Spanish brown rice

Today’s going to be a super busy one, I can tell already! I have work, and thwn I’m leaving early to drive up to one of the grad schools I’m looking at to meet with the professor and get a tour of the lab.

Then I’ll head home (just in time for rush hour traffic, of course), and head straight to rehearsal at my church. Hopefully I’ll manage to get dinner inbetween. Then it’s home to write tomorrow’s post and head to bed. Phew! Told you it was a busy one!

Since today is going to be a bit crazy, I just wanted to pop in super quick to share a recipe with you.

Thirty Minute Thursday
Usually I only share entrees with you, because in all honesty, I typically dont put a lot of effort into my side dishes. Throw some green beans and roasted potatoes on my plate and I’m good.

But recently I had a real craving for spanish rice. You know, the red kind you get at any mexican restaurant that just adds a little extra something to your meal. Yea, that stuff. Except when I was looking through the boxes of spanish rice at the store, I was less than impressed with the ingredient lists and sodium content.

I figured it couldn’t be that hard to make! So I scoured pinterest and combined a bunch of different recipes to make a healthier version of this mexican classic.

 Spanish Brown Rice

Spanish Brown Rice
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Total Time
30 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1.5 cups brown rice
  2. 2 cups chicken stock
  3. 1 cup water
  4. 1/2 can of tomato sauce (about 8oz)
  5. 1/4 of an onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  6. 2 gloves garlic
  7. 1/8 tsp chili powder (add to taste)
  8. 1/8 tsp cumin (add to taste)
Instructions
  1. Add all ingredients into a pot.
  2. Bring to boil, then reduce and cover until rice is cooked through, approximately 25-30 minutes.
  3. Fluff with a fork.
  4. Serve and enjoy!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/
 

Spanish brown rice

What I loved about this recipe was that it was super easy. Just throw everything in a pot, cover and simmer. That’s my kind of side dish – no fuss!

Spanish brown rice

I paired mine with a burrito over the weekend and some tostadas on Tuesday, and it went well with both meals. It stores well in the fridge so you can make a big batch and eat it throughout the week!

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Maybe I’m becoming a side dish convert after all!

So tell me: Are you a side dish person? What are some of your easy, go-to side dishes?

WIAW: Snack Attack Edition

Happy Wednesday! Thankfully this week has been flying by for me, which I will definitely take after last week’s snail’s pace.

It’s probably thanks to the fact that as we get closer and closer to the holidays, I get more and more excited. Christmas season is handsdown my favorite time of the year, and I cant wait to start decorating. But I have a strict “no Christmas before Thanksgiving” rule, and I’m sticking to it!

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

Since it is Wednesday though, why don’t we hop right in to everyone’s favorite WIAW! Tuesday was all about snacks for me. I’ve found that due to my busy schedule and the timing of my workouts, I really havent been doing a great job lately of properly fueling. Considering the holidays (and all the crazy but not-so-great-for-you food) are coming up, I need to get this under control before the holiday parties start!

Thanks Jenn for the linkup!

 

Breakfast

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Well hello there oatmeal, my old friend. It’s been quite some time! I haven’t had oatmeal in AGES, but for whatever reason yesterday morning’s cold weather was just calling for it. I topped plain oats with frozen berries, cinnamon, flax seed, cranberry chutney (leftovers from a recipe coming at your soon) and a scoop of peanut butter.

Followed up by this guy on my way to work. After yesterday morning’s shenanigans, it was much needed. Starbucks for the save.

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Snack #1

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Tuesday seemed to be the day of the snacks. Starting off with this cheesestick around 10am.

Lunch

Totally forgot to actually grab a picture of my salad, but it was seriously the world’s most boring salad. Romaine hearts, carrots, cherry tomatoes and ranch dressing. Borrrrr-ing. And it also hardly kept me full at all. Note to self: protein is important. Clearly I need to do some grocery shopping,

Snack #2

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Chris picked up a Costco sized bag of pistachios the other day, and I forgot how much I loved these little guys! I ate this handful… times 3+. Lesson learned: make sure to portion out pistachios, otherwise it’s too easy to just sneak your hand in the bag!

