Apple Muffins

November 29, 2012
When I bake, I like to try and incorporate healthy ingredients and alternatives when possible. I found these Apple Muffins and decided to give them a try. They are heart healthy and packed full of nutritious ingredients.

Here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup oat bran (I made my own by putting oatmeal through the food processor)
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup ground flaxseed
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1 egg, beaten
4 Tbsp canola oil
1/3 cup applesauce
1 shredded apple (I used something similar to a cheese grater for this)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans

First, preheat your oven to 350 degrees

Next, whisk together in a large bowl the oat bran, flour, flaxseed, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg

Then, in a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and oil until smooth. Stir in the applesauce, shredded apple, and sugar

Combine mixtures and fold in pecans (don't be turned off by how the mix looks...they taste much better then they look!)

Spoon batter into paper-lined muffin cups. I made mini muffins, so my baking time was less than the 22-25 minutes recommended. They baked approximately 12-15 minutes.

These were great! They were super hearty and filling! One regular sized muffin has approximately 150 calories, so if you make mini muffins they're a perfectly portioned snack! Enjoy!

 ? What's your favorite kind of muffin? ?

Turkey Soup

November 28, 2012
Looking to use up those Thanksgiving leftovers? I decided to put mine to good use by making a simple turkey soup. It's warm, filling and perfect for this time of year.
Here's what you'll need:
1 Tbsp EVOO
1 glove garlic
1 small onion, chopped
3 14oz cans chicken broth (try using low sodium)
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
6 oz chopped or pulled turkey (white meat, no skin)
1 1/2 cups pasta of choice (I used whole wheat penne, you could also use rice)
Juice from half a lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
First, sautee the onion and garlic with EVOO over medium-high heat. I love using onion and garlic because they add tons of flavor without all the salt.
Once the onion is tender, add broth, carrots and celery
Bring to a low boil and cook for about 10 minutes. Then, add turkey and simmer for about 5-7 minutes. Next, add lemon and seasonings.
I'm a huge lemon lover and add it to anything I can. Soup is no exception!
Lastly, add the pasta and cook until tender.
Serve hot with a piece of crusty bread for a delicious meal! Enjoy!
 ?What's your favorite way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers? ?

Healthy Tips for a Trim Turkey Day

November 20, 2012
Here are a few tips to help you stay trim this Thanksgiving
Work for your meal. Start the day out right with a walk with your family or signing up for a Turkey Day 5K.
Water, water, water. Drink water throughout the day instead of caloric beverages. Try to drink a glass before your meal to help you eat less.
Don't skip the most important meal. Even though you're most likely going to consume a huge meal, don't skip breakfast. Go light with something like fruit and an english muffin. It's better than nothing.
Portion control. Be careful of portions when plating your food. Make sure to enjoy those family favorites, but don't over-do it. Most of the time you can get the satisfaction of the dish after just a few bites.
Lean it out. Use smart substituting to help lean out some of your favorite dishes. Try applesauce instead of oil or greek yogurt instead of cream for dips and mashed potatoes.
Take a seat. When eating, make sure you aren't doing it mindlessly. Sit down and really enjoy what you are eating so you can be aware of those hunger cues telling you you're full.
Have patience. Once you're done eating, sit around and chat with friends and family for 10-15 minutes instead of heading back for seconds. This lag in time will help you decide if you really want more.
~* Just Ripe is wishing you and your family a healthy Thanksgiving! *~

Race Recap: Holiday in Lights 5K

November 19, 2012
This past weekend I decided it was time to end my race hiatus. I haven't raced since May 2010 when I did my first half-marathon. I've always stayed active, but recently I felt the need to sign-up for a race.
The Holiday in Lights 5K was the perfect race to kick off this holiday season. It was held at dusk so the last mile was through the holiday lights display. The lights made the race (and brutal hills) go by fast!

Image Source

My goal for the race was to be under 27 minutes but, the course was really challenging and full of hills. My final time was 28:30. I was just happy to be out there!

I would highly recommend this race for those of you in the Cincinnati area. I wouldn't plan on setting a PR due to it being on the tough side, but overall it was a fun course to run.
 ?What's the toughest race you've ever run? ?

Weekend Recipe - Lasagna Rolls

November 16, 2012
I'm always looking for ways to make classic recipes more healthy. Most recently I gave these lasagna rolls a try. I altered them a bit based on what I had in the fridge, and they turned out perfect!

Here's what you'll need:

8 cooked lasagna noodles, cooked (I used whole wheat)
1 pound lean ground beef, browned and cooled slightly
2 handfuls fresh baby spinach (you can use however much you want here), sauteed
1 (15 oz) container fat free ricotta cheese
1 egg
2 cloves garlic
Seasonings (get creative - I used oregano, Italian seasoning and basil)
1 (24 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
Approx 4 oz. shredded part skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees 

In a large bowl mix the following:
 Browned and slightly cooled lean ground beef, ricotta, spinach, egg, garlic and seasonings

Once the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, lay out your cooked lasagna noodles on waxed paper. Spread the mix on each noodle (about 1/2 - 2/3 cup) and top with some mozzarella cheese

Leave some space, as shown below, at the beginning and end of your noodles. This way when you roll the mix won't get squeezed out.

Next, lightly coat a baking dish with spaghetti sauce (you can use any spaghetti sauce) before placing the lasagna roll seam side down

Once all the rolls are in the dish, cover them with the rest of the jar of spaghetti sauce and mozzarella cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. 

Lasagna Rolls! 

These are great during the week because you'll most likely have leftovers. Plus, they're already portioned for you! 

