Breakfast phases


I will be the first one to admit — I go through phases with food. I will be mega-obsessed with a certain food, eat it more or less nonstop for months, and then get really tired of it and stop completely. (I actually do this with a lot of things — TV shows, music, etc.) Anyone else?

I went through a phase when all I did was eat oats…every. single. day. From my go-to three-minute breakfast oatmeal (<– early Levels post alert!) to zucchini bread oatmeal to baked banana walnut oats, I definitely had a love affair with oats.

Then, I entered my pancake phase. Two-ingredient banana pancakes, banana cottage cheese pancakes, apple cinnamon pancakes, honey almond flax pancakes…the list goes on and on.

Then, it was the it’s-too-hot-to-eat-so-I’ll-stick-to-cold-foods-for-breakfast-please phase. It was pretty much defined by my PB & (Strawberry) J bowl, which happens to be delicious any time of day.

Maybe I’m going full circle because I’ve been all about oats again lately. Especially when they look like this…

Blueberry pie oats 2

Although it’s a “hot” breakfast, the fresh blueberries and blueberry jam make it just summery enough to work. If you love the taste of sweet blueberry pie, you’ll love this blueberry pie oatmeal!

Blueberry pie oats

Blueberry pie oatmeal
Serves 1

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 1 egg white
  • 2/3 c. liquid (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk + water)
  • 1/2 c. fresh blueberries
  • 1 tsp. blueberry jam
  1. In a small pan, add oats and liquid. Turn up heat and allow oats to absorb water.
  2. Once most of the water is absorbed, stir in your egg white and continue stirring until cooked.
  3. Remove from heat, place in bowl, top with fresh blueberries, and blueberry jam.
  4. If desired, top with additional toppings! I used a scoop of peanut butter and sprinkle of hemp seeds.

How to level up this recipe:

  • For added protein, add 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder.

How to level down this recipe:

  • For added sweetness, use 1 Tbsp. brown sugar (or agave).

Do you ever go in phases with foods? What’s your latest phase?


A very atypical WIAW


So with the busyness of summer and managing my job, working at church, and being a dog mama, it’s been quite a while since I jumped in on the What I Ate Wednesday party! Sad, right?

Thankfully, I’m back this week with a very atypical WIAW. I normally stick to capturing a full day of eats on a weekday, but someone I caught pictures of all of eats last Saturday, so I wanted to share!

I typically stick to a pretty standard eating schedule: three meals, three snacks, but we were celebrating my sister’s 21st birthday, so it was definitely all over the place!

I started off with a few handfuls of unpictured Honey Nut Cheerios around 7:45 a.m. before heading out for a run with my sister. After our run, we quickly showered, got ready, and headed to brunch at White Rose Bar & Grill. Kate & I split a veggie omelet and crab omelet with tri-colored potatoes and wheat toast.

Kate birthday food


I ate all of my omelet, one slice of toast, and almost all of my homefries. I don’t know what it is about purple potatoes, but I absolutely love them…fabulous meal! I ended up staying full for hours. Around 3:30, I started to get a little hungry so I picked up a fruit cup and nut & fruit mix from Starbucks while we were out shopping. (Sorry, I snapped the photo after I had finished everything up!)

Starbucks WIAW


On the way home from our shopping adventures, we stopped by Chipotle and I enjoyed a salad with chicken, brown rice, fajita vegetables, mild salsa, and corn salsa…and some chips on the side, of course!



That was it! I was (comfortably) full all day and got to enjoy two of my favorite meals — breakfast and Chipotle!

Do you have a strict eating routine or do you mix it up? 

Happy 21st birthday, Katie!


Today is my sister’s 21st birthday! I can’t believe my little sister is the big 2-1! (I think I also can’t believe I celebrated my own 21st birthday over two years ago…I feel old.)

She came home from Pittsburgh this past weekend to celebrate with our family, so after enjoying a fun date night with Andy on Friday, I packed up and headed back home to PA.

We started off early Saturday morning with a (hilly!) run, then got dressed and ready to head out to brunch at White Rose Bar & Grill in York. I’ve been there a few times for lunch/dinner, but never for brunch and it was amazing! My photo is blurry, but I ended up enjoying half a veggie omelet/half crab omelet (Katie & I split ours in half), homefries, and a slice of the wheat toast. It was excellent, and I was full for hours! If you’re in the York area, I definitely recommend checking it out for brunch on the weekends.

Kate birthday food


We had the opportunity to spend brunch with our favorite family — the Bowker girls! (Remember them from my Pittsburgh marathon adventures?)

kate birthday 2


Kate birthday 3


We also showered Kate with gifts, and I had the opportunity to give her something I’ve been working for all of last week! I had this idea in my head to give her 21 wishes for her 21st birthday, but I’ll be the first to admit that the ideas in my head don’t always turn out as well in real life. Thankfully, this one was a winner!

Kate birthday gift


I filled a small box with 21 candles. I wrapped a piece of paper with a wish onto each candle, taped it, and tied it with a ribbon…she ended up loving it!

Katie birthday both


We spent the rest of the day shopping with my mom and just had a lot of fun together. I feel so blessed I was able to get home for a few hours and spend time with her!

Happy 21st birthday, Kate!!! You’re smart, beautiful, and filled with so much love — you enjoy the best day (and year ahead) ever!

I scream, you scream, we all scream…


…for ice cream CAKE!

Remember last weekend when I made FIVE ice cream cake for Miss Riley’s 1st birthday party? They were a definite hit and easy as could be to put together!

I’ve been making these cakes for about a year or so, and my favorite thing is that they’re highly customizable. You can use whatever type of cookie/cracker crust, ice cream, and add-ins that you want and still achieve the same result. For St. Patrick’s Day last year, I made an ice cream cake with an Oreo crust + mint chocolate chip ice cream. For Riley’s party last week, I made two cakes with a chocolate graham crust/chocolate ice cream, two cakes with a regular graham crust/vanilla ice cream, and one cake with a regular graham crust/party cake ice. Whatever works!

Without further ado, here’s my homemade ice cream cake…

Homemade ice cream cake


Homemade ice cream cake
Serves about 12

  • 8 graham crackers (any flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1 half gallon ice cream (any flavor)
  • 1 tub fat-free Cool Whip
  • Add ins/toppings — sprinkles, pretzels, chocolate syrup, crushed cookie, etc.
  1. Before you do anything, allow your ice cream and Cool Whip to thaw. You want them to be as soft as possible (without melting) to make it easy to layer later. (I typically wait 30 minutes; it’ll vary depending on temperature of your house.)
  2. Spray a 9 x 13 pan (or 9 x 9 for thicker cake) with cooking spray.
  3. Next, crush your graham crackers. (I place mine in a sealed plastic bag and used a mallet to crush. For a finer crust, add graham crackers to food processor and then pulse to desired consistency.)
  4. Place in bottom of pan with 2 tbsp. melted butter. Mix and begin to form crust.
  5. Next, take your soft ice cream and spread evenly over crust.
  6. If you are using any add-ins (see options above), put these here. (My favorite is crushed pretzels!)
  7. Finally, spread thawed Cool Whip evenly over top of ice cream.
  8. Cover and place in freezer for at least one hour to harden. (You will want to have it thaw slightly before serving.)

How to level up this recipe:

  • To make this “healthy,” stick with low-fat graham crackers for the crust and a natural ice cream/frozen yogurt.
  • Add a layer of frozen strawberries between ice cream and Cool Whip.

How to level down this recipe:

  • Use half a sleeve of crushed Oreos instead of graham crackers for a richer crust.
  • Use a layer of hot fudge (major yum!) in between ice cream and Cool Whip.

Want to impress a party you’re heading to this weekend? Take along one of these, and I promise you will! I am off to a dinner date night with the hubby and then I’m heading back to PA to celebrate my sister’s 21st birthday…I’ll share those festivities with you later this weekend. Make it a good one!

Riley’s first birthday


Yesterday, I had the privilege of celebrating this cutie’s 1st birthday!

Riley 1


Remember my friend Leslie who I ran a 5K with earlier this summer? Her daughter Riley turned one on Saturday, and Leslie had the best owl-themed birthday party for her!  From these beautiful owl-shaped cookies…

Riley owls

…to Riley’s personal owl cake…

Riley single cake

…to the party favors…

Riley favors


It was all owl themed and absolutely adorable!

And, if you follow me on Instagram, you know I contributed a little something to Riley’s party celebrations as well — ice cream cakes!

Ice cream cake prep

I made five ice cream cakes for Riley’s big birthday celebrations — two vanilla, two chocolate, and one party cake! They are pretty easy (once you let the ice cream defrost) and always a big hit whenever I take them anywhere. Be on the lookout for the recipe later this week!

I’ll leave you with a final photo from Riley’s bash…how precious is her tutu?

Riley family (1)

Happy 1st birthday, Riley; I hope your next year is as fun and positive as you are!




Almond flour zucchini bread (and my dog)


This post was meant to be about this awesome Paleo zucchini bread that I made a few weeks ago and never shared with you, but now that I have a dog I have to sneak a photo of him in, too…look at our little family!

Family photo


I now understand how people can get obsessed with their dogs. I’m currently not very happy with mine considering he woke me up at 6:30 on a Saturday morning and has done both #1 and #2 in my house today. Grrr. However, he’s a cutie. You should see him go up stairs! (He’s so small that we have to carry him down and it takes him forever to get back up them with his little legs. It’s so cute!)

Dempsey Thursday


Okay, anyways, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

A few weeks ago, I had a ton of zucchini and made this beautiful zucchini  bread oatmeal. With lots left over, I attempted a Paleo almond flour zucchini bread, which turned out pretty great as well! My only complaint is that it wasn’t very sweet (actually, it wasn’t sweet at all), but after topping it with peanut butter and nuking it in the microwave for ten seconds, I was really pleased.

Almond flour zucchini bread


I followed this recipe from Running to the Kitchen. Next time, to give it a sweeter taste, I will probably use two bananas instead of just one, so if you’re looking for something sweet, be sure to add more sweetener or an extra banana!


We got a dog!


The title says it all: we got a dog yesterday!


Say hello to Dempsey!

Andy grew up with dogs and has wanted one since before we got married. On the other hand, I definitely did not and am actually pretty scared of them. They are very overwhelming to me, and I really don’t know what to do with them. I’m usually about 90% sure I’m going to get bit at any time.

However, I knew getting a dog was pretty much non-negotiable for Andy, so I eventually got him to agree to hold off until this summer… since he works in a school and has summers off, I figured that would be the best time to get a puppy and train him/her.

We’ve been looking all summer, and it’s been quite a process! Finally, we found this collie/shepherd mix at a local farm. I told Andy we were just going to “look”…

Dempsey & ANdy…so you can see how that ended up 🙂

Does anyone just go to “look” at a puppy and not buy it? I would have to guess “no”…

Dempsey outside

We’ll see how the next few days go…I am still apprehensive, but the hubs is about as happy as can be! 🙂



Someone give me a bad blogger award, because that’s exactly what I’ve been the past two weeks — a “bad” blogger.

I do have somewhat of an excuse — I was on one epic road trip with 14 other church friends and leaders last week to Birmingham, Alabama! We went to Church of the Highlands for their annual GROW leader conference. It was an awesome learning experience, and although I could have done without the 15-hour car ride (twice in four days!), it was fun hanging out with friends and growing together!

