Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Top 5 Fitness Videos for Working Out at Home

First it was the snow. SO MUCH SNOW. Then ice...then snow & ice & wind. Then a little melt then ICE and some more snow. Ice and snow, ice and snow for about 5 months. This meant I did NOT get outside to run or really walk at all. It was so cold, so miserable and quite frankly, I had NO motivation. Sure, I could go to the gym *shudder* or hit an indoor track, but I just wasn't feeling it.

Then finally last week SUN! SUN, GLORIOUS, SUN! The snow went away, the ice went away, it was amazing. I went for a run, shook off the dust (both mentally and physically) and it was amazing. Running really is a cheap form of therapy, especially when the surroundings are right!

Then BAM! Allergies attacked me...along with a cold. Horray. My lungs BURN when it is cold outside at the best of times, so when it's cold AND I have a cold? No fun. Then, to top it all off - torrential rains & winds today. Again, I could go to the gym, but who wants to leave the warmth of their house?

I scoured the interwebs and found (& tried) some REALLY great workouts! I found FitSugar to be the best source. Their videos are high quality and the instructor talks you through the moves so you know you are doing it right. I also REALLY like workouts that are constantly changing because I get bored easily when I'm doing them by myself at home. So, I find 3 10 minute workouts and do them back to back. Not only do they go by quickly, but when you've done 3 videos, that's already half an hour!

Here are my picks for great indoor workouts when the weather outside is not cooperating (or if you just feel like staying home).

My FAVOURITE arm workout. Remember, if you don't have actual hand weights at home, you can use cans of food, bottle of water or any other cylindrical objects:

This is a great 8 minute ab workout for when you're short on time and requires NO equipment:

This is a CRAZY Ab workout that requires a little bit of equipment, but are objects you can find around the house:

 This workout is only 10 minutes long, but works a whole host of muscles & includes some cardio:

Finally, if you REALLY want to kick your butt, try this Tabata workout. My body hurts just watching it!

Let me know if you try these out & what you think! If you like this round up, let me know, I'd be happy to do more!

Monday, 28 April 2014

{Cleaned-Up} Banana Muffins

You know what's the best? Banana Muffins. I just love the taste and the texture and how perfectly they go with my morning coffee. What I don't love is the all the white sugar & refined flour that goes into them. It just feels a little counter productive to me.

So, as I stared at the 3 bananas going bad on my counter last week, I took to the Google to see if I could find a recipe that was cleaned-up a bit and found this AWESOME recipe for Maple Banana Bread. Instead of sugar, it uses REAL Maple Syrup (which has an surprising amount of health benefits). I tweaked the recipe a bit to "clean" it up a little bit more and they came out AMAZING. Light, fluffly, moist and sweet, but not too sweet.

On a side note, I had plenty of help with this photo shoot (NOT!) Molly the Beagle could NOT stay away from my muffins. I literally had to take about 100 photos because she kept trying to sneak a bite!

Anyway, if Molly the Beagle likes them, I'm sure you will too!

{Cleaned-Up} Banana Muffins
original recipe: Allrecipes
Makes 14-16 muffins
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup REAL Maple Syrup (not the Aunt Jemima stuff)
1 egg
2 ripe bananas
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or line 16 muffin tins and set aside.

Using a mixer, combine the butter and maple syrup on medium until fully integrated. Add the egg and FULL bananas. (NOTE: If you don't have a stand mixer, you can combine the ingredients by hand, but make sure you mash the bananas first) Mix until there are just little banana chunks left over. On slow speed, add the vanilla and milk until combined.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, baking soda and baking powder. Turn on mixer to "stir" and slowly add the flour mix until everything is JUST moistened.

Using a 2 tablespoons (or a cookie scoop), scrape out dough and transfer to the muffin tins. You want the dough to mound at the top of the liner. Depending on how the dough is disperesed you will have anywhere from 14-16 muffins. My muffins were NOT even at all, so I think I made about 18.

Bake for 20-25 mins, watching after the 20 minute mark. Muffins are done when you insert a toothpick into the middle of one and it comes out clean.

These are best enjoyed warm! You can also store them in an airtight container in the fridge. When ready to eat, and warm-up them up in the microwave for 30 seconds & they're just as good!


Friday, 25 April 2014

Things I've Learned this Week: SPRING CLEANING EDITION

Guys....I don't want to jinx it, but I think spring is FINALLY on its way. It's about time too, I was about ready to pack up and move down south, just to avoid another snow storm! Fingers crossed that spring is here to stay because spring is definitely my favourite season of all time.

