What I’ve Been Eating: Buzzfeed Video Edition

Good morning and happy Wednesday! Today I want to share one of the most decadent desserts that I have eaten recently. I mentioned that one of my friends came over this weekend to watch Christmas movies and she decided that we just had to make this dessert. Well, if you show up with baking ingredients, I’m not going to fight ya!

We originally saw this recipe posted on Facebook in a Buzzfeed video. You can watch the 20 second version of the baking here. 🙂

Ingredients

2 packages of break-apart chocolate chip cookie dough
1 bag of chocolate chips
1 bag of caramels

Directions

Preheat your oven to 350*F.

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Take one pack of break apart cookie dough and flatten it out in a baking pan of your choice.

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Unwrap the caramels in a separate dish. Melt the caramels in the microwave for 45 seconds. Then, pour the now liquid caramel on top of the cookie dough. Note: it can be difficult to spread out! It is most “spreadable” the moment it comes out of the microwave.

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Add chocolate chips to your caramel layer.

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Take the second pack of cookie dough and flatten it on top of the first three layers.

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Bake at 350*F for 30 minutes! Note: check at 25 minutes. My edges (or crust) were a little more golden brown than I would have liked.

The video showed a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top of the “pie” or whatever you would like to call this dish, but we felt like it was delicious enough sans ice cream. 😉

A note about this dessert: it is best served warm. If you have leftovers (which you will), just pop a scoop in the microwave for a few seconds to soften it before eating.

I don’t even want to begin to guess the nutrition facts behind this dish, but I know that there is a 100% chance you will enjoy this if you make it! It was fun to finally see a video and put it into action. It’s like those pins we have on our boards on Pinterest that we NEVER do. Will I make this again? Possibly! It was fun to make for a random girls night and I’m sure those at your holiday parties this season would enjoy it, too. Even sharing it with a friend, my roommate, and her boyfriend, we still had leftovers, so it definitely makes a ton of dessert. You will have to let me know if you try it!

Have you ever made one of the recipes from a Buzzfeed Food Video?

What’s your favorite dessert?

Eat All The Vegetables (And All The Pasta)

When I walk into my kitchen to make dinner, I am usually craving a certain flavor. Is that normal?! Some flavor combinations that I crave, in case you are thinking I am crazy, are syrup and a glass of milk, sauce and cheese, and of course, my beloved veggie omelette and sweet potato. Although I guess that last one is technically a meal and not a flavor. But do you see what I’m saying?! Sometimes, there is just one flavor that you know that you want! One of my favorite flavors is sauce and cheese. 🙂

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One of my classic favorite meals. So exciting, I know.

I don’t profess to be a food blogger, and for that you should be thankful because I literally have no idea what I’m talking about. It irritates me when the ingredient list includes more than five items, I typically cook when I’m hangry therefore I am very impatient, and I own probably 7 spices and never have the one that the recipe calls for. On the flip side, I am always trying to find something new to love making and eating and I tend to search for healthy alternatives. I like to know that I’m eating a variety of food to help me be my healthiest, because if left to my own devices, I would try to survive on chips, queso, oatmeal, and yogurt. #keepingitreal

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There was a time when I wouldn’t eat any pasta within a ten-mile radius. Pasta = carbs and that was one of the things I wasn’t “allowed” to eat…according to my own ridiculous standards. The plate of deliciousness that you see above is buffalo chicken parmesan from The Macaroni Grill and yes I ate every last bite of it (although I did eat it in two different meals…so. much. food)! However, buffalo chicken parmesan, especially in this quantity, is not a meal I would add to my regular rotation of lunches or dinners throughout the week. Two ways that I eat “pasta” without actually eating pasta are in the form of zoodles and spaghetti squash. For the record, I do not think carbs are the devil (your body needs them) and I do actually eat real pasta now. 🙂 I am just always trying to add vegetables to my meals because they are easy to skip (in my opinion), but they are nutrient dense and I need them!

Zucchini Noodles

Cook Time: 2 minutes (microwave)
Need: Zucchini, spiralizer, pasta toppings of your choice

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First, we have zucchini noodles, or as you might see them called on Pinterest, “zoodles”. I buy zucchini every week at the grocery store to cook with or eat in some way, and yet this is the best picture I could find of my zoodles. Probably because every time I make them, they look pretty unappetizing even though they taste great. 🙂 Here, I just topped the zoodles with sauce of my choice, some mozzarella, and turkey meatballs.

