Fajita Salad and a Fun Surprise at Mall of America

There’s nothing like starting your day off with a veggie and fruit packed smoothie. Yesterday I whipped together a smoothie made with frozen banana, kale, kefir, aloe vera juice, peanut butter, and chocolate egg white protein powder and it was delicious.


I hit the living room for an arm workout, and then ended with a 30 minute incline walk on the treadmill. I’m slowly but surely getting back into more of a routine with the workouts again.

Then I was off to run a few errands and spend some quality girl time with my Betsy.

betsy and melanie

We both had the day off of work and we haven’t hung out since our lobster feast a month ago which is WAY too long if you ask me, so we planned a little get together. We were cozy and warm at my aunt and uncle’s house and we chatted away as Despicable Me played on the TV in the background. It was such a relaxing afternoon and I loved every second of it.

In the afternoon Dana and I did some shopping—we are looking for new countertops for our kitchen! Once dinner time rolled around, I was not in any mood to do any cooking and it just so happened that we had a gift card for Baja Sol that we needed to use. You may remember a couple of months ago when we tried to use this gift card but ended up going out for Thai food instead. Yup, it’s that same card, but we actually used it this time!

We went to the Baja Sol located in the food court at Mall of America. We made it up to the third floor and started walking towards the food court. Inevitably we parked on the opposite side of where we needed to be, but I was happy because it felt good to move my legs. Anyway, as we approached the rotunda we started hearing some music playing. When we got close I saw the sign (…and it opened up my eyes…), I got SUPER excited. Gloriana was playing at MOA! Maurices was sponsoring their performance. How cool, right? We didn’t stick around for long because there were so many people and I really couldn’t see them too well, but I was happy to even get the one glimpse that I did.

gloriana moa

At Baja Sol I ordered the veggie fajita salad. This monster was piled high with lettuce, sautéed onions and bell peppers, tomatoes, fresh onions, cheese, black beans, and a heaping spoonful of guacamole (I shared some of the gauc with Dana because I am a very sweet wife).

baja sol baja sol baja sol


I didn’t touch the shell because I’m still trying to stick to gluten-free and it was a flour tortilla, but I managed to chow down a good majority of the salad! It tasted really good and probably even more so since I didn’t have to put it together myself. It was a perfect Friday night treat.

Now I am off to run with Dana and the pooch around the neighborhood before heading out for a day full of friends and family. It should be a good one! Catch up with you all later gators.

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Cabbage Roll Casserole–Give it a Chance!

Happy Saturday you beautifully nutty readers!

My Saturday is off to a great start because I woke up feeling SO much better. I can actually breathe through my nose today which is a good thing since we have plans to meet my mom, dad, and grandpa for breakfast this morning. I don’t know about you but I do enjoy tasting my food. 😉

I’m going to make this short and sweet for you all and focus right on in to dinner last night. After lying on the couch until 3:30 yesterday afternoon feeling completely groggy, I forced myself into my tennis shoes and hit the treadmill for a nice slow walk. The walk did wonders. I felt slightly less groggy and more energized. I made sure to utilize that slight energy surge by preparing dinner.

Dinner was something out of the box, and out of my comfort zone: Cabbage Roll Casserole

I had planned earlier in the week to make cabbage rolls, but kept putting it off since I wasn’t feeling good and the process seemed a little tedious. Then I got to thinking, there’s nothing saying I have to make the cabbage rolls into actual rolls, I could just chop it up and bake it like a casserole. I went with it…

And here is what I came up with! I know cabbage may not be #1 on many people’s list of favorite foods, but give it a chance. I promise you this turned out to be such a great and SUPER healthy dish!

cabbage roll casserole cabbage roll casserole cabbage roll casserole

It was comforting, savory and satisfying. Both Dana and I really enjoyed it!

