Tips for Successful Meal Planning

It’s no secret that to be consistent in healthy eating habits takes work and planning. But it doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it sounds! Tips for Successful Meal Planning

Here are some resources I use that make my weekly meal planning something i conquer quickly instead of dread.

#1) Repeats!
When it comes to breakfasts, snacks and lunches I pretty much eat the SAME things every day. I may have 2-3 options, but that’s it. It may take a little time and work to find the perfect two or three healthy breakfasts YOU love, but once you have them, you can make them on auto-pilot.

Some of my breakfast favorites are: overnight oats, scrambled eggs (with kale, or tomatoes, or cheese), sweet potato pancakes (if I have more time on the weekend) or 3 ingredient pancakes. My husband LOVES yogurt with granola and on weekdays Shakeology.

Some of my favorite lunches are: wraps, salads in a jar, or leftovers from the night before!

Some of my favorite snacks are: almonds, sweet peppers or baby carrots with hummus, apples, a small sweet potato, and Shakeology.

#2) Disciplined use of Pinterest
Pinterest is a no-brianer! So many great meal ideas, easily searchable and recommended by other friends! The key with Pinterest is to not get overwhelmed. Stay disciplined! If you know your budget allows you to buy whole chickens and lots of lentils, search JUST those recipes – don’t get distracted looking at yummy steak and salmon recipes. Once you PIN something, go back through your ‘recipes’ board and PRINT the ones you want to try THIS week! Getting the recipes off of Pinterest helps me not to get distracted and to keep my mind focused ONLY on what I need for this week!

#3) A Simple Planner
I’m a paper person. Writing out my meal plan and keeping it on my refrigerator just works for me! I don’t need a lot of bells or whistles, so this is the planner I use: Weekly Meal Planning Sheet

I don’t necessarily cook Tuesday’s meal on Tuesday, but at least I know I have enough healthy ingredients for every night of the week.

#4) Cut Yourself Some Slack
When I was first planning new healthy meals, I would pick the most delicious looking, beautifully intricate meals I could find. Only to discover I could not add SO many new, involved meals into my rotation all at once. Try to keep it simple. Maybe add 1 new meal a week or check out my @5ingredientgourmet instagram for simple meals that only require 5 ingredients. Cut yourself some slack and don’t expect to go from 0-60 in 5 seconds!

Hope these tips help make meal planning easier for you. I would be the first to admit, I am NOT a structured person, I often deviate from the plan, but at least I HAVE a plan, and it makes a WORLD of difference.
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Click here for more of my recipes and meal plans!

5 Simple Foods to Prep

So, you’ve made it out to the grocery store and back with all the foods you need for your week. That is NO small feat! Trust me, I know. Now what? How do you ensure that you eat all of that food, it doesn’t go bad and stretches the whole week to feed your family?

–> PREPARATION <–

It’s not as crazy as it sounds, and even though I was resistant to it for SO long (you’re telling me I have to add MORE work to my life?) I realized that by spending an hour or two on a Sunday evening, when everything was peaceful, I could watch a show on Netflix and my kids were asleep – would SAVE me SO much work and hassle during the week when things were crazy – now I’m a HUGE fan.

This list is what I ACTUALLY did last night. It’s based on this 21 Day Fix meal plan I shared yesterday, and it took me less than 2 hrs. *including* clean-up.

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Hard Boiled Eggs-
Place 8 eggs in a pan of water. Place on the stovetop and turn the heat to high. As soon as the water starts to boil, take off the heat and put a lid on the pan for 12 minutes. Transfer the eggs to a bowl of ice water until the eggs cool, then drain the water and place the eggs in the fridge. They will keep for about a week.

Chicken Breasts –
Place 5 large frozen chicken breasts into a pot of water. Put on high, boil the chicken breasts for 20 minutes. Remove from stovetop and cut the chicken into cubes, strips or shred it. You will need to add seasoning – I usually throw this chicken into a stir fry or some other meal, where it will get the seasoning it needs.

Sweet Potato –
Wash a large sweet potato. Poke it repeatedly with a fork and place in the microwave. Cook for 5 minutes, if it is a very large potato add another 3 minutes. When cooled, skin will peel off easily and the potato will be easy to mash.

