Category Archives: Holidays

Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes

Move over Wheaties.  There’s a new breakfast of champions in town, and it doesn’t taste like bran.  Nope, I’m talking about waking up to melt-in-your-mouth chocolate first thing in the morning.  I was lucky enough to stumble upon this recipe from Chocolate-Covered Katie for Double Chocolate Brownie Batter Pancakes.  Not only do these take minutes to throw together, you get to douse them in chocolate syrup.  I’m asking you, does it get any better?  Yes, it does.

Chocoholics of the world get their fix of deliciousness, plus the ENTIRE recipe is a mere 130 calories.  I made these for New Year’s Day breakfast, and they are as good as they look.  My husband can be quite picky at times, and his short stack was devoured in the time it took me to go into the kitchen and get a glass of milk.

Here’s what you’ll need to satisfy your deepest chocolate cravings first thing in the morning:

  • 1/4 cup spelt flour (or all-purpose or Bob’s gluten-free)
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 T Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa or dutch cocoa (You can sub regular cocoa, as well.)
  • 1 and 1/2 packets nunaturals stevia or 1 T plus 1 tsp sugar (you can use less if you’re planning to top with syrup and don’t want the actual pancakes to taste sweet.)
  • 1/16 tsp salt
  • 1 and 1/2 T applesauce (or oil, if you don’t like fat-free pancakes)
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 5 and 1/2 T nondairy milk

1) First thoroughly mix all the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt. I just used regular all-purpose flour because that’s what I had on hand.  I also used regular cocoa powder, instead of the dark.

Mix the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, cocoa, stevia and salt.

2) Add all the wet ingredients and mix well: applesauce, vanilla and milk.  I used fat-free skim milk.

Mix in applesauce, vanilla and milk.

3) Make pancakes!  You should get 6-8 silver dollar size cakes out of a single batch.  I chose to double the recipe because I wanted to make bigger pancakes.

I made these slightly bigger than silver dollars.

Now I read that both maple syrup and chocolate syrup tastes amazing on these little beauties.  I chose to use chocolate syrup because I wanted to really make these decadent.  Plus they’re already lo-cal, so you might as well!  I haven’t tried it yet, but I imagine adding sliced bananas or strawberries would taste yummy, too.

Need I say more?

I found the nutritional breakdown on Katie’s blog using whole-grain spelt flour, Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa, and Almond Breeze almond milk.  If you use different ingredients, this info would vary but probably not a whole lot.

For the entire recipe:

Calories: 130 Fiber: 5.5 g Added Sugar: 0 g Protein: 5 g Fat: 1 g

Let me know what you think of these!  

Resolving to Save the World: and other impossible endeavors

Just like millions of other people, New Years means I choose to make a major change in my life — and then don’t.  I’ve tried the “I will get a 4.0 GPA this semester” resolution, the “I will run a marathon” resolution, and the ever popular “I will I will lose 10 pounds by summer” resolution.  All of these I did strive toward for a couple months, and some were more successful than others.  My GPA isn’t a 4.0, but it’s pretty dang close.  I haven’t ran a marathon yet, but heck at least I run more than I used to!  And I lost 5 pounds, not 10.  So my New Year’s promises weren’t epic failures.  Still, I think I’ve been going about them all wrong.

I’m not going to resolve to not make a resolution because I do think it’s important to give yourself a goal and have something to strive toward.  I feel the problem with New Years is that people are completely unrealistic. Planning on going to the gym every single day is not practical.  If you have a family or any other obligation in your life, something will inevitably come up that keeps you from getting there one day.  Then you’ll feel like a failure and give up completely.  I’ve been there, done that.

This year, I’m taking my dear, sweet time developing my resolutions, but here are a few that I’m thinking about:

1) Do something to show my husband I love and appreciate him more often.

2) Continue to work toward running goals, and run first race this year.

3) Do something to give back to the world in some way – volunteer, donate, etc.

I feel like these goals are general enough that I cannot fail, but will still make me a better person in one way or another.  I didn’t make the same promises that I’ve made in the past because I don’t want my past failure to impact my new goals.

My advice for developing your own resolutions?

Make smaller goals. Success is relative — you don’t need a large goal to work towards.  Maybe you’ll even accomplish them early in the year and be more motivated to continue on!  So this time instead of telling yourself that you’ll lose 100 pounds by next year, don’t give yourself a set number.  Just resolve to see the number on the scale go down.  That way, your goal is reasonable and attainable.