With spring, comes a lot of things: Spring Cleaning (which I'm starting this weekend), flowers blooming, sun shining, warm breezes, softball season (EEEK) and, my personal favourite, ALLERGIES! I'm a sniffling, wheezing, coughing mess right now. It's fine, I'm used to it, but for some reason it takes me by surprise EVERY YEAR.

Anyway, since winter looks like it's mostly over, I'm planning on starting my Spring Cleaning this weekend! For me, that usually entails, cleaning out the closets, de-junking, de-cluttering and giving the house a really, really good scrub. Obviously this can't all be done in one weekend, but I found some really great tips online on how the make the most of my spring cleaning efforts!

Things I've Learned this Week: SPRING CLEANING EDITION

1. If you have a limited amount of time on your hands, this is the ultimate 30 day, spring cleaning challenge:
 I really like this list because you can attack it daily, or, if you have more time, get a few things done in one day! Click Here for the printable version

2. Along with my clean eating challenge (yes, I'm STILL doing that!) I'm trying to live a little more "greenly" and use cleaners that don't have harsh chemicals in them. Molly eats & licks just about everything in our house, so I don't want her licking/eating chemicals. Here is an AMAZING list of cleaners that you can make on your own!
3. In our new place (which we've been at for almost a year now) we have a ceramic stove top that I constantly wipe & clear off, but always seems to have grunge & dirty bits on it. Thanks to Mom4Real, I have a new trick that I can try: Baking Soda and Water!

4. To make the process easier next year (and throughout the year) here are some tips on how to keep on top of 5 common messes, year round.

5. Finally, for me, this is the most challenging: cleaning out the closet. First of all, I don't really have THAT many clothes that I wear. I pretty much have 3 outfits that I mix and match for work and then I have my workout clothes. That's pretty much it. That being said, my closet is QUITE full of clothes that I never, ever wear, but keep for some reason. So, while I was on pinterest, I saw this & thought it was a GREAT idea:

Now, let's face it...at some point during the spring cleaning process, this is how you start to feel:

So take a deep breath and take it one room at a time! You'll get there, and trust me, you'll feel SO much better when it is done!


P.S. What is your favourite spring cleaning tip?

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Why Putting on a Bikini Changed My Life

If you've been following my blog for awhile, you know that one of my biggest fears/anxieties was wearing a bikini. I know that sounds extremely dramatic, and SUCH a first world problem, but to me...it was a very real fear.

Let me take a step back for a second here. Why was this such a fear of mine? Well, I (obviously) have body issues. To me, I felt like I shouldn't wear a bikini, unless I look like I should be able to wear a bikini (i.e. size 2, chiseled abs, etc). I also felt that because I felt that way, other people must feel that way and stare and judge me. I just felt so much shame & awkwardness and just had extremely unpleasant feelings about wearing a bikini...I have issues, I know.

So, I set out back in January to do just that. I started eating clean, working out regularly and trying (somewhat successfully) to cut back on junk. While I did loose a little bit of weight, it wasn't anywhere near where I thought I would be by the time I left for Florida.

So I made a choice...either stick to the ratty bathing suit I've been wearing for OVER 10 YEARS (seriously, I haven't bought a bathing suit since high school) or suck it up and buy a bikini and wear it anyway. So that's what I did.

Guess what? No one jumped out of the closet and went "You're WAY too fat to wear that" or "Ew, what are you doing" and when I went to the beach, not one single person gave me a disapproving look. I don't actually think anyone looked at me either way, to be honest. Funnily enough, I wore that bikini pretty much for the rest of the trip and I actually loved it. It was comfortable and I felt great in it (and dare I say, even a little sexy?)

Listen, I'm aware of how dramatic this all sounds. Who cares what other people think? Who cares what you look like? Well...I do. I really do care. I know I shouldn't but I just do. My whole life, I've tried to make everyone else happy, satiated, content and complacent. I run around making plans trying to make everyone else happy and while doing that, I make myself very UNhappy, and other people unhappy because I'm not really ever in the moment. I'm ususally thinking of the next thing I have to get done. My mind is ALWAYS racing a mile a minute.

So, that aside, what did putting a bikini on teach me? First, I realized that my fear of what other people think, is really just ME judging ME. When I rush around trying to make other people happy, I'm rushing around because that's what I think I should be doing. I thought other people were going to think I was fat because I think (thought) I am (was) fat. I guess we really are our own worst critics. So the next time I want to do something and have a fear of being judged, I'm going to take a step back and look at my own feelings and why I might feel that way.

Second, I have to start learning to do things FOR ME. Buying myself new things (when I can afford it), doing things that will make me happy and feel good about myself. Take time to nuture my own soul & being. I can do anything, but not everything. Self care, is really the most important type of care.

