Five Things Friday

Happy Friday!! I don’t know about you, but this week totally flew by for me. Another gloriously relaxing weekend is upon us, or at least for me!

Let’s kick this weekend off with a five random things Friday.

1. I actually cooked up a nice vegetarian meal last night! Hint: it involved spaghetti squash. The recipe will be up on the blog next week!

spaghetti squash

 

2. I thoroughly enjoyed our little early November snowfall we had this week. It was so light that most of it melted quickly and it didn’t mess up the roads and make for crazy traffic. It was just pretty and really got me into the holiday spirit!

first snow of the season

 

3. As much as I love my smoothies, now that the weather is permanently chilly, I am no longer wanting my cold smoothies in the morning as often. I’ve been into the two ingredient pancakes and hot oatmeal this week!

smoothie

 

oatmeal

 

4. On Tuesday I got together with my girlfriend Courtney at People’s Organic in Edina for a hot beverage and some major catch-up time. I got the morning elixir which was hot water, lots of fresh lemon juice, agave nectar, and sea salt. It made my mouth pucker the slightest but it was so enjoyable! I want to try to recreate it at home. As always, it was so great to be with Courtney. She is a ray of sunshine and such a good friend.

people's organic

5. I am completely in love with scarves. This is not a new thing. When fall rolls around I am thrilled to reach for my fun scarves and use them as accessories to my wardrobe. They are so cozy yet don’t make me feel claustrophobic like a turtle neck does. I might have to add some new scarves to my birthday list! :smile:

caroline melanie dana and melanie

 

Have an amazing weekend my friends! xoxo

Questions of the day:

1. What is your main squeeze breakfast these days?

2. What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

What I’ve Been Eating Lately: Random and Tasty

It’s been a while since I’ve caught you all up on what I have been eating lately. I will warn you that my eats have been completely random. I have been veering away from the cold salads more often in place of something warm like soup or quesadillas.

Thank you to Jen at Peas and Crayons for hosting the What I Ate Wednesdays!

WIAWbutton

Here it goes!

Gluten-free pasta with mom’s spaghetti sauce. NUM!

gluten free spaghetti

Cheese quesadillas with salsa.

gluten free quesadilla

Organic tomato soup with extra cracked black pepper.

tomato soup

Homemade veggie dip made from cottage cheese, ranch seasoning, and Italian seasoning packets–the Ninja Ultima was perfect for this job!

homemade cottage cheese veggie dip

Veggie plate with veggie dip.

veggie plate

Grass-fed beef burger with Monterey jack cheese.

burger

Acorn squash with turkey bacon.

squash

Oatmeal for National Oatmeal Day!

oatmeal

More quesadillas, this time with black beans and avocados too!

quesadillas

Loads of berries (recycled photo)!!

driscolls berries

Baked strawberry oatmeal bars.

IMG_4310

I told you…completely random, but TASTY!

What have you been eating lately?! 

Food Photos Vacation Style

Happy Friday! Yay!

As you may know, I love food and I enjoy taking photos of my food. I decided to round up the rest of my food photos from my recent vaca to show some more of my eats while I was away.

Starting with our in flight breakfast of steel cut oats, fresh berries, and a bagel with jam.

In flight lunch…not my favorite chicken, not my favorite noodle dish, cooked veggies, an awesome greek salad, whole wheat roll, and cheesecake. I really enjoyed the salad and the bread, which ironically ended up being the theme the rest of the trip.

Some of my meals from our all-inclusive hotel, Celuisma, in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. You may have seen a couple of these photos from my previous posts.

A lot of veggies….

Creamy oatmeal and fruit…

Awesome omelets made by one of the hotel’s wonderful chefs, “Sixto”.

Fajitas from the Mexican-themed restaurant.

Kabobs from Kokomo’s, which is their restaurant on the beach.

A few of the many desserts…

More veggies…

A fish called Mori from the Caribbean-themed restaurant…

Tasty fresh rolls and breads…

Rice and beans…

Black bean soup…

I didn’t take photos of all of my meals and realize I neglected to take one photo of my four pasta meals I had while I was there. Not very authentic I am aware, but they had a build your own pasta bar nearly every night and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Mmmm carbs. My body had to have been so confused with the changes in my diet. I loved every second of it.

That wraps up most of my vacation talk. Now that it has been almost a week since we came home, it’s back to reality! I need to start getting creative in the kitchen. I’ve been slackin’.

Have a great day!

Monster Cookie Makeover

Happy May Day everyone!

