Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Catch Up: Weekend At Home Recap Part 2

When I don't know what to make for lunch I tend to look for leftovers hiding out in the refrigerator. While I was home I made pineapple chicken skewers for dinner. I love leftover pineapple chicken skewers. They are almost better the next day because they really absorb the pineapple flavor and are insanely delicious. Sunday morning I came back from church and was starving. I was that person at church whose stomach kept rumbling. After getting home, washing hands and changing I made a bee line for the fridge. 

I had pulled out the pineapple chicken skewer, some leftover Italian herb veggies and some leftover cut up bell peppers and threw it into a bowl with a bit of spring mix lettuce. Whala I had lunch. My dad called it a garbage disposal salad because I mixed everything together. The name was gross, but semi fitting. 

I also tried a Dannon light and fit strawberry banana greek yogurt for the first time. I am huge fan of their vanilla greek yogurt (if you haven't already noticed) so I was excited to try this. I am not a fan of yogurt that has fruit chunks in it, but surprisingly these weren't large gross chunks. It was actually really good, plus I broke apart a piece of my favorite perfect pumpkin bread and threw it in with the yogurt. It sounds weird, but I promise it was really good! 

I need to get back to the gigantic pile of homework, projects and studying that currently surrounds me :( Have a great night and if anyway wants an extra project to do I have more than enough to go around!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Catch Up: Weekend At Home Recap

I apologize for not posting anything recently. Classes have kept me beyond busy- I'm losing my marbles! I have six projects going on right now, multiple essays that need to be done and a statistics exam I need to study for. Needless to say I am a little stressed! 

Two weekends ago I was finally able to go home. My mom had recently had foot surgery so she had to sit with her foot up and my dad can't cook so he was starting to lose it- my mom suffered the consequences of his lack of culinary abilities. It was a good weekend to go home because some of my professor were giving students a "fall breather" so they weren't assigning homework to give us a bit of a break. We go from August to Thanksgiving without a break so it's a bit stressful. It was nice to be able to go home and relax and totally forget about school for a bit. 

The drive home was gorgeous. Fall colors were at their peak and the sun was shining making the trees look even prettier. Sadly I know winter is coming so I gladly soaked in the warm weather and blue skies.

Before I even went home I already had developed a plan of attack. I knew what I was going to cook every night, so I made out a grocery list ahead of time taking the stress off of trying to come up with something to cook for dinner in the morning. My dad is not an easy person to cook for, no joke he is the pickiest eater I have ever met. I made two of his favorites, pineapple chicken skewers with a giant batch of roasted vegetables for my mom and I, and before I left on Monday I started the crockpot for crockpot pineapple chicken for them. I also forced my dad to try something new, a crockpot balsamic pork roast. Everyone loved it. It was so tender it literally fell apart in the crockpot. I didn't get a chance to take pictures of it before it was eaten (men are impatient when they're hungry!), but I am definitely going to make it again soon then I will post the recipe. 

After I went to the gym at home on Friday and before m doctors appointment I threw together a parfait of sorts. I knew the doctor appointment was going to take awhile and I didn't want to be starving while I waited. In a bowl I threw together:
  • 1/2 cup Dannon light and fit vanilla greek yogurt
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
  • 1 teaspoon raisins
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon peanut butter chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon chocolate chips
  • 1/2 small Honeycrisp apple, cut into chunks
It was perfect for fall and provided enough protein to help hold me over. I have a ton more pictures to post and recipes from my weekend at home, but I have to go to class (and take a quiz, yuck!). I will try to post them as soon as I can. Have a terrific Tuesday!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Home Sweet Home

Another catch up post, someday I will get caught up...

While I love being away at college sometimes it's nice to go home to see my family and my puppy, nothing beats coming home to puppy kisses! And nothing beats coming home to my favorite meal cooked by my awesome mom. 

Since I don't have Friday classes I drive home after my last class Thursday night and I always pack a healthy dinner for the road. Friday night my mom grilled salmon and baby bella mushrooms (my favorite!). She had prepared the mushrooms and salmon beforehand with her speciality mix of spices. 

