Encouraging friends to be their best by building healthier lifestyle habits <3

Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.

Well, the New Year is a few weeks old already and life is finding a routine again. It feels good, doesn’t it? The excitement of celebrating with family and friends is soo fun with the treats of special activities and our favorite foods. But, it can be EXHAUSTING! I don’t know ’bout ya’ll, but I’m glad to find some predictability in my day.
Every day is busy enough so I like when I know what to expect. That’s why I want to encourage you to find comfort in a healthy eating routine. The surprise of an un-expected treat is fun now and then but nothing is better than knowing what works for you. It takes out the guess work of “what should I eat now?” and leaves your mind free to concentrate on more important tasks. Now you’re developing the Habits of Health! If you know that you like cereal or a shake for breakfast, you don’t have to think about it. You know it works for you and your day is under way. As you follow the 5/1 plan not only do you know that you are on your way to a healthier weight, but you feel the benefits today! I guess that’s why I’m ready to move on after feeling “weighed down” from those extra goodies and get back to an energetic, active day!

Sometimes, it’s nice to fall back on an ole’ favorite for dinner. Here’s one that has been around a while! I always get a “Yeah! My favorite!” when this is on the table 🙂

Classic Lemon-Caper Chicken
10 chicken thighs
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (bottled if lemons aren’t handy)
2 Tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
1 1/2 tsp ground pepper
1 lemon, cut into 12 chunks(optional)
3 Tbsp small brined capers
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
course salt
1) Pre-heat oven to 425. Place chicken in non-reactive container, Add lemon juice,rosemary and pepper. Turn to coat. Add lemon chunks. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate for 20 minutes.
2) Heat cast iron grill pan til very hot. Rub with oil. Remove chicken from marinade and season with salt. Grill skin side up til clearly marked (about 3 minutes) and turn to cook skin side til brown and crisp. Char lemon chunks along side.
3) Transfer to oven and bake until juices run clear and thermometer reads 170.(20-25 minutes) Sprinkle with capers.

Easy and definitely yummy! Don’t forget to stay in touch this week! I’m always excited to hear your news!!

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Natural Born Grazers

Watching our horses spending leisure hours with their heads down working on mowing the grass you could assume that eating is the afternoon’s entertainment as they relax. But, you would be over-looking the importance of how they are designed to consume needed calories a little at a time throughout the day.
We are natural born grazers by design as well!! Have you ever thought and wondered why you feel the compulsion to want to eat something every few hours? We are meant to spend our hours gathering food. The trick of course is what you find to eat! A balance of muscle building proteins and energy producing carbs is a must for perfect metabolism. It’s when your basket is full of refined sugars or overloaded with starchy, fatty foods that things go wrong for your body. The confusion created sends the message that you NEED those blood sugar spikers to make up for the crash from those empty calories.
So, give in to that craving to snack!! Have a plan in place so that you don’t miss those important fuel breaks especially before a ride or performance when you need to be at your best. A nutritionally pumped body will be sharp and focused giving you the advantage instead of dragging from hunger or “sugar gritters”. Your Medifast meal replacements are so portable, they are perfect to stash in your purse,car,desk drawer or boot bag! No excuses that you didn’t have anything handy to eat. They also provide that perfect balance of nutrition making the choice easier. It’s a critical element in why the 5/1 plan is so effective. Eat every few hours AND lose weight!
BE smart! Plan ahead!
Now, for a little something to snack on to keep that fat-burning machine strong and full of energy
Chocolate Chai Fudge
1 packet Medifast Hot Cocoa or Brownie (1 Meal)
1 packet Medifast Chai Latte (1 Meal)
4 TB Water
1) Mix packets & water together in a bowl. Drop spoonfuls onto wax paper.
2) This makes 8 1 TB fudge drops. Freeze for about 30-60 minutes.
2 servings with 1 Meal per serving (4 drops is 1 serving) so, 4 now. 4 later.

