Thursday, January 31, 2013

Lemon Cranberry Yogurt Mini-Muffins

Since I was stuck at home today waiting for a couch to be delivered, I figured it was the prefect time to bake some muffins! Ok, ok... I know... another mini-muffin recipe?! I can't help it, I absolutely love mini-muffins.  Mini-muffins are cute, pop-able, and the perfect serving size (if you can stick to 1 or 2). So using some ingredients I already had in my kitchen (since I couldn't leave), I came up with a recipe for Lemon Cranberry Yogurt Mini-Muffins.

These mini-muffins are lemony, fresh, light and moist... and super tasty!  And since they have a whole cup of Greek yogurt in them, they contain a little more protein than your normal baked good.  I might try a fat-free lemon Greek yogurt next time to see if it gives the muffin an extra tart, lemony punch!

Lemon Cranberry Yogurt Mini-Muffins
based on a recipe from

1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/3 cup applesauce, no sugar added
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup dried cranberries

In a large bowl, combine the first six ingredients.  In another bowl, whisk the egg, yogurt, applesauce and lemon juice.

Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.  Fold in dried cranberries.  Fill greased or paper-lined mini-muffin cups about two-thirds full.

Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 5 minutes; leave muffins in pan.

Now I'm off to go enjoy my new couch... with a handful of mini-muffins. :)


February Fitness Challenge!

January has come and gone.... over the course of the month me and my co-worker (a fellow food and fitness lover) did over 2,500 squats as part of the January Fitness Challenge!  We have felt and seen the results of the squats in our thighs and gluts... they are more toned and slimmed down. Our core muscles feel much stronger too!  The best thing about the challenge is the 'act of doing' the squats every hour, on the hour, has become part of our regular work day.  So challenge or no challenge, we will continue doing squats as part of our daily exercise routine!

For February, the challenge is upper body strength and toning.  Tank top arms are only a month... and 2,500 push-ups and 2,500 tricep dips away!  Don't let the push-ups scare you away from the challenge, you can do any kind of push-up that is comfortable for your fitness level (modified, wall, etc).

Here are two variations of push-ups:

Wall Push-up

Modified Push-up

How to Do a Tricep-Dip (Tri-Dip):

Sit with hips on edge of a bench or chair, knees bent, feet flat. Place hands on edge of chair, fingers facing forward, arms straight. Lift hips off edge, back straight, abs contracted [A].

Bend elbows, lowering hips toward ground, squeezing elbows toward each other and stopping before you feel a strain in shoulders [B]. Straighten arms and repeat.

We are taking measurements and our "before pictures" tomorrow.  Progress reports and result pictures will be posted at the end of the month.  FEBRUARY... LET'S DO THIS!


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Beat the Bloat with "Sassy Water"!

So today I came across this recipe for a bloat-busting, GI tract soothing, spruced-up water called "Sassy Water".  According to some of my fellow food and fitness lovers, this same recipe has been pinned and re-pinned on Pinterest as well.  I did some quick research and discovered this special "Sassy Water" is an essential part of the Flat Belly Diet plan, endorsed by Prevention Magazine.  I am not a fad dieter and have never been able to stick to the guidelines of any diet plan... however, I do like the idea of "Sassy Water"! The ingredients (cucumber, lemon, ginger, and spearmint) not only add a light and refreshing flavor to the water, they also help calm and soothe your GI tract to relieve bloating.  It's hydration... with additional health benefits!

Read more about Sassy Water and the Flat Belly Diet here:

Sassy Water

  • 8 1/2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon grated ginger
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and sliced thin
  • 1 medium lemon, sliced thin
  • 12 leaves spearmint

  • Mix all ingredients together in a pitcher.
  • Refrigerate overnight.
  • Strain water.
  • Drink all 8 1/2 cups during the day.

It's like spa water.... so refreshing!!!


