My February Fitness Challenge

Happy February 1st! What?! That blows my mind.

You know what else blows my mind? The fact that I stuck with an entire month of the January 30 Day Abs Challenge. Just a reminder, the challenge was to complete ab circuits which were given to us weekly, three times a week and to try to do a plank for at least one minute on the off days. I think throughout the entire month there was only one day where I didn’t do the plank, besides that I stuck with it entirely.

What amazes me is how much our bodies can change in just one month. I noticed a significant change in the strength I feel in my abs and not only in my abs but in my legs and arms as well. The circuits involved our entire body which I appreciated so much.

If this is what can happen in a month, imagine what could happen during a longer time frame. This was just the push I needed to begin including core work not only more frequently into my workout routines, but more heavily. I know now that I can be pushed further than the ab workouts I was doing before this challenge. I am so glad I accepted it!

However, I still have a lot of work to do. I really like setting monthly goals and fitness challenges because one month isn’t daunting, it isn’t intimidating, and it keeps me focused on a particular activity for a month.

In an effort to continue building up my strength, I have decided to make a fitness challenge for myself for the month of February.

February Fitness Challenge

  • Incorporate strength training activities into my routine three days a week–this can be free weights, simply using my body weight, weight machines at the gym, fitness classes which include weights,workout videos, etc. and will target different areas of the body. I will continue to mix in my cardio when I please and complete at least a one minute plank daily.

There it is. I know I have mentioned it before, but strength training is my weakness and it’s something I am always wanting to improve upon. I know the benefits and can feel the benefits, and I want to continue my journey in the right direction. I’m a little nervous about this one because I really don’t want to fail, but hey, it’s only 28 days!

Bring it on February!

And now we’re going to back track. Yesterday I let myself have my peanut butter and banana breakfast. I’m still working towards “livening” up my breakfasts.

banana and peanut butter

Mid-morning I crunched on some snap peas and a clementine.

snacks

And for lunch I ate a big salad with mixed greens, chicken, avocado, peas, sunflower seeds, and hummus. Dessert was an apple.

After work I headed over to mom and dad’s to hang out. Right away I threw back a handful of baby carrots and a few almonds, but then wanted to get a quick workout in so I got changed, completed my “last chance workout” from the 30 Day Abs Challenge, and then finished with 20 minutes on the elliptical.

Then I got to the hanging out part of my visit.

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For dinner I had requested some sort of red meat. I realize I hadn’t had any in a really long time and don’t mind it every now and again. We had surf and turf (steak and shrimp), a big ol’ salad, and green beans. I made myself a side of honey mustard dressing for both the salad and the steak made from Dijon mustard and honey. I loved that stuff.

surf and turf and salad

It was a great dinner and felt so nice to be cozy and warm with madre y padre. It was ridiculously cold last night and continues to be extremely cold today.

Later in the evening I came home, fed the pup, and called it a night.

moose

I am constantly amazed at the size difference when I go from being with Abbie, an 11 lb Yorkie Poo, to Moose, a 90 lb German Shepherd. Just a little bit of a size difference there. 😉

Okee doke friends. I am OUT of here for now. I definitely have some fun plans on the agenda for the night. Catch up with you later gators.

Question of the Day: Do you have any fitness challenges planned for February? If so what are they?

Catching Up on Weekend Eats

Happy Tuesday!

Since I kind of dove deep yesterday into the topic of curbing my sweet tooth, I didn’t get the chance to share the rest of my kitchen adventures with you from the weekend. Even though it’s already Tuesday, I still want to catch up. There’s no better time than right now!

My Weekend Eats

On Saturday I broke out the food dehydrator. I sliced up fresh bananas which I rolled in melted coconut oil, and frozen strawberries which I thawed in the microwave and sliced thin, and placed them on the dehydrator trays. I let them go for 7 hours.

strawberries in dehydrator

The bananas came out great as they always do, but the strawberries were just kind of ‘meh’ to me. They are good, just not goooooood. I still enjoy them though!

dried strawberries

For dinner Saturday night I had not a clue what I was going to make. After taking inventory in the fridge and freezer, I pulled out a bunch of veggies and got chopping. First I sliced a whole lot of brussels sprouts into shreds. I sprayed them with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roasted them for about 20 minutes in the oven.

roasted brussel sprouts

In the mean time, I sautéed carrots, onion, mushrooms, and one garlic clove. In a separate  pan, I cooked two strips of turkey bacon.

sauteed veggies

Once the veggies were nearly done on the stove top, I added pre-cooked brown lentils to them, added a pinch of savory seasoning, salt, and pepper, and gave it a good stir.

