Thursday, January 31, 2013

Black Bean ‘Power’ Brownies

As many of my friends, Twitter/Instagram/Facebook followers know, I have been doing the Tone It Up Love Your Body series since the start of the New Year.  Last night, my husband said he wanted some dessert, and I am not one to pass down dessert.  I wanted to stick to something healthy, so we discussed our options and he allowed me to try something totally new, Black Bean ‘Power’ Brownies.  Okay, maybe I didn’t fully disclose they were black bean brownies…instead I said “healthier” brownies.

I had seen this recipe on Pinterest last year and said, “Pff, black beans in MY brownies, heck no!”  Then I kept seeing it in healthy living blogs, like this from Powercakes, so I decided I would give it a shot.  I am in love with healthy ‘ice creams’ now, so why not brownies? 
(My Healthy Ice Creams = combos of frozen bananas, frozen fruit, Greek Yogurt, cocoa powder, peanut butter, & nuts)
Your Healthier Black Bean Power Brownies
  • 1 Can Black Beans, drained & rinse
  • ½ Can Pumpkin
  • ½ C Milk (Vanilla Almond = Yum!)
  •  2 T Peanut Butter, or other nut butter

  • ½ C Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
  • 1 t Baking Powder
  • 1T Chia Seeds, ground
  • 1 t Vanilla extract
  • 3 t Cinnamon
  • ½ C Chopped Walnuts
  1. In a food processor (or blender), combined your black beans, pumpkin, peanut butter and ½ of your milk.  Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour black bean blend into a large bowl and add remaining milk, cocoa, baking powder, chia seeds, vanilla & cinnamon.  Blend until smooth.
  3. Add in chopped walnuts & pour into 8 x 11 pan.   (Other sizes will work, that’s just my favorite pan.)
    • See below for swirl options you could add at this time for a different, yet still healthy flavor
  4. Cover with foil & bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 10 minutes.
Because these brownies aren’t as sweet as I am used to, they aren’t loaded with a ½ cup sugar after all, I wanted a little something sweeter on top.   I took equal parts of organic raspberry jelly & organic Greek yogurt and mixed them in a bowl before letting it all melt on top of my warm brownie. 
That makes for a great & still healthy brownie!
Another topping I saw here was a combination of frozen bananas, blueberries, & walnuts mixed in a food processor and spread on top.  I’d try that!
Use the type of cocoa powder you would normally use in your other favorite brownies.  I tried dark cocoa in these, and I think they were a little too bittersweet.   Since I normally use it, I will try regular cocoa next time. 
Next time, for a tastier combination, I am going to make a brownie swirl. To make your swirl, simply pour your brownies into your pan as usual, then plop your swirl ingredients in multiple locations on top, use a knife to cut the swirl design.  (See here with my Pumpkin Brownies Swirls)
  • 2 Swirl Options I’d try:
    •  Greek yogurt/Peanut Butter combination and swirl my brownie mix before putting it in the oven
    • Add in my favorite fruit, raspberries.  Crush ½ a container and swirl them into the mix with a knife before baking.
Have you ever made Black Bean ‘Power’ Brownies?  Will you try any for yourself?

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meal Planning, Fajitas are Back!

What’s for dinner this week?

Neal and I have planned out four delicious & simple meals this week.  I am excited to have fajitas on the menu again!  For a while, they were an almost weekly thing, but Neal, understandably, had gotten a little tired with them so I haven’t had any in 2 or 3 weeks.
This weeks meals include:
Chicken Fajitas
Italian Beef - Crock pot
Fish with Garlic Curry Cauliflower
Fillet Mignon, Asparagus & Baked Potato (Neal's Man Meal!)

