Eating in the Middle : a review

posted in: Books, Uncategorized | 0

Cookbooks are usually what I pick up when I just need something beautiful to look at that will also inspire creativity.

And this one by Andie Mitchell also inspires health.

I’m thankful for blogging for books who gave me this new collection of recipes.  All opinions are my own but seriously what’s not to like?  Health recipes, a healthy thought life about engaging w food, thoughtful and engaging writing, and pretty pictures. That’s what every cookbook needs.

Sweet Chili Kung Pao Cauliflower

a healthy warm satisfying dish
a healthy warm satisfying dish

When moving to a new place you always want to scout out a couple of things: parks, hiking trails, great local Mexican restaurants, and definitely a favorite sushi/chinese take out place.  One of my favorite things to do is to sit on the couch eating take out Chinese.  We haven’t done it in a while because we’ve not found a place that’s not really expensive here in our area.

There was a great local dive in Chapel Hill called Charlie’s.  It had the best corn egg drop soup and was just down the strip mall from where I worked for a while.  I loved everything on their menu.  Would love to grab lunch with a sweet friend there or take some home for dinner.  This is especially worth it for those cold, rainy winter nights.

It might not be winter yet, but its been constantly raining and cloudy with much of the same in the coming forecast – and I’ve been wanting to try something healthy with cauliflower.  Speaking of cauliflower – I hope my Mister will eat this.  There are only a few things that my mister doesn’t like – and I’ve changed his mind about one of them already since we got married.  So, I think the flavor of this dish will win him over to the cauliflower side!

Sweet Chili Kung Pao Cauliflower
Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: Chinese
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-4
A healthy satisfying twist on a Chinese favorite
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 head cauliflower, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ⅓ cup sweet chili sauce (bottled) - divide into three
  • ½ cup chopped sweet peppers (red, orange, yellow)
  • 1 tsp chopped garlic (1-2 cloves)
  • ¼ cup salted peanuts
  • 2 T water
  1. Heat butter in a non-stick pan or wok.
  2. Add cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Saute with the water for about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add some of the chili sauce.
  5. Add peppers and garlic. Saute about 2-3 minutes
  6. Add peanuts and more chili sauce. Stir until all combined
  7. Remove from heat and stir in the remaining chili sauce.
  8. You can add some green onions/chives or more peanuts on top for presentation.
  9. Serve with rice for a complete meal.
Trader Joes has a great Sweet Chili sauce that we use for some chinese chicken dishes.  It was perfect in this dish as well.  I also had chopped up some yellow, orange, and red peppers and had them in the freezer.  This dish took all of 10 minutes.  I love quick dishes – in between refilling preschooler sippy cups and singing the Dino Train song – quick is good for this busy momma!

Transformation Tuesday: When Setbacks Happen

posted in: weight loss | 0


Transformation Tuesday

There comes a time in every weight loss journey when setbacks happen.  It is inevitable.  Whether you have a celebration to go to, a vacation to happily go on (where eating may be more than your normal), or you just have an emotional day and all you want to do is eat ice cream and french fries instead of your normal healthy plates…the scale will go up at some time.

But, there is happy news on the other side…it doesn’t have to keep going up.  I think that is the difference between those who are successful at keeping their weight off and continuing on their healthy journey, and those who return to an unhealthy lifestyle and let the pounds creep back on.

So, here are my tips, as I’ve had many setbacks, plateaus, and disappointing times on the scale the past 18 years.

