Well, hello!

A Photo with MommyHi there! With some new friends joining in on this adventure of mine, I thought I’d take a moment to back up and reflect a bit. I’m Ashley and I’m always running somewhere.

First off, just to be clear, despite the fact that Hal Higdon (the well-known marathon coach and author) is all of the sudden quoting me in his book and sharing my blog posts on his Facebook page, I am NOT an EXPERT on running! I don’t mean to be self deprecating, but I’m actually not an expert on anything really. I am just a pretty average mom stumbling my way through parenthood selfishly trying to carve out some time for myself now and then so I don’t go cuckoo! I’m a decent runner, cook, gardener, writer and photographer. Yes, I am a runner and the name of my blog is “RUNNING with Skissors”, but when I dreamed up that name it actually had only a little to do with the act of running for exercise, which IS INDEED what helps me get through all the other stuff. The title of my blog had much more to do with all the running around I do as the mother of three chasing after my kids, (wiping their boogers, apprehending permanent markers, carting them to their activities, etc, etc) and also racing to fit in the things I love. Our life is messy, disorganized and as I’ve said before, perfectly imperfect!

Batman Bulb DiggerThis blog began last fall as just another one of my far-fetched ideas (I am always dreaming up my next “thing”) that came to me while running and then again while gardening and then while cooking… you get the idea. It started as a place where I planned to combine all the things I enjoy. It was also to be a place where I could document the craziness and fun of our rapidly changing household of five in hopes that I could look back some day and remember it all fondly (well, some of it). Here I could also reflect on the experiences of my life, gather information and work at becoming better at all the things that are important to me. I thought maybe it might also be a fun place to connect with other people who enjoy the same things. I imagined a place where we could share stories, commiserate, laugh, inspire, motivate and help each other. Sometimes it’s just nice to know we are not alone in our struggles. In the process, I hoped it would be fun to write again which I hadn’t done much of since back in Journalism school. I needed to do something with my pent up creative energy and was looking for a way to share some of the thousands of photographs I take every year. Perhaps I’d also be able to share some of what I know about healthy cooking, gardening, crafting and running along the way. Since none of my three children seem to listen to me much at all, I secretly hoped maybe I’d find someone else out there who WOULD.

HelpersReflecting on the first five months since I began writing this blog I can say that this has been an even more fulfilling experience than I imagined. I have managed to begin to accomplish my original goals and I have discovered that writing this blog has helped me live my life more thoughtfully. Like a diary, writing here is therapeutic. I pause to reflect on the events of the day or the week and look back at what went well and what didn’t go so well. It helps me stop and smell the roses, literally and figuratively, and look out at the world around me with even greater appreciation. Perhaps my favorite thing about it is that I have many new friends as a result. Sure, it is another thing I’ve added to my to-do list making my already busy life a little extra crazy. Some people say, “I just don’t know where you find the time!” I suppose that’s kind of the whole point, right?

Twin LakeI’m not an outwardly “religious” person, but I do have a strong faith. I honestly feel as though I’m being called to write about my experiences. It’s as if God wants me to share what I have learned with others to provide encouragement and inspiration. God did not bless me with the smarts to be a doctor or a high powered business executive. But I WAS given the gift of seeing beauty in even the most ordinary moments and finding the silver lining in even my most challenging experiences. Through my photographs and my writing I think I’ve been called to pass along some of my optimism to others. When I’m uncertain about what I could possibly write about next, I swear to you the next day something virtually miraculous happens that reveals a story right before my eyes that I am being called to tell. And, when I’m having a day full of self-doubt when I wonder why I am spending so much time writing and revealing all the intimate details of my life I am reassured too. Like earlier this week when I went to bed feeling discouraged, praying for God to lead me down the path he wants me to follow.

The very next day I received the email I’ve mentioned from Hal Higdon wanting to quote me in his book and then he shared my blog post introducing me to hundreds of new readers and friends who seemed to think I had something valuable to say. I read each and every one of the comments people left about why THEY run. I was inspired by their stories about running in honor of ill family members, running through divorce and depression and running to help them improve their poor health. I felt proud that I had initiated this conversation through my little blog post I sat writing in my kitchen after my kids went to bed earlier this month. Perhaps this sequence of events was just a coincidence. But to me it was God’s presence in my life encouraging me to keep writing.

Make a WishSo with that said, I want to say THANK YOU for reading. Thank you for making this very average, middle-aged, suburban mini-van driving mom whose kids don’t listen to her, feel like she has something worthwhile to say. It has been over seven years now since I left my job as an advertising executive when I stood in front of a room and people stopped and listened when I spoke. I left to focus on raising my children which is, in it’s own way, the most rewarding job one could have… some days. A lot of the time I feel like I’m just the dishwasher, the laundry folder, the lunch packer, and the ass wiper. I bet many of you can relate.

My advice to you is this; follow your dreams. Make that far-fetched idea a reality. Follow the voice inside of you. It just very well may be a higher power calling you to something that fulfills your soul. Don’t worry about what other’s think. Just share the best of your spirit with the world.

Thanks for following along on my journey!



Homemade Granola

GranolaI told you recently that I am a former cereal addict. Now I’ve virtually eliminated all boxed cereals from my diet because it’s difficult to find one that doesn’t include sugar or a long list of ingredients. Earlier this month I shared with you my recipe for Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal. I love starting out these cold winter mornings with a warm bowl of oatmeal. My homemade granola is another good breakfast cereal alternative. With no sugar and no artificial ingredients, it’s a great start to the day. I steer clear of most packaged granolas as well because many include quite a bit of sugar or are high in calories. My granola is yummy on top of plain yogurt with fresh berries or your favorite fruit. Add a little drizzle of honey if you need more sweetness. Feel free to replace the nuts and seeds I’ve used with your favorites.

Granola Recipe

  • 4 cups quick cooking oats
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup chopped raw walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sliced raw almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. pumpkin seeds/pepitas
  • 1 Tbsp. chia seeds
  • 1 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a large mixing bowl combine the oats, nuts and seeds. Stir well. In a separate smaller mixing bowl combine the applesauce, honey, cinnamon and salt. Stir the applesauce mixture into the oats mixture and stir until it is well combined. Spray one or two jelly roll pans with olive oil spray or grease with butter. Spread granola out on pan(s) evenly. Place in oven for 45 to 60 minutes checking and stirring it every 15 minutes. Remove from the oven when lightly golden browned. Once cooled, you can add dried fruit if you’d like (raisins or cranberries would be good.) Store in an airtight container.


