Saturday, September 25, 2010

Pumpkin Apple Crisp Muffins

Pumpkin, pumpkin everywhere! I am excited to try lots of recipes including Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, Pumpkin Black Bean Chili, Pumpkin Pancakes and Pumpkin Spice Lattes!

For now, though, I am craving the combination of two classic fall flavors: pumpkin and apple.

I bring you Pumpkin Apple Crisp Muffins. It is adapted from this recipe on I changed a few things and cut way back on the sugar. If you like your baked goods sweet, you may want to check out the original version. These were just perfect for my taste. I also added oats to the streusel topping, apple crisp style.

Pumpkin Apple Crisp Muffins


1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup sucanat (or sugar)
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
15 oz can Libby's Pumpkin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups peeled, cored and chopped apple
1/4 cup water (if needed)


1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter


1.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease 18 muffin cups or use paper liners.

2.In a large bowl, sift together flour, sugar, spices, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, mix together eggs, pumpkin and oil. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stirring just to moisten. Fold in apples. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.

3.In a small bowl, mix together oats, flour and brown sugar for topping. Cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle topping evenly over muffin batter.

4.Bake in preheated oven for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into a muffin comes out clean.

Oh yeah...

Delicious topped with Homemade Apple Butter!

The "crisp" topping was the best part, I'm not gonna lie. The muffins themselves weren't very sweet so the topping added that little something extra.

In other news, I have had a terrible case of Bronchitis for the past 2 weeks. I can finally breathe again without wheezing and coughing so I AM going to exercise tomorrow! There. I wrote it down. I can't take it back now!!

How do you keep yourself accountable?

Excuse Me, Have You Seen My Motivation?

I don't know what's going on with me. I can't seem to find the motivation to do what I want MOST right now. Get healthy. 

Let me start at the (most recent) beginning. I moved to Louisville and back into my parents' house in the beginning of 2008. My plan was to take care of myself, save money, and generally get my life together.
I researched and researched to find the gym that was the "perfect fit" for me. That gym was Baptist East/Milestone Wellness Center. I started working out and logging my daily calorie intake. I'm a registered dietitian, after all, I know how to lose weight.

In my case, knowing and doing are two entirely different things.

At any rate, I was determined to do things the "right way" this time. SLOOWWLY. Lifestyle change versus diet. I wanted to have a healthy relationship with food and exercise for the first time in my life. I still do.

For several months I ate well, but didn't deprive myself. I went to the gym 5-6 times a week.
I lost nothing...
I had my basal metabolic rate checked. I cut my calories even further. I exercised twice a day.
I lost 1-2 pounds a month.

This just didn't seem right, and I was getting very discouraged. At my next doctor's appointment I asked if they would check my thyroid. The doctor wasn't sure it was necessary, but they were going to draw blood anyway, so she agreed. A few days later I got a phone call letting me know I had hypothyroidism. To make a long story short, I started on medication and resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to try even harder to lose weight.
By November of 2009 I had lost about 30 pounds and had been exercising regularly for almost 2 years. I felt amazing. I even completed a 5K, 10K, 10 miler and a  half marathon during this time period. I thought maybe, just maybe, I could lose the weight and keep it off...

Things were going so well, I decided it was time to move out on my own. I bought a condo and moved in. I guess now would be a good time to tell you that I don't exactly do well with big changes. When I moved, my entire routine fell apart and all of my good habits went out the window. I began eating more convenience foods, snacking late at night and skipping my workouts. I had to get my condo in order, after all. That is what I told myself. The stress of moving and the changes in my routine also caused me to turn to food for emotional comfort again.

 Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months.

It has now been almost a year since I moved into my condo, and I am still not back into a healthy routine. My fitness and energy levels have bottomed out, I've gained back every single pound it took me almost 2 years to lose, and I feel awful.

So why am I doing this to myself? (I don't really know for sure, to be honest).
I do know that I am extremely disappointed in myself and extremely discouraged. I am not even going to get into how many times I have tried to lose weight and failed to keep it off. At some point, you start to wonder if you can do it. At some point you just. don't. want. to. fail. again.  

