Flying Away (AGAIN)…

Hey guys!

It has been a busy week here in suburbia.  Monday, I was at work and I have been back every day since : )  The BOY had his first law school oral argument and he WON IT!  Plus, I haven’t been feeling 100%  (darn sinuses) and I have a race in less than 2 weeks.  And I’m trying to get packed up because tomorrow I am heading off to FLORIDA!  Hooray…something exciting to look forward to!!! 

So why another trip down south this year???




We have something BIG to celebrate…




My grandpa is turning 100!!!

And his family and friends and all heading to Florida this weekend to celebrate this impressive milestone.




I think I bragged a little bit about my grandpa after we celebrated his 99th birthday last year, but let me tell you, he is one INCREDIBLE guy. 




He is good natured, easy going, and lives every day to its fullest.  And his days are busy and full!  He attends yoga and exercise classes and makes time to hang out with his friends.  He is absolutely adorable!!!




We are so lucky to have this guy leading our family, and I can’t wait to spend a long weekend with him!



When a Craving Strikes…



The BOY made another perfect dinner on the grill tonight.  Man…he has been busy this weekend!  After dinner, he looked at me and asked, ‘What’s for dessert?’


Earlier in the week, we had lots of options…Mint Chocolate Thin Mint Truffles, Cake Batter Truffles, chocolate covered Oreos, and cookie butter filled chocolate bars.


But sadly it is ALL GONE.  I headed to the pantry to see what we had left.  Unfortunately, since I am heading out of town this week, our pantry is a little scarce.  I threw out a few easy options, but the BOY said he wanted something with chocolate, maybe brownies, but not too many.  I pulled out my recipe binder and started flipping through the pages.  I was about to get to work on some brownies, when I came across this recipe for an individual brownie that I copied from Oxygen Magazine.




I started by chopping up 1 square of Baker’s chocolate because the BOY isn’t a big fan of dark chocolate.




I pulled together the rest of the ingredients and a few minutes later, I had a thick brownie batter.  A taste test revealed the batter had a strong chocolate taste, perfect for me, but I knew it wouldn’t be sweet enough for the BOY.  I added in a few extra chunks of chocolate, and poured my batter into a small individual Pyrex.


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To spice things up a little, I added a big dollop of peanut butter in the middle of the batter.




I baked the brownie for 16 minutes.  The edges of the brownie were slightly browned and the peanut butter was ooey and gooey!  Just in case the brownie still wasn’t sweet enough for the BOY, I sprinkled some raw sugar across the top of the brownie, which made it look a little fancy.




This will definitely squash a chocolate craving!!!




I brought the BOY his brownie, which he let cool off for a few minutes.




And I dug into my sweet dessert!  Strangely, I wasn’t feeling chocolate this evening, but truly enjoyed my fresh pineapple.


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I definitely tried a taste of the BOY’s brownie before he quickly devoured it.  It is the perfect size for an individual chocolate craving and because it only takes 20 minutes to make with ingredients you keep in the house, you don’t have to plan ahead.  I love how the chocolate and peanut butter just ooze out of the brownie!




Notes for next time: If you are looking for a healthy treat, follow the recipe exactly (or maybe add a spoonful of peanut butter on the top).   There is a strong, rich, chocolate flavor, but without sugar, it is not very sweet.  If you are looking for a sweeter treat, add in a little sugar or use milk chocolate.  Also, have some fun with mix ins and toppings…dried cherries, sea salt, or walnuts would be delish!



Sinfully Clean Chocolate Brownie

From Oxygen Magazine

Makes 1 serving



1 square (7g) dark chocolate
2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch sea salt
2 tbsp unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp applesauce
1 tsp honey



  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Break up chocolate into small pieces, set aside.
  2. Place dry ingredients, except chocolate pieces, in a large mixing bowl and mix.
  3. Add wet ingredients to bowl and mix to combine. Add in chocolate pieces.
  4. Pour batter into a single-size oven-proof loaf dish and bake for 16 to 18 minutes. Serve.

