Cooking with Chris: Scratch Spaghetti

So Chris made dinner tonight while I walked the Chance dog.  About a week ago he found out he has a broken sesamoid bone in his foot so he’s suppose to take it easy.  While I love my little doggy pal, sometimes when it’s cold and rainy out I don’t get that jazzed to walk him.  But tonight we managed to make it through the normal 20 min loop without much rain and I got to walk into an amazing smelling kitchen.

We make turkey spaghetti all the time.  It’s one of our staples.  But this week, during the weekly grocery list making Chris said he wanted to make the sauce from scratch.  Whoo hoo.  Music to my ears.  One less processed food in our kitchen (and bodies).  Since he was motivated to make the sauce from scratch it made me realize we could make this entire dinner from scratch if only I’d whip up some homemade salad dressing.  Making your own dressing is so easy but most of the time I’m just lazy and don’t do it.  But luckily, I found a super easy recipe over on my friend Elyse’s blog, Fresh Habits.

Let me tell you, everything tonight was FANTASTIC.  I don’t know if it was that all the flavors just combined perfectly or that I knew I wasn’t putting gross chemicals into my body, but man-oh-man.  Yum.

Italian Pumpkin Seed Salad: (adapted from this)

Mix together the below.  I put everything in a mason jar with a lid and shook it all together.  Mason jars just make everything better. I poured the dressing over some spinach, cherry tomatoes and then tossed on some pumpkin seeds.

  • Equal parts olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • spoonful of Dijon mustard
  • teaspoon honey

From scratch dressing

Spicy Basil Turkey Spaghetti:

Mix together the below.  Bring to a boil and then simmer for 10 min and add 1 package of browned, lean ground turkey breast. Simmer for 10 more minutes.    Pour sauce over whole wheat spaghetti noodles and sprinkle on some shredded parmesan cheese.   This will make about 4 servings.  We definitely go light on the noodles, heavy on the sauce.  I’m thinking it could also be good to toss in some broccoli for extra veggie power.

  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes (FYI it would be healthier to buy fresh and chop them or find some in a glass container.  Cans are bad and can have BPA but I’m taking it one step at a time here).
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped, fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • To taste – Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes and granulated garlic (we used a lot of red pepper flakes)
  • Pinch of salt

From scratch spaghetti

Oh and a random note.  My hands are super sore.  I was motivated by a challenge the contestants had to do on The Biggest Loser last night and decided to try my hand (literally) at rowing 10,000 meters.  Last night on the show I thought it couldn’t have been that challenging and would only take about 40 minutes.  Well, I was wrong.  It took me 62.  I wouldn’t say the whole thing was all that challenging from an endurance/cardio level.  I could have kept going but my butt was so sore from the unpadded seat and my hands started blistering up like crazy.  Anyway.  If you’re up for a challenge, there you go.

Let’s Get Physical (Therapy)

So as I’ve mentioned before, my knees suck. So I have basically stopped running in an effort to help save them.  I’ve gone to the chiropractor and acupuncture and all of that definitely helped but they still hurt.  In the back of my mind I kept telling myself I needed to go back to physical therapy because that was the only thing that really seemed to help them (well that and that I actually did the homework exercises they told me to do).  Anyway, I knew I needed to do it but still kept putting if off, thinking with enough rest they might make a comeback.  But then I got asked to be on a Hood to Coast team again.

After last years HTC I swore I was not going to do it again.  It was so painful.  But there’s just something about that crazy race that sucks you in.  And this year would be my 5th year.  Doesn’t it feel so much better to retire after the 5th time than the 4th?  It just has a better ring to it.  Plus, this year the team is just a group of people doing it for fun.  Unlike past years where our team was actually pretty good and I felt pressure to speed through my runs.  So I said yes.  That I’m in.  That somehow I’m going to find a way to run this bad boy again.  So I headed back to physical therapy.

Last night was night number 1.  I’m going to the same overall PT company but at a different location.  Last year I was referred to one about 20 min away and because Chris and I carpool it was always challenging to figure out how to get there at a time that worked for both of us.  This time I switched to one 2 min from my house which will make coordination much easier. No new surprises from where I was last year.  My hips are rotated which puts pressure on my knees blah, blah, blah.  Oh and my left knee cap doesn’t track correctly. Gross.  And part of my homework is to sit and manually move my knee cap up and down.  Double gross.  She wants to see my twice a week for a month and then re-evaluate things.  In the meantime, no pilates reformer (she feels my hips are too weak to do that right now), no running, no elliptical, no zumba.  Basically nothing that causes me pain.  So looks like I’ll be riding the bike, rowing, lifting weights and mat pilates.   Totally sucks but if it makes me able to run then I’m all for it.

