Recipe Box: Pumped Up {Healthy} Cookie Dough

I don’t know about you, but I love to bake. And even more, I love to eat. While I’m baking. Don’t get me wrong, I love cookies and cakes and brownies – but even more, I love cookie dough and cake or brownie batter. Something about the pre-baked goodness just makes me feel some kind of way.

Now, I know there’s always the risk of the “raw egg” situation – but I’m a risk taker. Honestly, until the cookie dough betrays me, I’m going to keep eating it. I like to live dangerously.

However, worse than the raw eggs is all the sugar. My favorite cookie dough makes my favorite cookies: oatmeal chocolate chip. My great aunt’s recipe calls for both brown and white sugar. They’re delicious, but generally, not that good for you. And I gave up junk food for Lent. So while I may want to eat cookie dough, I can’t.

I’ve also set some higher fitness goals for myself with regards to the weight room and that means upping my protein intake – I typically get my protein from a protein bar in the morning, tuna or grilled chicken at lunch, a protein shake after the gym and either more chicken or ground turkey as part of dinner.

This all gets me pretty close to meeting my protein goals, but some days I just need a little more umph.

Enter one of my favorite snacks: Healthy Cookie Dough Dip from Chocolate Covered Katie


photo source:

Now, her recipe is pretty well on-point. I’ve made small tweaks to fit my needs.


  • 1 1/2 cups chickpeas or white beans (1 can, drained and rinsed very well) (250g after draining)
  • 1/8 tsp plus 1/16 tsp salt
  • just over 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup nut butter of choice (I prefer peanut butter, but any will do.)
  • up to 1/4 cup milk of choice (unsweetened almond milk is my go-to)
  • 1 scoop of protein powder of choice
  • Sweetener of choice  (No sweetener needed for me!)
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (Or none. Again, Lent)
  • 2 to 3 tbsp oats

Throw all of these things (except the chocolate chips) into a food processor. Let it spin for a minute or two, empty into a bowl (or a tupperware if you’re me and you like to snack on it over a couple of days), mix in your chocolate chips if you’re using them and enjoy! You can serve it with graham crackers or don’t even bother and just use a spoon. #guilty.

The biggest changes I made to Katie’s recipe are taking out the sweetener – Lent, duh – and adding the protein powder. Obviously, you can use whatever protein you prefer, but right now, I’m a little obsessed with this:
pb protein

Quest Peanut Butter Protein. This shizzzzz is so delicious. Easily the best-tasting protein with the best composition. Less than 1 gram of sugar, 23 grams of protein and only 110 calories per serving. It tastes mixed just with water or almond milk as a post-workout shake and it is incredible in any other kitchen concoctions. That’s one of my favorite things about Quest products – they bake so well! Granted, I’m not actually backing this cookie dough, but you totally could!

Needless to say, I’m obsessed. I think the last time I went to Wegman’s, I picked up four cans of chickpeas. Specifically so that I have them on hand to make this whenever I want.

The best part? It fulfills my cravings for something sweet without blowing up my entire diet, which is always a win. Maintaining a healthy relationship with food is a thing I am alllll about. Food is delicious and I enjoy eating it and I don’t like feeling guilty when I do. This absolutely keeps that from happening. Happy tummy, happy Kyle.


Recipe Box: Cauli Cream

Leafing through Wegmans’ Menu magazine last month, I came across one recipe that intrigued me: Cauli “Cream.”

For years I’ve avoided creamy dishes because heavy cream-based sauces don’t agree with me. Cauli cream would be a simple, non dairy cream substitute that would allow me to finally attempt to make some sort of alfredo dish.

I ran to Wegmans and bought the ingredients, including a head of cauliflower for $3. I chopped it up.

Following the simple recipe, I made the vegan cream alternative in about an hour, first boiling the cauliflower, then blending it into a puree.

Here’s what you need:

10 cups of water

Juice of two lemons

2 tsp. salt, divided

1 cauliflower, 3 lbs, trimmed, cored and cut into florets

Heat the water, lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt in a large pot. Bring to boil. Add cauliflower and return to simmer (med-low heat). Cook until fork-tender (it took my stove about 30 minutes.)

Cauliflower florets are simmering.

Cauliflower florets are simmering.

