Archive | March, 2013

Stuff I used to eat

29 Mar

Sometimes I long for the days that my metabolism was a little faster and I could happily shove whatever I wanted into my face without worry. It’s crazy to think of all the things I used to eat when I was a kid that I would never include in my diet today! I thought I’d take a trip down memory lane and recall some of my childhood favorites. Starting with:

1. Dunkaroos!!!!!


Oh my gosh please tell me if you were a 90’s kid you remember these!!! I remember we had to go to a specific grocery store to get them because the regular one didn’t carry them. And they were definitely a special treat. Never enough frosting!!!!!

2. Oatmeal Cream Pies


Pretty sure I could probably house 2-3 of these in a sitting. All of the Little Debbie snacks were winners….ho-ho’s, nutty buddy’s…however these were my favorite.

3. Fruit by the Foot


These were also a rare commodity in my house, so that only makes them 10x better. Fruit Roll ups, Gushers, etc. also fall under this category.


5. Half Baked


Pretty sure that this item was solely responsible for my Freshman 15 in college. Eating an entire pint in one night was not unheard of.


6. Peanut Butter and Crackers


Had to be Ritz crackers!!! Could also consume an entire sleeve of crackers dipped right into the peanut butter. This was my choice after school snack.

7. Frosted Flakes


For about the first ten years of my life this was the only cereal I ate!!! It’s so funny the stuff we’re picky about when we’re kids that now seem ridiculous. I hated any other cereal and had to have this one on hand at all times!!

8. Fudge Stripe Cookies

I’m pretty much drooling looking at this picture… hard to eat just one…row! These are the perfect mixture of buttery, chocolate-ly, flaky goodness.


So as you can see my diet has changed A LOT! Now I get excited over kale and rutabaga. I’d like to indulge in one of these favorites sometime though! I think I’d have to go with either the ice cream or cookies if I could choose one right now. On that note, I’m going to fix myself a snack.

Let’s hear it- what were your favorite childhood snacks!?!? Any of these??

Quest Bar Natural Protein Bar Review

25 Mar

Quest Sample Pack

This post has been a long time coming! The folks at Quest sent me the sample pack of their protein bars to review and I am just getting through that massive sampling of delicious treats!!!

I’m sure many of you have seen these floating around on blogs and I thought I’d throw in my two sense. I have eaten a lot of protein bars in my day and, while delicious, a lot of them are loaded with sugar and other nasty additives. I also felt like they kept me full after workouts. **Side note, one time I was at GNC, and I picked up a builders bar that I wanted to try. The lady said to me “Um, that doesn’t taste like a candy bar, you know.” K THX!!!

Anyways, I was pleased with the stats that the Quest bars had to offer, and after seeing them everywhere in the blogosphere, I had to get in on the action! Quest sent me two lines of the protein bars- natural and regular. The natural protein bars are sweetened with stevia, have around 160 calories and 20 g of protein. The other line, which is 99.5% natural anyway (sweetened with sucralose) has similar stats. They are also high in fiber and low carb! We all agree the stats are amazing, but what about the taste? In no particular order here are my thoughts….

 coconut cashew

First one I ate was coconut cashew. It wasn’t my favorite. The “natural” line seems to have a chalky sort of aftertaste. It also had a chewy, sort of plastic-y texture.

chocolate peanut butter

Chocolate peanut butter– this one was a winner! Don’t worry I wasn’t driving. This one had a way better texture, and the deep chocolate and peanut butter flavor masked the after taste a better.

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Lemon cream pie. This had the same plastic texture as the coconut cashew. I’m not a fan of fruity protein bars. I still have a couple of the ‘fruit’ flavors left in the box.

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This one tasted really good! I warmed it up in the microwave. It’s one of my favorite of the natural line. It nailed the banana nut muffin taste. It didn’t have that ‘artificial’  banana flavor either- it really tasted like a muffin!

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Can’t really see this one but it was peanut butter supreme. This one had chunks of peanuts and it really was one of my favorites. The texture of the peanuts really broke up that plastic feel of the other bars without chunks.

