Peanut Butter Protein Bites

These are easy, no-bake bites with one of my favorite foods: peanut butter. They are perfect for before or after the gym, as a sweet treat or anytime snack. I actually made these for a friend for her treadmill workouts and then promptly forgot to take them to her. I guess I’ll have to eat them all. #sacrifice

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Feel free to play around a bit with the ingredients and take out or add in what you prefer. Or use almond, cashew, or other nut butter. I actually think these look a bit like meatballs, but trust me, they are a perfect sweet treat.

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Peanut Butter Protein Bites
Serves: 30-36, depending on how big you roll them
Ingredients
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup honey
  • 1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1-2 tbsp water (it really depends on the PB and protein you use, just go until you can form a nice bite shape easily)
Instructions
  1. Place everything in a food processor and mix until it turns into a dough-like form. Roll into 1 inch balls, place in an air-tight container in the fridge. Makes about 30-36 depending on size. These also freeze nicely.

These mix up in just a few minutes in your food processor. The hardest part will be cleaning the food processor or remember to deliver them to your friend. They are perfect after a tough workout though, I promise. Enjoy!

Posted in Breakfast, Exercise | 1 Comment

Meal Prep Tips

If I am “on my game” I try to meal prep every week at least for Monday-Friday meals. I work several miles from a town and only have a half hour lunch and no cafeteria on site so I have to bring my own meals if I want to eat. This is a blessing as I can try to keep it healthy. I thought I’d share my process and some tips. You can use these tips to meal prep for the week or even to make freezer meals. I generally meal prep once or twice a week depending on my personal plans. I keep snacks at work and replenish as needed.

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  • It’s all about making a game plan
  • Decide what you will be cooking that day
  • Print out the recipes
  • Make your shopping list so you have everything (bonus points for writing the shopping list in order of the flow of the store – veggies, deli, meat, canned good, dairy, etc)

This particular day I was making healthy banana pumpkin bread (breakfast with yogurt), sweet potato, bean and kale skillet (lunches) and ground beef egg roll in a bowl (supper). I don’t have a problem eating the same meals a few days in a row. If you don’t like to do that, I would suggest making a full recipe and freezing the rest in individual portions and building up your freezer stash to grab something different throughout the week. You want your recipes printed and on the counter to follow along as you go. Make sure you shop a day or two in advance so you have everything you need in your fridge and pantry.

  • Do any prep in advance (chop veggies, thaw meat, etc)

I knew I’d be using spiralized sweet potatoes and you can spiralize and store them a few days in advance in the fridge. You basically want everything ready to go once you start cooking. Chop garlic, veggies and for sure thaw your meat if using any.

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  • Set out any cookware and utensils you’ll need including knifes, pans, garlic press, can opener, measuring cups, etc
  • Set out all non perishable food neatly the evening before your cooking day including spices, canned goods, etc

I like to go to bed with a clean kitchen, but if I know I’m cooking the next day, I set out all the utensils I will need. I also set out any spices, canned foods and storage containers.

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  • Take shortcuts where possible

I like to use this bagged kale, it is already chopped and I can just throw it in the pan. Of course, if you buy whole kale, just chop and store it the day before. I also eat my lunch and supper with veggies. I LOVE the steamable veggie bags you can get at the store. Sam’s Club has great options. I just microwave the veggies as I cook to put them in the storage containers with the meals. I eat a lot of broccoli (it is an on-going joke with my co-workers) and one bag is good for 2-3 servings for me. I NEVER feel bad about eating a lot of veggies.

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  • Make food in order that makes sense
  • Double up recipes

I baked the bread first, making a double batch. Once it was in the oven, I could move to the stove top. I double recipes a lot of times if they freeze well. This bread makes about 12 servings each and my husband and I both like it in our yogurt in the morning so bake once for twice the amount. This goes for a lot of meals also. Taco meat, spaghetti meat, grilled chicken breasts – cook once and store the leftovers in the freezer for those super busy nights when you don’t know what to cook or don’t have time. If I am making a salad, I make 3-4 at a time. One to eat that night and then you can store the others for about 3 days tops in the fridge. If I get all the stuff out, I just chop once and am done.

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  • Tidy as you go and schedule cleaning breaks
  • Use one skillet meals where possible
  • Set out all Tupperware or storage containers you will use for your meals
  • Let food completely cool before storage

I make the lunches first in a skillet, wipe it and then make the suppers in the same skillet. You want to clean and tidy your kitchen as you go so you don’t have a huge disaster when you are done. Take a 5 minute break or whatever. I try to keep the dishes to a minimum – use the grill, Crock Pot, Instant Pot or whatever.