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To make zoodles, you need a spiralizer. This is the easy-peasy spiralizer that I own, and while there are much more complicated ones out there, for $14.99 this one does the trick just fine. You have the option of moving the white cap on the top to either end, depending on whether you want thick or think zoodles. With zucchini in one hand and spiralizer in the other, you just twist your zoodles into a bowl. I am lazy and make mine in the microwave (though the stove is always an option, too). Cover your zoodles with a paper towel to soak up moisture and you have the base of your meal ready to go in two minutes!

Spaghetti Squash

Cook Time: 10 minutes (microwave) OR 35 minutes (oven)
Need: Spaghetti squash, knife and fork, pasta toppings of your choice

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This one is a little more complicated than zoodles. Spaghetti squash is pretty easy to find in the produce section of the grocery store. Once you find it, you will wonder how you ever missed it. 😉 If you are lucky, the produce sticker on your squash might also have directions on it! I have cooked spaghetti squash in the microwave and in the oven. One night I had more time (and patience) than I had on another night. Ha!

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Don’t worry, you aren’t going to eat this part. 😉 No matter how you are cooking your squash, you must first use a fork to poke holes in the squash. I forgot this step when I cooked my squash this past weekend in the oven, and it took FOREVER to bake. Don’t omit this step! Once you have done that, then you can cut it in half.

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Just like a pumpkin…you have to get all the strings and seeds out of the squash. Once you are left with two “bowls”, you can season it with whatever spices you have on hand. I used pepper and red pepper flakes.

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When I took this picture, I was cooking this squash in the microwave for ten minutes.

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Once your squash cooks, you will be able to get your “spaghetti”. I used a fork to pull it all to the middle.

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I had a plate nearby for all the spaghetti…

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…and when I was done getting all the “noodles”, this is what my squash looked like! There should be nothing left. 🙂

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I added chicken and this delicious sauce from Trader Joe’s!

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If your TJ’s hasn’t gone Christmas crazy on you yet, try to find this Autumnal Harvest pasta sauce before it’s gone for the season!

So the real question: do zoodles or spaghetti squash actually taste like REAL spaghetti noodles? Well…no. Carbs are magical and vegetables are vegetables. If you are expecting the flavor and consistency of pasta, you won’t find that with these two options. But of course, zoodles and spaghetti squash are flavorful and filling, so what more could you ask for? When you are searching for healthy alternatives, these are two great choices. Happy cooking!

What I’ve Been Eating Wednesday V

Are you cooking or eating out tonight?! I have been doing a little bit of both recently, which is always lots of fun for me because I get to meet up with friends and eat food that I didn’t have to cook, but it’s always a little sad for my bank account. 😉 Not that I am eating luxurious five star meals over here…I wish!

Last week, I ate this flatbread pizza for dinner three times. Because it was that good.

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Super easy to throw together! Read about it HERE.

I’ve also been busy recreating Panera Bread’s Strawberry Chicken Poppyseed salad, which is evident by how little salad dressing I have left in the bottle. 😉

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I was so excited to find this dressing at Target! I made a few minor modifications so the Kylie version of this salad includes spinach, grilled chicken, strawberries, pineapple, feta cheese, and dressing. My mom would skip the feta cheese but I think you should try it my way first!

Then there was the moment this past weekend where I tried Mango Bubble Tea. It has been at least 95* in D.C. for two weeks and it is SO humid…I was thirsty and desperate as my friend and I were walking to our cars from church and lunch, so I thought trying something new would be fun! We stopped in Capital Teas and I had such high hopes…

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…but three sips later, I said no thank you. Actually, scratch that. Four sips. I was in traffic and thought maybe my taste buds were wrong the first three times. 😉 If you’re unfamiliar, bubble tea is a tea base mixed with fruit or milk and chewy tapioca balls. I thought my flavor (mango) plus almond milk (my favorite milk) would for sure be a winner! I just wasn’t a fan of the tapioca balls. And my bubble tea didn’t have that “foamy” or “smoothie-like” consistency that so many people mention! It truly was like iced tea with tapioca balls. So strange. Have you tried this?!

