Oct 232013
 

If I had to guess, I’d say that everyone who reads this here little blog would like the opportunity to split $10,000 between themselves and a charity that shares food with the less fortunate. Think of how many meals $5K can buy for the hungry mouths in your community! Think of how baller the holiday gifts you give this year would be if an extra $5K was helping to cushion the purchases!

I love the idea of a contest that rewards the entrant AND does some good for the universe, too. My friends at SparkPeople.com contacted me about an AWESOME recipe contest they are hosting on the recently re-launched SparkRecipes.com. [Remember when I recently shared about my love of SparkPeople and SparkRecipes a few weeks ago? If not, check out this post for more details: A New Cookbook for Your Library ]

I’m so thrilled to be able to share the details here on THS for you to have the opportunity to enter to win, too!

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As you probably picked up from the spoiler alert above, the grand prize is $10,000, split between you and a hunger-relief charity in your community. The contest is a slow-cooker recipe contest. Check your blogs for past crockpot recipes, or let the contest inspire you to  create a new recipe! Even if you’re not a “food blogger” I encourage you to give the contest a try.  I don’t consider myself a food blog in ANY regard, and I’m proof that you can win a blogger recipe contest no matter WHAT you blog about.

Once you have your recipe ready, you only need to enter the recipe on SparkRecipes.com, click the checkbox at the bottom of the recipe entry page to enter the contest, and then share your recipe link with your friends, family, co-workers, and followers, encouraging them to vote daily.  Each time your recipe is shared, liked, tweeted or +1′d on Google, it counts as a vote—and popular vote is a part of the judging process.

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Submissions close on November 6th, so let’s get cooking, friends!  I’m taking the challenge to create a new recipe to share with you soon; don’t you want to join in the fun?  Let me know if you decide to enter your recipe at SparkRecipes.com. I’d love to test out your recipe and support you in the contest! Oh, and add your recipe to our new Crockpot Recipes of Awesome Pinterest board!

Sep 292013
 

At one point while I was rambling on during the raffle at the end of Saturday’s sessions earlier this month at the Healthy Living Summit, I mentioned how much I really love SparkPeople.com.  I said something about the fact that Spark People helped me to lose 50+ pounds at the beginning of my health journey and we all had a good hoot and holler over it.

I like to hoot and holler about the tools that have helped to make my healthy living journey just a tad bit easier.  In our day and age choosing health isn’t always as easy as it should and could be; if something has made me want to jump for joy along this journey, it’s only fair that I share it.  While health means something different to every soul, and it’s true that what works for one person definitely won’t work for every person, I share because I care.  And I want you to know about the things I love to love!*

And I love to love Spark People, for about a billion reasons.  Here’s just a few:

1 // Have a health topic you want to learn about? Spark People has TONS of articles and videos covering a wide range of specific health topics from experts to trust.

image0012 // Meal planning made easy with SparkRecipes.com; a site dedicated to healthy recipes for any and every occasion.  Spark Recipes is a tool I have been using for YEARS for meal planning inspiration and has recently received a beautiful facelift with wonderful photography and a focus on eating better with quick and easy cooking.  One of my favorite features of Spark Recipes is the ability to “Add/Calculate a Recipe.”  It allows you to input the ingredients of your own recipes to calculate the nutritional info.

3 // Spark People trackers are customizable; a dream for this self-proclaimed organization nerd.  You can track calories, fitness activity, weight gained and lost, plus any other goal you’d like to keep on your radar.  To this day when I want to work towards a specific health goal, I find myself logged on to Spark People to do some goal setting and tracking.

4 // Spark People was the birthing site of some of my greatest friendships. I am so thankful for the COMMUNITY aspect of Spark People. I’ve made some lasting friendships through that site.  As a matter of fact, Spark People is how I first started my friendship with Laura.

5 // Spark has gone mobile, and I love having the tracking tools at my finger tips when I’m on the go.  There is also a v. cool “scan barcode” feature in which you can scan a package barcode to upload the nutritional info.  Technology is uber-fun!

6 // Spark resources go beyond the web and onto my bookshelves.  I love Spark People founder Chris Downie’s book, The Spark, which is full of motivational stories, tips and suggestions of how you can find the spark within you to make positive changes in your life.  I’m currently reading The Spark Solution, the latest Spark People book release, and one of my favorite cookbooks in my kitchen is The SparkPeople Cookbook.

