#Elf4health and #HolidaySweat weeks 2 & 3

Hi friends!

My apologies for being a bit behind on these updates… let’s catch up! Full disclosure: my participation has only been so-so.

#elf4health

I’ll come right out and say that Weeks 2 & 3 were kind of a bust. I’ve been pre-occupied with work and had an awful cold that has kicked my butt for the last two weeks… but here we go:  

Monday-12/1-Handwritten note: I still need to do this and try to make a point to do this on a somewhat regular basis.

Tuesday-Eat the rainbow: Yes, Done. I’ve been really good about eating my veggies lately.

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Wednesday-Go Makeup Free: this is most days, so it wasn’t really a challenge for me.

Thursday-Buddy Workout: Fail. Nothing more than walks lately.

Friday-Operation Beautiful Note: Nope. I did send some encouraging emails/texts though!

Saturday-= Pantry Purge: This is an on-going process in our house. Farmer Ben and I have a lot of food in our house, but we’ve been making a conscious effort to clean out our cabinets. Some things have been tossed, some given away and we’ve been baking/cooking up a storm to give ourselves some cabinet space.

Sunday-20 things gratitude list: Okay, I didn’t physically write out a list, but I did get to share so much that I am thankful for at my book club last weekend, so I’m counting this as complete.

Monday 12/8-Fastest Mile Challenge: To be totally honest, I haven’t done much running as of late, so this is on the to-do list.

Tuesday-Pay it Forward: I took care of something for a friend of mine. I can’t say what because I don’t want to be found out.

Wednesday-Pack a Healthy Snack: I typically bring some kind of healthy snack every day. I don’t remember what it was on this day…probably energybits or something with my homemade nut butter.

Thursday-Take Some You Time: I had an unexpected snow day (seriously, this NEVER happens at my place of employment) so I ended up having breakfast with Farmer Ben, going for a walk and grabbing lunch with two friends. Then I went home and spent the evening with Farmer Ben. Win all around.

Friday-Circuit Workout: Fail. I barely made it to work on time and then I spent the rest of the day prepping for my book club meeting. After a hot toddy, I fell into bed.

Saturday-3 food groups per meal: Yes, I did this. My book club meal was (hand-grated!) mac and cheese with whole wheat pasta, veal chorizo, mushrooms, onions and red peppers, a big salad and roasted pumpkin with a maple chipotle & fig balsamic vinaigrette. This was on repeat for dinner.

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Sunday-12/14-Clean Out Your Closet: As Farmer Ben and I only have one closet in our new place, this has already been done a few times over… I also did some frantic cleaning before my book club on Saturday.

#HolidaySweat:

As I mentioned above, running hasn’t happened much lately as I have been under the weather (and, okay, I admit, lazy). I’ve done some walking, which is something, but I know it’s NOT enough.  This week is my week to get back on track…I’m finally starting to feel better and can almost breathe normally again.  
However, I have hit my freggie (fruit and veggie) and water goals almost every day.

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Pumpkin Smoothies

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Let’s Chat: How’s your fitness/health this season? Doing any challenges?


Current Obsessions and Farmer Ben

Hi Friends!

Hope you’re having a great December! I wanted to stop in with some randomness today….

I have a lot of obsessions. Does that mean I have an addictive personality? Probably.

Here are some (mostly food related) things I’m too into right now.

1. Homemade Vanilla. I took a cue from Joy the Baker and starting making my own (the first batch was bourbon vanilla). A while back, we had picked up a bottle of fancy-schmancy bourbon vanilla at Homegoods or TJ Maxx…last night, I happened to glance at the price tag-$12 and the normal price was $17 for an 8 oz bottle! Gah! I just started a batch of Jameson Vanilla… the whole bottle of Jameson is somewhere around $25 and vanilla beans are around $1 a piece. Plus, if you get cute little bottles, these would make perfect presents for the foodie in your life (Note: there is a 6 week infusion period, so if you start a batch now, it would be perfect for Valentine’s Day!)

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Freshly bottled

2. Maple Syrup. Yes, I live in Upstate NY, so I’ve always appreciated (real) maple syrup…but lately, I have really taken the plunge. I’ve been using it as a replacement for regular sugars in recipes (like these carrot muffins) and adding it in my coffee smoothies or hot tea.

