Thursday, February 27, 2014

I've become a big fish in a small pond...

Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.— Francis of Assisi
When I started blogging, I never imagined that it would be possible that I would connect with so many people. Sure, I hoped that at least a handful of people out there, in this vast world wide interwebs, would be interested in what I had to say, but I truly never anticipated the absolute outpouring of positive support I’ve received from everyone. As such, its become necessary to move things over to a new format— hopefully, one that will be easier for both me and my readers! So… I am proud to introduce the new (and improved!) Muddy Melissa’s Musings blog, which will now be independently hosted at My hope is that through this new format I’ll be able to share and connect more with all of my readers, in a quicker and easier way! So enjoy the new home of my blog, and thank you all so much for your readership!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Surprise Pancakes! What's the Surprise? Find Out...

Some days, you just need something to give you a little pep in your step. Well, for those days, I recommend this super fun recipe--- surprise pancakes! Okay, okay... I know what you're thinking, "but Melissa, what's the surprise?" The twist on my classic protein pancake recipe is that each pancake is filled with a crispy slice of turkey bacon! So with each bite of pancake, you get some crunchy bacony goodness hidden inside. And, as always, this recipe is 100% clean. Try this recipe out the next time you need a little surprise to get you going in the morning!

Surprise Pancakes
Serves 2

1/2 cup Big Traib low carb pancake/waffle mix
1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder (I used About Time in Birthday Cake)
1 tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
2 egg whites
1/2 cup water
4 slices turkey bacon

Microwave the turkey bacon on a plate for 1-2 minutes, or until crispy. Pat off the turkey bacon with a paper towel, then set aside. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Over a very hot lightly oiled pan, spoon the pancake batter in a long oval shape. Place a slice of turkey bacon onto the pancake batter, then spoon some additional pancake batter to cover the turkey bacon slice. When the edges of the pancake become slightly browned, flip over to cook on the other side. Repeat with the remaining pancake batter and turkey bacon slices. Serve with some pure maple syrup or some vanilla yogurt sauce. Enjoy!

*** Please note that the unsweetened applesauce and the egg whites are used in this recipe as cleaner substitutions for the oil and the whole eggs the Big Train low carb pancake/waffle mix (the cleanest boxed pancake/ waffle mix I've found to date!) reccommends using.

My husband's face absolutely lit up when I served him this clean eats breakfast this morning. He had a look of pure delight overcome him as he exclaimed: "is that... bacon inside?" Needless to say his plate was cleaned in record time! His verdict? "Forget ambrosia... THIS is the food of the gods!" This is a delightfully fun yet surprisingly clean recipe that anyone is sure to enjoy! Yum!

Another Morning Workout--- 6 Miles & Abs!

Another day, another dollar, another morning workout. I only ran 6 miles this morning, which, to me, feels like next to nothing. This week is a running recovery week for me, so I'm keeping the mileage relatively low, but next week I'll be bumping it back up to my usual 50+ miles/per week. I am just the kind of person that finds it SO HARD to allow my body time to rest, recover, and recooperate--- but I know I need to! It's just a matter of forcing myself to do it. :)

After my morning run, I got in a good ab workout, and, no, I didn't do a single crunch (aka one of the most inefficient ways to work your abs!). I prefer exercises like weighted sit ups, weighted Russian twists, planks, and leg raises--- they're much more efficient and much less strenuous on the lower back! Anyway, I'm feeling great today (Survivor is on tonight... and I am a HUGE Survivor fan--- can I just tell you that it's totally my dream to be on Survivor?!), but check back later for another yummy clean eats recipe! I promise you guys won't be disappointed!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Mmm Mmm Good... Jalapeño Turkey Burger on a Portobello Bun!

Trying to come up with ways to rid yourself of your addiction to white bread? Well, this low carb jalapeño turkey burger is served sans bread--- with a scrumptiously grilled portobello "bun" instead! It's the perfect substitution so you can eat your burger to your heart's content, without all of the unnecessary carbs (don't get me wrong--- not all carbs are bad!) and the processed white bread! Try this recipe out the next time you're hankering for a delicious burger with a bit of spice to it!

Jalapeño Turkey Burger on a Portobello Bun
Serves 1

4 ounces 99% fat free extra lean ground turkey
1/2 egg white
1/2 jalapeño, diced
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 portobello mushroom caps
Optional: lettuce, tomato, pickles, guacamole, other burger toppings

Grill the portobello mushroom caps on both sides (since it's winter, I popped mine onto an indoor grill machine--- it cooked it on both sides in less than 5 minutes). Set aside to cook. Mix together the remaining ingredients. Form the mixture into a burger, then heat on a lightly oiled pan over high heat. Cook on both sides until the turkey meat is cooked thoroughly, about 5 minutes on each side. Using the portobello mushroom caps as a bun, place the jalapeno turkey burger on the bun, along with any additional desired toppings. Enjoy!

This recipe was a much-needed taste of summer! I certainly needed something to remind me that spring is just around the corner, and it won't be long before grilling season is in full swing! Not just grilling season... but hiking and running and camping and fishing and... oh, did I get distracted? Point is--- I'm sick of snow and this burger was delicious! Hehehe.

Quinoa Breakfast Bake... Yummylicious, Ya'll!

More often than not, I have a six egg white veggie frittata for breakfast, but today I was in the mood for something, I don't know, just a little bit different. So instead I came up with this clean concoction: quinoa breakfast bake! It's the perfect mix of basil, fresh veggies, turkey bacon, and egg whites with the surprise addition of some texture from the quinoa... and it was yummy in this girl's tummy! Try out this clean eats breakfast recipe for your next case of the morning munchies.