  1.  Don’t let the scale be your judge.  I had a sweet friend of mine point out my addiction to the scale about 5 years ago.  I was hopping on it every day and knew that no matter what the scale said, it was going to determine how I felt, looked, and ate that day.  She invited me to know freedom from the scale (not just freedom from bondage to food), and to find my rest in my healthy journey in other more stable things: like making healthy goals, choosing healthy options, and noticing other telltale signs that I’m losing weight.  The scale can be so oppressive!  Don’t let it run your life!
  2. Don’t completely derail.  If you see the scale creep up, or your favorite skinny jeans are fitting more snug than they were last week, or you just know that you’ve picked up some unhealthy habits lately – don’t continue.  You can choose today to stop those unhealthy habits again before they take root.  Go buy some fresh produce.  Drink some green smoothies.  Cut out sweets for a few days.  Drink fewer diet sodas and trade them for water.  I’m a comfort eater and I know that my tendency is to overeat when something goes wrong in life.  My mister has been a good encouragement to me and he knows that I will feel even worse if I eat a lot.  So, he encourages me to talk about it or do something else rather than eat unhealthily.
  3. Accountability.  I think with every struggle that we have in life, accountability is something we all need.  Whether it is running (find a running buddy), eating right (write down your menu and share it with a friend), spending money (share your budget with someone and have them hold you accountable to overspending).  If we admit we have a problem to a friend, we can have the encouragement we need to fight through these discouraging times.  Know yourself and then pick a friend accordingly.  If you know that you aren’t encouraged by being yelled or belittled, than don’t pick a friend who is going to tell you how wrong you are.  I’m most encouraged by people telling me how far I’ve come and giving me some healthy options than I am by people putting me down.  Know yourself.  Then you will be able to tell a friend what you need.
  4. Look back on your journey.  I have a picture of my husband and I in our bathroom.  It was taken last November (almost a year ago) and I was almost 30 lbs heavier than I am now.  Each time I look at it, I see how far I had come from my pregnancy weight, and I see how far I’ve come to where I am now.  I don’t like how I look in that picture so I know I don’t want to return to where I was then.  So basically, see how far you’ve come and know that you want to keep going!

Don’t be too hard on yourself when setbacks occur.  And they will.  Instead, keep going!

Fall Sweet and Spicy Party Mix

Fall Sweet and Spicy Party Mix

Fall is the perfect time to have snacks.

I mean, there you are, sitting cozily by a roaring fire (or a gas one, or just some pretty candles in your fire place), and you need something to munch on.

Or, you have a bunch of friends over in your backyard for a fire and smores – but you need something to munch on while the smores get perfectly roasted with the charred edges of sticky ooey gooey marshmallow.

Or you have some sports fans over to watch the game and there is an empty coffee table just needing a big bowl of healthy snacks to get every body through the game (or at least until halftime.

Snacks do not have to be bad for you.  I think we often feel that snacks have to be unhealthy to be fun or to taste good – but that is so not the case.  Nuts is on a mission to share recipes that are healthy, fun, and delicious, and will be good for tailgating, watching the games, or just to snack on at night while watching your favorite movie.  And you can get your pumpkin seeds from a pumpkin and do a lot of work, or you can get them delivered to your door.

One of the things my mister always does for me, including this batch, is make the popcorn.  We got some spices for a wedding gift, and have been making a special spicy blend of popcorn a few times a month since we got married almost four years ago.  We took this special Campbell tradition and made it a little sweet too.

Fall Sweet and Spicy Party Mix
Recipe type: Snack Mix
Cuisine: Snack
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 7 cups
Sweet and Spicy and packed with everything you love about Fall.
  • For the popcorn
  • 5 cups of popped popcorn
  • ½ tsp Penzeys Jerk Seasoning (I've learned that all jerk seasoning is not created equal)
  • fresh cracked pepper and popcorn salt to taste
  • For the candied pumpkin seeds:
  • ¾ cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 T vodka
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ ground cloves
  • ¼ nutmeg
  • ⅓ tsp ginger
  • ¼ tsp cardamom
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • pinch of cayenne
  • ½ cup white chocolate chips
  • ¾ cup craisins
  1. Season the popcorn and let it get cool, but not stale.
  2. For the pumpkin seeds: put everything in a saucepan over medium heat and stir constantly for about 5 minutes, until the liquid is dissolved and the sugar starts to caramelize and the pumpkin seeds pop.
  3. Dump out on to parchment paper-lined cookie sheet.
  4. Spread out.
  5. Let cool.
  6. Break into pieces
  7. Combine popcorn, pumpkin seeds, white chocolate, and craisins all together.
  8. Enjoy.

Losing the Baby Weight

posted in: fit fridays, weight loss | 0

Losing Baby Weight

I’ve been anticipating writing this post for a while.  So, when I stepped on the scale this morning and it showed the number that I saw when I had my first doctor’s appt to confirm my pregnancy with my first little boy – I did a silent little squeal than ran and hugged my husband.

This has been an almost 3 year journey.  My older boy will turn three in September.  I had a rough delivery and that meant for a very painful recovery.  I could hardly sit or walk or stand without pain for 3 months.  Included in that was a move two states away.  I couldn’t exercise and I couldn’t lose the baby weight then as fast as I wanted.  I had gained 75 pounds and I wanted it off.