How about I start your month off right with a recipe for COOKIES! I am a cookie monster, and I happen to LOVE monster cookies.

I decided to put my own spin on a recipe for monster cookies to lighten them up a bit. Here is what I came up with!

Monster Cookie Makeover

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups oats
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F
  2. In small bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, salt, and oats. Set aside.
  3. In large bowl, cream together peanut butter, yogurt, and sugars.
  4. Beat in vanilla and egg.
  5. Mix in dry ingredients by hand.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Drop cookies about 2 inches apart onto cookie sheet lightly coated with cooking spray.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Um, yum. How do you like that? I cut out a whole stick of butter. You’re welcome. I had made my dough over the weekend and shaped it into a log in plastic wrap, placed in the freezer, and that way I could bake the cookies whenever I wanted them. When I was ready to make the cookies, I removed the dough log from the freezer and sliced it into 2 inch wide cookies, about 3/4 inch depth.

Note: I did not let the cookies thaw before cooking them in oven so the cooking time took me more like 12-15 minutes. If I were to do this again, I would let the dough thaw before baking.

I placed them on my cookie sheet, popped them in the oven…

and came out with delicious gems.

A little non-conventional looking, but hey I like to be different and the most important part is that they taste good (and they are healthier compared to the standard monster cookie). MMmmmm…nom nom nom.

ENJOY.

Double Chocolate Oat Cookies

Yesterday was a good day. I started the day off right by heading to the gym to hit the treadmill for some fartlek training.

Fartlek is interval training where you adjust speeds throughout your run, which challenges your internal functions to keep up as they are in charge of making major adjustments when varying from slow, to fast, to moderate paces.

I varied my run from a moderate paced run, to a slightly uncomfortable pace, to a sprint, then recovered for 1 to 1.5 minutes before starting it all over again. This constant change in pace means a constant change in heart rate. Research shows that this type of workout can also speed up the metabolic process post-workout, which means more calories burned throughout the rest of your day post-workout.

I don’t feel comfortable going further into the science behind “fartlek” runs, because I am certainly  not an expert, but I do know these types of runs can be very helpful when training for longer runs. They tend to keep me very entertained during runs as well and make the time fly by.

After the run, I hit up a few arm weights and core strengthening, then headed out to run a bunch of errands. I think I found a bath mat for the new bathroom downstairs that I’ m going to keep. The bathroom is 95% done!

I also tackled more laundry, stopped at the library to check out two books for my upcoming trip (!!), cleaned up the house, put photos in frames, and cooked a big batch of 32-bean soup for dinner.

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Cookies, cookies num num num

The other day, I had a hankering to bake and a chocolate craving. What’s a girl to do? Why, head to the kitchen of course and get busy. I took this cocoa cookie recipe, and revamped it. These are cookies that you don’t need to feel guilty about. They are low fat, are made with whole wheat flour, and are fairly low in sugar (c0mpared to other chocolate chip cookies). Check out the recipe.

Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 Tablespoons egg whites, or egg white from 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. In medium bowl combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, use electric mixer to cream together oil, yogurt, sugars, and cocoa powder.
  4. Beat in egg whites and vanilla.
  5. Add flour mixture, until combined.
  6. Stir in chocolate chips.
  7. Use a tablespoon to drop dough 2 inches apart onto baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  8. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until almost set. Remove, let cool. ENJOY.

These cookies are not super sweet but they do a great job satisfying any chocolate craving you may be having. I decided to freeze the majority of the dough and then I will just be able to bake up one or two cookies if I get the urge. I adore warm right out of the oven cookies when the chocolate chips are melty and gooey.

Have a great day!

Healthier Reese’s Recipe, Now Hide the Sweets

Yesterday morning I woke up not feeling the slightest bit hungry. It may have been the larger than average meal I ate on Easter Sunday, but I was actually surprised I wasn’t hungry being as we ate lunch/dinner, “linner” at about 2:30, and didn’t eat much the rest of the day.

Nevertheless, I knew I needed to eat something before heading off to work, so I whipped up a classic. A heap of blackberries and raspberries, topped with Fage o% Plain Greek Yogurt, and finished off with a drizzle of honey. It was light, refreshing, and a healthy way to begin my day.

Hunger finally set in at lunch time. I had packed leftover pulled chicken mixed with celery, carrots, pickles, and mustard, a big baggie of carrots and sugar snap peas, an apple, string cheese, and a Lara bar. That held me over well until dinner time.

