Wednesday, August 28, 2013

The Classic PB & J (healthified!)


I love me some PB&J! There's just something about that particular combination of flavors that is perfectly delicious. Unfortunately, normal, store-bought jellies are loaded with sugar, as is a lot of peanut butters. The classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich isn't quite the healthiest.

Enter fresh fruit and PB2! If you mash up fruits like peaches, raspberries, or strawberries, they become the consistency of a good, homemade jam. Add some stevia, and it tastes even better. As for the peanut butter factor, PB2 is my best friend. PB2 is powdered peanut butter, which may sound like a strange idea, but it works wonderfully. Just measure out the powder, add some water, stir it around, and you have peanut butter. PB2 is a lot lower in calories than normal peanut butter, plus you're able to determine the thickness of your peanut butter. If you like it smoother, add more water. If you like it thicker, add less.

With some whole wheat bread, fresh fruit "jelly," and PB2, you have a much healthier - but still delicious - classic peanut butter and jelly sandwich!

2 slices whole wheat breat
3 T PB2 (in powder form)
1 1/2 T water
1/4 C fresh raspberries
1 stevia packet

1. Mash up raspberries and add stevia packet.

 2. Add water to PB2 and mix.
3. Spread raspberries and peanut butter on bread.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Motivation Monday: Write a Mission Statement

Happy Monday! For me, I have school to look forward to this week, although at least now I have some yummy, healthy cookies from yesterday's baking experiment take with me. Okay, it's not much, but it's a slight consolation prize for being forced to sit through classes all day. Sigh.

Anyway! Back to the topic of motivation!

The other day, I had another brain-spark: to stay motivated, write a mission statement for yourself. Schools and businesses and other organizations have mission statements, so why not normal people?

Huh? Just bear with me! I'll explain!

First, get out a piece of paper and writing utensil. (What would be super extra fantastic is if you got out the notebook or planner you keep yourself organized with!) At the top of your paper, write "Who Am I?"

Then answer the question! Technically you can write anything about yourself, not just fitness-related things, but be sure to include some of those in there too. If you eat healthily about half of the time, but get thwarted by food temptation the other half, write in what you wish to be - in the form of a true statement.

Is this getting confusing? Here's an example:

I'm Tessa Kohler. I'm a daydreamer, and a romantic, and I'm obsessed with New York City, and I'm going to live there someday. I eat clean. I choose to eat food that is good for me because I care about my body enough to fuel it right. I exercise regularly, no matter how sluggish I may be feeling. I am a runner. I am dedicated and I make sacrifices because I know it is all worth it.

Is it maybe making more sense? For me, eating super clean and waking myself up to exercise in the mornings is what I struggle with. I'm not perfect at it by any means, however in my mission statement I wrote that I do eat clean and I do exercise regularly, no matter what. 

When you write down strong statements about yourself, based on your goals and aspirations, you will be more likely to actually believe that they're possible. Really, it all comes back to believing in yourself, which is absolutely crucial if you want to get anywhere with your goals.

Put your mission statement somewhere you will see it regularly - maybe next to your list of goals. Let it be your motivation and your support on those days when you feel like you will never be done with trying and failing. Let it be the thing that helps get you back on your feet, working even harder than before.

Have a wonderful week! Tweet me and let me know if you wrote your mission statement (@tessabrynnk)!

Question of the Day:
If you were to answer "Who Am I?" in only once sentence, what would it be?

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Healthified Chocolatey Oatmeal Cookies (With Optional Raspberry Topping)...a baking success!

I have a love-hate relationship with "the healthy cookie." I've tried a recipe or two that was too dense and wasn't as sweet as a normal cookie. I've also tried the famous banana-oat cookie, which I'm really not a fan of. As much as my healthy instincts want me to like it, I just can't handle the overpowering banana taste. Does anyone else have this problem? Warm, gooey banana...yuck.

