Working from Home [+ Late Morning Soy Lattes]

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Working from a home office definitely has its pros and cons. The most obvious “pro” is that you get to be home- no commuting, no office drama and you can work in your pajamas all day long if you want. I’ve been working from home for a little over a year now and am definitely a fan. But, there are also some drawbacks. I miss the socialization and relationships that I had with co-workers in some of my former jobs. And, it’s also nice to have structure. Even though having a set schedule can be a pain sometimes, it’s also nice to have a routine. All in all, I like the balance that I have now: I generally work from home three days a week and go into the office the other two (and I always work a bit on either Saturday or Sunday- from home).

I know that it’s common for people to gain weight after they get an “office” job due to eating out, going to happy hours after work or any other calorie-inducing habits. It was actually the opposite for me. After I quit my teaching job and was home all of the time I quickly packed on the pounds. For me, having constant access to my fridge and pantry (stocked with delicious food!) was not always the best thing. I had a few snacks that I kept in my classroom during my teaching years, but in general I could only eat what I packed for breakfast and lunch (I never got desperate enough to buy cafeteria food!).

With my current schedule, I teach early morning (6:00 am) Spinning and Bodypump classes two days a week, which are followed by breakfast, a shower and a full day of work. On the other days I generally wake up around 6:30 a.m., work for a bit, exercise, eat breakfast and work for the rest of the day. I take a few breaks throughout the day to walk the dogs and to eat lunch. And, I always have my first (and usually only) cup of coffee in the late morning. Lately that cup of coffee has consisted of the following:

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Silk Unsweetened Organic Soymilk, coffee and a milk frother.

Fortunately I am able to function in the morning without drinking a cup of coffee first (I actually can’t drink coffee before exercising). And, this “latte” is much more filling than a cup of coffee, so it’s almost like a late morning snack (one cup of Silk Soymilk has 7 – 8 grams of protein!).

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Nutty Raspberry Dark (Hot) Chocolate

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I’ve been completely spoiled this winter. Though the season started out with record cold temperatures, things quickly changed after the new year. We had weeks and weeks of spring-like weather with a random (small) snow storm thrown in every once in a while. After each small storm, we’d be back to enjoying the sunshine and temperatures in the 60s one or two days later. I’m all for tons of snow in the high country (which is actually necessary to avoid going into a drought in the summer!), but am not a huge fan of it down in the foothills (and I realllllly don’t like driving in it). Even though I have been loving this “winter” weather, I knew that eventually we’d end up getting slammed. And- that’s finally happened.

We got a sizeable storm here over the weekend and there’s nothing but cold temps and snow in the 10-day forecast. I’m hoping that it will turn back to spring again soon (especially since spring is only a few weeks away!)- but for now I’m going to make the best of it. Besides, being able to walk out your front door and snowshoe on your neighborhood trail is pretty awesome.

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Once again, I’ve rambled on about the weather… but I promise- it does relate to the topic at hand. Another thing that helps me make it through the cold and snowy days is anything hot- soups, drinks and comfort food in general. I can even go on a long walk outside in the freezing cold- as long as I’ve got a hot drink in my hand.

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Fruity Vanilla Swiss Oats

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Almost three years ago, on my 32nd birthday, Greg surprised me with the gift of a weekend trip to another city to see the Red Sox play. He gave me the option of choosing Boston, Chicago or Cleveland. It was a no-brainer to me- I chose Chicago! I had never been to that city and it was at the top of my “must visit” list. We had a great time and experienced as much of the city as we could in the few days that we were there.

Generally when we travel, Greg and I like to get restaurant recommendations from locals or spend a good deal of time scouring Yelp  beforehand. We don’t really plan for breakfast or lunch (and if we end up at a chain, so be it!), but try to make dinners special. Our hotel happened to be next to a Corner Bakery cafe (which were all over the city!). Since it was a cheap, fast way to get breakfast we ended up there every morning. Even though we had them in Maryland (where I was living then), I had never been to Corner Bakery prior to our Chicago trip. I know that it sounds really silly, but out of all of the delicious food that we ate while in Chicago, the thing that I remember the most are the Swiss Oats from Corner Bakery.

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Swiss Oats are similar to the “overnight oats” that I was used to making- but something about this particular version tasted SO much better! I loved the combination of apples, dried berries and banana, along with the creaminess of the yogurt. I immediately started doing some research on the web to figure out just what went into these perfect Swiss Oats. Luckily, it wasn’t that hard to figure out.

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Cran-Banana [Perfect] Oatmeal Bread

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For at least a decade of my life, I was obsessed with oatmeal. I started eating it for breakfast every morning in my early twenties, and the love affair grew stronger as the years went on. I blame my mom for this. I moved back home for the first year after graduating college and noticed that my mom would eat oatmeal every morning (it was probably something that Dr. Oz suggested ;)). She’d cook up slow multi-grain oats and stir in dried fruits, nuts and brown sugar to add texture and flavor. I adopted her breakfast habits and was immediately hooked.

It might sound really silly, but oatmeal had a very significant meaning in my life when I was teaching. I’d make up a batch for breakfast the night before, pack it up, and re-heat and eat it when I got to work. I got to work at least a half hour before the school day started so that I could just slowly ease into the morning and enjoy my “oatmeal time.” It was by far my favorite part of the work day (needless to say, I didn’t really love my job… at all).

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[Mini] Pecan-Crust Sweet Potato Pies

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Whenever I’m asked to choose my favorite holiday, I’ll quickly say “Thanksgiving.” There are so many things that I love about Thanksgiving- the food (of course), the traditions, spending time with loved ones and the excitement of the Christmas season right around the corner. Sadly, I wasn’t been able to spend the holiday with my family last year and won’t be able to again next week but I’m lucky enough to have some great friends to share the day with.

