Chocolate Chip Almond Butter Cookie Dough Pretzel Dip

Hi friends!

Happy Memorial Day weekend to all of my readers in the U.S.! I am really looking forward to a couple of days home with my hubby. We don’t have too much on the agenda, which is great since last weekend we were away in Palm Springs, and next weekend I’ll be in Miami celebrating my best friend’s bachelorette party (can’t wait!), so I’m hoping to have some fun out and about in San Diego and a pretty low-key holiday weekend.

I had planned on doing a last recap of my DietBet today, but then I realized that it’s almost Memorial Day and I had shot a recipe on red, white & blue dishware earlier this week that would be great to whip up for a small holiday gathering…

cookie dough pretzel dip-2

…so, this deliciousness seemed more appropriate today instead! Plus, Fridays seem like the best days to gush over desserts, do you agree?

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Crispy Zucchini Parmigiana Sandwiches

Growing up as a vegetarian surrounded by meat eaters, the cooks in my life would often make “meaty” meatless dishes. My mother, bless her heart, would often make 2 versions of dinner: one with meat for everyone else, and another one for me – and eventually my little sister as well, who also became a plant-based eater at a young age. For instance, I remember this spaghetti pie she would make that had crumbled beef in it, but for us, she made a mini spaghetti pie using meatless crumbles instead. It’s kind of a weird dish to describe, but I used to love it.

zucchini parm sandwiches-3

My grandma’s go-to “meaty” dish for me was eggplant parmigiana. In typical fashion for her drastic personality – a trait that everyone knew her for – she knew that I liked it, so she proceeded to make eggplant parm just about every week for me for years…. that is, until I developed an eggplant allergy that left me with an itchy throat, mild hives, and the need to always have Benadryl on hand in my purse should eggplant touch my lips.

At my mom’s urging, I tried eggplant a couple of times after my initial allergic reaction, only to get the same results. As much as I loved eggplant, I decided that my life was more important than eggplant parm. And so, I moved on to my next favorite veggie parm dish: zucchini parmigiana.

zucchini parm sandwiches-4

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Lost Horse Mine Hike in Joshua Tree National Park

Hello, hello!

Joshua Tree National Park

How was your weekend? Not surprisingly, my whirlwind weekend in Palm Springs just flew by. Without a doubt, my favorite part of the getaway was seeing Joshua Tree National Park for the first time ever. It was about an hour drive from our hotel in the Palm Springs area, and was well worth the trip.

Joshua Tree Park

I’ve heard things about Joshua Tree before – mostly tidbits about people walking aimlessly around the park while on acid trips, and after exploring the park, I can totally see why it gets that reputation. Joshua Tree is a huge park in the middle of the desert, full of its namesake tree and crazy big boulders.

Joshua Trees

Woman Rock Climbing at Joshua Tree

People were rock climbing all over the place. I had read that Joshua Tree is one of the most popular rock climbing destinations in the country, and I can see why.

Joshua Tree Park Bouldering

Adam bouldering at Joshua Tree Park

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Avocado & Chickpea Salad Cups

Happy Friday!

I’m very much looking forward to the weekend, because later today my hubby and I are heading out on a little weekend getaway. It’s a place just a few hours away from home that we’ve never been to before….

Palm Springs

Palm Springs! Just a couple of days full of what will hopefully be fun: relaxation, hiking, good food and exploring a new area. But first, onto today’s recipe!

avocado cups-3

This recipe will provide you with a good dose of produce. It’s vegan, gluten free, nutritious, and simple to throw together. Call me a nut, but it seems kind of fancy to me because it involves scooping the salad mixture back into the avocado skins. avocado cup ingredients

And speaking of nuts, recently Blue Diamond sent me a few boxes of their Almond Nut Thins to play around with. They’re gluten free nut & rice crackers, and for some reason I immediately thought of scooping avocado with them. Almond Nut-Thins

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DietBet Week 3 Recap + 5 Ways to Drink More H20

Hello, hello!

I’m back on this lovely Wednesday to give you a week 3 update on the DietBet game I’m participating in. Just in case you missed my other weekly recaps and want to check them out:

Exercise 

Activity-wise, I killed it in week 3. Lots of kickboxing, HIIT, walking my pup, a few hikes, and some yoga practice thrown in there. Saturday was my rest day to relax and give my body a chance to recover, and I did some foam rolling and icing throughout the week – though I’m making a mental note to try to ice every single day.

Crow and Tripod Headstand practice

A yoga transition I’ve been working on: tripod headstand –> Crow pose –> tripod headstand

Diet

Food-wise, week 3 started off kind of shaky. I was eating healthy, I just wasn’t nixing the extra stuff enough. The night that I met up with other health bloggers I had a few drinks, which would have been fine, but the night before I had made these cookies:

choc pb oatmeal cookies

Chocolate chip peanut butter banana oatmeal cookies. Drool. I had eaten a couple of cookies that night, and then a few nights later, ate a few more.