Transfer cauliflower to a colander. Retain cooking water in pot. Let cauliflower sit at least 10 minutes in colander.

Steaming cauliflower and my ancient blender.

Steaming cauliflower and my ancient blender.


If you have a good blender, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cooking water, about half the cauliflower and 1 tsp. salt to blender. Puree until smooth. Remove most of puree from blender and add remaining cauliflower. Puree until smooth and combine batches, mix.

My blender is less than stellar, so I do mine in about 6-8 half-cup batches. Not ideal, but it works.

I separate into 1 cup servings and use immediately in another recipe, or freeze.

All ready to go!

All ready to go!

I made a few dishes with this, all courtesy Wegmans: cauli cream corn chowder (we gave it a B), cauli cream pesto pasta with broccoli and tomatoes (Hubs gave this an A+ and I’ve made it twice already, using fresh broccoli) and cauli cream truffle pasta, using kale (solid B+)

I hope you love this easy and healthy recipe as much as I do!

Now, who can recommend a decent blender?

Recipe Box: Lemon Chicken Soup

When life gives you lemons, make soup.

Wait, that doesn’t sound right. Actually, it sounds exactly right. Carry on.


Where I live, lemonade weather is fading fast, and soup weather is upon us. So, when I was thinking of a lemon-y recipe post for September, an annual tradition during the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Million Mile Run-Walk-Ride month, this soup immediately sprang to mind.

I first found this recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, Ellie Krieger’s The Food You Crave. And I really do crave this soup. It’s absolutely perfect anytime, but with the addition of the lemon (and thus Vitamin C), this truly does help me get over a cold. Just in case you want to tuck this one away for the coming season of a certain f-word that we don’t need to talk about.

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo from

4 teaspoons olive oil
8 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into small chunks
Pinch of salt, plus more to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
2 stalks celery, diced (about ½ cup)
1 medium carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme or ½ teaspoon dried
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup orzo, preferably whole-wheat
2 large eggs
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with the salt, add it to the pot, and cook, stirring, a few times, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

Add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add 5 cups of the broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

Warm the remaining 1 cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk the lemon juice into the eggs. Then gradually add the hot broth to the egg-lemon mixture, whisking all the while. Add the mixture to the soup, stirring well until the soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Serves 4
Serving size: 1 ½ cups



The broth is incredibly creamy and flavorful, and I love the whole wheat orzo instead of traditional rice or pasta. Go for the fresh thyme, too, it really makes a difference.

Yay soup! And yay for this month of kicking pediatric cancer in the butt! The month is almost over, but there are still a few days to log miles and make donations. We truly appreciate all of you joining us on this #journey2amillion.

P.S. I can’t take pictures while I cook, it completely messes with my flow. Plus, my 100 year old farmhouse kitchen has terrible lighting, hence the ‘before’ and ‘after’ shots.

Freekeh Foods review and giveaway

Food and I have a love-hate relationship.

I’m a picky eater, though far less picky than I was years ago. Ask my husband (and Mer). I often look at a multi-page menu and snap it shut without seeing one item I’m interested in eating. I won’t consume just for the calories. I want to really enjoy my meal.

I love veggies, wheat bread, seafood, creme brulee and coffee. Most other foods? We’re friends, but meh. I could take or leave most of them. Then there’s beef, potatoes, raspberries and coleslaw. Thanks, but no thanks.

Lately, I’ve been playing with my grains – Bismati rice, brown rice, whole wheat pasta, cous cous, quinoa.  I swap them out and combine them with random veggies a la my fridge. So I was thrilled when FitApproach and SweatPink offered the chance for me to try and review a new-to-me product, Freekeh Foods, a Minnesota-based company that launched in 2012.

wakeboarding NJ footgolf 111

Freekeh is an ancient grain that according to legend, was created by accident by accident young wheat fields in a Middle Eastern village were set ablaze. In  an attempt to salvage damaged crops, villagers rubbed away the burnt chaff and found that the roasted kernels inside were delicious.

Freekeh (pronounced Free-kuh) is an organic, wheat-based grain, so note that it is NOT gluten-free.