Cabbage Roll Casserole
Recipe type: Gluten-Free; SCD
  • ⅓ lb ground lean turkey
  • 1½ cup onion, diced
  • ¾ cup green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
  • ¼ tsp dried basil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups crushed tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • ½ jar of no sugar added marinara sauce
  • ½ head of cabbage, chopped into shreds
  • ¾ cup bone broth (chicken, turkey, or veggie broth would work fine)
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a pan on the stove top, brown the meat.
  3. Then add onion and bell pepper and saute for about 3 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, oregano, chili pepper flakes, basil, salt and pepper; stir.
  5. Add tomatoes and sauce and stir. Turn off the heat. Add cabbage and stir to combine.
  6. In a 9 x 13 oven-safe baking pan, pour cabbage mixture and spread evenly in pan.
  7. Pour broth over cabbage.
  8. Bake covered for 45 minutes and then remove cover and bake for an additional 35 minutes.
  9. Enjoy this delightfully healthy dish warm!

The rest of the evening was spent relaxing on the couch and watching the majority of the movie Valentine’s Day which was on TV. Of course I naturally got into it since it was the definition of chick flick and it has a great cast. We had to DVR the end of it though because I couldn’t keep my eyes open any longer. Stay awake until 10:30? Not a chance when I’m sick.

Moose had a relaxing evening as well.


The evening was complete when Dana came home from a run to CVS for cold medicine for me and also brought home one of my favorite dark chocolate bars. I’m only allowing myself one piece a day at max. I can’t believe my will power with sweets these days. It’s incredible how taking yourself off of sweets can change your will power for them so drastically. I like having control. Now I have to work on my peanut butter and date control.

chocolate and cold medicine

Okie, doke friends. I’m off to get ready for our breakfast with the family. I hope you all have a relaxing and fun-filled Saturday. Catch up with you soon.

Question of the day: Do you have any foods that test your will power?

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Enjoyable Salmon and the Room Reveal

It’s a hot water with lemon and honey type of morning over here. I am most definitely fighting some type of head cold with symptoms of stuffy nose, sore throat, and “stuffy” throat if you know what I mean. I will NOT get sick(er) though, and I will fight it off (positivity really helps!).

I’m thinking it should be a fruit and veggie-packed smoothie kind of morning too to get a kick-start on those vitamins.

Let’s talk about Monday. First thing in the morning our pampered pooch had an appointment at the vet. He was less than thrilled about it as you can see.


It was time to get his pearly whites cleaned up. Although we do brush his teeth and give him Nylabones and other bones to chew on, he still has some buildup on his teeth and has grade I gingivitis. The vets highly recommend the teeth cleaning because gingivitis can lead to further serious health conditions if not controlled. Since we love the little guy SO much, we dished out the dough and got it done. His teeth turned out beautifully.

I had some running around to do throughout the late morning/lunch hour, so I stashed some snacks in my purse: carrots, snap peas, and an apple. I had quite the little day and I am excited to share it with you very soon.

purse snacks

There aren’t too many food photos to share with you from yesterday because my day of eats was too random and not the most balanced either, and I didn’t feel like snapping a photo of every little snack I consumed.

I was finally done with all of my appointments and errands at 4:30 at which point I had planned on getting a good core workout in, but by the time I got home I was in no mood to do anything strenuous. My energy was zapped and I was starting to feel symptoms of the cold. But I wasn’t ready to call all exercise off, instead I laced up and headed downstairs for a leisure walk on the treadmill while reading a book. I walked for 45 minutes and completed my plank-a-day, and was so glad I did. It gave me the little boost of energy I needed. When do I ever regret a workout? Never.

Dinner was something special last night. My friend Patti read that I was trying to eat salmon once a week and trying to learn to like it, so she recommended a recipe for me to try. It was very simple which I always appreciate.

What I did was melt a little butter on the stove top, add sliced almonds, capers, and finally sesame oil. It doesn’t take long to make the sauce so I waited until the salmon and green beans were nearly done on the grill (yes we grilled last night—wooo!—no salmon stinky house) to get it going. Once everything was cooked I plated the green beans which I just steamed in aluminum foil on the grill, then the salmon, and finally the almond glaze.


