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Bring on Fall!

September 25, 2012

Fall is officially here! Get ready for orange leaves, crisp air, and apple cider. I absolutely love fall; it’s my favorite season. I know every season has it’s benefits and good sides, but I think fall outdoes them all. Not only is the weather chilly enough for a comfortable sweatshirt and windows open, but fall brings with it delicious food and fun outdoor activities. So what better way to welcome fall than with a trip to the orchard? Although to be completely honest with you, we didn’t realize the day we went to the orchard was technically the first day of fall. Things just happened to work out that way!

Ready to pick apples!

Every year I go to the orchard to pick pumpkins (and stuff myself on apple cider donuts) and then go again 2 months later to cut down a Christmas tree (and stuff myself on apple cider donuts). It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve gone to actually pick apples but I had visions of apple pies, apple turnovers, apple sauce, and a million other apple recipes running through my head.

This weekend it happened that Jonathon, Red Delicious, and Green Delicious were what was ripe for picking. So we picked and picked. Every time we saw an employee they encouraged us to “taste as we picked”, so we also ate and ate. I’ve never eaten that many apples in one day before!

Twenty pounds heavier (the apples, not us-even though we did eat half a dozen apple cider donuts!), we were home.

This is what 20 lbs of apples looks like!

Yesterday was day 1 of apple cooking and I started us out with whole-wheat pancakes covered in cinnamon sautéed apples. Here is the recipe I used for our whole-wheat pancakes and we really liked them. We’ll definitely be making them again. To make the delicious topping just melt ¼ cup Earth Balance in a saucepan over medium heat. Add about 4 apples that have been peeled and cored (I used Jonathons).

Stir this until they’re tender, which will be about 7 minutes. Then add in 1/2 cup brown sugar, ¾ teaspoon cinnamon, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, and ½ cup water. Bring it to a boil for 1-2 minutes while stirring. Then just ladle it over the pancakes and eat until you’re stuffed!

Whole-wheat pancakes with cinnamon apples & a glass of fresh apple cider. Best breakfast ever!

Second baking project of the day was apple pie- from scratch. This is something I’ve never done before! It was a lot easier than I thought it was to make the dough, which seemed like the most intimidating part. I used a standard pie crust from a recipe book I have:

*      4 cups all-purpose flour

*      1 ¾ cups Earth Balance

*      3 Tbl white sugar

*      2 tsp salt

*      1 Ener-g egg-replacer (or 1 egg)

*      ½ cup water

  1. In a mixing bowl, combine flour, butter, sugar, and salt. If you have a pastry cutter you can use it for this part. I don’t have one so I used a big, sharp knife. Basically you want to cut the flour into the butter. Do this until it’s all crumbly.
  2. In a different bowl, mix egg-replacer (or egg) and water. Mix it into the flour mixture. Then keep it in the fridge until you want to use it.

This recipe is great because it makes 4 crusts. I used 2 on the pie then put 2 in the freezer so I can make a quick pie later on when I want one.

I went on to allrecipes (which I love!) and used this recipe for the filling. I ended up using Golden Delicious and only used 4 of them. I also added a little bit of cinnamon (because I love the combination of cinnamon and apples!). On the top I sprinkled some sugar and brown sugar mixture to give it a little bit of crunch.

My first made-from-scratch apple pie. So good!

Although my lattice work (and a little heart I made) need a little bit of work, the pie turned out absolutely delicious. I ate a slice for dessert and have been waiting all day for another slice!

So enjoy the season, get some fresh apples, and have fun baking! What’s your favorite fall apple dish?


Training, Candy, & Skunks (not all related)

September 19, 2012

It’s official now: We are signed up and ready for the triathlon in 18 days! Training is going well, although I’m sure it could be a lot better. At least I know that I will have the endurance to finish the race but I may be walking (or being pulled) through parts of it. It also helps that the weather has been beautiful! The Husband and I went out for a 4 mile run then were going to do a 12 mile bike ride. It was going to be the first long bike ride after a long run.

So the run went well, was feeling good. Then we got on the bikes. Let me say, biking is not my strong point. I average about 5 minutes a mile and can’t seem to break that no matter what. And by the end of a long ride, I’m exhausted. Needless to say, I was curious to how I’d do after a long run. It felt like I was going through mud! I was feeling a little discouraged, knowing I was going so slow. I was talking to myself trying to build myself up. I kept thinking about how it didn’t matter I wasn’t going fast, as long as I finished. Then the husband stops me and tells me I have a flat tire.

