Monthly Archives: April 2013

Recipe: Bob Harper’s Skinny Green Cauliflower Soup

I have a confession to make.  I’m on what probably qualifies as a crash diet.

Usually, this is totally NOT what I do.  I’ve done things like this before with disastrous results, but desperate times call for desperate measures.  My other job… you know the one that actually pays me money… just decided to send 13 of us to Hawaii!  It’s not a vacation.  We will be working really long hours.  It’s only about 4 days.  But guys… it’s HAWAII.  It’s PAID FOR.  I WILL find my way to a beach if it kills me.  And we’re leaving in 3 weeks!  Eeks!

Just as I’m freaking out about being in a bathing suit in front of all my co-workers, celeb trainer Bob Harper from “The Biggest Loser” comes out with a new diet book.  It’s called “Jumpstart To Skinny“, and what a coincidence!  It takes exactly 3 weeks to complete.  Have I been saved?!


“Jumpstart” has gotten some bad buzz, because it only allows 800 calories a day for women, and 1200 a day for men.  Extreme?  Definitely.  Torture?  Kinda.  But will it hurt you to only eat 800 calories a day for 3 weeks?  Probably not.  Especially because Bob has you eating lots of really nutritious stuff.  The idea is to get you to a better body fast before a big event, or to “jumpstart” a longer weight loss journey.  Shopping lists and daily recipes are included.  He does all the work for you.

So here’s the basic jist:

  • 800 calories per day for women, 1200 calories per day for men with unlimited veggies from an approved list
  • Proper 40/40/20 proportions.  40% protein, 40% carbs, 20% fat.
  • No complex carbs (grains & starches) after breakfast
  • No fruit in week 3
  • One 15-20 minute strength circuit 5 days a week, with a 45 minute walk each and every day
  • NO alcohol (GASP!)

Today, I’m at the end of week one… day 7.  The first 2 days were brutal.  I was starving.  My stomach actually woke me up in the middle of the night a few times, because it was growling so loud.  But it’s getting easier.   I’m keeping a diary of my thoughts day by day to share with you later.  I “accidentally” had some red wine on Saturday, but here’s the headline – I’ve already lost a significant amount of weight, anywhere from 3 to almost 5 pounds, depending on the day.  Losing weight has never been easy for me, so this is big news.  But then again, I am only eating 800 calories a day.

Speaking of eating, I wanted to share with you what I had for dinner last night.  You’ll find it in the book.  Because I’m a vegetarian, I swapped the chicken for tofu.  If you’re into tofu, the substitution works well enough.  This isn’t something I would necessarily choose to eat again.  It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t vomit-worthy.  The only good part is that the portion is huge.  I counted 3 whole cups.  And yes, it looks like baby food.

Bob Harper’s Skinny Green Cauliflower Soup

Serves 1

Calories: 257

Protein: 27 g

Carbs: 22 g

Fat: 5 g

Fiber: 7 g



  • 2 c. of cauliflower, roasted*
  • 1 c. low-sodium veggie broth*
  • 1 tbsp fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 c. fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 4 oz. roasted chicken breast, shredded
  • 1 c. bell pepper, chopped
  • cracked black pepper (optional)


  1. Combine cauliflower, broth, dill, and spinach in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.  Add black pepper if desired and simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Let cool slightly, then pour into a blender and puree until smooth.
  3. Pour back into the pot, add the chicken/tofu and bell pepper, and simmer for 10 minutes.

*NOTE ONE: To roast cauliflower, boil large florets in a pot until al dente.  Spray with olive oil spray, and roast in 450 degree oven until the tops start to brown.

*NOTE TWO:  I actually added a lot more broth, because my “soup” turned out way too thick.  Bob would likely not approve because of the extra sodium, but you do what you’ve gotta do.

NOTE THREE:  I also added some diced onion and minced garlic to the pot before anything else.  That’s just how I get down.

NOTE FOUR:  The thing about Bob’s recipes is that there’s like, zero salt.  And I love salt, so I’m struggling with that.  But he’s right.  It leads to bloat and water retention, and ain’t nobody got time for that, especially when they (ME) are trying to look good on the beach in a couple short weeks.  I’ve been trying to add more spices like chili powder and cumin to add flavor.  I accidentally put cinnamon on my egg whites yesterday morning (yes, I ate them anyway).  But I say, raid the spice cabinet and get creative!