Here are some other takeaways:

  • Freekeh is simple to make – on your stovetop or in a rice cooker. Add water and let it simmer.
  • It’s flavorful, with a slightly nutty flavor and chewy texture.
  • It’s high in fiber and protein and has fewer calories than quinoa and white rice.
  • it’s versatile for use in a variety of recipes, as part of a main dish or side dish.
  • Each 8 ounce package costs $4 (and includes four servings.) A case of six packages retails around $14.50.

I whipped the flavored package as a side (and um, forgot to take a pic, sorry!)

But I got a bit more creative with seasonal veggies when I tested the original flavor of Freekeh.

The result? Delicious.

I mixed my package of original Freekeh Foods with onion, zuccini and 2 ears of sweet corn, ground turkey and butter beans, 2 Tbsp. of cumin and a bit of salt and pepper.

Treman, kayak, SUP 348In the works

 Treman, kayak, SUP 353The final product! YUM

Like what you see? You have the chance to win one package of Freekeh Foods (winner can pick between original, rosemary sage or tamari) AND a cookbook, which retails at $14.95. U.S. residents only please.

freekehbookClick here or the below graphic to enter the giveaway, which runs though Aug. 30. Good luck!


Freekeh Foods though FitApproach provided Freekeh for me to try. No compensation was given outside the samples for this post. All words, opinons and cooking skills are my own. Prizes will be sent directly from Freekeh Foods.

Recipe Box: Summer Veggies Three Ways

If you’ve been following along the last couple of Fridays, me and my chicks have been posting all about eating local. You know what happens when you’re hitting the farmer’s market and getting produce delivery?

You have a LOT of veggies laying around.

I don't even know what my counter looks like anymore.

I don’t even know what my counter looks like anymore.

Which is great! Except what the heck are you going to do with them all?

Here are three recipes I found to help me use up these beautiful bounties. And as a bonus, all three of these recipes are vegan, gluten free and paleo friendly, because I’m nice like that (it was mostly coincidence, but lets roll with it).

The first is recipe is adapted from the awesome vegan cookbook, The Kind Diet. If you don’t know this one, it’s written by Alicia Silverstone. I’m not a vegan (right now), but vegan cooking is happening a lot right now due to the dairy elimination. If you don’t know much about succotash, get ready to make the ‘ewww, Lima Beans’ face. Honestly, though, lima beans are awesome. And if you really, really hate them, you could swap in edamame instead. Don’t let the beans scare you off though, this is delicious.

Summer Succotash

Lima beans, the bane of my childhood existence, getting some action with my fresh corn and tomatoes.

Lima beans, the bane of my childhood existence, getting some action with my fresh corn and tomatoes.



1 tablespoon Earth Balance butter
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 diced red onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (10 ounce) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed
1 cup fresh or frozen corn (I used ridiculously fresh local corn, cut right off the cob)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Heat the butter and oil together in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until the onions begin to brown (5-7 minutes).  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Stir in the lima beans and saute another 5 minutes.  Add the corn and tomatoes, saute 1 minute longer until heated through.  Remove from heat and add parsley, basil and vinegar.

This can be served warm or chilled. And it’s great either way. Do it. You’ll love it. All I am saying, if give (lima) beans a chance.

The next recipe came from Pinterest, where I spend far too much time pinning recipes I will likely never make. But this one, Warm Zucchini Salad, I did! And it was fab. Pinterest led me to Vikalinka, a blog I hadn’t heard of before.

When you have a LOT of zucchini, make this.

When you have a LOT of zucchini, make this.

Go here to check out the original recipe post, her pictures are stunning.

The last recipe came from a trip to the library, where I stumbled upon The Real Girl’s Kitchen cookbook. I didn’t actually notice that it was written by Haylie Duff (do I secretly have a thing for cookbooks written by blonde actresses? maybe.), I just liked the pictures. Thank goodness I like pretty things, because this cookbook provided me with a few great new recipes, including this one.


I hesitate to even call this a recipe, it’s that simple. Like, even if you can’t cook, you can cook this. And you should, because I’ve made it three times in the last month, and I’m making it again this week. And you know, I DON’T like repeats.

Haricot Vert Salad

Five ingredients never looked so good.

Five ingredients never looked so good.


1 pound of french green beans (I used regular green beans, they’re just French, only fatter, and I feel it’s important not to judge beans on their size)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes – quartered 
Fresh Dill
Red wine vinegar
Olive oil
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
Salt & Pepper to Taste

Blanche green beans in boiling water for 4-5 minutes (you want them still crunchy, but not raw), and the put them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. Once cooled down, drain and put them in a large bowl. 

