Weekend Wrap Up

Happy Sunday friends! I am currently sitting on the couch, Jeff’s watching football, and I am sipping a hot cup of tea totally ready to unwind from a busy weekend. This weekend was definitely filled with fun, good friends, and good food. I am EXHAUSTED!

I thought it would be fun to share some fun moments from my weekend as well as one of my favorite game day recipes. I will pre-warn you, a lot of our weekend was filled with football!

Let’s first start with Friday. Friday night, Jeff and I went to a restaurant we’ve been to before but opened up a new location that is closer to our home. Barrio Queen, an eclectic Mexican restaurant with a modern twist, just opened a new location in North Phoenix at Desert Ridge Marketplace. This location has an adorable patio, great food, and a variety of margaritas or tequila beverages with fun and funky twists. I had “The Queen,” which is spinach enchiladas with shallot, garlic, and a variety of cheeses with a side of black beans and sautéed veggies. If you are in the area and enjoy modern Mexican food, I would definitely check out this quirky and fun restaurant!

Saturday started with a quick trip to the gym, then was filled with football, football, and more football. The Buckeyes had a sweeping win, and our tummies were filled with my homemade pizza rolls. Whether you like a little protein in your pizza rolls, or prefer veggies with a little cheese, my pizza rolls are the perfect game day food. They are easy to eat and re-heat well! The best part about these rolls? They are so simple and versatile, you barely need a recipe. I take basic pizza dough, cut it into small, tennis ball size pieces, then flatten them out and fill them with a variety of fillings. This weekend, I made turkey pepperoni and broccoli cheese rolls.

For the pepperoni rolls, I used:

  • turkey pepperoni
  • mozzarella cheese
  • basic marinara sauce (or sauce of choice)
  • sautéed sweet onion
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • olive oil (to top the roll before baking)

And for the broccoli, cheese:

  • frozen broccoli, warmed and pressed so excess liquid is removed
  • mozzarella cheese
  • basic marinara sauce
  • sautéed sweet onion
  • garlic powder
  • black pepper
  • olive oil (to top the roll before baking) + a little extra cheese

Once the rolls were filled, I brushed them with a little olive oil before putting them in the oven to bake at 450 degrees for ~10-13 minutes or until they start to turn golden brown. I always provide a little extra marinara warmed for dipping!

 

After our game was finished, we headed out to meet friends in Scottsdale and go to the ASU vs Michigan State football game at Sun Devil Stadium. Let me tell you something friends, if you are ever planning to go to an outdoor football game in Arizona, I highly recommend you wait until it is under 90 degree in the evening. It was so hot!! The Sun Devils came away with the win and overall we had a super fun night with people we love!

Today, well… lets just say it didn’t start that great with a flat tire and me missing my morning fitness class, but the day definitely got better as it went on! I love productive Sundays, and despite being tired from a late Saturday night, I definitely got a ton done today! Between cleaning, grocery shopping (twice… don’t you hate when you forget things?!), meal prepping, and finding time for a quick and fast-paced workout my day was definitely packed with more than I expected!

While our weekend was busy, it was definitely a great one!! I’m looking ahead to the work week and hoping to carry some of that productivity through! Have a great weekend everyone, and enjoy your last little bit of Sunday!


Healthy hair, skin, and nails — My tips and tricks!

Well…. it has been a hot minute since I decided to jump on here. What can I say guys? Sometimes my creative juices just aren’t flowing. When blogging becomes a hassle or isn’t enjoyable is when I know I need to take some time off… so that’s what I did!

Since I haven’t posted in a while I thought I would dive into a hot topic that effects me personally. When it comes to having healthy hair, skin, and nails I have historically struggled in all three areas. I know there are bigger issues in the world for many people, but when you are a young girl in college having pieces of hair fall out continuously when showering can not only be stressful, but something that I began to dread on a daily basis. Not only was my hair thin and frail, I also had constantly wear nail polish to hide the brittle pieces of nail that would flake off on a daily basis. You know those people that bride themselves on perfectly manicured nails and long flowing locks of air… I definitely was NOT one of those people.