Nutrients per serving: Calories: 151; Total Fats: 4g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Trans Fat: 0g; Cholesterol: 0g; Sodium: 171mg; Total carbohydrates: 24g; Dietary Fiber: 3g; Sugars: 11g; Protein: 3g; Iron: 3mg.

Feeling the Blogger Love


I received a big blogger honor yesterday and I was seriously sooo excited that I wanted to jump up and down and start screaming.  I love to blog, which is why I do it, but it was so nice to get this compliment from Renee at Bendiful.  It truly warmed my heart and made my day!






The way this works is that I am supposed to tell you 7 things about myself and nominate 7 other bloggers to share the love.


Here are 7 things about me that you might not know…


1. I had a mild crazy obsession with the TV show GREEK on ABCFamily, and I own all the seasons on DVD.


2. I played the clarinet for 6 years even though I am completely tone deaf.


3. I sing tone deaf versions of Row Row Row Your Boat, the ABC’s, Itsy Bitsy Spider, and Old MacDonald almost every day at work.  For some reason, the kids LOVE it!


4. Apparently, I used to tell my mom that I was never going to move out of my parent’s house, and that I would open a hair salon in their garage.  You would NOT want me to do your hair!


5.  The BOY and I met on a blind date.  We were set up by my mom and his aunt, and our first date was on August 20th, 2006 at the race track.


6. The BOY and I are not on Facebook, twitter, or pinterest.  People find this odd.


7. I am very talkative!  One elementary school teacher told my mom at conferences that she tried to sit me everywhere in the classroom, but couldn’t find a place where I didn’t talk to my classmates.  She finally decided to sit me by the new kids to make them feel welcome.


And one extra for Good Luck…


8. I get so excited every day to find people still interested in my blog, leaving comments, and sharing recipes.  A big thank you to the other active and healthy bloggers who keep things honest, real, fun and delicious!



7 Blogs that inspire me…


Sugar Coated Chef


The Hungry Runner Girl


Little Bitty Bakes


Healthy Food For Living


A Nutritionist Eats


Blueberry Smiles


Bearrunner *this guy is doing an Ironman!



Did you learn something new about me?  Share something fun about yourself.

What blogs, books, websites inspire you?

Paleo Pancakes

Although at this time, I am not interested in following the Paleo Diet, I was intrigued when I came across this recipe for Paleo Pancakes on Jenna’s Blog.  I was also a little skeptical…How could these 3 ingredients create a fluffy, wholesome looking pancake?




I woke up this morning determined to find out!  For a few reasons, the main one being that I am down to my last two eggs, I decided to make 2/3 of the recipe.  Unfortunately, I got a little mixed up with my almond butter calculations and my ‘batter’ was thin, so here is the full recipe and you can decide how much to make.  One suggestion is to follow the entire recipe and save half the pancakes for another morning if it makes too many.


Paleo Pancakes

From The Paleo Project

3 bananas

1/4 cup almond butter

3 eggs

Coconut spray


Additions: add fresh fruit into the batter or top with honey, agave, fruit, nuts, etc.

***I ate my pancakes so quickly, there was no time for toppings, but these allow for some creativity



-Mash the banana and mix it with the egg

-Stir in almond butter (add more for a pancake-like consistency)

-Or…you can place banana, egg, almond butter in food processor for a quick mix


(I used my immersion blender…surprise, surprise)




-Grease pan with coconut oil

-Pour batter into skillet and brown on each side

-Serve with fresh fruit and other additions




As always in my pancake world, I had a little trouble flipping my first big pancake (mostly because he was too runny and too big).  I think some additional almond butter will help with that next time!




He wasn’t the most symmetrical pancake in the group, he still tasted amazingly great…seriously, just as fluffy as Auntie J!  I couldn’t believe it!


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The next pancakes were smaller and prettier, but just as tasty as the first.




I didn’t have any fresh fruit to top this protein-packed breakfast, and I’m telling you these sweet cakes don’t need any syrup or honey.  Besides, they disappeared from my plate way too quickly to add anything else.




As I was finishing the last tasty bite, the BOY came down stairs and started asking me why the house smelled like sweet roles.  I told him that I made pancakes, which got him excited until he realized that 1) they were all gone and 2) they were made out of bananas.  He went in search of the Pillsbury rolls that he was convinced were baking in the kitchen.