Snack #3

I was fine when I left work, but thanks to some bad traffic and my wimpy lunch salad, my stomach was growling by the time I reached the gym. Since I knew working out when my tummy was already grumbly was not a good idea, I grabbed a pack of grapes, carrots and apples from Wawa. Not the best pre-workout fuel ever, but it got the job done. And it was better than a bag of potato chips.

Dinner

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We haven’t had Mexican food in awhile (and by that I mean we haven’t had it this week yet), so I decided to throw together some super quick bean tostadas. I hardened up some corn tortillas, and topped them with refried beans, greek yogurt, lettuce, tomato, and cheese. Paired with spanish brown rice (recipe coming at you tomorrow!) and green beans/corn. Side note: I doused this entire plate in salsa after I took the picture #keepingitreal

Workout

My workout definitely wasnt super exciting, but it got the job done. I’ve been slacking a little in the cardio department lately thanks to all of our travels and the cold weather, so
I wanted to focus solely on that.

I ended up doing 40 minutes of elliptical intervals (that had me huffing and puffing – turn the dial up on those things and you WILL feel it! ) and 5 minutes of rowing.

There you have my super snacky Tuesday. I really need to revisit some of the Advocare clean eating meals anf snacks that I used to make, because that seemed to sustain me for much longer than my current snacks. It’s amazing how easy it is to fall back in to bad habits!

Luckily if you pay attention and put in the effort, it’s pretty easy to create new, better habits too!

Happy Wednesday!

So tell me: What did you eat today? Are you a snacker or a 3 meals a day kind of person? Any favorite snacks?

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

Sorry if I seem mildly discombobulated this morning. We were startled awake this morning by a very (VERY) loud BOOM at an ungodly hour. Our first thought was thunder (nope, that didn’t seem right). Our second thought was meth lab explosion, once we heard the giant search helicopter start flying directly over our backyard, and the woods behind it, and shining lights in our windows. Followed by the sounds of about a million police officers, dogs, and SWAT looking dudes in full getup.

Well good morning to you too.

Still not quite sure what happened, but something definitely went down at our neighbors house that caused quite a commotion. Thankfully I think we’ve eliminated meth lab as a possibility as there was nothing on fire (thank goodness), but that’s about all we’ve got right now. But obviously sleep wasn’t happening after that, so I’m sure by 2pm I’m going to be a zombie. Hello, Tuesday.

ANYWAY, let’s move on to something more cheerful, like the holidays! Everyone loves the holidays!

I am actually hosting a small Thanksgiving dinner this year (first time ever!) for some of my immediate family, so of course I’m in full blown planning mode. Aka, I’ve been scouring Pinterest.
We all know that Thanksgiving meals arent known to be the healthiest, but that doesnt mean that they have to be the over-processed, sugar- and sodium-laden, calorie bombs that we all know and love. So I wanted to bring you a few delicious looking options that I have found that can add a new flair to your Thanksgiving table!

Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner Ideas

 

Clean Green Bean Casserole with Parmesan Crumb Topping

Via ifoodreal

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Green bean casserole has always been one of my favorite Thanksgiving foods. But I’m not really sure that cream of mushroom soup actually contains real cream or mushrooms. Luckily there are a ton of cleaner casserole recipes out there that replace the old Campbell’s favorite!

Or if you’re not into the whole casserole concept, you could always try out these Green beans with cranberries and almonds, which also looks delicious!

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta

Via Peas & Crayons

Honey Roasted Butternut Squash with Cranberries and Feta: a fabulous Fall side dish for any occasion!

First of all, how beautiful is this picture??? I would kill for 1/8 of her food photography skills!

More importantly though, this dish just screams fall. You got some sweet, some savory and some tangy. Plus it’s a great way to include cranberries without opening a can of questionable (albeit delicious) cranberry colored gelatin.

