Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins

nutellabananamuffins

It’s been a while since I’ve consistently lost weight. I’ve been hovering around the 70 lbs. lost mark for about 3 months now, and while it’s great to know that I can maintain the loss, I really miss that loose clothes feeling. :-) I started a new weight training program last week, and it made me forget just how amazing weights can be. Currently, I’m working out 4 days a week straight, with 3 rest days, which is how the program is outlined. For those four days, my weight dropped a little, but once those rest days hit, the scale had a huge drop.

Five pounds lost!

I was completely shocked to see a number like that, and it’s super motivating to get back on track. My original goal was to hit Onederland (199 lbs.) by Halloween, but I’m not sure at this point if that’s possible. We shall see, though. Last Halloween, I hit 50 lbs. lost. How perfect would 100 lbs. lost be? (even though I’d probably gain 2 back testing out candy for Trick or Treaters).

Since I was getting back on track, I wanted to bake up something that would be a quick, easy snack to share with coworkers. These muffins were perfect. I subbed applesauce for oil (1:1), which substitutes perfectly in quick breads and muffins (you won’t miss it!), and omitted the pecans, since I’m probably the only southern gal who thinks pecans are gross. (Back story: I ate one too many rotten ones off my Memaw’s tree as a kid and now I can’t stand them!) These muffins were fluffy, flavorful and my coworkers didn’t even realize there was applesauce in them! :-) You don’t even need to fork out the mixer for this one….two bowls and a spoon will work just fine. I love recipes like that. :-)

Nutella Banana Swirl Muffins
Source: mildly adapted from The Novice Chef

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 4 medium over-ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened (no sugar added) applesauce
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • nutella

Directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a muffin pan with paper liners.
    2. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until everything is well-mixed. Set this aside for later use.
    3. In a large bowl, mix together the bananas, granulated sugar and brown sugar. Mix in the egg, applesauce and vanilla extract, and beat everything for about 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture to the banana mixture, and slowly mix everything together until just mixed (don’t over-mix).
    4. Scoop the muffin batter into the prepared muffin tin, filling each liner 3/4 of the way full. Add 1 tsp. of nutella to the top of each muffin, and use a toothpick to swirl the nutella into the muffin batter.
    5. Bake the muffins for 15-17 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the muffin comes out clean.

A Bunch of Randoms

I haven’t written one of these posts in a while, but I’ve taken quite a few photos on my phone since then. :-)

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1. You know you’re an adult when this is on your Christmas wish list. Hello pretty pantry storage! My husband thinks I’m a weirdo for wanting this set as a gift, but oh man, I really really do!

2. This is truly a random, but one of my favorite things about SNL is when the actors break down and laugh. It just makes them seem more normal. :-)

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3. I REALLY lucked out a couple of weeks ago, and won a giveaway for a Masterbuilt smoker from NWA Foodie’s blog. I seriously still can’t believe it, but we spent last weekend cleaning out our patio area and finding a place for it. We pre-seasoned the smoker as well, so it’s now ready for us to break it in! What should I make first? I’m seriously eye-ing some brisket right now. :-)

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4. This never gets old. The green top was something I got for my trip last year to San Diego, and it’s just way too big now. I know I take pictures like this a lot, but it seriously doesn’t get old. Sorry.

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5. Now that I’m fitting in regular sized clothing, I’m constantly surprised by the choices I have. I’m also learning what shapes flatter my body. Dress on the left…no. Dress on the right? Heck yes. I promise you these were taken on the same night in the same fitting room (Kohl’s).

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6. In case you don’t follow me on Instagram, you probably have no idea what this is. Back when I was losing weight for the wedding (on Weight Watchers), I learned about a great motivation idea to make a paper clip chain. Add a paper clip for every pound, and it’s a constant reminder of how far you’ve come. My coworkers just think it’s paper clip bunting….to me, it’s so much more. I hope I’m never asked to take this down.

7. Don’t forget to enter the giveaway for a chocolate collection from Sucré!

Have a great weekend, y’all!

Some Structure

I’ve been lifting weights for almost 8 months now. When my husband and I joined the gym near our house for the new year, I was pretty overwhelmed. I had no idea what to do, and was so intimidated by others who did. I just went to a weight machine and lifted what I could.

The next morning, my body was on fire. Everything was sore. I thought I was doing well. :-) So, I kept at it….twice a week, I’d do the machines, almost every machine. I went from 10 lbs. to 50 lbs. in a matter of 7 months. I was so proud of myself…my body was changing. In talking to my husband and a few friends, I was told that machine weights aren’t really the best way to go. Sure, it’s a work-out, but if I wanted to see better results, I had to move to free weights.

