I scream, you scream, we all scream…

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…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!

Dates worth remembering

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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!

Food preppin’ + a sidenote

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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!)

Fit Friday Find: A snack worth sharing

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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? 

Clusters of goodness!

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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.

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

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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!

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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

Is it taper time yet?

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s What I Ate Wednesday time! I’m going to review my eats after sharing some personal stuff about my marathon training. No interest in listening to my running woes? Scroll on down — I won’t take offense! 🙂

It’s been a tough week so far. With only four and a half weeks until my marathon, I still have a good amount of training amount and I’m starting to feel worn down. Is it taper time yet?

To this point, I’ve followed my training plan to a T. I may have missed one or two cross-training workouts, but I haven’t missed any of my two mid-distance or long runs each week. I’m consistently training six days per week and taking one full rest day. I’ve been doing tempos, hills, speed workouts, and “easy” runs. I’ve been hydrating and eating right.

So, you can only imagine my disappointment when I had a quad muscle strain and the dreaded runner’s “black toenail” make an appearance this week. (I will spare you the details, but I can tell you that it hurts — a lot. Not as much as the Kevin Ware leg break, but still  quite alot.)

I pushed through six miles on Monday but was in a decent amount of pain for the first mile and a half. My toe felt better yesterday, but the quad is still really, really tight. So, what now?

Everyone says trust your training. The problem is I still have two solid weeks of training left (a 20 miler this week, and a 22 miler next week) before I can think about tapering and really holding on to that mantra. What to do, what to do?

The truth is — I’m really tired. I’m still excited about my marathon, but right now, I’m just tired. So the game plan for the rest of the week is to scratch all of my workouts (a hilly six-mile and two cross-training workouts) and instead focus on recovering and preparing for my 20 miler on Saturday. I’m going to try to attend a yoga class tonight (just to help with some stretching and soreness), but besides that — it’s nothing but rest.

It’s tough. I love being active, but right now, I can trust my training enough to know that three days off will do me so much better than another six mile run or circuit workout.

With that said, it’s WIAW time!

WIAW4.2_collage

Breakfast (Top right): 1/2 c. oats, 1/2 Tbsp. chia seeds, unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1/4 c. blueberries, and natural peanut butter

Morning snack (2nd from top): Banana

Lunch (left): Chicken & Bean Crockpot Chili served over top 1/5 c. quinoa + romaine lettuce and baby carrots on side

Afternoon snack (3rd from top): 3 oz. blood orange CHO + 3 oz. plain 0% CHO + oats and puffed wheat on top

Dinner (bottom): Two slices of almond flour pizza crust + balsamic roasted asparagus

For my nighttime snack, I threw a few things together and created this masterpiece!

Single serve apple crisp

 

  • 1 small honeycrisp apple, chopped 
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. oats
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • A few shakes cinnamon
  • Optional: Nut butter + flax seed
  1. In a small bowl, combine apple, oats, milk, and cinnamon. Microwave for one minute. 
  2. If desired, top with nut butter (I used cashew butter) and flax seed. Enjoy!

How to level up this recipe:

  • For added protein and fiber, add in 1 Tbsp. ground flax.

How to level down this recipe:

  • If you prefer more sweetness, add in 1 Tbsp. sweetener (agave, maple syrup, honey, Stevia, brown sugar, etc.) 

I’m running a marathon {WIAW Edition}

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So yes, ya’ll know by now that I’m running a marathon (in only a month a half! ah!)…What you probably don’t know is how frequently I eat and justify it by “I’m running a marathon.”

It’s become a slight problem. The days after my long run, I am hungry all the time. And I somehow justify that extra handful of chocolate chips or bite of dessert by the fact that I’m in training. It’s what lead me to create (and subsequently eat) these babies…

Chocolate Chip Cookie BrownieChocolate chip cookies. Brownies. Peanut butter.

Honestly, need I say more?

But, before we get there, we’ll back up a bit because it’s time for What I Ate Wednesday, and that certainly lends itself to a proper introduction!

These eats came from last Friday, the day after my 16 miler on the treadmill. Despite being hungry all day long, I got in a lot of greens — win!

WIAW3.20

Breakfast: Three Hot Apple Pie Pancakes (made with oat flour and organic skim milk), topped with almond butter and maple agave syrup

Snack: Cara Cara Orange

Lunch: Salad (Romaine lettuce, celery, carrots, onion, cucumbers, pickles, almonds, and deli turkey, topped with fat-free balsamic vinaigrette) + homemade sweet potato fries on side

Afternoon snack: 3 oz. pomegranate CHO + 3 oz. plain 0% CHO, topped with puffed wheat

Dinner: Two slices of homemade vegetable pizza + sauteed asparagus

Evening snack: Bowl of wheat squares with organic skim milk

And, then came dessert…

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie brownies via Levels

Peanut butter chocolate chip cookie brownies
Serves about 16
Adapted from Baked by Rachel

  • 1 box of brownies, prepared (I used Duncan Hines Low Fat) 
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. raw sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/4 c. flour (I used occident unbleached white flour)
  • 3/4 c. semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 2 Tbsp. peanut butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 13 x 9 pan with cooking spray.
  2. Pour prepared brownie mix into pan and spread evenly.
  3. In a large bowl, cream your softened butter and sugars. Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix until well blended.
  4. In a separate bowl, add flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  5. Slowly mix your dry ingredients with your wet. At this point, add your two tablespoons of peanut butter and mix with other ingredients.
  6. Fold in your chocolate chips.
  7. Using a large cookie scoop, scoop out cookie dough balls and drop evenly on top of prepared brownie mix.
  8. Bake for about 30 to 35 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

How to “level up” this recipe

  • It’s certainly not the healthiest, so you have lots of options! Consider using half whole wheat flour instead of all white for an easy swap. 
  • Use agave syrup in place of the raw sugar.
  • Use dark chocolate chips or even cocoa nibs instead of semi-sweet.

How to “level down” this recipe