The highlight of the trip was definitely this video…

GROWOur church was one of the fastest growing GROW-network churches in America, and a film crew came a few months ago to capture a few services and talk with our staff. It was so awesome (and humbling!) to have our video shown at the conference last week…I love my church!

After getting back from Alabama, it was time to restock our cabinets and get back on track. (Even though I packed healthy snacks, there was a lot of not-so-healthy eats as well!) I decided to try out a local farmer’s market for the first time, and wow, was it awesome!

Farmer's market

I scored…

  • 2 lbs. bananas
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Four Braeburn apples
  • 1 lb. Brussels Sprouts
  • White onion
  • 2 cucumbers
  • 2 lbs. strawberries
  • 1 lb. blueberries
  • Romaine lettuce
  • 2 avocados
  • Cherry tomatoes

…all for $19.50!

I did have to pick through the produce to find what was fresh, but overall I did pretty well! Honestly, I wasn’t impressed with the strawberries (they were fine to eat, but a little flavorless) or the cucumbers (they were both mushy when I went to cut them), but overall, I’ve been pretty happy! I think I’ll be making this a weekly occurrence.

Although I haven’t done much blogging about my workouts lately, my half marathon training for Rock N Roll Philly is in full swing!

8 milesYesterday, I got out for an early morning run, and it was amazing! Finally, the weather was cool (only 62 degrees when I started running at 5:45 am!), and it definitely worked in my favor. I mastered the art of the progression run — my first mile was 8:59 and my last mile was 7:59. Perfection! I am finally learning to pace myself and start off slow (it’s never been my strong suit).

That’s what’s been happening here lately! Catch ya’ll later!




Random Thoughts Friday


I was going to go with “Five Thoughts Friday” because really, who doesn’t love alliteration? However, I think I might have more than five thoughts, so “Random Thoughts Friday” it is. Ready? Okay, go!

  1. It’s hot. Like wake-up-at-5:30-am-to-run-and-its-already-unbearably-hot kind of hot. I’m looking forward to it cooling off a little bit next week!
  2. I’m obsessed with this song. Anyone else?
  3. I love my co-workers! I’m helping my church with our Feed the First State initiative; our goal is to collect 5,000 cans this month to help hungry Delawareans! At work today, I hosted a mini “Feed the First State Friday” and asked everyone to donate canned goods, and they came through in a big way. Yay!
    FTFS Friday
  4. I feel like Pinterest has lost its game. Anyone else with me? I know, it’s a little blasphemous but I’ve witnessed myself (and others) cutting down on the amount of time I waste on this little social network gem.
  5. If I was still pinning like crazy, I’d be pinning this, this, and this. Drool, drool, and yes, please. Anything frozen sounds fantastic right now!
  6. I just made a variation of my chocolate almond nut mini-balls, but used 3/4 c. pitted dates, 3/4 c. walnuts, 1/2 c. almonds, 2 tsp. cocoa powder, and 2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut. I may have eaten more than actually made it to the freezer… #noshame
  7. I made a half marathon training plan this week since Rock N Roll Philly is only a few weeks away! “Training plan” is a very loose term; I basically just wrote out which weeks I need to do which long runs…I started with a six miler this week and am adding a mile every week up to 12 miles. I think I gave myself like a week and a half (maybe two?) of taper? It’s just really awesome to me that my “long” runs can be eight miles, considering I was doing two “short” runs a week of eight miles during marathon training. Crazy how perspectives change, right?!
  8. I haven’t talked about running/workouts much around here lately, but I promise they’re still happening! Nothing too exciting, but I’m consistently doing 5 to 6 days a week (3 days of running, 3 days of cross training; strength 4-5 x per week).
  9. I think I’m running this inaugural 10 miler in Pittsburgh with my sister this fall! It’s only $40 if you register before August 1st, and the website promises it’s a “mostly flat” course. I don’t believe it (I still remember the pain of those marathon hills), but I’m a forgiving person, so I’m gonna go for it and see just what the course is like!
  10. I’m off to dinner with my hubs, so I’ll catch you kids later!

WIAW: Zucchini edition


Ever since my dad gave me a ton of zucchini, I’ve been eating it like crazy!

You’ll see what I mean soon enough…because it’s What I Ate Wednesday time! Here are my zucchini-filled eats from last Wednesday…

I started off my day with two chocolate almond nut mini-balls before my workout followed by my “green oatmeal“…

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

I took a break from work around 11 a.m. and enjoyed a sliced peach.


For lunch, it was time for more zucchini! I made a great roasted vegetable quinoa (with lots o’ zucchini) + a side salad with romaine lettuce, red cabbage, onion, and carrots topped with TJ’s fat-free balsamic vinagrette.


When the afternoon rolled around, I was more than ready for my snack — a healthy PB & (strawberry) bowl!


I ended up working a really late day at work, so by the time I got home around 8 p.m., I was starving! To the hunger rescue: two egg whites + mozz cheese on a whole wheat english muffin, roasted red potatoes, and sauteed asparagus. Everything came together really quickly which is exactly what I was going for!


So, there you go — a full day of eats! What’s the best thing you ate this week?

Green oatmeal


I know what you’re thinking — green oatmeal? Yuck! 

Last weekend when I was home visiting my family for the Fourth, my dad was quite generous with sharing the vegetables from his garden. It just so happened that he gave me zucchini. Like, a lot of it. And by a lot I mean approximately five huge, green zucchini. 

I had to get pretty creative since I’m the only one who eats zucchini in my family of two! After shredding and freezing some of it, I whipped up a roasted vegetable zucchini quinoa and almond flour banana zucchini bread…and still had some zucchini left. What to do, what to do? 

Throw it in some oatmeal! 

Zucchini Bread Oatmeal


I’m serious when I say this stuff tastes like zucchini bread, fresh out of the oven, and it is delicious. I made mine in a round Corningware dish and had enough for six whole servings! 

Baked Zucchini Bread Oatmeal

  • 3 c. oats 
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 c. agave (or honey) 
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c. milk (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk) 
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. zucchini 
  • 1 small apple, chopped 
  1. In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients (oats, baking powder, salt, cinnamon). 
  2. Next, add 1/3 c. agave, 1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce, 1 c. milk, 1 tsp. vanilla, and egg. Stir until well blended.
  3. Mix in zucchini and chopped apple. 
  4. Pour into a greased baking dish. (I used a 9-inch round Corningware dish but 8 x 8 dish would work as well.) 
  5. Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out smooth. 
  6. After it’s finished, top with desired toppings! (I used flaxseed, hemp seed, and peanut butter. Walnuts or raisins would be great also!) 

How to level up this recipe:

  • Use 1/2 c. ground flaxseed to the dry ingredients to pump up the fiber and protein count.

How to level down this recipe:

  • For added sweetness, use 1/3 c. brown sugar instead of agave. 

How do you use all that extra zucchini in your garden? 

Sunday Funday!


This weekend literally flew by — don’t they all? Can’t believe that I’m heading back to work in a few short hours!

I ended up playing a lot of catch up this weekend, doing things like cleaning, grocery shopping, and tackling my inbox. It was much needed!

After church today, I headed to Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods with a friend and stocked up on some favorites. (See my TJ’s staples here!)

trader joes

When I got home, I had one thing in mind: food prep!

Here’s what’s on my meal plan for the week:

Therefore, I made…

  • Avocado Black Bean Burgers (portioned them out over a bed of spinach with homemade chipotle dressing)
  • Roasted brussell sprouts (for sides)
  • Roasted sweet potatoes (for sides)
  • Pepper quinoa (1/2 c. cooked quinoa + red onion + orange and red peppers)
  • Quinoa (for my chicken & chickpea dish)
  • Healthy chocolate chip cookies for the hubby (can’t wait to share this recipe!)
  • Healthy whole wheat pizza for the hubby

I also put together some puffed wheat + raw oats in bags to top greek yogurt this week. My house is now about 1,000 degrees from running my oven, but two hours of prep saves me a ton of time throughout the week, so it’s all worth it!

Do you do Sunday food prep? 

Spicy turkey vegetable quinoa


Turkey veggie quinoa


That’s right.

This looks so good that I figured it was more beneficial to start this post with a picture rather than words.

If I had to use words to describe this, I think I’d go with “filling but light.” Or “absolutely delicious.” Wouldn’t you agree?

Turkey Veggie Quinoa 2013-06-19 18.26.05


This is a super easy meal that comes together in a flash and combines a healthy amount of veggies and protein. Enjoy!

Spicy turkey vegetable quinoa
Serves 4

  • 1 lb. ground turkey, cooked
  • 3/4 c. quinoa, cooked
  • 2 cups peppers (color of choice)
  • 1/2 c. corn (I used frozen)
  • 1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  1. Spray a large saucepan with cooking spray. Crumble in your ground turkey and cook until no longer pink.
  2. Meanwhile, boil 1 1/2 c. water with 3/4 c. quinoa, stirring frequently until all water is absorbed.
  3. Once turkey is almost cooked, add in peppers and corns. Cook for about five minutes until vegetables begin to brown.
  4. Add in can of fire-roasted tomatoes and cooked quinoa. Stir in spices.
  5. Simmer for about five minutes, until all vegetables are heated through.
  6. Enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • To make this vegetarian, add 1 can of black beans instead of ground turkey.
  • Top with some avocado for a bit of healthy fats.


How to level down this recipe:

  • Use brown rice instead of quinoa.
  • For added flavor, top with salsa and/or a dollop of plain greek yogurt or low-fat sour cream!

Weekends = Pancakes


What are weekends good for besides making pancakes?

Okay, well, weekends are certainly good for a lot of things, but experimenting with pancake recipes definitely tops my list! I did some experimenting of my own yesterday morning and developed a pretty delicious concoction that’s easy to recreate…even when you’re short on time on a weekday morning!

Greek yogurt pancakes with spiced apples
Greek yogurt pancakes with spiced apples
Serves 3

  • 6 oz. greek yogurt (I used part vanilla, part plain Chobani.)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 c. oat flour (or other flour of choice)
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 medium apple, chopped
  • A few shakes of cinnamon
  1. Preheat a griddle or large pan and spray with cooking spray (or coconut oil).
  2. In a bowl, combine your greek yogurt, egg, oat flour, and baking soda. Combine until well mixed. (Batter will be thick.)
  3. Drop batter on to heated griddle (or pan). Flip once, and remove once cooked through.
  4. In a small bowl, combine your chopped apple and shake cinnamon over top. Place in microwave for 45 seconds.
  5. Divide spiced apples evenly over pancakes. Top pancakes with nut butter, maple syrup, or seeds of choice. Enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • For added fiber and protein, add in one tablespoon of flax seed to the batter.

How to level down this recipe:

  • Use regular white flour instead of oat flour.

How was your weekend? Did you experiment with any good recipes? I’ll be back later this week with a recap of a fun wedding I had the opportunity to attend this weekend and another good recipe or two!

Fit Friday Finds: Spirit of the Marathon


What a week it’s been! As you may have noticed, I’ve been pretty M.I.A. all week — unfortunately, I woke up last Friday with a little sore throat that ended up in a full-blown respiratory infection 😦 It definitely hasn’t been a fun week, but I finally got back to work today and (fingers crossed) things are looking up! I’m praying for full healing by the end of the weekend.

I’m pumped to check back in with all of you, and I’m bringing back an old favorite: Fit Friday Finds!

Fit Friday


My husband and I have been long-time fans of Netflix, but I always just used it to waste time catch up on my favorite TV shows — I never knew about the wealth of movies and documentaries hidden in that little app!