Paleo or Not Paleo…I recommend giving these pancakes a try.  They come together quickly and make the perfect Sunday morning breakfast with coffee or tea.  Plus, they were a satisfying way to start the day before heading off to Hot Yoga!



Fiesta Lunch

I am so lucky to live with a Grill Master!  As I was getting lost in another episode of Cupcake Wars, the BOY got to work on today’s lunch.

Warning: you will be jealous when you see this amazing lunch!




He paraded a plate full of colorful veggies in front of me before returning back to his work zone (the kitchen).  I heard a lot of noise coming from the kitchen, and although that made me slightly nervous, I was really into the Rock of Ages cupcake episode.  I did sneak into the kitchen one time to snap some photos.


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It was enough to get my mouth watering and my stomach was already rumbling after this morning’s run.  I was super impressed since we had just run out of taco seasoning, and the BOY created his own mixture.  During a commercial, I took a few minutes to set the table and crack open a beer.


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And take a picture of the burning chafe spot on my clavicle.  Ouch!!!  Why does this happen to me???


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I took a quick look out back to see how things were heating up on the grill.


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What a gorgeous day!  The BOY served up the chicken and veggie fajita medley.  It looked and smelled incredible!





And we both dove right in to this fresh grilled plate, adding sides to finish off our fajitas.  The only sad news was that my avocado wasn’t ripe enough and when I tried to cut into it, it was solid.  Bummer!










Even without avocado, our lunch was a fantastic mid-day treat (our Saturday lunch is usually not this fancy).  The fajitas were juicy and savory.  The chicken was perfectly cooked and the veggies were well-seasoned.  I ate my lunch with a cool, crisp beer.  Everything was so unbelievable that it had me screaming out loud about how much I LOVE grill season!  The only thing left to do…share a dessert!





Now that I have enjoyed my fiesta, it just might be time for a Siesta!

Running and Randomness

It is currently 11:20AM, and I am sitting on the couch sipping a smoothie in my comfy clothes watching the DVR.  Sounds like a lazy morning…right?




Not quite!  Hint: check out the running shoes in the background.




This morning, I was scheduled for my longest pre-race run, a 12 mile run.  I packed my typical essentials and met two friends on my driveway for a sunny morning run around the forest preserve path.  For breakfast, I made a Strawberry Dough Boy Smoothie.  Sadly, I was too lazy to cut strawberries last night, so I only soaked everything for ~15 minutes this morning.  Hence, the runny breakfast smoothie.




We headed out along the path on this sunny, but chilly morning.  It was fun to run with other people and the 11.5 miles went by quickly.  We finished in 1:38 which is a little slower than race pace, but I felt strong enough to get in another 2 miles if I needed wanted to.  A quick shower later, and I was in comfortable Saturday clothes and ready for a snack.




Post run, I refueled with this refreshing green smoothie.  I used coconut water as the base and added in a little Good Belly along with spinach, 1/2 banana, mango and ice.




Not a lot of protein in this recovery beverage, but it is definitely rehydrating and refreshing.


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Luckily, the BOY is going to make us a protein packed lunch on the grill in just a few minutes.  You may have noticed that since Passover, I have been eating more meat.  I am eating chicken, the grass fed organic kind.  With summer and grill season fast approaching, there will definitely be more meat in my diet.  However, I am planning to choose higher quality meats and decrease my frequency of meat consumption.  Which makes the timing of this gift that I got yesterday PERFECT!




Doesn’t this look like fun???  The book is packed with vegetarian and vegan options.  You can bet there will be tons of recipes from this cookbook this spring/summer!!!



I am off to help the BOY prep veggies for our fajitas and then I SHOULD do some serious closet cleaning.  Good bye turtle neck sweaters!  I told you it wasn’t a lazy day!



Are you having an active or a lazy Saturday?

What Do You Do with an open Cake Mix?