Pan-seared Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

Via Rachel Shultz

PAN-SEARED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH CRANBERRIES & PECANS from Rachel Schultz

I know, brussels sprouts tend to send people running. But how tasty do these look? And again, a great way to include both some greens and some cranberries on your table!

For any bacon lovers in your family, this Brussels Sprouts with Bacon, Parmesan and Dates might be another good option. Cover it in bacon and you can turn anyone into a brussels sprouts lover!

 

Mom’s Stuffing, Lightened Up

Via Skinnytaste

Whole wheat stuffing made with celery, onions, parsley and bacon.

Once again, stuffing is kind of a classic, but can also be full of questional ingredients when it comes pretty much premade in a box. I’m just sayin’. I love this version that includes all the classic flavors, just with some slightly healthier ingredient choices.

I hope you all have an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, whether you spend it with family, friends, or by yourself. It’s a great holiday to help us remember why we should be thankful. And goodness knows I’ve had some big things to be thankful for this year!

I cant wait to show you all my Thanksgiving spread, and hear all about yours!

So tell me: what is on your thanksgiving menu this year? What classics are your “must have” Thanksgiving dishes?

The Pictureless Weekend

Welcome back to Monday!

I swear, now that it’s so dark outside in the morning (and all evening, for that matter) and freezing cold outside, Mondays have gotten progressively more difficult. What I wouldn’t give to be able to stay snuggled up in my nice, warm bed for an extra hour or two…

This is clearly why I need to move somewhere warm. Me and cold weather just really don’t get along.

Anyway, since it IS Monday, that means it’s time to take a look back on my weekend. But guys, I did something really bad. A complete and total blogger fail.

I managed to go the entire weekend without taking a single picture. I know, I cant believe it either.

Truth is, my weekend was very unexciting, so there wasnt much worth taking pictures of.

Saturday we spent the morning getting things done around the house, before heading over to watch the Virginia Tech football game at Buffalo Wild Wings with some friends (where I proceeded to eat WAY too many buffalo wings and left rather uncomfortable).

The rest of the evening was spent running errands, backing up my computer (exciting life here people), and falling asleep while watching football.

Sunday was pretty much the same. I spent the morning getting things done around the house before going for a chilly 3 mile run, ran a bunch of errands, and had a skype meeting with one of my old professors. The day ended with church and dinner with my in laws.

Told you it wasnt all that exciting! The sad part is even with no plans, I still managed to not finish half the stuff on my list! Ahh, that’s just life I guess!

Since this post is sufficiently long and pictureless, I’ll spare you any more rambling and end here! I’ll be back tomorrow (complete with pictures) with a fun pre-Thanksgiving post!

So tell me: what did you do this weekend?

Candles, Robes and Blank Spaces {Five Favorites Friday}

Happy Friday!!

Even though this has been a short week, man have these last 3 days just dragged by! I thought the weekend was never going to get here!

Especially because I’m really looking forward to this weekend. I basically have zero plans, which after 3 weekends of traveling, sounds like the most amazing thing ever. I’m looking forward to being able to catch up on my DVR, clean my diaster zone of a house, and just be productive. (Side note: you know you’re an adult when you actually look forward to cleaning your house…)

Since Friday has put me in such a good mood, I wanted to share with you a few other things that I’ve been loving lately!

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Linking up with Clare for Five on Friday and Katie for Friday Favorites!

 

Favorite Recent Read: And the mountains echoed

This month my book club selected And the mountains echoed after several people had suggested it. I’ll be honest and day that I didn’t really know what to expect, but I’m about 60% of the way through and I love it!

It’s one of those books that is easy to read, yet is profoundly deep at the same time. The author does an amazing job of weaving stories together, sharing the intertwining lives of several Afghans living throughout the last 60 years, who have all managed to touch each others lives. It’s a great reminder that the slightest interaction might have the greatest of impacts.

I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a beautiful read!

Favorite Gift: New robe!

