Balsamic Roasted Grapes and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Balsamic Roasted Grape and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potato.  Filling enough to be a meal all on its own!

If you’ve never tried roasted grapes, you are missing out.  The first time I tried them, I put them on a salad, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  I also love stuffing my sweet potatoes with whatever random foods I happen upon in my fridge or pantry, so this combination was bound to happen sooner or later.

I love how you can stuff a sweet potato and what was once a side dish gets elevated to main dish status.  This roasted grape and pistachio stuffed sweet potato is no exception.  It’s filling and satisfying as a main course–just add a green salad and you’ve got yourself a meal.

I did a quick calorie count, and if you use two large sweet potatoes, one serving (one whole sweet potato) comes in around 280 calories.  If you use four smaller potatoes it will be less and definitely more of a side dish.

How ever you want to serve this, I hope you decide to give it a try.  The flavors of the sweet roasted grapes and the crunchy, salty pistachios pair perfectly with the creamy sweet potato.  You will also notice a slight tang from the balsamic and a hint of rosemary, which rounds out the flavors.

Balsamic Roasted Grapes and Pistachio Stuffed Sweet Potato.  Filling enough to be a main course but only 280 calories!This is definitely one of my new favorite dishes! It’s quick, easy, and healthy.  Can’t beat that combination.

 

 

Posted in Dinner Recipes, Lunch Recipes, Vegan Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , | 8 Comments  

Run to EQUIP1 5k Race Recap

5k race recap

Guess what!? I finally ran a road race.  (It’s the first time in over 2 years)  I put it on my Summer Fitness Bucket List, but had a hard time finding a race that was close to home and fit my schedule.  By the way, I’m giving myself until the official end of summer, September 22nd, to tackle as many things on the Bucket List as possible.  It’s a mad scramble!

It just so happened that when I was searching for a race, I found one that supports a fantastic cause.  EQUIP One Ministries is an organization that has a mission to help orphaned and disadvantaged children across the globe.  The proceeds from the 5k I ran went towards the construction of a primary school in Kibuku, Uganda.  The education of disadvantaged children has always been a cause close to my heart, so I was happy I found this race supporting it.

Want to know what else was great about this race? It was at a park very close to my house and started at 9am! That means I didn’t have to get up at the crack of dawn on a weekend and Tim brought the kids and they played on the playground while I ran, and then cheered me on as I finished.  It was perfect!

I went into this race not having any idea how fast I would be able to run.  I don’t race regularly (or really at all! ha!) so I didn’t have a clue how to pace myself.  I have been trying to do tempo runs, interval runs, and speed work to work on running at a faster pace during my workouts, but even during those runs I never knew how fast I should push myself to go.  I really should find a running club as I know my training would be more effective that way.

I ran with a friend, so we went out together.  I used my Nike+ running app because I like to know my pace at the mile markers.  About a half mile in I checked the pace and saw we were running around 7:09 pace.  I was super worried about going out too fast and then dying, so I tried to slow it down a bit.

The first mile was on a paved path around the park, but then we headed into the woods on a trail.  Ugh! This part of the race was more difficult because it was up and down hills through the woods.  My friend slowed at this point and I tried to keep my pace, so we separated.  I knew this mile was going to be slower naturally, but I tried to keep a good pace.

I was so happy to get out of the woods! After the second mile, I was still feeling good.  My pace slowed a bit on the trails though, so I tried to pick it up for the third mile.  This last mile was partially in the grass,  up and down hills, which I hated, but also back on the paved path for part of it.

The worst part was that I was mostly on my own during the last mile.  There was a guy that I passed and he said, “Good job, girl!” which was a nice boost just to hear something, but other than that there weren’t any people in sight.  This was a small race of less than a hundred people, so there wasn’t running in crowds at all.

It was nice when I could finally tell I was coming to the final stretch.  I picked it up significantly and was able to sprint it in even though I wasn’t racing anyone. (Tim snapped the picture at the top of the page of me finishing the race.)

My official time was 23:43, which is a 7:55 pace.  I was happy with that considering the hills and trails throughout the race.  Here’s what I don’t know.  I don’t know how hard a 5k is supposed to feel.  I was tired at the end, but never during the race did I feel like “Oh, I can’t do this.” Is that good? Or does that mean I wasn’t running fast enough?  Most road races I’ve run I have points during the race that I am cursing myself for running the race because it feels so hard.  That didn’t happen.  I felt strong throughout the race and was afraid to pick up my pace any more for fear of dying and not being able to finish strong. Any experienced distance racers out there want to comment on how a good race is supposed to feel?