Definitely happy to hear that! So it’s not that I have no endurance capabilities! I was so relieved. 🙂

I’ve been reading a ton of running forums trying to figure the best way to fuel during the race. There are so many complicated gels, bars, GU, and who knows what else. Really I just want to make sure I have some sugar to keep me going and some Gatorade to replenish me. So I’ve finally figured out the best way to fuel without paying the high prices for the “technical” running stuff.

Gummy bears! Well, and gummy worms. I grabbed all things gummy from the candy aisle. I know, sounds counterproductive to eat gummy bears while exercising, right? But it gives that sugar which the body can use quickly, is easy on the stomach, and feels like a treat while you’re running. Works for me!

And let me just share with you all. The Husband and I are more than happy to get outside and train right now. The weather is great (thank goodness), but also because our house stinks. We had an unfortunate accident of skunk vs. dogs.

Guess who won? And not only did the dogs lose, but so did our home. The lovely dogs chased the skunk out of the bushes, onto the porch. He was facing the dogs when he sprayed…. and he sprayed right into our apartment through the screen door. Needless to say, it smells. Still. Things have been washed, sprayed, scrubbed, and shaved (those were the dogs). The next idea is just to burn everything. I keep smelling it and can’t decide if I’m imagining it or if it really smells. So between working out and sweating and then skunk, I’m sure I’m a delight to be around!

How have the last few days been for you all??

Fiber (The Magic Word in Weight Loss!)

September 16, 2012

We’ve all seen the commercials (and there seems to be a lot lately) talking about the benefits of fiber. And guess what? Fiber isn’t just for “old people”! Due to my obsession with oatmeal (you’ve seen the post!) I’m now eating it for breakfast and lunch, meaning I’m getting a good bit of fiber. I’ve been trying to convince The Husband to “eat more fiber” which is something that’s all over the place. So, you know you need it, but are you eating it? And what exactly is it? Any why do we actually need it?

There are different classes of fiber, depending on its origin and its solubility. But basically when it comes down to it, fiber is a type of carb that can’t be digested.  When you eat fats, carbs, or proteins your body breaks them down and absorbs them. This isn’t the case with fiber. Fiber is all the parts of plant foods that your body cannot digest or absorb. So basically it passes pretty much intact through your digestive system.

I know what you’re thinking- why would I eat something that my body doesn’t even digest? Well there are multiple reasons. Besides all the great health benefits- it can help you feel full! Feeling full=eating less=helps with weight loss! So a high-fiber diet is great when you’re trying to lose weight.

Fiber’s great benefits:

*      Linked to a lower risk of heart disease

*      Linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes

*      Lower risk of diverticular disease

*      Helps relieve and prevent constipation

*      Helps control blood sugar levels

*      Helps lower cholesterol levels

Woohoo, so fiber is great! Definitely something we want to eat. But how do we get it and how much should you eat?

Women under 50 should be eating over 20 grams a day while men should be eating over 30 grams a day. Now I know I personally don’t count every gram of every thing I eat (who has the time??). But take a mental note for a couple of days to see if you’re getting a good amount. Chances are that you’re not. People tend to only eat about 15 grams a day. No good, huh?

Where do I get it?

*      Oatmeal

*      Nuts

*      Legumes

*      Beans

*      Lentils

*      Apples

*      Pears

*      Strawberries

*      Blueberries

*      Dried peas

*      Whole wheat bread

*      Barley

*      Couscous

*      Brown rice

*      Bulgur

*      Whole grain cereals

*      Carrots

*      Cucumbers

*      Zucchini

*      Celery

*      Tomatoes

Lots to choose from so it should be easy!

Easy ways to get more fiber:

  1. Skip the juice and eat the fruit. (You’ll also have fewer calories!)
  2. Eat more whole grains. Breads, cereals, pastas and crackers all come in whole wheat or whole oats. Make sure that’s the first ingredient.
  3. Throw some beans or more veggies in your meal or salad.
  4. Snack on vegetables instead of chips.
  5. Try a new meal! Lots of Middle Easter or Indian dishes use whole grains as the main part of the meal.

So if you’re changing up your eating habits, trying to lose weight, and trying to become more healthy, fiber is definitely something that should be included often in your diet!