And now I want to share the easiest recipe with you! I really outdid myself this time…my mom and I agree that five ingredients or less is the way to go. This time, I only used two ingredients. 🙂 I started cooking on Sunday night with every intention of making turkey burgers, but I found a recipe on the back of the package and changed gears right away!

Taco Turkey Meatballs

1 package Ground Turkey
1 packet Taco Seasoning

Preheat oven to 350*.
Cook until meatballs are 165*F in temperature or until crisp.

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I mixed the ground turkey with a package of taco seasoning with a spatula. Then, I used a cookie scoop to make the meatballs. I am not a fan of touching raw meat so the spatula and cookie scoop were so helpful here. I will also spare you a picture of the raw meat in the bowl and on the tray because that freaks me out, too. I’m such a legitimate chef. 😉 But I am a legitimate blogger because I really did take pictures of those steps…they are just so gross looking. Ha! The package’s cook time said cook until the meatballs are 165*F in temperature or until they are crisp. I do not have a kitchen thermometer, so I baked the meatballs for 10 minutes, flipped them over, and then cooked them for 10 more minutes. That worked, at least in my oven!

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So, how do they taste? SPICY! I ate them with salsa and guacamole. The perfect dipping sauces!

Enjoy 🙂

What are you eating this Wednesday?!

What I’ve Been Eating Wednesday IV

What are two items in your kitchen that you cannot live without? If asked, I would probably tell you oats and cheese. Not together, but I need both of those things in my life at all times. 😉 So imagine my surprise when I was cooking breakfast last week and I used the last of the coconut oil and the cinnamon. I actually panicked because I had already gone to the grocery store and “stocked up”…except apparently I didn’t do a great job! Apparently, these are two more items I cannot live without! I never get annoyed when I run out of something that I typically cook with daily…not frustrated, not mad…I think I actually get personally offended. Like, “how dare you run out on me when you have been in the pantry for this long? And you decide to run out now?!

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The conversations I have with myself. Order was restored the next day and all was right in my little kitchen world again.

My eats have been very random lately. I am following the 21 Day Fix Extreme nutrition guide and workouts to prep for my annual girls’ trip to the beach for Memorial Day Weekend and I am having great success! Though I have started this program multiple times, I have never truly lasted 21 days. Because let’s be honest: life happens. Cravings happen. And sometimes you just shut up and eat. 😉 In the past, I have been such a perfectionist that one little mistake would completely throw me off kilter. This time around, it’s like falling down on the playground. You just pick yourself up and keep playing.

That analogy doesn’t really make sense. I’m rambling a lot today.

LET’S TALK FOOD!

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Breakfast on the go! One of my very favorite foods in all the land is cinnamon oatmeal. I seriously get excited to go to sleep at night because I know when I wake up, it’s time to eat oatmeal. Ha! 😉 #imcrazy And of course we have some egg whites thrown in for good measure (and protein).

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Ah. Happiness.

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The standard. Carbs + protein + veggies. I am going to turn orange with the amount of sweet potatoes I eat!

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One version of 21 Day Fix Extreme limits cheese. I ignore this limitation. CHEESE ON SALAD WON’T KILL ME. And i may or may not have purchased a small container of queso. We can’t be sure.

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If you have never tried a Quest bar, please go to the Quest website HERE or your local GNC and pick some up. That is a peanut butter chocolate Quest bar but they have so. many. flavors. Like cookies and cream (aka Oreo), chocolate chip cookie dough, Smores…and real people like them. Not just me. I broke one into pieces last week and baked it for a few minutes like cookies. My roommate approved. Full of protein and free of all the ingredients that so many people are allergic to!

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Spiralizers are life changing. Instant spagetti noodles made from a zucchini!

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With sauce and turkey pepperoni and cheese because DUH. #cheesehead

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I follow many fitness related and healthy living blogs and Instagram accounts. I love seeing what other people post about working out and food! I have been reading about and seeing pictures of Arctic Zero ice cream for a hot forever and even with store recommendations, I was having no luck finding it! It’s 35 calories per 1/2 cup serving and though it definitely isn’t as sweet as real ice cream, it certainly helps the cold sweet tooth! I have already polished off the vanilla maple container but I wasn’t blown away by chocolate peanut butter (which is surprising) so I’m working on falling in love with that flavor now. 😉 It’s also gluten free and lactose free if that’s your thing!