I ended up 1st in my age group, the 2nd female finisher, and the 5th overall (male and female) finisher.  The female winner was in the under 15 age group and finished about two minutes ahead of me.  A speedy youngin’!

I’ve caught the racing bug a little bit and am planning on running at least one more race this fall.  I’ll keep you updated if I beat this time!

 

Posted in Fitness | 7 Comments  

Stitch Fix Review #4: September 2014

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Whenever I tell another mom that I have a blog, the first thing she usually says is, “How do  you find the time?”  The answer is that I don’t.  I’ve looked and looked and can never find the time.  So I just gotta make the time.

I make the time by getting up early in the morning to edit photos.  I make the time by using Luke’s nap time to develop recipes.  For this post, I made the time by having Tim take the photographs of me after the kids were in bed.  And the last thing I wanted to do was get dressed up and have my picture taken.  Please don’t judge how I’m looking in these photos (hopefully not too tired?) harshly.  Focus on the clothes, because that’s all I want you to see anyway. ;-)

Before I show you this month’s Fix, I have to tell you a little secret.  I started teaching again! It’s only two mornings a week, so it’s very part time, but I’m so happy to be back in the classroom. It’s actually the perfect amount of time for where I am in my life right now. I asked my stylist to send me at least one business casual piece this month to help me with the whole dressing professional thing.  It’s been a while, ya know?! And here’s why I love Stitch Fix(<–affiliate link!!) They sent me clothes that I never, ever would have picked.   Forced me right out of my comfort zone.  And I loooooove it.  Thank you, Stitch Fix! You are awesome.  So let’s get to it!

Bay to Baubles Westminister Colored Gem Stud Earrings $28

Stitch Fix Review September 2014Aren’t these earrings cute? I have nothing like these.  What I really like about these is that I can be wearing a totally casual t-shirt and put these earrings on and instantly look more polished.  Keep!

41Hawthorn Filbert 3/4 Sleeve Popover Blouse $58

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These pictures don’t make it easy to see the details of this blouse.  It’s lightweight (almost sheer) with buttons down the front, two front pockets with buttons, and buttons on the shoulders.  The shoulders are also a little puffed (I don’t think that’s the right term–forgive me for not being fashion savvy enough to know what that’s called).  It is longer in the front and back and the sleeves are longer on the outside and shorter on the inside.  I love this because it’s cute, comfortable, and can be dressed up or down.  I’m wearing it really casually here and it’s a great summer to fall transition piece. Keep!

41Hawthorn Walt Striped Skirt $68

Stitch Fix Review September 2014

 

One cool thing about Stitch Fix is that they send you cards showing different ways the pieces they send you can be worn.  I probably wouldn’t have thought to pair this skirt with a chambray shirt and tall boots, but they showed it that way on the card and I liked it! I think I’m getting a little delirious in this picture or something; I’m not sure why I have such a big smile. This photo shoot was a one-shot-per-outfit deal, though, so this is the best I had! Anyway, I loved this skirt.  Not something I’d pick myself, but I’m happy to have it! Keep!

Mystree Abigail Colorblock Lace Trim Top $58

Stitch Fix Review September 2014I heard Luke singing from his crib right before Tim snapped this picture.  Doesn’t my face just say, “Please, kid, just go to sleep!” It turns out the days of letting Luke sleep 3 hours for naps may be ending.  He played happily in his crib for about 30 minutes when he should have been sleeping last night.  At least he wasn’t crying! Oh, yeah, the shirt.  I love this shirt.  I love the color, the lace detail, and the fit.  It’s loose, yet not boxy.  Perfect.  Keep!

Pixley June Polka Dot Skirt $58

Stitch Fix Review September 2014

 

So this skirt.  I had to google “how to wear a pencil skirt” to figure out what to do with this thing.  Waaaay out of my comfort zone.  Most of the pictures I saw showed the shirt tucked in. I actually wore it that way with a green shirt to church, but honestly, I just didn’t feel comfortable.  Maybe it’s just hard for moms to wear pencil skirts with shirts tucked in?  I like it better the way I wore it in the picture, although I’m not sure how well that particular shirt and belt works with it.  I was going to send this back because I just didn’t know what to wear with it.  The card had it paired with a striped shirt, but I didn’t think I was quite that daring to wear stripes and polka dots together.  It also showed it with another style top that I have nothing like.  Plus, they sent this as my work outfit, and this is not exactly the type of thing I normally would teach in.  BUT.  The cost of the skirt was $58 and the “buy all discount” you get was more than that.  So it made sense to keep it and make it work.  So it was a keep!

