learning to eat, cook, and live healthier one day at a time.

Monthly Archives: October 2012

This past week has been ROUGH! Being busy is no excuse to eat like crap, but I must admit I’ve had some slip ups over the past week. There’s been some of this…


And a little bit of this…


pulled chicken+pulled pork=ultimate BBQ sandwich

Okay, so I have a couple excuses. First of all, those wings were split between Mike and myself. The ratios are never half and half when we split things, since Mike has the metabolism of a seven year old girl and the stomach of a four hundred pound man. Out of the thirty two wings I ate nine while he polished off the rest. Who knew Whole Foods had the best deal on wings ever? They give you a giant bucket and it’s only $10.00 to fit as many in as you can!

The BBQ was from our date night last weekend at The Smoke Daddy.

Awwww yeeeeuuhhh

This place was excellent. Just good, classic barbecue.

The week has also included snacking on halloween candy that I bought for the imaginary trick-or-treaters that will come to my apartment, and picking at all the goodies the family I babysit for keeps on hand. I swear, they always have the best treats. They always have homemade brownies, cookies, banana bread, and lately pumpkin bread. It’s torture!

I’m ready for a week of clean eating! I’m also working on constructing a new workout plan for the next 8-12 weeks. My last one lasted eight weeks and it seemed to just fly by, so I’m thinking of going all out with a twelve week program. I always get so stressed out when constructing a new workout plan. My biggest fear is that I will end up getting bored half-way through and give up. I’m really excited to challenge myself, though.

I’m working on a healthy crockpot chicken recipe for tomorrow that will hopefully last the week. Can’t wait to post it on here!


I have been meaning to post this recipe for weeks. Finally, here it is! The long-awaited (on my part at least) Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower!


Mashed cauliflower is a healthier alternative to mashed potatoes. It is extremely easy and also delicious!


Makes 2 servings.

  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, frozen or fresh
  • 1/4 cup milk, any kind will work
  • 1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs light butter
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh chives
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Boil cauliflower in a medium pot on high for 25 minutes, or until it is falling apart soft.
  • When cauliflower is done, drain water and mash cauliflower thoroughly.
  • Add milk, butter, cheese, garlic powder, salt and pepper to cauliflower, continue to mash.
  • Once the cauliflower is close to the consistency of mashed potatoes, scoop onto plate and top with chives.

If you don’t have a potato masher you can use the back of a fork to mash the cauliflower. It is very important that you boil the cauliflower until it is soft, otherwise it will be much more difficult to mash.

Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower

The taste resembles mashed potatoes so closely, it’s hard to believe it’s cauliflower! Even Mike, who can be tough to impress with “healthy” food, gobbled it right up. You can dress these up the same way you can with real potatoes. Add bacon bits, sour cream, or maybe some plain greek yogurt.

yummy time!

Alright, moving on. I have some BIG news! Well, not really. As I’ve shared in previous posts, I’m currently training for the Hot Chocolate 15k on November 4th. My long run this week is up to seven miles, and I’ve been putting it off all week due to the fact that I have a sinus infection and haven’t really been up for a run. Not to mention anything over five miles scares the heck out of me. I really surprised myself this morning, and completed my dreaded seven mile run in 1:02:36. I couldn’t believe it! I have been planning on running an average pace of 9:40 for my 15k. However, today I was under 9:00 for every single mile. Not going to lie, it made me feel preeetty darn good.

Setting goals is the best thing you can do when training for any type of fitness event. It gives that extra umph of motivation that you just can’t get anywhere else. Also, the feeling of breaking your goal provides a feeling of satisfaction that makes all the hard work worth it.

Alright, I’m off to watch some more of this ultra dramatic episode of Keeping up with the Kardashians. DRAMA!

Why are all my posts written near midnight? Oh yeah, because that’s when a majority of my free time is! Sad, I know. I guess I could have blogged instead of taking so much time on dinner tonight, but then I wouldn’t get to share this awesome recipe!

