Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Tasty Snack Tuesday - Experimental Carrot Cake Smoothie

Do you like carrot cake?

Do you like smoothies?  (Or, as my 2 year old would say, smoobies)

What if you could have them all in one?  Sounds good to me!

So, I labeled this post as "experimental" because, after browsing a lot of carrot cake smoothie recipes, I really just threw this one together, and honestly, it needs some tweaking, but I'm sharing this test version of it with you because I'd love to know if YOU have any thoughts!  Here's what I did:

Carrot Cake Smoothie

1 cup carrot juice (I used the kind from Trader Joe's, its 80 calories/cup)
1/4 cup milk of your choice (I used almond)
1/2 ripe banana, preferably sliced and frozen
1/4 cup dry oatmeal
splash vanilla extract
spices to taste - I used a little nutmeg and cinnamon
about 1 cup of ice, more of less depending on how thick/thin you want your drink
sweetener of your choice to taste (I love liquid stevia)

Blend everything up until its nice and smooth, and enjoy!

Now, this version is pretty tasty, but I'm feeling like it could still use something.  More oatmeal, less carrot juice, maybe some applesauce, etc.  If you have any thoughts, I'd love it if you would share them!  At any rate, this version only sets you back about 200 calories, so its a win, and super healthy!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Thankful Thursday - "Snug-gle?"

First of all, do you know how hard it is to get a picture of this guy now?!  Its nearly impossible!

Secondly, every other word out of James's mouth these days is "snug-gle?", with emphasis on splitting it into its 2 syllables.  I love it!  Most mornings (though not today when he was up and ready with no need to lay around for a bit) he lays in bed with me and every couple of minutes cuddles up to me and and asks to "snug-gle."  And now at night when we sit down on the couch to unwind together as a family, he just wants to "snug-gle."  I know it won't always be this way, so I am super thankful.

I'm also thankful for a conversation that Chris and I had the other day.  There are no super serious details but the gist of it had to do with working and Chris telling me he didn't want me pursuing anything but fitness and/or baking because he knows its what I love.  That meant the world to me.

And finally I'm thankful for the much nicer (though hotter, we had to turn on the a/c) weather we've been having!  We're walking more, playing outside more, and yesterday we ventured to the (still cold) pool.  Its great!

What are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

A little late, but....

Here's a link to the delicious chocolate pudding cake that Chris made for me on mother's day:


A hilarious snafu here and there, but the end result was a completely delicious pudding cake, complete with homemade whipped cream (not hard, people, 1 pint of heavy cream, 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract, 2 tablespoons of sugar, whip it until, you know, you have whipped cream!).  And I'm pretty proud of him for doing everything himself.

It was a great mother's day, complete with flowers, cards, food, and a new Willow figure to add to my collection.

I hope you're having a great week!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Tasty Snack Tuesday - Secret Ingredient Chocolate Protein Shake

This is one of my absolute favorite snacks lately.  And the fact that my 2 year old loves it and now asks for "smoobies" because of it, is awesome.  Even my husband liked this.

That is, until Chris found out what the secret ingredient is.  Remember, my husband is missing the genes that incline you to be okay with knowingly eating healthful ingredients (which is why I have to sneak them in most of the time, shhhhh!)

Before I tell you, let me just say that I would never have tried this some months ago. I would have deemed this a "hippie vegan" recipe and snubbed my nose at it.

But you know what?  This secret ingredient is flavorless.  But, it adds thickness, creaminess, and best of all, natural, not-powdered (ie, child-friendly) protein!

Okay, are you ready?

It's tofu, people.  TOFU.

Now, maybe you're vegan or a vegetarian and this doesn't sound crazy.  Well, our house is far from either of these, so this was crazy to me.  And then I tried it.  And its flipping awesome.  Here's what I do:

Secret Ingredient Chocolate Protein Shake

1 cup milk of your choice (I use skim milk for an extra protein boost)
6 ounces Nigari silken tofu (or whatever kind you want, I get this from Trader Joe's and its $1.50 for 12 ounces)
2 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
sweetener of choice (I like liquid stevia)
about 1 cup ice

Mix it all up in your blender or with an immersion blender and enjoy!  Made with these exact ingredients will give you a shake for right about 200 calories, only 5 grams of fat, and 22 grams of protein!  I frequently have this mid afternoon to hold me until dinner.  Sometimes, if James has just gotten up from a nap, he will share it with me and he loves it!

