Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Hey y'all! I hope everyone had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! As always, I am deeply grateful to the men and women who have given their lives protecting out rights and freedom. It is an unimaginable sacrifice that deserves more than we could ever give back. Because Memorial Day has come and gone, that means we are almost in June. Summers have always gone too fast but now that I'm a teacher, I'm reminded of just how quickly they can pass by. It seems like yesterday I was uploading final grades. That's not to say I haven't kept busy. I'm writing and working on Fall classes already. In addition to that, I'm teaching an online class all summer that started yesterday. Sure, I have  a more flexible schedule and I'm not complaining but in terms of sitting poolside all summer with an umbrella drink like I envisioned before I was a teacher, that's not really a thing. Oh well, I still have it pretty good.

On Friday, my mother, brother and I went to a place in town called Uptown Art where you follow the  instructions of a teacher and paint whatever painting they have set up for that day. This was the mother's day gift I got my mom. She has an artsy side and though I can formulate some decent sentences, I've never been the "artsy" type. I have zero patience so once I realized my painting was going to resemble that of a child in 2nd grade, I gave up. I was done at least 30 minutes before everyone else. Having said that, we still enjoyed ourselves. We had a nice dinner before and drank wine while we painted. I know my mother loved it so that's all that matters. Plus, I even hung my "art" up in the hallway.

There are some people in life who get their kicks by trying new and exciting things. For example, my mom and brother are going skydiving this week. Well, you know, sometimes I try new stuff too. What was my exciting venture last week? Trying the new naked chicken chips at Taco Bell. I know, I know, CRAZY RIGHT?! Well, actually, in the midst of hot dog stuffed pizza crusts and macaroni stuffed cheese puffs, these chicken chips aren't that exciting. I wanted to try them though. I know, I know, I'm supposed to be eating healthy and I TOTALLY AM...or at least, I am trying but I needed to know what this was all about. If you haven't seen the commercial, Taco Bell is offering what are essentially triangular chicken nuggets with a side of that beautiful, luscious, fake ass orange cheese. Because I'm a lover of junk, I was a fan of these. The nuggets had the same quality meat as any other nugget in the fast food world. They also had a spicy kick. Dipping them in the cheese was a fun time too. I'm someone who usually only visits Taco Bell a few times a year late at night. These naked chips didn't really change that but I was satisfied with them all the same. Give 'em a shot.

Since I need to at least pretend like I eat real food sometimes, I wanted to show you my latest Blue Apron meal. Well, really, I wanted to just tell you the way I spiced up the green beans. Growing up in the south, I didn't know that green beans could be served any other way than out of a can then cooked to death in some type of pork flavoring. In the past decade or so, my mother has introduced the family to what we call "yankee green beans" which just means fresh or frozen. At first I rejected these crunchy, bright green imposters. If your green bean wasn't flat, soft or salty, it wasn't a green bean. Because my mom is a great cook, I've come around to the idea of a fresh green bean sautéed in a pan with lots of flavor. I still prefer them as cooked as long as possible but I will admit I enjoy them now. Well, Blue Apron sent me some green beans. I've never made them myself and all Blue Apron said I needed was about a teaspoon of oil and a little salt and pepper. Um, no thanks, Blue Apron. I'm going to need to jazz them up a bit more than that. A few months back, I ordered some bacon jam on a whim in hopes to mimic a life-changing bacon jam I'd had on a burger in Birmingham. It didn't quite have the same effect at home. The jam had hardened and wasn't that appealing in terms of aesthetics. What I realized yesterday though was that it almost resembled a bouillon. So, I took a big spoonful of that and through it in with the green beans and Y'ALL! It has less calories than oil and is packed with bacon flavor. Those green beans were on point and the diced shallot mixed with white wine vinegar (courtesy of Blue Apron) added another layer of flavor. Sometimes, eating vegetable sucks but when you can jazz them up, it's an awesome little surprise.

Until next week...

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Vacation Lessons

Hey y'all! I got back from vacation yesterday and to be quite honest, it was pretty exhausting. I went with a group of friends to the Hangout Festival in Gulf Shores and though I have been before and knew what I was getting into, I know for sure now that I'm too old for music festivals...especially ones in the sand. The only chance I see of me attending another festival is if I suddenly become rich and can afford VIP tickets. I most definitely feel the need to detox. I want to take time this summer to teach myself to once again find a balance that creates an environment for a healthy lifestyle, but also allows fun. I worked out today and I'm in the process of hydrating and getting back to normal but I learned a few things over the course of the last week.

