Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins { Clean Eating Version }

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

I am kind of obsessed with the Banana Chocolate Chip Bread at Starbucks. But it doesn't really work with my current clean eating plan. So when I came across this recipe on Pinterst, I wanted to try making a few tweaks to work with the 21 Day Fix plan. The texture is a little different, but it is quite delicious with a cup of tea or coffee for breakfast (or as a mid-day snack). And since all of the ingredients are natural (minus a few chocolate chips), you can feel good knowing you are fueling your body with a healthy snack.

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The modifications I made were to use oat flour instead of real flour and I made my own using old fashioned oats. I also used raw honey instead of brown sugar. I think the oat flour is the biggest change as it does add a little more texture to the muffins and they do not rise as much. The honey made the muffins slightly less sweet, but I think the chocolate chips totally make up for that.

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Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins
21 Day Fix - 2 muffins = 1 yellow treat container

-- 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
-- 2 medium ripe bananas
-- 2 large eggs
-- 2 cups rolled oats (old fashioned or quick)
-- 1/4 cup of raw honey
-- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (or cacao nibs)

Preheat oven at 400 degrees.

Place your rolled oats in a food processor and pulse until ground into a flour consistency. Then place the remainder of your ingredients in the food processor and pulse until well combined. Drop batter in a greased muffin pan, or muffin liners and fill all the way to the top. I only filled 3/4 the way full, which is why mine are on the small side. You may want to add a few chocolate chips on top to make pretty and add a little more chocolaty flavor.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

I placed the majority of these in the freezer and just pull a few out and warm in the microwae for about 30-45 seconds before serving. Our you can keep in the fridge for a few days to stay fresh.


Gardening & Creatures in our Backyard

Monday, May 2, 2016

Happy May! May is one of my favorite months. The weather warms up, which means it's time for gardening. I LOVE flowers and plants, and spend most of the Winter thinking about what I'm going to plant the following Spring.

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I was always told to hold off until Mother's Day to plant flowers, to ensure they weren't damaged by frost, but so far the 10 day forecast seems to have lows in the 40's and 50's, so we decided to take a chance and work on our garden this weekend.

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The romaine lettuce at the bottom is actually from last year's garden. It started to sprout back in February and we actually harvested a little of it this weekend for salads this week. Such a nice surprise after our pretty mild Winter.

We also purchased a heirloom purple tomato plant and a san marzano tomato plant, and then planted some pepper seeds as well.

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I also planted some herbs (actually last weekend), and can't wait to start using them in our dinner recipes. The chives in the middle actually came back from last year as well, which is why they seem to be taking over. They started to come back in March, so they have had a few months to really start growing.

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These are the herbs that I decided to plant this year, in addition to the chives. I'm super excited about my mint strawberry herb. I think that will be super tasty in mojitos this Summer.

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Here is the beginning of our garden, which doesn't look like much, but just wait another month and I bet it will be growing like crazy. I love to take pictures throughout the Summer to show the progress. We typically get a lot of rain throughout May, so by the end of the month, our plants our typically growing like crazy. Let's hope we have the same success this year.

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While we were planting, we took a moment to check out the baby goslings in our pond. We actually followed them down the street earlier that morning on our walk with the pups. They were walking in a single file line with the mommy in the front and the daddy in the back (or so we think :) )

If you look close enough, there is a bullfrog hiding in the grass in the lower-left of this picture...can you see it?

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I also caught these two little fuzzballs cuddling together in the grass. It was a nice sunny afternoon, so I'm sure they were enjoying the warmth, especially after a few cold and rainy days.

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Other creatures in our backyard are also excited for our garden. We have caught all of our pups at one point having a little salad in the herb garden.

You can find our past gardens here:


Pineapple Love: At Home

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy Friday!

I've shared my love of pineapples before. Last year they were popular in fashion, and this year I am finding them in a lot of cute home accessories. Today I wanted to share a few of my favorites for home. I have almost all of these, and will likely end up purchasing the rest and probably more.

