Halloween Happenings: South of the Border Style


Happy Halloween, my friends! With Hurricane Sandy this week, Halloween has seemed to be pushed to the wayside (and understandably so). It’s not a favorite holiday of mine, but this year, I’m super excited for one reason:

$2 boorito day at Chipotle! If you come in dressed in a costume between 4 p.m. and close, you can get a $2 salad, burrito, or taco. Can’t beat that! The only problem with this excitement is that I don’t currently have a costume. Any suggestions for a last minute slacker who needs something in the name of a $2 burrito bowl?

Photo courtesy of Chipotle.com.

I don’t know what it is, but I’ve been craving some spicy, south-of-the-border food all week! When I was roaming food blogs yesterday, I came across this Chipotle-imitation burrito bowl recipe from Iowa Girl Eats and I instantly knew what I was having for dinner. Delicious! The best part was the fresh pico de gallo I whipped up to top it off…

Can’t beat a recipe with four ingredients that takes about two minutes to make! — especially if you can serve it in a fun way! (Mine is in a hollowed-out avocado skin above.)

Can’t say no pico de gallo

  • 1 large tomato
  • 1/2 large onion (red or white)
  • 1 Tbls. freeze-dried cilantro (fresh works too)
  • 1 Tbls. lime juice
  1. Chop your tomato and onion into small squares.
  2. Combine tomato, onion, and cilantro in bowl. Squeeze lime over top and mix well.
  3. Enjoy with chips, burritos, taco salads, or just straight from the bowl!

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • Add in some chopped avocado as well. Delicious and filling!

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • To make it easier, you could use canned chopped tomatoes. Super simple!

A pretty sweet sweet potato recipe


Sometime last week, I got a hankering (yes, hankering) for sweet potatoes. I’ve never really been a big fan of sweet potatoes (especially when they’re smothered in cinnamon and marshmallows — too sugary for my liking!), but after researching their health benefits and finding some pretty interesting sweet potato recipes, I wanted to give them a shot.

So I ran to the grocery store, picked up a sweet potato, and decided to make some healthy, homemade sweet potato fries. I’ve made homemade fries with regular potatoes before, so I figured it couldn’t be all that different. Luckily, I was right!

Here’s a super simple sweet potato fry recipe that complements any meal perfectly! (I enjoyed mine with my lemon garlic shrimp vegetable quinoa & a side salad.)

Super simple sweet potato fries 
Serves 2

  • 1 large sweet potato, cleaned and cut into wedges
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 Tbsp. garlic powder
  • Salt & pepper
  • Olive oil spray
  1. Preheat oven to 450. Grease a baking sheet and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine sweet potato wedges, olive oil, chili powder, and garlic powder. Mix until potatoes are coated.
  3. Transfer to greased baking sheet and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste on top. Lightly spray tops with olive oil cooking spray.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, flipping about halfway through.

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • Play with your spices to level up the flavor! I am hoping to try some Old Bay for some added kick. Sounds delicious!

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • Not a fan of sweet potatoes? Follow the same recipe, substituting a regular russet potato for the sweet potato.

Surviving Sandy


If any of you readers are from the East Coast, I’m taking a good guess that you are also sitting in your house, praying the power doesn’t go out, and waiting out this hurricane we’ve dubbed “Frankenstorm.” Luckily, it’s still just pouring here and so I’ve been able to work from home all day…

Knowing that I’d be stuck inside for a few days, I woke up early this morning and completed this living room circuit workout from Peanut Butter Fingers. WOW. I was sore before I even finished, I think! I absolutely love an at-home workout that makes you feel like you’re really working up a sweat. I used to scoff at the idea of doing a 20-30 minute at home, but now that I don’t have such easy access to a gym and work long days, sometimes 20-30 minutes is all I have. I’ve been experimenting with various circuit workouts and have found that you can make some serious progress if you give your 100% during that short time. (Trust me, it’s much harder than zoning out with a magazine on an elliptical for 30 minutes at the gym!)

After my circuit workout this morning, a shower, and traditional bowl of oats, I set up shop in my living room so that I could work from home all day. Even with my kitchen only a few steps away, I’ve been sticking to my regular eating schedule and haven’t wandered in for snacks all day long. WIN. (Does anyone else have trouble staying out of their kitchen when they work from home?)

However, I did just finish this delicious concoction…

In the mix: 5 oz. vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 honeycrisp apple, 2 tbls. whole wheat grape nuts, cinnamon, and raisins. Mmmm!

Now, the real reason I’ve had to stay out of my kitchen all day is because of these little gems…

I whipped these up on Saturday night because we were having friends over and I didn’t have anything for dessert. I am SO glad I did because they are amazing (and healthy, too!). They’ve stayed incredibly soft, which is just how I like my cookies, too!

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Cookies 
Makes about 14-16 cookies (double for more)

  • 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2 banana, mashed (optional)
  • 3/4 c. quick oats
  • Mini chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix well.
  3. In another large bowl, mix applesauce, sugar, egg, vanilla, and mashed banana. Mix until well blended.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients and blend.
  5. Finally, add the quick oats and mini chocolate chips.
  6. Scoop dough (I used a small cookie scoop) onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for about ten minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • You could completely cut the brown sugar and add honey instead. However, I think this will change the consistency of your batter, so plan to add more flour or oats accordingly.
  • Substitute the chocolate chips with raisins or another dried fruit.
  • For some added protein, throw in 2 tablespoons of nut butter. (I made half of my batch with almond butter, and they were great!)

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • Use all-purpose white flour instead of wheat.
  • Leave out the banana and add 1/4 c. of raw (or granulated) sugar instead. The taste of banana isn’t overpowering, but it’s definitely there, so if you’re not a fan of banana, leave it out altogether.

