Keto Mac and Cheese Recipe

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Cauliflower is one of the most versatile ingredients for the Keto Diet. This time it is used for a creamy indulgent Mac ‘n’ cheese. Yes, I know it’s cauliflower but what is the best part of Mac ‘n’ cheese then the seasoning and the cheese cause?! I’ll wait… This healthy low carb Mac ‘n’ cheese recipe with only 5 net carbs per serving is a perfect side to any protein.

Ingredients

  • 1 large head of cauliflower (steamed and cut into florets)
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp of garlic power
  • sprinkle of cayenne
  • 1 1/2 cup of Colby Jack Cheese
  • 1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Preheat the oven to 375 and prepare a baking dish with Olive Oil Cooking Spray. Chop your cauliflower head in florets and steam them (with water that has been salted to taste) for approximately 6 minutes until they are tender. Strain the water from the cauliflower and pat them dry before putting it into the baking dish.

In a large saucepan, add heavy whipping cream, garlic power, onion powder, cayenne, salt and pepper to a simmering boil over medium heat. Add the Colby Jack cheese in to create a thickened cheese sauce. Pour in the cheese sauce over the cauliflower in the baking dish and then stir until the cheese is fully incorporated. Finish the top of the cauliflower with more Colby Jack cheese and the parmesan cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the top is golden brown. Enjoy!

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Top 5 Fast Food Options for the Vegetarian Keto Diet

image1-510 years ago I embarked on the journey of becoming vegetarian during my freshman year of college. Last year, I discovered the keto diet while attempting to slim down for my wedding and have been on/off it ever since. As a young adult and a registered nurse, I live a pretty fast paced life. With extremely long work hours and two jobs, just finding time to spend with my family, manage my small business, attend church regularly, sleep and travel can be a challenge. To make matters worse, being a vegetarian and keto usually isn’t something you can do on the whim. It’s something you need to plan for. Thankfully, there are some fast food options out there that can make a vegetarian keto diet easier when you’re on the go.

  1. Starbucks 

My favorite breakfast when I’m late to work is the Sous Vide Egg White & Red Pepper from Starbucks. I like to pair it with Grande Iced Coffee with a light splash of Heavy Whipping Cream and 4 Pumps of Sugar-Free Cinnamon Dolce for a total of 14 Carbs. This is a pretty heavy breakfast (carbohydrate wise) for someone trying to maintain under 35 carbs for the day. However, it is definitely possible with lower carb options for lunch and dinner.

  1. Smoothie King

Smoothie Kings smoothies that are fruit based and filled with sugar are not appropriate for the keto diet. However, The Gladiator Vanilla totals to 6 net carbs for 20 ounce drink and is quite filling due to the amount of protein.

  1. Chipotle

Chipotle gives you the option to build your own salad bowl, which can be made keto. Ask for a salad bowl with lettuce, easy (VERY EASY) on the beans, fajitas, cheese, mild or medium salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Skip the rice and the vinaigrette because both are heavy in carbs. This meal can be under 10 carbs if you put just a sprinkle of beans or skip them altogether.

  1. Panera Bread

Since bread is in the name of this fast food restaurant, you already know that keto options may be limited. A Caesar salad without the croutons is one of the few keto-vegetarian friendly items on the menu. Adding a cup of their Ten Vegetable Soup is 8 net carbs.

  1. Noodles and Company

When you substitute regular pasta for Zoodles (zucchini noodles) in the Penne Rosa at Noodles and Company, it totals out to 9 Net Carbs. I live to add the seasoned tofu to mine, which increases the net carbs to 12. The Penne Rosa sauce is a red tomato-based sauce with a hint of spice, topped with feta or parmesan cheese. It’s a perfect vegetarian dinner for a keto-vegetarian on the go. Their Wisconsin Mac and Cheese with Zoodles is an even lower carb option and with tofu is also very delicious.

The Take Away…

Yes, being a keto-vegetarian takes planning! However, it doesn’t mean you can’t enough the luxury of stopping somewhere after work to pick up something quick to eat. I hope to see more options on the fast food menus as more people decide to choose the keto-vegetarian lifestyle.