Dinner tonight was a first for me. I’ve made stuffed chicken breasts before, but I’ve never done it by actually “stuffing” the chicken breast. It’s usually more of a roll-up. But, they were a success!

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breast


  • 1 medium (4-6 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1/4 cup fat free feta cheese
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste


This recipe is so easy it’s just plain silly.

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Start by cutting the hole in the chicken that will be stuffed. How does one do this? First, stick a knife straight into the breast going the long way. Gently wiggle the knife back and forth to create an opening large enough to stick your fingers in to open it up more. Be careful not to pierce the top or bottom of the chicken breast. It should look something like this:

  • Sautee spinach until slightly wilted in a pan.
  • Mix spinach and feta in a small bowl.
  • Add oregano, salt, pepper, and any other spices your heart desires.
  • Time to stuff that chicken!

Don’t be afraid to really pack it in there. The more you can get in the better.

  • Drizzle lemon juice, and any other left over spinach and feta over the chicken.
  • Back at 375 degrees for 30 minutes or until cooked through.

I enjoyed my stuffed chicken breast with roasted veggies on the side. What a yummy and easy dinner!

Alright, I was planning on writing MUCH more but I’m starting to realize that I have to wake up at 6:00 and am basically going to be going non-stop all day tomorrow. Plus, I’m getting sick. Great! Time to hit the hay.

Greetings! It is almost midnight on Thursday night and this is the first chance I’ve had to blog at all since Saturday! Oofta! It’s been one heck of a busy week. Nevertheless, no matter how busy a week may be, I always make time to feed myself well! It’s called prioritizing, people.

Remember that ridiculous pork chop I posted last weekend from Ditka’s? Allow me to refresh your memory:

Oh yeah, that’s the one.

Well, I’ve been thinking about how delicious it was all week, and last night I was inspired to take a whack at my own scaled down version of DA CHOP! I had a few setbacks in my attempt. First of all, the cashier at Dominick’s failed to ring up the sweet potato that I picked out specifically for my replication! Things got ugly when I got home and discovered there was no sweet potato in my grocery bag. Second of all, I don’t know how to make cherry/raspberry chutney. So, I decided to make a sugar free cranberry sauce instead!

Baked Pork Cops with Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce


For the Chop

  • 2, 3-4 oz boneless pork chops
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 cup sweetener substitute (I used Splenda)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • pinch of salt


  • Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees
  • Rub both sides of chops with all seasonings
  • Place chops in a small to medium-sized baking dish (I used 8×8)
  • Bake at 325 for 25 minutes
  • Meanwhile, combine all ingredients for the sauce in a small pot over medium heat
  • Boil for 5-10 minutes, or until desired consistency is reached

Makes 2 servings.

Not a sweet potato in sight. What a shame!

This recipe is AWESOME! Who knew it was so easy to make good tasting sugar-free cranberry sauce? And who knew it would go so well with pork chops? Delish! Next time I will definitely pair with sweet potatoes. The mixed veggies just didn’t cut it.

Oh yeah, then I made dirt cups.

Hello little wormies!

Tomorrow is the birthday of one of the boys I babysit. I told him I would make him any dessert he wanted for his birthday, ANY! He chose dirt cups. Hey, I’m not complaining. They only took 10 minutes!

Alright, onto serious stuff. I mentioned above that no matter how busy my week may be, I always make time to cook myself healthy meals. In addition, I always squeeze in my workout for the day. Too often I hear busy people complaining about not having enough time to cook a good meal or fit in a workout. I call these excuses.

The first step towards a healthy lifestyle is acknowledging the fact that it is hard. It requires total dedication and commitment. If I was not committed to living healthy, I would be all for just grabbing McDonald’s breakfast every morning when I’m on the go, or a slice of pizza for lunch. It is definitely more convenient to NOT be healthy. However, lack of time should not be used as an excuse for lack of health. 