Pumpkin is perfectly acceptable in November too!


Today, I had a realization. Just because October is almost over doesn’t mean that pumpkin season is over — THANK GOODNESS. I don’t know why, but I just associate pumpkin with October. Thankfully, it’s perfectly acceptable in November, too! And, that’s a good thing because I have a lot of canned pumpkin on hand and a lot more pumpkin recipes that I want to try (although I don’t know if any of them can top my chocolate chip pumpkin banana bread)…

Maybe it was this realization that made me crave a pumpkin spice smoothie today, even though it’s cold and rainy and anything-but-smoothie weather out right now. Oh well. I’ve had a pretty weird eating day since I slept in this morning, headed to the gym around 9, and didn’t eat breakfast until about 10:45. Then, it was off to church until 3 (I had the good sense to pack some carrots and celery so I didn’t starve!), so once I got home, I was very hungry (and too lazy to cook), so a smoothie and banana it was!

The ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. skim milk
  • 1/4 c. fat-free plain greek yogurt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 2 t. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 6 ice cubes
  1. Put everything in blender (in order listed above). Blend until smooth & enjoy!

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • Add in about 1/4 c. canned pumpkin or 1/2 banana for added nutrients.
  • Throw in a handful of oatmeal or flax seed.

How to “level down” this recipe: 

  • Add in some pumpkin butter or use flavored yogurt (like vanilla) rather than plain for some more flavor.

I have a problem…


I have a problem. And that problem is that I’m constantly seeking out ways to stuff more vegetables into a meal. I could have bigger problems, right?!

Well considering Hurricane Sandy is about to hit the East Coast, I just might have bigger problems in the next few days (especially since everywhere around here is sold out of flashlights and I don’t have one!!)…

So while I still have power, I decided to get creative and feed my obsession with vegetables. The result was this deconstructed pita pizza I made for last night’s dinner…

(Sorry for the poor quality photo! I took it while I was at work. Trust me — this thing is delicious.)

Deconstructed pita pizza
Serves 1

  • 1 whole wheat pita, cut in half
  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 2 c. veggies (I used broccoli, asparagus, spinach, and onion)
  • 1/2 tsp. basil
  • 1/2  tsp. oregano
  • 2 Tb. pizza sauce
  • 1/4 c. reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
  1. Spray a pan with olive oil cooking spray and place chopped vegetables in pan. Cook until tender (about 4-6 minutes).
  2. With about one minute left to cook, add the basil, oregano, and pizza sauce to the vegetable mixture. Coat vegetables.
  3. Meanwhile, fill your pita halves with the mozzarella cheese, saving about one tablespoon. Fill pitas with vegetable sauce mix.
  4. Top with remaining cheese and serve.

How to “level up” this recipe:

  • Use more fresh tomatoes and leave out the sauce altogether.

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • Add some pepperoni or sausage to bulk it up a bit!
  • Not a whole wheat fan? Use a regular or multigrain pita instead.

I’m trying another new recipe tonight when we have dinner with some friends…if it’s a success, I’ll be sure to share! 🙂

Fit Friday Finds: 10.26.12


I have a love-hate relationship with avocados. I love the taste and the protein punch of an avocado, but I hate that they get brown easily and don’t last very long once cut. Since I’m the sole avocado eater at my house, I have a hard time finishing them before they go bad.

A few weeks ago, avocados were only $1 each at my local grocery store, so I stocked up, deciding I was going to try a little experiment. My experiment? Freezing avocado.

I searched the web and found mixed results — some people said you could do it, others said they didn’t taste right when thawed. I had to try it myself, so I threw some in the freezer at the end of September and pulled it out this week to try. The result? Delicious. (Maybe you noticed it as the star ingredient in my easy & healthy Mexican tortilla pizzas this week!)

Here’s what you’ll need to freeze avocados:

  • Freezer bag/s
  • Avocados
  • Lime Juice
  • Salt
  1. Cut your avocados and remove the skin and the pit.
  2. Place in a bowl and mash until smooth. (I used my Kitchenaid mixer which makes it super easy and gives the avocados a great, fluffy texture!)
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of lime juice per avocado. (I used two avocados and added two tablespoons of lime juice.)
  4. Add salt to taste, if desired.
  5. Put in a freezer bag, tightly seal, and place in the freezer! When you’re ready to use it, pull it out and allow it thaw in the refrigerator (about four to six hours).

I wish I had frozen mine in two bags instead of one so since I had trouble using all of the avocado this week. Time for guacamole, I guess!

Happy Friday, friends!

Slow cooker success! Shredded Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches


Remember when I mentioned I was trying out a new crockpot recipe this weekend? I haven’t had much success in the past, but this one looked pretty easy, so I wanted to give it a try.

The result? It was so successful that I ended up making it again this week! It was husband-approved, so I was more than happy to whip up another batch 🙂

Slow Cooker Shredded Buffalo Chicken
(Adapted from Six Sisters’ Stuff)
Serves 8-10

  • 4-6 frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 bottle of Frank’s Wings Buffalo Sauce (12 oz.)
  • 1 packet of ranch dip
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8-10 Kaiser rolls
  1. Place chicken in crockpot. Pour wings sauce and ranch dip seasoning over top.
  2. Cook on HIGH for 4 hours or LOW for 8 hours.
  3. Remove chicken from crockpot, shred, and return to crockpot with small amount of butter. Stir.
  4. Cook on LOW for about one hour.
  5. Serve on Kaiser roll.

Super easy! I’m actually not a huge fan of buffalo sauce, but I’m looking forward to trying this again with some BBQ sauce instead.

How to “level up” this recipe:

How to “level down” this recipe:

  • I’ve got nothing! This was SUPER easy and delicious (if you like buffalo chicken). A definite keeper!