WIAW: Halloween Health Kick?

Last week, I spent much of my time in the kitchen, stirring my “witches brew” dutch oven to cook up a whole bunch of tasty Halloween treats. So, this week’s “What I Ate Wednesday” WIAW may dull in comparison to a post that talks about “Pumpkin Butter Wishes and Candy Corn Dreams.

I tried to keep most of my meals Sometimes Healthy, in anticipation  of the inevitable Halloween candy plunge (or, if I’m ambitious, I may even make the treats from Monday’s post with the leftover candy).

Breakfast was a bit “boring” compared to the creative dishes that I usually whip up for my first meal of the day. I’m a huge fan of breakfast, so when I have the time, I tend to go overboard on my breakfast dishes. However, yesterday’s meal was a standard bowl of Cinnamon Puffins cereal with Almond Milk.

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And don’t start accusing me of dipping into the sugar cereal stash to finish off the remainder of my Almond Milk. I would NEVER do something like that. I’m a healthy living blogger after all.

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Seriously, if you had the chance to start your day with strawberry Almond Milk, would you pass it up? I rest my case.

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Things I’m Loving: There is No Life I Know to Compare to Pure Imagination

Last week, “Things I’m Loving” was quite a hit, so I’m going to give it another go this Monday. 

Sometimes I feel like all we are ever told is to “be realistic” and “live in the real world.” After all, dreaming is for dreamers and there’s no sense in having false hope right? That’s why, right now, I’m going to go ahead and embrace this phrase from one of my favorite movies of all time: “There is no life I know to compare to pure imagination.”

If Willy Wonka says it, ya’ll know it’s just gotta be true!

And sometimes I  just want to let my imaginiation run wild…about dishes I may never be skilled enough to bake (and even if I do, they’ll never quite look like in the picture) or about delectable fried foods that magically won’t go straight to my thighs if I eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner…or about picturesque little islands where you can escape at a moment’s notice…

CURRENTLY CRAVING

…These Angel Food Cake Churro Bites. Hold it right here: isn’t angel food cake supposed to be one of those “healthy sweets?” Nope, not when you slather them in cinnamon and sugar and then fry ’em in oil until they are moist and crispy. Who would have thought that you could turn angel food cake into one of those yummy things you pick up at the state fair? With only 4 ingredients, these little guys can be whipped up in a flash before a party.

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But wait? I need something to dip these churro bites into. Maybe I should try some of this homemade apple butter? And then when I have a whole bunch of leftover apple butter, this recipe takes it a step further, and shows me how I can wash down every delicious bite with a heavenly Apple Butter and Maple Cream Vanilla Milkshake.  Hey, when in Rome, or when eating fried food dipped in apple butter, you might as well finish it off with a sinfully creamy milkshake!

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Seriously though, I am a healthy living blogger. I can’t just indulge in these churro bites and the milkshake without eating some sort of meal beforehand. My mom taught me well: no dessert before your meal. That’s why I’ll go ahead and make these apple brie quesadillas for dinner. It has all the essential food groups: dairy, carbs, fruit and ooey, gooey caramel sauce. Sounds like a proper meal to me! The best part of this recipe is that it’s not impossible to make. Perhaps we don’t have to dream…. Continue Reading →

30 Minute Halloween Treats + Choose Your Own Adventure Workout

I mentioned on my last post that I felt a bit guilty about not embracing the whole Halloween spirit thus far.

Well, after a couple of marathon baking sessions, I believe that I have officially embraced this spooky, kid-centric, candy-crazy holiday and am ready to move onto Christmas! I have THREE Halloween treats to share with you today and a “Trick or Treat” (Choose your Own) Bootcamp Workout. You can bake any of these treats for yourself or your kids, serve ’em up at a Halloween party or even give to a friend as a housewarming gift!

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So, let’s skip the lengthy, long-winded introductions that are characteristic of my blog and jump right into the tasty treats. Continue Reading →

WIAW: Pumpkin Butter Wishes and Candy Corn Dreams

During Monday’s Girls on the Run practice, the girls were tasked with running (or walking) around the track for 40 minutes…by themselves. The lesson was about slowing down and taking time to relax and get their thoughts in order. (Funnily enough, I still haven’t master this skill at the ripe old age of 30.) The goal was for the girls to be alone with their thoughts and see where their minds would take them.

Apparently, this is not an easy task for 8 to 10 year-old girls… I finally bargained them into running every other lap alone, and at the end of class, we circled up to discuss what they were thinking about.

