Words to Inspire

"I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health."
- Voltaire

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Buckwheat Breakfasts and Popover Success

Hope everyone has had a great Monday!

Nothing like starting the week off with some shopping! Am I right?

(Except when you get nauseous in Old Time Pottery and almost puke in a reusable shopping bag.)

Yeah, in that case, I might be wrong. Moving on...

Today, Mom and I headed on over to Huntsville to check off the rest of things on my ToDo list before moving off to school (in only ten days - HOLY CRAP) and for my Genius Bar appointment at the Apple Store. I'm proud to say that I am now slightly less Macbook incompetent. Go me!

Some highlights of this glorious Monday would include...

1. My face is almost back to normal - yay for no more chipmunk cheeks!
2. Had my first experience with buckwheat and come to find out...it's awesome.
3. I achieved popover success. 

Sorry to say I will not be providing a picture of my almost-back-normal-but-not-quite-yet face so continuing on with the highlight list is the only thing prompting me to wake up as early as I did this morning and that would be my lovely breakfast.

I was more than eager to try buckwheat after reading about them here. However, even though I've had the opportunity to test them out for a few weeks now, I have neglected to do so due to my inability to stray from my bar none favorite breakfast (Greek yogurt parfait) until I became unable to chew the granola portion of my parfait which led me to trying this...

Buckwheat Breakfast Bowl
- 1/4 cup dry buckwheat
- 1/2 cup milk (almond, soy, skim, etc...)
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 mashed banana
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Add Ins
- other 1/2 sliced banana 
 - spoonful o' almond butter
Mix all ingredients in a small pot and bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes. Add desired toppings and enjoy immediately or place in a serving bowl, cover, and let sit in refrigerator overnight for a thicker consistency and simply reheat in the morning before chowing down.

Definitely recommend you try swapping your usez morning meal for a bowl of these delicious little babies. Prom prom you won't be disappointed!

Concluding my Monday highlight reel is popover success. Yes. Popover success! 

I fell asleep yesterday with the TV on and when I woke up Guy Fieri was tasting something that looked beyond incredible so I quickly turned up the volume to discover that the identity of the crazy good looking treat was a popover. As Guy was nommin' away on the popover he mentioned that all it needed was some tomato soup and that was fate ladies and gentlemen because guess what was on last night's dinner menu? Yup - tomato soup! So I decided all my tomato soup needed was some popovers. 

While last night's popovers (pictured above) were super tasty, and I mean suuuper tasty, they weren't really popovers. They were more like cheesy herbed muffins. 

A popover is a light, hollow roll made from an egg batter similar to that of a Yorkshire pudding and typically baked in a muffin tin.

Yeah these suckers were heavy, dense rolls.

Even though I was perfectly happy with the flavor of these "popovers", I still wasn't completely satisfied with the rest of it so I had to give them another go.

While in Huntsville, I stopped by the Le Gourmet Chef and picked up a popover pan. Therefore, tonight's dinner was a repeat of yesterday and I was ecstatic with the turn out!

Check out the height on these guys! I wish I'd have taken a snapshot of them cooking away in the oven because they were GINORMOUS! Just a poppin' over everywhere!

I must say, my popovers and Amy's Kitchen Chunky Tomato Soup were the perfect compliments to each other.

Don't worry those of you who might be interested in my cheesy herb popover recipe - I'll be posting it soon. But for now I need to catch up on my Z's. Night y'all!


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Bullfrog Face, Minestone Soup, and About Me's

I had my wisdom teeth cut out Friday afternoon and have been bedridden ever since.

Okay, so I made that sound a lot worse than it actually is. I have been willingly bedridden and to be quite honest, it's been awesome.

I've laid in bed with Fifty Shades of Grey, Food Network, plenty of online shopping, and new blog reading. Still repping the bullfrog look... hoping very much I'll start looking less swollen by tomorrow.
Fingers crossed.

Hence "Bullfrog Face"...

Next on the list is Minestone Soup

Since chewing isn't currently high on my list of can dos I've been eating all things mashed...

Mashed sweet potatoes with brown sugar and cinnamon for breakfast.
Mashed potatoes with green beans and gravy for lunch.
Pudding. Mmm. Pudding for dessert.

And this lovely little meal Ando threw together for my dinner: Amy's minestone soup and a whole grain roll with a little bit o' butter.

I dunno what they're doing over at Amy's Organic Kitchen but I can assure you it involves wonderful things. I'm just nearly obsessed with this brand of packaged foods - probably the only brand of packaged food I would recommend. I've yet to come across a product of theirs that I didn't approve. 