Sunday, January 27, 2013

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Baby, it's cold outside, so what better excuse to make some yummy soup in my crockpot! If you haven't invested yet in a slow cooker, let me tell you, it's worth it, so do it. What is easier than throwing a bunch of ingredients in a huge pot and letting them simmer all day? Not only do all the ingredients really have time to develop, it makes your house smell amazing and it's super easy!

I was craving chicken tortilla soup, and I have never made it, so I thought it would try something new and fun! This recipe is healthy and delicious, so enjoy.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

Adapted from a recipe found on


  • 3 raw boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt added tomatoes
  • 1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce
  • 1 medium onion (I sliced in half so I can easily remove from soup since I don't like onions. You can chop and leave in if you like onions)
  • 2 TBSP minced garlic
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 TBSP cumin
  • 1 TBSP chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package frozen corn
  • 1 (14 ounce) can of black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Corn tortillas if you want to make some for topping


  • Combine all the ingredients (except the corn and black beans) in a large slow cooker. Stir to combine.
  • Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 for hours.
  • When there is an hour left on the slow cooker, add frozen corn and rinsed black beans.

  • When cooking is complete, remove chicken from soup and shred. 

  • Return to soup and stir. 

Additional Topping

  • With 15 minutes to go, I sliced up some corn tortillas into strips. 

  • Put some olive oil on a plate and rub each strip in the oil. Cook in the oven at 325 degrees Farenheit for 10-15 minutes (until crispy). 

  • Top your soup with the tortilla chips, lowfat sour cream, or any other toppings that you desire!

Hope you enjoy! 


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Texi-Cali Tacos: Turkey Kielbasa Tacos

Today I was craving some tacos.... but all I had was a package of Smoked Turkey Kielbasa Sausage sitting in my fridge that needed to be used.  At that moment, I had one of my experimental foodie thoughts where I'm like, "well, why not combine the two ideas?".  I figured I could make a delicious soft taco using the kielbasa sausage as the filling.  In fact, I think I have been to a restaurant where a dish like this was on the menu!  But since I can't remember details of that taco, I came up with my own version of a Turkey Kielbasa Taco... it's called the Texi-Cali Taco!  The taco combines the smokey and big BBQ flavors of Texas... with the light and clean flavors of 'Californian' food... all wrapped up in the authentic flavors of Mexican food!

Texi-Cali Tacos

16 oz. package of Smoked Turkey Kielbasa Sausage
6 whole wheat tortillas, soft taco size
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, reduced fat
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup black beans
1/2 avocado, sliced
1 tomato, diced
1-2 cups spring mix (or romaine lettuce)
1/4 cup ranch dressing, light
2-3 tsp. BBQ sauce

Slice kielbasa in half, lengthwise, then cut kielbasa into 1/2 inch pieces. 

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, cook the kielbasa until browned.

While the kielbasa is cooking, mix ranch dressing and BBQ sauce in a small bowl until combined.

Heat tortillas as directed (using microwave or stove top).

When kielbasa and tortillas are ready, assemble taco as desired using the above ingredients.

My taco assembly suggestion:
Lay tortilla(s) flat on plate.  In center of tortilla, place a handful of spring mix (or lettuce) then add a handful of cooked kielbasa. 

On top of that, sprinkle a handful of cheese.  On top of cheese, put a few slices of avocado and some diced tomato.  Then add a few spoonfuls of corn and black beans. 

 Top taco with a drizzle of the ranch and BBQ sauce mixture!

Ummmmmmmm WOW, these Texi-Cali tacos are absolutely delicious!  The smokey BBQ flavor of the kielbasa sausage goes so well in this light taco.  They are yum, just YUM.  #besttacosever

Grab a beer and enjoy! :)


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Carrot and Zucchini Mini-Muffins

If you have been following our blog at all, you know my favorite thing to do on my day off is experiment in the kitchen!  Today was cold and cloudy, it felt like the perfect day to bake something.  I really enjoyed my last batch of mini-muffins (Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Mini-Muffins), so I decided to create another "healthier" mini-muffin recipe.

