Yummy (and Healthy) Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

I admit it: I am addicted to Pinterest. I’ve been using it to organize ideas for my wedding, as well as new recipe ideas and new workouts. It’s a lot of fun trying new, healthier recipes, so when I have the time, I experiment with my Pinterest recipes.

A couple of weekends ago I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe that had chocolate chips (trying to get use to dark chocolate versus milk chocolate), oatmeal (my newest baking obsession), and plain Greek yogurt. I found this recipe thanks to following Chobani on Pinterest, and loved how simple it was! I only did half the recipe due to lack of ingredients (I was running out of whole wheat flour and didn’t have much plain Greek yogurt left).

Here you go:

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
(this recipe makes 5 dozen)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 6 ounces (3/4 cup) plain non fat Greek yogurt (I only had Oikos, but I also love Chobani)
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I splash a little extra some times)
  • 2 cups quick cooking oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup flour (original recipe called for all-purpose, I used a mix of whole wheat and AP)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chocolate chunks/chips (I used dark chocolate, but milk or semisweet would work too)

  1. Heat over to 350*F and prepare your cookie sheets (I use parchment paper when I bake)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, yogurt, and both sugars with a mixer on medium speed until smooth, then add the eggs and vanilla. Beat until mixed well, then stir in the oats.
  3. In another bowl, stir together the baking soda, salt, and flour. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips/chunks.
  4. (I like to chill my cookie dough in the refrigerator for a little while, so I wrapped the top of the bowl with plastic wrap and let it set for about an hour or so. You can immediately bake, if you’re pressed for time, though.)
  5. Drop the cookie dough by the tablespoon on the cookie sheets (original baker recommended that the smaller the dough drop, the better).
  6. Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.
  7. Let the the cookies cool on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before removing to cool completely. (I got a nice crispy outside edge on these cookies doing this!)
  8. Enjoy!

Note to self: Must setup a better finished cookie shot…

It was an easy, and yet healthy recipe! The cookies were chewy on the inside, but crispy edges on the outside straight from the oven–can’t get any better than that!

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Wedding Planning Update: Less Than 4 Months!

With there being less than four months to go until the Big Day, I realize there hasn’t been much of an update about how things are going:

My sister’s MOH dress (don’t mind her silly face, she wasn’t aware I was taking her photo…oops!), only this will be in an apple red.

I finally was able to go with my sister (Matron of Honor) to look at bridesmaid dresses. She was concerned that she wouldn’t look good in the dresses that my other two bridesmaids picked out, but I wanted her to give it a try anyway. We chose a few long dresses, as well, for her to try on for a look more in her comfort and style. I have to say, it was a lot of fun trying on dresses with her because it was almost a mini-celebration of her weight loss journey herself. See, she and her husband started on a health journey January 2011 to eat better and get more active. After a year, Jerry had lost at least 100 pounds and Erin had lost at least 40 or so. They celebrated the first year of their journey by completing a 5K together—I was so proud of them and wished I could have come home that weekend!

Anyway, I digress…so now with her weight loss of 45+ pounds, I think she was enjoying discovering her new body. We ended up trying on a dress that is very similar to the bridesmaids’, but longer.

Heritage Horse Farm–location of our wedding

In May my parents came into town and we took them up to my friend’s farm where we’re having the wedding and introduced them to Chad. We walked around the property and discussed where we could set up the reception tent, have everyone park, and where to hold the ceremony. I constantly worry that this will be more of a pain for Chad and his wife, since they are also running a boarding barn on their property. I worry that having a tent constructed on Friday, a big shindig on Saturday, and then the tent deconstruction on Sunday might disrupt too much and spook the horses.

We also took Matt’s mom there to see the place and get her approval. She seemed to really like the place, which was reassuring.

I’m meeting with a friend who is also a graphic artist to design our invitations this week. I had met with a printer my dad has used for 30+ years back home, but I didn’t feel like I would be able to show our individual personality with their offerings. I was excited to see Camille’s design she did for her daughter’s wedding because it was simple and no fuss—exactly how I want our wedding to be. I’m looking at some places that can print exactly what I want and how I want around Lexington. I’m lucky to work in the publishing industry and have a few tips of places to try.