Amy's Kitchen brand foods makes healthy eating easy and so delicious when I just don't have the time or the energy to cook. Good news to all my Scottsboro readers, Walmart and Food World carry a few of Amy's frozen items. Yay! If you're interested in more of what Amy's Kitchen has to offer click here.

Finally on my post title list, About Me's.

Remember when those mattered waaay more than they should've? Hello Myspace! Glad those days are over. Nowadays, the "About Me's" that I read are realistic. Most every health blog out there comes with some emotional baggage from the writer on the other side of the screen and usually that blogger shares his or her story and what's influenced them to start their blog.

It's a really good feeling to know that the people behind a seemingly perfect healthy life have faced some of the same obstacles as myself and have overcome them. Someone else is staring the same problem in the face as I am. And I'm not the only one with temptations.   

Being new to the whole blog world, I've been a little apprehensive to share what's brought me to begin my blog and my journey in striving for a healthy, balanced lifestyle. With that said, I'm going to be working on an "About/About Me" tab to make this blog sincere and give you a little insight on my healthy emotional baggage.  

Yep. So wish me luck!


Saturday, July 28, 2012

Java for the Soul

Who doesn't love coffee?
I'll tell ya who...
No one. Unless, of course, you just haven't had the perfect cup.
My cup of coffee has evolved ever since I took my first sip...

My mimi use to give me coffee when I was tee tiny. I can just barely reminisce watching her pour in cream and sugar before handing over the warm mug. I loved it.

I picked up the routine cup of joe in the middle of my high school career in hopes it would give me the energy to power through my morning classes without nodding my head back due to a lack of a good night's sleep. My coffee then consisted of a little less cream and a little less sugar than it had when my mimi was preparing it.

After realizing my calling in the wonderful world of health and fitness, I dropped the cream and sugar and found the amazing combination of a packet of Stevia and a sprinkle of cinnamon. My cup of java was perfected. Or was it...?

Now, in order to reap all the benefits of coffee without any unnecessary calories, I enjoy my coffee in the purest form. Black. No cream, no sugar, no stevia. Only the occasional sprinkle of cinnamon. It truly is perfection.

Now for the good stuff...
The benefits of drinking coffee.

1. According to a Harvard study, women who drink a few cups of caffeinated coffee have a lower risk of depression than women who don't drink coffee.
2. A study in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease that there's something in coffee that interacts with caffeine to boost the levels of granulocyte colony stimulating factor (GCSF), a growth factor that seems to be able to fight off Alzheimer's in mice. The amount of coffee in this study is equal to 4 to 5 cups of coffee for humans.
3. Men who drink six cups of coffee a day have a 60 percent decreased chance of developing a dangerous form of prostate cancer, as well as a 20 percent decreased chance of developing any other kinds of prostate cancer.
4. New research presented at the American Association of Cancer Research conference shows that coffee could help to ward off basal cell cancer, the most common type of caner in the world. 
5. Drinking coffee is associated with a lower risk of Type 2 diabetes, with more coffee consumption linked to a greater decrease in risk.
6. Drinking a few cups of coffee a day could lower the risk of developing Parkinson's disease by as much as 25 percent, according to a study by the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease.
7. Coffee not only helps clear the mind and perk up energy, it also provides more healthful antioxidants then any other food or beverage in the American diet.

Here's to coffee!


