Mistakes you’re making…in the diet.

Finally, part 3! If you’re just joining, be sure to check out parts 1 and 2 of this series – regarding common gym and kitchen mistakes. With the addition of this last piece, I hope all my readers will feel better educated and well on their way to making positive changes.

Saved the best for last. Why is this the best? Because…

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you can’t out-exercise a crappy diet! Not giving your body proper fuel is setting yourself up for failure. It’s tripping over the starting line before giving yourself a chance. This is hands-down the area I’ve become most passionate about because it’s done the most for me. The minute I started treating food as fuel was the beginning of a change that has gotten me in the best shape of my life and feeling better than I ever have before. I used to think the secret to getting toned, losing weight, and feeling good…was in the gym. Although this is an important part of the equation, the first step is in your diet. Abs are built in the gym but unveiled in the kitchen. Which is why things like THIS drive me crazy:

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LIES! I don’t care how many sit-ups, crunches, or planks you do…if you’re not taking care of what’s on your PLATE, you’re never going to see results! It’s not the fact that you don’t have abs, or muscles…we all do. It’s the fat over them that’s hiding any such evidence. So get your eating habits in-line by avoiding these 10 common dieting mistakes!

#1. Dieting for the wrong reasons.

I don’t even like the word “diet” because it implies something temporary. When I use the word “diet”, I’m referring to what we eat every day; the range of foods we choose to take in as fuel. So when you start a new routine, make it NOT about a quick fix and more about a lifestyle. Save yourself the agony of going through fad and unrealistic crash-diets and do it the right way. If your goals are more about your health and feeling/looking better in the long run, you will be more motivated to create habits that stick.  It will also help you avoid those ridiculous diets. You know, freezer-meals, 500-calories a day, eat-like-a-rabbit plans. With a society surrounded by such lies, it’s no wonder people see eating healthy as such a burden! But it all just comes down to simple changes. Simple changes that last a lifetime will get you much further than drastic changes that last a few weeks! Leading me to #2…

#2. Going cold turkey.

Just like any life-lasting changes, eating right is going to take TIME. Don’t push yourself into unrealistic goals.  Start with simple changes. Getting your veggies/fruit in daily, only eating dessert a few times a week, not eating out more than 2x a week. Whatever point you’re at now, set goals with realistic checkpoints. When I started, I just told myself I’d track my calories. That turned into slowly limiting them. After that I focused on weeding out processed food. Next came limiting cheat meals. Which leads me to my other point: part of every healthy diet, believe it or not, includes cheats! One bad meal isn’t going to make you fat just like one good meal isn’t going to make you skinny, so use that meal (or meals) as a great way to curb cravings and give your workouts a boost for the rest of the week. Just don’t get carried away:)

#3. Not giving your kitchen a makeover.

Out of sight, out of mind. The best thing you can do for yourself is clean out the temptations hiding in your fridge, pantry, and other nooks and crannies. Why have things around that are going to do nothing but keep you from your goals? You can do it. I promise. Just be sure to replace the food with better things. Because an EMPTY pantry and fridge sure isn’t the way to go, either!

#4. Failing to plan and think ahead.

We’ve all been in these shoes. You’re stuck out somewhere and it’s past mealtime. You’re STARVING. McDonalds is the only thing available. McNuggets it is.

Planning your meals for the day/week ahead of time is a habit you want to form ASAP! We’re most likely to make bad decisions when we are without a plan. When you’re hungry you’re going to grab the nearest restaurant or nearest bowl of food no matter if it’s Doritos or celery sticks. Have your meals mapped out ahead of time so you don’t have to be in that situation. This is especially important for those of you with hectic schedules – always being on the go rarely allows you time or place to cook. Not only that, but if you don’t have it planned, you can lose track of time and completely forget you haven’t ate in 6 hours. Which, believe it or not, is NOT good! I always plan my day for 3 meals, 2 smaller meals, and a “dessert” or snack just before bed – so I’m eating about every 2/3 hours. Doing so keeps my metabolism going and hunger in-check. You’re much less likely to binge on meals or be tempted by bad food laying around if you’re always satisfied.

While this is one of the most important keys to a successful diet – it’s also where people fire the most excuses! Prepping food is much easier than people make it out to be. Make enough dinner to allow leftovers for lunch the next day, throw some almonds in a snack bag, always have an apple on-hand, or use your Sundays to prep food so you don’t have to worry about it the rest of the week! You can always spare time, so kick that excuse. 15-20 minutes at the end of the night to prepare your next day’s food is by no means as impossible as people make it out to be. It will pay off BIG time in your health and fitness goals…and not to mention save you MONEY!

#5.  Not tracking what you’re eating.

Since I just told you eating 7+ meals a day is a good idea, I’d better follow up with this one. If you’ve been keeping up with my posts, you’ll have already read that I’m a food tracker. I always have an idea of how many calories and macros I’m taking in. This works well for me because my biggest problem with food has always been just eating way too much of it. I can’t help it; I love to eat…so if I’m not aware of how much I’m taking in I will just continue to do it! Doing so also keeps me on track because it has me paying attention to nutrition labels. You will find yourself eating a lot less “crap” as you track. “Crap” food will not only take up a lot of calories, but will also leave you unsatisfied and miserable! Maybe counting isn’t your thing, but at the end of the day weight loss boils down to calories burned vs. calories consumed. If you don’t think counting is going to work, at least keep a food log. Write down what you ate and how much of it. Then you can track what’s making you feel good and/or bad and see what food groups you need to get more of. For example, I found that limiting breads, starches, and dairy really helped me feel and look better – so I’ve found different ways to get those nutrients in. But most importantly remember it’s different for everyone – find what works for YOU. I use applications on my phone to track these things, but there are lots of Internet resources as well. If all else fails, there’s nothing wrong with an actual pen and paper! Whatever way you choose to track, just make sure you’re doing it. You don’t have to do it forever, but when you’re first starting out it’s important in order to get you better educated on what you’re taking in and help you get into a healthy rhythm. It will also help keep your portions in-check, menu balanced, and weed out the “grazing” we tend to do throughout the day.

#6. Not drinking enough water.