Cut tomatoes in quarters. Or halves. Don’t stress it. Add those to the beans, along with the chopped dill. 

Mix the red wine vinegar and mustard together and drizzle over the beans and tomatoes. Or just dump those in the bowl and mix everything around. Salt and pepper to taste, and you’re good to go.

Now, get a plate. Or just stand there, eating it out of the bowl with your fingers. You know, as one does.

Don’t you just want some veggies now? Do you have any great vegetable recipes? Please feel free to share! 


A Month Without Moo

If anyone had told me I’d go a full month without eating dairy, I would have laughed at them. Loudly. I mean, I’m the girl who turned Whole 30 into Whole 4, just because I couldn’t live without cream in my coffee. I am the girl who considersconsidered….considers cheese and ice cream two four food groups (the other two being bacon and coffee). I mean, a life without Ben & Jerry’s? That’s no life at all.

But, I did it. Actually, to be exact, tomorrow it will be 40 days without dairy. And I’m still here to talk about it. So, I figured I’d talk about it!

First off, let me give a shoutout to everyone who chimed in with tips when I originally posted about going dairy-free. The Daiya cheesecake, man. Completely fab.

Cheesecake aside, I’ve eaten some truly delicious stuff in the last month (and a few things that I’d rather not remember), so since you guys were kind enough to share with me, I’m going to share some of the highlights with you.

Straight out of the gate, I knew ice cream was going to be one of the hardest things for me to stay away from. So I didn’t! It’s summerm after all. And, there are a ton of dairy-free ice cream alternatives out there. I tried a lot of them. Some, I threw out, because ewwww. The most popular dairy-replacement right now is coconut, which is awesome if you love coconut, which I do. BUT, not every flavor complements coconut. Chocolate Peanut Butter Coconut ice cream was a hard pass. It just wasn’t right. But, the FOMU (get it? haha!) Bourbon Maple Walnut? Divine. Seriously, see if you can get this near you, and if not, they’ll ship all over the U.S. (If you truly hate coconut, So Delicious Cashew Milk Salted Caramel Crunch does not such at all).

Game. Changer.

Game. Changer.


Directly behind ice cream, sits my BFF cheese. And I will say, this one seems a lot harder to replicate. I completely ruined a dairy free roasted veg pizza by smothering it in Faux Mozz (there may have been tears). But, here and there, I found some gems. Namely, the Aged Artisanal Nut Cheese from Treeline. FANTASTIC. It made cheese and crackers for dinner a reality again. A very tasty reality. (Side note, I emailed them to see where I could find other varieties, and they emailed me back in like 20 minutes. I love amazing Customer Service almost as much as I love cheese. Almost.)




I didn’t realize this going in, but the biggest challenge, by far, has been eating out. Considering that dairy is a significant allergen, I’m shocked at how many establishments don’t know what is in their food. I’m not going to go on a cross contamination rant, but the confused look I get when I ask ‘Does your bread contain dairy?’ is getting annoying. One woman said ‘why would there be dairy in bread?’ (Hint: A lot of bread contains dairy, namely butter, for browning).

And while my state, overall, has many vegetarian and vegan restaurants, the number of them in my part of the state is a whopping zero. Luckily, my hippie sister was more than willing to trek into the city with me to go check out Veggie Galaxy. Primarily vegan, with some cheese and egg dishes (there’s always a vegan alternative), and a full vegan bakery, this place knocked my socks off. I can’t wait to go back.

Eggs Benedict - Poached Eggs, Balsamic Roasted Tomato, Grilled Red Onion & Chipotle Hollandaise on a Grilled Housemade Black Pepper Biscuit.

Eggs Benedict – Poached Eggs, Balsamic Roasted
Tomato, Grilled Red Onion & Chipotle Hollandaise
on a Grilled Housemade Black Pepper Biscuit. DAYUM.


Cooking isn’t as difficult as I expected, at least not most of them time. And as if not using dairy wasn’t change enough, my daughter recently decided to become a vegetarian. I’m glad that I’m a seasoned cook, though. Otherwise, this would be a lot tougher.