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The cookbook is such a fantastic resource for the kitchen, full of delicious, nutritious recipes, but also narrative on healthy choices, lots of cooking and food prep tips, and motivation to make your health a priority as you eat.  Some of my favorite go-to week night meals come of this book.  As a matter of fact, Nick and I had an at-home date night where we made dinner together using three recipes from the cookbook; Baked Chicken Tenders (love the cheesy panko crust,) Three-Cheese Macaroni with Broccoli(blanching the broccoli makes such a huge difference! it’s the perfect texture,) and Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Herb Oil(so flavorful – probably my favorite dish of the night.)

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All of the dishes were wonderful and I was stoked to have leftovers to use in other meals throughout the weekend.  I’ve used some leftover tenders for quick tacos using stuff I already had in the house: my favorite pineapple salsa, corn tortillas, mixed greens, and shredded cheese.  Other tenders and extra broccoli were used to top a big ole freggie filled salad and I diced up the roasted reds to make a potato egg hash for brunch.   And the mac and cheese was fantastic reheated on its own and also topped with a runny egg.

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I’ve marked at least a dozen recipes to add to our meal plan this fall from The SparkPeople Cookbook and I’m excited to offer you the opportunity to meal plan with a copy of your own, too.  In celebration of the gorgeous relaunch of SparkRecipes.com, Spark People has offered to give TWO of the friends of THS their own copy of The SparkPeople Cookbook!

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Update: Congratulations to Kelly from Living the Before and Rachel from The House Always Wins for winning a copy of The SparkPeople Cookbook.  Ladies, be on the lookout for an email to confirm shipping details!

To enter to win one of two copies of The SparkPeople Cookbook, leave a comment on this post answering one of the following two questions before Friday, October 4th:

  1. What cookbook do you use the most often? Mine is a toss up between The SparkPeople Cookbook and How to Boil Water, especially for technique how-to. 
  2. What cookbook feature is most important to you when you determining if it’s a “great cookbook?”  I love extra trips and tricks that go along side the recipes to help make cooking easier on the beginner, home cook.

 

*if you’ve read this blog for more than 5 seconds, you probably are already aware that this extends way beyond health tools and products.  I can’t stop talking about media recommendations, either.

Dec 032012
 

After working the Wegman’s Living Gluten Free event in October, I found myself with an urge to create something delicious with the open box of Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal I had in my pantry. 

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This specific cereal plays many roles in my kitchen.  I eat it for breakfast or a late night snack, with berries or banana or if I’m feeling especially crazy, both.  Also, if you’re a big peanut butter fan – try this cereal with a spoonful of peanut butter right in there with the milk.  Take a little bit of peanut butter with each spoonful of milk and cereal. [a little trick I learned from my an old friend in Texas!]

I also use this Crispy Brown Rice cereal in yogurt bowls.  I love the super simple ingredient list [organic brown rice, organic brown rice syrup, and sea salt. siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiimple.] and the light crunch it adds to my most often consumed breakfast. [yogurt bowls, I just can’t quit you…even in the winter.]  I admit that sometimes my yogurt bowls get a dose of sugary granola stirred in, along with whatever fruit, nuts, or seeds I may have added to the mix – but when my focus is eating CLEAN, I swap out the sugary granola [or crumbled muffin.] for my go to box from Erewhon. 

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We’ve made a lot of sweet treats with Erewhon cereal, too.  I rely on the gluten free rice cereals for crispy treats when gluten free friends are joining us for a party.  Nick made an awesome batch of Gluten Free Cocoa Crispy Treats with a vanilla caramel twist and I have my eyes peeled for those pumpkin spice marshmallows I heard about to make a batch of pumpkin spice crispy treats soon. 

This go around I decided on a cookie and I can’t believe it’s taken me well over a month to finally share this recipe.  After all, I claim this recipe to be the best cookies to come out of my oven EVER.  The perfect amount of chewy and crispy together with an even sprinkling of chocolate chips.  This is a cookie that would make Goldie Locks mighty happy – they’re just right.

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Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Dice room temperature butter.  Combine with sugar in a medium sized mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy.
  • While mixing on low, add egg and vanilla, until combined.
  • Fold in the flour and baking soda until just mixed.
  • Gently stir in Erewhon Crispy Brown Rice Cereal and chocolate chips until mixed throughout.
  • Drop teaspoonful heaps of dough onto a prepared cookie sheet.
    [ I used a few methods here: to a preheated baking stone and parchment paper lined cookie sheets I dropped heaping teaspoons of dough.  I also dropped larger spoonfuls in a lightly greased muffin tin, which gave the batch a nice uniformity drop cookies often lack. 
  • Bake for 10-12 minutes, removing from oven once edges of cookies are slightly browned.  Cool on sheet for 3 – 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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P.S. Tomorrow happens to be National Cookie Day!  I may just have to celebrate with a batch of these babies!