I set out my Tupperware to divide out my lunches. The black containers were bought for cheap on Amazon (just search meal prep containers) – they are the perfect size and can be put in the dishwasher. The clear ones are Rubbermaid. The glass bowls are nice to use at home – that is my egg roll in a bowl. I eat that with more steamed veggies.

Finally, let your food cool off, especially if you are going to freeze it. You don’t want all that moisture and condensation inside – it’ll make your food watery when it thaws out.

I hope my tips helps you. One hour of work will save you HOURS of time throughout the week. Sometimes I dream meal prepping but the results are always worth it. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Feisty Eats, Healthy Living, How To, Informational, Main Dish | Leave a comment

Mesa Arizona Visit, 2017

January 29 – February 2, 2017, I flew down to Mesa to visit my folks who are down there for six weeks. I scored a decent direct flight on Allegiant and knew this was the only small window where I could make a visit work between job, personal life and home life. I’m so happy I went!

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I only had a few days there so we planned a few things carefully and also winged a few. Great balance that way so we didn’t feel rushed.

I flew in later on Sunday and we basically got home and went to bed. Monday we were up and at it to head over to Camelback Mountain in Scottsdale. My Dad dropped us off at the base and he went golfing. Mom and I choose to go on Cholla Trail which is rated difficult and is about 1.5 miles up, gaining a little over 1,200′ elevation. The trail started out easier than I expected but towards the top it got a bit more technical. We were awarded with glorious views on a blue clear day. The weather was perfect this morning, about 60 with a slight breeze. It got windier at the top of course, so having a light long sleeve shirt was welcome.

Some of the views along the way. There is a resort and golf course below the mountain. You can also see gorgeous homes built into the side of nearby mountains. You can tell it was quite sunny. We were worried there might be a lot of people hiking, but it wasn’t bad at all. My Mom’s Bison t-shirt attracted a few comments from fellow hikers!

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Yes, we made it to the top. I was very proud of my Mom. I know she struggles a bit with her breathing and I offered a time or two to turn around and she was like NO WAY! Amazing views!!

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This is me posing. I am very happy to hike. I have gotten to enjoy it the past couple of years but I do not like the edges or looking over. I get scared. There were all ages and body types hiking. It was inspiring.

As a reward for our hike (I think it took about 2.5-3 hours and we took breaks often), I wanted to go get some fresh juice. We had to walk about another mile and by that time my Dad was done golfing. We ended up at the Juice Core in downtown Scottsdale and Mom and I both got toast and I ordered a fresh juice and she got smoothie. I went with the I.P. Freely that supposedly promotes peeing. It hit the spot.

Later that day, after a shower, I wanted to hit up a little place I read about called Pita Jungle. It is in Dana Park, Mesa. They had happy hour Mon-Fri from 3:30-5:30 where you could get small plates for $1 and $2. I can’t recommend this place enough. Our waitress was fab, drinks were also on special and the food was so fresh tasting. My favorite was the feta plate (large chunks of feta with oil, cucs, tomatoes and seasonings – so salty!!), garlic dip with pitas and the falafal. I really loved it all. Dad got a falafal wrap (to our surprise!), mom got a roasted cauliflower dish (amazing) and I got this massive spicy chicken pita wrap with huge chunks of roasted veggies. The leftovers were also excellent a few days later.

Our other big event was on Tuesday where about 15-16 of us loaded up into two vehicles and drove over to the Waste Management Phoenix Open at the TPC Scottsdale public course, dubbed The Greenest Show on Grass. Supposedly, there is little to no waste, everything is recycled. Someone in our group is a Members Club member or has access to that so we all had $10 tickets to attend on practice day. That included 10 drinks of soda, wine or beer and all the food you want on holes #9, 17 and 18. Before checking out the golf, we went to the exhibits to check out the booths. I didn’t buy anything but saw a few fun things. I have to mention that all my parents friends were so warm and welcoming to me. I knew a few but a few were new – just lovely.

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Mom and I wandered around to a few different holes. This is famous #16, a short par 3 where you can see some really fun shots. These guys are so talented!!

