Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Panera Bread

Bakery/Cafe type restaurants often have a reputation for being fresh and healthy, when in reality, not all of their items are going to be healthy options.

Sometimes people will go to cafes and get a salad, thinking they are making a healthy choice, but once you add typical nut/bacon/avocado toppings along with a signature dressing, some salads can end up being close to 1000 calories!  Flat bread sandwiches also have this kind of problem...they have the healthy reputation, but aren't always the best choice.

I like that Panera has a pdf document available on their website with a full nutritional analysis of all the menu items! If you scan through the pdf, you can pick out some of the lower calorie options such as the new Lentil Quinoa Broth Bowl that I chose to get! It really hit the spot on the rainy day that I went! Although it came in at 410 calories, the sodium was way too high (1,390 mg...ekk). 

When it comes to sodium, the general rule of thumb is to stay under 2,000 mg for an entire day. Very hard to do if you eat out often! Since salt enhances taste, it is not surprising that most restaurants have high sodium items.

There is no need to obsess over the EXACT amount of nutrients you are getting during a particular meal. Just be mindful of what you are eating and I guarantee you it will all balance out!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

New Years Resolution Challenge: How to stay on track while on the go

Sometimes we find ourselves busy and on the go throughout the day. When you know you're going to be busy, it is best to think ahead and plan out your meals and snacks. 

Try simple changes like these for saving calories when on-the-go:

1) Instead of ordering that indulgent caramel macchiato every morning, try substituting a hot green tea spiced sweetened with  honey and spiced with a dash of cinnamon. 

I got this large organic green tea for only $1.75 and added a touch of honey and dash of cinnamon
2) Or try packing yourself a handful of nuts so you won't be tempted to stop for a bag of chips. 

3) You could also prepare yourself a healthy and balanced dinner the night before so that when you come in and are starving, you won't accidentally overeat or be tempted to grab the first thing you see (usually something unhealthy).

*Try having making Lemon-Artichoke Hummus  or Homemade Chewy Granola Bars in advance for a healthy easy-to-grab snack!

Friday, February 13, 2015

Raleigh Bloggers' Valentine's Day Brunch

This past Sunday I was able to attend a Raleigh Bloggers' Brunch with some wonderful ladies at the Frill Clothing Office! It's so great being able to get together with people who have the same interests as you do. I'd like to thank Kate of Sara Kate Styling and Meghan of Champagne and Suburbs for their hard work in planning and coordinating the Brunch!

The brunch was delicious and definitely hit the spot for someone like me who has a never ending sweet tooth! We started the event with bubbly mimosas set up on an ever-so-cute cart, and followed those by indulging on an "entrĂ©e" of mini chicken and waffles with sweet sides of cronuts, rice crispies, raspberry tarts, frosting dipped pretzels, partaits, and fresh fruit! Thanks to Courtney, Andrea, Essense, Natalie, and Kierra for the desserts!

Also I'd like to give a huge shout out to Morgan of Morgan Caddell Photography for the photos and All She Wrote Notes for the cute calligraphy cards!


Monday, February 9, 2015

Valentine's Day Strawberry Meringue Cake

Valentine's day is coming up...have you gotten your sweetheart anything yet? Baked goods are always a good "go to" when you're crunched for time. But this year, if you decide to go down the "baked goods path," think outside of the box! Try my Strawberry Meringue Ice Box Cake! After making the Food & Wine Chocolate-Hazelnut Meringue cake, I'm obsessed with making meringue! This past weekend, I decided to play around with same recipe with the intentions of making the meringue strawberry flavored and the end result was a success!
6 large egg whites, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon pure strawberry extract
12-16 oz of freeze dried strawberries
4 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 pints of freshly sliced strawberries

Complete layout of ingredients

Preheat the oven to 225° and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. 

Pulse the freeze dried strawberries in a food processor until they are a powder.

In a bowl use a standing electric mixer if you have one fitted with the whisk (if you have one) or just use a regular electric hand mixer fitted with a whisk (Which is what I did) and beat the egg whites with the salt at medium-high speed until soft peaks form. 

Before being beat
After being beat...I love seeing the change!
Gradually beat in the granulated sugar at high speed until stiff. Beat in the vanilla, almond, and strawberry extracts. Fold in the powdered strawberries.
Spread the meringue into four circles (approximately 6 inch diameters) and bake for 2 hours and 30 minutes, until crisp; rotate the pans halfway through baking. 

Before going into the oven: 8 inch meringue spreads
Turn off the oven, slightly open the door, and let the meringues cool completely.

In the bowl of the standing mixer, beat the cream with the confectioners' sugar until firm. 

Homemade whipped cream is so easy to make!
Remove the meringues from the parchment paper. Spread the whipped cream on the layers and then top each layer with freshly sliced strawberries and stack them. Garnish and freeze the cake overnight. When ready to serve, cut into wedges and serve at room temperature. Or if you have time, you can wait and assemble the layers of the day of!

Finished product complete with whipped cream and strawberry layers!

Original Recipe Source:

Thursday, February 5, 2015

New Years Resolution Challenge: Get Active

Did you know that the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends 30 minutes of moderate intensity cardio, 5 days a week OR 20 minutes of vigorous cardio 3 days a week?

This may seem like a lot, but remember...this time can be broken up throughout your day! You could do quick 15 minutes workouts twice a day or two to three 10 minute workouts to reach your total of 20-30 minutes a day.

I know...this sounds like a hassle if you work a busy schedule and aren't used to exercising. But I promise, as soon as you make a good routine, it's not as hard as it may seem!

If you find the gym to be too plain and boring, maybe try picking up an active hobby. I tried bouldering (a form of rock climbing) at Progression Climbing with one of my friends a while back and not only was it fun, but it was an AMAZING workout and I was sore for days afterwards! 

Sorry about the picture quality
Or, at this time of the year, you could also try something seasonal such as snow skiing or snowboarding! 

I took this picture right before I went down the slopes at Wintergreen, VA!
And if all else fails and you do find yourself at the gym, try fun fitness classes! I used to be a Zumba instructor and it wasn't unusual for me to burn 400 calories per class (according to my heart rate monitor)!
Sorry again about picture quality! This was taken with my GoPro.
There are so many different ways to incorporate activities into your day, you just have to want to!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Outback Steakhouse

When it comes to eating healthy at restaurants, Outback CAN be a good place if you know what to do! With tempting blooming onions and cheese fries in sight, it can be hard to stay on track. But if you're determined to have a decent steak dinner without falling off the wagon, you may have come to the right place! Outback offers lighter option marked by a green leaf on the menu. Be careful though! The only way these items are healthier is if you pair it with the healthy side items as well! French fries and loaded baked potatoes don't make the cut! I will say, after ordering a double side of the fresh vegetables, I couldn't have been happier with my meal. The veggies were a perfect compliment to my 6 oz filet (pictured below)!

If you know you are going to be eating at Outback, you can go to and select the "Under 600 Calorie" category or use Outback's interactive nutrition calculator if you want to plan ahead!