I always love coming home to see my family, but this weekend was especially packed with fun.
Yesterday morning, I took my mom to get a massage for her birthday. It was only my second time ever getting a massage, but I don’t think it will be my last. I had two huge knots in my back that seriously hurt coming out, but overall, it was quite the amazing hour.
After we were all relaxed, we picked up my cousin and headed to Panera for lunch. I got the strawberry poppyseed chicken salad with chicken, strawberries, blueberries, pineapple, Mandarin oranges, pecans, and poppyseed dressing and it was absolutely delicious. My cousin made a comment about how he would never think to mix fruit and veggies into one salad and I agreed that I never used to either, but now I love doing that. The sweet fruit is such a good addition and I’d definitely get this one again.
On the side, I also had chips, a tropical hibiscus iced tea…
And of course a chocolate chip cookie.
After lunch, we went back to my mom’s house to make some food for my other cousin’s graduation party. I was asked to bring Oreo truffles, so I decided to give them a little school spirit and decorate them with purple paw prints.
After we were finished cooking, we hit the party store for balloons and stopped by the grocery store for some dinner ingredients. We were all craving Mexican (obviously), so we decided to make our own at home instead of going out. I did the cooking and made tacos with all the toppings plus chicken and cheese quesadillas.
I had a couple tacos with ground beef, lettuce, and salsa, a couple quesadilla slices, and a whole bunch of sautéed red peppers. It was a seriously filling meal and we all pretty much agreed that eating it at home was even better than going out.
After dinner settled, we headed off for dessert (obviously, again) in the form of ice cream. I got orange sherbet in a chocolate dipped waffle cone with chocolate sprinkles, and it was pretty dang awesome. My sister and I (and my cousins, mom, and aunts…) worked at this ice cream place in high school and college, and they never had chocolate dipped cones when we worked there, but they’ve been getting more and more creative over the years.
As a chocolate-lover, their innovations make me pretty excited.
Time to get ready for the graduation party… Hope you are all having a fabulous weekend!
What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Have you ever gotten a massage?
This weekend was a little bit backwards from how my weekends normally go – mostly because of the weather. Saturday started off cloudy and rainy, and I had to go into work for a few hours in the morning, so I decided to get all my weekly chores out of the way right off the bat.
After work, I headed straight to the gym to get in one more workout for the week. Being at the Y on a Saturday morning between 9 and 11 is really not fun to me because of how crowded it gets, but luckily by the time I was finishing up, it was clearing out.
Despite the crowds, I do love Saturday workouts because they often mean I can spend as long as I want in the gym. I can move slower, spend more time on things I want to work on, and practically get as much in as I feel like with nothing pressing to rush off to. That’s definitely how it went this weekend, and it was good to spend some extra time stretching and working on some new moves that I’ve been trying to master.
Here’s what my Saturday workout looked like:
- Warm-up + stretch
- Back squats:
- 12 @ 95#; 10 @ 105#; 8 @ 135#; 5 @ 155#
- 5×3: 185#; 155#; 135#; 105#; 95#
- 15×3 @ 35#:
- Shoulder press
- Upright rows
- Front squats: 5×5 @ 95#
- 1 Snatch + 5 Overhead squats x10 @ 55#
- Squat cleans: 5×5 @ 553
- Sumo deadlift high pulls: 5×5 @ 55#
- RDLs: 5×5 @ 55#
- Snatch drills
After my long workout, I headed home to clean my apartment and do my laundry, stopping for lunch in between. I wanted Mexican, so I cooked up chicken and peppers in a pan on the stove with chili powder and cumin, and had some chips and salsa on the side.
The rest of the day was spent shopping for new workout pants (found a pair at TJ Maxx) and running errands. And while I was out… all I was thinking about was pizza. I haven’t had pizza in quite a while, so I was thinking about stopping to pick one up, when the idea hit me: cauliflower crust pizza. I’d been wanting to try it out for a while, and with some time to kill and a craving for pizza, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. It came out absolutely wonderful too, so I’ll definitely be sharing the recipe later this week.
I woke up early on Sunday and started the day off with a big batch of extra-green spinach banana pancakes with syrup, berries, and bacon. I’m not quite sure what went wrong this time, but they all stuck to the pan and it was rather devastating. Luckily they were still delicious (even if they weren’t that pretty), but I think it might be time to buy a new, non-burnt pan…
After breakfast, I hurried off to meet up with a couple friends to hike Mt. Monadnock. It was the absolute perfect day for a hike – sunny and warm but not brutally hot.
Apparently a lot of other people had the same idea as we did because the parking lot was packed, but luckily the trail didn’t feel crowded at all. We took a trail I’d never done before, which seemed far less-traveled than the main one, and we only passed by a few other groups the entire time.
The clear skies made for picturesque views all around, and I took it all in from the top. I’m severely directionally-challenged, but on a clear day, they say you can see Boston from the summit.