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PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY!!!! I was saving this one…finally ate it today. So worth the save. It has to be my favorite. It also had chunks of peanut butter in it with a jelly taste. Super delicious.

I still have vanilla almond crunch, cinnamon roll, strawberry cheesecake, and some mixed berry one left to eat. I also ate the new cookie dough one (not pictured). I had high hopes for that one but it wasn’t as good as I thought it was going to be. It also had the chalky after taste.

All in all I enjoyed the bars. Although some have an aftertaste, it is worth it for the great stats and natural ingredients. I’d rather eat this with a slight after taste than another bar loaded with sugar and junk! If I had to make my own sample pack it would include: chocolate peanut butter, peanut butter supreme, peanut butter and jelly, and banana nut muffin.

What flavors of Quest bars are your favorite?

What other protein bars are your favorite? << I usually get pure protein (has lots of sugar :/), or Good n Natural. I’ve never had Lara Bars Sad smile

Learn more about me!

24 Mar

Liebster Award!

I’m sure you’re sick of these surveys…but I am really excited that Kelli at Fitness and Fro Yo nominated me for this newbie blogger award! I’m not one to normally share much personal stuff about myself being a teacher and all but I enjoy any opportunity promote my and other up and coming blogs.

The Liebster Award is for any up and coming blogs that you enjoy reading and a great way to promote them!

  • This award is given to new or up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.
  • The award is then passed along to other bloggers in the same category to help spread the word and support one another.
  • Each blogger should post 11 random facts about themselves.
  • Answer the questions the tagger has set for you.
  • Choose 11 new bloggers (with less than 200 followers) to pass the award to and link them in your post.

Eleven Random Facts About Me:

1. I didn’t originally go to college to be a teacher…I started out going for writing and changed over to add teaching to my English degree because I wasn’t sure what I would be doing with just a writing degree.

2. I am getting married in the same city I went to college; Oswego, NY. It’s beautiful up there in the summer.

Not so much in the winter.

That’s a terrible and old picture of the college parking lot after a blizzard in 2007.

3. On that note, I hate winter, but I will probably never leave NY. I am learning to live with it. My family is here, and I have a hard enough time being 4 hours away from them, let alone in another state. Therefore since I have chosen to live here, I have no business complaining about the weather. It does get tough. Especially this time of year when it is

4. I enjoy country-ish novelty apparel and anything to do with AMERICA! Not ashamed of it…

5. My favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s bone-chillingly good. And I it’s a toss up as to whether my next pet will be named Jem, Scout or Atticus.

6. I love camping! I hope to go for my bachelorette party!! We try to go at least twice a year.




Allegany State Park, NY

7. I used to be a cheerleader in high school.

8. I consider myself in good shape from working out ….but I am absolutely terrible at organized sports. We were in a kickball league this past fall and I was awful. Just no coordination.

9. I used to drive a pick up truck.

10. Last year I tried to be a vegetarian because I was scared and disgusted after accidentally eating raw chicken. Aaaaand it lasted a couple of days.

11. I don’t really watch TV. Besides Dexter and Shameless on showtime, I don’t have any regularly scheduled shows that I watch. The internet is my time waster.



You should get showtime and watch Shameless.

Eleven More Questions:

1. Dog or cat person?

2. What is your take on rest days for exercise?

3. What is your ‘diet’ or ‘food’ philosophy?

4. What sports do you hate watching/playing?

5. What food that you used to eat when you were a kid do you miss the most?

6. What would be your death row meal?

7. What creative fitness activities do you love?

8. Favorite veggie?

9. How many days a week do you do cardio vs strength?

10. Where is your favorite place to travel?

11. Favorite memory from high school/college?


Eleven Questions from Kelli:

1. What is your favorite book of all time?

Ummmm…think I already answered this one!


2. What is one food you will never eat?

I honestly like trying everything once! These days I have been staying away from anything processed and boxed. That’s not to say I will never eat it.

4. Why do you blog?

As mentioned, I originally started to get my degree in creative writing. I enjoy writing and the blog started as a way for me to rekindle that hobby. I’m pleased with what it’s turned out to be, and excited to see where it takes me. I love reading other blogs and connecting to other bloggers!