Yep, I kept everything this month, so I got 25% off each item.  That means the earrings were $21 instead of $28, the popover blouse, lace trim top, and polka dot skirt were each $43.50 instead of $58, and the walt striped skirt was $51 instead of $68.  I was also lucky enough to have enough credit to almost cover the whole cost of the Fix! Thank you, so so much, if you used my referral link. I am so grateful.

That’s all for this month–I hope you are all having a great week!

Posted in Life | 14 Comments  

Look Again: Super Healthy Pumpkin Banana Muffins

 

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I’ve been at this blogging thing a long time.  I started blogging in January of 2010 as a way to record a month-long “vegan challenge” Tim and I did.  It was basically an online journal for family and friends.  Somewhere in that month I decided I liked writing about food and kept blogging even when the food challenge ended. It was in September 2010 that I moved from my free blogger blog to this space and changed the name to Happy Healthy Mama. My old blog was called Our Daily Bread, which was not available as a domain name, along with my next two hundred choices.  So Happy Healthy Mama it was.

It’s hard to believe I’ve been at this so long because a lot of the time, I still feel like a newbie.  I didn’t come into blogging with a plan.  I was never (and still sometimes am not) certain what I wanted this blog to become. I just knew I wanted to share my passion for healthy living with others.  I knew there were a lot of moms out there who, like me, wanted healthy recipes for their families.

I’ve always maintained that the most difficult part of blogging is photography.  Recipe development is time consuming and at times frustrating, but I’ve never felt overwhelmed in that area.  Writing comes naturally to me; I’ve loved it since I was a young girl.  But photography?  Learning it has been painstakingly hard for me.

Super Healthy Banana Pumpkin Muffins--whole wheat and low sugar but totally delicious!

When I first started, I didn’t put much thought into photography.  There weren’t many food blogs with stellar photography at that time and in my mind it was about the food, not the pictures.    As I started noticing more and more blogs with beautiful photographs, I almost got mad.  I even rebelled a little and refused to work too much on my photography.  I wanted my time to be spent on recipes, not learning how to take my stupid camera off of auto mode.

Soon enough I realized that if I wanted to make it in the food blogging world (whatever that means) I would have to step up my photography game.  It’s been a slow, hard, work-in-progress since then, but I’ve come oh so far.  And still have miles to go.

I’m such a long-winded fool, aren’t I?  Are you still with me here?  What I’m trying to say is that I have some great old recipes that have absolutely cringe-worthy pictures.  Okay, fine, I’ll show you.  I originally posted the recipe for these Super Healthy Banana Pumpkin Muffins on September 27, 2010. (You can see the original post right here.)

   

The thing is, it’s a good recipe.  A great recipe.  But who in the world would want to take a chance on it based on that picture?  I have so many recipes like this that I still make regularly and have to look at those old, terrible photographs.  So I’m starting a new series called “Look Again” where I reshoot and reintroduce some of my older recipes that deserve a second look.

I’m starting with these muffins because, well, I wanted to make them.  When I opened the page to see the recipe, I winced and knew this was the #1 recipe for my new series.

These muffins are, as the title implies, “super healthy.” They are also super delicious.  They aren’t light-and-fluffy-practically-cupcake type muffins.  No.  These are stick-to-your-ribs-and-fill-you-up muffins. Here’s a look of the inside.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANice texture, right?  The flavor is lovely, too.  Just sweet enough and with the pumpkin spice we all know and love.  My whole family adores these muffins and I hope you do, too.

If you want to take them up a notch and add some chocolate chips or white chocolate chips, I won’t blame you.  I’ve done that a time or two.  Or, if you feel inclined, add a nice coconut butter glaze, like I did here.

Super Healthy Banana Pumpkin Muffins with Coconut Butter glaze.  Heaven!

I know! Takes it to a whole new level, doesn’t it?  Luke had one like this and said, “I like this frosting, Mommy.”  Of course you do, buddy.  All you have to do is melt some coconut butter and thin it with a little water as needed.  Do it!

As if this post isn’t already long enough, here are some reviews from people who tried these:

Made these this morning. YUM!

They were delicious! The applesauce didn’t seem to make a difference at all. I actually couldn’t even taste the applesauce. My boys gobbled them up at breakfast this morning, which makes me a very happy mama. [She subbed apple sauce for the oil]

I haven’t posted before but I love your recipes and that they are so simple and fit into a busy lifestyle. I’ve made these pumpkin muffins three times already, once I added in cream cheese and another time I added in white chocolate chips. Heavenly!

