Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What I Baked on Sunday

Gooey Pumpkin Bars 
Gooey Pumpkin Bars are one of my favorite things about fall. One of my college roommates introduced me to the recipe sophomore year and I've been making them ever since. This year, I turned it up a notch by swapping out the yellow cake mix for a spice cake mix. Add this recipe to your fall baking repertoire asap.

Ingredients 
         (Recipe from Cookies and Cups)
Base
1 box Spice Cake Mix
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg

Filling
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 (15 oz) can pumpkin
1 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Directions

  • Preheat over to 350 degrees.
  • Spray a 9x13 pan with cooking spray.
  • In a bowl, combine the dry cake mix, melted butter, and egg. The mixture will be stiff. Press into prepared pan and set aside. 
  • In a bowl of a stand mixer, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Mix in vanilla, eggs, cinnamon and butter. 
  • Sift powdered sugar into the bowl and mix,
  • Pour mixture into the prepared base. Bake for 45 minutes or until the edges are set and the middle is still slightly gooey.
  • Sprinkle with more powdered sugar if desired. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Whole 30 - Week 4

I did not go grocery shopping for the last week since I was going to be at a conference for the majority of the time. I had to get creative with my food choices and did the best I could while traveling. Whole 30 is certainly doable while you are on the road but it gets hard when you are working with preset meals.

Breakfast
Our hotel did not offer a continental breakfast but we did have a kitchen in our room so I made sure to pack hard boiled eggs and plenty of bananas. On Sunday, I was happy to be back home and made another batch of paleo pancakes with lots of cinnamon while I watched USEF finals on my iPad.
Lunch and Dinner
Lunch and dinner the last week were a hodgepodge. I had a salad from Chick-fil-a for lunch on the way to the conference and a zalad from Zaxby's for dinner on the way home. I rarely eat at Zaxby's and was impressed by their grilled chicken. The nice thing about being in Myrtle Beach was the access to fresh seafood. We had a lunch on our own one day and I had a piece of blackened mahi with steamed veggies on the side.
Overall Thoughts
Even though I did not follow the Whole 30 guidelines to a T, I enjoyed experimenting with paleo. I did not set out to lose weight but I am down 4 pounds and a few inches. My energy levels are up and I am sleeping better at night. I really did not miss carbs or alcohol for that matter. I did struggle with sweets and will continue to work on my cravings. Going forward, I plan to implement the 80/20 rule (Paleo 80% of the time and 20% for when life happens). I would highly recommend the program to anyone looking to jump start clean eating.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Whole 30 - Week 3

This was by far the hardest week of the Whole 30. My sweets cravings were out of control and I ended up giving into them more often than not (damn you Reese's ice cream). I went back to the website to read the breakdown of each day and they said this week is when people are most likely to fall off the band wagon and give in to random cravings. Even though I may have failed this week by Whole30 standards, I am committed to finishing this challenge on a high note.

Breakfast
Breakfast was more of the same this week - hard boiled eggs and bananas. On Sunday, I made these sweet potato pancakes topped with cinnamon and served with a banana and almond butter. To make the pancakes, combine half of a cooked sweet potato, skin removed, with an egg. Cook in a skillet coated with coconut oil. They were more on the savory than sweet side and were a nice change from the egg and banana pancakes that I usually make. 
Lunch
I decided to make a big pot of soup this week since the temperatures are finally starting to drop. I made this "Creamy" Cauliflower Soup minus the cheddar. The recipe was fairly easy to follow and I had fun using my roommate's immersion blender. I ate this pretty much everyday with a side salad. 
Source
Dinner
The nice thing about the Whole30 is that it has encouraged me to mix things up and try new recipes. I made this Beef Stir Fry with Broccoli and served it over cauliflower rice. This dish was out of this world and fairly easy to make. I will definitely keep it in the rotation going forward. 
Also on the dinner menu this week was a hamburger patty with sweet potato fries, and a superfood salad. I have been loving sweet potato fries dipped in dijon mustard. 

It is hard to believe we are entering the final week. Here's to finishing strong!

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Whole 30 - Week 2

Week 2 of the Whole 30 went well. The first week, I really missed cheese. This week, I was craving all things chocolate but resisted until the weekend when I treated myself to some ice cream. My grocery bill was a little higher than normal this week but I stocked up on almond butter and chicken and also bought salmon. 
Breakfast
I added Canadian bacon to my breakfast menu this week. Most days, I had a hard boiled egg with a banana and a slice of Canadian bacon. Saturday, I added half of a sweet potato with almond butter and cinnamon to the mix. I liked the combo and it keep me full until the early afternoon.
Lunch
I continued to eat big salads for lunch. I added in roasted sweet potatoes for more variety a few days. I also baked salmon for dinner one night and had the other piece over a salad for lunch on Saturday.
Dinner
On Monday night, I had steak, roasted sweet potatoes, and a big kale salad. I used this recipe to make a sweet and spicy balsamic vinaigrette.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, I made this herb chicken saute served with roasted green beans and spaghetti squash.
Thursday, I had salmon over a kale salad with roasted broccoli and cauliflower. Normally I like roasted cauliflower better than broccoli but the broccoli stole the show with lemon juice and red pepper flakes.
On Friday, I went out to sushi with some friends. Thank goodness for rolls without rice!

