Category Archives: Food

Real Brownies Are Delicious

My name is Whitney, and I’m a brownie addict.

Brownies are my kryptonite. I can bypass a burger & fries or pizza for a salad any day. But slide a pan of brownies in front of me, and I can take down half of it without blinking an eye. I consider it both a talent and a terrible weakness.

I do pretty well at not bringing home a box mix of brownies on a regular basis. And thanks to reading Food Babe, I’ve been learning too much about all that nasty stuff residing in those baking aisle boxes I oh-so love. So even if I do convince myself to throw some Duncan Hines into my cart, I do so in shame knowing it is pretty darn terrible in a lot of ways.

But then popped up this little 5 Minute Fudge Brownie recipe in my Facebook news feed, and I made a mental note to give it a go – though I figured it wouldn’t taste like a real brownie, being from a health food blog and all. But after whipping these up this past weekend, I can tell you those suckers were DELICIOUS. So much so that I caught My Hubs leaning over the stove snagging a few bites straight from the pan.

Brownie stealer - caught red-handed

Brownie stealer – caught red-handed

So if your sweet tooth is aching, I’d highly recommend giving the 100 Days of Real Food brownie recipe a go!

Blue Apron Review

blue-apronHave you heard of this meal planning/delivery service called Blue Apron? Maybe you’ve had their sponsored link pop up in your Facebook feed? I heard about it through a friend who was sweet enough to send me a free trial. So I gave it a whirl. And the results are mixed.

If you are a foodie, this is for you. If you have a two year old and a three month old, I wouldn’t suggest it. If you’re somewhere in between, I’d say it is worth a shot!

The awesome thing about Blue Apron is that your meal planning is done for you. No more worrying about what you can pull together from your fridge at the last minute. Blue Apron takes care of that for you by sending your three meals right to your door with all ingredients perfectly measured & packaged and instructions clearly written. It was exciting to try out different things I never would have attempted on my own too – like freekeh and escarole. And it helped me prepare brussel sprouts in a way My Girl enjoyed!

The not-so-awesome thing about Blue Apron is that those ingredients have to be chopped and minced and juilienned and blanched and sautéed and on and on and on. I made six meals from Blue Apron and each one took at least an hour from start to finish. Again, if the kitchen is your zen zone and chopping is your stress reliever, this could be ah-mazing for you. But if you’ve only got a Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode amount of time to get dinner prepped, it is a bit tricky.

The Blue Apron food was pretty tasty and wonderfully convenient. The meal prep time was not. But if you’re curious, I would say it is worth a $60 shot. Let me know your thoughts if you give it a whirl!

The 8 Week Mark

It’s here: the eight week postpartum mark. I feel I’m out of the Survival Mode gutter (most days) and kind of feel like I know what I’m doing with a toddler and a baby. So now it’s time to put a little focus on myself and my issue at hand: baby weight. Sigh. The baby weight.

With My Girl, losing the weight was pretty easy. It kind of just fell off and I was able to button my pre-baby jeans two weeks after delivery. Eight weeks after having My Bear and those same jeans won’t go past my thighs.

The difference in my post-baby circumstances is for several reasons: I carried my second four weeks longer than my first and definitely put on those last month pregnancy pounds; I was having contractions after our Disney trip and was told to “rest” the remainder of my pregnancy (aka no more working out); I didn’t have a doctor who made me cry over my weight gain & therefore I didn’t feel pressured to count calories like I did with my first (shamefully so); and, to be honest, I didn’t have an aversion to sweets like I did with My Girl and I definitely indulged in my love for brownies.  And I’m sure being in my 30s and having a second kid haven’t worked in my favor either.

Ok, ending personal therapy session.

So here I am, faced with having to lose a large amount of weight for the first time in my life. It seems overwhelming. But it also seems exciting to have that challenge. I’m incredibly excited to work my butt off at the gym (literally) , a little less so about giving up my brownies. But I’m ready.

And I know myself: I can be extremely disciplined with clean eating and exercise when I have a game plan.  So here it goes…

Go to the gym three days a week.
I don’t have the pre-baby luxury of dictating my own time that allows for a stringent gym schedule anymore, but I know I can make three days a week work. It’s doable. And enjoyable. The gym is my release like shopping is for others.

Move everyday.
If I don’t make it to the gym, I will walk my dog. If that doesn’t happen, I will have a dance party with my toddler and do squats while bouncing my baby. Maybe I’ll do all three. Movement is crucial.

Eat five servings of fruit and vegetables everyday.
I have been in the bad habit of just grabbing a handful of crackers whenever I’m hungry. I need to start grabbing an apple instead.  It is time to refocus on clean foods again!

No fast food.
Ending a long stretch of very little fast food (I’m talking years here), I got in the horrible habit of hitting up the Chick-fil-a down the street during Survival Mode. No more. Just no more.

No daily chocolate.
My entire adult life, I’ve had chocolate everyday. A little bit (usually two Dove squares) would keep me from going overboard. But my ability to stop at a little bit seems to have disappeared for the time being (two Dove squares turned into ten). So it’s bye bye daily indulgence until I can enjoy it responsibly.

Water. Water. Water.
Drink at least 100 ounces everyday. This is needed in general, but especially needed to keep up my milk supply as I get back to the gym (this kid is actually nursing!).

So there it is: my bye bye baby weight game plan. My before pictures have been snapped – maybe I’ll have the guts to post them soon – and my fridge is stocked with clean foods. I’m pumped to get started!