Quinoa Breakfast Bake
Serves 1

4 egg whites
1 tablespoon unsweetened almond milk
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 slice of turkey bacon
1/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/4 cup sliced bell pepper
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoon garlic red wine vinegar
Optional: 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

*** To pre-cook the quinoa, simply simmer 2 tablespoons of quinoa in 1/4 cup of water. The quinoa will be cooked when the majority of the liquid has evaporated, and there is a translucent ring around the edge of the quinoa.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Microwave the turkey bacon for 60 seconds, or until crispy. Remove from the microwave to cool, then crumble up the turkey bacon once cooled. In a lightly oiled pan over high heat, sauté the bell pepper until tender. Next, add in the tomatoes, basil, and garlic red wine vinegar. Sauté until fragrant--- about 2-3 minutes. Add in the cooked quinoa and crumbled turkey bacon, and mix together until well combined. Place the mixture into a prepared ramekin (or an oven safe baking dish). In another bowl, whisk together the egg whites, almond milk, and sea salt. Pour the egg mixture into the prepared ramekin as well, and bake for 10-15 minutes. At this point, you can sprinkle the quinoa breakfast bake with the parmesan cheese if desired, then return to the oven for another 5 minutes. The quinoa breakfast bake will be done when the egg is thoroughly cooked through and the parmesan cheese on top has become brown.

This clean eats breakfast recipe really hit the spot this morning! The mixture of basil, tomato, red bell peppers, and garlic red wine vinegar was an absolutely fantastic addition to the quinoa, eggs, and turkey bacon. This is definitely a clean eats breakfast recipe that's sure to please! Enjoy guys!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Miss Me, Miss Me, Now You Wanna Kiss Me? Blueberry Stuffed Waffles!

Today's clean eats breakfast is one that will most assuredly have you scraping your plate clean! Of course, with a clean eats recipe like this, that's not necessarily a bad thing! So what do I have for you all today?! Blueberry stuffed waffles! Oh yes, my mouth is watering as I type...

Okay, Melissa--- Tell Me More!

Blueberry Stuffed Waffles
(Serves 2)

Protein Waffles:
1 Cup whole wheat flour
1 Scoop vanilla whey protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition in Birthday Cake)
1 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon baking soda
2 Egg whites
1 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 Truvia/Stevia packets
2 Tablespoons flaxmeal
1 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 Cup fresh blueberries

Greek Yogurt Filling:
1/2 Cup Greek vanilla yogurt
1/2 Scoop vanilla whey protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition in Birthday Cake)
1/4 Cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 Teaspoon pure vanilla extract
4 Truvia/Stevia packets

Blueberry Compote:
2 Cups fresh blueberries
1/2 Cup water
4 Truvia/Stevia packets
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour

In a bowl, whisk together all of the waffle ingredients except for the blueberries thoroughly. Gently fold in the blueberries last, being careful not to crush them while mixing. Meanwhile, heat a waffle iron to high heat. Once heated completely, pour the batter onto the waffle iron, and cook according to your waffle iron's directions. For me, half of the batter fills up my waffle iron, so this recipe makes 2 large protein waffles. While the waffles are cooking, combine the Greek yogurt filling ingredients. Set aside. Additionally, heat the blueberries and water over medium heat. After about 5 minutes, the blueberries should become tender. At this point, add in the stevia and the whole wheat flour (to thicken), and continue cooking the blueberry compote until it thickens, about another 5 minutes. Once both waffles are done, cut the waffles apart, and fill the waffles with the Greek yogurt filling. My waffle iron makes round 4-part waffles, so I cut the waffle into 4 sections, and use the Greek filling to form 2 "waffle sandwiches." Top with the blueberry compote just before serving, and enjoy your delicious clean eats breakfast!

Can I just say how scrumptious this clean eats breakfast was? If you want to eat clean, but you're concerned about calories, maple syrup might not always be the best option. Yes, it's clean, but it's still very high in calories. This recipe gets its moistness from the delicious blueberry compote, so you can enjoy your waffles with a bit of sweetness that you won't feel guilty for! Not to mention that this recipe is packed with protein so you can start your day off right! Enjoy this recipe guys!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Day 18: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge... 212 Miles DONE!

The Challenge: 212 Miles

Towards the end of January, I invited all of you to challenge me to help motivate me as I train for my upcoming marathon; I agreed to run a mile for every like on Google +, Facebook, and Instagram. I never imagined that I'd receive a whopping 212 likes, so I certainly didn't expect to be tasked with running 212 miles during February... but that's exactly what happened! 

Challenge Accepted!

I was more than a bit apprehensive when I began this challenge, because I didn't anticipate having to do 212 miles! I wanted to be pushed to help me train for my marathon--- but not pushed over the freakin' edge! I am so used to being in charge of my own run training and my own mileage, and I tend to listen to my body then adjust my mileage accordingly. So 212 miles in one month? Seemed like a huge task!

But with each day that passed, I found myself nearing closer and closer to my goal--- my short term goal of 212 miles in February and my long term goal of training for my upcoming marathon. There's nothing better than seeing positive results for your hard work, and with each set of miles that I deducted from my overall goal, it only fueled me further, faster, and harder! 

Finished... Over a Week Early!

It astonishes even me to say that I've finished my challenge OVER a week early, and completed the entire 212 miles in less than 3 weeks. Not to mention that I decided to undertake this challenge while still finishing up the tail end of physical therapy for my hip (under doctor supervision, of course). I've surprised even myself--- pushing myself, challenge myself, and surpassing my own expectations. I couldn't have done this without all of you guys, so thank you to all of you out there for your likes, your support, and your encouragement!

February "Mile for a Like" Challenge... DONE in only 18 days! :)

Day 18: 21-21=0!

Mastering the Art of Meal Prep: Egg White Frittata Bake

Mastering the Art of Meal Prep

Seasoned clean eaters know that mastering the art of meal prep is an essential skill to have in a clean eater's tool kit. Simply put, clean eaters "in the know" are well aware that meal prep not only saves time throughout the week, but it also ensures that you've got healthy meals ready to go. Of course, whenever you have healthy meals already on hand, you're more likely to stick to your clean eating meal plan--- and less likely to fall prey to the temptation to grab something quick but not-so-healthy. One of the things I hear most often from people is that they don't have "time" to eat clean--- well, in response, I say this: meal prep, baby! It's a simple strategy: if you've got time to cook one meal, just make that meal in bulk--- and set it aside for the rest of the week. Easy peasy, right?!