Here are a few of my homework exercises to strengthen my hips and glutes:

The clam

Side leg raises

8 weeks

So my birthday is in just about 8 weeks. Back in January I made a resolution to weigh a certain amount by my birthday. Um since January I’ve lost about 3 pounds which is good. But that doesn’t quite get me to where I want to be. So now that I only have 8 weeks left its time to step it up. What does that mean? Diet clean up. I know I post relatively healthy things here but oftentimes I’m not posting the candy I ate after dinner or the multiple mugs of cider I had at Journey’s. So my challenge to myself is to pull it together. To regularly track my calories and journal my food and to do my best to hit my daily calorie goals. And to cut back on the amount of cheese (hello pizza and grilled cheese bites) and carbs (pretty sure I had pasta every night last week) I eat while increasing the amount of veggies and fruits. Basically stuff I should be doing anyway. Wish me luck.

No, today’s lunch was not a bowl of raspberries. It was quinoa, beets and black beans. With no cheese. Not too shabby.


Arms of Steel

So Tuesday was cardio and a crazy legs workout thanks to Peanut Butter Fingers and yesterday was cardio and crazy arms.

My arms are my favorite part of my body.  I naturally tone up there faster than anywhere else and pilates definitely helps.  Here are some celebs with crazy, buff arms.  Madonna looks downright creepy (even though Jillian thinks she looks aesome) and Cameron Diaz got a little too buff for me.  Of course I love Jennifer’s and I think that Jessica has some pretty great guns as well.

Here’s the breakdown of the arm workout:


20 min on the elliptical – incline 1, resistance 10 for 10 min.  Then speed intervals for 10 min alternating 1 min each on level 7 (fast as you can) to level 12 (this was pretty slow for me).  I used the machine that had the moving arms but if you don’t have those, just pump your arms.

20 min on the treadmill – incline intervals.  With a 4.0 speed, start at incline 5 and up the incline by 1 every min or so until level 10.  Once you get to 10, go back to incline 5 and do it again.

Weights: Do this entire circuit straight through, 3 times

Using 5 lb dumbbells, 20 reps each

  • Front raises
  • Straight arm lateral raises
  • Bent arm lateral raises
  • Upright rows

Using 5lb dumbells, 10 reps each

  • bicep curls
  • Hammer curls
  • Forearm reverse curls

After I did the 3 sets of everything above, I ended arms this with some bent over rows – 3 sets of 15 reps using a 15 lb dumbbell and one set of 20 tricep dips on the weight bench.

I finished the whole wokrout up with some abs

  • 50 real sits ups
  • 100 roman twists
  • 25 leg lefts
  • 1 min front plank
  • 30 sec side plank (each side)

and finally, gave my legs a little burn with leg lifts for 60 seconds on each leg.

Eight for ate

Today I ate eight servings of fruits and veggies. Well, technically 6 veggies and 2 fruit. This is a big deal. I try for at least 5 servings a day. Normally I can do 3-4, 5-6 on a good day. So when I counted everything up today I was pleasantly surprised. Here’s the breakdown:
Breakfast – smoothie with blueberries and spinach.

Lunch – quinoa, shrimp & chickpea salad with sweet peas, corn and cherry tomatoes
Dinner – chicken stir fry with green pea pods, red peppers and broccoli.

I also had dried cranberries in my protein bar snack but thinking that probably doesn’t count. And speaking of workouts…I got my butt kicked today. I did the 1st 30 min of a spin & sculpt class and then attempted a workout from PB Fingers. It was so hard! I wasn’t able to do the full weight for deadlifts (I did 30lbs), squats (I did 50lbs), and I only did 15 reps instead of 20 on my last set of ball hamstring curls. I’m not normally a quitter but I thought I was going to get a charlie horse. So I’ve made a goal to do this whole thing by my birthday which is in 2 months.