You can see we go pretty close to the players. The views were also incredible. The hole on the right was #18 where we spent most of our time. The white thing floating is the Waste Management logo made out of golf balls. We dined on turkey sandwiches, cheese enchiladas and southwest salad. I had my share of water and Miller Lite also.

Later that night after we got back we caught a late taco Tuesday at a nearby eatery close to my folks. I can’t remember the name (too many Miller Lites) but it was on a golf course and good. The sunset is just as we were leaving. I bet they have some good ones in Arizona.

Wednesday was reserved to be a POOL DAY, which was nice considering my beers the night before. Mom and I wanted to relax and swim and we did just that. Here she is in her “happy place” swimming laps in the pool where they rent their park model home. They have lunch available on Wednesday’s so I had this refreshing taco salad and we met a couple from Washington, DC. They asked about the pipeline which is always a frightening question to receive from anyone not from ND!! They were kind though.

Wednesday was also market day. My folks live close to (we walked over) Superstition Market which is like a farmers market/grocery store. The produce is UNREAL cheap. A few examples: 4 avocados for $1, 3 bell peppers for $1, 3 bunches of kale for $1, 5# of apples for $2. Just insane. I bought all the produce pictured above (including the hummus which was $2.50) for $8!! I love to cook, so I cooked up some veggie tacos for us. Mom already had these fresh tortillas that are handmade and sold at the market. So thin they are see through but sturdy. They are so, so good. I made a mango guacamole to go on them with: avocados, mango, red onion, tomatoes, jalapeno, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Mom and I love guac and ate it up. Everything is so fresh. I am jealous!

Later that night, they taught me how to play Mexican Train. They play tons of games with their friends and I really ended up enjoying this one. Even better? I beat them! Beginners luck, no doubt. We played for hours!! I got in activity every day I was there. How could I not with the perfect weather? It had been cool before I arrived but I timed it to get some nice days. I feel so blessed to get a short break from our winter and quality time with my folks. They have so many more adventures planned with their friends.

Thursday was the day I flew out. We got to stop at a few new to me grocery stores (Sprouts and WinCo; I love visiting grocery stores) on the way to the airport. I look forward to being active and adventurous for many years to come. Their park is filled with lots of great people! Thanks for hosting me Mom and Dad. I can’t believe (but yes, I can) we don’t have a pic of the three of us. Dad is never in a photo, poor guy! Thanks for reading my long vacation recap. Take me back!!!!

 

 

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Informational, Misc | 1 Comment

Sweet Potato, Bean and Kale Skillet

I’m sharing today a one dish skillet that has quickly become my favorite lunch for a few reasons. 1) It is made in one skillet, 2) it is very affordable and 3) it is very nutritious, packed full of good for you foods. I think I’ve touched on this before that I am cheap, so the affordability is what initially drew me into this meal. But, I particularly like that it leaves me full, satisfied, not stuffed and makes me feel good with all that kale in there. This is a great dish to have in the winter when we don’t have easy access to fresh veggies in North Dakota.

I had a request to share a little more about my meal prep and what I do for that. That changes from month to month but right now I have this in heavy rotation. It makes 4 generous portions and I serve it with some steamed veggies. I’ll work on a meal prep post to hopefully put up soon. I have been pretty busy in my personal life so I haven’t had time to devote to the blog or cooking lately.

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I use my spiralizer to make this dish because it really adds volume and you can cook the sweet potato noodles so much more quickly than if you dice and chop them. However, if you don’t have a spiralizer, that method will work – just adjust your cooking time for the potato. Don’t like sweet potatoes? White potatoes would work fine here also.

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Sweet potato, bean and kale skillet
Ingredients, serves 4

  • 2 tsp. coconut oil
  • 1 large sweet potato, spiralized
  • salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4-5 cups chopped kale
  • 14.5oz can white beans
  • 14.5oz can diced tomatoes, drained (I like to use the ones already seasoned with oregano and basil or something like that)
  • ½ teaspoon herbs d provence
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese, or cheese of your choice (optional)

Instructions

  1. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and once that is warm add the sweet potato noodles and season with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and garlic powder. Cook until mostly wilted, about 5-7 minutes. Add the kale, white beans, tomatoes and herbs and put a lid on the skillet. Toss until kale is slightly wilted and bright green in color, usually another 4-5 minutes.
  2. Remove the skillet from heat and sprinkle with the cheese. Serve or portion into containers for lunches.