To me, the most obvious answer is to scoop out some of the yellow crumbs and stir in just a dash of water to create Yellow Cake Batter Dip, which can easily be eaten with a spoon (perhaps the one you used to stir) or better yet, animal crackers or graham sticks.  However, this often leads to eating the entire contents of said cake mix box, because once you have tried this easy and surprisingly tasting dip, you will want to make more and more.  And although eating an entire box of cake is not the same (or as bad) as eating an entire actual cake, it is possibly going to derail your weight loss efforts and will most definitely cause a massive stomach ache.  Don’t ask me how I know this!!!


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So to prevent future you from ingesting way too much cake mix in one sitting, I have another recipe option that lends itself to better portion control…sort of!




You may be wondering to yourself, why I have leftover cake mix.  It is because I find this Cake Batter Puppy Chow to be so festive and wonderful that I have already made it three times since March.




So when I was left with a little extra mix, I found the PERFECT new recipe to try…






This recipe is Super Duper Unbelievably Amazing. It is easy to make and even easier to eat. The BOY is already a big fan, and this may be my new all time favorite treat…although I am loving what is left in my freezer of these guys!






If you were to tell me your mouth isn’t watering right now, I wouldn’t believe you!  Even this ugly guy looks appealing enough to lick the computer screen!




So I know you are asking yourself…what are these things??? 

They are CAKE BATTER TRUFFLES from The Girl Who Ate Everything.




Get ready to SAVE or LIKE this recipe immediately!  These sweet treats are white chocolate covered balls of cakey goodness!




Does life get any better than that???  As previously discussed, my chocolate dipping skills leave much to be desired, and I thought these were the perfect example of my creative use of white chocolate.




In this case, it wasn’t totally my fault.  My chocolate started getting hard creating an extra thick layer and making it challenging to dip the cake balls.  Hence, the not so cute guys, but no worries…they all taste just as incredible as they look. 




Next time, I will definitely use almond bark for easy dipping and a smoother finish.  But for this time around, I will store the rest of these guys (the ones the BOY didn’t get his hands on) in the freezer until tomorrow where they will star along with the Thin Mint Truffles in a fun celebration at work.


Looking for more cake mix ideas??? Check out Fun with Cake Mixes (part 1)

On a truffle kick like me??? These Mint Chocolate Thin Mint Truffles are exactly what you need!



Cake Batter Truffles

Recipe created by The Girl Who Ate Everything  (NO modifications needed)


1 ½ cups flour

1 cup yellow cake mix

½ cup unsalted butter, softened

½ cup white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/8 teaspoon salt

3-4 Tablespoons milk

2 Tablespoons sprinkles


Truffle Coating:

16 ounces (8 squares) almond bark (or white candy melts)

4 Tablespoons yellow cake mix



Beat together butter and sugar using an electric mixer until combined. Add cake mix, flour, salt, and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Add 3 Tablespoons of milk or more if needed to make a dough consistency. Mix in sprinkles by hand. Roll dough into one inch balls and place on a parchment or wax paper lined cookie sheet. Chill balls in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up.

While dough balls are chilling, melt almond bark in the microwave in 30 second intervals until melted. Stir between intervals. Once melted, quickly stir in cake mix until incorporated completely. Using a fork, dip truffles into almond bark and shake of excess bark by tapping the bottom of the fork on the side of your bowl. Place truffle back on the cookie sheet and top with sprinkles. Repeat with remaining balls until finished.


Chill cake batter truffles in the refrigerator until serving. Makes around 24-30 truffles.

Half Marathon History

In less than 2 weeks, I am running my first race of the year…a half marathon!


Prepping for this race really got me thinking about my Half Marathon History.  Usually I start my race season with a smaller run, but this year I am diving right in to a longer one.  I haven’t run a race since the Marathon last October and haven’t run a half marathon since 2009.  I am starting to feel a little nervous.  Seems silly…I have run numerous races in the past and after running a full marathon, you’d think a half marathon would feel simple.  Yet, surprisingly this race seems like a challenge.  Maybe it is because I decided to set the goal of running a half marathon PR (personal record) this year (under 1:50:00), and this is my first chance.   Here is a little history on how I got to this point…


I ran my first half marathon in 2006.  I had a blast and my friend and I finished in just over 2 hours. 