 

Photo Source @FoodBeast

 

Why Birthdays Are Difficult for Creatives

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In just three days, I will be celebrating my 28th birthday. Despite all I have to be thankful for, I still find myself creeping into the birthday blues every year around April 26th. I find myself consumed with thoughts of “have I reached my maximum potential?” or “what more could I be doing?” So I’ve spent the past few weeks leading up to my birthday deeply immersing myself into activities to make me feel better about the fact that I’m not exactly where I want to be just yet. Birthdays are normally a cause for reflection and celebration but they can be difficult for the creative mind. Research shows that birthdays can cause disappointment and dissatisfaction due to not achieving expected accomplishments from the previous year. The deep reflection that particularly goes through the mind of creatives can make them wish they had done more to achieve their goals for the year.
This year I decided to make a conscious effort to combat my birthday blues using these tips:

1. Talk nice to yourself

The words you speak over yourself have power. Do not criticize yourself for what you have yet to achieve but praise yourself for what you have already accomplished. Look in the mirror and say something nice about what you see.

2. Confront your negative feelings

While you shouldn’t talk down to yourself, it is okay to acknowledge the feelings you have and why you’re feeling that way. Give yourself space to mourn over what you felt you could have done better but don’t dwell in it. Once you’ve addressed and made peace with those feelings, move forward in a more positive mindset.

3. Manage your expectations

Don’t let your expectations control you. Remember the journey that it took to get you to where you are. Reflect on how far you’ve come over the years. Realize that where you’re at now was once a goal. Let your thoughts be a motivating force that drives you to achieve more of your goals for next year.

4. Spend your birthday with the ones you love

Spending your birthday with your people you love doing an activity you love is a great way to cope with birthday depression. It also serves as a reminder of all the people who continue to root for you and your success.

Conclusion…

Creatives should avoid using their birthday as a measuring tool for success but as a celebration of life and progression. Time is one of the most valuable assets to a creative. Therefore, every day you wake up alive is not only more time but another opportunity to take a step or a leap towards reaching your goals.

Traveling for Cheap: Seeing the World with GroupOn

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I recently saw a tweet that stated, “Traveling is not cheap and everyone online on who says so is lying”. I saw many responses in agreement saying that traveling is a luxury to only those who can afford it. I can agree that traveling CAN be extremely expensive. However, it does not have to be. Travel deals through GroupOn can make traveling affordable for those even on the tightest of budgets.

After spending thousands of dollars on our wedding back in November, my husband and I did not want to break the bank for our honeymoon but still wanted it to be very special. We decided to book our honeymoon through GroupOn because we saw an unbelievable deal to go to Athens and Santorini, Greece for 7 days; all for the low price of $2500. This price included our international flights to Greece, bus transfers to and from the airport, flight transfers from Athens to Santorini, hotel stay in both cities, a sunset cruise in Santorini, a tour guide, and breakfast everyday. My husband was a little apprehensive at first to booking through GroupOn. Although I never traveled through GroupOn internationally, I have used it for hotel stays stateside. We decided to just take a leap of faith and book the trip voucher, which used the agency Affordable World. Here are our list of Pros and Cons from booking our international trip through GroupOn:

Pros:

1. Price

For what we received, we thought that $2500 was an incredible deal. Flights alone to Greece were $1700 roundtrip for both us, when we tried to book the trip to Greece without GroupOn.

2. There was practically no planning needed.

The trip comes with a fully printed itinerary that was given to us upon arrival. All the tour locations, bus/flights arrival and departure times, and hotel information were on the itinerary, which made the trip very straightforward. There  was no need to plan how we would get from point A to point B, which took a lot of stress off us. The tours highlighted key sightseeing landmarks, which made planning practically unnecessary.

3. Great for first time travelers

Because the trip comes with an English-speaking tour guide, it makes it very easy for first time travelers to a foreign country. The tour guide did not leave us until we reached security. They made sure we were all able to check-in.

Cons:

1. You may not get the exact dates you want

We ended up booking our honeymoon one week after our wedding because that was the closest date available to when we actually wanted to travel.

2. You must read the fine print

Thankfully, we did read the fine print and recognized that the standard price of $2300 didn’t include a flight transfer from Athens to Santorini but a Ferry transfer, which had an 8hour travel time. We were able to upgrade to the flight transfers for our new total of $2500. However, some of our fellow travelers in our group were not as lucky. They ended up purchasing flights same day rather than spending an entire day on the ferry returning to Athens.

3. You may have to do some research

You may have to do some on the exact locations of the hotels in reference to the city center and the sights. Our Athens hotel was beautiful but it was farther away from the city center. If we knew I’m advance, we might have chosen to purchase the upgraded hotel, which was right in the mix of all the city activities.

Conclusion    

Overall, my experience through GroupOn and Affordable World was a great one. I would definitely book again for another international trip. Most of the Cons did not affect us because we were flexible in our travel date and read every little thing in the fine prints. If you are looking to see the world inexpensively, I would recommend booking GroupOn for your next get-a-way!

I Dream of WE: You, Me & My Student Loans

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

On November 4th 2018, my husband and I said “I do” to a lifetime together. Three months in and we are still beginning the process of merging our lives into one, from car insurance policies to retirement beneficiaries. When you add student loans into the mix, things can become…well complicated. Thankfully, my husband came into the marriage with no debt. However, my student loan debt luggage totals to approximately $60,000. Although, your spouse does not have a legal responsibility to pay back your student loans. Having debt can affect your marriage and can hold you back financially. Here are some of my tips for handling student loans as a couple.

  1. Look at the Numbers

How much debt are you bringing in exactly? Write it down and show it to your spouse. My training as a nurse has always taught me to assess the situation first. The principle is the same for figuring out a repayment plan for student loan debt. Rewinding back even further, it is okay to ask this question while seriously dating someone. If you are considering marriage, you’ll need to tackle finances together, which includes debt.

  1. Be Understanding

Student Loan debt isn’t a luxury. It isn’t the result of going out to buy a fancy car or racking up thousands of credit card debt. It was a ticket to an education that was otherwise unavailable to you without the loan. Be understanding in your conversation about student loan debt with your spouse and do not judge them for their decisions. They did what was best for them at that time.

  1. Sacrifice

While attempting to repay student loans, sacrifices will need to be made. Decide on what you are willing to sacrifice. We decided financial freedom was more important than buying a house right away. We decided that we would have to sacrifice our travels and limit ourselves to one vacation for the year. We decided that eating out needs to become more of a luxury and to limit it.

  1. Create A Plan Together

Student loans can affect your marriage. Even if only one person is paying them, that is money that could have otherwise been used to build wealth in the marriage. Our plan is holding off on buying a home, making bi-weekly payments, starting with the smallest loans and with the highest interest rates.  Although every couple handles finances differently, however you decide to do it…you must have a plan that you create together.

 

 

I Dream of WE: Priorities, Keeping Love on Top

57D66C54-93DE-43D7-BC8F-143E986F317DOn November 26th, I started a new position as the new Nurse-in-Charge (NIC) of the Ambulatory Surgery Department (ASD) and Post Anesthesia Care Unit (PACU). This position would mean a nice pay increase (amazing right?!). However, it also meant more responsibility and longer hours. I’ve spent the majority of my more recent years in nursing working part-time. Nursing is a career where shifts and time off is never guaranteed. Therefore, I worked part-time for more flexibility in my schedule. Just over one month into the position, I am finding myself less patient and increasingly exhausted. As a newlywed, I now have to manage becoming a “boss” as well as having a happy home life. I see how easy it is to say “I’m too tired to….”. So to others who are also striving to make their marriage a priority, here are a few things that I have learned:

  1. I Miss You Like Everyday…

My husband and I have a shared google calendar that keeps us updated with what each other is doing. I schedule my work times and my on-call times into the calendar so that he always knows when I’m free. Therefore, if he suggests a date night or a weekend getaway, it alleviates me always saying…no I’m working that day or no I’m on call (which can be really frustrating being on the receiving end of that after a while). Technology can be great in that way. Also, it helps to send flirty text messages throughout the day. It doesn’t have to be long or in depth. However, receiving an “I miss you” or “I’m thinking about you” from my husband during the busy days as work keeps me going and feeling connected while we’re apart.

 

  1. Say No, No, No, No

The desire to make more money and save more money makes it easy to pack on the hours. My husband had to remind me that sometimes time is greater than money. Sometimes I have to say no to that extra shift when asked. For him, sometimes it means saying no to the XBOX live party, so he can spend time with me for a couple hours when I get home from work.

 

  1. Always Stay Gracious

Because of my vigorous work schedule, my husband often has to step in and take care of things while I’m working. Thankfully his work schedule has flexibility and allows him to do so. Whether it is trip to the grocery store or fixing something I didn’t have a chance to get to, he always seems to get things done when I’m not around. I realized how important it is to not take that for granted and to say thank you for all he does.

 

  1. Crazy in Love

This may have been the hardest thing for me learn because it doesn’t come naturally to me. Growing up in a Haitian household, where blatant displays of affection wasn’t something I was used to seeing, has made me prone to shy away from affection as well. Being crazy in love and outwardly affectionate was something I had to learn to feed one of my husband’s primary love languages.

 

  1. A Perfect Duet

I probably will never be an Xbox gamer and my husband will probably never join a book club. One thing my husband and I both share is our love for music. After church on Saturdays, we’ll spend an hour or two just playing music together, with me on the piano and him on the drums. It became something we could look forward to every week. We also like to challenge each other to a game of Wordament. Although I continue to crush him in every round (don’t tell him I said this!), it gives us an opportunity to do something together and regularly when time is limited.

I haven’t figured it all out yet. I’m still learning to balance work and keeping love on top. However, I’ve realized that every new day is an opportunity to start over and create a love that lasts until the end of time!

I Dream of We: The Honeymoon is OVER!

IMG_9603My husband and I returned from our honeymoon in Greece just in time for Thanksgiving. Most people envision the honeymoon as the newlywed couple flying off to an exotic country, exploring and catching sunrays. It was my idea to honeymoon in Greece so I was more than excited. We traveled to Athens, the capital and visited Santorini, an island off the coast of Greece. I expected to fill ourselves to the brim with a variety of delicious Greek food and be amazed by the breath taking views of the country. I expected tons of sightseeing and romance. What I did not expect was to learn…

While in Santorini, my husband and I wanted to explore the island. Unlike Athens, taxis were not readily available. Although the bus system was commonly used, the schedule was in Greek and we couldn’t understand it. My husband suggested renting an ATV or a Moped for traveling around the island. The cautious and the nurse side of me said to myself “that this doesn’t seem like the greatest idea”. The roads of Santorini were narrow and hilly, with no barriers to the cliffs and the Aegean Sea below. It was definitely NOT something I would decide to do on my own. I was actually surprised of how fearful I was.

During our search for a rental shop, we found a place that rented UTV’s, which had the same open feel of an ATV but has two seats. When the salesperson told us how much it would be to rent, my husband was ready to say never mind and leave. It was pricey and he wasn’t sure if I really felt comfortable enough to do it. I knew he would say no if I wasn’t comfortable. So I encouraged him to just live in the moment and let’s do it. I believe that this was my first marital test. As we drove along the cliff side in an open vehicle, I reflected on why this experience was so important. It taught me to support and encourage him when he feels unsure. It taught me to trust him even though it scares me.

Although I know everyday we wont be driving along the cliffs, I realize that much of life will be filled with uncertainty. There will be moments when my husband feels unsure in his leading decision and will look to me for encouragement. I realize that there will be times where I need to trust the strength that God has placed in him. We truly had the time of our lives in Greece and I’ll cherish the memories for a lifetime. Even more so, I will cherish the lessons learned.

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