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Look at that huge bowl of goodness. Sometimes I add in some fresh green onion. I hadn’t added the feta yet, but I like that, mozzarella or Colby jack. I have made this many, many times. Vegan? Just skip the cheese or use nutritional yeast. Enjoy!

Posted in Dinner, Dinner idea, Healthy Living, Main Dish, Veggie | 1 Comment

January check in, 2017

At the end of December I suggested two fitness changes to make in 2017 – sharing for anyone who reads, but mostly as a reminder to myself. 1) find your fitness passion and 2) make small changes to the way you eat. I confessed I had gained a few pounds and wanted to make some changes to move that needle down. I also want to build muscle to be in super great shape this summer. Here’s my one month update!

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Fitness passion – not too much of a problem. I am really focusing on spinning, running and circuits/body weight/plyo workouts. I have tried things in the past that others do and I just didn’t find passion with them. You won’t find me lifting heavy weights or cross country skiing on the daily. These are both great and fine and maybe will be my passions one day. In fact, last year I lifted weights for a few consecutive months. But for now, this is the stuff I like and makes me get out of bed, ready to workout. Cycle, run, circuit/body weight/plyo workouts. That is all I’m really doing right now because I LIKE them and WANT to do them.

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Change the way you eat – man, if that was only as easy done as said. I generally don’t have too much of a problem getting to the gym. I love working out and the feeling after crushing a workout. The food. That is my weakness. I just love to eat and eat a lot. The first week of January was pretty much a bust. I thought I was making changes but I fell quickly into my old habits. I am happy to say I regrouped, planned out breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks. I eat the same food A LOT and I am perfectly fine with that. It is easy for me and I know roughly my calorie and macro intake. For now, that is what I am doing. I love the food I eat and it is high in nutrition and is mostly real food. I still snack here and there and have a few relaxed meals. I cut back on my beer intake and am drinking only one day a week where possible. (Where possible because as this is posted I am on vacation! I’ll definitely do my best to eat healthy as there is fresh produce here, but I’ll probably have a few drinks during the week which isn’t typical.)

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As the result of these small changes I find that I feel MUCH better! Happier, less bloated, “lighter” feeling, sleeping better, clearer skin and the scale is down a bit. If I can keep this up through the winter and early spring I’ll be ready to enter the nicer weather more confidently.

All that said, I have been thinking a lot about how I treat myself and things I think to or even say out loud to myself. I know I’m bigger than I was a few years ago and the scale is higher than it was a few years ago. It’s interesting (and sad), how poorly we can treat ourselves. Especially when we are in bad places. If I had a friend in my situation, I would not agree with her that she was “fat” and “dumb”. I would tell her the scale isn’t everything. She needs to feel good in her clothes and in herself. But for some reason, as women, we are tied to that scale and the size of our pants. At least I am. And I haven’t even actually moved UP a pants size, things just fit differently or some a BIT TOO tight! And I don’t know how to change that mindset. Ever since I started my healthiness journey, I have had a number in my mind I was to see on the scale. I have not been able to reach that number and I really, really want to! Just to prove it to myself. But who really cares? It won’t solve anything.

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Man, it is tough being a woman, am I right? We’re told so many things by media – where to spend our money – fitness, food (don’t even get me started on which way to eat), clothes, retirement, travel, makeup, massages, spa treatments, hair processes, on and on. I am just trying to figure out what makes me happy as I age. And it is tough!

I plan to check in again at the end of February to let you know how I am doing (good or bad) and compare to the end of January. Have a healthy month! Here’s to nutritious food, good moods and strong workouts.

Posted in Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living | 2 Comments

Chocolate Cookie Bites (healthy)

So, I am calling these cookies but they are pretty healthy. They still satisfy your sweet tooth with a little powdered sugar coating, a bit of honey and some cocoa powder mixed with deeply toasted almonds. So addicting! And these are no-bake, no-butter, dairy-free, etc. All you need is a food processor to whip these up.

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You wouldn’t have to roll these in powdered sugar if you didn’t want to but I really like them that way. You could roll them in cocoa powder or just keep them naked.