Once the brussels sprouts were done roasting and the lentils were warmed through, I began plating. First, the lentils and sautéed veggies, next the roasted brussels sprouts, and finally, the icing on the cake, the turkey bacon cut into confetti pieces.

brussels sprouts and lentils brussels sprouts and lentils

This dish was outstanding! There was so much flavor, it was very hearty, and it was full of stick to your ribs soluble fiber. I LOVED it. Dana gave it two thumbs up as well.

Sunday

I already showed you my breakfast in yesterday’s post, so moving on to lunch. After running our normal Target and Costco errands, and grabbing a few nummy samples along the way, I wasn’t that hungry for lunch, but since Dana and I still had more errands to run, I knew I had to eat something to hold me over.

I threw together a salad made of mixed dark greens, blueberries, feta cheese, and almonds.

salad with blueberries

I more than likely ate some dates for dessert. In the afternoon I made homemade cinnamon honey almond butter and you better believe I had to be taste-testing along the way. 😉

Sunday evening dinner was sesame soy salmon. I marinated the salmon in a mixture of low sodium soy sauce, sesame oil, dried ginger, one minced garlic clove, and honey for about one hour. We grilled it on the stove top inside, about 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through. I cranked the windows open, turned the vents on high above the stove, and still wound up with a house that smelled like sesame salmon. I’m anxious for the weather to warm up just even slightly so we can grill outside again.

The marinade gave a nice crispy crust to the salmon which was what I was hoping for.  Salmon is one of those foods that I hope grows on me. I’m just not a huge fan…yet. The plan is to eat salmon once a week, in hopes that I will start liking it more and more. It is just so darn healthy and I don’t want to be missing out on that! I didn’t like red wine at first, but I kept trying it and now I love it so I’m hoping for the same effect. We shall see.

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We began a very exciting project around our house on Sunday. We are “remodeling” our laundry room. I use the term loosely because technically in order to remodel something it has to already be modeled, right? Well ours isn’t. Ours wasn’t even fully sheet-rocked yet. It needs a lot of TLC and that is exactly what we’re giving it.

We will be painting the walls, tiling the floor, putting sheet rock up on the necessary walls, and we will be reorganizing. Our basement is completely unfinished except for the bathroom which we completed last year (whoops except I still need to decorate one wall in there).

This is one more step in the right direction in finishing that basement and I am ecstatic about it. Once we have the laundry room completed, I will be sure to show you before and after photos. Mission laundry room!

One last thing. Since it is now the 4th week of January, that means that there is a new workout posted in the 30 Day Abs Challenge. Here it is!

week 4 abs

I can’t believe it is the 4th week in January already. Did this month even happen? I say that every month! I am still keeping up with this challenge and am feeling very good. I will be sure to update you on any progress I made throughout the month once the challenge comes to an end. 🙂

Have a fabulous day!

Questions of the day: What health goals have you made recently? What are your goals for future months?

I am thinking I may need to find another fitness challenge for the month of February. I love how these monthly challenges motivate me and I enjoy the support of other people partaking in the challenge. I like to set goals and reach those goals!

Peanut Chicken Salad

 Is anyone else doing their Friday happy dance?! HAPPY FRIDAY my friends! strong

So guess what? Yesterday, I did it again. No peanut butter for breakfast! That’s because I was saving myself for dinner but more on that in a sec. I should also mention I did have banana with pb for breakfast on Wednesday. I am trying to scale back just a little bit for real.

But yesterday I had another Greek yogurt bowl that I had put together and refrigerated the night before.

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For lunch I had carrots, cucumber, a banana, and a nice big salad with tomatoes, black beans, olives, feta cheese, and hummus.

salad with hummus

I made a quick stop at the gym on the way home from work and then had a sweet and juicy snack once I got home…

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Then I got ready for dinner. We had our friends Adam and Stacy over for dinner last night and on the menu: Oriental Peanut Chicken; recipe courtesy of Dana’s mom.