Quinoa –
Rinse the quinoa and add to a rice cooker – add two parts water to one part quinoa plus a few Tbs. Olive oil and Salt. Cook in rice cooker until done.

Salad in a Jar –
Pour 2 Tbs. of your favorite dressing in the bottom of a mason jar. Throw in chopped hard veggies (grape tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli) then add your lettuce. Close mason jar and place in the refrigerator. Salad will last up to a week. (I have a full post on this elsewhere in my blog)

So, there you have it. That’s what I spend last night doing, while laughing with my husband as we watched the last season of How I Met Your Mother on Netflix. It was pretty easy – and didn’t feel too much like work.
This morning I had plans to meet my sister at our local children’s museum with the kids. I was able to pack a lunch and snacks for me and the kids and be out the door by 9:30am – no sweat!

If this list seems overwhelming to you – cut it down, just pick 2 or 3 things and prep them on the weekend. I promise you will LOVE getting the work (and mess) out of the way!

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21 Day Fix – Grocery List at Aldi/Trader Joes

This is my ACTUAL grocery list and items I bought and what I paid for them – TODAY.

I enjoy these types of posts from other bloggers, but living in Miami, I would often find the prices other people posted were WAY lower than what I could find in my local stores. So, for all you Miami peeps (or anyone else living in a more expensive city) this one’s for you!!

I shop almost exclusively at Aldi. I can’t ALWAYS find what I need (as you will see from today’s trip) but thank goodness Trader Joe’s just opened up about 5 minutes from my house, so I was able to pick up a few things that Aldi didn’t have. (Side note: Is it common to have police hanging out at a typical Trader Joe’s opening, or is that just a Miami thing – ok enough about how crazy Miami is…back to the food).

Here is my meal plan – It’s only for the work week (Monday – Friday), because on the weekends, we either have meals with family, eat out or do leftovers.

Week of Clean Eating Meal PlanHere’s my shopping list from this week
(any items with an * by it, means I don’t include that in my meal plan, but I get those items for my husband and kids):

Dry Goods:
– Oatmeal (already had some)
– Almonds
– Brown Rice (already had some)
– Quinoa
– Crackers*
– Whole Wheat Bread
– Honey Nut Cheerios*
– Tortilla Chips*
– Tortillas (already had some)

Produce:
veg-
– Cabbage
– Artisan Lettuce
– Spinach
– Kale
– Broccoli
– Mushrooms
– Sweet Potato
– Grape Tomatoes
– Baby Carrots

fruit-
– Bananas
– Apples
– Cantaloupe
– Grapes
– Lemon

Protein-
– Chicken Breasts Frozen (2 bags)
– Ground Turkey (2lbs)
– Chicken Thighs (6 pieces)
– Turkey hotdogs (2 packs of 10 dogs)

Dairy-
– Eggs (3 dozen)
– Cheddar Cheese
– Almond Milk
– Whole Milk (1 gal)*
– Vanilla Greek Yogurt*

Other-
– Coconut Oil
– Non-stick cooking spray
– Jell-o*
– Frozen Strawberries
– Canned Peaches*

Total Price (Coconut Oil, Quinoa and Cabbage were purchased at Trader Joe’s everything else was purchased at Aldi)
$98.11
Screen Shot 2014-06-25 at 2.45.51 PM
What you will notice missing from this list: Juice, soda, cookies, box mixes and many types of snacks. My kids snack on fruit and the 1 box of crackers lasts the whole week. For dessert I make this delicious ‘frozen yogurt’ just from frozen strawberries, frozen bananas and greek yogurt.

Some of the dinner recipes are on my website, most of them are new ones I’m trying out this week, and I will be posting them every night this week on my instagram – so if you want to join along (you will be one day behind me) – you can take this list to the store and be ready for all my meals! (I will also eventually get them up on this blog too!)

I hope you found this helpful, this is TRULLY – 100% what I bought this week, and how I plan to eat. It doesn’t have to break the bank to eat healthy, and tomorrow I’m going to blog about how I do an hour or two of prep on Sunday nights (while I watch a show on Netflix) and that makes throwing dinners together or grabbing lunch (Salads in a Jar baby!!) super quick and convenient.