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How to Overcome Emotional Eating

Below are some thoughts shared from our behavioral specialist that I thought were excellant and worth sharing. We all succeed when we work together 🙂

 It can certainly be very difficult to make changes in our eating habits when we have long work hours, financial strains, and other distressing things going on in our lives that conflict with our ability to care for ourselves… I mean who has time for self-care?! Food can certainly fill that role. When we experience stressful events or negative emotions such as anxiety, anger, emptiness and sadness food can bring us comfort. I mean, they don’t call it “comfort food” for nothing do they?! Food helps us feel better (temporarily) if we are feeling stressed or upset or tired. Because food can make us feel better it is really easy to develop the habit of seeking food to improve our moods. Over time, as neural pathways link the change in mood with the experience of eating food, the association grows stronger. Past sensory emotional associations with food stored in our brains are called “mental ghosts.” Environmental cues (like being home after work) and emotional triggers (like stress and feeling tired) drive eating by stimulating our “mental ghosts.” When they’re triggered they bring forth our expectation that food will bring us pleasure and/or relief from distress; when we expect something to bring us pleasure and/or relief from distress, that expectation actually amplifies the rewarding value of food. Expectation then drives our action and the pursuit of food. Then the food makes us feel better which only strengthens the association of a change in mood with the experience of eating food. This is what we call a “vicious cycle.” Now, there is absolutely something we can do to change this cycle however there isn’t really much we can do to stop this vicious cycle dead in its tracks. This is because this habit has developed over many years and will therefore take patient and persistent action, over time, in order to change it. In fact, trying to stop this cycle is kind of like trying to stop a runaway freight train. An impossible task that will only leave us frustrated, disappointed and completely flattened. Again, we can’t stop it dead in its track but we can change this habit over time. Here’s how you do it: The most effective method is a three-pronged approach including Critical Perceptual Shift, Healthy Competing Behaviors and Planned Responses. Let’s go through each, one-by one.

First, Critical Perceptual Shift is when we change our emotional appraisal of food. As I said before we have an expectation that “food brings me pleasure and/or relief from distress.” In order to have success in changing we will need to change this expectation. Think of this as “retraining your brain” to think in a different way. We need to flip these expectations on their head by drawing towards what you want and pushing away from what is no longer desirable. Develop a statement that draws you towards healthy eating habits. Something like “I feel great when I choose a healthy way to cope with my emotions!” Next, develop a statement that pushes away from using food as a coping mechanism. Something like “Eating to comfort myself actually makes me feel more miserable.” Again, we are trying to “retrain the brain” to formulate new expectations and thought patterns. Every day, read your new expectations to yourself over and over again as many times as you can until you begin to truly believe these statement. This process is called counterconditioning.

Next, Healthy Competing Behaviors are going to be those healthy coping skills and enjoyable activities that will replace food. You see, if this all comes down to seeking pleasure and/or relief from emotional distress then we will need to find alternative activities that accomplish this! My suggestion is to develop a “Menu” that lists any pleasurable activities that you can think of and any comforting activities that you can think of. This way you will have a list of options that you can use to obtain pleasure and/or relief from emotional distress. Right now you might feel like food is your only option to make yourself feel good. You can help this by brainstorming a list of other possible ways that you can experience pleasure and relief from emotional distress. Then you can look at his “Menu” and decide what would be the best options for you to try in place of food. Some examples of “Comfort Menu” items include: Deep Breathing, Meditation, Positive Imagery, Squeezing a Stress Ball, Giving Yourself a Hand Massage, Make a Stress Free Zone to Relax Within, Spend Time Outdoors in the Sun, Stretch, Take a Quick Walk, Listen to Your Favorite Song, Write Your Emotions Down, Light Scented Candles, Smell Citrus or Coffee, Talk to a Friend or Cuddle with a Pet. Identify as many options as you can and choose what makes the most sense to you.