First, always prepare for the rain. I mean this both literally and metaphorically. Travel is one of the
most precious hobbies I have as is spending time with my friends. However, when you travel with other people, you have to consider everyone's differences. There were six of us in a two bedroom condo and in that intimate of a setting, I don't always thrive. I'm a control freak and the entire week I felt completely out of control. There were moments I handled that well and others...not so much. I'm a human being which means I'm full of faults. So, traveling with other people is both a balance of keeping your own annoying habits in check and letting the small things go. In terms of the literal rain, if you are in the south in the summer, chances are, you're going to get wet. Having said that, I wasn't prepared for the heavy rain shower during the day on Saturday and the monsoon I had to walk in that night. It was, let's just say, an experience.

Second, take care of yourself! If you are going to go to a music festival in the summer, the most important rule of all is to HYDRATE. Seriously, drink as much water as you can because it's is effin hot and if you are partaking in festivities, it is even more important to hydrate. Other than hydrating, make sure to reapply a gallon of sunscreen every 15 minutes to avoid sun poisoning. I reapplied with 30 or even 50 spf all weekend and STILL woke up one day with a swollen face. My lip was twice it's normal size. Luckily, I had a spare Benadryl in my purse.

Third, it's your vacation so don't beat yourself up for eating. I plowed through a world of junk food over the past few days. It's OK. I will adjust to my normal eating habits. I have to learn it's allowed to indulge a bit. Having said that, after several days of eating garbage, my body actually craved nutrients so the last night I had some grilled fish. It made me feel like a vacation hero.

Fourth, don't sweat the way you look in a bathing suit. Keep in mind, I'm mostly talking to myself here. It's never a great feeling when you find the way you look disgusting. I have felt this way around 80% of my adult life. However, when I'm at the beach, with friends that I'm completely comfortable around, I let it all hang out. Let's get away from the "good vs. bad" dynamic. As long as we strive to be healthy, it's OK to be who we even though I'm not at my ideal weight (I don't even know what that is anymore), I bought bathing suits that worked for me and felt confident enough to wear them in front of my friends....and I even took a selfie though I did make a decision to do it from the head up. I mean, who am I kidding, I may be confident enough to get in a bathing suit in front of my friends but NO PICTURES PLEASE.

Fifth, take care of each other. Vacations are supposed to be fun and carefree but sometimes they aren't. If all of you are at the beach together, you are group. No person left behind and all that. If you can successfully travel with someone and not want to pull their hair out at the end, then you've found a friend for life.

Hope you all get a chance to travel and/or relax this summer! You've all earned it.

Until next week!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Hole in One

Hey y’all! Last weekend was my birthday weekend and I spent it in Knoxville, Tennessee. Normally, I’d be pretty sad about being in Knoxville but Ian and I had a great weekend. Friday night, we went to the rehearsal for Ian’s best friend Brian. It was fun meeting new friends and reconnecting with old ones. The next day I got up (albeit a bit sluggish) and headed to my cousin Kellie’s college graduation. The amount of orange was concerning but it was a nice ceremony and I was proud of my cousin. It was good to see the side of family I don’t get to see quite as often. Congrats, Kellie! After graduation, I headed to the wedding for Brian and his now wife, Rebekah. It was a beautiful wedding in the middle of these gardens. Everywhere you turned there was a new type of tree or plant. My favorite was the bamboo everywhere. The wedding was great and so was the party. I had way too much fun so I’m still feeling the repercussions of the weekend. On Sunday, we stopped in Chattanooga on the way back to see my Dad’s side of the family and say Happy Mother’s Day to my Grandma. Finally, on Sunday night, we celebrated my Mom.  It was an awesome weekend but it exhausted me and made me feel pretty lousy about my calorie intake and wild antics. I’ve been somewhat detoxing the past couple days but I’m heading to the beach tomorrow for Hangout Music Festival so my goal is to keep it at least partially in check there, though my expectations aren’t high. When I get back, it’s time to get it together. My heartburn is almost as bad as my self-esteem and it’s time to get my mental and physical health back on track. In the meantime, I’m enjoying the moments but thinking about the future.