After work I headed to the gym. I began with 10 minutes on the elliptical, then moved to the stair master for 10 minutes, before hitting the weights. I was not in the most motivated strength training mood but knew I would feel good once I was done. I have been saying that a lot lately, huh? Anyway, I focused on legs today but really didn’t get too crazy: some leg presses, calf raises, leg curls, and that was it.

Dinner last night was not very impressive (can you tell it was a tired Monday around here). I snacked on some more sugar snap peas as I deliberated what to make for dinner, realizing that we are running low on groceries. I decided on a wrap similar to a Greek one I had made not too long ago, but this time with a few less ingredients.

Lawash Brand Whole Wheat Flatbread, hummus, feta cheese, and avocado.

Super simple, lots of great flavors, and enough to keep me satisfied for a while. Now, with such a simple dinner, how is it that I manage to injure myself, whereas I can make elaborate dishes involving copious amounts of chopping and go unscathed? I managed to get in a fight with the pairing knife while trying to twist out the pit of the avocado.

The one ingredient I needed to cut in this whole dish, and I managed to splice my finger open in the process. I got a little woozy but Dana kept me calm as I ran it under water and then put pressure on it. He bandaged me up and of course I am fine, but it did hurt and it’s always scary. Dana to the rescue. I can be a little dramatic.

After dinner I had a few million Easter treats. It was my “Fat Monday.” I decided I had one more day to enjoy a bunch of my Easter treats before I put them away in the freezer for a while. They are now zipped away in a ziploc freezer bag in the freezer, in the garage. That’s what we have to do around here to keep our sticky fingers off the candies.

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This may seem a little backwards considering I just told you I hid all of my Easter treats, but I wanted to share a delicious recipe with you all for a treat I made last Saturday.

One of my all-time favorite candies are Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, however they aren’t the most figure-friendly candy. I wanted to find a healthier version of these delectable treats without sacrificing the wonderful peanut buttery flavor. I stumbled upon a recipe for healthier Reese’s eggs, I put my own spin on it, and this is what I came up with.


Healthier Reese's Eggs
Print
Ingredients
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • 3 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • ⅓ cup PB2 prepared
  • ¼ cup light maple syrup
  • 1 cup oats
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 8 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, combine milk and chia seeds and let sit for 10 minutes.
  2. After ten minutes, combine chia seed mix with remaining ingredients except the chocolate chips; mix well.
  3. Shape mixture into small eggs, and place onto baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
  4. Once eggs are chilled, begin melting chocolate chips in the microwave, stirring every 20 seconds until completely melted.
  5. Roll "eggs" in the chocolate, covering them completely in the melted chocolate.
  6. Place them back onto the parchment paper. Decorate with sprinkles if desired, and return to the refrigerator. Allow chocolate to set before serving. Remove from fridge 15-20 minutes or so before serving.

 

The inside of these eggs are soft yet chewy with the perfect amount of sweetness and peanut butter flavor. The chocolate on the outside of the egg adds a semi-sweet touch that balances the bites perfectly.

Peanut Butter + Chocolate = Soul mates

They may sound a little off the wall being that they have chia seeds in them, but I’m telling you they are awesome! You don’t need a special occasion to make them either.

Give ‘em a whirl!

Now, the candy and treats are all stowed away, and I refuse to fall back onto the sugar train.

Anyone eat any delicious treats this past weekend? I would love to hear from you. Sharing is caring!

Keeping Sugar Intake Under Control: Mind Over Matter

Happy Good Friday to you all!

After work yesterday I headed to the gym. I rowed on the row machine for 5 minutes as a quick warmup, then headed to grab some free weights. I headed to the back to my favorite area of the gym for privacy, and plowed through the Pyramid Arm Workout. I don’t think “plowed” is necessarily the most accurate term to use though, because that makes it sound like it was a piece of cake for me when in reality, this was pretty challenging for me today. I was feeling exhausted with low energy. I always figure though, at least I’m doing something which is better than nothing.

Dinner last night came together in a pinch thanks to the help of the crock pot. At lunch break, I placed two chicken breasts in the crock pot (without any seasonings) and set the crock pot to “high” as it was already lunch time, and wasn’t going to have quite as long of a time to cook as usual. I love the crock pot because you set it, and forget it!

When I got home from the gym the chicken was cooked through in the crockpot. I removed it and placed into a round bowl, grabbed two forks and began shredding. I removed about half of the shredded chicken, covered it, and refrigerated it for use another day. This is the reason I don’t like to season the whole batch, because I like to use it in several different dishes. The other half of the chicken was for our dinner.

