Thursday, May 29, 2014

Memorial Weekend Part 2

The rest of the weekend following Corunna was very relaxing. Sunday morning I went for a 5 mile walk- running is still painful, but I'm making progress. I am an early riser so I was out walking at 6 a.m. I walked without headphones and it was so peaceful just to be alone with my thoughts. 

After my walk I pulled a jar of overnight oats out of the fridge- I'm telling you it's the most convenient thing in the world! This jar had:
  • 1/4 cup Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup GF steel cut oats
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries
  • 1/4 cup more yogurt
  • 1 kiwi, sliced and 1/2 small banana, sliced in a pattern
  • 1/4 cup more oats
  • 1/4 cup more yogurt
  • 3 large strawberries, sliced

My mom planted some flowers we had leftover from planting at the cemetery after church on Sunday. I thought these purple ones, sorry I don't know what they're called, were absolutely beautiful. Nothing says summer like beautiful flowers.

I found a baby snapping turtle being sucked away in the waves because there were so many boats on the lake enjoying the beautiful weather. Much to my dad's dismay I scooped him up and safely placed him on a big rock that was just close enough to the water, but also far enough that a wave wouldn't suck him out. The poor guy needed to catch his breath after fighting the waves. Cora was fascinated by him. 

Finally I want to say a delayed, but still deserved thank you to all the men and women who serve our country. We wouldn't have the freedoms we do without all of the hard, selfless work you do! I hope everyone had a safe and fun memorial weekend!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Memorial Weekend

I definitely have some catching up to do. I took a break from the blog over the holiday weekend, but I have tons of photos and delicious food to share! 

Saturday morning my dad, one of my uncles and I made the trip to the small town of Corunna about an hour from my hometown. Every memorial day weekend we go up and plant flowers on families graves. 

At one of the cemeteries we plant flowers at there is this cool old mausoleum. It would be totally creepy to be around it at night. I'd love to know the history of the mausoleum, if walls could talk!

Before getting lunch we stopped by a roadside park next to a normally tame river. Due to all the snow and rain early in the season the river flooded and still hasn't receded. Some of the walkway was still underwater.

My dad stopped and got subway for lunch, I had packed my lunch the night before, and we decided to eat lunch at the local park. I used to run and play with my cousins at this park, so it makes me sad to see it in disrepair. The grass hadn't been mowed and the gazebo was missing a bunch of posts. I don't understand why people choose to destroy something that is used by so many people. 

It turned out to be a gorgeous day. When the day started I wasn't sure how to dress so I kept it simple with black leggings, a white t-shirt and a flag print scarf. I kept my hair up in a messy bun so the wind wouldn't be blowing it everywhere. 

There is a tiny historical village inside the park. The old school house and church are my favorite buildings in the historical park- if you are ever in the area you have to check it out.

After a busy morning and afternoon of planting flowers we drove back home, had a delicious meal and enjoyed the beautiful weather. 

I had a small salad made of 1.5 cups mixed greens, 3 large strawberries sliced, 1/4 cup fresh raspberries and one tablespoon sliced almonds. My mom also grilled a slice of Tilapia and I had half an ear of fresh corn. Nothing better than a hearty meal to refuel after a long day!

I will try to get another post from the weekend up tomorrow after work. Have a good night!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Veggie Burger Salad

Veggie Burger Salad
  • 2 cups organic spring mix lettuce
  • 3 slices hothouse tomato
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup bell pepper chunks- I used orange, red and green
  • 1/4 cup (heaping) avocado chunks
  • 1 tablespoon dried tart cherries
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tablespoon pepitas
  • 2 nectarines sliced to line the plate
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 1 veggie burger cooked according to instructions- check to make sure it's gluten free if necessary

Thursday, May 22, 2014

What A Week!

What a week it's been! I know it's not even Friday but so much has happened that I don't know where to start!

Monday at my internship I went out with a photographer and reporter to shoot two stories. I love going out in the field because I hate being stuck in the office in a cubicle all day. I don't do well in a confined space where I'm not active, my dad used to tell me I had ants in my pants as a kid- I still do. 

The reporter let me do my first on camera stand up and film a tease for the story! I was so excited and it was by far the best day I've had at my internship so far.

The ten hour shifts in the news room make for a long day and then I have almost an hour drive home, but when I get to see sunsets like this it makes the long day worth it. 

Today Cora and I enjoyed the beautiful sunshine even though it was a bit windy. Cora loves being outside, she'd stay outside all day if I let her. She loves playing Frisbee, chasing any and everything, playing with the neighbor dogs, and her favorite thing to do outside is swim. I can hardly keep her dry!