So, last week, I did it. I moved to free weights.

AKA I went to the “big boy” weight room. Scary, y’all. The people in there are LEGIT, and here I am with my ‘I’m still 300 lbs.’ self esteem.

First thing I did was grab 2-25 lb. dumbbells to do chest flies. I figured since I did 50 lbs. on the machine, 50 lbs. in free weights was my level. HA! I could barely lift the weights to chest level. I went down to 15…I could barely lift them, much less do a full-on chest fly lying down. So, 8 lbs. it was. I went from 50 lbs. to 16 lbs., and still felt like I was working like crazy. That’s an example of one exercise I had to go WAY down in weights for. I know 16 lbs. sounds like nothing, but y’all…the soreness was back. Hurt so good (I’m crazy, I know).

Fast forward to this week. My friend and I decided that we definitely need more structure in our weight lifting routines. Personal trainers are expensive, and if we could find a work-out online (preferably free), all the better. Lo and behold, my friend found this work-out on a bodybuilding website. It’s by a trainer named Jamie Eason, and the program is called Live Fit.

It seems like a great program, and in reading the forums on MyFitnessPal, there are excellent reviews.

There are three phases of the program and in total, the whole program is over in 12 weeks. :-)

The only issue I have with the program is that Phase One contains NO cardio in it. I know I’m supposed to trust in the process, but I can’t give up running for 4 weeks. I think I’m just gonna run 2x/week for a mile or two, just to keep a good baseline going, since my first half is about 6 months away (gulp!).

I also won’t be following the diet plan. I will keep cleaner eating in mind (which I should be doing anyway), but I’m just gonna continue with my calorie counting throughout the program. I may not have optimal results, but I’m sure I’ll see something. I started the program yesterday (took measurements), and I’ll admit, it was weird focusing on one area of the body (triceps/chest). However, I really feel it today. It hurts to stretch!

If you lift weights, do you follow a program?

 

Sucré New Orleans Review/Giveaway

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Being from the New Orleans area, I’m so lucky to be surrounded by amazing restaurants and businesses. Back when I worked in the uptown area, I was exposed to a whole new area of small businesses that I fell in love with. Sucré was one of them. I was ecstatic when they expanded and opened a location at the mall in the area. It’s such an inviting place, and I love to drop in almost every time I’m in town.

If you’ve never been, they sell a little bit of everything to satisfy the sweet tooth, like gelato, chocolates, macaroons, cupcakes and other specialty desserts. I honestly could spend some major money every time I go in there, but I try to restrict myself to one treat (except this one time when I went). :-)

A few weeks ago, the generous folks at Sucré reached out to me to offer a giveaway to you guys. Their 8 pc. indulge chocolate collection, to be exact. I was sent a box to review as well (ok, twist my arm), and I just wanted to share just how gorgeous this box truly is.

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Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas

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Since we got our pressure cooker for Christmas, I’ve sadly only used it a handful of times. We don’t cook much for dinner anymore, since usually all we want after an evening gym work-out is a protein shake with lots of fruit. It’s kind of hard to stand up for 30 minutes – an hour when you’re feeling ravenous and your legs are also feeling like jello. So, usually our big meals are on weekends. When my husband came home from a conference, I decided to surprise him with some carnitas. I saw this recipe a while back on Table for Two and thought it would be nice to give this recipe a try in the pressure cooker, rather than cooking in the oven for a couple of hours. In the summer, this is so awesome, because you aren’t heating up your house for 2 hours. In Louisiana, the less the A/C has to work, the better.

This recipe came out beautifully, and I’m still so shocked at how perfect the meat cooked up in 20-ish minutes (once it reached pressure). I ended up freezing this in 1 lb. portions, because there was no way my husband and I were going to eat this much pork within a few days. However, for a party (maybe a taco bar?), this would be perfect!

Just to note: I’m going to type out the directions that I used for the electric pressure cooker (this is the one we own), however, for the conventional method, feel free to check out Table for Two’s post.