Now, I've also been given a wake-up call.  At my recent physical my doctor informed me that my cholesterol has jumped nearly 30 points. She has given me 90 days to make an improvement with diet and lifestyle before prescribing a statin medication. In addition to that, I've been sick with bronchitis for nearly 3 weeks and was told my weight might be making my breathing problems worse. I am actually starting to get sick as a result of how I am treating my body...

I can't believe I allowed this to happen. I am ashamed to call myself a dietitian right now.

I am hoping by writing this I will see in black and white the reasons that I need to (and want to) make changes in my life. I am hoping this provides the kick in the pants that will motivate me. I am hoping the fact that I am damaging my body each day I make poor decisions will finally sink in.

I will keep trying. If I don't try I won't fail, but I also won't succeed.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Granola

It's heeerrrre!!

Get ready for the first of many pumpkin recipes to come this season!

I've been wanting to make granola for awhile now. It is simple to make, plus it is healthier and less expensive than most store-bought varieties.

The idea struck me sometime in the middle of work today to incorporate pumpkin into granola (inspiration strikes at odd times, doesn't it?).  I looked at some recipes that use applesauce and thought it made perfect sense to sub pumpkin for the fruit for another, right?

I mixed oats, slivered almonds, walnuts, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and sucanat in a large bowl.

Added some shredded coconut as an afterthought (not pictured).

Mixed in pumpkin, vanilla extract and maple syrup.

Spread it on a sheet pan greased with a little coconut oil.

And put it in the oven.

Let me tell you, this stuff made my kitchen smell all kinds of delicious while it baked!

I added some dried cranberries during the last few minutes of baking.

The granola gets all nice and crispy as it cools.

(I overcooked mine trying to crisp it up, so trust me on this one)

Pumpkin Pie Granola

3 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sucanat (or brown sugar)
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1/3 cup shredded coconut
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2/3 cup pumpkin
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees F. Coat 2 baking sheets with coconut oil (or cooking spray).
2. Combine oats, sucanat, spices, coconut, almonds and walnuts in a large bowl. Mix pumpkin, vanilla and maple syrup in another bowl. Stir the pumpkin mixture into the oat mixture until combined. Spoon granola evenly on to prepared baking sheets.
3. Bake for about 1 hour, stirring every 20 minutes until lightly browned. Mix in dried cranberries at the end.
4. Breathe in deeply the aroma of pumpkin pie filling your kitchen.
5. Remove from oven and cool to room temperature (if you can wait). Store in airtight container. 

Yum, tastes like FALL! 

What is your favorite way to use pumpkin?  

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Birthday Dinner at Ramsi's Cafe on the World

It's official. I am now 29.

To celebrate my birthday last night, my parents and I went to eat dinner at Ramsi's Cafe on the World .

This was my first time eating at Ramsi's and I chose it in part because there are several vegetarian and vegan options on the menu.

(Yes, the 30 day challenge is over, and yes I need to post about it. Coming soon!)

I also chose it because the last time I tried to eat there it was a Saturday night and we waited 2 hours before giving up and going somewhere else...

I figured it would be much easier to get in on a Tuesday night, and it was. We didn't have to wait at all to be seated.


Ramsi's is located on Bardstown Road in the Highlands. As the name suggests, the cuisine is international fusion. The extensive menu includes an eclectic variety of dishes from around the globe. 

The patio had a charming feel, but the weather is still a little warm for my taste so we opted to dine inside.


I started off with a seasonally appropriate Schlafly Pumpkin Ale. I had heard good things about this particular brew, so I jumped at the chance to try it when I saw they had it on tap.

It did not disappoint! The flavor was smooth, slightly sweet and spicy with the flavors and aroma of pumpkin pie.  

For my entree, I chose the Thai Noodles. This vegan dish consisted of pan-seared tofu, snow peas, carrots, red peppers and peas tossed with rice noodles. It was served over a bed of cucumbers and lettuce and topped with a peanut ginger sauce.

I thought it was delicious. The peanut ginger sauce made the dish!