Free image courtesy of

Mental health break

September 12, 2012

When January 1st rolls around everyone makes the goal to “become healthier.” There are hundreds (and thousands) of fitness websites, magazines, TV shows, and books to help you get a slim figure or a toned body. It seems like everything around us and all of our goals focus on only one aspect of health- physical. But health has many different aspects to it, not just physical. In fact, even the World Health Organization defines health as being the “general condition of a person’s mind, body, and spirit…”

So why do we ignore the mental and emotional side of our health? It’s true that food and our diets are the basis for many diseases (if not all), but emotional health can be just as big of a risk factor. For example, did you know that stress reduces the length of our telomeres? These are involved in cell division and when they get too short, cell division stops. Or did you know that depression and inflammation have been linked? We all want to be emotionally and mentally healthy, so why don’t we take the time for it?

The past few months have been very hard. Graduating and moving out into the real world, being a newlywed, and moving to a new city (and state) where we would be starting from scratch with no family and friends around has made things a little tough. I have spent the past 3 months applying for job after job, watching my classmates get work, and hearing absolutely nothing from employers (except nice emails once in a while to say I wasn’t qualified!). Putting the financial burden on my husband and family was tough. And feeling worthless because I wasn’t moving forward with my life was even tougher.

So I felt bad for myself, felt angry  , felt sad for a while, and let myself stay in bed for a week watching Gilmore Girls nonstop. Before that, I kept thinking in my head that all I wanted for the past 2 years was a break to do things I wanted to do, and this was finally it but I couldn’t enjoy it. After I wallowed and was depressed for a bit, I felt better. I’m not saying everything was magical and everything was solved, but I did feel better. Which brings me to big piece of advice:

It’s OK to be sad/mad/frustrated/etc! 

Part of taking care of yourself mentally is allowing yourself to have, express, and recognize all the emotions that are happening. Not just to push them aside and forget about them. This is something that I stress to clients all the time and something every therapist in general focuses on (repression!) and what do you know- once I actually took my own advice (hard to do, isn’t it?), things got better.

So even though having no income isn’t necessarily “enjoyable” and I’m not happy about it, I’ve managed to find things to make me feel happy. I’ve learned to sew (and fallen in love with it), thrown out all my cleaning supplies and made green versions, perfected a whole wheat bread recipe (recipe to come), started training my dogs, and started studying hard for my chemistry class. So my second piece of advice:

Do things that make you happy!

Taking care of yourself emotionally means that you have to splurge and be selfish on yourself. Make a list of things you’ve always wanted to do and pick something. Maybe you don’t have hours of free time, but squeeze in 15 minutes a day to do that happy thing. Really, it shouldn’t even be considered being “selfish” because it’s part of health. No one questions someone wanted to spend 30 minutes to workout daily, why question spending 30 minutes on a craft project or meditating?

We’re all quick to say we want to become healthy, but we forget this important aspect of health. Next time you re-evaluate your health, make sure that you’re including mental health into your diet also.

Chocolate, bananas, and peanut butter!

August 26, 2012

Three of my favorite things. Ok, well chocolate and peanut butter are my favorite things. I threw in the bananas because I needed a way to actually eat the chocolate and peanut butter. Or because it’s more socially acceptable than just eating chocolate and peanut butter straight from the package. So I made a new dessert that combines my two favorite things, and bananas.

I’ve been seeing frozen banana bites all over Pinterest lately so I decided to give them a try. They’re really easy, cheap, and delicious. Plus the grocery list for them is short!

All you need: bananas (I used 4, but it’ll vary), 2 tbsp canola oil, a bag of chocolate chips, and any toppings you want to use. I used what I already had on hand, which was peanuts, pecans, sprinkles, and chopped butterscotch chips. I also decided to spread some peanut butter on half on the bananas. I highly, highly suggest this! The combination of peanut butter, banana, chocolate, and butterscotch tasted like a mini banana split- without all the calories!







Here’s what you do:

1. Melt your bag of chocolate chips with the canola oil over low heat until the chocolate is melted.

I love the look and smell of melted chocolate!

2. Let it cool for about 15 minutes while you get your supplies ready.

3. Chop the bananas and get your toppings ready in shallow bowls. I used mixing cups because they were a perfect size. Cover a baking tray with tin foil.