I also had asian vegetable medley made with carrots, green beans, broccoli and mini corns. My mouth was watering the second I heard her fire up the grill, but nothing beats the smell of freshly BBQed food. Pretty safe to say my mom is awesome!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Leftover Salad

Last Friday I spent most of my day volunteering at Gilda's Club. One of the classes I am in requires at least six hours of community service, so I signed up to help decorate Gilda's Club for their annual Noogie Fest. Prior to volunteering I did not know anything about Gilda's Club, but after learning about all the work they do for the community I was really happy I chose to volunteer there. Plus the actual decorating was a blast.

I had to be on campus really early to meet up with everyone who was also going to volunteer at Gilda's Club and I didn't have a chance to go grocery shopping. Friday morning I normally go grocery shopping pretty early to avoid the crowds and I can usually get the freshest fruits and vegetables since they restock early in the morning. I learned my lesson though, don't EVER go grocery shopping Friday afternoon. There was a zillion people there, the pharmacy didn't have my prescription ready and Meijer was out of a ton of stuff I needed and everything else was picked over. By the time I got to checkout I had already been in the store close to two hours. I was very grumpy and very hungry (hangry!). 

I unloaded my groceries as quick as possible when I got back to my apartment and threw the rotisserie chicken I had picked up in the oven to warm up for a few. I literally threw a ton of leftovers from my fridge into a bowl and called it a salad. It had 2 cups earthbound organic spring mix lettuce, leftover italian herb mixed veggies, 1 hard boiled egg, a few cherry tomatoes and some of the warmed rotisserie chicken. I felt better after I ate, but I was dead tired. After racing around decorating and being on my feet all day I was wiped out and headed to bed ridiculously early. 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Peach Salsa Fiesta Salad

Over the weekend I was craving Mexican food. When I was growing up when my dad would be away on a business trip my mom would make refried beans and we would have a Mexican night for dinner. My dad is a meat and potatoes man, he is not exactly adventurous when it comes to food. To this day I will only eat tacos with refried beans. 

I didn't have any refried beans on hand though so I improvised and instead made a fiesta salad with chicken. It was still delicious and perfectly suited my Mexican food craving.

Peach Salsa Fiesta Salad
  • 2 cups mixed greens
  • 1/3 cup diced red and orange bell pepper
  • 1/8 cup cooked corn kernels 
  • 4 or 5 cherry tomatoes sliced in half
  • 1/8 cup diced avocado 
  • 1 cup cooked chicken breast cut into strips
  • 2 tablespoons peach salsa

Nutrition (makes 1 serving)
Calories: 246
Carbs: 19
Protein: 9 grams
Sodium: 26 mg
Sugar: 5 grams

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Midterm Stress

I survived midterms, deep breath.  Maybe I should wait to take a deep breath until I see my any case surviving four exams, one of which was a statistics exam and the other three were essay exams (the worst!), two essays and broadcasting project calls for a mini celebration in my books! 

I am not a sweets person and generally I get really sick if I have anything sweet. I also still have issues trying "unhealthy" foods, but that is a topic for another day. After finishing up exams and everything I ran off campus to mail my brother a care package and I stopped in at a small grocery store across the street because I needed to pick up one thing. I found what I needed then I ran into the Arctic Zero! I have heard so many great things about Arctic Zero so I was really excited to try it.

People rave about Arctic Zero, it's an entire pint of gluten free and lactose free ice cream! I had never tried it, but a celebration calls for ice cream right?! I choose the cookies and cream flavor.

Once I got back to my apartment I threw together a quick salad for dinner. It has romaine lettuce and spinach, heated up leftover garden vegetable medley mix, 1/2 honey crisp apple, two tablespoons fresh blueberries, half a tablespoon of pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and dried tart cherries and I topped it with grilled chicken. 

I love adding fruit to my salads, not only for extra sweetness, but it also gives you a serving of fruit with your vegetables. Two for one! I don't use salad dressing anyway, but if you add fruit into a salad you won't need to use salad dressing because fruits naturally sweeten the salad up.

