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

Tag Archives: Fall

It’s a great day!


Because Fall is finally here!

Fall is by far my favorite season. The changing leaves, cooler weather, holidays, and pumpkin-flavored treats are just a few of my favorite things that come along with the season.

I had today off, so I decided to celebrate the first full day of Fall by whipping up a festive recipe — Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins.

pumpkin muffins

I’ve made healthyish pumpkin muffins before, but they’ve never turned out quite right. I think I always try to get a little too creative with things like whey protein powder, agave, flax and all those other ingredients that just scream “healthy.” Well, today I kept things simple. And I’m excited to bring a rather tasty recipe for pumpkin muffins to the table.

I followed this recipe loosely that I found while looking for muffin inspiration.

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Muffins:


  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees, grease muffin tin.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine eggs, honey and oil. Mix until well combined.
  • Add flour mixture to wet ingredients slowly. Mix until just combined.
  • Remove bowl from mixer stand, fold in canned pumpkin.
  • Scoop even amounts of batter into prepared muffin tins.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 18-19 minutes.


These muffins turned out great! They’re super dense and not overly sweet. I’d like to spread some peanut butter over one of them for a snack or dessert. I’d like to try adding some nuts or raisins to the recipe next time.


Also, if you do not have an electric mixer you can easily mix these muffins by hand.

Get ready for more pumpkin themed recipes to start popping up on the blog. It’s that time of year!




It’s Friiiiiday!!!

And I got to work a very short day today, meaning I actually have a reason to celebrate with the rest of the world, despite having to work through the weekend!

I hope everyone has some fun things ahead of them this weekend. It’s actually supposed to warm up into the 60s in Sioux Falls, and I’m hoping to get outside for a run or a hike.

Let’s jump into some Friday Favorites:

1. Early Fall Walks

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While most people were not thrilled by the 50 degree weather yesterday, I was loving it. I decided to get outside and ended up going for about a 4 mile walk along the bike path near my apartment. Although the leaves are still very green, I could just tell it’s only a matter of weeks before that changes. It felt so nice to be outside in long pants and a sweatshirt. Maybe that sounds crazy to most people. Fall is definitely in the air!

2. Homemade Pumpkin Chai Latte


I love chai lattes, but rarely order them at coffee shops for some reason. I was in the mood for one yesterday, so I made myself a cup of pumpkin chai tea, and added about 1/2 cup heated skim milk. It was perfect! I’ve done the same thing with green tea before, and it just was not the same. I’d like to try it with other spiced teas and maybe almond milk.

3. Red Grapes


Why are grapes so addicting? I have been eating so many over the past few days I think I’m going to turn purple. I’ve been really low on snacky-foods this week, so grapes have been my go-to. I’ve been eating them plain, throwing them in cottage cheese, and adding them to salads. Only a couple months before this delicious fruit will be out of season!

4. Fall Fashion



I’ve been a little obsessed with checking out Fall fashion trends on Pinterest lately. I think I may actually be a little daring this year and try out the whole leather pants trend. A little scary, but can’t hurt to try right? I love the above look but unfortunately, Sioux Falls isn’t really known for its high fashion and great shopping. I may have to look for a pair next time I’m in Minneapolis.

5. ‘Last Known 9/11 Rescue Dog’ Story


You may have seen Bretagne the Golden Retriever’s story popping up on social media and the news yesterday. She is the last known living 9/11 search and rescue dog. She is 15, and is still helping those in need. I caught Tom Brokaw’s story on the pup on the Today Show yesterday, and almost started crying it was so sweet. I just had to share it!

9/11 Rescue Dog Story

That’s all for my Friday Favorites. Hope everyone has a great weekend!




Aaaah, Sundays in Fall. There’s just something about the cool weather that makes a relaxing Sunday so much more enjoyable.

Plus, Sundays in Fall are the perfect time for a pumpkiny breakfast. My Sunday kicked off on a chilly note. After quickly downing a cup of coffee and rice cake topped with peanut butter, I scooted out the door into the 30 degree weather for a 4 mile run.

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Not too shabby, but I realized my average pace on runs from 3-5 miles has increased dramatically since last year. Last Fall, I was averaging less than 8 minutes per mile on most of my runs. I really want to work on getting back to that pace over the next few months.

After my run it was time to refuel with a proper breakfast: Pumpkin Protein Pancakes




  • 2 egg beaters or egg whites
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 TBS oats
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • enough water to reach desired “pancake-like” consistency.


  • Whisk all ingredients together in a medium sized bowl
  • Spray skillet with non-stick cooking spray, set to medium-high heat
  • Use 1/4 cup scoop to drop batter onto hot skillet
  • Cook 2-3 minutes each side, or until bubbles begin to form
  • Remove and top with anything you’d like!



