Sunday, October 27, 2013

What to do with green pumpkins?

We planted our pumpkins a little late, and they never had time to fully turn orange. 

They were also eaten by slugs and turned soft by frost.

After everything we had three good, but very green, pumpkins. 

To make them a little more attractive, we gave them a quick make over:
  1. We painted the pumpkins white with some left over paint from an earlier project.
  2. We cut out stencils.
  3. We used some left over spray paint, and tah-dah!
Tim creeping in the window!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Homemade Peanut Butter Yogurt Dog Treats (Humans like them too!)

This is the easiest recipe ever: Peanut Butter, Yogurt Bites.  Boomer loves them... and so do my husband and I!

2 cups plain yogurt
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 zip-lock bag

Line a cookie sheet or glass pan with parchment paper and set aside.  (Make sure the pan you use will fit in your freezer.)

Mix the yogurt and peanut butter together until smooth.

Scoop the mixture into the zip-lock bag.  Press air out and seal.  Push the mixture toward on of the bottom edges of the bag, then twist to upper portion to make a "frosting bag."  Carefully snip the corner of the bag.

Use your frosting bag to drop nickle to quarter sized dots of the mixture on your parchment lined cookie sheet.  If you used chunky peanut butter your bag will likely get backed-up from the chunks of peanuts.  Finesse and patience works best for unclogging rather than brute force. 

Once the sheet is full, put it in your freezer for at least 30 minutes (or until your bites are hardened).  Transfer your bites to a freezer-safe container, and make sure to keep them frozen.


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Clean Eating: Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Banana, Oatmeal Cookies

Have a few ripe bananas sitting out?  Try this chocolate-peanut butter cookie recipe!

Clean Eating: Chocolate, Peanut-Butter, Banana, Oatmeal Cookies
3 large, very ripe bananas, peeled
1/2 cup creamy all-natural peanut butter
1 tbsp coconut oil, warmed but not melted ( I buy Nutiva Organic EVCO)
3 tbsp agave nectar or honey (I like Madhava's Organic Light Nectar)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats

2 tbsp ground flax (optional) (I like Bob's Red Mill Organic Flaxseed Meal)
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350°.

In a large bowl, mash the bananas, then stir in peanut butter, coconut oil, agave, and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth.

*Note:  If you use frozen bananas, their cold temperature will make the coconut oil congeal.  Make sure your naner-mix is room temp before adding the coconut oil!  (I learned this the hard way.)

In a separate bowl, stir together the oats, flax, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet until they are fully combined.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spoon out small spoonfuls of dough. 

This mixture made 36 small cookies.  

Bake for 12-13 minutes, and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for at least three minutes before moving to a cooling rack.  


Monday, September 9, 2013

Clean Eating: Spicy Cucumber Salsa

A co-worker brought two crates of giant cucumbers into work on Friday.  I couldn't pass up fresh (and free) produce, but I wasn't sure what to do with four cucumbers.

After searching on pinterest, I found a few cucumber salsa recipes for inspiration, and then got creative.  Here is what I came up with:

Clean Eating: Spicy Cucumber Salsa
4 cups chopped, seeded, and peeled cucumber (about 2 large cucumbers)
1 medium-sized tomato, chopped
1/2 medium red onion
1 sweet pepper (green, red, yellow, orange - your choice)
2 jalapeños chopped (leave seeds in for extra spicy)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbsp fresh parsley, minced
4 tbsp fresh cilantro, minced (but I probably put in more because I love cilantro)

1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime

Simply mix everything together.

You can eat it right away or let it chill in the fridge.

I was pleasantly surprised by the crisp, coolness of the cucumber and the spicy kick of the jalapeños mixing with the other flavors. 

Let me know what you think of it.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Clean Eating Oatmeal Bites

I've been trying to come up with a tasty yet easily portable breakfast that I can take with me when I go to the gym in the morning.

This is what I came up with:  Clean Eating Oatmeal Bites

Topped with Chocolate Chips and Blueberries
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana (mashed)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup almond milk (or milk of your choice)
2 1/2 cups oats
1 tbsp cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp chia seeds (I buy Organic Nutiva)

Toppings of your choice.

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix wet ingredients together in a large bowl: egg, vanilla, applesauce, banana, honey, milk.
Combine dry ingredients in a small bowl: oats, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, chia seeds.
Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet.

Line muffin pan with paper liners (or with foil if you run out like I did).
Spoon mixture into the cups so that they are a 1/3 full.  Add a few toppings here, then cover completely with the mixture.  Add more toppings to the top of each muffin. 
This mixture made 12 full muffins.