Once I get the invitations ordered, my next goal will be to tackle a list of what I need to do myself—spray paint the centerpieces, order burlap, and start figuring out the table runners, etc. I’m also looking at where to order a photo guestbook–we don’t want the usual boring book that won’t ever been seen again. Dad, meanwhile, has the list of what stuff we need from the rental company and will be calling them to reserve the tent, chairs, and tables.

I hope I’m on the right track…

Hitting the Pavement

Ever since that day I crossed the finish line in the Kentucky Derby Festival Mini Marathon, the training structure I had was finished as well. The weeks leading up to the mini marathon, I was running three mornings a week before work (usually Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays), with two mornings of yoga (Tuesdays and Fridays), and a long training run on Saturday mornings. Like clockwork. It worked well for me. After work, I’d go to the gym for cross training with weights and corework.

Then life got crazy. You’ve already heard about my work schedule this Spring/Summer/Fall, so I won’t continue to “complain” about that. I’m still trying to get in at least three days of running (Monday and Thursday mornings before work, some times Wednesday after work before agility class, and/or Saturday mornings if I’m home). I promised myself that I would still do long training runs so when it does come time for me to seriously train for my next half marathon, I won’t be very far behind. So far, the longest runs I’ve been able to squeeze out have been six miles.

My first six mile run was a rough one–Memorial Day (May 28), when it was already humid and quite warm at 7 am. I don’t believe I’ve ever run in such hot conditions. It was rough. I didn’t take a water bottle with me because I felt like I could handle six miles without the extra hydration…wrong! I should have taken water with me. Towards the end I walked because I was just drained, and then I pushed myself to finish the six miles.

  • 6.13 miles in 1:00:12 (9:50 avg) (Fastest mile was the second mile at 8:55)

Then this past weekend I ventured out early Saturday morning in hopes of a better run at six miles. It was notably cooler and the humidity wasn’t as high as it was two weeks prior. I handled it a lot better, too, with just a short stint of walking after trudging through some tall grass for a quarter mile.

  •  6.35 miles in 1:00:24 (9:31 avg) (Fastest mile was the second mile at 9:18)

I’ve been running 3-4.5 miles in the mornings before work, which has been great. This week I ran around my work in my old neighborhood twice. The route is one constant, rolling hill–perfect for training for my upcoming races.

  • Monday: 3.79 miles in 35:22 (9:21 avg)
  • Wednesday: 5.15 miles in 48:31 (9:26 avg)

I have to say, I’m amazed at how my times are getting faster, even while running 4-5 miles. I’ve been trying to work on my speed for 5K races, so of course I’ve been trying to push while running 3 miles. But to hold a 4 mile run with a 9:30 pace, that’s awesome for the girl who barely could make a 12-minute mile in grade school!

I have two races coming up that I’m excited about: The Warrior Dash in London, Ky. (not really racing, because I’ll be running with a group of workout buddies, including 60+ year old Tom, so it’s 3.2 miles with 10 obstacles–can’t wait!) and the Bluegrass 10K in Lexington on July 4.( was training for the Bluegrass 10K last Spring when I fractured my foot–at the time, it would have been the longest distance I would have run and I was extremely disappointed that I couldn’t run it. So now I’m ready to tackle the race that is one that everyone talks about around here. That’s why I haven’t really pushed to run past six miles just yet, so I’m hoping after this I can try pushing for 7 and 8 miles.

I’ve been entertaining thoughts of training for another half marathon this Fall, but I’m afraid I won’t be able to manage the rigors of training with my irregular training. I’m also starting to get more into the wedding planning, now that the countdown is less than four months away–there’s a bunch of DIY projects that need to be started and completed in that time.

There’s a half marathon Oct. 20 in Cincinnati that looks enticing, and almost doable. The main concern is that my wedding is Oct. 6, and we’ll be getting back from our honeymoon Oct. 13/14…I seriously doubt that I’ll be doing any training while on our honeymoon, and would like to relax and indulge myself a little.

Would that be setting me up for failure?

A Simple Meal – Taco Salad

Dinner at home is rare for me right now with my work schedule, and with the gorgeous weather we’ve been having, I don’t want to be stuck in the house, but rather taking the dogs for a walk or doing something besides cook. So the other night, when both M and I were actually home for dinner, I wanted something different, so I decided to make taco salad.

