WIAW #3: Pumpkin-palooza

Today’s What I Ate Wednesday post surrounds one thing and one thing only.  Pumpkin, my friends. Delicious, glorious, pumpkin.  Like everyone else, I’ve been incorporating pumpkin into my meals since the first day the temperature dropped below 70 degrees.

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 Thanks again to Jenn for hosting! 🙂

Obviously I didn’t eat/drink all of these meals in one day, more like one week, but it sure is tempting….

Pumpkin Spice Latte

You can’t say the words fall and pumpkin without a #psl, let’s be real.  I think it’s hilarious that the phenomenon that is the #psl has caused millions of  people to post pictures of their coffee cups like it’s their first born child.  Can’t say they are alone.  Whoops.

Tip: Make it “skinny-er” by asking for non-fat milk, no whip and only 2 pumps of the syrup in a tall.  If your coffee shop has almond milk- bonus!  I always try to cut the calories where I can and I don’t even notice the difference with a little less syrup.

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Pumpkin Protein Smoothie

This is one of my favorite smoothies to make in the morning.  It’s quick, easy and is a nice change from the usual fruit smoothie.

Pumpkin Protein Shake

Skinny Pumpkin Cookies

This is one of the most genius recipes I’ve ever seen.  Three ingredients, no milk, oil or eggs, and you won’t add an inch to your waistline by just smelling them.  When I say these are easy to make, that’s an understatement.  You can also substitute any other flavor of cake mix like my personal favorite, Devil’s Food, for a non-pumpkin-like cookie.

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Skinny Pumpkin Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 can pumpkin
  • 1 box cake mix (I used spice cake mix)
  • 1 cup (or more) chocolate chips

Directions:

Mix together, place on cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.  Cooking times will vary depending on your oven but I will say they are better when a little under cooked. 🙂

Pumpkin Spice K-cups

I found these K-cups at Target, for when I don’t have time to get my beloved latte.  Add a little stevia and almond milk or sugar free caramel creamer…it’s not the real thing, but it’ll do (and with a lot less calories, I’m sure). 🙂

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Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

One of my favorite breakfasts (when I have time on the weekends) is protein pancakes.  What’s better than protein pancakes? PUMPKIN protein pancakes.  Duh.  I found this recipe over at The Healthy Maven and immediately pinned it to try at a later date.  I like to top them with a little peanut butter or sugar-free syrup. I’ve now made these twice and I’m sure they will make their way into my meals many more times before fall is over!

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That’ll do it for today!

Question:

What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe??

Football & Friday Night Workout

My weekend started early, Primetime style. 🙂  The Rams were playing the 49ers during Thursday Night Football and this game would mark my first real Sunday tailgating experience in St. Louis.  Oh how different my game days have become.  Instead of going carb-less for a week and getting up at the crack of dawn smelling like spray tan, I can now show up 2 hours before the game, eat my face off and even wear (gasp!) a hat if I wanted to.  Let’s be honest, the hat part probably won’t happen unless it’s raining.  I can’t go a day without a good hair tease.  Once a cheerleader, always a cheerleader.

Apparently the tailgate food was actually relatively healthy, compared to most game days.  We had two kinds of shrimp, one bacon wrapped and made by my mom (yum!), bratwurst, rice, Chinese ramen salad and my personal favorite, indoor s’mores (also made by my mom, her stuff is always a hit).  I chose to limit myself to the bacon wrapped shrimp, Chinese ramen salad and indoor s’mores, along with some of the random pretzel mixes and dips that are inevitable. Recipes for the ramen salad and indoor s’mores are at the end of the post!

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The game itself was fun, until the Rams lost.  It just wasn’t our day. 🙁  I still enjoyed watching the cheerleaders every move though, surprise, surprise.

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The players’ tunnel was always my favorite part of the game.  Nothing beats running out of the tunnel with the lights out and pyrotechnics going off behind you.  I may or may not have cried as I watched the cheerleaders run out on Thursday night because I know the exhilaration and excitement they are feeling in that moment and it’s something you never forget.  It’s fine, I’ll get over it.  One day…

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I will say, it was fun sitting in the stands with my parents and Matt and actually being able to enjoy a game with them instead of waving at them from afar!

Needless to say, Friday was a rough one.  When you are used to going to bed like a grandma around 9:00 every night, midnight makes it a little hard to function the next day.  Matt and I reaallllyy were not in the mood to workout after work.  It was very tempting to park our butts on the couch and call it a night, but we forced ourselves to suck it up and go to the gym like we planned.  My workout wasn’t super high intensity but it was upper body focused and my arms were shaking by the end, so I think I did my job.  In the end, we were glad we went.  After all, it certainly didn’t kill us. 🙂  The workout alone takes 20 minutes and you don’t need any equipment, so it’s easily done at home.  If you don’t have access to a cardio machine, you can warm up with 5-10 minutes of jumping jacks, high knees, stairs, etc.