My Big Sur Marathon Training Plan

Big Sur Marathon 2014In just 13 weeks, Andy and I will travel back to Big Sur, California to run the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26, 2015. I can hardly wait! It is quite possibly my favorite place to visit on Earth. Well, one of them, at least. I joke that if I go missing sometime, this is probably the first place you should look. I’m excited to get back there, but I have A LOT of work to do between now and then!

We are signed up as a relay team, mostly because the race fills up within minutes of opening for registration. Even though we attempted to sign up to run the full marathon the second it opened, we didn’t make it in. The relay apparently isn’t in as high demand, so we signed up as a relay team of two. There is a lot of flexibility as to how far each team member can run and while only one team member can start the race, there is no rule that that person has to stop running when they hand off the baton to their team mate. So, technically, that person could go on and run the whole thing. I guess you could say we found a bit of a loophole. Of course, they don’t want everyone doing this I’m sure, so don’t tell anyone. 😉 Only downside, is that you only get one time for the team and you don’t get the same medal as those signed up to run the full marathon. But I don’t care about that. I’m there to experience the beauty of this unbelievable place.

Last year Andy finished the entire marathon even though we were signed up as a relay team. He started the race, handed off the baton (a slap bracelet) to me at mile ten and he just kept going. He originally intended to do the full, but during his training developed a stress fracture and had to wear an air cast for the next three months. Once he got it off just a month before the race, he was able to train a bit and made it to a 10 mile long run. During the race, he felt so good he just kept running and finished the whole marathon. I’m still in awe.

The ViewI ran from mile 10 to the finish, about 16.2 miles, the furthest I’ve ever run. This year I want to do more. Now that I’ve run four half marathons, plus this 16.2 miles, I feel like a full marathon is the natural next step for me. When I finish my half marathons, I’m tired, but I feel like I’m capable of more. Since Big Sur is hands down the most beautiful place I’ve ever (or perhaps will ever) run and I have the opportunity to run the whole thing this year, I want to give it my best shot. With only 13 weeks to go, fitting in all that training in cold, snowy weather amongst the business of raising three children, during cold and flu season, may be totally unrealistic, but here is the plan I have mapped out. It’s my “Pie in the Sky” training plan. I’m going to do my best to fit it all in and we’ll see what happens.

At the Start - 2014The other thing I’ve been considering is that the Big Sur Marathon course is no easy, flat race. In fact, I would go as far as to say it could be one of the most challenging marathons out there. You’re running through the mountains and cliffs alongside the Pacific Ocean. It is breathtaking! But it’s also very difficult. Hurricane Point falls virtually in the middle of the race and is a 560 foot incline. My leg of the relay last year started at the bottom of this mountain. I had to stare at it for the two hours I waited to start the race. Looking at the struggle I was about to take on, was a little intimidating, to say the least. This year, I know I need to include some steep inclines in my training. I’m not fully convinced that trying to do a race this hilly is smart for my first full marathon, but I have a tendency to not let anyone or anything get in the way of what I want to accomplish. So, again, I will fit in as much training as I can between the winter weather, the cold and flu season, the craziness of parenting a 7, 5 and 2-year-old and I will reassess things as the race approaches. I’m pretending the occasional foot problems I experience will not be a problem.

I know things will not go as I plan, but here is my very optimistic running calendar for the next 13 weeks. This is adapted from Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Plan. In weeks 4 and 5, I’ve moved my “long run” to Wednesday because I will be out of town both of those weekends.


Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 1 Cross Train 3 m run 3 m run or cross 3 m run Rest 7 m run Rest
Feb 2. to Feb 8. 2 Cross Train 3 m run 3 m run or cross 3 m run Rest 8 m run Rest
Feb 9. to Feb 15. 3 Cross Train 3 m run 4 m run or cross 3 m run Rest 6 m run Rest
Feb 16. to Feb. 22 4 Cross Train 3 m run 10 m run 3 m run Rest 5 m run Rest
Feb 23 to to March 1 5 Cross Train 3 m run 12 m run 3 m run Rest 6 m run Rest
March 2 to March 8 6 Cross Train 3 m run 6 m run 3 m run Rest 13 m run Rest
March 9 to March 15 7 Cross Train 3 m run 7 m run 4 m run Rest 15 m run Rest
March 16 to March 22 8 Cross Train 4 m run 8 m run 4 m run Rest 16 m run Rest
March 23 to March 29 9 Cross Train 4 m run 9 m run 5 m run Rest 18 m run Rest
March 30 to April 5 10 Cross Train 5 m run 10 m run 5 m run Rest 20 m run Rest
April 6 to April 12 11 Cross Train 5 m run 8 m run 4 m run Rest 12 m run Rest
April 13 to April 19 12 Cross Train 4 m run 6 m run 3 m run Rest 8 m run Rest
April 20 to April 26 13 Cross Train 3 m run 4 m run 2 m run Rest Rest RACE!

If things begin to fall apart and the weather, illness or lack of time make it impossible to follow the plan above, at some point, I will stop being unrealistic. If that happens I will decide to run only two or three of the relay legs making it a 21 or 16 mile race instead of 26.2. Here’s the half marathon training plan I have followed in the past. It is adapted from Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Half Plan. I will follow something similar to this except perhaps go up to 14 or 18 miles for my longest runs.


Jan. 26 to Feb. 1 1 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 5 m run Rest
Feb 2. to Feb 8. 2 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 5 m run Rest
Feb 9. to Feb 15. 3 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 6 m run Rest
Feb 16. to Feb. 22 4 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 6 m run Rest
Feb 23 to to March 1 5 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 7 m run Rest
March 2 to March 8 6 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 8 m run Rest
March 9 to March 15 7 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 4 m run Rest 9 m run Rest
March 16 to March 22 8 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest
March 23 to March 29 9 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 11 m run Rest
March 30 to April 5 10 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 12 m run Rest
April 6 to April 12 11 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 13 m run Rest
April 13 to April 19 12 Cross + Strength 5 m run Cross + Strength 5 m run Rest 10 m run Rest
April 20 to April 26 13 Cross + Strength 4 m run Cross + Strength 2 m run Rest Rest RACE!

