A blog about nutrition, food, recipes, lifestyle, parenting, and fun! Here you'll find a healthy mix of real-life meals made from whole ingredients balanced with the pleasures of life, including buttercream frosting and good wine.
My favorite way to eat eggs lately? Via French toast! This was using Great Harvest Cinnamon Chip bread. Oh-so-good! I put some melted pumpkin spice butter (by Land O’Lakes) on top.
After missing a few strength classes last week, I was back in the (kettlebell) swing of things. It felt good to get in consistent workouts this week: strength Monday and Wednesday (always the hardest days), Elements Hot Yoga with Thomas on Tuesday, and time outside with Gus on the greenway on Thursday. Today is a wild card! I’ll probably either do yoga or the gym for the stairmaster. Then it’s soccer on Sunday.
This sandwich was the best lunch I had this week: turkey, cream cheese, honey mustard, avocado, jalapeños! Oh man, it was perfect toasted! Grapefruit on the side.
Mazen and I took a trip to Target on Tuesday. He earned 5 Star Wars stickers, which took him months to get. (Each sticker is worth three green popsicle sticks, which are given out for consistent outstanding behavior and acts of kindness.) He’s been working towards a big prize for a while, and he didn’t hesitate to pick out what he’d get: a Hatchimal. If you aren’t familiar (and missed my live broadcast Instagram Story!), the robotic animals actually hatch from a big egg and then grow through babyhood, toddlerhood, to end up as kids that you care for. It was quite the cool toy experience!
Our egg had TWINS, and Mazen has been caring for them ever since. It’s sort of giving me baby fever! They make the cutest sounds, and Mazen has me cuddle with them and swaddle them all day long.
I think I left Target spending the least amount of money in years ($80, and that included a $50 toy!) But that doesn’t mean I didn’t want to buy everything. I am obsessed with everything Magnolia (like most of the country), but somehow I restrained myself from buying a single thing.
I am also itching to make our outdoor spaces look HGTV worthy. We have a very nice Pottery Barn couch, but otherwise it’s all mis-matchy. I love the look of both of these sets for our front porch, but I’m not sure we’d actually use them that much. Target has such great outdoor stuff on display right now!
Today, I’m bringing you a combination of two of my favorite breakfasts: green smoothie bowls and overnight oats! The vibrant color should tell you it has plenty of vitamin rich greens in it, but it also has fiber from oats + protein from milk for a filling breakfast. And, as a bonus, it’s perfect for St. Patrick’s Day!
It starts with the usual green smoothie base: spinach, banana, milk, chia seeds, and peanut butter. Protein powder is optional, but I like to add a scoop of the Vega Coconut Almond.
Then blend it all up. No need to add ice since it will go in the fridge anyway. Pour into a bowl or tall jar – be sure to leave room for the oats!
Stir in the oats and chia seeds:
Then into the fridge over night. This one will get thicker than normal overnight oats because of the spinach, so you may need a splash more milk. You can check in the morning and adjust as needed :).
You could also blend in the oats and it would be more like a dough boy smoothie. Finally, all the toppings!
Good morning! Today, I’m bringing you another inspiring recipe from Blue Apron, one of my favorite blog partners. I have an offer for those of you who have yet to try it: the first 50 readers will get $40 off their first two weeks of Blue Apron orders.
What I love about Blue Apron is you can start, skip, and stop at any time. I keep my account active and schedule weeks when they are convenient, so we get a little dose of Blue Apron each month. We eat the best those weeks! I always choose the Family Plan because the portions are plentiful, so we have enough for two adults, a 5-year-old, and leftovers. Especially on nights when we don’t have Mazen, we often eat the dinner two nights in a row. It’s great to cook once and eat twice. That’s what we did with this recipe.
Tilapia Piccata with Orzo, Zucchini, and Sweet Peppers
There are many benefits to the Blue Apron service:
-No visit to the grocery store, as all ingredients come to your doorstep
-No meal planning necessary – let the chefs inspire you!
-Sustainable and high-quality ingredients
-Customizable plans and choice within your plan recipes
-Optional wine pairings delivered to your door (yes!)
-Access to all the recipes online, so you can make them again and again (we have!)