Unfortunately I didn’t have any taco meat seasoning or even any chili seasoning (chili seasoning does well in a pinch, fyi). So as I was browning the ground turkey, I added dried chopped onions, some fresh ground black pepper, a little garlic powder, and some red pepper flakes. Then once the meat was browned, I added some salsa and some taco sauce to give the meat a little more flavor.

Meanwhile, I chopped up the half head of iceberg lettuce we had left from salad earlier in the week (M hates bagged salad). I added a few tortilla chips to a bottom of my salad bowl (gotta have a little crunch in there), then piled on the lettuce, browned taco meat, some light shredded cheese, and more salsa. It was exactly what we both needed–a light, yet filling meal that was quick and healthier than going out (and cheaper, too).

I think next time I might add some beans for a little more protein and fiber. M added his trademark banana peppers. If I ever got the gumption to try to make healthy guacamole (or I could just buy it…), that’d be great to add on, too.

Feel free to make the recipe your own–that’s part of the fun of taco salads, right?

A colorful bowl of yumminess!

A Kick in the Shorts

The other night I went with a co-worker back to the local YMCA that I used to be a member of (I couldn’t afford the rates any more). He talked me into going to a class that we used to do together every Wednesday. It’s like a boot-camp type class, but a little different.

Our instructor, Taylor, runs us through some quick cardio sets to get our hearts pumping: jumping jacks, mountain climbers, high knees, butt kicks, sprints down and back across the room, bear crawls, side-shuffles, etc. This typically lasts the first half of the class, and you’re just dying for that 3-minute break. The second half involves dumbbells and different workouts such as X-squats (squat down with dumbbells in the middle of your legs, then as you stand up, your arms go up and you look like you’re an X), push-ups (10 sets of 20 seconds throughout the session, for a total of 160), wall sits, lunges, planks with 1 arm up or 1 leg up (at the end we held opposite arm and leg up for 10 seconds), etc. It’s a solid hour of sweat- and cuss-inducing fun. Yes, I really do mean fun.

It’s been a while since I’ve been in a class like that. Lately, with my schedule, I haven’t been able to attend any classes at my gym because I really only have 25 minutes after work before I have to leave for job #2, so I have to do my workouts on my own. It’s not that big of a deal, but lately I haven’t been feeling very inspired when it comes to my workouts. But this class revived that competitiveness in me that I have been missing in the past month since my half marathon. I pushed myself to the brink for an hour, only looking at the clock once–when we broke for our break.

It was the kind-of workout that I hope has brought me out of my funk lately. I just wish I could go to it more often, but I think after a while the Y might notice me walking through with my co-worker (and I rarely have Wednesdays off).

Has there been a workout that re-inspired you?

Blogging Blues

It’s been a while since I’ve really blogged consistently and it disheartens me that I have slacked off so much. There are a few reasons as to why:

1.)   I ran my half marathon at the end of April, so I no longer have long training runs to blog about any more right now. I’m trying to get back into running longer distances now that my foot and IT band seem to have relaxed, but I also need to find the time to do so (see my next bullet point).

2.)   My free time has completely gone out the window. With working my regular 8-5 job Monday-Friday, I’m working my reffing gig 2-3 nights a week from 6 until midnight, or later. I have just enough time between jobs to get in a quick workout at the gym before I have to be at the bar ready to ref for the next handful of hours. This also means I have less time to spend at home with M and the pups, which means less walks for the dogs and less home cooked meals and relaxation in front of the television when I did most of my writing.

3.)   I’ve hit a serious wall when it comes to motivation when it comes to writing. I used to complain about never getting to write any more, so that’s part of why I started a blog (and started freelancing again). But now, I’m not motivated to write as much as I used to. I think this all stems from the lack of time. The little bit of downtime I have now, I just want to veg and enjoy my time because it’s very rare any more.

4.)   I’ve lost motivation to eat healthy, which depresses me. I’m still eating like I was running a ton when I was training, which isn’t healthy. So it’s hard for me to admit that on a blog for everyone to read.

5.)   I just have this feeling of “BLAH” and totally unmotivated about much right now.

So there are my excuses. I know, I know. Excuses are like…everyone has them. And I promise I’m going to get things back in order and get back on the right track.

Starting this week!!