Want to join in? Maybe you want to do a spring half marathon? Let’s follow each other’s progress and inspire each other to keep running. If you haven’t already, “Like” my Facebook page where I provide running tips and inspiration. I’m also on Strava and Map My Run if you want to “friend me” there and we can see each other’s courses and pace info. I hope you’ll join me on this adventure!

Good luck!

DISCLAIMER: You should always consult your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine. This is my personal training plan.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Sick BoyYesterday my baby boy woke up with a fever and was not at all himself. He wouldn’t eat, he was very quiet and very still. I kept him home from preschool and we cuddled under his blanket watching movies all morning long. I was a little worried about him because he was acting so unusual. When lunch time came around and I asked what he would like to eat, all he wanted was “chicken noodle.” I quickly realized that I had donated all the canned soup we had in our pantry because of all the fake, processed ingredients in them. So I decided to make a pot of soup for him. Sure, it took longer than I would normally spend on lunch, but I figured the rest of us could have it for dinner. I think I would have done anything to make him feel better.

Now I’m not saying my Chicken Noodle Soup recipe is magic, but, I swear after he took just a few bites I could see my boisterous boy coming back. Soon he was also eating apples and then was back to playing trucks. This soup has great flavor and it is so much healthier than any canned soup. You could even freeze some to warm up on days like these in an e-germ-ency, as my mother-in-law calls it. Enjoy!


  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbsp., extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots, sliced
  • 2 celery ribs, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1/2 tsp. sea or kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pasta (any shape)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place chicken breast in baking dish and drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake until cooked through (about 30 minutes). Set aside to cool. Shred with your hands or cut into chunks.

In a large skillet add olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook until softened but not browned (5 minutes or so). Add thyme, bay leaf, chicken broth and salt. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add pasta and cook several minutes until pasta is cooked. Add shredded chicken. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


Nutritional Facts: (1 Bowl. 8 Servings Per Recipe)/Estimated by My Fitness Pal

Calories: 212

Fat: 7.8 g

Cholesterol: 23.7 mg

Sodium: 375.6 mg

Potassium: 451.5 mg

Carbs: 21.1  g

Fiber: 2.2 g

Sugars: 7.2 g

Protein: 14.3 g

Vitamin A: 40%

Vitamin C: 7.7%

Calcium: 3.2%

Iron: 7.3%

10 Reasons Why I Run

If you would have told me five years ago that I would be signing up to run a marathon in 2015, I would have laughed out loud! I have always been fairly active, but running was never a part of my rotation. In fact, I would go out on a limb and say I used to despise it. Until 2012, the only time I had run intentionally  was back in school when I was forced to run in gym class. I’m sure I ran a couple of miles on a treadmill in college or at the gym a few times. But until recently, I would have chosen ANY OTHER form of exercise other than running. Little did I know back then that running actually has very little to do with just “getting exercise”. Sounds corny, but for me, it is so much more.

Home GymI began running in the fall of 2012 a few months after my third child was born. I  had taken off most of the 35 pounds I had gained during my pregnancy, but was still a good 20 pounds heavier than my goal weight. I became bored of using my elliptical machine in my hot garage staring at my husband’s tool belt on a messy shelf full of dead spiders. I was also a little envious of my husband who was training for his first marathon at the time. I felt I deserved the opportunity to get out and escape the craziness for awhile too. So one day, I did.

My First Half Marathon 2013While on vacation I decided to go for a short run on the beach. I only made it a couple of miles. When we returned home I began running a little further every time. Knee troubles had always kept me from running (or maybe I used them as an excuse not to), but somehow the more I ran, the knee issues disappeared. So did the extra weight I was carrying around. The next spring I ran my first race, the Chagrin Falls Blossom Run, a challenging 5.25 mile course. I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to go further. That summer I ran a couple of 10Ks, winning my age group in one of them. It was exciting to find something that I was actually sort of good at that I had never even tried before. That’s when I officially “caught the running bug” and in the fall of 2013 I ran my first half marathon, the River Run Half Marathon outside of Cleveland, Ohio. I have run three more since, including the Cleveland Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon (Fall 2013), the Rite Aid Cleveland Half Marathon (Spring 2014), and the Akron Half Marathon (Fall 2014). Last April my husband and I ran the Big Sur Marathon in Big Sur, CA as a relay team. I completed about 16 miles for our team. We are returning to run the race again in 2015. My distance will be determined by how much training I can get in during the snowy winter weather here. I also have entered the lottery to run the 2015 New York City Marathon in November.

So, what caused me to change my relationship with running from hate to love?

Here are 10 Reasons Why I Run:

  1. FREEDOM – No purse with diapers, wipes, pacifiers and snacks. No children asking for anything and everything. No to-do list. Nothing. Just me, myself and I. When the opportunity presents itself, I literally just run away from everyone and everything. It is liberating. And once I’ve run as far and fast as I can and let go of all my stress and frustration, I run back home ready to embrace it all and start fresh.
  2. Trail RunningTHE GREAT OUTDOORS – When I say I love running, I don’t mean on a treadmill. My love affair is with the road, the trail and all the landscapes that surround me. There is nothing quite like the feeling of your own feet pounding the pavement, moving you through this great planet; over rivers, through forests, past farms, up mountains and down valleys. From one village to the next. You take it all in; the cold winter air, the trickling water, and the singing of birds. Getting outside for a run feeds my soul.
  3. THERAPY – When I’m running, I literally let it all go. I run to get rid of the crazy. I sweat it out, I breathe it out, I run it out. Seriously, it is free therapy. My other source… wine!
  4. IT’S FREE – What else can I say? No gym membership needed. No class times to work around. Just walk out the door.
  5. RACES – Training is the hard part. Making it to a race is the reward. While I’m almost always nervous, the excitement at the start is palpable and energizing. The pride I feel when crossing the finish line is hard to describe.
  6. GREAT EXERCISE – It’s no secret that running is a great exercise. You burn calories like mad and it’s a great cardio workout. It helped me lose the remainder of my baby weight and reshaped my body. It has helped me get healthier than ever before.
  7. MY OWN MUSIC – I don’t know about you, but I am sick and tired of listening to the Frozen soundtrack and Toddler Pandora. I know, running with music is for amateurs. Guess what? I don’t care what other people think. While I usually turn off the tunes when I trail run so I can pay attention to the rocks and roots, my time running is when I get to jam to my favorite songs. You can hear some of them if you scroll to the bottom right hand side of this page.
  8. START & FINISH – There are very few things in life, that have a start and a finish. The laundry, the dishes, picking up toys, the to-do list; they seem never ending. You clean up one room and move on to the next. When you return, a new mess has been created where you began. When I run, I know that I answer only to myself. I am in charge of what get’s accomplished. When I walk back in the door I will feel a huge sense of achievement because I finished what I set out to do. I can check it off the list and say, “Check! Done!”
  9. FEEL ALIVE – When I’m running, especially long distances, there is a feeling that comes over me that is almost impossible to put into words. Some call it a “runner’s high.” With the sun beaming down on me, or the wind or rain or snow in my face, my fingers and toes are numb or I am drenched with sweat. The cold air rushes in and out of my lungs, my heart is pounding, my feet are aching. Yet I persevere and push as hard as I can through all of it. I am working and feeling with every piece of my body. To some that might sound awful, but to me it is empowering.
  10. SELF-DOUBT TO SELF-LOVE – Before a run, especially a long one, I am always nervous. I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to run as far as I’m planning, but there is a lot of self-doubt. But then, I go out and kill it. Us stay-home-mom’s rarely get a pat on the back for doing a good job at our daily tasks. There is no pay-check or no annual review.  Instead we hear people complain about their food, their clothes, and their chores. When you meet a running goal, you give yourself a pat on the back. There is no better feeling than running through the self-doubt, achieving a goal and realizing that you are capable of so much more than you thought possible. It transcends every part of your life.

