Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

Hi, Beautifully Nutty friends! I’m Kim from Hungry Healthy Girl, where I share my love for all things food and fitness. My recipes range from vegan to gluten-free to every once in awhile splurges. There’s something for everyone! Melanie’s blog is so much fun and I’ve been reading it ever since I met her at the Healthy Living Summit, this past September. I can honestly tell you, Melanie is just as much of a sweetheart as she comes across on her blog!

Picture from the Healthy Living Summit…. I’m in the front, second from the end on the left. Melanie’s in the middle in pink.

healthy living summit guest post kim

I was so honored and excited when Melanie asked me to guest post for her. And I’ve got a REALLY delicious recipe to share with you guys.  If you’re anything like me, breakfast is your favorite meal and a warm bowl of oats is the best, especially in the winter. And what’s better than a bowl of oats? How about cheesecake oats? Yes, please! The cottage cheese gives these baked oats the most wonderful cheesecake-like taste. I’m pretty sure Greek yogurt would work just as well, if that’s your thing, but I haven’t tried this.

strawberry cheesecake baked oatmeal

Baked oatmeal is such a handy breakfast too. I made this Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal on Sunday and it made enough for 6 breakfasts. Each morning, I just heated up my baked oatmeal with almond milk and added a drizzle of nut butter. I also experimented with adding in blueberries one morning and granola another morning…. both lovely choices.

strawberry cheesecake baked oatmeal

Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups old fashioned rolled oats, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ¼ cups milk, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • ¼ cup maple syrup, honey would work too
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract¾ cup cottage cheese, Greek yogurt may be a good substitute
  • 16 ounces fresh strawberries, sliced (reserve about ½ cup for topping your oats before baking)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. and spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with a natural cooking spray. If you would prefer your baked oatmeal thicker, use a smaller sized baking dish.
  2. Combine dry ingredients (oats, baking powder, cinnamon, salt) in a large bowl. Toss in sliced strawberries (reserve about ½ cup for topping).
  3. Beat eggs in a medium bowl and then stir in the rest of the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, maple syrup, cottage cheese).
  4. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer oatmeal to baking dish and top with the reserved sliced strawberries.
  5. Cover baking dish with foil and bake at 375 degrees F. for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes.
  6. Serve with your favorite oatmeal toppers. I enjoyed my baked oats with added almond milk and coconut cashew butter.

strawberry cheesecake baked oatmeal

I really hope you get a chance to give this Strawberry Cheesecake Baked Oatmeal a try. If you’re an oatmeal fan, you won’t be disappointed!

Be sure to come visit me over at Hungry Healthy Girl. I would also love to connect on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest!

Thank you, Kim for the delicious guest post! This would be a huge hit in my house!

Cute And Comfortable Fashion

Hi Everyone!  My name is Jennifer McFadyen and I am very excited to have the opportunity to share a little piece of me.  I designed Brunette Anthem to do what other blogs have done for me, inspire and motivate, so when my good friend Melanie, the amazing blogger of Beautifully Nutty, was nice enough to ask me to do a guest post for her, I of course agreed!

jen 1

Now that we are a couple of months into 2014 and it’s still chilly out, I thought what better than a cute weekend outfit that is comfortable but is a step up from your yoga pants?

If you didn’t quite stick to your New Years resolution and want to hide behind a pair of stretchy pants, try throwing on a your best leggings and this SheInside sweater.  It’s one-size fits all so you don’t have to worry about it fitting too tight.  It’s unique hardware adds a bit of sophistication to the cowl style neck, allowing you to get away with making it look like you put forth a little extra effort.

jen 5

Pair your leggings with a cute pair of booties and all that is left to decide is hair and makeup.  The sweater is great for any style of hair.  A high ponytail and/or bun, long locks or waves, you can’t go wrong.

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jen 2

Good luck to you in finding your perfect weekend attire that encompasses both comfy and chic.  Stay warm!

Thanks, Jen for joining me on BN today! When I met Jen at HLS this last year I was in total awe of her style. She always looks perfectly chic and absolutely gorgeous! Make sure to check out her blog BrunetteAnthem for more fashion tips and ideas!

Hope you are all doing well my friends!

