegetarian meatballs, healthy eating, barbecue, simple functional grace-filled living, lifestyle, blogger, blog, food, food photography, family time, grace, intentionality
Photo by Katina Horton

Directions

  • Place one pack of vegan meat in two medium sized bowls.
  • Add 2 eggs, 2 tablespoons of flaxseed meal, oatmeal, seasonings, and desired cheese amount per bowl.
  • Mix the ingredients in each bowl.
  • Grab two cookie sheets and line with parchment paper.
  • Use one cookie sheet per bowl.
  • Use a cookie scoop the size of your choice to scoop the meatball mixture, carefully leveling off and pressing the scoop against the side of the bowl to solidify the mixture.
  • Place the cookie scoop as close to the parchment paper as possible and then release the ball onto the sheet to reduce crumbling.
  • Heat on 325 degrees for about 25 minutes and drizzle with barbecue sauce when done.
  • Enjoy!

What are some of the things that you like to do for fun with your young adult children?

Pasta with Black Lentils

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Background on Pasta with Black Lentils

Over the weekend, I attended a women’s conference at my church. It was a Holy Spirit-filled good time. Because of having a busy weekend, I decided that I wouldn’t cook on Saturday evening. I ordered two build-your-own pizzas, watched movies with my mom, and took it easy.

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Photo by Katina Horton

On Monday night, I decided to cook dinner for the week. I loved the end result. The dish has a little bit of a spicy kick to it. It is just enough for you to enjoy the dish, and at the same time not be overwhelmed.

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Photo by Katina Horton

I pray that you are having a blessed week so far, and preparing to embrace the weekend that is upon us.

Here is the recipe for Pasta with Black Lentils:

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Photo by Katina Horton

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of fettuccine
  • 1/2 cup of quinoa
  • 1/3 cup of oil
  • 1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 pound of black lentils
  • 4 tablespoons of onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, parsley, cumin, and curry

Directions:

Boil a pot of water, placing some oil in the water to avoid sticky pasta.

Boil the black lentils for about 30 minutes.

Place the pasta and quinoa into the boiling water.

Cut up the zucchini, and then saute the zucchini and tomatoes together.

Add the seasonings to the vegetables.

Dump the vegetables into the pot of pasta and quinoa.

Enjoy!

God bless,

Katina

Summertime Salad

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Background Story on Summertime Salad

My mother and two nieces came to visit me this weekend. I picked them up on Saturday, hoping beforehand to have made at least four out of six stops completed prior to picking them up from the train station. Well, I got three done. I had to talk myself down to the fact that I would have to make three stops with two little ones. It wasn’t that bad after all.

After all of the stopping and putting away groceries, we decided that it would be best to grill on Sunday after church. It rained overnight and Sunday morning. However, as the weather man predicted, the rain stopped at around 1:00 p.m. By 2:00 we were ready to grill.

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Summertime Salad Photo by Katina Horton

Some of the highlights of my weekend were: 1) watching a two-year old dance and climb a flight of stairs with the look of joy on her face, 2) watching both nieces play with twigs and branches in the backyard 3) listening to 70s, 80s, and 90s slow jams, 4) watching movies, 5) baking oatmeal lemon nut and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies with my niece, and 6) grilling for the first time since living here. I hope and pray that you had a simple, functional grace-filled weekend as well.

Here is the recipe for the Summertime Salad that I made on Sunday:

Ingredients

  • 5 medium beets
  • 3 tablespoons of Italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons of minced onions
  • dressing of your choice
  • 3 medium green bell peppers
  • 6 to 8 mini sweet peppers
  • 10 radishes
  • 1 tub of mixed green salad
  • 6 tomatoes cut into wedges or slices

Directions

  • Roast the beets for 45 minutes on 350, pouring olive oil and wrapping them individually in foil and placing them on a cookie sheet beforehand.
  • When they are done, allow them to cool off for 15 minutes and then peel off the skin with a towel.
  • Cut the beets into wedges.
  • Dump the mixed green salad into a bowl.
  • Dump the tomato slices or wedges into the bowl.
  • Dump all the rest of the ingredients and sprinkle the seasonings last.
  • Enjoy!

God bless,

Katina