Pineapples for Home

I recently picked up the decanter for our bar cart and the trinket dish for my newly refinished desk, both projects I plan on sharing soon. I love the note cards and think they will be a lot of fun to send this Summer. The candle smells amazing and the pillow is embroidered with gold thread that sparkles in the light. All fun items that are neutral enough to work with almost any style.

Life Lately: Birthday Celebrations

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Life lately has been full of birthay celebrations. We've enjoyed lots of good food and even better company.

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Naked Carrot Cake was delish! I highly recommend you try this recipe.

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Rick's birthday was earlier this week, and my brother's birthday was last week. So this last weekend my family came to visit to celebrate both birthdays. We went out to dinner and enjoyed Mexican and margaritas, then headed back to our place for some cake. My brother and sister-in-law spent the night and we stayed up listening to some tunes, playing cards and drinking more homemade margaritas.

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Then on Monday, which was Rick's actual birthday we both took the day off to do a little more celebrating. It was such a nice day so we went to Katalina's and enjoyed brunch on their patio. Katalina's is known for their pancake balls, and we both highly recommend the ones filled with Nutella #sodelish!

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I had the pulled pork tacos and Rick had the Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken Sandwhich (which he loved BTW!). And of course Nutella pancake balls and sweet and spicy bacon.

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We even had a little friend stop by to celebrate with us.

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After enjoying all that delicious food, we desperatly needed some exercise, so we headed downtown to take a walk along the Scioto Mile.

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The previous weekend we headed to Medina to visit Rick's family and to celebrate Rick's, his Dad's (March) and his sister Kristyn's (February) birthdays.

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Between Easter and all the birthday celebrations, we've enjoyed ourselves, but it hasn't been great for the upcoming bikini season. Cleaning eating commences (again) this week!

Adventurers with the Birds { & the Fox in the Snow }

Monday, April 11, 2016

Recently Rick and I had another little fun adventure in our city. An previous co-worker and Facebook friend of mine had a family photo shoot in front of this beautiful bird mural. I had it on my bucket list to track down that mural and get a photo. She had mentioned in one of her comments this mural was in Glen Echo Park, so Rick and I headed out one sunny afternoon in search of it.

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Rick had lived in this neighborhood many years ago, and had ran by this spot, but never realized there was a park here. This park is one of several ravines that is in the Clintonville neighborhood, just north of Ohio State University. There is a little walking path along the creek that leads to this overpass (which is where Indianola Ave crosses over).

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There are over 150 different types of birds that can be found in the ravine. The bird mural showcases 35 of these different types of birds. The Glen Echo Bird Club and the Grange Insurance Audubon Center provided consultation on which birds would be best to showcase.

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It was a fun little spot to explore, and would be a beautiful place to take family portraits. The rest of the ravine was a little bare, since the trees are still working on blooming, but I would love to come back a little later in Spring or early Summer as I'm sure it will be even more beautiful.

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We also visited the Fox in the Snow Café for a little coffee and a snack. I had this on my list to try for a few months and it did not disappoint.

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I had a mocha with beautiful latte art. The mocha was pretty good too. The barista even took a picture because he said it was an almost perfectly symmetrical design.

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We also enjoyed one of the richest and most delicious cinnamon rolls (pictured in the lower left corner). It was kind of like a large soft dinner roll with a buttery cream cheese frosting on top.

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The atmosphere had a fun industrial/loft-type vibe, but it was also very warm and inviting.

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I could spend hours sitting in this bright space enjoying a mocha or latte and reading or chatting with friends. Although it's a little bit of a drive for us, I can still see us coming back, especially when entertaining friends and family. I'm also interested in checking out their patio space once the weather finally warms up.

It was a fun little afternoon full of new adventures.