Kelley and Jen Post Race


It was such a positive experience (and I had a wonderful coach) that I was ready to sign up for my next race before I crossed the finish line. Unfortunately, a broken toe sidelined me from the 2007 St. Jude Half Marathon, and I was cheering on the sidelines instead of running.  In early 2008, I was diagnosed with a blood clot in my leg and PE’s.  One day, I will entertain you with stories from a Memphis hospital.


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I had to take 6 months of Coumadin (a blood thinner), and during this time, my hematologist recommended that I stop running.  It was a total bummer, but I was seriously determined to run the St. Jude half marathon in December 2008.  I wanted to honor my patients and prove to myself that I was healed and recovered.  A close friend of mine flew down to run with me and we layered up for this uncharacteristically cold day.


Race 2


The race was fun and more emotional than I had expected.  I crossed the finish line with tears in my eyes in 1:50:24.  It was such an amazing way to finish a rollercoaster year and a race that I will never forget.


After Race 2


When I moved back to Chicago, I was excited to run a hometown race.  I signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon in the fall of 2009, but sadly hurt my back over the summer.  This is where I discovered cross training.  I was attending a weekly spin class at the gym where we followed the Lance Armstrong training program.  Despite not running as much as I wanted, I was in great cardiovascular shape.  It was fun to be back home and have a great support system cheering us on!


Group Before


I decided to run a smart race with my goal being to run the race pain free.  I had a blast, despite the heat and was surprised when I finished in 1:51:52, not too far behind my PR.




I took 2010 off from long races and focused on triathlons.  Last year’s big goal was the marathon, during which my half marathon time was 1:54:34.  I was impressed with my time and this is what actually motivated me to try for a PR this year.




So far this year my race training has been inconsistent.  I took a week off from working out in March due to a busy schedule and fatigue.  However, I have gotten in some nice long hilly runs (10 miles this past weekend).  During the week, I have been doing some mid distance runs, some faster and some slower. I have not been doing any specific speed training or tempo runs and I have gone back and forth between thinking a PR this spring is a reality.  I have had a lot of doubt about my goal race pace (8:30 minute/miles), however, this morning, I was able to finally kick in some speed running 6 miles in under 49 minutes.




This was just the confidence boost that I needed 2 weeks before my race.  Rumor has it, that this is a flat course and I am feeling healthy.  A little pre-race pasta, and I think I may have a PR in me on May 6th.  Either way, I know that I will have a lot of fun adding another half marathon to my growing list!!!


Me After Race



Have you ever run a half marathon?

What is your PR?  Any last minute training advice?

Girl Scout Cookie <3

If these two were in the same class in elementary school, they’d have matching BFF necklaces.


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Need proof…try this Thin Mint Fudge! 



I have been looking forward to making these since this batch of girl scout cookies arrived at my office.  For my latest Thin Mint recipe, I drew inspiration from everyone’s favorite Oreo Balls.  However, my Happy Spring Oreo’s were engaged in another ‘project’ with cookie dough and brownies.




To start, I threw one box (two sleeves) of Thin Mints into my food processor until crumbly .


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I stirred them into an 8oz package of softened cream cheese.


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The longer you let your cream cheese sit out, the better.  Or you will get a massive arm workout.  And…if like me you already lifted this morning, your arms will get tired from stirring really quickly!


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The effort is totally worth it.  Get ready to get a little messy and begin rolling the cream cheese mixture into balls.




Lick off your covered fingers and then place the balls into the freezer.




I know…they already look good enough to eat!  But don’t skip this last step of dipping them in melted mint chocolate.






You can smell the mint chocolately goodness in my kitchen and it smells GOOOD!  I used the double fork method for dipping and draining.  It worked well (it is a quick way to dip and dunk), but as you can see I am a messy chocolate dipper!




Oh well!  Everything tastes just as good with a little extra chocolate!


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Speaking of extra chocolate, I hate to waste anything, especially chocolate, so I found something else to dip in this mint chocolate mixture…a few leftover Oreos.




Chocolate covered Oreos are yummy, but MINT chocolate covered Oreos are fantastic!