I topped my cakes with frozen blueberries that were heated in the microwave, PB2, and Walden Farms pancake syrup! I know I’ve posted a similar recipe for pumpkin protein pancakes before. I’m pretty sure it was slightly different from this one.

The more you make protein pancakes, the more you’re able to experiment. It’s gotten to the point where sometimes I don’t even measure out the ingredients since I’m just going for a certain batter texture that I know will work.

Autumn Fest

Shortly after breakfast I headed out for Autumn Fest, an arts & crafts fair that tours the midwest, and is currently in Sioux Falls. This is not your typical arts & crafts fair. I spent nearly 2 hours at the festival and still didn’t make it to all the vendors. I left feeling stuffed from samples, and with some good food finds.

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I told the lefse vendor I was shocked to find lefse in South Dakota. That’s when she told me they actually drove down from Minnesota. Figures. Naturally, I had to buy some, though I’m planning on freezing it until Christmas rolls around.

I’m also saving those tempting meats and cheeses for next weekend to share with Mike. There were a couple non-food related items that I picked up, but most of them will be gifts and I don’t want to spoil the surprised. Mike and I have plans for a virtual date tonight. We’re going to attempt to prepare the same meal while Skyping. Things should get interesting!


After getting done with work around 6:30 on Friday, I rushed home to prepare for Mike’s arrival! Naturally, I’d had the dinner menu planned for several days already. Mike got in around 9:00, and we kicked off the night with pumpkin cheesecake dip, a recipe I’ve wanted to try ever since I read about it on pbfingers.


This dip is so delicious and simple. It’s just 5 ingredients! Canned pumpkin, low fat or fat free cream cheese, honey or any other sweetener, pumpkin pie spice, and crushed candied pecans. YUM! We used braided honey wheat pretzels and ginger cookies for dipping.

Then it was onto the main course, which was another pbfingers recipe I’ve been wanting to try for some time. Meatball Casserole.


I altered the original recipe  just a hair by adding some fresh spinach to the cheese mixture, and by using low fat ricotta instead of goat cheese. It was absolutely delicious and could even be made without the baguette for a lower carb option.


I kept dessert simple with some mint chocolate chip ice cream, or peppermint bon bon as Mike and I call it.

Mike also surprised me with a couple goodies he picked up in Chicago last weekend!



A Dunkin’ Donuts Mug along with their Pumpkin flavored coffee.

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Sadly, there are no Dunkin’ Donuts anywhere remotely close to Sioux Falls, and I find myself missing their coffee and sweet treats almost every day. Starbucks just doesn’t cut it sometimes!

I was on call Friday night, which means I am up listening to the police scanner until the wee hours of the night, so Mike and I just stayed in. Yesterday was such a blast I want to devote a whole post to recap the day. But first, I’m off for an evening run before dinner!



There have been some notable changes in my life since my blogging ambitions were put on hold back in February. I’ll start at the beginning.

I completed my first half marathon in 2 hours and 1 minute.

Screen Shot 2013-10-14 at 6.58.43 PM

I graduated from college.


Congrats, grad.

I moved from Chicago back to Minneapolis, and lived in my childhood home for two months while searching for a job. IMAG0607

Sayin “so long” to my roommate of the past 4 years!

Sweet home Minneapolis.

After two months of scouting the midwest for my first job as a reporter, I landed in Sioux Falls, SD.


New stomping grounds.


Yup, that’s me!

The past 6 months have been interesting to say the least. Between living in a new state, starting a new job, and saying goodbye to a lot of loved ones, it has been a learning experience.

Now that all that’s cleared up, let’s get to more important things. The things I originally had in mind when I started this blog. Food and fitness! I realized that with the holiday season coming up fast, I’m going to be (and already have been) doing a lot of baking and holiday cooking. I love being able to share those experiences, which is what inspired me to get back to blogging.

Since moving to Sioux Falls, I have had much more free time than I did in college. Balancing school, work, internships, and dance team didn’t exactly leave a whole lot of room for hobbies. However, now that I have two full days of the week all to myself, I will definitely have more time to post delicious recipes and helpful workouts. Here’s a little preview of what I’ve been up to already since moving to Sioux Falls:

halloween baking

Ooooh yeah, my coworkers like baking. This was the end product of a Friday night spent with two of my new coworkers. Needless to say I’m fitting in just fine. There’s definitely going to be much more yummy baking and cooking this week. Want to know why? Mike is coming to visit!


Mike also moved back to Minnesota after graduation. It’s about a 3.5 hour drive from Minneapolis to Sioux Falls, so we’ve been trying to see each other every other weekend. So far it’s working out nicely. We have big plans this weekend that include enjoying some fall treats, trying new recipes, and exploring nearby hiking trails.  Can’t wait to share!