Chicken Fajitas - Serves 4
Marinate your Chicken
  • 1.5lbs chicken
  • 1 t Cumin
  • 2 t Chili Powder
  • 1 t Paprika
  • Dash of Salt
  • Garlic, minced - to your taste (more is better in my opinion!)
  • 1 T Olive Oil
  • Drop of Liquid Smoke
  • 2oz Lime Juice - squeeze to your taste
Cut your veggies
  • 1 Green Pepper, sliced
  • 1 Onion, sliced
  • Optional:  Mushrooms, Tomato, any other veggies your heart desires!
To Cook
  • Put a skillet on Medium heat, add in your chicken.  While your chicken cooks, add in a little Creole seasoning for even more flavor. 
  • Once chicken is cooked, add in your veggies and cook for another 3-5 minutes
  • Serve with your toppings of choice on a whole wheat tortilla!
My favorite toppings
  • Avocado
  • Shredded Lettuce
  • Greek Yogurt (or Sour Cream)
  • Cheese (Mexican, Goat, Feta, whatever you desire, I like to keep it interesting!)
Italian Beef - Crock Pot Style - Can Adjust Servings
Getting Ready for Dinner! mmm

Get the recipe we are trying here.
Neal is having his with Cibatta Bun and I may have that, or with Ezekiel Bread (FINALLY Fresh Market had some in stock so I got the Cinnamon Raisin & Original!!!

Fish with Garlic Curry Cauliflower
  • Fish = Take fish (tilapia is easy).  2 containers, 1 w/ 1 egg mixed up, another w/ Lemon Pepper Seasoning and finely crushed pecans.  Dip fish in egg and then into Lemon Pepper Seasoning mixture.  Cook on the stove top over medium heat (about 3 minutes each side). 
    • Want something easier?  Simply put your fish on the stove top with a little oil or butter, sprinkle on your favorite seasoning, cook about 3 minutes.  Flip your fish, sprinkle on your seasoning and cook another 3 minutes!
  • PB Fingers: Ginger Curry Cauliflower
Fillet Mignon, Asparagus & Baked Potato (Neal's Man Meal!)
For Neal's Birthday, he received some Omaha Steaks along with some of their Baked Potatoes, so we are going to cook those up and make some yummy asparagus!

  • Water - enough that will cover your asparagus
  • Asparagus
  • 1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2-3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • Fresh Grated Parmesan - to your tasting

To Cook
  • Bring water to a boil on your stove top.
  • In the meantime, wash and cut your asparagus into more bite sized pieces
  • Boil the asparagus for 2 minutes and drain.
  • Put your asparagus into another bowl, drizzle on your olive oil, and toss. Toss in fresh grated garlic (or a few teaspoons of garlic that comes in the jar), and grate the heck out of a block of Parmesan.
  • Serve!

The Rest of my Monday consisted of eating yummy foods, working, and putting in 6.5 miles at the gym doing the super hard, Crush Cardio from Tone it Up!

Breakfast of Greek Yogurt with Cinnamon, Maca Powder & homemade Vanilla mixed in, Organic Pumpkin Flax Granola, & walnuts.  This was around 6am.

9am hit and I was hungry again, so I cut up a baby apple into really thin slices, sprinkled it with cinnamon and made a shot glass of 1 teaspoon natural peanut butter & 1 Tablespoon Greek yogurt!  SO GOOD!

I had a meeting at noon, & I knew I was going to be hungry since it was scheduled to last an hour.  I made a quick salad of romaine lettuce, black beans, shredded carrot, red onion, avocado and truffle oil/white wine vinegar dressing with chives, salt & pepper. 
After my meeting ended, I was still hungry, so I mixed up a Chocolate Covered Raspberry protein shake.  YUM!

I put in 10 hours at work today - gee wiz, hello Monday!  After work, Neal & I headed to the gym where he worked out with his partner and I hit up the treadmill for a little over an hour.  I did the Tone It Up Crush Cardio Routine.  Let me tell you, it's a killer, but it's an awesome routine to pack on miles & get in some sprint intervals!

I now have less than 20 miles for my #100ByVDay!!!


I definitely felt this workout.  It's rather exhausting for me still.  I did some great stretching and ab work afterwards before coming back home.  Neal cooked up some fajitas while I wrote most of this post.  I am getting ready to call it a night!  I hope you have a great week!

What's on your menu this week?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Making the Most of A Quarter Century

Later this year, I will turn 25!  Either I act older, or I look older, because some of my husbands and my mutual friends don’t believe me when I tell them I am not 25 yet.   Either way, I am excited for this year and, as always, I am already planning activities that go well into the summer.