How lucky am I to live in such a beautiful place?! (The correct answer would be: pretty dang lucky.) I absolutely love it here.
Once we made it back to the base, I headed home and spent a couple hours out lounging by the pool at my apartment. It wasn’t quite warm enough for me to want to take a dip, but it was nice to get a little sun.
And the last stop of the day was the kitchen for some meal prep. Since I did groceries on Friday, my fridge is absolutely filled to the brim with food… Chicken, steak, eggs, fruits, and veggies galore!
This week, I decided to take the easy route and make one batch of meatloaf filling and turn it into two different types of meals. Sometimes I make a meatloaf that lasts me practically an entire week, but I’m so sick of it after a few days that I’m shoving it in just to keep from wasting it.
To avoid that, I combined a pound of ground turkey, two plum tomatoes, one green pepper, one egg, about 1/4 cup of almond flour, and a couple tablespoons of tomato paste (ingredients: tomatoes), to make the base. Then, I put half of it into a loaf pan and topped it with bacon, and made half of it into meatballs. I baked both in the oven, cooked up some green beans to go with the meatloaf, and peppers to go with the meatballs (I’ll probably add fresh spinach when I actually eat them), and voila – two very different meals.
I don’t usually add tomato paste to my meatloaf, but I tried it out for dinner last night, and I think it was a great choice. I had it leftover from Saturday’s pizza, and it definitely gave the meatloaf an extra kick and made it nice and moist.
I also had quite a few bananas laying around, so I made a batch of banana bread muffins using three bananas, six eggs, about 1/3 cup (maybe?) of almond flour, a big tablespoon of coconut flower, a pinch of baking soda and baking powder, four teaspoons of coconut oil, and a crapload of cinnamon. (I’m so precise, I know.) Since the loaf pan was occupied with the meatloaf, I used my individual brownie pan, and they came out wonderful. It made six pretty large muffins, which would be perfect for either breakfast or dessert!
So between working and spending too much time at the gym and shopping and cooking and hiking and napping by the pool… this weekend certainly flew by. Sometimes though – like in this case – that’s the sign of a really good weekend, so you won’t hear me complaining. We’ve only got so many summer weekends to enjoy, and I think I’m off to a good start!
What did you meal prep for this week?
What did you do this weekend?
Do you like hiking?
Every now and then I like to truly indulge and go buckwild on a huge piece of chocolate cake or a gigantic ice cream sundae, but when it comes to my every day eating habits, I try to be a lot more health-conscious than that.
I’m of the camp that believes that depriving yourself only leads to bad things (binging, feeling crappy, cravings, etc.), so I try not to do that. I know that if I never allowed myself to have a sweet treat here and there, I would go crazy and want them even more, thus defeating the purpose of trying to make healthy eating a maintainable lifestyle. So if I want to have dessert every night after dinner, I do it – I just try to eat well for the majority of the day, keep the treats small, and make them something relatively healthy. There has to be a balance, but if I’m going to eat “junk food” on a regular basis, I basically try to make it as least-bad as possible.
The Co-Op is one of my favorite new places to find yummy snacks, and last week I picked up a few things to have on hand. Along with some usual buys, like nuts and dates, I also bought some chips and salsa, Go Raw Super Cookies, dark chocolate covered blueberries, and WOW Snickerdoodles.
Chips and salsa is one of my favorite snacks, and although salsa can be extremely healthy, you have to watch out for the chips. These are not my favorite brand out there (these are), but they are gluten-free, the taste is pretty good, and the ingredients list is short, so they make it on my list occasionally.
I’ve talked about the Go Raw cookies before, and they are definitely one of my favorite healthy-ish treats. The ingredients list is super short, and I know what every single one of the things on the list means. Add to that the fact that they taste great, are low in calories, fat, and sugar, and it’s pretty easy to see why they make my list.
For me, a real treat has become a gluten-free goody that satisfies my sweet tooth, and these g-free, wheat-free Snickerdoodles totally fit the bill. (I’m not saying they’re healthy because they’re gluten-free, but a treat that doesn’t upset my stomach is what I’m going for these days.) I like to have a couple with a bunch of sliced up berries and a glass of almond milk, and it totally satisfies any kind of dessert craving I may have without going overboard.
Another thing I’ve been craving as the weather gets warmer is ice cream and froyo – but unfortunately, eating ice cream sundaes every single night after dinner isn’t really the greatest plan. I’ve heard of making homemade sorbet in the food processor before, and while I had my doubts, I decided to give it a try the other night.
I started with a frozen banana and a few frozen strawberries and threw them into the FP until it was completely blended.
Once blended, I poured it into a bowl and it was a creamy, fruity pile of goodness, for sure.
Because chocolate makes everything better and the rest of the “dessert” is entirely healthy, I also added a few of these Enjoy Life chocolate chunks. (Again, I’m going for least-bad-for-me. Since I’m somewhat trying to avoid dairy as well, I thought I’d give them a try, but if dairy/nuts/soy don’t bother you, you may want to try a different kind of chocolate. I would generally pick a low-sugar, high quality dark chocolate, and honestly I think I’ll stick with that in the future anyway.) I just stirred in the chocolate chunks at the end, but I think I will try putting them right into the FP next time (depending on the size) to get them nice and small.