One of my favorite cookie recipes is oatmeal chocolate chip. So this afternoon I set out to healthify that recipe. There was only one issue: I had no idea what the essential components of a cookie actually are. Yeahhh, slight problem.

So I took my oatmeal chocolate chip recipe and searched the internet for things to replace the unhealthier ingredients (shortening, brown sugar, etc.). After a lot of Google searches, and lots of pencil marks on my recipe, I came away slightly overwhelmed. The substitution values for ingredients differed a lot from site to site, and I wasn't sure which websites had the best information.

I ended up just going at it in the kitchen, throwing in different ingredients that seemed like they would work, based on all the healthy cookie recipes I've seen. My goal, however, was to make these taste like mostly normal cookies, and not like a banana food-substance.

The end result? SUCCESS! While still using bananas, I was able to mask the banana flavor. The rest of the ingredients somehow combined to form something that actually tastes like a cookie. That may or may not be due to the large amount chocolate chips and cocoa powder I put in. I added the raspberry part last-minute. The cookies still taste good without it, but I think the raspberry taste is a nice complement to the chocolate.

If you're a little more health-conscious, you can use dark chocolate chips (vegan ones would be even better), or less chocolate chips, or even no chocolate chips at all. You can also try adding in nuts for some extra crunch, or some raisins if you're an oatmeal raisin cookie kind of person.

If you make this recipe, let me know how it goes! Tweet me pictures at @tessabrynnk! Let me know what add-ins you used in your rendition. 

Side-note: After combining my random assortment of ingredients, I got smart and searched the internet for a website to help me create a legit cookie. I came across this great post that I'll definitely turn to the next time I want to make my own cookies.


2 bananas
2 C rolled oats
1/4 C unsweetened applesauce
3/4 C whole wheat flour
2 egg whites
2 stevia packets
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1/8 C honey
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 C cocoa powder
3/4 C semisweet chocolate chips

Raspberry Filling:
2 C raspberries
1 stevia packet

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Combine all ingredients (just for the cookie dough) in a mixer.
3. Spoon dough onto cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.

4. If using raspberry filling, mash raspberries in a bowl.

5. Add stevia packet and mix together.
6. Make an indentation in each cookie with a spoon.

7. Spoon raspberry mixture into the indentation.

8. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Nutrition (without raspberry filling)
Calories: 94 | Fat: 2.6 g | Sodium: 83 mg | Carbs: 16.7 g | Protein: 1.9 g
Serving size: 1 cookie

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A Couple of Everything Salads

Happy weekend, everyone!

The past few days have been nice and relaxing, but a little bittersweet at the same time. We went on a little getaway, which was lovely, but it's also the last weekend before school starts, so that's the bittersweet part.

On Thursday I drove with my family to Oregon for a little three-day camping trip. We camped at a spot near past Baker City, Oregon that my dad and his extended family used to camp at when he was growing up. Later that day his cousin and her family joined us, as well as another family we have known for a long time.

It was pretty much a normal camping trip with hiking, exploring, talking around the campfire, eating s'mores and other yummy food, and all that great outdoors-y stuff. On Friday I went for a little four-mile run along the dirt road next to our camp, which was great! I love switching up the scenery of my run once in a while. My neighborhood, the park by my house, and everything in the general vicinity of my house gets a little boring as far as running scenery goes.

After eating some pancakes and packing up our gear this morning, we headed back to Boise. Aaaand now summer is pretty much officially over. Sigh. It's been a good one! Even though I didn't really go very many places, it was nice to spend so much time with family and just chill.

For dinner this evening I opted for a couple "everything" salads. I'm not going to lie, delicious camping food got me once again, (although not as bad other times) so I was ready for some freshness. I pretty much just opened up my fridge, chopped up almost everything I saw, and threw it all together.

Veggie Everything Salad

romaine lettuce
cherry tomatoes
green bell pepper
feta cheese
almond slivers
sunflower seeds
light Italian dressing

Fruit Everything Salad

Pink Lady apple
vanilla yogurt

What are your favorite salad fixings?