I gave a throwback of some of my favorite fitness accomplishments thus far on Friday, and I want to challenge myself to a few more this year.  Some are going to be really hard, some not so much, but all of them will be incredibly fun for me!

Half Marathon
I’m going to start my year with running.  My husband and I discussed the possibility of me doing one of three half marathons this year.
  • The first race I thought I wanted to go for was the Evansville Half Marathon in October.  I think deep down I wanted to do that one solely because it was so far away and I didn’t have to start training.  Neal helped me decide that since I am already running so much with the TIU Love Your Body Series, I could more easily transition into race training now. 
That left me with my two other options, the Southern Indiana Classic in early April, or the Music City Half Marathon in late April.
  • I have done the Music City Half and had a decent time, but I remember registration the day prior was a bit chaotic since we had to get to Nashville by a certain time, yet we lived almost 3 hours away and both were working on that Friday.  I know a handful of great women who are doing this race, and would love to meet up with them, but it will be much easier to go with choice # 3.
  • To save almost $50 dollars on registration, get a fresh view on my 2nd half marathon, & not have to travel and sleep in a hotel, I am signing up for the Southern Indiana Classic Half Marathon on April 6th.  I’m in the process of making my training schedule now and will be sharing that with you shortly!
More Running
The half marathon is not the only running events I am going to do this year, I am going to jump start my training by taking place in the USI Screaming Eagles Running Series.  It’s a three race event:  5K Feb 9th, 7K March 16th, and a 10 K April 13th.  Yes, that last one is the week after the Southern Indiana Classic Half, but as long as I train properly and don’t get hurt, I should be fine to partake!
The Dream Hike
Of all my fitness plans this year, I may be looking most forward to this one.   Last year, my family and I climbed the Grand Teton outside of Jackson Hole, Wyoming.  While making our ascent, nearing 13,770 feet, I kept seeing the most pristine lake.  Finally when we made it to the top, I asked our guide, Lynne, what that gorgeous spot was.  Her reply, “That's Lake Solitude, one of the best hikes out here!” Sold! I knew I wanted to do it, and I knew I would gladly make another trip to Jackson Hole to hike to LakeSolitude where I will have a new perspective of the mountain I was currently standing atop.  I plan on hiking in mid-late July with my father, his girlfriend, my friend Marlee and possibly her older sister, Mica!  This will be a 15-19 mile day hike.  There’s a shuttle at Jenny Lake that you can take which will knock off 2 miles each way.   I do plan on taking the shuttle across the lake, and will want to take it back as long as we make it to the lake before it stops running. 
Lake Solitude
Teton Range

Sunset at Lower Saddle show the shadows of the Teton Range
 Some other goals
  • Become limber enough to do the mermaid yoga pose
  • Become limber enough to do the front splits
  • Find a fun and adventurous activity to do with Neal for our 3 year like a Muddy Buddy or more spelunking
  • Get on the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan.  It’s $150 for a lifetime membership and I have wanted it for a while, but I am finally getting toward the point where I would find it more beneficial in my life.
  • Walk my dogs at least 4 times a week.  I know some people walk their dog(s) daily, but I honestly don’t, and I was a dog walker for 2 years when I moved out here!  It’s just me making excuses, but it can be extremely unenjoyable to walk both of them at the same time.  Since Neal works outside and is on his feet most of the day, one of the last things he typically wants to do is take another 30 minute walk with our dogs.  So I have decided if I keep walking them, they can only improve.  Sasha walks very well on a leash, Walden…not so much.  He’s my crazy brown dog & Sasha's our sweet fluffy puppy!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Workout Mash-up & Dance Central Fun

