Italian Quinoa Stuffed Portabellas

Hi every body. Hope everyone had a great weekend. I had two of my best friends come in to visit this weekend. We hadn’t seen each other since June for Sarah’s wedding and it had been entirely too long. Thanks to both of them for making the drive! I  know it can be a slow, long drive. We spent the weekend eating deliciously salty, not the healthiest food and I personally enjoyed every minute of it. Except now my stomach may hate me. This week my goal is more veggies and less salt which is quite the opposite of this past weekend. Just want to point out all three of us are dietitians. See it is OK to have a splurge every so often. Even we do it! Below is the breakfast Amanda and I split on Sunday. It was a steak and eggs benedict with Parmesan hollandaise. Absolute heaven! Good thing we split it because I was stuffed after only half.


Since Alex and I moved in together I have implemented a meatless monday dinner rule in our house. It is just a simple way to get more veggies and explore with alternative protein foods. Tonight’s dinner highlighted quinoa, pronounced keen-wah. Though I love the football commercial where they pronounce it Key-no. I die everytime I watch that commercial. ugh kills me. Quinoa is a wonderful grain. It is gluten free, packed with vitamins and minerals, considered an anti-inflammatory food and a complete protein. It is a great alternative to rice or wheat products such as cous cous. I used quinoa to make an Italian stuffing for some mushroom caps. This would be great to scale down to an appetizer size by stuffing it into small button mushroom caps instead of large portabella caps. Just a thought!

I started by putting 1 cup water, 1/2 cup quinoa, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, a pinch of red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt into a pot and cooking according the the quinoa’s package directions.


Once it was cooked I mixed in chopped up sun dried tomatoes, basil, olive oil, a little more salt and gave it a mix before adding in some goat cheese. After stirring in the goat cheese well I spooned the mixture into the portabella caps. At this point I covered it with plastic wrap and shoved it in the fridge. I prepped it early while Alex was running because tonight was my first night back at Zumba. Late last week Alex and I joined our local YMCA with my sister and tonight I gave a class a go. I had high expectations as, if you remember, I loved my zumba instructor at my home gym. Unfortunately this class did not live up to my expectations. My search for a new zumba class continues.



Around 7-715 I had Alex preheat the oven and then throw the mushrooms in for about 15-20 minutes to cook. First tag teamed dinner was a success other than him leaving them in a little long.  A couple of the sun-dried tomatoes got a little burnt but we could pull them off and it was perfect.

We served our mushroom caps with a simple side salad. I am loving on Ranch dressing right now. Cannot get enough. Yum!20131007_194100

According to Alex, this meal was good. Not his favorite Meatless Monday meal but I enjoyed it immensely. I could have eaten another one but wanted to save room for some pumpkin ice cream which I am savoring slowly as I write. MMMM to all things pumpkin.

Italian Quinoa Stuffed Portbelaas (serves 4-5)

5 portabello caps (I grabbed two packages at TJs)

1/2 C dry quinoa

1 C water

1/2 tsp garlic powder

pinch red pepper flakes and salt

1/2 C chopped sun dried tomatoes

2 Tbsp thinly sliced basil leaves

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2-3 ounces goat cheese (crumbles would work better than a log like I used)

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Combine water, quinoa, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and salt in a small pot. Cook according to quinoa package directions

2. Once quinoa is cooked, add in sun dried tomatoes, olive oil and basil. Stir well to combine.

3. Add in goat cheese and mix well.

4. Spoon mixture into the mushroom caps

5. Bake 15-20 minutes until the quinoa mixture is heated through and portabellas are warm and soft.

What is your favorite way to stuff mushrooms?


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The Big Build 2013

Happy football Sunday every day. Hope your team(s) did better than mine. I’m hoping the Bears will have a good season but we may need to just consider this year a building year with the new coach. Its rough to watch your team stink it up for three and a half quarters before finding their groove. Just cannot make up for a whole games worth of mistakes in about 4 minutes. I’ll leave it at that.

Yesterday Alex and I had the privilege of helping out at a service event at my hometown church. We attended this event last year and I could not wait to do it again. It is called the Big Build. Over the course of 3 hours, the 10+ teams built a total of 91 walls for a duplex. The house is going to two families in Indiana who are in need of a home.

