Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Than Just Fudge

I want to tell you about a couple quick and easy "healthy" fudge recipes that I have fallen in love with over the past week... BUT that's not all!  I want to chat with you about "more than just fudge" such as a few last minute healthy gift ideas and my contribution to the Christmas meal. I can't believe it's only a few days until Christmas!
Fudge is first.  I wanted to take some sweet treats to the office last week, but my healthier version of course.  Let's face it though... it's still dessert, and just because it might be a healthier version doesn't mean you can eat more of it... it's still sugar.  Moderation, moderation, moderation.  I needed something quick and easy, and, thankfully Sam found two great recipes! 
Old Fashioned Fudge
(recipe from

5/6 cup non-dairy creamer (I like coconut milk creamer.)
2 1/4 cup sugar 
1 teaspoon vanilla
Directions: Grease or line an 8 x 8" pan.  In large heavy pan, combine cream and sugar.  Stir constantly. Bring to a boil and lower heat to medium to continue boiling for 5 minutes.  Keep stirring this entire time.  Remove from heat and stir in butter and chocolate chips.  Keep stirring until satiny. Add vanilla.  Immediately pour in prepared pan. Cool at room temperature.  

The great thing about this recipe is that you can adapt it in so many ways depending on the season.  So for Christmas, we made this fudge into Candy Cane Peppermint Fudge by adding crushed candy canes on top right after we poured it into the pan and before it cooled.  This recipe really took only about 10 minutes to prepare and allow at least 1 hour to cool. 
Candy Cane Peppermint Fudge

For Thanksgiving, you could put dried cranberries on top or mixed into the fudge.  For Valentines, you could add the cute hearts with the sayings on top (that's not the most healthy option, but a cute one!).  There's variety with this recipe... play with it!  Don't listen to your mom on this one... go ahead and play with your food. :)
This next fudge recipe is probably my favorite. It is SO tasty!  The base of the fudge is cashews, and if you tasted it, you would have no idea! (My co-workers didn't.)  The consistency comes out like a thick cake batter, but it's cashews!  
Cashews vs. processed cake/fudge batter? Cashews win!
Peanut Butter and Chocolate Marble Fudge
(recipe from

Chocolate Fudge
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
2 tablespoons coconut oil (health benefits of coconut oil)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Peanut Butter Fudge
1/2 cup cashews
pinch salt
1/2 organic peanut butter (the only ingredient should be peanuts and maybe salt, aka not Jif!)
1/4 cup maple syrup or agave nectar
3 tablespoon coconut oil
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1. Chocolate Fudge: Process the cashews in a food processor until it turns into a dense butter (it should look sort of like play-doh but still be crumbly, no lumps though!) Then add cocoa and salt. Blend until combined. Add maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Blend until thoroughly combined, it should ball up at this point. Take out and set aside on cutting board or clean countertop.

2. Peanut Butter Fudge: Process cashews the same way as for the chocolate fudge. Add salt, blend until combined. Add peanut butter, maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla. Process until thoroughly combined.

3. Rip dough into 4 large chunks so you have 8 total. Marble fudge by combining the 8 separate pieces together, and knead until you see it marbling. Shape into a 1-inch thick flat rectangle. Chill covered in fridge overnight or at least 3 hours. 

Sam building the fudge tower

I wish I would have taken a picture of our final product, but thank goodness they have a pic on the website!  It should look something like this...