Sometimes, it’s a simple breakfast…

Vanilla Chia Pudding with Candied Walnuts and Fresh Berries

Vanilla Chia Pudding with Candied Walnuts and Fresh Berries

…and sometimes, it’s a more complex dinner.

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Cashew Cream Sauce

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Tacos with Chipotle Cashew Cream Sauce

Either way, we’re eating just fine around here.

I’ve got a month left to before the next procedure, and then I’ll find out if I truly have a dairy allergy. When this started, I would have said, with complete conviction, that if it wasn’t a dairy allergy, I would be all up in a milkshake before you could say boo. Now, I’m not so sure.

As much as I don’t love being the person at the restaurant that ALWAYS has to have the manager come over, living without dairy is much more possible than I expected. So, I guess we’ll see. But, I did find out that I’m much more capable of restraint than I’d been giving myself credit for, which was awesome.

So, maybe someday, I’ll turn Whole 4 back into Whole 30. Maybe.

Pumpkin: It’s Not Just For Yogurt Anymore

I mean, it never really was. But if you read the Pumpkin Yogurt Wars post a couple weeks back, you might have thought so.

Seriously though, pumpkin is kind of everywhere this year. Like, way more than I can remember in past years. Trader Joe’s new Fearless Flyer has somewhere around 50 Pumpkin Items. I should know, I bought most of them. So, remember when I said I needed someone to stage a ‘pumpkintervention’? I purchased almost every pumpkin spice flavored item I could get my hands on, and my cabinets and counter tops we’re a bevy of orange boxes. I’m a marketing director’s dream, guys. Then, guess what happened?

I got really sick of all of it. It’s terribly sad, I know. But, most of the items were too pumpkin-y, or too spicy, or too sweet, or just plain not good. I hit total pumpkin overload and just didn’t want any of it anymore. Except for one thing.

Actual pumpkin.

See, somewhere buried at the heart of this pumpkin spice lunacy, is a beautiful squash, a superfood that is low in calories (15 per 1/2 cup raw, fresh) and high in fiber, vitamin C and beta carotene. And? It’s freaking delicious!

Now, let’s talk about what to do with pumpkin!

Pumpkin can typically be found in your regular grocery store in three forms; halloween/jack o’ lantern pumpkins (don’t eat those, I don’t think they’ll kill you, but I think they would be pretty woody), whole sugar pumpkins and canned mashed pumpkin. If you shop at Trader Joe’s, one of their 50 pumpkin items is actual pumpkin, peeled, cut, cubed, raw. Unless you don’t have a local Trader Joe’s (I’m so sorry, Mer), you might want to get some of this. I’m about to explain why.

New fun fact I learned this year: Working with whole, raw pumpkin is a major pain in the ass.

My nemesis

You guys know, I spend a lot of time in my kitchen. I don’t shy away from food prep. I have a knife callus the size of a small country on my hand. I do NOT mind getting in there and getting my hands dirty.

All that said, if you plan to venture into the world, of cooking with raw pumpkin, get ready for a workout. The skin is tough, there is an incredible amount of slimy goop and seeds inside, and just cutting the pumpkin into chunks is hard work. And you know that smell when you carve jack o’ lanterns with the kids? Same. So, recap: lots of work, lots of smell, lots of slime.

So, why bother? Because it tastes ahhhhh-ma-zing.

Like almost any squash, pumpkin roasted in the oven with a little oil, salt and pepper is phenomenal. I can, and did, eat it straight out of the pan. But, in case you are looking for some ways to serve pumpkin that don’t involve burning your fingers and tongue, I pulled together a few of my favorites for you.

Pumpkin Zucchini Chocolate Chip Muffins from Ambitious Kitchen. This recipe called for pumpkin puree, so you could make your own, or go with canned. I used canned.

My word, these were delicious. Dense, incredibly moist, spicy but not too spicy. I could have eaten the entire batch.

Pumpkin and White Bean Soup from the New England Soup Factory Cookbook. This recipe called for cut, raw pumpkin. I picked up a bag of the pre-prepped TJ’s pumpkin for this.

This was unexpectedly good. Meaning, when I heard pumpkin and white bean, I was wondering how those were going to fit together. But, in this soup, the beans aren’t pureed, and half the pumpkin is roasted chunks that go in after the puree. The result is a lovely, smooth soup with cubes of roasted pumpkin and white beans in every bite. It was awesome.

