Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Mini Halloween Pumpkin Cupcakes!

Happy Halloween morning!!

I love seeing what everyone dresses up as every year, and I also love to see all the different ways people use pumpkin flavoring! Pinterest is overflowing with pumpkin!

For my part, I opted for mini cupcakes. I love small serving sizes, because you can have a taste of something decadent, but you don't need finish a large serving. And if you want more, have another! At only 50 calories a pop, these delicious little cakes will satisfy your pumpkin craving without crashing your diet!

Here's The Skinny:

Each cupcake has about 50 calories! Sweet!  


Makes about 40 cupcakes

For the cupcakes:

1 1/2 cups canned 100 percent pure pumpkin
2 cups vanilla cake mix (I recommend French vanilla)
1 1/2 cups nonfat milk, at room temperature
1/4 cup vegetable oil or coconut oil
2 eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

For the frosting:

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup 1/3 less fat cream cheese, at room termperature
1/4 (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons low fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350, and line a mini muffin tin with liners.

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the cupcakes and mix together with a hand mixer, until the batter is smooth. Mix on high speed for a minute or two at the end, to make the batter light and fluffy. Spoon about a tablespoon of batter into each liner, or use a cookie scoop. Depending on the size of your tin, you may need to make several batches.

Bake for about 15 minutes, or until the cupcakes are light and golden, and bounce back if you touch the top.

Let the cupcakes cool for at least 30 minutes before frosting them, to ensure they won't break apart.

The frosting is just as easy as the cupcakes to assemble! Just throw everything into a bowl, and mix on high with a hand mixer, until fluffy. Then use a small knife, and spread on top of the cooled cupcakes.

Decorate with sprinkles, and enjoy!

We used these as a birthday cake to celebrate Heather's birthday last weekend. So cute!

Happy Halloween everyone! Stay warm, stay safe, and have a fun and spooky day!!!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Deep Dish Chocolate Chip Cookie

Here's a recipe that is in no way healthy, in no way "skinnified", but is tasty, easy, and fast! Definitely not a bad thing to have in your arsenal if a cookie craving hits suddenly! And the other good news is that it makes one serving so you won't be tempted to eat three cookies in one go. That's my only justification for publishing this recipe on my blog! Honestly, this is a pretty big serving for one person, and next time I might cut the recipe in half.

Link to original recipe:

Here's The (Not So) Skinny: 475 calories for the whole recipe

1 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp white sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
1 egg yolk
3 drops vanilla
Scant 1/4 cup flour
Pinch of salt
2 Tbsp semi sweet chocolate chips

1) In a ramekin or mug, mix together the melted butter, sugars, vanilla, and egg yolk
2) Add the flour and salt, and mix to combine
3) Add the chocolate chips
4) Microwave for 40-60 seconds, or until the cookie looks done


Friday, September 28, 2012

Vegetarian Mexican Quiona and Bean Pilaf!

Last night I was craving Mexican food in a major way, but really couldn't justify all of that heavy, greasy food. So I lightened it up, while keeping all the flavors of the Mexican food I love! This dish is vegetarian, but add some ground beef or grilled chicken if you want!

This recipe uses quinoa, which has gotten a lot of press lately. It's similar to rice, but it's actually a seed that sprouts when you cook it. What makes quinoa amazing is that it's not only tasty, it also has more protein than any other grain! It actually provides all 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein unlike similar foods like rice. That's why nutritionists consider it a super food! Quinoa is also gluten free, so this dish is pretty safe to serve to anyone. (Just check your friends' dairy preferences before adding the cheese).

Here's The Skinny: Each serving has only 400 calories!


(Serves 4)

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 bell peppers, 1 yellow and 1 red, cut into about 1/2 inch pieces
2 scallions, whites and greens divided
1 white onion, diced
2 stalks celery
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, seeds and ribs discarded unless you want it spicy!
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup quinoa
2 15-oz cans black beans, drained
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cayenne
2 tomatoes, diced, seeds discarded
4 cups baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup grated pepper jack cheese

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and add the peppers, scallions whites, onion, and celery. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
2) Add the garlic, jalapeno, and tomato paste. Cook for a few minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a deep red color.
3) Add the quinoa, black beans, salt, pepper, cayenne, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the quinoa has absorbed the water, about 15 minutes. You may need to add more water, depending on if the quinoa has all sprouted.
4) Once most of the water is absorbed, remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the tomatoes, baby spinach, cilantro, half of the cheese, and half of the scallion greens, until the spinach has wilted.
5) Split between 4 plates, and sprinkle with the remaining scallions and cheese.