 Warning: If your fudge doesn't look as pretty as this picture, it's okay. Our fudge didn't.  But it still tasted divine. 
Changing topics... here are a couple last minute healthy & happy gift ideas that I thought about over the past week.  
I came across this book on Sunday while I was shopping in Anthropologie for Christmas gifts. Side note: Anthropologie has great books! You wouldn't think to go there for a book.  The book immediately caught my attention because of the title.  
I love it... The Happiness Project: Or Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.   Now, who doesn't want to read about that!  So I started skimming through it and found out that it stayed on the #1 New York Bestseller list for months.  Well, I didn't buy the book, but I wish I had, and I have been thinking about it ever since.  Thank goodness you can get it online! To sample chapters go here. This 30 second video gives you a little insight into the book... it's worth the 30 seconds, even if you don't want to read the book.  
Next on the list: A blender! I thought about adding this to the list this morning while I was making my smoothie.  I know we would all love to have the fancy VitaMix blender that can make almonds into milk, but it costs a pretty penny ($400-$500).  However, have no fear! I have a great alternative.
(available at Williams-Sonoma)

I have made a smoothie almost every day using frozen bananas for the past year and a half with this blender, and it still works great!  It's $150 at Williams-Sonoma.  Everyone should have a good blender, specifically to make smoothies! Smoothies are the perfect meal (if you make them with nutritious ingredients).  For me, the smoothie is my first meal of the day.  Check out this post for my go-to breakfast smoothie.  For other healthy smoothie ideas, check out this lululemon athletica blog post.

Now onto my last topic... my contribution to the Christmas meal.  Unless somebody blogs about a delicious recipe between now and Christmas, then this is what I'm going with...

Cranberry, Pear, and Sweet and Spicy Pecan Spinach Salad 
in a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette
Visit Oh She Glows for the Salad and Vinaigrette Recipe
Visit MindBodyGreen for the Sweet and Spicy Pecan Recipe   

I made this salad for Thanksgiving and it was a hit!  It was pretty sweet especially along with the sweet potato casserole.  So to reduce the sweetness, I'm going with the sweet and spicy pecans instead of the candied pecans in the original recipe. 

Sweet Potato Casserole 
(recipe from Oh She Glows)

Fresh Cranberry Sauce 
(recipe from Oh She Glows)

This sauce was a hit at Thanksgiving too! 

I would like to provide one other dish that is more of a main course. Maybe you can help me decide.  Right now I'm trying to choose from an array of holiday recipes at Peas & Thank You.  I'm thinking about either her Meaty Green Bean Casserole or her stuffing.  Thoughts?
Well, that's it for today.  I told you I wanted to chat about "more than just fudge."  I know it was a jumble of things, but when I finally find the time to write and the stamina to stare at the computer again after a long day at work, I just have to get out all of the topics that have been on my mind.  Hope that's okay :)
DON'T FORGET! Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean your workout has to take a holiday too.  Pack those tennis shoes or your yoga mat.  Check out Tone It Up's Full Body Circuit for great on-the-go workout that requires zero equipment, just a little space to move around.  Or pull up Tara Stiles' yoga videos on YouTube on your phone or computer. It's all there... no excuses!  You know you will feel better if you take the time to squeeze in a little workout amidst all the holiday feasts! 
I will be traveling for the holidays, so I probably won't be posting again until after Christmas.  So I would like to wish all of you a safe, happy, and healthy holiday! 
With Love, Health, and Happiness,

Monday, December 13, 2010

10 Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas

Other than the gift of more time to spend with my family, friends, and of course, more time to blog and talk to you... there are a few other things that I have on my wish list.  I don't normally make a wish list because, let's face it, there is nothing that I really "need."  However, there are always things that I would enjoy having.  So this year, I decided to make a wish list.  It just makes life much easier for those wanting to give gifts to you.  I have also been thinking of some things that I want to get for others, and this year I'm taking the healthy route on my gifts.  I'm giving something with the idea of health in mind in one way or another.

My Wish List

1.  Yoga Membership

Our yoga mats on the turf of the Cowboys Football Stadium. 

Yoga is something that will always be a part of my life.  I love going to classes and being able to feed off of the energy of other yogis in the room.  However, it does cost money, so why not put that on my wish list!

For those of you living in Fort Worth, here is a quick guide on some great yoga studios in the area. 

Indigo Yoga offers heated and non-heated Baptiste power yoga.  It is running a great special right now... $69 a month for UNLIMITED classes.  Regularly it's $17 a class, so you pay it off in 4 classes.  I know that I will definitely be going to yoga more than 4 times a month.  