Finally, Planned Responses means having a set of rules designed to de-condition habitual responses to food. The shift from wanting to behave differently and actually doing so requires setting rules and practicing them until they become programmed behavior. A planned response should include the “cue” that sets off the emotional desire for food, the “reward” that food would provide, and a new “routine” that will change the automatic response. You can use the items on your “Comfort Menu” to fill in as the new routine. This should look like this: “When [identify the cue], I will [identify the new routine] because it provides me with [identify the reward].” Here’s an example: “When I feel stressed, I will take a walk because it provides me with a sense of calm and peace of mind.” Whereas the old automatic response would be to eat when feeling stressed, the new routine would be to take a walk. This planned response is a guideline for you to follow. Write it down. Read it. Practice it. You may not be able to do it every time but that doesn’t matter. We are going for progress, not perfection. Change is a process, not an event. As long as you pay attention to this new planned response, think about it, try to do it and continue to practice it… then this new routine will eventually become your new automatic response!

If you are able to create a Critical Perceptual Shift, a list of Healthy Competing Behaviors, and Planned Responses incorporating those new pleasurable and comforting activities you will experience two pretty incredible things. First, you will change your automatic responses which will increase your ability to resist cues (like emotional distress) to eat. This success will then breed more and more success. Second, the intensity of your desires for comfort food will begin to diminish and you will be able to find other things just as or even more rewarding than food was in the past. As  said before, none of these things will stop that vicious cycle dead in its tracks but if you practice these things, over and over, until they become programmed behavior then you will have changed this habit! Remember to focus on making changes in your habits in order to get the weight loss results that you desire.

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How do you eat an elephant?

This is a whimsical yet practical strategy when taking on a new project that may seem over-whelming. The most difficult step is often the first one, making that decision to commit yourself to the change needed to succeed. When you consider that it really is only one step,one bite at a time, you make it more manageable. “That was easy!” “How hard is one step, really?” I’m not saying that sticking with it isn’t challenging, but the fun is when you look behind you to see the accumulation of steps you’ve made..Wow! The progress is measurable! That’s why I recommend to my clients the importance of taking “before” pictures. Yes, they sometimes can be painful. (maybe that’s the extra push you needed to take that first step.) The real benefit comes a few bites in when you can measure your progress. How will you feel when you can SEE the difference you’ve made already? And look, the project is soon smaller and smaller! By realizing that taking that first bite puts you on your way to your goal, you give yourself power and motivation. You can do this! ONE more pound lost….ONE more minute on the treadmill…..ONE less medication on the shelf……pretty soon you are completing the task and who knows what’s next? Your old high school weight, a 5k, and optimal health!! Whoo Hoo!! Now, get up and take that picture. Believe me…that step is a big one.

I thought maybe you’d like one for Meatless Mondays. Take your time enjoying this one. It’s VERY filling! One bite at a time:D
El Dente Macaroni and Cheese (Faux)
4 1/2 cups Cauliflower, broken down to pinkie size chunks
2 cups Egg Beaters
8oz. Reduced-fat Mexican Cheese,shredded

1) Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 13×9 baking pan with non-stick spray.
2) Combine ingredients and stir until well blended
3) Pour into prepared pan and press cauliflower until submerged into liquid so that it softens while cooking.
4) Cover with foil and bake for 60 minutes. It may be a bit gooey when done.
3 servings of 1 lean and 3 greens per serving.

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You’ll need a road map for your journey to weight loss

Funny how everyone gets through with the summer and all it’s busy-ness, then as the days get shorter we take a moment,relax and take a look down at our waistlines. Gasp!  How did I end up here? I must have wondered off not paying attention to where I was going!
 How’s it going on your trip? Traveling straight or still taking those side roads?  Every one’s journey is different. Some like to take the winding road full of sight seeing and pit stops.(admittedly, more fun) However, everyone knows that the fastest way to get there is to put the pedal to the metal and drive the highway. Floor it! 
That may be easier said than done. My youngest drove herself to school in our manual Explorer yesterday for the first time and her school is at the top of a hill with four stop lights!  Needless to say, she stalled more than once. Each time required that she take a breath, refocus and try again. Her determination paid off when she mastered the gears and coasted into the parking lot. Maybe a little stressed at first but full of pride and accomplishment at reaching her destination.
So, get out your road map and plan your journey. Where do you want to go? What route should you take?  When do you want to arrive? These are important decisions when planning a trip. Remember, every spontaneous stop pushes you off your scheduled ETA and may even blow you off the road!
So, put it in gear and make sure you are there on time!  Let’s say..your ideal weight by the holidays? Or maybe the first go or next show season? You decide, maybe even arrive early!

