Ah Soup, Must be… Another Hot Summer Day in Florida?

I’m sitting down to a yummy hot dinner (on another hot Florida day). Why would I make soup in the summer, you ask (or at least I ask myself)? Because it’s really yummy and really easy. It took about 15 minutes to make and all of the ingredients were already magically in my kitchen. Try this recipe for Turkey Meatball and Tortellini Spinach Soup and you won’t be disappointed. I changed the recipe a bit and used turkey meatballs (frozen aisle at Target) and this time had to use ravioli because someone kidnapped my tortellini. Whether you use ravioli or tortellini, it will still turn out wonderfully. Don’t forget to sprinkle some Parmesan cheese on top for that last little bit of flavor.

Hot off the stove! 15-minute Turkey Meatball and Tortellini (Ravioli) Spinach Soup

Hot off the stove! 15-minute Turkey Meatball and Tortellini (Ravioli) Spinach Soup

My brother and I escorted Mom and Dad to the airport today, and with that dropped off the rest of our holiday week as well. Lucky for my pet fishy Spartacus (lovingly referred to as Sparty), who likes to be petted and thinks he’s a dog, we stopped by Walmart on the way home and I got him some water tablets, so someone gets to sleep in a clean bed tonight.

I’ll be finishing off my weekend with a nice long stretch-session (as should you, if you read the weekend challenge yesterday…). Car rides and weekends off can make me stiff, so I try to do a little something (yes, even on days when I’m not working out!) just to feel healthy.

In case anyone was looking for something to watch tonight, Pirates of the Caribbean 4 will be on ABC Family. Hint Hint.

Good Things 🙂


Weekend Challenge July 6th and 7th

Hello hello!

Excuse my tardiness on posting halfway through Saturday. Time flies when you’ve got company and a holiday to celebrate!

Your weekend challenge is to 1) try to work off all that BBQ you ate on Thursday before the fireworks. Go for a walk, hit the gym and air conditioning, do something touristy in your own town, etc… and 2) STRETCH! It’s so good for you. Try for 10-15 minutes before bed tonight and tomorrow night (and preferably every night). It really does help to make you feel better. More limber, less stiff, more ready for the day when you wake up in the morning. It also helps to alleviate muscle soreness before you even start to get sore after a hard workout. Give it a try. See what you think!

St. Augustine Fireworks

Fireworks from the fort in St. Augustine

Good Things 🙂


Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

I’m currently watching a documentary on Netflix called Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. It’s about a man named Joe, whose lifestyle lead him to develop health problems such as high blood pressure, a severe skin disease, and almost-issues like being pre-diabetic and at serious risk of heart problems. He decides to “Reboot”, that is, do a juicing cleanse for 60 days. The documentary follows him on his journey through the withdrawals of fast foods, sugar, and processed foods to eventually losing over 200 pounds (and counting) via his new diet choices and switching from a sedentary to active lifestyle. Check out the website here. His dedication to better his life was an inspiration to many of the other people interviewed/followed in the documentary, and it got me thinking, too.

Now I’m definitely not saying I’m about to do a 60-day juice cleanse, but it has made me wonder more about the foods I’m putting (and maybe shouldn’t be putting) into my body. In the last few months I’ve been trying to get my full daily recommendation of fruits and veggies (2 cups of fruit and 3 cups of vegetables, according to this CDC website), and even that has been a little challenging (maybe not so much the fruits…). I’ve been buying more veggies like carrots, cucumbers, avocados, and tomatoes, and have even added 1 8oz. glass of V8 V-Fusion (Light!) to my diet to help. I bring carrots to work for a snack, saute squash or eat individually packaged veggies from Green Giant for dinner,  and have even taken to finding staple recipes like Caprese Quinoa Salad and Korean Cucumber Salad for Wednesdays when I bring back my haul from the farmer’s market.

Another thing I don’t think I want to do is become a vegetarian or vegan. I LOVE meat. It’s good, good for me (depending…), and is one of my main sources for protein. Many vegetarians and vegans (but not all!) end up needing to take supplements to get essential vitamins and minerals they may not get otherwise as a result of their diet. Our ancestors lived in a natural way of using the land, and I want to continue to as well. Unfortunately, with the higher and higher demands of meat in the world today, manufacturers are injecting animals with things like steroids and growth hormones.