I promise you with everything in me, if you're a tofu-hater like I was, you will never taste the tofu in this.  It just gives a creamier texture.  I have tried a firmer tofu in this when I was using what was left from something else, and I did not care for the texture.  It never became smooth.  But this kind, the one listed above, blends up so smoothly.  I love it.  Its a staple in my pantry now.  When you buy it, you don't even have to refrigerate it until you open the box it comes in.  Pretty cool.

So I dare you - try it!  You'll see.  Super yummy!

Recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This one is for my mom....

Happy mother's day to my mom, Laura!  I love you very much.  I might be kind of be a grown-up now, but you know what?  When I need something, much of the time my first thought is, I need my mom.

Love you so much.  Happy mother's day - I wouldn't be here without you!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fit Friday - Apple Pie Bars

Happy Friday!

Okay, you're probably starting to notice that I am obsessed with really into making my own homemade "Larabar" creations.  But come one, what's better than being able to make your own healthy, super delicious snacks?  You know everything that goes into them, you control the portion size, and you get to lick the bowl when you're done.  It just doesn't get much better than this.

I have to say, I really nailed this recipe.  These bars seriously taste like heavenly bites of apple pie - and who doesn't love apple pie?  The only thing I would probably do differently when I make them again is increase the oatmeal to a full cup (I only used a half cup when I made these).  They could use just a little more backbone.  But otherwise..... these are so awesome!

Apple Pie Bars

13 dates, pitted and chopped
80 grams Trader Joe's dried apple rings (about 20 rings)
1/4 cup cashew butter (or other nut butter)
1/2 to 1 cup dry oats
1 teaspoon cinnamon, or to taste
splash vanilla extract

Give all ingredients a whirl in your food processor until they are well combined and there are no obvious pieces of any one ingredient.  Press into a pan lined with parchment paper and store in the refrigerator.  Cut into 12 bars.  Each bar will yield between 120 and 135 calories, depending on how much oatmeal you use.  Not bad, huh?  And they are so delicious!  Cashew butter works great due to its sweet, mild richness, but you could certainly use almond butter or even peanut butter.  You could always play with your amounts of dates and apple rings (and if you can't get your hands on dates, use an equivalent of raisins, about 1 cup).  I love TJ's dried apple rings because there is no added sugar.  Its just apples.  Awesome!

I hope you have an awesome weekend planned!  And don't forget to show your mom some extra love on Mother's Day.  Presents and flowers are nice, but you know what moms really want?  I can tell you from experience - we just want to know we're appreciated.  Since becoming a mom, I have learned very well that it truly is a thankless job at times.  Sometimes when you've worked so hard with your child, you can only pray that you will see the benefits later on in life in the person he/she becomes.  But when someone notices that you cleaned the house, put away the laundry, fed your child, went to the grocery store, managed to brush your teeth, etc, all in the same day, it's awesome.  You certainly don't become a mom with the expectation of thanks for every little thing you do, but it sure is nice when little things get noticed.

See you soon!  And I have something different for you this Sunday - my husband will be posting for Sweet Sunday!  I can't wait to see what he's whipping up for me.  The only stipulation I gave him was that it had to be blog-worthy.... that might sound like cruel pressure, but hey, the guy ate through my special stash of chocolates, so it seemed fair.  Get ready!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thankful Thursday

If you know me at all, you're going to think that what I'm thankful for today is pretty strange.

I'm thankful that I had to pull out of my long-awaited Insanity training this Saturday.  Yep, thankful.  Disappointed?  Sure.  A little worried that there might be something more than IT Band syndrome going on with my knee?  Uh, yeah.  But thankful?

Yes, indeed.

Exactly a week ago, I was feeling 90% better.  Then I went and overdid it.  Classic me.  So then I paid for that all weekend.  On Monday morning, I was thinking, okay, God, are you going to magically heal my knee overnight or what?  Surely, You didn't give me this awesome opportunity and then let me get hurt.  So I was praying for a sign.  And that came in the form of a conversation that I had with an instructor I see regularly, and with whom I feel fairly close.  She talked me down from my "Insanity or bust" mindset, and I took that as God, and made the decision to cancel.  And like the Insanity Master Trainer told me, it will come around here again.  It's cool.