Two weeks down, two more to go!

Friday, September 26, 2014

The Friday Five

1. Reading:
From Amazon: Twelve years ago Matthew "the Rocket" Rising had it all. Married to his high school sweetheart and one of the winningest quarterbacks in the history of college football, he was the number one NFL draft pick. But on the night of the draft, he plummeted from the pinnacle of esteem. Falsely accused of a heinous crime with irrefutable evidence, it seemed in an instant all was lost--his reputation, his career, his freedom, and most devastatingly, the love of his life.

Having served his sentence and never played a down of professional football, Matthew leaves prison with one goal--to find his wife, Audrey, whom no one has seen since the trial. He returns to an unwelcoming reception from his Gardi, Georgia, hometown to learn that Audrey has taken shelter from the media with the nuns at a Catholic school. There she has discovered a young man with the talent to achieve the football career Matthew should have had. All he needs is the right coach. Although helping the boy means Matthew violates the conditions of his release and--if discovered--reincarceration for life, he'll take the chance with hope of winning back Audrey's love.

2. Watching:
My two favorite women have finally returned to television. I missed both the premieres this week but can't wait to catch up. 

3. Listening to:
Luke Bryan - "Roller Coaster"

4. Recipe I'm bookmarking:
source
This recipe for Baked Salmon with Creamy Lemon Dill Zucchini Noodles. So light and healthy. 

5. Things making me laugh:



Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whole 30 - Week 1

Like I mentioned yesterday, May Lo and I are doing the Whole 30. You basically give up all things bad for you (diary, alcohol, grains, sugar, anything processed, etc.) and focus on making good food choices for 30 days. You eat meat, seafood, eggs, a ton of veggies, some fruit, and nuts/seeds. The premise is pretty straight forward but you do have to plan ahead. Here are my eats from the first week.
Breakfast
Pretty much the same everyday. Two hard boiled eggs with fruit (either a banana or blueberries). I am still trying to figure out what to eat when I'm not in the mood for eggs since yogurt is out. Saturday, I made paleo pancakes  by blending two eggs with a banana. I thought I would miss the syrup but the blueberries were plenty sweet.
Lunch
Lunch most days was a big salad with lots of veggies and chicken. Twice last week, I made an Asian Chicken Salad topped with sriracha. I know the wontons in the package aren't paleo but I wanted the crunch. 
Dinner
One night I made a grilled pork chop with sauteed brussel sprouts and roasted butternut squash. Another night, I made spaghetti squash spaghetti with a big kale salad.
Eating Out
When I saw this blurb in the Skimm I laughed out loud but I was actually nervous about eating out while on the Whole 30. Fortunately, it is not hard to stick to the guidelines. For dinner one night, a group went to El Mexicano and I ordered a guacamole salad with two beef tacos (minus the cheese and tortillas). Sunday at brunch at Willy Taco, I ordered the Breakfast Skillet with two eggs, chorizo, potatoes, pico de gallo, and guac. 

My energy levels are up and I feel better all around. One week down, three more to go!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Lately

This post is long overdue, so I will try not to overwhelm you and only hit the high notes.
We had a cousins beach weekend back in August. It was the first time we planned a getaway without any of the aunts or uncles. It's crazy to think that we have reached the age where we can do that - but with three babies under two and three dogs I guess it is safe to say that we are now officially grown up.
I accepted the position of Director of Student Activities in Student Affairs. On September 8th, I officially moved across campus. I am loving my new role and working with the students to plan events. My office is a work in progress but I will make sure to do a reveal post once everything is set up.
Some big names on campus, including our president and athletic director, participated in the ice bucket challenge. These photos were too good not to share.
I spent Labor Day weekend with these two crazy people at one of my favorite places, Litchfield Beach.
I celebrated the marriage of these two with this guy and can now cross going on a blind date off my bucket list.
I asked Ashley to create this for my new office and it turned out better than I could have imagined. This is one of my all time favorite verses. Firm and secure.
We celebrated Mom's birthday as a family, minus one. 
May Lo and I started the Whole30.
And these are just a few things that have been happening lately!