Since I’ve been out of town, I haven’t had time to cook or explore new recipes. This morning, I was craving something different than the usual that wouldn’t make me feel guilty. I’ve seen people make “Eggs in a Basket” or as some call it “Eggs in a Hole” before but believe it or not, I’ve never had it. The concept looked easy so I thought I’d try it. I wanted to see if I could make it without butter or margarine and it turns out it’s possible. All I did was spray a skillet with non-stick spray, took two pieces of my 40 calorie honey wheat bread and cut out holes in the middle with a wine glass because I don’t have biscuit cutters. I popped the bread in once the pan was about medium-high heat and let it toast. I removed all but one piece of bread to do it one at a time because I didn’t have enough room to maneuver. Once one side was toasted, I flipped the bread and then cracked the egg into the middle of the toast. I added salt and pepper, waited a moment and then flipped it. I waited until the toast could be removed without sticking and took it out. I sprayed more Pam in the skillet and did the same thing to the other toast. While it was cooking, I made a mini grilled ham and cheese with the bread rounds. Anytime there’s a runny egg, I feel like it’s a party so I found this breakfast fun and different from my every day egg and toast. Plus, the whole breakfast was filling and only 275 calories!

The only other “meal” I’ve made myself is a processed one but it’s a “go to” because it’s quick and the whole lunch was 510 calories. I call it a Chicken Cordon Bleu Sandwich. I take a frozen, breaded chicken patty (I get mine at Target in the freezer section. I like the Target brand because they are only 180 calories), heat it up, add deli ham, and one piece of Swiss cheese to the top of the chicken and put it between two pieces of toast. I use a bit of mustard and light mayo. I served it with my favorite one-serving, frozen, crinkle cut French fries. It’s quick and tasty and though it most definitely isn’t “clean,” it is satisfying.

Talk to y'all next week!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


Hey y'all! It's my birthday week! I turn 33 on Saturday and I will be in Knoxville to celebrate both my cousin's college graduation and a wedding for Ian's best friend. Luckily, I had an amazing early birthday dinner Sunday in which I was showered with gifts...I'm super spoiled. Shout out to my Oma for the purse, my parents for the Dyson fan that now makes my bedroom feel like a meat locker, the beautiful bracelet from my brother and his girlfriend and my fresh summer hair from Ian! I'm sure I'll work some more celebrating in over the next couple weeks because it is birthday month after all. I'd also like to wish a happy early Mother's Day to my mom and all the other mothers out there! Y'all are awesome! My diet is a hot mess roller coaster that I really don't want to talk about and I'm already feeling the difficulty that summer can bring to my self esteem and willpower. I'm trying to push that aside though as I'm going to be out of town the next two weekends. I'm still exercising like crazy though and cutting corners when I can.

I was craving brunch on Sunday and instead of spending $30 on something I can do myself (also I didn't want to leave the house), I decided to make a poached egg concoction. I love poaching eggs. It's pretty easy to do but it still makes me feel fancy. All I did was poach the eggs in one skillet (boil about two inches of water and then pop them in and take them out when all the egg whites are actually white) and in another skillet, heated up some ham in which I covered with gouda cheese. I added the ham and cheese to two pieces of thin, 40-calories toast, topped that with leftover salsa from Moe's (resourceful) and then added the poached eggs to the top. Runny yolks honestly make me feel like royalty. The salsa added a spicy kick and the rest was rich and delicious without using any butter or added fat. Plus, I got to eat it in my bed.

The only other thing I wanted to show you was this Campbell's Oven Sauces thing we tried. We've tried the sesame chicken before which was good but this time we prepared the Creamy Garlic Butter Chicken. In an effort to save money, I've been grabbing drumsticks on occasion because they are so cheap but we haven't quite mastered the prep for them. This time, we baked them but when we noticed the skin wasn't what we wanted, Ian had the idea to pop them on the grill. He really saved dinner that night because adding that char to the chicken was what it needed. After all the prep, it was good with the veggies on the side but I probably wouldn't get it again. The pre-made sauce was a little goopy. I did use the chicken to make a salad the next day and that was yummy.

Until next week, y'all!

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Fast Food Can Be Done

Hey y'all! I want to first wish my bestie for life, Jordan Pittman, a SUPER DUPER happy birthday! You are always the one I call first when I need to be reeled in from the ledge. Thanks for always being on my side. I hope you have an amazing day.

