Fall/Winter Bucket List

I was sitting in my room the other day, thinking about the fact that I have lived in the DFW area for 11 years now and have been at a school very close to Dallas for a year and still haven’t done much exploring of the area. I decided that this needed to change this year, starting now! And as Fall is upon us–although the weather is certainly taking its slow time catching up–and winter is nearing, it’s the perfect time for fun and festivities. So what did I do? I decided to make a Fall/Winter  bucket list for this year. Yeah, yeah I know bucket lists are generally for things you want to do before you die, which I guess technically includes this list, I just want to do them in a much shorter time frame. Especially since during Fall and Winter and when it gets colder, you tend to not go outside and do stuff as much and feel trapped being cooped up (maybe this is just me). So…I figured this was the perfect time to force myself to go out and do things!

I also thought this would be a great blog series to share with y’all! For the most part, I will wait until I have a done a couple of items off the list to write–so that the post is more interesting and filled with adventure. This first one is the exception of course. Here I will explain what is on my list. My hope is that my list will give you some fun suggestions as well as inspire you to go out and find your own adventures. Life is about living in the moment and exploring the areas around you…you never know what you’ll find!

fall-winter-bucket-list

 Dallas Farmer’s Market

  • There’s something about Fall and Farmer’s Markets that seem to go hand-in-hand. Maybe it’s the fresh produce options, walking past the tents in that perfect weather or just the atmosphere of it all. No matter the reason, the Dallas Farmer’s Market is a spot I want to hit up one cool, crisp Fall or Winter morning.

Yoga at Klyde Warren Park

  • Part of my become healthier initiative is to do more Yoga–not only to become more flexible, but also to build up my muscle and become in-tune with my body and its abilities. Instead of paying for a class, why not spend a Saturday morning out in nature practicing yoga for free? I thought it was at least worth the try and this was the perfect opportunity.

The Wild Detectives

  • I found this place when searching for top things to do in Dallas. It’s a coffee shop/bar/bookstore all crammed into one cozy space. Bring your own book or rent/buy one off their shelves, find yourself a spot, and then sit and read all afternoon…that’s my kind of day! This will be especially inviting as the weather gets colder!

Walk the Continental Avenue Bridge

  • If you’ve been to or seen Dallas, you’ve most likely seen this huge, awesome-looking white arched bridge! When the weather gets nice, this is a great spot to get some exercise or just enjoy the outdoors by taking a walk across it. They have exercise classes there, but I think a leisurely stroll as I soak up the sunshine sounds pretty great to me!

Watch the sunrise at White Rock Lake

  • Watching the sunrise/sunset is something that is always on any list of mine. It’s a great reminder of the beauty of this world and makes you just feel small in the presence of God and his masterpieces. White Rock Lake seems like one of the best nature areas close by and research confirmed this to be true. It may involve early mornings, but it’ll be worth it!

Bishop Arts District

  • Something about cute little down-town areas with shops and restaurants gets me…no matter where it is, it always does! I’ve seen picture of this area and I really want to spend an afternoon/evening there with friends. Good food, good friends, good surroundings, good time!

Breakfast in Deep Ellum

  • I love going out to breakfast, somehow it always tastes better. I know there are great options of restaurants and little cafes in Deep Ellum that I am excited to check out.

Katy Trail

  • Katy Trail is a historic trail that is built on an old railroad line. The paths are lined with blooming nature that are sure to make for great views! Whether visiting this trail means running or walking, I bet I am in for a relaxing, beautiful time!

Arboretum

  • The arboretum is an iconic spot to visit in Dallas, especially during “Autumn at the Arboretum”. I think this would surely get me in the Fall festivities mood even when the weather is correctly cooperating (hello 85 degree weather at the end of October).