Major Milk Makin’ Cookies

Major Milk Makin' Cookies Recipe
Breastfeeding was not easy with My Girl – in fact, it didn’t work at all. But I was able to exclusively pump, which allowed me to keep track of how much milk I was producing (probably a blessing and a curse). One thing that definitely helped with my production was eating a lot of calories and eating a lot of milk makin’ foods like oatmeal. My lactation consultant swore that these cookies helped produce that liquid gold as well, so I took that as a prescription to eat cookies. Done and done.

I made some to freeze then bake once baby boy decides to make an appearance, so please excuse the lack of a really pretty baked cookie to show. But I thought I’d share the recipe for any other mommas who may be in the market for some milk makin’ ideas! The original recipe is from Kathleen Major – I don’t know her, but credit should be given where credit is due.

Major Milk Makin’ Cookies
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 3/4 cups old fashioned oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup almond or peanut butter
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 cup flaxseed (I used ground though it’s not specified in the original recipe)
3 Tbs brewer’s yeast (I used nutritional yeast)
1/3 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups (12 ounces) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts of your choice

Combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
In a large bowl, beat almond butter, butter, sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, brewer’s yeast, flax and water until creamy.
Mix in eggs.
Gradually beat in flour mixture.
Mix in nuts and chocolate chips.
Add oats slowly, mixing along the way.

Place balls of dough onto greased baking sheets. Press down on each ball lightly with a fork.
Bake 12 minutes.
Makes A LOT of cookies!

Vegetarian Freezer Meals

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Things were quiet on the blog last week because two special things happened: another sweet nephew was born and a trip to Chattanooga with my bestie was on the books.

My nephew arrived in quick fashion and was in the NICU for the length of my stay, so there aren’t any pictures to share at the moment. (He is now home and doing awesome – so pics are on the horizon during my next visit!) But while my sister was in the hospital recouperating, my mom and I got busy making her return home as fabulous as possible. My mom got her cleaning gloves on while I sported my chef’s hat.

The only challenge to making a lot of meals for my sister’s family is that my brother-in-law is a vegetarian. Apparently vegetarian freezer meals are not the most popular of Pinterest posts, and I knew everyone else would serve them up veggie lasagna. But I did manage to find a few non-lasagna keepers, and I thought I’d share for anyone else looking to feed a meatless crew!

My Vegetarian Freezer Meal List:
Calzones: I made pepperonni ones for my sis and veggie ones for her hubs filled with sauteed mushroom, onions and peppers.
Black Beans & Rice Cakes
Baked Ziti
Deep Dish Spinach Pie: The original post doesn’t include instructions for freezing and reheating, but my mom and I decided this would work…Thaw overnight, cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees until heated through.
Vegetable Enchiladas: I had a lot of filling leftover – should’ve bought more tortillas!

I also made a few breakfast items for them:
Cottage Cheese Pancakes
Sweet Potato Muffins
Apple Banana Muffins
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Any good vegetarian freezer meals I’ve missed? Please share!

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Pie

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip PieI’ve been making this pie since my first days of marriage. As a newlywed, I didn’t have much experience in the kitchen, and this was one of my first successes. I have no idea where the recipe originated (I’ve been toting it around on an index card through all of our moves), but it is definitely a keeper. Once My Hubs was having a sweet craving, and I just whipped this up with what we had in the kitchen. He said the fact I can just throw together a pie is a total turn on. Henco facto, try this super simple recipe on for size…

Easy Peasy Chocolate Chip Pie
1 unbaked 9 inch deep dish pie crust (if frozen, thaw completely; bake on baking sheet & increase time)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional – I’ve used pecans & walnuts but like peanuts best)

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Beat eggs in a large mixing bowl on high speed until foamy. Beat in flour, sugar and brown sugar. Beat in butter.
3. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
4. Pour mixture into pie shell.
5. Bake 55-60 minutes or until a knife inserted halfway between the edge and the center comes out clean.
6. Cool on a wire rack. Especially yummy served warm with ice cream.
7. Enjoy!

Obessions: Weelicious

Weelicious cookbook
If we’ve met and we’ve discussed our kiddos, chances are I’ve gushed about Weelicious to you. I receive their daily emails, I’ve got the cookbook, I’ve made a ton of their recipes with a lot of success – my mom group even has Weelicious cooking play dates! Needless to say, Weelicious would qualify as one of my current obsessions.  My Girl’s too – we cook Weelicious recipes from her Learning Tower all of the time!

The concept behind Weelicious is to provide recipes that are quick, easy and wholesome for the whole family. And I believe they’re pretty on the money with what they deliver. Of course I recommend you give the whole site a good look for yourself, but here is a quick rundown of some of my favorite recipes I’ve really enjoyed.

Tip: the baking times given on her recipes are usually a few or several minutes too long for my oven. I’d recommend checking your food about five minutes before the given time to make sure you don’t burn anything. Not that I’ve burned food and had to throw some things straight into the trash or anything.

My favorite Weelicious recipes…drum roll please…
Sweet Potato Muffins
Spinach Ricotta Bites
Rice Cooker Mac n’ Cheese
Oven Baked “Fries”
Carrot Snack Sticks
Chicken in a Crock Pot
Chewy Granola Balls
Baked Zucchini Coins
Banana Wheat Germ Muffins

Good luck cooking!!