Karmany Yoga just opened, and I have already been hearing only amazing things about this studio.  It offers two evening classes, which I love!  I haven't been yet, but I can't wait to go! I love the principle behind the studio: "Karmany is founded on the principle that yoga should be available to anyone, regardless of financial means or skill level...Karmany is a donation-based studio, which means there are no set fees for our regular classes. "

Urban Yoga offers a variety of classes for the adventurous yogi.  They offer everything from the signature vinyasa flow class to forrest yoga, nia, and barre classes.  I love the variety! 

2.  CrossFit Gym Membership/Class Packages 

You have all heard me talk about CrossFit (see this post if you haven't).  It is the complete opposite of yoga, which makes it the perfect compliment to yoga.  With CrossFit, I push myself beyond limits that I never knew existed. Like yoga, I also love the camaraderie from going to a CrossFit gym.  Everyone is pushing themselves with you and motivating you, and it only makes me push myself even more.  

Before you start attending regular classes at a CrossFit gym, you must go through at least 3 foundation classes where you learn the CrossFit exercises and proper form.  Sam and I just finished our foundation classes at Brandt CrossFit and participated in our first real CrossFit workout of the day (WOD)... check out the partner workout!  

The guy being carried in the yellow lululemon shorts... that's Sam.  
Sam carried his partner on the way back.

All I can say is...I love it, and I'm already addicted!  CrossFit has its own language so simply Google anything you don't recognize or go to the CrossFit main website for exercise demos. 

3.  Books

4.  Magazine Subscriptions

 I love all the ideas on how to live green and clean.

I love the combination of fitness, health, and fashion.

Amazing recipes and great updates on exciting places/things/events in the vegetarian world.

Or any other magazine having to do with health, fitness, or fashion.

5.  lululemon Apparel or Gift Cards

I don't just workout in lululemon apparel, I practically live in it... unless I'm in my business attire for work of course.  If I could wear their workout clothes everyday, then I would.  What I love about lululemon workout apparel is that it's extremely comfortable and fashionable!  And if you order online, shipping is always free! If you purchase items in the store, you get their awesome superhero bag... so you don't even have to wrap the present! I also take my lunch to work in the smaller version of these bags and grocery shop with the bigger bags.

Their water bottles and headbands make for great stocking stuffers!  I love my water bottle...

Yes, that is me... wearing 100% lululemon (except for the shoes) holding a lululemon 
"Sweat Once a Day" water bottle while standing in front of Tony Romo's locker at the Cowboy's Stadium. 
Yoga @ the Cowboys Stadium.   Check out my facebook for more pics of this event. 

Here is another lovely pic from that fun event.  The helmet had zero padding and just wobbled on my head.  
I look like a little kid, but that's okay... it's fun to be a kid again sometimes! Sam is also sporting
 lululemon's yellow shorts again.  He says they are much more comfortable than his other athletic shorts.  
Oh yes, and he is also carrying my lululemon bag that I love!


6.  Fitness DVDs

I'm going to need some quick, but effective backup workouts for the auditor's busy season, which will be here before I know it.  I won't be off work in time to make it to yoga or CrossFit classes during the week, so a yoga/fitness DVD will be perfect in the morning before work.

7.  Veggie Brothers Food Delivery

Veggie Brothers is a food delivery service that delivers fresh, organic vegan cuisine straight to your door frozen and ready to heat up.  The food is made with very high quality ingredients.  I mentioned that I am about to head into the auditor's busy season starting in January, and it is going to be difficult for me to find the time to cook healthy meals to take to work.  I've heard about this food delivery service, so I thought it might be a good way to get healthy food without having to take the time to cook it.  I haven't tried it before, but I'm really curious!