3.  Ninja Blender… Farmer Ben and I got a Ninja Blender as a Christmas/house-warming present (did I mention that we moved in November?) and I cannot tell you how much I love it. We’ve had it just over a week and I have used it almost every day. I’ve made two kinds of nut butter, pumpkin smoothies, carrot muffins… the possibilities are endless!

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Finished coconut peanut butter

4.  Healthy Skoop products. Remember when I did that review for their B-Strong protein powder? Well, I liked to so much that I decided to become a skoop retailer. Did you know that for every serving of Skoop sold, a serving of fruit and veggies is donated to a school lunch program? Pretty awesome, right? You can check out my shop here. AND, if you use the code cheers25 you can get 25% off your entire order from now until January 4.

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5.  Homemade deodorant…I sweat a lot… And a lot of natural deodorants don’t really work. But, I’m determined to find one that does. I used this recipe (is that the right word when applied to deodorant making?) I’ve only been using it for a couple of days, so I will keep you posted on the pit situation. To date, no crazy rashes or burning, and Farmer Ben doesn’t mind sitting next to me, so that’s a good sign!

Speaking of Farmer Ben, he turns 32 today! Happy birthday Darlin’, I love you!

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Ragnar ADK 2014

Your turn: What are you obsessed with (eating) lately?! 


Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies

Oh hey… we’re doing another recipe post… That’s okay, right?

As I mentioned yesterday, Farmer Ben and I did some baking on Sunday!

I realize that I am going to lose almost all of my “healthy baking” street cred by admitting this… but one of the best cookies I make is the oatmeal scotchie… You know, with those artificial-everything-butterscotch chips? Yeah, those… I only make these cookies a few times a year, but when I do, they are a huge hit. I’ve tried to track down a better butterscotch chip, but have you seen the price on some of the alternatives?! Woof! No thank you. Any suggestions on a better brand that isn’t $100/lb?

Anyway, because I’m already using something unhealthy, I’ve made a few tweaks to the classic recipe.

1.       Whole wheat flour

2.       Less sugar/all brown-sugar.  2a. Coconut sugar-it’s got a lower glycemic index than regular sugar and trace minerals (just make sure no one has an allergy if you bring these to a party).

3.       Flax seed meal. It adds a layer of nutty-ness.

4.       Bourbon… not healthy, but doesn’t bourbon make everything better?

Again, these are pretty tasty. And, because the recipe yields around 4 dozen cookies (depending on size), they are great for a crowd (I usually keep a secret stash at home for Farmer Ben). No, these are not the prettiest cookies… but once people taste them, it’s tough to stay away.

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Farmer Ben struck again....

Oatmeal (Bourbon) Scotch-Scotch-Scotchies  

Adapted from the Nestle Butterscotch Chip Bag.

What You’ll Need:

·         1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

·         1/4 cup all-purpose flour

·         2 Tbsp. flax seed meal

·         A pinch of salt

·         ½ tsp. cinnamon

·         1 Tbsp. cocoa powder

·         1 tsp. baking soda

·         2 sticks butter, softened

·         1 scant cup coconut sugar

·         2 large eggs

·         1 tsp. Vanilla

·         ¼ cup bourbon

·         3 cups oats

·         1 package (11 oz) Butterscotch Chips

What to do:

·         Preheat oven to 375 degrees. *

·         Combine first 7 ingredients in a medium sized bowl and set aside.

·         In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar (I use a pastry blender, but can also be done with a mixer).

·         Stir in eggs, vanilla and bourbon (I switch to a rubber spatula at this point).

·         Slowly stir in your flour mixture.

·         Mix in oats and butterscotch chips.

·         For a super bourbon taste, cover mixing bowl and place in fridge for a few hours (*if doing this, wait to preheat your oven).

·         Spoon dough onto un-greased cookie sheets and bake for approximately 9 minutes, 11 minutes if you like a crisper cookie.

Enjoy!

What’s your favorite Christmas Cookie?


Carrot Pear Muffins

Hi Friends! Happy Monday!