5. What is your favorite childhood memory?

My favorite childhood memories include times visiting my grandparents in their hometown of Massena, NY. They have both passed away and I have been drafting a piece of writing about this special place it seems for ages. Still haven’t been able to find the right words. Stay tuned!

Photo: <3

My Papa and I

6. What is your favorite strength exercise?

Hmmm…favorite/enjoyable doesn’t always go with effective. I like to blow off steam with med ball/sand bag slams!

7. Name one thing on your bucket list.

Drive across the country. I really don’t know if this will ever happen. But it’s cool to dream. California here I come!


Vacation in 2011…… wahhhhh

8. Name your absolute dream job, regardless of how unrealistic it may be.

I’m supposed to say teacher right here. Teaching would be my dream job if all it involved was doing creative, fun things with kids. There are way more added pressures that make it something that is more stressful than I anticipated. But every job is stressful. My absolute dream job would be to travel and eat food a la Anthony Bourdain. He travels ALL over the world to EAT. Like, seriously? I got in the wrong business.

9. What is one thing on your fitness bucket list?

Pull up!!!! Just one!!!

10. What movie can you watch over and over again?

I’m really not a movie person……anything with Leonardo DiCaprio does the trick. Romeo and Juliet, Titanic, etc.



11. Tell me an embarrassing high school memory.

This is a tough one….I try to block that stuff out of my memory. I can remember one time a friend and I were skipping school (yeah, I was bad), and we were running down the road near our school, which was where my high school boyfriend lives. She was wearing a skirt and high heels. It’s like nine in the morning…..all of a sudden my boyfriend’s mom pulls up. Needless to say it was hard to explain what we were doing running down the road at 9 am on a random weekday.


Well if you’ve read the whole thing, congrats, you know a little more about me. Here’s the blogs I am nominating. I don’t think I’ll make it to 11, but here are some of my favorites:

Life Love and Palm Trees

The Run Within <<Has more than 200 followers but a great read!

Better with Sprinkles

Reach Your Peak

Legally Balanced

This Life is Sparkling

Andrea Out Loud

Life of Di

Clean Eating Veggie Girl

Courtney Em


That’s all I can really fine that don’t have 200 followers! For some it didn’t say, but I’ll put up the links anyway for your reading pleasure!! Thanks for reading!

Delicious Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash

20 Mar

I have invented something amazing!!! Okay I probably didn’t invent it. I know we’ve all ditched the white potatoes by now…duh…and you’ve probably heard of or even tried subbing mashed cauliflower for potatoes. I’ve tried this before and it was so-so. I wasn’t a fan of the chunky and gritty consistency. It was fine, but I wasn’t rushing out to make it again.

While making a Paleo Shepard’s pie last week I think I invented my new favorite substitute for mashed potatoes. Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash. You MUST try this if you haven’t. It was rich, creamy and extremely flavorful.

I topped my Shepard’s pie with the mixture and it was heavenly.

shepard's pie


Sweet Potato Cauliflower Mash

1/2 of a medium sweet potato

1/2 head of cauliflower

1-2 cloves of garlic

1/4 cup coconut milk

1 tbsp coconut oil

salt, pepper, and garlic powder

1. First, cook your sweet potato and cauliflower. I cooked my (whole) sweet potato in the microwave for 10 minutes.

2. Chop the cauliflower into florets and place in a saucepan filled with water. Cook until soft.

3. Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a sauté pan.

4. Add garlic and whisk.

5. Add in coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder.

6. Drain cauliflower. Cut your sweet potato in half and throw away the peel (you only need half).

7. Place cauliflower, sweet potato, and coconut milk mixture into your food processor and process until smooth.

Sweet potato Cauliflower mash

8, Consume! Never eat white potatoes again!!!!

I put it on my Shepard’s pie

Sweet Potato at Shepard's Pie

It was thick and creamy, unlike some cauliflower mashes I have made. The small amount of sweet potato really balances it out and the coconut milk makes it super-creamy! Try it!

What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?