Thursday, July 26, 2012

New York, New York

For the past few days I've been living it up in the Big Apple. I can't tell you how much I love New York City - all the stores, restaurants, people, and endless things to do. In order to make up for the lack of posts during my trip I've compiled some pictures together highlighting my time spent in Manhattan.
Emelie took this snapshot on the plane over. What a photographer she is, huh?
Here we are at RYU, Scott Disick's new restaurant in the Meat Packing District, the first night we arrived. We didn't have dinner until 11:30 but boy was it good! The four of us (my mother and her good friend, Cindy) ordered a few small plates and two mains. Everything tasted amazing so I had to take a look at the dessert menu. Emelie and I decided to try the RYU Sundae, thinking it'd be a smaller dessert like the rest of the plates, not only was is the best sundae I've had but it was huge! Wish I would've taken a picture - cherry gelato, salted caramel, and short cake. YUM. The four of us cleaned the bowl.
Sunday was our first full day and we started it off with a 9:30am mass service at Church of St. Peter which is a block from Ground Zero and breakfast at Sarabeth's. Then we cruised the streets scoping out all the Sunday vendors. We scored some cool jewelry that was super cute and, even better, super cheap!
For lunch we came across this AWESOME sushi bar, The Blue Ribbon. Again, I wish I'd have taken some pictures of our lunch but I was too excited to dig in. Luckily I remembered to get a picture of our mid-afternoon snack at The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop! I saw Big Gay on the Food Network and again in the Delta SkyMagazine so I made it a must. This is a combination of the Salty Pimp and the American Globs - vanilla cone injected with dulce de leche (mexican caramel sauce), topped with sea salt, covered in pretzel pieces, and dipped in chocolate...aka heaven on a cone. And yes, I ate the whole thing.
We ended Sunday with another incredible meal, this time at Bobby Flay's MESA Grill. I'm not exaggerating when I say everything was delicious! Great, light and flavorful Mexican cuisine. 
Monday morning we taxied on over to Hoboken, NJ for some breakfast at La Isla's, another as seen on  Food Network's Throw Down with Bobbly Flay. La Isla's is mostly Cuban cuisine, it was a very laid back place to enjoy breakfast. As you can seen we both ordered the stuffed french toast and it did not disappoint! Challah bread stuffed with a strawberry-guava cream cheese filling, then dipped in a cinnamon egg wash and coated with a cornflake-almond crust, cooked up on a hot skillet and topped with strawberry-guava sauce and powdered sugar. I bet your mouth is watering now, am I right? 
Whadda ya know? The Cake Boss's bakery was right across the street from La Isla's! The line to get inside was ginormous so a picture had to suffice. After breakfast in Jersey we took the ferry back to Manhattan.
Lunch on Monday was at Xi'an Famous Foods in St. Mark's Place. Mom and I ate here when we were in NYC earlier this year and I knew I had to introduce Emelie to Xi'an's spicy noodles. I ordered the spicy vegetable noodles and Emelie ordered the spicy hot oil noodles (pictured above). What makes this plate of noodles so bomb is the incredible spice and the fact that the noodles are made to order. NOM!
Here we are having a light dinner at a French restaurant just down the street from the hotel. It was raining so we weren't up to a long walk.
Tuesday was our last full day in the city so we took it easy. Well, sort of. The day started off with a total body toning class at NYSC Gym (which I'd like to note I'm still sore from!) and then a subway ride to an Uptown breakfast at Norma's. Best breakfast of the trip and I didn't take a picture of my shrimp frittata. Sigh.  
After breakfast we headed back to the hotel to wash up before going to the Metropolitan Museum and then Potted Potter! Potted Potter is a show were two guys act out all seven Potter books in 70 minutes, pretty hilarious. After the show we got some food at Gazala Place where I had the best baklava of my life. True story.
As we were walking back from dinner after the show we passed two English guys before realizing they were the two actors and writers of Potted Potter so we had to chase them down the street and get a picture!
Emelie tweeted the picture of the four of us at the two gents and they tweeted back! Great way to wrap up our trip!
On a side note, we spotted our first celeb! Gina Gershon! Of course we had no idea who she was until looking her up. She's been in a few films like P.S. I Love You and is apparently in a recent film, Face Off. Anyways, we saw her on a TV talk show as we were getting ready on Tuesday. 

And that pretty much sums up the past few days! 

Thursday, July 19, 2012


After finding a new blog to follow, Rabbit Food For My Bunny Teeth, I was inspired to try juicing so I used my Williams Sonoma gift cards I had gotten for graduation to purchase a juicer! Juicing helps digestion and makes it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients from the fruits and vegetables. Usually people juice to cleanse like Joe Cross of Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead who lost 80 lbs and cured himself of a chronic illness after a 60 day juice cleanse. Check out RFFMBT and Rebot Your Life for more on juicing.

Below are pictures of my very first juice! I was so excited to get straight to juicing and willing throw anything in that juicer. In my opinion, this juice tasted great! I offered my mom a sip and she immediately asked if I was scared to try it and I had to laugh because I was the complete opposite of scared but I could tell she was apprehensive. She thought the juice was just okay...bearable would probably be a better word for it, haha. It all just depends on what your taste buds are like and what you're willing to try. This juice really filled me up and I enjoyed every last drop!

My juice consisted of:
- 3 leaves purple kale
- 2 carrots
- 1/4 large beet
- 1 apple
- 1/2 c grapes

I know I've been slacking on posting for the past few days so I apologize to those who are reading! I had my very best friends in the whole world over! Camp Skyline cuties for life, I love you girls!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Frittata

Frittatas are one of my favorite ways to cook eggs because they're easy to make and easy to be creative with. Not to mention, frittata just sounds fancy. 

