Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Guest Post: Tips for Fighting Hunger at the Airport

Time for some holiday survival tips! Although it's fine to enjoy a holiday meal to its fullest, we don't want to detour too far from our healthy path. This is especially true when it comes to travelling. Our regular routines are tossed out the window and we feel like we're at the mercy of whatever is easiest to eat while we try to get to our destinations.

Cole Millen of Cole's Mill has some great advice on how to do it right. Take it away, Cole....

Tips for Fighting Hunger at the Airport
As those watching their weight know, airports can be traps. Because airports are filled with unhealthy restaurants, it can be tempting to spend a bit of time eating a calorie-rich but unhealthy meal. It is important to be proactive, and a bit of effort can help you make it through the airport without giving in to temptation. Here are a few tips.
Stay Hydrated
When people feel thirsty, they often grab a soda or high-calorie coffee drink. In addition, it can be difficult to resist the urge to buy food while getting a drink. Unfortunately, drinks cannot be taken through airport security, so your options are limited after you arrive. Drink plenty beforehand, and try to have enough that you won't feel tempted to purchase a drink while waiting. Even if it means an extra trip to the bathroom, extra hydration can help you make it on board without an additional meal.
And Meals to Your Plan
When people travel, they often make a list of the day's activities. However, many fail to account for meals. When making your travel itinerary, write in some extra time for having a meal before heading out. You'll also want to bring along some snacks as doing so can help you stay comfortable while dealing with security and waiting for your flight to begin loading.
Avoid Especially Bad Foods
While knowing which meals to eat is important, it may be even more important to know which meals to avoid. Airports are filled with terrible options, and eating them can cause acid reflux and other problems, which can make travel even more unpleasant. Avoid cinnamon rolls and drinks with too much caffeine. Fried foods should be avoided as well. You may also want to avoid drinking soda, which is loaded with calories and sugar.
Research, Research, Research
The best way to avoid eating excessively the airport is to perform extensive research before leaving. This knowledge is helpful in general, but it is especially important when waiting for a flight. Not only should you read about the food within the airport but in the city as well. You never know when your flight will be cancelled and you’ll be stranded so it is important to prepare for the worst. I got stuck over night in Las Vegas a couple months back that could have led to a dietary disaster. Fortunately, I found a great site where I could do some quick research and book a hotel with a healthy restaurant, allowing me to avoid the deadly buffets.
 Learn about what meals each restaurant offers, and try to find information online about their ingredients and calorie loads. In addition, some knowledge about different types of restaurants can help. For example, Mexican restaurants generally offer a number of healthy options. Chinese restaurants, on the other hand, tend to offer fewer healthy choices. Also, keep an eye out for restaurants that market themselves as healthy; they can become go-to options for those who travel regularly.

The wide range of dining options available at most airports indicates that travelers frequently eat between flights. Travelers have a natural tendency to use them as ways to pass some time before departing. However, they also make it incredibly easy to wreck your diet each time you travel. By taking some time to prepare before heading out, you can ensure that you remain healthy no matter how frequently you travel.

Thank you, Cole! Excellent advice - and I'd like to add my own 2 cents....keep movin'! Waiting for a flight or a layover doesn't mean we have to plant our rears in a plastic chair and watch cat videos on our phones. Sitting is eeeevvvviiiillll! Get up, walk around, do some jumping jacks or use the edge of the chair to do tricept dips. I've gotten full workouts in while waiting around for different reasons. Don't worry about what others in the airport think of you. Your health is more important than the random thoughts of strangers. Repeat after me: "what other people think of me is none of my business." Freeing, isn't it?


Sunday, November 17, 2013

Surviving the Wilds of Holiday Destinations

Like anything else, mitigating the holiday damage requires planning. Tell your friends and family ahead of time you are on a food and fitness journey. Work it into conversations leading up to the visit, so when you aren't pounding down pie by the shovelload, they aren't offended or surprised. I have been known to be quite the eater in the past, but my whole entire clan knows I've lost 70 pounds to eradicate some deleterious health issues, so they tend not to act like sugary dealers when I'm around now.