Let me give you a personal example. The excuse “I’m just bad at running” is one I’ve been hearing a lot lately for some reason. I’m sure I’ve used that one before. That’s because by theory, I should be bad at running. I’m short with even shorter legs. Pretty sure I look like a hamster on the treadmill. However, since I’ve been training for this 15k, I have surprised myself beyond belief. The other day I ran six miles in fifty four minutes, and felt as though I could have done it again right after. I wish my seventeen-year-old, taco bell-loving, 10-minute-mile (at best) running self could have seen that one!

I hate to be harsh, but when we write off an activity by claiming we’re bad at it, we’re really just masking our own laziness. It’s the same with making time to be healthy. If you try hard enough at anything you can make it happen. Fitting healthy habits into your life is no different.

On that note, I’m off to eat a pint of ice cream.

Kidding! It’s bedtime! I’ve got to be up in time to whip up a healthy and filling breakfast :).

If you’re looking for healthy recipes and workout tips, this is not the post for you. If you’re looking for a good healthy dose of food porn, you’ve come to the right place.

There will be no cooking this weekend. Not even a little. Mike’s parents are in town, and therefore the weekend will be jam-packed with dining out! Last night was the ultimate kick-off at my favorite “special-occasion” restaurant in Chicago, Ditka’s.

We started our meal off with the one, the only, pot roast nachos.

must. eat. nachos.

Me and pot roast nachos go way back. All the way to my twentieth birthday!

It was love at first bite.

Since Mike’s parents aren’t as big of nacho fans, Mike and I pretty much had the whole platter to ourselves.

I usually order fish for my main course at Ditka’s, but none of the selections were popping out at me, so I opted for “Da Pork Chop”.

Da Chop!

There are no words for how delicious this was. The chop was served with apple chutney, cherry jus, and mashed sweet potatoes. All of which was to die for! Both Mike and his dad went for the classic Ditka’s meatloaf.

I swear there’s meatloaf in there somewhere

If you’re a meatloaf lover, I highly recommend the Ditka’s meatloaf. The combination of the cornbread, fried onions, and mashed potatoes with the loaf is outstanding. Shortly after we polished off our meals the food coma set in. Why we chose this time to take pictures, I do not know. Things took an ugly turn:

yeah…not so much.

We were struggling. It took about fifteen attempts before we landed a decent one:

We have a winner!

Mike’s “after Ditka’s” face

Cute, right? I’ll leave you with this lovely image. Tonight we have plans to feast, yet again. Sounds like I’ll be doing cardio all day Sunday! Greeeat.

It’s 75 degrees in Chicago today. What the heck? While I’m sure there are many people who are enjoying this warm October weather, I am not one of them. I always get thrown off when the weather doesn’t match the season. If I had it my way, it would never break 60 after September. It’s supposed to drop down into the forties in Chicago this weekend, though! Careful what you wish for I guess!

Today’s lunch was an experiment. I’ve been looking for a good store-bought hot flax cereal since I made Joelle’s Paleo Flax Oatmeal a few months back. Apparently no such thing exists unless it’s packed with about a hundred other ingredients. That’s not going to fly with this girl. I made the decision to come up with my own rendition for lunch today. The end result was mighty tasty!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Hot Flax Cereal


  • 2 tbs ground flax seed
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder (or any other flavor)
  • 2 tbs PB2 peanut butter
  • 1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • chopped nuts or fruit for topping


  • Combine flax, almond milk, and egg whites in a small pot over medium low heat.
  • slowly add protein powder, PB2, and cocoa powder.
  • Stir continuously for 3-5 minutes, or until mixture reaches desired consistency.
  • remove from heat and top with additional milk (if needed) and any other toppings! I used hazelnuts and a pinch of Splenda.

Chocolate and peanut butter never fail me.