I'm putting this recipe under Breakfast even though I had it for my dinner - whoever came up with breakfast for dinner is genius. 

Oh, and besides this meal's bangin' flavor it's also low cal and chock full o' protein. Enjoy!

Spinach and Caramelized Onion Frittata
- 5 egg whites
- 1/2 small yellow onion
- 1 small clove garlic
- 1 handful baby spinach
- generous squirt of Sriracha
- 1/6 avocado
- salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350F. Slice onion and mince garlic, set aside. Whisk egg whites with salt and pepper and set aside. Place a small saute pan coated with non stick spray (I used Pam organic EVOO) over medium heat and add garlic and onions, cook until brown and tender. Add spinach and sriracha and cook until spinach is wilted. Turn heat down to low and add egg whites over spinach and onion. Let egg mixture cook over low heat for about 5 minutes or until white around the edges. Transfer to oven and cook for 10-12 minutes or until eggs are set. Garnish with sliced avocado and eat!

*The secret to a great frittata is whipping the heck out of your eggs - whether they be whole, all whites, or a little of both. If a whisk doesn't work for you then give your eggs a spin in a blender, yes, a blender. That's what Huddle House does anyways!   

~215 calories ~28g protein


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Chest Workout

This is a great chest workout that will guarantee a sore body the day after! Chest exercises are often viewed as male only and all I have to say to that is think again! Both sexes should incorporate this muscle group into their strength training routine so if you aren't already, get to it!
Chest Routine

Superset #1
4x25 chest press 
4x25 chest fly

Superset #2
4x15 incline chest press
4x15 incline chest fly

Superset #3
4x20 cable cross overs (each side)
20 declined push-ups

Stretch to cool down.

It's really easy to combine chest with other muscle groups so a lot of times I'll throw in a back exercise into each set making it a triset workout routine instead of superset. 

Hope you feel the burn! Remember to lift heavy - you must challenge yourself to achieve your goals!

*The rep range I give is not set in stone!
20-25 reps for endurance
6-8 reps for strength
12-15 reps for hypertrophy (the range I usually prefer)

Pumpkin Pie Breakfast

Who doesn't love pie for breakfast? Pumpkin pie is actually one of the lowest calorie pies out there and it's packed with nutrients such as beta-carotene, zinc, potassium, and fiber from the pumpkin.

Pumpkin Pie Bowl
- 1/2 c plain Greek yogurt
- 1 c Fiber One bran cereal
- 1/2 c pumpkin puree
- 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Mix together in a bowl and enjoy! I added 1/2 c of blueberries to mine after I took the picture.


Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Southwest Salad

I think I might have discovered my new favorite salad. For so long it's been a close tie between a Greek salad and a seared Ahi tuna salad. Both so delicious - but this southwest salad definitely gives them a run for their money.

The other day I was browsing through the spice cabinet and I came across a southwest seasoning hidden in the back which reminded me of a salad I had earlier in the week while eating out with my mom so I decided to make my own version of it.

This salad provides monounsaturated fats from the avocado that decrease levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and improve blood flow which helps prevent stroke, protein and fiber from the beans to keep you full, and great flavor!

Southwest Salad
- 2 handfuls spring mix
- 1/2 lavish read wrap
- 4 oz protein (I used salmon)
- 1 tomato, diced
- 1/4 avocado, diced
- 1/4 c low sodium black beans
- 1/4 c corn
- 3 Tbsp salsa
- southwest seasoning

Preheat oven to 350F. Cut lavish bread into strips and toss with 1/2 tsp EVOO and 1/4 tsp seasoning and then place on a sheet pan and bake for 5-10 minutes or until crispy. Season protein with 1 tsp of southwest seasoning and cook using desired method. Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!


Sunday, July 8, 2012

Toast Time

It's really hard to go wrong with toast. Crunchy, chewy bread topped with almond butter, strawberry jam, and a fresh peach. Mm mm mmm.
2 slices Ezekiel bread, 1 Tbsp almond butter, 1 Tbsp strawberry jam, 1 peach
Toast bread, spread 1/2 Tbsp of butter and jam on each piece and layer with sliced peach!


Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sweet Potato Hash

Sometimes I just need my diner food fix and what satisfies that better than a hash? 
 Even better, without all the unnecessary calories.
Even, even better, a healthy hash that's totally guilt free!

Health benefits of Sweet Potatoes...