But, the reason I'm thankful for this happening is that I am finally feeling like I am not defined by the training I do.  The devotion that we just finished on She Reads Truth was a big eye-opener for me in the way that I put working out and striving to achieve my idea of perfection into a higher importance than my relationship with God.  I don't want to do that.  And I sure don't want to trash this body He gave me.  So I will take it easy, I will NOT overdo it anymore, and I will wait to see where He is taking me.

Its definitely way better than anywhere I could take myself.

What are you thankful for today?

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Tasty Snack Tuesday - The Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies


Yesterday I realized that it has been a while since I've baked any special treats for my husband.  I was so busy studying for my test that baking really got side-lined.  So last night I asked Chris if he had any special requests, and he asked for the best ever chocolate chip cookies.  I knew exactly what he was after.  This recipe is seriously the best I have ever tried.  I believe the first time I made these was when I was about 10ish weeks pregnant, Chris had had a lousy previous day at work, and I wanted to make a feel-better treat for him.  If you look at my source link, you'll see that the blogger stated that she has no desire to ever try another chocolate chip cookie recipe - I feel the same way!  These are awesome - a slightly crispy exterior, with a soft interior.  And you can make these cookies smaller for an even crispier texture, or really big, as the original recipe directs, for a very thick chewy cookie.  And, if you make these by the tablespoon, as I did, you'll get a decent size cookie for under 100 calories - win!

Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla
3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.  In a larger mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugars together, then add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla.  Beat until well combined.  Then on low speed, beat in the flour mixture until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Measure dough by the tablespoon and leave about 2 inches between each ball of dough on the baking sheet.  Bake for 11-13 minutes.  You want the edges to barely be browning, and the middle to be a bit puffy and still looking under-done.  Remove the pans and allow the cookies to cool a minute or two before transferring to a cooling rack - they will continue to cook a little while they are cooling.  Once they are cool enough to handle, try not to devour them all!  I got 51 cookies.

James and I have only checked 2 so far for quality control purposes.  They were good..... though we may have to check more.  I want to be sure they are husband-quality, hehe.

I hope your week started off great and will continue to be awesome.  We are enjoying some beautiful weather and taking full advantage of that by hitting the nearby parks - and an hour or so at the park usually makes for a tired child, which usually makes for a great nap, which of course makes for some great mommy time - yay!

Recipe from Annie's Eats

Friday, May 3, 2013


I think its about time I tell you about Influenster. If you use social media at all, and enjoy testing and reviewing new products and then sharing your experiences with others, it might be a good program for you.

Take the awesome box I received last month - called a Sugar n Spice VoxBox - complimentary from Influenster.  I was sent lotion, witch hazel towelettes, a breakfast snack, a nice set from Colgate, and sweetener - thanks Influenster, that was pretty generous!

Vaseline Spray n Go Moisturizer -I received a generous full size bottle of Vaseline's very convenient spray lotion.  Pros - convenient, love the "lock" feature on it and the slim design (you could easily and safely throw this in your bag without worrying about leakage).  Cons - even though this rapidly absorbs and is lighter than other moisturizers, I don't care for the oily feeling left on my skin.  In all honesty, I will keep this in my gym bag for the convenience (since my skin gets tortured there with the constant hand washing), but will stick to my regular moisturizer.

Dickinson's Original Witch Hazel Towelettes - I received a box of 20 individually wrapped towelettes, and you know what?  I love these.  The scent of witch hazel is kind of an acquired preference, but I like it, and I love the fact that while these contain alcohol, they don't sting if you have chapped skin.  Pros - convenient individual wrapping, non-irritating.  Cons - Walgreens sells these for almost $8/box.  In my book, that's a little pricey.

Nectresse Natural No Calorie Sweetener - I received a 40-count box of sweetener packets, made primarily from monk fruit.  In case you don't know, I have a sweet tooth, people.  BIG TIME.  I have admittedly been trying to wean myself off of sweeteners (I started using Liquid Stevia, which is about as truly natural as I think you can get), but I did try these.  They are labeled natural, which is cool, though I was under the impression that if the ingredients list contains erythritol, that negates just how "natural" something is (I could be completely wrong on this, and if I am, please correct me).  Some people say Nectresse has a major artificial taste, but I thought it was okay.  I don't have a pro or con side for this one - if you use artificial sweeteners, I'd say give it a go - at under $4/box, the price isn't too bad.  If artificial sweeteners aren't your thing, then you don't need to worry about it.