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Bread is not bad. Bread is not bad. Bread is not bad. My old mindset likes to pop up from time to time but I always try to do the opposite of what I used to do and that seems to help me stay balanced instead of restricting myself. Pesto chicken sandwich with mixed greens for the win! I went to Zest American Bistro after church with friends on Sunday and though we all ordered completely different plates, we all went home and felt like taking a nap! The feeling of a food coma is so real. Worth it for such good food and conversations. 🙂

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And my very favorite treat of the week. Spring semester has finally ended and so last night was the last PiYo class until summer session starts! There is one guy who comes to three classes in a row!!! on Tuesday nights. He does BodyPump, PiYo, and then Zumba. He brought cupcakes for all of the instructors last night which was so very sweet! I, of course, love dessert and so this was the best present ever. I have worked at several different gyms in my fitness instructor career from the YMCA to Duquesne University’s Power Center to LA Fitness and the gym at UMD is truly the most awesome place I have ever taught! The people are what makes it so great…both the people I work with and the people in class. It was such a good place to start teaching a new format –> PiYo!

I was intrigued to find that I was satisfied with just a bite of this cupcake. Okay, I had two. But I seriously didn’t want to go to town on it! I really truly believe that when 90% of your diet is made up of nutritious foods, your body stops craving the treats and it can appreciate them in moderation. Don’t send me a bag of chips and a bowl of queso or I will have to retract this statement. 🙂 Still…I think it’s true. The more often you make the decision to eat good food, the more often you will crave healthy food. I stand by that statement because I have seen that change in myself this month!

What have you been eating lately?!

What I Ate (Or Didn’t Eat) Wednesday

I think about food constantly. I am definitely not one of those people who “forgets” to eat. I had a conversation with my coworker last week about how I don’t understand those people. I eat lunch and think about what’s for dinner. It’s just how I roll. 😉 But there was a time in life where I didn’t just think about food…I obsessed over it. And that led to some very unhealthy habits. How are we even supposed to know what to do anyway? Paleo, vegan, “clean eating”, counting your macros, the Zone diet…IT’S ALL SO CONFUSING! I listen to Chalene Johnson’s podcast “The Chalene Show” and she said something powerful recently: you don’t want to go ON a diet, you want to HAVE a diet. Something healthy that you can continue to do for the rest of your life. That makes so much sense. But of course I am just now coming to this conclusion and it took me awhile to get here. A few years ago, I fell into the calorie counting trap.

When I was in high school, I danced and ran cross country. During my junior year, I also started going to the gym for fun. But I never worked out because I felt like I had to. Being active was just something I did. The same goes for food: I honestly can’t even tell you what I ate back then because I know I didn’t like a lot of pretty normal food…think scrambled eggs or lasagna with red meat…my picky childhood habits still existed. Ha! In any case, food was food to me. I ate what I craved and I ate when I was hungry. And now that I think about it, my high school lunches usually consisted of the salad bar, a side of fries, and a chocolate chip cookie. I’m dying. Hahaha

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June 2010

Anyways, like I said, I just didn’t give much thought to what I ate or how I worked out…or how I looked. That all changed when I went to college. The four years I spent at Duquesne were four of the best years of my life, but I became SO hard on myself. Freshman year, I was a statistic. The usual girl who gains the freshman fifteen. Except it was like the freshman eleven, so I was kind of proud of myself. Ha! I had just continued living my life the same way…eating what I wanted, working out how I wanted…but I threw some other things in the mix too. Like snacks in the library when you’re studying. And alcohol. And snacks with your friends when you’re watching a movie. 😉 Plus, I just wasn’t moving as much. I was still dancing, but I wasn’t running anymore, and going to the gym was like social hour for me. In any case, I felt bloated and gross by the time I went home for the summer and I knew I was going to do something to change my ways.