Make more than one.  Heck make 4 or 5 resolutions!  Okay, at that point you might lose track of them.  But if you make multiple promises to yourself, you’re bound to keep at least one.  On the other hand, make sure if you’re doing more than one that you don’t spread yourself too thin.  Keep them small and simple.

Don’t resolve to do anything you failed to do in the past.  This doesn’t mean last years resolution to get in shape doesn’t matter any more.  Being healthy is one of those goals that never goes away.  I just feel your chance of fulfilling a New Years promise increases if it isn’t the exact same one you didn’t do last New Years.  If you resolved to “start eating healthy” before, and it didn’t pan out, make a fresh, new goal this year.  Instead of trying to do major calorie cuts in your diet, resolve to swap one junk food item for a more nutritious option.  If you eat out almost every day, resolve to make one meal a week at home.  These will still get you on a healthier path without the sense of imminent failure.

I hope these help! Have a safe and Happy New Year everyone!

This just made me giggle...

Have you made any resolutions this year?  What are some things you hope to accomplish in 2012?

Holiday Rewind

Once again another Christmas season has whirred past like a red and green blur. After all the wrapping paper is torn off the presents, and the last morsels of Christmas dinner are finally devoured, I’m always left with the feeling of remorse.  I don’t love winter, but I love this time of year.  I enjoy the time with family, and the excitement and anticipation that Christmas brings.  After it’s all set and done, I’m left feeling like a girl who just got dumped and wondering, “Is it really over?”

About all the decorating I could handle this year

This year was especially strange because none of our typical holiday traditions took place thanks to the stomach flu epidemic that invaded our household a week before Christmas! Instead of baking my traditional fudge and setting up decorating our tree, Nick and I took turns heating up Cambell’s Chicken Noodle soup for the two of us.  Very romantic.  I sound so sarcastic, but it really was awful.  The upside is we were feeling MUCH better by Christmas Eve, and managed the drive down to my parent’s house in time for “Santa” to arrive.

Luckily My Parents Got It Right

Christmas Day, I came to the realization that I am either completely spoiled, or I was a very good girl this year.  I received a Garmin Forerunner 305 from my husband, which was the exact one I was pining over.  My brother gave me a running journal and a gift card that bought me a pair of Brooks Infiniti Tights and an Asics soft shell running jacket.  I now feel like I can get down to the more serious training because the below freezing winter weather can no longer stand in my way.  I won’t be a slave to my gym’s treadmill any longer.  Ha!  And last but not least, my parents gave me my favorite Lola perfume, so now I can smell delicious whenever I’m not sweating it out on a run.  All in all, I feel completely blessed to have such a thoughtful family.  But the gifts were still not my favorite part of the holiday season!  I love the food.

Green Bean Casserole

I still managed to run despite all the hustle and bustle of the season.  I did 3 miles in the great outdoors before the flu bug struck.  I took my dog, Dixie, with me using my hands-free leash (which I still love).  She needs the good ol’ stretch of the legs as much as I do!  I even cut a minute off my running time compared to my pace on the treadmill.  I haven’t ran since Christmas, but personally I wanted to give myself plenty of time to rest and recover.  Plus, I truly feel spending time with family during the holidays trumps my running plans.  I know I can make up for the time off, and it only happens once a year.  I’m sure the more dedicated runners of the world were out running 15 miles, while I was watching Muppets Christmas Carol and sipping a cup of hot cocoa — but I enjoyed myself!

I love this picture

I hope you all had a lovely holiday!  

What were some of your favorite moments? 

Cinnamon-Sugar Coated Pecans

For the last two years, I’ve been making these delectable pecans for all our family get-togethers.  Any time I serve them at parties, I’m immediately bombarded with requests for the recipe.  I have actually caught my aunts and uncles scraping the baking pan in hopes of devouring any remaining morsels.  If you’re planning any kind of holiday party, you’re going to want to serve these.

Melt-In-Your-Mouth Delicious

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 pound pecan halves
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Grease one baking sheet.
  2. In a mixing bowl, whip together the egg white, water and vanilla extract (if desired) until frothy. In a separate bowl, mix together sugar, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. Add pecans to egg whites, stir to coat the nuts evenly. Remove the nuts, and toss them in the sugar mixture until coated. Spread the nuts out on the prepared baking sheet.
  4. Bake at 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) for 1 hour. Stir every 15 minutes.