We switched it up slightly and used quinoa instead of rice.

quinoa

We sautéed two chicken breasts, broccoli, onion, carrots, and mushrooms…

oriental chicken

Next we drizzled the sautéed chicken and veggies with homemade peanut sauce and gave it a good stir. This is why I saved my peanut butter consumption for dinner time. This sauce is gold it is so delicious. I may have to ask my mother-in-law if I can divulge the recipe to you all. 🙂

peanut sauce

And lastly to put it together: one heaping layer of romaine lettuce chopped into shreds onto a large serving platter, next layer on the quinoa, then the sautéed veggies and chicken, and finally top with fresh chopped cucumbers.

oriental peanut chicken oriental peanut chicken

!!!! It was so good!!! Our company was pretty great too! 😉 We had such a fun time with them as always. I get an extra wrinkle line each time we hang out from laughing so much.

I hope you all had a great week and are looking forward to the weekend as much as I am. I am off to an appointment, then work, and tonight we are celebrating Betsy’s birthday! We don’t have too much planned for the weekend but one thing I know for sure is the rest of the Christmas stuff is coming down (our wreaths are still up–whoops) and the few Valentine’s Day decorations that I do have are going up! Woooo!

How long do you keep holiday decorations up before getting crazy tired of them and taking them down?

10K Training Plan & Other Fitness Challenges

Hello world! The weekend came and went as fast as I can say Happy Holidays. The holidays are now in full swing. We had an annual holiday party with our friends on Saturday which was a blast. I gave the camera a rest for the night however so you’ll just have to take my word that it was a great party full of lots of laughs, great food, and great friends.

The last time we caught up was on Friday, so it’s time to play catch up from Friday night, Saturday and Sunday. So here we go!

Friday Night

On Friday we went over to my mom and dad’s (and Kev too) to watch our wedding video with them. We laughed, some of us teared up, and really enjoyed reliving the memories of our wedding day together.

Mom made us gluten-free spaghetti noodles with red sauce that had italian sausage, mushrooms, onions and spinach. It tasted SO good and I could not tell the difference in taste or texture between gluten-free and ordinary pasta. We also had a side salad—can’t forget about the greens!

Saturday

I had my standard pre-run breakfast of banana and peanut butter before Dana, Moose, and I hit the road for a 3.5 mile run.

The training plan for our 10K on January 1st is such:

  • Mon: cross-training and/or strength train
  • Tues: 3 mile run
  • Wed: cross-train and/or strength
  • Thurs: 2 mile run
  • Fri: rest or cross-train
  • Sat: week 1—3.5 mile run; week 2—4.5 mile; week 3—5.5 mile; week 4—6.6 mile; rest or short run; then the 10K!
  • Sun: rest or cross-train

The weather has been pretty unpredictable around here. On Saturday morning the temperature was around mid to upper 30’s and now this morning the thermometer says it’s 49º F outside! It’s supposed to drop down again later in the week but I am loving the warm for as long as I can get it.

After our run we made a stop at Caribou Coffee for their BOGO 20¢ deal. We treated ourselves to the Light Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Mocha. That was the same one I got in Atlanta and once again, it was like taking a bite of dessert each time I took a sip. Amazing.

We continued our journey over to Minneapolis to pick-up our bibs and race gear for the 10K for early packet pickup.

We even got to meet a local meteorologist, Ken Barlow, who was volunteering at the pick up! As you can see in the photo I was a tad bit excited about it.

Once we arrived home I made myself a simple fall salad with mixed greens, pear, feta cheese, walnuts, and poppy-seed dressing.

After some food prep, and errands, we said good-bye to the pooch and headed out to the holiday party for the evening.

Sunday

Brunch: sautéed onion with chili beans topped with cheese, a runny egg, tomatoes, and avocado. Outstanding.

Next on the agenda was flipping through the Sunday paper, coupon cutting, vegging on the couch, and watching the Vikings lose.

I managed to get myself on the treadmill for 35 minutes while I watched Elf on ABC Family’s 25 Days of Christmas. I also completed some reps for a current challenge I’m participating in…

Courtney of Sweet Tooth Sweet Life is hosting a 2012 Closeout Workout Challenge. The challenge is to complete 2012 reps of exercises of your choice by the end of 2012. After day 2 I have 1,837 reps to go. I figure it’s worth a shot, even if I don’t reach 2012, I was still doing extra activities daily that I wouldn’t normally do. It’s a great motivator for me to do more strength activities.