But not all folks are as accomodating. For some, food = love and if you don't eat, and overeat, they are upset. Be nice, but firm. Don't give in, unless you have decided you do actually want the food. My point is don't eat more than you want just to be nice. The food = love thing is their issue, not yours, or mine. And if they get upset, that's their issue too.

How about those relatives who don't know what to get you and refuse to follow the "we just give presents to the kids" rule? And we end up with a giant basket from Harry and David's or a box of chocolate big enough for a platoon to share. DON'T OPEN IT! Once it's open the food just crawls into my mouth every time I walk by it. Take it home unopened and dump it at work on the other side of the building/dept/office from where your workstation is. It'll be gone. Really fast. And you'll be a hero.

Bring healthy snacks with you. There are a lot of options like Naturebox or Fruit & Fiber Bars. Just toss em in the luggage and go. Maybe grab an apple before Dad makes pies. Or my fav, eat all those apple skins while he's baking!

And move, move, move. Don't hang around shooting the breeze on a couch all day - get everyone outside walking. If the weather stinks, have a contest with the little ones to see who can walk up and down the stairs the most. (in my family, it was who could bounce all the way down the stairs on their butt!) Or dare the cousins to a burpee contest. Or play a dancing video game. Watching family videos? Great time to do planks or crunches.

If you show up with a mindset of moving, enjoying what you choose to eat while declining what you don't need and ensure healthy snacking you can't lose...er, I mean...gain! Happy holidays!


Saturday, July 13, 2013

Cardio With No Legs

Recently I had a little work done...cosmetic but necessary as far as I was concerned. Being obese for a long while had ruined the small veins in my legs. After losing the weight I wanted to show off my new self but really got tired of answering the same question: "how did you get those bad bruises on your legs?"

Arrrrgh! They weren't bruises, it just was there were so many spider veins grouped together it's what it looked like. So I went to a local vein center and paid a whopping $250 to have a really nice doc use little needles (didn't hurt) to cut off the blood supply to the spider veins. Had to wear compression stockings for 2 weeks afterward. In the summer! Soooo hot. My own fault for waiting until after my June mud run to get the procedure done. But, hey, when the mud calls I gotta answer.

What was hard was I couldn't run or lift weights with my legs while wearing the compression stockings. I kept lifting with my arms but I still needed some cardio about twice a week. Tried to search on the internet for leg free cardio but most sites suggested swimming (not an option in compression stockings) or using a manual wheelchair outside (not really in my wheelhouse).

What I ended up with was air boxing while sitting and watching TV with my hubby. Ended up working up a sweat and raising my heart rate which was the point anyway. Standing and swinging my arms in circles also worked but didn't seem to raise my heart rate quite as much. Both exercises worked out my upper body with it's own body weight while burning calories.

Anyone who has a doc telling them they can't cavort can use these little time wasters to bust out some cardio until they are on the mend. Or if the arthritis acts up. Or if an ankle is sprained while in a late night battle with supervillians. You know, the usual stuff.

Anyways, the compression stockings are off and the legs are looking much better. Time to get my runner's high on!


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Smoothie Saturday: Oh Be-have Smoothie

I haven't posted a smoothie recipe in a while. Not that my smoothie addiction has abated at all. If anything, it's gotten worse and I've spread the plague to my mom. She already was smoothie-ing but I asked if she was putting veggies in there. The response was not enthusiastic. I suggested she try a handful of baby spinach leaves because she'd never taste the diff and would be getting veggies at breakkie, always a good thing.

What mom didn't know is that spinach is a gateway veg. But boy she knows now! After the spinach got her over the eww veggies in the smoothie hurdle, she started chucking all sorts of planty love in the blender.

I try to take advantage of the local stuff and collards are just everywhere now. Peaches, not local yet, but still yummy are showing up juicy and plump. And there is always a knobby bit of ginger around.

Low...perfection came out of convenience! The pairing of collards and peach is yummeriffic. The peach kisses you with it's summer flavor - the flirt! Then the ginger pinches you on the backend - cheeky thing! Be-have! And the collards are so out of the ballpark healthy you can fly after sucking this bad boy down.