That said, here's one of my go-to meal prep stand-bys: the egg white frittata bake. This dish is super simple to make, and it's easily customizable to suit your personal taste. Keep reading for more details!

Egg White Frittata Bake
Makes 6 Servings

3 Dozen egg whites
Veggies, meats, etc. for filling

1. Frittata: Veggie-Loaded

Whatever veggies you want in your egg white frittata bake, cook 'em and load 'em up! Here's what I, personally, use: 1 large container of sliced mushrooms (18 ounces), 2 cups sliced tri-color mini bell peppers, 1 cup chopped jalapeños, 6 cups chopped spinach, and a couple dashes of pomegranate red wine vinegar. Of course, you can use whatever veggies (or add in meats such as lean ham, turkey bacon, shrimp, crab, etc. if you desire!) you'd like--- just sauté them in a pan first, then arrange them in a 9x13 inch prepared baking dish. As a bonus, you can use different veggies if you feel like mixing it up throughout the week! For instance, you can arrange half of the baking dish with spinach and mushrooms and arrange the other half of the baking dish with ham and peppers. It's completely customizable! Make sure you're using enough veggies for 6 servings!

2. Crack some eggs

This step is simple. Crack some eggs! To make 6 servings, I use 36 egg whites (3 dozen egg whites), making 6 egg whites per serving. 6 egg whites is only about 100 calories, but those egg whites pack 22 grams of protein. Yeowza! Of course, I buy my eggs in bulk, and I go through a 5 dozen box of eggs in a week--- which is fine by me, since egg whites are one of the healthiest things you can eat!

3. Gettin' eggy with it

Another simple step here, guys. Those egg whites? Just pour them evenly over your frittata filling, making sure everything is covered evenly.

4. Bake it, baby!

Bake the egg white frittata bake at 400 degrees in a pre-heated oven for about 45 minutes, or until the egg whites in the middle are fully cooked. You don't need to stand there and stare at it while it's baking either--- use those 45 minutes to tackle whatever chores need done around the house, get in a solid 45 minute workout while it bakes, or even use that time to meal prep other dishes! 

See? It's that easy, guys! Once it's out of the oven, wait for it to cool, then cut the egg white frittata bake into 6 slices, and set aside in containers to use throughout the week. One of the best investments you can make as a newbie clean eater is to purchase a set of tupperware. You'll want to make sure your set of tupperware is microwave save, and it shouldn't put you back more than $10-$20 for a complete set. This way, you can easily store your prepped meals, and your meals are ready to take on-the-go. I personally recommend this set of Rubbermaid (BPA Free) TakeAlongs. They're divided so when you want to pack a side dish, dressing, or condiment (I pack some hot sauce and sliced jalapenos whenever I meal prep my egg white frittatas), it won't get all over the place, not to mention that they're microwave safe as well. You can purchase a set of 3 of these containers on Amazon right now for only $5.73 with Amazon Prime, so this isn't an investment that is going to set you back a lot--- but it will help make eating clean more manageable for your lifestyle!

Meal Prep Anything & Everything!

I hope you guys enjoy this meal prep recipe, but keep in mind that it's just ONE of MANY meal prep options out there. You can easily meal prep your favorite dishes, because, truly, if you have time to cook one healthy meal, then all you have to do is multiply the recipe--- and suddenly you're meal prepping for the entire week! Clean eaters, master the art of meal prep, and you'll make eating clean so much easier!

Monday, February 17, 2014

The Freezer-Friendly Five

Using Your Freezer to Make Eating Clean More Manageable

Time and time again, I hear the excuse "I don't have time to eat clean." Well, I'm prepared to blow that excuse out of the water, because I fully believe that EVERYONE has time to eat clean! It's all about using your time wisely--- and making smart decisions! So, with that said, I present to you: the freezer-friendly five. For all of you people out there with busy lives (so, ummm, basically everyone), this list is going to be your go-to guide of things to keep on hand in your freezer. Whether you have a late meeting at work planned or a busy evening chauffeuring kids, having these five meals ready to go in your freezer lets you know that, no matter what, you'll have a healthy meal on hand to come home to!

# 1 Chicken Fajita Soup 
(Serves 2-4--- and it's low carb!)

8 Ounces cubed chicken breast
3/4 Cup cubed zucchini
3/4 Cup cubed yellow squash
1 Roughly chopped whole tomato
1/4 Cup diced green chiles
1/2 Cup strips of sweet pepper (bell peppers are fine)
1/2 Cup diced red onion
1 Chopped garlic clove
1/4 Teaspoon cumin
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/4 Teaspoon oregano
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 Cups fat free low sodium chicken broth (the only ingredient should be chicken broth or chicken stock!)

Place all of the ingredients in a slow cooker. Cook on high for at least 4 hours. Serve immediately, or place in a freezer-safe bag for future use!