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Chris and I recently celebrated our 2nd anniversary, aka the cotton anniversary. I ended up getting Chris a Washington Capitals jersey (keeping up with the Caps theme from last year), and he got me this awesome monogrammed robe! I’ve been wanting one for ages, and he more than outdid himself – it is seriously the softest, most comfortable robe ever.

Also, in case you want a real inside look at the blog process, this is what half my pictures end up looking like. Laney wants to be involved.

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Favorite Thing about the Holidays: Multiple Thanksgiving dinners

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My office recently did their traditional Thanksgiving party (we have to do it super early before everyone starts taking vacation!), which is one of my favorite events. I love eating Thanksgiving dinner several times!

Plus I love just seeing different people’s take on Thanksgiving food. For example, this year we had seafood dressing, collard greens, candied yams, homemade mac and cheese, cheesy potatoes, green bean casserole (my contribution), ham and peppery turkey. Yummmmm!

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Favorite Current Song Choice: Blank Space by Taylor Swift

We have basically been listening to TSwift’s new album nonstop in my office for the last few weeks. Hands down, my favorite track is Blank Space. It’s just so darn catchy! The video also just came out, which I’m totally in love with too. So funny!

Favorite Recent Find: Old Factory Candles

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I recently was sent this candle gift set from Old Factory Candles to review, and I’m already in love. I mean, you know that I love me some candles, but this set is absolutely something I would purchase as a gift for someone else.

Each gift set comes with 3 small soy candles, which burn clean for 20 hours. They come in a million awesome scent sets (like Happy Holidays: Christmas Tree, Candy Cane and Gingerbread) too, that it is easy to find a perfect set for anyone.

But the thing I love the most is the fact that the candles are all white, and have a very subtle design that matches every decor. I always like to match my candles to my decorations, which means that sometimes brighy orange pumpkin candles just dont match. With these, I dont have to worry about it!

Anyway, I highly recommend you check them out. They’d make a great Christmas gift (or Christmas party host gift) for anyone on your list!

Well I hope you have a great weekend! I’m off to try and stay awake through this slow Friday!

So tell me: what are you loving this week? What good books have you read lately?

Top ways to get in some extra movement this fall

I know that some people are all over Christmas already (I’m looking at you, Target and Costco), but I’m still firmly in fall and holding on for dear life. No Christmas music for me until the day after Thanksgiving, thank you very much.

Let’s also just disregard the fact that there is a 30% chance of snow here in VA this afternoon. It’s fall. Really.

Anyway, in honor of the fact that its still fall, I thought I’d share several of my favorite ways to get in some extra movement as the weather gets cooler. I think so often we get stuck in a gym workout rut, and we forget that just getting some extra steps during the day can make a huge difference!

So here are some of my favorite fall ways to get in some extra movement.

Go for a Run

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Sounds so basic, I know. But the fact is, fall is pretty much the most perfect running weather all year. Cool, slightly breezy, and you rarely get overheated. Even if you’re not a runner, fall is a great time to start adding in some running intervals or picking up an easy running routine, because you’re less likely to feel like you’re going to die from heat exhaustion.

If you are already a runner, see if you can find some local fall races, even some small community ones. Fall is a great time to go for that PR or amp up your speedwork!

Go Exploring

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Fall is a great time to get out and explore your local community. Check out a landmark you’ve never been to before, find some community events (like pumpkin patches, fall festivals, or even beer and wine events), and spend some time walking around your town. Communities are known for hosting a lot of fall events thanks to the nice weather (and lower chance of rain), so take advantage! Not only will you get in a ton of extra steps, but you might learn something new!

 

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Go for a Hike

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If you can, try and get out to spend some time outside. Not only will ypu soak up some vitamin D, but you’ll also get your quads burning!

If you live in an area without a lot of hiking options, check out your local parks for walking paths or nature trails. Even those can pose a challenge to your muscles if you’re having to climb over logs and stumps!

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Go for a Walk

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Never underestimate the benefits of a good walk. I know that I for one sometimes look down on a walk as “not really exercise”. And while yes, it’s not going to have the same effects as, say, a 5 mile run or sprint intervals, that doesnt mean it’s not exercise!