Collards, Fresh - 3 cups
Peach, Fresh - 1 large, pitted, rough chopped
Ginger, Fresh - little piece for a little taste, big piece if you like things spicy
Water - 3/4 cup
Protein Powder - 1/2 scoop
Guarana - 1 tsp (optional)
Date, Medjool, Pitted - 1 each or 2 T date sugar
Liquid Stevia - 5 drops
5 or 6 ice cubes

If you have a heavy duty blender, chuck it all in and hit the button. If it's a regular blender, put everything in but the ice and puree. The add the ice and let er rip again.

Nutrition Info:
Calories: 221
Carbs: 43.7g
Protein: 12.5g
Fat: .3g
Cholesterol: 10mg
Sodium: 38.5g
Fiber: 8.6g

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Meat meat meaty meat meat!

If I'm going to spend a whole lotta calories, I'm gonna make sure it's good and worth it. Nothing scratches that foodie itch like a juicy burger cooked on a grill. And it's not all fat and calories, beef does a body good with protein, iron and B vitamins.

First things first, get a hunka beef! I pick a chuck roast that looks like it has a good amount of fat in it. Then it gets cut into chunks like so..

Time to set up the Kitchenaid mixer with the grinder attachment and start to feed the beef cubes through.

The meat goes through the coarse grinding plate once...

It's ground but still has visible pieces of fat that aren't fully incorporated. Gotta squeeze all that fatty love into the burger for juicy wonderfulnness. And so it goes through the coarse grinder a second time...

Now the white flecks are alot less prominent. But this pile of red gooey love is not ready to be burgers yet. They'd turn out grainy. So I slap on the fine grinding plate and get...

It's just so beautiful *sniff* .... give me a moment. I'm verklempt, speak amongst yourselves....*bites knuckle*...

Aaaaannnnd we're back!

Now I gotta make burgers that are all the same size so they  finish to medium rare nomminess at the same time. One of the best tools I have in my kitchen is a $5 burger shaper. Love this thing:

You can see the little black clicker thing is on 1/3 pound which is my preference. The burgers are big enough to hang off the bun even after cooking but don't have the embarrassing shrinkage issues of a 1/4 pounder. The 1/2 pound setting is great for the really big appetites but just too imposing for little ole me.

Burger shaper does its job and there's a small army waiting for a smokey fate on the Big Green Egg:

Of course, there's always the option of making sliders too!

Either option cooks up just fine.

Seriously - the best burger you'll ever eat and you get your official fussy foodie card in the mail shortly thereafter. Excuse me, the burgers are ready...I gotta go!


Saturday, June 22, 2013

Life Begins After 40!

On January 1st of 2011, I was 40 years old and clinically obese. I set a goal to achieve a healthy weight and BMI by February 2012. NY resolutions are not a way to make sure something is absolutely gonna happen and this absolutely needed to happen. Resolutions seem predestined to fail within 8 weeks of being made, but a goal...carries more weight (ha!). Plus not completing a goal is not in my vocabulary.

The weight came off, fitness level increased...life was perfect, right? Not exactly. I maintained the loss without a problem from Feb 2012 to November. Then gained about 5 pounds over the holidays which came right off by Feb 2013. No biggie. But I realized I was getting complacent. How was I going to stay motivated to keep up the healthy habits? Same way I lost the weight without losing muscle to begin with: determine a goal and work to meet it. What could I do that was something new and exciting? Something I've never done before? Well, against all reason, in Feb 2013 I set a goal to be fit enough to participate in a mud run by summer 2013. Then I reviewed my goal every week without actually doing a damned thing about it. Just kept exercising and eating for maintenance without worrying about this crazy thing I had put on a goal list.

Then in March a Groupon came across my iPhone for the Survival Race. Working every other weekend means this mud run nonsense would be occurring when I couldn't attend, right? Nope - it was on my weekend off and far enough off I'd have pleeeeenty of time to train for it. Crap. Well, surely it was too expensive, right? Nope - Groupon was only $65 and came with a free ticket for Great Adventure. And my husband and I had just talked about taking our daughter to GA this summer anyway so I'd be saving on purchasing my ticket. Absolutely no reason not to purchase the Groupon and sign up. So I did.