This recipe was one of my very favorites we have made, so I chose it to share with you all. The day I made it I had it for both lunch and dinner! The fish is well seasoned and topped with a caper-studded buttery sauce. And I loved how the vegetables and orzo combined into one hearty side, bound together with one of my very favorite ingredients: crème fraîche!
The first step was to prep the ingredients. I enjoy doing this all at once, cooking-show style, because it streamlines the cooking part of the recipe so well.
While the orzo bubbled away in a big pot, I cooked the veggies together with olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.
Meanwhile I seasoned and coated the fish.
When the veggies were cooked and orzo drained, I tossed them all together with that yummy crème fraîche. This dish had such pretty colors!
Next, I cooked the fish and made the sauce in the same pan. A lemon-caper-butter sauce is one of my favorite fish toppers. I can smell it through the screen!
We are REALLY urging spring to come out to play!! This winter has felt like one of our longest in recent years because of the countless days with gray skies and/or colder temps. People are starting to just fake spring, like going to a playground when it’s 40° and just pretending it’s 70° . Spring will arrive soon enough, I hope!
Kohr Brothers has reopened for spring, but it was hardly ice cream weather. I took Mazen and Sylvia after school and had a snowstorm – how appropriate!
We played at the park after and then had a low-key Friday night, complete with a warm bath and pizza delivery.
On Saturday, we did a lot of painting. Mazen has decided he wants to turn his bedroom into an art studio.
For a later breakfast, we had pancakes, bacon, and strawberries.
I took Mazen swimming at ACAC, where we met Matt and exchanged hands for the day. On Saturday afternoon, Thomas watched golf while I read. I’m nearing the end of Lilac Girls. I can’t stay I have loved the book (not nearly as much as The Nightingale, which I LOVED), but I’m into the story and it’s gotten better as the pages turned.
We shared a big bowl of popcorn!
I have been feeling so blah lately and living in sweatpants. It felt good to curl my hair for once and get a little dressed up on Saturday night for dinner and the UVA game.
We had dinner at Vivace and started our meal with olives and Italian bread.
We shared baked penne and the rockfish special for dinner. Both were amazing. Shout out to Chef Landon!
Some of our friends joined us for the game, which, of course, was a great win to celebrate! (“Anybody But Carolina” is my motto… But also, “Go Hoos!”)
On Sunday morning, our fridge was bare, and I made Great Harvest Cinnamon Chip toast with almond butter and banana toast.
We had a neighborhood birthday party midday and enjoyed pizza, stormtrooper cupcakes, and a R2D2 piñata!
I have to share these breakfast and lunch dishes I had. They’re both amazing combos you have to try!
First, I just tried the Key Lime Noosa yogurt – SO GOOD! Key Lime on top of blueberries and bananas (which I heated ever so slightly) plus granola and coconut on top was just the best combination.
So much texture variety! : )
And second, this open-faced bagel “sandwich.” (It’s not a sandwich if nothing is sandwiched, right?!)
Thomas brought home some cinnamon raisin bagels from Bodos for Mazen and me to have for breakfast. I totally forgot to have one for breakfast, so I decided I’d figure out a way to make the most of my breakfast and lunch dishes and enjoy it at lunch instead. I toasted the bagel so it was nice and warm, smeared on a nice layer of cream cheese, added sliced red peppers and a mountain of arugula, and placed honey-roasted walnuts on top for crunch (and healthy fats). Finally, the drizzle of honey was the icing on the cake bagel. I just loved this combo!
What interesting combinations of food have you tried lately?
I am not much of a baker because I want to eat the baked good from start to finish – the cookie dough, the spoons, the bowl, chocolate chips from the jar, and, of course, I can’t stop at just one, especially when they’re hot out of the oven. So, the best way for me not to eat 1,000 calories of sugar and butter is to leave the baking to other people.
However, when this face says “Let’s bake cookies” I put on my mom hat and we bake away!
I debated looking for an oatmeal-and-nut-filled healthy “breakfast” cookie with no added sugar and wholewheat flour, but if I’m going to make cookies – a treat – I might as well go big or go home. I scoured the internet for “the world’s best cookies” and then, per usual, I ended up coming up with a recipe of my own based on the ingredients I had and my cravings. Let’s be honest, I was really just craving the dough!