Glazed Donut Works

  • My dad suggested this one as he saw that this place is world-famous in a magazine. The shop is famous for their crazy, unique flavors and combinations such as Samoa Girl Scout Cookie, Smores, Red Velvet…you get the idea. Any world-famous place seems worthy of being on a bucket list, especially if it’s donuts. Plus I haven’t had a donut in a really long time either so this is surely to be an enjoyed treat.

Emporium Pies

  • I love pie, it is seriously my weakness. I have heard from many different people just how amazing the pies here are, so I CANNOT wait any longer to go here. I saw on their menu they have a deep dish apple and a bourbon pecan. I mean c’mon that practically screams fall!! So is this the healthiest thing on my list…definitely not. But will I enjoy every single bite of my one slice  slices…heck yes I will.

Japanese Gardens at Fort Worth Botanical Gardens

  • Lastly, this is one my dad also suggested. Apparently they have a really cool and neat Fall festival that I’ll be going to in the next few weeks. There are bound to be beautiful l views and fun activities for an all around good time!

4 Easy and Delicious Mexican Recipes

Anytime sometime suggests we go out, Mexican is at the top of my list. Something about those endless baskets of chips and salsa, the steaming plate of enchiladas and the lovely smell of sizzling fajitas…brb drooling. Unfortunately, lots of Mexican foods is cooked in oil, fats and other unhealthy things so I’ve learned to love making my own homemade Mexican recipes. Surprisingly, they’re still delicious and easy to make–whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

One thing that helps is the fact that I have found amazingly delicious tortillas a few months ago that have been the staple to all of these recipes. They aren’t the healthiest, but they aren’t the worst and they definitely are the best tasting. They are Mission Artisan Corn Wheat Blend and they are to die for! They’re perfect because the corn is healthier, but tends to fall apart and the wheat allows it to hold together better than a normal corn tortilla. These tortillas make these recipes amazing, but if you have another favorite or want a healthier tortilla, feel free to substitute. All four of these recipes are ones that I have “made” on my own, although they are certainly nothing fancy that I have created from thin air. Overall here are 4 easy Mexican recipes to make at home.

1. Breakfast Quesadilla

breakfast-quesdilla

Mexican food for breakfast…heck yeah! This quesadilla is packed to the punch with flavors from the eggs, turkey sausage, and vegetables. It is so tasty, plus I love eggs so starting my morning off with them is a great way to start any day. To make these, I used my handy-dandy, absolutely-cannot-live-without panini press. But, if you don’t have one, the stove works perfectly too.

Ingredients

  • 1 tortilla of choice
  • 2 eggs
  • Turkey sausage links (can use another meat if prefer)
  • Frozen or fresh chopped up peppers and onions
  • Diced roma tomatoes
  • Olive oil
  • Cheese
  • Optional toppings/sides: Avocado, salsa, Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Add the peppers, onions, and tomatoes to the pan and heat until cooked. Add in the chopped turkey sausage.
  2. Crack two eggs into the pan and stir them around to begin scrambling. Continue until scrambled eggs are done.
  3. On the panini press (or stove) lay the tortilla down. Sprinkle cheese on half of it, add the egg mixture on top, and then add more cheese. Fold empty tortilla half over and cook until everything is melted together. Serve with avocado slices, or dipped in Greek yogurt or salsa!

**Note: this can also be made into a breakfast taco instead. Just add the eggs and toppings to a warmed tortilla.

2. Chicken and Black Bean Quesdilla

quesdilla-2

Quesadillas can be just as filling and delighting for lunch too! I’ve seen, and tried recipes that had the beans actually in the quesadilla, but they never worked out for me. I created this to fix the issues I was having, and it is still delicious–especially with avocado on top (avocado makes everything better, doesn’t it?).