To top off the cosmetic pitfalls that I experienced as a young adult, I also suffered from terrible acne throughout my teen years. Talk about a way to decreased a ones self esteem. Acne will definitely do that, and I definitely had my trying moments where the only solution I could think on was caking on make-up to try to hide the little bumps that made me dread leaving my bedroom. I tried everything in the book from scrubs to medicated facial washes and had little to no success. Little did I know at the time that likely a lot of my skin issues were exacerbated by my typical crappy teenage diet of sugary frappuccinos and weekly blizzards from Dairy Queen.

I have definitely come a long way, especially over the past 3 years since moving to Arizona. Moving to a desert climate with dry air and excessive heat gave me a long list of new and different challenges to keep my hair, skin, and nails looking and feeling healthy. A lot of my issues with hair and nails throughout college were also a result of poor dietary choices (or what I thought were good dietary choice), i.e. minimal protein in my diet (does powdered PB count as protein? HA!), minimal healthy fats, and likely many nutrient deficiencies that I so cluelessly ignored or didn’t even think to check when I was vegetarian (and not a good one at that). While I was consuming nutrient dense foods (fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains), I was definitely lacking variety, scared of too much fat, and did not work hard enough to assure my body was getting good sources of protein on a daily basis.

With the changes I have made with my diet and general cosmetic care over the past 3 years, I have definitely seen great improvement in all of these areas of my body. My hair, while still taking a lot of work to feel “thick” and full, grows much faster and looks and feels healthier. My nails grow faster than I can keep up with, and while I still get an annoying blemish every now and then, my overall complexion has improved more that I could have hoped. I am going to share with you 5 of my personal tips for maintaining good hair, skin, and nails. While some of them may seem obvious, and some have nothing to do with nutrition at all, I understand the desperate feeling that many women go through when one of these areas of their body are making them feel self conscious. My tips are super easy and truly have helped me gain more confidence in these areas, and while they may not work for everyone, they may just be the starting point you need for your own beauty upkeep!

1. Hydrate — with WATER!

Remember when I said these were obvious? If there is one thing I can stress about living in a dry climate, it is to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. My skin becomes a dry and itchy mess when I don’y hydrate well. Lotion can only do so much to hydrate when you live in 100 + degrees, and truly the only thing I have found to help with my completion in this new climate is water. Another great thing about drinking water is it replaces other sugary beverages that you may consume instead. Sugar is a huge trigger for my complexion. Around the holidays when sweets and specialty cocktails are at every holiday party or function, I often notice blemishes begin to pop up out of no where. If I take a few days to drink a lot of water and stay aways from all other beverages (besides coffee of course) and sugary snacks, my face typically clears up on its own!

2. Daily dose of fat — avocado, olive oil, egg, and/or nuts.

Vitamin E, which is found in a variety of cooking oils, fish, nuts, etc, is an essential nutrient that plays a role in skin health and has anti-aging effects against every day stressors on the skin (hard water, sun exposure, air pollutants, etc). As with any essential nutrient, I try to always obtain adequate amounts of nutrients through food first. Not only can these foods help keep skin feeling smooth and healthy, they also help my hair grow. I love to throw avocado in my smoothies to assure I am getting in ample amounts of fat in my diet that help keep my thin hair feeling fuller and stronger. Omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce breakage and encourage new growth from the hair follicle.

3. Learn to love dry shampoo!

For so many years I was adamant about washing my hair daily. I think it came with playing sports… I hated when my hair felt sweaty or greasy! It didn’t help that dark hair showed every little bit of oil that would come from the roots, and before I started using dry shampoo this would make me feel dirty no matter how much a cleaned my actual body. I started to “train” my hair about 3 years ago when I figured out that washing my hair multiple times per day in Arizona was a recipe for disaster. I slowly worked my way to every other day and then every 3 days when I wasn’t running or training for a race. The more I tried to stretch the time between hair washes, the less greasy my hair would become. I know it sounds crazy…. but I truly believe I trained my hair! When in doubt, top buns and hats became my best friends! I brush my hair every night before bed to try to rid any dirt or particles from the strands before getting into bed. Another quick hair tip — I stopped sleeping with my hair in pony tails! Pony tails or buns when sleeping can promote hair breakage, especially if you already have thin or frail hair. If it is REALLY hot, sometimes I will braid my hair to get it out of my face while I sleep!