Pressure Cooker Pork Carnitas
Source: directions adapted from Table for Two, originally from Cooks Illustrated

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds boneless pork shoulder, cut into 2″ cubes
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 onion, peeled and halved
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 medium orange, juiced and keep the spent halves

Directions:

  1. Place all of the ingredients in the electric pressure cooker (including the spent halves of the orange) and set the cooker to the “simmer” setting.
  2. Once the mixture has come to a simmer, cover the pressure cooker and seal it. Set the pressure cooker to the “high pressure” setting, and set the timer for 20 minutes. (Note: do not use a kitchen timer…it’s crucial to use the timer on your appliance since the timer starts when it reaches the desired pressure to cook.)
  3. Once the pressure cooker is done, allow the cooker to naturally release pressure before attempting to open the pressure cooker, and then uncover.
  4. Turn your oven on to the broil setting, and line a jelly roll pan with heavy duty aluminum foil. Using a slotted spoon, scoop out the cooked pork and place it on the foil lined pan. You can discard everything else (vegetables/aromatics) at this time, except for the cooking liquid. Turn the pressure cooker to the “brown” setting, which is high heat, and boil the liquid until it’s thick and syrupy (about 20 minutes).
  5. While the liquid mixture is heating, use two forks to shred the pork (and discard fatty pieces). Once the liquid mixture has thickened, add the pork back into the liquid and gently mix the pork into the liquid, to avoid breaking up the pork further.
  6. Using a slotted spoon, place the pork back on the lined pan, and place the pan in the oven under the broiler for 5-8 minutes. After that’s done, flip the pork and allow it to brown on the other side for another 5-8 minutes. Be sure to watch the pork carefully to ensure that the pork doesn’t burn.
  7. Serve immediately. You can also refrigerate (for up to 5 days) or freeze the leftovers.

 

 

Wholly Stuffed Jalapenos and a GIVEAWAY

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I used to be an avocado hater. There…I said it. When I was a kid, I thought they had a weird texture and tasted kind of bland. It took me until college to give these a try again, and it was in the form of guacamole. Avocado quickly became one of those foods that I learned to love as an adult. If something has sliced avocado or guacamole in it, chances are I’m gonna go for it.

As easy as it is to throw together some guacamole, I have to admit that I was stoked to find out about Wholly Guacamole’s products. I first discovered Wholly Guacamole products on a whim at the grocery store. When I started calorie counting, I basically walked all of the aisles of the grocery store to find snack ideas, and I came upon their 100 calorie guacamole packs. While I could definitely eat a whole batch of guacamole, I loved the idea of having it pre-portioned in a small amount. It’s the perfect dip for baked tortilla chips and veggies!

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Finding some motivation…

You may have noticed that there was no Monday weigh-in this week. You see, my best friend’s wedding was this past weekend, and well, I learned quite a few things.

  1. An open bar is not as fun as it used to be. I assumed I could drink like I drank at my before weight, which was stupid. Even stupider for not drinking water between drinks. Lesson learned: early the next morning, I had two charlie horses. OMG THOSE ARE PAINFUL. I couldn’t even tell my husband what was wrong when I woke him up with my legs probably kicking the something out of his. :( Sorry, hun. I read on Dr. Google that dehydration can cause these…yup, this is why I don’t usually drink. Back to water…
  2. New Orleans BBQ shrimp makes you bloat like crazy, but it’s oh, so good!
  3. I also learned that you will gain ::gulp:: 7 lbs. from said mistakes. I actually lost 4 of those 7 already in two days, so I know it’s not true gain. Thus, why I decided not to write a weigh-in post.

It’s been quite a few months of back and forth with my weight. I was SO close to 75 lbs. lost, and well, yeah…you all know what happened. It’s kind of frustrating, to tell you the truth. While my wallet appreciates me staying in the same size for months, I really miss that loose clothes feeling.

My husband and I are both on a journey to Onederland (he’s closer to it than I am, right now), and we told ourselves whoever reaches that weight first, gets a reward date of their choice.. Me? A cooking class date. Him? A jet-ski date. :-)

I decided to up the motivation a little bit last week. My husband and I have an upcoming vacation this winter, and so, I bought a new swimsuit in the size I’d like to be by then (a size large…12/14). It’s two-three sizes down from my current size, so I’m sure it’s doable. :-) Holding the suit up to my current self is so crazy. Look at how SMALL that suit is!

Motivation

I’ll be honest. I haven’t seen that size since middle school. MIDDLE SCHOOL.

Anyway, I’m hoping this pushes me to get rid of some of the weight again. I can’t wait to have loose clothes again. :-)

What have you done to motivate yourself lately?

 

Monday Weigh-In: Week 78

Heh. Holiday weeks. When will I ever learn?