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April 2011

It started off REALLY well. I LOVED indoor cycling classes at my gym and I started just being more conscious of what I was eating. If I knew I was going to indulge later, I would try to eat healthier earlier in the day. It was very balanced throughout the summer and all the way through my sophomore year. I even became a certified Spinning instructor! And I really did feel a change! But that was the extent of my thoughts about food and exercise. Point for me.

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April 2012

Then, I discovered the app My Fitness Pal and that little app rocked my world. Suddenly I was counting the calories in EVERYTHING. I certainly wasn’t eating less, but I really cared how many calories were in whatever I was eating. I worked an office job that summer so it was pretty easy to control what I was eating because I could only eat what I packed in my lunch box. If you aren’t familiar with My Fitness Pal, you can enter a bunch of statistics about yourself and it calculates what how many calories IT thinks you should be eating. It’s not very accurate (because everyone is totally different) and it doesn’t take into account what is in food…protein, carbs, fat, sugar…it just counts calories. So that’s what I did. And I became a maniac.

All of these crazy thoughts were just in my head. I fell into the trap of thinking 1200 calories per day was the way. I am not saying this is the wrong number for everyone, it was just the wrong number for me. Using My Fitness Pal to track my calories, I remember getting excited when it told me how much weight I would lose if I kept up these eating habits. And I remember how I excited I was when it said I didn’t reach my calorie goal. So wrong. But at this time, I really thought losing weight and getting to that number I had in my head would make me so happy.

I didn’t want to be the weird person who didn’t eat certain things so I would order them or eat them, even if it was just a few bites. I did get to the point where I didn’t want to eat at restaurants because that food didn’t come with a label that told me how many calories it was. I was the girl at the table Google-ing the restaurant’s nutrition facts while I looked over the menu. I also was the grocery store’s number one fan of everything low-carb, low-fat, low-calorie. I am sure my mother loved grocery shopping with me. But I wouldn’t let myself believe that I was doing anything wrong because I still ate “bad” foods sometimes…even though eating that food made me seriously panic on the inside.

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Exhibit A… 🙂

 I didn’t even let myself believe something was wrong when I was at the hairdresser and I got so dizzy sitting still that they called an ambulance. I was dehydrated…but I was probably also hungry. Other weird things started to happen to me too…and I knew they weren’t supposed to happen. Like I started missing my period. I was tired more than usual. And I craved sugar all. the. time. I remember telling my boyfriend at the time that I was worried that I was doing something wrong, but that I just wanted to be healthier. And because I was losing weight, I felt like that meant I was getting healthier. He told me to delete My Fitness Pal but of course I couldn’t do that. Besides, the only comments I ever heard about the way I looked at this time were, “Wow! Have you lost weight? You look so good!” So even though I was questioning what I was doing, I kept right on going. I was losing weight in all the right places (which I had identified as my stomach and hips) and even though I was getting closer to that number in my head, I had no intention of stopping. I was so proud that I looked so good!

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August 2012

When I got back to school in the fall for my junior year, I rediscovered my love of running. My friends and I had moved off campus and into an apartment and I loved waking up in the morning and running around the city. It was so pretty and such a refreshing way to start the day! But because I was still a maniac at this time, I also loved that running was one of the few exercises that burned the most calories. So if there was a day when I didn’t get to run, that was very very bad.

Finally, I started to hear some negative comments, and because deep inside I knew I was doing it wrong too, these comments really resonated with me. One friend told me he had never seen me eat a piece of pizza and he knew that I would never eat something like that. Just so you know, he usually ate lunch with me and I usually ate salad. And a cookie. Because #allthesugarcravings, remember? Another friend (behind my back) mentioned to one of our mutual friends that she noticed I had lost weight…and I looked too skinny. Those two things really stuck with me because I didn’t want to be that girl. I also didn’t want to be the kind of person who ate at The Cheesecake Factory and then came home to run (even though I already worked out that day). And yes, that did happen.

I kept running (because I love heart love running for more than the number of calories it burns) but I decided to back off calorie counting. Because I had started to doubt myself in this whole journey, I had discovered the term “orthorexia“, which is defined as an unhealthy obsession with eating “healthy” or “right” foods and I kind of thought that fit the bill for me. I wanted to be in control of my food, I wanted to eat only fruits and vegetables and chicken, and I judged other people HARD for their food choices. But when I finally decided to make a change, even though I felt like I identified with orthorexia, I didn’t seek professional help. I felt like because I could recognize this in myself that I didn’t need to get serious help. And that ended up working for me. Instead, I told my mom, my best friend, and my boyfriend at the time what I was thinking…and I told them to watch me. Because I was going to be watching myself. No extra workouts. Giving up the long list of restrictions. And DELETING My Fitness Pal.