Make sure to subscribe to this blog so you don’t miss any of the recipes!

A Day in the Life: Mom + Beachbody Coaching

I’ve gotten several questions from people asking how I do it all. With three kids ages 4 and under, none of whom go to school or daycare, I can honestly say, although I LOVE it, there isn’t a moment of the day from 7am (or earlier) to 8:30pm (or later) that someone (or several someones) isn’t needing something from me.

So how do I fit being a coach into my life? It’s taken me some time to figure out the balance (in fact, time management is something I stunk at in the beginning) but I have worked really hard to get better at it! So here’s your sneak peak into my crazy life!

Screenshot 2014-09-17 07.31.575am, the alarm goes off. Now, full disclosure, I give myself until 5:20 to get out of bed. I don’t know why 5:20 is the magical number, but it is. So 5:20 I’m out of bed and I grab a glass of lemon water and start reading. I need to feed and awaken my spirit before anything else. At 6am I close my Bible and other books and lace up my Nike’s and push play. 30 minutes later, my workout is done. From 6:30-7am I check in with my challenge groups on FB and, because I take time on the weekends to plan out my tasks, I look at my calendar and see which other task I have for the day, and get it done (today, it was blogging!).
Screenshot 2014-09-17 07.29.15
By 7am my kids are up and I am full time mommy, giving good morning kisses, changing diapers, getting everyone dressed, breakfast made etc. I love breakfast time because it’s a time where the kids and I read a little devotional, I ask them questions about their dreams and we plan our day.

After breakfast I take time to play with the kids – whatever they chose for that day (yesterday it was My Little Pony and construction trucks), I have found that by giving them undivided play time right from the start, instead of rushing off to do dishes/chores/or other tasks, they feel secure in my love and attention and later on they are content to play alone.

The baby goes down for a nap between 9-10am and that’s when I let the older two watch a 30 minute show so I can shower/make my bed/clean breakfast dishes. After the show I try to tackle one of my chores and invite the kids to help (more often than not, they decline and end up making other messes while I clean).

If I don’t have a playdate or errands to run, we have reading time and “school time”, I’m doing a very simple preschool curriculum (if you want to follow along, I have a fb group of preschool mommies and I post the activities for each week). Before you know it the baby is awake again and it’s time for lunch.

After lunch I put my 2 year old down for a nap and (usually) the baby is ready for his 2nd nap too. I let my 4 year old have a little TV time and I jump back into Beachbody mode. I use this time to find inspirational quotes, answer any questions people have about challenge groups and check in with my coaches. Sometimes I’ll post a recipe or photo to my instagram.

Photo on 9-12-14 at 4.09 PMOnce that half an hour is over I take time to enjoy one on one time with my son. I really enjoy spending time alone with him playing with legos, or super heros, or doing a special craft that is too complicated for his younger siblings. I also try to get a little more cleaning done (those extra messes he and the other two were making while I did my morning chore) and try to connect and encourage some of the ladies that are in my small group at church.

Once again, I feel like the time FLIES and the younger two are awake from their naps and it’s time to start thinking about Dinner. I bring out some blocks or puzzles in hopes that they will play alone while I cook, but there are always minor fights to break up or the baby is getting into a drawer that I didn’t even know he could open.

Finally – my favorite part of the day: DADDY’S HOME. Although recently, my husband has been finishing up his Master’s Degree and his classes have him studying till late in the night, but he tries to make it home at least for dinner.

Dinner and baths and bedtime and the day is finally over – at least for my mommy job. Evenings are what I look forward to the most because that’s when I get to devote a FULL hour to Beachbody. I used to collapse on the couch, turn on a show and pass out, but my work with Beachbody energizes me. I get to do a little more strategy and research if there is a challenger who isn’t getting the results she wants. I get to dive a little deeper into personal development and work on areas where I am weak, I get to have more conversations with people who are interested in coaching and help them build their own business.

So, that’s how I fit it all in. It’s something that even if you worked a 9-5 I think you could do. It takes being focused, it takes a little hard work, but I don’t feel like it takes away from my time with my kids, or consumes my life.