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These Mint Chocolate Thin Mint Truffles are the perfect combination of dark rich chocolate and fresh mint flavor.






I know you have a box of Thin Mints hiding in the back of your freezer (I still do).  Dig them out and make these.  You will LOVE them!  Feel free to write me thank you comments below.


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Store these in the freezer (along with your chocolate covered Oreos) in an air-tight container, or they will disappear quickly.  The BOY spotted the Oreo’s the minute he walked in the door and enjoyed some mint chocolate madness for dessert after dinner.


Here are a few other recipes that use Nestle’s Dark Chocolate Mint Morsels:


Mint Chocolate Chip Almond Butter


Chocolate Thin Mint Bark


Trail Mix Cookies




Mint Chocolate Thin Mint Truffles



1 box Thin Mint Cookies

1 8oz package of cream cheese, softened

1 10 oz package of Nestle Dark Chocolate Mint morsels

(if you can’t find these and don’t stockpile them like I do, then substitute in dark chocolate chips or chocolate almond bark)



-Place 2 sleeves of Thin Mint cookies in a food processor and pulse until completely crumbled.

-Stir together softened cream cheese and cookie crumbs until well combined.

-With your hands, roll mixture into balls.  Place them in an air-tight container and freeze for at least 1 hour.

-Using microwave or double broiler, melt your mint chocolate chips in 30 second intervals.  If you want, stir in some Crisco to thin the chocolate.

-Dip your Thin Mint balls into the chocolate and then place on a baking tray lined with wax paper.  Let cool until hard (or place in the refrigerator to decrease cooling time).

-Store in the freezer.


So I have been trying to sit down and write this post for like a month (it was totally a March goal that never happened).  Yikes! 


Over the years, I have read many cookbooks, healthy living blog posts, books, and magazine articles relating to food, nutrition, eating, superfoods, moderation, weight loss, and other related topics.  One common thread that I repeatedly read was the importance of chewing.  Sounds crazy, right?  Don’t you have to chew to eat?  After reading about this for the third or forth time, it really got me thinking.  How much do I CHEW my food?  The answer is embarrassing…I am a total mouth stuffer!




This realization was eye opening for me.  I always thought that I was doing it right, preparing my meals at home, rarely eating out, and being in tune with hunger.  The fact that I often eat standing, on the go, during a work meeting, or as quickly as possible and that this was impacting my healthy lifestyle and weight loss never crossed my mind…until last month!


Breakfast is a quick meal, usually eaten in standing with one foot out the door.  Lunch is stuffed into my mouth quickly and efficiency during a mid-day work meeting.  Dinner is typically eaten in sitting, but when it is 8PM, I am HUNGRY and the food disappears QUICKLY! 



Why is this a problem?


Digestion begins in the mouth

Chewing allows you to slow down your meal and enjoy the flavors

Chewing is key in the absorption of important nutrients

Savoring your food is important during every meal

Satiety is linked to chewing and the amount of time spent eating

I eat way too much food because I don’t register when I am full



I think that recognizing my lack of chewing is the FIRST step.  Hooray!  However making changes is hard.  I don’t know that I will ever wake up early enough or give up my morning run to have a sit down breakfast during the week and lunch meetings are not a choice, just a reality.  However, there are many dinners and weekend meals that deserve my time and appreciation where an easy change in eating habits (that begins with this realization) can lead to improved digestion, nutrition absorption, and possible weight loss.  For all of these reasons, I am willing to give CHEWING a try!



Source: Food Rules


Action Plan

How can I make a difference in my eating habits…


Chew, Chew, Chew each morsel 20-30 times (from Tosca Reno’s Just the Rules)

Put down the fork in between bites

Enjoy (and savor) a tasty beverage (like wine) with a special meal

Drink Water

Never eat unless I am sitting down

Make every meal a dining experience

Spend as much time enjoying the meal as it takes to prepare it (from Michael Pollan’s Food Rules)



For me, recognizing my patterns has already made a difference in how I eat many of my meals.  I am hoping over the next few months to create some new habits that support my clean and healthy eating goals.  This knowledge and understanding is just the beginning!


Do you chew your food?

What other suggestions do you have to increase satiety?