Online Resources for Change- Paleo/Whole 30

19 Mar

Healthy Living Blogs is challenging bloggers to write a blog post with a theme of ‘Online Resources for Change’. Recently, I have been trying to adopt a Paleo lifestyle after reading the book It Starts with Food which advocates a diet style similar to Paleo called Whole 30 (no grains, no sugar or substitutes, no dairy, no legumes).


I thought I’d share some of the online resources I’ve been using to transition to this type of diet in case you’re interested in what it has to offer. I have been following this for a little over a month (with a few cheats here and there (because life happens) and I am pleased with results. Results I’ve experienced include better energy, a reduced urge to snack and diminished sugar and carb cravings.

So if you’re looking for a change in your diet, want to slim down or improve your performance at the gym; or are just plain sick of feeling tired and worn out all the time I encourage you to give this diet a shot! Take it a day at a time and see if it works for you.

We’re all resistant to change sometimes and upon reading the list of things you ‘can’t’ have you may say things like “Well I could never give up________”. You are capable of doing whatever you want to do as long as you’re committed. A couple of years ago I used to say “I could never give up pasta”, and now I don’t remember the last time I ate regular pasta. Trying to make something a habit takes time, and undoubtedly you will run into challenges. So what?? Every day is a new day! You are only as strong as you allow yourself to be.

It’s easy to get sucked into the internet and all the resources available, but if you’re really interested in researching Paleo or Whole 30, here are some of the good ones I’ve found over the last month:

Whole 30 official website

Whole 30 forum- get support from other members

The Clothes Make the Girl (author of Well Fed)

Nomnom Paleo

Chowstalker <<< Awesome website of a collection of recipes from all different blogs

Paleomg <<< awesome blog!


Mark’s Daily Apple

Here are some recipes I’ve tried in the last month that were stellar:

Everyday Paleo Curried Chicken and Parsnips with Pears

Paleo Chicken Pot Pie with almond crust <<< SO GOOD

Plantain Lasagna


Paleo Shepard’s Pie (I used a couple of different recipes and made it my own but this is where I got the idea)

shepard's pie

Happy researching! I’d love to hear about others’ experiences with Paleo or Whole 30.

Do you think you could do it?  What foods on the ‘no’ list make you most hesitant to try it and why?

5 ‘weird’ healthy foods you should eat

17 Mar

Through my experiences with healthy eating, and most recently trying to switch to a Paleo/Whole 30 diet, I have been trying and enjoying some really delicious fruits and veggies I had previously ignored. I definitely go through phases…once I find something I love I buy it incessantly…until I find a new obsession!

Most people don’t look twice if they see things like Twinkie, unnatural orange colored ‘cheese’ poofs, or boxed mashed potatoes on your plate. These things are completely processed, man made and contain little nutrients. Start showing up to lunch hour with a variety of fresh veggies, however, and you will elicit curios stares. People may even ask “What IS that stuff”??”

It’s unnerving to be singled  out for just trying to eat healthy and eating whole, nutritious, real food. And it’s weird that people think it’s weird. The more you eat processed, sugared-up junk the more your body gets used to it and makes you turn your nose up at less common fruits and veggies. But I realized as you start eating more and more whole natural foods your body learns to appreciate the natural flavors this food has to offer. Here are five you should add to your diet or at least give a try:


1. Rutabaga:


Shredded rutabaga

I already blogged about my coconut rutabaga pancakes, but this potato-like veggie can be used for so much more! It has a subtle, crispy, carrot-like taste. As a root vegetable, you could use this for anything you would use a potato for: mashed or pureed, shredded as hash browns, or roasted with some herbs in the oven. It’s high in calcium, magnesium, potassium, and only has 50 calories per cup!!!

2. Plantains

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I have recently fallen in love with this starchy fruit! It can be best described as a cross between a banana and potato. When green, plantains can be used as more of a potato substitute- boiled and mashed, roasted in the oven, or used as the ‘pasta’ element in a lasagna. Riper, brown or yellow plantains work well used more like a banana- caramelized in sugar and drizzled with chocolate.

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I fried mine in coconut oil and dark chocolate balsamic vinegar for breakfast!

