Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day

Hi Friends!

It’s time for another Foodie Penpals Reveal day!

FPP post Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day


This month, I got my package from Kristin at Diva Dog Bakery! She was super sweet and really took my responses to her questions to heart. I told her that I really try to watch the amount of sodium and sugar in the things I buy and she did a great job with my package!

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Let’s break it down:

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She found the Bean and Pea blend at Disney World! I told her I love soup but hate how high in sodium a lot of them are…so she sent me a dried mix so I can add my own broth and stuff. LOVE IT!

The granola is Pumpkin Spice Pecan from her farmer’s market and it is delicious!

The chocolate and fruit treat are from her local coffee shop. I devoured the chocolate and have the fruit leather in my bag!

She was also sweet enough to send some homemade dog treats for the boys. They were pumpkin flavored and the dogs ate them so fast that i forgot to take a picture icon smile Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day She’s their new fav penpal. They request more treats ASAP. And since Kristin runs a gourmet dog treat online bakery, i just may have to order some!

Finally, she sent some hot sauce for hubby after I told her he liked spicy stuff. She even inquired about the ingredients and found one that was low in sodium and sugar! She’s the best icon smile Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day

Thanks so much Kristin for a great package!


So, this is the part where I normally give you all the details about joining FPP. But we’re doing things a little differently next month. For the month of December, Foodie Penpals will be for charity! Instead of matching people up to send packages, I’m encouraging participants to make a donation to help the victims of Hurricane Sandy.

FPP Sandy1 Foodie Penpals November Reveal Day

If you’ve participated in the past, currently participate, or are thinking about participating in the future, I would LOVE for you to donate the $15-$25 you would have spent on sending a package.

I will have all the details and directions on how to donate up on my blog on MONDAY, DECEMBER 3rd, 2012!!

The charity I’ve selected for us to donate to New York Cares. From their website:

New York Cares is on the frontlines of disaster relief, working around the clock to bring post-Hurricane Sandy aid where it is needed most. In the weeks following the storm, we have deployed thousands of volunteers to the hardest hit neighborhoods, distributing hot meals and warm coats, helping local social service agencies get back up and running, and mucking out homes that were ravaged by the storm.We were the first faces that many displaced New Yorkers saw- a reminder that in these especially tough times, New York Cares is here for them.

But our work didn’t start when the waters rose, and it won’t stop when the headlines have faded.

Every year, more than 400,000 New Yorkers depend upon New York Cares to build a better life. Day in and day out, we help high-risk students get into college, we provide job training  to unemployed adults; we teach kids the joy of reading- and so much more. And now, for as long as it takes- we bring hurricane relief and restoration to our suffering neighbors .


I researched a lot of charities and decided on this one because  they are focusing on both immediate and long-term restoration efforts. It’s only been about six weeks since Sandy but already it’s hardly mentioned in the news anymore. Please remember that just because it’s not being talked about in the media as much doesn’t mean there’s not still a need. THERE IS SO MUCH NEED for help still. Especially as we enter the holiday season.

So I encourage you to come back on Monday and give what you can.

Signups for January Foodie Penpals will open on December 18th. The form that is up on my blog right now is only for December FPP, essentially by signing up you are committing to donate next week! If you’d like to participate in January, you’ll need to come back and sign up after December 18th.

Be sure to check out some of the other reveal day posts linked below!



GaiamTV Review

Hi Friends!

It’s foodie penpal reveal day tomorrow so we’re moving Fitness Friday up a day. Today I wanted to take some time to tell you guys about GaiamTv. I recently had the opportunity to test it out and really enjoyed my experience!

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So what is GaiamTV?

It’s an streaming internet TV channel. For $9.95 a month, you get access to over 2,000 titles right from your computer. These titles include documentaries, feature films and special interest programs in categories like films, personal development, spirituality, metaphysics and explorations. Check out all of the different categories and subgroups:


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On the fitness side, the site offers hundreds of fitness and yoga workout videos, plus food and nutrition documentaries like Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, and many more!

