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…

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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!

Foodie Friday :: Frozen Spinach Cups

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Green smoothies are all the rage lately.  I first tried one a couple of years ago and was pleasantly surprised that everyone was telling the truth…you can’t taste the spinach at all!

The problem for me was that I wasn’t drinking them often enough and my spinach would go bad before I could eat it all.

Seeing as I can’t be the only one with this problem, I present to you the solution to that!  This isn’t anything new and it certainly wasn’t my grand idea.  I first saw it on Pinterest, but their spinach cups had a bunch of other veggie juices in them and for now I just wanted spinach.  I looked up a few other recipes, but none were what I was looking for and for whatever reason, I just decided to drop it.  Fast forward to a month ago when I ran across this BodyBuilding.com recipe by Natalie Hodson.  Score!!!  Just spinach and water!  Duh.  So simple I should have thought of it on my own, but…..I didn’t.  The only thing I did different was add flaxseed meal b/c that stuff goes rancid quick once it’s ground and it’s usually a step I would skip since it was a pain.

I used…

  • one bag of spinach (about 6 cups)
  • 6tbsp of flaxseed meal
  • approximately 1 cup of water

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I filled the blender to the top with spinach and added some of the water

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I kept adding spinach and water as needed until I finished the bag.  Once I was on my last bit of spinach, I added the flaxseed meal.

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All mixed!

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A lot of recipes I saw, put them into a regular muffin tin to freeze, but I liked the idea of putting them into a mini muffin pan.  It takes less time to freeze and it’s easier on your blender!  It made 25 cups exactly (I used a small container to hold the 25th cup :)).

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Annnnd, here they are frozen.  Aren’t they cute?

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(Please ignore the frostbite.  I didn’t take the after pics for a few days.)

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Nutrition info:  each frozen spinach cup has approximately 10 calories

It’s so easy to pop them into a smoothie!  I haven’t had a protein shake without spinach since I made these.  I usually add about 3-4 ice cubes to my shakes, but since these are pretty much like spinach ice cubes, I just throw in 3 of them instead of the ice cubes.

My go-to protein shake recipe…

  • 1/2-2/3 frozen banana (I weigh it and add about 65g)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (Jay Robb is my fave!)
  • 1 tbsp of peanut butter
  • 3 frozen spinach cups
  • dash of vanilla extract

Randoms on a Thursday…

::  I randomly start singing songs from Disney movies while I’m aimlessly perusing the internet…specifically Mulan.

It’s true.  I have no idea why it happens.  I’ve probably only watched it once in the past 8 yrs!

I start humming and before I know it, I’m singing, “please bring honor to us, please bring honor to us, please bring honor to us allllllll”  I’ll admit…I’m weird.  But Mulan is a pretty kick butt movie so I guess there are worst things I could hum.



::  My hubs got me these coolio bluetooth headphones for Christmas and it’s so awesome to be wireless!!  I’ve worn them running and weight lifting. They rock and I love not having to deal with the cord.  Plus, when you’re on a cardio machine, you can prop your phone up to watch a show without worrying about hitting the cord and knocking it down.  😉

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::  I’ve been wanting to try avocado pudding for a few months now and I finally did it last night.  I was a little leery.   I mean, I love avocado, but as pudding?  With chocolate?  I was skeptical.

Buuut, I’m all about trying a freaky combination if it turns into a sinfully delicious tasting treat that happens to be good for me.

Ta da!!

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Okay, so it looks kinda gross in this pic and the avocado didn’t puree as much as I wanted it to (hence that little yellow/green chunk sticking out), but it was pretty creamy and definitely tasty.  I ate a little last night and then froze the rest in a popsicle mold.  I have no idea if it will be good as a popsicle, but I figured it was worth a shot.  Here’s the recipe I sorta used, http://foodnouveau.com/2012/10/recipes/desserts/luscious-chocolate-avocado-pudding/.  Except I only had 1/2 of an avocado so I had to adjust the measurements and I wanted it to be vegan so I used almond milk.  I also added a little bit of PB.  Yum!!!


::  In almost exactly 2 months, my daughter and I will be jetting off to Paris!  I am uber excited, but also starting to have panic attacks at the same time.  I’m a bit of a worry wart and an OCD over thinker so the thought of everything that we need to remember to pack and the fast pace of the trip and the super long plane ride that I’m terrified of getting motion sickness during…omg…I’m going to throw up.  Anywho, I heard about a countdown app this morning on the radio and I’m not sure if it will make it more exciting or more anxiety inducing, but it’s called Timenotes and it gives you a countdown to any big events you add to the calendar.  It sounded kinda cool and since I’m super excited about my first trip out of the country, now that I’m typing it out, I’m worried (see, worry wart and over thinker) it isn’t a good idea to have it on my phone.  However, if you AREN’T crazy like me, you might want to check it out.  😉

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::  I decided I should probably cut back the coffee intake so I started drinking hot lemon & honey water in the morning thinking that it was just warmth I wanted in the morning, not specifically coffee.

Wrong.

After 2 days, I started craving coffee after I drank my lemon water so after taking the 2nd kiddo to school, I’ve been stopping by Starbucks.  Not good….not good at all.  I think I should switch it up and have coffee some days and lemon water other days b/c I definitely do NOT need to get Sbux every day.  Not only is it bad for my wallet and sugar intake, but it causes me to skip breakfast and that’s not what I should be doing.

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It is super yummy though and I have thoroughly enjoyed my last two morning lattes.  😉


[random #542] :: I’m trying to cut the animal products down where I can, so I finally got around to ordering this all natural, gluten-free, gmo free, vegan protein.  It has a bit of a following on FB and everyone says it’s delicious.  I just hope it lives up to my Jay Robb protein.

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