We started the morning with breakfast and a short prayers service followed by instructions on building headers and lining up wood on walls. Once we were given a pep talk each team headed out to their station and grabbed the wood to the first walls they would be building.


Our team consisted of Alex, my parents, little brother, two men from our church and myself. Last year, I was little to any help because it was so cold and the nails would not go into the wood. With the warmer weather this year, I was able to hammer more! Made me feel more worthwhile this year. One of the rules of the build was no power tools. The leaders wanted us to build it with our own strength and hands. It made it more rewarding that using power tools. Last year I was in charge of writing the bible verses or words of hope or strength on the walls. Here are some views of the teams in progress.






Once all of the walls were built the teams began standing up half of the duplex. Each home had 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom along with adequate closets/storage areas. The other half got loaded up in the truck.

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Once everything was either loaded or standing we were able to tour the inside and see our work. We had some kids working to add the bible verses or words of love to the walls this year. My mom and I wrote on most of our own walls but the kid’s walls were my favorites.


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Can we say too cute for words? My favorite is the bless this tree one! It was a great way to show the love put into these houses. The new owners will likely not see these words added within their walls but will hopefully feel the love, prayers, and fellowship put into the building of their home.  This is one of my favorite community mission events we hold each year. Being able to see the fruits of your labor standing there in the parking lot of your church is amazing.

The house was left standing throughout church today so that the entire congregation could tour and see what their fellow members had built with their own hands. I’m already looking forward to hopefully doing this event next year! I say hopefully because it will likely be the weekend before our wedding and who knows what kind of errands/meetings we will be doing at this time.

What is your favorite mission trip/event that you have been able to experience?

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Spaghetti with Mussels

How is everyone doing today? I have been exhausted all day for no apparent reason. I even set my alarm 20 minutes later just to get those few extra minutes. Didn’t seem to help. Anyone else have one of those days recently?

Any who, anyway. This week Jewel had mussels on sale. It has been quite some time since I last had some mussels so I knew that we would be buying them this week. Here are a few fun nutrition facts about mussels: they are very high in vitamin B-12, selenium and manganese. A 3-oz. portion of cooked mussel meat provides 20.4 mcg of vitamin B-12, or roughly 340 percent of the recommended daily value. They are low in calories and fat. Mussels contain appreciable amounts of the health-promoting Omega-3 fatty acids.

I soaked the mussels in some water for about 10 minutes to get rid of any sand/grit leftover after harvesting. Once soaked and cleaned, I removed any already open shells. When they are open before cooking it is likely that they were poorly handled or exposed to too much air prior to buying. Only one of my mussels was open already.

I started by cooking some whole wheat spaghetti in one pot and sauteing minced garlic in olive oil in a second pot.


Once the garlic was soft, I added in white wine, vegetable broth (the only kind in the pantry at the moment), red pepper flakes and some salt. I mixed the broth up before adding in the mussels and placing on the lid to let the mussels steam. Every few minutes I would give the pan a shake to mix that tasty broth up. After about 10 minutes the pasta was done and the mussels were open. Prior to draining the pasta, I reserved 1/2 cup pasta sauce to help thicken the broth to coat the pasta. It was added into the mussel broth and then the pasta was added. Everything got mixed up and covered in the broth before serving. We had side salads of simple mixed greens to add color and veggies to the meal.





After dinner, Alex and I shared some ice cream while watching the season premiere of NCIS season 11. It was pretty good but I’m feeling sad at the ending of the episode. One of the team not returning??? What? Why? How have I been so out of the loop on this? At least dinner was tasty.

Spaghetti with Mussels and White Wine Sauce (Serves 4)

1/2 package whole wheat spaghetti

1-2# mussels (2# was a lot even for 4 servings but it means Alex will get a bunch in his lunch tomorrow)

3/4 C vegetable broth

1/2 C white wine (I used Pinot Grigio because I had a bottle open)

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 Tbsp olive oil

pinch red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp salt

1. Cook pasta according the directions on the package, prior to draining reserve 1/2 C pasta water

2. Add olive oil to a large sauce pan that is big enough to hold all of your mussels. Saute garlic until soft and just turning golden brown

3. Add in broth, wine, salt, red pepper flakes.

4. Pour in the mussels and cover the pan with a lid. Let steam for 10 minutes. Don’t lift the lid until after 10 minutes otherwise you lose the steam and it will take longer for the mussels to cook.