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Before I had a chance to review this website, I knew that GaiamTV offered workout videos, but I thought that was it. I had no idea they had so many other great documentaries and videos available! The first thing I did after logging in was spend some time exploring the non-fitness side.

So what’s on my watch list??

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I can’t wait for winter break when I finally have time to watch them!

Next, I moved on to the fitness side. Over the span of a couple weeks, I tried out several different workouts.

First up, abs! When you click on one of the titles, it gives you a description of the video, the length, the different levels available and tells you any equipment that you will need. It also lets you add videos to your queue so you can start a list of ones you want to try.

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I found it was most convenient for me to go to the GaiamTV website on my ipad. Then I could just set up shop in the basement and get to work. I’m a sucker for anything Jillian Michaels so I also tried her Ripped in 30 workout. Marucs, however, is not a Jillian fan. He turns his back on her.

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This was definitely my favorite workout! Fast paced, a mix of strength, cardio and abs and done in 30 minutes. Win!

Up next, yoga! So many yoga videos to browse through…can’t wait to try some of them out.

So, if you like workout dvds, I’d highly recommend GaiamTV. It’s reasonably priced and has tons of great options that you can do at home, in a small space, with minimal equipment. I truly enjoy making up my own workouts and sharing them with others, and I will continue to do so, but there are some days when I’m just to tired to come up with anything on my own. On those days, GaiamTV is perfect because it gives me instant access to tons of great workouts! The access to tons of great documentaries and films was definitely an added bonus.

Still on the fence about it? You can try it for free for 10 days! CLICK HERE to check it out!

Let’s chat! Do you like workout videos?


Fitfluential LLC compensated me for this campaign. All opinions are my own.


Weekly Eats 4

Hi Friends!

Time to finally recap Thanksgiving break eats! Let’s get started.

Tuesday night/Wednesday morning

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1. my original menu…didn’t end up making all of it, but close
2. ready to be made into soup
3. hey mom, can I get some of the sweet potato?
4. Curried Sweet Potato Soup
made with no celery and vegetable broth, not chicken
5. watching Christmas Vacation by the fire
6. tic tac toe, three pets in a row
7 & 8. Cranberry Sauce
reduced to 2/3 c sugar
9. egg sandwiches for hubby

Wednesday/ Thursday

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1. Grandma’s Jello
2. Vegetarian Stuffing
3. Cranberry Corn Muffins
4. we picked up our packets for the turkey trot
5. ran the turkey trot Thanksgiving morning
6. Packed up a cooler for Thanksgiving
I packed carrots and hummus for us to eat as an appetizer, brought cranberry sauce and jello to share, brought fresh green beans for dinner since I don’t like green bean casserole, brought vegetarian stuffing for us, and a couple black bean burgers, plus a quinoa/wild rice mix for protein
7. my thanksgiving plate
8. tired pup
9. busted out the xmas decorations!


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1. we got the carpets cleaned so we took the boys on a walk
and spent a lot of time outside
2. leftover soup with wild rice & quinoa mixed in &
topped with cranberry sauce
and a side of stuffing
3. Tucky’s bed relocated to the couch while the carpets dried
4. making vegetable broth for soup
5. Turkey dumpling soup is tradition the day after Thanksgiving,
This year I made it with fish and lentils
6. yes we ate all the stuffing in 2 days so i made more icon smile Weekly Eats 4
7. soup for dinner!
8. i LOVE spending time looking at actual cookbooks
9. also did some magazine reading


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1. Finally got around to photographing bars from a week ago- recipe soon!
2. working on a side project to healthify peanut blossoms
3. Protein Packed Hot Mexican Layer Dip
4. Lentil Banana Muffins- recipe soon!

So there you have it! And now I’m hungry again icon smile Weekly Eats 4


Hot Mexican Layer Dip

Hi Friends!