Bake 25-30 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).

Oatmeal Bites: Gooey Chocolate Center

Monday, August 26, 2013

Friday, August 16, 2013

Superfoods from A to Z

Here is a great list of Superfoods from Kate Morin

At first I was confused by D... doughnut?  Is that a superfood?  Did I miss something?

Ohhhhhhh!  It's a date!

To get the complete list of foods and why they are so super, read the original post here: The Best Superfoods, from A to Z.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Pumpkins - An Update!

So I first showed off my pumpkins a month a go: 

Okay... so maybe they weren't too impressive then. 

But look at them now!

I'm getting excited for Halloween!

Huckleberry and Walnut Cookies

My husband went on a hike last weekend and picked a good amount of huckleberries.  We've been snacking on them all week, but I thought I should try my hand at a new type of cookie with the fresh, tasty little guys.

I've included two versions of this recipe.  One is how I usually make cookies (with almond flour, coconut oil, etc.) and the other has more common, regularly used ingredients that you might have in your fridge and pantry.
Huckleberry & Walnut Cookies

My Usual Recipe:
2.5 cups Almond Flour
1/2 cups Oat Flour
2 Tbs Flax Meal
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
10 Tbs Coconut Oil
10 Tbs Honey
1/3 cup Walnuts
1/3 cup Huckleberries

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Mix the dry ingredients (flours, flax, baking soda, salt) together in a small bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients (vanilla, coconut oil, honey) together in a large bowl.  Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing the entire time.  Fold in walnuts and huckleberries.

Form small balls of dough with your hands, flatten them slightly, and place them on the cookie sheet. 

Bake 12-13 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 3-4 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them. 

Makes ~30 small cookies.

Recipe With More Common Ingredients:
3 cups flour (white or whole wheat)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1 Tbs Vanilla Extract
10 Tbs Butter (softened)
1/2 cup White Sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup Walnuts
1/3 cup Huckleberries (or other fruit like dried cranberries)

Pre-heat the oven to 350°.

Mix the dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, salt) together in a small bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients (vanilla, butter, sugar, eggs) together in a large bowl.  Slowly pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing the entire time.  Fold in walnuts and huckleberries.

Form small balls of dough with your hands, flatten them slightly, and place them on the cookie sheet. 

Bake 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 3-4 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them. 

Makes ~30 small cookies.

Let me know what you think of them!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Protein in Plant Foods

Here is some awesome info on plant proteins from Live Love Fruit.

1. Chia seeds (1/4 cup = 12 grams)
2. Hemp seeds (1/4 cup = 10 grams)
3. Sunflower seeds (1/4 cup = 8 grams)
4. Spirulina (1 oz. = 16 grams)
5. Quinoa (1/4 cup dry = 6 grams)
6. Sesame seeds (1/4 cup = 7 grams)
7. Pumpkin seeds (1 oz. = 9.35 grams)
8. Mushrooms (1 cup – 5 grams)
9. Barley grass (1/2 cup, juiced = 12.6 grams)
10. Watercress (1 cup = 3 grams)
11. Peas (1 cup = 8 grams)
12. Asparagus (8 spears = 3.08 grams)
13. Romaine (1 cup = 1 gram)
14. Almonds (1 oz. = 6.03 grams)
15. Cauliflower (1 cup = 2.28 grams)
16. Maca root (1 tbsp = 3 grams)
17. Broccoli (1 cup = 5.7 grams)
18. Kale (1 cup = 2.5 grams)
19. Sprouts (1 cup = 5 grams)
20. Avocado (1 avocado = 4 grams)
21. Brazil nuts (1 cup, shelled = 20 grams)
22. Figs (1 cup = 2.5 grams)
23. Goji berries (1 cup = 10 grams)
24. Spinach (1 cup = 5.35 grams)

If you want a bigger image, be sure to check out the original post on Live Love Fruit.  There is a printable PDF available.

Happy eating!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Seven Superfoods to Help You Live Longer

Here's an infograph from Lemongraphic:

Pretty darn good, huh?

I'm happy to say that I regularly eat kale, coconut oil, chia seeds (this is a recently new addition), and lentils and beans, and I eat blueberries when they are on sale. 

Acai and maca?  Never.

To be honest, I'm not sure what maca is... but now I'm interested.