OMG—I actually loved my salmon last night! It may have been a combination of being able to grill the salmon on a real grill outside along with the awesome crunchy sweet and salty topping that really made it, who knows, but whatever it was, I truly enjoyed this dish. Thank you for the recommendation. They are always welcome! 🙂

The rest of the night was spent planning out our meals for our vacation, watching the Bachelor, and having a snack or two. Pour Sean is in a tizzy. These girls are really yanking at his heart-strings. 😉

So, guess what? The laundry room is finished! It took us about two weeks to complete and it feels so great to have it done.
Before the renovation, the room was dirty, cold, unorganized, and you felt like you had to wear shoes if you were going to go in there. Now, the floor is tiled, the walls and shelves are all painted, and all of our “junk” is organized!
Here are some before and after photos; mind you that we moved a ton of stuff from our living room area into the laundry room where we plan to permanently store it, so although it may looked slightly more cluttered, you’re right it is, but it is in an organized fashion. The walls are a very soft blue color called fresh air. Ahhhhhh…

laundry room before

 After:laundry room after


laundry room before


laundry room afterBefore:
laundry room before


laundry room done

laundry room after


laundry room before


laundry room done

Who knew I could be so excited about a laundry room renovation! How times have changed.

These photos are a little embarrassing because you are witnessing firsthand all of the junk that we own. It amazes me how much stuff two people can accumulate. My next project is to sort through all of this stuff, hopefully get rid of a bunch of it, and then reorganize it again.

So now that a good majority of the living room is finally cleared out downstairs, we can hopefully tackle that room next in the near future. This whole renovation thing is kind of addicting. First we did the bathroom downstairs, now the laundry room, and next most likely the living area, and eventually two bedrooms and a workshop! It will be a while on all of that though. 🙂

Okay, I’m going to go nurse this throat and get ready for the day. I hope you all have a great Tuesday and are feeling healthy!

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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!


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.


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!



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Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars

Happy Hump Day!

I worked late last night and so often when I work late, I get home and don’t have much of an appetite. Last night was one of those nights. I decided just to pour myself a small bowl of Fiber One Original with some raisins on top.

Then I had some of these (love these things).

And made my way into some almonds, a few more raisins, and a bite of peanut butter. Not super exciting but it was good enough. I called it an early night and woke up feeling semi-well rested.


I went for a 30 minute walk on the treadmill this morning with a slight incline. It was a nice soothing way to start the morning, along with this yogurt bowl. I made it this morning and let it do it’s “overnight” thing for just 30 minutes before digging in. It turned out just as great!


Anyway, moving on to the good stuff. I have one final recipe from last weekend that I still wanted to share with you. You may recall seeing photos of these…

Those are Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars and they are divine. I did make a few fat-saving adjustments here and there but really, this pan of amazingness is truly decadent, and should try to be enjoyed in portion controlled servings. Good luck with that though.

I have to share.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Bars (recipe adapted from www.eatrunread.com)


  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup and 2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 Tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup and 1 Tablespoon non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 11 ounces caramels*
  • 4 Tablespoons fat-free half and half
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt

*(I used an 11 ounce bag of small pearls of caramel that don’t have any wrapping and are great for baking)


  1. Preheat oven to 325° F. Coat a 9 inch square pan with cooking spray (or line with aluminum foil then coat with cooking spray); set aside.
  2. In medium bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, cream together yogurt, butter, and sugars.
  4. Add the egg, egg white, and vanilla; mix until smooth.
  5. Slowly add in dry ingredients, mixing on low until all ingredients are incorporated.
  6. Hand mix in chocolate chips; cover dough and place in refrigerator.
  7. In medium microwave-safe bowl, combine caramels with half and half. Microwave on high stirring every 20 seconds until caramels are melted and mixture is smooth.
  8. Press half of cookie dough into bottom of prepared pan.
  9. Pour caramel on top, and spread to cover in even layer; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  10. Dollop the remaining half of dough on top, and carefully spread to even layer; sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sea salt.
  11. Place bars in oven and bake for about 60 minutes (cooking time will vary so keep an eye on them) until top of bars have set and have a light golden color, and the edges begin to pull away from the pan.
  12. Cool bars on wire rack at room temperature. Serve warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream if you wish!

Total decadence.

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