Strength Training Tips for Beginners

Hello friends! My name is Caroline and I am so excited to be guest posting on Beautifully Nutty. Melanie and I met at the Healthy Living Summit in 2012 and have been inseparable, online friends ever-since.

me-and-caroline1

melanie and caroline

I live in Boston, MA and have been a personal trainer for the past 4 years. I just recently was able to pursue my passion for blogging and now work full-time as a fitness content writer for the Boston-based media publication, BostInno.

caroline

As I am still a personal trainer part-time, I work with clients that are just beginning their fitness journeys. With questions like “What are the best exercises?” and “How do I tone up?”, I felt the topic of strength training for beginners to be a great topic for my post. So let’s get right to it, this is your no-excuses, step-by-step guide to getting fit and ruling the weight room.

Strength Training Tips for Beginners

1. Don’t be afraid of the strength room.

All the time I see women too afraid of venturing to the “other” side of the gym. Whether it’s out of confusion or fear, we must begin to break that habit. Check out what your gym has to offer, you may be surprised by the variety of options they have. From Kettlebells to Bosu balls, modern gyms are typically stacked with the newest and coolest fitness gadgets. So go check it out, then move on to tip #2.

 

2. Ask. We won’t bite.

When I was working at the gym full-time, I was amazed at how many members would come in, walk around and then leave without so much as touching a piece of equipment. As a fitness professional standing in plain view, I grew confused as to why no one would ask me for assistance, for guidance. And then it dawned on me: people hate to ask for help. Well, I’m here to tell you, ask! You’re not looking to get a free training session, but a simple ‘what is what’ around the gym floor is a perfectly acceptable question.

 

3. Try a class!

Most gyms offer a variety of group exercise classes. From Zumba to bootcamp, these classes are a great way to learn new exercises and get ideas for your own workout. If you’re not feeling motivated, begin taking strength classes 2x/week so it becomes routine. When you feel confident you can train on your own, hit the floor with all the moves you’ve learned in class.

 

4. Don’t quit.

Speaking of motivation… the number one reason why people quit an exercise routine is because they aren’t seeing the results they want. Make sure you’re not only challenging your body, but also putting in the time and allowing for proper recovery. If you’re just starting off on a workout routine, go slow. Don’t bombard your body with two-a-days and logging millions of miles. You’ll burn out and most likely get injured. Like they say, slow and steady wins the race.

 

5. Recover, recover, recover.

After your workout it’s easy to put your feet up and call it a day. But before you hang on the couch or go sit at your desk, make sure you’ve properly stretched and fueled your muscles for proper recovery. Within 30 minutes of exercising, aim to take in a small serving of protein and carbohydrates. Hydration is key as well. If you’re not used to exercising, you’ll need to make sure you’re replacing the fluids lost during that sweat session!

Thank you, Caroline for those great tips. I am such a weinie when it comes to lifting weights with all the buff guys at the gym. I am getting better about it though! Love you twinie! ~Melanie

A Whole Lotta Thank Yous

Hey ya’ll!! I’m baaaaaccckkk! Dana and I got in last night at 10:45 pm from our anniversary vaca adventure. We were in three countries within a week and a half! Before I share any more details, I want to give a huge thanks to my guest posters for taking the time to write for Beautifully Nutty. In case you missed them:

Katie: How to Survive a Hard Run
Rebecca: Simple Meal Planning Tips
Jackie: Spicy Chicken Dip
Hailey: Decide to Be Happy, and Be

Dana and I had a seriously incredible and climate diverse vacation. It felt great to be together and to celebrate our two-year anniversary. Thank you for all of the anniversary wishes as well!

I am wiping my sleepy eyes this morning as I am slightly jet-lag going from west coast time back to central time zone. I know it’s only a difference of two hours but I’m sensitive to my sleep. You all know that by now. But waah wahh, I’m tired because I was on vacation. No one is going to throw a pity party for me that’s for sure!

I’m still working on gathering photos from my phone, Dana’s phone, and the camera, so the recaps are going to have to wait a bit but I thought I could at least share with you where I went.

We started the trip by spending a few days in Ucluelet and Tofino, BC on Vancouver Island, then we drove to Victoria, BC, crossed back on the ferry over to Vancouver, then Seattle, then down to California where we hopped on a three-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico.

Canada, United States, and Mexico. Not bad, huh?

We spent a lot of time in the car needless to say but we got to enjoy some incredible views along the way.

vancouver island

 

Not to mention some seriously windy roads through the mountains.