- High in vitamin B6, C, and D
- Great source of magnesium which is necessary for healthy artery, bone, blood, heart, muscle, and nerve function
- Rich in carotenoids which strengthen eyesight, boost immunity, ward off cancer, and protect against effects of aging

And that's only to name a few.

Sweet Potato Hash
- 1 sweet potato
- 1/2 small yellow onion, chopped
- 5 egg whites
- 1 tsp EVOO
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp chili powder
- pinch cayenne
- pepper to taste

Skin and grate sweet potato and set aside. Heat EVOO in a skillet over medium high heat and add onion. Cook until tender and add sweet potato. Let sweet potato cook for about 5 minutes on each side, without messing with it. Turn heat down to medium low and add in egg whites. Let eggs cook for about 2 minutes and then add in spices. Enjoy!

~265 calories ~27g protein


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Banana Pancakes

Woohoo Fourth of July! I wish everyone a safe and happy holiday!

I'm almost positive everyone likes pancakes, banana pancakes at that, and I believe you should be able to eat delicious food that benefits your body and these pancakes do just that.

Banana Pancakes
- 1 packet Kashi Vanilla oatmeal (or 1/2 c oatmeal, dry)
- 1/3 c plain Greek yogurt
- 2 egg whites
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1 ripe banana

Preheat griddle to 250 F or a skillet over medium heat. Mix together dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix together wet ingredients. Add wet to dry and stir to combine. Mash half of the banana and fold into batter. Drop 1/4 c batter onto greased griddle and cook for 7-10 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Should make 4 pancakes. Top with remaining half of sliced banana and enjoy!

~355 calories ~28g protein


Spinach Smoothie

I know, I know. Spinach in a smoothie, I must be crazy. But let me explain...
Adding greens to smoothies has been a big thing in the health world for a while now.
I have a few family members who swear by their smoothies that contain kale and spinach and all kinds of unheard of add-ins.
So I thought I'd give it a try and let me just tell you,
My smoothie tastes exactly like it did before I added spinach.
This is a great way to get your nutrients from greens in if you don't like the taste of them alone. 

Spinach Smoothie
- 1 frozen banana, peel and slice before freezing
- 1 scoop whey protein powder
- 1 T wheat germ
- 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
- 2 cups spinach

Blend and enjoy!

Summer Ragout

I love making things like this because they're so versatile. I can add whatever I have in the kitchen and any blend of spices. Ragout (even though it's French) is a very rustic dish consisting of different kinds of veggies that cook over a low heat and can be heavily or lightly seasoned. This a something that can be done very quickly with no hassle and reap tons of flavor.

Summer Ragout

- 1 small sweet potato, skinned and cubed
- 1/2 sweet onion, sliced
- 1 zucchini, sliced thinly
- 1/2 c tomato, diced
- 1/2 c black lentils
- 1 tsp EVOO
- cumin and curry powder to taste

In a saucepan over medium low heat add EVOO and then onion and zucchini. Let cook until tender then add tomato and lentils. While that cooks, place sweet potato in a microwavable bowl and cover with a paper towel. Microwave for 3-4 minutes. When sweet potato is finished add it to the other veggies and season. Enjoy!


Monday, July 2, 2012

Chia Y'all!

This morning was the first morning in months that I didn't have my usual breakfast...

Greek yogurt, Kashi GoLean Crunch, and fruit.

Instead, I had...

Greek yogurt, Kashi Truly Vanilla oatmeal, a banana, and chia seeds.

(Ok, it's hardly different but it was a big change for me!)

What's the deal with chia seeds, you might ask? These little bitty seeds are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids which aid in weight loss, benefit heart and cholesterol health, and keep you energized all day! I searched EVERYWHERE when these things first got big. I finally got lucky in NYC when I was visiting with my mom...of course New York would have what I was looking for.

P.S. If you ever find Kashi oatmeal I recommend trying it. It has 9 grams of protein per serving and 7 grams of fiber v. Quaker brand's (and every other brand I could find in my pantry) 5 grams of protein and 4 grams of fiber. Not to mention it's all natural and tastes ahmazing.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Chickpea-Lentil Salad

Lately, I've been finding ways to swap out my usual protein of fish for other less thought of options. There are so many different forms of protein other than meat...


The list goes on.

So, to keep up with different proteins, today I had a 1/2 c chickpeas and 1/2 c black lentils in my salad.

Chickpea-Lentil Salad

- 2 handfuls spinach
- 1 head romaine 
- 1/2 c chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 c black lentils, cooked
- 1/3 c peas
- 5 T salsa 

Toss together and enjoy!