I find that when I don’t work, I have terrible munchies. At work, I’m on a good schedule. Breakfast 8am….snack 10am…lunch noon….afternoon snack #1…2pm…afternoon snack #2 (pre-workout) 5pm…dinner 8pm. It’s fairly easy to follow, because I keep busy at work, and really am able to listen to my body’s hunger signals. However, at home..I just want to eat. Ugh. After a 4 day weekend, here comes the ugly, honest truth (which I’m sure a good bit of it is bloat from how I ate the past two days, especially).

Week 77: 226.2
Week 78: 230.4

Weight Lost: +4.2 lbs.
Total Weight Lost: 68.1 lbs.

Yeah. What a mess. All I can say is that I’m gonna do better this week. I’m optimistic that a good bit of this is bloat, because there’s NO way I went over my calories 3500 * 4.

One day I’m gonna get better at this whole holiday thing. Time to kick this week’s booty. :-)

A Bunch of Randoms

Hope y’all had a great 4th of July! We ended up having an easy-going day, which was definitely welcome. :-) It was probably the most difficult on Millie, since she got her summer fur-cut yesterday AND had to deal with 3 neighborhoods in our area FULL of fireworks lovers. Poor gal. :(

1. This might not seem funny to some, but to this dog lover, I was laughing super hard. “I have no idea what I’m doing.”

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2. When I see this in the grocery store, it pretty much makes my day. Banana biscoff protein shake, anyone? Banana “ice cream”? Yes please!

3. This is completely awesome. Completely…maybe I should do this to my sisters when they get married? I’m pretty sure my husband wouldn’t claim me anymore. On another note, I want those shoes she’s wearing. What are those? Sparkly Converse shoes?

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4. I was looking through old iPhone pictures yesterday, and came across my Couch to 5K collages. I found one from the 4th of July last year, and decided to see how it compares to one from my last run. I’m hoping y’all aren’t getting tired of the progress picture comparisons…they motivate the heck out of me to see a huge difference in my face like that!

5. This made me ridiculously happy. My career is in the IT & science fields, and as a woman, I’m definitely in the minority. I have no problem working with men (just sayin’), but it’s something I notice a lot at conferences and in training classes.  If I have a daughter one day, I’d love for her to have toys like this! :-) I used to LOVE playing with my brother’s toys as a kid (sorry bro), and was a huge sucker for science kits/books/games. I hope this toy idea sticks around for a while!

Hope everyone has a great weekend! :-)

 

Ch- Ch- Changes

For the past few weeks, I’ve been having some behind the scenes issues with my blog. I’d report problems to my hosting company, and they’d just go into my directory and delete things before asking. It messed up my blog quite a bit, and so, my husband and I spent the weekend making some serious changes to the blog, including an all-new look. I’m still researching a new hosting company, so that will be coming up soon as well.

Here’s the blog you’ve known for the past few years.

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This was my first WordPress.org theme, and my husband put a ton of work into customizing the theme and making things pretty. I don’t know what I’d do without him…he’s so savvy at this stuff.

There’s two huge changes that happened over the weekend.

First is a complete re-design of the blog. Here’s the new look for The Nifty Foodie.

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I love the new look! I changed a few things around on here, including an all new navigation bar at the top. You can easily click on a category of recipes you’re interested in, and the corresponding posts will load for you. There’s still the regular category drop down in the footer of the blog, if you prefer that, but I thought this new feature would be nice.

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The second change is pretty huge, too. Over the past year, I’ve given a lot of thought about my two blogs. Here I am blogging about weight loss on one blog, and on the other blog, there’s a big picture of cupcakes. One of the most frequently asked questions I get is how I’m losing the weight with a baking hobby. I felt like I needed to connect everything together, so things can make a little more sense to y’all. So, my life blog no longer exists. All of the content has now moved here (I’m still fixing hyperlinks in the old life blog posts to reflect those changes), and from now on, I’ll be sharing everything here. There’s a button for my weight loss journey and my crafting hobby on the navigation bar, too!

I know it’s a lot at once, but I think this is a good move for the blog. I barely blogged about my weight loss journey on here, and now I feel like this blog will be a place where I can just tell my complete story, if that makes any sense. Baking + weight loss + crafts + life. It’s all gonna be here. Don’t worry, though. My recipe posts will still post 2x/week, as normal. Now, there’s the addition of Monday Weigh-In posts and my Friday “Bunch of Randoms” posts.

I hope you guys like the new changes around here! Please let me know what y’all think of the new look. I’d love to hear some feedback. :-)