I love walking in the fall because it’s something I can do right after work to soak up those last 30 minutes of sunshine. Plus, because it’s not blisteringly hot, I dont even have to change clothes. Chris and I love going for walks with Laney, and while she’s getting in her exercise, we can catch up on the day and spend some time (technology free!)

Even though fall seems to turn too quickly into winter, it is definitely still possible to get some extra movement in. You just have to take the time to do it!

So tell me: What’s your favorite way to get in extra movement in the fall?

Straight out of Gilmore Girls

Remember those days when I used to post every day and included a ton of stuff about fitness and healthy foods? Yea, me too.

Sorry guys, I’ve been really slacking in this department. Like REALLY slacking. Truth is, I’ve got a lot going on right now (I know, I feel like I’ve been saying this constantly lately), and everything else has just kind of taken a backseat. And when I say everything, I mean everything. You should see my DVR. It’s a sad, sad graveyard of shows I never have time to watch.

Anyway, I PROMISE that I’m going to get back to my usual food and fitness posts. soon. I just have to get through these grad school applications, and I’ll finally be able to come up for air. Just in time for the holidays, when healthy eating and fitness are much needed. So please bear with me through this… awkward time.

It’s like middle school. You just have to get through it, and it gets better.

Anyway, instead of sharing anything about healthy food and fitness (because my weekend was seriously lacking in both), I thought instead I’d talk about my fun long weekend. Yes, I know it’s Wednesday. But it’s my Monday, so we’re going to pretend. Just nod and smile.

For the long weekend, Chris and I headed up to visit my grandpa in his hometown of Wethersfield, Connecticut. A town that is seriously straight out of Gilmore girls. Town square, parades, local restaurants where everyone in town eats, the works. I feel like I’m going to run into Lorelai and Rory at any second.

We had a great time catching up and showing Chris around the town. It’s the same town where my grandfather and my mom grew up, and pretty much where I spent my summers, so I have lots of memories there.

After we gave Chris the driving tour of the town (founded in 1634, so nearly everything is 200+ years old), we stopped by the town cemetery. Which might sound like a weird place to walk around, but it actually is extremely fascinating. The cemetery is nearly as old as the town itself, meaning that the closer you get to the church, the older the gravestones get. We had a lot of fun (as weird as this sounds), walking around and checking out some of the old graves.

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Check out this guy – he lived to be 100! That’s pretty much unheard of in 1860!

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Since it was veterans day weekend, all of those who had fought in a war had an American flag next to their grave. It was fascinating to walk closer and closer to the church and see all of those that had fought in wars of the past.

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There were actually a ton of Revolutionary War vets, which is absolutely fascinating to me. These men fought for our freedom to BE Americans 230+ years ago. Considering that I’m writing this post on Veteran’s Day, it really makes you appreciate all of those men and women who have sacrificed their lives, their time, and their  families to serve our country.

We had a great afternoon walking around and exploring the cemetery. We also stopped by to see my grandmother, great uncle, and great-grandparents who are all buried there as well. This may be weird to say, but it really is a beautiful spot to lay loved ones to rest.

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Much of the weekend was spent relaxing, playing card games, and reading. A perfect way to get in some quality relaxation with family. But we did make a few stops to classic central Connecticut locations.

First up was a stop by Wethersfield’s fresh fish market – City Fish. One of the great things about New England is that you’re never far from some really good fish. Even though there wasn’t a veggie in sight, I had to pick up some classic fish and chips for lunch.

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And ended up taking half home with me for dinner. Those are some giant fish!

City Fish is so well known in my family that I even had to take a picture with my food to send to my mom, to make her jealous. I know, I’m an awesome daughter. Also, world’s most awkward picture of me. You’re welcome.

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One afternoon we also headed up about 45minutes northeast to visit UConn. Not only is it one of the schools that I’m potentially looking at for grad school, but it’s also home to another childhood favorite of mine: The UConn Dairy Bar.