Why did I gain 75 lbs?  Well, some of it was baby – but not that much.  It was a hard pregnancy with much sickness.  I remember flying to TX in the late first trimester and having sour gummy worms and salt and vinegar chips on the plain, a Wendy’s value meal in the airport, then more gummy worms on the second flight.  I ate so much that pregnancy including CFA grilled nugget meals and Cook-Out shakes.  I hardly exercised till the third trimester and then I was too big so I just walked in order to get him out!  I should have had stock in G2 because that is all I drank.  Not a way to have a great, healthy pregnancy.  Some of that was sin – my rationalizing my gluttony because I was eating for two.

Shortly after my older was born, we found out I was pregnant with our second little boy.  I had only lost about 30 lbs.  What was I going to do?  I knew I couldn’t gain as much with this one, and thankfully it was an easier pregnancy and it was a 4-week shorter pregnancy.  I walked almost every day at the river near our house or at the zoo.  I just pushed that stroller.  Turns out I only gained about 30 with my second which is much more normal.  By the time I was home about 4 days I had lost it all.  Wow, couldn’t the first one have been that easy?

So, I had almost 40 lbs then to lose to get back to my pre-pregnancy weight.  Its taken me 19 months.  We have moved in that time and having two toddler boys is very stressful and hard – and wonderful and lots of hugs.  But, I’m an emotional/comfort eater.  And I love to bake.  Those two are hard when you are trying to lose weight.

Every pregnancy is different and every weight loss journey is different.  What you will find listed below is what helped me.

1.  Admit your sinful tendencies.  I confess my overeating sin often to God and my husband.  Both offer forgiveness.  My husband gives me counsel and encouragement and never holds it over my head.

2.  Make a plan.  Whether it is to eat less carbs, stay away from sodas, eat more fruits, join a program, join a gym – whatever it might be – write it down or tell it to others.  This accountability is such a help!

3.  Have accountability.  I’ve done this weight loss journey before but this is the most I’ve lost.  I have a few friends who ask me how its going via text.  I love that.  Having a husband is good accountability because I want to look good for him.  And knowing he still weighs less than I do is good motivation to keep me going to my ultimate goal.  Some of you may join a weight loss program for the accountability.  I love Weight Watchers.  I’ve lost weight before with it.

4.  Basic: eat less, move more.  Losing weight (if no other health problems) is that easy!  Really.  Try it.  Moving is essential to losing weight.  My mom is so gracious and pays for a gym membership and childcare.  But, if you don’t have that, go to a park and run with your kids, pop in a DVD in the morning or during nap time.

5.  Have motivation.  I’d love to say to my only motivation is to please God but I know that isn’t it.  Yes, it is a part of it because God commands us to honor Him with our bodies.  But, I also want to look good, fit into my skinny jeans and all those size 8 dresses in my closet, run faster, play with my boys without getting out of breath, and not be an overweight mom…I’d rather be a healthy mom!  I want to be a stylish trim mom.  I asked my husband to set my goal prize for losing the baby weight.  He knows I love to bowl but we’ve never done it.  He said let’s go bowling!  It wasn’t a food prize.  That would defeat the purpose!  My prize for getting back to wedding weight (11 more pounds) is an article of clothing from Talbots which I love.  And then my prize for making my goal weight is some time at Massage Envy.  Having extrensic motivation is helpful!

6.  Focus.  Discipline and self-control are both fruits of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit living in me is a great thing and necessary at all times.  He provides my self-control.  I just have to fight the war with my flesh to eat too much.  And as I’ve talked to my husband about my sinful food relationship – I know this is a battle I will never win until I see Jesus.  Then I will have a perfect body and won’t even need skinny jeans – but…the Spirit is here to help me in the meantime.

7.  Pursue the Gospel.  Realize that you may never lose all the baby weight.  Realize you aren’t defined by the scale or the number that magically appears when your feet step on it.  Jesus loves you no matter what you way.  He died on the cross to pay for our sins – which might include for you – a sinful relationship to food.  I have it. I think most people probably have some sinful attitude with food.  God made our bodies.  He made you to carry a baby and birth a baby.  You did it.  Your body may never look the same.  My body may be the same weight but it doesn’t look the same.  God is after your heart.  Jesus died to save you!  He lives so you can fight the flesh and serve Him with your body.

I’m not done losing weight.  I still want my wedding dress to fit again and it to get too big.  And I still have 22 lbs to be in a healthy weight range for my height.  So, the battle of the bulge continues.

Low-Carb Ham and Cheese Quiche

Low Carb Ham and Cheese Quiche

I always feel better when I eat low-carb, but it is such a difficult lifestyle to maintain.  When I eat too many carbs I always feel bloated and gain weight (mainly because I eat too much of the yummy bread of baked cheesy noodles – or cookies, cakes, brownies, etc).