Dinner: Broccoli salad (recipe to come most likely) and mixed greens with leftover beans from the morning, avocado, and honey mustard dressing.

If you can’t tell I was trying to veggie load yesterday. I didn’t get much sleep on Saturday night so I was trying to energize my body with good foods versus falling into the ever-so-easy slump of eating not so good food choices when feeling tired. Sleep, activity, and food choices are all very related. It’s important to keep all three aspects in check in order to stay healthy.

I’m going to end the post here because it has gotten random enough and I was able to condense this weekend to a manageable length post. I hope you are all having a fine Monday. Catch up with you soon!

 

 

Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing

Hello there! How’s everyone’s week kicking off so far? I have really been feeling the effects of daylight savings and have been feeling extraordinarily tired lately. This whole getting dark at 4 something bit isn’t working well for me. I need to fight through it or this is going to be one looooonnnng winter.

I will continue to get enough sleep, exercise, and eat well…which brings me to my lunch yesterday: mixed greens, blackberries, half of an orange, feta cheese, walnuts, and Newman’s Own Lite Raspberry Vinaigrette.

In the afternoon I plunked myself on the treadmill downstairs and walked for nearly an hour while watching Ellen. I get so into that show when I watch it!

I am debating whether or not to put a hold on my gym membership because lately I have hardly been going. This is because I have been 1. running outside 2. walking on the treadmill in our basement or 3. yoga in the living room. I’m thinking more along the lines of keeping it, but I don’t know. I like having the option of other activities at the gym, PLUS I really really want to get back into strength training. However, I wouldn’t mind focusing on weight-bearing exercises versus hand weights. Hmm..such a dilemma. 🙂

Yesterday I started preparing the remains of our turkey to be made into soup. More to come on that once the soup is actually made but I think it should be very nummy.The little time I spent in the kitchen yesterday working on the soup wore me out enough so that I didn’t feel like making dinner. Again, it’s got to be the weather and the darkness so early in the day. It’s so not like me to not want to make something for dinner.

We went the easy route and cooked up two Morningstar Garden Veggie Patties with melted Fontina cheese along with roasted asparagus. Simple but tasty.

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Cornbread Stuffing

It’s about time for me to share the cornbread stuffing recipe I made for Thanksgiving. I put myself in charge of the dish because I wanted to make it gluten-free and love to experiment with this kind of stuff. With a few tweaks, I was able to make what I thought turned out to be a great tasting stuffing to accompany our turkey dinner on Thanksgiving.

Step One: Bake the cornbread (recipe below).

Step two: Bake the stuffing!


Gluten-Free Cornbread Stuffing
Print
Ingredients
  • For Cornbread:
  • 2 cups almond flour
  • 1½ cups corn meal
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • black pepper
  • ¼ cup non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 Tbsp. sage
  • For stuffing:
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup celery, diced
  • ½ cup chicken stock reduced-sodium (or more if too dry)
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup non-fat half and half
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly coat 2- 9 x 9 baking pans with cooking spray; set aside.
  2. In large bowl, combine all cornbread ingredients (flour through sage); beat with mixer until combined.
  3. Pour into prepared baking dishes and bake for 28-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of pan comes out clean.
  4. Remove from oven and let cool. Turn oven down to 350 degrees F. Prepare a large casserole dish by lightly coating with cooking spray. Set aside.
  5. In a medium pan, lightly saute onion, carrot, and celery for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. Cut cooled cornbread into ½ inch cubes and place gently into large bowl. Add in sauteed vegetables.
  7. In a small bowl combine stock, eggs and half and half. Mix well then add into cornbread cubes.
  8. Use hands to gently toss mixture so that liquid evenly covers the bread. Pour cornbread mixture into prepared casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges begin to turn lightly golden. Serve warm.

I promise the directions look more complex than they really are. There’s just a couple of steps which may make it look a little daunting. If you don’t want to make it gluten-free, you could skip baking your own cornbread and buy some already made from the store or make your own at home using regular flour.

