Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars

So it’s no secret that since I’ve started eating “healthy” – or whatever – I’ve become a breakfast eater.

My breakfast game was at its all time peak during my couple of months of unemployment late last year when I got to make breakfast at home every morning. Toast, eggs, cheese and salsa, yessssss #allthethings

HOWEVER, that’s unfortunately not the norm. I usually eat Greek yogurt and a little somethin’ somethin’ on the side. What that somethin’ somethin’ entails changes from week to week… I have made skinny muffins. I’ve made protein muffins. I love muesli…and I even made muesli bars.

For this week’s What I Ate Wednesday, I’m sharing what I’ve been eating for breakfast lately:

The past few weeks, I’ve been eating homemade granola bars!

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You’ll notice that, unlike my other breakfast muffins and bars, there is no “skinny” or “protein” in the title of this recipe.

That’s not to say they aren’t healthy! Made primarily of oats, uncooked quinoa, and flaxseed, they’re leaps and bounds better than any processed bar you’ll find in the supermarket. Plus they have a LOT less added sugar (only 3 tbsp of honey for the entire batch!).

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But they’ve also got a fair amount of nut butter…and chocolate.

The point of these granola bars isn’t that they’re low cal, or fat free. It’s that they are full of nutrient dense foods that are good for you, and some healthy fats that make them DELICIOUS.

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Plus, mango + macadamia nuts + coconut = tropical summer vacation. Am I right?

Mango-Macadamia Granola Bars
adapted from Cooking Light’s Cranberry-Pistachio Energy Bars
makes 9 bars

1/2 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup quinoa, uncooked
1/4 cup dried mango, chopped
1/3 cup chopped macadamia nuts
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, shredded or flaked
1/4 cup flaxseed meal (or just grind up flaxseed!)
1 oz chocolate (chips or chunks)
1/4 cup almond butter or peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tbsp coconut oil

Note: This is an extremely flexible recipe. I’ve also made it with pepitas and dried cranberries. Use whatever kind of dried fruit, nuts, nut butter, or oil you want!

Preheat oven to 350* F. Arrange oats and uncooked quinoa on a baking sheet and bake until slightly toasted and starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Meanwhile, combine mango, macadamia nuts, coconut, chocolate and flaxseed meal. Once cooled, add oats and quinoa.

In a stovepot, mix nut butter, honey, and coconut oil. Heat to a boil, whisking constantly. Boil for 1 minute and add to oat/nut/coconut mixture. Add to a greased 8×8 inch pan and bake at 350*F for 12 minutes, or until starting to brown.

Let cool before cutting into 9 squares. Eat at room temperature or cooled…the squares will keep for 1 week in the fridge!

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What is your breakfast go-to?

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What I Ate Wednesday – Breakfast Edition

Happy Wednesday! We’re almost over the hump! Although these days the days and weeks are all starting to blend together for me, especially with last week’s holiday. Read on to find out why, and to find out how it inspired today’s What I Ate Wednesday post 🙂

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New Obsession: MixMyOwn Muesli

Did you eat breakfast daily as a kid?

My brother and I sat at the table and eat cereal every morning throughout my childhood. Usually it was something “healthy”, (are Frosted Flakes considered healthy? 😛 ), but every so often we’d get treated to Lucky Charms or Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Unfortunately, Cookie Crisp never found its way into our pantry. Thanks a LOT, Mom!

When I hit high school and started taking a 7am zero period sophomore year (which I then continued, in addition to a full course schedule, through senior year…seriously, who was I?!), breakfast took the back burner. As anyone in my family can tell you, it takes a lot to get me out of bed in the morning, and I usually prefer to set the alarm as late as humanly possible, then rush out the door. I need my maximum possible amount of sleep!

As you can imagine, the no-breakfast habit continued into college for the most part. My meal plan included 14 meals per week, which allowed for lunch and dinner every day. Sometimes I’d treat myself to breakfast at the dining commons and grab lunch at a cafe on campus, but I by no means ate breakfast regularly.

In France, my breakfasts were usually a coffee and chocolate covered gaufre (waffle) from the vending machine at the university that I snacked on during class. (Oh my god, I miss those!) When I lived in an apartment senior year, my breakfast usually consisted of some kind of chocolatey Pop Tart, or a Luna bar.

Long story short: I had a very unhealthy relationship with breakfast for a long time 😉 Suddenly, I no longer wonder how I weighed nearly 20 pounds more than I do now just 3 years ago when I graduated!