After enjoying my delicious salad for dinner and cleaning up my apartment a bit I changed into sweats and did something I rarely do, planted myself in front of the TV. I have a hard time sitting still so I can't sit and watch TV, but I choose an episode of The Big Bang Theory and dug into my Arctic Zero. I couldn't even finish half of the pint so I saved the rest for another time. It was so nice to sit and just chill out.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

The Healthiest Pumpkin Bread (Gluten Free and Egg Free)

'Tis the season for pumpkin everything. While I am always sad when the weather starts to cool down I love fall baking and seeing the gorgeous changing colors on the trees. This year I have been lagging in my pumpkin baking department, although I am loving the single serving pumpkin waffle and healthy chocolate chip pumpkin pie pancakes I made.

I woke up really early on Sunday, I mean really early even for me. The gym on campus does not open until almost noon on Sunday's and the church service I go to wasn't until 9:30. I had lots of time and frankly at 4:45 in the morning after already have breakfast and cleaning up I did not feel like doing homework, so I baked.

Last year I had baked a delicious gluten free pumpkin bread with almond flour, but I wanted to try with regular gluten free flour. I really did not know what to expect because I was literally flying by the seam of my pants. SWEET MOTHER OF PEARL! It turned out AMAZING! Literally this pumpkin bread is the moistest pumpkin bread I have ever had and a single slice in only 71 calories!

  • 1 cup GF all purpose flour or whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice 
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup honey or agave
  • 1 individual cup of unsweetened apple sauce (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/4 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or vegetable oil
  • OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Spray bread pan with nonstick cook spray. 

Combine whole wheat flour, baking soda, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. 

Add in canned pumpkin, honey, unsweetened apple sauce, greek yogurt, vanilla and coconut/vegetable oil. Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. 

Tuck in 1/4 cup chocolate chips into batter if desired. 

Dump all batter into bread pan. Use a spoon to spread the batter out evenly.

Bake at 350 degrees for 50-60 minutes. Insert a toothpick at 50 minutes to check doneness. If it comes out clean it's done, if not allow to bake for an additional 3 minutes and check again.

Allow the bread to cool for 20 minutes before removing from pan. Store in refrigerator for optimal freshness. The bread freezes great too.

My favorite way to eat pumpkin bread is either heated up plain or heated up and smeared with PB2 and bananas, it's like a dessert only totally guilt free! If you make this delicious pumpkin bread or any of my other creations tag me on Instagram or use the hashtag #thesimplelife I'd love to see your creations!

Nutrition per slice (I cut 14 medium thickness slices):
Calories: 71
Carbs: 16
Fats: 2 grams
Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 93 mg
Sugar: 7 grams

Monday, October 13, 2014

Crockpot Chicken and Quinoa Soup

Some people think I am crazy, but I am telling you my crockpot has been my lifeline these past few weeks. I have hardly had time to breathe, let alone cook. My freezer is so full of crockpot leftovers I could survive the apocalypse. Well, maybe not, but my freezer is really full of yummy leftovers. 

I have never really been one for soup, but that is all changing. The weather has been really cold lightly and nothing has been better than curling up with a smoking hot bowl of soup. I was not sure how this soup was going to turn out because I literally threw a bunch of things I already had on hand into my crockpot and hoped for the best. It did not disappoint!

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, I used two chicken breasts and I had a decent amount of leftover chicken from a rotisserie chicken that I threw in as well
  • 2 sweet potatoes, regular potatoes would work too, peeled and diced
  • 3/4 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 pound, 16 ounces, frozen peas
  • 1/2 pound fresh trimmed green beans, can use frozen too
  • 14.5 ounce can organic petite diced tomatoes
  • 5.45 ounce package Mediterranean Quinoa Mix or 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chili seasoning, you can use more I just didn't want my soup to be real spicy
  • 5 cups organic low sodium chicken broth

Place chicken breasts on the bottom of a lined crockpot.

Dump the quinoa over the chicken breasts.