Autumn Pumpkin Mix from Women’s Health Magazine. This is another recipe that calls for cut, raw pumpkin. For this one, I cut and prepped my own.


Oh. My. Goodness. I don’t even know what to say about this. Just, if you like delicious food, make this. The flavor combination just WORKS. Brussel sprouts, pumpkin, pistachios and goat cheese. This came from a list of lunch recipes, but would make an excellent dinner side as well.

There are a million pumpkin recipes in the world. If you know some excellent ones, please share them with me in the comments below. Pretty please. With pumpkin on top.

What do you think of this year’s pumpkin craze? What’s your favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you want recipes for other types of squash? Let’s chat! 

Getting Bec to Basics

It all started with an Instagram post. 10 Day Back to Basics Challenge (#10dayB2B). Steph/@getting_2_goal over at Light Bites Done Right is one of my absolute favorite Instagramers. She posts beautiful pictures of real food, and talks about her weight loss journey. So when she posted the idea of a 10 day challenge, I was immediately intrigued.

The ‘what not to eat’ list was short, and looked simple enough.

No ‘white’ bread, pasta, potatoes, added sugar (white cane sugar)

No artificial sugars/sweeteners

No deep fried food, like chips, breaded and fried chicken or fish

No chocolate or candy

No cakes, cupcakes, cookies

No alcohol

Add in a couple of good, healthy ‘to do’ items.

Drink at least 64 ounces of plain water a day

Eat 5 servings of fruit and veggies a day

The idea was that people that wanted to would all do it together, for the same 10 days (9/22-10/1) and share pictures on Instagram using the hashtag above. (If you want to see all my food pics, of which there were MANY, you can check out my Instagram).

Having tried, and miserably failed, at Whole 30 earlier this year, this looked doable. It was only 10 days, after all, and this was far less restrictive. Grains were still fine, as long as they were whole grains. Sugars were not forbidden, just limited to less processed sugars like honey, real maple syrup and turbinado sugar. Dairy was still very much an option, which meant not trying to make ‘compliant’ coffee creamer out of strange ingredients. It also meant cheese was still an option, which meant less of me crying my eyes out. All good things.

I decided to do it. I found recipes that would work with the program, and made a shopping list full of healthy ingredients. With some sadness, I pushed the bevy of delicious, but highly processed, pumpkin flavored items I had recently purchased to the back of the cabinets. They’d still be there in 10 days.

Stocking up

Stocking up

From day one, I saw two similarities to Whole 30. I was going to do a lot of label reading, and I was going to spend a lot of time cooking my own food. That didn’t deter me. Whole 30 had already opened my eyes to just how many food items contain added sugar, and I really love cooking. So, I knew I’d be fine. This would help get me out of the cookie aisle and into my kitchen.

As I’m writing this, I am at the end of day 9. When I say that I have stuck to nothing for 9 days in a damn long while, I’m really not exaggerating. My Weight Watchers pattern has been pretty steady since rejoining in May; two or three days on, a week off, one day on, two weeks off, etc. And since May, I was down 3 pounds. Which hey, it’s down 3 pounds! Except no.

So, let’s be real. The main reason I embarked on this challenge was weight loss. I thought this could be the jump start that my floundering Weight Watchers efforts needed. A little push in the right direction. 10 days to give me a nice loss on the scale, and maybe get me out of the low points prepared food rut I’d been in.

It was so much more than that.

Physically, this challenge has been incredible for me. My taste buds are already adjusting to less sugar, and things the used to seem not nearly sweet enough taste fine, good even. I no longer feel like every night has to end with dessert. I pack plenty of food for work, so I’m not constantly hungry and searching for something. I’ve discovered how much more satisfied I am when I eat real, whole foods. Not full, satisfied. There is a difference. Not that I’m going hungry, I’m not. But being satisfied, for me, comes from things like having a smaller amount of full fat sour cream on my taco salad, instead of a lot of light sour cream. Label reading showed me that light sour cream is full of additives, things my body doesn’t need.


I have more energy, because I’m eating a balanced diet of good proteins and whole grains and plenty of fruits and veggies. I’m still tracking all my foods and counting my points, and this works well with Weight Watchers, especially considering the meeting last week was all about eating power foods.  My skin looks better. I’m sleeping better. I feel better. I feel lighter. Oh, and as of my Weight Watchers meeting last night, I am lighter. By 8.8 pounds. (Booyah!)