I don’t know about you, but all of the sweets hanging around the office are really starting to catch up with me. That being said, Farmer Ben and I had a day off together yesterday and decided to do… a lot of baking.  Typical

After making some boozey cookies, I wanted to make something quasi-healthy. We had some yogurt and a pear in the fridge that we had forgotten about, so I perused the internet to find a recipe that I wouldn’t feel guilty while baking eating.

I ended up using this recipe… kind of (I am really bad at following directions). I am also super lazy and put all of the ingredients into one bowl. Yes, ONE bowl.  

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Note: These are NOT sweet muffins. They have some sweetness, but I would classify them as more of a breakfast on the run OR a snack, especially if you add a dollop of nut butter.

 If you’d like them sweet, I would up the amount of maple syrup to 1/2 or 3/4 of a cup.

The siggi’s website has a lot of really great recipes, if you’re looking for something different, check them out!

Carrot-Pear Muffins with Skyr

What you’ll need:

About 2 Cups grated carrots (I threw mine in the ninja)

1/3 cup maple syrup (the REAL stuff, please!)

1/3 cup olive oil

1 splash vanilla extract

2 eggs

½ cup plain yogurt (I love siggis plain skyr)

1 cup Whole Wheat Flour

1/3 cup All-Purpose Flour

2 Tbs Flax seed meal

2 Tbs Hemp Seeds

1 tsp. cinnamon

¾ tsp. ground ginger

1 pinch sea salt

1 pear, chopped (an apple would also work well)

What to do:

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners or grease really well.

In a large bowl, mix all of your wet ingredients (including carrots, excluding pear).  Fold in your dry ingredients until well combined.  

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One bowl mixing

Mix in chopped pear (Note: the batter is going to be pretty thick, don’t worry).

Pour into prepared muffin tin.

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Bake for about 20-25 minutes (or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a muffin comes out clean).
Let cool and enjoy!

What are you baking these days?

Disclaimer: I am a siggi’s Culture Club Ambassador, but all opinions, per usual, are my own.

Interested in being a siggi’s ambassador? Send me an email for some info.


#Elf4Health and #holidaysweat-Week 1 Recap

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a great week!  Here’s a  look at two challenges I’m participating in at the moment (Click respective links for more info!) So far I am doing pretty well…and am loving the extra motivation!

I took some time off from running after my October Half as I had a pain in my foot that just wouldn’t quit, along with some other reasons, so these challenges came at the perfect time to help me ease back into a routine!

Lets start with #elf4health:

Day 1: Meatless Monday-I started out my day with a smoothie, then had a big-ass salad for lunch and topped off the evening with sushi, margaritas and friends! YUM!

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Day 2: Unsubscribe challenge… fail. I DO need to do this.

Day 3: A New Workout: I went for a walk… I realize this isn’t a “new workout,” but it’s different for me.

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Day 4: Recommend a good book/blog/podcast: I recommended three: The Best Yes, Sacred Marriage and The Lipstick Gospel.

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Day 5: Veggie Smoothie-I didn’t do this. But I recommend Kale or Spinach.

Day 6: Treat Yourself-I headed to the library and picked up some reading material. Easy on the wallet and great for the mind!

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Day 7: Meal Prep-Farmer Ben had to work on Thanksgiving so we ended up celebrating on Friday with his fam…. Needless to say, my fridge is still full… so I half did this?

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Holiday Sweat:

Water Goal: hit daily
Freggie Goal(5-9 servings over fruits and veggies daily): 5 days out of 7… Cant win ’em all!

Monday-2 mile walk at lunch, 1 mile walk with hubby after work and 2 mile run.

Tuesday: Fail

Wednesday: 2 mile walk

Thursday-5 mile run because I slept in instead of turkey trotting.

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Friday-Rest day/Turkey day

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Turkey smoking in progress

Saturday-2 mile run at night (I’m such a chicken!)… It was freezing!

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Sunday-kind of a rest day. Hubby and I did some mall walking when we had an hour or so to kill… I didn’t count this in my points.

That’s all… What are you doing to stay active this month?


Bagel Breakfast Pudding

Hi Friends!

Can we talk about food today? It feels like AGES since I’ve posted about …well anything, but specifically food!

So today, how about a recipe? This is great for company because you can make it ahead of time. And it involves bagels… So you really can’t go wrong, in my opinion.

