the Easter there was no sugar 

Unfortunately, Easter falls smack-dab in the middle of our ‘No-Added-Sugar’ Challenge.  Sorry, guess you’ll have to pass on inhaling all that extra sugar this year (insert sarcastic voice). Seriously, don’t we all regret that (first/second/third…) bag of jelly beans?

(If you’re really that broken up about it, there’s nothing stopping you from stashing a bag to eat May 1. It’s your sugar rush, not mine.)

Back to Easter.  Andrew and I have done baskets for each other every year since we got married, and for the last four or five years we’ve spent the holiday with his grandmother in Indiana.  I happily fill their baskets and–let’s be real–most of mine.  Andrew throws a couple surprises in for me, too.  He’s actually a fantastic gift-giver; over the years I’ve gotten floral running tights, stacks of books, a beautiful journal and tons of ‘healthy’ treats like fun granola, energy bars and specialty chocolate.

This year, I wanted to show everyone how easy it is to find no-added-sugar items for everyone’s Easter basket!  After a quick trip to Wegmans and TJMaxx, (and grabbing some of our own items from around the house), I put together some ‘themed’ baskets:

  1. For the ATHLETE:


Obviously, this one is near and dear to my heart, and features some of the items that will go into my basket.  New running socks, dry shampoo, hemp seeds, Evoke ‘Athlete Fuel’ cereal, Sunbutter (no added sugar version), a KIND fruit bar and a BondiBand sweat band. (You can get 10% off your order at BondiBand with my coupon code ‘healthypineapple.’)  To read my post on how AMAZING these sweat bands are, click here.

2.  For a WOMAN:


I had grandma in mind when I built this one, although it’s not exactly what she’ll be getting, since she reads the blog!  EOS hand lotion, nail file and polish, Bath and Body Works shower gel, Tom’s bar soap, a tea sampler and a lavender shave gel as well as a KIND fruit bar and a lemon Larabar. Since MY grandma isn’t doing a sugar challenge, I got her a couple treats, too, that aren’t shareable so Andrew and I won’t be tempted.

3.  For a MAN:


I don’t know about your hubby, but mine LOVES his everything-flavored bagels, so these pretzels were a must-buy when I saw they didn’t have sugar. Also in the basket: an adventure book about the Adirondacks, ‘manly’ hair gel, my favorite Project 7 gum (gotten get that everything-breath fresh!), beard soap and a trail mix.

4.  For a CHILD:


I realize this basket is a little anemic and girlie, but bear with me.  I grabbed some of my favorite childhood books, colored pencils, KIND fruit bars and a little board book I intend to give my bestie’s daughter when we see them just before Easter.  Kids are perhaps the easiest to satisfy, as small stickers, toys and trinkets will fit into plastic eggs. I’m always a huge fan of books as gifts for any occasion, and coloring books are all the rage these days.

Happy Easter-basket filling!


whole30: week 1 meal highlights

It’s been 10 days since I started my Whole30, but I haven’t really written much here about the journey so far.  I have posted food photos on social media, so follow me to see those.

First, I’ll tell you a little about how I prepared for us to start our Whole30.

Initially, I thought I would leave all the non-compliant salad dressings and other items in the fridge and work around them, but feared Andrew would get confused or tempted to use them.  Thankfully, we have a fridge in our basement, so after trashing most of the items (mostly because they were almost empty or old), I took a few things downstairs for safe-keeping.  (I’m not sure I’ll even use them again, but I was finding it really difficult to dump entire bottles of soy sauce and brand-new mayo in the trash.)  I also grabbed anything non-compliant from the pantry and stashed it downstairs and out of Andrew’s sight.

Here’s what remained:

  It’s like you could hear crickets in there!  I was shocked at how many items in my fridge contained sugar or soy or gluten.  Not that I’m necessarily against any of those things, but they’re forbidden during the Whole30, so out they went.

Then, (after giving the fridge a nice wipe-down, of course), I filled it back up.
 I bought tons of fresh fruits and vegetables, six pounds of meat, a few ’emergency’ bars to keep in the car or my purse, coconut oil, coconut milk, approved salsa (for eggs!), coconut aminos (a soy sauce substitute), a jar of organic sauerkraut (for probiotics), shredded coconut (for ‘breading’ meat), almond butter (peanut butter isn’t allowed) and kombucha.

I started Friday, April 1 with coconut milk in my coffee (that lasted 5 days, I’m on tea now), two hard-boiled eggs and a clementine.  Also part of my plan: my Made to Crave devotional.  I’m doing the Whole30 because I noticed I was starting to eat more sugar/sweets/unhealthy foods for no good reason, and then would feel bad (physically and emotionally) afterward.  Time to get back to being filled by God, not food! While I’m not posting all my meals on social media, I am trying to photo some of the better/more memorable ones to inspire others to eat healthy, real food.