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hotel Room Workout

Staying in a couple hotels last weekend inspired me to come up with this quiet workout that is perfect for a hotel room. There isn't any jumping involved, so if you're on an upper floor, you don't have to worry about the people below you being bothered. This also works great if you live in a dorm room or an apartment.

I'd say this is a beginner-to-moderate workout. The less rest time you give yourself between exercises, the more difficult it is (obviously). When I did this workout, it took me between 30 and 40 minutes to complete.

What's your go-to plan for working out while staying in a hotel?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chickpea Turkey Wraps

We're finally going grocery shopping this morning! Our poor fridge is all white and bare inside.

Eating meals that aren't boring can get tricky when you're getting down to the end of your groceries. On Monday I really didn't want to just eat an apple and some random snacky items for lunch, so I dug around and scrounged up some ingredients for something more interesting. This is what I came up with!

1 tortilla (wheat is best, but we didn't happen to have any wheat tortillas on hand)
2-3 T hummus
2 romaine lettuce leaves
1 slice turkey
2-3 T chickpeas
1-2 T feta cheese

1. Spread hummus on tortilla.

We buy our hummus in powdered form in bulk at WinCo, then add some water and olive oil to reconstitute it. It doesn't taste any different than normal hummus.

2. Tear up lettuce and turkey and put on tortilla.

3. Add chickpeas and feta cheese.

4. Roll up and enjoy!

*Note: I made this again yesterday for lunch and added olives, which tasted great too!

Question of the Day:
What are your favorite wrap fillings? 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Healthy Stuffed French Toast, a Face-Lift, & Getting Back On Track

Yesterday was a day for getting back into the swing of things, even though I was only out of town for a weekend. It's crazy how fast a car full of yummy (but not always healthy) trip snacks can put you out of whack.

I started the day yesterday with a little bit of oatmeal before my workout. After that, I completed this workout I found on Pinterest. It says it burns 1,000 calories, which I'm not too sure about, but it was a good workout nonetheless. I would have preferred a run, but for some reason my running shoes decided to start giving me huge blisters on my heels, even though I've worn them for months now. I'm waiting for my heels to heal (hehe get it?) before I go for a run again. After the workout I enjoyed a bowl of Greek yogurt, Grape Nuts cereal, and a cut-up orange. 

After not snacking the best on the trip, I was in the mood for a snack that was actually healthy. I sliced up an apple really quick, since a sliced apple is just much more fun to eat than a whole apple!


For lunch I made myself a quick wrap with what I could find in the fridge. We reeeeally need to go grocery shopping, but it turned out pretty well with what I put into it. The recipe for this will be coming tomorrow!

Another quick snack of the day: almonds and peanuts!

For dinner, I went the nontraditional way with my french toast and turned it into stuffed french toast by topping each slice with Greek yogurt and folding them over. Yes, it looks weird, but it actually tasted great! It was a lot lighter than drenching my french toast with maple syrup.

For a quick evening snack, I had some air-popped popcorn (I didn't eat this whole thing), and a little bowl of granola mixed with honey nut Cheerios, topped with almond milk. Granola with almond milk is one of my favorite foods to eat late at night. I like to put my almond milk with the granola and just let it sit for about 10 minutes or so, until the milk is all soaked up. Granola doesn't really get soggy like other cereal, just softer. Personally, I like granola when it's a little less crunchy.

Then I proceeded to stay up waaay to late, working on giving this lovely blog a face-lift! I added a new header, and then I also switched up the layout. What do you think?

It feels great to get back on track with exercising and eating clean. If you ended up having a bit of a YOLO weekend with food and such, don't get discouraged...just get back into it! One step in the right direction is better than none at all.

Check back in tomorrow for my lunch recipe!

Question of the Day:
What do you eat to get back into the swing of clean eating after a less-than-healthy weekend or vacation?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Motivation Monday: Pinterest Motivation

Happy Monday! I'm back to normal life today after spending the weekend in Portland with family. It was a nice little vacation, squeezed in before summer ends.