4. Dip the bananas (with or without the peanut butter) into the chocolate, then into the topping. Set on the tin foil. Near the end I was messy and tired of dipping, so I just took a spoon and drizzled chocolate on the bananas.

5. Put the bananas into the freezer for about 3 hours until they’re firm.



Ok, so maybe mine aren’t magazine-photo ready, but who cares what they look like when they’re so delicious?! I will definitely be making more of these because they’re so nice to have in the fridge and hit the spot when chocolate is needed!

Cherry Crumble

August 1, 2012

The day has come. I used a can of cherry pie filling that was in our cabinet for three years, waiting for a good use. It made 2 moves with us, even traveling from Illinois to Ohio. We originally bought it 3 years ago when we went camping so we could make cherry pie sandwiches over the fire, but never used it. I kept it in the pantry and every time I’d see it I’d think “I’m going to use that someday.” Twice I even packed a bag of canned goods for food drives and purposely left this can of cherry pie filling thinking I would need it for something.

Somewhere deep down I must have known that a day would come when I would be craving dessert and would have no chocolate in the house. That day came yesterday, and thank goodness I had the cherry pie filling. I didn’t want to buy anything extra, so I scrounged this up with what we already have. I think the end result was delicious and we’ll definitely be making it again!


Aidan’s (Use-What’s-On-Hand) Cherry Crumble

*      1 can cherry pie filling

*      ¼ cup melted margarine

*      ¼ cup whole wheat flour

*      ½ cup rolled oats

*      2/3 cup brown sugar

*      dash of cinnamon

*      dash of nutmeg

  1. Preheat oven to 350*. Lightly grease a 9×9 baking dish.
  2. Pour in the cherries.
  3. Mix together remaining ingredient and spread on top of the cherries.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes until the oats are golden brown and crispy. Let it cool for about 10 minutes.

I hate letting things cool, I just want to eat it immediately!

This would be delicious served with some vanilla (vegan) ice cream or whipped cream! You can use fresh fruit for this recipe, also. Use about 2 cups chopped fruit mixed with sugar and some liqueur.

So now I’ll be buying another can of pie filling to keep in the cabinet for this dessert again, but this time I don’t think it’ll be there for 3 years!

Rock Your Run!

July 29, 2012

I need things to distract me when I’m running. I love to run, but I don’t like to be reminded that I’m sweaty, tired, and gasping for air. My go-to when I’m running is usually audiobooks because they help me get my mind off of running. But there are times that my motivation starts to go and I need to be pumped up. No matter how much I love Harry Potter, listening to Harry score a Quidditch goal on audiobook doesn’t reinvigorate me as much as a really good beat.

Running has introduced me to music I would never normally listen to. Before running, I had close to no pop or hip-hop music on my iPod. Now, I have entire playlists dedicated to it.

So here they are, the top songs (of the moment) in my playlist to motivate me and make me want to dance (but since I can’t, I just run instead).


*      Katy Perry- Firework

*      Bob Marley- Stir It Up (147*)

*      LMFAO- Party Rock Anthem

*      LFO- Summer Girls

*      Kellie Pickler- Red High Heels (154*)

*      O.A.R.- Heaven (160*)

*      Nicki Minaj- Super Bass (127*)

*      Hanson- Thinking ‘Bout Somethin’

*      The Pogues- If I Should Fall From Grace With God (130*)

*      Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeroes- Home

*      LMFAO- Sexy and I know It

*      Jason Mraz- I’m Yours (152*)

*      Ben Harper- When It’s Good

*      Billy Joel- The Longest Time (169*)

*      O.A.R.- Delicate Few

*      Panic! At the Disco- Nine in the Afternoon (152*)

*      Ziggy Marley- Rainbow in the Sky (159*)

*      Zac Brown Band- The Wind (136*)

*      Hanson- Lost Without Each Other

*      Lily Allen- 5 O’Clock in the Morning (Who’d Have Known) [Remix]

*      Trace Adkins- Honky Tonk Badonkadonk (115*)

*      Zac Brown Band- Toes (131*)

*      Tom Petty- You Don’t Know How it Feels (145*)

*      Bob Marley- Stir It Up (147*)

*      The Pogues- Whiskey in the Jar (144*)

*      Carrie Underwood- Before He Cheats (148*)


*Beats per minute, for pacing your run


I love looking at other runner’s playlists to find new music, because I’m constantly changing mine so I don’t get bored. Tell me: What songs are on your playlist at the moment? 

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