Have you ever tried maca?  Let me know what you think about it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Spicy Food and Risk-Taking Personalities

According to a new study that was presented at the annual Institute of Food Technologists meeting and as reported by NBC News, there is a possible correlation between liking spicy foods and having a risk-taking personality.  You can read the full report from NBC here: Your Love of Spicy Foods Means You're a Risk Taker, New Study Says.

My thoughts:
  1. I love how definitive the title of the article sounds when they have a quote stating, "I don’t think we can say that spicy food lovers are always risk takers, since there are always exceptions to the rules."
  2. Perhaps I'm one of those exceptions:  I love spicy food, but it takes me 10 minutes to work up the nerve to jump into a cold lake. 
  3. I feel like this study would not hold up in other cultures.  I love Thai food and Indian food, especially when it's spicy, but spicy to me is tame for someone who grew up in one of the cultures.
Your thoughts on spicy food and risk-taking?

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Cake Pan Pizza - Gluten Free

Lazy Man's Cake Pan Pizza

Soooo easy to make!


2 cups garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour (I use Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour)
1 1/2 cups water
Margherita: Cheese, Fresh Sliced Tomato, Fresh Basil
1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup of your favorite pre-made marinara or get fancy and make your own (marinara recipe coming soon)

Whatever you want

Whisk flour, water, and oil together.  Cover and let sit for an hour (or more if you'd like) on the counter.

Place cake-pans in the oven and pre-heat it to 400°.

Veggie: Cheese, Tomato, Red Onion, Green Pepper
When pre-heated, spray cake pans with non-stick spray or add a little bit of olive oil to each pan.  Don't forget that they've been in the oven - they're hot!

Add 1/2 of the batter to each cake pan, then bake for 15-20 minutes.  The crusts are done when the edges are brown and the centers are firm.

Remove the cake pans from the oven and add your sauce (1/2 cup to each crust) and toppings.

Switch your oven to Broil and bake pizzas for ~5 minutes.  Peak in to see if the cheese and toppings are baked to your liking.

Ta-Da!  Gluten-free pizza!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Prescriptions for Vegetables?

That's right!  Doctors in New York are writing prescriptions for vegetables for high-risk, low-income patients.

You can watch a short news clip here: Fox NY

This makes my heart hurt a little because it shows just how many people do not have access to, the knowledge of, or the money for fresh food.

However, I love this idea because:
  1. It helps put fresh food in the hands of those who need it most
  2. It supports health
  3. It provides food AND nutritional education 
  4. It supports local farmers
  5. It's financially supported by a non-profit (Wholesome Wave) so people can't complain
What do you think of this program?

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Resources to Help You Have a Better Run

Running is a great workout.  Some days it may take a lot of encouragement to get out the door, but I never regret a run. 

Here are a few resources I'm looking over to help me have an even better run:

1) 6 Yoga Poses to Improve Your Run

2) Exercises for Strong Abs (a strong core is important for running form)

Balancing Act

3) 71 Resources to Run Better Today

What are your tips for having an even better run?

Monday, July 22, 2013

Watermelon Cake

How yummy does this look?

My mouth is watering!

I can't believe I have never thought of this.  It is a great, easy recipe, and I will be trying it soon!

Find the directions and recipe at: The Paleo Cupboard

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Soda May Cause Heart Problems

More bad news for soda lovers: excessive soda drinking may cause irregular heart function.  

This follows news that soda can corrode your teeth as much as meth.

Granted, both cases involve excessive soda drinking, but it seems like many people do drink soda excessively.  I know I used to.
Your heart on soda

In this case, a woman drank nothing but soda for 16 years and suffered from irregular heartbeats and fainting spells.  This spawned research into other excessive soda drinkers and all were found to have similar heart problems.

If you want to read a little more on this case, you can check out Women's Health's coverage.

How did I kick the soda habit?  I went cold-turkey in a bet with a friend my sophomore year in high school:  Who could go the longest without drinking soda?

I went from drinking multiple cans a day to nothing.  I had headaches and withdrawal like symptoms for two weeks.  And then I never craved it again.  I've had soda in a mixed drink here or there but have not had a can or a bottle in over ten years.

I'm not sure what was going on in biology class that day since we were busy chatting away in the back of the room, but maybe it was a good thing to make a bet that day rather than pay attention.  Right?

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Diet Soda as Corrosive as Meth

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, diet soda and methamphetamine can cause the same type of damage to your teeth.