Yup, fresh ice cream. Full of milt fat and sugar and complete and utter deliciousness. Also home to the world’s largest scoops of ice cream.

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I was pretty sure I was going to burst, and I couldn’t even finish mine (I know, travesty). But it was so, SO tasty. I’m pretty sure I was in an ice cream coma the whole ride home.

Overall, it was a terrific weekend, and included the perfect amount of relaxing, family time, and fun. Although I’m pretty sure that I need to make the gym a major priority after all of that ice cream and fish and chips!

As I said, I swear to you there is light at the end of the tunnel, so please continue to bear with me as I get through this super crazy time in my life. Hopefully I’ll be able to share more news with you all soon, but there are a lot of major life changes ahead for us with all of this grad school stuff and it has definitely made things a little more stressful. So I may be a little more sporadic in the next few weeks. But hopefully by the time Thanksgiving comes around I’ll be through the application stage and back to normal life. Or as normal of a life as I have!

Thank you for hanging with me!

So tell me: How did you spend your weekend? If your hometown could be compared to a TV show or movie, what would it be?

Meet Belle Brita!

Sorry I’m coming at you a little late tonight. Unfortunately I seem to be fighting off a cold, and woke up to a lovely sore throat. Greaaaaaaat, just what I need right before the holidays!

Anyway, I ended up taking a few extra hours this morning to laze around, drink hot tea, and down some Emergen-C. Here’s to hoping that it works! But unfortunately it did throw off my posting schedule so I’m just getting around to things now.

But I did want to post today, because I have something fun to share! Long time readers may remember way back in March when I first participated in the Southern Beauty Guide’s Bigs & Littles Network. This is a great program that pairs up “bigs” and “littles” (it’s all a relative term in the blog world!) to help share ideas, advice, stories, and tips. The message is that everyone can learn from each other, and it’s a great way to form connections in this huge blogging community.

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This time I was honored to be selected as a Big, and was paired with the lovely Brita from Belle Brita. Brita and I clicked right away over our mutual love of all things French (although I wish I could have lived there as often as she has!). Brita is a newlywed who describes herself as a Christian Feminist Libertarian with a love of all things pink and French. Through her blog she shares her thoughts on politics, feminism, and religion, as well as a bunch of lifestyle and fashion tips thrown in as well.

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In order to talk about our experience, we thought it would be fun to do a little Q & A session and ask each other questions. You can see Brita’s answers over on her blog!

1) After you finish your Ph.D., what will your dream job be? What else will you need to do to get there?

This is a perfect question after I just shared my post on why I decided to go back to graduate school! Once I finish my PhD (after a measly 4-7 years… yikes!), my dream job is to work as a professor. I love the atmosphere of college, so I would love the chance to mix doing my own research (maybe even having my own research lab! #nerdalert) and teaching. I’ve had so many good, and bad, professors in my life, that I really hope I can end up being one of those professors that inspires people to want to learn. As to what I have to do? Stick with school. forever. haha.

2) What’s the weirdest food or meal you’ve ever eaten?

This one is a toss up. I’m sad to say that when I was in France in high school, I did end up eating horse. I didn’t know what it was until after a finished (I was staying with a French family at the time and was too scared to ask at first), but needless-to-say, it nearly came right back up. Poor horse!

I also ate squirrel once. My father-in-law shot one while deer hunting, grilled it up, and dared anyone to eat it. And as someone with a pretty strong stomach, I decided to take the challenge. Dare I say, it kind of tastes like chicken?

3) What’s one fun fact that people might not know about you when they meet you?

Hmmmm…. since Brita shared a party trick, I will too. I can wiggle my ears. In fact, I actually do put this skill to use when I play my horn, because I use them to tighten the teeny tiny cheek muscles and tune my horn. I didn’t realize it until my college horn professor tried to make me play with big, clunky head phones on. It was so difficult!

4) What’s your go-to cold weather meal?