These cute little Carrot and Zucchini Mini-Muffins are made with lots of veggies, maple syrup, and applesauce... no oil and no white sugar.  They are extremely moist and packed with flavor!  You can frost these mini-muffins with the cream cheese and honey frosting (yum!), but they are so tasty they don't necessarily need it.  I love them both ways. :)

Carrot and Zucchini Mini-Muffins
based on a recipe by Giada De Laurentiis

1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup applesauce (no sugar added)
1/4 cup maple syrup (light or sugar free)
1 large egg
1/2 cup grated carrots 
1/2 cup grated zucchini 
1/2 cup raisins

Frosting (optional):
1 cup whipped cream cheese, at room temperature (about 8 ounces)
1 1/2 tablespoons honey

For the muffins: Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 24 mini-muffin cups with paper liners or spray with non-stick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. 

In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the applesauce, maple syrup, and egg. Add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Mix in the grated carrot, grated zucchini, and raisins.  Do not over-stir.

Using a small spoon, fill the prepared muffin cups 3/4 full with the batter and bake until light golden, about 15 minutes. 

Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the muffins to a wire rack to cool completely, about 30 minutes.

For the frosting: In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese and honey until smooth.

To serve - Spread the cooled muffins with frosting, if using, and serve.

Oh dear, these mini-muffins are so delicious... good thing they are made with mostly healthy ingredients!   I may or may not have already eaten about half the batch.... ooops.  I will definitely be making these mini-muffins again!

Enjoy. :)


Sunday, January 20, 2013

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies

I came across a recipe on Pinterest for "healthy peanut butter cookies".  Ok, let's get something straight... peanut butter (although amazingly delicious and a good source of protein) is very high in calories and high in fat.  You don't want to consume too much of the stuff at one time!  Since this recipe claimed to be "healthy" and said that each cookie was only 36 calories, I had to try the recipe out.... and figure out the correct calorie count per serving.

Well, I was right.  It turns out these cookies are a lot higher in calories then advertised (and I even cut the honey amount in half).  However, since there is NO white flour or sugar in them so the carbohydrate and sugar count is pretty low.  These are the kind of cookie you should probably only have one of.  I guess this proves the point, you can't believe everything you read on the Internet!

Correct Nutritional Information:
recipe yield 20 cookies
Per cookie - 105 calories, 6.65g fat, 10.15g carb, .8g fiber, 8.15g sugar, 3.1g protein

I do have to admit, these might be the easiest cookies to make... and they are quite delicious!  The aren't too sweet and have a soft, chewy texture that I love.

4-Ingredient Peanut Butter Cookies
based on a recipe found on

1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup honey
1 egg
1 tsp. baking soda

Mix ingredients together, then drop by teaspoon-fuls onto a cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

So easy and so yummy.... I <3 PEANUT BUTTER!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Meatless Monday: Skinny Pasta Alfredo with Mushrooms and Spinach

It's Meatless Monday!  Meatless Monday is an international campaign which encourages people not to eat meat on Mondays, in an effort to to improve their health and the health of the planet.  For more information on Meatless Monday go here:

You may or may not agree with the concept of Meatless Monday... however, I believe in the campaign and try not to eat meat on Mondays.  Here is a recipe you could use for a Meatless Monday dinner... or you could add some grilled chicken and eat it any night of the week!

Also, did you know you can make creamy, cheesy Alfredo sauce using Greek yogurt?!  No heavy cream, no butter... just olive oil and plain Greek Yogurt.  This skinny version of Alfredo sauce is much healthier than the original full-fat version, but tastes just as good!

Skinny Pasta Alfredo with Mushrooms and Spinach
based on a recipe by

2 cups fresh baby spinach
8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
8 ounces fettuccine, ravioli, tortellini, or linguine, etc. (I used a Spinach and Kale Ravioli)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons crushed garlic
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup fat-free, low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup plain non fat Greek yogurt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta according to package directions. 