Winter RunI’m not going to lie, there are certainly moments while I’m running where I don’t love it. Like when my bunions cause me foot pain, when I have a cramp in my side that won’t go away, or when I’m at mile 8 of a half marathon and I’m feeling like I can’t finish another mile. But for me, the good outweighs the bad in so many ways. Like running, life has its tough up-hill battles and its joyful downhill valleys. For me, running has not only changed my body, it has changed the way I approach life. It helps me feel like I can tackle any challenge and nothing is impossible. I am a better parent and a better person because of it, living my life to the fullest and making my dreams come true.

Any of that sound appealing? Maybe you want to give running a try. Or maybe you have and you can’t make it past two or three miles. Join me on my next adventure as I train for my upcoming race, the Big Sur International Marathon on April 26th. Later this week I will share my training plan (adapted slightly from Hal Higdon’s program). And I always share beginner and intermediate running tips and tricks here and on my Facebook page as well. I’d be thrilled to have you along for the ride (or, run, I suppose). 🙂

Tell us, why do you love to run? Why do you hate to run? 

What are your running goals? 

Southwestern Style Stuffed Peppers

We love Mexican food at our house. Often, we have “burrito bar” or chicken enchiladas, but this recipe is quickly becoming one of our favorites. It is pretty quick to prepare. Sometimes I even make this one ahead while the kids are at school and I pop it in the oven when we arrive home after dance class or swim lessons. All of the ingredients are “clean”, “real food” and at just 268 calories per serving, it easily fits into my calorie count for the day. I usually leave some of the filling to the side (not stuffed in the peppers) because the kids like to just eat it with a spoon. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we do.

Mexican Style Stuffed Peppers

  • 3 bell peppers (any color)
  • 1 lb. ground turkey or chicken (or 2 cups sliced mushrooms for vegetarian)
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tbsp. cilantro
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 cup Organic Valley Shredded Mexican Blend cheese

Saute IngredientsSlice 3 bell peppers lengthwise, removing stem and clean out seeds. Spray 13 x 9 casserole dish with olive oil cooking spray. Drizzle a large skillet with olive oil or spray with cooking spray. Brown turkey or chicken or add mushrooms and sauté until browned. Add onion and garlic and cook a few minutes more. Add black beans, tomatoes, corn, cumin, cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. (Note: the day I took these photos I was out of corn because, well, that’s the way my life works. 🙂 It is an even more colorful and delicious meal when the corn is included.)

Stuff PeppersPreheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill peppers with meat filling. Pour 1/4 cup of water in the bottom of the casserole dish. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven. Sprinkle with cheese and place in oven for another five minutes.

Add a dollop of guacamole to the top. My husband and I also add sliced jalepenos and hot sauce to ours before we eat this. I leave it out of the main recipes so the kids will eat it. Serve with brown rice and a salad or quesadilla.

Stuffed Peppers

Nutrition Facts (According to My Fitness Pal): (For one pepper half)

Calories: 268

Fat: 6.2 g

Cholesterol: 46.7 mg

Sodium: 448.2 mg

Potassium: 331.8

Carbs: 29.4

Fiber: 6.7 g

Sugars: 7 g

Protein: 26.6 g

Vitamin A: 46.9%

Vitamin C: 143.9%

Calcium: 11.3%

Iron: 13.5%


Frozen Falls

This week we were blessed with some of the most beautiful winter mornings I have ever seen. The frigid temperatures brought clear blue skies and unforgettable sunrises. The sun’s light sparkled on the fresh fallen snow like glitter. The trees were frosted with snow.

One morning after I dropped the kids off at school, I was called to one of my favorite places. It’s just down our street, but it’s peace and tranquility feel worlds away from the chaos of my house. Back at home the aftermath of the morning’s events awaited me; breakfast dishes still on the kitchen counter, the kids clothes and toys strewn about the living room, hats and gloves dumped in the back hall from the children looking for matching mittens. I set aside my to-do list and followed the inner voice telling me to go there. I trudged through the trail, down the snowy steps, gazing back up at the rocky cliffs above me. I reached the falls, mostly frozen (me and the water), yet the river still managed to persevere. In awe of God’s creations I stood and watched, stationary for longer than I had been in days.

I invite you, on occasion, in the chaos of life to follow the voice inside. Pause. Look. Listen. Take in the beauty that surrounds you. Soak it all in. Let everything else go. Then, like the river persists through the ice, as the water navigates around boulders, return to your life, refreshed, renewed and ready to persevere through IT’S challenges and maneuver the obstacles.

