Because everything tastes better in a Vitamix

*drumroll please*

I am now the proud new owner of this gorgeous Vitamix!

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I’ve been using my faithful Ninja blender (which I never had any complaints about!) for a couple of years now

But, I always had a twinge of the “i-want’s” whenever I saw recipes that used a Vitamix

For probably a little over a year I’ve been coveting this beast of a machine, but I always told myself that it was way more machine than I needed and I don’t use a blender near enough to justify the cost, blah, blah, blah.

You know, all the responsible stuff you’re supposed to tell yourself when debating a big purchase

*insert Amex rewards fairies*

My American Express points had recently been burning a serious hole in my pocket and after drooling over the Vitamix for the millionth time, it suddenly dawned on me that I might have enough points to buy one!

Turns out I had just enough! While researching different models, I ran across a blogger who said that everything taste better when blended with her Vitamix.  I laughed and thought it was a bit overkill, but that didn’t keep me from using it as an example of why I needed one when telling my husband that I was going to order it (even though he didn’t care what I bought).

7-10 days later, my new BFF arrived on my doorstep!

Let me tell you, I am definitely drinking the kool-aid! The first thing I made was almond milk.  My husband uses it in his cereal in the morning and I use it in my smoothies so I was excited to make my own. Holy cow.  The Vitamix was scary powerful and grinded the shiz out of those almonds!  However, as much fun as it was to pulverize some almonds, I came to the realization that for me, it was too much work to do for the milk to expire in a few days. Plus, my husband prefers the consistency of the store bought milk. A fact that almost had him sleeping on the couch!

I mean, “hello, I just soaked premium almonds for 8hrs, blended the bajeezies out of ’em, separated the “milk” from the almond meal by squeezing it through a specially bought nut sack (yes, a nut sack!) and you’re telling me that you prefer the store bought processed crap over my freshly-squeezed-made-with-love almond milk?! You take it back right now mister!”

After I calmed down though, I accepted that the store bought and homemade did indeed taste a little different and deep down, I’m kinda glad he didn’t like the fresh one better. Otherwise he would have had me making this stuff every few days and then it would have resembled work and taken all the fun out of it! 😛

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I haven’t used the blender a ton yet.  I need to tackle a soup or something big, but last week I made my first smoothie in her (yep, she’s a her. That may be a little sexist of me, but she just seems like a her). Um, all I can say is…that blogger chick was NOT lying when she said EVERYTHING tastes better in a Vitamix!  I used to love the consistency of the smoothies in my Ninja.  I never had a problem with big chunks or anything and I still think it did a decent job, but, wow, the smoothness and melding of flavors from the Vitamix was uh-mazing!

I know it doesn’t look very appealing, but here it is before blending.  Before you ask, YES, it was delicious!  Tasted like an orange creamsicle!

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I threw in…1/2 avocado, 1-1.5 cups orange juice, 1/2 frozen banana, 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder and a dash of honey

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As if you needed more of a reason to own a Vitamix…during my research of the different models I found the holy grail of selling points. Did you know that to clean the blender, you just put warm water with a few drops of dish soap and blend it for 60sec?! What?! Yes, my friends, it is indeed as awesome as you are imagining. If you ever thought about buying one, DO IT! You won’t regret it!

And just because it’s half “OMG” and half “Whoa, I can’t believe it blended that”, check out one thing that may taste better in a Vitamix, but you probably shouldn’t drink it.  😉

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Following through + Healthy (protein packed) Mango Parfait

I took the first step towards one of my 2014 goals and signed up for a half marathon!

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It’s not until December and I’m a little nervous since I haven’t ran in awhile, but a half marathon has been on my bucket list since I completed my first race and I’m pumped about finally crossing it off my list.  Plus, you get a tiara and a boa so you can cross the finish line like a diva!  How could I not sign up?!

K, now on to some sweet & creamy deliciousness that’s good for you, but taste like it’s bad for you!

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I think mangoes are a love ’em or hate ’em kind of fruit.  Fortunately, I’m in the love ’em group.  I’m the only one in my house that likes them.  But that’s just fine by me!  I can eat them in peace without anyone wanting to share and when I buy them, I don’t have to worry about someone else stealing them!  😉

I’m trying to be better about my nutrition since I’m on week 5 of my workout program and I’ve seen zero changes.  I’m certain it’s because I haven’t been eating as well as I should be.  I can tell I’m getting stronger and my cardio has improved, but I’d like to see some changes on the measuring tape, scale or the way my clothes fit.

I started using MyFitnessPal again, even though I hate it.  Logging calories is a PITA.  It’s annoying and can be time consuming, but it works, so I begrudgingly started logging again.  *my username is katiehigg if you want to add me and see what I’m eating*

I did really well over the weekend so I’m looking forward to starting this week off right.  I had this yummy protein packed mango parfait for dessert last night and breakfast this morning.  It’s seriously delicious and a great reminder that healthy foods don’t have to be boring or tasteless!