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(you want us to be quiet?!)

Their “deep” answers: “my Halloween costume,” “how I can collect the most candy on Halloween” “if I should be a witch or a princess this year”

Clearly, kids have one-track minds around this time of year. Nevertheless, their enthusiastic Halloween spirit reminded me that I needed to jump into the spirit in my Sometimes Healthy way: with food, of course.

I was up late last night baking some goodies for Friday’s post, and I’ll share a sneak preview with you at the end of this post (lucky you!), but first, let’s dive into breakfast for What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW).

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Chobani yogurt bowl, topped with fresh Honey Crisp apples, apple butter, sugared figs, granola and a drizzle of honey.  Continue Reading →

Things I’m Loving: ‘Tis the Season

I always love when my favorite bloggers post their favorite things from across the blogosphere and Pinterest, so today, please enjoy Volume 1 of “Things I’m Loving.”  The theme is ‘Tis the Season” as nearly everything I’m looking at right now evokes the holiday spirit, whether it’s Halloween or Christmas (yes, I’m already there).

Happy Pinning ya’ll!

CURRENTLY DROOLING OVER:

These Cookies: If you’ve never heard of Sally’s Baking Addiction, then you’re definitely missing out. This recipe sandwiches Pumpkin Marshmallow Peeps in between 2 soft, moist cookies, packed with peanut butter, M&M’s and sprinkles. Enough said.

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These Semi-Homemade Sticky Buns: A mere five ingredients are combined to create these flavorful sticky buns. Imagine waking up to the smell of Pumpkin Sticky Buns on a cool, crisp fall Sunday morning. Feel free to share this recipe with husbands, boyfriends, etc. because it’s incredibly easy. I sometimes like to drop not-so-subtle hints to my BF, such as an email with the subject line, “Wow these Would be PERFECT to Serve me for Breakfast in Bed.”

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This Sinful Breakfast: Why not take all of the best parts of fall, mix it with bacon and throw on-top of some delicious waffles? That’s exactly what is happening here with these Pumpkin Spice Waffles with Bacon Butternut Syrup. It almost feels too good to be true…but it’s not. You’ll need a waffle iron to cook these up, but I’m sincerely considering buying one JUST to make these. Continue Reading →

Sometimes Healthy Friday: A Sweet Squash Muffin + a Bad A*** Treadmill Workout

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Hello and welcome to another Sometimes Healthy Friday! In case you haven’t noticed the pattern, the goal of these posts is to help kickstart your weekend with a healthy (sometimes) recipe and a workout to help burn off some of those much-needed indulgent weekend calories. 

You’re in for a treat today. First, I’m going to share with you a very sweet Butternut Apple Muffin recipe, and then I’m going to follow it up with a Bad Ass Treadmill Workout, accompanied by a “rapper’s delight” playlist. Get ready, my friends.

This Butternut Apple Muffin has been in the works for a few weeks now. As I always say, “You can’t hit home runs every time.” And, that was certainly the case with this muffin. The idea came about when I mentioned in a WIAW post celebrating fall flavors that I wanted to create Butternut Squash Muffins, and a reader left the following comment.

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That was all the encouragement I needed to get cracking in the kitchen! But alas, cooking with butternut is no easy task. The first time around, the muffins were too dense and they didn’t rise the way that I wanted them to.

But, the second time around was pure squash perfection.

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WIAW: The Time I Carried a Squash from NYC

Okay, okay, the title of this post is fairly inaccurate. No one would actually go to NYC for the night and come back the next day with nothing more than a squash, right?

Well, actually, the title of this post should have been, “WIAW: The Time I Carried 2 Squash, 6 Cupcakes, 8 Cookies, 2 Chobani Bowls, 1 Whole Foods Salad, Make-your-Own Trail Mix, a Pumpkin Muffin AND Banana Pudding from NYC.” 

(My NYC "contraband")

(My NYC “contraband”)

Every time I visit one of the biggest shopping capitals of the world, instead of returning home with trendy purses and shoes, I come back with “fashionable” food, like kabocha squash.

Somewhere, back in Omaha, my clothes-loving mom is thinking, “How is this child my daughter?” 

In all fairness, kabocha squash is all anyone in the healthy living world can talk about these days…and I can’t find it anywhere in the HV. So, why not capitalize on a trip to NYC?

You may be wondering if I moved back to NYC, considering I have been there almost once a week for the past couple of months. Nope, in fact, I was back in NYC for a very special sleepover. My oldest friend in the world, Emily was in town for work. She asked me to spend the night at her super-trendy Soho hotel on Monday night for a marathon catch-up session and an early morning Tuesday workout.