I love what I do. As a stay at home mom, although my job is incredibly fulfilling – it is also physically exhausting and at the same time, not the most mentally stimulating. I love how Beachbody coaching fits into my life. Giving me something to pour my mental energies into, while still being present with my kids. A lot of times I’ll get an idea for a blog post or FB post while building a block tower, and I’ll grab my iphone and open voice memos and capture it for later. I also love that I can connect to other women without having to be away from my kids all day.

If this opportunity is something you have considered, but felt that you couldn’t make it work with your schedule, contact me! I would love to chat about what YOUR day looks like, and help you strategize and give you the tools to be an amazing mom and still be able to contribute to your family’s income, without feeling overwhelmed.

There’s even more info on coaching on my website – and since I just finished building it, you should at least go there to see how pretty it is 🙂

“Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” – Tips for Staying Healthy

Lately, I have been examining every area of my life – filled with a desire and craving to be a better version of myself and capture the potential of each moment. Time management has always been difficult for me, and I hated letting time get away from me because when you have a lot you want to do for your health, for your family and for others, the last thing you want is to not be able to do something because you ran out of time.

Busy Mom's Get Fit

Here are some things I have learned in my time management journey:

#1 – Prepping Food Ahead of Time Keeps You Eating Clean
Setting aside an hour and a half on a Sunday night to prep a few sides, a few main dishes and a breakfast makes the rest of my week a BREEZE. I love that I can prep the foods when it is convenient for me! Because let’s face it, 5pm on a Wednesday night is not a great time for me to try to chop all the veggies for my fried rice! And when you think about it, the reason we eat foods with a lot of preservatives is because those foods have already been prepared for us!! So when we get home from work starving and exhausted we don’t have to start from scratch, but if you do the prep yourself ahead of time then it’s just as quick during the week and WAY more healthy.
—-> Here’s a video I made with a little more information on the value of food prep.
—-> And no discussion of food prep would be complete without a link to my FAVORITE thing to prep: Salads in a Jar

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#2 – Keep it Simple in the Kitchen
I am a foodie and I LOVE exotic flavors and playing around with new tastes, and there is a time for that, but when things get busy you have to simplify. Simple doesn’t mean bland or boring! In fact, I started an instagram account that features delicious recipes that only take 5 ingredients but are full of flavor and texture. When your season is busy, it might be time to put away the complicated casseroles or gourmet creations and stick with some more basic dinners – I promise you they can be just as delicious and satisfying.
—–> Follow me on Instagram to get my 5 ingredient recipes!

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#3 – Work (out) Smarter Not Harder
It’s no secret that High Intensity Interval Training (or HIIT) is not only the latest and greatest, but SO incredibly effective. If you don’t already know, High Intensity Interval Training is a type of workout that is shorter in duration but higher in intensity. Going hard for 1 minute or 45 second intervals and then taking short breaks actually gives a MUCH better workout than going for a moderate pace for a much longer time. If you are trying to capture every moment and make it count then you HAVE to be doing workouts like this. There are several free ones on You Tube or Apps. My favorite are Beachbody workouts like 21 Day Fix, PiYo and T25 (common, who doesn’t have time for 25 minute workouts?!).

#4 – Hydration Check!
When I get busy, one of the first things that I COMPLETELY drop the ball on is my hydration! I can sometimes go an entire day with only a glass or two of water. I just don’t think about it! There is this great app called iDrated that will set off alarms throughout the day to remind you to drink enough. I love it and it keeps me on track even in the busiest of days!

#5 – Get A Support System
The busier life gets the more I am tempted to put my health on the back burner. To convince myself that it’s selfish to spend time on myself and my health. I NEED someone who cares about me to support me and remind me why I’m doing this and that it is a worthwhile investment of my time! Find a friend or make me your free coach. We all need someone in our corner, especially when things get busy, to tell us that it’s OK to take 30 minutes for a brisk walk or workout.

I have decided that this is the perfect time to offer my “Ain’t Nobody Got Time for That” Challenge.
A FREE week long challenge starting September 8th that will run on Facebook which will focus on 30 minute (or less) healthy dinners, tips and tricks for planning ahead of time, snacks that are healthy and easy to grab when you are on the go and a 5 minute workout assignment each day!