I mixed the chicken with KC Masterpiece Original Barbecue Sauce and placed it on top a bed of baby kale, diced tomatoes, diced avocado, red onion, cilantro and corn.

I then added reduced fat shredded cheddar cheese and Newman’s Own Lite Honey Mustard. I have made this combo before and I must say, I really struck gold again. This combination was fantastic! My inspiration for this combo was from a salad I had eaten at Famous Dave’s that was loaded with pulled chicken and honey mustard. NUM!

After dinner we headed out to run a couple of errands. We needed to buy another photo album for our wedding photos because we ran out of room on the first one. Is it bad that it’s been six months since our wedding and our wedding photos still aren’t all in an album yet? Meh.

After errands I plunked down in front of the computer because I needed recipe ideas. I told mom I would bring desserts and a fruit salad to Easter Sunday at their place. Yes, you read right, DESSERT. I haven’t had dessert since February 22nd, when Lent began. It has been great to get my sugar intake under control again especially after the holidays. My body does not crave sugar like it used to.

When re-introducing sweets back into my life, I am going to continue to be very mindful of my eating, and want to make sure not to fall into an over-indulging of sugar stage again.  I will need to remember to keep sweet treats, indeed a sweet treat every once and a while, not a sweet snack everyday. Knowing me and my sweet tooth this will probably mean keeping sweets out of the house for the most part, and if I really have a hankering for something , I will have to go out and buy it, which will slow me down.

I don’t want to “crave” sugary treats and I have a big vacation coming up in a few weeks which involves being in a swimsuit. I am hoping this motivates me to stay smart. My goal is to keep my sweet tooth under control, and it’s mind over matter.

Anyway, after browsing many photos and recipes, and drooling on my shirt, I think I have decided on two recipes, possibly three that I will be making.

1. Chocolate Caramel Bars or Carmelitas; something like these

2. Lemon Bars

3. Homemade Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (I haven’t for sure decided on this one yet)

I thought these all looked so good! I could waste so much time looking at recipes and food photos. I find it so fun and relaxing. I am such a foodie.

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Breakfast this morning was cinnamon flaxseed oatmeal with bananas and PB2. I added in a small amount of egg whites towards the end of the cooking process to add more protein to the dish. I decided to top it off with a little bit of maple syrup. It was muy delicioso.

Now, my computer is really starting to test my patience so I think this post needs to come to an end. I hope everyone has a beautiful Friday!

Green Lunch, Cute Pup, and a Coupon

Moose says, happy Wednesday friends.  This is his model pose. He is giving you the puppy eyes. He’s really good at the puppy eyes. He also says not to make fun of his mom for the terrible title of this post today. She couldn’t quite get the creative juices flowing this morning.

Yesterday morning I ran three miles before heading off to work. I was excited for lunch because we had work meeting which involved a lot of food. If you remember back on Valentine’s Day we had a red food themed lunch meeting when I brought the apple nachos. This time we had a St. Patrick’s Day theme and everyone was supposed to bring in a green food. Our work group tends to get pretty creative when it comes to our food. I sneaked a photo (don’t mind the terrible lighting) of the hodge-podge of goodness.

Mixed green salad, broccoli salad, tortellini salad, tuna salad, asparagus wrapped in ham and cream cheese, sugar snap peas, green grapes, and not pictured was split pea soup, green bread, and pistachios. What a healthy lunch right? I am always impressed by our group and our potlucks. I brought sugar snap peas with a peanut soy dipping sauce. I simply mixed peanut butter, hot water, and soy sauce. This sauce is really good for a topping on chicken lettuce wraps too.

When I got home after work, this box was waiting for me on the kitchen table. I ordered Dark Chocolate Adora disks from iHerb a couple of weeks ago and they have arrived. Adora disks are a delicious way to eat your calcium. I love the dark chocolate flavor but they also have milk chocolate. I NEVER forget to eat these babies. :smile: I also ordered Bigelow Vanilla Caramel Tea because I thought it sounded good. It was an impulse buy. Why not?

COUPON CODE

Now, guess what? Because ordered products from iHerb.com, they want you to give them a try too. They offered a coupon code for me to share with friends and family. Enter the coupon code CIJ134 at check out when you order products at iHerb.com and you will receive $5 off your first iHerb purchase. Also, any U.S. orders over $20 receive free shipping! They offer a large variety of products on their site.  I have been happy with them so far, so feel free to browse their site and see what you think for yourself.