Anyway, those are my thoughts for today, and hopefully this post will strike a chord in you as well!

Lots of Love,

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Things I Learned This Week: EASTER EDITION

First, you may have noticed that I haven't really posted in almost TWO weeks! I promise I have a good excuse...I just got back from a fab vacation in Florida! It was exactly what the doctor ordered: Sun, drinks, friends, laughs, pool, sun...and sun. I've never been so grateful for a sunburn in my LIFE. I also ticked something off my bucket list...I WORE A BIKINI...IN PUBLIC...AT A BEACH! More on that next week.  

So, that little blurb aside, let's talk about EASTER. Holy moly, it's almost Easter. I swear, it was January just yesterday! Well, weather-wise, it WAS like January here just yesterday, but no matter, SPRING WILL BE HERE SOON. I hope.

Here is the EASTER EDITION of Things I've Learned This Week!

1. First, instead of buying a kit to dye your eggs, why not dye them with KOOL-AID?!
Absolutely genius!
from Squidoo
2. Another great tip/trick that I've seen - use a whisk when dying eggs with your kids! I remember when we used to dye eggs as kids, I'd always get my fingers all multicoloured and my eggs smeary, so this is the perfect solution!
As seen on Pinterest

3. Did you know, you can totally make them Creme Eggs yourself!?
from Instructables
4. If you aren't feeling up to making them, you can buy them and then ADD them into something you're making, like these amazing Creme Egg Cupcakes! Why did I NEVER think of that?

From The Cupcake Activist
5. Finally (and this is something I'll be doing), have you ever wondered what to do when all you have left from Easter is gobs and gobs of chocolate? Why not turn it into this decadent (and super sweet) Easter Candy Bark!
From Like Mother Like Daughter
Hope you enjoyed this week's version of "Things I Learned" and wishing you a VERY Happy Easter from my family to yours! <3

P.S. I have a couple of Easter Treats of my own to share with you: MYO Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs and Mini Egg Shortbread! Both are Easter essentials!

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Salt & Balsamic Vineger Kale Chips


So, if you've read previous blogs of mine, you'll know that I am a chip addict. It is my one, true & very real vice. I actually cannot keep chips in the house because I will eat them. ALL of them. I have several alternative snacks that are healthy and taste really, really good (see Roasted Chickpeas) but I'll still get an urge for Dill Pickle or Salt & Vinegar chips, simply because of the tang.

Then, I stumbled across this recipe for Salt & Vinegar Chips from Gimme Some Oven, and the whole world changed. I knew I had to give these a try, and since I had some Kale in the fridge, I decided to make them last night. I used Balsamic Vinegar because I'm fancy like that.

Holy. Saint. Moses. These are so, freaking good. I'm not kidding you when I say I'm actually salivating right now just thinking about them. They are SO flavourful, SO crunchy and SO much like real chips. My mom came over last night and we ate the entire batch and still wanted more. The best part? These things are ridiculously low in calories, so there is ZERO guilt. Also, Kale is awesome for you (read more here)

Here you go my friends!

Salt & Balsamic Vinegar Kale Chips

1 bunch of kale
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar (or whatever you have on hand)
1 tbsp olive oil 
Sea Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Wash and thoroughly dry a bunch of kale.  Tear the kale leaves from the center rib into bite size pieces (keep in mind, the kale will shrink a bit in the baking process). 

In a small bowl, toss and rub the kale pieces in the vinegar, oil and salt for about 1 minute. You want the pieces to be dark and evenly coated with the oil and vinegar.  Transfer to 2 baking sheets so that there is an even layer on both (you want the kale to be spread out a bit and not on top of each other).

Place in the oven for 7 minutes. Remove, toss, and return to oven for another 2-3 minutes. During this last period you'll need to watch REALLY closely so that they don't burn. 

Remove from oven when the kale is crunchy and no longer soft. Enjoy right away! You can store it in a container for up to a week, but this is really best enjoyed right away!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

SUPER Easy Pizza with the Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker + {GIVEAWAY}

SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!! I cannot believe that this month marks my ONE YEAR BLOGIVERSARY! It was  a year ago that I decided to marry my love of running and baking into a blog in an attempt to help others (including myself) learn that you have bake your cake and eat it too, but only after a workout/run.

This blog has come a long way in one year. I started with crappy iPhone photos (because that's all I had the ability to take), super simple recipes and a desire the bake, bake, bake. Since then, I've tackled many of my baking fears (including the great Macaroon Massacre) and completed a Half Marathon. I had a couple of break downs and a couple of triumphs. I've even started to develop my own recipes which is something I NEVER thought I'd do!

