Monday, February 24, 2014

Staying Healthy Over Spring Break - Emily Stone, Guest Post

Hi everyone!

Things have been crazy for me lately with school and work and trying to stay on top of this healthy life! I feel like I haven't been able to keep in touch with you all but I hope you know that you're all still in my thoughts and I'm still over here rooting for all of you.

I know some of you out there are in school and life is crazy for you, too...but we all need to remember that our health cannot be put on the back burner for life's craziness.  Remember to keep YOU and your health a priority during those times.

With that, I'm bringing you another wonderful guest post from Emily Stone!  She's got some great ideas for you Spring Breakers and honestly, vacation or time off in general.  Welcome back, Emily!

Hey guys, just me again, Emily! I am back with another post for the lovely Jenn on her great blog. I don't know about any of you, but I am GLUED to my normal routines and that includes everything. I have set patterns I like to follow for fitness purposes, staying on schedule purposes, and just life in general. When I start to break these routines is when the trouble starts to begin for me. Spring Break (and vacations in general) usually mean going out, eating out, hanging with friends, and maybe some occasional drinking as well. So for today, I have some helpful tips on how to keep healthy and on track when your normal routines become interrupted. Enjoy!

Ah, spring break is almost here! A week spent in some sunny locale after the way this winter has been sounds like just the ticket. And yet, there may be bit of trepidation. After all, travel usually entails not enough sleep, little exercise, and way too much food. With a few tips and reminders, you can enjoy your time away and not let spring break derail your healthy routine.

Eyes on the Prize
To stay healthy, you have to make it a priority. This means no matter where you are or what you’re doing, health has to be on your mind. When you get a break from the college routine, it can be easy to throw your cares into the wind and live in the moment. But it will only take a few days of vacation living to undo weeks of hard work at the gym. That means you have to be sensible. Yes, you can go out with friends and enjoy dinner. But no, you should not binge eat late at night, or stay up until 4 AM. It’s also helpful to drink a lot of water. When you get back to school, you want to look dewy, glowing and wonderful. Not sick, bloated and tired.

Choose Your Own Adventure
The thing I like about travel away from the norm is the flexibility. You don’t have to go back to the room for all of your meals because you can eat out pretty much whenever. But “whenever” should not be “always.” When I’m on vacation, I plan to eat out only once a day, whichever meal suits me that day. Wherever I’m at, I scope out a healthy grocery store and stock up on healthy snacks such as yogurt, nuts and fresh fruit. Then I can eat my one meal a day without regret or worry that I’m undoing my hard work. And of course I stay hydrated. I tend to snack more when I’m thirsty, so a portable water bottle in my bag is a must-have. I’ve been using the Zing water bottle lately and love it - perfect for adding some flavor.

Walk It Out
One of the great things about staying in shape is that going on a trip is so much easier. Usually you won’t have a car, and walking becomes your means of transportation. A lot of walking. And this is nice because then you’re burning a lot of calories. Just walking around town or strolling down the beach helps to adhere to the overall fitness goals, and sweat off the dinner buffet from the night before. And let’s face it–walking on the beach is harder than walking just about anywhere. I personally find it helps to bring my yoga mat with me when I travel (assuming there is room in my suitcase after all the shoes). If not, I pack my resistance bands which I just got from Beachbody for Christmas from my husband. Even if my suitcase is stuffed to the brim, there is always room for those little guys. A quick workout before hitting the beach can do wonders!

Cover Up
While you may wait all winter for the first beach day, dreaming about tan skin, let me be the one tell you that 30 comes before you know it! The suntans over the years begin to show their true colors, and in my case warranted a few trips to the doctor. Tanning is not my friend anymore. Sunscreen is an absolute necessity, especially when going from a colder climate to a warm, sunny place. You don’t want to get to middle age looking like someone’s leather handbag. That’s an image no Instagram filter can fix, I’m afraid.  I use a nice moisturizing sunscreen (my dermatologist recommended this brand) that’s at least SPF25, with UVA and UVB protection, and throw on a hat or cover-up if I know I’ll be in the sun all day long.

After a semester of working hard, a break from the books and classes is a perfect way to recharge. If you remember a few healthy tips, you can still enjoy your time without losing sight of your fitness goals. After all, summer’s coming and you’ll want to look and feel your best!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Flourless Chocolate Chip Blondies (with a secret ingredient, shhhh...)

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The other day I was perusing Pinterest looking for some ideas of healthy desserts and whammo I came across this little gem.

Now, listen to me here:  this isn’t just a little healthy dessert that you might bite into and say, “Oh…hmmmm, this is actually good…for something healthy…”  This is a dessert that you would bite into and proclaim, “Holy Mother of ALL that is good in the world…this is YUM…ANNNDDD it’s healthy????”