After seeing everyone talk about Spirit of the Marathon 2 a few weeks ago, I found out that you can watch “Spirit of the Marathon” on Netflix. It took me about 0.9 seconds to find it and push play!

Spirit of the Marathon follows six runners taking on the Chicago Marathon. Some are elites; others are running their very first marathon. The documentary chronicles their training, race day, and all of the ups and downs that goes with it!

Whether you’re a veteran marathon, contemplating your first 26.2, or just an avid part of the running community, this is a must-watch! It’s so inspirational, and after completing my first marathon, I could identify with all of the emotions the runners displayed and talked about throughout the film.

Out here on the East Coast, it’s a pretty rainy Friday, so this may be the perfect thing to put in your Netflix queue for the evening! May I suggest enjoying it alongside a yummy pizza, like a gluten-free almond flour pizza or a balsamic glazed white pizza?

Dates worth remembering


Doesn’t everyone love a good date? One that’s so good you know you’ll never forget it? One that’s perfectly sweet from start to finish? One that’s pure deliciousness in every bite?

Choco-Almond Date Mini-Balls

Oh wait, you didn’t think I was talking about a romantic date, did you?

Choco-almond date mini-balls

In my foodie heart, my only date worth remembering is Medijool. (Okay, that’s not completely true; I’ve had some pretty good romantic dates, but that’s not what we’re talking about today…)

These mini date balls are pure deliciousness… I recently fell in love with Larabars, but I didn’t fall in love with the price tag ($1.79 for a single bar? Yikes!) So, as per usual, I set out to make my own! I based my recipe on this one from Chocolate Covered Katie and made a big batch to enjoy as pre-workout snacks for this week.

Chocolate Almond Nut Balls

Chocolate Almond Nut Mini-Balls
Makes 12 mini balls

  • 2/3 c. pitted dates
  • 1/8 c. raw almonds
  • 1/8 c. roasted, unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cocoa powder
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Mix on high until well blended. (Mine took about three minutes).
  2. Remove and roll into small balls. Enjoy!

A grown-up PB & J: WIAW edition


It’s Wednesday! And, you foodies know what that means…(If you don’t, then head to Peas & Crayons for the scoop!)

I hate to admit this, but I went through a phase in high school where I ate PB & J for lunch. Every. Single. Day.

And, no, I’m not talking about having natural peanut butter and homemade strawberry jam on a whole wheat bread.

I’m talking processed white bread, peanut butter that was far from natural, and grape jelly with lots of added sugar. I may or may not have enjoyed this with a Choco Taco on the side. (P.S. I miraculously never gained weight during this sugar-laden time of my life. Thank goodness!)

But, anyways, I still love the taste of PB & J. What I don’t love is refined sugars, processed ingredients, and empty starches. That’s why I’ve started to create my own “grown-up” concocotions of PB & J…first, my healthy PB & (Strawberry) J bowl and now this…

PB & J oatmeal


It’s Healthy PB & J Oatmeal! Here’s what’s in the mix (one serving)…

  • 1/4 c. steel cut oats, cooked (Or use 1/2 c. regular oats)
  • Splash of unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter
  • 1 Tbsp. natural strawberry jam
  • Additions: hemp seeds + flax seeds
  1. In a bowl, combine oats and milk. Microwave for 1:10.
  2. Top with strawberries, jam, peanut butter, and any extra additions. Enjoy!

Mmmm, so yummy!

Here’s what the rest of my day looked like…(Trust me, they’re not as pretty. The rest of my eats were all on-the-go!)



11:45 a.m. –> apple

WIAW6.18_lunch12:40 p.m. –> Mini turkey burger topped with TJ’s reduced-guilt guacamole + lettuce + white onion on quinoa flax bread from Whole Foods (it’s amazing) + baby carrots on the side

WIAW6.18_snack4:00 p.m. –> 3 oz. plain 0% CHO + 3 oz. plain 2% Mango CHO topped with sliced almonds, puffed wheat, and oats

WIAW6.18_dinner6:00 p.m. –> Roasted sweet potatoes + roasted brussel sprouts + watermelon (It was a very colorful — and tasty — dinner!)

Unpictured: 2 Hershey Kisses while at a meeting + my nighttime snack (1 banana, warmed in the microwave, with 1 tbsp. natural peanut butter, 2 tbsp. oat bran, and a splash of milk)




Get a leg up


Now that I’m finished with my marathon and my half marathon is a few months away, I’m kind of in workout “limbo” and focusing on creating and doing some of my own workouts! I definitely neglected serious weight training while working towards my marathon, so it’s nice to get back to some focused weight training as summer rolls around.

Last week, I came up with a few new workouts, including this leg workout. I love circuit-type workouts that help keep everything moving and your heart rate up! I added in some plyometrics (squat jumps, jumping lunges, box jumps) for an additional challenge.

20-25-30 leg workout


What are your favorite circuit workouts? What’s your current fitness challenge? 

A perfect Saturday morning!


My Saturday started off by “sleeping in” (yes, I consider 7:03 sleeping in now…), putting on my running shoes, and setting out for a leisurely Saturday morning run. The weather was absolutely beautiful, so I decided to go sans-iPod which ended being an awesome choice! Four miles = done before 8 a.m.!

Running June


I showered, whipped up some apple pie pancakes, and then headed out with my friend Leslie for a morning of food shopping! We started off at Whole Foods and then made our way to a local Farmer’s Market, which I was really excited for but it ended up being a big fail in the produce world. (Everything ended up being super expensive — no good!) We finished with a trip to Trader Joe’s where I stocked up on a lot of my typical favorites.

I got home around 12:30, made a quick lunch, and then did some major food prep for the rest of the day — and I have some exciting new recipes to share with you later next week! However, first I want to share a recipe that I’ve been holding on to for a while, and it is a good one…

Vegetable Crab Soup…and as good as it is, it’s quite difficult to photograph well!

Vegetable crab soup


Remember when I did some major food prep and promised you the recipe for vegetable crab soup? Well I’m making good on that promise!

Healthy vegetable crab soup
Serves 8

  • 1 qt. tomato juice
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 1 can creamed corn
  • 1 can cream of mushroom (OR 1 cup chopped mushrooms + 2 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt)
  • 1 large bag soup vegetables
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Old Bay to taste
  • 1 can crab (I used Phillips)
  • 1 8 oz. package flaked crab
  1. Combine all ingredients in crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. Enjoy! (Alternatively, you can combine all ingredients in a large pot and cook on stove until heated through.)

I love this recipe because it’s simple, packed with veggies, and makes a ton! I actually froze half of it to enjoy at another time.

How to level up this recipe:

  • Add additional vegetables (I often throw in a bag and a half of vegetables instead of just a single bag.)
  • This can pack a lot of sodium though, so use as many no salt added or reduced sodium ingredients as possible.

How to level down this recipe:

  • If you don’t like certain soup vegetables, feel free to add in whatever vegetables you do like.



A very berry WIAW!


What’s the best part of summer? The berries!

Okay, well, I”m sure there’s many other things as well, but as a foodie, I’m all about the berries, and today’s What I Ate Wednesday is a testament to that. Not part of the WIAW trend yet? Head over to Peas & Crayons to see what it’s all about! This week’s eats come from yesterday…


Breakfast: (You saw this yesterday!) 1/2 c. oats, 1 Tbsp. chia seeds, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/3 scoop vanilla protein powder, natural crunchy PB, strawberries and blueberries

Morning snack: Pink lady apple

Lunch: 1/4 c. quinoa with chicken and bean crockpot “chili” + baby carrots on the side

Afternoon snack: 3 oz. plain greek yogurt + 3 oz. black cherry CHO with puffed wheat and oats mixed in (I am loving these mason jars for my yogurt!)

And, then came dinner…

I was planning on photographing a yummy pasta dish that came together fairly quickly yesterday, but it just so happened that my side dish stole the show. I mean, if you put this together, would you be able to resist photographing this plate of summery, clean eating deliciousness?

Spinach strawberry feta salad


Fresh spinach, sweet strawberries, crunchy walnuts, a dusting of feta…


Spinach strawberry feta salad


I’d love to share the “recipe” per say, but does anyone really measure salad ingredients? Here’s what was in the mix:

  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • Chopped strawberries
  • Small handful of walnuts
  • Sprinkle of feta
  • Trader Joe’s fat-free balsamic vinaigrette dressing

What’s your favorite part of summer? What’s your favorite “summer” food?

Exhausted arms + summery oats!


Good morning! Sorry for disappearing for a few days…last Thursday after work, I headed off to the beach with a friend for a short weekend and tried to completely unplug. Although it ended up raining most of the time we were there, it was still a lot of fun!

I’ve been working with my friend Leslie for the last few weeks to help her train for her first post-baby 5K, and we completed the race on Saturday morning on the Ocean City Boardwalk…she did so great! She originally wanted to finish under 35 minutes, and before the race, I told her she should push for 33 minutes…and she ended up finishing in 31:30! Congrats, Leslie — you did awesome! (Sorry for the blurry phone photo!)

5K race


As for my own workouts, I banged out 30 minutes on the elliptical this morning followed by three rounds of this upper body workout…

  • 10 bicep curls (each arm)
  • 10 shoulder presses
  • 10 bent over rows
  • 10 flys (each arm)
  • 15 tricep dips
  • 10 tricep extensions
  • Cardio: 30 jumping jacks, 30 high knees, 30 tuck jumps

My arms are seriously exhausted right now!

I followed up my workout with a great big bowl of chia seed oats with some vanilla protein powder, peanut butter, strawberries, and blueberries…I love the addition of summer fruits in my morning oats!

Strawberry and blueberry oats


I’ll see ya’ll tomorrow for WIAW…but before that, be sure to check out the Lean Green Bean. I was featured in her weekly food prep inspiration post on Sunday! 🙂

Let’s partayyyyy, WIAW style!


Happy Wednesday, Levelites!

It’s time for another installment of What I Ate Wednesday…if you’re not familar, get yourself over to Peas & Crayons to see what the fun is all about!

This week is all about one thing: pizza! Red onion, mushroom,  and kale pizza, that is.

Kale, mushroom, and red onion pizza on whole wheat crust

This pizza is the pizza of all pizzas…homemade whole wheat no-rise dough (yes, it’s done in less than 15 minutes!), fresh veggies, a touch of sauce, a whole lot of kale. The recipe is simple: Make your dough, cook for about ten minutes, remove and add your toppings, stick it back in the oven for ten minutes or so and bam! You have yourself a beautiful, healthy pizza.

But, that’s actually not everything I ate last Wednesday. Let’s back up a bit… (Sorry, the pizza was just that good. I got excited!)

Banana cottage cheese pancakesI started off the morning with three small banana cottage cheese pancakes topped with some peanut butter, TJ’s maple agave syrup, and flax seed.

WIAW6.5_strawberriesFor a snack, I enjoyed some fresh strawberries. These were the best ones I’ve had all season so far!


When lunchtime rolled around, I enjoyed some leftover healthy “fried” rice with shrimp and tons of vegetables with a fresh cucumber salad on the side from a friend!

WIAW6.4_snackFor snacktime, I had 3 oz. apple cinnamon CHO + 3 oz. plain CHO mixed with some peanut butter, puffed wheat, and raw oats.

Kale, mushroom, and red onion pizzaDinner time included two slices of my kale, red onion, and mushroom pizza with some baby carrots on the side!