DSCF2382-Edit-2 copy1/2 cup plain greek yogurt (I use Fage 0%)
1/2 scoop protein powder (Jay Robb’s Vanilla is my protein of choice)
dash of vanilla extract
half a mango – diced (sub any fruit you like if mangoes aren’t your thing!)
*sweetener – optional (I don’t use any because my protein has sweetener and the mango was so sweet, but do what tastes good to you!)
* 1/8 cup granola – optional (I used Udi’s Au Naturale Gluten Free granola)

Measure your yogurt out and add the protein powder a little at a time until it’s completely mixed. Add the vanilla extract and do a taste test.  You’ll want to add your extra sweetener now if you are using a powder sweetener.  If you’re using honey, you can easily add it in the end. Then add your fruit (and granola if you choose to) and it’s ready to eat!  But, eat slowly to savor every bite because you’ll be sad when it’s gone!

Nutrition: Calories 271 // Carbs 36g //  Fat 2g // Protein 28g // Sugar 26g

*nutrition facts are based on my specific ingredients and therefore will be different based on the different brands you use

Red Velvet Cupcakes (in a jar!)

Anyone else obsessed with peppermint flavored foods in the winter?  I guess it’s mostly around the holidays for me, but Chick-fil-A serves their peppermint chocolate chip shake (deliciousness you can slurp through a straw!) during winter so I’m saying it’s a seasonal thang.

I found this recipe posted by Paper & Stitch, and it was like a lightbulb went off.  Red velvet cake and peppermint sounds like a heavenly combo!  Why on earth I hadn’t thought of this combination before, is beyond me.

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It’s so easy peasy, you’re going to want to make all your cupcakes like this!  I just used a boxed cake mix (hello, not Martha over here) and canned frosting.  I prepared the cake according to the box instructions, filled the little mason jars about 1/3 full and baked them right in the jars (didn’t know you could do that until I found these cupcakes).  I adjusted the temperature for baking them in glass, but I had to watch them because they weren’t done when I thought they’d be.  I’d start with the normal temperature and just check them.  I also greased the inside of the jars with coconut oil.  Not sure if that was the right thing to do or not, but they turned out fine.

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I used a can of cream cheese frosting and added 1-2 tsp of peppermint extract, along with some pulverized candy canes (mostly just tiny bits and the candy cane dust).  Then, I used some of the bigger candy pieces to sprinkle on top.

I was so happy with how they cute they turned out!  And they were delicious too!

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This makes about 22-24 cupcakes.  I used approx 2 cans of frosting for the whole batch.

 

Strawberry Chicken Salad :: #recipe

Strawberries and balsamic vinegar…a very tasty combination!  I am a sucker for fruit in salads.  One of my favorite salads right now is the Cranberry, Walnut, Goat Cheese salad from The Loop.  It is so yum!  Anywho, so the other day I was rummaging in the kitchen wondering what I was going to eat for lunch.  After looking in the fridge I decided on a piece of leftover rotisserie chicken from the night before, strawberries and some salad mix.  The makings of a delicious salad, but one problem…no dressing!

I knew my friend, Google was going to be able to help me out with that though.

I quickly googled for a balsamic recipe and found this one.  Simple and using staples that I had on hand!  I added slightly less olive oil and increased the honey b/c I wanted it more on the sweet side.

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I was pretty stoked to find pecans in the pantry to add to my salad.  If I would have had feta or goat cheese, that would have been icing on the cake!  It was still DANG tasty even without the cheese though.  I would make it again in a heartbeat.  Actually I would have made it today if I’d remembered I had leftover chicken!

Finished product…

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Here are the measurments I *think* I used.  I knew I should have written it down, but alas, I did not.  Which means I have to rely on my memory.  And I’ll be the first to tell you that my memory isn’t the best.  :o\

1 1/2 T balsamic vinegar
2 T olive oil
2 t honey
1 t dijon mustard

I was trying to cut back the oil, but still wanted enough dressing to cover my salad.  I think it probably has so much EVOO to balance out the flavors.  Oh well, it was delicious the way I made it so no harm done!  Just had to add a little extra honey.  🙂

Starbucks Secret Menu? :: Five on Friday

Did you know there’s a Starbucks secret menu?!  Well, technically it wasn’t actually put out by Starbucks, but basically it’s different drink combinations that you may or may not have thought of using Starbucks flavors.

I’m not sure if it’s commonplace to order an item exactly like it comes or to customize the heck out of it, but I have a few go-to drinks that I like to order that aren’t necessarily on the menu.  My personal sbux concoctions (if you can call them that)…

  1. Grande, Iced, 3-pump caramel, 3-pump cinnamon dolce, no whip, with cinnamon dolce sprinkles & caramel sauce on top (what I get most of the time)
  2. Tall, nonfat, Peppermint/Java Chip frappuccino
  3. Tall, nonfat, Hazelnut frappuccino with java chips (got this one recently from another blogger I follow on Instagram!)

Most of the secret menu items put my little recipes to shame though!  So, for today’s five on Friday I’m sharing the top 5 recipes from the secret menu that look the yummiest (to me!) and aren’t overly complicated.

Psst….Don’t miss the P.S. & the P.P.S at the end of the post for important info about ordering your secret menu drinks!