You don’t need to wait until the next holiday to bake this dish, although I will admit that I really enjoyed mixing the stuffing with the turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy. Give it a whirl!

Alright I’m off to try and conjure up some energy for a run. I’m going to give my new kicks a whirl. Wish me luck!

I Witch You a Happy Halloween

Light up those pumpkins, get your bowl of candy ready for those trick-or-treaters, the day is finally here. Since we already had our Halloween party last weekend, and since we aren’t going to be home for Halloween, I actually feel like the day has come and gone already. But no no. ‘Tis here.

How about some old snapshots from past Halloweens? Shall we?

Halloween 2008: Sheriff and a convict, college style. I made my costume myself by using black duck tape across old white clothes that I never wear. I went to the dollar store and bought plastic handcuffs too. Sheer genius right? 😉

Halloween 2009: Danny and Sandy from Grease

Halloween 2010: I thought I would throw a nerdy pumpkin picture in this mix…

And we were a birthday party princess and a piñata this year. This was one of my all-time favorites. Dana’s costume was NOT easy to make but so worth it!

Halloween 2011: No dressing up this year because I was in my dear friend Angela’s wedding that weekend.

Halloween 2012: As you’ve seen already, we were Ms. Kourtney Kardashian and Mr. Scott Disick this year.

I love getting creative when it comes to Halloween, but it seems like every year when the time rolls around I am always scrambling until the last minute to pull something together. Why is that? Oh yes, such is life.

Anyway…we are off to Colombia! Wooooo! I won’t be blogging while I am away but I do have a couple of posts lined up for ya including a special guest post. Don’t miss me too much! I can’t wait to fill you in when I get back.

Oh and if you’re anything like me, you’re possibly interested in what I ate yesterday, and since I have some photos lying around, here ya go!

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with spinach, cheese, and ketchup.

Lunch: Carrots and sugar snap peas, an apple, a banana with peanut butter and cinnamon, and a handful of peanut butter M & M’s.

Dinner: hodge-podge salad with mixed greens, tomato, bell peppers, peas, avocado, and turkey bacon. SO GOOD!

There may have been a couple of halloween candies that jumped into my mouth too. Just maybe.

This post is finally ending now. Sorry for all of the exclamation marks!!! I’m excited for vacation! Will miss you all!

 

Bing Bang Boom BL(ea)T Salad

For some reason, I have been exhausted this week. I guess there could be a number of factors influencing this but I don’t know. I continue to try and listen to my body and allow it some time to rest and recuperate since it seems like that’s what it is asking for.

Weekly Activity (so far):

  • Mon: elliptical; push-ups
  • Tues: walk; push-ups
  • Wed: rest; push-ups

As you can see, simple, non-obtrusive, low-impact workouts. I am still getting my push-ups in every day for the September #dropandgimme10 challenge. I was actually lying in bed the other night about to fall asleep and remembered I hadn’t done my push-ups yet so I forced myself out and did ten. That is a weirdo dedication right there!

I track my workouts right on B.N. to keep me in check, and you can find them under the fitness tab on the top of my homepage, under Weekly Workout Log. I went through a month or so spurt where I forgot to record, but I am back in action and want to keep up with it.

I enjoy looking back and seeing what I have done in the past, especially at times when I was training for a race. This can also help me to see what worked and didn’t work in terms of training for a race, or if any tweaks could be made to help improve my experiences in the future (not that I’m one to truly “race” at a race, but it’s still nice to improve on time).

Speaking of races, Dana and I are looking into registering for one for the upcoming month or so. We are thinking around a 10k distance, but haven’t decided for sure. Any local readers have any recommendations?

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B.L.E.A.T. Salad

It’s time to talk food, and we’re going to skip right to dinner.

We all have those days where we get home from work and the LAST thing we want to think about is what to make for dinner. You know those nights where you are so hungry, but can’t decide what sounds good, and you have no energy to waddle to the kitchen and make yourself something?

Last night I had to call on the troops to get me through dinner prep, aka my husband. He is always more than willing to help, but knows how much I enjoy my kitchen time so he usually lets me do my thing, but when I ask for help he is there in a heartbeat.

Together we threw together a B.L.E.A.T.: Bacon, lettuce, egg, avocado, and tomato salad.