We spanned the globe with our meal choices. My mom ordered the Roasted Vegetable Masala and my dad had the Egyptian Kitchen. They said they enjoyed their dishes. I tasted both and really liked them as well!

We finished the meal with dessert. I got excited and forgot to take any pictures! My mom and I split a caramel banana trifle and my dad had a vegan raspberry chocolate trifle (I am kind of making up the names, I don't remember what they were actually called!). They were both very good, but I think I could whip up something similar at home.

After dinner, we browsed Carmichael's Bookstore next door. I love Louisville's local joints; they have so much personality!

I finished off my birthday relaxing and watching the Biggest Loser season premier.

It was a good day.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bring on Fall!!

Okay, so we are now well into September. What was the weather like in Louisville today?

94 degrees.

Since it hasn't really cooled off at all,  I am going to post some fall pictures from last year for a little inspiration.

The good news is, I have heard rumors we are starting to get some Libby's Pumpkin in this I just need to go out and find some!

I mentioned some of my favorite things about fall here...I just love the changing colors, the crunch of leaves beneath my feet,  the cool, crisp weather that only requires a light sweater, Halloween decorations, hayrides, bonfires, hot coffee, sitting by the fireplace and the smell of the wood burning, all things pumpkin...and apple...and the cinnamon-y spicy flavors of apple crisp, pumpkin pie and spiced cider. I love homemade soups, chili, warm oatmeal and the other cool weather comfort foods. I also really want to set aside time to carve pumpkins for Halloween this year...and toast up the pumpkin seeds!

For some reason, fall gives me the feeling of a fresh beginning...perhaps because of all those years that fall marked the beginning of a new school year? At any rate, it is a good time for me to re-commit to my health goals and make some changes for the better!

What are you looking forward to during the fall season?

Friday, September 17, 2010

Ingredient Spotlight: Millet

In my trial run as a vegetarian, I have gotten fairly comfortable some foods such as quinoa and chickpeas. In fact, they are my go-to vegetarian ingredients (besides vegetables, of course). I wanted to venture out and try something new...millet came to mind.

What is Millet?

Millet is small, round in shape, and can be white, grey, yellow or red. The most common form in stores is the pearled, hulled kind. It is a tasty grain that has a mildly sweet, nut-like flavor which is intensified when the grain is toasted. The protein content is very close to that of wheat; both provide about 11% protein by weight. Millet is rich in B vitamins (especially niacin, B6 and folic acid), calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and zinc. Millet contains no gluten, so it is appropriate for those with celiac disease or gluten/wheat intolerance.

Health Benefits

Magnesium found in millet lowers type II diabetes risk, may reduce the severity of asthma, reduce the frequency of migraine attacks, has been shown to lower high blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attack

Insoluble fiber from millet and other whole grains helps prevent gallstones, protects against certain cancers and provides cardiovascular benefits.

Millet contains phytonutrients and phenolics, which are powerful antioxidants that work in multiple ways to prevent disease.


Like all grains, before cooking millet rinse it thoroughly under running water to remove any dirt or debris. To enhance the nutty flavor, toast the grains first by placing in a dry skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently. When they have achieved a golden color, add one part millet to two and a half parts boiling water or broth. After the liquid has returned to a boil, turn down the heat, cover and simmer for about 25 minutes. The texture of millet cooked this way will be fluffy like rice. If you want the millet to have a more creamy consistency, stir it frequently adding a little water every now and then.


Southwestern Sweet Potato and Millet Salad
(adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian)

Makes 4 servings.

2.5 cups cooked millet (1 cup raw)
2 medium (about 1 pound) sweet potatoes
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup minced red onion or shallot
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup toasted pepitas
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro (optional)

1. Cook millet according to preparation instructions above (1 cup millet plus 2.5 cups water).
2. Meanwhile, peel the sweet potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. Cook in salted, boiling water until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well.
3. Toss together sweet potato, millet, bell pepper and onion; sprinkle with salt and pepper.
4. Whisk the oil, lime juice, red pepper flakes and cumin together in a smalll bowl. Toss the salad with about 1/2 of this mixure; add all or some of the rest to taste. Adjust seasonings, garnish with toasted pepitas and fresh cilantro.