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Banana Split Frappuccino

  1. Start with a strawberries and creme Frappuccino
  2. Add Vanilla Bean powder
  3. Add Java Chips
  4. Add a whole Banana (note the extra cost)
  5. Top with whipped cream and mocha drizzle
  6. Top with caramel drizzle if desired

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Cotton Candy Frappuccino

  1. vanilla bean frappuccino
  2. raspberry syrup (1 pump for a tall, 1.5 pumps for a grande or 2 pumps for a venti)

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Banana Cream Pie Frappuccino

  1. Vanilla Bean Creme Frappuccino
  2. a pump of vanilla syrup
  3. a pump of hazelnut syrup
  4. a whole banana
  5. whipped cream

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Fuzzy Peach Tea (for you non-coffee peeps)

  1. Passion Iced Tea made with half water and half orange mango purée w/light ice
  2. Peach syrup instead of the classic syrup

and last, but not least…the one I’m most excited about trying…

butterbeer-frappuccino

Butterbeer Frappuccino!

  1. *choose your size*
  2. caramel & toffee nut (yes, both syrups) cream frappuccino (whole milk)
  3. 1 pump of vanilla syrup (1 pump for tall, 1.5 pumps for grande, 2 pumps for venti)
  4. extra caramel sauce

Bonus recipe :: Banana Foster Frappuchino

photoI took a pic of this at a local Starbucks a few months ago.  Forgot about it until I was doing this post!

P.S. Don’t go trying to order these “secret” drinks by name or your barista will most likely look at you like you have two heads.  It’s not an official menu so most of the time they will have no idea what you’re talking about.  Order it by the recipe!
P.P.S. If you add banana to a frapp, just know that it will be extra $$$.

Any of you in blogland order a special Starbucks drink?  Even if you don’t have a cool name for it, please share!

Good eats…

I have yet to get into a summertime groove.  It’s the second week of summer break and we’re still being lazy bums over here.  I need to get to the grocery and start planning meals like, yesterday!  Without the hassle of picking up the kids in the afternoon, there is no excuse to not be making dinner most nights.  Not to mention that I’ve added a few unwanted lbs and eating out all the time is not helping.  I was hoping to get on a regular exercise routine this week as well, but my body had other plans.  I go to the doc at the end of next week and hopefully won’t have any restrictions, but until then, I’ll just be doing light exercise.

While most of these aren’t dinner ideas, they are some of my food pins that are on my to-make list for the summer…

How great would it be to have a pancake mix like this on hand instead of the premade mixes?!  I’d probably try using coconut oil instead of the canola though.

200804img1705Pancake Mix

I’m always game for a new quinoa recipe and this one for breakfast sounds pretty promising.

4fd7222876ab0181_IMG_6538.previewQuinoa Egg Bake

rotel-canned-tomato-salsa-recipe-mountain-mama-cooks-2Yummy looking salsa…love me some chips & salsa!

These next two chicken recipes are right up my alley…only a few ingredients and simple!

exps12378_GAC1115479C80Sweet & simple marinade recipe

crock-pot-beer-chickenCrockpot Beer Chicken recipe

And with any leftover chicken I will definitely try out this salad dressing…

strawberrybalsamic saladStrawberry Balsalmic Salad

Obviously this warm weather has left me craving dessert since I have 4 yummy dessert recipes calling my name…

grain_free_chocolate_chip_cookie_dough_bites_2Grain-free PB Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Bites – These cookies have an unconventional ingredient, but I’m really curious to see how they taste

keyli9meparfait8Key Lime Parfaits

waffle-strawberry-trifle-2-med108372_vertWaffle-and-Strawberry Trifle

popcornCookies & Cream Popcorn

This next recipe is only for the adults, but I am dying to have somewhere to take them so I can try them out!

6a00d8358081ff69e201901d31a769970b-800wiVodka Gummi Bears

What about you…Any good recipes you’ve found lately or any that you want to try?

Do you go meatless on Monday (or any day)?

In case you’ve been living under a rock, there’s a trend called Meatless Mondays. Basically, you go vegetarian just for the day. Here’s a cool infographic about it…

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I want to get back into the habit of Meatless Mondays, but I’m terrible about planning ahead and I want to do something different other than just black beans & avocado.  Which are a staple in this house and completely delicious, but I need to branch out a little.  Here are a couple of recipes I’m thinking about for dinner tonight…

Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu

black-pepper-garlic-tofu(image & recipe source via Fat Free Vegan)

How delicious does that ^^^ look?!

OR

The Best Veggie Burger Ever
(the bold labeling of Best definitely makes me want to try it!)

BurgerComboFW(image & recipe source via V.K.Rees Photography)

and maybe one of these tofu nugget recipes for the kids…

Crispy Coconut Crusted Tofu with Mango Chili Cream(image & recipe via Vegalicious)

113511(image & recipe via Live.Learn.Love.Eat)

Then again, who am I kidding, it’s almost 11am here and I still need to get dressed, wash clothes, workout, eat lunch and go to Target.  Maybe this is on the menu for NEXT Monday.  😉