4. I wear sunscreen…. every day.

Even days when I not really outside, I always put sun protectant on my face. I use BB cream from covergirl every morning which is a tinted moisturizer with sunscreen in it. I started doing this when I moved to Arizona and really try to be adamant about it even on days where I am home and don’t really put on make-up. The more sun-exposure my face gets, the more spotty and dry it becomes!

5. Collagen in my coffee!

I recently starting using collagen peptides after hearing lots of chatter about the benefits it has for hair, skin, and nails. Most of the research I have read with collagen is in regards to anti-aging of skin and increasing nail growth. In simplest terms, collagen is protein that binds tissue together within the body. “Peptides” are basically the building blocks of collagen, or short chain amino acids that bind together to form collagen strands. As someone who doesn’t eat a lot of meat and can’t eat seafood, I saw this product as an easy way to increase my protein intake!


Stay Happy & Hydrated!

Happy Wednesday friends! It is officially summer over here in the dusty, dry desert(at least it feels like it). Thankfully Arizona is easing us into summer this year. Instead of blasting us with mid 100’s all day, we at least still have some cool mornings and cooler evenings to keep us sane!

Never the less a few weeks ago I started feeling dry. What do I mean by “dry”? To start, I was super tired… all the time. No matter how much sleep I got I was waking up groggy and going to bed earlier and earlier. My lips felt chapped and my head felt foggy. I was so unmotivated to do anything after work because all I wanted to do was hit the couch and relax. On top of this, I would get random occurrences of nausea and my muscles felt achey and tight. I knew immediately that I wasn’t hydrating myself well because this also happened to me shortly after moving to Arizona.

Summer months in the desert are HARD! It is almost harder with having a little relief in the mornings and late evenings because it makes me more inclined to spend time outdoors when I can. The dry air sucks every little bit of moisture out of my skin, hair, and makes it extra difficult to hydrate before and after a run. Because of these reasons, I have to really push myself to hydrate more often throughout the day. I always prided myself on drinking a lot of water, but even with my good habits I still feel I need to push myself a little harder!

Here are a few of my tips on how to stay well hydrated. These tips don’t just apply to me… staying hydrated is beneficial in general to pretty much everyone! Hope you enjoy, and happy hydration!

  1. Carry a large water bottle — ditch the plastic minis! The bigger the bottle, the better for me. I like physically seeing that I am making progress on my water goals. It gives me a way to measure how well I’m doing throughout the day or if I need to step up my game. I prefer water bottles or flasks that are 24 oz or more!
  2. Switch it up! I have shared before how much I enjoy bubbly, flavored waters such as La Croix. When I open up a La Croix, I can down it within 15 minutes because the bubble and hint of flavor is so enjoyable and refreshing to me on a hot day. Drinks such as La Croix are also typically caffeine and sugar free. Caffeine tends to be dehydrating (it makes you pee a lot!), and because I’m such a coffee addict I try to stay away from all other caffeinated beverages as much as possible!
  3. Take advantage of summer fruit! Some fruit such as watermelon or honey dew actually have a fairly high water content. Snacking on these fruits can actually provide a source of hydration all on its own. Of course… you still need to drink fluid, but this is a great way to snack and hydrate at the same time without even thinking about it!
  4. Choose water during your commute. On average, my drive to work is anywhere from 30-40 minutes. During this time, I always grab a water bottle or a carbonated water to sip on the drive. I use to drink coffee on my commute but found that I usually wanted coffee anyways once I arrived at work. Swapping the car ride coffee for water was easy knowing I would have a cup as soon as I settled in at my destination. It is almost like a game… I have to finish this bottle or can before I pull into the parking garage!
  5. Utilize different flavors as needed. I use to flavor my water a lot more with fresh fruit such as strawberries or lemon. I occasionally would slice up a cucumber and add a few pieces to my water in the morning if I wanted a flavor that was less sweet or tangy. I don’t do this as often now, but it is definitely a way to please your palate and give yourself a little variety!

Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

Happy Monday everyone!!! What a weekend we just had. We had a BUNCH (and I mean a bunch!) of family members come in to town for a surprise party for my father-in-law! Our weekend was filled with so much fun, food, sun, and of course a ton of new memories that I’m so thrilled we got to make! I was so excited to see cousins, aunts, uncles, and of course have a few of them stay in our new home.

To help with preparation and getting the house ready the week before, I made these yummy little balls for on-the-go snacking and to help keep my energy high each afternoon. I love small, easy snacks that I can pop in my mouth after work to help give me a little energy boost before exercising or working on things around the house. These were so easy and delicious, I definitely can’t wait to make them again!

A fun thing about this recipe is it is vegan and gluten free, so if you follow a special diet or have any type of dietary restriction, this may be a good recipe for you to try! You can also add different ingredients to tailor the flavor to your liking. Different additions, such as coconut flakes, can change up an otherwise simple and easy ingredient list.

I hope your week goes by fast and these little tasty bites give you a little extra energy to tackle your to-do list!! Have a great week y’all!

Cocoa Banana Protein Balls

  • Servings: 12-15 balls
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 1 banana
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2/3 cup raw, unsalted almonds
  • 1 large Tbsp unsalted PB
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp vegan vanilla protein powder
  • pinch salt
  • pinch cinnamon

Directions

In a food processor, grind cashews, almonds, cocoa powder, peanut butter, banana, cinnamon, salt, and protein powder. Stop to scape the sides once or twice. The ingredients may start to form a paste-like consistency. If a large “doughy” ball starts to form, that is ok. Continue to pulse or grind until you get a consistency you like (I tend to go for a fairy smooth texture with a few chunks here or there).

Use your hands and a small spoon to form small, gum-ball size balls. Put on a plate and cover with foil or in an air-tight container. Let refrigerate and harden for at least 15-20 minutes before trying! Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week (can freeze for longer use). Enjoy!


Closing out 2017

There are 3 days left in December. That means for the next 3 days Instagram, Facebook, and other various forms of social media are going to be packed with photos, blog posts, memes, etc about new year’s resolutions. People are going to be setting goals, picking apart their good and bad moments of 2017, and sharing what they would like to “work on” in 2018. What will make you or them a better person?

I have such a love/hate relationships with resolution, intentions, or whatever you may call them. When it comes to setting goals for the new year I could take it or leave it, and there are many reasons behind my indecisiveness.

Before I dive into that, let me go ahead and do the cliche “look back at my 2017”. I’m actually doing this more for myself. This was a big year for Jeff and I. There were exciting moments, new experiences, big changes, accomplishments, and definitely times where our patience was tested. We definitely took 2017 and made it a year to remember…

We extended our family by 1 furry friend…

Ok, this actually happened at the end of 2016, but I’m wrapping it in to 2017 because I had no idea how much getting a dog would effect our daily lives. Our weekly routines, workout schedules, weekend plans, and overall freedom (and lets face it…. personal space) completely changed. It wasn’t until the start of 2017, that the new excitement of getting a puppy wore off and we really dove into making Eddie a part of our family that would stay for years to come. If you haven’t noticed yet… I’m OBSESSED with our dog. He brings so much joy into our lives and taught us a lot of valuable lessons including: don’t be selfish, adapt to change, be more flexible, be patient with others (that was a big one), and love unconditionally.

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I started a new job…

While I loved the family I gained with my previous job and adored my patient population, it was time for me to try something knew. I wanted a new challenge and something that would continue to bring me the same joy my last job did but test my brain in new ways that could help me grow as a person and a dietitian. I was given the opportunity to work with a very special group of children at Phoenix Children’s Hospital and am thankful every day that I can even be a small part in their lives. Besides learning from my colleges and gaining a new group of wonderful friends and peers, I am truly gaining new skills which help fill in gaps that I was missing before.

We built a new house…

This was definitely not in the plan for 2017. We wanted to buy our first home, yes, but we had never really thought about building our own. What a test of our patience and ability to communicate (insert laughing emoji). I say that truly with a smile on my face because with every argument or disagreement came laughter the next day and a decision or agreement that was better than we thought. Jeff…. I’m just saying, we still haven’t used that cable outlet that was 100% NECESSARY in the guest bedroom.

I am so proud of our home and have loved the decorating/nesting process. No, it’s not quite perfect yet, but its getting there! If only I could make decisions without driving to the same store 5 times before I pull the plug and go with my first thought.

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We settled in to year 2 of marriage…

Yes, I think this is something to be proud of! Year 1 was bliss and year 2 was still bliss with a little more adulting aka learning to make and agree on big decisions together. Paying big bills, learning to budget, choosing this or that, building furniture, picking out tile for the living room (LOL); these are all things that have made us communicate and perfect our style of communication. No, it’s still not perfect, but I always look back on our marriage prep through our church. The couple we met with told us one of our strengths was communication. Well hot dog ! !

If one thing is for sure, I couldn’t have gone through such a busy, hectic, and trying year without my number 1 supporter (a.k.a. Jeff — if I’m not being clear!). I am so excited to see what year 3 brings!! I can’t believe it’s been 7 years since I met a cute, tall, blonde boy from Arizona who had no idea what snow was until he didn’t have a winter coat during the first blizzard of the year 🙂

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2011

2017

I graduated from grad school…

CHECK !

I can mark that off my list, and that’s all I have to say about that one!

OK!

I’m sure you are sick of reading this (if I didn’t lost you way back when I started babbling about my dog). So, here’s why I have a hard time being totally gung-ho about resolutions.

Sometimes I think they are a cop-out. If I say I’m going to do X…. does that really make me a better person? I can say a lot of things, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to follow through? A lot of common resolutions…. losing weight, eating healthy, going to the gym more…. are truly actions that you can either make a point to complete or not. Saying I’m going to the gym 5 days a week sounds great in theory… but there are weeks where I don’t even come close to doing this. If I really wanted to complete that goal, wouldn’t I have started it a while ago? Why wait until a specific day to make a change that could potentially be really good for me? On the other hand, I do think holding yourself accountable is a big part of making lifestyle changes, so if posting on Facebook that your NY resolution is X will make you more accountable to doing so then by all means do that!

I don’t always feel this way about resolutions… sometimes I also feel that resolutions can be very negative. Life isn’t all about not eating carbs, drinking only water or going to 4 cycle classes a week. If we make these things such a big deal, is that really contributing to happiness? To me, sometimes this can  cause more harm than good. I don’t like feeling that I HAVE to do something. That kind of takes the enjoyment out of an activity that I could potentially love to do.

If I am going to set a resolution or intention for the new year, I want to truly make a point to act on it every day. I want it to be something that will change more than a physical appearance, but help me become a better person, wife, friend, or whatever it may be that I want to work on. With that said, I’ll leave you with 2 of my “intentions” for 2018.

  1. I want to be more present. I don’t want to check my phone while I’m at dinner with my husband. I want to be fully dialed in to conversations around me. I don’t want to check to see who liked my last Instagram post that was posted 10 minutes ago. I really want to be more present in all aspects of my life.
  2. I want to pick the positive path more. I think it’s really easy to get wrapped up in someone else’s negativity. It can also be easy to compare yourself to someone you admire or someone who just has a presence in your life. Sometimes I can get down on myself or a situation easier than I’d like. I want to try to nix this habit and really be as positive, loving, and happy as I can be always. Why sweat the small stuff?

 

I hope you all have a wonderful and amazing 2018… and as always, don’t stop cooking in that kitchen!

 

Enjoy everyone ❤