Almond Bread

Ok guys, after a long time away, I'm back!

Although I haven't been posting, I have still been busy in the kitchen! Also check out the upcoming recipes Sesame Quinoa Spring Rolls and Mexican Bean and Quinoa Pilaf!

But, for now, we're going to start with the most important part of the meal: dessert!

My friend Clare came over for dinner, and I wanted to put together a dessert for her, but didn't have the time to do anything extravagant. This took me only about 10 minutes of hands-on time, and I got a huge pay-off! Clare said it was one of her top three favorite breads/cakes, and said it may even be #1! Sweet!

I got this recipe from the magazine Cooking Light, and I'm so glad I gave it a go! It's incredible, and closely resembles a pound cake where almond paste replaces the butter that normal pound cakes have. I plan to replace the all purpose flour with oat flour to make it gluten free, and in the future I'd love to try some almond flour just to bring it to the next flavor level! I'm also interested to try almond milk to replace the nonfat milk!

Here's The Skinny:

Each slice (Recipe makes 16 slices): 195 calories. Compare that to your favorite 500 calorie sweet bread from Starbucks! Yeah, go ahead, have another piece!


1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 (7 oz) package almond paste (easily found in the baking section of your grocery store)
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon nonfat milk, divided
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/3 cup powdered sugar
Dash of salt

1)Preheat oven to 350
2) Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
3) In a large bowl or a stand mixer, combine sugar, butter, coconut oil and almond paste until well combined.
4) Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla.
5) Add flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk alternately to butter mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture; beat just until combined.
6) Scrape batter into a greased 9 x 5-inch loaf pan, and then sprinkle with almonds.
7) Bake at 350 for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in the pan for at least 10 minutes, and then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
8) Whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon milk and 1/3 cup powdered sugar and the dash of salt. Drizzle the glaze over the almonds and let stand until set.


Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Faux Fried Rice With Tofu

I have to admit, some days it takes every ounce of self restraint I have to not give in to the temptation of Panda Express. I'm not alone, right? You're hungry, the smooshed PB&J sandwich at the bottom of your bag isn't exactly calling your name, and then the smell of delicious fried rice comes wafting your way. It wouldn't hurt to just get a little, right? And maybe a little bit of an entree? Just a little? that I'm looking at it...a medium size wouldn't be soooooo bad...

No! Stop! Panda Express fried rice is a whomping 530 calories per serving, with 16 grams of fat! Ouch! And that eggplant and tofu entree that sounds so healthy? 310 calories with 24 grams of fat! Are you kidding me?? Before you know it, you've consumed 740 calories! Now, I'm not one to say that you can't eat "bad for you stuff", and of course I eat it from time to time. Pretty much everyone who knows me is aware of my intense love of chocolate. So sue me! But why would you eat from Panda Express (or your equivalent) when it's totally unnecessary?

Behold, my faux fried rice with tofu recipe. SO easy, SO tasty, SO good for you!

Here's The Skinny:

355 calories per serving, 15.2 grams of protein, 5.2 grams of fiber, and 4.4 grams of fat.

Compare that to 40 grams of fat from Panda! I feel silly for ever having eaten there at all!


Makes two servings

1/2 of a 15 oz package of tofu
1/2 cup jasmine rice
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup eggplant
3/4 cup peas

Cut the tofu into about 1 inch squares, and set into a shallow bowl. Pour marinade (recipe follows) over the tofu, and let sit a minimum of 30 minutes, but the longer the better. I try to marinate mine overnight.

Steam or boil the vegetables according to your preferences, and set aside.

Remove tofu from marinade, and lay out on a baking sheet. Broil the tofu for about 20-25 minutes, or until the tofu is cooked and brown. Reserve the remaining marinade.

While the tofu cooks, boil the rice according to manufacturer's instructions, and set aside.

Combine the tofu, rice, and vegetables, and split onto two plates. Before serving, drizzle one tablespoon of the marinade onto each plate.

Marinade Recipe:

1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
2.5 Tbs rice vinegar
1 Tbs garlic chilli sauce 
Dig in! All the flavor, none of the guilt!