# 2 Turkey Chili
(Serves 2-4--- and it's low carb!)

8 Ounces 99% fat free extra lean ground turkey
1/4 Cup chopped onion
1/4 Cup chopped celery
1 Garlic chopped clove
1 1/2 Cups roughly chopped zucchini
1 1/2 Cups roughly chopped eggplant
1 Diced tomato (keep an extra tomato on hand--- in case you need to add more)
1/4 Cup roughly chopped peppers (sweet or spicy--- pick your poison!)
2 Tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon spicy dijon mustard (make sure the brand you use is clean--- adding ground mustard seed and a couple dashes of hot sauce would be a clean alternative!)
1 Packet of Truvia/Stevia
1 Teaspoon chili powder
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
Optional: add more seasonings to suit your personal tastes; this recipe is made to be intentionally mild

In a pan, simmer ground turkey, onion, celery, and garlic until the meat is no longer pink. Place the ground turkey mixture in a slow cooker with all of the remaining ingredients, ensuring that all of the ingredients are evenly mixed. Set the slow cooker to high, and let the chili cook for at least 2 hours. Serve immediately, or place in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

#3 White Turkey Chili
(Serves 2)

8 Ounces 99% fat free lean ground turkey
1/2 Cup red onion, diced
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 Can of diced green chile peppers
1/2 Teaspoon cumin
1/2 Teaspoon oregano
1/4 Teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 Teaspoon pepper
1/2 Teaspoon hot sauce
1 15 Ounce can cannelloni beans
1 1/2 Cup chicken broth
2 Tablespoons whole wheat flour

In a pot, sauté the onion, garlic, and ground turkey. When the turkey is browned, add in the chile peppers and spices, and continue to sauté on low heat. Meanwhile, drain the cannelloni beans, and separate the beans evenly. Add 1/2 of the beans to the turkey mixture, and blend the other half of the beans along with 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth. Pour the bean and broth mixture from the blender into a separate pot, and whisk in the whole wheat flour over low heat until the mixture becomes thick. Add this mixture to the turkey mixture, and combine thoroughly. Serve immediately, or save in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

# 4 Clean Spaghetti Sauce
(Makes a HUGE Batch!)

4 Large tomatoes, diced
2 Cups shredded zucchini (About 1-2 zucchinis--- I popped mine into the food processor to shred quickly)
1/2 of a red onion, chopped
6 Ounces chopped mushrooms
5 Garlic cloves, chopped
1 Bay leaf
2 Tablespoons parsley
1/2 Teaspoon pepper
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon oregano
1 Teaspoon basil
2 8 Ounce cans of tomato sauce (the only ingredient should be tomato!)
2 Tablespoons instant tapioca
Optional: pre-cooked lean ground turkey, lean ground beef, lean ground chicken

Combine all ingredients except for the meat in the slow cooker, ensuring that everything is mixed thoroughly. Cook on high for 4 hours. Remove the bay leaf, and add in pre-cooked meat if desired. Serve immediately, or store in a freezer-safe bag for future use.

#5 Turkey Meatballs
(Serves 2; Makes about 9 meatballs each)

8 Ounces 99% fat free lean ground turkey
1/2 Cup grated zucchini (process in a food processor until a grated/shredded consistency)
4 Tablespoons oat flour (grind some oats in a food processor until a fine flour-like consistency)
1 Egg white
2 Garlic cloves, chopped
2 Tablespoons red onion
1/2 Tablespoon oregano
1/2 Tablespoons parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Mix thoroughly, then form into bite size meatballs (roughly 3/4 inch). Place on a foiled baking sheet, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve immediately, or wait until cool, then place in a freezer-safe container for future use.

How the "Freezer-Friendly Five" Can Help YOU

All said, the freezer-friendly five can help make eating clean more manageable for your lifestyle. Making these recipes in multiple batches (you may need to adjust cooking times, of course) and saving some in the freezer for future use is a great way to ensure that you'll always have clean eats on hand ready to go at a moment's notice. So for all of you out there who keep using the excuse "I don't have time to eat clean"--- learn to love your freezer-friendly five, and you can make eating clean more realistic for you, no matter how busy, stressed, or hectic your lifestyle may be! Enjoy!

Day 17: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- More Miles

I have to admit... I am not feeling so hot today, and there was absolutely ZERO part of me that felt like running this morning, but I didn't let a case of the blahs get to me, and I still managed to crank out a total of 16 miles. That leaves only 21 miles left for me today, which is a totally rewarding feeling for me! I'm contemplating on whether or not I should just go into high gear to complete the FINAL 21 miles tomorrow! What do you guys think?! Go hard or go home??

Day 17: 37-16=21!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Day 16: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- Recovery Run

Today was just a short recovery run due to yesterday's race, but I still managed to bust out another 6 miles this morning. Of course, I'll be amping up the mileage again tomorrow!

Day 16: 43-6=37!

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Day 15: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- RACE DAY!

For a runner, there's nothing better than a RACE DAY, am I right or am I right?! I awoke extra early this morning to head out to North Park for a Valentine's Day Race (15K... aka a little over 9 miles) today. I've actually never run a 15K before; for whatever reason, I jumped straight from 10K to half marathon. But, of course--- it's better late than never! I had a long run scheduled today anyway, so I figured I might as well get a race in too!

It was a chilly morning, but with the help of my cold weather gear, I stopped freezing my booty off once I started running. North Park is one of my favorite local parks--- the lake is absolutely beautiful, and it provided nice scenery for today's race. I wasn't pushing myself to break any personal records today, because I'm still focused on my overall goal of training for the Pittsburgh Marathon. Nonetheless, it felt great to get out there with other runners! Love the positive energy and the good vibes!

Day 15: 52-9=43!

Some post-race pictures!
Some post-race pictures!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day to all of you from me and my furry valentine, Clover!

Muddy Melissa

Food for Thought Friday: Macronutrients--- What are they, why do you need them, and more!

Today's Food for Thought Friday delves into the topic of macronutrients. If you're an athlete or a bodybuilder, chances are you've heard of macronutrients! If you aren't though, the concept of macronutrients might be all new to you. This video covers what macronutrients are, why you need them, how much of them you need, and where to get them from! A must-watch for anyone who hasn't heard of macronutrients before, and a great refresher for those who already have! Enjoy!

What are macronutrients?
- Macronutrients are nutrients our body needs in large amounts!
- 3 types: carbohydrates (4 calories per gram), protein (4 calories per gram), and fat (9 calories per gram)

Why does out body need carbohydrates?
- USDA recommends 45-65% of your calories come from carbohydrates
- Carbohydrates are our largest macronutrient!
- Body's best source of fuel that is most easily used for energy
- Carbohydrates turn into glucose which is needed by the muscles, brain, central nervous system, kidneys, tissues, cells

- Simple carbs (simple sugars such as in fruit) vs. complex carbs (brown rice, whole grains, etc.)
- Carbohydrates are mainly found in starchy foods (like grain and potatoes), fruits, milk, and yogurt. Other foods like vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and cottage cheese contain carbohydrates, but in lesser amounts.