Vanilla Coconut Protein Squares

vanilla coconut protein bar

I’ve been playing around with protein balls/bars to take to work and have right before I work out.  I don’t want to eat anything with weird stuff in it and it’s definitely been challenging trying to come up with something that tastes good and is good for me.  This concoction was the best I’ve come up with so far.  Still could be improved but they hold together better than some of my other bars and I made it through a workout yesterday and wasn’t hungry.  To me, these have a slight aftertaste from the stevia in the Sun Warrior protein powder.  If you don’t like stevia you might want to omit that or use a different protein powder.


  • 2 tablespoons coconut flour
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 tablespoon almond butter
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 serving dark chocolate chunks (can’t remember the exact amount – I bought a bag of dark chocolate chunks in the baking section and used whatever a serving was.  About a small handful.  It was the equivalent to 100 calories or so).
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior Protein Powder
  • 3 large egg whites


Mix everything together.  I used my Kitchen-Aid stand mixer.  Press batter (will be on the drier side) into a greased (I used olive oil) 1.5 QT loaf pan.  Bake in a pre-heated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  The final product doesn’t look much different than the batter but I wanted to get the chocolate to melt.  Remove and let cool in pan.  Slice into 10 squares or 5 bars.  I usually eat two squares/1 bar before my workout.

Nutrition - 1 square


I wrapped 2 squares/1 bar individually in wax paper (total of 5 packages) and stored them all in a zip-lock bag in the fridge and then took them to work with me.  Now, I just pull out a pack and eat them before I go to the gym.  They are a little drier than I would have liked and you and distinctly taste the pumpkin seed but it works for me.  Next time I do these I’ll probably make in the food processor to grind up the seeds a bit more and probably use a second tablespoon of almond butter to make them a little chewier.

Dark chocolate is good for you so it's ok right?

3 cute little squares

Cooking with Chris – Spicy shrimp pasta with kale & red peppers

I have quite a few updates to post on here:

  • My family came down this weekend and I gorged on ice cream with my dad and sister (sweet teeth have to be genetic).  So bad but so good
  • I tried out some new recipes that were not what I was hoping for.  A new lunch and a protein bar.  I’m hoping that they’ll magically taste better tomorrow when I eat them.  We shall see.
  • Ever since we got back from Maui (and let’s be honest, even during Maui) my diet and workouts have been lackluster.  I feel gross and unhealthy so tomorrow I’m refocusing on fitness and generally pulling it together.  For real.  My 30th bday is just about 2 months away and I want to feel fantastic about myself. Better get to work.

But right now I want to talk about my dinner.  Chris made it.  Hence the title.  And I took pictures.  The base of this recipe is Shrimp Arrabbiata aka angry shrimp or spicy shrimp.  Here’s the original recipe.

Cooking with Chris

Here’s how we do it:

Start with the noodles.  We use whole wheat linguine.  The equivalent to 1.75 servings (I know this is weird but that’s how the math works out on the box).

Then make the shrimp:

  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and de-veined.  Seasoned and cooked according to this recipe.

Then make the sauce using:

  • 2 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 14oz can fire roasted, diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon fire roasted garlic
  • Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes to taste

Put everything in a saucepan on medium heat.  Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 min.

While the sauce is simmering cook the red pepper and kale in the balsamic and olive oil.  These go quickly so watch them so they don’t burn.  About 2 min.

  • 1 red pepper – wash, remove seeds and slice into strips
  • 1 bunch organic kale – wash, tear leaves off stem and into little pieces
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Red peppers


Mix the shrimp, veggies and sauce together.  Pour over noodles. The sauce should make enough for 4 servings so save the extra and boil more noodles next time.

Love the color from the kale

I could eat shrimp for every single meal

Hopefully those shrimp aren't too angry


Organic Brown Rice Syrup = Arsenic?

So recently this article has been floating around the internet.  Basically some types of baby food, cereal bars and energy shots that are sweetened with organic brown rice syrup have been found to contain 6 more times of arsenic than the EPA considers safe.  I guess the 1st thing that comes to my mind is why is any level of arsenic ok?  I mean, isn’t that rat poison?  In all honestly, I probably don’t even want to know what the “safe” levels of some things are… Even though I try to eat clean and real, I’m sure I’m getting tons of things in my body that I would prefer not be there.  But I’m getting off topic.  Brown rice syrup.  Arsenic.  Gross.