Add in diced sweet potatoes, onion, green beans, peas and petite diced tomatoes.

Next, add in mixed garlic, pepper and chili seasoning.

Finally, pour in chicken broth. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Before serving use a fork or a serving spoon to break apart chicken into chunks. You can cut it apart before hand, but I think it's easier to do it after because the chicken is so tender.

Also, be sure to stir everything together before serving.

Sunday, October 12, 2014


I need a break from school ASAP. Midterms just finished and when I thought I was going to get a chance to take a breath I somehow wound up with three projects, two of which are due on the same day. I swear professors conspire to make my life as busy as possible. You guys are so patient with me when I go MIA and I wish I could hug you all because you are all amazing! I will try to catch up on as many posts as I can. 

The last time I was home I was so excited when I found Siggi's at Meijer's. Several of my friends kept telling me I had to try Siggi's. I picked up acai & mixed berry and vanilla. I haven't had the vanilla yet, but the acai & mixed berry was delicious! 

I mixed fresh strawberries and blueberries in with gluten free puffins and a teaspoon of dark chocolate espresso trail mix that I found at Target. It was so delicious!! I can't wait to try the vanilla Siggi's.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Care Package

I love making people care packages. I think it's really fun to create a care package specifically tailored to what a person likes or needs. As strange as it sounds I also like putting the whole package together, it's kind of like a puzzle. You have to figure out the best way to position items and still make it look pretty, which is even more challenging if you are shipping the package instead of hand delivering it. 

This past week I put together a small care package for my brother who lives in California. He recently got a promotion at work and he was awesome enough to help me get my new iPhone 6 set up. He deserved a thank you and congratulations box.

My brother is a health and fitness junkie like myself so I knew it would not be too hard to put together a package he would like. Even on my small student budget I wanted it to be a nice package. I also had to consider shipping cost, which are frankly outrageous, so the box couldn't be as big or full as I would have liked. 

I included some of his favorite protein bars- Quest Bars and Pure Protein Bars.

When my brother came home during the summer to go up north with the family I got him hooked on KIND Bars. I threw in a few Madagascar Vanilla Almond KIND Bars and a Dark Chocolate Chunk KIND Healthy Grains Bar. 

A few weeks ago I had picked up a Jif Whips S'mores for myself at the grocery store. When I told my brother about it he thought it sounded amazing so I went back and picked one up for him and put it in his care package.

Right before I taped up the box I had some extra room, gotta utilize that free space! I threw in a Ziploc bag filled with fresh almonds from Costco and a Cocoa Almond Square Bar.

I wish I could have spent more and thrown in some additional items, but tight budgets don't always allow for such things. My brother is so appreciative of everything that I know he would like anything. Plus who doesn't like receiving a package full of goodies?!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Pumpkin Pie Spice Turkey Wrap and Some Puffins

A fellow foodie on mine has a knack for making delicious foods with some strange combinations. She has not steered me wrong yet, but sometimes some of the stuff raises a few eyebrows, however I happen to be a big believer in don't knock it till you try it!

I channeled some inspiration from her and made a wrap for lunch. I used half of a low carb high fiber GF wrap an smeared some Jif Whips pumpkin pie spice peanut butter down the center of the wrap. Next I added romaine lettuce, oven roasted turkey breast, smashed avocado, red and orange bell pepper slices, cherry tomatoes, two tablespoons freshly grated mozzarella cheese and a pinch of Caribbean jerk seasoning. 

I know it sounds like an odd combination with pumpkin peanut butter and jerk seasoning, but I promise it was so delicious. The wrap was so full when I actually wrapped it I had to use a toothpick to keep it closed! 

With my wrap I had 1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt, two tablespoons GF puffins and a small handful of fresh blueberries. 

If you have any odd combinations of food please share with me or tag me in your Instagram photos, I'd love to see them and taste them for myself!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Crockpot Turkey Meatballs

This might be shocking but in all of my 20 years I have never had a meatball (GASP)! Strange right? Well maybe it's not that strange. There are a lot of foods I've never tried. And if you think that's weird list off classic childhood Disney movies and I bet I may have see one or two, maybe. 