I just about lost it on our 2.5 hour car ride out to Ucluelet. It didn’t help I had come off of a day of travel with very little sleep, eaten a less than stellar veggie burger, and the icing on the cake of course is that I get motion sickness fairly easily. Again, waah waaah.

(I tried to capture the zig-zag roads)

vancouver

 

That’s about the extent at which I’m going to get into vaca today. I’m thinking I will spread it out a bit. I think it will take a few posts. Look forward to them!! :wink:

It’s always hard to come back after vacation, but at the same time I get very excited to get home and see Moose, and my family and friends again.

I want to give a huge thank you to everyone who took care of our Mooser baby while we were away. I can’t wait to see his huge puppy face!

moose

Dana (my travel agent and husband) did such an amazing job planning this trip for us. If you’re ever needing to book any type of trip, let me know and I can get you his contact information! Thank you, Dana for all of your time spent planning this awesome getaway for us!

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So guess what came to my door step the day before I left for vacation?

My Cosmedix prize! Remember back in September when I went out to New York for the Bethenny Frankel show and premiere party? I mentioned I had won a basket of $500 worth of Cosmedix swag. I anxiously awaited this basket of goodies and it’s finally here!

cosmedix cosmedix

 

I can’t wait to try it all out! Thank you Cosmedix!

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I didn’t do a whole lot of food prep for our trip, but one thing I did make was a batch of Katie’s nummy bars! These served as our breakfast for the first few days and were SO good! I looked forward to eating them every morning and will absolutely be making another batch in the near future. I may even try almond butter instead. We will see! Thanks for the tasty recipe, Katie! xoxo

katie's bars

 

I am feeling very out of the loop with what is going on in our world, in the blog world, and with my family and friends. Did I miss anything big? How is everyone doing? I’ve missed you all!

 

Decide To Be Happy, And Be

“Decide what matters most to you, and do it.

Decide who matters most to you, and make time to spend with them.

Decide to be happy, and be.”

Hi, I’m Hailey from On the Side of Nine to Five (http://onthesideblog.com) I’m so excited to be guest-blogging on Beautifully Nutty today.  I saw that Melanie was looking for guest bloggers on Twitter and immediately jumped at the opportunity.  I love Melanie’s blog and outlook on life.

A huge part of the reason that I started my blog was to help myself find my own happiness through experiencing the things that I’m passionate about….food [eating, it, cooking it, baking it], fitness, friends, family, and traveling.  This didn’t come easily.  I really had to gain some perspective and think about why I wasn’t as happy as I could be.  There were things weighing me down, and I needed to get rid of them, so I’m going to chat with you today a few [of the many] ways I found my happy and stay happy every day.

Over the past few years, I have seen a few ups and downs.  No, nothing has been extremely traumatic.  In fact, I am so lucky.  I have wonderful family and friends.  I have a great job and I’m healthy.  So what, you may ask, could I possibly have to be down about?  I couldn’t pinpoint it, but I knew that I wasn’t as happy as I could be.  I was so hard on myself about exercise and constantly comparing myself to others.  I was always on such a rigid schedule and the moment that got thrown off, I was in a bad mood. I was constantly wondering why I was so down and out, and I finally came to the conclusion that my (un)happiness had nothing to do with any external elements.  My unhappiness came from within.  It came from dissatisfaction and insecurity.

When I finally realized this, I knew that I was the only person who could make a change. I was responsible for being an active participant in my own life.  I was responsible for creating the person I want to be, and while I think there’s always room for improvement and self-reflection is SO important, I’m getting close.  Of course I have moments of negativity and self-doubt – wouldn’t it be annoying if I didn’t? But those moments are becoming less, and less, and I wanted to share with you 5 of my favorite tips for happiness:

1. [Please] Stop comparing yourself to others.  We, women in particular, are constantly comparing ourselves to others.  She’s prettier. She’s skinner. She makes more money.  She has better clothes.  She has a boyfriend. The list could go on and on.  Stop punishing yourself for what you think you aren’t and praise yourself for what you are – AWESOME.   And on the flip-side stop being so hard on each other.   If your friend is trying to eat healthy don’t guilt her into eating the dessert you ordered at dinner.  That crazy person on the subway or walking down the street, try not to judge.  You don’t know their story and they don’t know yours.  Let’s stand by each other.