Food preppin’ + a sidenote


After my whirlwind of a weekend, I spent my Sunday night doing some serious food prep…

Food prep 6.2.13


What you see:

This certainly made meals today a snap! I had some vegetable crab soup and baby carrots for lunch, followed by a big salad + roasted sweet potatoes + a healthy PB & J bowl for dinner. Delicious!

Best of all, I made the food while I still had some good lighting, so be on the lookout soon for my vegetable crab soup recipe. It’s full of vegetables, healthy seafood, and can be made within ten minutes. Best of all, I’m only eating for one over here, so it’ll last me all week + another full week of leftovers that I freeze!

Still need some of your own food prep inspiration? Head over to the Lean Green Blog for your daily dose!

Sidenote: This week, I am making a conscious effort to really limit refined sugars in my diet. I often don’t blog about that side of my diet, but I’ll often pick at a few chocolate chips, a small piece of leftover cake that I made for the hubby, an extra scoop (or two) of nut butter…you get the idea.

When I was marathon training, it didn’t seem to matter much, but now that I’m a month out, I’ve definitely noticed a difference in my body (and on the scale, too). I certainly don’t want to get fixated on that, but I do know that I want to add some lean muscle and focus on re-toning my body for the summer. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress in this area because I love the accountability that it provides! It’s only Monday, but I’ve successfully gone without any added sugars all day…and I even avoided enjoying a small slice of the double layer chocolate chip peppermint patty cake that I made the hubby last week. (P.S. If you are ready to “splurge,” go make this for yourself now. It’s absolutely phenomenal!)

I think you and my friends should hang out on, on the weekends


Does anyone else think of the Skrillex song “Weekends” every time they say weekend? No? Just me? Okay, moving on then…

(P.S. I used my iPhone for all my photos this weekend since I was too lazy to pull out my real camera. You’ve been warned that you’re about to enter a post full of blurry photos…)

This weekend was so fun! It started out with heading back to the University of Delaware for Alumni Weekend to meet up with a few friends, and then I ended up meeting with Andy who was with some friends. They had set up Kinect Sports on a huge 13 foot screen and it was so fun to play! Has anyone else tried it? 



We were there pretty late, so I finally got to bed around midnight and was up bright and early yesterday morning for a run with a friend. I pulled out my new Under Armour top for the first time and loved it! It was loose fitting and kept me really cool on a very hot morning…

UA top


After our five miler, I treated myself to a big iced coffee and did some work for the afternoon. Eventually, Andy and I headed up to Philly for a friend’s wedding, which ended up being so much fun! Any party with glow sticks is bound to be fun, right?

Wedding 1

Wedding 2


It’s cliche but we definitely “danced the night away!” It was so fun to be reunited with some college friends and celebrate a beautiful marriage for two special people! It was well after midnight until I finally got home, so I brushed my teeth and immediately passed out in bed. When I woke up this morning, I was really tired and sore (I guess that’s what three hours of dancing + a five mile run in one day does to you), so I opted for a short yoga DVD before heading to church for the day. 

Now, I’m doing some major food prep for the week and trying to do some cleaning around the house. 

How was your weekend? What’s your favorite part of a wedding? 

A healthy chicken poppers kind of WIAW!


I’ve been gone from the WIAW world for the past two weeks, but I am back! Let’s do this 🙂

My eats come from last Friday…and I sure was hungry for some reason! I think I ate all day long…



Breakfast: Two-ingredient banana egg pancake with almond butter and some flax seed +unsweetened coconut

Morning snack: I raided the office kitchen to find some pretzels and two clementines. They sure hit the spot!

Lunch: Sweet potato bowl with 1/2 roasted sweet potato, black beans, red and green peppers, onions, and corn topped with chipotle salsa + baby carrots on side

Afternoon snack: Mango Chobani with puffed wheat and oats (and a few handfuls of puppy chow as I made it for the hubby!)

Dinner…oh, it’s coming! Keep scrolling 🙂

Evening snack: Small bowl of Crispix cereal with unsweetened vanilla almond milk

And, now for dinner…

Popcorn chicken dippersOh yeah…don’t you just want to dip some right now? I call them healthy chicken poppers, and they are phenomenal with an easy-as-can-be honey dijon dipping sauce! Do you want the recipe?

You do?

Okay, well if you insist…

Healthy popcorn chicken with honey dijon dipping


Healthy Chicken Poppers & Honey Dijon Dipping Sauce 

  • 2 large chicken breasts, trimmed of fat and cut into small cubes
  • 1 c. whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/3 c. panko
  • Salt & pepper (to taste)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 Tbsp. plain greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. dijon mustard
  • 3/4 Tbsp. honey
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray a cooking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Set out two small bowls. In the first bowl, combine bread crumbs & panko + salt and pepper to taste. In the second bowl, beat two eggs.
  3. Roll chicken pieces in egg wash until covered and then immediately place in breadcrumb mixture. Mix until each piece is covered and then set on the baking sheet.
  4. Once you have breaded all chicken poppers, place chicken in oven and cook for about ten minutes, flipping once. (The smaller your pieces, the less cooking time you’ll need.)
  5. In a separate bowl, combine greek yogurt, dijon mustard, and honey for your dipping sauce. Enjoy!


How to level up this recipe: 

  • Gluten-free or breadcrumbs just not your thing? You could easily “bread” your chicken with almond meal instead.

How to level down this recipe:

  • For an added punch of flavor, add 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese to the breading mixture.


Marathon playlist


So, yes, it was over three weeks ago, but I finally put together my last post about my experience at the 2013 Pittsburgh Marathon. Missed them so far? Catch them here…

I know some people run without music, but I’m not quite sure how. I’ve always run with music, and it definitely helps me get pumped up and focus on my pace. My marathon playlist was 4+ hours long, so these definitely aren’t all the songs from my playlist, but they are some of my favorites!

Marathon Playlist


What are your favorite running/workout songs? Can you run without music? 

Back on the grid


I think we could all agree I’ve been a little MIA lately. Last week was insanely busy (and so was this weekend), but I’m back! I even have a good recipe or two to share with you this week.

Friday night I made some healthy chicken poppers with homemade honey dijon dipping sauce (recipe coming at you for this week’s WIAW!) and then headed to an engagement party for my beautiful friend, Janie. I am so excited to be part of her big day, and it’s only a month away!

On Saturday morning, I broke out my Jillian Michaels yoga DVD for the first time…



It was a surprisingly great workout! It was more challenging than other yoga classes I’ve done, and it was only about 30 minutes long, so it’s really easy to squeeze in during a busy day.

After yoga, I spent the rest of the day helping a friend move, which definitely challenged my already-sore arms! I eventually headed to church for most of the afternoon/evening.

Yesterday started bright and early with working at church, and then it was time for our Memorial Day Cookout with friends! I made a variation of my Avocado Cobb Salad and ate way, way too much delicious food, but it was definitely worth it. We ended the night with some sparklers…

Memorial Day


How was your Memorial Day Weekend? 

A WIAW-less Wednesday


This is officially my second Wednesday without doing a WIAW — crazy, I know. I can hardly believe it either.

I’m not sure what my problem is…I recorded a full day of eats both this week and last, but for some reason, really wasn’t feeling like they were WIAW-worthy. In addition, this week has just been so busy so far that blogging was put on the back burner.

I know I’ve been MIA for a few days (and things don’t look like they’re going to slow down at all this weekend), but I did want to check in quickly while I had the chance! (P.S. Now, I am so glad I did all that food prep over last weekend!)

Since I no longer have to adhere to a strict training plan, I spent some time this week mixing it up at the gym! I started off Monday morning with a 20-minute interval workout on the elliptical, followed by a version of my “Feelin’ the burn” leg circuit workout. I added 30 jumping jacks to each round & then did some sprints at the end. It definitely got my heart rate up!

Yesterday morning, I did 5.5 miles before 6:45 a.m. at a local park — and it was daylight the entire time! I. love. summer. weather.

After work yesterday, I headed straight home to PA. I was asked to speak at my high school’s scholarship foundation banquet, which was really exciting! Not quite sure why I have the weirdest look on my face in every single photo though…

Scholarship dinner 2


I was grateful for the opportunity to speak and loved speaking to all of the students afterwards — what I wouldn’t give to be their age and be ready to do college again! Luckily, I had my mom as my date last night…

Scholarship dinner


I ended up sleeping in PA last night and getting up early this morning to get back to Delaware by 8:15 for work! (It was a two-hour drive…I am so tired right now. Boo.)

However, today is the hubby’s birthday so once I got home, we headed off to the mall to get him some new clothes as a birthday gift. We eventually decided we were hungry and stopped at a Chic-fil-a on our way home. As far as fast food goes, Chic-fil-a is by far my favorite (I actually don’t eat any other fast food anyways), but I was surprised how great their newest salad was! I had the Market Creation Salad which was made with a mix of romaine and spinach, apples, strawberries, blueberries, carrots, and grilled chicken with a zesty apple vinegrette, which was awesome…

Chic-Fil-A Market Salad


I highly recommend it for a fresh option on-the-go!

The rest of this week/weekend is jam packed as well, but I know I’ll be making a few new recipes for Memorial Day Weekend, so I’ll definitely be back to check in with those. And even though I’m slacking on the WIAW front, there’s a ton of great bloggers who aren’t so head over to Peas & Crayons to check out their yummy eats!

Staying healthy in a crazy busy week


Wow…what an incredibly busy weekend!

After a short run of Friday afternoon, Andy and I went to a birthday party Friday night and then spent most of yesterday and today at church for various commitments. However, I had a short break yesterday afternoon and was able to go visit my best friend from home on her graduation day!

Michelle's graduationAlthough I missed her actual graduation, I was able to join her and her family for a party back at her house afterwards. Congrats, Michelle — I’m so proud of you!

After a crazy busy weekend, this week likely isn’t going to slow down at all…I have commitments tomorrow until 9:30 and then am speaking at a banquet on Tuesday night back in my hometown, which is about a two hour drive. I plan on staying at home and getting up super early Wednesday morning to drive back for work and then celebrate Andy’s birthday with him!

So, in light of a super busy week, I wanted to do some serious healthy food prep…

Food prep 5.19

Food prep 5.19 2


I made apple almond butter pancakes from Detoxinista, cut up fresh pineapple & strawberries (you better bet I’m having some PB & Strawberry J Bowls this week!),  roasted asparagus, and balsamic glazed white pizza.

Need some of your own inspiration to do some food prep? Head over to the Lean Green Bean Blog…I love reading about what everyone whips up; it inspires me to get creative myself!


Fit Friday Find: A snack worth sharing


I promised I wouldn’t mention the “M” word today, so we’re turning out attention to a summery Fit Friday Find!

Fit Friday

Okay, so I didn’t really “find” any revolutionary foods. I’m talking pretty basic stuff here: strawberries, peanut butter, cottage cheese. However, what’s revolutionary is how amazing these things are altogether…

Healthy PB & (Strawberry) J Bowl

Seriously drool-worthy, right?

I call it healthy PB & (strawberry) J bowl. I actually don’t think you even need to like cottage cheese to eat this. And, if you don’t believe me, fine. Eat it with some plain greek yogurt. I think you’ll still be impressed.

Healthy PB & Strawberry J Bowl

I think the secret is the dollop of homemade strawberry jam I added. It lightly coats the strawberries and adds that jelly consistently necessary to call something “PB & J.”