- A note about fiber: fiber is a type of carbohydrate that the body can't fully digest
- Fiber helps the GI tract
- Fiber reduce risk of colon cancer, heart disease, obesity, and high cholesterol
- Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grain products

Why does our body need protein?
- USDA recommends 10-35% calories come from protein
- Amino acids are the building blocks of protein
- Essential (our body needs to consume these directly since the body can't make them) vs. nonessential (our body can make these our of other amino acids)
- Animal sources of protein contain all of your essential amino acids
- Plant sources do not, so vegans and vegetarians need to carefully monitor diet!

- Protein is important for tissue repair, immune function, maintaining lean muscle mass, forming hormones/enzymes
- Can be utilized for energy when carbs are not available!

-Protein is found in meats, poultry, fish, meat substitutes, cheese, milk, nuts, legumes, and in smaller quantities in starchy foods and vegetables.

Why does our body need fat?
- USDA recommends 20-35% calories come from fat
- Fat get a bad rep, but some fat is needed in our diet!
- Fat is the most concentrated source of energy, help body absorb certain vitamins, cushion internal organs, maintain cell membranes, brain tissue is fatty

- 3 types of fat: saturated, unsaturated, trans
- Saturated (meat, butter, lard) vs. unsaturated (olive oil, avocados, nuts, canola oil)--- molecular bonds are filled with molecules vs. unfilled
- Trans fats (snacks, junk food, fried food, margarine) tend to be molecularly altered, so avoid these!
- Saturated and trans fats both increase heart disease risk, as well as raise bad cholesterol and lower good cholesterol
- Choose unsaturated fats, as they decrease heart disease risk, raise good cholesterol, and lower bad cholesterol

In summation:
- Carbohydrates: 45-65% of calories in diet
- Proteins: 10-35% of calories in diet
- Fat: 20-35% of calories in diet
- Some links to figure out your suggested caloric intake: Mayo ClinicHealth Central, and
 - My personal recommendation, since some people are more carb-sensitive than others, is to begin at the highest percentage of recommended carbohydrate intake, then adjust according to how your body reacts, lowering (within a safe range) if necessary.

- It's good to know these numbers as you begin eating healthier, but calorie counting and macronutrient counting isn't a permanent lifestyle choice for most people! For most people (except athletes specifically), I recommend monitoring these when you first begin trying to eat healthier, for as long as you need to until you can get a rough idea of how many calories and how much macronutrients you should be consuming!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Day 13: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- Another 12 Down

Another 12 miles today! Tomorrow, I'll be taking a rest day from running, since I'm doing a 15K on Saturday. Not to mention that tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and I plan on spending the day snuggled up with my furry friend Clover--- since my husband has to work that day!

Day 13: 64-12=52!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Day 12: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- Feelin' Fab!

Another day, another mile... HA! Yeah, right! I pulled in another 12 miles this morning. I decided to road run this morning, because the roads looked absolutely horrendous today, and there was no way I was making it to either the park or the gym. So I toughed it out on the roads, ran to my nearest park, got in a couple miles there, then ran my way back home! Feeling fabulous!

Day 12: 76-12=64

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Day 11: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- Taking it Easy!

I got in a solid 8 miles this afternoon. I took it easy after yesterday's longer run, so I could give my body time to recuperate. It's important for me to remind myself that taking it easy is sometimes just as important as pushing myself too!

Day 11: 84-8=76!

A Sampling of Clean Drinks!

One of the hardest things many people struggle with when trying to eat clean isn't the eating part--- it's the drinking part! Giving up the soda, diet soda, sports drinks, processed juices, etc. can seem like a dauntless task to some! "What, you want me to drink PLAIN water?! Wait, you mean ALL of the time?!" But, the truth is, there's many options out there available beyond plain water. Fruit infused water, homemade juices, shakes and smoothies, and so much more! Here is just a small sampling of a few of my favorite clean eats.... well, drinks! Enjoy!

Sweet Treats, Clean Eats: Your V-Day Lucky 7!

With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I know many people will be out there, scouring the stores for the perfect Valentine's Day gift. While many might opt for the typical sugary, processed, artificial box o' chocolates without a second thought--- what about the health-conscious among us? Do we forego the tasty treats? Not if I have anything to say about it! Here's a list of 7 cleaned-up sweet treats to satisfy your Valentine's Day sweet tooth without the guilt!

1. Buckeyes

These buckeyes utilize peanut butter flavored protein powder for a nutritional protein boost, and eliminate many of the calories from traditional buckeyes by utilizing both oat flour and PB2 powder. Not to mention that this recipe uses stevia in place of sugar, and carob chips in place of chocolate. The end result is a delicious chocolatey peanut buttery treat!

1 Scoop peanut butter protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1 Tablespoon PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
2 Tablespoons water
3 Tablespoons oat flour (you can make this easily by putting oats in the food processor and processing them into a flour-like consistency)
2 Packets Truvia/Stevia

In a food processor, combine protein powder, PB2, oat flour, stevia, and water. The mixture will be very sticky and extremely thick! Take the mixture by spoonfuls, and roll into ball shapes, then place on a wax-lined baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in the freezer until the balls are set.

1/2 Cup carob chips
3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

In a double boiler, melt the carob chips. Add in the unsweetened almond milk, stirring together with the carob chips to combine fully. You'll want the mixture to be thin enough to be able to coat the buckeyes easily, but not too thin so that it won't stick to the buckeyes either. This was somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons of almond milk for me. Once melted, dip the buckeyes in the carob coating. I did this by dropping the buckeyes (one by one) into the carob coating, rolling them around to get them fully coated, then removing the buckeyes with a spoon. Lastly I placed each buckeye on a wax-lined baking sheet to be returned to the freezer to set again (do not let them freeze fully though). 