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I grabbed four slices of turkey bacon from the freezer, and got those cooking on the stove top. Dana got to work on cooking two eggs over-easy, and I got to chopping up the veggies for the salad. Once everything was ready, we piled it on a plate with a dash of salt and pepper and bing, bang, boom it was done.

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I can’t believe how much I’m starting to enjoy bacon. What is happening to me? Although, I do prefer the turkey bacon sort, but this is still a big change for me. My brother Scotty would be proud.

I finished dinner off with a nice big peach that I had actually packed as an afternoon snack at work but never got around to eating.

photo

So there’s your proof in the pudding that you CAN put together a nice meal even when you feel like all you want to do is pick up the phone and order take-out. Put the phone down! Go to the kitchen.

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It turns random…

I was clearing out my cupboards last week and stumbled upon a box of Kix Cereal that had been opened a while ago but was still about 3/4 full of cereal. Since neither Dana or I are eating any grains (I am following the SCD), these weren’t going to get eaten. I am not one to throw away food without a fight. I had my taste-tester make sure they hadn’t gone bad, and then got to thinking.

Growing up, mom always kept cereal stocked in the house, and being that there were three teenage boys in the house, you better believe we had many-a-boxes of cereal at any given time. She was finding that when she went to clean out the cupboard, a good chunk of the cereal boxes only had a tiny bit of cereal left in the bottom, not enough for one bowl. She was also not one to let food go to waste, so she got creative.

She threw every last bit of cereal from the remnants left in the boxes into a big bowl, and then melted marshmallows, a tiny bit of butter, and peanut butter on the stove top. She mixed the peanut butter love into the cereal, and made what I always remembered to be the most delicious cereal bars. How could they not be? Cereal…amazing. Peanut butter…amazing. Marshmallows….um yah! Put these components all into one bar and you have a match made in heaven. It was a great way to use up those last bits of cereal.

With these memories, I got to work and made a batch of peanut butter Kix bars to bring in to a work meeting.

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The verdict: my co-workers went crazy over them.

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They were snatched left and right and gone before I could say General Mills and just like that I didn’t have to feel guilty about wasting food. Even though I’m not eating cereal myself,   it doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy every second of watching my co-workers enjoy them.

There a million different ways to make this bar. You could add nuts, extra marshmallows, chocolate, omit the peanut butter (What??! No.), toss in some dried fruit, add sprinkles…go ahead and get creative. You’ll feel like a kid again!

That is all for today. Sorry this post is completely every where, but that’s kind of where my head is at this week. I hope you all have a tremendous Thursday. Always excited to catch up with you again!

Love and Kix,

M

Taco Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing

Happy Friday!

So, last night I was all ready to make a couple of loaves of nutty gluten-free bread. I brought my laptop into the kitchen and pulled up the recipe from my site. Much to my dismay I learned that the link was no longer active from my recipe page. I investigated further and realized that NONE of my recipe links had transferred over from my old site.

So last night, I had to go through them all and relink them to their appropriate posts. There is probably a much faster way to do this, but since I haven’t quite figured out this whole CSS new self-hosting business, I went the slow route. It was easy, just super tedious.

Needless to say I didn’t end up making the bread, but all of the links on the recipe pages should be fixed! Links from old posts though may still be missing, but I will have to figure that one out another day.

Anyway! How about a quick lil’ recap from yesterday?

I’ll spare you the breakfast photo because you’ve seen it a million and one times: nutty bread with peanut butter and honey. LOOVE.

Lunch

Driscoll’s raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, and frozen blueberries (thawed of course) topped with Fage Total 0% Fat plain yogurt, and a healthy drizzle of honey.

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I finished lunch off with a handful of almonds and two hershey’s kisses, one milk chocolate and one dark chocolate. I am usually a huge dark chocolate fan, but when it comes to Hershey’s, the milk chocolate still takes the cake. Any other chocolate though, give me dark. Meh, who am I kidding? I’ll take chocolate in any way, shape, or form.

Dinner

An amazingly delicious taco salad creation with creamy avocado dressing.

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So let’s talk about this because it was seriously awesome.

I had some browned lean beef in the freezer, so I pulled that out and began defrosting. I then heated it up on the stove top with a small amount of taco seasoning, a dash of water, and let it heat through. I added extra cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder as well.