happiness is

2. Be your own best friend. I’ve always been a bit of a social butterfly, and up until a few years ago I always had a boyfriend.  When my boyfriend and I broke up, college ended and I moved to a new city, my social circle seemed to be incredibly small, and I didn’t know what to do with myself.  I became introverted and felt depressed when I was alone thinking about how much I wish I had someone to share those moments with. But in reality I was spending 24/7 wit the person who knew me the best – me! When I realized that I’m alright to hang out with I valued my alone time so much more and started experiencing things that I never thought I’d do.  I started running more and I went to the museum alone.  I sat for hours in a bakery eating absurd amounts of pastries and reading.  AND I started my blog!

happiness is 2

3. Love what you do.  Find your passion and experience it.  Maybe it’s in your 9-5 and maybe it’s not.  It’s okay if you’re job isn’t your #1 passion, although you should enjoy being there at least a bit. Find something you love to do outside of work that you can throw yourself into.  Maybe you take up photography or painting.  Or maybe you feel best taking a long walk.  If you love to do something, make the time to do it.  You will thank you later. Oh, and don’t be embarrassed of these things just go do them. Make time for you!

4. Be Gracious. There are always bumps in the road, and we’ve all experienced those dips, but when you’re at the lowest of the low try to find your silver lining.  There are things that are good in your life, even if it seems like there’s a gray cloud following you around.  In an attempt to have more gratitude for the good things in my life, I take five minutes at the end of every day to write down 1-3 things (or more on a great day) that I am grateful for.  It seems like a small task, but taking the time to be grateful helps us realize that through the bad, life is good.

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5. It’s OK to Say No.  I used to stress myself out trying to make decisions based on what I thought would make other people happy.  I would do things I didn’t really want to do and go places I didn’t really want to go.  I love making other people happy, it’s something that makes me feel best, and it’s important to take other people’s feelings into consideration. But life is busy right? You have friends from all different groups and you feel pressure to make time for everyone and everything, right? Yes it is SO important to make time for the people in your life, but there are only 24 hours in a day. By the time you sleep and work you’re left with approximately 5 hours (unless you’re a morning person) to do whatever it is that you want to do. So tonight, you’d rather stay home and watch a movie than go out for drinks? Do it! [Just don’t do it every time]  You’d rather go out with friends than go to a movie with another, do it. So do your best to see your loved ones but make sure you’re happy in the process.
These are just a few of many things that work for me.  Everyone has their own formula for happiness.  But if you can do one more thing for me that will significantly contribute to your happiness…be confident.  Walk away from this post and take on the day because you can.

Oh – and share with me, what’s your formula for happiness?
xoxo

Hailey

Spicy Chicken Dip

Hi I’m Jackie from NachoAverageRunner ! I blog about fitness, healthy living, recipes, and fun! I’d love to get to know you! Stop on by!

jackie nachoavgrunner

When Melanie was looking for guest posts I knew this recipe would be perfect to share. Tis the season for football after all! Plus the holidays are coming and I don’t know about you but that means tons of parties and get togethers just around the corner! When I go to parties I love to contribute to help out the host! It also helps my waistline knowing that I can contribute something on the healthy side to have as an option!

As my blog name suggests, I love nachos, and all dips for that matter! I could eat them all the time! I love finding fun ways to lighten them up without missing out on flavor!

Enter in my spicy chicken dip! This dip is a crowd pleaser and easy to manipulate! You can add tons of variety to this and it is great! (Not to mention super easy!)

Ingredients:
Two cans of chicken breast or fresh pulled baked chicken (whichever you have time for)

1 packet low sodium taco seasoning

1 jar salsa- whichever flavor and brand you prefer!

1-2 cups reduced fat shredded cheese (feel free to add as much as you want depending on how healthy you want to make this)

jackie nachoavgrunner

jackie nachoavgrunner
Directions:
In a baking dish combine chicken, seasoning, and salsa and mix well.

jackie nachoavgrunner

Simply top with the cheese and heat through until it’s bubbling!  Seriously, I told you this was easy! Double the easy factor- bake in a disposable aluminum pan that you can leave at said party!!

jackie nachoavgrunner
You can serve this with multigrain chips, crackers, or fresh veggies like bell peppers! It’s great on it all! Leftovers are a great salad topper the next day too…. Not thy there will be any though!

I hope you enjoy this recipe! Thanks again Melanie!