For some reason, momentum comes and goes in waves. Last week was the first week in a LONG time in which I totally nailed it M-F. I planned out my food, suffered through a few hunger pangs...though nothing too serious...and felt better. Since Saturday, it's been a train wreck. Well, maybe not a train wreck...maybe like a mild canoe accident. This weekend there was a pizza incident and since then I haven't felt like planning. My schedule hasn't helped. I'm dealing with a major financial issue that will be worth it in the end but I've been through hell trying to get it done. I've got students coming out of the woodwork looking for help with their grades because it's finals week. And it's one errand after another this week. Blah, blah, blah...excuses excuses. I think I'll do some planning tonight for the rest of the week or at least tomorrow. That always helps me stay on track.

Since I've been busy, I haven't had much time to cook, though hopefully that will change tonight. Ian made grilled chicken kabobs last night from Fresh Market and they were yummy but I ate them so quickly I forgot to take a photo. I wanted to cheat a bit today and tell y'all what I eat at fast food restaurants. It goes without saying that stopping at a fast food chain should be a last resort. In theory, you should eat breakfast at home, pack a lunch and cook a healthy meal for dinner. Well, I don't have kids and I still find that swinging through a drive-thru makes sense if you actually want to eat lunch. I had Jimmy John's yesterday because it was that or skip lunch completely and let me just tell you, I'm not that kind of girl. For the record, I got a #1 no mayo (because I'm a hero) and their Thinny Chips (which are still caloric af). So, what do you all eat at fast food places? I thought I'd share a few go to menu items I get.

I spend a lot of time feeling guilty eating Chick-Fil-A because the corporate side of Chick-Fil-A is NOT pretty. I try to focus on the fact that our local stores do a lot of positive things in the community and that their employees have to have a job. Also, if I never used any mainstream organization that was crappy to their employees or did shady stuff overseas, I'd spend a lot of time without soda, growing my own vegetables and killing chickens in my backyard. I'd also have to stay at home with no electronics. So, in the meantime, if I need a low calorie lunch, I'm heading to Chick-Fil-A. It's a bit pricy but you can get a 12 count nugget for 210 calories and a fruit cup as your side for 45 calories. My other favorite is a regular sized cup of their Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup which will only set you back 140 calories. Their egg white grill for breakfast is also really tasty and 300 calories. That's kind of a lot for breakfast but that sandwich is filling. Essentially, you can full for under 400 calories for breakfast OR lunch and that's awesome.

I have a Wendy's about a minute from my house so when I don't want to cook, I can slide on through the drive-thru. There's not a whole lot going on at Wendy's that I would deem "good" for you. I've gotten their salads before and they are efficient and have good size but the dressing tends to be a problem. When I want to fill up my belly for 440 calories, I go for the Grilled Chicken Wrap and a cup of chili. I know the foul things you've heard about the chili. Please don't tell those things to me. The beans in the chili make you feel like you're eating something which is unlike most fast food joints. Also, like McDonald's, they have apple slices which would add a sweet touch to the end of the meal.

Other than the Egg White Delight and apple slices, McDonald's is kind of a mess. If you have to go there, stick to the cheap menu because the items are smaller so they are in turn, less calories. You can get a salad too but you may want to skip the dressing. On the plus side, the calories are plastered right on their menu so you can see the damage for yourself.

Bojangles' is more of a southern staple and to be honest, there's nothing healthy about a biscuit...though their cinnamon biscuits make me weep tears of joy. What many people don't know is that they have these Roasted Chicken Bites that are only 280 calories. Add some green beans for 40 calories and you've got a tasty meal. I'll let you decide if you want to throw in some dirty rice for 165 cals. If you want the biscuit, it'll cost you 280 calories. I'm sorry. Biscuits are fat on fat on flour.

Let me be the first to admit that nothing I've ever gotten from Panda Express looks like the picture above. However, if you get a panda bowl and eat either beef and broccoli or mushroom chicken on top of mixed veggies instead of rice, you're getting Americanized Chinese food that could be WAY worse with calories. Honestly, it's a good tip all around to get broccoli beef. It seems to always be the least offensive in terms of numbers. Rice isn't terrible but if your'e like me, you can eat it by the bucketload so it helps to get the veggies.

Those are just SOME ideas. I'd love to know if you all have any ideas for the drive-thru or tips at restaurants. Like, can anyone tell me how NOT to eat chips and queso at a Mexican place? The only way I think I'm ever going to resist is if I'm handcuffed at the table. Cinco de Mayo is Friday and I know how that ends for me. Margaritas and Queso for everyone! Well, that's all. Happy May everyone!