Either indulgence would have been okay and within my balanced eating ideal, but I know that I can’t splurge multiple days in a row and lose anything at all… which would have been fine except for the fact that I’m doing a DietBet that ends soon! So, long story short, I got more serious after that during the second half of the week.

sesame brown rice dinner

Dinner a few nights ago: Gardein mandarin crispy chick’n with brown rice + sesame seeds + sesame oil + sautéed bell pepper, onion & some sort of greens that I nabbed at a farm stand nearby

I got on the scale this morning and was 1/2 pound down from my last weigh-in. There’s a week left in this DietBet, and I’m aiming to lose 2 more pounds. I’m working hard but it might be a bit challenging this weekend because I’m going on a little getaway with my love (more on that to come!), so wish me luck!

one pound graphic

(source)

This Week’s Healthy Living Theme

Today for my healthy living theme of the week, I’m talking about my favorite beverage: wine  water.

When people tell me they don’t really like drinking water, I think I look at them like they have 3 heads. I mean come on, how can you not like something so refreshing that we can’t thrive nor even survive long without?!

The cells in our bodies are full of water. Water helps deliver oxygen all over the body, enables the process of digestion, and allows our cells to thrive and reproduce, among lots of other essential processes.

Harley loves water too!

Harley loves water too!

I drink a ton of water. In fact, drinking a big glass of water is one of the first things I do when I wake up in the morning.  I was recently watching a (very sad) documentary about the scarcity of clean water in India, and have been thinking about how easy it is to take having healthy water for granted. In the spirit of my love for good ole H20, I wanted to share with you 5 ways to drink more water. They’re tips that I use all the time to stay hydrated, and being hydrated can make a world of difference in how I feel. Let’s get to it!

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Clevenger Canyon North Hike [Weekend Recap]

Hi friends!

How was your weekend? My weekend unofficially kicked off with a fun blogger meet up in the Little Italy section of San Diego. I had been wanting to meet up with Laura from Sprint 2 the Table since she moved into the area a few months ago, and blogger friends of hers Lucie and Meghan were in town visiting last week, so I had the chance to meet all three of these ladies. Prep Kitchen blogger meet up

So what do healthy living bloggers do when they get together? If we aren’t meeting for a workout, we usually eat, drink, and chat away (as was the case)! Even though I worked on Friday, Thursday night felt like the unofficial start to my weekend.

My actual weekend started off with Friday evening shenanigans at a nearby park with my dingo. It had been raining that morning and was a crisp air, dreary kind of day, but I decided that we’d get outside anyways for some exercise…
Calavera Preserve rainy hiking

Going to a park when the weather isn’t great is kind of fun because there’s no one around. The trails were muddy and Harley ran around getting herself dirty, while I hit the trails with her doing exercises like walking squats, jump squats and high knees. This is the kind of stuff you can do when you have the entire park to yourself! We both got a workout in and I found the weather change kind of soul soothing – plus we need rain here badly!

Other weekend fun included finding the cutest farm just a few minutes away from my house, where the owner was happy to chat with me about what he’s growing, the history of the family farm, and what he’s picking soon (strawberries and tomatoes!)…  Couple Berry Farm Stand

…some kitchen experimenting, which resulted in one successful recipe, and one recipe fail: pb and jelly bar recipe fail

These peanut butter & jelly oatmeal bars tasted great, but the texture just came out too crumbly. I may bake a few apples and crumble the bars on top since they didn’t exactly turn out like bars that I can grab on-the-go. Ahh well, you win some and you lose some!

And then there was my Sunday morning Mother’s Day hike with my little family. We ventured out to the countryside, just about 40 minutes away, to explore a new hiking spot: Clevenger Canyon-9I first heard about this hike when checking out a hiking book that covers trails within 60 miles of San Diego. Not surprisingly, I’ve already done most of the hikes that are moderate to difficult, but I jotted down a few that I hadn’t done before, and Clevenger Canyon was one of them.

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Cinnamon Baked Apple & Peanut Butter Oatmeal

I’ll let you in on a little secret: There are some foods that most healthy living bloggers swoon over I could totally do without. Take brussel sprouts and cauliflower for instance (ick). You’ll find tons and tons of recipes for clever ways to eat brussel sprouts and use cauliflower to craft pizza crusts and make them taste like fries and whatever else you could imagine on foodie blogs, but not on here my friends. Why? Because I am not a fan of those veggies (sue me).

apple pb oats-5

Another good example is oatmeal.

apple pb oats-1

I get in the mood for a bowl of hot oats here and there, but for the most part, I feel very meh about it. Take pancakes away from me and I’d be a very sad girl, but take oatmeal away from me and I wouldn’t even know it was gone. apple pb oats-2

And so, the alternate title of this post was The Only Oatmeal Recipe I’ll Ever Share, because it seriously probably will be. Any time I make oatmeal, I cook it with a chopped up Granny Smith apple and cinnamon, then mix in creamy peanut butter and honey for a winning breakfast. Because I’m a firm believer that peanut butter + apple + honey is one hell of an awesome combination.