When I moved home after college, to deal with being unemployed and bored, I got myself into a little routine: I started each day with a small breakfast and a workout, followed by a bigger breakfast/lunch. I forced myself to like bananas, because they were the easiest pre-work out breakfast option.

Nearly 3 years later, I can’t remember the last time I didn’t eat breakfast. During the colder months, I eat a lot of oatmeal. During the summertime, I usually have Greek yogurt and some kind of granola bar. This summer’s obsession was toast + Laughing Cow wedges. But when I went to Blend Retreat back in May, I tried overnight oats for the first time made with muesli…and I was hooked. It was basically like cold oatmeal, but tasted soooo much better than that sounds 🙂

In the middle of my recent toast and Laughing Cow breakfast kick, I was contacted by Klara from MixMyOwn Healthy Breakfast, who offered me a free sample of their product. Fresh out of muesli (thus the reason for the toast and Laughing Cow kick!), I jumped at the opportunity. MixMyOwn has a few muesli mixes they create themselves, but the coolest thing about the site is that you can create your own cereal/granola/muesli! And what really appealed to me was that they use all natural ingredients:

By offering nearly 100 responsibly chosen ingredients, including a variety of 100%
natural, unprocessed, organic, non-GMO, preservative free and sugar-free options,
MixMyOwn provides an alternative to processed cereals and snacks.

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So I went to work and Mixed My Own personal muesli…and it was amazing!

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I had no idea where to start…just check out all these options:

“A customer can choose from 31 types of dried fruits including 13 types of freeze-dried fruits, 20 types of nuts and seeds, and other healthy ingredients to add to the bases.

MixMyOwn offers 8 premixed breakfasts, as well, including: Kids Mix, Fitness Mix, Gluten-free Mix, Antioxidant Mix, Tutty Nutty, Very Berry, Strawberry Almond Mix, and Classic Mix, and even these can be adjusted to suit the customer’s unique needs”

I knew I wanted to make my own, rather than going for a premix. So I decided to go for a tropical theme! In addition to oats and various grains, I added: flaked coconut, dried mango, dried papaya, chia seeds, macadamia nuts, and because I still had a little bit of extra $ left, I splurged on a vanilla bean.

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Oh my gawwwd. SO good. I love the variety of textures, and you could tell that all the ingredients were high quality. I’m glad I went with the coconut (even though I’m not a huge fan)… I have always disliked shredded coconut, but I’m now sold on flaked coconut!

I also love that they include the nutrition stats for your mix:

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Look how low in sugar it is! Just 2.5g! I mix about one serving/half a cup of muesli with a cup of almond milk and a few more chia seeds, store it in the fridge overnight, and VOILA! Amazing breakfast.

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I definitely recommend trying out MixMyOwn! Especially if you’re picky about your oats 🙂

PLUS from now until the end of September you can get 20% off your order with the code HEALTHYBREAKFAST. Perfect timing, since I’m about to run out of my mix!

As I mentioned, I received my MixMyOwn mix free of charge…However, all opinions are my own!

What’s your go-to breakfast?

If you eat oatmeal/overnight oats, what’s your favorite combo of ingredients?

What I Ate Wednesday

Though I have been blogging for well over a year now, there’s one typical “healthy living blogger” blog post I’ve never done…until today!

What I Ate Wednesday.

I try to avoid posting pictures of every.single.thing I eat, unless what I’m eating is particularly good looking, great tasting, or if it’s a meal I’m really proud of making. Well, none of the things in this post are good looking or mind blowing recipes.. but I generally don’t eat anything that isn’t delicious 🙂 Thankfully, even if I don’t share it on the blog, I have friends who don’t mind me snapping pix of everything I eat to them on Snapchat (Hi Linda Li!)

I’ve also been known to post what I can actually eat/make with a cast, and this time around is no exception! Actually, I’ve found that eating might be even harder with this broken thumb than it was with my broken hand. Though I eat with my left hand, I require my right thumb to chop veggies and hold a spatula. Also, washing dishes is interesting:

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(wearing a rubber glove, Grocery Outlet bag, and a plastic produce bag)

Without further ado, here’s what I ate yesterday.

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My standard breakfast for, like, the last month is 2 slices of Alvarado Street Bakery sprouted toast + Laughing Cow Smooth Sensations cream cheese spread. I won 5 wheels of the stuff in a Twitter contest back when I was at Blend, and I am still working through them! Pictured is cinnamon (left, SO yummy) and strawberry.