So, for Blog Year #2, I wanted to kick it off with a BANG, and more specifically, a GIVEAWAY!!!! Now, last month I was lucky enough to win a Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker. I never, ever win ANYTHING, so I was pretty pumped to recieve it. Hubby and I are also Pizza Addicts, so this was truly the perfect prize for us!

Literally, the day we received it, we knew we were going to be making some 'zza. I used my favourite Pizza Dough Recipe (see below) and I was really pleased with the results. This pizza maker make the crust really nice and crunchy, without making it too crispy. It rotates the entire cooking time so everything is cooked evenly.

Now, it isn't necessarily any faster than making it in the oven, but it sure uses less power & won't heat up your kitchen in the summer time like an oven does. Plus? There are a TON of different things you can make with it (helloooooo Quesadillas!)

This got me thinking...I bet one of my readers would like this pizza maker A LOT! Guess what? The lovely folks at Hamilton Beach are letting me GIVE ONE AWAY to one you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 First, I'm going to tell you about how to make a scrumptious pizza using this Pizza Maker and THEN, I'm going to tell you how you can WIN one (scroll past recipe to enter)!

Super Easy Pizza with the Hamilton Beach Pizza Maker

For the Dough
1 cup warm water
1 pack of dry, active, yeast
1 tbsp white sugar
2 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
1 tsp salt

For the toppings:
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can of Pizza Sauce (I use Unico)
2-3  cups shredded cheese
any additional toppings of your choice like pepperoni, mushroom, bacon, olives, etc.

First, we proof the yeast. Add the cup of warm water (think warm bath water) to a wide, shallow bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over top of the water. Next, sprinkle the sugar evenly over top of the yeast, followed up the oil. This pushes the yeast down to the bottom of the bowl. Let rest for 5 minutes or until it is nice and foamy.
While your yeast is proofing, add the flour and salt to a stand mixer that has the dough hook attachment on. Once yeast is ready, add to the flour and salt and turn on the mixer to "stir" You will see the dough start to form. Once dough is formed, allow to knead at this speed for about 6 minutes. If the dough is too dry at this point, add a touch of water. If it seems to moist, add a touch of flour. You want the dough to be moist, but not slimy.
After mixing is done, lift dough and spray the inside of the bowl with a little bit of cooking spray. Then, cover the bowl with cling wrap and set aside for 10-12 minutes. The dough won't double in size, you just want it to raise slightly. 

While the dough is rising, it's time to prepare your pizza toppings! My favourite of all time is bacon and mushroom, so I do up some bacon, chop up some mushrooms, mince my garlic, shred my cheese, etc. 

Now, this recipe makes enough for two pizza's, but the Pizza maker only makes one at a time, so I use half the dough in the maker and half in the oven. If you are doing this as well, preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Otherwise, you can wrap up the dough and store in the freezer for up to a month.

After your dough has had time to rise, take it out of the bowl and separate in half. Spray the tray of the Pizza Maker with a little bit of cooking spray and place dough on top. Using a rolling pin (or in my case a Freddy Krueger Pint Glass) roll the dough out to fit the shape of the pan. You could do this on your counter if you prefer, but I like to do it right in the pan. Flip dough, and continue to roll until it fits the pan. 

Add your toppings! First, lay out half of the minced garlic on the dough. Cover with sauce, whatever toppings (again, in my case, bacon and mushroom) and then cover with half the cheese. Place in your pizza maker, set at 5 and turn timer on for 25 minutes.

Do the same with the remaining dough (if you are making 2 pizzas) on a pizza pan and put in the oven for 20 minutes or so. 

When the time is up, the Pizza Maker will automatically stop! I find at this point, it wasn't quite ready, so I turned the heat down to 4 and put on for another 5-7 minutes. Just keep watching it (again, same with the oven pizza)

When the crust is done to your liking, unplug the machine and transfer pizza to a cutting board. BE CAREFUL, it is HOT HOT HOT! 

Serve right away with your favourite dipping sauce (mine is a lil Cesar Dressing & Franks Hot). Keep leftover in the fridge in an air tight container for up to 3 days. 

SO GOOD!!!! I just loooooooooooove the crust this Pizza Maker makes! I'm drooling thinking about it now!

SO! You may be asking...How do you get your hands on one of these bad boys? All you have to do is follow the prompts on the Rafflecopter Below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


[Giveaway open to Canadian Residents Only. Giveaway runs from April 2, 2014 until April 16, 2014. I chose to do this review on my own without being asked by Hamilton Beach. These are my honest opinions.]