For the next 3 months I did the Couch to 5K program, found a nature preserve by my house to run 5Ks in terrain and lifted many heavy weights. I was concerned about cargo nets, heights, climbing, etc. Public parks have nets, monkey bars, rings and trails - I used them all repeatedly. Found a great core workout in a magazine and by the end of those 12 weeks, I could see my abs! That has never happened before. All of this activity took no more time than my usual workout routine, since old stale workouts were traded for the new ones geared toward the event.

Growing up I was not considered the athletic one. But at 42 years old I completed the mud run in 45 minutes, placing 254 out of 1582 participants. That put me in the top 16%! How the hell did that happen? For women in my age group (40-44) I came in 7 out of 80. Whaaaat?!

The sense of accomplishment is just fantastic. Less than 3 years ago I was laying on the couch, pumped up on Prednisone just to breathe and missing work. The high amount of fat had depressed my immune system causing horrible bronchitis. Now I can do this crazy mud run thing.  If you are reading this blog and want to change your weight/fitness, you CAN do it. Hell, if I can do it, anyone can.

Set goals. Drink water. Eat 5-6 times a day. Eat lots of veggies. Lift weights. Don't sit a lot. Read this blog (shameless plug alert!). Let's show the world what women can do. Especially once we turn 40. We are awesome.


Saturday, June 15, 2013

Lose Fat While At Work

Food is glorious and it's BBQ season. Even training for a mud run, I still managed to sneak on a coupla pounds. My scale tells me I gained muscle, which rocks. But I do wish I had lost some fat in from the backs of thighs - that jiggly junk is hanging on for dear life. However, I can do 25 pushups in a row and swing my way through all the monkey bars at my daughter's school.

It boils down to my daily calories. They've been a touch over cause of all the wonderful food lately. The Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble was gone in 2 days flat and I'm the only one in the house that likes rhubarb. Again though 2 pounds of muscle is crazy! And muscle burns more calories than fat so I'm taking this as a win.

Our bodies need to be in a slight calorie excess to build muscle. That's why it's almost, but not completely, impossible to build muscle while losing weight. Gotta lift a bunch of heavy stuff on a very regular basis to keep your body from breaking down muscle while losing weight. This means you too ladies! Then when the fat is gone, those abs are ready to be shown off. I never saw my abs before now even when I was thin and in my 20's - cause I was a cardio queen. Wisdom comes with age. *nods wisely*

I plan on keeping these 2 pounds of muscle but still want the thighs gone. To that end I'll keep lifting muy heavy weights. But I'm gonna go back on the eating plan and burn a bit more calories every day. Doing a bunch of cardio takes too much time for this busy mom so I installed a treadmill desk at home and set up a standing workstation at work. My boss is gonna plotz on Monday when he sees this. It was a ask - for - forgiveness - not - permission kinda thing.

Several of my newer employees thought I had lost my mind. (The ones who have been with me for the long haul are used to me by now.) But once I explained I had lost 70 pounds and needed to keep it off - the look of "boss is nutz" was all replaced with "please tell me how you did it!" Yeah. That's more like it.

It boils down to doing what you need to do to get the job done and to hell with what people think of you. In the long run, your impressive outcomes are going to make people want to be like you. Doing what everyone else does will get you where they are. Considering there's an obesity epidemic, I don't want to be like everyone else.

Like the treadmill desk, the standing workstation took less than 1/2 hour to put together. It was done during a web based virtual diversity training that I needed to take before the end of my company's fiscal year. Just let the training run on the computer run while I moved stuff around my desk and figured it out. Once the training was done, it took 2 minutes to unplug everything, put it in it's final spot and plug it all back up so the cords weren't in the way. Cost was nothing because the milk crates were just laying around anyway.

So, how do you plan to torment your boss with fitness?


Friday, June 7, 2013

Lose Weight While Blogging

One one hand, I want to stay healthy and keep off the ton of weight I've lost. On the other hand, I really need to keep track of the household finances which usually reguires a good deal of butt - in - the - home - office - chair time. Enter the busy Mom mantra - find a way to multi task!