I am also really loving Alvarado St. bread at the moment. You can find it at Trader Joe’s (I got their Essential Flax bread there), but my trusted Grocery Outlet discount store recently started stocking it for way cheap! I usually get the California-style complete protein bread, or sprouted whole wheat. They’re the perfect size, pack some protein, and are only 80-90 calories a slice!

And since we’re on the subject of breakfast…

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I was so stoked to be able to make my overnight oats in almost-empty nut butter jars TWICE in the past couple of weeks! Although that also means I’m out of peanut butter and almond butter 😦

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This morning, I had an epically fruity yogurt bowl. Banana cream pie yogurt, fresh pineapple, blueberries, and a dollop of my grandma’s apricot jam. The apricot jam and banana yogurt were actually a really yummy combo!

Since Friday, I have also been having either a calcium pill or multivitamin with breakfast 🙂

Snacks during the workday for the last 2 weeks have not changed:

SO ADDICTIVE!

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I only grab 3-4 at a time, but I always end up eating 2 servings (20 pretzels) worth in a day, haha. I have stopped trying to fight it, but I at least limit myself to one serving before lunch and one after 😛

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As is somewhat normal for me, I did a short workout at lunch. I lifted one small (5 lb) weight and, after realizing it was kind of painful, decided I probably shouldn’t risk injury. So, I’ve relegated myself to the sorority girl workout: elliptical and abs! I’ve made it my goal to have a 6 pack by the time my cast comes off in 4 weeks, haha. Yesterday, I did 20 mins on the elliptical, followed by a 1 min plank, 30 sec side planks, 2 sets of V-ups and Stability Ball sit-ups, and a little bit of work on my obliques.

Also, related note: be glad you’re not friends with me on Snapchat 😛

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Lunch was part 2 of the summer stew I prepped on Sunday: onion, garlic, zucchini, fire roasted tomatoes, corn, lentils, and bell peppers. Aaand a La Tortilla Factory 100-calorie tortilla. LOVE those. 100 calories, 8g of fiber, and they’re huge! I was kind of ravenous after my workout, so I also found an Oats n Honey granola bar to tide me over till dinner.

Last night was laundry night so I was at my parents’ house for dinner:

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BLT’s are probably my family’s most common summer meal, since my dad grows so many tomatoes! Mine was 2 slices of 12-grain bread, 3-4 slices of juicy garden tomatoes, 3 slices of bacon (the real kind, not turkey…my brother’s request) and lots of arugula. On the side was honey dijon Kettle chips, pineapple, and a Lagunitas IPA! Seriously, perfect summer meal.

After dinner, I folded laundry and watched Breaking Bad (I’ve been catching up for almost a year, and am finally on season 4!)

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…while snacking on peanuts and tasting some sangria my mom bought. Yum!

Do you take pictures of everything you eat?

What’s your go-to breakfast?

Any ab/core workouts to recommend?

Meatless Monday: Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash

Told you guys I had a Meatless Monday post waiting for ya!

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And it involves mini peppers and mini potatoes…because mini is always cuter, right?

Despite the fact that I just called this dish cute, it’s actually a pretty hearty meal. Potatoes are pretty filling, but since they’re so starchy and carby, they’re not the kind of filling that will sustain you for many hours. That’s where the other components come in to save the day!

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I got really into beets this spring since my dad was growing them and they always looked so pretty at the Farmer’s Market. They stain everything, but I love their earthy taste and they are so pretty! Sweet mini bell peppers and onions add crunch, and pinto beans give this hash some bulk.

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Finish it all off with some fresh basil and a squeeze of lemon and you have yourself a perfectly light and refreshing, yet filling, summer breakfast! Or if you’re like me, you don’t really wake up until 10 or 11 on the weekend and there becomes a thin line between breakfast and lunch 🙂

I am proud to report that the basil plant I bought at the grocery store about a month ago is still alive and kickin’! However, we are currently on Day 3 of an 8 day streak of triple digit heat. 104, 107, and 106 degrees on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday…and it’s only getting hotter. So who knows if the plant will last much longer.

This quick 1-skillet dish would be great for a hot day like today (108 degrees!), but I’ve chosen instead to do the 3 Day Peel’d Juice Cleanse. I learned about it from my friend Sarah who did their traditional 5-day cleanse last month (Hi Sarah!). Consuming only juice for 3 days isn’t exactly my cup o’ tea…However, in addition to the allotted 2 juices and 1 smoothie per day, Peel’d allows you to eat as many fruits and veggies as you want: “This process isn’t about depriving yourself, but feeding yourself large amounts of foods that will nourish, support and heal you.” Olives, avocados, and nuts are also listed as ideal “snacks”…win!