On the same subject, many similar facts are being stated about fruits and vegetables. Pesticides (“cide” meaning “to kill”) and other chemicals are being sprayed on the crops to keep insects away and to make the food ripen at the “right time”. So, the solution? To buy organic. Everything? Some things? That’s what I’m working on understanding now. Besides remembering which fruits and veggies I need to buy organic, there’s the fact that I’m fresh out of college and still trying to find my way in the world (we’re talking monetarily here…). So far I’ve learned one simple rule about buying organic. Things you need to peel, like mangos, avocados, bananas, corn, onions, etc… don’t need to be organic. However strawberries, blueberries, peaches, tomatoes, etc… should be. Then nutrition articles  start to contradict each other and scientists discover new things. By the time I do some research, I feel like I’m right back where I started. My knowledge bank is overflowing with “GMOs” and “BHT” and “BHA” and “BPA” and nitrate products and refined sugars and on and on. I’ve started collecting information and storing it here, on my Pinterest page, where I can refer to it easily before I go grocery shopping or save a recipe.

Semi-considering all that’s going around now, I try to eat the best I can. If I’m craving something sweet, I try to make my own dessert so I can control how much good stuff and bad stuff goes into it. I’ve taken to substituting unsweetened applesauce for oil in my waffles, cake, and some other recipes (although we found out the sad way that it’s not a very good substitute in brownies). I buy a big bag of brown rice to cook and season myself instead of buying the high-sodium boxed and 90-second microwave bag versions. I’ve also grown to love quinoa. I like Greek yogurt instead of regular yogurt. JIF natural peanut butter instead of regular or reduced fat. I buy cereal with 8 grams of sugar or less. I use regular milk (1%) for bowls of cereal and recipes, but have started using soy milk (original, unsweetened) in smoothies. I get lots of my protein from the things listed above, like milk, meat, Greek yogurt, and eggs.

In the end, I just try my best to eat as well as I can every day. If I go out to dinner and get something that’s not the… healthiest… it’s okay. I can’t feel bad about one unhealthy meal. Just like one good meal doesn’t make you “skinny”, one bad meal isn’t going to make you fat. It’s your overall diet and habits that make your body the way it is. Take care of it.

Here’s a list I found on a blog pinned to my Pinterest page of documentaries (like Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead). I’ve only seen Fat Sick and Nearly Dead and Supersize Me (which I watched in high school and would definitely recommend). I hope that by watching some more of these I learn more about today’s food industry.

  1. Food Inc.
  2. Vegucated.
  3. Fork Over Knives
  4. Hungry for a Change
  5. Fat Sick & Nearly Dead
  6. Fork Over Knives The Extended Interview
  7. America the Beautiful
  8. Killer at Large (why obesity is America’s greatest threat)
  9. A Walk to Beautiful
  10. FAT What No One Is Telling You
  11. King Corn, Our Daily Bread
  12. Supersize Me
  13. Future of Food
  14. Food Matters
  15. Fed Up
  16. Food Fight

From what I have seen and read, the thing I do know is that if I ever decide to do an extreme lifestyle change (that would mean not only becoming vegetarian or vegan, but even going dairy-free, etc…) I would do a LOT of research to make sure I was doing it properly. The last thing I would want in my wish to change and be more healthy was to do the opposite and deprive myself of essential nutrients. If you decide to change your diet, check with a doctor for advice, and if you see any bodily changes that aren’t normal, get things checked out. You don’t want to try to better yourself and end up going the opposite direction!

Well, I guess that’s enough rambling about things I’m not an expert on. Do you have any tips or easy ways to remember other rules about food and diet?

Happy happy Fourth of July!

Good Things 🙂


P.S. No one ever got fat from eating too many fruits and vegetables.

Weekend Challenge June 29th & 30th

A happiest of happy Fridays to you! Did you have a nice week? What was the best thing that happened? What did you do for someone else? What was the best food you ate this week?

Your weekend challenge this week is to get in 300 reps of abs both Saturday and Sunday. I know that sounds like a lot, but you could do that in 20 minutes, or split it up for 150 reps before breakfast and bed. Change up your exercises to keep it interesting. (Each second of a plank counts for 1 rep- i.e. 1 minutes=60 reps.

I’m thinking about doing a month-long “subject”- maybe a “Challenge Month”. I’ve thought of a few different ones, like an Ab Exercise a Day, A Healthy Recipe a Day, Inspiration a Day, etc. Thoughts? What would you like to see? Usually contributors (you) are more creative than inventors (me), so get thinking!