The is my cheapass (ahem thrifty) treadmill desk made with a shelf from Home Depot for under $8 and two bungee cords that cost about $2 each. I saw someone do this in a Youtube video a few weeks ago. Genius!

Whole thing took less than a half hour including going to the store.

Drilled a hole in either side of the shelf with a 3/8 whatever the hell bit this is.

Set the shelf on the treadmill and attached the bungee cords.

My bungees were a little too long to be taut but since I'm too damned cheap to buy new ones AND didn't have time to go back to the store, I just knotted them until they were short enough to work. Done and done.

Only issue is that the iPad is too low versus my head / hands to use comfortably when it's sitting right on the shelf. But I put a milk crate on top of the shelf and it's very comfortable right now as I'm blogging about it. Check it:

Like the concrete wall in the background? That's cause my home gym is in the basement. It just looks like I'm blogging from a prison cell block.

Anyways, there's plenty of cheap ways to work in calorie burning movement even while paying bills online. Anytime you get the chance to keep from sitting - take it! You'll have a lot less butt to sit on in the long run.


Sexy Summer Salad

This sweet and savory little number has it all. Crunchy nuts, softly roasted root veggies, snappy greens, sweet cherries and a salty kiss of feta. Don't blame me if you fall in love after the first bite.

2 T Walnuts, chopped
1 C Hakurei Turnips, peeled, cut into half moons
6 ea Baby Carrots, sliced longways
1 T Walnut Oil, divided
Pinch each kosher salt, onion powder, garlic powder, cracked black pepper
2 C Turnip Greens, washed, chopped
9 ea Cherries, fresh, pitted, quartered
2 T Feta Cheese, crumbled
1 t Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste (I used Pink Himalayan Salt from Trader Joe's)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread walnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast util medium brown. They burn quickly - as soon as you can smell them they are usually just about ready. Set aside to cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, toss turnips and carrots with 1/2 tablespoon of walnut oil. Add kosher salt, onion & garlic powders and cracked black pepper. Toss to evenly distribute the seasonings. Spread turnip and carrot mixture in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees until the vegetables start to brown on the edges and are tender. Set aside to cool.

Once the walnuts and vegetables are room temperature put them both in a mixing bowl. Add turnip greens and cherries then toss to evenly combine everything.

Add feta, reserved walnut oil, balsamic and salt/pepper. Carefully and gently mix everything together.

Makes one entree sized portion, two side salad portions or 4 something healthier instead of chips with a sandwich portions.

Nutrition info is for the entree portion, cut numbers in half for the side salads; divide by 4 for the sandwich platter portions:

Calories: 472
Fat: 32g
Sat Fat: 7g
Poly Fat: 17g
Mono Fat: 4g
Trans Fat: 0g
Protein: 17g
Carbs: 43g
Fiber 13g

Thursday, May 30, 2013

How to lose 70 pounds forever

After gaining weight slowly over the years, I tried doing what I did when I was younger to lose weight. I did a lot of cardio - which achieved nothing now that I was in my late 30s. After a few years of trying this unsuccessfully, I had put on even more weight which caused recurring bouts of bronchitis so severe I was incapacitated. Not to mention the abject distain I felt when looking in the mirror. At 5'4" and almost 190 pounds, I was almost wider than I was tall...

My degree is in clinical dietetics and I held multiple certifications in the field. How could I be in this situation? Was I stupid? Lazy? Neither was true so I used my knowledge of clinical dietetics as a starting point and began my quest to find out exactly what needs to happen to achieve weight loss permanently.

Turns out almost all the information and lifestyle we are surrounded by is WRONG! Here's some examples...

3 squares a day - great way to gain weight
Cut down on snacks - pack on the pounds
Give up your favorite food - recipe for disaster
Eating low calorie - great way to make sure we stay fat forever

Many weight loss plans reduce calories by 500 to 1000 calories a day to lose weight. But doing that is a guarantee we lose muscle instead of fat which will lead to the weight coming back on.