3. Kale


I’ve seen more and more kale popping up on blogs…so I know it’s becoming popular. It’s a leafy, bitter green that tastes amazing sautéed with garlic and onion. It’s very low in calories and also very high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, and iron. It goes great with runny eggs as a breakfast or as a side for dinner! It can also be eaten raw, or made into a pesto. Try to buy organic whenever possible.

4. Parsnips

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A cousin to the carrot, parsnips are another way to spice up your nightly veggies. Another root vegetable, they can be roasted in the oven with carrots, or pureed and used as a potato substitute. They’re high in fiber, potassium and magnesium.

5. Squash

display of squash


There are so many varieties of squash…’ll never get bored! Use spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute, butternut squash in place of potatoes or pasta, and zucchini, acorn or summer squash as a side dish to dinner. The possibilities are endless!

Butternut squash is my favorite because it’s so versatile. Favorites I’ve made are butternut squash fries, cinnamon and nutmeg crockpot mashed butternut squash, and butternut squash lasagna!


So put down the Twinkies and pick up one of these options next time you’re at the grocery store. The worst that can happen is you won’t like it! But I bet you’ll find at least one that makes a regular appearance on your plate.

Nutritional Info:

What weird healthy foods do you eat that prompt awkward stares from people around the lunch table?

‘Paleo’ Shamrock Shake

16 Mar

I’m all about festive holiday treats..

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St Patty’s Day Pancakes!!!

Tis the season for McDonald’s most coveted creation:

I don’t really have to go into detail about how much sugar/how many calories are in that thing. I think you know. If you want one though; you should have one- not judging.

I decided to try to make my own healthified and paleo version. I’ve made healthy mint shakes with milk and protein powder, but with paleo, those things are out. Since I’ve been focusing on eating whole foods, I kind of miss protein shakes. However, protein powder is expensive and it’s kind of nice not having to shell out the money for it.

Here’s a healthy shamrock shake with no sugar, dairy or grains added!


Serves 1:

1/2 cup coconut milk

1/4 of an avocado

1/2 of a banana

handful of fresh baby spinach (can’t taste…for color!)

1/2 cup of water

5-6 ice cubes

3-4 drops of mint extract

smoothie ingredients


You CAN add sweetener, however I don’t need it!

paleo shamrock shake

Hit the spot. Now I don’t need to run out and get the sugar overload version. I think I am done celebrating St. Patrick’s Day however, even though it hasn’t even gotten here yet. I went to a parade last weekend and spent some time with some very special people, AKA my family. It was amazing to get to see them all and spend some time together.


What is your favorite St. Patrick’s Day Treat?

Spicy Roasted Carrot ‘Fries’

13 Mar

I’m always looking for more nutritious substitutions for unhealthy foods.  There are so many veggies out there that offer so much more than the traditional white potatoes. Squash, turnips and rutabagas have been making an appearance in my diet lately.

One unlikely suspect to make ‘mock fries’ is…..the carrot!

Potatoes, rutabagas, turnips, carrots…they’re all from the same ‘root vegetable’ category. So I started thinking that if I attempted to make fries out of them like sweet potato or regular fries it may be tasty….and it was!

Carrot Fries2


Spicy Roasted Carrot Fries

Serves 1-2

5-6 medium carrots

olive oil

Spices- paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, salt & pepper, chili powder

Preheat oven to 425

1. Peel the carrots and slice them lengthwise.

2. Cut them again into thin strips about 1/2 thick.

3. Spray a cooking sheet with non-stick spray or olive oil. Add your carrots and make sure they are spaced out and not over lapping.

4. Drizzle your olive oil over the ‘fries’. Add your spices. I didn’t really measure here, just a couple of dashes of each of the spices (except cayenne, go easy on that!)

5. Mix them up so they are all coated with oil and spices.

6. Bake for about 15-20 minutes. Take out the carrots and flip them.

carrot fries

Carrots halfway through

Bake for another 15 minutes or until they are browned. Keep an eye on oven is older so timing may vary.

7. Serve with sunbutter, preferably….. heaven!


The sweetness of carrots and the spices makes a delicious combo with sunbutter or any other nutbutter. Yum! Making these again. So much better than regular fries!