The other day I was scrolling through my Pinterest boards, when I came across this pin on my "Motivation" board. Pinterest is a great source if I need a little motivation pick-me-up. It's also a great source for lots of other wonderful things (time-wasting, great dessert recipes, outfit inspiration before going shopping, etc!), but today I'll just stick to the motivation.

I love this! If you want to take any step in the direction of improving your overall quality of life by improving your health, you need to first believe in yourself. You need to believe that you have the power and ability to overcome bad habits. 

I think one of the things that stands the most in people's way when they consider making a new goal is lack of self-confidence and a belief that there's no way they would actually accomplish their goal. There are just too many things standing in the way. I'm telling you today that any goal is attainable. If you want to run a 10K, but haven't run a mile in years, don't let disbelief in yourself stop you. There are other, more valid, excuses and roadblocks keeping you from being fit. You have complete control over yourself and your thoughts. Keep them positive!

You can either be your largest obstacle, or else your greatest source of strength. Choose today to be strong and believe in yourself!

Question of the Day:
What is one of your favorite motivational quotes?

Photo source for the mountain picture I added the quote to:

Friday, August 16, 2013

Peanut Butter Coconut Oatmeal

The other day I whipped up this oatmeal to eat after a run. I haven't used peanut butter a lot in my oatmeal, and I was pleased by the result!

1/3 C rolled oats
2/3 C water
1/4 C vanilla almond milk
2 T coconut
2 T PB2 (still in the powdered form)
1 packet Stevia

Microwave oats and water for about a minute and a half. Stir in other ingredients. 
Feel free to add more PB2 if you want!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Fiesta Lettuce Wraps

Yesterday for lunch I felt like experimenting. I was in the mood for something on the spicier side, so I threw some ingredients together with some taco seasoning and put it in some lettuce. Simple enough! It turned out pretty good, so I thought I'd share my recipe!

I'm not such a pro at the lettuce wrapping part, but I promise it still tastes good! 

1/2 C chickpeas
3/4 C black beans
1/4 C frozen corn, thawed
1 roma tomato
2 T chopped cilantro
1/4 C chopped onion
1 1/3 T taco seasoning
Romaine lettuce leaves

Combine all ingredients except lettuce. Spoon into lettuce and wrap up! Makes enough for about 6 or so wraps.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Motivation Monday: Getting Away from the Physical

Good morning! Happy Monday!

Today's motivation stems from exasperation at the whole weight loss industry. Hopefully this doesn't come off sounding like a rant or anything!

So many health-related goals that people have deal with physical qualities: Fitting into a smaller size of jeans, having toned arms, weighing a certain amount, etc. If this is the ultimate goal you have in your head right now, drop it! Focus, instead, on living a healthy lifestyle. The other benefits will follow of their own accord. Tell yourself right now that you love yourself enough to improve your whole lifestyle. 

Focusing on the physical will stress you out! I promise! Focus your goals on the big picture: You want to be healthier and feel better in all aspects of your life. If you treat yourself great, you will feel great. Exercise, eat real food, sleep, laugh, smile...

What really matters is YOU. When you treat yourself right, you will radiate confidence and be beautiful no matter what dress size you are, or no matter what that number on the scale says. Starting today, train yourself to ignore the numbers and the physical qualities you see around you. Go back to basics and focus on simply treating yourself right. If you do, the particulars you find so essential will come on their own.

Love yourself today! Don't define yourself by the physical!

Have a fabulous week!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Eating Healthy on a Budget: 9 Tips

Sometimes one of the hardest things about eating healthy is the grocery store. A complaint that many people have (including me), is that healthy food is too expensive. Without going into a long speech, the key is that if you really want to make your health a priority, you have to sacrifice. Yes, healthy food is expensive, but buying it is a sacrifice worth making. Aside from that, there are some tricks I've learned about eating healthy on a budget.