Anyway awhile back I saw a posting about meatballs and I got an idea. Normally meatballs are made with ground beef, which I don't eat. But why couldn't meatballs be made with ground turkey instead? Even better why not do crockpot meat balls to get a really great flavor!?! I was really really happy with how the meatballs turned out and I promise they won't disappoint! Plus these delicious meatballs are low in calories and sodium, have practically no sugar and are packed with protein.

There are endless ways to enjoy meatballs. I love serving mine over cooked spaghetti squash, but you can eat them with pasta or over a salad (which is delicious!), you really can't go wrong serving them any way. You can even top them off with a little extra parmesan cheese if you'd like. My fridge is now loaded with delicious meatballs for the week and my apartment smells heavenly! 

Turkey Meatballs
  • 2 pounds extra lean ground turkey
  • 2/3 cup GF bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • pinch of pepper
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 28 ounce can peeled and crushed tomatoes, if you like extra sauce use an additional 14.5 ounce can

Line a large baking sheet with tin foil. 

In a large mixing bowl combine egg, olive oil, garlic, oregano, basil, pepper and bread crumbs. Thoroughly combine.

Add ground turkey into mixing bowl. Use a fork to combine ground turkey and bread crumb/spice mixture. Stir just enough to combine without over mixing. 

Use your hands and roll the meat into small/medium meatballs. I was able to get over 40 golf balls sized meatballs.

Once all meatballs have been rolled spray a skillet with nonstick cook spray and heat to a medium heat. 

Brown both sides of the meatballs, do not cook them all the way through! I was able to brown 9 meatballs at a time so it did not take very long at all. You don't want to skip this step because it really seals in the flavor.

As I browned the meatballs I put the finished ones back on the tin foil. 

After all the meatballs have been browned place the diced onion at the bottom of a lined crockpot. Dump a bit of the tomatoes on top of the onion. 

Layer in the meatballs. Depending on the size of your crockpot you may have to double stack some.

Pour the remaining crushed tomatoes over meatballs. 

Cover and cook on low for 6-7 hours or high for 3-4 hours.

Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze leftover meatballs and sauce for later use.

Nutrition (per meatball):
Calories: 48
Carbs: 3 
Fats: 2 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 57 mg
Sugar: 1 gram

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Study Grind

As you have probably noticed I have been MIA for the past week. I had a statistics exam, which I was totally freaked about so I spent a ton of time studying for that. Then this week is also midterms. It's hard to believe the semester is already half over. I am not complaining, but since school has started I have hardly had a minute to catch my breath, let alone blog. I still have posts from Labor Day weekend to put together- talk about slacking!

Yesterday was kind of a crummy day all around. I woke up really early (like 4am early) and could not fall back asleep. I got up, got a quick breakfast and figured I would get a nice long gym session in before studying. When I got over the gym I couldn't get in. I was frustrated not only because I couldn't get in, but the gym on campus doesn't open until 6. I went back to my apartment grumpy. Come to find out no one can get into the apartment gym, the finger print scanner system is screwed up and maintenance won't look at it until Monday (grrr). So, before it was even 5am I was already studying. 

Last night in the midst of studying for three exams, one quiz, and writing two essays I needed a breather. I stopped studying around 5 and called it a night. I broiled some delicious salmon, cooked up some potatoes, green beans and red pepper and made a small side salad. A delicious meal was just what I needed to unwind after a long day.

The salad was a mix of romaine and spring mix lettuces with red and orange bell peppers, avocado slices, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, blueberries, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, a few dried cherries and a two slices of dried coconut broken apart. I love adding fruit to my salad for extra sweetness. 

While eating my yummy meal I watched some TV, which NEVER happens with me. There really was not anything on so ended up watching 19 Kids and Counting. I could make a whole post about that show, but I shall keep my opinions to myself. 

I hope everyone is having a great weekend, stay warm it is chilly outside! And I do have a new crockpot recipe to share with you on Monday, you won't want to miss it!