Snowy Steps


Snowy Sunrise


Frozen Falls

Winter Water


Winter Wonder




Bye Bye Baby

Every morning for the past several months, the first words out of my two-year-old’s mouth have been, “Can I have milk in a bottle?” I realize that if a child is old enough to put together a sentence with this many words, that bottle’s departure is probably way past due. So, feeling a little guilty that I hadn’t been paying it much attention, I decided that one of my (many) goals for the beginning of 2015 should be to initiate the bottle’s demise. And I suppose it’s about time we ditched the pacifier and the diapers too. There’s only one problem. In order to convince a child that he is in fact a big boy and no longer needs these baby vices, his Mommy should probably be fully on board. Trouble is, if I’m being honest with myself, I’m not ready to say “bye bye” to my last baby.

IMG_0333With my first child, I remember putting a lot of time and thought into the idea of weaning her from these… addictions; I think that’s a fair word for them. I recall being embarrassed on a couple of occasions that I had to pull out Elizabeth’s pacifier during her Kindermusik class and wondered what the other mothers must have thought of me. Really she was still quite young and I’m not sure what I was so worried about. At the time she seemed SO grown up. Looking back she looks like a baby. Nonetheless, I overzealously mapped out a plan on paper to eliminate both, and even created a Potty Progress Chart. Potty-training began with a freaking sign-language program at 18 months before she could even talk! We taught her the sign for “potty”, “more”, and “all done” and blew a silly Potty Train whistle when it was time to go pee. Training ended a full YEAR, dozens of pieces of candy and many toy bribes later. What I know now (for our family) is that the earlier you start, the longer it takes and the more you torture yourself (and your child) thinking about it. I vowed not to even think about potty training my next baby until she was two-and-a-half.

Caroline's PacifierSo, the experience with Caroline was much more laid back. Partially because I was pregnant with John, had started my own business was probably too caught up in Elizabeth’s enrichment activities . Typical middle child caught in between the importance of their siblings sort of stuff. It’s a little sad now that I recognize it, but I’m confident she is a better, more flexible person for it. Looking back at the pictures, little Caroline still had her pacifiers, was not potty trained and was still sleeping in her crib when John was born.

This third time around maybe I have been a little too lackadaisical about it all; the bottles, the pacifiers, and the diapers. Maybe it’s because I know that it will eventually just happen, when he’s ready. Or maybe it’s because I don’t actually want my baby boy to be a big boy… not yet. Is that selfish? Probably. But, I’m almost positive this “big boy” was JUST this tiny newborn baby. And I could swear I was just giving this little infant a pacifier for the first time, hoping he would take to it, so my own nipples could get even just a little break. It seems like just a short while ago that I was counting down the days when I could give him his first bottle so that I could give someone else a turn to feed him, and so that I could enjoy more than an hour away without the timer ticking down until I had to rush home for the next feeding.

Fast forward a quick two years later and picture a child so obsessed with those pacifiers, that he carries six of them to bed with him (or as many as he can fit in those two tiny little hands). A child addicted to his morning bottle like me feinding for my morning coffee. Oh, the irony of it all.

John - December 2014While I’m finding it hard to accept that my baby boy is actually turning into a big boy right in front of my very eyes, I can also admit that I’m a little tired of cleaning out bottles, rushing around looking for the missing favorite pacifier and of course, wiping dirty bottoms. I assure you that I am no longer at all motivated by what other people think, but I see signs that John wants to break away from baby-hood. And it is unfair of me to deny him that. While it makes me a little sad to think I will never pour another bottle for one of my babies, I also look forward to the ease of leaving the house without those bottles, pacifiers, diapers, and wipes in tow.

Life here is still crazy, but it a new way. Gone are the days trying to juggle nursing while two other children need attention, schlepping home for two different naps for the baby, and interpreting the cries of an infant who can’t tell me what he needs. Now, we have a busy preschooler who climbs on the counters, colors on the couch with marker and on his face and the carpet with nail polish and make up. While the challenges are in many ways more difficult now than having a new baby in the house, we are having more fun together than ever before. All five of us can finally go to see movies together, go sledding, hike in the woods and so much more. While a little reluctantly, I realize it is indeed time to officially say “Bye Bye Baby.”


Bye Bye Bottle

Note to SelfWhen January 1st rolled around, we told John that we had sent all his bottles to Aunt Emily so she could use them for the new baby in her tummy. I had actually just tucked them away behind the bread basket on the counter, and I’m still surprised I haven’t caught him hijacking them yet. I had to actually put “no bottles” in writing on the refrigerator so I wouldn’t cave in a weak moment when he got really crabby begging me for a bottle. But I’ve been shocked to find that John took the news like, well, a big boy, and hasn’t put up a fight. He has asked for them a few times, but when he remembers they are gone, he moves on pretty quickly without an argument. For these last months he really has only wanted that one bottle of milk in the morning. He used to have a bottle of milk before his nap, but when he ditched the nap this past fall, that bottle went away too. He had been keeping a bottle of water (no milk after teeth brushing) next to his bed at night time for awhile as well, but he seemed to have lost interest in that late in the fall. So, I guess that was it for the bottle! It was that easy. Guess, he really is a big boy.

Peace Out Pacifiers

MischiefNow, the pacifiers have been a little more difficult to eliminate. While we’ve been phasing them out gradually over time, he really does LOVE them. With all three kids, here’s how I’ve done it. Rather than pull them away cold turkey, we’ve started by making rules that we accomplish gradually over time. We began with step one back when he turned two last May.

  1. No pacifiers in public. Only at home or in the car.
  2. No pacifiers except for nap time and night time.
  3. No pacifiers except for night time (in bed reading books and sleeping)

We have pretty successfully made it through steps one and two and John only uses his pacifiers at night (usually). Now I will say that John is smart enough to do the same thing his sisters have, which is to hide a few in some secret spots. On occasion when the house is suddenly very quiet, I find him in a corner blissfully sucking away. Reminds me of the time we found Caroline sitting up in her room sleeping when she found one (pictured above). He has even snuck up on to the counter and grabbed one out of my hiding place. Some days I have to pry them away, but others, he yells “I’M NOT A BABY, I’M A BIG BOY!” and he throws them on the floor. Or he has even brought me a pacifier or two this week and said, “I found a paci.” He hands it to me to add to my secret stash. In disbelief, I comply. On other days though he is conflicted. He will ask for them and when I say “No,” he’ll shout “I not a big boy anymore. I’m a baby.” I can’t blame him. I honestly feel the same way some days.