This is probably one of the most common (and crucial!) mistakes people make. Water has so much to offer regardless of what your goals may be. We’ve all heard “8 glasses” a day (8 oz each) but it’s the one thing you can truly never have enough of. Since our own individual needs will vary on numerous factors (exercise, climate, body comp, etc), I suggest just always having a glass or bottle on-hand and sip away during the course of your day. I drink around 2 gallons a day, but I also work out vigorously, live at a high altitude, and reside in a dry climate.  Most individuals may not need as much. When it comes to eating, you would be shocked to know that most of the time when your body thinks it’s “hungry” it actually just needs water! A good habit to get into is drinking a glass before you eat. This is especially important in the morning because your body has depleted most of its water supply. Water is also a key component in helping your body run food through its system. Staying hydrated will keep things clickin’ like it’s supposed to – increasing your metabolism and leaving you feeling great.

In summary, you may make a million trips to the bathroom but it’s worth it…you’ll feel so much better, I guarantee it (plus the bathroom trips are extra exercise!). Rumor has it that cold-water helps kick your metabolism over warm – so throw in a few ice cubes while you’re at it!

#7. Not tracking your progress.

As much as you’re not going to want to have anything to do with your first few progress pictures and numbers…make yourself do it! Nothing is more motivating than being able to see your progress. Not only that, it’s great to be able to look back on. A lot of people get sucked into only tracking the number on the scale – I highly discourage you from doing this. Why? Because you’ll look at it and think that if it’s not going down you’re not making progress. Progress is NOT in the numbers! You can weigh the exact same weight and have a completely transformed body. Muscle weighs more than fat so as you lose excess fat and gain muscle, it’s completely normal not to see the scale fluctuating. I don’t care how badly you don’t want to take pictures – it’s a must to keep yourself not only motivated but also accountable. It’s hard to let yourself slip when you can see the progress you’re making.

#8. Hiding your goals.

Sharing your goals will not only hold you accountable, but also those around you. Let them help you by letting them know what your goals are. They will then not only know what to expect, but will also (if they’re good friends/family) avoid providing you with temptations. If you’re family, you’ll end up making changes together because you feed from the same bucket. Even if you don’t live together – those you spend a lot of time with will likely start making healthier choices with you simply because they’re around you so much. Once you get it out there that you’re challenging yourself, let the competitive drive in you take over and prove to yourself and those around you that you can do it. Take pride in the challenge you’re setting out for yourself!

#9. Eating too many processed foods. 

Eating healthy will come much easier the more you can weed processed foods out of your diet. Stick to the edges of the grocery store and try eating only fresh food and produce for a week. Can’t pronounce an ingredient? Stay away.  Don’t fall into the “100 calorie, fat-free, low-calorie” trap. It’s usually processed to become that way and is in-turn, doing less good for you. Try eating less of the real thing, instead of more of the fake stuff. Once you get used to eating real food, your body will reject all the other “crap” you try to feed it. Clean eating is a lifestyle – and just as addicting as junk eating (only much more rewarding)!! Lots of great recipes out there to try – all it takes is a simple “clean eating recipes” google or Pinterest search. A great resource I use is my fooducate app on my phone. By scanning items, it gives a grade for the product and lets you know if it is highly-processed or hiding ingredients. I highly recommend it for anyone, especially those just starting out.

#10. Skipping meals.

I think we’ve all gone for this myth before. Skipping meals in order to indulge in others…or thinking it will somehow benefit us in the long run. It couldn’t be farther from the truth. Skipping any meals, especially breakfast, will send your body into starvation mode. When your body thinks it’s starving, it’s going to hold on to any fat it can and slow your metabolism down as a result. Not to mention it’s a completely unrealistic lifestyle. Who wants to spend half their day starving and the other half stuffed from binging? This doesn’t make for a healthy OR happy person! It’s instead a recipe for one grumpy, hungry, sleepy, and even dizzy person!

These are just a few of many mistakes people make in their diet. There are so many opinions out there about what is and isn’t the right thing to do, it can be confusing and completing frustrating as someone trying to make steps towards losing weight and living healthier. My answer to this is that there is no magic formula. No recipe that fits everyone. So keep it simple, keep it clean, and find what works for YOU. Lucky for us, the produce section is large and colorful so find foods that suite your own taste buds and get creative in the kitchen! Learn to love cooking and the fact you can see what’s going in your body. Love your indulgences, too…because we’re all human and deserve it every once and awhile!

It’s a process and no healthy, long-lasting change will happen quickly. Focus on the progress you’re making instead of the road that’s ahead of you. Like all things you’ll have ups and downs and days that all you want to do is swim in chocolate and give up. Stick with it and focus on small, simple changes. These will take you farther than any drastic, short-term change will. I’ve gained a huge passion for cooking, nutrition, and everything in-between…so if you have questions, comments, ideas, or anything else – please don’t be afraid to reach out!

Okay so now that I’m off my soapbox, I get to share lots of fun recipes that happened since my last post:

Overnight Oat Pancakes

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Lemon Vinaigrette Superfood Salad

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Sweet Potato/Chicken Quesadilla

Sweet Potato/Chicken Quesadilla

Homemade Fish Sticks

Homemade fish sticks

Cucumber Salsa

Cucumber Salsa

Sweet Potato/Eggplant/Blueberry Salad

Sweet Potato/Eggplant/Blueberry Salad

Meanwhile, this KILLER workout will get your heart pumpin!

In other news the last few weeks:

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Splurged on some Arctic Zero, this stuff aint cheap up here but I’ll gladly pay up to be able to down a pint of ice cream guiltlessly! Some people think this stuff is too bland – I usually add dark chocolate, peanut butter, pretzels, fruit, or other yum yum’s to spruce it up. I’ve even mixed it with greek yogurt to get some protein in and give it a thicker consistency.

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Like i’ve always said, mistakes are to be embraced in the kitchen! So, *embracing* while also crying because I wasted 1/4 cup precious PB2 (also not cheap) on these bad boys. I tried getting a little too fancy with substitutions and it came back to haunt me. Unfortunately these fell under the category of tasting as bad as they looked.
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Channeling my inner-dolphin for an early morning AMRAP! I found this gem (tank top) at Forever 21 of all places…I obviously had to buy it.
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Beets made an appearance in my kitchen last week, and not without a trace. (Tyler will say nothing in our kitchen makes an appearance without a trace – I disagree) Nutrition comes at a high price these days!