This recipe is phenomenal.  I’m able to whip them together in minutes, and then it’s just a matter of baking time.  I’ve made these a day or so in advance and they taste amazing, but I especially love them hot and fresh out of the oven.  I’m thinking next year I will give these as hostess gifts to those who invite us to their parties.

Give Them Away as Tasty Gifts

I hope you all Enjoy!

You’ll Run Your Legs Off Kid

I Can Totally Relate

“I want an Official Red Ryder Carbine-Action Two-Hundred-Shot Range Model Air Rifle,” screams Ralphie as he clings to Santa’s red slide.  Ralphie, I can totally relate.  You want a Red Ryder BB gun, I want a Garmin Forerunner 305 with a GPS Receiver and built-in heart rate monitor.

Let's Hope Santa Reads Follows My Blog!

How I long to break free of my treadmill, my phone’s GPS applications, and MapMyRun.  To slap on this little beauty and head out in any direction imaginable for a serious run is all I’ve thought about since I made up my Christmas list this year.  Yup, we still make wish lists.  I think I’ll get lucky because this model isn’t the newest out there, so the price is reasonable compared to others.  Keeping my fingers crossed!  I’ll be so happy to tear open the wrapping paper and find myself holding the forerunner in my hands, I imagine I’ll bust out the front door and immediately start running down the street to test it out!

Other items on my Christmas list include:

Cold Weather Running Tights

I wasn’t very specific with the running clothes, as long as their made for cold weather.  For someone who lives in a state with frigid winters, you would assume I already have warm clothes to workout in.  Nope!  I had two pairs of long underwear, and somewhere along the line they’ve disappeared into the abyss that is my closet.  I have a pair of sweatpants, but they’re capris — not too good for running through slushy roads.  So any cold weather item would be greatly appreciated!

Because I Like to Not Smell Bad

I remember smelling this perfume in the department store a year or so ago, and I haven’t forgotten how much I loved it!  I’m one of those girls who loves nice scents and perfumes, but I can never justify spending so much on such a little bottle.  So I decided to put this on my Christmas list because it’s something I’d never by for myself. Plus it just looks so pretty!

A Water Bottle with a Built-in Filter

This whole concept intrigues me.  I would love to be able to fill up my water bottle at the gym or school and always have good tasting water at my fingertips!

That about wraps up my Christmas list this year.  Obviously, I don’t expect to get all of these things, if any!  It’s fun to dream and no harm in that!

What are some things you’re hoping Santa brings to you?  What is has been your Red Ryder equivalent?

 

What I LOVE Right Now.

Minutes ago, I was attempting to bake a chicken breast in the oven for lunch.  Being the lazy dishwasher that I am, I thought I would cheat by lining my baking pan with wax paper – it says right on the box that it should work for “easy” clean up! Well…no.  Seconds after I popped my healthy lunch into the oven, my smoke alarm starts obnoxiously sounding throughout the kitchen.  Oops.  Maybe I need to re-read what the heck wax paper is supposed to be used for because clearly it can’t sustain itself in the oven.  The smell of nasty chemical compositions aerated through the house.  I needed help.  Which brings me to the first item I am in love with at the present moment!

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

Lemon Verbena Soy Candles

1. On a recent Target escapade, a good friend raved about these candles.  They burn clean and the scent in incredible.  I can’t tell you how fast my kitchen stopped smelling like burnt nastiness and started smelling clean, fresh and invigorating!  The best part is they don’t cost an arm and a leg – I believe I got away with this one for around $10.

Kindle + Third Book of the Hunger Games Series = Epic

2. Now, I realize I am late in the game here.  I’ve been hearing about the Hunger Games for a while, but I couldn’t get myself to read it.  I guess I had expected something along the lines of Twilight, which I couldn’t get into.  Plus the whole premise of the book was not anything I ever would have thought to pick up in the past. BUT! I couldn’t have been more wrong! I savored the first book.  The characters are so well developed, the plot moves along fast and is well thought out, the action is exciting and leaves you on the edge of your comfiest chair.  I’m currently midway through the third book, Mockingjay, and it hasn’t disappointed so far.  Even better? I get to read it on my Kindle.  I can’t tell you how much I love toting that to the gym.  I can’t read and run at the same time, but when I ride the bike or the elliptical I can get my fill of reading.  Plus you don’t have to fumble trying to turn the page while in motion, something I always had trouble with.