These low-carb quiche are perfect for this lifestyle, but also are really quick to cook up one day and have for the rest of the week.  My kids were downing the ham as I was assembling them so they would most likely be kid friendly too.  And you can just pop them in the microwave as you head to school, work, or to the gym.

Low Carb Ham and Cheese Quiche
Recipe type: Brunch
Cuisine: Eggs
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 11 Quiches
Ham is your quiche crust and a veggie filled scrambled egg center. These are low carb and very tasty.
  • 22 thin style deli ham (get a saltier ham, not a sweeter ham)
  • 5 eggs
  • ¼ cup shredded sharp cheddar (jack cheese would be good too)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ½ cup finely diced veggies (I used carrots and orange bell pepper)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Spray muffin pans (I made 11 muffins)
  3. Lay out your ham slices as a "cupcake liner" in your muffin tins. I put two per tin.
  4. Mix up your egg filling mixture.
  5. Pour in each muffin tin about ¾ of the way full.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until egg mixture is set.
  7. Enjoy!

Our Kids and Easter Candy

posted in: parenting | 1


Another holiday has come and gone.  And my kids, along with 99% of the children in America who received Easter baskets, are probably downing candy and sneaking it in their rooms to munch on under the covers once the lights have gone out.

How can we as responsible parents help our children with their love of candy?

1.  Ration it.  Don’t give it to them all at once.  My older son calls candy “olly” and I don’t know why.  But, I give him a few jelly beans or m&ms and then he’s off to play some more.

2.  Treat not a right.  Help children to see that candy isn’t their natural-born right.  It is a luxury and they don’t need it every meal or every time they do something good.

3.  Exercise.  Movement is a great way to encourage children to be active, learn new skills, and work off all that candy!  I was heavy from about first grade on.  I still struggle with my weight.  One of the things I want for my kids is the ability to have fun snack foods (sweets) but not to be overweight – so encouraging lots of healthy stuff and exercise.  My chiropractor always says “If you stop moving, your dead.”  We want our kids to live a long life.

4.  Brush their teeth.  I am not a dentist, and I don’t play one on television – and truth be told, my husband brushes our boys’ teeth at night after bath time.  We’ve used toothbrushes that are easy for them to grip, fit perfectly in their little mouths, and that are fun.  Alphabetiles provide toothbrushes that are just that.  Our boys are both under three and both love to brush their own teeth.  The new Alphabetiles toothbrushes that we received are blue (perfect for boys) and have their name spelled out in little tiles.  The tiles are easy to slide in the toothbrush and you can change the name out whenever you want (to a special nickname, or sports team, or holiday!).  I assembled their special toothbrushes while my husband was out in the backyard playing with the boys.  Jennifer, one of the creators of Alphabetiles, out of a desire to help her own children be healthy, designed these personalized toothbrushes.  “There was nothing on the market for moms like myself except a magic marker or stickers. So I decided to take the path and make it myself. I knew I was not the only mother with this issue and seen how it could help lots of families. Our design encourages kids to want to brush and parents know who their toothbrushes belong to.”


My boys immediately liked their new toothbrushes and run to the bathroom saying “water, water” in order to brush their teeth.  We, as their parents, grab the right toothbrush (not sharing any more germs than they already do), and put a little toothpaste on it, and they go to town.  Another great benefit to having young children and personalized toothbrushes: you can have the sitter help them brush their teeth because she won’t have to know which one is which – she can read their names on it.  Brushing teeth is a fun and healthy bonding time.

Alphabetiles Toothbrushes

I would love to see Alphabetiles get more tiles and logos for their toothbrushes, which hopefully will come in the next few years (Go Gators, Go Tarheels, Thomas the Train, Mickey Mouse, etc).  Think of how your children would flock to the bathroom to grab their toothbrush, with their name, with their favorite basketball team logo on it.

So, whatever you do, be sure to instill happy, healthy, habits in your children, as soon as you can.  Their teeth, your dentist, and your children will thank you!

Alphabetiles sent me two toothbrushes in exchange for a blog review.  All opinions are my own!



Pumpkin Oats White Chocolate Chip Muffins

Pumpkin Muffins

Pumpkin overload – right?  Pumpkins are everywhere, even now that Halloween is past and we are moving headlong into the Thanksgiving season.

