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

Tag Archives: Pumpkin

It’s a great day!

Why?

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.

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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:

Ingredients:

  • 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

Directions:

  • 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.

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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.

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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!

 

 

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When is it too cold to run outside?

Is it when it looks like this?

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Or when snow boots are the only acceptable shoes to wear outside?

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I’m sure everyone has different guidelines they follow for when it’s just too cold for an outdoor run. I actually prefer colder weather anywhere from 30-45 degrees. However, when it drops well below freezing and the wind starts picking up, I get a little hesitant.

I usually use my days off to fit some long runs into my week. Yesterday was actually one of the warmest days we’ve had in a while in Sioux Falls. When I woke up around 7:30, it really didn’t look too daunting out there.

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But when the weather reads 20 degrees and feels like 11, I just can’t. I really want to find a way to run outside during the winter. At this point I just don’t have the right equipment. My shoes are terrible, and I know I’d fall on my face the second I hit ice. I’ve also been meaning to invest in a good winter running jacket. Looks like outdoor runs will be put on hold until then!

Loving “ProYo”

Or as I like to call them, yogurt bowls.

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This is actually a proyo concoction I brought to work for lunch one day. If you search “proyo” on Instgram, you’ll find some of the most delicious looking renditions of this protein-packed sweet treat. Lately, I’ve been making meal-sized versions for breakfast, lunch, and sometimes dinner.

Although yesterday’s weather didn’t exactly put me in the mood for a cold meal, I couldn’t get proyo out of my head, and decided to put together a Pumpkin ProYo bowl for lunch

Pumpkin ProYo

Ingredints:

  • 8 oz plain, nonfat greek yogurt
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • splash of any type of milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp splenda or stevia
  • fruit, nuts, cereal or anything for toppings

Directions:

  • Combine all ingredients except toppings in a medium bowl.
  • Cover with saran wrap or a lid and freeze for 1 hour, stirring half way through so it does not completely freeze.
  • Top with anything you’d like!

I chose to top my proyo with some Special K blondie bites, chocolate fiber one cereal, and frozen blueberries.

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SOOOO delicious. A snack-size version is great for an easy dessert, too. I’m trying to pack as much pumpkin as I can in these last few days before pumpkin season is officially over and it’s all peppermint until Christmas.

I actually had a pumpkin-themed breakfast this morning that I hope to share on here later! Now, it’s off to the gym for a leg workout. Yikes!


It was another snowy morning in Sioux Falls.

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I have Mondays off and normally I like to take advantage of the extra time by going for a long run. I glanced out my window to check out the weather conditions this morning. The snow didn’t completely cancel my running plans, but the freezing temps did. It was in the high teens this morning with wind chills in the single digits.

Once my running plans were thrown out, I settled on incorporating some extra cardio into my leg workout that I had planned for later in the day. I usually hate doing cardio too close before, or immediately after a leg workout since my legs usually turn into jelly on leg day. I figured tacking on 15 minutes of HIIT on the treadmill as a warm up, and 15 minutes on the elliptical as a cool down would be a safe bet. Worked like a charm!

Last night I had the baking bug. I’m really trying to stay away from too many sweets this week since my birthday is this weekend, and I know I’ll be celebrating with a cake or two. Instead of whipping up some traditional cookies, I opted for a healthier little experiment.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Protein Muffins

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 2/3 cup vanilla protein powder
  • 1 1/4 cup granulated splenda or other sweetener
  • 1/2 can canned pumpkin
  • 2 egg whites or egg beaters
  • 1/3 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 TBS sugar free chocolate chips or regular chocolate chips
  • 3-4 TBS water

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit
  • Combine eggs, pumpkin, orange juice, greek yogurt, and splenda. Beat until well combined
  • Add flour, protein powder, baking soda, pumpkin spice. Mix until well combined
  • Add water to create smoother consistency
  • Fold in chocolate chips
  • Pour equal amounts into greased muffin pan. If using liners, lightly grease liners as well.
  • Bake 20 minutes
  • Let cool 10 minutes before removing from muffin pan

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These little guys are so good! I was expecting them to have a spongier texture, like most things made with protein powder usually have. However, they came out dense like typical muffins. I might try making them with craisins or nuts instead of chocolate chips next time.


Happy Friday!

Even though Friday is technically my Thursday since I work Saturdays, I still feel like Friday signals the homestretch to my week.  This morning began with a 30 minute cardio workout that consisted of some HIIT and steady state cardio.

  • minutes 1-10: run at 7.8 mph for 2 min, walk at 3.5 for 1 min
  • minutes 10-20: run at 8.5 for 1 min, walk at 3.5 for 1 min
  • minutes 20-30: elliptical at level 5 resistance

Short and sweet!

Then it was onto breakfast — Pumpkin French Toast

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Ingredients:

  • 2 slices sara lee 45 calorie wheat bread
  • 2 servings liquid egg whites or egg beaters
  • 1/3 scoop vanilla whey protein
  • 2-3 TBS canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • fruit or syrup for topping

Directions:

  • whisk egg whites, protein, pumpkin, and spice in a bowl
  • spray a large skillet with cooking spray
  • dip bread into egg mixture, coating both sides well
  • cook each side over medium-high heat for about 3 minutes
  • top with anything you want!

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I topped my french toast with sliced bananas, frozen blueberries that I heated, Walden Farms pancake syrup, and PB2. Hit the spot!

I had the opportunity to visit the Autumn Festival Arts & Crafts Fair for one of my assignments today. This was not your typical crafts fair, let me tell you. It took up the entire ballroom space at the Sioux Falls Convention Center, and featured more than 350 vendors from around the country.