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We always plop by our favorite places when we finally get out into a civilized town – this time it was QDOBA! Nom nom nom my favorite.

IMG_0205 IMG_0033Annnnd of course we’ve been hittin the slopes as much as we can while the snow’s still around. We’ve had some awesome snow days and it’s finally starting to warm up so babies like me aren’t freezing their tails off!

Can you believe it’s March already?!! Hope everyone’s doing well and surviving the endless snow storms that seem to be hitting everywhere BUT where they need to be (the mountains). The locals around here do nothing but complain about “bad snow”!

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Mistakes you’re making…in the kitchen.

So you’ve improved your gym habits. Now it’s time to clean up your act in the kitchen.

22 of my 23 years I’ve regarded the kitchen as no more than a fridge, a pantry, and a microwave (a way to store my food and a way to heat it). So you can imagine I’ve learned a lot the past year about what this new part of the house is all about. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, learned from *most* of them, and have come to realize there’s a few important factors that help make the cooking experience a success . Which is why I decided to create this 2nd part of my “mistakes” series…

Mistakes we’re making…in the kitchen:

1. We don’t use substitutions.

How many times have you thrown out the idea of trying a recipe simply because you didn’t have, or didn’t like, one of the ingredients? Let me reassure you there is almost always a replacement for an ingredient. It’s as simple as googling “__ substitute”, investing in a substitute book, or even just using your brain! In baking, applesauce, yogurt, and bananas are all common methods of replacing staple ingredients like butter, oil, and sugar. Spices are also often interchangeable (or completely removable) and are never worth giving up on a recipe. Once you start to cook more often, you will begin to understand what certain ingredients bring to the table and replacing them will become second-nature. If you’re stuck because you don’t like a certain ingredient, consider swapping it for something you DO like. For example, don’t like chocolate chips? Use chopped nuts, raisins, or m&ms instead. Not a mushroom fan? Swap it out for another veggie. Don’t eat meat? Omit the meat! Be creative!

2. We don’t experiment.

This can be piggy-backed onto the previous point. Throw around ingredients, adapt recipes, brainstorm new ideas…create your own masterpiece! Cookies turn out like bricks? That’s ok! Keep experimenting and trying new things. Don’t limit yourself to other people’s taste buds. We’re all different so make it fun and try combos that accommodate your specific wants and needs. People almost always order different items on a menu when you eat out, so doesn’t it make sense that we may need to adapt someone else’s recipe?

3. We don’t use spices.

Something I’ve made a goal for the next year is to use more spices. I’ve become pretty plain jane but it’s amazing what just a little spice can do to your food, and for your health! Cinnamon, chili/cayenne peppers/spices, cumin, turmeric, oregano, ginger, thyme, rosemary, and garlic are just a few of the powerhouse spices that do wonders for your body as well as give your food a yummy kick.

4. We don’t embrace our mistakes.

We all have our moments. Growing up I read 1 tsp baking soda as 1 tablespoon and enjoyed a nasty homemade pizza. My mom is a saint for even pretending it “wasn’t that bad”. I’ve also had (continue to have) my fair share of pancake-cookies, overcooked eggs, burnt meat, and just overall ugly dishes. No one becomes a chef overnight…so enjoy these moments, learn from them, and laugh it off. It may take me a few days to “laugh off” cayenne pepper being sprayed in my eyes last weekend, however. Opening a new bottle or bag of anything at this altitude is never a quiet affair, so I should have known better. But SHOOT that peel just wouldn’t come off the lid so I really got my head into it and before I knew it I was running around the kitchen screaming for cold water…which conveniently would NOT come out of the faucet at that moment. It was really quite comedic had you not been the person with burning eyes.

Last thing on embracing mistakes…don’t forget to taste it before you throw it out. It may look like a mess but it doesn’t always taste as bad as it looks! These “nailed it” pictures always kill me – because we’ve all been in these shoes before.

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5. We’re not storing our food properly.

How many times have you made what you thought was a successful produce run to the grocery store, only to have it all spoil in 2 days?! So frustrating! But before you throw in the towel, do some research on the items you’re buying. Chances are, you’re just making some simple mistakes that can easily be changed to prolong your produce life and save you frequent trips to the store. In my own digging I found some interesting tips – did you know…

  • Tomatoes are best kept at room temperature? Refrigerated tomatoes lose their flavor quickly.
  • Carrots keep for 2 weeks when uncut, but once peeled and cut they need to be eaten within 3-4 days?
  • Apples give off ethylene gas that ripens fruits and some vegetables. Need an avocado or banana to ripen quickly? Stick your apples nearby!
  • Strawberries are not to be washed or cut until ready to eat? They’re good for 3 days in the fridge.
  • Fresh cranberries only keep for a few days in the fridge but keep for months when cooked?
  • Blueberries aren’t to be washed until they’re ready to use? Moisture hastens the deterioration of these already fragile berries.
  • Bananas, once ripe (yellow w/ brown spots), should be moved to the fridge? The cool air will slow the ripening process.
  • Apples may be stored either in the fridge or at room-temp, but they will stay fresher longer in the cool air. Store in a paper bag loosely closed.

6. We think we don’t need a cutting board.

Maybe it’s just me. But when you’re only cutting a few things and especially when you’re only cooking for one, sometimes it’s easier to cut things in your hand…or on the countertop. Not only is this unsanitary and dangerous, those few times will add up and create a nice looking design on your surface. I seem to cut myself even when I DO cut on a board, so you can imagine the band-aids I’ve gone through when I try to get fancy in my hands. People with kids need be especially careful with this because you never know when your little booger is watching you…and habits are quickly picked up! You don’t want them thinking it’s okay to hack away on your countertop NOR do you want them cutting things in their hands! Yikes!

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(Band-aid hands…always)

7. We’re not using oven mitts.

Again, this may just be my own terrible habit (in which case just listen up and be warned against forming the same one), but sometimes your food is done and that towel is so much more convenient than digging anything out (I can’t even listen to myself…I’m terrible). I have learned the hard way this is a terrible idea – towels are not meant to withhold heat for longer than a few seconds, and any haste with a burning hot plate never ends up well (see below)…

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And while we’re on ovens, also be aware that not just the inside of the oven gets hot while cooking. I placed one of my favorite pampered chef bowls on a back burner (on TOP of my oven) and before I knew it I had a piece of art:

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8. We’re not reading the entire recipe before we cook.