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Chocolate Cookie Bites – makes about 35

  • 1 1/4 cup whole roasted unsalted almonds (don’t forget to roast them)
  • 23-25 pitted dates (soaked in warm water for 5-10 minutes)
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used 1/3 cup dark and 2/3 cup regular)
  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 2 Tbsp. honey
  • Dash of salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 4+ Tbsp. water (as needed)
  • 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar

Instructions

  1. Add almonds to food processor and pulse until ground. Don’t go too far to make it almond butter, but make sure you get small bits. This will smell wonderful.
  2. Add drained dates, cocoa, oats, honey, salt, cinnamon and half of the water. Pulse until it forms a sticky ball. Add more water if needed, a little at a time.
  3. Turn dough out onto parchment paper and roll into 1 Tbsp or so sized bites. Use damp hands if needed for easier rolling.
  4. Put powdered sugar in a large zip top bag and add bites. Shake to combine.
  5. Store in the fridge for a week or so. Freeze any for longer. These are good frozen or out of the fridge.

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My dates were a little old so I just covered them with warm water to let them soften for a bit. Drain off the water (I reserved some to add to my bites) and use.

Here is a photo of my almonds all ground up – this smells so amazing. I like to toast mine to a pretty deep color. Then you can see the dough as it comes together. It is a bit crumbly but is easily formed into bites. I roughly divided it into three sections and rolled away.

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Put the cookies in a bag and shake. Just like puppy chow but way better for you!

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The finished product is ready to eat. I keep mine in the freezer so they aren’t always staring at me to eat them. Enjoy this sweet and healthy treat!

Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Exercise, Healthy Living | 1 Comment

Treadmill Boredom Busters

I’m being totally honest in that I really don’t know what I am doing with my running. I like to run, I enjoy the way it makes me feel and of course, the health benefits. Right now I am not “training” for an event or any specific purpose other than to build my endurance. To do this I focus on running, cycling, circuit workouts and stretching. On one hand, that makes it a bit tough as I don’t have a goal I am reaching towards running wise. So, I took this as an opportunity to mix up my workouts, keep things fresh and try some boredom busters on the treadmill. For those of you that also don’t have a clue – give these workouts a try!

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Excuse my photos, I don’t have a personal photographer to get me swiftly gliding on the treadmill, breathing easy, hair falling gently around me. Nope, it’s me, no time and my cell phone. My shirt DOES say RUN but it’s backwards in the photo. Dang photographer is NOT good.

Personally, I am OK with running on the treadmill when the alternative is 50+ inches of snow, ice covered roads and close to -40 windchills. Yep, treadmill is totally fine!! And even in our small town, when the winter temps get nice (20 or 30+ above) we won’t have roads free of ice other than the main highway. The treadmill is tricky because it SUCKS from going outside to inside. It’s boring and monotonous. BUT, it is a great training tool for consistency and mental strength. By the time spring rolls around, I find it difficult to go outside again. Wicked cycle.

Typically the three runs I do most often:

Long Runs

On these I just focus on going the distance and keeping up my endurance. My pace is usually slower than my shorter runs and I just do what feels good. The goal is to finish and be happy, not kill myself. If I have to walk or take a quick water break, I do. I usually zone out on what is on TV and run. Below – one of my longer treadmill runs – 13.1 and then a couple miles walking. Whew!!

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Quick Runs

I do a mile warm up and then try to do intervals – a half mile at another 0.5 added onto the speed, then back to the warm up pace. Next, maybe bump it up 0.5 for three quarters and back to warm up pace for a quarter mile. I usually try to run 4-5 miles doing various intervals depending on how I feel.

Hill Runs

For these I usually do a two mile warm up because I am psyching myself up to run these dumb hills. Haha. I start at an incline of 5.0 and a slower pace for a .20 miles. I back it down to 0 incline and walk for 0.05 miles and run a normal pace for 0.15 miles and repeat. I usually do these for about 3-4 miles and each mile I decrease the incline some while increasing the pace on the inclines some. I don’t particularly enjoy these hills but I know it’s good for variety and it actually goes by pretty quick because I am looking at the mileage quite often.

I always end my workouts with a mile or so cool down walk. I love to walk and catch up on my phone. It’s a great way to bring my heart rate down. Then I stretch and drink lots of water. Me after a run and stretch. Working on that selfie game but a bit foggy from my sweaty steam!

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Right now I am teaching a cycling class two days a week so I cycle/do circuits for two days, run three days and commit one day to just circuits/body weight/plyo, etc. I’ll try to share in the coming weeks a few of those workouts. I enjoy reading what others do for fitness routines so I hope you enjoy a few of my boredom busters for winter.

Posted in Exercise, Feisty Eats, FeistyLife, Healthy Living, Informational | Leave a comment