Do you know what my favorite Thanksgiving commercials are – ever – the Publix pilgrim little figurines – that get so full from all the Publix food that was served on Thanksgiving that their outfits tend to pop buttons.  So fun.  Growing up in Lakeland, FL – the home of Publix – I saw my share of Publix commercials – and am so glad to be living again with a Publix on every corner.

Anyway, back to pumpkins.  As a Mom, sometimes I stress about my kids’ nutrition.  I mean my older son could down all the fruit he could ever eat if I let him.  My younger son loves those little pouches that are fruit-filled.  We have instituted a donut morning one day every week, and I usually bake something sweet, and we eat out just to make life easier.  So, I’m not the healthiest Mom out there – but that isn’t the end all either. They love their fruits and veggies so that is great!  And neither of them really dig french fries – so that’s a plus!

These muffins – both of them are gobbling up.  I feel good about giving them one because there is no added fat in it from butter or oil – so that makes them healthier, right?  And, they are very yummy!  You can change up the add-ins for the muffins, and this time I had a small amount of white chocolate chips left – they are a very nice addition.

Pumpkin Oats White Chocolate Chip Muffins
Recipe type: Muffins
Cuisine: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
A healthy hearty filling pumpkin muffin with a touch of sweetness
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1¼ cup Pumpkin Pie Mix in a can
  • 1 egg
  • 1 T applesauce
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ⅓ cup white chocolate chips
  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Spray muffin tin (makes 12 muffins) and set oven on 375
  3. Fill each muffin cup about ¾ full with muffin batter.
  4. Bake for about 20 minutes or until done, don't overbake

Simple Summer Squash Salad

Simple Summer Squash Salad

Summer food should be pretty.  The sun is shining.  The gardens are bursting with fragrant herbs and brightly hued fruits the way God imagined and created them.

While I didn’t grow the items found in this summer salad, I did buy them at the Whole Foods in Buckhead (a delightful shopping, eating, and living area of Atlanta).  This Whole Foods takes the cake on any one I’ve been in.  The produce alone would be reason to keep coming back to it again and again.  I remember the first time I took our older son in there.  He exclaimed “watermelon” while looking at the sample containter of beautiful red, completely juicy, delicious watermelon.  (And that was the first time he had said it!)


And another favorite thing I love about this salad is the dressing.  I do love to make my own, but when you’ve found a simple summer vinaigrette such as this one: Brianna’s Real French – why waste the time in making my own?  It is slightly tangy and fragrant and rests lightly on any food you put it on (this salad and our pink grapefruit salad are our two favorites).  And if you want to know where to get the delicious Yard Blend that I use in this side dish, contact my friend Jayme over at Holly and Flora.

So, without further ado – here is a perfectly simple summer side dish that would be a great accompaniement to your next light summer affair.  Get some crusty bread, cheese, wine, berries, and this – night well made.

This recipe was inspired by Laura’s.

Simple Summer Squash Salad
Recipe type: Vegetable
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2-3
Simple summer squash in a light vinaigrette with salty, smooth goat cheese
  • 2 yellow summer squash, sliced in ribbons
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in ribbons
  • 2-3 T Brianna's Real French Vinaigrette
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp of Holly & Flora's Yard Blend
  • 2 T crumbled goat cheese
  1. To slice ribbons in your vegetables, I used the side of my box grater with the long grating option.
  2. Toss your sliced vegetables in everything but the goat cheese. Let marinate for about 20 minutes
  3. Crumble the goat cheese on top before serving.



Fit Friday: 5 Health Benefits of Drinking Water

posted in: fit fridays, Uncategorized | 0

5 Reasons to Drink Water

Starbucks. Coke.  Diet Coke. Cherry Zero.  Milk.  Juices.  Green Smoothis. Kefir.

So many liquids to drink out there – and I’ve only named a few.  But, what about the one thing that is free and good (at least in our ountry in most cities in America)?

My health fast in the month of March is for the remainder of the month, I will give up my Sonic runs and my unsweet tea and drink only water.  So, why should we drink water?  These are not scientific but just some thoughts:

1.  Fills you up before a meal.  So you don’t eat as many calories, so you lose weight.

2.  Cleanses your body because drinking more makes you go to the bathroom more.

3.  Makes your skin look healthier because you are flushing toxins from your body that usually cause acne.

4.  Its free.  Our wallet could use a break.

5.  It tastes good.  I like our water.  Clean.  Not filtered.  Ice or no ice.  Lemon, lime, or just plain!  PS.  If you don’t like your water, there are items like Brita or you can buy Aquafina or Fiji water if your budget allows.  Those are my two favorite bottles of water.