While pasta is cooking, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add sliced mushrooms, season with salt and pepper. Cook until mushrooms turn golden brown, about 4 min.  Then add baby spinach and cook until spinach is wilted. 

Transfer cooked mushrooms and spinach from pan onto a paper towel to drain, then set aside. When pasta is done cooking, drain and set aside.

Using medium saucepan, heat 2 tbsp. olive oil over medium-low heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until the garlic is golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Whisk in the flour until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the chicken broth, Greek yogurt, pepper and nutmeg. Bring to a low boil, stirring constantly. Lower the heat and simmer, stirring gently, until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup Parmesan.

Add the cooked spinach and mushrooms to sauce mixture, followed by the cooked pasta. Toss to combine and serve with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes, if desired.

I think you could use this skinny Alfredo sauce with just about any combination of pasta and veggies!  I love a comforting, warm big bowl of pasta... so yummy.

Embrace Meatless Monday!


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

I never really think about baking banana anything until I realize I have a couple overripe bananas. Nonetheless, I am always inspired to try something new and yummy when I have do them. Tonight, I was also craving some chocolate, so I decided to bake some chocolate chip banana muffins. These are definitely a crowd-pleaser (light, fluffy, and delicious). Hope you enjoy!

Oh My Gosh Muffins

Recipe found at


  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (I used unsalted butter)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (I used light sour cream)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teapoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I used mini chips)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
  • Lightly grease 24 muffin cups.
  • In a bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and vanilla. Mix in banana and sour cream. Stir in the eggs. 

  • In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix dry ingredients into the banana mixture until evenly moist. Fold in chocolate chips. Transfer batter to the prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full.

  • Bake 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

These could great on your way out the door in the morning, or as a snack during the day!


Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Cold and flu season is officially here! And, with my busy schedule (I am a public accountant), all the vitamins in the world can't save me from falling ill every once in a while. I felt extremely tired this whole week and after working a 55 hour week, the cold itself finally hit me on Friday night. This Saturday morning, my first mission was to go pick up some cold medicine from the store. My next stop was the grocery store for some homemade chicken noodle soup ingredients. When in doubt, soup will always make it better.

I found this amazing recipe for creamy chicken noodle soup on my Better Homes and Gardens Recipes app on my iPhone. I decided to try and lighten it up a bit so it was healthier. Nothing like feeling sick, then feeling heavy from heavy food. So, here goes my adapted recipe. Hope you enjoy and stay healthy this cold and flu season!

Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

Recipe adapted from



  • 5 cups water
  • 1 10.5 ounce can condensed cream of chicken
  • 2 10.5 ounce cans 94% fat free condensed cream of mushroom soup
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken (about 10 ounces)
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen mixed vegetables (cut green beans, corn, diced carrots, and peas)
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 cups dried whole wheat egg noodles


  • Pre-cook chicken. I just grilled and cut into chunks.
  • In a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, gradually stir the water into soup until smooth. Stir in chicken, frozen vegetables, mushrooms, bay leaf, pepper, and salt. 

  • Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 6 to 8 hours or on high-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours.
  • If using low-heat setting, turn to high-heat setting. Stir in uncooked noodles. Cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes more or just until noodles are tender.
  • Enjoy!!!

Try to stay healthy this cold & flu season. But if you do get sick or are just craving a warm, comforting soup, this is the perfect recipe for you!


Thursday, January 10, 2013

A Week In Review....

I normally wouldn't give a weekly update, however at lot of food and fitness related things have transpired over the last 7 days!