This week was avocado week. I bought a bag at Sam’s (You know how they come. Packs of a million, aka five). On Wednesday night I made a turkey burger with an egg (sunny side up!), tomato, and avocado. Last night I had stuffed avocado with tuna and tomato. Tonight I had turkey meatballs with chopped up tomato and avocado (okay I was running out of time and ingredients) and brown rice. Tomorrow I’m either making flatbread or pizza with regular pizza toppings and… you guessed it… avocado! I hope I’m not all avocado’ed out by the time they’re gone, but they sure are good for you and summery.

Mom, Dad, my boyfriend, my brother’s girlfriend, and some family friends will all be here for the 4th of July. Can’t wait! Happy 4th of July to all of you, and may the fireworks be all you dreamed they would be (and the food, can’t forget the food!.

Good Things 🙂


Weekend Challenge June 22nd and 23rd

Hi! I made it! Did you? It’s time for another weekend challenge. Time flies when… life happens?

This Saturday and Sunday let’s try some cardio and abs. Three times each day, try this little routine:

50 jumping jacks
25 crunches
25 bicycles
10 burpees
15 push-ups
50 mountain climbers
1 minutes plank

It will only take you a few minutes, and will get your heart nice and pumped up in exchange for your time. Hooray for heart pumping!

Tomorrow is the last Lil’s practice of the season! Afterwards I’m driving to see my boyfriend’s new place and meet his roommates/friends. It’s always nice to put faces to names you keep hearing over and over… and over. Hopefully it’s not as rainy as the weatherman is predicting. Good thing the weekend challenge can be an inside activity 😉

Good Things 🙂


“And inside…. MUFFINS!”

If anyone can tell me what movie that title quote is from I’ll give you something for free. I’m not sure what, but I’m open to suggestions. Just because it’s a great movie. Mom, you don’t count, but I’ll give you a hug anyways.

Tonight I’m talkin’ bout muffins. I found this recipe online. I really like it because it’s just big enough to give me an extra boost in the morning before I work out, but light enough that I don’t really have to wait for it to digest. Lots of healthy muffin recipes call for them lately, but I like that bananas aren’t an ingredient. Once I ate a banana before a 5k race and it… let’s say… came up the same way… about 100 yards from the finish line. Good news is I felt like a new women and sprinted to the end. Okay news is I know not to eat bananas before I work out. Bad news is I had to find out that way. Each muffin is around 100 calories, depending on what you put in the recipe. I’ve made these the way the recipe calls for with blueberries, but I’ve also made raisin, and blueberry and dark chocolate chip. Strawberry and raisin is in the oven right now!

The thing I changed in this recipe was to use Ultragrain flour instead of white (which I do with just about everything now). I also noticed that there are two different temperatures it says to cook on in the directions. I’ve used 400 degrees successfully each time, for about 21 minutes (but every oven is different, so watch the time!).

First, make a giant mess on the counter

First, make a giant mess on the counter

Mix the dry ingredients without letting the flour puff up in your eyes

Mix the dry ingredients without letting the flour puff up in your eyes

Put muffins in the oven. Caution: HOT

Put muffins in the oven. Caution: HOT

Sorry I got caught up and didn’t take pictures of all the steps.

In other news, I’m back into making these things called barefoot sandals. I love them and try to sell them when I can as well. I just made the awesome 4th of July one below last week . It’s so sparkly it reminds me of fireworks. I love all sparkly things. And not just because I’m blonde. You get that thought out of your head right now.

Fourth of July Barefoot Sandal. You can find some others I've made on my pinterest. I don't have an Etsy account, but if you'd like one, email or comment and we'll figure it out from there :)

Fourth of July Barefoot Sandal. You can find some others I’ve made on my pinterest. I don’t have an Etsy account, but if you’d like one, email or comment and we’ll figure it out from there 🙂

Well, they’re done! The condo smells delicious and they look even better. The recipe makes about 12, and I usually just freeze them and pull one out in the morning, pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds, and EAT IT.

Mmmmm Close-ups make everything look more delicious. But actually these look delicious from far away, too.

Mmmmm Close-ups make everything look more delicious. But actually these look delicious from far away, too.

What’s your pre-workout snack?

Good Things 🙂


Weekend Challenge June 15th & 16th

Either you guys need to start sending me reminders  or I need to stop having guests come visit for a while. This is too late to be posting a weekend challenge!

How did your food journal go? How long did you keep it up? Did you see anything different from what you thought you were doing? Change any habits?