I love to save half of this for lunch the next day. Just remember to save the marinade until just before you plan to eat it, since you don't want to rice to get soggy.
Note: This recipe is pretty obviously gluten free and vegan

Vegan, Gluten Free Cranberry and Dark Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

It's hard to even fit all of the mouthwatering details into the title of this blog post!

You all heard about the success of my oatmeal raisin cookies, so I decided to try out a new variation with dark chocolate and cranberries replacing the raisins. Not an earth shattering shift in my recipe, I know, but holy cow does it have a huge payoff! And the best news? It doesn't even change the calories! Still only 70 calories per cookie. I added a bit more cinnamon to this version too :)

Ladies and gentlemen, start preheating those ovens!

Here's The Skinny:

Per cookie: 70 calories, 1.7 grams protein, 1.3 grams fiber, 1.5 grams total fat, 6 grams of sugar, and all of those good-for-you antioxidants from the dark chocolate! Can I get a "hell yeah!"


Makes 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup original almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon coconut oil
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 squares of Ghiradelli 60% cacao chocolate bar

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Using a serrated knife, chop the squares of chocolate into small pieces and set aside.

Add the milk, vanilla extract and coconut oil to the flour mixture, and stir until just combined. Add the dried cranberries and chocolate chunks.

Arrange balls of dough on two cookie sheets, 12 per sheet. With a spoon, flatten the balls gently. Bake them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Be sure not to over bake these! Err on the side of caution. Since these don't have any any animal products in them, being slightly undercooked won't be a problem!

Last but no least: enjoy! 

Monday, September 3, 2012

Vegan Raisin Bran Muffins

The first day of fall is upon us! Kids are going back to school and life getting back to its usual speed; I find it so easy on busy mornings to run out of time for breakfast, which l know wrecks havoc on my metabolism, and makes me ravenous and more likely to crave something unhealthy for lunch.

The solution? Try these easy, fast, healthy and yummy muffins for a perfect breakfast for people on the go! I'm a big fan of bran muffins! They're healthy, and full of fiber that keeps me full all morning! 

Make these tonight and be ready to go tomorrow morning!

You can store these in freezer if you don't want to eat them all in one go.  Just pull one out in the morning on your way out the door. By the time you get to work, it should be defrosted and ready to enjoy!

I love these as is, but I'm a compulsive experimenter, so here are some of my ideas for future batches. Instead of using applesauce, I'm thinking about trying pureed prunes for even more fiber. I'm also considering adding half a banana or maybe some cooked apple for some extra flavor. Experiment at home and let me know what you think!

Here's The Skinny:

Per muffin: 160 calories, 6 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein


Makes 10 muffins

1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 cups all-bran cereal
1 1/4 cups original almond milk
2 Tbs coconut oil
1/4 cup apple sauce
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

1) Preheat the oven to 400, and line 10 cups of a muffin tin with liners.
2) Combine the cereal and almond milk, and let sit until the bran becomes soft and mushy, about 5 minutes.

3) While the cereal sits, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon.

4) Add the coconut oil, apple sauce, and vanilla extract to the soaked bran, and beat with a hand mixer until combined. Then stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Lastly, stir in the raisins!

5) Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the muffin dough into 10 lined muffin cups.

6) Pop into the oven for 20 minutes, rotating halfway through so they cook evenly.

Note: The muffins will come out of the oven is basically the exact same shape as they are when they go in, so you may want to smooth the tops before baking

I love these with a little bit of fruit preserves (not included in calorie count). Yum!

Enjoy the beginning of fall! It's my favorite season, and some of my favorite flavors - stay tuned for pumpkin recipes to come!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Gluten Free and Vegan Chocolate Cake with Cocoa Peanut Butter Sauce

Wow. Just wow. There are no other words ... I'm a chocolate fanatic, and this recipe totally satisfied my cocoa cravings!

This is another adaptation of a Bethenny Frankel recipe, and she has not led us astray! So crazy delicious!

Here's The Skinny:

Each generous slice (serves 6) has 417 calories, 6.1 grams fiber, and 10.4 grams protein! Pretty dang good for a piece of chocolate cake if you ask me!


For the cake:

1 1/4 cups oat flour
1 cup raw sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup water
1 teaspoon warm water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1) Preheat oven to 350
2) Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, and stir until combined.
3) Pour into a bread pan, and bake for 40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through.