I like snacks for the road. I think I’ll pack these for my personal journey 🙂
 These recipes are great to mix it up as meal replacements on the 5/1 plan.Each cookie is a meal

 Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 pkg chocolate chip pancake mix
1 pkg soft serve
1 crunch bar
1/2 cup water
1 tsp baking powder
Mix, spread on parchment paper in four circles.  Bake 350 degrees 6-8 minutes.  6 minutes for a chewier texture. Coffee soft serve/chocolate bars, peanut butter /peanut butter crunch bars all work well. Experiment!
Chocolate Cookies
1 pkg brownie mix
1 pkg chocolate chip pancake mix
1 pkg chocolate shake ( Try essential dark chocolate)
1 crunch bar (Maybe chocolate)
1/2 cup cold leftover coffee or water
1 tsp baking powder
 Same directions as above.

I always say to experiment and have fun with the food. It doesn’t have to be a boring journey on the highway!

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Healthy eating is easy and fun for everyone!

33% of US children are either overweight or obese. Children who grow vegetables alongside their parents eat them regularly and with gusto. 93% believe children who engage in vegetable gardening with their parents are more likely to take an interest in eating vegetables.
Burpee Garden Company, January 2011

–I thought that this was interesting fact. I do know that when I put these beauties on the dinner table, everyone gets excited about how yummy and fresh they are and dig in!  It’s just another way to incorporate healthy eating habits into your day that is fun and interesting. Great way to get the whole family involved! Let’s be honest. When everyone in the house is on the same page, it sure makes it easier to strive for optimal health. As for the kids in the house, earlier rather than later is better for establishing healthy habits.
So, be the trend setter! Be a great role model for your loved ones and everyone benefits 🙂

I enjoyed a dinner out over the weekend that included this dish. All I could think was “I gotta try this at home!”
Roasted Veggie Ratatouille
1 eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
1 large zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
1 summer squash cut lengthwise into 1/2-inch slices
3 beefsteak tomatoes cut into 1/2-inch slices
Olive oil spray
Kosher salt
1 large red onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 yellow bell pepper cut into 1/2-inch dice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1)Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2)Put the eggplant, zucchini, squash, and tomatoes in 1 layer on a baking sheet or baking sheets, apply a thin layer of olive oil spray and sprinkle generously with salt. Roast until the vegetables are soft and pliable, about 20 to 30 minutes, turning them halfway through the cooking.
3)Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
4)Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and use olive oil spray on the bottom. When hot, add the onion, crushed red pepper and season with salt, to taste. Saute until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add both peppers and cook until soft, another 5 to 10 minutes.
5)Add the roasted vegetables to the pan along with the vinegar, marjoram, and thyme. Toss well to coat. Taste to check the seasoning and transfer to a serving platter or bowl.

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Exercise is not just for “Gym-Rats”