I got to work chopping up a tomato, mini bell peppers, shredding some cheddar cheese, defrosting some corn, and concocting my dressing which can hardly be considered a recipe it was so easy…

Creamy Avocado Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ripe avocados
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp. tomatillo salsa*
  • salt and pepper

*I wanted to add lime juice to this dressing instead of salsa but didn’t have any on hand so substituted with green tomatillo salsa. It turned out great! Lime juice would definitely work too, though.

Directions

  1. In food processor, blend all ingredients until smooth.

Last step, plating. I started with a nice big bed of mixed greens, next layered on tomatoes, bell peppers, corn, black beans, shredded cheese, ground beef, and lastly topped it with a large dollop of avocado dressing.

The only words spoken by me while devouring this meal were “omg, this is so good.” I encourage you to make it this weekend!

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Taco Salad with Creamy Avocado Dressing (for 2)

Ingredients

  • 2 large handfuls of mixed greens
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 4 baby bell peppers, diced
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 lb ground beef, browned*
  • 1/4 packet taco seasoning or homemade taco seasoning
  • Avocado dressing (recipe above)

*Other proteins may be used: ground turkey, ground chicken, tofu, tempeh, pinto beans, black beans, etc.

Directions

  1. Plate all ingredients, top with dressing. Seriously enjoy.
After dinner I headed out for a 3.5 mile walk on the most perfect fall evening.

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I am so cold this morning. When I woke up it was only 50° outside, now a couple of hours later it has crept up to 54 whoppin’ degrees. This weather makes me want to bake and drink coffee! I just might, but first I want to make sure and get a workout in, I’m meeting mom for a picnic lunch, and Dana and I have a very fun date planned for tonight!

My baking/cooking bucket list for the upcoming fall months:

  • More nutty gluten-free bread
  • Pumpkin chocolate chip gluten-free bread
  • Some sort of apple dessert (crisp, baked apples…)
  • Chili
  • Some sort of legume recipe

Okay, we’ll start with that. I am off to tackle the day. Have a happy day!

What recipe is on your fall bucket list?!

Kitchen Sink Hash & Exciting News

I have some very colorful food photos to share with you from yesterday, but before I do that I have some exciting news.

I have been selected to be a Sweat Pink Ambassador for the Fit Approach Healthy Community!

Sweat-Pink-ambassador-badge

Fit Approach Mission (taken directly from their website):

Mission

“We believe that kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes. We’ve learned that real women sweat, and sweat hard. We know that assertiveness, strength, and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. We concede that sometimes it takes hours to get ready, but we’re also no strangers to just rolling out of bed and going. We’re convinced that we run faster in pink shoelaces. We believe in pushing ourselves, and we believe in giving ourselves a break, too. We’re all about the rush of endorphins and the thrill of the challenge. We’re all for looking great and feeling even better. We’re committed to finding our best fit, and making it stick.

How do we get there?
We climb.
We journey.
We balance.
We reward.”

I believe and live by this mission, which is why I wanted to be a part of this great community. As an ambassador, my goal will be to continue to inspire others to live a healthy lifestyle and motivate others (and myself) to be their best self.

Again, so excited to be a part of this team! SWEAT PINK! For more information about the community, click on the Sweat Pink badge.

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On to those pretty food photos…yesterday was a day of real good eats, full of LOTS of veggies.

The morning started off with the 3 mile run mentioned yesterday, before I hunkered down to work on a few things before work and eat my comfort breakfast.

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You’ve seen it a million times and I apologize for the monotony, but this is one of my all-time favorite meals/snacks. Homemade almond bread with natural Parker’s peanut butter and honey.

Then off to work I went…

Lunch

A bed of mixed greens topped with tomatoes, zucchini, peas, avocado, feta cheese crumbles, and Newman’s Own Lite Honey Mustard. I absolutely love putting the feta cheese on this otherwise semi-sweet salad. It adds a nice touch of saltiness and balances it all perfectly.

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Back to work….