5. Remove any unopened shells, they were likely dead before going into the pan. Add in the reserved pasta water and the pasta. Mix well.

6. Serve immediately. You can remove some of the mussels from their shells prior to serving to make it easier to mix, serve, eat. I ended up taking about half out of their shells so it would fit our plates better.

How do you like to prepare your mussels or favorite shell fish?

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Chicago Half Marathon Race Recap

I always love reading the race recaps on the blogs I follow and I think it is a wonderful idea for writing down how you felt during the race and after then use it to remember that race. Whew… that was a long sentence and probably a run-on but oh well. Anyways. My race day started nice and early at about 4:50 AM. Alex and I decided that we would drive to the race instead of take public transport because it would have taken over an hour and a half to get there by bus/train. Driving=30 minutes=more sleep. I woke up about 10 minutes before we left as I had packed the night before. I drank some coffee while I made my typical pre-run breakfast of 2 whole wheat waffles with cream cheese and chia seeds. My plan was to eat the on the way. Once I was ready, Alex got woken up and we climbed into the car. We picked up my sister on our way since she lives so close. The whole way to the race my stomach was a mess. I was so worried about not being able to finish or getting picked up by the slagging wagon. I had not prepared very well for this race which didn’t help matters. I picked at my breakfast as I drove and once we got there before giving up on it half way through. Once we reached the park where the race started, Alex switched places with me to go park while Amanda and I headed to the port a potties.

After using the bathroom we walked around to warm up my legs a little bit before finding my parents and little brother. . We met up with my Aunt Cathy (who did the half) and Uncle Mike (he did the 5k). After the national anthem my Aunt and I headed to our pacing groups. The weather was a little warmer than I would have liked at the start and the air in the park was thick and heavy


It took a while before we were moving and the 5K start line was before the Half-Marathon one so everyone started running about a quarter mile early. Once we were off I was feeling good. I knew I would see my family around mile 4 so I just focused on the runners ahead of me to help keep my pace.

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My legs felt really good right off the bat which helped ease some of my nerves. The water/aid stations were well spaced and it seemed that every time I felt thirsty or thought I could use a shot of Gatorade I would see a sign for aid station ahead. My only real complaint with this race is that the drinks are one sided which caused a huge bottle neck at each and every aid station. I tried my best to keep moving but when I wanted to Gatorade I knew I would be walking really slowly before I could grab them. I took a gatorade only at the first three stops then started taking one each of water and Gatorade around mile 6. By mile 10 I was only taking water because the sugar from the gatorade was making my stomach hurt but I am getting a head of myself.

As soon as we turned onto Lake Shore Drive from the park there was a collective sigh. The air cleared, the wind picked up slightly, and we all cooled off significantly. The race from miles 2.5-13 were all along LSD which runs next to the Lake. That lake effect has never felt better. At this point in the race there was great cloud coverage too which helped regulate the temperature. I found my family standing on the median right about 4 miles and gave them a cheesy grin and thumbs up before continuing on. I knew I wouldn’t see them again until the end of my race. Luckily there was awesome crowd support throughout the entire race. Many funny signs to pass the time, people on overpasses yelling down to cheer us all on, and the kids working the aid stations were wonderful! They cheered everyone on as they passed out water and Gatorade trying to say the names of people if they could read the bibs.


I stayed feeling good until about mile 8-9 when I realized I needed to use the bathroom. I think I had over-hydrated with all of that double drinks at the aid stations! There were lines at all the aid stations so I kept on going until it became too distracting. I found a port a potty spot with no line and was able to get in and out in about 30 seconds which I thought was pretty awesome. I was able to pick my pace up for a little bit until mile 11 hit. Mile 11 was rough to say the least. At this point I could feel my legs getting tired and I struggled to hold my goal pace. I let myself take a longer walking break at the next water station before doing a walk/run combo. I would walk for 1 minute then run the remainder of whatever song was on my Ipod. I found a last wind for the final 3/4 of a mile and was even able to sprint to the finish for the last 0.1 mile.