Going on a diet means someday going off the diet. Once we start eating the same way we used to, the weight comes back and is even harder to lose. Any diet plan that actually puts you on a diet is lying to you. They want you to fail so they keep you coming back.

Running healthcare kitchens for over a decade has taught me to systemize anything to achieve maximum performance with minimum input. Using the information I learned combined with my systemization technique produced amazing results...

70 pounds of fat lost in a year and a half! 
And it's still gone!

I lost weight without going on a diet, buying expensive tasteless foods or taking weird supplements. (Who knows what's really in those diet pills?) Eating more frequently and understanding how much water, activity and nutrition my body personally needs got me where I wanted to be.

Many plans preach insane amounts of water but my body only need 7 cups a day. The weight came off (and stays off) eating 50% carbs, 20% protein and 30% fat. I still like to bake and continue to take my coffee with half and half so I don't give up out of self depravation.

Activity is not hours of cardio but is a balance of cardio and some weight training. And making sure I don't sit on my keister for too long at work without moving. Same at home - can't spend too much time blogging without some movement.

It's about understanding the needs of our individual bodies and eating to meet those needs. Losing weight really is all about the food.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Superhero Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble

Rich in anti oxidants, omega 3s and fiber, this delicious crisp might just save your life!


Rhubarb raw 2 1/3 cups sliced
Strawberries 2 1/3 cups sliced
Splenda blend 1/2 cup
Corn starch 3 T
Lemon zest 1 t
Splash water
Pinch salt

Using spatula mix filling ingredients thoroughly


Whole oat flour 3/4 cup
Butter salted 3 T
Flax meal 1/4 cup
Chopped walnuts 1/3 cup
Salt 1/8 t

Nuke butter till soft but not melted
Use mixer or hands mix or rub all ingredients together until thoroughly combined


Butter baking dish
Put filling evenly in dish, scraping all goodness from bowl into baking dish
Sprinkle topping evenly on top, squeezing some together to make "crumbs" and dropping them on top as well

Bake at 350 for 45min to 1 hour or until filling bubbles thickly all around edges and top is lightly browned
Let cool to lukewarm before eating
Serves 6

Nutrition info:

Calories 303
Carb 45g
Pro 4g
Fat 12g
Sat 4g
Polyunsaturated 4g
Monounsaturated 1g
Trans fat 0g
Chol 15g
Sodium 89mg
Potassium 244mg
Vit A 5%
Vit C 71%
Calcium 14%
Iron 7%

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performance

....and performance is all about....you guessed it....FOOD!
Fueling up 5-6 times a day is the best way to keep the ol metabolism cranked and burning excess calories even when we're sitting still. But it can be overwhelming to try and eat healthy that many times a day without some forethought. Plus, life is crazy busy - who has time to cut up veggies, make salads and grill chicken on a week night between picking up the kids and softball practice.
Get stuff ready when there's time, put in the fridge and freezer and it's goodnesspalooza every day. On a weekend or, in my case a random weekday off, take a little time and:
-chop & clean greens
-clean and cut celery & carrots into sticks
-rinse some sugar snap peas and cut off those pointy ends
-wash all the fruit from food shopping
-cut up fridge fruits like pineapple & kiwi
-clean and cut up peppers, zucchini, tomatoes and onions
-break down a head of broccoli...cut and wash florets; run stems through a grater blade of a food processor (great for broccoli slaw)
-grill off a family pack of chicken
-boil off noodles, rinse in cold water and toss lightly with olive oil
Time spend achoppin' and acookin' burns calories - hey, it's activity so it counts!
Tossing together a salad for lunch at work is a breeze. Fresh fruit for school lunch boxes is ready to go. Fresh veggies for a dinner side is a splash of water and a short nuke from ready. Stir fries almost put themselves together what with the ready to go noodles and veggies. Smoothies for breakfast: done! The possibilities are as endless as they are easy.
Scheduling food prep increases veggie and fruit consumption and reduces the chance a stressed you will stop for fast food between obligations. It's like being your own private chef.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Smoothiemania is Running Wild!