Whew, I can’t believe the day is only half way over!  I feel like I have been up forever at it should be dark.  I woke up thinking about work, so I knew I needed to just log in and get some stuff done…I wanted to go office space, but resisted!
I put in a few hours before Neal & I headed to the gym with our friend, Taylor.  The boys did their thing while I started to do the TIU Wild Child Workout.  After realizing that I really wanted to feel the burn, I switched up their workout and combined it with a killer leg workout I had done in the past from PBFingers.  This is what my mash-up looked like:
It was intensely wonderful.  My stretching that followed felt so great!
The following weights are what I used:
·         Squats with weighted ball toss – 10lb ball
·         Dead lift 60lbs
·         Lunges two 17.5 dumbbells
·         Leg extension 70-85
·         Seated leg curl 70-80 
Now, I want to share something more fun with you!
Last night we enjoyed quite a good evening at our friends house playing Cards Against Humanity and Dance Central!  Here’s a little video recap for your viewing pleasure!
yes I forgot to spell check that video...oops, oh well!  What else is new :)

Friday, January 25, 2013

Throwback: Fitness Accomplishments

Over the past few years, I have done some pretty great fitness challenges.  I feel so fortunate to have built up a body with such strength and endurance.  Sometimes, I felt like I never wanted to step a foot inside the gym again.  Many times I dream about living in the mountains of East Tennessee or West Wyoming, & I say to myself, “If I lived there, I’d always want to be active.  I’d always be outside.”  But I don’t live near beautiful rolling hills or glacial peaked mountain tops.  I live in the great Midwest, the farmlands of Indiana where it’s corn, more corn, soybeans, and corn.  And you know what?  It’s actually not that bad. 
In Evansville alone I have done two of my all-time favorite races!  The first was in 2010 with my wonderful dad and beautiful puppy Sasha.  We ran in the Fido Walk, Rock & Run 5K sponsored by the Vanderburgh County Humane Society.  And guess what, we each got first place!  Sadly Sasha didn’t get a trophy, but I fed her treats like a princess!
One of my other favorite races was in 2012 at Evansville’s Viking Assault.  It’s similar to a Tough Mudder.  It’s an obstacle course full of muddy events and challenging jumping, climbing, running, or crawling activities.  You can see the full re-cap on it here.

Neal and I signed up for the race as a 2 year anniversary outing.  You could say we like to get dirty.  For our 1 year (2011), we went Spelunking over at Marengo Cave.

Some other fun fitness challenges I have done outside of Southern Indiana:
Urban Dare in 2010. That’s Brittany and I posing at one of the many stops you had to take pictures at for this event around Nashville TN.  This is a fun race if you really know the layout of the city.  We didn’t, but still had a great time!

The Music City Half Marathon in 2011.  I was aiming for a time under 2 hours and boy did I make it! For some reason, I didn’t write down my exact time, but I know it was between 1:55 – 1:57!
Miami Turkey Trot in 2011.  My brother, now brother-in-law, and I all ran the Turkey Trot when we went to Miami for Thanksgiving. My mom and her then boyfriend, now husband, hosted a great Thanksgiving week of fun!  We got to go to Disney World too on this trip!  Sadly, Neal had food poisoning, so he wasn’t even able to come watch the race.  Yuck!

Climbed the Grand Teton in 2012.  This was the BEST experience of my life in terms of fitness goals.  Sure, we had some challenges and it wasn’t all easy, but we climbed a freaking mountain.  That’s a really cool accomplishment in my book!

What will 2013 bring in terms of Fitness Fun?  I have high hopes for this year.  I have truly started it off  well by doing the Tone It Up Love Your Body series.  I have some ideas of what I am going to do, but that’s a post I will save for tomorrow!

What are some of your favorite fun fitness activities?  Have you taken a long hike, a color run, a mini triathlon, a cross-fit challenge, ooh the Krispy Kream 5K, or maybe the polar plunge (brrrr)?  I’d love to hear what fun activities you are doing in your life!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Giveaway Winners & Breast Cancer Awarness!

Actually, the title should be Giveaway Winners

Thank you to both Nicole Harman & Brittany DC for your great feedback on the Lively Happenings Giveaway. I am gifting each of you this beautiful & simplistic short crystal necklace! 

Nicole & Brittany, please send me your mailing addresses either on Facebook or at and I will mail you your necklace!

Happy Wednesday Ya'll!  Here's a great video clip my friend emailed me & I think it's a must for all women!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Best Food Day!

Today has just simply been the best food day!

I started off the morning with an AM Workout at the gym.  I finished a little over 4 miles with the Cupid's Cardio AM workout from Tone It Up.  I'm in love with my new hairband!  It's the first one that's stayed in the WHOLE run!