Most people know exercise keeps muscles strong. Did you know strong muscles burn more calories? Muscle mass is metabolically active tissue. The more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn even when you’re not working out! For each pound of muscle you add, you will burn an additional 35-50 calories per day. So, an extra 5 pounds of muscle will burn about 175-250 calories a day or an extra pound of fat every 14-20 days.
Mayo Clinic
This is good news for the “gym rats” , but what about everyone else? More good news!  Exercise comes in any form of movement. So, anyone can add muscle!  I always suggest finding an activity that you really enjoy. If you like the activity, it becomes more of pleasant way to spend time, there is never that psyching yourself out to get it done, and  in fact you may have to reason with yourself that you shouldn’t feel guilty, it’s good for you!  When it has become a part of your daily routine, (oops, there’s that habit word again) you actually feel weird when it gets missed.  So, what does that look like to you? Walking with your best buddy after dinner? That favorite sport you loved when you were young(er)? Or maybe taking up an activity that always looked like fun to you, whatever it is, you will be amazed at how it improves how you feel on the inside  when you take time out for yourself ❤
Some of you may think I’m from another planet, but I like to watch the food network while working out in my home gym. Maybe it’s some kind of extra incentive, or I maybe I just really like food. I’ve always enjoyed running and lifting weights. I never push so hard that it stops being fun, consistancy always gets me there! This sounded so good, I can’t wait to try it!!
Red Pepper Scallops
1 1/2 pounds large sea scallops
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lemon, zested
Freshly ground black pepper
4 large red bell peppers
1)In a bowl, combine the scallops, olive oil, lemon zest, and black pepper, to taste. Preheat the broiler or prepare coals for outdoor grilling.
2) Cut the bell peppers in half lengthwise and remove the stems, seeds, and ribs. If cooking in a broiler, place the peppers cut side down on a baking sheet.
3)Broil or grill the peppers until blackened, 6 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a paper bag, close the top and let steam for 10 minutes.
4)Remove the charred skins and cut the peppers lengthwise into 3/4-inch strips. Wrap a pepper strip around each scallop to cover completely, overlapping the pepper ends. Secure the strips by running a 10-inch metal skewer through the scallop and pepper.
5)Use 6 skewers; add scallops to each skewer until filled. Grill skewers over a medium-hot fire, turning once, until scallops are almost firm to the touch, 1 to 2 minutes on each side.(or cook under the broiler for about 3 minutes per side)

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Freedom of Choice-Happy Independance Day!


Isn’t that what we all want?  To have the freedom to decide what will benefit us the most? Life is always shaped by the choices we make. Whether we choose to work at a solution or ignore the problem, be active or sit around or maybe eat something that supports health or eat a snack that we will regret later. We are in control of life shaping choices.  Sure, there are always circumstances to consider, often getting in the way of what we are ultimately striving for. But, that’s just a part of the decision-making process. It still is in your control what the final choice will be under the present situation. I find this realization to be quite stress relieving. Take charge of my own life and put aside what is out of my control.

Then why do so many struggle to create healthy habits in their lives?  I think when someone is faced with the big picture they are over-whelmed, become defeated and choose to ignore the problem rather than take on the more difficult choices. (see, it’s always comes down to a choice!) I like this tactic. Break it down into small, manageable pieces. We are faced with hundreds of choices everyday. Take on one at a time.  Decide to stick to your weight loss eating plan for today. Easier choice then a whole week, since who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Tomorrow, choose again. Decide what activity is best for today. Tomorrow, choose again. After a week, you begin to establish habits that make each healthy choice easier!  Don’t look now, but you’re on your way to creating healthy habits in your life!  Day by day, one step at a time that big picture looks much smaller from this view looking back!  How empowered are you now that YOU are in control?  Daily choices are so much more manageable and accumulate into long-term results!

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Make your weight loss goals a team effort


For the few of you not familiar with the sport of cutting horses let me share with you what is vital to the sport. As you compete, you are supported by four helpers in the arena with you. These riders are experienced professionals there to work with you controlling your selected cow. (By the way, more fun than you can imagine!) This team surrounds you with support and can see so much more of what’s happening in the heat of the moment than you can take in. They encourage and support you to achieve success! Then, I have a special person on my team. A personal trainer in my corner who I have worked closely with getting prepared to achieve. She is a vital part in reaching my goals. As I compete, I rely and depend on her guidance. She instructs with patience and excellence when taking on an important task. Ultimately though, I’m still the one in control of the reins. I’m responsible for my own destiny. The key is to allow myself to be coachable. Just when I think I know so much, I find that I have so much more to learn! As coach and player we are on the same team with the same goals in mind. To WIN! Now, can you see why it’s the same for you? Your objective is an important one, reach your ideal weight and improve your health. By allowing yourself to be coachable, taking control of the reins, being responsible for your own destiny and surrounding yourself with caring people who support you, we all strive together toward your success!!!