Upper Body Tabata Workout

(Shout out to Heather for the Side Plank Toe Touch move!  Thanks for the inspiration, it’s a good one!) 🙂

Exercise Links/Demonstrations for those that may not be familiar:

V-Ups

Plank Push-Ups

Plank Jumping Jacks

Side Plank Toe Touch

Start in side plank position with your top arm straight up.  Keeping your hips up, bring your top foot forward and hand down to touch your toe.  Repeat.

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Oh hey there, Big Foot.

Mountain Climbers

Plank Reaches

Start in plank position.  Keep your hips straight and touch each hand out in front of you, repeating until time is up.

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Tri-cep Push-Ups

Just like a normal push-up, but start with your hands closer to your body, right next to your shoulders.  When you lower your body, make sure your elbows point directly back.  Disclaimer: I did these on my knees during the workout, I barely made it through the one in the demo picture. 🙂

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Reverse Crunches

Walking Push-Ups

Start standing up, bend over at the waist, place your hands on the ground and walk them forward until you are in straight arm push-up position.  Do a push-up, then walk your hands back towards your body until you are back in standing position, keeping your legs only slightly bent when walking out/back.  That is 1 rep.

Superman Planks

Lower Russian Twists

Start on your back with legs at a 90 degree angle, arms out by your sides.  Bring your knees to one side, only going as far as you can while keeping the opposite shoulder blade and back touching the floor.  Return to starting position and repeat.

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Chinese Ramen Salad

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pkg. shredded green cabbage
  • 1 bunch chopped green onion (or less, depending on your taste)
  • 2 pkg. Ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
  • 3/4-1 c slivered almonds
  • 1/3 c olive oil
  • 1/3 c rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup Stevia
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp margarine

Directions:

Melt butter in a small skillet and toss almonds until toasted.  Break up Ramen noodles and combine with cabbage, almonds and green onion.  Mix oil, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper together.  Pour mixture over dry ingredients and toss until fully coated.  Serve and enjoy!

Indoor S’mores

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(File this one under a Cheat Day!)

Ingredients:

  • 8 c Golden Grahams cereal
  • 5 c mini marshmallows, plus 1 extra cup
  • 1 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1/4 c light corn syrup
  • 5 tbsp margarine
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Directions:

In a large bowl, measure cereal.  Butter/spray a 13×9 inch pan.  In a large microwavable bowl, microwave 5 cups of marshmallows, chocolate chips, corn syrup and butter/margarine for about 2-3min, stirring every minute, until melted.  Stir in vanilla.

Pour the mixture over cereal and toss until completely coated.  Stir in the 1 extra cup of marshmallows.

Press mixture in the pan.  Let stand uncovered for at least 1 hour, or refrigerate for a firmer bar. Cut and enjoy!

 

Have a great weekend!

 

WIAW: What I Ate Wednesday #1

After seeing many other What I Ate Wednesday (WIAW) posts around the blogging world, I decided to finally take part myself!  I love reading what other healthy living bloggers eat on a “normal” day and even though I do post recipes and some of my daily go-to meals, I haven’t posted an entire day’s worth of meals yet.  No better time like the present, right?  So, let’s get to it!

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Tuesday’s Menu:

Breakfast

I started out my morning with one of Matt’s and my favorites lately, non-fat vanilla Greek yogurt with fresh bluberries, chopped walnuts, and a little homemade Peanut Butter Granola.  I threw in a few chia seeds this time too, for good measure.

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Oh, and I can’t forget my coffee, complete with Stevia and unsweetened vanilla almond milk.  Anyone else love the fact that Target now has K-cups?  I went with the Caramel Machiatto flavor this time but I also spotted Pumpkin Spice, which you better believe will make it into my little red basket next time. 🙂

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Mid-Morning Snack

Fast forward a couple hours and per usual, I’m hungry again.  For a snack, I paired an apple with one of my new favs, Dark Chocolate Almond butter.  This stuff is no joke.

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Lunch

For lunch, I had had Kale Salad with grilled chicken and a few slivered almonds on top.  To top it off, I grabbed a small handful of trail mix and of course, no meal would be complete without a little dark chocolate.

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Gotta love Dove. 🙂

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Mid-Afternoon Snack

I really take this 5-6 small meals a day seriously, you guys. 🙂  A few hours after lunch, I grabbed a Homemade Protein Bar to hold me over until dinner.  This time, I used vanilla protein powder and added chocolate chips and dried cranberries.  Gooey and delicious, just the way I like them!