This is a crucial error for several reasons. Everyone is subject to human error. It’s common that the author will forget an ingredient in the list, but include it in the directions – leaving you s*** outta luck! In addition to this, there often times will be preparation that needs to be done before you start cooking. It could be as little as preheating your oven or as tedious as marinating overnight. Nothing is worse than being in the middle of your cooking (guests waiting), and realizing you needed to have refrigerated something for 2 hours. Do yourself a favor and read everything first.

9. We’re not tasting as we go.

BIG no-no! Lots of things wrong with this. First off, different people have different tastes – so whatever portions the recipe calls for, especially with spices and seasonings, it will likely need to be adjusted to what you like. Secondly, getting the right consistency will vary with the types/brands of foods you’re using. For example, certain brands of dairy are going to be much creamier than others. When using substitutions this step is especially important. Perhaps the most important factor here is the many variances of cooking times. Different appliances, ingredients and a million things in-between will make your cooking time different than everyone else’s. Keep an eye on your food and taste.as.you.go!!

10. You’re throwing away “bad” bananas.

Dooooon’t do it!! Mushy bananas are a bakers dream – they provide the perfect sweetness and consistency to add to recipes like muffins, cookies, breakfast dishes, and of course that yummy banana bread. Not only do bananas add great flavor, though, they also can be used as a healthy substitute to things like eggs, oil, butter, and even flour. Not a baker? Un-peel your ‘naners and freeze em for the perfect smoothie! Saying this, you can imagine my excitement when City Market puts these puppies on sale for .35 a pound!! I bought about half of these (honestly).

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These are just a few of many mistakes all of us make on a daily basis. I love this list from Cooking Light (stole a few from here)- it’s a longer, more comprehensive list and focuses more on specific cooking mistakes. Be sure to check it out and start impressing your guests…because if you’re anything like me, you’re guilty of about half of these.

In other non-kitchen related news, Tyler and I have had some awesome ski weekends the last two weeks. Two weeks ago in Vail, with a few high school friends of mine – and this last weekend in Keystone, where we got to take a breather at the lodge we got married at! So neat to be back – this time with coffee and snow boots:)

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ANYWAYS, I’ll leave you with some new recipes/workouts and pictures to tempt you into trying them! 🙂 But first, lets take a quick look into A) my best friend’s THIRD trimester belly and B) my water-loaded end-of-the-day tummy. Can you even guess which one is which? I’m not sure what’s more ridiculous…how much water I drink or how little her belly is!

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Cardio Strength Workout

Shoulder Burning Total Body Workout

Grilled Veggie/Sweet Potato/Ground Turkey Breakfast Skillet

Grilled veggie/sweet potato/ground turkey skillet

Cherry-Nut Fluffy Pancake Pile

Cherry Nut Fluffy Pancake Pile

Oatmeal Fruit Muffins

Oatmeal Fruit Muffins

Cauliflower Breadsticks

Autumn Salad Mix

HAPPY VALENTINES WEEK!! I can’t wait to give valentines, bake and decorate goodies, cook in heart shapes, and wear oodles of red, pink, and purple. Don’t be a grinch this week…we all need a little love:)

Top 10 wellness “go-tos”

We all have our staples. Our go-tos. Items that, when removed from our life, would cause a ripple in our routine and a little/lot of anxiety. Sometimes these are negative things, somehow making their way onto a New Year’s resolution every year…but they can also be good things. Things that help us create healthy rhythms and accomplish our goals.

That being said, I’m dedicating this post to my own personal set of go-tos – focusing on the items that keep my food and fitness tickin…because who needs to know my naughty list anyway?

  1. My lulu pants. The most comfortable, sweatable, and loungable things I own. From my astro pants that once were form-fitting and now serve as sweatpants – to my wunderunders that get worn everywhere from the gym to my couch to a base layer under my ski pants. A little pricey compared to your local Target knock-offs, but a very high-quality product that, for me, gets their moneys worth within a week!
  2. Nike Fuelband. Something so attached to me I ended up taking this “water resistant” wristlet for a “water proof” spin in the pool a few times. It managed to stay alive for a few months before I had to say my goodbyes and try to make the nice list for Christmas. Turns out I made the cut (thanks mom and dad!) and now have some new white wrist-candy to fill the naked feeling. Check out more about what this band is all about at the link above…but a quick synopsis is it tracks your activity throughout the day, including steps and calories, while also doubling as a watch. By the simple click of a button you get an awesome display that shows you all of your statistics as well as progress towards your goal.Nike Fuelband
  3. Loseit! App. Having an application on my phone allows me easy access to tracking my food throughout the day (and exercise if I were to choose). I’m never without my phone, therefore never without an excuse:)
  4. Nike training club. Another application for my phone that provides numerous workouts doable both at-home and in the gym. Other fitness applications included in this go-to category include: nike running, iwod fitness, bodyrock, sworkit, workouts, and ab workouts. There are millions out there for you to download…notice how your excuses are slowly being weeded out?
  5. PINTEREST! My oh my what was the world even like before this beautiful website? A hub of ideas for absolutely anything, and the ability to pin these ideas to your own digital corkboard. It’s like google, but better…because pictures are involved. I’m always on here looking for recipe and workout motivation. Check out reaganrambler’s pinterest board here – and begin your very own pinterest journey! I’d also sneak Instagram on this number, because it’s similar in that you can explore everything, have a feed with only people you choose to follow, and share things yourself! As many of you know who follow me, I love using my instagram to share recipes and workouts as well as find them from other people! Don’t have instagram? Download the phone application now and follow me at eblank1…often times I’ll post recipes there before I do on here.
  6. PB2. I’ve already dedicated an entire post to this love story. No need to waste your time twice.
  7. Fage 0% plain greek yogurt. We buy 3-4 TUBS a week and still manage to run out. Besides the obvious use of serving as yogurt, I also use this as a healthy substitute in baking/cooking.  Dips? Yep. Sour cream? Pshhh, this stuff is waaaay better. Never ever will you find me without this in my fridge. Great source of protein!
  8. Water bottle. Most people do the triple-pat before they leave the house – keys, wallet, phone. My triple-pat goes phone, keys, and… bottle. Water has SO many benefits for you! Next time you think you’re hungry, down a glass of water and see how you feel. A lot of times your body just needs water! First thing in the morning drink a glass of water and see your breakfast intake go down. Feeling sick? Drink up – water keeps your system working and will help flush those nasty germs right out of you. But why wait ‘til you’re on your deathbed to start? Drinking cold water will aid in keeping your metabolism up and is guaranteed to make you feel better throughout the day (or your money back).
  9. Scale. More-so my kitchen scale but I’ll go ahead and throw the bathroom scale in there, too. Being able to accurately measure portions leaves the guessing out of how much you’re eating. Not to mention you can easily convert portions when you’re not sure how much “10 oz” is and you need it in a recipe. Beware of sticking too close to your bathroom scale, as your goals are about much more than weight (muscle weighs more than fat!). Focus on how your clothes feel and how you look. It is, however, a good idea to keep an eye on it. Pay attention to weeks at a time, though, not days…and be sure to weigh-in at the same time – I (and Dr. Oz) would suggest in the morning after you’ve gone to the bathroom but before you’ve had that first glass of water (ahem, #8).
  10. Last but most certainly not least is…oatmeal! If you’ve even briefly viewed my recipes you will surely have already seen this coming. Not only is it incredibly nutritious and filling, it’s versatile. I’ll eat it cold as overnight oats, hot with a few egg whites, throw it in a smoothie, use it in pancakes, grind it and use it as flour…the options are endless!