To top off the week before a long weekend for Memorial Day I made a Raspberry Coconut Smoothie. It makes two servings so I kept the second serving for another day.

Raspberry Coconut Smoothie
  • 3/4 cup raspberries- I froze the raspberries to make the smoothie thicker
  • 1.5 cups Coconut Milk
  • handful of ice cubes
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon- if desired

Blend all ingredients in a blender until smooth. 

I hope everyone can get out and enjoy the beautiful weather this holiday weekend! I have a few recipes to get up on the blog this weekend and I will post pictures from my Memorial Day weekend fun!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cuckoo for....OATS!

Do you remember the old commercials for cocoa puffs with the crazy bird who was cuckoo for cocoa puffs? I certainly ate a bowl or two of cocoa puffs as a kid. 

I'm not cuckoo for cocoa puffs anymore, but I certainly am cuckoo for overnight oats. They are seriously the easiest thing ever and it takes less than five minutes to make. I usually make up a few at a time so I can grab and go throughout the week. 

Last night I made one up for today, which I ended up eating as part of my lunch after an intense workout. Today's was definitely one of my favorite's I've made so far!

The layers are:
  • 1/4 cup Dannon Lit and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats (gluten free)
  • handful of blueberries
  • handful of raspberries
  • 3 large strawberries, sliced
  • more greek yogurt
  • more steel cut oats (gluten free)
  • 1/2 small banana, sliced
  • 2 large strawberries, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon sprinkled overtop

Want more overnight oats? Try these easy overnight oats recipes

If you make them tag me on instagram and use the hashtag #thesimplelife and go like my new page on Facebook!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Peanut Butter Banana Muffins

My two favorite things in muffin form...peanut butter and banana! I think I just died and went to food heaven! Seriously though if you've read my blog you know I LOVE peanut butter and banana in almost any combination and now in muffin day is complete!

These muffins are really easy to make and only took me half an hour to whip together and bake. The best part (besides the amazing taste) is they're completely gluten free and they are a healthy option for breakfast with only 187 calories a muffin and they have 7 grams of protein!

You will need:
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 2.5 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
  • 1 cup peanut butter- I prefer an organic peanut butter, or you can mix up 1 cup of PB2 
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mashed banana- about 2 large bananas
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large mixing bowl combine coconut flour, sugar, and baking soda.

After mixing the dry ingredients together add in the mashed banana, almond milk, vanilla extract, and peanut butter. Completely combine all ingredients.

Fill muffin 12 muff tins a little over 1/2 full for regular sized muffins. Or you can make 6 JUMBO muffins. 

Bake the muffins at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. When the muffin tops turn golden they are done, or you can insert a toothpick and if the toothpick comes out clean the muffins are done. If 20 minutes is not long enough bake for an additional 2 minutes and check again.

Serve muffins hot or allow them to cool and freeze in an airtight container or Ziploc bag.

Nutrition (per muffin):
Calories: 187
Carbs: 14
Fat: 13 grams
Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 161 mg
Sugars: 7 grams

Friday, May 16, 2014

Chocolate Banana Muffins

MUFFINS! I love my morning muffin and I love coming up with new healthy muffins. What better way to start your morning than with a chocolate muffin that is totally guilt free! Yes, you read that right. These muffins are completely guilt free (and gluten free!) and only 89 calories for one muffin! Don't mind if I do...

You will need:
  • 1 cup oat flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup mashed banana, about 2 large bananas
  • 1/3 cup applesauce, about 1 individual applesauce cup
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • OPTIONAL: If you want some peanut butter with your chocolate add in 1/3 cup peanut butter chips or if you need more chocolate add in 1/3 cup chocolate chips.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Line muffin tins with liners. 

Fill tins about 1/2 full to get 12 regular size muffins or fill tins 3/4 full to get 6 large muffins.

Combine oat flour, cocoa powder, brown sugar, baking powder and baking soda in a large mixing bowl.

After mixing together the dry ingredients add in all the wet ingredients and thoroughly combine.

Bake for 20 minutes. Insert a toothpick, or fork prong, and if it comes out clean the muffins are done. If not bake the muffins for an additional 3 muffins and promptly remove. The muffins will be done. 

Nutritional Information (based on 12 muffins):
Calories: 89 
Carbs: 17
Fat: 2 grams
Protein: 3 grams
Sodium: 81 mg
Sugar: 8 grams

Thursday, May 15, 2014

500,000 Steps

Last week I reached a fitness milestone. At the end of March I purchased the Jawbone UP to track my daily fitness and sleep. Less than two months after purchasing the tracker I reached half a million steps! 