I made these this evening with a few tweaks for what I had on hand and they’ve been a huge hit. My 4 year old ran back into the kitchen for another one saying “Yummy, yummy, yummy!”


These were my tweaks/substitutions maple syrup for the agave, bwn sugar for the sucanat, almond meal for the wheat germ and gluten free all purpose flour. I also added a 1/4 c buttermilk to make up for a banana shortage. We’re not gluten free but I’ve considered doing a trial to see if it helps with some issues in our family. I’m glad to know that this will be an option.

These are delicious. I make them using 1/4 c. applesauce in place of the egg to accommodate my daughter’s egg allergy, and it works beautifully. I also sometimes add chocolate chips, which makes them even more irresistible :) My 2 year old gobbles them up and so do my husband and I. Yum!

Are there any old recipes of mine you’ve made that have some bad photographs?  Let me know and I’ll put them on my list for this Look Again series! Don’t worry, you won’t hurt my feelings. :)

Posted in Breakfast Recipes, Snack Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes | Tagged , , | 12 Comments  

FAQs About My Anti-Inflammation Diet

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Back in April, I told you about some severe pain I was experiencing in my finger. Although I didn’t have a formal diagnosis, I surmised it was early arthritis pain.  I decided to go on a strict anti-inflammation diet to see if I could ease my pain through diet.  The strict anti-inflammation diet lasted 8 weeks, so I’m well overdue to give you an update! Here are some of the Most Frequently Asked Questions I’ve gotten through comments and emails.

How’s your finger doing?

This is the question I’ve gotten the most. :) I’m happy to report it’s doing great! The last update I gave you I told you that the pain was almost gone and my range of motion was mostly back.  My finger is now 100% better.  No pain.  No stiffness.  It’s incredible!

Are you still on the anti-inflammation diet?  

This one is more complicated.  While I am not following the strict anti-inflammation diet I did in the spring, many of the habits I created during that time have stuck.  That period was like a sugar detox for me and I crave sugar much less now.  During the diet I cut out all sugar and stuck to it pretty closely.  That included all added sugar, so I didn’t even add honey to my salad dressings or marinades.  I have since started allowing sweeteners in my condiments, but still am not eating as many “sweet treats” like cookies or whatever.  Even the healthified kind. ;-) While I am back to eating wheat, that is much reduced as well.  I’m probably eating wheat/gluten a few times a week now, whereas before I was eating it every day. During the diet I got in the habit of adding fresh ginger to my smoothies and I still do, almost every time I have a smoothie.  So while I am not officially on the “strict” anti-inflammation diet, I definitely have a stronger anti-inflammatory element to what I eat than I did before.

Why did you reduce your oil use during the diet?  

During my research of the anti-inflammation diet, I found mixed opinions on oils and their use.  Some of the sources I read suggested that oils should be used in strict moderation when trying to reduce inflammation. The reasoning was that because they are a processed fat they can cause inflammation.  Some think the best fats are unprocessed fats and those should make up the bulk of the fat in our diets (like the fats from avocados, seeds, and nuts, for example).

Another issue is the ratio of omega 6 fatty acids to omega 3 fatty acids in our bodies.  Consuming too many oils can cause the ratio to be off.  The ideal ratio is 1:1, but most people consume a ratio around 15:1 which is an inflammation nightmare. (source)  Because I wasn’t sure what to believe, I just reduced my overall use of all oils to be on the safe side. I was also cognizant of what temperature I cooked when I did use oils I also read a lot of research about overheating fats and its negative effect on our bodies.

I’m back to using oils a lot more again.  I found cooking without oils to be really tough as fat equals flavor! It’s something I hope to continue to explore, but at this time I’m still keeping healthier oils like olive oil and coconut oil in my diet.

Can you share some of the resources you used for anti-inflammation recipes and information?

This book was a great guide for me and I used it a lot.

It is filled with information and recipes.  I also referenced Dr. Andrew Weil’s anti-inflammation food pyramid, which I found helpful.  There were countless online articles I read as well, but I didn’t save them.

As for recipes, I used a lot of my own recipes.  Some needed a few tweaks and some were fine as-is.  I also used the recipes from Clean Cuisine and searched for new recipes via my usual blog reading and Pinterest perusing.

Now I am at a wait-and-see to determine if the pain is going to stay away.  Perhaps I picked up enough anti-inflammation dietary habits that I will be able to keep chronic inflammation in my body at bay and stay pain-free.  Please let me know if you have any more questions and I’ll answer them in the comments!

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments