Thanksgiving Weekend Recap

Good morning and happy Monday!  Is it just me or is it always harder to go back to work after a long, amazing weekend?  These past four days have been some of the best of the year and I have been one busy girl, hence the missing post on Friday!  Since Wednesday morning I have not stopped moving during a weekend that looked like this:

Wednesday: Worked all day, went to the grocery, baked two pies (a Pecan Chocolate Chip Pie and a Pecan Pumpkin Pie), drove to my hometown, met up with my friends, hung out with my family, went to bed at 1:30

Thursday: Woke up at 6, drove to the Turkey Trot, ran 5 miles (finished in 47:37 with a 9:32 pace), drove home to get ready, roasted butternut squash and Brussels sprouts, packed, drove to my parents’ house, helped my mom finish cooking, eat lunch, look at ads for Black Friday, spend time with family, went to Tim’s family Thanksgiving, ate dinner, arrived back at my parents’, played board games with my mom (haven’t done this in forever!), and watched the Blind Side until I fell asleep

Friday: Woke up at 7, headed out for Black Friday shopping and went to: Target, JoAnne Fabrics, Bed, Bath and Beyond, and then the outlets, ate a quick lunch, shopped until we dropped, headed home, grabbed a latte (much needed), ate Thanksgiving leftovers, packed up my stuff, headed home, ran a few loads of laundry, and spent time with my boys

Saturday: Went on a 2.5 mile run with Tebow, made a pasta salad, headed back to my parents’ with my little family to watch the OSU v. Michigan game (Go Bucks!), ate some food, watched some football, drove back home, lounged with just Tebow while Tim was working and watched a movie (Ides of March, which I surprisingly really liked, although it’s hard for a movie to not be appealing when both George Clooney and Ryan Gosling are the stars), fell asleep at 9

Sunday: Woke up at 7:30 (10.5 hours of sleep!  I obviously needed some rest!), drank coffee and read a devotional, made breakfast, laundry, meal planned for the next two weeks and built my grocery list, went to the grocery, washed all of my fall linens and put away fall decor, put up Christmas decorations (almost done, just need a tree!) while watching Christmas movies and listening to Michael Buble Holiday on Pandora, made dinner (Skinny White Chicken Lasagna) and baked a Low Carb Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bread for a snack during the week, then blogged, and went to bed happy and content after such an awesome and fun-filled weekend!

Wow!  I feel tired just reading it all!  However, this weekend was what I needed for my emotional health.  There is nothing like stepping back from the office and spending time with family and friends, and just being grateful and thankful for all I have.  Weekends like this past one are hard to come by, but that is what makes them all the more special.  I am off to get ready to start a new work week, but before I go, here are pictures of some of the delicious eats I was blessed enough to have enjoyed this weekend:

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Questions for You:

  • How was your Thanksgiving?
  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Did you go Black Friday shopping?  If so, did you find any shopping deals?
  • If you ran a Thanksgiving Day race, how did it go?
  • What was the best thing you ate?

Thankful at Thanksgiving

As important a holiday as Thanksgiving is, it’s quite true that the meaning of the day can be overlooked and overshadowed at times. We are blessed with only a few holidays every year, so why do we seem to rush through each one on our way to the next? Or, why do we stand in the kitchen, tapping our toes and anxiously counting down the minutes until dinner is finished and served?  Then, with enough food on our plate to feed a small army, why do we gulp down our meal as fast and hungrily as possible, not even stopping to fully enjoy a single tasty bite?

(Source)

This year, I dare you to literally stop and smell the roses, or perhaps more realistically, the fall candles burning and wafting scents like cinnamon, nutmeg, and pumpkin spice down the halls throughout the house.

If you are getting up early to run a ‘Turkey Trot’ like me, or a similar Thanksgiving Day race, try to enjoy and appreciate every mile. Look around at the faces up early and ready to start the day on a healthy note. Soak in the image of bystanders watching and cheering for the racers. Don’t rush to get to the finish line simply to get the race over and done with, but instead be grateful to be part of an event that only takes place once per year.

Instead of waiting restlessly on the couch for food to be finished, why not volunteer your services and help the hostess with meal preparations? Not only will the food get finished faster, but you may also learn a thing or two in the kitchen from the people you love. New recipes, baking tips, and sentimental stories may all be shared when cooking together.

Then when dinner is served and everyone is ready to feast, take a good look around the room. Do your best to eat slowly while consciously reminding yourself of your blessings. Having a family, a plate full of food, a warm home, and another year to celebrate Thanksgiving are gifts in themselves. Focus on how delicious the food is, but don’t let it take away from what really matters. I can guarantee that if you look to your left and your right, you’ll find those sitting next to you are more important and bring more joy to your life than the turkey and mashed potatoes on your plate.

This Thanksgiving, I urge you to simply stay present in the moments and focus on the memories you make with those you love. We are never guaranteed another holiday, or even another day, so my hope for you is that tomorrow will be the best Thanksgiving yet. Enjoy. Soak it up. Laugh. Live fully in the moment. Be thankful.

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Have a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving!

Questions for You:

  • What are your plans for Thanksgiving this year?
  • Are you running in a ‘Turkey Trot’, or a similar Thanksgiving day race?
  • What are you thankful for?

Pecan Pie…Cookies?

Today may be Monday, but it is actually Wednesday when it comes to my work week.  Since I am off Thursday and Friday for Thanksgiving festivities, it is very encouraging to start the week knowing the work part will go quick!  This weekend was filled with fun things like a manicure and pedicure, martini night at a wine bar, and seeing Breaking Dawn Part 2 (loved it!) on Saturday, and then on Sunday I went to breakfast with Tim,  we ran a few errands, and then I did a little pre-holiday baking in the afternoon.  There is nothing like baking cookies and watching Hallmark Christmas movies while sipping a festive Starbucks treat.  I hope all of you were able to get your BOGO free holiday drink at Starbucks over the weekend!  I opted for the Caramel Brule Latte, which was a little too rich to be a usual order, but I drank about half of my venti and saved the rest in the refrigerator to enjoy as a special treat during the week.

Speaking of treats, I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite holiday desserts is Pecan Pie.  Unfortunately, I also know that sometimes whipping up a pie can take a little more time than we may have the day before Thanksgiving.  Cookies on the other hand can be thrown together quickly when in a pinch.  Also, while you’re being superwoman (or man) and making a home baked treat, you might as well put your powers to even more good use and make your cookies a little healthier…Healthy Thanksgiving cookies…?  How about a new holiday tradition!  These cookies have no butter, no oil, are light on sugar, and are made with whole wheat flour, so although the butter rich goodies may still be the first to go, you can feel good about offering a healthy option to your family’s dessert buffet.

Whole-Wheat Chocolate Chip Pecan Pie Cookies

(Makes 18 cookies)

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Ingredients

1/2 cup pecan halves, lightly crushed

1/4 cup chocolate chips

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup oats

1 egg

2 egg white OR 1/4 cup egg whites OR 1/4 cup egg beaters

2 tablespoons brown sugar

1/4 cup agave

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon butter flavor

1/2 cup applesauce (optional: for moist cookies)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Powdered Sugar Icing Ingredients

1/4 cup milk

1 – 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients together.  (Batter may be thick).

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On a non-stick baking pan, drop dough by rounded tablespoon.  Place in oven and bake for 12 minutes.

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DSCN2640If you have time to get a little fancy, why not add a powdered sugar glaze on top.  Simply combine 1/4 cup skim milk and 1 cup powdered sugar (an additional 1/4-1/2 cup powdered sugar may be needed to get to desired consistency).  Dip cooled cookies into glaze and set aside to dry.

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These cookies are perfect to take to a family dinner, or just to have around the house this holiday season as a healthy dessert, or snack, option.

Questions for You:

  • What is your favorite pie or dessert to have at Thanksgiving?
  • Are you a Pecan Pie fan?
  • What did you do this weekend?
  • Who else saw Breaking Dawn over the weekend?  What did you think?

Fashion Forward Pup

Is it just me, or is anyone else flabbergasted that next week is Thanksgiving?  I know the holiday falls a littler earlier in the month than in past years, but it really is mind blowing that Thanksgiving is here, soon it will be Christmas, and right around the corner from then is New Years 2013!  Where did 2012 go…?

With the year flying by, I find myself focusing on soaking up the next two months to the best of my ability.  Although my weekdays are pretty scheduled, weekends are a completely different story.  This Saturday I am looking forward to carrying over the girl time from last weekend, and spending time with a couple of other friends I missed seeing at my birthday.  Saturday morning the plan is to meet my friend Gretchen at Panera for a coffee, and then head over to the movie’s to see Twilight!  We figured a matinee would be less crowded during opening weekend and that’s why we plan on going so early.  I went with Gretchen to see Breaking Dawn Part 1, so it is only fitting that we see Part 2 together as well.  Her birthday was November 8th and we always have a little celebration together every year.  In our minds, Coffee + Twilight = Party!

To continue with the birthday celebrations, later in the day I am getting a manicure and pedicure with another November birthday girl, my friend Meghan.  I am blessed to have such great girlfriends who year after year I can depend on to celebrate getting older right along with me!  I’ll tell you, nothing beats good friends!

I am also hoping (as usual) to get some work done around the house, including helping to finish ‘winterizing’ the landscape outside, and also going to Home Depot to gather ideas and possibly buy some supplies for a few home improvement projects.  We will see!  Also on the agenda?  A 5 mile run (it’s almost the Turkey Trot!) and some good cooking in the kitchen, can’t wait!

Speaking of cooking, today I want to share with all of you some of the meals I have been making and enjoying this past week. (With the time change that took place a couple weeks ago, I am finding it much harder to take quality pictures.  By the time I start making dinner the sun is starting to set, and by the time I finish, it is pitch black outside.  Great for sleeping, not so good for snapshots.  Hang in there as I try and get better with my photography!)

A huge pot of Vegetable Stew, filled with potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, leeks, celery, etc.

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This slow cooker meal of New Orleans Red Beans and Rice was absolutely amazing.  The only thing I like more than an easy slow cooker meal, is a slow cooker meal that knocks your socks off when you finally get to take a bite.  This meal was flavorful and easy to put together, especially since I didn’t have to brown any meat in a pan before throwing ingredients into the pot.

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The only changes I made to the recipe to make the dish lighter were:

  • Turkey Sausage instead of Andouille Sausage
  • Brown Rice instead of White Rice
  • Cajun Seasoning instead of Creole Seasoning (This is because cajun was all I had…The replacement worked perfect though and seemed to add a ton of flavor!)

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Homemade Sloppy Joe’s were also on the menu this week.  This recipe was another that was easy to put together, and you may even have the ingredients on hand already.  They tasted like the ‘Manwich’ sloppy joe I would have sometimes as a kid, but the sauce was a less thick and syrup-like consistency, and also not as sweet and sugary, which I really liked.  I served mine on a plate, and Tim’s on a thick, whole wheat bun, topped with provolone, alongside a roasted butternut squash.

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To finish out today’s post, I want to leave you all with a little cuteness.  My childhood dog, Lucky, who passed away in the spring, always wore a red sweater after her surgery last fall.  We decided to keep the sweater tradition alive and let Tebow wear it to stay warm this winter when playing outside.  With the cool temperatures, we decided to test it out and boy, oh boy…I may be be biased, but I sure do think our little guy looked adorable!  He is a fashion diva, and a natural at modeling.. don’t you think? :)

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Have a great Friday!

Questions for You:

  • Are you a Twilight fan?  If so, are you going to see the movie this weekend?
  • What recipes have you made this week that you loved?
  • What are your plans this weekend?
  • Who else thinks 2012 has flown by?!