Click Here to join the group – I look forward to getting to know you and working together to improve our healthy – even when life is busy!

aint nobody got time

How I Spend My Day

This past week, from Monday to Friday I took the time to track how I spend EVERY SINGLE hour of my life. I have a lot on my plate and I was constantly feeling like I wasn’t spending enough time with my kids, keeping the house clean enough, reaching out to my friends enough, doing a good enough job as a coach and so on. I wanted to see what exactly I was doing with my time so I could find areas where I could be MORE productive and to see if how I spend my time was reflective of my priorities. 

What I found was pretty shocking. 

I am working REALLY hard and doing EXACTLY what I should be doing. 

This was shocking to me because I OFTEN go to bed at night regretting my actions of the day. Feeling like I didn’t spend enough time with my kids or on my business. Or discouraged over how dirty the house is or how I just can’t seem to lose those last few pounds.

Seeing that I really DO spend my time well showed me that I am judging my productivity based on meters that are unreliable. You see no matter how many hours I spend playing with my kids, they are always going to want more – one more story, one more game. No matter how many hours I spend coaching, my to do list will always be FULL of things. And, perhaps the most discouraging of all, no matter how many hours I clean, the house will always be dirty. 

If I judge myself based on the kids, my to do list, or the crumbs on the floor I will NEVER win or feel like I am doing good enough. But this past week, when I looked at my day and where I spent my time – I fell asleep EVERY SINGLE night full of peace and satisfaction. 

My heart with this post is to encourage each and every mom who worries that she isn’t doing ENOUGH – you are! In fact…the 2 glaring omissions in my day: Time for rest (not even 30 minutes in the 17 waking hours that I documented) and time for my husband. 

So, where I expected, after this week, to find that I wasn’t doing enough things, I’ve actually come to find out that I need to do just a little bit less. Relax and feel content in the things I am doing. Take 20 minutes to make myself a cup of coffee in the middle of the day and flip through a magazine (ok – I can’t see myself doing that at ALL, but maybe I need to try).

My challenge to you – go through your day, honor your priorities and don’t let the cries from your kids or the dishes in the sink tell you how you are doing – you are doing enough. <3

Diet Accountability

Tonight is DATE NIGHT! I am incredibly excited! Knowing that I am probably going to splurge a little bit tonight is GREAT motivation for me to be mindful of my diet today. Actually, if I’m being honest, the past couple days have been a little sloppy when it comes to my diet. 

Whenever that happens here’s what I do:

#1 Take a look in the mirror and remind myself that even though I’ve come far…I still have a ways to go (I have been rolling around some thoughts in my mind about the balance between being grateful for your progress but staying hungry for more – but that’s for another post)

#2 Start writing down EVERYTHING I put in my mouth. 

Here is a little guide that you can put on your fridge and let me tell you, this SIMPLE action will really help you clean up your diet. 

WEEKLYMEALPLANSHEET (1)

Enjoy!

>>Weekly Meal Planner<<
>>21 Day Fix Meal Tracker<<

Healthy Eating on Auto-Pilot

Eating plans are all well and good – but everyone has their own unique tastes and I personally would always get turned off by an eating plan the minute I came across an ingredient I didn’t like.

To save time and money, most people choose 1 or 2 breakfast options, 1 or 2 lunch options, 2 or 3 dinners, and 2 or 3 snacks and repeat them the whole week through.

Get your prep done on Sunday and your healthy eating will be on auto-pilot.

Download and print this Healthy Eating Formula to help you put everything together.