How to Survive a Hard Run

Hello Beautifully Nutty readers!! My name is Katie and I blog at Running4Cupcakes. My blog follows my life and my quest for balance and healthy living. I blog about everything, but my favorite topics are running, teaching BODYPUMP and aerobics, being a new Mom, daily life, my latte addiction, crafts, new recipes, baking, and lots of pictures of Luke (my 17 month old) and Abby (my 8 year old collie mix). I am so happy to be guest posting for Melanie while she is out having an awesome vacation. I can’t wait to see pictures and read all about it!!

So, recently I had a super hot, hard 4 mile run. I don’t know if it was just one of those hard runs, if it is because it had been over a week since I pushed Luke in the jogging stroller, the heat, the humidity, my breakfast, or what?!?

katie running4cupcakes guest post

 

Do you ever have hard runs?

katie running4cupcakes guest post

Duh, right?

If you do any running, you know that hard runs are the name of the game, but how do you survive and push through?

Here are a few tips and tricks that I use to get me through a particularly hard run whether it is 2 miles or 20 miles. ..

*Disclaimer – if you are trying to get faster or improve your running times, sometimes, all you can do is push through those hard runs. . . but these tips might help make the run better.

1. Walk. Sometimes a quick walk break from 10-30 seconds can bring your heart rate down and give you a little breather. Perfect time to grab a picture too!!

katie running4cupcakes guest post

2. Slow down. If you are having a hard run, forget about your pace, forget about any time goals. Slow down, concentrate on your breathing and re-set your expectations. A hard run can sometimes be made easier if you just re-adjust your goals. . .

3. Run faster. Wait, what? Didn’t you just tell me to run slower? Yes, yes I did. But, if you are my husband and you are having a hard run, he will run faster so it is over faster. . . now, that doesn’t work for me, but it is an option.  :wink:

katie running4cupcakes guest post

4. Take a water break. Same principle as a quick walk break. Slow your pace down and grab a drink of water, stop to walk and take a drink or swing by that water fountain or 7-11 and take a quick break for a drink. This slows your heart rate down and provides some hydration.

5. Pick a new goal. So, when I am having a hard run, sometimes, I will push through and complete my goal number of miles, but there are sometimes when that just isn’t going to happen. And that’s ok. . . Not every run is going to be perfect, great, with fast splits and speedy pace. Sometimes, adjusting your mileage, hilly course, or amount of breaks that you take, can make the difference between todays run and tomorrows run.

6. Change up your music. I just heard a great tip on Hungry Running Girl about having a playlist only for running. So, you only get to listen to specific songs while you are out on a run. You don’t get burnt out on music, so, when a song comes on you can totally rock out or dance down the street, because you love it!

7. Call a friend. Or pick up a friend to run with! I usually run with my phone so if I get bored on a run or I want something to distract me, I phone a friend. I always explain that I am out for a run, so please excuse the heavy breathing. . . but normally friends are more than happy to chat away while you are cranking out the miles. Also, being on the phone makes you slow your pace so that you can talk while running too!

katie running4cupcakes guest post

8. Motivation, baby. I have a few key motivation phrases that I think about when I am pushing through a hard run. 1. What doesn’t kill you makes your stronger (thank you Kelly Clarkson!). 2. You never regret a workout 3. If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you. 4. Finish hard, finish strong.

9. You never regret a run. <—See #8 motivation quotes. I obviously use this one a lot. :smile:

katie running4cupcakes guest post

10. Reward yourself. I always always always think about what I am going to do when I get home. Anything from take a long hot (or cold, depending on season) shower, food I am going to eat, what I am doing later that day, etc. FYI cupcakes are always good rewards for running –> get it, running 4 cupcakes? :wink:

katie running4cupcakes guest post

And no matter how far your ran or what you pace was, you survived a hard run, and that’s something to be proud of! So, please don’t beat yourself up over it, it’s one more training run under your belt, or good workout for the day. And you are better and stronger because of it.

What do you do a get through a tough run or workout??