Greg and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our home this year- and we’re pretty excited about it! It will be our first holiday in our new house and it will be nice to experience and share some of our favorite traditions here with our friends. We’re doing it pot-luck style and everyone is bringing a few different dishes. As I was sitting here thinking of what to prepare (besides a gigantic turkey!), I pondered upon a few different dessert ideas. To me, Thanksgiving just isn’t Thanksgiving unless you end the meal with pie (or, preferably, a few different types of pie!). I wanted to make something that’s somewhat traditional – and give it a bit of a facelift. My mind immediately went to two different types of pie: sweet potato and pecan. Then I thought- why don’t I combine the two?

For me, my least favorite part of a pie is the crust: it’s all about the filling. I wanted to create a recipe where the crust was every bit as delicious as the filling- a pie that had delicious, harmonious flavor in every bite. I think I achieved it with this recipe. ;)

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Pumpkin Spice Doughnuts

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For as dominant as my sweet tooth is, it’s also very particular. I love ice cream (and my favorite is vanilla bean!)- but don’t care too much for most types of cake. I am a total dark chocolate addict, but am not crazy about it in the form of cake or ice cream. Fruit pies, crisps and cobblers make me swoon, but danishes, pastries and doughnuts really do nothing for me. Actually- I take that back: doughnuts are awesome, but something that I rarely, if ever, eat. And here’s why: I can’t eat something like that for breakfast. It would sit in my stomach like a brick and give me a carb crash an hour later. In my opinions, doughnuts should be classified as a dessert.

Part of my full-time job as FlapJacked’s social media manager is coming up with a new recipe each week. The mix is so versatile that I’ve been able to create everything from quick breads to corn dogs to cheesecake to biscuits, amongst many other delicious (and mostly healthy) creations. And, most recently, I created doughnuts. Healthy doughnuts. Doughnuts that you can eat for breakfast that will keep you feeling satisfied and not weighed down. Doughnuts that you could eat three or four of without feeling an ounce of guilt. Yes, people- DOUGHNUTS.

When I was figuring out the ingredients for this recipe, I knew I needed a liquid that was rich, creamy and flavorful and would provide a little bit of healthy fat. It also needed to be something that was lower in calories and would keep the nutritional stats in a happy place (so heavy cream and oil were out!). The answer was simple: Silk Almondmilk Light.

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Creamy Delicata + Apple Soup

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As much as I’ve tried to hang on to summer (and make it last forever) I’ve decided to finally let go. Fall is here- and that’s not a bad thing. Even though I’d forever state that summer is my favorite season, fall probably comes in a close second. Summer has only been gone for about two weeks and already it seems that the air has changed. Walking around outside I’ve noticed (especially after the sun goes down) that it smells like fall. Do you know what I mean?

There are certain things that I will always associate with this season: apples, pumpkin everything, Crock Pot cooking, football, changing leaves, beautiful sunsets… I’m sure I could go on. As it starts getting colder outside there is one thing that I crave all the time: soup! If I hear of a delicious-sounding soup on a restaurant menu or even see something boxed in the store, I have to get it. Each and every time I ask myself: why don’t I make this myself?

When I was thinking of a simple, fast soup recipe to make I immediately thought butternut squash + apple soup. When I went to the store to buy my ingredients I was immediately sidetracked by a beautiful pile of delicata squash. Although butternut squash is probably my favorite winter squash, I like delicata almost just as much. It’s slightly sweet, rich and buttery (and delightful!).

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Tipsy Peach Smoothie

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Prior to living in Colorado, I didn’t realize that peaches were something that the state was known for. Like many people, I automatically associate peaches with Georgia (although Maryland has some delicious ones as well!). I’ve come to find out that the town of Palisade, Colorado has some of the most delicious, juicy peaches I’ve ever tasted!

The first crop of peach trees in Palisade were said to have been planted around 1882, and other fruit crops like apples, cherries and apricots were soon to follow. However, Palisade quickly became known for its peaches and they have since remained the pride of Colorado. There’s a huge peach festival each August in Palisade along with other towns around the state (including Lafeyette- where I live!).

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Les Mills Presents The Project: Immersive Fitness

There are many, many things that I love about Les Mills programs. I became a certified Bodypump instructor in 2011 after falling in love with the format and classes. Les Mills offers a multitude of different exercise programs and there’s literally something for everyone, regardless of age or fitness level. Trends in fitness are constantly changing and Les Mills has no problem staying up to date on the latest ideas and concepts.

I recently learned about the latest innovation in Les Mills fitness and couldn’t be more excited to try it out! Les Mills has partnered up with Reebok to create a revolutionary fitness experience called The Project: Immersive Fitness.

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Immersive Fitness takes the typical group exercise class beyond the next level. It creates an experience that engages the body and mind in ways that I never thought possible!

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Red, White and Blue[berry] Crepes

Hello! I got back from spending five days in Park City, Utah last night and have a lot of catching up to do. I was there for the third annual Blend Retreat, which was (once again) and incredible weekend! I’ll be back to tell you more about it later in the week, but for today I’m showing a little love to this year’s official sponsor: Silk!

There are certain recipes that, for one reason or another, seem to intimidate me. Most of the time, these recipes are even that complicated, but I just haven’t been able to make them right for some reason. Crepes are one of the recipes that I took a few attempts to figure out how to make correctly, but now that I have, they’re super easy to make.

One of the things that I really like about about crepes is that they are so versatile. You can stuff them with sweet or savory ingredients or just eat them in a stack like pancakes. Most of the time I fill my crepes with one of my favorite combinations: plain Greek yogurt, honey and berries.

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