Soon, when we feel like it’s time to say sayonara for once and for all, we will give John some warning that the Pacifier Fairy will be coming soon to take them away to Emily’s new baby. The fairy will leave him a present in return. Bedtime for the proceeding week or two will probably SUCK! He will have tantrums and wake up in the night. For now, I’m fine with him having them still at night, especially since he so willingly gave up his bottle. One thing at a time is about all I can manage here.

The Demise of the Diapers

IMG_4424Moving from diapers to big boy underwear is still very much a work in progress. Last fall John actually independently went and sat on the training potty and went, on two separate occasions. Think he was trying to tell us something? Selfishly I sort of ignored him a couple times when he would talk about using it again, mostly because I just wasn’t ready to start working on it. “No, not yet, buddy,” I’d say. At the time I was managing getting my new kindergartener adjusted to a very different routine here and I wasn’t ready to throw potty training into the mix.

Santa Claus brought us new Thomas the Train underwear along with a potty training book that talks! Now that the new year has arrived I feel a renewed desire to help this little guy transition out of diapers. I have to admit, I am awfully tired of changing them. I’ve been wiping kids asses around here for over seven years straight. It would feel awfully good to get this little guy on the path to independence.

The first step will be rewarding him for making an effort to sit on the potty. Last week he spent a full hour sitting on it because he REALLY wanted a piece of gum. Once he’s more willing to try on a regular basis then we will begin giving the rewards for actually going pee or poop on the potty. No doubt, it will be a process. One that I’m not super excited for, but it is inevitable at this point.


As I reflect on our campaign to get rid of the baby paraphernalia here, I still feel a little conflicted. I’m torn between my selfish desire to hang on to my baby and my responsibility to enthusiastically help him undergo the metamorphosis from baby to big boy, the way we should teach them to take on every challenge of life. But what I realize now is that the pacifiers, the bottles, the diapers are just THINGS. Just because I’m getting rid of this STUFF, doesn’t mean I have to let go of my baby. He will always be mine. The special MOMENTS are what I really need to hang on to instead. Holding him in my arms while he still fits, playing trucks while he still wants me to, and singing him to sleep at night while he still needs me to. Often John says to me, “Will you be my baby?” I think he’s actually imitating me asking him that question, because I frequently do. My response to him is always this, “John, even when you are a grown-up, you will always be my baby.”

My Real World Approach to a “Real Food” Diet

With the arrival of the new year, many of us are looking to shed that extra holiday weight, detox from the sugar and wine overload or even just turn over a new leaf and begin a healthier lifestyle. As you attempt to do so, maybe you’ve been hearing talk about “clean eating” and “real food” and you want to learn more. Well, I am no expert, but I’ve done my share of reading about this way of life over the past couple of years. My real world approach to a “real food” diet helped me lose about 50 pounds after the birth of our third child. Sweating my ass off, literally, by working out consistently and taking up running were also a big part of my success. I’d like to share with you some of what I’ve learned. But first I’d like to add that while “eating clean” is indeed a great way to lose weight, even more importantly, I feel strongly that it is something that everyone in this country NEEDS to begin doing in order to create change in the US food supply (whether or not you need or want to lose weight). Before I delve into that point, let me give you a brief overview of the traditional “clean eating” AKA “real food” approach and then I’ll share my version for people like me who live in the real world.


I’d need to write an entire book to explain everything about clean eating and a “real food” diet. Thankfully, fellow blogger Lisa Leake at 100 Days of Real Food already has, so I won’t try to reinvent the wheel. Here is how Lisa defines it (with a few of my own additional notes.)


  • Consuming whole food that usually has only one ingredient like rolled oats or no ingredient label at all like fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Packaged foods made with no more than five unrefined ingredients
  • Dairy products like whole milk, unsweetened/plain yogurt, eggs and minimally processed cheese
  • Breads that are made with 100 percent whole grain
  • Wild seafood
  • Locally and humanely raised pastured meat products
  • Dried fruits, nuts and seeds
  • Naturally made sweeteners including honey and maple syrup
  • More a product of nature than a “product of industry”
  • Eating organic as much as possible


  • Labeled as “low fat” or “low carb” or “low calorie” (in most cases)
  • Made with refined sugars like white sugar, brown sugar, organic sugar, cane juice, corn syrup or artificial sweeteners like aspartame or sucralose with brand names like Equal or Splenda.
  • Deep fried in refined oils like canola oil
  • 100 calorie packs or any foods made from refined grains like white rice or white flour, which is often labeled as “wheat flour” without the word “whole”
  • In packages with loads of ingredients some of which you cannot pronounce, and therefore, are most likely unwanted, refined additives and you would not cook with them in your own kitchen.
  • Highly processed foods that are labeled as organic (like organic Cheddar crackers, organic cookies, or organic candy)
  • Meat from factory-farmed animals
  • Most anything from a drive-through window or gas station.

AsparagusThere are many variations on this approach to eating. Some strict “clean” eaters avoid all dairy and grains in an attempt to eliminate all potential allergens or toxins and slowly reintroduce foods systematically. The “Paleo” Diet is also similar in it’s focus on fresh fruits and vegetables, lean protein, seafood, nuts and seeds, but it’s followers avoid grains, dairy, starches and legumes. Others eat a raw food diet which is the only one that truly eliminates all processed foods because cooking is, in a sense, processing.

A Real Food diet to me is no new phenomenon or fad. It’s really how I’ve been eating most of my life. It’s a common sense approach to healthy eating that takes us back to the way our grandmother’s cooked for their families, before increasingly busy people needed a faster way to get meals on the table and before food was taken over by industry.


So why are so many people jumping on this bandwagon? Why make this improvement yourself? Well, it’s no secret that obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer is on the rise in this country. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, obesity in children has more than tripled in the past thirty years. And according to Michael Pollan, author and food industry investigator, four of the top ten chronic diseases that kill Americans, “can be traced directly to the industrialization of our food.” Food savvy people are quickly discovering that much of the food consumed in the US is actually full of what I call “fake ingredients” AKA “food-like substances” or food that has been engineered in a factory that is potentially harmful to our health. And people who care about their health and the health of their family are saying NO, taking charge and eliminating all the artificial junk from their plates.

What’s most alarming is that, in some cases, we are ingesting genetically engineered material and we don’t even know about it because of deceptive behavior by the USDA. It needs to stop and it starts with us buying clean, organic, non-GMO products. Here’s an excerpt from a speech made by Robyn O’Brien, a food industry analyst. When her child was diagnosed with a food allergy, here’s the alarming information she discovered.

“In 1994, US scientists created a new genetically engineered protein and synthetic growth hormone and injected it into cows to make more milk. But it made the animals sick which increased antibiotic use in the cows. Governments around the world, said, “No. We are going to exercise precaution. We are not going to allow this into our milk and dairy supply because it hasn’t yet been proven safe.” The US took a different approach. We said it hasn’t been proven dangerous, so we’ll allow it. Canada, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and all 27 countries in Europe didn’t allow it when it was introduced in the US in 1994 with no human trials. Since then, milk allergies have skyrocketed.


So what are the conditions now in the US? One of the concerns at the time was that this growth hormone also elevated hormone levels linked to breast, prostate and colon cancer in humans who drank the milk. Livestrong and the American Cancer Society tell us that the US now has the highest rates of cancer of any country on the planet. According to the ACS, for a person who were to move from Japan to the US, the likelihood of developing cancer would increase 4 fold. One out of 2 american men and one out of 3 american women are expected to get cancer at some point in their life. One out of 8 women have breast cancer. Only 1 in 10 of those cases are genetic. Which means 9 out of 10 of them are environmentally triggered.”

Similar stories exist with the genetic modifications to the US soy and corn crops. The potential link between these GMOs and cancer rates is hard to ignore. Watch her speech in it’s entirety here, Robyn O’Brien Speech. It will change the way you look at what you are eating and what you are feeding your children. It confirms for me the importance of “eating clean” and eliminating “fake” food from our diets.


Here’s my take on all of this. My health and the health of my family is of the utmost importance to me. What I learned from Robyn gives me even more motivation to police what we put in our grocery cart. My husband and I have virtually always been healthy eaters. Well, except for maybe the four years we were in college together when I recall eating lots of breadsticks and burritos at 3:00 in the morning. Today, we are both healthier and more active than ever before. We have taught our children to eat healthy by setting a good example. I strive to follow the guidelines I mentioned earlier for eating a “Real Food” diet for the health and longevity of myself and my family… BUT with a bit of a twist to make it feasible for our chaotic life.

Real Life

MischiefHere’s the thing. With three young children, life is busy here. I know it is for you too. I love to cook and bake and I prepare healthy home cooked dinners for my family virtually every night. But, it’s not always in the cards for me to have time to bake my own sandwich bread, pitas and crackers from scratch (the way Lisa Leake suggests), especially not with a two-year-old tugging at my pants, standing on the counter or destroying my room with the make-up he finds. Even though I’m a stay-home-mom, the day is usually just not long enough to do all the things the way I want to do them. Many nights there’s not much time in between school pick up and swim lessons and homework and bedtime to have a plan in place for a perfectly “clean” meal. For me, making my own chicken stock and ketchup is not likely to happen. Cooking is a big part of my life. I consider it a hobby. If it’s difficult for me to make time to make these items from scratch, I know it is for many of you too. Especially those of you who work out of the home and arrive home at dinner hour. Sometimes I need some shortcuts, some compromises. I’ll share them with you in my shopping list below. Stay with me.

Real Kids (Picky Ones)

ElizabethMy children will eat any fruit or vegetable you put in front of them. I joke that it is in their blood since their dad is the fourth generation of his family to run their wholesale produce business. If you ask them their favorite meal they will probably say salmon and brown rice. But they are picky about little things like bread that’s not soft and the flavor of certain yogurts. They like chips and of course, dessert. When I decided to eliminate the former from their lunches this week, I was greeted with tears that day after school. When you factor in this choosiness and their bottomless hunger, the fact of the matter is that I need to ensure I have food here that they will eat. Food that I won’t have to listen to them complain about and some special treats that are appealing to them, yet don’t completely throw health out the window. Again, I need some good compromises.

Real Hungry

My First Half Marathon 2013As a long distance runner, I am always HUNGRY. Especially when I’m training for a big race and burning mad calories. Ok, I’m hungry even when I’m not training. But, as I prepare to run the Big Sur Marathon this April, I need to properly fuel for my training runs and I need to have snacks I can grab quickly as I then race back to my responsibilities as Mommy. Actually, I need to fuel up just as much for those challenges of daily life as a mom. If I’m hungry, look out! Not a nice person. I need to have a well-stocked fridge and pantry full of real, yet filling and quick food. For me that needs to include the carbs from whole grains and the protein from dairy. The Paleo mentality of restricting yourself from eating all grains and dairy for me would simply result in a very hungry and unhappy mommy and thus, very unhappy children.

Veggie Chili(Edited 5/2/16) In 2015 I went back to my vegetarian diet. I gave it up when I was pregnant with John mostly because I was craving meat (especially salty bacon and sausage) and I figured my body was telling me I needed more protein, so I went with it. After he was born I discovered that adding lean protein like chicken and turkey back into my diet helped me lose weight. Now I’ve gone back to eating no meat. My husband has too, but my children will still eat poultry. I have to accommodate various needs with the meals I make for my family.

Oh and one other thing, I like sugar. Sometimes I’m going to eat it. And that’s ok. Baking brings me joy, so does eating ice cream. The point of a healthy diet is so you can enjoy life to the fullest. Eat healthy almost all of the time and, on occasion, just throw the rules out the window and enjoy the moment. Otherwise, being skinny is no fun.

Real Cooking 

Turkey MeatballsI love cooking and baking. My favorite thing to do is to take family recipes and make them healthier. And sometimes I also like to make sweet treats for special occasions. I share my healthy, yet simple recipes for real life on this blog. I’m no Ina or Giada, but I like to challenge myself to create new recipes that taste delicious and look pretty and I don’t want to have to sacrifice my love of cooking nice, well-made meals just because I want to eat healthy. Eating “real food” doesn’t mean it has to be boring food.

Real Careful 

Call me neurotic, but I am a calorie counter. Tracking what I eat in the My Fitness Pal app is one of the ways I lost all my baby weight. It helps me keep it off today. Some say that on a real food diet you don’t need to track calories and fat and carbs to manage your weight, but I know myself well. When I don’t keep a diary of what I eat, I sneak stuff (unhealthy stuff) and I end up gaining weight that I worked hard to lose. My Real World Approach to Real Food is calorie conscious and the recipes I share on this blog almost always include nutritional information and should easily fit within your calorie goals for the day, if you like to track calories as well. Remember, while all “real food” is healthy, if you aren’t smart about how often and how much you eat, that could certainly keep you from meeting your weight loss goals.