Tips for Starting a Vegetable Garden

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, we have officially begun our summer veggie garden. We planted tomatoes, bell peppers, mint, basil, thyme, and green beans. We plan to plant zucchini as well but since that grows relatively easy we will plant the seeds directly into the soil outside versus starting them inside first. Once the warm weather finally rolls around and there is no chance of freezing temperatures, we will transplant the plants into our outdoor garden. I’m already excited to start seeing sprouts!

indoor garden

Over the past couple of years we have had so much fun growing our own veggies in our backyard and enjoying the fresh taste of homegrown produce. Dana and I plan out what vegetables we want to plant and we draw out a plan for where will plant the seeds. This is our first year starting the plants indoors, and we are hoping that this will increase the chances of growing certain veggies that have failed us over the past years, namely bell peppers. We will see how it goes this year!

The following of this post is written by a guest blogger who offered to write about tips for starting up a vegetable garden. I happily obliged. I am super excited about this informative post topic! So without further ado, I present to you,

Tips for Starting a Vegetable Garden

Growing your own vegetable garden is a great way to save money and to eat a healthy diet all year round. You can control what goes into your food so that you only get pure, fresh produce, and you can save money while you’re doing it. Plus, you’ll feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment at having grown your own food.

Growing a vegetable garden need not be overly difficult or complicated. You simply need to know how to get started and you can learn the rest as you go along. Here are a few tips for getting started with a vegetable garden:

Supplies

Whether you decide to clear a stretch of land in your yard or you want to build a raised bed somewhere on your land, you’re going to need to buy a few supplies. Some supplies you may need include:

  • Pots for growing your vegetables or starting seedlings
  • Garden soil or potting soil
  • Top soil to enrich the native soil
  • Fertilizer (store-bought) or compost
  • Garden utensils such as spades and hoes
  • Seeds or seedlings

If you decide to build a bed, you may also need a raised-bed kit that you can buy from a nursery or the lumber to build it yourself. If you plan to grow climbing plants, you will also need to add stakes or trellises.

Type of Garden

There are many types of garden you can create, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are a few of the most common:

  • Square-foot garden. You build a box that is marked off into manageable square-foot spaces. This makes it easier to manage your garden space, but it also requires more work to set up.
  • Raised-bed garden. With this type of garden, you build a raised bed of pieces of lumber or by using a kit. The bed provides more nourished soil and helps to cut out weeds. However, again, this type of garden requires a lot of work to set up.
  • Container garden. Possibly the easiest type of garden to set up is a container garden. Just fill your pots with soil and plant your seeds. The garden is easy to establish and can be grown anywhere — even an apartment. The drawback is that you are limited in the type of vegetables you can grow by the size of containers you can source.
  • In-ground garden. Simply planting your seeds in a section of your yard that you have cleared of grass is an easy way to get started. The downside is that you will spend a lot of time fighting weeds and keeping the soil nourished.

The type of garden you choose to create should depend on your long-term plans, what you intend to grow, and how much work you are willing to put into creating it.

garden

(Garden photo from Melanie’s yard–they made this garden bed themselves)

Where to Plant

All plants need plenty of sunshine to thrive, but some need more than others. You will need to determine what you want to grow so you know where you need to plant your garden so that the plants get the amount of sun that they need.

Almost all vegetables require full sun to thrive and will need 6 to 8 hours of sun. Some vegetables that can do well in partial shade include almost all varieties of lettuce, spinach, and peas (if you live in a hot climate). For everything else, plan for full sun.

What to Plant

When you’re just getting started, it’s best to choose crops that are easy to plant and don’t require a lot of fuss. There’s a great learning curve to garden, and you don’t want to make it too difficult on yourself. Plus, you’ll feel discouraged if everything you plant starts to die.

Some plants that are known to be easy to grow include:

  • Carrots
  • Cucumbers
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Peas
  • Green beans
  • Tomatoes
  • Radishes

tomatoes

On the flip side, some of the hardest plants to grow include:

  • Corn
  • Celery
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Asparagus

Be sure to read about what’s required of each of the types of vegetables you would like to grow before you get started to be sure you are up for the challenge.

Starting a vegetable garden doesn’t have to be hard, but it does require that you do a little research before you get started. Before you know it, you’ll be off and growing a bounty of vegetables that will provide healthy foods for your dinner table all year long.

What are your tricks for growing a healthy and vibrant vegetable garden? Share your tips in the comments!

About the Author:

Bridget Sandorford is a freelance food and culinary writer, where recently she’s been researching cooking schools in Canada. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, painting and working on her first cookbook.