I’m back with another recipe to share with you guys! This one is a real winner. It’s packed with protein, easy to make and perfect for football season! I made it for hubby and I to eat at half-time over the weekend during the OSU vs. Michigan game. Also, please note that I made an entire pan even though it’s just the two of us. Hello leftovers icon smile Hot Mexican Layer Dip


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PinExt Hot Mexican Layer Dip

So let’s talk about the layers in this dip. The first layer is beans. I added a protein punch to the beans by adding cottage cheese! You don’t taste it or see it because it’s pureed into the beans. The next layer is quinoa. I always seem to have extra quinoa sitting around in the fridge. It’s great in mexican dishes…and a great protein source…so why not?! Next is a layer of bell peppers and cheese. No explanation needed. Both delicious. Final layer is salsa. I used our favorite store-bought fresh salsa. If your salsa is liquidy like mine, you may want to drain it a bit before adding. After you repeat all those layers again, you stick it in the oven to bake. Then you top it with guacamole (which i add plain greek yogurt to for even more protein), green onions and hot sauce and dig in!

Hot Mexican Layer Dip
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Bring this protein-packed dip to your next tailgate to score big this football season.

  • For the Beans
  • 2 cups black beans
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup reduced fat cottage cheese
  • ¼ c water
  • For the Guac
  • 2 avocados, mashed
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • ½ c onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • ¼ c plain Chobani greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, minced
  • Other ingredients
  • 1 c quinoa, cooked
  • ½ c reduced fat shredded Mexican cheese
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 c salsa
  • chopped green onions
  • hot sauce

  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients for the beans and process until desired consistency is reached. Add more water if necessary.
  2. Spread half the bean mixture on the bottom of the pan.
  3. Top with ½ c cooked quinoa.
  4. Add ½ the red pepper and ¼ c cheese.
  5. Top with ½ c salsa, drained if watery.
  6. Repeat layers one more time.
  7. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 min.
  8. Remove from oven, top with guacamole, onions and hot sauce.
  9. Serve warm with tortilla chips for scooping.


Can you handle that? I sure hope so…because you MUST try this dip! If you don’t have a 7 x 12 pan, because really- who does? Except for me…This would probably work just as well in a 9 x 9 pan.

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Happy layering, friends!

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Who’s coming over to help me eat this?!

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Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Cranberries

Hi Friends!

Hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend! We’re skipping Bean Bytes today because quite honestly, I didn’t do a whole lot of blog reading. I did some skimming, but I focused most of my attention on food, family and fun icon smile Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Cranberries

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PinExt Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Cranberries

But have no fear, I have a great recipe to share with you guys today! We’re kicking off the Elf for Health challenge today and I couldn’t be more excited! We had over 700 people sign up!!!!! That’s amazing!! I’m so excited that so many of you are ready to stay healthy and active through the holidays. The first challenge is to go meatless for the day! So I’ve got a delicious veggie burger to share with you!

If you don’t already know, sweet potatoes and cranberries are one of the best combinations ever. So are sweet potatoes and black beans…put all three together and you’ve got me hooked! I make a lot of veggie burgers and through a lot of trial and error, I’ve found that quinoa really seems to help my burgers stick together! Plus it’s another protein source and I like to pack as many of those into my burgers as possible! I’ve also found that chickpea flour helps things stick together (like my sweet potato falafel!) I used both in these burgers.

Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Cranberries
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These gluten-free, vegan burgers are so delicious, they’ll please even the most avid meatatarians. And with all the healthy fats and vitamins they provide, what’s not to love?
Serves: 6

  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 2 c black beans, cooked
  • ½ c onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ an avocado
  • 1 c quinoa, cooked
  • ½ c fresh cranberries, roughly chopped
  • ¼ c chickpea flour
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika

  1. Stab the sweet potato all over with a fork and microwave on high for 5 minutes.
  2. Scoop the flesh into a small bowl.
  3. Add 1 cup of black beans and avocado and mash well.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and use your hands mix until well combined.
  5. Form into six patties.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes, flipping once.

These burgers are gluten-free AND vegan.

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If you don’t have chickpea flour, you could try grinding up some oats in the food processor to make oat flour.

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If you’re not vegan, i’d highly recommend topping these with goat cheese.
Or any cheese for that matter icon smile Sweet Potato Quinoa Black Bean Burgers with Cranberries



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