Saucony Kinvara 2

3. One thing I can’t get over is how much I adore these shoes.  I was in dire need of a new pair to run in and I’m not a big fan of too much cushion.  I wanted something lightweight and supportive, but I had no idea what I was looking for.  Before I just ran in my old, old tennies (yucky and smelly), so this was to be my first real pair of running shoes.  After visiting our local shoe store, my eyes immediately sought out this fiesty model on display.  I oogled and awed for about 10 minues, going to look at other shoes and finding my way back to these show stoppers.  After trying them on and giving them a brief test drive around the store, I was convinced (perhaps too easily, but my heart knew what it wanted).  I have never once regretted that decision!  These shoes are perfect. Everything I was looking for and more.  When I was running 6 miles over the summer, my feet never hurt or had blisters.  My high arches never ached.  Wonderful.

If you want more professional reviews for this shoe – click here.

Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe-Joe's

4. Tis’ the season for all sorts of yumminess…egg nog, hot cocoa, homemade pies and all those sorts of things.  Obviously my waistline doesn’t appreciate these in the same way I do, but I am not one to cut myself off from having a little something sweet every now and then.  At my recent trip to Trader Joe’s, I was intrigued by the idea of candy cane oreo-like cookies.  The whole concept sounded pretty amazing.  What closed the deal was a man who ran up and grabbed three boxes right in front of me, while going on and on about how he can’t get enough of them during the holidays.  Good enough for me! I bought two boxes.  Lo and behold – they’re fantastic.  Creamy peppermint filling with bits of candy cane sprinkled in for good measure and then pressed between two chocolatey wafers. The result is perfection, especially with a cup of hot cocoa.

A Man and His Dog

5. Finally, I had to squeeze in my husband and our dog.  They’ve been cracking me up lately.  I catch them snuggling on the couch all too often.  This picture says a thousand words.  Apparently I have competition! <3

What are some things you love right now?

No Room at the Gym: when resolutionaries take over your gym space

Overcrowded Gym

Overcrowded Gym

I’ve heard a lot of people complaining that they are avoiding their gyms like the plague.  Why?  Because they have been usurped by an overwhelming number of people who are working out as a part of their New Years resolutions.  I can’t blame them for not wanting to cram themselves into their gyms.  I hate going when there are a lot of people there and you have to wait for machines.  That’s why I just avoid the gym all together and workout in my home.

But, if you still want to hold on to that gym membership, but need a way to get your workout in without clawing your way to the elliptical – this is for you.

First, try going during the weekday or weekend evenings.  These are the time frames where you’ll find the least amount of people.  If you have a membership to a 24 hour gym, you can go late into the evening on weekdays as well.  This isn’t necessarily convenient, but keep in mind it is only temporary.  The mad rush will die down or smooth itself out.

Second, try taking a fitness class at your gym (or even a different gym).  They’re fun and still allow you to get in your calorie burn.  Plus, this allows you to get out of a workout rut and try something new that you may end up enjoying!  If you’re nervous to show up to a class solo -invite a friend to join you!  Otherwise, don’t sweat it too much because everyone is there just to get in shape and have a good time.

Finally, if all else fails buy a couple of workout dvds, go for a run, par-take in a winter activity like snowshoeing or take a yoga class at a private studio.  There are many options to get you in shape without even stepping into a gym.  YouTube even has workout videos if you don’t feel like paying money for a dvd.

You just have to make it work!

P.S. Also, don’t forget to not look on the new gym goers in a negative light.  Sure you have to wait for the treadmill, but they are probably in need of support and a good gym buddy!  So if you see someone at your gym who looks like they don’t know what they are doing, give them a hand and help them succeed with their fitness goals too!

See below for a sample workout from YouTube and links to more info!

http://www.abc27.com/Global/story.asp?S=13775178

How to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

New Year's Resolutions

Every year you say to yourself, “This will be the year!” and then…it isn’t.  Why? Probably various reasons.  If you’re like me, you’re really good at talking yourself out of things and making excuses.

That being said!  If you’re dedicated to making a change in your life, be it exercising, eating right or whatever else, you need to have some tools and the right mind set if you’re going to get off the starting block.

Here it goes…

1) Keep your goals reasonable. Don’t start off saying, “I will never eat dessert EVER again” or “I will exercise for one hour EVERY single day without fail”.   While these are great goals, they aren’t necessarily realistic.  There may be days where you can’t fit in your hour long exercise or you fall off the wagon and eat a scoop of ice cream.  You’re ultimately setting yourself up to fail because you’re not being realistic.  Not to mention you might just get burnt out on the rigidness of your plan.