I have been eating this for lunch all week. It is good cold, warm, topped with sliced avocado or wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla. I also mixed in some leftover black beans about halfway through the week, and it was a nice addition.

Question: Do you like the "ingredient spotlight" format or is it too much information?


Monday, September 13, 2010

It's Tastefully Simple

Tastefully Simple is a direct sales company based in Alexandria, Minnesota. They offer a selection of convenient, easy-to-prepare foods designed to help people spend less time in the kitchen. The products are available through independent consultants primarily at home taste-testing parties.

Taste-testing party? Yes please!

Over the summer I attended a Tastefully Simple party thrown by a friend of mine. It was a fun and delicious party, so I signed up to host my own. It seemed like a good excuse to invite people over and, of course, I love food. This was right up my alley.

I got my party kit ahead of time and prepared all of the goodies. My Tastefully Simple consultant, Cory, showed up early to help put the finishing touches on the food. Somehow, she mangaged to avoid my camera the entire evening, but she kept the guests entertained and well fed.

A couple of the tastes, including their famous Bountiful Beer Bread!

My fabulous friends and fam!

My mom. I couldn't have pulled this off without her help!

And, of course, Lila wanted to be included.

The Tastefully Simple product line consists of some healthy foods and other not-so-healthy ones.  All of them are quick and easy to prepare. My favorite (healthy) products are the seasoning blends.

They can be added to anything for a punch of flavor. The best part? I can pronounce all of the ingredients. Plus, 1 teaspoon of Garlic Garlic is equivalent to 1 clove of fresh garlic. I like to have that option if I don't have fresh garlic or don't want to get my fingers smelly by chopping it up! Onion Onion can also be substituted for fresh onion.

The rest of the evening was spent placing orders, socializing and chowing down on Perfectly Potato Cheddar Soup, Nana's Apple Cake, Artichoke and Spinach dip and Key Lime Cheese Ball with Twisty Grahams.

Overall, I'd say the night was a success...I may even have my very own Tastefully Simple consultant in the family very soon!

My biggest fear about entertaining in my home is that no one will show up. What is your favorite excuse to entertain? Do you have any fears?

Road Trippin'

First things first. I found my camera. Where? At Bed, Bath and Beyond. Yes, it was a lucky find. After searching everywhere I could think of at least 3 times, I concluded I must have left it somewhere. If that was the case, someone probably kept it...

After some encouragement to "think positive" from Bethany, I decided to call and check. It couldn't hurt...but I was pretty certain it was a waste of time. Turned out the person who answered the phone at Bed, Bath and Beyond knew what I was talking about immediately...and had my camera for me! My faith in humanity got a little boost. Thanks, B!

This week consisted of an out-of-the-ordinary occasion. I showed up at work on Tuesday morning to find my ecstatic co-worker friend, Jan, jumping around the clinic exclaiming that she won free tickets to a private Kings of Leon show in Nashville, TN! Guess who she wanted to go with her? This girl!

I love spur of the moment trips (I think it just feels more exciting) so I was on board. We scrambled to find coverage for our clinic and get our time off approved. Before long, we were on the road to Music City! In all the haste, I forgot my camera. It turned out that taking pictures at the concert was strictly forbidden anyway. It makes me sad because it was a very exciting day and I wish I could share more of it.

All I have to show for our 6 hour roadtrip and second row center spot at a private KOL concert is my arm band:

And, of course, the awesome memories. It was a great experience!

We arrived in Nashville at about 2:30 pm.

We had some time to kill so well walked to a nearby mexican joint to grab a bite to eat. I had a vegetarian style taco salad and a margarita on the rocks, no salt. The food was not impressive. My salad consisted of refried beans, lettuce, tomato, guacamole and sour cream. Service was just okay. My guess, based on the location of this restaurant and the quality of the food, is that many of their guests are already intoxicated when they enter the establishment...


We headed back to the venue to get our arm bands and wait for the concert to start. I'm not gonna lie, we did a lot of waiting...

But in the end it was all worth it.

Oh, yes.

(Jan caught Caleb's sweaty handkerchief, but you'll have to ask her about that...)