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Easy, chili! It’s warm, it’s hearty, and it just warms all your insides! Plus, it’s one of those meals that you can make 1000 times, and it always comes out just the slightest bit different!

5) If you were stranded on an island, what three books would you want with you, and why? (Books like “How to Build a Raft” don’t count!)

1. The Bible

2. Anne of Green Gables (the collection of the whole series, if I can do that ;-P)

3. The Count of Monte Cristo

What can I say, I like the classics! All are big books, so they’ll take me a little while to get through. Plus, if I’m stuck on a deserted island, I’d want something to give me hope, something to help me use my imagination, and something to give me a few hints on how to escape! :)

6) Why did you start blogging?

I started blogging as a way to not only stay accountable with my own health and fitness journey, but also so I could help others see that it is possible to make a major life change. Blogs they showed real people and their real struggles were so helpful to me when I first started out, that I wanted to be there to share those same struggles for other people who are looking for inspiration and support. If I can be that for just one person, it’s all been worth it!

 

Well there you have it – some facts that you might not have known about me! Head on over to Brita’s blog to read more about her, and to check out someone fun and new! I had a great time working with her, and I’m sure you’ll love her as well.

Here’s to a great weekend (and no more cold)!

So tell me: If you could bring 3 books with you to a deserted island, what would you bring? What’s the weirdest meal you’ve ever eaten?

Almond-Crusted Chicken Parmesan {recipe}

So you may have noticed that for the last few weeks, I seemed to have lost my kitchen mojo. The truth is, we’ve been so busy and doing so much traveling that I have just been focused on surviving not creating in the kitchen.

Which basically means we ate a lot of frozen burritos and ate out a lot. Not my proudest moment.

But I finally managed to make my way back into the kitchen this week and throw together some actual meals that didn’t originate in a plastic wrapper. Go me!
Thirty Minute Thursday
And since it’s Thursday and has honestly been WAY too long since I’ve shared any recipes with you, I thought I’d take a moment this morning to do just that! So here is a perfect, easy weeknight meal that is a slight twist on a classic.

Side note: While I’m not personally gluten free, this recipe is. But feel free to serve your chicken with any gluten or non-gluten pasta of your choice!

almond crusted parmesan chicken

Almond-crusted chicken parmesan

Almond-crusted Chicken Parmesan
Serves 2
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
35 min
For the chicken
  1. 1 cup almond flour
  2. 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  3. 1 tbsp oregano
  4. 1 tbsp basil
  5. 1 tbsp rosemary
  6. 2 tsp garlic salt
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 2 chicken breasts
For the pasta
  1. noodles of your choice
  2. pasta sauce
  3. 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Mix almond flour, parmesan cheese and spices in a bowl.
  3. Whisk eggs in a separate bowl.
  4. Coat chicken breasts in egg, then in almond flour mix. You can repeat for an additional coat if you prefer.
  5. Place coated chicken breasts in pan, and cook for 25-35 minutes (based on the size of your chicken).
  6. While chicken is cooking, prepare your pasta or zoodles.
  7. Once cooked, place chicken on top of noodles, top with sauce and parmesan, and serve.
  8. Enjoy!
My Freckled Life http://www.myfreckledlife.com/
 

This recipe is both simple and flavorful, just the way I like it. The almond flour adds a slight nuttiness to the flavor, and I love the crunchy shell it creates around the chicken.

I paired mine with some zoodles (because I’m obsessed) and topped it with pasta sauce and a bit of mozzarella. I still could only make it through half, but I’m A-OK with leftovers! It’s like a do over taste test!

IMG_4900IMG_4905almond-crusted chicken parmesan || My Freckled Life

I hope you enjoyed my triumphant return to the kitchen. I have another recipe simmering away in my crockpot today, so hopefully that one will be worth sharing soon too!

So tell me: what have you been whipping up in the kitchen lately? How do you get your kitchen mojo back when it disappears?

WIAW: Then vs. Now Edition

Happy Wednesday!