There you have it. My top 10, so-to-speak. Honorable mention includes almond milk (this really probably should have made the list), sweet potatoes, headbands, and spandex. What are some of YOUR fitness/food staples?

Before I wrap up with my newly added recipes and workouts, I have to share this restaurant story. Over the holiday, my in-laws were in town and we all went to dinner at a very nice Mexican-themed restaurant. They had a lot of healthy options available, all I needed was a simple side swap (can I get some veggies instead of the beans?) or clarification on what something on the menu was. All to which our waitress struggled to answer and in the end I wasn’t even sure what I ordered. It was all just horribly confusing and much harder than it needed to be. Well, as Tyler would say…sometimes when you’re a health nut and ask too many questions the waitress just throws her hands up and brings you a side salad and a plate of salmon. I couldn’t believe it. The salad was the size of my hand.  Luckily, the salmon was at least a hearty portion and somewhat worth the price of an entrée that I ended up getting charged. My goodness, people…throw me a bone!! (literally)

Pathetic MealIn other news, who knew spinach could spice up canned soup so much? I got lazy with food prep one night  last week and decided to throw a can of chicken noodle soup in my lunch bag. Decided I could spruce it up by throwing some spinach in, too. Turned out awesome! You’d never know it came out of a can!

Also supporting me in my wellness goals this week – my husband -because I sure as heck didn’t put a snickers in my bag of eggs.

Alright, time to tackle the rest of this Saturday. Be sure to check out some new recipes and workouts from this week:

Pumpkin Mousse Cake

Chocolate Mousse Cake

Strawberry Banana Protein Smoothie

Chocolate/PB Almond Clusters

Sweet Potato/Banana Scramble

Simple Crockpot Chili

Quinoa/Black Rice Omelet

Spaghetti Squash Veggie/Rice Mix

Sweet Potato/Quinoa Patty

Crispy Zucchini “Fries”

Arm Burning, Total-Body Workout

Turkey-inspired kitchen review

Happy Thanksgiving Recovery Week!

Those health-conscious individuals can be found in the gym, attempting to work their way back to feeling good and sweating out all the indulgences of last week. The Betty Crockers will be in the kitchen, trying to duplicate recipes or find ways to use leftovers for the week. Of course there’s also those who see Thanksgiving as nothing more than a step closer to black friday …while everyone was making rounds 2 and 3 through the buffet Thursday, these people were strategizing their plan of attack, planning which deals they would prioritize and which items would be left for cyber monday. Look for this type to be sitting on the couch, admiring all of their Christmas presents wrapped under the tree and recovering from the bruises it took to get them there.

I consider myself to fall in the Betty Crocker category this year, and since Thanksgiving food prep often requires the use of kitchen supplies you likely had to dust off, it had me thinking…how many of those things taking up your precious kitchen space are really worth having? I’ve had the luxury of very generous wedding guests to provide me with many of these household appliances – so I decided to go through some of the bigger appliances in my kitchen, and give them a review. In case you’re considering adding any of these to your Christmas list this year, here is my honest opinion on my…