1. Plan out meals before going to the grocery store. This is huge! Fresh produce goes bad, so you need to know exactly what you're going to eat so you don't buy too much.

2. Pick only one new food to try per grocery store visit. This may not be relevant to some people, but I'm the kind of person who loves trying out new healthy foods. If I set a limit for myself of only one just-for-fun food, I don't go overboard with the new granola bars, crackers, and fruit chips that catch my eye.

3. Bring a limited amount of money with you. If you only want to spend $20 on groceries, only bring $20 with you. You'll be sure to buy only what you need since your money is limited.

4. Keep an eye on the fresh produce you've bought so you eat it before it's overripe. I'm the worst person for buying a bunch of tomatoes, and only using one before they all go bad. I just forget what I have! Meal planning will help a lot with this, because you won't be as inclined to accidentally neglect your fresh food.

5. Buy produce in varying stages of freshness. This tip has helped me a lot. If you buy multiple avocados or bananas, for example, you don't want them to all get ripe at the same time, forcing you to eat copious amounts of that particular food in a short period of time before it goes bad.

6. Watch for sales on more expensive produce items. Where I live, fruits like blueberries or cherries tend to be a little more expensive. If I don't need them for a specific recipe, I hold off on buying them until they go in sale, making sure to keep up-to-date with the sales by checking in the advertisements that come with the newspaper.

7. Freeze your own fruit for smoothies. Frozen fruit gets expensive, so when fresh fruit is on sale, buy it in larger quantities. Chop up what you can't eat before it's too ripe, stick it in a zip-lock baggie, and toss it in the freezer.

8. Grow it yourself. While not everyone has this option, this will definitely save you a lot of money. At the very least, you can buy potted herbs you can put in your kitchen. Potted vegetable plants are also easy to put on your patio.

9. You don't need to shop at Whole Foods. The last thing I want is for people to think that you need to shop at fancy healthy stores to eat right. Yes, Whole Foods is a good store. Personally, I love wandering around in there. However! It is expensive and you can still buy good produce and other healthy food at your normal grocery store.

Those are the top nine recommendations I have for eating healthy with a limited amount of money. A healthy lifestyle is completely feasible for almost anyone, as long as you have your priorities set right.

What would you add to this list? What do you do to stay healthy on a budget?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What Happens When You Get Your Wisdom Teeth Pulled

So, this morning I got my four lovely wisdom teeth kindly pulled out of my mouth. Thank goodness for anesthetic!

Getting your wisdom teeth out happens about once in a lifetime, so I am YOLO-ing it up. My diet today consisted of mashed potatoes, tomato bacon soup, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, butterscotch pudding, blueberry frozen Greek yogurt, and maple and brown sugar instant oatmeal. What up.

Life happens, embrace the lapses into unhealthiness (as long as they don't occur too often), and don't freak out!

I'll be back with a normal, healthy post tomorrow!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Zesty Avocado Salad

This summer I've had lots of salads for lunches. They're easy and filling and the possibilities are endless! Here's the salad that I've made the most this summer.

2 1/2 C chopped romaine lettuce
1/2 avocado, cut into cubes
1 roma tomato, chopped
1/3 C frozen corn, thawed
1/2 T Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp Good Seasons Italian Dressing Mix 

Combine all ingredients and enjoy!
*With the corn, you may want to chill it a little after it's thawed, just so your salad is a bit more crisp.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Motivation Monday: Mini-Goals (plus a challenge!)