The feeling of crossing that finish line was awesome and I felt even better when I realized that I made my goal time! I really enjoyed this race and want to do it again next year. I’m hoping to talk some friends into running it with me!

What was your first half marathon? If you asked me back 5-6 years ago if I would ever run 13.1 miles, I would have laughed in your face and walked away. I cannot see myself running a full marathon but I may just be in love with half marathons now!

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Life Update and Some Soup

Well, last time I posted on my little blog was entirely too long ago. I have plenty of excuses but none are a true reason as to why I have left my space here for over 4 months! Let’s start with an update on my little life. Last we left off, Alex and I had just gotten engaged. We have now set our date and booked our ceremony and reception venues! The planning process is slow due to my moving to full time at work.

Starting in mid-July, I took over the pediatric position at my hospital. I am now the RD for our PICU, peds floor and step-down unit. I am absolutely loving it and cannot believe my first full time job is my dream job! It has been a learning experience to say the least.

Earlier this month I ran my very first half-marathon. It was a wonderful race. I ran the Chicago Half-Marathon. I felt great most of the race and finished right at my goal time which was something of a miracle due to how poorly I trained. I am really going to try writing a race review but I am putting it out there if you love running and half-marathons, run the Chicago Half-Marathon. It is well run, a flat course and has awesome crowd support. Can we talk about what a goober I look like in the below picture? Almost every picture my family has of me running the race looks like this.


Alex and I celebrated our 6 year dating anniversary this month and I cannot believe that in just over a year he is going to be my husband. I worked on our actual anniversary and he greeted me at the door when I got home my favorite flowers. Wonderful surprise! Speaking of celebrations, we celebrated the two marriages of some of our undergrad friends, family friends and my oldest cousin Matt. It has been a wedding filled summer.

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I’ve been spending a lot of time in my wonderful new apartment kitchen but many of the recipes I’ve been making are from other blogs or ones I found on pinterest. I feel like my own personal creativity in the kitchen has diminished some due to “being busy” with all of the changes in my life. It seems that when one thing happens, everything else changes. All in good ways though. It appears that I have now settled into my new routine of living with Alex, being a full time dietitian, managing our own apartment, and planning a wedding. Hopefully this means I can spend more time here on the blog.

To make up for my absence I have a wonderful fall soup for you! Since it is now officially fall and football season, nothing sounds better than soup. I originally found a vegetarian soup on pinterest then took it an ran to make my own version. I added chicken, some other spices, and more beans. This is a protein packed soup that is perfect for a crisp cool fall night of watching football. I made Sweet Tooth Sweet Life’s Cheesy Italian Quick Bread to go along side our soup to round it out.


Chicken and Bean Soup  (serves 6+, We will probably get 8 bowls out of it which is reflected in the nutrition facts below)

2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded

1 can chick peas, drained and rinsed

1 can white beans (I used cannellini), drained and rinsed

1 can tomato sauce

6 cups vegetable broth (or use chicken)

1/2 cup brown rice

2 cloves garlic

1 yellow onion, diced

6-8 cups fresh spinach

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dried basil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Saute onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft

2. Add in all of the ingredients except for the spinach and let cook until rice is cooked. You can let it cook longer if you would like to let the flavors blend together. I ended up letting mine cook for about 2-3 hours but it could be as little as 50 minutes if using uncooked rice. Use 1 cup cooked brown rice to cut the cooking time, all you would need to do is let it all warm up together before eating.

3. Once rice is cooked and you are ready to eat, stir in the spinach and ladle into bowls. Top with some Parmesan if you feel so inclined and dig in!

Nutrition Facts: 1/8 recipe (~1.25 cups soup): 290 calories, 5 grams fat, 23 grams protein, 26 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber

Hope all is well with you, my internet friends. What have you been up to all summer?

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The Hills Are Alive.. in Salzburg

On to the next installment of my Germany trip. I have a feeling these are going to take me awhile to write up. My mind just wants to wedding plan but I really want to write down our trip before the memory fades. We started our first full day in Salzburg, Austria. We had planned on doing Bob’s Sound of Music Tour but the Salzburg marathon was on this Sunday and it got cancelled.


Instead we were looking to do a bike tour and on our way stumbled upon Panorama Tours which had a sound of music tour. We decided being able to see way more of the sights would be better than the bike tour which stayed mostly within Salzburg. We were on a coach bus that took us through the country side to some of the main sites of the movie.