 

How to Make Beautiful Cupcakes

I received an email from a reader named Ivy who asked to write a guest post for Beautifully Nutty. Ivy works for a bakery called Little Bertha in Melbourne, Australia. I only wish these treats were a little bit closer to home because they look so nummy. They even have gluten-free treats! Anyway, I happily accepted her offer after she mentioned the topic she wanted to write about…

How to make beautiful, tempting, nostalgia-inspiring, flavour-inducing cupcakes!

Hazelnut & Cranberry Meringue Cake

Cupcakes are the greatest pleasure food. They are a beautiful, sweet treat which will give a celebratory and fun feeling to any occasion. They are probably the original party food. Making or choosing cupcakes is not the time to count calories or pinch pennies, because they are a pure escapist indulgence.

Part of the pleasure in a cupcake is that they are pretty and decorative, so you have to take aesthetics into account with your baking. Cakes and baked goods have such great potential to look pretty and rustic. Look for beautiful cake and baking inspiration on Little Bertha.

Get creative with your decoration and presentation. I love using unusual garnishes on the top of my cupcake icing like floral decorations, creamed sugar, marzipan, biscuit crumb, cream cheese, fairy floss, and desiccated coconut. You can use the presentation to your advantage as well, by using pretty cake display plates, cloths, and crockery.

Lamingtons

Themed cupcakes are great for celebrating special occasions, and make lovely little party favours. Using a sweet little filling, like jam or caramel, is a delicious surprise to get when biting into cupcake. Cupcakes, unlike curry, are not better the day after, so try and make them as close as possible to the time they will be consumed so they are fresh and soft and moist. Icing tends to harden when left out in the air.

Pistachio & Raspberry Teacake

Some of my favourite types of cupcakes right now are chocolate buttermilk, salted caramel, iced tea cupcakes, pistachio and rapsberry, and lamington cupcakes. But really, you should just have fun inventing your own!

Who wants to go bake some cupcakes?!

Calcium & Bone Health – More Than Just Milk

Hey Everyone! My name is Kailey and I write for a blog called The Caffeinated Runner.
kailey
First off, I am so happy to be writing a guest post for Melanie. Her blog is pretty epic :smile:

Anyways, a little bit about myself – I am a junior majoring in Dietetics at Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) I have a huge passion for all things fitness and nutrition related. I’ve run 4 half marathons and 1 full marathon. Currently, I am training for my second marathon in April! Bone health in endurance athletes, artificial sweeteners and product development are just a few things I could talk your ear off about.

Maybe your mom was onto something when she forced you to finish your glass of milk with dinner. If you are anything like me, finishing that tall, white glass of milk was a chore. Since I was very young, I have hated milk. However, there is no denying that calcium is vital for bone health.

By the age of 20, most women have peak bone mass. Yet, this isn’t always the case for most women. With the media telling us to remove the cheese to remove fat and calories, many women ages 19 to 30 aren’t getting the suggested 1000 mg of calcium. By not getting enough calcium in our diets, there is an increased risk of osteoporosis, which means porous bones. Osteoporosis sets women up for fractures later in life.

To ensure you don’t develop this debilitating condition, loading your diet with calcium is key! Dairy products like low-fat cheeses, low-fat or fat-free yogurt (yes, this includes Greek yogurt too!) and/or low fat or fat free milk are fabulous sources to maintain bone health. Top your yogurt with some almonds and you’ll be getting a double dose of calcium! Vegan? Dark green leafy vegetables, such as broccoli, kale and bok-choy, offer up good doses of calcium. Additionally, calcium fortified foods are a great backup. Don’t go loading up on calcium rich foods and a supplement just yet. Our bodies only absorb a maximum of 500 mg in one sitting so it is best to space calcium rich foods throughout the day.

Calcium isn’t the only mineral that aids with bone health. Vitamin D, which comes mainly from the sun, is critical for the absorption of calcium. Magnesium has also been shown to help bones absorb dietary calcium. Make sure you aren’t eating too much protein or high sodium foods. These two nutrients rob our bones of calcium and are excreted via the kidneys.

However, it is important to note that food isn’t the only way to build good bones. Weight bearing exercise, such as walking, hiking, running and dancing, all helps with reaching peak bone mass.

Sources:

http://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/everyone/basics/vitamins/calcium.html

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/

http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Bone/Bone_Health/Nutrition/#a

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Thank you Kailey for that great information! I hope everyone is doing well!

xoxo, Melanie