For the cocoa peanut butter sauce:

1/3 cup raw sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 1/2  tablespoons creamy peanut butter
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tablespoons original almond milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan, and heat until the crystals from the raw sugar are dissolved. Then drizzle over the chocolate cake for an incredible experience!

This recipe is a MAJOR keeper! SO SO delicious, and not a bad calorie count for the size of the piece of cake! You could easily cut the cake into 8 and still have a good serving size!

Next time, I'm planning to bake the cake in ramekins instead of in a bread pan, because the cake was pretty crumbly and hard to get out of the pan and serve. I think serving this cake in ramekins with the sauce over top would be perfect!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Vegan and Gluten Free Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

"I can't believe these are vegan AND gluten free!" my friend Andrea exclaimed when she first tried these; and it's true!

They're moist, delicious, and only 70 calories a pop! I seriously had to check the recipe a few times to make sure I had done it right, because it seemed WAY too good to be true!

Here's The Skinny

Each cookie has 70 scrumptious calories!


Makes 24 cookies

1 1/2 cups oat flour
1/2 cup raw sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
 3/4 cups rolled oats

1/3 cup original almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon coconut oil (or canola oil if you like to use that)
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

Measure the milk in a measuring cup, and add the extract and coconut oil. If using coconut oil, make sure it's dissolved; you may need to heat it in the microwave for a few seconds.

Add the applesauce and milk mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Stir in the raisins!

Arrange balls of dough on two cookie sheets, 12 per sheet. With a spoon, flatten the balls gently.

Bake them in the oven for about 8-10 minutes. Be sure not to over bake these! Err on the side of caution. Since these don't have any any animal products in them, being slightly undercooked won't be a problem!

You couldn't ask for an easier recipe with a bigger pay off!


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Vegan Buckwheat Blueberry Muffins

First, I have to apologize for not posting anything on here lately! The last month has been crazy busy, and hasn't allowed much time for me to experiment in the kitchen. Happily though, I was able to get back into the groove this morning by changing around the blueberry muffin recipe from a few weeks back.

The changes I made were small, with a big pay off! I used 1/2 cup buckwheat flour to replace some of the whole wheat flour, and then based on that, I decided that almond would compliment the buckwheat flavors, so I used almond extract to replace the vanilla. The last change was small--I only had the original almond milk instead of unsweetened, so in went the original! Surprisingly, I could actually taste a small difference, and I liked it!

Recipe (makes 6 to 8 muffins)

Dry ingredients (which I like to mix together the night before to make my morning easier)
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup raw sugar

1/2 cup original almond milk
2 tablespoons trans-fat-free shortening, melted
3/4 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 cup blueberries, fresh or thawed

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To assemble, mix together the dry and wet ingredients in different bowls; I like to measure the almond milk and then just use the measuring cup for all the wet ingredients to save on dishes and hassle.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and stir until just combined. Then carefully stir in the blueberries, being careful that you don't squish them!

Line or grease a muffin tin, and then use an ice cream scoop to easily distribute the batter into 6-8 muffins. I somehow almost always end up with 7.

Then pop them in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the tins halfway through so they cook evenly! Resist the temptation to scarf them up right away, and wait 10-15 minutes for them to cool just a bit.

Here's the skinny:

Each muffin (made 7 big muffins, last time I made 8 smaller ones):

200 calories
4.7 grams of fiber
3.8 grams of protein
4.8% of your daily iron
4.6 grams of fat (varies A LOT based on the type of shortening)

Using the buckwheat flour was a great choice, adding protein, fiber and iron to the muffins! I also really like the more nutty taste it adds.

I am completely in love with the almond instead of vanilla! I know I'm a big fan of almond flavoring, so if you're not, experiment on your own! You could try coconut extract and then maybe add some mini chocolate chips...make these your own!

These muffins are pretty filling! I'm not the kind of girl who takes a bite of a cookie and says she's full, but after eating one of these muffins I felt pretty satisfied! They are kind of really delicious, so I may or may not have gone against my better judgement and eaten another one, but that was actually too much. So one muffin could be the perfect on-the-go breakfast!

Next time I'm using more buckwheat flour. I didn't want to overpower the recipe so I was a little wary this time, but I definitely think it can handle some more. I'm also going to use oat flour to replace the whole wheat flour to make these gluten free. I try to make only one or two changes at a time so I can see where the taste differences come from which is why the muffins didn't go gluten free this time, but since I loved the buckwheat I'm going for it! So next time the flour ratio will be 3/4 cup buckwheat flour and 1/2 cup oat flour.