Have you ever done a crash diet?  Did you gain the weight back?  If not, how did you keep it off?  I can almost guarantee I’ll pack the pounds back on as soon as I get off the plane, so I need back up!  Get at me in the comments section below, or e-mail me at


Music Monday: OneRepublic’s “Counting Stars”

OneRepublic is back with a new album called Native, and the jam “Counting Stars” is just so cool, ya’ll.  But first, can we take a second to admire how well dressed these men are?  I’m sure they had help, but still.  Lookin’ fly.


Aight, here it is!  Enjoy, my friends!  Happy Monday!

Soiree For Beauty, Wellness, & Sustainability

Just when I thought I kinda knew what I was doing in greening up my life… BOOM.  Mind blown.

Last night, I had the chance to hang out at a beauty and wellness event at The Circle Salon in Chicago, organized by my beautiful friend/hairstylist/wellness guru Sarah!  It was supposed to last 3 hours.  Instead, it lasted over 4.  That’s how much info was flying around.  The group was intimate.  We were all engaged and asking questions.  It was incredibly informative.  There was WINE.  And SNACKS.  And adorable jars filled with SWAG!


I connected with some really smart people, a few of who are actually planning on raising their own chickens at their apartments in the city!  Consider it on my list of things to research.  Wouldn’t Dexter love an adopted chicken brother?  And wouldn’t I love some home-grown omelets?

There were 5 different speakers at this event, all of which were in some way connected to natural wellness and how our decisions as consumers affect our environment.  I’m so happy to have this blog as an outlet to pass some of this knowledge along.  Awareness is the first step!  I’ll try to boil it all down to a few “take-away tidbits” helpful for novices like me.

Spiritual Wellness & Natural Stress Relief with Ann Marie of ohm.chi.ohm:SALON ANN MARIE

I’ll be the first to admit that I know nothing about meditation.  It’s nearly impossible for me to sit quietly in thought for any amount of time.  I have trouble sleeping because my mind is always racing.  But, in today’s world, I know I’m not alone.  Ann Marie, who’s a Reiki master, led us though a short bit of meditation.  She also gave us these amethyst crystals to reduce anger, impatience, and anxiety!  I’ll take two please!


Ann Marie’s take-away tidbit:  When in conflict with someone, imagine a mirror with the reflective side facing them, and the non-reflective side facing you.  In doing this, you’re refusing to absorb that person’s negative energy.

Urban Gardening with Todd of Every Last Morsel:  


Todd knows what it takes to grow good, healthy food.  He also has a great plan to get that food to the people who need it.  Every Last Morsel, which he created, is basically social networking for gardeners and other people looking for fresh, locally grown food.  The idea is to locate gardens, all kinds, on a map and connect the people selling the food to their neighbors who are willing to buy it.  This way there is less waste, users know where their food is coming from, and they might even make a friend or two.  I mean, how many of us really talk to our neighbors anymore?

Todd’s take-away tidbit:  He recommended a site for gardening beginners with limited space: Windowfarms.  So psyched to get started!

Environmental Education with Joey of Climate Cycle:


Through Climate Cycle, Joey is helping to bring up a new generation of environmentally-minded adults by educating and empowering school-aged children.  With Joey’s help, these kids are starting composting clubs, they’re powering computer batteries with hand cranks, they’re learning in solar-powered schools, and they’re participating in Climate Cycle’s big annual fundraising event, the Ride to Recharge.

Joey’s take-away tidbit:  This incredible video from NASA that shows trends in global warming.  It’s only 26 seconds long, but it’s alarming.  Definitely a must-see.

Maximizing Your Closet with Susan of The STYLE Principle


Susan has made a living out of playing dress-up.  Through her business The STYLE Principle, she helps objectively solve your most pressing fashion problems!  And you can tell she’s passionate about what she does.  Her energy was off-the-charts infectious.  Susan can help you clean out your closet, she’ll help you shop, and in this session, she showed us how to wear just 8 black and white items in a whole bunch of ways.  I tried to count, but I couldn’t keep up!

Susan’s take-away tidbit(s):  To stay current and add trend to your wardrobe, buy just a couple of items a season.  And, brace yourself for this one… wear your scarf as a shirt!  Seriously!  She showed us two different ways to do it.  Just make sure you wear a cami or tank underneath, or you’ll end up looking like a Christina Aguilera.


All-Natural, Toxin-Free Skincare with Marlene of AromaFace


It would not be a stretch to call Marlene the goddess of holistic skincare.  The conversation she led lasted maybe an hour, and when we ran out of time, we all decided that we needed a separate night just to talk skin!  And she literally wrote the book on safe and effective aromatherapy.  It’s on Amazon, and available for your Kindle!