2. Chocolate Chip Cookie Fake-Outs

Reading the ingredients, you might be a little thrown off by the inclusion of chickpeas in a dessert recipe, but, trust me, the results are, nonetheless, delicious--- and the taste of chickpeas is undetectable! These cookies are peanut buttery and filled with sweet carob chip goodness. They're softer than traditional cookies, so be careful picking these up! Replacing flour with chickpeas, sugar with maple syrup, and chocolate with carob chips makes for a cleaned-up version of typical chocolate chip cookies!

1 1/2 Cups canned chickpeas, drained thoroughly
1 Teaspoon baking powder
2 Teaspoons vanilla extract (not imitation)
1/3 Cup PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
3 Tablespoons water
1/4 Cup maple syrup
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/2 Cup carob chips (you can also use dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chocolate)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Ensure that the chickpeas are completely drained by patting them down with a paper towel until try. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the carob chips, in a food processor. Fold in the carob chips. Take the mixture by spoonfuls, and place on a foil lined baking sheet. This recipe, for me, makes an even dozen of chocolate chip cookie fake-outs. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Be warned--- these cookies will be extremely soft! They won't be easily picked up without falling apart. If, however, you leave them out overnight, then the cookies set quite nicely, making them easier to pick up!

3. PB&J Protein Bars

Everyone knows that PB&J simply belong together--- and this protein bar recipe is no different! The protein powder adds a nutritional boost, and replacing sugar with stevia, jelly with no sugar added preserves, oil with unsweetened applesauce, and milk with unsweetened almond milk cleans up this recipe quite nicely. The end results are a delicious PB&J snack anyone would enjoy, with absolutely none of the guilt!

1/2 Cup vanilla protein powder (For me, this is exactly 2 scoops; I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1/4 Cup PB2 (powdered de-fatted peanut butter)
1/4 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 Cup egg whites (about 3 egg whites for me)
1/2 Teaspoon baking powder
1/4 Teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
5 Packets Truvia/Stevia
1/4 Cup no sugar added strawberry preserves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the ingredients, except for the strawberry preserves. Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled baking pan (I used a small bread loaf pan). Drop the strawberry preserves over the mixture by spoonfuls, then, with a fork, swirl the strawberry preserves into the mixture gently. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center, ensuring not to overcook the protein bars. 

4. Peanut Butter Protein Fudge

Oh, come on, who doesn't love fudge?! Truth be told, this is not a low calorie treat, so be careful to indulge in moderation. However, the inclusion of protein powder adds some nutritional value to what would otherwise be a dessert made up of only empty calories! The necessity for coconut butter in this recipe ups the fat and calorie content though, so--- again--- don't go downing the entire batch of fudge with reckless abandon!

2 Scoops peanut butter protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1/2 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 Cup coconut butter

Melt the coconut butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. In a food processor, combine the coconut butter, almond milk, and protein powder. Spread the mixture into a foil-lined container (I used a 5x5 inch tupperware container), and refrigerate until fully hardened.

5. Carob-Covered Strawberries

Fresh strawberries, stems removed
1/2 Cup carob chips
3-4 Tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

In a double boiler, melt the carob chips. Add in the unsweetened almond milk, stirring together with the carob chips to combine fully. You'll want the mixture to be thin enough to be able to coat the buckeyes easily, but not too thin so that it won't stick to the buckeyes either. This was somewhere between 3-4 tablespoons of almond milk for me. Once melted, dip the strawberries in the carob coating. I did this by dropping the strawberries (one by one) into the carob coating, rolling them around to get them fully coated, then removing the buckeyes with a spoon. I then placed each strawberry on a wax-lined baking sheet to be returned to the freezer to set again (don't let them freeze fully though!).

6. Chocolate Bark

This chocolatey treat isn't true chocolate bark, but it's still delicious nonetheless. Largely made up of vanilla Greek yogurt, the end result tastes something like a creamy fudgesicle. The possibilities are endless with this one; you can add all sorts of mix-ins--- nuts, dried fruits, coconut, granola, crumbled pretzels, carob chips, and so much more. This makes for a truly customizable treat!

1 Cup vanilla Greek yogurt
3 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tablespoons unsweetened vanilla almond milk
4 Packets Truvia/Stevia
Mix-Ins: Walnuts, Almond, Coconut, Dried Cranberries, Dried Raisins, Etc.

In a bowl, combine yogurt, cocoa powder, almond milk, and stevia. Mix in any ingredients you choose. I made one batch of coconut almond "chocolate bark," and another batch of dried cranberry walnut "almond bark." Spread the mixture into a foil-lined container to be placed in the freezer (I used 2 5x5 inch tupperware containers). Once frozen, break apart into large pieces to consume.

Note: this recipe was inspired by my Instagram pal, lilsipper (follow her on Instagram and like her on Facebook!) who made a non-chocolate version!

7. Single Serving Chocolate Power Cookie

No Valentine for Valentine's Day? Well then, I've got the treat for you--- a chocolate power cookie for one! Using mashed avocado and unsweetened applesauce for moistness, and getting a nutritional boost from chocolate protein powder, this chocolate cookie is an indulgence you won't regret eating. And--- as a bonus--- this chocolate cookie will be so good that you just might find yourself being glad you don't have a Valentine that you'd have to share this one with!

1/2 of an avocado
1/4 Cup chocolate protein powder (I used About Time/SDC Nutrition)
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 Tablespoon unsweetened applesauce
1 Packet Truvia/Stevia
1 Tablespoon carob chips (or dark chocolate chips or chopped baking chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, combine all of the ingredients except for the carob chips. Gently fold in the carob chips. Place the mixture on a foil-lined baking sheet, and bake for 15-20 minutes. Watch the cookie carefully, as it will become dry if you bake the cookie for too long!

Monday, February 10, 2014

Day 10: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge... Under 100 Mile Mark!

When I agreed to run a mile for every like on Facebook, Google +, and Instagram as part of my run training for my upcoming marathon, I NEVER imagined I'd be slated with 212 miles to do as part of my February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- but I am so thankful, so grateful, and so appreciative that you guys did, because it's been instrumental in motivating me to push myself during my run training!

I hit the roads for today's run this morning, wracking up a total of 22 more miles. I'm not the kind of person that looks out the window and says "nope, not running today, too much snow." There's not much that will stop me from getting in my scheduled run... but, I must admit, I am just oh so very tired of looking at the snow day after day after day! I'm longing for the warm summer days when I can run on green trails, working up a good sweat... you know, the kind of sweat that doesn't immediately freeze to my skin! 

Oh well... I'll keep toughing the weather out as I keep busting out the mileage! I'm proud to report that I officially have less than 100 miles left to go for my February challenge, and I have to complete, on average, less than 5 miles each day to achieve that goal! No problem--- I got this in the bag!

Day 10: 106-22=84!

Coconut-Lime Grits Served with Spicy Turkey Sausage... Clean Yet Yummy Eats!

My husband was so bummed that we missed out on the vegan brunch we were so looking forward to yesterday because of the snow, and he kept griping about not getting any of the coconut grits he'd been craving since last time--- so I decided to try to concoct my own recipe for him instead (just to shut him up... hehehe!). If I do say so myself, the results were quite delicious, especially when paired with some homemade spicy turkey sausage, and it made for an amazing clean eats breakfast! Enjoy this recipe guys!

Coconut-Lime Grits (Serves 1)

1/4 Cup grits
1/2 Cup light coconut milk
1/2 Cup unsweetened almond milk
1 Tablespoon unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped cilantro
Juice from 1/2 of a lime

In a pot, bring coconut milk, almond milk, and grits to a simmer. When the majority of the liquid has been absorbed, remove from heat to stir in the shredded coconut, lime juice, and cilantro. Enjoy!

Spicy Turkey Sausage Patties (Serves 1; Makes 2 Patties)

4 Ounces 99% fat free lean ground turkey
1 Teaspoon hot sauce
1/4 Teaspoon cumin
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 Teaspoon pepper

In a bowl, combine all ingredients until thoroughly blended. Form the spicy turkey sausage mixture into 4 patties. In a pan over the stove, cook the patties until browned on both sides, ensuring that the patties are cooked all the way through (about 2 minutes on each side). Serve and enjoy!

This one was a hit in the clean eats book, guys! The sweetness of the coconut-lime grits combined with the heat from the spicy turkey sausage made for a delicious combination... I WILL be making this one again sometime... and SOON! I hope you all enjoy it as much as we did!

Day 9: February "Mile for a Like" Challenge--- 18 Miles Plus an Impromptu Workout!

I continued onward with my February "Mile for a Like" Challenge today (did y'all really need to like my post 212 times?!). I started my day off strong with an 18 mile run this morning. Even though I was freezing my tuckus off, I focused on speed intervals during my run this morning. By the end of it, I felt like I'd really pushed myself--- and I felt great about it! I'm down to 106 miles to go now, which is EXACTLY half of the 212 miles I'll be running this month. So I'm making, no pun intended, good pace on my challenge!

I also lifted weights--- chest and triceps today. Then I managed to get in an impromptu workout! How did I do that, you ask? Well, I had plans to attend a vegan brunch this morning, hosted by the fabulous chef Mya Zeronis (seriously--- when even my carnivore husband texts me asking about the "yum yum brunch," you know it's good eats!). Unfortunately, Pittsburgh's beloved weatherman Joe DeNardo LIED when he predicted "1-2 inches of snow" this weekend. The heavens opened up and dumped truckloads of snow on us this morning; we passed four car accidents on the way home, and we didn't manage to get our car up the hill we live on.

So, after 18 miles of running, an hour of lifting weights--- I walked up this huge ass hill to get home! Oh, Pittsburgh weather, how I love thee! :)

Day 9: 124-18=106!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Forget Unhealthy Chinese Takeout! Clean Coconut Curry Chicken! Crockpot Recipe!

So, even though I'm the clean eatin' queen, my husband is... not so much a clean eater. He's more than a little bit of a takeout junkie, and Chinese food is one of his biggest weaknesses. As such, I'm constantly trying to concoct "cleaned up" versions of his favorite takeout dishes. Today's recipe is twist on coconut curry chicken, cleaned up and healthified (yeah, I made that word up--- deal with it!). Try this recipe out next time you're craving some Chinese takeout!

Coconut Curry Chicken (Serves 2; Crockpot Recipe!)

8 Ounces chicken breast, cubed (about 2 chicken breasts)
1 1/2 Cup carrots, sliced
1/2 red onion, quartered
1 Garlic clove, whole
1/2 bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/2 (5 Ounce) Can of tomato paste
1/2 (5 Ounce) Can of light coconut milk
1/2 jalapeño, halved (remove seeds)
1/2 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 Tablespoon garam marsala
1/2 Teaspoon salt
3/4 Cup chicken broth

Place chicken and carrots at the bottom of a crockpot, spreading evenly. Place all of the other ingredients, except for the chicken broth) in a blender, and blend thoroughly. Pour over the chicken and carrots, and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or until carrots become tender. Lastly, add in the 3/4 cup chicken broth to thin the sauce out, and serve over brown rice, couscous, quinoa, or on its own. Additionally, if you choose to, you can easily add additional vegetables besides carrots into this coconut curry chicken recipe, but please note that cooking times may be adjusted accordingly!

This one got the seal of approval from my takeout-loving husband--- he even declared it was better than the coconut curry chicken from his favorite local Chinese takeout joint! A win in the clean eats cookbook in my opinion!

Pumpkin Custard! Crockpot Recipe!

As you may or may not know, I'm a bit of a pumpkin fanatic. I mean, really, can you blame me? Pumpkin is absolutely scrumptious, and it's the perfect wintertime food to enjoy, not even considering the countless health benefits of this fruit. Yup, that's right--- like the tomato, it's not a vegetable; it's a fruit! Get this--- not only is it a fruit, it's actually technically a berry! Even though many of the pumpkin recipes out there can be high in calories, fat, and sugar, this pumpkin custard recipe is one that you can nosh on entirely guilt-free! Not to mention that the inclusion of egg whites in this recipe allows for a nutritional protein boost!

Pumpkin Spice Custard (Serves 2; Crockpot Recipe!)

1 Cup pumpkin
4 Egg Whites
2 Tablespoon coconut milk
4 Stevia Packets
1/2 Teaspoon vanilla
1/2 Teaspoon pumpkin spice

Fill crockpot with 1 inch of water. Turn on high for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together all ingredients in a bowl. Pour custard into a ramekin (only fill 1/2-2/3 full, as the custard will rise), and place the ramekins carefully into the hot water inside the crockpot. Cover the crockpot (no lifting the cover--- otherwise the custard will deflate!), and cook on high for 4-6 hours. Serve with a dollop of vanilla Greek yogurt!

Enjoy this one guys. To me, it's like indulging in a yummy piece of (crustless) pumpkin pie! Absolutely yum!

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Fresh from the Farm Juices Review!

I recently had the pleasure of trying out several new juices from a business local to Pittsburgh, Fresh from the Farm Juices. Ankit Goyal, owner of Fresh From the Farm Juices, prides himself on utilizing fresh, organic, local ingredients in each and every one of his juices. All of Fresh from the Farm Juices products are cold pressed, making them utterly unheated and entirely raw--- ensuring that the highest amount of nutrients are retained in the juices. But, of course, I know you're all wondering, "how do they taste?" Well--- here's my review!

"Black and Yellow"

A true Pittsburgher's juice, huh? Black and Yellow contained pineapple, orange, blackberry, and lavender. Black and Yellow is a textured sort of juice--- thick with pulpy goodness, which I enjoyed greatly. The flavors are bright, refreshing, and crisp, not to mention that the hint of lavender adds an interesting, yet delicious, touch. This is truly a uniquely tasty fruit juice, and it would be difficult NOT to enjoy this one. Black and Yellow was one of my favorite juices of the bunch, and will be becoming a regular part of my juicing repertoire! 10 out of 10

"Limey Green"

The first thing out of my mouth was: "I like that this is more limey and less green." The ingredients are apple, spinach, kale, carrot, lime, and cilantro; of course, that bright green color might initially scare some people off. Thankfully, however, Fresh From the Farm Juice's Limey Green doesn't taste like liquified spinach. The apple and lime are strong enough to make this juice bright, crisp, fresh, and citrusy. This juice, no doubt, was a great way to start my day off. The citrusy taste gave me a nice "wake up" feeling, but the healthy dose of greens gave me a good dose of vitamins and nutrients. Yum! 10 out of 10

"Minty Limeade"

The name Minty Limeade immediately conjured up mouth-watering thoughts in my mind, and I was eager to quench my thirst with this juice. And Minty Limeade (filtered water, lime, agave, mint) did not disappoint. It was the perfect balance of citrusy, minty, and sweet--- an overall delicious juice.There's no way you can't enjoy this one, in my personal opinion! 10 out of 10

Restless Red:

Okay, looking at this bottle, I have visions of bottles of "True Blood." "Restless Red" is indeed a bold, bright, blood-red juice made from apple, beet, carrot, lemon, ginger parsley. It wasn't overly beet-y or carrot-y, and overall it was a tasty juice. The bright color might lead you to believe it has some sort of berries in it, but it doesn't. So, as long as you don't drink it assuming you'll get a berry-filled taste, then I think this juice is fairly enjoyable! The beet flavor is subtle, not overpowering at all, so it intermingles nicely with the apple, carrot, lemon, and ginger. I didn't notice any of the parsley taste in the juice, however. Overall, an enjoyable juice, albeit not my favorite one. 6 out of 10

"Spicy Lemonade"

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I first read the label--- spicy? sweet? tart? As such, I drank this juice (filtered water, lemon, agave, jalapeño, and ginger) with a bit of curiosity. It was definitely a unique taste sensation--- indeed, a spicy lemonade! It was undoubtedly citrusy, although with a bit of a kick afterward. I liked it! It reminded me of this Sweet & Spicy Tea I drink made by Good Earth... a nice balance of sweet and spicy. If you're expecting all-out lemonade flavor, however, this definitely isn't it. It won't leave your tongue burning with fiery heat, but instead it'll definitely give you nice a wake up boost. I thought it was perfect for an afternoon noon drink--- kicking me into high gear for the rest of the day! 8 out of 10

"The Works"

This concoction contains carrot, broccoli, green pepper, red pepper, lemon, ginger, cayenne pepper, and garlic. Truth be told, I've dabbled in my fair share of green juices--- but I've never had carrot juice before in my life! The closest I've come is my carrot cake protein shake that uses grated carrot. So even though I had visions of gulping down Bugs Bunny's drink of choice, down the hatch it went! My fears were well-justified... this wasn't my favorite one of the juices in the bunch! I found the green and red pepper in it to be too strong, and the garlic taste didn't suit my palette. I'm hesitant to say much else, because I don't want to prejudice anyone on this juice--- we all have different preferences, and many of you out there might find this tasty. I, personally, just didn't! 2 out of 10

I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Fresh from the Farm juices to anyone. The juices are delicious, and I support any local business that uses fresh, local, organic ingredients. Limey Green has quickly become my morning pre-run beverage of choice, and I love sipping on Black and Yellow and Minty Limeade. Yum! Fresh from the Farm Juices also offers various juice cleanses--- 2, 4, and 6 days. Unfortunately, my intentions were to complete and to review a cleanse, but I was unable to do so for medical reasons. Look for a review on that at a future date though!