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DietBet Week 2 Recap | Persevering When the Scale Won’t Budge

Hi friends!

DietBet game

Last week I shared details of the DietBet game that I’m currently participating in and did a week 1 recap, so today I’m chatting about week 2. You can check out my first post here, but the idea is that I bet a few bucks that I could lose 4% of my body weight in a month in a game with 2,101 other people.

Week 2 Recap 

Workout Room gear

I’ve been spending a lot of time in my workout room!

Workout-wise, in contrast to my recent weeks of trying out lots of fitness studios in my area, last week was full of mostly at-home exercise, including FitnessGlo HIIT workouts and some Jillian Michaels strength & cardio DVDs. I also went on a nice long hike with pup and had my first swimming session of the year last weekend.

Acai bowl lunch date with a friend last week!

Acai bowl lunch date with a friend last week!

Diet-wise, I did pretty well. As I mentioned in my week 1 recap, all I’m really changing is my portion sizes (a little bit less each meal) and the amount of indulgences I have (less wine, less dessert). Putting last week’s theme of not having an all-or-nothing mentality in effect, I ate clean probably 80-90% of the time, with some treats sprinkled in – like a mini bag of popcorn:

Popcorn & boxing

Munching on popcorn while (illegally) watching last weekend’s boxing fight – Can you tell that my peering pup likes popcorn?!

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8 Vegetarian Recipes to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo

Hello, hello!

Hope that you had a great weekend. Highlights of my weekend included hiking at Elfin Forest with my pup….

Hiking 5.1.15

…a sunset picnic with my man:

Veggie Sandwich Picnic

Sunset 5.1.15

….making spinach, goat cheese & tomato ravioli one night:

Spinach Tomato & Goat Cheese Ravioli-2

…and going for a swim in my pool for the first time this year, then soaking up the sunshine and enjoying a watermelon smoothie poolside:

Watermelon Smoothie Poolside

Fun little fact: Most Southern Californians keep their pools open year round, but don’t swim in them in the winter. Since I grew up in the Northeast where pools are open for just the summer, I was a bit confused about pool management in SoCal at first, but I think I’ve got the hang of it all now.

I have solar panels on my roof that can warm the pool, but temperatures dip down too low at night for my pool to stay warm enough even with them on, so all winter I looked at my pretty pool that was just a little too chilly for me to swim in. But, now that it’s been reaching into the 80s a lot here and it’s not quite as cool at night, I’ve fired up my solar heater, and the water is now feeling great.

A few hours after I was hanging out in my backyard, I found these in my pool…

Ducks-3

DUCKIES! Since we live in the middle of a big neighborhood in the midst of the hustle and bustle of San Diego County, I was pretty surprised – and the ducks were hardly scared of us. I don’t think they appreciated Harley barking at them, but they must have known that she’s too terrified of the water and would never jump in. One of them dove under the water and Harley jumped backwards as if it was about to attack her. It was pretty entertaining! While interested and wary, my pup wasn’t freaking out as much as I thought she’d be….

Ducks-1

…that is until we went inside and I turned towards my backyard to see one of the ducks right outside of my open sliding glass door about to waddle on in. At that point, with the advantage of dry land, Harley chased it like crazy back into the pool, as if to say, “You’re pushing it buddy!”

Ducks-2

The ducks stayed awhile, especially because my hubby started feeding them tortilla chips. They floated around and quacked at us, while making sure to poop in the pool I had just cleaned hours earlier numerous times. Thanks, guys! ;-)

Well, that’s enough talk about my weekend fun! Being that tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo and I’ll take any excuse to eat meals with avocado, cheese, and beans, I thought I’d do a roundup of some of my favorite Mexican-themed recipes that I’ve shared in the past. Below includes a few newer recipes, as well as some oldies from when I first started blogging, with some vegan and gluten free options included. Here we go!

banana squash enchiladas-2

avocado

  • Guacamole – This post is from forever ago, and this may be the easiest appetizer to throw together ever! I love avocado and guac is one of my favorite snacks to make… In fact, I’ll definitely be making some to celebrate Cinco de Mayo tomorrow!

Veggie Fajitas

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Gram’s Anadama Bread

“Sometimes you will never know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.” – Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow marks a year since my grandma passed away, so today it felt fitting to share with you the recipe for a homemade bread that she often baked.

Anadama Bread-4

Before last year, I had never experienced the heartache of losing someone really close to me. Sure, there’d been acquaintances, family friends, and relatives that had passed away, but before my grandma died, I hadn’t felt what it was like to go through real grief with another person dying – the kind that hits you like a mack truck on random days at random times, when all of a sudden it dawns on you that a person that you loved so much is gone.

Christmas 2013

Christmas 2013

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