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January 2013

I will not lie to you…it was very, very hard. I counted calories for so long that I could still count them even without using the app. I still judged other people for their food choices. I worked out extra hard on days I knew there would be “bad” food choices. And I couldn’t bring myself to reintroduce certain foods to my diet without feeling guilty…but you can’t expect instant change overnight. Also, my family got a puppy, so I had a new obsession. 🙂

I still don’t actually like how I think about food and exercise, but I’m getting better. Ask my friends and family…I probably talk about food and exercise TOO much…but I am just trying to find balance now. I was very unbalanced for so long. I want to be in a place where food is just food and I don’t label it as “good”, “bad”, “healthy”, or “unhealthy”. I really want to know when my mentality shifted so much. Why did I used to be the kind of girl who didn’t think about food or exercise and still loved life? How did I became the kind of girl who judged herself SO MUCH? We all say that we are our own worst critic and I really believe that is so true. But I also believe that we need to work on loving ourselves because we only get one body. Even though I lost weight in this process, I really was not in any way living a healthy life. I was eating the most random assortment of food and working out for way too long. It’s hard for me to be at the weight I am now because it is almost 15 pounds heavier than I was at my lightest…but I honestly don’t believe that my body is made to be at that low weight. I am 5’9!!! Maybe with the right nutrition and exercise, I would get back there. I don’t know. I don’t care. I do know what I don’t want to weigh (don’t we all know that number? ;)) but anything under that certain number in my head is okay with me. Why? Why am I suddenly okay with weighing any number?

Because I’m really happy. Because I have forgiven myself. Because I eat healthy (actually truly healthy…not Kylie is crazy healthy) foods. Because I work out 6 days a week and that is MY choice. Because my clothes fit. And I can buy more if they stop fitting. 😉 Because my friends and family will love me anyway. And because I deserve to eat a cupcake when I want to and not feel bad about it.

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What I’ve Been Eating Wednesday III

I have yet to stop enjoying taking pictures of my food. I am proud of myself when I cook a delicious meal. Even when I eat something that requires no preparation, I feel the need to document it. Food is pretty and yummy and worth remembering!

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This pretty much sums up my food philosophy. 🙂

Can’t stop won’t stop with the apple cinnamon protein oatmeal. And my images of it still have not improved. Hahaha

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My favorite lunch has returned with full force. I told you I don’t eat on a rotation…when I like it, it’s all day every day. 😉

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Cauliflower pizza with just a few pieces of pepperoni. I like my protein.

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Kept up with the Italian theme…except I don’t think real Italians would pretend French-style green beans are noodles and add sauce and chicken sausage, but who’s telling? P.S. Pesto asiago bread. That’s all I’m saying.

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Provisions for class:) All of my classes are at night (such joy) from 4:15 to 7 so I have adapted to that schedule but…I still can never tell if I’m hungry in class or just trying to pass time. On that particular day, I hadn’t eaten much all day so ALL THE SNACKS were necessary. P.S. Smores Quest Bars are the bomb.com.

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I have nothing to say. Order it now. #nutbutterlover

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On Wednesdays I run + eat with friends. Rachel hosted our run around Capitol Hill this week and she made Moroccan food! I have absolutely no idea what I ate besides salad but it was all delicious and yes I went back for seconds. #runnerproblems

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Me and the peanut butter jar have also been in a battle with chocolate chips and a spoon this week. I have some weird taste buds.

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Finally…I did not make these or eat these…but I found a recipe on Pinterest last week for dog treats and my mom made them this past weekend for our pups! And actually, we could eat them if we wanted to because they’re made with oats, cinnamon, applesauce, and an egg;) I’m a bit of a health nut so I am just looking out for my fur brothers! Ironically that sounds like the oatmeal I’ve been having for breakfast this week…eek! Find the recipe here.

What have you been eating?!