I know Thanksgiving is tomorrow… But this is more of a Black Friday/Small Business Saturday recipe….

Farmer Ben and I were shopping last week and our grocery store was having an insane sale for a random ten minutes… 6 bagels for $1!!!!! It was such a good sale that we bought a dozen. Is there even a question on whether or not one should buy bagels when they are less than 17 cents each? I didn’t think so.

Anyway, we ended up giving ½ dozen to Ben’s dad and step-mom who are in town visiting and had bagels for breakfast one morning… and then I had people over on Saturday and needed counter space, so I moved them to the top of the fridge and promptly forgot about them until yesterday. Needless to say, they were starting to get a little hard.

Now, if you know me, I HATE wasting food. So I perused our cookbook collection to see if I could find a way to use them up. Farmer Ben said he would use them in stuffing, but I had a better idea.

Bagel Pudding. I love traditional bread pudding…but I also love breakfast. Savory breakfast…I’ve been eating a lot of sweet stuff lately and we had all of these delicious garlic/onion/sesame bagels to use up.  I’ve also been on a major casserole kick lately, so this was a perfect way to keep that rolling…not to mention, it is stupid easy to make!

This is slightly adapted from the Pioneer Woman’s Breakfast Bread Pudding (from her cookbook).

Everything Bagel Breakfast Pudding

Ingredients:

4 savory/salty bagels that are a couple of days old.

2 + TB butter

1 medium onion, chopped

1 pound veal chorizo (but breakfast sausage will also work!)

10 eggs

1 cup of half and half or whole milk

Salt/Pepper/Smoky paprika to taste

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

Optional: add your favorite veggies (peppers, spinach, beans, etc)

What to do:

*If you’re using fresh bagels, lightly toast them and let them sit out for a few hours to dry out…

Cut bagels into chunks (I cut mine 4 ways both directions, no need to slice) and set aside.

Place 2 tbsp. butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Once melted, add in your onions. Cook until nice and soft (I caramelized mine because Ben’s a weirdo and only likes disintegrated onions, but as long as they are pretty well cooked, that will also work).

Remove onions from skillet, placing into a small bowl, and set aside.

Put sausage into the same pan, breaking up as you cook it. Let brown. Remove from heat. If you have a lot of grease, drain it (this will depend on your sausage).

While your sausage is cooking, whisk together your eggs, cream and spices in a large bowl. I went very light on salt as the chorizo and bagels I used were pretty well flavored, but again, this is to your taste.

Grease a 2 ½ qt casserole dish with remaining butter.

Layer half of your bagel pieces in the dish.

Add half of your sausage and onions.

Top with half of your cheese.

Repeat bagel, sausage, onion and cheese layers.

Pour your egg mixture over dry ingredients. This part is a little scary, but it will fit!

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It should look like this

Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight/for a few hours.

The next day… pre-heat oven to 350 (you’ll want to take your casserole out of the fridge so it warms up as well). Once pre-heated , place casserole in the oven, still  covered. Bake for 20 minutes.

Remove foil and bake another 20-25 minutes or until cheese is melted, and casserole is firm and crispy.

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What carb-filled dreams are made of

Eat immediately. This will also reheat well.

Happy Thanksgiving, Shopping and Long Weekend, Friends! Cheers!


Real Talk: Skoop B-Strong Review

Hi Friends!

As promised, I am back to tell you a little bit about Skoop.

I was contacted about three weeks ago to see if I’d be interested in trying this product. After checking out their website and ingredient list, I decided to give it a shot.

Full Disclosure: I was sent a bag of Skoop B Strong in exchange for a review. Per usual, all opinions are my own. I was not compensated for my time.

Let me start off by saying, I prefer to get all of my vitamins and minerals from real food. I’ve never been one to take multi-vitamins or a pill or, for that matter, drink a protein shake. I know that there are people out there who need that something extra, but I personally prefer to eat my nutrients and typically am able to do so without any troubles (and to be honest, I’m not good at REMEMBERING to take a daily vitamin).

But…there are times I can’t eat as well or as much I want to…. Like when my husband opens a restaurant.

Confession: Since the restaurant opened, I’ve been struggling to eat enough high quality food. Most of my meals are eaten in a hurry, either while I’m driving to work in the morning, hovering over a counter while trying to do six other things at once, or scarfed down on my lunch hour while trying to take care of other items on my to-do list that I no longer have time for after work.