  • KitchenAid Mixer: 4/5 stars
    • One of the biggest faces in kitchenware and also one of my most anticipated items from my wedding registry. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this and see what it could do. However, I do have to admit the number of times I’ve used this since getting it in July is limited to two hands. It’s best used for large quantities and I am most of the time only cooking for two people. I don’t like to cook more than I want to eat so I mostly have used my mixer only when baking for large groups, or when my ingredients simply cannot be mixed well by hand. For example: my sweet potato casserole. Mashing sweet potatoes, even when cooked, can be tough. In addition, any other dense foods are better off being left to the machine as well. The package comes with multiple attachments to accompany many kinds of mixing, mashing, kneading, and whisking. There are also many attachments that can be purchased as add-ons to help your mixer experience! Although I would have loved having myself a bright pink mixer, our charcoal color has been working just as well. To summarize, I don’t use it as much as I’d like but it’s definitely worth the space it takes up in the cupboard.
  • KitchenAid Food Processor: 4.5/5 stars
    • Many people dismiss investing in a food processor due to the fact they own a blender. But let me tell you it is worth the price (and space) to invest in one. Food processors come in all shapes and sizes and have many different features. My specific one here is pretty hard to beat. It comes with 3 different blades -one for shredding, one for slicing, and one for mixing. All which do so flawlessly. You can set the thickness of the slice or shred to whatever you’d like…making hashbrowns, relish trays, or diced anything is a breeze. For someone like myself who manages to cut herself on the daily, this is a great tool to cut your fresh produce every week. Having pre-chopped veggies to work with cuts meal prep down to almost nothing. Other than shredding and slicing, it has a great mixing blade. Blenders can mix well, but nothing compared to the power of a food processor. Blenders lose their magic touch when you have little liquid in what you’re trying to blend. Food processors can blend even the toughest foods together. I use mine especially for homemade hummus and my cauliflower crust pizza nights!
  • KitchenAid Blender: 4/5 stars
    • To complete my kitchenaid trifecta, lets talk about blending. I love my blender. I love it because it’s simple, quick, and easy. Smoothies take up it’s primary use, but I also turn to my blender when making pancake batter or other liquid recipes. Before I had a food processor, I used blenders for all of my food mixing needs. However, it often required a lot of stopping, pushing ingredients down to the blade, blending, stopping, repeat. Much less efficient, but still possible. Keep in mind what you will be using your equipment for the most when deciding what to invest in. For me, this is great to have around.
  • Juicer: 2/5 stars
    • Not a fan. There is very little “bang” for your “buck”. “Buck” being the fruits and vegetables and “bang” being the juice in your glass. It leaves you wondering where all of your food went. I would much rather throw these things into a blender or food processor and just enjoy the “pulp”. While the end product is indeed delicious, I haven’t found the size of the machine and the much-too-troublesome cleanup to be worth the tablespoon of juice I get from what feels like my entire stock of produce. However, I will say that not all blenders can handle the thicker vegetables and fruits, making the juicer your better option. It’s just a matter of weighing what you’re trying to make and the ease at which you’re trying to do it.
  • Yonanas Machine: 5/5 stars
    • Oh, my, gosh. It’s like magic, it really is. For someone like myself whose weakness is frozen yogurt and ice cream…this has been a dream come true! Those of you unfamiliar with the machine – a) google it and b) let me fill you in: it’s a small device that turns frozen bananas into ice cream. The texture and consistency is identical to that of ice cream and you can add in other frozen fruit or dry items to create essentially any flavor that you want. (insert pics) Upon my first week of trying this out, I had it three days in a row…one of those times being after breakfast *turns head away in embarrassment*. Keep in mind while this is essentially very healthy – you’re basically just eating bananas. So while I love ice cream, the amount of bananas I was consuming began to sit less and less well over those three days. I think I probably went 2 full weeks without having bananas after that. No bueno. So while I fully encourage you to indulge in this purchase, proceed with caution.
  • Crockpot: 5/5 stars
    • Absolute must-have!! The ultimate lazy persons dream. But not only is it easy, it’s versatile, makes your place smell amazing, and best of all…it’s very hard to screw up. Most people think of soups, stews, and dips when they hear crock-pot…but that is far from the realm of its possibilities. Just think of it as a mini-oven. You can cook meat, dessert, vegetables, casseroles, the options are endless. Get your hands on a crockpot cookbook, or surf the web, and put that thing to use! I just have a medium-sized single crockpot, but they also come in a mini-size and 3-in-1 option to cook multiple dishes at one time. If my hubby didn’t despise kitchen equipment taking up our storage space, I’d have all 3:)
  • SodaStream: 4.5/5 stars
    • This is one of my best purchases post-wedding. Not everyone is into bubbly drinks. I am. Not pop, but I was buying flavored sparkling waters from the grocery store like they were going out of business. At about $1/each, I found myself spending anywhere from $10-$20 a week (Tyler started to love them, too). The sodastream is a slim machine that carbonates water in three simple presses. In addition to the carbonator itself, they sell lots of different add-in flavorings…anything from soda flavors to juice. I tend to buy flavor packets on my own (propel zero, crystal light, etc) or even just squeeze some lemon juice in – and enjoy! It’s definitely worth the up-front payment, and the only reoccuring cost is in replacing the carbonator every month or so (about $15). If you’re a pop or bubbles lover, I’d definitely be putting this on your Christmas list.
  • Wafflemaker: 4.5/5 stars
    • My wafflemaker is one of the more recently purchased items in our kitchen. Tyler heavily fought this purchase as yes, it does take up space. But once I snuck it in (it was on sale at Target – I obviously had to buy it) and served him his first belgian waffle he seemed to pipe down pretty quickly. Funny how that works, huh? You may wonder why I don’t just make pancakes…but once you’ve had a waffle there’s just no comparison! I love the deep crevices and how my fruit and toppings fill them. To make a successful waffle, you’ll need a thicker batter. I use Hodgson Mills Buckwheat or whole wheat buttermilk mix. The thicker consistency of the waffle is another thing that has me crawling back. It’s an item worth having if you have the space to store it…it’s an easy way to impress your guests and enjoy for yourself as well:)

All in all, while I may have a husband who never fails to gripe about our “lack of space”, I will beg to differ that a) our space is nice and tidy *thank you very much* and b) it’s all absolutely worth the space it just so happens to take up. Ladies, as long as you can keep his stomach full and happy he will stay quiet. Fastest way to a man’s heart is after all, his stomach. However, I think my quest to keep us healthy and trim has started to take a toll on Tyler. After telling him how many cool Christmas cookie recipes I found…he responded with the question, “Can we have real people cookies for Christmas?”. So, real people cookies it is. I deserve it anyways.

Here’s a peek at what our Thanksgiving meal looked like…my brother came up to spend the week with us so we were cooking for a small party of three:) The meal was simple, yet delicious. Tyler took control of the turkey, using this skinnytaste recipe to brine it. It turned out delicious, as did the sweet potato pecan casserole (listed at the bottom, or on the recipage). With the green beans I just sautéed them with a little olive oil, then added almonds, garlic, and currants. The cranberry sauce was okay, but nothing worth sharing.

My golden rule every year is to keep the Christmas music off as well as the tree in the closet until Thanksgiving is over. So, we went to work right away with a quick trip to Denver last weekend to stock up on “Christmasness”…including our very first Christmas tree that fits perfect in our kitchen! I’ve waited a long time to have my own tree. Finally a chance to use my large collection of ornaments. My aunt Cindi has made it a tradition to give me ornaments every year…and with the travels I’ve done as well, Tyler really had no idea what he was in for when I said I had “some ornaments” (this picture is only half of what I had laid out!).

That’s all for this week. Be sure to check out my newly added recipes below, as well as my workout page and Pinterest boards!