Brushing is important.  So is avoiding corrosive acids.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Too Much Sugar Is Bad For Your Brain

Our foods today, especially overly processed foods, include a lot of sugar.  And sugar is good at hiding behind other ingredient names:
Added Sugar Is Harmful To Your Brain
  • Dextrin
  • Dextrose
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Maltodextrin
  • Molasses
  • Sucrose
  • Syrup (in many forms: High-Fructose, Corn, Barley Malt, Malt, etc.)
  • Xylose
And that's just to name a few.

So, what's the big deal?  Our bodies need sugar.  In fact, sugar is what fuels our cells.  So what's so bad about a little extra sugar here and there?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Healthy(ier) Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

I have a simple rule:  If I am going to eat something unhealthy, then I have to make it myself.  

If I want cookies or muffins or cake, I need to make it.  That rule really helps cut down how often I eat these things.  And even when I do make them, I'm always looking for a healthier option. 

I don't know if you can ever call a cookie healthy, but here is my attempt at a Healthier Chocolate Chip Cookie:

2.5 cups blanched almond flour (I use Bob's Red Mill's Almond Flour)
2 Tbsp flax meal (I use Bob's Red Mill's Flax Meal)
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
8 Tbsp melted coconut oil (I use Nutiva's Organic Extra Virgin Coconut Oil)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix the first four ingredients (flour, flax, baking soda, salt) in a small bowl.  Mix the wet ingredients (vanilla, melted coconut oil, honey) in a large bowl.  Slowly mix the dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredients.  Fold in chocolate chips and walnuts. 

*Tip: Cover your cookie sheet with parchment paper.  It makes moving the cookies and clean up so much easier.

Form small balls of dough with your hands, flatten them slightly, and place them on the cookie sheet. 

Bake 10-12 minutes.  Let cookies cool for 3-4 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them. 

Makes 36 small cookies.

Did you make these cookies?  Let me know what you think!

Saturday, July 13, 2013


We may be a little late to the game as it is July, but we're planting what we can in our garden!

We moved into our first house in the last weekend of June, so we weren't able to plant anything in the spring.  We have a few raised beds, two of which were empty so we decided to plant some pumpkins!

After six to seven days we've made progress:

Let's hope they're ready by Halloween!

How Fast Can A Powered Wheelchair Go?

Last night my husband and I were having a debate: how fast can a powered wheelchair go?

The conversation spawned from the fact that we are both supposed to run a half marathon tomorrow, but my back has been having some problems for a while and it really flared up this week, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to run-- which is very disappointing.  

That got me imagining taking off from the starting line in a Hoveround, throwing elbows at runners, and knocking them over as I drove my way to victory.  And that's when the true question arose: Am I faster than a Hoveround?  

A quick google search produced these results:

Disclosure: Since this isn't information that will greatly effect human history, I decided not to look much further than what popped up on the first page, and I didn't even click on the links.  

So trusting that the first two websites provide accurate information, the average Hoveround is 3-5 mph and the fastest "Max Speed" scooters can go 6 mph.

Top speed of a Hoveround: 6 mph, 1/2 Marathon finish time: 2 hours 11 minutes 0 seconds
My last 1/2 marathon: 6.54 mph, finish time: 2 hours 0 minutes 13 seconds

Answer: I'm faster than a Hoveround! (At least when I have a good back.).

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Exercise Works Your Muscles and Your Brain

Exercise gives you endorphins, right?  Well, it's beneficial in plenty of other ways too. 

That's a funny looking mouse!
You can read the article from Science Daily here.

In short:  Researchers from Princeton University found that exercise helps do two main things:
  1. Responses to stress are reduced from the way physical activity reorganizes the brain
  2. Normal brain function is less likely to be interrupted by anxiety
I know going for a run helps calm me down when I'm stressed, but this study focused on responses to stress (for mice) after six weeks of living an active life or a sedentary life.  The study isn't about an immediate calming effect.  Rather, it shows that exercise can have a prolonged and important impact on the development and growth of how your brain is wired.  The mice who lived an "active lifestyle" were able to run during the six weeks period: "The brain in a runner mouse showed every sign of controlling its reaction to an extent not observed in the brain of a sedentary mouse."

Exercise helps you handle and cope with stress.  Thanks exercise!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Focus On Adding Foods In, Not Cutting Them Out

Often when people think about trying to be healthier, they think about all of those things they need to cut out of their diet. 

No more cookies, chips, muffins, brownies, pop (or soda), bacon, cheese, candy, chocolate, extra salt, extra sugar, extra fat... and the list goes on and on. 

By cutting foods out of your diet, it makes you focus on them more.  Even though there is the word "no" in the same sentence, you still get the word "cookies" replaying in your head. 