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas of choice
  • Cheese
  • Shredded chicken pieces (rotisserie works really well)
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Avocado
  • Optional: vegetables such as tomato, onion, peppers

Instructions

  1. Heat a pan over medium heat. Lay one tortilla on the pan. Top it with cheese, chicken, vegetables, and more cheese. (To make it stay together it is important to have the two layers of cheese. If you desire to use less cheese as I often have in the past, just sprinkle less cheese on each layer.)
  2. Place second tortilla on top and begin cooking.
  3. Press down every now and again with a spatula to make sure everything is melting together. After approximately 2 minutes, flip the tortilla and cook another 2 minutes.
  4. Serve with a spoonful of beans (warmed in microwave if desired) and slices of avocado on top!

3. Mexican Salad with Tortilla Strips

taco-salad-1

I love salads, especially the ones in the little taco shells…it just makes the whole thing taste better. This past summer though, I discovered a lighter version of a Mexican salad with all of the same great flavors and textures!

Ingredients

  • 1 tortilla of choice (Warning: I don’t know how well the other types, besides the wheat/corn blend I used, crisp up for the topping of this salad)
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion Salt
  • Romaine salad mix
  • Chicken pieces
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • Cheese
  • Cherry/Grape/Roma tomatoes
  • Red onion, diced
  • Avocado
  • Dressing: Olive oil, lime juice, onion/garlic salt

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Cut tortilla up into strips. Brush olive oil on each side and then sprinkle with seasoning of choice (salt, pepper, onion salt, garlic salt, etc). Place the strips on aluminum foil lined baking sheet. Cook for 8-10 minutes (*Keep an eye on them since tortillas, ovens, etc. may differ in time.)
  3. While tortillas are cooking, prepare your salad. Add your salad to the plate and then layer with chicken, tomatoes, diced onion, black beans, avocado and cheese.
  4. Once the tortilla strips are done, add them to the top of your salad.
  5. To make the dressing: Whisk together olive oil, lime juice, onion and garlic salt (to desired taste). Pour over the salad and enjoy!

4. Easy Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

chicken-fajitas

This last, but certainly not least, recipe is one that I literally just threw together for dinner one night this summer and ended up loving it so much, I made a recipe out of it. And best of all…it takes 20-25 minutes for this delicious dinner to be ready.

Ingredients

  • 2 tortillas of choice
  • Shredded chicken pieces
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • Onion salt
  • Olive oil
  • Optional: Black beans
  • Toppings: Lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, cheese, salsa, Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Cut up the peppers and onions into strips.
  2. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan/skillet and begin cooking the onions and peppers. Cook for approximately 10-15 minutes (until peppers and onions feel softened, but not too soft and cooked). Halfway through cooking, sprinkle onion and garlic salt in.
  3. Add in the chicken and sprinkle some more seasoning and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile heat desired number of tortillas for 30 seconds in the microwave (*place a damp towel on top and bottom covering them) and cut up toppings.
  4. Assemble the fajitas. Add black beans (if desired), then the chicken/pepper mix and then any and all toppings desired.

So there you have it: 4 easy homemade Mexican recipes to try for your next meal. What do you think? What are some of your favorite Mexican recipes to make at home?

23 Days Without Dessert

23-days-no-dessert

So I had this blog all prepared to be posted today and I awoke to an email bearing the great news that today held: it’s National Dessert Day. I found it very important to mention the irony that I am posting about how I went 23 days without dessert…on National Dessert Day. No this was not planned at all. I think I’ll eat some dessert tonight to celebrate this…

Anyway, yes, you read my headline right. I went 23 days WITHOUT dessert. (*Note: I meant to do 3 weeks, it just happened to carry over 2 more days before I finally caved in for pretzels dipped in chocolate at a volunteering event.I mean who can say no to that?) For some people who don’t like dessert or who already do this type of thing, it may not seem like a big issue. But, I loved (and still do love) dessert. Ice cream, brownies, cookies, candy, donuts pie…you name it. I was the kid who lived on pie and ice cream every week and even when I grew-up, dessert was big for me. Last spring, I wanted to eat healthier so I started limiting myself to dessert 3-4 times a week. That continued over the Summer and into the start of school; however, a few weeks–and lots of ice cream–later this year, I wanted to try stepping it up a notch. Now before you start judging or attacking me, calling me crazy, let me explain why I chose to do this and what I learned from my experience.