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This morning began with a trip to the gym where I ellipticaled for 35 minutes while catching up on Runner’s World magazine. I have a stack of magazines piled to the ceiling so I took this opportunity to start cracking down on the pile. I really love reading magazines, it’s just finding the time that is sometimes the tricky part!

Once I got home, showered up, I poured myself a tall mug of coffee and made a bowl of oatmeal.

On the stove top I cooked 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup almond milk, ground flaxseed, and cinnamon. I cooked this mixture until it began to thicken then added in about 1-2 Tablespoons of egg whites, gave it a stir, cooked for another 30 seconds and removed from heat. I poured the oats into my bowl and topped with PB2, bananas, and a tiny bit of maple syrup!

Oh yea, that’s the stuff.

I am off to finish getting ready for work, and pack my lunch. Have a great day! It is going to be beautiful outside. Wish I could be out there all day!

I’ll leave you with a funny shot from last night. Moose was so exhausted he couldn’t even keep his tongue in his mouth while he slept.

Awww…..it is a rough life, right Moose? You hang in there, buddy.

 

Let’s Be Positive

G’ morning. I had a twinge of a feeling that this morning was not going to be the easiest of all mornings to wake up especially considering we had such a great weekend getaway. I am trying to stay positive though. I did a little food prep last night and got my breakfast in the fridge so that I would have one less thing to worry about in the morning.

Last night, I mixed together 1/4 cup oats, 1/4 cup non-fat greek yogurt, 1/4 cup almond milk, 1 tsp chia seeds, 3 Tbsp frozen blueberries and a little bit of stevia for added sweetness. I stirred until combined, covered, and set in the fridge to work together overnight.

This morning I simply removed the oats from the fridge, added a dash of almond milk, gave it one last good stir, topped it with some blackberries, and dug right in. I got this idea from reading other health blogs like Julie @pbfingers. Great idea!

My last attempt at “overnight oats” failed miserably. I must not have gotten the proportions wrong or something because it tasted just blah to me. This time however, it was so creamy, sweet but not too sweet, and wonderful. It was a cool and refreshing way to start the day. I redeemed myself.

I have decided that on Mondays, I want to post something positive, because I have a really bad relationship with Mondays. So, my positive for today is that I had a great healthy breakfast this morning, and even better, it was prepared the night before!

Let’s get through Monday together. What is something positive you can say about your Monday? Sharing is caring!

What to Remember When Contemplating Morning Workouts

I am slowly but surely getting acquainted with the new phone. The alarm was set super loud this morning which definitely woke me up fast. I set it for 5:30 am with the intention of getting up and working out first thing.

The alarm went off, I fumbled to figure out how to turn it off, and then laid in bed for four minutes playing the contemplation game with myself like I usually do. After four minutes, I rolled myself out of bed and got moving. I will say that is the hardest part for me of getting a workout in before work; the initial getting out of bed part.

I dress up in my workout gear with my eyes closed and stumble down the stairs. I begin my treadmill workout with a walk, to start to get the blood flowing and to wake me up. Before I know it I am increasing the speed and eventually crank out 3 miles at an easy slow pace. As I was running I was thinking of all of the reasons why I like to run before work. I decided I needed to write these down, and maybe print them off so that I can look at them while I am feeling like I don’t want to get out of bed.

Reasons why I like to workout in the morning before work:

  • It means I don’t have to workout AFTER work
  • It gives me extra energy throughout the work day
  • It helps me to make healthy food decisions
  • It jump-starts my metabolism and helps me to burn more calories throughout my day
  • It gives me more time after work to hang out with the boys or get things done around the house
  • It gives me more time to RELAX after work
  • I get to start my day knowing I did something great for my body

Reasons why I don’t like/it’s hard working out in the morning:

  • I like to sleep
  • It is dark in the morning
  • It is cold outside of my warm bed
  • The thought of heading down to the gym seems torturous sometimes

There’s no comparison! The reasons why I like to workout before work totally outweigh the reasons why I don’t. Who would have thought? I know that once spring rolls around and it is a little bit warmer outside and when the sun starts rising a little earlier again, it will be easier. The winter is always hard in Minnesota. We have been very lucky so far with a mild winter though! I really can’t complain about the weather.

After my run I made myself a bowl of creamy pumpkin oatmeal.

In the mix:

  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 teaspoon ground flaxseed

Microwave for 2 minutes watching carefully for explosive messes in the microwave. Remove, add stevia and cinnamon, mix. Top with a Tablespoon of PB2 and a drizzle of light maple syrup. Devour. I am off to start my day. Workout complete and all!