It goes to show that a few steps can add up in a big way.

Here's to the next 500,000 steps!

Grilled Tilapia Salad

Tilapia is one of my favorite fishes to eat. I don't think there is a wrong way to cook it and it goes with anything.

For the salad:
  • 1 grilled Tilapia fillet sprayed with nonstick cook spray and seasoned with lemon and herb spices
  • 1.5 cups mixed greens-baby spinach and kale
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw
  • 1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup avocado, sliced
  • 1 hard boiled egg, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon dried cherries
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted pepitas and sunflower seeds
After the tilapia had finished on the grill use a fork to shred it and spread it on top of assembled salad. 

Friday, May 9, 2014

A Taste of Summer

We finally got a taste of summer in the Mitten! It was 82 degrees yesterday and right now it's 74. It felt so good to be outside after being cooped up all winter. Cora has been loving the warmer weather and has been in the lake 24/7.

I started yesterday out with chocolate strawberry and peanut butter banana overnight oats.
  • Bottom layer: 1/4 cup Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/3 banana sliced
  • 1.5 tablespoons PB2 
  • 1/4 cup Dannon Light and Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 14 cup steel cut oats
  • 4 large strawberries sliced
  • 1.5 tablespoons Chocolate PB2
  • 1/4 banana sliced- after I took the picture I added 1 teaspoon of cinnamon on top of the banana

Place in fridge overnight and it's ready to go in the morning! I love preparing oats in mason jars. There are endless possibilities and it is the perfect breakfast to grab and go.

After a sunny fun filled day outside with Cora I did not feel like having anything hot to eat so I used what was already in the fridge for a salad.
  • 1.5 cups broccoli slaw
  • 1/4 cup sliced avocado
  • 1 hard boiled egg sliced
  • 1 grilled chicken breast diced up
  • 2 tablespoons dried tart cherries
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted sunflower seeds and unsalted pumpkin seeds 
Hope you get out and enjoy the warm weather!

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Overnight Oats

Overnight oats make my life very easy. You can prepare oats in jars for the entire weeks so you can grab and go. 

Any and all types of fruit can be used. Some of my favorite fruits to use are: blueberries, strawberries, kiwi, strawberries, bananas, mango, and pineapple. 

I use wide lid mason jars because I think it's easier to fill, eat, and clean. 

The layers in this jar are:
  • less than 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 4 strawberries, sliced in half
  • 1/3 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 kiwi, sliced
  • less than 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1/2 small banana, sliced
  • 1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon

Allow to cool in refrigerator overnight. Don't mix until you're ready to eat it to prevent oats from getting soggy.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Sweet Summertime

Being home from college is great, but I've been majorly slacking on everything. I have spent a ton of time with Cora not that she minds because now she has someone to play with her 24/7. I am one of those crazy dog ladies that talks to their dog and most of the time Cora will just cock her head at me because she has no idea what I'm saying unless it involves "outside" or "squirrel." It's a good thing she's cute!

Yesterday morning after my workout I was productive. I made gluten free banana muffins but this time I added 1/3 cup frozen blueberries, fresh blueberries work as well, and two tablespoons of mini chocolate chips. They are so good! Most people I know are skeptical of gluten free foods, but I promise you'd never know these were gluten free because they taste like banana bread.

Mid morning I met up with an old friend and went shopping. We shopped, grabbed lunch at Max and Erma's and shopped some more. Max and Erma's does have a gluten free menu you just have to ask! I forgot to take a picture of my salad, but I had a Grilled Apple Pecan salad minus the bleu cheese (I never liked that stuff) and dressing and I didn't have the breadstick. 

I have been on the hunt for business casual clothes that are both cute and affordable for my internship I start next week. All the stores are full of crop tops, which my boss would so not be ok with! Any suggestions of stores I should check out? I got some clothes at Charlotte Russe, but I could still use a few more outfits. I was exhausted when I finally got home and threw leftovers in a gluten free wrap for dinner.

For the wrap:
  • 1 gluten free wrap- Smart and Delicious is my favorite brand
  • 1/2 cup refried beans- check the label to ensure it's gluten free
  • 1/3 cup cooked ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup kale
  • 1/4 cup avocado, sliced
  • Mexican cheese sprinkled over top
  • 1/4 cup mild salsa- check the label to ensure it's gf

All I did was heat up the refried beans and ground turkey and then layer everything onto the wrap.

Tomorrow I will get the recipe up for the overnight oats picture I posted on Instagram yesterday. Have a good night!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Healthy Chocolate Milkshake

Two words: chocolate milkshake. Chocolate milkshakes caused me to gain more than a few extra pounds back in the day. Now I can't even have ice cream because I get sick from the high sugar content. 