Good morning and happy weekend! I decided to not set my alarm this morning and see how long my body wanted to sleep naturally. Sure enough I popped up right at 7:30! This internal clock stuff sort of stinks.

A couple days ago I decided to try a crock pot recipe I’ve been eyeing for a looong time now. Stephanie’s Autumn Sausage Casserole. As usual, I made a good amount of changes to my own rendition.

Harvest Crock Pot Casserole

Into my 5 qt crock pot I added:

  • 1 lb smoked andouille chicken sausage
  • 8 slices canadian bacon
  • 1 1/2 chopped apple
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 tbls light brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Toss all ingredients into your crock pot, and cook on high for 3-4 hours, or low for 5-7. This recipe makes about 4 servings.

This casserole was to die for! The combination of the spicy sausage with the sweet apples and raisins was scrumptious. Perfect for the last week of September before we jump into the real fall that is October. I can’t wait!

A big bowl of casserole is the key to my heart.

Let’s switch gears so I can talk about something fitness-related that I’m super excited about. This November I will be running in the Hot Chocolate 15K! This will officially be my first 15K.  I must admit the finisher’s cup kind of sold me when I saw it.

Hot Chocolate 5K/15K finisher’s mug

Um, yes.

Despite the motivation of chocolaty goodness awaiting me at the finish line, I am a bit nervous. I recently broke my mile time by running a 6:37 mile! Some of you avid runners may be laughing at this meek accomplishment. But hey, I was pretty proud! Although I run regularly during the week, it’s usually only for about 3 miles. Nine miles is really sounding like a lot to me and I’m getting a little anxious.

In order to prepare for the event, I’m running three “short” runs per week, and one “long” run. My short runs are 3 miles long, and I can usually bust them out in no more than 25 minutes. Since this was my first week training, my long run was a mere 5 miles. Slowly but surely, right?

The race is still 5 weeks away, so my plan is to increase my long run by one mile each week. I’m not shooting for the stars with this 15k. My goal is to finish in an hour and a half, which would be a 9:40 pace/mile. Just thinking about accomplishing that makes me feel awesome. My friend Tessa is going to be running the 15k , also.

Tessa and I in our Dance Team get-ups

Hopefully we’ll be able to keep each other’s spirits going. Too bad Tessa’s a beast and ran a half marathon last year! Yowza!

I can’ believe I made it to 8:30 without breakfast or coffee. I think today calls for some of my pumpkin protein pancakes.


Happy first day of Fall! This past week I challenged myself a little by making protein pancakes for breakfast 4 days in a row! Yes, I am a little pancaked out, but I came up with some awesome recipes through my little experiment. These recipes are all perfect for fall. Hearty, healthy, and packed with that protein goodness.


Each recipe yields one large serving.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Protein Pancakes:


  • 1 scoop chocolate whey protein powder
  • 1 tbs peanut butter (or 2 tbs PB2)
  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/8 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 tbs ground flax
  • 1 tsp sweetener (I used splenda)


  • Combine all ingredients in a blender until batter is smooth.
  • Bring a skillet to high heat
  • Measure out each pancake using a 1/4 cup
  • Cook on each side for 1-2 minutes. These pancakes cook very fast.

Blueberry Muffin Protein Pancakes:

These might be my personal favorite! Shhhh, don’t tell the others.


  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup oats (dry)
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)


  • Combine all ingredients in a blender until batter runs smooth.
  • Bring skillet to high heat.
  • Measure pancakes using a 1/4 cup
  • Cook on each side for 1-2 minutes

LIke biting into a blueberry muffin.

Oatmeal Raisin Protein Pancakes:


  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/4 cup oats (dry)
  • 1/8 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 cup raisins + a bit more for topping.


  • Combine all ingredients EXCEPT raisins in a blender until smooth.
  • Fold raisins into batter once it is smooth.
  • Bring skillet to high heat.
  • Use a 1/4 cup to measure out pancakes.
  • Cook 1-2 minutes on each side

Pumpkin Protein Panckes + Maple Glaze:

Last but certainly not least, PUMPKIN! These were a real experiment, but they turned out SO delicious.


  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/8 cup whole wheat flour (oat flour would also work)
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1/8 cup low fat cottage cheese
  • 1 tbs ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp sweetener

For Maple Glaze:

  • 1/8 cup plain nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/8 cup sugar free syrup


  • Combine all ingredients in blender until smooth.
  • Bring skillet to high heat
  • Measure each pancake using a 1/4 cup
  • Cook on each side for 1-2 minutes
  • Meanwhile, combine greek yogurt and syrup in a small dish.
  • Heat glaze in microwave for 45 seconds and stir.

Pumpkin Perfection

The best thing about these recipes is that you can tweak them to make them your own! Use different protein flavors, more eggs, less cottage cheese, whatever! The consistencies may change, but experimenting is half the fun.



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