As much as I hate that it now gets dark so early, I have to admit that I’m loving the bright mornings again. There is something about a bright morning that makes getting up just a little bit easier. I’m going to have to savor this for when winter finally comes and makes it dark all day!

What I Ate Wednesday: FALL into Good Habits

So last week, my good friend Chelsea did a WIAW post that I thought was totally fascinating where she compared her eats now with her meals back at the start of her healthy eating journey when she thought she was being healthy (you can check the post out here). I could relate so much, because nowadays I almost look back and laugh at all the “healthy” (aka low fat, low carb, chemical filled) stuff I was eating before.

I thought the idea was so fun, that I wanted to do one myself to share with you all, and hear about all the stuff you use to think was “healthy” too.

When I first started my healthy living journey about 5 years ago, I was a total sucker for the labels. If it said anything about being “low fat”, “no sugar added”, “fat free”, “light”…. I was all over it. Little did I know back then that all those words just meant fake sugar, fake ingredients, and more processing. I thought I was being health conscious!

So for today’s WIAW, I wanted to compare what I eat now (on average) with what I used to eat. Please head on over to Jenn’s blog to check out more WIAW and see what other bloggers have been eating!

Breakfast

Then: Breakfast? What’s breakfast? Oh, you mean my diet soda? Yea…

I was never a breakfast eater in high school (I was too busy running out the door!), and that just spilled over into college and beyond. I typically wouldn’t eat anything until about 11am, unless you count multiple diet sodas or cups of coffee. Eventually when I realized that I SHOULD be eating breakfast, I typically went for the sugar laden cereals or sugar-filled packets of oatmeal.

Now: I still eat cereal sometimes, but I just try to make it a less sugary option, like oatmeal squares, topped with fruit. I’ll also eat egg sandwiches on an english muffin, scrambled eggs, or plain oatmeal topped with peanut butter and cinnamon.

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Lunch

Then: I don’t know about you, but I used to be all about the frozen packaged meals. Lean Cuisine, Smart Ones, Healthy Choice… I bought whatever was on sale and stuffed my freezer. Little did I know that while they were good portion sizes, they also were full of sodium and preservatives.

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Now:Salads are my go-to lunch staple. Not only does it guarantee that I’m going to get in a hefty serving of veggies, but it also fills me up without giving me that post-lunch stuffed fatigue. Because no one needs that at work (it happens around 3pm already!)

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Snack

Then:

Oh those “light” yogurts… I was a bit obsessed. Yea, they may only have 90 calories, but guess what they do have? Both 10g of sugar AND sucralose. So not only are you getting the sugar, but you’re ALSO getting fake sugar. And it has fake red dye in it. Then again, how else do expect to actually get something like “strawberry shortcake” in yogurt form? But it had the “fat free” label on it, so I was ALL over it back then.

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Now:

I still love me some yogurt, but I try to be a bit wiser about it, choosing greek yogurt and looking for options that don’t contain fake sugar. Yogurt can still be chock full of sugar though, so I try to lean more towards the stevia or natural sweetener varieties.
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Dinner

Then:

If I wasnt grabbing another frozen meal (a frequent occurrence), I was typically going with something very basic and often packaged for dinner. Things like macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and marinara, maybe a baked chicken breast with white rice. Cooking wasnt my strong point back then, and if I could have actually lived on ramen noodles and easy mac, I probably would have!
Now:

I love cooking and creating recipes. I always try to find a happy mix of carbs, protein and fat, and make sure there is always a veggie on my plate. Figuring out how to turn classic, unhealthy “comfort foods” into healthier options is one of my favorite kitchen challenges!

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Now that I’ve been in this healthy living journey for awhile, it’s amazing to see how much I’ve learned and how far I’ve come. Not to say I’m perfect by any means, because there is always more to learn, but I love to see the progression!

Maybe I’ll do another one of these in a few years and it will be completely different again!

So tell me: What kinds of things did you use to eat that you look back and shake your head about now? Any “healthy” foods you now realize aren’t so healthy?