Based on all my cupcake posts, it would seem that they are the biggest part of my diet. Nothing is further from the truth. I am all about 80/20 - eat right 80% of the time and the 20% that's not so healthy will take care of itself. Everything fits into a healthy diet and I never feel deprived.
Smoothies are my breakfast go to. Set 'em up the night before, put the blender cup in the fridge and then let 'er rip in the AM. A great way to start the day with nutrition packed goodness - it keeps me healthier and smarter in the face of managing the prep, delivery and cleanup of 1200 meals a day at work. They help me maintain my 65 pound weight loss and fuel me to train for my first ever mud run this June.
Best part is...they're never the same way twice cause my base recipe can be made with whatever's on hand.
Here's the deal:
1/2 cup liquid (water, skim milk, almond milk, soy milk, etc)
1 medrool date ( to sweeten it up)
1 tsp ground guarana seed (so I don't need a separate cup of coffee to get going)
1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (whey, soy, brown rice, pea, etc)
1/2 piece of fruit (apple, pear, banana, orange, etc) or 1 cup berries (blueberries, quartered strawberries, raspberries, etc)
1/2 cup solid vegetable (celery, cucumber, carrot)
3 cups leafy greens (collards, chard, spinach, arugula, beet tops, carrot tops, radish leaves, parsley - go easy on the tops because the flavor is strong, mix them with the milder greens)
Handful of ice (only in the summer for me - too cold in the winter!)
And it's adjustable - just have leafy greens on hand - omit the solid veggie and replace with another cup of greens. Easy peasy.
A pretty powerful blender is needed to tame this beast. Here in casa de Krohne we use a Blendtec.
Try it- you'll like it and you're bod will look and feel great.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Big People Cupcake Party

I love cupcakes - fast to cook, cool & decorate. Easier to handle during decorating than a cake - can darn near juggle them without harm. Try tossing around a 12" layer that way and all you'll end up with is tasty crumbs. Of course, then you can make cake pops but that's another post altogether.
Overall I eat a crazy healthy diet but sometime I gotta indulge both creatively and sweets wise.

As a mom and brownie troop leader, I also need to talk to people taller than 3 1/2 feet tall sometimes. To satisfy all these needs (cause it is ALL about me!), I threw a Big Person Cupcake Party last weekend.

Nothing complicated, just a few friends and Wilton's Black Eyed Coffee House Cupcakes served in demitasse mugs because anything worth doing is worth overdoing. The baking cups fit perfectly in the demitasse mugs - foodie heaven.

The frosting recipe is very one note. To punch it up add:
-a pinch of salt (I used pink Himalayan)
-a little vanilla (I used ground Tahitian vanilla bean)
-about a tablespoon of molasses

Oh, and...do yourself a favor and double the filling recipe - you'll need it.

I started decorating with the Wilton tip #22 but I would have had a lot of frosting left over and it seemed like a shrimpy amount on top of the cupcakes.

Digging through my decorating kit for better options, I first thought of using the 1M but I use it sooooo much for cupcakes. Then I saw the 1F and almost dismissed it cause it's a monster. Then the phrase Go Big or Go Home came to mind and I went for it. Love the way it turned out. A little grated chocolate and a royal icing flower later and viola!

Coffee, cupcakes and friends...best recipe ever.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Easter Cupcakes 2.0

I love cupcakes.  ALOT.  Probably more than what's healthy.

Playing with cake and icing flavor combinations. Planning how to decorate them...daydream material. Putting them on a pretty stand...so girly and fun. 

Who's to know those sweet royal icing flowers were piped while watching Descent 2 on Fearnet while cursing a blue streak at my inability to get the daisies just right. Good times.

These little beauties made quite a hit at last year's Easter get together. So much so that I was requested to make a similar setup as centerpieces for a bridal shower. Niiiice.

Made the royal icing flowers at least a day ahead to give them time to dry. I used the recipe from Pretty Party Cakes by Peggy Porschen. I'm not posting the recipe because I don't believe in sharing recipes unless the author posted them online themselves. Buy the book - it's worth the price just for the pictures. (But honey, I swear I read it for the recipes!)