The main reason I partook on this adventure was to cut out added sugar in my eating. Sugars can sneak up in lots of foods, especially desserts, and I knew that to eat healthily and get a “fit” look, cutting down on sugars was important. I hoped that cutting out dessert would make me more aware of these dangers in other foods I ate. It also didn’t help that due to celebrating birthdays, my eating over the weeks before I started this had not been very good. I wanted to work hard to get back on track. Second, I wanted to wean myself off of the temptation of buying ice cream or pie. I seemed to always have this craving for dessert, so going 3 weeks without it would hopefully cause me to not crave it so much so often. Lastly, I wanted to show myself that I could do this. That I could still eat delicious foods and be satisfied without dessert. I was a girl on a mission.

This was no piece of cake. Especially because my roommate is so awesome and from the start, has put out candy in a bowl in our living room. And no I am not being sarcastic, she really, truly is amazing. Anyway, it obviously started out with getting rid of my ice cream and other dessert-like foods I had in my kitchen. Then, the 3 weeks began. At first, it was difficult to pass by the candy bowl or pass on my roommate’s delicious sprinkle sugar cookies, but I kept trudging on–reminding myself who and what I was doing this for. Although an organization I was in threw a party where there was brownies, cookies, and cake. And I didn’t eat a single bite of it. It definitely got easier though and what helped was not putting myself in tempting situations. But through the “agony” of it, in the end, I was really glad I did it. I ended up learning a lot and actually making some changes in my life that I am happy with.

The first thing I noticed was my decreased desire for dessert. For 3 weeks, I had to walk down the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and by the 2nd or 3rd week, I had no remorse passing it up. I even would stop at the door, look at the flavors, and easily walk on. This is exactly what I wanted. Now, when I want dessert, once or twice a month, I can go out for fro-yo or ice cream or cheesecake. This is better and healthier for me because I just have that one serving rather than constantly having dessert on-hand at my fingertips. I also learned to eat more during the day in healthy meals and snacks so that I would meet my calorie needs and to try to listen to my stomach. Oftentimes what happens with dessert is people eat it just to eat it and not because they’re hungry. After dinner, with no dessert, I could better listen to rather or not I was actually hungry or if I just wanted junky sweets. And even if I couldn’t have dessert, that didn’t stop me from eating after dinner: I just found healthier desserts. Instead of cookies or cake or ice cream I would eat a fruit salad or Greek yogurt with fresh fruit.

Lastly, I really learned that I want to try to continue this in my future, to eat really clean for myself. I am not saying that if you eat dessert, you aren’t healthy or you don’t eat healthy. Everybody is different. For me, I have always tried to eat healthy and clean, but never took it up the notch that I wanted. This 23 day adventure was my chance. Now, I really consider added sugar in breads, sauces, packaged items, and other foods when picking what to eat. I am excited to start and try out this new eating plan where I will still enjoy dessert once or twice a month, but go out for it. I am no longer craving or missing ice cream or cookies or those insanely delicious Yasso Greek Yogurt bars I used to devour. I will also start baking healthy desserts on the rare occasions I bake. Although quite honestly I may occasionally just bake something really sugary and unhealthy because it looks and sounds delicious. And that’s okay.

Overall, I am really glad I tried and completed the 3 weeks without dessert. Again I am not demanding everyone to follow my lead, but I think if it is something that interests you, you should try it. Or some other version of it. For example, I want to try to go a month without eating out at fast-foods (I rarely do anyway) or at restaurants (little harder). This one may be more difficult and I won’t start it right away, but I am excited to try and challenge myself. I am just happy living this lifestyle and making the choices that I am making for myself, even if everyone doesn’t approve or agree. I am doing what makes me happy and what I enjoy…and that is being Beyoutifully Healthy!