Real Cheap

Farm MarketMost of us can’t afford to buy all organic products. When you combine that with trying to buy cage free, pastured and local products too, your grocery bill will certainly rise. Believe me, I get it. With a husband who SELLS produce for a living, I am sometimes quizzed on the price I paid and I am reminded how much more organic costs. (Love you honey). You will have to weigh out the benefits for your family and prioritize accordingly. Here are a couple of ideas to help lighten the load.

While many people are tempted to clean out their pantry and fridge and get rid of all the “non-clean” foods right away and start over. Many of us chose to use up what we have first and make the change gradually replacing new cleaner products as the old run out. And if you can’t afford to buy everything organic, try starting by at least swapping organic produce in for items on the Dirty Dozen list.

The Dirty Dozen

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Bell Peppers
  • Nectarines
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry Tomatoes
  • Snap Peas
  • Tomatoes

PeachesPersonally I am in a little bit of a unique situation with my desire for organic produce. As I mentioned, my husband sells fruits and vegetables for a living. He and his father run a wholesale produce market in Cleveland, Ohio. Ironically, very little of his business is organic. That has nothing to do with his personal perspective on organic versus non-organic. It is driven completely by demand. Many of his customers service stores with little or no demand for organic produce. Some of the produce we eat comes from his shop. So we eat quite a lot of non-organic produce for that reason. We are lucky to have every single mango, melon and sweet potato he brings home. The fact of the matter is that eating fresh fruits and vegetables, organic or non-organic, (even frozen or canned) is SO much better than eating artificial, highly processed junk from a box.


FINALLY!! For all of the compromises I am looking to fulfill, over time I have developed a trusty list of my safe “REAL FOOD”/CLEAN packaged products that I use to supplement the fresh fruits and vegetables and whole foods. I know from experience that walking through the grocery store with children in tow while stopping to analyze every single list of ingredients is simply not going to go very well and will likely result in yelling then guilt. I have in fact had to walk out of a grocery store leaving a full cart behind. I have done the homework for you. And I’m here to share it with you.



I am far from perfect! We are all very busy. All we can do is our best. We are only human and we have other things on our to do list that prevent us from eating everything pure and healthy all day, every day. If you want to begin to follow this way of life, go out there and do your best. But let’s face it. We also need to enjoy life. It is short, it is busy and it is full of responsibilities and distractions. There will be cake at birthday parties. Have a piece. There will be busy nights running around trying to feed your family in between school and soccer practice. It’s ok if you don’t have time to make a perfectly perfect meal every night. There will be over-indulgent dinners out with friends. Enjoy them. There will be days when your kids behavior has you hiding in the pantry eating chocolate. It happens.

So go give it your all. But don’t beat yourself up, throw in the towel and go back to your old ways if you make mistakes along the way. Remind yourself that a healthy life needs BALANCE. Eating healthy most days is better than eating poorly every day. Good luck! 

Please comment here if you would like me to write more about this subject. If so I will share some “Real World, Real Food” meal plans and more of my clean recipes.






Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

Hello, my name is Ashley and I am a cereal addict. Well, I used to be. If I didn’t have a family to feed, didn’t enjoy cooking and wasn’t paying such close attention to what I eat, I would probably eat cereal for every meal, every day. In fact, back before I was married and had kids, I’m certain that some days I did just that. For years I usually bought the pseudo-healthy cereals. You know, the ones that trick you into thinking they are healthy, but actually have way too much sugar and are highly processed. Honey Bunches of Oats, Frosted Mini Wheats and Honey Nut Cheerios were always some of my favorites. The words OAT and WHEAT in their names and the fact that they say “Whole Grains” all over the box are very misconceiving. But now, I know better.

In recent years I switched to cereals that are healthier, well at least a little bit. They include 100 percent whole grains, less sugar and no “fake” ingredients. For months I’ve been buying Nature’s Path Brand Heritage Flakes. I enjoy a bowl with sliced bananas or blueberries on top. For the most part the ingredients can all be considered “clean.” However, many people who follow a strict “clean eating” diet would frown upon the “evaporated cane juice.” But in my experience, you can drive yourself a little crazy trying to eliminate everything. And almost every cereal you buy, is still going to be somewhat processed. There is no doubt that oatmeal (whole grain rolled oats) is a much better choice. One look at the list of ingredients will make it clear why. There is just one ingredient and it is a 100 percent whole grain. But don’t be fooled by the little pre-made packets. Those are full of artificial ingredients. You have to make oatmeal yourself if you are striving to follow a “real food” diet.

For awhile now I have abstained from eating oatmeal because I couldn’t find a clean way to prepare it that didn’t taste like mush. Sure, with brown sugar and raisins it’s delicious,  but if you are trying to avoid added sugar, that’s not an option. After a bit of experimenting, I’ve finally discovered a way to prepare oatmeal that tastes delicious without adding sugar. I’m excited to share my recipe with you! With 5 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber per serving it will keep you going all morning long. And with just 202 calories it will easily fit into your calorie total for the day.  I think you’ll enjoy it so much that you might just replace your boxed cereal for good. Even if you’ve been a cereal addict like me.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal“Clean Eating” Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 cup natural applesauce
  • 1/2 cup apple, diced

Combine all ingredients except for the diced apples in a medium-sized microwavable bowl. Stir well. Heat in microwave on high for 2 to 3 minutes. Add diced apples and a sprinkle of cinnamon to the top. If you prefer it to be sweeter, add a little drizzle of extra honey on top. Makes one serving.

Optional: Add chopped walnuts or raisins.

Nutritional Information:

Calories: 202

Fat: 3.1 g

Saturated: .5 g

Polyunsaturated: 1 g

Monounsaturated: 1 g

Trans: 0 g

Cholesterol: 0 mg

Sodium: 1.2 mg

Potassium: 79.6 mg

Carbs: 41.2 g

Fiber: 6 g

Sugars: 11.2 (From honey. No added sugar)

Protein: 5.1 g

Vitamin A: .2%

Vitamin C: 7%

Calcium: 3.7%

Iron: 11.7%