Healthy Eating Formula

 

Here’s a sample of what I do:

Breakfast Options
2 eggs | whole wheat toast with almond butter | 1 apple
Shakeology with almond milk | 1/2 banana

Lunch Options
Salad in a Jar
Turkey Wrap with hummus and greens photo 1

Dinner Options
Miso Glazed Salmon with Brown Rice and Broccoli
Spiced Ground Turkey with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Green Beans

Snack Options
12 Almonds
Apple with almond butter
Baby carrots with hummus

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Here’s what you can prep ahead of time:
Brown Rice
Portion baby carrots and almonds
Roast Sweet Potatoes
Make salads in a jar

Sample grocery list:
Bananas
Apples
Baby Carrots
Lettuce
Grape tomatos
Broccoli
Green Beans
Sweet Potatoes
Hummus

Whole Wheat toast
Whole Wheat wrap

Almonds
Almond Milk
Eggs
Almond Butter

Brown Rice
Salmon
Ground Turkey

Salad in a Jar

 

 

 

 

 

I don’t know what I would do without Salads in a Jar. 
Actually I do. I would be eating handfuls of goldfish or chocolate chips just to get my stomach to stop growling. 
I would be cheating my body from the life giving raw vegetables that it needs. 

Salads in a Jar let me prep a week’s worth of salads (complete with dressing, protein and greens) in about 30 minutes and keep them in the fridge. When it’s time for lunch and the kids are screaming and I’m starving, I unscrew the bottle, dump it, and lunch is served. 

They are portable – great for taking to playdates and even birthday parties (guard yourself against pizza and cake). 

You can fill them with whatever ingredients you like but the formula is the same. 

Start with Wide Mouth Mason Jars. (I found these at Target and LOVE them, makes it so easy to get the salads out of the jar)

 

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Pour in your favorite dressing

 

photo 2 Add grape tomatoes (chopping larger tomatoes adds too much liquid)

photo 1Add other ‘hard vegetables’ (here I have shredded carrots, but mushrooms, broccoli, any other hard vegetables will do)
photo 3Add protein and cheese (this layer is optional – of course – In these salads I have turkey bacon and cheddar cheese. I would suggest not putting egg salad or tuna or other very fragrant protein options…better to store these separate and add them when you are ready to eat…but cold cuts and chicken breast strips or some shredded rotisserie chicken are all good options)
photo 2Top with greens
photo 1Mine usually keep for a full week. 
Enjoy!

Bone Broth

IMG_20140707_113959 I would probably not believe you if a year ago you told me that I would be making Kale smoothies for my kids for breakfast while a batch of bone broth was being made in my crock pot.

It’s funny how even the tinniest of baby steps can move you so far!

Last night I was roasting a whole chicken in an effort to do some meal planning for the rest of the week. After cutting all the meat off I remembered a friend telling me about bone broth and how amazing it is for your health. I decided to look it up. Turns out all I needed to do was put the carcass (meat, skin and all) into a crock pot, cover with water and add a Tbs of vinegar. Let it cook on low for 12 hours and you’ve got it! (I already had some celery and onions in the chicken carcass from roasting it, and that adds a lot of flavor too). Just like that I have a nice batch of bone broth.

I’m actually doing it again – with the same carcass…I just re-covered it with water and put the crock pot back on again.

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10 Benefits of Bone Broth

1. It heals a leaky gut. The gelatin in bone broth protects and heals the mucosal lining of the digestive tract and helps aid in the digestion of nutrients. If you have damage due to eating gluten bone broth can actually reverse the damage and heal you. 

2. Fights infections such as colds and flu.   A study published in the journal Chest shows eating chicken soup during a respiratory infection reduces the number of white blood cells, which are the cells that cause flu and cold symptoms.

3. Reduces joint pain and inflammation.   The glucosamine in bone broth can actually stimulate the growth of new collagen, repair damaged joints and reduce pain and inflammation. 

4. Produces gorgeous skin, hair and nails. The collagen and gelatin in bone broth supports hair growth and helps to keep your nails strong.

5. Helps with bone formation, growth and repair. The calcium, magnesium and phosphorus in bone broth helps our bones to grow and repair.

6. Saves you money. Homemade bone broth is cheaper and healthier than store bought.

7. Super easy to make. All you need is a crockpot. Throw all of the ingredients into the crockpot and it cooks while you sleep.

8. Healthier than buying supplements. Homemade bone broth contains all nutrients and minerals found in bones and tendons rather than just one or two found in pills. Slow cooking preserves the nutrients better than the high heat extraction used to make supplements.

9. Fights inflammation. Bone broth is very high in the anti-inflammatory amino acids glycine and proline.

10. Promotes sleep and calms the mind. The amino acid glycine found in bone broth can be very calming.