2) Be flexible with your aspirations. Give yourself some wiggle room (not too much though!).  If you want to start exercising, commit to incorporate so many hours of exercise in per week.  This allows for some flexibility and if you can’t fit in an hour one day, you can do a little more the next day or just push yourself harder.  If you’re dieting, don’t swear off dessert entirely, but maybe say you’ll only treat yourself once a week to a scoop of ice cream or make healthier dessert choices.

3) Understand that you are in control of the choices YOU make. With any commitment, you will find yourself being tempted to go off your track.  Be aware that this will happen BEFORE you start.  Don’t just assume that this will be easy.  You are going to crave foods you shouldn’t eat.  You are going to want to sleep in and skip your workout.  Prepare for these in advance.  Have healthy choices in the house.  Throw yourself out of bed regardless of how tired your are.  Recognize you have choices in front of you and you can decide what you’re going to do.  Each one will have a consequence.  If you lay in bed, you will get sleep, but you won’t get in shape.  If you eat that double quarter pounder you will be full, but your body will not like you for it.  You are in control.

4) Surround yourself with positive people. You’re going to need people in your life who support you and will be there for you when you need them.  This doesn’t mean you have to completely ditch those who just aren’t fitting in with your life, but be aware that people can be noxious.  These are the people that make you feel completely drained just by talking to them, they bring you down.  They are not the type of people you’ll want to listen to if you’re sincerely committed to your goals and aspirations.

Instead, find people who will be honest and supportive.  Family, friends, neighbors, coworkers or whoever you know will be there for you when you need them.

5) Learn to brush yourself off. If you fall off or lose sight of your goals, get back up and try again!  This does not mean you failed.  This means you get another go around.  Keep sight of the light at the end of the tunnel and remember all the reasons you made the commitment in the first place.  Do NOT punish yourself.  This is not productive.  Do NOT beat yourself up.  Just admit that you went off track and find the reason for it.  Maybe the snacks in your pantry were too tempting, so get rid of those snacks and replace them with healthy options.  Then try AGAIN!

The bottom line is that we all have goals in our life or things we aspire to achieve. They are not easily obtained, but the things we want in life are never necessarily easy.  Anything worth having is worth striving for.  Go into this with a positive attitude and with positive people.  Acknowledge there will be difficulties and keep going!

A Healthy New Years Snack

For all those who may be having guests over for New Years or are just planning on relaxing at home, here is a yummy spin on dip for your chips that’s EASY and delicious (might I add healthy)!  I must credit a lady I work with for sharing this recipe with me.

Ingredients:

1 jar of salsa (on the chunky side)

1 box Smart Ones Santa Fe Rice and Bean frozen dinner

Directions

Santa Fe Rice and Beans

Santa Fe Rice and Beans

1. Follow the instructions on the Rice and Bean package.  Should just be a matter of microwaving the meal. Once the rice and beans are all cooked, pour into a bowl and mix in about a half a jar of salsa (if you have a med-small jar).  Make sure your salsa is more on the chunky side – I think it’s better for dipping that way.

My Favorite Salsa

My Favorite Salsa

2. After you’ve mixed in your salsa, pop it in the microwave for a minute just to get it nice and warm.  Serve with some baked tortilla chips and you’ve got the best dip ever!

I hope you enjoy!  It’s really very simple and can be modified in many ways.  I plan on making this tonight to tide us all over until midnight.

This is much better than a lot of dips out there in terms of calories and is pretty filling.

Happy New Year all!

Bouncing Back from the Holidays

Ahh… I haven’t posted anything new in so long!  I apologize for my hiatus.  Between finals week and trying to prepare for Christmas, I sort of let things fall through the cracks!  This includes my exercising, which unfortunately hasn’t been my top priority.  I managed to watch what I ate throughout the holidays, but I didn’t practice what I preach and of course found reasons why I could put off my workouts.

SO! That being said, I’m making a come back of sorts and making up for lost time.  I am starting a new job which will also open up my schedule and keep me from feeling like I have no time for myself.  This will be wonderful in the sense that I’ll be able to do my 1-1 1/2 hour workouts without feeling rushed or guilty for not doing other things that need to be done.  Problem solved!