Marlene is super knowledgable.  Her line is made by her from scratch without any of that nasty stuff you see in commercial products.  No parabens.  No artificial colors or fragrances.  Just yummy stuff for your body’s largest organ!


Marlene’s take-away tidbit:  The skin contains a delicate ecosystem of good bacteria.  Washing and exfoliating with harsh products can disrupt that.  Marlene actually recommended washing your face with yogurt!  It contains lactic acid, which can help gently dissolve dead skin cells.

Overall, such a cool event… and a really productive and positive way to spend a Saturday night.  I can’t wait until next time!

Friday Favorite: LaCroix Coconut Flavored Sparking Water

I know.  LaCroix is expensive.  It’s what rich housewives buy at Whole Foods in the middle of a weekday.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!  I’m sorta jealous.  But if you’re looking for something totally unique, pick some of this up and give it a try – LaCroix coconut flavored sparking water.


It’s not coconut water.  It’s coconut flavored sparking water.  Fizzy.  No calories.  No sweeteners.  No sodium.  Just something to curb that pop craving.  I almost never drink real soda anymore, but I still get a hankering for the carbonation every now and then.  Am I alone on this one?

Anyway, the coconut flavor isn’t overwhelming.  It hits your tongue as you’re swallowing.  It’s subtle but pleasant.  It’s great alone, but I’m sure it would taste awesome mixed in with some fresh juice… pineapple maybe?  There are tons of other flavors available.  I found a 12-pack on sale for $4.50.

Do you have a favorite fizzy drink?  Maybe you have your own completely unrelated Friday Favorite.  Let me know!  We can chat in the comments below, or you can e-mail me at

Thirsty Thursday: Copycat Starbucks Light Mocha Frappuccino

See this?


How about saving some money and making it at home?  It’s easy, and you get more bang for your calorie buck.  I like to make a few of them at a time and keep them in the fridge in some recycled glass or plastic bottles.  Here’s how it’s done:

Copycat Starbucks Light Mocha Frappuccino



  • 16 oz. of your favorite brewed coffee, chilled
  • 2 tbsp. raw cacao or cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 packets of stevia
  • 3 tbsp. half & half


  1. Add all ingredients to the brewed, chilled coffee.  Make it the night before if you can, because this recipe is definitely better if the coffee is already cold.  If you don’t have time to chill the coffee, just make an extra-strong batch and add ice cubes once you’re done adding everything else.
  2. There’s a trick to adding to the cacao/cocoa.  Dissolve it with a smidge of hot water before mixing it into your drink.  This will allow for easier mixing.
  3. If you’re interested in a frostier treat, blend the frapp with a couple of ice cubes.  And this is important.  Add a tiny pinch of xanthan gum.  You can find it at the supermarket near the flour.  It acts as a binder, and it will keep the ice and liquid from separating.  Smooth and creamy.  How dreamy!
  4. If you make these drinks ahead to keep in the fridge, you’ll notice that the cacao/cocoa will settle on the bottom, just like it does in the store.  It’s totally normal.  Just shake well before you enjoy.

Nutritional Facts:

Starbucks Light Mocha Frappuccino

Size: 9.5 fluid ounces

Calories: 100

The Hungry Tortoise Version:

Size: 16 fluid ounces

Calories: 100

7 Free Ways To Instantly Improve Your Health

I believe life-long health is a slow and steady journey, not a sprint.  That philosphy was sort of the inspiration for this blog.  But there are a few things you can do right now to dramatically and instantly improve your health.  They best part – they’re all FREE.  These actions may make you feel more in control which could boost your confidence, leading to bigger and better things.