Catching up with Emily was like a breath of fresh air, as usual. She lives in Omaha, and as the mother of a very cute one-year-old, she rarely has the time to chat on the phone. You know how everyone has their “person?” (It’s the whole Meredith Grey/Christina Yang Grey’s Anatomy friendship thing). Well, Emily’s my person. I could wake up tomorrow morning, dye my hair black, cover my body in tattoos and run away to join the circus. And, Emily would still see ME. No matter what happens or where life takes us, Emily will always be that person that just “gets me”…often more than I understand myself. 

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Monday night, we enjoyed a friend-mantic dinner in Little Italy and fro-yo from 16 Handles and kicked our butts in the gym on Tuesday morning with my tabata workout.

(You MUST try their pumpkin yogurt)

(You MUST try their pumpkin yogurt)

Before I knew it, Emily had to leave for a meeting, and I was left to wander the streets of NYC before hopping on a train back upstate.

I probably would have chased after her cab and begged her to stay if she hadn’t been with her coworkers. The older I get, the harder it becomes to say goodbye to my best friends. You would think it gets easier…after all, Emily and I haven’t been in the same town for 12 years. But, as all of these special people move through the big stages in their lives (babies, marriage, etc.), I find myself really wishing I could be closer to them. Ah, the realities of growing older.

Hopefully, all of this touchy-feely blabbering hasn’t distracted you all from the task at hand: What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW), where I journal all of my weird and wacky eats from the previous day. Well, you’re in for a treat, because my eats on Tuesday started with a creamy fall treat in NYC and worked their way back to the Hudson Valley for a triumphant squash-filled dinner.

As soon as Emily left me, I knew just where to drown my sorrows: Chobani’s Soho Yogurt Bar. As you may remember, I visited the store for the first time a couple weeks ago. I’ve been dreaming about going back ever since.

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I chose the seasonal option: Pumpkin + Cranberry, a yogurt bowl that included a sweet pumpkin butter, topped with cranberries, gingersnaps and other fall goodies. In case you are wondering about the glare on the left-hand corner of the picture, it’s not my poor photography, it’s actually heaven shining down this yogurt bowl to me. Once again, the chefs at Chobani Soho hit all the right notes with this creamy bowl of fall flavors. Continue Reading →

How not to Kill Restaurant Patrons and Other Lessons Learned From Culinary Geniuses

Hope everyone had a lovely weekend and got to enjoy the fall weather as much as I did (if you live in climates that actually HAVE fall). As the leaves of the mountains change color and thousands of colorful trees flank the river, fall is the time of the year that the Hudson Valley shines. I was lucky enough to show it off to some pretty special visitors: my brother and his wife.

For their birthdays, we bought them a weekend at Buttermilk Falls Inn, a gorgeous bed and breakfast in Milton hidden among 75 acres of endless tress and ponds. City friends, if you’re looking for a getaway from all the hustle and bustle, this is your place! We ate some very delicious food, walked over the Hudson River and even got to show them some of our fave HV hot spots.

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I don’t think we could have asked for a better day, and it was fun to show them around my new home.

But enough about my weekend. Let’s talk about Celebrity Cruises Healthy Living Panel at Rouge Tomate in NYC. As I mentioned on Friday, I was lucky enough to be invited to this breakfast panel, moderated by editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, Dana Cowin, where 4 brilliant minds in the culinary industry (including Food Network’s Chopped judge Marc Murphy) discussed healthy food trends.

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Celebrity Cruises has partnered with SPE Certified to expand its healthy dining options with scientifically-grounded, third-party validation of their merits. More on this later.

Don’t let  the word “panel” fool you into thinking that this event was boring. As we noshed on delectable cuisine prepared by Rouge Tomate, we listened to 30 minutes of lively discussion from everything to sustainable food preparation, to yes, how NOT to kill restaurant patrons.

Here are the top 5 things I learned from these culinary geniuses:

1. Killing Restaurant Patrons is Bad PR: 

I hope you gathered from my headline that I was being dramatic, but in all seriousness, this has actually become a real concern for restaurant owners and chefs? Why? Over the past decade, there has been a rapid increase in food allergies amongst both adults and children. Chefs need only worry about “the Big 8” food allergens: cow’s milk, egg, peanut, tree nuts (for example, walnuts, pecans, almonds, and cashews), fish, shellfish, soy, and wheat. These foods account for 90% of food allergies and can cause life-threatening  anaphylaxis.