Do you like spur of the moment trips...or are you a planner?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Veg Life: Week 2

Happy Labor Day! I hope everyone has enjoyed their long weekend. I know I have.

I do have some sad news, though. My camera was in my purse yesterday and now it is nowhere to be found. I hope it turns up, but in the meantime, I developed  a roll of 35 mm film today. Yes, that's right, 35 mm film. It's been awhile since I've used a camera that isn't digital, but my dad lent me his old SLR so that I could practice using it. I want to decide whether to upgrade my point and shoot camera or take the plunge and get a DSLR. Now, it is looking like I may have to make that decision sooner rather than later...

Veg Update

I am officially halfway through my 30 day vegetarian challenge. This week has been full of mixed feelings. Early on, I started to get tired of my vegetarian options. I am still so new to this lifestyle that I have trouble improvising. I realized I have been following recipes to the letter (not my usual style) because a lot of the ingredients I am using are new to me. Even though I am out of my comfort zone, I am thankful for this experience because I am learning to use new ingredients and think outside of meat and potatoes. Yes, it can be frustrating at times, but I know it will get easier.

I decided to search out some vegetarian and vegan friendly restaurants in the Louisville area and, wow! I was totally surprised to see quite a few options and they sound great! I am excited to start trying out some of these venues and I will keep you informed of what I discover along the way. A simple internet search seemed to open up a world of possibilties and the feelings of vegetarian boredom vanished immediately! There is so much for me to discover!


I feel like I am constantly reading about other bloggers' experiences with juice bars and how wonderful they are. I was pretty sure nothing like that existed in Louisville, but I started an internet search nonetheless. I was craving some fresh juice on Saturday. It took a little digging, but I found one!

Turtle Blossom Inspired Foods and Juice Bar.

I immediately headed to check it out. Once I got there I discovered credit cards weren't accepted. Well, I had set my mind on some juice so I was about to head to an ATM when the guy behind the counter said, "Hey, its a nice day. I'll make you something on the house." Amazing! I ordered a carrot apple juice. It was fresh tasting and totally hit the spot!
(I got these pictures from their Facebook page. I took my own, but they are on my missing camera...Boo)

Look for a review of Turtle Blossom Inspired Foods and Juice Bar in the near future. I have more to say about this place!


I mentioned earlier that I recently tried my first beet. Well, it turns out my parents got a bag of beets in their CSA share last week. They aren't crazy about beets so I offered to "do something" with them. I had never prepared beets in my life, but I was feeling adventurous.

The beets sat in the fridge for awhile as I thought about what I could do with them. As I was catching up on blog reading one night, something caught my eye: beet hummus. I thought, "I like hummus...why not"?

Having made hummus recently, I felt confident putting my own spin on a recipe. I was already thinking that I would use roasted garlic instead of raw the next time I made chickpea hummus. I decided to give it a shot.

Roasted Garlic Beet Hummus
(Adapted from Simply Recipes and Eating Bird Food)

1/2 pound beets, scrubbed clean, cooked, peeled, and cubed
2 Tbsp tahini sesame seed paste
4 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 cloves garlic, roasted
1 Tbsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp lemon zest
Generous pinch of sea salt
Fresh ground pepper to taste

1. To roast garlic, place cloves on a square aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil. Gather the aluminum foil into a pouch and set it directly on the rack of 250 degree oven. Roast until the garlic becomes very soft, approximately 1 hour ( I took mine out of the oven when my entire kitchen started smelling of garlic).

2. Meanwhile, wash beets and cook in boiling water for about 30 minutes, or until they are tender enough to stick a fork through. Strain and run cold water over the beets, then remove the peels once they are cool enough to touch.

3.Place all ingredients in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings and ingredients as desired.

Once again, these pictures were on my camera that is currently MIA. I devoured most of this stuff already, but I scraped up what was left and attempted to get some decent pictures.


You can believe me or not, but this stuff is GOOD! I especially liked it topped with a little goat cheese (my parents liked it, too). I served it up with my homemade whole wheat pita chips.

Do you like beets? What is your favorite way to prepare them?