WIAW: Pumpkin Pancake Breakfast

Yesterday while checking out twitter and browsing some of my favorite blogs, I came across a post that literally stopped me in my tracks.  After feeling a little down on Tuesday after such a weekend high, I visited Tina’s website for some uplifting inspiration.  Tina’s blog on Best Body Fitness always offers her readers insight into how to handle struggles, and ways to look at life in a positive way.  Well, yesterday’s post was emotional, honest, and had me in tears by the end of her story.  I was reminded once again how short life is, and that getting caught up in the little things can distract us from the big picture and what really matters. 

While making dinner last night, homemade sloppy joe’s, I accidentally knocked off my kitchen counter a glass bottle of extra virgin olive oil.  Needless to say, the expensive bottle shattered, and glass and olive oil went everywhere.  I could have, at that point, let my emotions get the best of me.  No one likes to clean up a mess at the end of a long day, much less greasy olive oil soaking into granite tile.  However, after reading Tina’s post earlier, I tried reminding myself to take a deep breath, take a step back, and approach the situation in a rational manner.  There are times when I certainly ‘cry over spilled milk,’ or spilled olive oil in this case.  As much as I want to always stay calm and cool, I know life doesn’t always happen in that way.  What’s important though is that we continue to work on being better versions of ourselves everyday, while staying appreciative and present in each moment.

Today’s WIAW documents my meals from Sunday.  Thanks Jenn for hosting! 

 

Peas and Crayons

 

Since Tim had to work Saturday morning, I mentioned in Monday’s post that we went to my ‘birthday breakfast’ on Sunday.  We left our house around 9 am, and after a 30 minute wait, we were seated and ready to eat.  I have been to The Original Pancake House a few times, but it has been at least a couple years since since the last time I went.  The food is fresh and the portions are huge, but luckily, we came with an appetite

Along with (multiple) hot cups of black coffee with a touch of cream, I had an order of egg whites scrambled with cheddar, thick-cut bacon, and broccoli.  (Sorry, no picture!  I thought I had taken one, but I must have forgotten).  However, the eggs were merely a side dish to my delicious Pumpkin Pancakes, which were topped with a light and fluffy whipped cream and served with a side of hot syrup.

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These were by no means light, healthy, or even close to the nutritional value of the pumpkin protein pancakes that I love to make at home.  But these ladies and gentlemen…these pancakes were good for the soul!  They made my taste buds tingle and I enjoyed every perfect bite of pancake topped with a tiny dollop of cream and dipped into the warm, sticky syrup.  I ate about 1/3 of my eggs and two of the pancakes.  I took the rest home to enjoy for a special morning treat to have this week.

After breakfast, we headed to the grocery and had to make sure we were back home in time for the Broncos game at 1 pm.  Since we had such a big breakfast, we decided to just have a protein shake for an afternoon snack.  Sticking with the birthday theme, I made us a Cake Batter Protein Shake, (can you tell I love Katie’s recipes?)!

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I split the recipe in half between Tim and I, and topped the shake with festive sprinkles.  So cute and delicious!

After the Broncos game, (yay for the win!), I worked on laundry while Tim did some more work outside.  Later in the day, I was watched some Christmas movies, more football, and took a tiny nap.  Tim made dinner for us, and since it was still nice out, he decided to grill out salmon and burgers.  Since I still haven’t been able to jump on the salmon bandwagon, a simple burger was the choice for me.

DSCN2593 I had a plain burger with mustard and ketchup on a whole wheat sandwich thin and a side of grilled broccoli.

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I swear, dinner tastes even better when someone else makes it for you!

For a sweet treat later, I had two mini Reese cups, still leftover from Halloween.

 

Questions:

  • What is a recent event in your life that reminded you to focus on your blessings?
  • Does anyone else seem to have ‘butter fingers’ in the kitchen?  Or, just me?  (I swear, I break a glass or spill something everyday!  Sunday I broke one of my good wine glasses, and then yesterday the olive oil!)
  • Is anyone else still working on your Halloween candy?
  • What is the best thing you ate this past week?

Birthday Weekend!

The thing about birthdays it that they seem to go just as fast as they come.  It feels like just yesterday I was celebrating my 23rd birthday, and now here I am at 24.  Trust me, I realize that I am not ‘old’ by any means, but I am going to admit this is the first birthday I haven’t felt excited about aging.  However, one thing is for sure and that is friends and family make any birthday special no matter what age we turn.  This weekend definitely reminded me of my blessings and how the people in our lives are what matters, not gifts or things, but time with those who bring out the best in us.

On Friday morning, I woke up early and hit the elliptical for 30 minutes to get my blood pumping before meeting my mom at our favorite bakery for a coffee and fresh baked donut.  Ele Cake Company is where I purchased my wedding cake, and is also where my family gets many of our cakes for special occasions like graduation parties, birthdays, and showers.  My mom and I spent a good hour at the bakery enjoying time with one another, and talked and caught up on each other’s lives.  To drink, I ordered a nonfat latte with two pumps Cookie Dough syrup, which was yummy even though it didn’t taste as much like cookie dough as I hoped!  We also ordered two donuts and split them right down the middle.  My mom chose the apple fritter and I picked the cake donut with buttercream frosting.  Basically it was cake for breakfast, but it’s easier to justify special treats on our birthday weekend, right?

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After breakfast, we headed over to the salon and spa to spend the majority of our day.  We started off our appointments separately, with my mom heading to get a pedicure while I got my hair done, and this time I didn’t just trim my hair… I cut it 10 inches!

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After thinking about it for a couple weeks, I finally decided to take the plunge and chop my hair off.  I initially thought I would cut it 4-6 inches, but when I realized going at least 10 inches would allow me to donate it to Locks of Love, I decided to just go all the way.  Plus, my salon was great and took the hair to mail for me so I didn’t even have to worry about sending it off myself.  I haven’t had hair this short since I was probably eight years old, but I figured no matter how I felt about it after the cut, I was at least able to donate it to a good cause.  The good news though is that I absolutely love it, which turned out to be a great bonus!

After the hair cut came lunch delivered to the salon, and then a massage and facial with my mom.  It was amazing!  I haven’t had either in at least a few years and I know I needed it bad.  I carry a lot of stress in my back and shoulders and sitting all day at work definitely doesn’t help my posture.  I felt like a new lady when it was all over and my masseuse was able to get a lot of the knots out of my body.  Such a stress reliever!

When the girl’s day was over, we still had family time that night.  My mom, dad, brother, Tim and I all met at the Cheesecake Factory, the same place I tend to choose for my birthday dinner almost every year.  The dinner, conversation and company was perfect. 

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Check out the finished haircut!

 

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That would be The Ultimate Red Velvet Cake Cheesecake –

Moist layers of Red Velvet Cake and our Original Cheesecake covered with our special Cheesecake Factory cream cheese frosting.

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So so good!  I love red velvet cake and when combined with cheesecake and cream cheese frosting?  Heaven!  We split that piece between the table along with a slice of the Pumpkin Cheesecake.  Once again, as good as dinner was, it was definitely being around my family that made the time special and feeling complete.

On my actual birthday, Saturday the 10th, it was a little less planned than Friday and I had a lot of time to myself.  Tim had to work until about three, so I filled my day by going on a 4-mile run with Tebow, (in 36 minutes, 15 seconds, getting faster)!  Since we had friends stopping over later, I decided to clean the house and get started working outside until Tim got home to finish up.  I was able to rake bag after bag of leaves that had fallen from our buckeye tree in the front yard.  Usually outdoor manual labor and I don’t get along too well, but the weather was so gorgeous I didn’t even mind it one bit.  Later in the evening, I planned to meet up with a bunch of my good friends at a wine bar called the Wine Loft to continue celebrating.  On Thursday evening after work, I had ran over to Banana Republic to pick out a new birthday outfit.  I had a hard time deciding what I wanted to wear, so I sent Tim a couple pictures of outfit options and he helped me narrow down the choices and pick out a favorite.  I saw a comfy plaid button-up with navy corduroys and a layered pearl necklace that seemed like the perfect choice.  I had a 50% off up to five full-priced items, fortunately or unfortunately I am always a sucker for email sales, so I scooped the three pieces up that had caught my eye.

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We headed out to the Wine Loft for 8 pm reservations and later moved on to Bar Louie.  Once again, the places were great, but the people who were in attendance absolutely made my night.  No one gets me or makes me laugh quite like my best friends and to say I ‘laughed until I cried’ would definitely not be a figurative statement.  Over the years, we have all ended up in different places, so anytime we are together it’s memorable and it reminds me how amazing my friends truly are.  Once again, I was feeling blessed!

On Sunday, Tim and I had no specific plans so we decided to soak in the day.  Since he had to work Saturday, we spent the morning together by going out to eat for breakfast at The Original Pancake House and then went to the grocery to pick up food and ingredients for the next two weeks of meals.  I had to remind myself that next Thursday is already Thanksgiving, so we tried to buy only what we think we’ll eat while taking into account Thanksgiving dinners and leftovers.  The rest of the day was spent catching up on laundry, grilling out for dinner, watching football, and I also watched a couple Christmas movies on the Lifetime Channel.  I can’t believe it is already November 12th!  I usually try and resist really getting into the Christmas spirit until after Thanksgiving, but I will admit I have been listening to some Christmas music on the radio and have watched a few movies.  If there were Thanksgiving songs and movies I would definitely be focusing on those, but unfortunately they are few and far between.

As you can see, birthday weekend was definitely a success!  I did a lot of fun things, and went to plenty of great places, but nothing was better than those who were right there by my side.

Thanks to all of you who entered the BlenderBottle giveaway!  The winner is:

 image Brittany from GOtheXtraMile!

GOtheXtraMile

November 9, 2012 at 1:32 pm [Edit]

I like them on facebook!

 

Congratulations!  Please email me at newlywifehealthylife@gmail.com and I will get your BlenderBottle to you!

 

Questions for you:

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • When is your birthday?  Do you have any traditions you like to do each year to celebrate?
  • What is your favorite kind of cheesecake?
  • Are you a sucker when it comes to emails about sales?  What is your favorite store?

BlenderBottle Giveaway!

I am so excited that today is not only Friday, but it is also the first day of my weekend.  I took today off from work to spend the day with family in celebration of my birthday tomorrow.  My mom and I are meeting for coffee this morning and then we have a spa day planned, filled with massages, facials, a pedicure for her, and a cut and color for me.  I am doing something out of the ordinary with my haircut, so you will have to check out the blog Monday to see my new look!  Then, later this evening we are going to dinner with the rest of my family and tomorrow I get to spend some time with my girlfriends who I haven’t seen in a while.  As you can tell, I have a fun weekend ahead and I can’t wait to get started!

Even though it is my birthday tomorrow, I want to give one of my readers a present of your own.  I don’t do too many giveaways on the blog, but when BlenderBottle contacted me, it was hard to say no.  You see, I already own three BlenderBottles, and I love to use them all the time!  From protein shakes, to salad dressings, to shaking up my immune-boosting nutrients with Amazing Grass, I use my BlenderBottle almost every day. 

classic

 

sportmixer

 

For example, I took one of my BlenderBottles to work yesterday for a protein-rich afternoon snack.

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In the mix was:

1 cup almond milk

1/2 cup water

1 scoop protein powder

1 tablespoon PB2

I mixed it all up in the morning, placed it in the refrigerator, and then shook it again when I was ready to drink.  I didn’t even have to think about eating healthy, because the hard part was already done for me!

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Even Tebow wanted to steal the shake.. He is quick!

That was just one quick recipe that I like to make, but you can literally make hundreds of delicious eats/drinks in your BlenderBottle.

food ideas

About BlenderBottle:

  • The BlenderBottle® Classic revolutionized the portable mixer category when it was first introduced and quickly became the best-selling portable mixer.

  • As the only portable mixer that contains the BlenderBall® – a surgical-grade stainless steel mixing ball – BlenderBottle ensures smooth, great tasting drinks by a unique mixing method for the thickest of ingredients.

  • BlenderBottle encourages healthy lifestyles by making it easier for people to mix smoother, better tasting healthy drinks and meal replacements.

sportmixer info

BlenderBottle was nice enough to send me a new bottle, and I was pumped because it was pink!  I have a red, green, and blue, but no pink so it was exactly the one I would have picked myself!

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Now it’s your chance to win a BlenderBottle of your own!

To enter the Giveaway:

  • Visit www.blenderbottle.com and let me know in the comments below which BlenderBottle you would pick if you won!
  • For an extra entry, follow BlenderBottle on Twitter @BlenderBottle, and tweet:  I entered the @BlenderBottle giveaway on @NWHealthyLife blog! You can too at: ttp://wp.me/24HNK then leave another comment below to let me know that you did!
  • Or, for another additional entry, follow BlenderBottle on Facebook, and then leave another comment below to let me know you did!

 

You have until Sunday at midnight to enter.  I will name the winner on Monday!  Good luck and I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

WIAW: Meal Ideas at my Fingertips

Today’s WIAW is going to be short and sweet!  I don’t talk about my job on the blog since I like to try and keep those two worlds separate, but from Monday through Friday I deal with group health insurance benefits.  At this time of the year, a lot of companies hold insurance open enrollment periods for employees so from about September to mid-December is the busiest season for me.  The last two weeks have been exhausting, but the good news is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel!  Until then, I will do the best I can to keep up with this blog while focusing on my job that actually pays the bills. :)

 

Peas and Crayons

 

Although I have been a busy bee, I have also been making some delicious recipes, straight from the minds of some very creative ladies.  Thank you Pinterest for guiding me to these hidden gems!

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Pumpkin Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bars

 

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Frozen Hot Chocolate

 

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Pumpkin Pie Milkshake

In thanks to cool temperatures this past week, I also made a few super easy and delicious bowls of oats including…

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Oats

1/2 cup oats

1 cup milk or almond milk

1-2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 tablespoon raspberry preserves, jam, or jelly

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Peanut Butter Banana Cocoa Oats

1/2 cup oats

1 cup milk or almond milk

1 tablespoon cocoa powder

1 teaspoon stevia or other sugar substitute

1-2 tablespoons peanut butter

1 banana

 

As much as I enjoy coming up with my own recipes, I am so thankful for blogs and websites like Pinterest.  It’s such a nice feeling to know I have meal ideas at my fingertips, especially during those busy days.  I have a three day weekend coming up (!) so I am hoping to have some time to get creative in the kitchen!  Cross your fingers!

Thoughts from You:

  • What are your favorite websites to pull meal ideas from?
  • What is your job?  Do you have a busy season?
  • What is your favorite oatmeal recipe?  Feel free to link up.

Winning Weekend

Here we are already at the first Monday in November…it’s hard to believe.  This week is an exciting one for me since I only have 4 days of work and then I will be celebrating my birthday weekend with family and friends!  I can’t wait! 

I hope everyone had a wonderful past few days though and I want to start today by saying sorry for not posting Friday.  I actually had a post written and ready to go for the morning, but last week was so crazy at work that I accidently forgot to upload it before I ran out the door.  Some days can be harder than others to work full-time and keep up with blogging, even though I only post a few times a week.  I have no idea how those who work full-time and blog up to three times per day keep up with everything, they are amazing!  However, I think my forgetting to post shows even more to my readers that I am only human and have to prioritize, even though I wish the blog could have my full attention.

This weekend was filled with some serious rest and relaxation Saturday, which was absolutely wonderful.  Those days to myself are few and far between and I am truly thankful when I get time to clear my mind and give my body a break.  I have always appreciated alone time and how rejuvenated it can leave me feeling, especially after such a busy yet fun-filled last few months.  I watched lifetime movies and cuddled with my pup, who kept me company while Tim was away at work.

Sunday came with the blessing of having an extra hour in the day thanks to daylight savings time and allowed for Tim, Tebow and I to go on a 3.5-mile run together in the morning before getting ready to finally attend Tim’s anniversary gift from me..

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Tickets to the Bengals vs. Broncos game in Cincinnati!

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We all had a blast (especially Tim!) and the Broncos won (yay)!  Seeing Peyton Manning play live is even more thrilling than watching him on television.  I swear, there were quite a few passes when I thought he was going to get intercepted, but then at the last minute the ball would swerve in the right direction, or a receive would come out of nowhere to catch the pass.  Truly incredible!  However, I was definitely ready for a warm car after the game and comfy sweats when I got home.  Although the temperature was close to 50 degrees, it only felt like that when the sun was shining.  Otherwise, the cool air and wind was pretty chilly on my toes and fingers, even while wearing a pair of gloves and boots.  After last week’s weather having temperatures in the 30’s though, I was definitely grateful for what we had and that there was no rain to be found on the radar.

 

Since I didn’t get to share my Friday post with you, I decided to incorporate that recipe into today’s.  I know it is pretty obvious from many of my recipes that ground turkey is a popular main ingredient that I like to use.  It’s not only healthy, but it is also extremely versatile and easily takes the place of chicken or beef in dishes.  Some of my favorite meals to use ground turkey are:

  • Spaghetti Sauce
  • Tacos
  • Chili
  • Burgers
  • Meatballs
  • Etc…

Another entree I love to use ground turkey in is meatloaf.  I have already shared my recipe for a basic Ground Turkey Meatloaf and a more creative Turkey Bacon Cheeseburger Meatloaf, but how about another tasty comfort food option?  This one was simple to make and it is an easy way to get a few more veggies into your picky eaters.  How about a serving of mashed potatoes, aka mashed cauliflower on the side?  This week night meal will bring you right back to grandma’s kitchen and offers the opportunity to make a classic with a twist.

Roasted Veggie Turkey Meatloaf with Parmesan Mashed Cauliflower

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Ingredients

Meatloaf

1 cup baby carrots, diced

1 cup zucchini, diced

4 cloves garlic

1/2 small onion, finely diced

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 pound ground turkey

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

1/3 cup oats

1 egg

4 oz can diced mushrooms

1/2 cup freshly parmesan cheese, grated and separated

Cauliflower

1 head fresh cauliflower, cut in quarters with half of stem removed

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1/4 cup freshly parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon parsley

 

Directions

Meatloaf

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Place carrots, zucchini, garlic and onion on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. 

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Place in oven for 10 minutes then set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together ground turkey, salt, garlic powder, black pepper, paprika, oats, egg, mushrooms, and 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.  Add in veggies and mix with hands. 

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Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray and add turkey mixture to pan.  Top with remaining quarter cup of parmesan cheese and place in oven.  Bake for 40 minutes, then broil on high 2-3 minutes.

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Cauliflower

In a large pot, bring enough water to cover the cauliflower to a boil.  When water begins to boil, add a sprinkle of salt to the water and place cauliflower in pot.  Cook 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower can easily mash.  Place cauliflower in large bowl and add Greek yogurt, parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, garlic powder and parsley.  Mash with either a potato masher, hand mixer, or fork for a more rustic texture.

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Serve a large dollop of mashed cauliflower with your turkey meatloaf for a healthy, easy, veggie-filled meal.

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Thoughts from You:

  • What did you do this weekend?
  • What is your favorite football team?
  • If you are a blogger, do you ever struggle to balance all of your responsibilities?  If you are a reader, do you read blogs everyday or pick a day or two a week to catch up?
  • Are you a ground turkey fan?  What is your favorite meal to substitute ground turkey in place of beef or chicken?
  • How do you get extra veggies into your family’s diet?