After briefly interviewing the event coordinator, I told her I would love to come back on Sunday during my day off to actually explore the fair. She was kind enough to give me two VIP passes for the weekend!

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I have a feeling I’m going to score some early Christmas presents this weekend.

After working through the rest of the day, I made my way home for a dinner I had been dreaming about all day: Flatout Pizza

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For those of you who are not familiar with Flatouts, they are one of the most versatile foods I know of. I use them as tortillas, wraps, tortilla chips, and obviously pizza crusts. By simply heating them in the oven at 400 degrees for about 8 minutes, you can get them to a nice thin crust pizza texture.

Tonight, I topped mine with a ricotta-tomato sauce base, fresh spinach, turkey sausage, and fat free mozzarella.

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Flatouts. Check ’em out!

Beetlejuice is on ABC Family, so I know what I’m doing with my night!

 

 

 


Good evening!

Sunday was SUCH a blast. Mike and I began the day at a local Sioux Falls diner that I’ve been wanting to try for brunch before heading off to Newton Hills State Park. The park is located about 40 minutes south of Sioux Falls in the middle cornfields. Pretty much like everything else in South Dakota! That’s why I was so surprised to find more than 6 miles of trails through hilly forests.

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Upon arriving, I got my Garmin ready to go and then we were off on our adventure!

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Can you spot the horse hiding in the trees?

Can you spot the horse hiding in the trees?

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We covered just over 3 miles in about an hour. Some of the terrain was pretty steep, which provided a great incline workout. I still can’t get over the fact that this gem is hidden in a sea of cornfields. It definitely got me excited to explore more nearby hiking trails and state parks around Sioux Falls!

After our hike, it was onto the pumpkin patch. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped from a comfortable 55 to an icy cold 40 in a matter of about 30 minutes. By the time we got to the pumpkin patch, we couldn’t stand to be outside for more than about 10 minutes, and rushed through the pumpkin picking process.

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The pumpkin patch was pretty picked over, but we found some good ones. Mine is the big one, and Mike’s is the sickly looking green guy. On the way home, we stopped by HyVee to pick up a take and bake pizza. We ended up landing on an original crust supreme pizza that left us feeling over-stuffed.

Look at all that doughy goodness!

Look at all that doughy goodness!

We made the decision to stick with thin crust next time. So…much…dough. We rounded out the night with some football watching and pumpkin carving. Definitely a winning combination.

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Mine is the creative NBC peacock (I work for an NBC affiliate). Mike’s green pumpkin actually turned out pretty darn good. Before Mike headed back to Minnesota on Monday, we made time to visit the Sioux Falls mall (quite the hot spot) and hit up HyVee for my weekly groceries.

Selfie attempt #1 of about 20.

Selfie attempt #1 of about 20

I checked out some running shoes while at the mall. I have been in the market for new running shoes for about a year now, but just can’t seem to seal the deal on a new pair. I found a pair of Asics Nimbus 15s that were super comfy.

Just not too crazy about these wild colors.

Just not too crazy about these wild colors.

At HyVee I spotted some interesting looking cake mixes.

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Aren’t these the coolest?! Although blueberry flavored cake doesn’t really appeal to me on many levels, I would get a kick out of whipping up a blue cake. The zebra one kind of just looks like marble if you ask me. Still, pretty neat!

Mike left later that afternoon, which is always tough, but we’ll actually see each other in less than two weeks when I head to Minneapolis. This weekend was definitely better than I could have hoped for.

 

 


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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

 

 


Something happened today that hasn’t happened for months. I got to sit around and lounge for a majority of my day. I almost forgot how good it feels!

Today’s activities included perusing Pinterest, watching football (Go Vikes!), and baking pumpkin protein bars.

Pumpkin Protein Bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 scoops vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tsp splenda or other sweetener
  • 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda

Frosting Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup nonfat plain greek yogurt
  • 1 tsp splenda
  • 1/2 tbs sugar free syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Combine all ingredients for bars in a medium bowl.
  • Pour batter into an 8×5 baking dish, or similar size.
  • Bake for 16 minutes.

For Frosting:

  • Combine all frosting ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Microwave for 30 seconds.
  • Pour over bars while still hot.
  • Let set for at least 30 minutes before cutting into 8 squares.

 

I’ve baked protein pumpkin bars before, but these were by far the best. The recipe is so simple but they turned out really well for protein bars. Not too dry, but not too moist. When cut into 8 pieces, one bar has 58 calories, 10g of protein, 4g of carbs, and 1g of fat. Not too shabby!

Franks n’ Dawgs

Last night was the second installment of Mike and I’s new “tradition” of date night. I’ve been wanting to try Franks n’ Dawgs for a while. Franks n’ Dawgs is not your average hot dog joint. It’s hard for hot dogs to stand out in a place like Chicago, where you can get a delicious dog on nearly every street corner, but I was so impressed by Franks n’ Dawgs! They make most of their sausages in house and use high quality ingredients. Their menu was so different I had such a hard time choosing.

We started with some fried pickles served with a giardiniera aioli:

That sauce was outstanding.

For my main dish I decided to go with the “Krazy Kimchi”, which included a Spicy beef sausage, braised short rib, turnips, kimchi, wild rice, and basil.

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SO GOOD! Mike went with the “Pork of July”, which was just as awesome.

Any hot dog with pulled pork and coleslaw sounds good to me! Mike claims his was better than mine, but I’d say it was a tie. I will definitely be making another trip to Franks n’ Dawgs in the near future.

I will be posting my recipe for cauliflower: mashed potato style this week. I made it tonight and Mike even approved, so you know it’s good! He can be a tough critic when it comes to healthy recipes.

 

 



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