You have two challenges this weekend. Your first is to complete 200 reps of abs both today (Saturday) and tomorrow. Spice it up and do some different exercises. Leg raises, full crunch, planks, side exercises, bicycles, kayakers, etc… Check out my previous posts for ab ideas, or go to the ever-reliable Google machine for even more options.

Your second challenge is to make a new, healthy recipe this weekend. Lunch, dinner, snack, whatever it is. Check out my Pinterest page here for some ideas, or try the one you ripped out of that magazine a couple months ago and have yet to try.

Headed to the pool to enjoy the sunshine today! Get outside and do some form of the same. I’m hoping to get a real post up here this week now that everything is finally settling down.

Good Things 🙂



Weekend Challenge June 8th and 9th


I’m sorry I haven’t been posting! Between hiking and friends visiting and doctor appointments and work and life in general, I guess you can say it’s been a bit busy. But that’s no excuse to have slacked on a weekend challenge. I hope you’ve been active and healthy and happy while I was gone. Time to get back on track.

You weekend challenge is to keep a food journal. Just for Saturday and Sunday (or more if you’d like). Be truthful with yourself. No one else will see it (unless your child brings it to show and tell on Monday…). Did you have three oreos? Write down all three. Think it’s not important to write down that little snack you had a half hour before dinner? Do it anyways! Don’t forget to record your fluid intake- especially water! Do you ever find yourself saying “Oh I don’t usually eat _____, so it’s okay if I have one tonight”? Maybe it turns out you don’t eat Exhibit A every night, but you do eat a similarly unhealthy Exhibit B, C, D, etc. and over time that may leave more of a mark than you think. So write down what you eat this weekend. If you’d like, do it for a whole week. You may be surprised with what you see!

Get outside this weekend and do something active! It’s finally summertime and we need to take advantage of it. One of my best friends is visiting from Michigan. Tomorrow morning she’s going to help me coach Lils’ basketball and then we’re going to take a spin class together. Hopefully the rain stays away, but whether it’s wet or dry we’re going to have a fun time. YOU BETTER HAVE A FUN TIME, TOO!

I promise to be better about updating. Scout’s Honor.

Good Things 🙂


Weekend Challenge May 18th and 19th… Almost

Excuse my tardiness! It almost doesn’t count as a weekend challenge when I post something on Sunday. GOSH, silly me. Between my roommate going out of town, a Skype session, and addictive jewelry making, I forgot about you! Please don’t be mad.

So today, and maybe yesterday, your challenge is/was just to be active. Do something outside, do everything outside. Go for a walk or run, go canoeing, go to the beach, plant new flowers and veggies in the garden, anything. I hope you could do this yesterday without me asking you to, but today I’m telling you to instead.

I leave for a family vacation to the Grand Canyon on Wednesday. Before that I am hoping to post some two-for-one exercises that work your whole body (for the days when you just don’t have much time, or for those who really don’t like using weights).

Have an awesome rest of the weekend!

Good Things 🙂


Weekend Challenge May 11th and 12th

Here’s to the weekend! Time to kick back and relax, whether relaxing means hanging out on the couch or doing something active with every moment of your free time, it’s the not-being-at-work part that really counts. So, how are you spending your weekend?

Hopefully you incorporate this weekend challenge into your Saturday and Sunday morning. When you roll out of bed, whether it be before you wash your face and brush your teeth or while breakfast is cooking, try to get your metabolism awake with this mini total body workout.

50 Jumping Jacks
20 Push Ups
20 Lunges (each side)
30 second Wall Sit
50 Crunches
1 minute plank

This week I made this crock pot macaroni and cheese recipe. However, instead of using two cups of macaroni I substituted half of that with about a cup or cup and a half of cauliflower. I used frozen cauliflower, heated it up a bit so I could tear it into “macaroni-sized” pieces, and dumped it in the crock pot. It was good! Something needs to be added to the recipe to give it a bit more flavor. I used a little ketchup this time, but I’m hoping to find something else to make it taste cheesier. Any suggestions?

Tomorrow is the first Lil’ Kickers (soccer) practice. The soccer portion of Lil’s is my FAVORITE! A friend I’ve known from 4th grade is visiting this week. We’ll hit up the beach and hopefully head to Disney on Sunday. One of my life mottos: When in doubt, DISNEY!

Everyone have an awesome weekend. Spend some time outside. You’ll feel better, I promise.

Good Things 🙂