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Dinner

While I was cooking dinner, I snacked on a couple (seriously, just a couple!) of these new lentil chips I found at the store, with spicy hummus.  The chips were an interesting texture, but pretty good!

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When I was at Trader Joe’s yesterday, I spotted a bag of shredded brussel sprouts.  I always hear about these tasty recipes people come up with for brussel sprouts, but I just haven’t been able to jump on the bandwagon.  I thought maybe they would be better in the shredded form??  I sauteed them with broccoli, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and a little Italian seasoning.  I can’t say I’m convinced, but they weren’t too bad, especially after I added a little goat cheese on top.  Goat cheese fixes everything, let’s be real.  I paired the veggies with grilled chicken and a few dark chocolate acai berries for dessert (yum!).

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 Welp, there you have it!  Happy Hump Day!

Baby Sprinkle and White Chocolate Popcorn

Last Sunday my friend Lori and I threw a baby “sprinkle” for our friend Dana.  Dana already has a 2 year old little boy and this time around, it’s a GIRL! I absolutely cannot wait to spoil her. 🙂  Since this is her second baby and she obviously had a big shower the first time, Dana didn’t want us to make a big deal about it…but of course, we couldn’t resist the chance to throw a party!  It was so much fun to “sprinkle” her with girlie gifts and catch up with friends!

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Two of my favorite parts were the ice cream “sprinkle bar” and the popcorn covered in white chocolate (and sprinkles…are you sensing a theme??).  Of course, both of my favs involved sweets….weird…

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Having said that, I can’t end this post without giving you the recipe for the white chocolate popcorn!  It is beyond delicious.  There were literally only kernels left by the end of the party, so that’s always a good sign. 🙂  It’s also incredibly easy to make.  Annnnd equally as difficult to stop yourself from eating the entire batch in one sitting.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

White Chocolate Covered Popcorn

Ingredients:

2 bags popcorn (I used Fat Free, so the butter wouldn’t make it taste funny)

1 pkg almond bark

Directions:

Pop the popcorn, pour into a large container.  Melt the almond bark and pour over the popcorn, then fold/stir slowly until covered. You can add sprinkles in any color, to match the occasion!  I had this at my bridal shower, at other baby showers, and holiday parties and it’s always a hit!

*Make sure you melt the chocolate SLOWLY, otherwise it will burn.  I made my own double boiler by putting a little water in a sauce pan, bringing it to a boil and then put the chocolate in a smaller sauce pan and placed it in the water.  Another option is to put it in the microwave on low and stir it frequently.

File this one away for a good cheat day. 🙂

 

No Bake Oreo Cheesecake

So, don’t let all of my talk about low-carb living, running and squats fool you….chocolate is my weakness.  OK, all things sugary and sweet are my weakness, you caught me.  I am a firm believer that everyone needs a cheat day every once in a while (or once/twice a week, so sue me).  There is nothing wrong with treating yourself, you deserve it!

My parents had Matt and I over, along with my sister and her boyfriend, to celebrate my 28th birthday with a delicious AND healthy dinner, topped off with a little birthday treat- No Bake Oreo Cheesecake!  You know the saying, “she get it from her momma”?  Story of my life.  My mom and I are literally the same person, from looks, to personalities, to mannerisms, to our addiction to chocolate….I’ll be honest, it’s a little creepy, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

Below is the recipe, adapted from Brown Eyed Baker.  Enjoy!  You literally will not be able to stop eating it.  Consider yourself warned.

First of all, how cute is my mom? 🙂

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Before…..

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After….and yes, we took home the left overs.  I mean it was my birthday, after all. 🙂

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INGREDIENTS:

(Serves 10-12 people, we halved the recipe)

2½ boxes Double Stuff Oreos
2 (4-serving size) boxes cheesecake-flavored instant pudding mix (we used sugar free)
4 cups skim milk (original recipe calls for 2%)
1 (8-ounce) tub Cool Whip (we used Lite)
Chocolate syrup, for garnish

DIRECTIONS:

1. Line the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking dish with Oreos, breaking them to fill in any big gaps along the edges.

2. Whisk together 1 box of instant pudding with 2 cups of the milk for 5 minutes, or until the pudding thickens and appears set. Pour the pudding evenly over the layer of Oreos, using a rubber spatula to spread into an even layer.

3. Top with another layer of Oreos, again breaking them into pieces if needed to fill any large gaps.

4. Prepare the second box of pudding as you did the first, with the remaining 2 cups of milk. Pour the pudding over the 2nd layer of Oreos, spreading it into an even layer with a rubber spatula.

5. Top with the Cool Whip, using a spatula to spread into an even layer. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Prior to serving, garnish the top with chocolate syrup and chopped Oreos.