Another idea in the back of my head is adding some very finely chopped almonds. That will definitely add calories and fat, but they would make the recipe a better investment because of the added protein.

Try the recipe, and let me know what you think! You can always comment here, or tweet me @kirstenmhowell

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crustless Feta, Spinach, Sundried Tomato Quiche!

Want a delicious, cheesy, easy, and HEALTHY weeknight meal or packable lunch? Then look no further!

This quiche doesn't have a crust, so you can skip the calories, carbs, and hassle! And believe me, you don't notice that it's even missing. Thank you Anna for the recipe inspiration!

This quiche is SO delicious! I'm kind of raving now, so I'll get on to the details.

Here's the skinny:

Each piece (recipe makes 8 servings) has about 185 scrumptious calories!


5 eggs
1/2 cup fat free cottage cheese
8 oz. mozzarella
1/4 cup crumbled fat free feta
About half an onion
About three tablespoons chopped sundried tomatoes
3 cups fresh or frozen spinach

Saute the spinach if you're using fresh spinach. Then whisk the eggs until fluffy, and add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl! How easy is that?

Grease a 9x13 dish, and pour in the egg mixture. Stick it in the oven at 350 degrees, for about 25-35 minutes, or until firm.

And you're done! You won't believe that this quiche is less than 200 calories a piece! So having seconds? Don't mind if I do!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Incredible (Gluten Free) Protein Bars!

I've mentioned before that I try to put a lot of emphasis on protein consumption. But, I always felt that even though protein bars technically had a lot of protein in them, they never really filled me up or satisfied me. Over the weekend though, I was introduced to the idea of making your own protein bars, and a bar that actually keeps me full and energized for a LONG TIME! Added bonus? They're ridiculously easy to make - you don't even have to bake them! You have got to try these!

Here's the skinny:

Each bar has about 200 calories, 9 grams of protein, and 6.5 grams of fiber.

What I love about these is that you can so easily change the recipe based on what you like. Don't want cranberries? Mix in some mini chocolate chips! Or use almond butter instead of peanut butter if that floats your boat.

I personally don't eat products with soy in them, because I was warned by my doctor that soy is really bad for us. So I searched high and low for a protein powder without soy. (I used the vanilla hemp protein powder from Trader Joes, and next time I plan to try the Raw brand powder)

Side note: I used hemp protein powder to make these, which is why they're so dark and slightly green. But if you make them with normal powder they will turn out the color of a traditional granola-type bar :)

Makes 24 bars

2 cups protein powder1
3/4 ground oatmeal (just pulse it in a food processor a few times)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened apple sauce

Heat the peanut butter and apple sauce in a sauce pan until they soften together.

Mix together the dry ingredients, and then pour the peanut butter mixture into the oatmeal mixture and combine.

Line the bottom of a 9x13 pan with parchment paper. Press the "dough" into the pan, and stick it in the fridge for a few hours.

Cut into squares! Ta da! You're done!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Vegan (and soon gluten free) Blueberry Muffins!

This is an awesome recipe for blueberry muffins! I tested them on three men, telling them to be completely honest, and got rave reviews! In fact, they ate nearly the entire batch! I decided to wait until after to let them know that the muffins were actually pretty healthy.

So here's the recipe, which I got from Bethenny Frankel's book "Skinnygirl Dish". By the way, if you haven't checked out any of Bethenny's books, I definitely recommend it! She's amazing!

Here's the skinny: Each muffin has about 180 calories, which compared to a normal blueberry muffin is a steal! A Starbucks blueberry muffin is 380 calories! Ouch!

Makes 6-8 muffins
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 1/5 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 cups raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/5 teaspoons baking powder
1/5 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons shortening (melted if using butter or margarine)
3/4 cups fresh blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin tin with paper liners, or grease the pan. I would definitely recommend liners - way less hassle and no mess!

Combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) in one bowl, and all the wet ingredients (milk, vanilla, shortening) in a separate bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir together. When everything is incorporated, stir in the blueberries.

Using an ice cream scoop, distribute the batter between 6-8 muffin cups, and then pop in the oven for 20 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes so that the muffins cook more evenly.

It's as simple as that! Next time I'm going to use buckwheat flour or oat flour (the original recipe calls for oat flour, but it's slightly harder to find in stores, and I think, a bit of a pain to make myself) to make the recipe gluten free as well as vegan so all my friends and family can enjoy them! Plus I love the taste of buckwheat, it's kind of nutty and has extra iron which is just an added bonus!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Skinny Pumpkin Pie Recipe Fail

Last night I decided to try a recipe I had found for a faux pumpkin pie. The description said for around 100 calories it satisfied those fall food cravings. Um...not so much. Take one container of fat-free vanilla pudding and 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin, and what do you get? A pretty tasteless bowl of something somewhat resembling baby food. Pumpkin pie, I think not.

Tomorrow morning I'm trying a new recipe I found for vegan blueberry muffins, and I may even be brave enough to make them gluten-free as well. Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Count Or Not To Count...

When I tell people that all I did to lose a fourth of my body weight was count calories, they don't believe me. But in the end, that's really what it comes down to. And it makes sense, doesn't it? Eat less, exercise more, et voila!

The critical piece though, is making smart choices. Sure, if you're trying to stay under 1400 calories a day, you could eat a 450 calorie scone from Starbucks for breakfast and still be under your calorie goal. No problem. But is that going to keep you going until lunch, or is your stomach going to be growling? Mine would. That doesn't mean I don't eat scones every once in a while. I'll just eat a yogurt first or pair it with some other form of protein. My point here is that a lot of people stop counting calories because they're not thinking about how best to use the calories they're giving themselves. Going for high protein, high fiber foods that will fill you up and keep you satisfied longer is really the only way it will work.

The other tool I have found amazingly useful is the program Myfitnesspal. You can download the app on your phone or tablet, or just use the online version ( I'm not being paid by any companies to write this blog, by the way, so any shout outs are genuine. This program is awesome, because it is EASY to use. It counts everything for you, and has a huge database of foods and exercises. If you're like me, and simple addition makes your head hurt, this is an instant bonus. Check it out!

Counting calories works for me, because it holds me accountable. If I put in that I ate 250 calories for a half cup of ice cream, and actually see that choice reflected in my calorie count for the day, I'm way less likely to say hell with it, and fill up the bowl. I make better choices, and think about what is really worth it for me. Fries from McDonalds? Not so much. The occasional piece of chocolate cake? Oh hell yeah. But I'm in control, I'm aware, and I understand the choices I'm making.

This works for me. If you've never tried it, look into myfitnesspal or a similar program. If you've tried it and hate it? Don't do it! This is about making you a happier person, and if counting calories kills your soul, stay far, far away! Look for something else that works.

This blog is not focused on counting calories, but since it's the most common question I get, there you go; that's my secret. Pretty simple!

Who Am I, And Why Do You Care?

Ok, so another fitness/diet blog has appeared in the blogosphere. With approximately a ton of bloggers out there claiming to have the secrets for losing 10 pounds in week, eliminating cellulite forever, eating just chocolate to lose weight, why would my blog, which is aimed toward a more reasonable (and maybe less newsworthy), fitness and diet lifestyle be of any use?

Well, here's the skinny. Over the last year or so, I started to really care about my appearance and my health. Of course, I had always cared - any girl who claims to look in the mirror and not notice those annoying imperfections is either lying, or Miranda Kerr. One morning though, I realized that I was spending more energy stressing about how I felt and looked than it would take me to actually do something about it. So I did! Here I am, 40 pounds lighter, and a million times healthier and happier.

The most important thing I learned is that losing weight is your own experience; there is no diet or exercise program that will work for everyone. Find what works for you. Find what makes you feel good about yourself and see the results you are happy with. I can't tell you how many diets I started (and quickly "forgot" about) that were supposedly the answer to all my prayers and instead left me feeling hungry, angry, and with no social life since I was terrified there might be temptation at the next party. So this is about moderation, making healthy choices, and being happy!

I am not a fitness expert. I am not a natural foods chef. I am not a scientist. I AM a girl who pays close attention to what those experts have to say though, and I AM someone who is willing to do the research.

Let me do the taste tests for you. Can buckwheat muffins really taste as good as one from Starbucks? Let's find out! Is interval cardio training worth the hassle? Let me do the legwork for you. I love feeling healthy, sexy, and proud of myself, and I want to share this feeling of satisfaction with you. It's so cliche, I know, but it all begins with one step.

Are you ready? Let's go!