8.  Beauty Products

Lavera Organic Sunless Tanner Lotion for Face & Body ~ This lotion is vegan too.  It doesn't leave a funny smell, or streaks, or an unnatural orange tint.  It is so easy to apply.  It gives the perfect glow to cure that winter pastiness.  I use both the face and body lotion 3 times a week.  You can find it at most Target stores in the make-up section near the Burt's Bees products. 

Eminence Organics Skin Care Products ~ Stone Crop Gel WashEight Greens Youth Serum, Stone Crop Whip Moisturizer, Pear & Poppyseed Microderm Polisher 

9.  For my family to participate in an athletic event with me (yoga, 5K, CrossFit, anything active!).

Last, but not least.  This isn't your normal gift, but this is something that I would ask for that isn't solely for my benefit, but also for the benefit of the person giving the gift. I started this post mentioning that I would like more time to spend with my family and friends so why not spend that time doing something active!

 My Mom's FIRST yoga class was at the Cowboys Stadium Event. 
What a great intro to yoga.  Check out her cute lululemon gear too!

10.  Other goodies I would like to give...

I wouldn't just enjoy receiving these gift ideas mentioned above, but I would also LOVE to give them.  I love giving presents and helping people live healthier, so why not just do that all at once! Here are some other things I would love to give... 

If I could give this book to all of my friends and family, then I would.  This book is filled with simple one liners providing an easy guide to eating healthy.  Check out Michael Pollan's discussion of his book with Oprah. 

Blondies in a Jar.  A great gift idea from Oh She Glows.  I would like to make these jars filled with all the ingredients you need to make a healthier version of blondies to show that eating healthy doesn't have to be boring, and it can taste just as good (if not better) than the other, less healthy options.

Well, that's my list!  I hope I got this post up in time and that you haven't finished all of your holiday shopping yet.  Tis the season... give the gift of health! It's something that will never be outdated, need an upgrade, or go out of style.  

With Love, Health, & Happiness,

Question of the Day:  What would you like to give/receive this year??

Monday, December 6, 2010

My Thanksgiving Meal, Workout, & The Most Difficult Post I've Ever Written

Well, hello there! I'm back on the blogging horse... feels good.  I wish I would have been able to post about my Thanksgiving meal before Thanksgiving, but, now that I think about it, I'm glad I have waited until now to talk to you about my Thanksgiving.

My Thanksgiving took place in a small town in Oklahoma at my Grandparents house.  My Grandmother always whips up an amazing Thanksgiving feast, but this year, I wanted to help her out.  So Sam and I made a few HEALTHY dishes!  I know the words, "healthy" and "Thanksgiving," don't really go together, but if you take a little bit of the unhealthy with a little more of the healthy... then it all evens out!

It was my first turkey free Thanksgiving... 
and this is just too funny. 

It was the weekend before Thanksgiving, and I had NO idea what I was going to make so I turned to the website I can always count on to give me some great meal ideas... Oh She Glows.  And boy, was I glad I did this.  On OSG I found a complete Thanksgiving Menu with all of the recipes... it was like finding gold!  I scrolled through the menu and circled a few items to make for our Thanksgiving...

Visit the link above for all the recipes from Oh She Glows.  Now it's Picture time!  Oh yes, keep in mind that I don't have a fancy food picture taking camera, but you still get the idea :)

Candied Pecans for the Salad

Sam flipping the pecans in his fancy "chef" style way. 

Me trying to do the same.  
We baked these the night before... hence our comfy attire.

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

Gravy to go with the Walnut Loaf

Cranberry, Pear, and a Candied Pecan Spinach Salad 
in a Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette 

High Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Sweet Potato Casserole (This dish was a favorite!)

Fresh Cranberry Sauce

The Vegan Spread
(Glazed Walnut Loaf with Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Mashed Potatoes, 
Green Beans, Sweet Potato Casserole, and the Salad)

The salad, sweet potato casserole, and mashed potatoes were among the top favorite things for the meat eaters.  We did have turkey and the famous stuffing that I crave every year that is filled with everything I don't usually eat... but I ate some anyway, and I loved every bite! And for dessert...