What are your favorite substitutes for fries?

Tips for a Wedding Registry

12 Mar

This past busy weekend I got a chance to do some more wedding planning. So far I’m sticking to my previous statement about wedding planning being fun and not as stressful as everyone else says. 4 1/2 more months….will I keep this attitude the whole way through???

Austin and I finally completed our wedding registry this weekend. Last weekend we ended up going to Kohl’s to start a registry, and I knew I wanted to register at at least one more place. We chose:



At Kohl’s, I registered for a lot of kitchen stuff (obv). You never know how much you need until you really get a chance to see all the stuff you don’t have Winking smile.  When we arrived at our local Kohl’s, however, I wasn’t very pleased with the service we received. Most of the employees had absolutely no idea what I was talking about when I told them I wanted to register. It took a good 3-4 of them in collaboration to figure out what to do. I understand the appeal of doing this stuff online, but I just need to SEE and FEEL the items before I know if I want them. I’m not a fan of online shopping. I guess they are just used to people doing it all online. I’m not saying that every Kohl’s would be like this…but this was the case with out local store.

Check out this registry checklist from Kohl’s….so much stuff! Some of my favorite items we registered for at Kohl’s:

Calphalon stainless steel pan set…


Other things: a dutch oven, stemless wine glasses and a digital food thermometer.


On to Target. Since I registered for a lot of kitchen stuff already, at Target I wanted to make sure we got bath and bedroom items. However, I was drawn to this beauty….


I scanned the pink one at first, then realized I should probably be more practical and go with grey/silver… never know what color my future kitchen will be.



Fun with the scanner-gun!

Another plus- there was a Starbucks in this Target!!! Could it get any better?? I was pleased…


We also added some bar accessories, all the bathroom décor and some cleaning supplies from Target. So all in all, after both experiences, I was a lot more pleased with our experience at Target. The employees knew what to do and there were several kiosks available in order to get started. There was also much more of a selection of items. After registering at both places I’ve complied a list of tips for registering:

  • Come prepared with a list- nothing’s worse than wandering around the store and saying ‘do we need this?’. Makes for an unhappy fiancé…
  • Be careful of seasonal and sale items- one thing about Target was that they had seasonal displays- these items might not be there when my guests go to by gifts.
  • When in doubt, buy white (or grey)!- I have absolutely no idea what color my future kitchen/living room/bathroom will be…so I had to play it safe with neutral colors. This way when I do get my dream house I can accessorize.
  • Think outside the box- Kitchen appliances and bath towels are standard. But don’t forget about non-traditional items you may want as a couple. We put on a tent (we’re fans of camping), and we’re also thinking about adding a patio set.

I am also continuing to add things online after the fact. I wasn’t very good about bringing a list (see above tips…), and realized that I forgot a few items. I also want to add that Sunday, while registering, I successfully went into Target and left without purchasing anything (besides my coffee). I deserve an award.


Where did you register for you wedding? What was your experience?

Do you like online shopping or do you like to see and feel the item?

Stargirl and Lit Circle Projects

4 Mar

I recently blogged about the literature circles I was doing in my classroom. Students were grouped in ability level and read three different books: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli, The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake and Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. We recently ended the unit and I wanted to share some of the amazing book projects they put together.

I gave students a choice for projects including making a fake Facebook, doing journal entries as one of the characters, a book cover, a collage, scrapbook, power point or Prezi presentation…and many more. There was even a choice to do an essay and one student picked that!

Here are some of the good ones:

A student’s Prezi– Prezi is a great tool for presentations if you haven’t already seen it.  It’s more interactive than power point and allows you to zoom in, show relationships between ideas, and embed pictures and video. Take a look at the Prezi my student did on symbolism in Fahrenheit 451.




A student’s  book cover Stargirl.


Awesome collage!!


The inside


Stargirl scrapbook


Awesome job!!



Facebook project


More scrapbooks

End of book projects for the book Stargirl

Students did a great job! I love projects like these to assess their understanding of a book rather than giving a pencil and paper test.

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