I came home, took care of my puppies and then made some waffles!  Neal and I had waffles this weekend, and I had some leftover batter.  In our batter we added pineapples and today I decided to add some raspberries!  SUPER YUM!
Lunch came around and I had been wanting to try homemade pizza on a tortilla.  I cannot seem to remember where I saw this, be it Instagram, Pinterest, or just browsing the web, but I decided I would give it a shot.

Here's how you can make your own Tortilla Pizza!

Brush olive oil onto your tortilla and then sprinkle with oregano.  Then, scoop out some pesto and spread that, along w/ Feta onto your tortilla.  Sprinkle with goat cheese (my fav!).

Start loading on the veggies!  I had red onion, sweet peppers, & mushrooms.

Then I added some spinach, another sprinkle of feta & goat cheeses, oregano, and cooked shrimp.
I grated fresh Parmesan over the whole thing before tossing it in my oven at 450 degrees for 7 minutes.

Delicious perfection!


Towards the end of my workday I was REALLY craving something sweet, so I made up some Banana Cocoa 'Ice Cream'
  • 1 Frozen banana
  • 2 T Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 T Cocoa Powder
    • I tossed in some cocoa dusted almonds as a little extra!
Blend it all in a food processor & enjoy!
After work, the dogs got a 15 minute walk (there's another 0.5 miles for my #100ByVDay)!  I cleaned house and then completed 3 sets of the #LoveYourBody series workouts, each 2 times through!

Feeling good!

Dinner tonight was also FABULOUS!  I had Pecan Encrusted Fish and Curry Garlic Cauliflower.  Click here to see my dinner post for this week and get the recipe.

The perfect food and fitness day!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Weekly Meals 1.21-1.25

As part of the Tone It Up Love Your Body series, we were challenged to fill out the above information!  Meal plan included! 

Click to get the recipes:
  • Southwest Salad w/ Pesto Ranch
  • Fish w/ Garlic Cauliflower
    • Fish = Take fish (tilapia is easy).  2 containers, 1 w/ 1 egg mixed up, another w/ Lemon Pepper Seasoning and finely crushed pecans.  Dip fish in egg and then into Lemon Pepper Seasoning mixture.  Cook on the stove top over medium heat (about 3 minutes each side)
    • PB Fingers: Ginger Curry Cauliflower
  • Shrimp Stir fry w/ Quinoa
    • Cook quinoa according to package directions
    • Cook stir fry veggies on stove top according to package directions
    • Season shrimp with Creol (or other spice) and cook on stove top over med heat until pink
    • Mix Shrimp w/ veggies
      • Sauce = Ginger Hoisin (30 CALORIES)• 1½ teaspoons finely chopped green onions, 2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar, 1½ teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, 1 teaspoon ginger (I get the kind in a squeeze bottle), ½ teaspoon honey, 1 teaspoon hoisin sauce
  • Crock pot White Chicken Chili
  • Crock pot Pineapple Chicken (served w/ a sweet potato)

Saturday, January 19, 2013


I introduce to you my first Giveaway since starting my Etsy shop in October 2012!

Before I can give anything away, I need your help!

I have started a new line called Jewelry Organization.  I realized a lot of people don't have a cute and fun way to display their jewelry, and they may not have a convenient way to travel with it.  Putting your items in a simple plastic baggy won't do it anymore when traveling.  At home, you might as well display all your gorgeous gems beautifully!

Here are some samples of the new line of at home jewelry display: 

Here are 3 Travel Jewelry Organizers:

Now for your help.  I would like your feedback.  What do you like best about the line?  Do you see something that really stands out?  Or do you have a suggestion for improvement?

Leave your comments below and I will randomly select one person who will win this lovely and simple minimalist necklace!  I will announce the winner on the blog on Wednesday, Jan 23rd!

To ensure you don't miss out on any more giveaways, follow me by scrolling down the screen to the bottom where you will see the following:

By following me by email, you will receive an email when I have made a new post (must confirm your follow through email).  By following me through Google, my posts will appear on your Google Reader alongside any other blogs you may follow!

Leave your comments and win!