Pecan Pie

Pumpkin Pie 
(That's a rather tall and skinny pumpkin in the middle)

Buttermilk Pie

As much as I would love to say that I made the pecan and pumpkin pie... I didn't.  I am not as confident in my baking skills, and I didn't have much time to cook... so I decided to purchase the pecan and pumpkin pie from my favorite vegan diner, Spiral Diner.  However, we did make a homemade, non-dairy whipped cream to go on top of the pies!  And it was so easy!

Coconut Milk Whipped Cream

1 can Full Fat Coconut Milk
1/2 cup Powdered Sugar (or to taste)
1 tsp Vanilla

Directions: Refrigerate a can of full fat coconut milk for at least 6 hours.  Beat the refrigerated coconut milk, vanilla, powdered sugar until it begins to resemble whipped cream.  Then place in the refrigerator for a few more hours to thicken.

The Buttermilk Pie is a Thanksgiving staple, and it's filled with just that.. butter, milk, and lots of sugar.  I had to have a tiny piece :)  As I always say, live life... don't deprive yourself of tasting something even if it's not on your "diet."

Well, I know this might be hard to believe, but Sam and I didn't just eat on Thanksgiving Day.  Before we filled our bellies, we had an incredible Thanksgiving morning workout.  When we went to bed the night before it was 70 degrees, and Thanksgiving morning it was 33 degrees!  SO COLD! And I didn't pack the warmest workout clothes, but I was determined to workout for a reason more important than the fact that I was about to fill my belly with too much food... we will get to that reason in a bit.

Sam and I had no clue what we were going to do, so we warmed up in the living room, and then just started running outside.  After running for about a 1/2 mile, we came across the town's high school football stadium and a HUGE set of stairs... perfect!  There were 3 sets of stairs divided by a flat area just big enough for Sam and I to do pushups in between the stair sets.  So at the top of the stairs we decided our workout...

*Dedicated to My Grandpa*

Repeat 5 Times as Fast as You Can: 
25 stairs
5 Burpees (Squat Thrusters)
20 stairs
10 Burpees
33 stairs

For a grand total of 390 stairs, 75 Burpees, and 150 air squats!  

Yes, after the third round I wanted to retreat to my warm Thanksgiving feast, especially since it was so cold and windy.  But there was a reason why I kept going and pushed myself as hard as I possibly could, and that reason was because of my Grandpa.

This Thanksgiving was unlike any other because my Grandpa was unable to be his usual, lively, happy self.  My Grandpa had been suffering from cancer for a little over a year.   He was on his last few days, and my whole family was fortunate enough to spend Thanksgiving and some final laughs and memories with him.  During Thanksgiving, he was bedridden, unable to move around, and, if you knew my Grandpa, he was not one to sit still.  He always had to be doing, building, or fixing something, or as we call it down South, he was always "piddlin'."  

So that morning when I woke up to the freezing weather, I was tempted to just cancel the workout. But then I thought about my Grandpa, who loved being active and was, for the first time in his life, no longer able to do so, and I got this instant surge of energy and desire to workout.  But not for me or for my benefit, and not because I knew I was going to eat a ton of food later, but because I knew that he couldn't... and so for that reason... I was going to do it for him.

I wanted to share that story with you because I think it's important to be appreciative of your health, the ability to walk, talk, and even run or jump because many people don't have that luxury whether it's due to illness or disability.  So the next time you workout, consider exercising for someone who can't.  It's amazing how different the workout feels when you are doing it for someone else and not for you.  It's a selfless workout, and after that day, I discovered that those are the best kind. 

So with all of that said... I hope you had a very Happy Thanksgiving.  Christmas will be here before we know it.

With Love, Health, and Happiness,

*This Thanksgiving Post is in Loving Memory of My Grandpa*
Kenneth Hawkins (Jan. 20, 1931- Dec. 2, 2010)