We saw the mountain that was always in the background of the show


The Abbey


Some amazing views of cities, countrysides, and mountains

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The church in which the wedding took place along with the organ you hear playing the wedding march in the movie.

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The gazebo


And, the lake/back of the house from the movie.


It was quite the experience. There wasn’t as much singing as I had anticipated as all the reviews talked about everyone singing the songs throughout the whole half-day trip. We must have had a quiet group but there was some singing of do-re-mi both the original and a beer drinking version.

After the sound of music tour, we headed up to Hohenburg  Salzburg Fortress. It was quite the hike up a hill/mountain side? It took us about 20 minutes of straight uphill hiking to get to the Fortress.



We spent about 45 minutes wandering the grounds before heading back down to the Stiegl beer garden about halfway down to the main city. We had a beer and soft pretzel. The beer was delicious.. the pretzel on the other hand? Totally stale. We still ate it because we were hungry but definitely not worth buying a second time.


When we finished our beers, we headed back into the city to wander, look at sites/buildings, and try to find somewhere for dinner. We used the Rick Steve’s Germany Book to plan most of our trip and I had written down recommendations for places to eat. unfortunately, it was Sunday and most restaurants were closed. We headed back up the hill to the beer garden for dinner. The dishes we had seen coming out of the kitchen looked pretty tasty. We ordered more beer (a theme of the week, more beer!) and two dishes. The entrees were way better than the pretzel we had eaten. It was hard to believe they came from the same place!



We headed back to our hotel for our last night in the intercontinental before heading out to Hallstatt the next morning.

Whew long one! Still left in the trip are Hallstatt, Reutte/Fussen, Romantic Road, Rothenburg and Munich! Quite the travelling we did.

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My Engagement Story

Hello! Well, as many of you know, I just got back from Germany on Monday. It’s taken me a few days to get over my jet lag. That first night’s sleep was horrible trying to adjust and I’ve slowly been making it back to normal sleep patterns. Alex and I had the best time on our trip. What started out as a vacation turned into an engagement trip.

Let me start out by saying that I was not expecting Alex to propose on this trip. I had been telling everybody that there was no way he would propose. Guess I was wrong! Something which everyone has been telling me since I got back.

We had a horrible airport experience on our way to Germany. Alex’s flight to Chicago from Kansas City was delayed over 4 hours. By the time he landed in Chicago, our flight to Munich took off in 5 mins. Thanks to lots of crying (me) and running (him) we both made the flight and were off.

From Munich we headed to Berchtesgaden, Germany to the Intercontinental Resort which Alex booked with rewards points for our first two night.




We settled in, ate the little welcome treat, then headed out for a hike. The concierge gave us some ideas where to go while we were out. It looked like storms could come so we stuck close to the hotel in case. The resort is at the top of a mountain and very steep road. We walked all over when Alex mentioned he wanted to go back to a hill underneath the resort that had a great view of the Alps with the storm moving in so we headed back.


We sat on the slope talking. Made friends with a snail that was huge. While were talking, Alex kept messing with the zipper on his jacket. We got on the subject of the first time he told me he loved me, in which I had told him to shut up as we had only known each other for two months and he couldn’t possibly know that yet. What he said to me has always stuck in my heart. He told me “what I meal when I say I love you is that there is nothing about you that I don’t like.” At this point, he got down on one knee and said that things hadn’t changed from that moment. He pulled out a ring, which is possibly the most beautiful thing ever, and asked me to marry him. I, of course, said yes! It was such a surprise. He picked the perfect place with the most wonderful view. It was something very special and not something I will ever forget.

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We sat talking more before heading to the resort to call our families. We then got ready for a nice dinner at the Bavarian restaurant in the resort. There was a wait for a table so we grabbed a beer at the American Bar by the fireplace and had snacks while we waited.


Our dinner was delicious. At the end, our waitress mentioned that in Bavaria they mix their light beer with either banana juice or coke and offered us tastes. These tastes were actually 0.4L each! I liked the coke one and Alex liked the banana juice one. Overall a wonderful way to celebrate our engagement. 

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I’ll be back with more from each of the places we visited as I finish the posts!

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