I don’t even think this qualifies as a “recipe,” more as just like the most simple, summery, delicious snack you’re going to eat all week. But, for those of you that like to follow directions, here you go…

Healthy PB & (Strawberry) J Bowl
Serves 1

  • 1 c. strawberries, sliced
  • 1/4 c. low-fat or reduced sodium cottage cheese
  • 1 tbsp. peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp. homemade strawberry jelly (optional, but amazing)
  1. Put all ingredients in a bowl. Mix. Eat.

See, told ya it was simple!

How to level up this recipe:

  • For added protein, sprinkle with vanilla protein powder or some flax seed.

How to level down this recipe:

  • Throw in some chocolate chips or sprinkle with sugar for added sweetness.

What types of summery snacks do you love? 

Life after 26.2


So, it’s been over a week since I completed my big goal of 2013 — to finish my first full marathon.

Since then, it’s been a crazy ride! Immediately after my marathon, I experienced a huge outpouring of support from friends, family, and co-workers which meant so much to me, especially since they were the ones who had to listen to all my talk about splits, paces, and tempo runs for the past four months!

Marathon collage

When I took on this challenge, I turned to other food and fitness blogs to read about other blogger’s experiences with marathon training and completing their first marathons. Since I didn’t know many people who had run a marathon in my life, this became a great resource and inspiration for me. If they could do it, so could I!

I want to take some time today to address what I’ve learned and some resources for any of you out there contemplating your own first marathon! If you’re tired of my marathon talk by now, I don’t blame you…leave now and I’ll see you tomorrow for a non-running-related post 🙂

What to know before tackling training for your first marathon: 

  • You have to do your long runs. I followed a training plan that had me run three times per week, plus two or three cross-training workouts each week. During marathon training, you can get away with skipping a run or cross-training workout here or there, but you can’t get away with skipping your long runs. Building mileage is extremely important for success on marathon day, so whatever you do, squeeze that in!
  • You need time. I’m used to getting up to run or hit the gym in the morning, so I didn’t think it would be that much of a stretch to train for a marathon. However, once your mileage starts creeping up and you’re doing mid week seven or eight miles runs plus 15, 16, 18, 20+ mile long runs, you need time. It’ll start to take you between two and a half and three hours (or more) to complete those long runs + the time you spend getting ready, driving to a place to a run, stretching afterwards, etc. If I was going to do a long run (15 miles or more), I knew I needed at least 3 1/2 hours from the time I put my running shoes on until the time I was back home after a run. And, it’s pretty exhausting to run 15+ miles, so the chances of me doing anything truly productive afterwards was pretty darn slim…
  • You’re probably not going to think or talk about anything else for four months. As runners, we can’t help it…we just have to talk about running, even with non-runners who could care less that we found the perfect gel shot that fits in the pocket of our favorite running shorts and doesn’t bother our GI tract during a run. So yeah…I don’t recommend making any other big goals to achieve during this time of your life!
  • You probably won’t be able to wear flip flops. I’ll spare you the gross details, but your feet will be in bad shape. And be prepared to say goodbye to a toenail or two.
  • Respect the taper. After intense training for four months, the idea of taking time off is hard. I began my taper three weeks before my race, and the week of the race, I took some serious rest. I completed only a four mile run, three mile run, and yoga the week before my race…and I couldn’t have been more thankful come rest day. My legs were fresh, and having earlier 20 and 21 milers under my belt, I still felt confident.
  • It’s really hard. It’s hard. It’s hard to get up everyday and squeeze in an eight mile “short” tempo run before work. It’s hard to have to say no to invitations to a party or ice cream out with a friend because you have a training run the next morning. It’s hard to be glued to your GPS watch to watch your paces, splits, etc.
  • It’s really awesome. It’s awesome. It’s awesome to watch yourself move from considering four miles a solid “short” run to considering eight miles your “short” run for the week. It’s awesome to get up and run more miles before 7 a.m. than most people will run all week. It’s awesome to envision yourself crossing that finish line.

What you need to know about actually running your first marathon:

  • Enjoy every second. You’ve trained for the last four months for this…don’t let it pass you by! This was some of the best advice I received, and I really took it to heart. I enjoyed the race expo, my pre-race meal, getting ready the night before with my sister and friends, and (gasp) even the race itself. When I was running over Pittsburgh’s famous bridges, I made it a point to look to my left and right and enjoy the amazing views of the city. It may cost you a few seconds, but it’ll be totally worth it.
  • Know the course map. I studied the course map and knew that the second half of the race started with a big hill. (I don’t think I realized the hills never really stopped after that!) However, I was prepared for that big hill at mile 12, and that made a big difference. I also went against every piece of racing advise and purposely went for positive splits (meaning the first half of your race is faster than the second). I knew that I’d need that borrowed time later in the race, and I’m glad I took that approach or else I never would have made my four-hour goal. (Also, if you’re looking for a great pacing tool, check out Taz Running!)
  • Expect momentum to carry you through the first half…expect your training to carry you through the second. One of the things that surprised me most is how difficult the last three miles of the marathon were for me. I had trained up to 21 miles, and I just assumed that adrenaline (combined with my training) would carry me through until the end. That distance is so hard on your body, and I remember seriously contemplating quitting less than two miles before the finish line. I was really surprised at the amount of people who had to stop and nurse an injury or stretch out or walk during the final miles of the race…it was a very draining experience. Worth it, but draining.
  • The last few miles will be a total mental game. Just keep telling yourself you can do it! I had written Phillipians 4:13 on my wrist and glanced at it quite a few times in my final miles…at that point, your body will definitely want to quit and things that you think would help (like telling yourself “I did 23 miles, only 3 more to go!”) really don’t help. Keep pushing, keep pushing…it’s worth it.

The Aftermath:

  • Expect an emotional roller coaster… You’re going to thank God it’s over. Then you might just cry (because of pain or joy or, more likely, both). You’re going feel like you’re on top of the world — you just ran a marathon! You’re going to feel like you can’t move. You might ask for strange things. (Ex. I’m never really hungry after long runs. After my race, all I wanted was a freeze pop and ended up settling for the most amazing shaved ice ever.) That’s all within the first hour.
  • …for awhile. The day after the marathon was awesome for me. I was sore, but felt so blessed by all of the support and well wishes I received from family and friends. The second day after the marathon I woke up feeling like I had just been hit by a train. I was really tired and nauseous and just felt out of it. I later realized I was probably dehydrated because after drinking a lot of Gatorade, I felt much better.  (Side note: Stay really well hydrated after your race! I thought I was drinking a lot of water, but I didn’t have any type of sports drinks, and those probably would have helped a lot.) The third day after the marathon, I must have forgotten about all of the pain because I was already contemplating running another one.
  • You’ll feel a little lost. People talk about “post-marathon depression”…and I definitely have it. It’s difficult to describe, but when you lived your life for four months focused on a single goal and then achieved it…what comes next? You feel like you need a new goal, but you’re not quite ready to sign up for a second marathon, so what do you do? I’m still trying to figure this one out…

So, there you have it! It’s been a crazy journey, but so worth it. Thanks for being part of it with me!

Clusters of goodness!


My mother-in-law is awesome! She loves cooking and baking healthy creations just like I do, so we inevitably make a thing or two when we’re together.

I originally made my Sweet, Savory, and Tart Granola Bars for her since I knew she was a big fan of those from Trader Joe’s, and this weekend, we decided to try our hand together at re-creating True North Almond Pecan Cashew Clusters.

Our cast of characters

Our cast of characters


First up, we chopped our nuts (we used pecans, almonds, and cashews, but you can use whatever you please!) into fairly large pieces.

2013-05-10 20.39.57

2013-05-10 20.40.03

Next, we placed our chopped nuts in a bowl and mixed them together.

2013-05-10 20.38.21



And, then we poured our liquid mixture of agave, honey, and brown rice syrup over top and started mixing.2013-05-10 20.41.15

We then poured the mixture on to our baking sheet with parchment paper and got them in the oven!

2013-05-10 20.42.36


And wha-la! Almond pecan cashew clusters…a.k.a clusters of goodness.

Almond cashew pecan nut clusters


Clusters of Goodness

  • 6 tbsp. brown rice syrup
  • 2 tbsp. agave syrup
  • 2 tbsp. honey
  • 1 c. almonds, chopped
  • 1 c. pecans, chopped
  • 1 c. cashews, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Add your chopped almonds, pecans, and cashews (or other nuts of your choice) into a bowl.
  3. In a separate small bowl, add brown rice syrup, agave syrup, and honey. Pour liquid mixture over top of nuts and mix well.
  4. Pour nut mixture on to baking sheet and spread evenly.
  5. Cook for about 15 minutes.
  6. Remove and let cool for about 10 minutes. Before nut mixture hardens completely, break off into small clusters and enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • Add more nutrients by adding in some pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and/or Brazilian nuts.

How to level down this recipe:

  • It’s not necessarily a “level down,” but add pure maple syrup in place of some of the brown rice syrup for a thicker, but richer flavor

Food prep Sunday!


How’s your day going? After a pretty busy weekend, I finally had a chance to relax and get some stuff done around the house, including some serious food prep! But first, let’s do a quick weekend recap…

After work on Friday, I headed home and started cooking since Andy’s mom and aunt were heading down for the weekend. I made some turkey burgers with homemade chipotle dressing, roasted asparagus, and fresh strawberries. It was a win all around! We ended the night by making some homemade almond pecan cashew clusters that were a-mazing. Be on the lookout for a step-by-step recipe later this week!

Almond cashew pecan nut clusters


Saturday morning, I woke up and had one thing on my mind: running!

I promised myself that I’d take a whole week off after my marathon to rest and recuperate before diving back into any type of activity. Although I walked a few times last week, I did nothing else — no running, no gym, no nothing! I figured I made it six days, so that was good enough for a full rest period! I went out yesterday morning for an “easy” three mile run. I started out at a comfortable pace (8:24 first mile) and ended around 7:56. It felt awesome!

I was back before 8 a.m. so I whipped up some breakfast (egg whites, homemade blueberry banana bread, and strawberries for me), and then took Andy’s mom and aunt up to one of my favorite walking spots. We did two more miles together before heading to our local natural foods store to pick up some stuff.

Walk photo


After a quick shower, we went back out for lunch with Andy’s mom, aunt, and other family who joined us. Since it was Mother’s Day Weekend and we figured most restaurants would be super busy, we just hit up our local TGI Friday’s and I decided to have the same thing I had last time I was there — the Sedona Black Bean burger, which is amazing! I need to find a recipe for that…

TGI Fridays


The rest of the afternoon flew by, as I was at church all evening for our service and then a small group leader training.

Today, it was back to church for the morning to help out with a few things…I finally left around 4 p.m. and was able to spend the rest of the night cleaning and doing some major food prep for the week. Check it out!

Food Prep_5.13.13


Meals for the week:

  • Avocado Black Bean Burgers with roasted sweet potatoes
  • Balsamic Chicken Pasta Salad (I followed this recipe for Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad but used TJ’s balsamic vinaigrette dressing instead of Caesar.)
  • Banana almond butter bars (I cut them individually and froze most of them for easy, pre-workout snacks.)
  • Yogurt “toppings” –> I put together some puffed wheat, sliced almonds, and raw oats to use on Greek yogurt throughout the week

For more food prep ideas, check out the Lean Green Bean Sunday Food Prep Inspiration!