?   What's your favorite classic dish?  ?


November 15, 2012
 Looking to try something new? Well, I have just the thing....


I'm the type of person that always eats the same things. You could say I like to stay in my cooking comfort zone. But, once I tried kale, it magically made it's way into my vegetable line-up. Kale is an amazing vegetable. It's packed with nutrients such as vitamin A, C and K as well as antioxidants. Plus, it's low in calories and contains healthy fiber. Kale is definitely a superfood!

Here's how I prepare Kale:

First, rinse the kale. Then, coarsely chop the stems and leaves. Set the kale aside and finely chop a clove of garlic. In a pan, combine the garlic with 1/2 cup-3/4 cup of vegetable or chicken broth. Heat the broth/garlic on high until almost to a boil. Add kale before it starts boiling and then cover for about 5 minutes. 

The kale will steam and gradually take up less space in the pan. I occasionally stir to prevent the garlic from burning on the bottom of the pan as well as rotate the kale throughout. 

If you prefer, add salt and pepper to taste and.....Ta-Da! Delicious Kale!

?   Have you ever tried kale    ?

Treadmill Intervals

November 13, 2012
When I workout, I need to sweat. If I don't, I often leave the gym feeling like I didn't get a good workout in. I've always been a fan of the treadmill, but it can be boring, so changing it up every once and awhile is a must. I've had this interval workout stored away and forgot how much I enjoy doing it. It's from an issue of Shape Magazine. I always find great workouts in magazines and this one does not disappoint.
Instead of putting the RPE (rate of perceived exertion), I decided to share the speed that I would do this workout. I gave a range for the speed because some days I feel faster on the treadmill then other days. Feel free to tweak it based on your fitness levels.
If you wanted a longer workout, you could always increase the time that you are alternating intensities.
This workout could also be used on other cardio machines such as an ellipticle or bike

?   Are you a fan of intervals?    ?

Avocado Pasta Sauce

November 9, 2012
Recently, Jim's aunt sent me this great recipe for avocado pasta sauce. I LOVE avocado and couldn't wait to try it out! It's super easy to make which makes it great during the busy work week.

You'll need 1/2 box cooked pasta of choice - I used whole wheat fettuccine
In a food processor combine the following:
1 avocado
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp EVOO
1 clove garlic
2 Tbsp basil (recipe calls for parsley, but I prefer basil)
Salt and pepper to taste

When pasta is done cooking, toss with sauce. Serve immediately.

This recipe would also be great with some shredded chicken.

Avocado is great for many reasons. It's delicious and packed full of nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins, fiber and healthy fats. Plus, it's so versatile. You can eat it by itself, on salads, sandwiches, in soups, as a dip, the list goes on...

?   How do you prefer to eat an avocado?   ?

Nuts for Nuts

November 6, 2012
Lately, my boyfriend and I have literally been "nuts for nuts." We always have to have a can, bag or jar on hand. Some of our favorites at the moment are almonds and cashews. We've been obsessed with Emerald nuts. Jim prefers the plain, unsalted almonds, but recently I've gotten the cinnamon as well as the cocoa roast flavors, which are both fantastic! They also make a Mint Chocolate flavor which closely resembles thin mint Girl Scout cookies. Yum!


I recently bought a container of Marcona almonds, which are more of a splurge, and they were gone within two days. They are so delicious!

Nuts are good for you for many reasons, but mostly for their healthy fats. The healthy fats to look for on a food label are the mono and poly unsaturated fats.  These help lower the bad cholesterol in our bodies or LDL cholesterol. Nuts also contain fiber, protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals.

Be mindful of the portion size when trying to lose weight. Nuts are healthy for you, but they are also nutrient dense and the calories add up quick. Try portioning out small snack bags so you can grab a serving when your stomach grumbles instead of eating right out of the container.

Happy Snacking!

?   What kind of nut to you prefer to snack on?   ?

Black Bean Soup

November 2, 2012

Back in college, my friend Dorothea and I made this amazing black bean soup recipe that she found from Food Network. I've made it a few times since then and every time it turns out great. I promise it's easier than it looks!

With soup, I tend to add extra vegetables or seasonings. Soup is pretty hard to mess up, which is why I love making it. Plus, there's always leftovers! 

 Here's what I did:

Chop the following and combine in a large bowl:

1 jalapeno (with seeds)
4 cloves garlic
4 stalks (or ribs) celery with greens
1 large onion
1 red bell pepper
2-3 carrots
**Here is where you could add any extra vegetables you want to use up, or omit any that you don't like**

In a soup pot, add 2 tablespoons EVOO and turn heat to high. I tossed in all the vegetables listed above as well as 2 bay leaves. Then, cook the vegetables over high heat for approx 5-8 minutes.
Next, drain (not rinse) two cans of black beans and add them to the soup pot.

 With the third can of black beans, pour the juice and half the beans into the pot. Use a fork to mash up the remaining beans in the can. This will help thicken the soup. Stir the mashed beans into the pot along with 2 cups of chicken stock and 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes.


 The recipe calls for cumin, coriander, salt and pepper. I didn't have some of those seasonings so I used oregano, seasoned salt and pepper. Feel free to experiment with whatever you have on hand. This soup is hard to mess up!

Continue to cook until the vegetables are tender and enjoy! Note: don't forget to remove the bay leaves!

This soup is great because it contains tons of vegetables as well as beans that are high in fiber and protein, but low in fat. It's the perfect healthy soup for a chilly fall day!


?   What's your favorite fall soup   ?