So, the final cookies ended up tasting like just-baked cookie dough. These were AMAZING fresh out of the oven. When we ate them throughout the week, I heated them for 30 seconds in the microwave to bring that gooey center right back out. These are not buttery, crunchy-style cookies. They are melt-in-your-mouth, doughy, and oh-so-soft. Honestly, my favorite way to eat them all week was heated and mashed into some vanilla ice cream!
The recipe is also very easy. Stir the dry ingredients together, beat the wet, slowly add the dry, scoop, and bake! Easy from start to finish and no time-consuming steps.
Mazen and I used mini chocolate chips (more per bite!) and star sprinkles for a rainbow punch. Plus, I always top anything chocolatey with sea salt and nature’s sprinkles – chia seeds – because why not?!
After 12 minutes in the oven, these were warm and gooey, and I definitely ate two!
We are into the part of the winter (because it’s technically still winter) where we get surprise 75-degree days. We have had quite a few in the last few weeks, and I have seen flowers sprouting up from the ground around town! I sure hope a blanket of snow doesn’t surprise us all.
Mazen won’t eat eggs, but he loves French toast, so it’s one of the ways I get nutritious eggs in him. I am pretty sure I fed him scrambled eggs his whole second year of life and he got totally over them.
With warmer weather comes salad cravings. This one featured leftover salmon, avocado, blue cheese and blue cheese dressing, candied walnuts (which seriously MAKE the salad), and some chips on the side.
Snacks + Workouts
My indoor soccer seasons are over, sniff. I really loved playing indoor this year! I always prefer a smaller field because it’s just so hard to score on the big goals from the 30 yard line of a football field – unless you’re a superstar player! (I am not.) I am taking a break from my co-ed team this spring to focus more on women’s league. Two leagues on the same day was just getting to be too much, especially all of the driving.
Trail mix is such a great pre-workout snack because it’s so easy to digest and run!
Pic from a recent date night. We went to Oak Hart Social and had a wonderful dinner!
I am on a mission to recreate this ricotta toast with country ham, apple, honey, mustard, and Brussels sprouts chips!
For a recent dinner at home, Thomas made the best fried mahi! He dredged it in flour, egg, and panko, and fried it in oil, classic style. We made zucchini, basmati, and a homemade tartar sauce on the side.
Remember a few weeks ago I mentioned the TV show The Sinner, which was recommended on the Young House Love podcast? Thomas and I watched it and loved it! It’s a total edge-of-your-seat mystery. We watched the first three episodes for free and then bought the rest because we were hooked. (There are only 8 episodes.) If you liked Ozark, this was a similar feel. It’s a nice start-to-finish story.
We’re going to need a new show soon. What do you recommend?
One great thing about the YNAB software is that you can make as many budgets as you want. So, creating a budget for our wedding was simply a few clicks away from our household budget, which we could keep in its own bubble. You can use YNAB for any budget you can dream up, whether party planning, an addition on your house, or a big vacation. You can track literally anything that might have expenses beyond your normal household spending.
As I’ve mentioned in my previous posts, you can sign up for a free 34-day trial before paying the monthly fee (less than $10 a month) to continue using the service. I promise, you will save enough from mindfully tracking your spending that it will be worth it 10x over!
Creating a project-based budget in YNAB is very simple. You can have the whole thing set up in less than 10 minutes.
Start by creating a new budget and giving your project a name!
When it was time to start wedding planning, I searched around for both timelines and budgets. What was frustrating about both of these was that many of the line items did not apply to me because we had an all-in-one venue. For example, we didn’t need any transportation from the ceremony to the reception since they were in the same location. We also didn’t have table rentals or need a separate caterer or cake baker. (Actually, I can’t recommend having an all-in-one ceremony-reception-caterer-accommodation venue enough! It made the whole process so simple and easy, and the Clifton Inn was a dream to work with.)
All this to say that I found most of the sample budgets way too complicated! So, I decided to make my own where I could control the categories myself.
I made several big categories and then created line items within them as needed. Note that on an Apple keyboard, you can bring up the emoji keyboard by hitting Control + Command + Space Bar at the same time. I have emojis all over my household budget too!