Luckily I’m not eating baby food and I don’t have any babies I’m currently serving it to (Oh side note – a friend of mine recently started an organic baby food company.  Ladybug Organic Kitchen.  If you live in Seattle and have a baby you should check it out). But this does make me want to look around at some of the food I eat and make sure it’s not sweetened with brown rice syrup.  I already hate fake sugars – I avoid high fructose corn syrup, aspartame, splenda etc.  I hate the taste of some of the natural sugar substitutes like stevia and I’ve actually never tried agave nectar (which I know some people love), so I’m hoping I really don’t have anything with the brown rice in it.  What do I use for sweetner?  Real sugar or honey.

And all of this talk of bad stuff in processed foods reminds me of the Jillian Michaels Podcast from a few days ago.  She talks about fad diets.  Which she hates.  What’s her diet advice?  Count calories, eat real food, don’t eat processed crap, organic when possible, and exercise as much as you can.  Amen sister.  So simple.  For me, my family and most of my friends this is achievable.  We’re lucky to have great organic resources, enough money to afford them and access to great fitness facilities – be those gyms or the great outdoors.  But it make me so sad to think about all the people who can’t do these things.  Who don’t have the money, knowledge or resources.  It just sucks.  It’s not fair.  Organic food shouldn’t be the most expensive, PE and sports shouldn’t be the programs being cut in schools and portion sizes at most restaurants shouldn’t be double & triple what they were in my grandparent’s era.

Sorry.  Went on a bit of a rant there.  Anyway, go check your foods for organic brown rice syrup and listen to Jillian’s podcast if you want to be inspired.  That is all.

Daily Diet – by the numbers

I was talking with my mother-in-law recently and she told me she’s had some success losing weight by tracking her calories.  I mean, so simple right?  Weight loss is just calories in minus calories out so by looking at the amount of calories you’re eating every day and then subtracting what you lose through activity it should make it really simple to drop some digits.  Except tracking your daily calories is a lot of work.  I’ve jumped on that band wagon before and get all hopped up on it for a while then I quit because it’s annoying to have to figure everything out.  But I have realized that I overeat.  Not like a crazy, binge eating type of situation but more like I always eat more than what a regular portion would be.  So today, I tracked my entire day on  You can track it online or on your phone (there’s an app for that of course).  I prefer to go online to create my “meals” since I eat a couple standard things every day – protein shakes, sandwiches etc.  Then it’s super easy to update on your phone if you have your meals saved.  I get that doing this would be harder if you weren’t at a job it a computer handy but you could do it.

According to Livestrong/Daily Plate my daily calorie limit is 1,442.  That’s for a 5’7 female who currently weights 133 pounds, wants to lose 1 pound a week and is lightly active.  The activity level threw me off.  I would have put moderately active since I feel like I work out a lot but in the activity descriptions it said moderately active people are on their feet 6+ hours a day doing jobs like waitressing… I walk around a lot but for the most part I’m pretty much at my desk.  So I picked light.

My Daily Plate

At this moment in time I currently have 199 calories left before I’ve gone over my goal.  Normally I’d be super pumped.  But I had a little bit of a crazy day and just really need a second glass of wine next to my left hand.  Which would still be within my calorie limit.  But I also see the bottle sitting next to me on my right and it looks like there is just enough left for a perfect 3rd glass (Chris also had some of this wine, I have not had the entire thing myself).  And I kind of feel like it’s just asking to be swallowed.  Like it’s telling me if I drink it, the nuttiness of this day will just wash away…

What I brought to work today

Smoothie for breakfast (285 calories)

Pre-workout snack was three of my iron/protein balls.  Approximately 180 calories and 10 grams of protein.  Workout was 45 min on the elliptical for a total of 432 calories. My knee was bugging me so I did it level 1o with an incline of 1.  Kicked my booty.

Turkey, cheese, mustard + pickle sammy (318 calories)


Mid afternoon snack (1 egg + 1 egg white) 66 calories

Turkey Spaghetti - light on noodles, heavy on meat + sour cream (I love a tiny bit of it on pasta with red sauce) 540 calories

Stress relief. Calories: TBD :)


So there you go.  There’s the day. Some of these calories might not be totally correct since it’s all from The Daily Plate but I hope they’re pretty accurate.  144o seems definitely doable.  Maybe even too much because besides the fact that I really shouldn’t have a 3rd glass of wine, I don’t feel deprived at all.