On a hot summer day, or a cold spring day when you have a sugar craving, a healthy chocolate milkshake is in order. Yup you read that right healthy chocolate milkshake! It's thick and creamy like a regular chocolate milkshake except it's even more chocolaty than a normal milkshake- a double win! 

You will need:
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1.5 tablespoons dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup milk, skim or unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • OPTIONAL: 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • OPTIONAL: Top with organic cocoa nibs

In a blender combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.

Pour and serve. The recipe is easily is doubled or tripled for other people to enjoy also.

Mother's Day Gift Ideas

Mother's Day is right around the corner and if you're like me you wait until the last minute to figure out what you're going to get your mom. Then it's a mad rush to the nearest Hallmark to elbow through the picked over card section with all the other procrastinators who don't know what to get their mom.

This year I was bound and determined to not do that again, but what was I going to get my mom? At almost twenty macaroni necklaces, hand print t-shirts, and flowers planted in dixie cups don't really cut it anymore (sadly). 

If you're like me and past the cutesy arts and crafts stage Mother's Day does not mean you have to dish out a bunch of money on gifts your mom may or may not like- nothing says I love you like wilted flowers picked up on Mother's Day at the grocery store in a mad rush to get to your Mom's house (just speculation of course, because that's never been me...)

DIY Mother's Day

1. Make a memory jar
    -Get a mason jar and pretty scrapbooking paper and write down some of your favorite memories you have with your mom. Fold them up and put them in the jar. Decorate the outside of the jar with scrapbooking stickers or paint it to make it more personal.
2. Breakfast in bed then clean it up
    -Make pancakes for one or for health conscious mom's make 3 ingredient blueberry banana pancakes or chocolate protein pancakes
3. A handwritten letter
4. A handwritten letter for every week of the year (that will definitely earn you brownie points!)
5. Mix cd with songs that were popular when she was growing up
6. Homemade body scrubs/salts- most recipes are really easy and require ingredients you already have at home
7. Custom return address labels- Shutterfly has an awesome selection and always has good deals
8. Clean and wash her car
9. Homemade coupons for car washes, nights off of cooking duty, unloading the dishwasher (or loading and unloading the dishwasher!), or a week off of doing laundry
10. Framed photo collage
11. Shadow box filled with photos and mementos from a favorite family vacation 
12. Clean the house 
13. Coffee mug decorated (then baked) with sharpie designs
14. Day/night out to the movies- popcorn or homemade snacks included
15. Batch of healthy homemade granola or chocolate cherry and nutella granola in a pretty jar
16. Pick up all the dog poop in the yard for a week 
17. Plant flowers in her garden
18. Clean your room without grumbling
19. Video of all the kids telling why they love mom
20. Make dinner and clean up afterward
21. Basket of bunch of little things- granola, car wash coupons, coffee mug, etc.
22. Spend time with your Mom!
     -It may sound lame, but sometimes the gift of time is the best gift of all

Monday, May 5, 2014

Meaty Zucchini Boats

Happy Cinco De Mayo! The sun is shining and while it isn't warm it isn't raining so I won't complain. I think we could all use a little sun and warm weather after a brutal winter!

I have to apologize for slacking on the blog recently. I have a number of recipes to type up and post for you. This week I will posting my favorite chocolate dessert that's secretly healthy! 

One of the foods I made this weekend was meaty zucchini. I felt like having something like pasta/pizza. Instead of consuming a ton of carbs and unwanted gluten with pasta I used zucchini and ground turkey and the result was delicious! It's great for a meal and it can even be used for an appetizer for a crowd if you spoon it onto zucchini boats.

You will need:

  • 1 green and 1 yellow zucchini
  • 1.5 cups gluten free pasta sauce
  • 1/2 cup extra lean ground turkey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Slice the zucchini to the desired thickness and lightly spray with nonstick cook spray.

Line zucchini on a baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes, flip all zucchini over and cook for an additional 10 minutes.

While the zucchini is in the oven spray a skillet with nonstick cook spray and heat to medium heat.

Once the skillet is heated brown the ground turkey and drain any excess liquid. 

After turkey is browned dump in the pasta sauce, cover the skillet and allow everything to simmer on a low heat for a few minutes. You don't want to dry anything out, but you want to warm the pasta sauce. 

When the zucchinis are done baking and the turkey sauce is warmed pour or spoon sauce over zucchinis. 

Top with grated mozzarella cheese or Parmesan cheese.