But those things were probably pretty predictable. Physically, if you are eating less crap, you should feel less like crap. Not rocket science, right?

What I didn’t expect was the ways this would impact me mentally. I didn’t expect to feel so much more hopeful that I could actually lose this weight once and for all. I didn’t expect the feeling of being in control of my diet, and my body, for the first time in a long time. I wasn’t anticipating how much this would change my feelings about food, about what I put into my body, and the direct correlation that would have to how I feel about myself.

I’m proud of myself for sticking with this. On some level, I don’t think I believed I would be able to do it. But that’s part of what got me here, anyway. Not believing in me, and in the fact that I can do anything I put my mind to. But I did do it. I even got through a birthday celebration for my husband at a Chinese restaurant. I passed on cupcakes. I did that!

Credit where it’s due, there is definitely another factor in my changing attitude towards food, towards myself, and in my changing behaviors. I’ve been working with a nutritionist for the past couple of months, one that specializes in eating disorders. She’s really helped me to see how disordered some of my habits and patterns of behavior are. She’s helping me learn to look at things in a less black or white manner, helping me understand that there are grey areas, that overweight does not have to equal unhealthy, that small changes will make a difference over time. Had I not already been working with her, I don’t know that I would have been in a good enough mental place to do this challenge.

I’m glad I was.

Tomorrow is Day 10, and I’m going into it feeling strong, and not a bit nervous about what happens the next day. A few people have asked me if I’ll stick with those guidelines longer. I thought a lot about that, and the answer is… no. Not all of them, all the time, anyway. I mean, no alcohol forever? Not reality. No cake or cookies ever again? Nope. I would, and plan to, repeat the challenge again, probably a few times a year, as a means of making sure things stay in check. But permanent? No.

With the exception of artificial sweeteners, which I can vehemently say will never cross my lips again (my nutritionist will be so happy), I will integrate those foods back into my diet, in a much more occasional manner. Because this wasn’t supposed to be a forever thing, really.

It was about getting Bec back to basics. Mission accomplished.

Recipe Box: Lemon Cottage Cheese Potato Pancakes

A.k.a. Breakfast Protein, Alex’s Lemonade Stand style.

When I was planning these breakfast protein posts for September, I knew I wanted to incorporate a lemon-y recipe that was also a good source of morning protein. This wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be! I typically like my lemon in cake form, and baked goods and protein don’t exactly go hand-in-hand for me. It usually involves adding protein powder, which just makes thing taste off to me.

And then, I stumbled upon a recipe I’d had written down for a while, but had never made. Lemon Cottage Cheese Potato Pancakes. See, still cake!

Truthfully, I don’t even remember where I got this recipe. It’s just one of those one jotted down on a slip of paper and stuck in a pile. Every time I would run into it, I would get all excited at the idea of making them, but I never would.

That was very silly of me.

These were really delicious, and one of those recipes that has few ingredients, is low on time and effort, and is both tasty and versatile. You could totally make these as a side dish for dinner, or serve them as a late lunch. But, since I’ve been writing about breakfast all month, these had a starring role for a couple of mornings.

Lemon Cottage Cheese Potato Pancakes

4 Medium sized Potatoes, boiled and mashed

1 TBSP minced shallots

2 eggs, beaten

1 cup low-fat or fat-free cottage cheese

1/2 cup flour

Zest of one small lemon

1/2 teaspoon herbs

Combine all ingredients and mix well. Form into 16 small patties. Heat oil on a griddle or frying pan. Cook until golden brown over medium heat, about 4 minutes per side.

That’s it. No, really, that’s it. Crazy, right?

A couple of notes. I used whipped cottage cheese, so no lumps, but I think it would be just as good with regular. You can totally make the potatoes ahead, just let them warm up a bit before you start mixing. For the herbs, I used thyme and parsley, but really, use whatever is your preference. These also freeze well, just wrap them in wax paper and pop them in a freezer bag. Then, when you’re ready to eat them, a minute or two in the microwave and you’re good to go.