Our Saturday breakfasts aren’t always big, but in the past I’ve tried to whip up pancakes or something else Andrew likes more often than not.  So, for day #2, I made a veggie-egg scramble with roasted sweet potatoes (topped with clarified butter and cinnamon), a grapefruit half and some low-sodium V8.  Often, my source of fat is avocado and Andrew’s is nuts.
 After church on Sunday, the family went to Wegmans for lunch, where I made a beautiful salad with shredded beets, carrots and zucchini, berries and salmon.    One of our first dinners was an Asian stir-fry with ground beef, veggies and coconut aminos (tastes like soy sauce!), steamed baby bok choy and a clementine.
 Another dinner: buffalo chicken chili topped with pickled jalapeños and homemade ranch dressing.  I had to grab lunch out on Wednesday after teaching my body conditioning class, so I made a salad with chicken, guacamole and pico de gallo.  Fruit to balance the spicy pico!
 On Friday night, we brought dinner over to the Nye’s house, and I wanted to pull out all the stops to show them that this ‘diet’ is really delicious and not a bummer at all.  (I was expecting quite the ribbing from both of them, but was pleasantly surprised by the lack of comments.)  I made stuffed peppers, a cilantro-lime ‘cauli’ rice and cabbage slaw.    For breakfast the next Saturday morning, I again tried to ‘wow’ Andrew a bit.  Fresh fruit salads for both of us, a little kraut, avocado with salsa and two poached eggs for me, and cooked chicken and pepper slices for Andrew.
 Overall, I would say week 1 was easier than I anticipated it being, and other than some slight fatigue (which, according to the Whole30 timeline, is normal), I feel great!  I’ve eaten ‘paleo-style’ before and really enjoyed it, so I figured I would enjoy this as well.

The Whole30 is definitely restrictive, and I miss my morning coffee (I get what they say about needing to buy ‘good’ coffee to enjoy drinking it black, but I DO buy good coffee, and I still really like the mouthfeel of a little sugar and cream).  Not pictured here: the meal I had to send back at restaurant that came out with a cream sauce that was NOT mentioned in the menu description.

Coming next week: walnut-crusted pork tenderloin, red sauce and meatballs over spaghetti squash, a chicken ‘hash’ with sweet potatoes and apple (looks divine!) and a chicken chowder.


kale-quinoa cakes 

First of all, excuse the terrible photo.  I hadn’t intended to blog about these babies, so I didn’t take any photos of the process (I also made them on a Sunday afternoon I was also making a gazillion other things and it was a bit hectic in the kitchen) nor did I photo when they were finished.  It wasn’t until days later when I actually TRIED them for the first time, that I realized how good they were and that a blog post was in order.

I found the recipe for Kale & Quinoa Cakes in a recent issue of the Wegmans Menu Magazine.  I love kale and quinoa and they just looked so darn great in the picture.  Mine, unfortunately, did not come out as pretty, but whatever.  It’s one of those ‘I love to cook’ recipes, designated as such because it involved multiple steps. Before school, I didn’t bat an eye at page-long ingredient lists or elaborate recipes, but I tell you what–since I’ve been in school, any dish that takes more 30 minutes start to finish just makes me want to cry.  I can’t wait to have my life back.  Seriously. (Sixty-four days until graduation.  But I’m not counting or anything.)

But, I liked these so much I decided to take time during one of my Sunday afternoon prep sessions to whip them up.  The recipe isn’t complicated at all; it’s just one of those where you’re grabbing for bowls and spoons and the food processor and more bowls and once you’re finished you wonder, ‘Was that even worth it?’

I’ll be honest, I don’t know if it WAS worth it.  Don’t get me wrong, the flavor was great.  I’m thrilled that I have a whole bag of them in the freezer to have for months to come without any more work.  However, I could easily serve kale and quinoa at dinner and accomplish the dish in a similar fashion.  But, I’ll stop being a humbug and give some praise to the recipe.  It had great flavor and texture and it really wasn’t that hard.  I served the cakes with fish, but they would go equally well with salmon or pork or even eggs for breakfast.  Definitely don’t ignore the tip to serve with Roasted Red Pepper sauce–so good!

Recipe below and linked above.

2 cups  Wegmans Organic Vegetable Broth
1 cup (6.5 oz)  Wegmans Organic White Quinoa (Bulk Foods)
1 bag (16 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Cleaned & Cut Kale Greens
1 container (7 oz)  Food You Feel Good About Diced Mirepoix
1 medium (about 9 oz)  baking potato, peeled, chopped
Food You Feel Good About Large Eggs
2 Tbsp  Wegmans Basting Oil
1/2 Tbsp  Wegmans Sea Salt Fine Crystals
2 tsp  Food You Feel Good About Tuscan Seasoning Shak’r
Wegmans Nonstick Cooking Spray

You’ll Need: Food processor, muffin pans


  1. Bring vegetable broth and quinoa to boil in pan on MED; stir. Reduce heat to LOW; cover with lid. Simmer 15 min.
  2. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, 10 min to absorb liquid. Spread quinoa on large sheet pan to cool.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Blanch kale in large pot of boiling, salted water, 3-4 min. Transfer to bowl of ice water. Drain; squeeze dry.
  4. Pulse kale, mirepoix, and potato in batches in food processor until finely chopped. Whisk eggs, basting oil, salt, and seasoning together. Add kale-potato mixture and quinoa to eggs; mix until combined.
  5. Coat muffin pans with nonstick cooking spray. Place 1/2 cup mixture in each section of muffin pans. Bake 35-40 min, until egg sets and tops are lightly browned. Transfer pans to wire racks to cool 10 min before removing cakes.
Chef Tip(s):
Try these cakes paired with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce.
Nutrition Info: Each serving (1 cake) contains 110 calories, 13 g carbohydrate, (2 g fiber), 5 g protein, 4 g fat, (1 g saturated fat), 55 mg cholesterol, and 300 mg sodium.
Calories: 110