I can’t wait to try out some more variations of this creation. Although I love Joelle’s recipe, I don’t always have bananas on hand. This recipe is so simple and satisfying. It reminded me of when I used to eat Coco Wheats as a kid. YUM! This definitely hit the spot after the extreme arm workout I had today. I swear I thought my biceps were going to explode. In a good way.

For the past week I’ve been doing the following workout for biceps & triceps:

  • Dumbbell Curls 3/12
  • Lying Tricep Extensions 3/12
  • Barbell Curls 3/12
  • Tricep Kickbacks 3/12
  • Bicep Cable Curls 3/12
  • Tricep Cable Pushdowns 3/12

Doesn’t look too tough, right? I upped my weight today and man was I feelin’ the burn! Biceps and triceps are by far my favorite muscles to work at the gym.

I’m so excited for the upcoming weekend. Tonight, Mike and I have plans to watch the premiere of Jersey Shore: The Final Season! In honor of the occasion, we’re planning on making the famous Ron-Ron Juice. So cool, I know.

This photo is from last winter during our first ron-ron juice experience.

Tomorrow Mike’s parents are coming to Chicago for the weekend! Having parents visit when you’re in college is the best. Particularly when there are meals involved! I’m off to prepare for the weekend’s festivities. Happy weekend!




Happy October! I officially have an excuse to buy halloween candy that I don’t need! Okay, so maybe I already did that two weeks ago. Halloween might be my second favorite holiday, after Christmas of course. Some things I love about Halloween season are:

  • Costumes! I tend to go a little overboard with my halloween costumes. I’ve never been the type to settle for the store-bought “sexy witch”.
  • Pumpkin carving. I’m making mike go to a pumpkin patch with me this year, seriously.
  • Pumpkin flavor. In case this one isn’t apparent through my constant pumpkin recipes. Canned pumpkin goes with everything from oatmeal to smoothies. Love that stuff.
  • Baking! Maybe I’m wrong but I feel like Halloween sort of kicks off the holiday baking season.
  • Halloween parties. Since I love costumes so much, I naturally love halloween parties. Not only do I have a reason to dress up, but so does everyone else! I love seeing what other people come up with, and usually end up feeling a little jealous that I didn’t think of such cool ideas.

This past Saturday I had a quite night in by myself. What do I do with nothing but time and some rotting bananas? Make banana bread, of course!

Healthy Banana Bread with Dairy Free Chocolate Chips

I’ve had the banana bread bug all week. I even decided to pick up some dairy free chocolate chips to test out, after seeing them pop up in multiple recipes lately. Although I’m no novice when it comes to baking banana bread, I am far more accustomed to making the buttery, floury, “good” kind. I decided to improvise and come up with my own healthified version!


  • 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 4 tbs ground flax seed
  • 2 egg whites
  • 4 tbs light butter (I used Smart Balance Omega-3 Light Buttery Spread)
  • 1/2 cup granulated Splenda or sweetener of choice
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup dairy free chocolate chips (or regular semi-sweet chocolate chips)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • In a large bowl, cream butter and sweetener together until smooth.
  • Add egg whites to mixture and stir.
  • Add mashed bananas, vanilla extract, and ground flax.
  • Combine flour, whey protein and baking soda in medium bowl.
  • Add flour mixture to wet ingredients slowly, mix until smooth.
  • Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Pour mixture into a greased loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

This banana bread was definitely a success! I cut the loaf into 10 slices. Each slice contained 14g of carbs, 4g of fat, and 9g of protein. I’ve been picking at it since Saturday night, and even fixed myself a littler banana bread dessert tonight.

You’re probably wonder one of two things:

1. Why do I have such ugly plates

2. What the heck is that creamy white substance distracting from the delicious banana bread

Well, I have ugly plates because my roommates and I are in college and don’t have the time or the money to be concerned with fashionable dish ware. AND that creamy goodness is my signature greek yogurt frosting! Greek yogurt+sweetener=frosting. I swear greek yogurt is the most versatile food.

I’m wiped. Cheers to October!

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