Oh, and happy Mother’s Day to all of the moms and moms-to-be out there!

It exists!







Bigfoot. The Bermuda Triangle. Healthy and delicious eggplant parmesan. Do these things really exist?

Before I made this recipe, I’d say no way. Okay, well let’s be honest, I don’t know anything about Bigfoot or the Bermuda Triangle, but I know a thing or two about eggplant parm. I mostly know that I love it. And that it’s probably one of the heaviest, greasiest, most unhealthy meals around.

However, it turns out that healthy and delicious eggplant parm really does exist. I promise you…

Healthy eggplant parm


Seriously, people. This stuff is amazing. It even freezes well! I had a whole pan of it to myself since the hubs doesn’t eat eggplant, and although I definitely could have killed the whole pan myself, I figured I probably shouldn’t. Therefore, I wrapped a few servings in aluminum foil and have been able to grab one for a quick meal. Three minutes in the microwave and I get these cheesy, saucy goodness all over again!

I’ll warn you — the ingredient list is pretty long. But, it is so, so worth it! I took a Saturday afternoon to prep and then was able to enjoy it throughout the week.


Healthy Eggplant Parmesan
Serves 9
Adapted from Cooking Light 


  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 c. Panko
  • 1/4 c. fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 large eggplant (or two small eggplants), sliced crosswise into 1/2 in. slices


  • 1/2 c. torn fresh basil (don’t skimp on this — use fresh!) 
  • 1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 16 oz. container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 c. sliced mushrooms (optional)


  • 1 24 oz. jar pasta sauce (or tomato sauce with spices added)
  • 1 1/2 c. mozzarella cheese (or 8 oz. fresh mozz + 1/2 c. fontina if you prefer)
  1. Preheat oven to 375 and spray 13 x 9 glass pan and two baking sheets with cooking spray. 
  2. For the eggplant — In one bowl, beat eggs and water. In a separate bowl, pour your Panko and breadcrumbs. Dip eggplant slices into egg mixture, then coat with breadcrumb mixture and lay on a baking sheet. Place approximately one inch apart and bake at 375 for 30 minutes, flipping once.
  3. Meanwhile, make your filling by adding together six filling ingredients listed above.
  4. When eggplant is finished roasted, place 1/2 c. sauce in bottom of glass pan. Layer half of eggplant slices over sauce and sprinkle with salt. Top with an additional layer of sauce and then half of the cheese filling mixture. Top with about 1/2 c. of mozzarella cheese.
  5. Repeat layers once. Top with sauce (to prevent drying out), cover with foil, and place in oven for 35 minutes. Remove, and add remaining cheese to top. Return to oven for about ten minutes or until cheese is melted. Slice and enjoy!

To level up this recipe: 

  • I added in mushrooms because I love them, but you could easily add in some sauteed spinach to get in some greens! 

To level down this recipe:

  • You could easily use regular breadcrumbs instead of the whole wheat. 


A post-marathon 26.2 WIAW!


It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for WIAW and a short break from all my marathon talk!

This week’s eats come from Monday, the day after my marathon. Normally after long runs I’m absolutely ravenous, which didn’t seem the case on Monday…however, I still got in lots of recovery carbs and protein (and some treats!) to celebrate the end of my journey to 26.2!

I started the day off with “Apple Pie Oats”…

Apple Pie OatsApple Pie Oats
Serves 1

  • 1/2 c. oats
  • 2/3 c. liquid (I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk; you can use a combo of milk + water if you’d like)
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 Tbsp. flaxseed
  • 1 small apple, chopped (I kept the skin on, but that’s optional.)
  1. In a small saucepan, combine oats and liquid over medium-high heat. Stir regularly.
  2. Once the liquid begins to be absorbed, add in your egg white and apples and cook for about a minute or until egg is cooked throughout.
  3. Stir in your tablespoon of flaxseed and mix well. Remove from heat and serve — preferably with a big ol’ scoop of nut butter!

After breakfast, I had a pretty busy day so I snapped my eats on the go!


Morning snack: Baby carrots

Lunch: One large sweet potato with sauteed peppers, corn, and black beans served with fresh pico de gallo and unpictured TJ’s quinoa lentil chips

Afternoon snack: I had an Apple CHO all ready to go, but when someone came back with half price Starbucks fraps for the office, I couldn’t resist! I had a Mocha Cookie Crumble and it. was. phenomenal. (Almost cherry shaved ice status!)

Dinner: 1/2 c. whole wheat angel hair pasta with shrimp sauteed in 1/2 tbsp. butter + 1/4 tsp. garlic + steamed broccoli + balsamic vinegar

Evening snacks: A small homemade granola square sent from my mother-in-law (amazing!) and part of the fruit from an Edible Arrangement I received as a congrats on my marathon! 🙂 (Dollop of plain 0% CHO on the side)

Unpictured: Lots of water! In retrospect, I should have had some Gatorade as well to replenish the electrolytes, as I was feeling pretty sloggish still on Tuesday morning!

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten this week?


Race Recap: Pittsburgh Marathon 2013


Did you miss the start of my Pittsburgh Marathon adventures? Check it out here before moving on to my full race recap…

The morning of my marathon, I ended up waking up right after 5 a.m., got dressed, and ate my pre-race breakfast of a whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and flaxseed. I only managed to eat half before we left, but I wrapped up the other half and ended up eating on the way to the starting line, which I was thankful for a few miles in!

Race breakfast

After breakfast, it was about a ten minute walk down to the start line from Kate’s apartment, and the four of us snapped a quick photo before taking off to our different corrals.

Race Beforehand

Ali and Kels were in Corral B, Kate and her boyfriend were in Corral D, and I was the only one in Corral C. Luckily, the weather was nice but it was still chilly in the morning, so I was pretty thankful for my throwaway shirt!

Since I was in Corral C, I figured I wouldn’t cross the start line until 7:15 or so, but they were incredibly efficient. Even though I was in the third wave, I crossed the start line by 7:05…and I was off!

Now, I’ve read all the blogs and Runner’s World articles about the importance of not coming out too fast, but I studied the typography and knew the second half of the course was really hilly, so I wanted to come out fast knowing I’d need that time later. So come out fast I did!

The first six miles of the race were just awesome! We started in downtown Pittsburgh and headed across three of the bridges within the first five miles which were absolutely packed with spectators. I felt great, my legs felt fresh, and I loved the crowd support! Some of my favorite signs included “You’ve been training longer than Kim Kardashian’s marriage,” “Most people won’t even drive 26.2 miles today,” and “You Go, Glen Coco!” Yay for Glen Coco and Means Girls.

Miles 1-5 –> 8:04, 8:01, 8:18, 8:14, 8:21

Race bridge

It started feeling a little bottlenecked around mile 7, since we were still with the half marathoners and the roads were pretty narrow. I ended up doing a lot of swerving, but I was still feeling good, even with the rolling hills.

At Mile 10, I broke out a gel and actually stopped at a water stop to take my gel and drink some water which was a good choice! It gave me a quick break and let me refuel before taking on the next part of the course.

Miles 6-10 –> 8:28, 8:28, 8:24, 8:31, 9:02

At Mile 11, the half marathoners broke off from the marathoners, and I won’t lie…I briefly considered following the half marathoners. At that point, I was feeling really good and would have LOVED to finish up strong (2 more miles versus 15 more miles? The choice seemed easy at that point…) buttttt I kept on going and hit the second half of the race.

I studied the course map and knew there was a killer hill at mile 12…guess what?! The course map didn’t lie. The hill was long (over a mile long), but I just pulled back my pace and kept going up. Around here, I started a new fuel strategy: Stop and walk through every fuel station. It was beautiful. There was a fuel station every 1.5 to 2 miles, so I simply grabbed a water and walked through each station from mile 12 through the end of the race. I had a chance to stop, focus on hydration, and just keep going. So glad I took the 15 seconds to stop rather than trying to drink and run at the same time.

After mile 12, the hills didn’t really stop. There were long, rolling hills for the rest of the race, which got quite tough after awhile. The middle part of the race was pretty much a blur, but I knew I kept telling myself to put one foot in front of the other.

Miles 11 – 15 –> 8:39, 9:13, 9:19, 9:36, 9:08

To the woman who gave me an orange slice at mile 19 – I love you.

Miles 16-20 –> 9:27, 9:35, 9:11, 9:04, 10:06

Around mile 20-21, I saw the pacer for the 3:50 group and I glanced down at my watch – just over 3 hours, which meant my goal of finishing in 4 hours was in reach. That kept me moving…until I hit another gigantic hill at mile 23.

Miles 21 – 24 –> 9:06, 9:26, 9:40, 8:53 (finally downhill!)

To the spectator who told me this was the last hill of the race and that once I got up it, it was all downhill from there – I love you.

(P.S. He lied. There were two more hills, but hey, at least he got me up that hill!)

I can’t explain how painful miles 24-26 were. I considered stopping multiple times and seriously contemplated walking to the finish…everyone around me seemed to be walking or pulling over to stretch, and I was pretty jealous.

However, I knew four hours was in reach and no matter how much I wanted to quit, I knew I needed to finish as strong as I could. In those last two miles, I wasn’t running for me. I was running for every single person who loved and supported me these past four months. I looked at my arm a lot at that mile…

Race arm

Technically, I got myself to mile 24, but it was God, family, and friends who got me to 26.2! (Or more accurately, 26.5…apparently I did a lot of weaving!) Mile 25 was my first split over 10:06 (at mile 20), but I dug deep and pulled out a 8:44 for my final mile.

Miles 25 – 26.5 –> 10:20, 8:44, 4:16

Right before miles 26, I saw my family and friends for the FIRST time…at that point, I knew I was going to finish strong (and under four hours!), but it gave me the final push I needed!

At 3:57:31, I crossed the finish line. I got my finisher metal. I had done it!


It wasn’t until I pulled out my phone that I started crying. A ton of my friends had signed up for live updates and texted me along the way! It was so amazing to see all the times they texted me throughout the race encouraging me…and shortly later, I met up with my family!

Race hug

I love how I'm hunched over! Pretty sure I couldn't stand at this point...

I love how I’m hunched over! Pretty sure I couldn’t stand at this point…

Race Katie and Abby

Normally, I can’t eat after a long run butttt I happened to get the most phenomenal post-race snack — shaved ice! I think it was almost as sweet as finishing the race — I was in heaven.

Race shaved ice

“Amazing” is the only way to describe this experience. Thank you to each of you for reading along these past few months and sending your support as well! I promise I’ll try to get you some more fun workouts that don’t revolve around running and good recipes that aren’t all focused on the correct ratio of carbs:protein, haha… Thanks for being on this journey with me!

And one last thank you…to my husband who’s put up with early morning runs and lots of complaining these past few months! When I got home from work yesterday, he had framed my race number and got me a little race shoe for my Pandora bracelet. Perfect!

Marathon number Andy

I’m a marathoner!


After four months of training, I’ve achieved my biggest goal of the year – I’m officially a marathoner! And not only am I marathoner, but I achieved my time goal of under 4 hours – 3:57:31!!

Words can’t even describe how emotional the day was, but I’m so excited to share every step with all of you!

On Saturday, I woke up and headed over to pick up my friend Ali so we could meet my sister and her sister who both live in Pittsburgh.

On the road!

On the road!

We made it to Pittsburgh by 2 p.m. to meet my sister and the three of us headed over to the GNC Live Well Expo to pick up our bibs and shirts and such. It was pretty busy, but we were easily able to pick up our race essentials and then walk around a little bit before calling it a day.