What I loved about my own categories is that I could distinguish between the initial deposits and the balances due. This was SO HELPFUL in tracking when everything had to be paid!
Once your categories are all set, you make your initial deposit.
If you get any gifts from your parents or family to help pay for the wedding, you can enter them here too. You want the pretend account to have your total wedding budget. Categorize everything as “To Be Budgeted” here, and make sure these are INFLOW (aka deposits) and not OUTFLOW leaving your account.
Since this project-based budget was never connected to my bank, everything has to be manually entered, but this gives you the most control. Additionally, since there weren’t a ton of transactions, it was no big deal to enter them by hand and then cross-check with my statements when the charges came through or checks were deposited. Just check the green C when a transaction clears.
Once you have your budget amounts entered, you will see that you have your total wedding budget ready to give every dollar a job. In my example, where $15,000 comes from the bride and groom and $1,000 from each set of parents, we have a $17,000 total budget ready to be divided up.
At this point, you simply go down through your categories and assign dollars! You might want to have a line item called “Stuff I Forgot To Budget For” because we all know unexpected expenses arise, like an extra guest or alterations! As you budget categories, your “To Be Budgeted” shrinks down.
You can write notes on the sidebar for even more details if you wish.
Your To Be Budgeted will be at $0 and all categories will have plenty of green for spending. You would also be ready to book vendors and put down deposits.
As you pay for things, simply enter the transactions in your pretend bank register. You can even do this on the app while you’re out and about. You can also check your budget during a vendor meeting. The YNAB app is awesome! Add some notes to the memo line if you need to remember a check number or detail.
As the transactions come in, the money available in each category shrinks.
And because we all know nothing ever turns out exactly as planned, it’s so easy to roll with the punches too! If you overspend on your dress, you can move funds around very easily. (This is something that would be much harder to do in a spreadsheet!)
Ta-da! The $50 from alterations and shoes covered the overage on the dress.
So, there you have it friends: an easy project-based budget in YNAB!
Sunshine, FINALLY! Our weekend started with some crazy winds that cut the power for a good portion of Virginia. Some of my friends still don’t have it. We were lucky to only have had it glitch a few times. And on Saturday, the skies were bright blue.
We made our second of four Blue Apron meals for dinner: seared steaks with mashed potatoes. Steak isn’t something I usually crave, but it always tastes so good! We had cabbage and apple saute on the side.
After dinner, Thomas and I had a special date night in to watch The Shape Of Water. We had the idea to order cookies from Red Eye Cookie Co. which delivers hot cookies to your doorstep for a $2 charge (and an $8 minimum). What a cool service from Red Eye!
We tried four kinds (two of each) and nibbled on them all weekend. The chocolate chip and cookies & cream flavors were AMAZING! The peanut butter and signature red eyes (like red velvet) cookies were good, but I am a classic cookie kinda girl.
On Saturday morning, we made oatmeal – whipped banana chia with cinnamon vanilla almond butter.
And then dug for fossils!
The House Fairy brought Mazen this egg, which was great and much easier to dig into than the big block we did a month ago. Afterwards, you assemble the little fossil inside. Very cute!
Mazen went swimming, I fit in a workout, and we had leftovers for lunch, which was half a pork sandwich T brought me for lunch on Friday.
On Saturday afternoon, we went to the Big Room at acac Adventure Central with our neighbor, and then the boys played outside for a good portion of the afternoon.
We had Blue Apron Ginger Chicken Burgers with sweet potato fries for dinner.
T and I started The Handmaid’s Tale (it’s on Hulu, which I am doing a free trial of) and LOVED the first episode. I can’t wait to see what happens. (I should know because I read the book, but I think that was like 20 years ago – eek! – so I don’t remember the plot.)
A bed made by a 5 year old. Lol. I’ll take it!
And finally, an epic breakfast to end off a great weekend! T got croissants at the grocery store late Saturday afternoon and made us these breakfast sandwiches with egg, cheese, and bacon. Talk about a treat!
On Sunday afternoon, I had my first outdoor soccer game of the season (and it was a glorious sunny day for playing outside!) and then went to a girls’ night Oscar party in the evening.
Hope you had a good weekend! What did you think of the Oscars? Have you watched The Shape Of Water or The Handmaid’s Tale?