My birthday was earlier this week (yeay, happy birthday to me!).  It was a pretty relaxed and uneventful birthday this year... I just wanted to indulge in my favorite delicious, fatty foods and spend quality time with my family and friends.  I requested a Red Velvet Cheesecake for my birthday cake... cause I love cheesecake and I love red velvet!  My mom is well-known for her amazing red velvet cupcakes and cake, but this would be her first attempt at a red velvet cheesecake.  She wasn't quite sure where to begin so I found her a recipe online, and then she went ahead and made it......... and she rocked that cheesecake recipe like she had made it a million times.  My birthday cheesecake was TO-DIE-FOR!  Seriously, the Red Velvet Cheesecake was so delicious it would be criminal for me to not share the recipe.  Good job Mom!

Red Velvet Cheesecake

Photo: Red Velvet Cheesecake Recipe
Photograph by Levi Brown

Total Time:  2 hr
Prep: 20 min   Cook: 1 hr 40 min
Yield: 10 servings   Level: Easy

For the crust:
1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (about 28 cookies)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch of salt

For the filling:
4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon red food coloring

Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

Make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Transfer 2 cups batter to a bowl; stir in the cocoa powder and food coloring. Pour the red batter into the crust, then pour the white batter on top. Using a spoon, pull some of the red batter up from the bottom of the cake and swirl. Bake until the edges are set but the center is still wobbly, about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

Turn off the oven but keep the cake inside to cool, 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan (don't remove the springform side), then transfer to a rack to cool. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before slicing.

And............. you're welcome.

I know what cake I'm asking for again next year! ;)


Earlier this week our family booked our annual vacation, WOHOO!  This year's vacation destination is a beach resort in Cancun, Mexico.  Thinking about lying on the beach in a bikini in a few months was all the motivation we needed to get into full-on fitness and diet mode... #bikinimode

beach body motivation

We've gotten back into our normal healthy eating and daily gym routine this week, but I decided that wasn't good enough...


A co-worker (fellow food and fitness lover) and I decided to start a daily fitness challenge, something we could do at work throughout the day on top of our normal fitness routines.  For the month of January we decided on SQUATS... a fantastic butt and thigh, sculpting and toning exercise!  Our goal:  2,500 squats in 23 days (108 squats a day).  Every hour we get up from our desks, do some squats, then go back to work.  It's fun, easy, and actually a nice break from sitting all day!  We've managed to persuade Amy, some other co-workers, and friends to join in on the "squat challenge" with us.

Follow the January Squat Challenge and other challenges at our Facebook page...

Or join us in the challenge... YOU CAN DO IT!  

Make sure to check your squat form.  If you're not doing your squats correctly you could do more harm than good.

Can't wait to see what food and fitness adventures next week holds............ 


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Zucchini Flatbread Pizza

Need an idea for a quick, light dinner?

Try my Zucchini Flatbread Pizza!!  It's super easy to make, loaded with zucchini and cheesy goodness, and has a great KICK!  Oh, I love me some red pepper flakes...  

Zucchini Flatbread Pizza
(makes 2 servings)

1 whole grain flatbread, or naan bread
1/2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 tsp. crushed garlic
pinch of salt
pinch of black pepper
1 zucchini, grated
1/2 cup 2% mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tbsp. feta cheese, crumbled
red pepper flakes to taste

Heat oven to 400F.  Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray.

Place flatbread (or naan bread) on greased cookie sheet.  Drizzle olive oil over top of flatbread, then spread around with knife until top is coated evenly.  Spread crushed garlic evenly over top of olive oil.

Grate a zucchini on to a paper towel.  Wring out the paper towel over sink to get excess water out of zucchini.

Place a layer of grated zucchini over top of the flatbread.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add a layer of mozzarella cheese, then a layer of feta cheese.  Season with red pepper flakes to taste (I like it on the hot side).

Bake for 12-14 min.  Allow to cool.  Cut.  And enjoy!

These toppings would be yummy too:

  • diced tomatoes
  • sun dried tomatoes
  • pepperoni
  • mushrooms
  • shredded chicken

This pizza is perfect for a light dinner.... if you are starving you will probably end up wanting to eat the whole thing!  DON'T!  Instead of scarfing down an entire pizza add a side salad for a healthy, well-balanced dinner.