 

Oatmeal Banana Apple Muffins

Oatmeal Banana Apple Muffins

[Photo Credits to RockRecipes.com]
[Photo Credits to RockRecipes.com]
Checking the weather to see when the temperature will finally go down, getting excited at “78 degrees”, needing a jacket to walk to class only to be sweating by noon, seeing some of the bluest skies anywhere…any of these may hint at typical Fall season in Texas. As much as I love this state, I have given up on the weather and learned to accept that Texas weather is bipolar. This can be unfortunate for someone who loves Fall weather (Me!) There’s just something about a temperature of 60-65 degrees, that slight breeze and blue skies that gets me. Okay, maybe it’s the riding boots, scarves and sweaters that comes along with it. But, seriously my favorite time is October-December because with that comes Halloween and Thanksgiving and wonderful times. Unfortunately, with those times can also come 87 degree weather in Texas…like all next week.

I had expected to go home this past weekend to trade out my shorts and sandals for boots and long-sleeves, but that plan was dampened by the upcoming Texas temperatures. Despite this though, I decided to get into the “mood” by buying lots of fall clothes: ankle boots, sweaters, cardigans, peasant shirts, etc. Maybe I can’t wear them yet, but hey at least I have them to look forward to (and look longingly at), right? Anyway, I promise there is a point here, something that goes perfectly, hand-in-hand with Fall–BAKING! On top of shopping, I decided to find a yummy muffin recipe to try. And oh boy did I.

I found this recipe on rockrecipes.com and just the name alone informed me I had made the right choice. They are called Oatmeal Banana Apple Muffins and they taste heavenly. Added bonus: they are a healthier treat! (Yes, even when baking I look for healthy alternatives/options for myself. It’s the way I choose to live.) Seriously though, I bit into one and melted right into the warm, moist, and fluffy deliciousness. And don’t even get me started on the smell…they literally smell like Fall. And before you try and tell me that a season can’t have a smell, let me just say oh yes it can and it does. When I opened the oven to check on them, the waft of air smelled like cinnamon, nutmeg, apples, baking and made me so excited! Right away I knew I had to share this recipe because everyone needs these muffins. So if your feelings towards Fall are like mine yet your state’s weather doesn’t seem to back you up, here is the recipe for these Oatmeal Apple Banana Muffins. You can thank me later (preferably at a time when you’re not stuffing your face with these muffins).

OATMEAL APPLE BANANA MUFFINS

Prep time: 15 minutes     Bake Time: 25 minutes     Total time: 40 minutes

Yields: 12-15 muffins (12 big muffins or 15 medium muffins)

[Photo Credits to RockRecipes.com]
[Photo Credits to RockRecipes.com]

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour (can use all-purpose if you prefer)
  • 3 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 2 eggs (I used 1 egg and 1 egg white)
  • 4 tbsp. canola oil (can sub 4 tbsp. unsweetened applesauce)
  • 6 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 large banana)
  • 1 cup grated unpeeled apple (approximately 1 large apple)*

*If you don’t have a grater (I didn’t) you can just chop/dice the apples up into tiny pieces and it still works perfectly. This is especially tasty with apple chunks in the muffins!

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. In a small-medium bowl, mix together the oatmeal, whole wheat flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Set aside.
  3. In a medium-large bowl, beat together the eggs, oil and sugar until fluffy. Blend in the milk.
  4. Fold in the dry ingredients. When the flour is almost incorporated, fold in the mashed banana and grated apple.
  5. Do not over mix. Fold in only until the fruit is mixed through the batter.
  6. Spoon into paper lined muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

muffins-2These are best served warm! They can also be stored in an airtight container for about a week and then heated up in the microwave, if desired. Have fun playing around with ways to eat them. For example, for a pre-workout snack I had a muffin drizzled with plain Greek yogurt–so good! But no matter how you choose to eat these muffins, you’ll sure be glad you did! Happy baking!

[Thank you rockrecipes.com for showing me this awesome treat!!]