I will definitely be writing a recap later in the week, but until then, I’ll just leave this here…and dream about potatoes:

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Lemon-Basil Breakfast Hash
serves 1

2 mini potatoes
1/2 small onion (about 1/2 cup)
2 mini red or orange bell peppers
1/2 medium-sized beet, cooked (I roast mine in a foil packet in the oven at 400F for about 45 minutes)
1/4-1/2 cup pinto beans, drained and rinsed
3-4 fresh basil leaves, cut into thin ribbons
juice of one lemon
salt & pepper
oil, as needed for cooking

Cut everything into similarly-sized pieces. Heat your choice of oil over medium heat in a saute pan. Add onions, stirring to coat. Let them sweat for about a minute before adding the potatoes. Again, stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper, and let cook for about 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Mix in bell peppers and beets and cook for another 5 minutes. Add desired amount of pinto beans and lemon juice, and cook until heated through. Remove from heat, mix in basil leaves, garnish with lemon wedge (add more lemon if you’d like) and enjoy!

Weekend Food Prep

Soo I wasn’t so great on the healthy eating thing these past four days.

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the Six Pepper Pizza at the Dodgeball league bar – pepperjack cheese, jalapenos, pepperoncinis, bell peppers, pepperoni, and crushed red. SO GOOD.

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got a hankerin’ to bake m&m chocolate chip cookies on Friday night… so i DID!

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had an epic picnic for two on Saturday. sandwich fixins, cheese, crackers, mango, MORE cheese, hummus, and carrots/bell peppers for dipping

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this is how much cheese T-Man put in our eggs yesterday morning when i requested “not too much cheese” haha

It was bound to happen, since I had an insane week at work and was too busy enjoying a baseball game last Sunday to do any food prep.

Meanwhile, I’ve been quite good and have kept up with 1 gym trip and 1-2 runs per week, and due to T-Man’s work schedule I’ve been biking to work 5 days a week (holy mother my quads are getting BIG!), so I’m not too concerned about a few days of “gluttony”, if you can even call them that.

It’s not the worst mess-up in the history of people-trying-to-eat-healthily, but all the same I feel a bit guilty. Actually, that feeling might be indigestion 😉

In order to avoid similar mistakes this week, I made some food yesterday.

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A lotttt of food.

So here’s the thing: I don’t like to meal plan. There, I said it. I know some people get off on it, but it’s just not my bag. I am very finicky when it comes to deciding what I’m in the mood to eat (especially for dinner). It gives me anxiety to imagine choosing what to eat more than a few hours before the meal happens, let alone FOUR DAYS. But what if I’m not feeling like chicken that night? What if someone cool wants to go out to happy hour and grab a bite to eat?….you get the picture.

I can, however, get down with prepping a bunch of food that can go together in different ways throughout the week. Yesterday, I made a couple of plain chicken breasts – this week I can shred them up for tacos, slice one to put in a sandwich, or just saute one to eat with some veggies and oven fries. Three different options already! And the best part is, once I decide what I want to eat on Wednesday night, I’ll already have done most of the work days before. I like this food prep business.

Here’s what I did this week:

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I started soaking some dry black beans while cleaned the kitchen. Cleaning is my #1 procrastination tool. If I ever have a big task ahead, you bet your ass I’ll find something to clean before I can get started.

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Lots of clutter… which, with the help of awesomely bad music….

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Became slightly less clutter. (also, all the dirty dishes in the sink that I didn’t tell you about are now clean. Boom.)

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I put the beans in the Crockpot for two hours thinking that would be long enough. Hahaha, silly Katie. I used it as a timer to see how long it took to prep the rest of the food. The result: everything was finished in less than 2 hours! (except for the actual thing cooking in the Crockpot of course.)

First course: Breakfast. Frozen Yogurt squares it is!

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Yogurt, fruit, oats, honey, mix mix mix.

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I’ll deal with you later.

Next, vegetables. I decided on a kale and mushroom saute, and instead of spending 35 minutes making rice, I decided to get creative with my cauliflower.

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Cauliflower rice! I’m kind of excited to try it.

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Meanwhile, crappy music was still blasting on my iPad.

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Kale and mushrooms were sauteing.

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And a couple of chicken breasts were poached.

Let’s break down the results.