 Here’s a recipe the whole team will enjoy! Just make enough for everyone 🙂

Chicken Cacciatore

  • 6oz. skinless,boneless chicken thighs (or breast)
  • 1/2c. package dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1/4c. boiling water
  • 1tsp. olive oil
  • 1/4tsp. salt /dash black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1tbsp. minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4c. canned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4c. fat-free, less sodium chicken broth
  • 1tbsp. water

1) Combine mushrooms and boiling water in a bowl, cover and let stand 30 minutes. Remove mushrooms with a slotted spoon,finely chop and set aside.Strain soaking liquid into another bowl (using sieve or cheese cloth) Discard solids and save liquid. 2) Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet over med-high heat. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and cook 4 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. 3) Remove chicken, lower heat and saute garlic 2 minutes until golden brown stirring constantly. Add 1/2 of the parsley and cook for 30 secs. before adding soaking liquid, tomatoes, broth, and water. Bring to a simmer and return chicken, cover and cook over low heat until chicken is cooked through. 4) Move chicken and keep warm while you reduce sauce over high heat, about 5 minutes. 5) Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with remaining parsley. Since you only used 1/2 c. mushrooms, you can serve with another cup veggies or salad! Yummy!

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Health Takes Practice too.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit.

What are you good at? Chances are it’s something that you like doing and have practiced a lot. I have a daughter who is a very talented writer. When she was younger, she would spend hours reading and writing prose. She now has a career in writing and is constantly striving for perfection. Another daughter is a remarkable school teacher. When she was a little girl, she played school til her sisters ran away screaming. She spent years in school studying and now spends her time lesson planning. The kids all love her. Yet another daughter loves to bake. She is always making a mess in my kitchen trying out new recipes.  Guess what? She is great at it! (probably the reason that I am on a 5-1 plan every Monday 🙂 The common factor for each one is the thought that goes into what it is that they want to succeed at and the effort made. Nothing worth while comes without it.  I don’t ever want you to sell yourself short!!  We all want to be the best that we can be!!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      
— With practice I’m getting good at maintaining my best weight.  I get on my scale every day to check where I’m at. If I notice an upward trend, then I know it’s time to watch my choices of what to eat.  If a tempting snack that will continue my upwardness is the choice, I’m getting good at stop-challenge-choose.                                                                                                   

  STOP: What do I most want?  CHALLENGE: My best weight?  CHOOSE: The decision becomes simple and I reach for my favorite  low-calorie snack instead.                                                 

                                STOP: Should I eat what’s not on my plan? CHALLENGE: Will this take by body out of  fat-burning? CHOOSE: My goal is to keep losing, yum! I’ll make my favorite MR shake instead 🙂      It has taken practice, but oh so worth it.

You can have fun practicing in the kitchen too!  This one will surprise you. Who said “lean and green” had to be boring??
 Shrimp or Chicken Fried “Rice”
2-3/4 cup grated cauliflower
1/4 cup green onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tbsp plus 1 and 1/2 tsp Soy Sauce or a mixture of Soy Sauce and Teriyaki Sauce
3 eggs beaten
7 oz shrimp, cooked or 6 oz chicken, cooked and cubed
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
1)Marinate shrimp/chicken in 1 tbsp soy sauce for a few hours.
2)Cook eggs in skillet sprayed with a little bit of Pam. Scramble eggs until done, but still moist. Set aside.
3)In a wok or large skillet, heat 1 tsp olive oil if using chicken or 2 tsp olive oil if using shrimp and cook over medium high heat.Set aside.
4)Fry minced garlic with finely diced white part of onions for approximately 1 minute. Add grated cauliflower and fry for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
5)Add soy sauce, ginger, diced green onion tops, pre-cooked meat, and eggs. Stir to mix well and until browned a bit.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes very lightly over the top (optional). Stores and re-heats beautifully.Serves 2.

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