Yah, it’s that good.

Have I ever told you that I suck at making brownies?  I’ve tried them all; boxed brownies of all different brands, homemade brownie recipes of every kind you can ever imagine, I’ve even tried different pans and different temperatures…I’ve resigned myself to the fact that I just suck at making them.

But now, I’ve found this recipe…and oooohhhh, you guys, it’s good…I mean, REALLY good.

See, there's a secret ingredient that makes these healthy...are you ready?  It's chickpeas.

Now, hold up - don't go running off.  I PROMISE you will love these!

Here's how my taste test went:

I whipped up the batter and gave it a little taste and I think I closed my eyes.  Then, I ran over to Hubs with my spatula and this is how the convo went:

Me:  TASTE this…

Which he promptly did…then he looked at me…

Me:  Taste it again…
Hubs:  What’s in it?
Me:  Almond Butter.

He looked at me skeptically because…well, the boy just doesn’t trust me not to slip weird stuff in his food anymore.

Hubs:  Almond butter and what else?
Me:  Chocolate chips.

Again with the skepticism…

Hubs:  No, but there’s something else…
Me:  Vanilla!  Oh, and maple syrup!
Hubs:  Jenn…there's something else...just tell me.
Me:  FIIIIINNNNE…chickpeas.
Hubs:  Like BEANS?
Me:  Yah!  But you loved it!!  You licked the spatula clean!

End of story:  He LOVED them.  BOOM.

And you will, too!

1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup almond butter (you can use peanut butter, too)
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup chocolate chips, plus 2 tablespoons
sea salt, to sprinkle on top

  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Spray 8×8 inch pan with nonstick cooking spray
  3. In a food processor, add all ingredients except chocolate chips and pulse until batter is smooth.
  4. Stir in 1/3 cup of chocolate chips.  At this point is when I began to eat the batter!
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared pan then sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips on top.
  6. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and edges are a tiny bit brown. Just like brownies, they will look underdone.
  7. Cool pan for 20 minutes on wire rack.
  8. Cut into squares.
  9. Sprinkle with sea salt.
  10. DEVOUR!!
Now run along and make them for your sweetheart!

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Makes 16 blondies
Calories 110 / Carbs 14g / Fat 6g / Protein 3g / Fiber 2g / Sodium 210mg

*Nutrition information is an estimation only and the nutritional analysis I provide for each recipe is calculated via My Fitness Pal using the nutritional data found on their website. I am not a registered dietitian, so always consult with qualified healthcare provider for any answers to personal health care questions.

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Recipe Rewind: Jalapeno Poppers!

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Original post from June 2012
Here's an easy recipe for your Super Bowl get together.  Not only are they delicious, they're easy and super fun finger foods.  And there are only three ingredients!  Certainly, this is my kind of appetizer.  They can be made ahead of time and warmed up if you're traveling or just serve them up right off the grill or out of the oven!
8 fresh jalapeno peppers
1 container (8 wedges) Laughing Cow Light Cheese Wedges (I used Garlic & Herb)
12 slices of bacon (try to use the original cut vs. thick cut…it wraps better, and you save calories)

Preheat your grill to medium heat or oven to 375,

Wash the jalapenos.

Slice the jalapenos lengthwise then de-seed and de-vein them – don’t worry about the stem, if they remain, that’s fine.  They look really cute that way, and they make adorable little handles!

Using a butter knife, fill the jalapeno halves with the cheese wedges.  I found that I could use almostone wedge for two halves.  I think I ended up with one wedge leftover and I just used it to fill any peppers that needed it.

Finally, wrap the bacon around the jalapenos.  Note:  I had thick sliced bacon on-hand and I attempted to use only 1/2 a slice per pepper to keep calories down.  However, I found that when they grilled, the bacon shrunk a little so I had trouble keeping it on.  With regular sliced bacon, you can use a whole slice, it wraps tighter and has better staying power during grilling/baking.  You can also secure the bacon in place with toothpicks (soak in water to keep from burning if you're grilling).

If grilling:
Place the peppers directly onto the grill and cook for about 4 minutes (until the bacon becomes crispy), then flip to finish up on the other side.

If baking:
Place the peppers onto a foil lined or nonstick baking sheet.  Bake for about 15-20 minutes or until the bacon is browned.

Remove from the grill/oven and serve immediately, or they can be reheated later and they are just as delicious!

Serves 8 (two halves for each serving)

Calories 109 / Carbs 2g / Fat 8g / Protein 6g / Fiber 0g / Sodium 500mg