Does anyone remember the Sex and the City scene where Carrie claims to be allergic to parsley to make sure it doesn’t end up in her sauce?

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Sometimes Healthy NYC Adventures and a Lunch Break Workout

Hello and welcome to a Sometimes Healthy Friday!

I just got back from a jam-packed 24 hours in NYC, which involved many Sometimes Healthy adventures.

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Had to include the standard NYC coffee picture, since I know you all have come to expect it. 

The reason that I went to the city was to attend a culinary panel on health trends in the foodie world hosted by Celebrity Cruises. The breakfast panel took place at Rouge Tomate, a contemporary restaurant on the upper east side that is pioneering a sustainable, well-balanced and even nutritional approach to high-end cuisine. If the four star food wasn’t enough to drool over (and I did), the panel was moderated by the editor-in-chief of Food and Wine magazine, Dana Cowin and included Marc Murphy, Chef and Owner of the trendy NYC restaurants, Landmarc and Ditch Plain AND a judge on the popular Food Network show, Chopped.

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The Food Geek in me literally giggled with glee when I first saw the two of them sitting next to my table (but, don’t worry, I held it together ya’ll -gotta fake it ’til you make it right?). Though the panel only lasted about 30 minutes, it was extremely entertaining and chock full of information I had never heard before. I was writing furiously in my notebook the entire time and cannot wait to share the interesting tidbits that I learned from these culinary leaders in Monday’s post. Stay tuned!

Until then, let’s break down my 24 hour trip to the Big Apple into “Healthy” and “Sometimes Healthy” categories.

Healthy: Breakfast at Rouge Tomate

Not suprisingly, since the panel was about health trends, the breakfast was fresh and healthy too. From “Local Stone Ground Buttermilk Polenta” to Pumpkin Maple Scones with Lemon-Scented Ricotta, the was probably the most healthy, balanced and tasty breakfast that I’ve had in a long time.

The gourmet  meal kicked off with a Fingerlakes Honey-Scented Yogurt Parfait with Concord Grape Jam that bursted with different flavors in every bite. Here’s a preview:

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I’ll share more on the food Monday, but to suffice it to say, even though I always joke about my “unsophisticated palate” when you put high quality food in your mouth, you can taste the difference, no matter how refined that palate is. 

I also enjoyed the conversations before and after the panel. It was just plain refreshing to be in a room full of people that were just as passionate about healthy living as me.

Sometimes Healthy: Walking Straight to Dylan’s Candy Bar after Healthy Panel Continue Reading →

WIAW: I Got a Schedule, Yo!

I have an “autumn resolution:” stick to a schedule.

I’m an early riser – up with the dog at  6 AM and on-the-go from there. However, despite my best efforts, I rarely stick to the schedule that I have planned in my head. Inevitably, I’ll get carried away in writing way too many words in a blog post or scribbling way too many notes on the latest chapter in my NASM Personal Training Course. I also tend to underestimate the amount of time it takes to get from Point A to Point B (which around these parts “in the sticks” is never less than 20 minutes). Oh, and I have no idea how Rachael Ray coined the whole “30 Minute Meals” deal, because I’ve never actually cooked a meal that takes less than 30 minutes.

When I first moved to NYC and was working at a giant PR firm, I had a bit of trouble balancing all my client priorities throughout the day. So, on yet another midnight fiasco at the office, I made a resolve to never leave the office without plotting out my exact schedule for the day, from meetings to client work, meals, errands and even touchbases with my friends from home. And, there were no fancy-schmancy planners for this girl. Nope, I simply used some computer paper, some markers and taped it up next to my computer. I did the same for any weekly and monthly tasks as well.

Worked like a charm.

So, as I cram like a madwoman for my NASM test, while also trying to balance some other important commitments, I’ve decided to implement this “sophisticated” scheduling methodology again.

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As you can see, there’s not much slotted in the master schedule for my blog post, so I think it’s best that we hop into yesterday’s eats for What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW), don’t you?

Once again, I was up at 6 AM to feed the pup yesterday morning. Before settling in for an hour of study time, I created this autumn-centric breakfast:

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Baked apple n’ honey, leftover sweet potatoes (from Monday’s dinner) and greek yogurt, topped with dried fruit, pumpkin seeds and pumpkin pie spice. It checked off the box in many food groups and left me full, happy and ready to learn about “Energetic Metabolism and Bioenergetics.”

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