Dinner

Before I go into dinner, I have to note that immediately after work, I head to my closet and change into sweatpants. I mean IMMEDIATELY. I adore my sweats and love being in “comfies.” The sweatshirt I am wearing in this photo is from 8th grade. That is the truth. I can’t seem to get rid of it no matter how many new sweatshirts I buy. It’s so versatile. Open-mouthed smile

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Back to the food. This is a dish I have shared before, probably one of my favorite at home dishes to make. It’s basically a kitchen sink hash. Dana and I made this a lot last summer when we were getting ready for the wedding. It is veggie-packed, protein packed, and so unbelievably tasty.

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Keep in mind this can be changed 5 million ways. Just use whatever you have on hand whether it be fresh, canned, frozen, it doesn’t matter. I used a little bit of all of those veggie versions in this dish. Here is what I had going on last night…

Kitchen Sink Hash

Ingredients

  • Kale, chopped
  • Broccoli, chopped
  • Mushroom, diced
  • Onion, diced
  • Bell peppers, diced
  • Corn (I used frozen)
  • Black beans (I used canned that I rinsed and drained)
  • Zucchini, chopped
  • Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Fresh tomato, diced
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Avocado, chopped
  • 1 egg

Directions

  1. Lightly coat a large pan with cooking spray or a touch of olive oil. Place pan on stovetop and turn to medium heat.
  2. To the pan add, kale, broccoli, mushroom, onion, peppers, corn, black beans. Heat through for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  3. Next, add zucchini.
  4. In the meantime, prepare an over-easy egg in a separate pan.
  5. Once veggies have cooked for about 10 minutes, plate them, add cheese, tomato, cilantro, avocado, and a runny egg. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if needed.
  6. Crack that yolk open and let it drizzle over your veggies. DEVOUR.

I can’t tell you how much I love this dish. Every time we eat it I inevitably say, “we need to make this more often.” Give it a shot! It’s a great way to use up some veggies and to increase your intake. Double win!

Have a GREAT Thursday and make it veggie-filled.

Xoxo

Got my veggies

Lunch was VEGGIE PACKED! I said I would work on it today and I did just that. I made a salad with mixed greens, leftover cowboy caviar from Friday night, shredded cheese, and a side of broccoli with honey mustard. It was amazing but left me with some real onion-y breath. I’ve had a lot of that going on lately! I also snacked on some Wheat Thins.

I did my chores including organizing the coupon book. Check it out:

Cute, huh? Yes, I absolutely love being and feeling organized.

After getting stuff done around the house, I did end up heading over to mom and dad’s for a little while this afternoon. It was so nice to hang out with mom, dad, and their dog Abbie (below). Abbie was helping mom cut coupons today.

It was what Sundays should be….relaxing. We watched a DVR’d episode of Ellen with Kellie Pickler. She is absolutely the cutest thing ever. I snacked on some Angie’s Kettle Korn lite.

On the way home I stopped at my favorite store, Target, to purchase an intense facial moisturizer. Minnesota winters can be pretty rough on the skin. I moisturize my face every morning after I cleanse it and also at night before bed, but it is still so dry on my chin and my t-zone. So, I hit the intimidating aisle of face creams/moisturizers/wrinkle reducers, etc. and searched for something that looked like it could handle this situation. I decided on Aveeno Smart Essentials nighttime moisture infusion with vitamins A, C, and E. I am going to start using it tonight so I will let you know what I think.

I snacked on some almonds and Craisins this afternoon as I tried to fix some computer problems. My computer is not recognizing my USB when I try to upload photos from my camera, so I had to upload my photos onto Dana’s computer and then email them to mine in order to post them. Yikes, I need to figure this out because that will get old REAL fast.

Dinner consisted of a lot of the same ingredients as lunch. I didn’t want the cowboy caviar to go to waste, but I also didn’t want terrible onion breath the rest of the night, so I decided I would saute the mix to mellow out the onion. After I sautéed the veggies for about 5 minutes, I made a well in the middle and cracked an egg in the middle. I cooked it over-easy topped with some cracked black pepper, Mexican Style reduced-fat cheddar cheese, and a dollop of salsa (salsa added after photoshoot). I love when the yolk covers over the veggies and adds a creaminess to the dish. Wow, this was good and guess what? No onion breath. Double win!

I made up for my lack of vegetables yesterday!

The rest of the night will consist of relaxing, getting ready for the week ahead, and hangin’ with my guys. It was a great weekend except it went way too fast as always!