Pumpkin Mousse Pancake

Turkey Pot Pie Soup

Deviled eggs revamped

Sweet Potato Pecan Casserole

Greek Yogurt Honey Mustard

Chocolate Oreo Fluff

Banana nut oatmeal cookies

I’ll leave you with this. I used my freshly emptied almond butter jar for my overnight oats! It soaked up all the yummy goodness left in the jar. I woke up, topped it with Kashi cereal, and had a delicious breakfast to go! Give it a shot!

A love story.

It’s time everyone meets my best friend. See below my recent glimpse of heaven at the local Eagle City Market:

PB2.

We first met in my pantry, actually. I walked into the kitchen…the pantry door was open. Vangelis’ “Chariots of Fire” began softly playing and I was naturally gravitated to start slowly frolicking to the glowing jar of PB2 as it began to lift off the shelf towards me in the same fashion. Ok not really, but do take a minute to dissect this visual. The truth is I saw it packaged up, and gave it no longer than 3 seconds before it was dismissed as another one of my dad’s weird backpacking foods. I left the pantry without even saying goodbye. Then I left for Europe, and never again would I see PB2 until I was scanning Pinterest one day, “Hey that’s the weird stuff my dad had in the pantry!”. Upon arrival back in the US, this was one of many items I couldn’t wait to hunt down in the grocery store.

Hunt down I did…and to my glorious surprise there was not only a regular PB2 but also a chocolate PB2. As I said in my last post, I like to track my calories. So as any nut or nut butter lover knows, these glorious little things that often make our way into our diets are high in both calories and fat. Good fats they are indeed, but how do you put the spoon down after the suggested tablespoon or two? YOU CAN’T. Science has linked traces of crack in recent jars of peanut butter, proving true what we have thought all along. Not really, but doesn’t it feel like it? I don’t care what time of day it is, nut butter always sounds good and on just about anything. That’s why when I found this peanut butter that has 85% less calories and fat I thought I had died and gone to heaven.

I’ve tried all sorts of nut butter, even the “calorie-free” kind (YUCK)…but I haven’t been more loyal to a single food item than I have PB2. I honestly think I’ve had one on-hand since the first time I tried it. Let me tell you why I love and use it so much:

  • It’s in powdered form, making it easy to add to smoothies, oatmeal, yogurt, cereal milk, and all sorts of recipes – without having the clumpy mess that you do with normal nut butter. It mixes easily and evenly.
  • Obviously, it’s a lower calorie/fat option…so overindulging is quite alright.
  • You can make it the exact consistency you want. You make your spread by adding water to it…allowing you to make it as creamy or dense as you choose.
  • Creating a flavored spread has never been easier. Think outside the box and instead of adding water, add pumpkin puree to get a yummy pumpkin-butter (then add water if needed, and cinnamon/p.spice for bonus points)…chocolate milk to add a chocolate kick…or even add it to jelly to play up America’s favorite combo – in a SPREAD! The options are endless!
  • It travels light and easy. Airport security? No problem. (yes I travel with it – not ashamed)

When you hear it’s so much lower in calories or fat you naturally tend to think there must be something going on in the process of making it that is unnatural and in the end – not good for you. But it’s an all-natural product that gets the powdered form by slow-roasting the peanuts and then pressing them to remove the oils and fat.  I realize not everyone is going to have the love affair with PB2 that I have. In fact, some of you probably think I’ve lost it, and are sitting there laughing at your computer thinking “wow, this girl just wrote an entire post about…peanut butter”…but I highly suggest even if you are doubtful you at least give it a try. If not, then at least you now know what I’ve referenced in 90% of my recipes. You can find this stuff in most natural/organic sections of the store, but if not you can also order it online…which is what I had been doing before I found this lovely section in our City Market (pictured above).

Since there is more to life than peanut butter (sometimes), let me share my week in photos:

This marked my first week of work at VVMC (Vail Valley Medical Center). It was full of lots of training and new information to digest. I know everyone probably says this 1-week into their job, but I couldn’t be happier with what I’m doing and where I’m at. I love being in the healthcare atmosphere, getting to learn new software programs, interacting with customers, and working with people who are passionate about what they do. The opportunity for growth and movement within this field is so exciting. My specific facility in Beaver Creek doesn’t open until Nov 21, so our training has been in the hospital in Vail…but we did get to sneak up and check it out. This picture is where I’ll be working. When I said we’re at the base of the ski resort…I meant it!! How spoiled am I!!

We ate outside all week during our lunch break. It’s been unusually warm this late into the year. Every morning before work I’d walk in to the sound of snow-making…they’re trying hard to get runs open for opening day next Friday!

One of many perks of working for VVMC…they have a library where employees can check out as many books as they’d like, and even can have books ordered in free-of-charge. I [obviously] had to pick up a few while I was checking things out. I’ll be looking to order in some health informatics/IT-related medical books soon…a field I’m trying to learn more about and hopefully get into somewhere down the line.

The most amazing sunset on my way home from work this week!

Last weekend we took advantage of a nice sunny Sunday and took a little run/hike. This place is full of the most amazing hidden paths!

At the top:) Love this kid.

In case you ever think you’ll go easy on the spinach, DON’T. You can never have enough of this stuff. This huge tub is only 40 calories and full of nutrients! When picking your lettuce, generally the darker the leaf the better.

Weird…me eating sweet potatoes? Well for some reason this idea JUST clicked in my brain this week. Why haven’t I been using my food processor to cut these before? I can’t tell you how many cuts I’ve given myself trying to cut these! Also, why have I not been cooking them in the skillet? Delicious! I don’t season these with anything but a little olive oil and salt/pepper. They are so flavorful on their own!

We all get on our kicks. This week was a smoothie kick. Had one almost everyday…either at breakfast with some cereal mixed in, or at night for dessert. Yum yum. No recipes, though. I’m just going to tell you I used plain greek yogurt, unsweetened almond milk (chocolate or vanilla or both), oatmeal, frozen fruit, frozen banana, chia seeds, flax meal, and then other add-ins to make my specific flavor. Anything from PB2 to cocoa powder to carob chips. Be creative:) I’ll try to get some specific recipes down sometime soon. I really am just eyeballing everything.