Success. What do you define success as? Everyone wants to be successful, right?
The thing about success is that it doesn't happen overnight or on its own. It takes work. Talking about success comes back down to priorities. Are you making the area you want to be successful in a priority in your life?
Everyone says they want to "be healthy." That's their ultimate goal. If they accomplish that, then they will have "succeeded." Assuming that you, reading this right now, want to be healthy, set yourself up for success! The best way I know of to get big things done without giving up, or else just wandering in circles, is to set reasonable, attainable, mini-goals. Setting broad goals will just leave you exhausted and stressed. My challenge to you today is to set 1-2 mini-goals to accomplish this week. Here are some ideas:

-Eat 4 servings of vegetables every day.
-Drink at least 8 glasses of water every day.
-Get to bed at a decent hour at least 4 nights this week.
-Work out at least 3 days this week OR make it a priority to at least sweat every day.
-Eat when you're hungry, not just when you're bored.
-Go at least 3 days this week without eating any processed food.
-Try going at least 1 day eating fully-raw vegan.

You can pick a couple of my ideas, or you can make your own mini-goals. To make your own, think of a health- or fitness-related practice in you life that you know you can improve on (ex: not snacking, exercising more, drinking more water) and make a measurable goal out of it. "Exercise more" isn't enough. Try "exercise for 30 minutes, 3 days this week." Much better! 
Once you have your goals, write them down! Write them on a post-it note and stick it on your bathroom mirror or in your weekly planner. It doesn't really matter where, just put the post-it note somewhere you will see it.
Then, finally, follow through! Smash those goals! Let this week be a week of success for you!

Have a lovely day!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Curry and Sweet Potatoes

Yesterday, the weather here finally started to cool down a little. We had some rain, and then some large gusts of wind in the evening. I was hoping for a thunderstorm, but, alas, my wish wasn't granted. The different weather was a nice change at least from the continually hot temperatures we've had lately. As it neared dinnertime, I turned on Pandora and got started on making my kitchen smell delightful!

I'm a big fan of using curry to season recipes, so I thought I'd use it in my experimentation. This recipe was inspired in part by a curry recipe I've made in the past from a cookbook, but I pretty much did my own thing. 

Curry Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

4 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled 
4 large carrots, peeled
4 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small onion
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
olive oil
curry powder
garlic powder
garlic salt

*Again, when I make my own creations, I don't do a lot of measuring, so a lot of the ingredient amounts listed are approximations. I don't think that's necessarily a bad thing, though, because it encourages you to adapt it to your own tastes and take a more active role in your cooking. To those of you who are trying to cook more meals yourself, the more you cook and experiment in the kitchen, the more aware you become of your own seasoning and ingredient preferences. This will help you when you have fresh produce in your house and want to make something from off the top of your head.

Makes 6-8 servings

1. Cube sweet potatoes and carrots

2. Steam carrots. I put them on the stove on low so they would steam slowly as I cook the rest of the dish.

3. Slice chicken into 1" strips. Rub about 1 1/2 tsp. curry powder into chicken. Sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. or more garlic powder and rub it into the chicken. Cut up the chicken the rest of the way into 1" cubes. Put chicken into a pan with a little bit of olive oil and cook. When it's done, drain any excess liquid and set aside. Like the carrots, I also put the chicken on a lower heat setting so they'd slowly cook while I worked on the rest of the recipe (just so I wouldn't have to concentrate on it so much). 

4. Chop up onion and sauté with a little olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. After 3-4 minutes or so, add sweet potatoes. Cook for about 5 more minutes. 

5. Add tomatoes to the saucepan. Cover and let cook for about 10 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are getting soft. 

6. Add carrots, which should be about done by now. It's actually better for them to be a little less than fully done, since they'll be cooked a little more with the sweet potatoes and tomatoes. 

7. At this point, I added some salt (probably about 3/4 T), garlic salt (probably about 1/2 T), and curry powder (about 1-2 T). This is where the measuring was the most sketchy, since I was rushing a bit to finish and I didn't want to bother measuring. I just put the seasonings on, mixed it up, tasted a sweet potato chunk and added more if I felt like it needed more. Trust your own tastes here! Cook for another 3-5 minutes or so, or until sweet potatoes are all the way cooked. 

8. Add chicken, stir up, and serve! 

I ate this plain; however, it would also taste great served with some brown rice or quinoa. Bon appetit!