Colgate Optic White - In the box was a toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash.  Now, unfortunately, I cannot use any whitening products at all due to severe sensitivity, BUT my dear husband Chris gladly tested these products.  As for the toothpaste and the mouthwash, Chris liked them both and felt that they performed as well as his preferred brand (and by preferred, I mean cheaper), but the toothbrush kind of made us laugh - do people still use regular toothbrushes?

belVita Breakfast Biscuits -  pictured below.  I received one individual serving of the cinnamon brown sugar breakfast biscuits.  I had actually tried the blueberry flavor, and another I can't remember, a couple of times when we were on one of our usual road trips.  I'd grab them for both myself and James, so I actually loved these before I received my sample, and I still love them.  Would I buy them?  I have in the past, so yeah, I might.  They are really tasty, and at around 230 calories per package (that's 4 biscuits), they are right on par with what I would eat calorie-wise for a normal breakfast.  And James likes them, which, if you're a parent, you know its awesome when you find another go-to food for your child.

So anyway, check out Influenster if you never have.  And in case it was unclear, I did receive all of these products free from Influenster, but the reviews are my honest thoughts and I was not compensated for them.

Fit Friday - Crossfit and PB & J Bars

Happy Friday!

I don't know how your Fridays look, but at least for now, Friday is a strength training day for me.  I take BodyPump, and LOVE it.  Eventually I think I might like to teach it, though I've heard the training is brutal.  But, I have made so many gains in strength, not to mention its straight up fun, since regularly doing this class twice a week.  And do you know what's awesome about strength training?  As you build muscle, your metabolism becomes more efficient and your body will burn around 50 extra calories per day at rest - that's an extra 350 calories per week - its almost like getting paid to do something fun, which is a huge win in my book!

The workout I am sharing with you today is a crossfit-style workout - it combines strength (with only body weight) with a little cardio.  Its 10 minutes long - you've probably got time to do it now!  If you have a little extra time on your hands, I'd probably do it a couple of times through, but if you only have 10 minutes, this is for you!


And later on when you need a little snack, just because I am in LOVE with these bars, here's a recipe for what I consider to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in bar form:

PB & J Bars

12 dates, pitted and chopped
3/4 cup dried cranberries (or raisins, but the cranberries really give it that jelly taste)
1/2 cup nut butter of your choice (I mix it up with peanut butter and cashew butter)
3 tablespoons chia seeds (if you don't have them, its okay, just omit)
1 cup dry oatmeal

Put everything into a food processor or high-powered blender and pulverize until you have a nice thick ball and few crumbs.  You may have to turn your "dough" out onto wax paper and finish smooshing (yep, smooshing) it together with your hands.  Next, I like to press these into a pan and cut them into 16 bars, but its up to you how big or small you want them.  Cutting these into 16 servings will yield one bar with about 140 calories - about the nutrition content and size of a SoyJoy bar (and much tastier in my opinion).  Keep these wrapped up in the fridge and enjoy!  This little guy loves them:

I hope you had a great week!  We have rainy weather today, and probably for the next few days, but we got to enjoy some beautiful sunny days earlier in the week, and we took full advantage of being able to hit a couple of parks.  James has already been asking this morning for the "par....k".

I hope you're gearing up for a great weekend!  See you soon!

Recipe adapted from The Wannabe Chef 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Thankful Thursday

I'm thankful that James had a great night of sleep.  He was up a couple of times the night before and this mama needed some sleep.  I'm also thankful for a new friend introducing us to an AWESOME new park here.  Its completely gated and each area is great for James.  If you live in the St. Louis area, you should check out DeMun Park.  And oh yeah, we've been having absolutely BEAUTIFUL weather, which made getting out to the parks here extra awesome!

What are you thankful for today?

**Just FYI, Blogger is having some major issues with photo uploads (not for everyone, but some people, including myself), and apparently some commenting features.  I can post pictures using Blogger Mobile, but not from my computer.  Hopefully it gets fixed soon.**

Wednesday, May 1, 2013