But if you are looking for some recipes to follow, check out this weeks creations:

Cookie Dough Hummus Dip

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

Beef Tamale Bake

Baked Pumpkin Spice Oatmeal

Lastly, be sure to check out a few workouts I added…and enjoy wherever you are in the world, even if your view looks similar to mine today:

I guess I need to strap a few lights and ornaments on this tree in our backyard, huh? *cues Christmas music*

“Good habits are as addictive as bad habits, and a lot more rewarding” – Harvey MacKay

80/20. Could that really be true? 80% of weight loss is attributed to your eating and 20% to your exercise?

When I first heard this, I didn’t believe it. I was under the mindset that through all of my activity in athletics, I was entitled to eat whatever I wanted. After all, I just worked out hard…I deserved this food, right? I can’t help but look back and wonder how much better I would have been able to perform and how much better I would have felt had all those volleyball tournaments growing up been filled with quality food instead of puppy chow, walking tacos, and scotcheroos. How much better shape I could have been in had my lunch on game days not consisted of chinese food, french fries, and pizza.

I love counting calories. For me, it’s a sure-fire way to feel good, fight cravings, and balance meals. I can splurge on one meal, cut back on another. However, as I’ve become better educated I’ve realized that while keeping portions in check is always important, it’s also important to focus less on the number and more about the quality of food you’re putting in. For example, I bought a bag of popcorn the other day that only has 130 calories for 4 cups. But in those 4 cups is also 5 grams of saturated fat!! Yikes!! Or how about those low-calorie granola bars? Most of those calories are filled with sugar and processed ingredients, leaving you completely unsatisfied. You’ll be much better off having a handful of protein-packed almonds that will keep you fuller, longer. To avoid falling into these traps, be aware of those important other numbers on the nutrition label and avoid high sugar and sodium-packed foods with little nutritional benefits. Like I’ve mentioned before, an application like Fooducate on your phone can help you tremendously in this department!

So although there’s a lot more to eating well than your caloric intake, limiting and tracking your calories can be a great start and will definitely get you (and keep you) going in the right direction. It can be as simple as just keeping mental notes of the amount you’re consuming/expending, or what I would highly suggest doing is getting an application on your phone. It’s something you always have with you and is a great resource for looking things up. What I’ve used for a long time is the  LoseIt! app. LoseIt! helps you set your goals, track both food intake and exercise, and provides nutritional information for most common foods. Another good application I’ve tried is called SlimKicker. SlimKicker is a very similar application, but allows you to track other numbers besides calories if you so choose (carbs, protein, fat, cholesterol, sodium, fiber, and sugar). Be warned, however, that once you enter the world of calories there is no going back! You will never look at a Starbucks drink the same. In fact, you may stop eating out entirely:) Only kidding. This brings me to my next point:

Cheat days. We all have them…just sometimes too many of them. This day is important, especially when just starting out on a new healthy diet. It’s a day when you can eat whatever you want. Not only does this help in keeping your overall eating plan on track, but it also serves as a way to keep your exercise routine motivated. Sometimes I get in a funk, or I get dragged to a pizza joint by my husband, and decide to splurge. You better believe that next morning is a serious sweat session in the gym! As hard as it is to limit your cheat days and meals I promise you it gets easier with time. The longer you stick to healthy eating, the easier it is to fight cravings. Eat less sugar, crave less sugar. You will get to a point when eating unhealthy will physically make you feel sick, and it’s a lot easier to say no to things that don’t make you feel good! So enjoy your splurging (I thoroughly enjoy my much too often froyo trips), but be encouraged when you start having less cravings…it means you’re making progress.

So, there’s my 10 cents. 80/20 is completely true. If you’re trying to decide whether to start spending more time in your kitchen or your gym, make it your kitchen…trips to the gym become a lot more enjoyable when your going to tone what you have instead of work off what you ate.

If I were to finish by saying something it would be to stay encouraged. It takes about 3 weeks to form a habit and you’re not going to meet your goals by the end of week one . Not even week two, or three. Healthy weight loss is measured in 1-2 pounds a week, but I encourage you to make your change of habits less about the number on the scale, and more about how you feel!!! I absolutely love this picture:

Comparing yourself to other people isn’t going to get you anywhere. Love what you have and take care of yourself because it makes you feel good! Confidence and strength is sexy no matter what shape or size you are!

So speaking of losing weight…I’ve lost quite a bit over the last 8 months! Enough to have to throw out a good portion of my closet. It’s obviously a great feeling to have a “Jared” moment, but now I have nothing to wear! With work starting up and winter being right around the corner…my yoga pants aren’t going to take me much further. I’ve finally plateaued with my weight and am looking forward to a mini-shopping spree within my budget this weekend:) Woo!!

To wrap up I’ll leave you with some pictures, which are much more exciting than my words anyways…

Tyler has been fly fishing in attempts to bring home dinner…nothing like waking up to a fish in your sink. alive.

I took my mom on a scenic hike while she was here…relaxing here at the top.

Not only did we hike together, she attended my fitness class on Monday and totally kicked butt. One proud daughter!!

Tyler and I are on the same schedule now that my work (training) has started. Late night trip to the gym! Couple that works out together stays together, right? 🙂

Before you leave, be sure to check out this week’s new recipes…and ALSO my new intro and workout pages under “fitness”!

While my mom was here, we enjoyed some Mexican Squash Stew (recommended by my mother-in-law) and THIS yummy dessert!

Portobello Pizza

Made my favorite 2 ingredient pumpkin-spice cookies again and tried a new version w/ devil’s food cake mix! It just isn’t a Holiday until you’ve decorated cookies:)

My new go-to snack and dessert, smudgies!

Simple Slow Cooker Chicken

Avocado Dip made with Greek Yogurt

Egg White Pizza – credit to Miss Indy Uhlenhopp!

Week 3 of rambling complete – hope I still have some followers. Also, hope everyone had a fun and safe Halloween! Things were pretty low-key here in Eagle. Despite my attempts at dragging Tyler into a Misty-Kerri costume, we ended up relaxing and handing out candy to trick-or-treaters. All 3 of them. Which left us with a huge bowl of candy, and making it even more impressive that this was my first Halloween not having anything. I just don’t crave the things I used to. But before you label me some sort of saint, I will have you know that if that bowl had been full of ice cream or frozen yogurt – it would have been empty before it even got dark. Ohhh weaknesses….:)