Marathon expi


2908 ... represent!

2908 … represent!

Signing the wall to commemorate Boston. #bostonstrong

Signing the wall to commemorate Boston. #bostonstrong

Me and Ali

Me and Ali


Me and my sista!

Me and my sista!



Once we got back to Kate’s apartment, we hung out and then met up with our moms who had driven out after us. I whipped up an awesome pre-race dinner… healthy chicken parmesan, whole wheat pasta, roasted brussel sprouts and zucchini, and some whole wheat garlic bread. Lots of carb and protein = perfect!

Marathon dinner

We headed to bed around 10 p.m. since we had quite an early wakeup call – 5:10 a.m.! I set all my stuff out beforehand to save time in the morning…

Marathon ready

I’ll be back tomorrow for a full mile by mile update (lucky you!), so I’ll catch ya’ll then!

It’s here!!!


After months of anticipation, race weekend is finally here!

I’m packing the last of my stuff now, and then will be en route to Pittsburgh! This time tomorrow, I should be a few miles in to my 26.2 — yay!

(Sorry for the absurd amount of exclamation points in this post. I’ve gone from really nervous to really excited all week, and now I’m just ready to get out there, kill it, and achieve my New Year’s Resolution. Let’s do this!)

Want to follow me throughout race weekend? Follow me on Instagram @abbynicole1204

Picture 7


You can also sign up for text updates on my progress if you’re really interested!

I hope to check back in no later than Monday morning with some race updates for ya’ll…thank you so much for your supportive comments and emails these past few months. They’ve helped to keep me going, and I can’t wait to make it across that finish line!

Image courtesy of


It’s a Pinterest Party!


If you head over to The Lean Green Bean today, you’ll see a fun blogger link-up — a Pinterest Party! I’m pumped to participate 🙂

Here’s the deal: Lindsay over at LBG asked us all to put together a post of our five favorite recipes we’d like to see pinned and visit other blogs to pin some of theirs in return. So, let’s get moving! Here are my five favorite pin-able recipes from Levels…

(P.S. Share the love! Pin your favorites and then visit Lindsay’s blog and check out the other blogger pin parties!)

Avocado Cobb Salad with Chipotle Homemade DressingAvocado Cobb Salad with homemade Chipotle Dressing

Chicken and Bean Crockpot Chili...a one pot meal that's simple and healthy!Chicken and Bean Crockpot Chili 

Healthy Slow Cooker Chicken CheesesteakSlow Cooker Chicken Cheesesteak

Sweet potato vegetable chiliSweet Potato Vegetable Chili

Honey almond flax pancakesHoney almond flax pancakes

And, a bonus one! (Can I do that? I’m going for it!)

25 Healthy Snacks_Levels25 Healthy Snacks!

10 ways to make running fun


With my marathon only FOUR days away, I’m looking forward to making running “fun” again post-race. Since I’ve been really focused on a strict training plan for the past few months, I’m excited to get back to some of the things that always renew my love for running!

No matter if you’re a marathoner or a first-time 5K’er, running can (and should!) be fun!

10 ways to make running fun


  1. Find a new route. Sometimes, all you need to do is try a different route. I have a great, safe park by my house, but when you run it four times a week, it gets old. Be sure to switch it up!
  2. Sign up for a “fun” race. Whether it’s a color run 5K or a costume run, doing something different will make running seem even more fun! I’m really looking forward to the Rock n Roll half marathon that I just signed up for…bands at every mile in an awesome city? Count me in!
  3. Run with a friend. I always thought I liked running alone until I tried running with a friend. When running with someone else, I’m not focused on pace or time; I’m just focused on having fun and enjoying time together.
  4. Remember a mile is a mile. If I end up running slower than I typically do or slow my pace down for a friend, I’ll get frustrated. But, just remember — a mile is a mile, no matter how fast or slow you might go.
  5. Try a different type of run. The Farlek, tempo, Yasso 800s, hill intervals –challenge yourself to try something new!
  6. Treat yourself. You know how I get through long runs sometimes? Oatmeal. Sometimes, I’ll focus my last ten miles on the idea that when I finish, I get to eat a big, hot steaming bowl of oatmeal and peanut butter that’ll taste amazing. No matter what your treat, motivate yourself to the finish!
  7. Do a trail run. I never did trail running before last summer, but I absolutely love it! You definitely won’t be as fast, but it’s challenging and always fun to try a new terrain.
  8. Join a running group (or start your own!). Running with others is a great time to connect while being active.
  9. Try a new distance. Have you done a 5K, 10K, 15K, 10-miler, half marathon, full marathon, and ultra? Even if it’s not a race, tackling a new distance is a great way to keep running fun. (Remember, you’ll always get a PR in a new distance!)
  10. Smile. Yes, I’m serious. It sounds silly, but sometimes when I’m in the middle of a long run or a run I don’t really want to do, I’ll smile. When you think about it, it’s such a gift that you have the ability to run — to be outside, moving, just enjoying the environment. This simple thing can change the whole course of your run!

Scenes from this weekend


Weekend_lara barMy very first Larabar…to say I loved it was an understatement! I already bought a few more to enjoy this week.

Weekend_saladA wonderfully large summery salad in honor of a warm spring day! In the mix: romaine lettuce, spinach, apple, walnuts, almonds, parmesan cheese, and cucumbers


What a text to wake up to! Come on, Pittsburgh Mother Nature, don’t let me down..

Weekend_Journey tshirtsIt was Baptism Weekend at my church…which is my very favorite weekend of the year! It’s a big party, and we had over 30 people baptized — that never gets old!

Weekend_runA lovely afternoon run with a friend! My final eight miles…done!

Weekend_pizzaDelicious white pizza…olive oil and balsamic vinaigrette glaze with roma tomatoes, red onion, spinach, and mozzarella.

And finally, this happened…

Picture 4Rock ‘n’ Roll in Philly with a few friends this fall! 🙂

One goal for this week


I have one goal for this week: to make it to the marathon finish line on Sunday morning. (That’s only a week from now!!! Ahhh!)

PGH Marathon Ticket

Therefore, I tried to focus on meal planning/prep this week so that I have clean, healthy, protein-filled food ready whenever I need it this week! I normally plan to make about three meals per week (that will get me through with leftovers for lunches), but I got really specific this week and actually planned out both lunch and dinner so that I know I’m getting the fuel I need.



  • Lunch: Leftover shrimp quinoa
  • Dinner: Leftover white pizza + veggies


  • Lunch: Turkey, spinach, Laughing Cow cheese, and red onion on brown rice wrap 
  • Dinner: Leftover white pizza + veggies


  • Lunch: Eggplant parm (I have individually wrapped from when I made a big batch a few weeks ago) + whole wheat pasta + broccoli
  • Dinner: Turkey, apple, and cheddar baked wrap with veggies 


  • Lunch: Spinach and romaine salad with turkey, onion, cucumber, pickles, carrots, almonds, and balsamic vinaigrette dressing and TJ’s quinoa lentil chips
  • Dinner: Mexican Sweet Potato Bowl 

On Friday, I’m heading home to meet my mom and then it’s off to Pittsburgh! My snacks for the week include Chobani greek yogurt with almonds/puffed wheat, Larabars, fruits, and vegetables. A week from today, I hope I can say I’m an official marathon finisher! 🙂

Now I’m off to do my final eight mile training run…happy Sunday, everyone!

Fit Friday Find: 4.26.13


Fit Friday


I know it’s been a while, but I have a Fit Friday Find that I can’t wait to share with you today!

I stumbled across this article this morning and immediately knew I needed to share it: “Eating Disorders Make You Skinny…and other Popular Eating Disorder myths debunked.

Our society is so focused on “being skinny” that we forget about being in love with our bodies and with ourselves. We’ve become obsessed with the wrong things — calories, scales, weight, pants sizes — that we’ve forgotten about the important things — love, confidence, and beauty.

Eating disorders aren’t about food.

They’re about control.

They’re about perfectionism.

They’re about filling a hole.

“Just eat” is never, ever the answer to someone who struggles with an eating disorder or, more prevalent, disordered eating. (Yes, they’re different.)

You can’t “just eat” until you let go of needing control.

You can’t “just eat” until you let go of some utopian version of a perfectionism you think you can achieve.

You can’t “just eat” until you let go of the idea that you can fill a void in your life with food.

Today isn’t the day that I’m going to dig in and dive into my own relationship with food. But, it is the day I’m going to encourage you to read that article and realize that if you struggle with control, perfectionism, and filling a void — you’re not alone.

Go look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re beautiful — because you are.

Have a beautiful weekend, friends!

Healthy pizza dough: no patience required


It’s What I Ate Wednesday, and this week, I’m bringing you one heck of a pizza recipe that doesn’t require any patience.

That’s right, people — a no-rise pizza dough that’s delicious, wholesome, and ready in less than ten minutes. Are you in?

We’ll get there, I promise. But first, a big thank you to Jenn over at Peas & Crayons for hosting and a quick tour through my eats leading up to the miracle no-rise dough. (I’m really overselling it here, I know. But, it’s pretty darn awesome!)

My day started off with a big bowl of egg white oats (1/2 c. oatmeal, 1/2 medium banana, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 tbsp. ground flax, 1 egg white, + crunchy peanut butter). So delicious! I’m not sure why but I just recently discovered my L-O-V-E for crunch peanut butter. I may or may not have finished an entire jar in a week…


When snacktime rolled around, I was all ready for 1/2 of a leftover apple and the other 1/2 of my leftover banana from breakfast. Unfortunately, the banana was quite brown so I stuck with the apple…


When lunchtime rolled around, I had a small turkey burger with homemade chipotle dressing and spinach on a slice of whole wheat bread with carrots on the side. (It was no bacon stuffed cheeseburger, but it was still pretty good!)


For my afternoon snack, I stuck with my usual: 3 oz. apple cinnamon CHO + 3 oz. plain CHO with puffed wheat and oats.


And, then it was time…

Healthy no-rise pizza dough

Healthy No-Rise Pizza Dough
Makes one large pizza

  • 2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast (or one package) 
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 and spray a cooking stone with some cooking spray. 
  2. Meanwhile, combine your cup of warm water and yeast, and allow it to sit for five minutes. (Yes, you have to be a little patient.)
  3. In a separate bowl, combine flours, olive oil, and salt and blend well. (I used the dough hook on my Kitchenaid.)
  4. Add water/yeast mixture to flour mixture, and mix until well-combined. Use your hands to knead and form a ball. Allow that ball to sit for five minutes.
  5. Next, lay out a thin layer of flour on your counter and roll out your dough. When it’s even, place it on a greased pizza stone.
  6. Cook for about ten minutes, remove, and add your toppings. Continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.
  7. Enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • For added flavor, add 1/2 Tbsp. oregano and basil to your dough. 
  • To keep this as light and healthy as possible, pile up your pizza with veggies! I used a little sauce and cheese and piled it high with spinach, broccoli, and red onion.

How to level up this recipe:

  • You can easily use all white flour instead of wheat. 

For my dinner, I enjoyed the above slice of pizza x2. I didn’t capture my nighttime snack, but I enjoyed one of my banana cinnamon mini-muffins!

What’s your favorite pizza recipe? 