Rather than focusing on which foods you're hoping to leave behind, try adding healthy foods to your diet. 

Crisp & Delicious!
Do you bring chips or crackers with you to lunch every day?  Bring an apple or an orange instead.  This helps you add fruit to your diet and have a healthy and nutritious snack to look forward to.

Are you always hungry after work?  Bring some carrots with you so that you can snack on them during your drive home.  You probably won't be hungry or at least as hungry when you get to your pantry. 

Last but not least, don't forget to add in water.  It may seem simple, but if you are getting the munchies and need to snack on something, drink a glass of water and wait 5-10 minutes.  You might actually be thirsty, not hungry. 

By focusing on all of the foods you get to add in to your diet, you help set yourself up for success.  If you have "cookie" running through your head all day (even if the real phrase is "no cookie") you'll want a cookie.  If you have "apple with lunch" and "carrots in the car" running through your head, you'll be excited for your snacks. 

Focus on the positive of adding foods to help prime yourself for success.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Pancakes and Bread and Muffins... Oh My!

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition has come out with some ground breaking discoveries. 

As the Washington Post explains (and brace yourself for it), "Refined carbohydrates such as corn syrup could trigger food cravings not unlike the cravings that drug addicts experience."

What?  Refined carbohydrates are bad for you?  They make you crave more refined carbohydrates?  Why haven't I heard about this sooner?

Oh wait... I think everyone who has ever eaten refined carbohydrates has anecdotal evidence of this phenomena.  

My evidence:
As part of a thank you to my husband and brother-in-law for lugging all of our heavy things around when we moved into our first house last weekend (yay!), I made up a big batch of blueberry pancakes and peppered bacon the next morning for breakfast - yum!

(Recipe: open box of pre-made pancake mix, add recommended amount of water [find this on back of box], stir, add blueberries, stir again and voila!  I hope you're impressed.)

Thursday, July 4, 2013


Full disclosure: I'm in education.  So I might be a little bias, but I think learning is awesome!

However, I'll also be the first to tell you that some of the most important and practical things that I have learned did not happen in a classroom.  Or at least, they did not happen in the classroom when I sat there as a student.  I won't go off on a tangent about our current education system (there are good parts and bad parts).  Rather, I just want to highlight that learning occurs EVERYWHERE!

Whether you are aware of it or not, you learn something daily.  You could learn something about yourself, or about someone else, or that you should make sure an oscillating sprinkler is pointed in the opposite direction as yourself when you ask your husband to turn on the water. 

Intentionally or not, learning occurs.  I try to fill my mind with new facts and information, with good books and interesting articles.  But some of the most compelling and useful learning occurs by accident.

So don't be afraid to make mistakes.  They are one of the best opportunities to learn something new.


Eating.  It's something we all must do to live, so why not make sure it tastes good?

According to a quick google search (the most accurate kind of research), I am currently expected to live past 80 years old.  If I eat three meals a day for the rest of my life starting this morning, that means I have over 63,000 meals left for me.

Think of all of the food you can taste and try and sample in 63,000 meals!

Using my dad's secret recipe for homemade pizza all from scratch
Now, if any of you know me personally, you might laugh at that last comment.  I'm not known for being adventurous in food, especially when it comes to unique and exotic proteins.  Alligator?  Squid?  Ostrich?  No thank you!

But, with the help of pinterest, I have been branching out.  A summer quinoa salad?  Broccoli and kale slaw covered in homemade spicy Thai peanut sauce?  Yes, please!

With 63,000 meals, I'm pushing myself to branch out and try new things.

Now, I'm off to eat breakfast... oatmeal!


Who doesn't like to play?

I know I do!

To me, when you play it means you are doing something fun, something you enjoy.  There doesn't need to be a serious reason motivating you (though there might be).  You're just having a good time. 

Boomer at the top of St. Mary's Peak
Some ways I play:
  • Hiking
  • Running
  • Tennis
  • Golf
  • Skiing (very rarely)
  • With Boomer
  • Reading
  • Cooking
  • Gardening
  • An occasional video game or puzzle
  • And more...

I think sometimes adults forget to play, or maybe even forget how to play.  We can get grumpy and set in our ways.  Work can make us too busy, and sometimes it is just easier to sit on the couch and do nothing.

But play stimulates our minds.  It revitalizes us.  It can be more relaxing than just relaxing.

So, play on!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013


I'm just getting things set up.  More will be coming soon!

Thanks for your patience,
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