Before I ate it, I popped it back into the freezer for just a couple of minutes (about the time it took me to do the dishes) to let it set back up. I don’t think this step is necessary if you can’t wait, but I’d also like to see the difference if you left it in there for even longer. Even more ice cream like, perhaps?
I’d also like to experiment with different add-ins, like almond milk for some extra creaminess, and different kinds of fruit bases. I think the banana is a good place to start because it gives it some volume, but beyond that, the options are limitless!
You’ve probably seen many of my other “healthy-ish” dessert ideas already, but they often include things like dark chocolate + strawberries, dates, fruit + nut butters, healthier cookies, or plain Greek yogurt with fun mix-ins like angel food cake, dark chocolate, and berries. The trick is to try and structure your treats like you would any other meal – healthy and balanced – but to throw one little sweet surprise in there. (Nine times out of ten that’s dark chocolate for me.) Don’t go overboard, but treat yourself, and make it as least-bad whenever you can!
What are your favorite healthy treats?
What’s your philosophy on dessert?
The other day, Peanut Butter & Co retweeted my (wicked old!) recipe for healthier dark chocolate dreams cookies, and it inspired me to try another one. I bought a couple of jars of their dark chocolate dreams, cinnamon raisin swirl, and white chocolate wonderful flavors a few weeks back, so I figured cookies would be the perfect treat at the end of last week. I’d never tried the white chocolate wonderful before, and I thought it’d pair perfect with dark chocolate chunks, so the recipe was pretty much a no-brainer.
I had this recipe on the brain, but I didn’t want to add any extra sugar, so I simplified it even further, and I was hugely pleased with how it came out.
- 1 cup White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup dark chocolate chunks (or chips)
(Makes about 10 cookies)
- Preheat oven to 350*F.
- Mix egg and peanut butter until completely blended.
- Add in chocolate and stir together.
- Spoon onto cookie sheet by rounded tablespoons. (NOTE: These cookies don’t change shape much, so flatten them down before baking if you wish.)
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, being careful not to over bake.
- Transfer to wire rack and let cool.
Even though I was hoping for chewy, these actually came out more crumbly, although they were still totally delicious. They were sweet, the peanut butter taste wasn’t overpowering, and the dark chocolate added a perfect contrast, as always.
Next up, I’m thinking about peanut butter oatmeal cookies with the PB&Co. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl. Mmmm… I’m drooling already.
Give them a try and let me know what you think!
Happy Monday morning, people! I can’t think of a better way to kick off the week than with an absolutely delicious new recipe, so here we go!
I spent some time looking through my new cookbook (yes, another one) on Friday, drooling over all of the pages with recipes that I want to try.
Make It Paleo is a book I’ve had my eye on for a while now because not only do all of the recipes look delicious, but most of them are also super simple. I really can’t stand when recipes call for 100 different ingredients, most of which I have to go out and buy only to use one time and then forget about, so these really are right up my alley. I started using sticky notes to mark all of the ones I want to try, but when I realized I was marking every single page, I stopped. I guess I’ll be best served to just make my way through the book one page at a time!
Of course, the very first recipe I wanted to try was a dessert, and it couldn’t have been easier to make. There are endless ways you could customize this recipe, and you better believe I’m going to try every single one of them. White chocolate cups? Peppermint patties? Ohhhh, the possibilities…
Last night, I kept it simple and went with dark chocolate and almond butter. I used Ghirardelli 60% dark chocolate chips (I would’ve used my usual 70% TJ’s chocolate but it was frozen and I was too impatient to wait for it to thaw), and smooth almond butter.
To melt the chocolate, I used my normal microwave method: Pour the chocolate chips into a small microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30 seconds (or less) at a time, stirring frequently with a rubber spatula. I usually take the chocolate out before it is totally melted and stir it until it’s completely melted, just to be safe. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT overcook it! Burned chocolate is gross. Watch it, stir frequently, and go for 10 seconds at a time if you’re unsure.
Once the chocolate is melted, pour a little bit into the bottom of a mini muffin tin (or chocolate candy mold, if you have one), just to cover the bottom. Drop a little bit of nut butter (whatever kind’s your favorite) on top of the chocolate, and then pour more chocolate on top to cover it. Put the muffin pan in the freezer for a couple of hours, and once they are frozen, flip the muffin tin over onto the counter and they should pop right out.
I store them in the freezer because I like them that way, but you could store them in the fridge, or maybe even on your counter if it’s cool enough.
Aside from taking all of five minutes to make, these things are so tasty! Because they are homemade, you can control the quality (and number) of ingredients in them, and seriously, they taste even better than a store-bought Reese’s peanut butter cup.
Give them a try, and let me know how you like them!