A post about something other than running


I know you’re skeptical — you’re going to talk about something other than running?! I didn’t think it was possible until my marathon training was over, but it seems like miracles do happen! (Check back tomorrow for a true miracle…healthy, wholesome, no-rise pizza dough!)

Welcome to a post about something other than running.

Remember when I used to post great strength and HIIT workouts? It seems like many ions ago, BUT with my marathon training coming to a close, I’m excited to get back to creating fun new workouts!

I wasn’t feeling my 12-mile training run on Sunday afternoon, so I opted for a 20-minute arm strengthening circuit and then decided it wouldn’t hurt to do some cardio as well. Little did I know that this quick, 15-minute burst of cardio would leave me sore even three days later!

Bookmark this baby because when you’re short on time but still want to get yourself moving, this “Quick ‘n’ Dirty Tabata Circuit” is your answer!
Quick n Dirty Tabata Circuit

What are your favorite workouts? (P.S. This may even help you work off that bacon-stuffed cheeseburger!)

Bringing home the bacon, baby!


So, today’s post was going to focus on yesterday’s quick and dirty tabata workout that left me laying on the floor and sore as can be, even though it was only fifteen minutes long. Now, don’t worry — I’ll get you that kick-butt workout later this week, but first, I have to share this one-of-a-kind recipe with you…

Bacon-Stuffed Cheeseburgers


Today’s recipe is a collaboration (or more accurately, a solo show!) with my husband! He doesn’t cook or bake often, but when he does, you better bet it’s delicious! He is always coming up with “concoctions” and today’s was bacon-stuffed cheeseburgers.

He typically wouldn’t touch half of the healthy recipes I make, but I promised him I would feature his concoction…and provide a few ways to level it, of course!



Step one: Take about three quarters of a pound of ground meat (we used 92% lean) and divide it into four even patties.

Bacon-Stuffed Cheeseburgers 1

Step two: Season liberally with salt, pepper, and your favorite grilling blend. (We used a mesquite grilling seasoning blend from McCormick.)

Step three: Take one slice of bacon and chop into small pieces. Lay on top of two of your patties.

Bacon-stuffed cheeseburgers 2

Step four: Lay a piece of cheese on top of the bacon. Place second patty on top and press together.

Bacon-stuffed cheeseburgers 3

Step five: Place on grill, and let it do its thing! (Yes, we have a little George Foreman…I imagine this is even better on an actual grill!)

Bacon-Stuffed Cheeseburgers 4


Step 6: Put it on a roll, top with your favorite toppings, and enjoy!

Bacon-stuffed cheeseburger final


Bacon-stuffed Cheeseburgers
Serves 2

  • 3/4 lb. of ground meat (We used 92% lean.) 
  • 2 slices of bacon, cooked
  • 2 slices of cheese (We used Sargento Ultra Thin Cheddar.)
  • Salt & pepper
  • Mesquite grill seasoning
  1. Divide your meat into four even patties, and season liberally with salt, pepper, and seasoning of your choice.
  2. On two of your patties, add one slice of cooked bacon, chopped.
  3. Lay a slice of cheese on top of your bacon patties. Place second patty on top and press together.
  4. Place patties on a pre-heated grill, and cook until cheese is melted and meat is well-done.
  5. Enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • Simple! Swap ground hamburger for ground turkey and use turkey bacon (I like TJ’s nitrate-free) instead of regular bacon. 
  • Instead of bacon, stuff your turkey patty with mozzarella cheese, a slice of tomato, and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Mmm! You could also stuff it with a slice of avocado, red onion, and some cheese.

How to level down this recipe:

  • I don’t think there’s many ways to level “down” bacon and burgers! 

I’ll see you guys later this week with my quick ‘n’ dirty tabata workout and, of course, What I Ate Wednesday!




The perfect solution for brown bananas


Good morning, everyone! It’s bright and early here on a Sunday morning, but my body pretty much rejects the idea of “sleeping in.” If I make it past 7:15 a.m., I consider it sleeping in. (#postgradproblems)

This weekend has been the perfect combination of busy and relaxing. On Friday night, I left work around 4:30, made a quick trip to the grocery store for dinner, then whipped up a no-rise wheat pizza dough for dinner for me and the hubs. He thought the dough was a little thick, but I really enjoyed it! (I think because it didn’t require any rise time, haha…)

No rise wheat pizzaI had that piece x2 + green beans on the side.

We spent the rest of the night watching some Parks & Rec (we are almost through Season 4 on Netflix!), and then headed out to Eastern Mountain Sports so I could get some more double-layer socks and gels for race day. When I got home, I spotted some brown bananas and since I had a meeting to bring food to the next day, I knew immediate action needed to be taken. Enter banana cinnamon mini muffins with greek yogurt frosting!

Healthy Banana Cinnamon Mini Muffins

Banana Cinnamon Mini Muffins
Makes 24 muffins (about 12 servings)



  • 2 bananas, mashed
  • 3/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 c. oat flour
  • 1 Tbsp. agave (or honey)
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 c. milk (I recommend unsweetened vanilla almond, but cow’s milk will work!)

Greek yogurt frosting

  • 6 oz. Greek yogurt (I used 0% Plain CHO, but you could use a flavored one.)
  • 1 Tbsp. agave (or honey)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. (You can use paper liners, but you don’t have to.) 
  2. Meanwhile, mix together the mashed banana, milk, agave, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flours, cinnamon, and baking powder.
  3. Slowly pour your dry mixture into wet and mix until well combined. (It’s going to be a thin consistency…that’s okay.)
  4. Pour batter into muffin tin until each tin is about 3/4 full.
  5. Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  6. Once your muffins have cooled, combined greek yogurt, agave, and vanilla in a bowl and mix well. Place a dollop of frosting on each muffin and top with more cinnamon and a raisin, if desired. Store in fridge.

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • I did it! I actually didn’t add ground flax to a baking recipe. (That rarely happens around here!) But, 1/4 ground flax would be a great addition to these for some staying powder.
  • To increase the protein count, add one scoop of protein powder.

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • To make it sweeter, add 1/4 c. packed brown sugar. 

I took these muffins to a meeting yesterday morning, and they were instantly gone!

After my meeting and doing some work at church, I headed home for a quick run. I’ve been feeling a little stuffy/under the weather this weekend, but a quiet five miler (no iPod) was just what I needed! I finished in under 41 minutes…

Mile 1: 8:09

Mile 2: 8:11

Mile 3: 8:03

Mile 4: 8:10

Mile 5: 7:48!

Total: 40:23

I finished up the last of my “chores” last night, including laundry and grocery shopping, so I’m hoping to spend the day at church followed by a 12 miler this afternoon. We’ll see what happens!

What am I going to do?


With only 14 days left until my marathon, all I can think is #TGIAH. (That’s Thank God It’s Almost Here!)

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Photo courtesy of Google Images.

Here’s why I’m ready for my 26.2 to be over:

  1. My body hates me a little bit. And by a little bit, I mean alotta bit. 
  2. I want to be done “taking care of my feet.” I won’t go into any details, but my fellow runners understand this one. After a long run, it takes me a good twenty minutes to clean, soak, pop, and bandage things as needed on my feet. This doesn’t include the ten minutes it takes me to wrap and bandage them before my run…
  3. I want a pedicure. (I think I’ll still have to wait a few weeks on this one for the sake of whoever gets the job of trying to make my toes look socially acceptable.)
  4. I want to wear sandals without having to bandage a few of my toes. (Okay, feet reasons over!)
  5. I’m tired of saying “It’s okay, I’m running a marathon” when I reach for an extra handful of nuts or scoop of peanut butter.
  6. I’m ready to say goodbye to my “marathon belly.” If you’re trying to lose weight, running a marathon is not the best move. You’re always hungry and even when you’re not, you’re eating to prepare for your next run.
  7. I’m excited to go to bed whenever I want on Friday night and not have to worry about waking up early to get my pre-run fuel and run in.

Here’s why I’m not:

  1. I’m not sure what I’ll do when my thoughts don’t revolve around nutrition, paces, splits, pre-run fuel, etc. 
  2. I’m no longer going to be able to justify my out-of-control eating habits with “It’s okay, I’m running a marathon.”
  3. This has been one of the most challenging, emotional experiences of my life. In the end, I loved every single second.

Pittsburgh, here I come!

21 miles + a most ravenous WIAW


Happy Wednesday, friends! Hump day can only mean one thing around here…What I Ate Wednesday!

This week’s WIAW came from Monday, the day which I completed my final long run of marathon training! Therefore, you’re going to see a lot of post-run eats in the most unphotogenic way possible. I had just run 21 miles, and I was hungryyyy which meant no time to worry about lighting.

Welcome to my iPhone dump for WIAW!

The day started off at 6:15 a.m. when my alarm went off. I hadn’t slept well (I was nervous for my run since my last training run didn’t go so well), but I jumped up, got dressed, and headed to the kitchen for my pre-run fuel…


1/2 whole wheat bagel with peanut butter + ground flaxseed and lots of water!

I finished my breakfast and devotions and made my way to a park about 15 minutes away to complete my long run. I took a much different approach to this run than my last one. Here are a few things I did to help ensure success this time around…

  • Pre-run fuel: During my last long run, I waited to do it in the afternoon (I prefer morning running), and felt weighed down by food all day. The night before, I had a few scoops of peanut butter before bed and so when I woke up in the morning, I just wasn’t hungry. However, I knew I had to eat and forced down breakfast. The rest of the day was pretty much like that — I wasn’t hungry, but knew I needed to eat. By the time I got out to run, I felt weighed down. On this run, I had a great pre-run meal of eggplant parm and pasta the night before, combined with a good pre-run breakfast before I took off.
  • Watch: On Monday morning, I only checked my paces twice throughout all 21. Instead of focusing on finishing fast, I focused on just finishing. As a result, I still ran pretty fast (8:49 average splits), but wasn’t constantly checking my watching and pressuring myself to go faster. This made a huge difference, and I think I’m going to do this on race day as well.

As a result…

21 miles21 miles…done!

Normally after a long run, I’m not hungry at all. Although I certainly wasn’t starving, I thoroughly enjoyed this post-race breakfast of banana cottage cheese pancakes + 1/2 apple + 1/2 banana.


Within a few hours, I was hungry again and enjoyed this snack plate. (Carrots + celery + Trader Joe’s Black Bean and Lentil Chips + Wholly Guacamole)


After this, the hunger kicked in full force! I had an afternoon full of meetings, so I scarfed down this pomegranate CHO + puffed wheat and oats the second I had a break.

WIAW418_yogurt(Told you this food photography is awful.)

Less than 90 minutes later, I was starving. Homemade healthy eggplant parm + whole pasta + green beans to the rescue!


I spent the night doing some more work and then went ahead and had this snack before bed…

WIAW418_night snackIn the mix: 1/4 c. oats, unsweetened almond milk, blueberries, peanut butter, and vanilla protein powder

Lots of eats…all quite delicious!

No words.


Today, I was planning on writing a big post about my final training run for my own Pittsburgh marathon that’s only 19 days away.

I was planning on writing how it was tough to start but then I remembered it was the historic Marathon Monday.

I was planning on writing about how those runners in Boston inspired me to complete my own run this morning.

I was planning on writing about  my splits, paces, successes, and struggles. But that seems far from appropriate right now.

Instead, I’m sending my heart, thoughts, and prayers to Boston. As a runner, I literally cannot imagine experiencing the terror those runners and spectators experienced today. I sat in tears watching the news tonight…there are literally no words.

Boston run