For breakfast:

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I am set for the week! I have 2 leftover Oikos, which I pair with Fiber One brownies. For the rest of the days of the week, I’ll have a Frozen Yogurt square paired with Fiber One bars. (The FroYo squares are fewer calories than a yogurt cup, so I pair them with a higher cal bar to even it out)

Next: protein!

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Two chicken breasts, and nearly 2 cups of black beans will be readily available to me this week. I also made a batch of my spicy peanut sauce. I kinda just want to dip everything in it. Is that bad?

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I split the kale and mushroom saute into two servings – I’m thinking I’ll pair one with beans (on a workout day, for protein) and the other with cauliflower rice.

Obviously this won’t last me all 5 days this week as far as lunches and dinner goes. So far, I only have evening plans on Wednesday and Thursday this week, so I will have enough time to make a normal dinner most other nights. Some other things I have readily available in my fridge/freezer that I can use for meals this week:

  • Enough Spring Mix for a big salad or 2
  • Sprouts and bread for sandwiches
  • Soup cup at work
  • A serving of frozen ravioli + like 4 servings of my mom’s pasta sauce in the freezer. It’s my emergency pasta stash, y’all!
  • Lentils + veggies and a can of diced tomatoes = lentil stew (if I have time. Plus I can make enough so I have leftovers!)

Do you meal plan or do food prep? If so, which is more helpful to you?

What is your go-to lunch to bring to school/work?

Friday Faves

I’ve got some goodies for you today, folks! The internet was killin’ it this week.

1) Running costumes

I’m cruisin’ into my 5K race tomorrow fresh off a dodgeball high from our game last night. I caught not one, but TWO balls thrown by one of the biggest baddest dudes in the league last night and, along with a couple of other players, delivered us our first victory of the new season! Nicki and I are going to Target tonight to figure out our outfits for the Veggie Chase…I am totally loving the ideas on this site, though a lot of them don’t exactly look super conducive to running quickly…

2) 20 Ways Cory And Topanga Gave You Unrealistic Expectations About Relationships

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I woke up this morning to this link on Facebook shared by one of my childhood neighbors. So many memories of Friday nights spent watching TGIF together and dreaming about a Cory and Topanga relationship of our own… SIGH. I couldn’t choose between these two screenshots. The first is from the best episode ever (Halloween episode with South Park references galore, anyone?), and the second is just so cute and so unrealistic. “I can never really get mad at you”…really? Really? Never?

3) Braided Lemon Bread by smitten kitchen

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Easter is Sunday, and we’re having two meals – I’m making brunch here in Sacramento for us and my parents in the morning, and then we’re driving to Napa for early dinner with T-Man’s family. I’m going to make my dad’s famous Chile Egg Puff and some kind of fruit salad…I’m trying to keep it light, but wanted to make a 3rd dish involving lemons because T-Man brought me a whole bunch from his coworker’s tree. I’m hoping if I make the lemon curd the night before, I’ll have enough time to make this bread on Sunday morning! It just sounds tooooo good.

4) Having only one team left in the tournament…but it being the team that matters!

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You guys, my bracket majorly failed this year. I knew I was being pretty risky by choosing a lot of upsets…but the payoff would have been high! See, my pool rewards a LOT more points depending on the rank of the team…the lower their rank, the more points you get if they win. Unfortunately, I picked North Carolina and New Mexico instead of…La Salle and Florida Gulf Coast?! Who could have predicted those upsets? Thankfully I still may be in luck if Michigan State wins! I’m still in it….for now!

5) 4 steps to pairing colors and patterns by nutritionella

I love this easy guide to decorating your home/apartment! My roomie and I haven’t done much in the decorating department, since we accepted a lot of mismatching hand-me-downs from our parents when we moved in. We will either be renewing our lease in a month or finding a new place…I think either outcome will call for some spring cleaning and decorating! Speaking of spring cleaning, I have had some serious clutter anxiety lately. My desk at work, T-Man’s fridge, and our living room were victim to my anxiety-induced organizing/cleaning sprees this week…I’ve never had this urge before, but suddenly I can’t stand clutter! Might as well ride the train while it’s here…I’m sure in a month I’ll be back to preferring what I like to call my organized chaos. 🙂

6) Skinny blueberry lemon poppyseed muffins!

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Last weekend, I set out to make a muffin with as close to 100 calories as possible…and I did it! I’ll be posting the recipe for these low cal, super low fat muffins sometime next week 🙂 I’ve enjoyed them for breakfast with my yogurt or oatmeal every morning this week!

Have a great Easter weekend!

What are your plans? Do you do Easter brunch or Easter dinner?