The cupcake recipe is from the Neelys on Food Network's website. Only I didn't make PB&J cupcakes like in the original but used the base cupcake recipe with my own flavor twist. It's a moist yellow cake with a little something special due to the Creme Bouquet. 

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1/2 cup sour cream
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 large egg yolk, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (I decreased vanilla to 1/2 t and added 1.5 t of Creme Bouquet)
Put an oven rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a standard 12 cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, add the butter and sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Add the sour cream to the butter and sugar mixture and continue to beat until incorporated. Add the eggs and yolk, 1 at a time, beating until thoroughly mixed into the batter. Add in the vanilla and continue to mix. Slowly add the dry ingredients, in increments, and mix until combined.

Scoop the batter into the cupcake liners to fill 3/4 of the way. Put in the oven and bake until the cupcakes are a pale gold color and a cake tester comes out clean, about for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and let cool in the tins for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting and filling.

And since every great cupcake needs frosting, I used my very favorite Swiss Meringue recipe from Cake Central's website.If you decide to make it, make your life easy and use pasteurized 100% liquid egg whites. They meringue up beautifully and if you don't have to worry about food borne illness if your thermometer isn't calibrated correctly. People who don't like frosting will like this frosting. It is not "too sweet" and is HIGHLY addictive. But do not, DO NOT!!!!!!!! add the butter in step 4 of the recipe until the meringue is room temperature. I cannot emphasize that enough. If the butter melts, you will have tasty, unsalvageable soup. (Yeah, I messed one up once the night before a delivery and had to run to the store for more ingredients and start ALL over at 9:00PM so I would have the cake ready on time the next day. Hoo!)


12 oz (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp5 egg whites
8 oz (1 cup) granulated sugar
2 TBSP real vanilla extract

Place the egg whites and the sugar in a bowl or top of a double boiler and place it over a pot of simmering water, whisking until it registers 160 degrees. (Whisking keeps the white from turning into scrambled eggs)
Pour into the bowl of a stand mixer and whip it with the whisk on medium high until it is reaches the stiff peak stage.While the meringue is beating, cut up the butter into tbsp sized pieces.When meringue is ready, switch to the paddle attachment, turn on low, and slowly add the butter. (One tablespoon at a time, waiting until each piece of butter is incorporated before adding the next piece)

Add vanilla.

Turn on medium high and let it rip until you have a lovely silky buttercream. You will hear a slapping sound when it's ready. (It may look curdled before it smooths out. DON"T PANIC! Just let it mix and it'll all work out.)

Frost the cupcakes with a large, plain round tip, place the flowers and sprinkle strategically with pastel dragees for some shine. Serve them at room temp, this type of frosting is not nearly as amazing when it's cold.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Yes, I am one of those moms. The ones that send in cupcakes or cakepops for holidays and birthdays that end up mentioned on Cake Central. But chances are, if you're reading this blog, you are too.

It started out innocently enough. Reynolds was advertising their new stay bright cupcake liners in the baking aisle at the supermarket and I picked them up. The pattern would be cute for Valentine's Day.

Since I already had the wrappers, I agreed to bake cupcakes for my daughter's class Valentine's Day party. And made 2 dozen cupcakes using Hershey's Perfectly Chocolatey Cake Recipe . To really pump up the chocolate flavor, I used a cup of boiling coffee instead of plain water. The coffee flavor doesn't come through in the actual cake - it doesn't taste like mocha or anything. Coffee just really enhances the chocolate, making it deep, dark and delicious.

Now I couldn't put a nice big swirl of frosting on top of the cupcakes because my cupcake carrier will just squish it down:

So I had to come up with a flatish decoration. I had some Duff fondant in hot pink and black left from another project. And some gold dragees were hanging around as well. Had a bunch of heart cookie cutters in different sizes in my decorating kit too and viola:

But the edges looked a little unfinished and Valentine's Day should be, I don't know, a little more romantic. And these cupcakes looked very modern. So I used pink frosting and an Ateco 104 tip to make little feathered boas to cover the edges of the fondant:

All this, for 6 year olds! But, fellow foodies, I'm sure you understand the obsession. And, after all - isn't Valentine's Day all about going overboard for the ones we love?
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