The cakes were creamy in the middle with crispy edges. So good! Serve them…pretty much however you like. I mean, I wouldn’t put maple syrup on them or anything, they’re not that kind of pancakes. But in this case, hollandaise made a lovely ‘syrup’. Plus, more lemon! The potato pancakes made an egg-cellent (yolk, yolk) base for my Eggs Benedict. I took pictures but truthfully, the looked like crap, sooooooo….

So, why Lemon? Well, if you don’t already know, we’ve formed a team for the Alex’s Lemonade Stand Million Mile Run-Walk-Ride, to raise money for pediatric cancer research. We’re walking and running and riding and raising money for pediatric cancer research. If kicking cancer’s butt is your thing, you should totally join us!

What’s For Dinner?

I’m considering having my name legally changed to that. It’s what everyone calls me anyway. (I kid. Kind of.)

Are you the person in charge of meals at your house? Do you routinely get called ‘What’s For Dinner?’

And do you sometimes not know how to an answer?

This is what happens when I don't plan.

This is what happens when I don’t plan.

I feel you. I really do.

What’s worked for me over the years is to plan. It takes some time, but I figure what I lose in planning time, I make up for in getting to skip Wednesday night runs to the store because I didn’t have anything in mind for dinner. (I still make them. Just less often). I’m not going to get into the nitty gritty planning details. Pick your recipes, check the pantry for what you have, check the sale flyers, make a list, get thee to the grocery store. Or you can start with the sale flyers and the pantry and go at it that way to keep cost down. Either way.

This is more about WHERE to get the ideas. I get up on Sunday Sunday mornings, pour myself a cup of coffee, and sitt down in my dining room. From there, I’ve got access to my cookbooks. I have… a few cookbooks.

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What? I like options!

All kidding aside, I have a major cookbook obsession. Last year, between my birthday and Christmas. between gifts and gift card purchases, I think I got nine new ones. But I use them, so it’s all good. Some get used a lot more than others. Some are for special occasions. Some are just to make the stacks look even (not really).

My babies!

My babies!


Pictured above are some of my favorites:

The Oh She Glows Cookbook: Oh my GOSH, I love this book. If you don’t know Oh She Glows, it is a website for vegan recipes. While I’m not a vegan, everything Angela makes looks amazing, and everything I’ve tried IS amazing.

Keepers: This is a newer book for me, and hasn’t gotten a lot of use yet, but the “Jump-In-the-Mouth’ Turkey Cutlets are really, really good.

Relish: I don’t watch The Chew, and I didn’t even make the connection that Daphne Oz was the daughter of Dr. Oz, but this book was reccommended to me and it’s fab. Part cookbook, part party planning manual (which I ignore because HA). I took this out of the library first (I do this a lot, I hate cookbook buyers remorse), but I’ve already added it to my GIANT cookbook wishlist on Amazon.

Weight Watchers One Pot: If you are on Weight Watchers, or if you are trying to eat healthier, or if you like FOOD, go get this. Everything I’ve made from here, from the Cinncinnatti Four Way Chili to the Chicken in White Wine (the one on the cover), has been incredible. It definitely does NOT taste like diet food.

The Food You Crave: Oh, Ellie. You’re my hero. I have every one of Ellie Krieger’s cookbooks, but this was my first and it is still my favorite. Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta. Make it. Trust me.

How to Feed a Family: Not pictured. Because I don’t have it yet. But it’s top on my list.

Skinnytaste: You probably know the blog of the same name. I’ve been waiting for this cookbook for a while. And there is still a while to wait, because it doesn’t come out until the fall, but if you’re a cookbook dork like I am, you can preorder it!

And even with all those cookbooks, I often turn to the internet. I will usually have something in mind and just start with Google, but these are the sites I wind up on most of the time.

Emily Bites: This site is newer to me but the tagline of ‘Lightened Up Comfort Food’ means it’s already a favorite. Make the Deep Dish Sloppy Joe Casserole. Trust.

Skinnytaste: There it is again. It was worth repeating. Recipes are healthy and have Weight Watchers point listed. This is NOT your mama’s Salisbury Steak with Mushroom Gravy. Unless your mom made that really well and healthy.

LaaLoosh: Weight Watchers Points included. Asparagus Goat Cheese Risotto. YUM.

And that is how I get here.




Anyone want to come over?

How do you meal plan? Favorite cookbooks? Website suggestions?