I’ve eaten more late night slices of pizza in the last four months than I care to admit… and my body has not been happy about it.

Don’t get me wrong, pizza is delicious and portable…but it’s not something I like to eat every day…or even every week for that matter.

I’d prefer to eat a salad every day… but when you’re running on 4 or 5 hours of sleep and trying to do everything in a hurry, salads are a lot of work. And take a lot of concentration to eat.

If you know me personally, you know that I am not someone who can go without eating. If I do, I become an absolutely miserable you-know-what. I’m also not someone who likes to drink their calories…because that never actually keeps you full.

Naturally, when I was contacted to check out this product, I was skeptical… but I figured it would be worth it to at least see what they had to offer.

So what is Skoop (From their website)?

B-STRONG is a plant-based protein blend. It contains prebiotics, mediterranean fruits, fatty acids, and higher carbs to make sure your body is properly using all the nutrients it can. Plant-based protein is more easily broken down and absorbed than protein from a steak, so your body can direct more energy toward healing and extra energy.”

Another plus? They use ingredients I can pronounce. It’s protein powder, but made from REAL foods.

“B-STRONG contains a well-rounded profile of nutrients, which every meal requires. Single plants generally don’t contain all the essential amino acids necessary to create a complete protein, so we used plants that complement each other. B-STRONG gives you all the essential amino acids your body needs to prevent muscle breakdown and loss. Use B-STRONG to help build muscle, recover faster, or just as a strength-building snack during the day.”

I also really like their business model and that they give back to the community. From the Skoop Website:

“That’s why we partnered with The Chef Ann Foundation, a non-profit that provides real, fresh fruits and veggies to public school lunch programs all over the country – programs that currently need to classify french fries, tomato sauce, and ketchup as vegetables in order to meet FDA standards.

For every serving of Skoop sold, we donate one serving of free, fresh fruits and veggies to a school lunch program. You buy a serving, you give a serving. And everyone can feel good about that. Literally”

So I decided to give it a shot.  What did I have to lose? If I hated it, I wouldn’t have wasted any money trying it out.

First things first, can I just say, I was absolutely floored when I got the package from Skoop? I was expecting a couple of sample packs … they sent me a whole bag!!! They also sent me five days’ worth of their A-game and a cute little shaker bottle! Wow!

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I immediately tried the powder with some water to see how it blended. The result? Minimal clumping, no weird chalky aftertaste and a lightly sweet vanilla flavor. I liked the flavor but I could tell right away that it would taste even better with milk.

Since then, I’ve been mixing it up with milk (cow, almond or coconut) and if I’m feeling fancy, some cold coffee. I’ve also added it to smoothies (with almond butter, almond milk, banana, spinach or kale and some cacao).

My favorite way to drink Skoop is with coconut water, almond milk, cacoa and maca powders. The cacoa gives it a nice chocolate flavor and the maca adds some nuttiness. I also really loved adding the A-Game to my morning smoothie for a double-whammy of nutrients.

My next plan is to make some energy bites or some peanut butter cookies with it.

So is this worth buying?

After having it almost daily for the last few weeks, I would say yes! Definitely!

I’ve been drinking Skoop for a quick breakfast or as a snack before going in to work at the bistro and I’ve been full. I feel energized and haven’t had any stomach issues (This is HUGE because, if you’re waiting tables, you don’t have time to run to the bathroom).

For a plant based protein, it doesn’t have any weird after-tastes and doesn’t cause any digestion/gas issues (I know you know what I’m talking about).

I also love the ingredient list and all of the micro-nutrients. Seriously, look at this!

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HealthySkoop.com

For all of that, a 30 serving bag is $67.

Skoop was generous enough to give me a discount code to share with you. Use the code “NOTEBOOK10” at checkout for 10% off your entire purchase.

Sidenote: My husband purchased a raw protein/meal replacement around the same time with an equally impressive ingredient list and though I like that one as well, I do notice, I wasn’t as full and had some of the previously mentioned protein farts (sorry, TMI).

Huge thank you to Skoop for sending me this product!

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Happy Wednesday, friends!