DIY Rose Cupcakes

Thursday, March 31, 2016

I love baking delicious sweets for my family and friends, but I have always been a little intimidated with decorating. I came across these rose cupcakes, and thought they were so beautiful, but they looked so hard to make. I did a little research and found a few tutorials on Pinterest. The tutorials looked so easy, but I was totally expecting a #PinterestFail. After watching a few YouTube videos, I decided I was going to try it out on the cupcakes I was making this last weekend for Easter. It took a few tries, but I was so shocked at how easy it actually ended up being. So today I wanted to share my tips for making these DIY Rose Cupcakes.

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The first tip is to start with a nice stiff buttercream frosting. BTW, I used a lemon cake mix and they were so delish with this Almond Buttercream Frosting.

Almond Buttercream Frosting recipe:
-- 2 sticks of softened butter
-- 3-4 cups of powdered sugar
-- 1 tbs vanilla extract
-- 1 tsp almond extract

Mix your softened butter with a paddle attachment for about 4-5 minutes until it's light and fluffy.  Make sure it has a chance to come to room temp and is soft before mixing. Then add your powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time - I ended up using 3 cups. If your frosting seems too thick you can add a tiny bit of milk; if the frosting is too soft, keep adding powdered sugar until it's sort of stiff, but not too hard. Then mix in a little food coloring to get your desired color.

You will then fill your piping bag with the frosting. I used the Wilton 2D star tip, but I hear you can also use the 1M or 2C tip. Squeeze your frosting to the bottom. Make sure all of the air is out of the piping bag and the top of the bag is twisted tight. When you are piping, make sure to squeeze from the top of the bag. This will ensure you have even pressure and your frosting won't stop mid-way.

To begin piping, hold your bag straight up and down and begin placing a dot in the center. Then continue to swirl around about 3 times or until your cupcake is fully covered. The hardest part is making sure you keep your swirls close together to completely cover the cupcake and making sure you have even pressure so your frosting doesn't stop. Again it's important to squeeze from the top for even pressure. I messed up about 4 cupcakes before I got the hang of things. I had 18 to decorate, so messing up 4 wasn't too bad. I ended up just piping over them, so they just had lots of extra frosting!

I had Rick take a quick little video of how to do this, as I found it so much easier to watch someone do it versus reading about it. So hopefully this will be more helpful!

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My cupcakes were a hit and my family was impressed. My Mom said they were almost too pretty to eat, but that of course didn't stop my family. I will definitely decorate these again, and I think they would be perfect for Mother's Day or a Baby or Wedding Shower.

Linking up with Anne from In Residence for Pin to Present.

Best Snacks Post-Workout

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

What you eat after your workout is almost as important as your workout. It's important to feed your body to help your muscles recover and to replenish glycogen, which is made and stored as energy and is depleted after a hard workout. It's best to refuel 30-60 minutes post-workout with a meal balanced with protein and carbohydrates. This will ensure you are refueling and repairing your body properly.

Depending on when you workout, you may choose to eat a large meal or a healthy snack. I don't always have a huge appetite after working out, nor do I have a lot of time to prepare a meal since I workout first thing in the morning before work. So I tend to eat a small meal or snack right after my workout and then have a larger meal a few hours later. When looking for a post-workout snack I want something that is nutritious, easy to prepare and take with me, is low in sugar, and of course tastes great.

Today I wanted to share some of my favorite post-workout healthy snacks. They all are high in protein, but also have a healthy balance of carbs which are also really important in replenishing your energy levels.

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~ 1-2 cups of chocolate milk, or chocolate cashew milk (my favorite)

~ Fruit and Nut Bars - my favorites are LARABAR or Kind Bars

~ Cottage Cheese with Berries

~ Protein Shake with a Banana - I drink Shakeology and my husband likes Muscle Milk

~ Peanut Butter on Apple or Banana Slices

~ Turkey and Cheese with Apple Slices

~ Handful of Nuts with a piece of Fresh Fruit

~ Hummus with Carrots

~ Omelette or Hard Boiled Egg with a piece of Whole Wheat Toast or Ezekiel Bread

Do you tend to snack or have a full meal post-workout? What are some of your favorite post-workout foods or snacks?