  1. Floss: True story – I used to be a brusher only, not a flosser.  I didn’t have a single cavity through my mid-20s.  Then, all of a sudden, I had 4.  At the same time.  Then I developed potentially serious gum problems.  Then I started flossing every night before bed.  Then, like magic, all my mouth problems disappeared.  The moral of the story – not flossing catches up to you.  Think of your mouth as the gateway to your body.  Infections and inflammation there can lead to problems in other places, too.
  2. Drink More Water: To function properly, your body needs to be well-hydrated.  Aim to drink as much water as you can as soon as you wake up before doing or ingesting anything else.  Make it at least 16 ounces.  This will make up for any dehydration that occurred overnight.  It will help regulate your appetite.  If the water is cold, it could also significantly boost your metabolism.  Conventional wisdom suggests drinking eight 8 oz. glasses of water over the course of the day.  I always aim to drink more.  It helps me feel healthier and more energized, like this possessed dog:DRINK MORE WATER DOG
  3. Eat Breakfast: They call it the most important meal of the day for a reason. So many things can go wrong if you skip breakfast. Think about it!  You’ve likely gone without food or water for 10, maybe 12 hours.  You’re in starvation mode. You need fuel as soon as possible after waking to get going. Eating will help boost your calorie burning abilities, energy levels, and brain function.  And if you don’t eat breakfast, you’re more likely to over-indulge later in the day, which could lead to weight gain.
  4. Sleep More: Without adequate sleep, you could gain weight, become depressed, develop heart problems, have trouble learning and performing. Worse yet, you could become a real bitch to be around. Some people need 6 hours a night. Others need 8 or more. We’re all different. To find your magic number, start with 7 hours. If you’re still a slave to the snooze, increase the amount by 30 minutes each night until you feel rested. Attempt to keep a consistent schedule, even on weekends. And here’s a novel idea. If you have trouble hitting the hay on time, try a bedtime alarm.SLEEP MEME
  5. Move More:  It sounds like a no-brainer.  Movement is good.  But I’m not talking about deliberate exercise.  I’m talking about literally moving and standing more throughout the day.  We’ve become such a sedentary society that even those of us who make a point to exercise sit or lay down the remainder of the time, and there’s new research to suggest that this habit is not healthy.  Think about standing and stretching a few times during your work day.  Take a walk during lunch.  Sit on an exercise ball to engage your core.  Do what you can to work in more movement.
  6. Quit Smoking:  If you’re a smoker, you already know it’s bad for you.  Luckily now, there are a lot of free resources to help you quit when you’re ready.  Remember, your habit doesn’t just affect you.  It affects everyone around you, including your spouse, your children, and your pets.  If you continue to smoke, you will die sooner.  It won’t be quick.  You and your family will suffer slowly and painfully.  I’ve seen it happen to people I love.  And smoking is expensive!  You’re not just wasting $10 a pack on cigarettes.  You’re probably paying more for things like medical care and life insurance, too.  Which reminds me… this monkey asked me to ask you if he could borrow a few bucks.SMOKING MONKEY
  7. Switch Sweeteners:  For a long time, I didn’t care that artificial sweeteners might be bad for me.  All I cared about was that they didn’t have any calories.  To me, being thin was more important than being healthy.  But after lots of research and personal experience, I can tell you now that Splenda, Equal, Sweet’N Low, NutraSweet, ALL of them… they’re poison.  Studies have connected them to cancer, reproductive disorders, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, and even weight gain!  That’s right.  Calorie-free artificial sweeteners can actually make you fat by triggering cravings for other sweet foods.  The easy, quick fix is to switch to a natural zero-calorie sweetener like stevia.  It’s available and affordable almost everywhere now, even Wal-Mart & Aldi.

What tricks have you used to become healthier?  Share the news in the comments section below, or at

For Fido: Peanut Butter Birthday Bones

My beloved dog Dexter is turning 7 in a matter of days, which is a pretty big deal since The Internets indicate a large breed canine like him at 7… is officially a senior.  We’re talking early bird specials, arthritis, dentures.  All these things could be right around the corner, which is why we need to celebrate with something special while he can still chew.


These Peanut Butter Birthday Bones are 100% safe and delicious for dogs of all kinds, but they do have more sugar than your standard Milk-Bone.  Save them as a sometimes treat, just like you would cookies for yourself.

Peanut Butter Birthday Bones

Makes 12 Large Treats




  • 1 c. crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 c. rolled oats
  • 2 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. honey or agave nectar
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1 large egg


  • 1 c. carob chips (DO NOT use chocolate.  It is very dangerous for dogs.)
  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 oz. container of rainbow sprinkles


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Throw peanut butter, oats, flour, honey, oil, water, and egg in a large bowl.  Using a mixer, combine until a dough-like consistency is achieved.
  3. On counter covered in parchment paper, roll out dough.  Thickness should be about 1 inch.  Cut as many bone-shaped cookies as you can with cookie cutter.  Gather remaining dough, and repeat process until all dough is used.
  4. Arrange bones on cookie sheet.  Bake a total of 30 minutes, 15 on each side.  When finished, allow to cool completely.
  5. To frost: Using a double boiler, melt carob chips with vegetable oil.  Dip half of each bone and decorate with sprinkles while frosting is still wet.  Place each finished bone on parchment paper until carob coating is set.
  6. To prevent unwanted melting and spoilage, store in the fridge in an air-tight container.

Happy birthday, Dexie Man!


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