Recipes

No-Bake Chocolate Eclair (Cheat) Cake

It rhymesSmile

I made this beauty of a cake last night to take to a friend’s for dinner tonight. This is my all-time favorite dessert to make and take to other’s houses. It is VERY hard to mess up, even if you are like me and add all the wet ingredients at once instead of in order (you’ll see). It also takes about 10-15 minutes total to make, and that includes clean up! There is no baking with this cake, but you do have to let it sit overnight, so a little bit of planning required. AND, it is a crowd pleaser! You know the feeling when people around the table just can’t stop complimenting you on your dessert? THIS is THAT item.

cake piece

This was something that my meemaw made when I was younger. My sister could finish an entire cake herself, it was our favorite and is still a family favorite. I believe the only thing that I do differently from her is that I cheat on the chocolate icing – just makes it that much simpler. Enjoy and don’t wait too long to try!!

cheat cake.jpgcake 1

1. Take your two boxes of pudding mix and combine them with the 3 cups of milk. I used 1% milk. Mix and beat this well. If you accidentally add the cool whip right away the cake is forgiving and everything will be okay:)

Cake 2

2. Open your graham crackers and make a single layer on the bottom of a cake pan. You will have to break some lengthwise to place along the edges of the pan as the crackers don’t quite fit in whole pieces.

3. On top of the graham cracker layer, spread with a spatula, half of your pudding mixture. You will then make another layer of graham crackers, same method, now you have two layers of graham crackers and one pudding layer in between.

Cake 4

4. Add the rest of the pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers. You will end with 3 layers of graham crackers and two layers of pudding.

5. This next part is the cheating part. Some recipes have you make icing from scratch, however, I use store-bought chocolate icing and heat it up in the microwave to make it soft and spreadable. If you are a bit uneasy about microwaving plastic, scoop it out into a glass bowl. I put mine in the microwave for 30 seconds and then an additional 10 seconds. Stir the icing and then spread on top of the cake, covering all of the graham cracker.

cake6

6. I always make mine the night before I need it. I would guess that it needs at least 5-6 hours in the fridge. The graham crackers need to soften so that the cake cuts easily. The cake will last for a few days in the fridge after serving. The graham crackers will just continue to break down. My husband doesn’t like the cake on the 4th or 5th day because of this. For the same reason, this cake can be frozen, but things come out a bit mushy.

cake7

7. I hope you enjoy!

 

cake recipe

Uncategorized

Girls just wanna have fun–type ‘o’ weekend!

Hey there! I did A LOT this weekend! So instead of make you read through the details, here’s the skinny version, enjoy and happy Monday! (ugh)

1 and 2: Friday evening workout and Friday night movie night with kitkat. Leg workout and Fences.  I did my leg workout again. This is the second time. Last time that I did it I was sore for the next 3-4ish days. I decided that I clearly need to work on my leg muscles so I did the same workout again, this time around? I am not as sore and it is Sunday night, so that is great, I think I will do the same one again this week and then switch it up. Fences– not a comforting movie, but a good one none-the-less. Just made me think and hurt for the characters in the movie – I can see why it was critically acclaimed.

Friday night beauty

This was a picture from the beautiful snow that we got on Friday evening. I snapped this pic after coming home from the gym and getting off the bus. In case you were wondering, yes, I take those stairs every day…and for Pittsburgh, that’s not bad at all.

3 and 4 and 5: Saturday morning workout (arms – I am VERY sore from this and to be honest couldn’t even make it through the 2nd round!), cupcakes, and dinner with a visiting friend. Why cupcakes? NoteCuz girls just a wanna have fu-un!Note

cupcakes 3

cupcakes!

cupcakes 2

This were mine (minus one that I ate). My friend has taken cake decorating classes before and was trying to teach us the ways…a lot of what we did turned out looking like poo piles Smile

6 and 7 and 8 and 9: Sunday morning breakfast with my (unofficial) RD mentor (she has been meeting with me since the beginning of my college dietetics career=much respect for this wonderful role model), church, and then packing, plus movie night #2. On the Edge of Seventeen….I kinda want something more uplifting.

mentor pancakes

Chocolate almond pancakes…mmmmm

Favorites from this weekend:

  • New blogs I am into following and have mucho respect for: http://andytherd.com/blog/ and http://www.fannetasticfood.com/ There are so many blogs out there so please bear with me while I take small bits at a time!!
  • My goodwill finds! I like the first one because it makes me feel MediterraneanSmile And the second is just a nice warm sweater that I can wear with literally anything. I kept trying to see what was wrong with them at the store but I still can’t find a thing! Love me some GoodFinds @ GoodWill.goodwill 2goodwill1
  • My cute soup in a cup because I forgot to grab a couple of cheap plastic bowls at the store

soup in a cup

  • Kitty using me for a pillow

kitty pillow

  • My miniature pantry that I successfully scaled down

mini pantry

  • Prepping for my mom to come, so excited!

dunkin

birchbox

What were some highlights from your weekend?

Recipes

Coconut Date Balls

Its Friday!!! I have a recipe to review with you all today. I also feel that for a Thursday, I accomplished quite a bit. Or maybe I just took a lot of pictures when I got home. Which, for me – a person who usually shoves food into her mouth and mid-chew I realize that I meant to photograph all of the steps that I took to make the food that I no longer have…would be a success!!

I’m going to be honest, I wasn’t planning on being productive today. I was going to go out with some coworkers after work. However when I got home and saw that the sun was shining I bailed on those plans. No worries, I was confident that I wouldn’t be missed. I am kind of a home-body and definitely an introvert so I blame those tendencies whenever I just chose to spend time with myself.

So the sun was out and high in the sky and yes, it was a bit chilly, but the sun hasn’t been out like this in Pittsburgh allll week, so I decided to take an outdoor run. Before that , I put together a crock-pot meal with ingredients from my pantry that I am trying to use up. I had refried beans, corn, broth, diced tomatoes, black beans, and I had precooked chicken in the fridge. Perfect ingredients for some shredded mexican chicken soup eh? I added, with a heavy hand, chili powder, some garlic and onion powder, and pepper and salt. I am writing this on Thursday night my crock pot soup is not done yet…I mistakenly thought that my crock pot would cook quicker. So now I will have soup for the weekend! I’ll let you know how it tastes but in my opinion, you can’t go wrong with the combined ingredients.

Chicken soup crock pot dinnerAfter I put the soup on I hopped in the car and drove down the hill to the riverside trail in Southside. The sun was definitely still shining but I encountered a head wind right away and I didn’t bring a headband or a hat….I was therefore very cold on the first leg of my trip and only slightly better when I turned around and didn’t have 37 degree wind blowing in my face. I still think that I enjoyed the run because the city looked beautiful and I really wanted to remember this moment when I am away in Lebanon.

cold run 1

Just a beautiful running trail, even prettier in the summer when the trees have leaves!

cold run 2

This is the only face that I could make when I got back in the car 30 minutes later. My ears were throbbing and I was making groaning noises and complaining about the cold…maybe a little dramatic, but seriously, it is mid March!

I'm cold

After the cold run I stopped by the grocery store to gather items for a recipe that I plan to make during the Pittsburgh Farm to Table conference next week. I will be talking about Nutrition and Liver Health. I wanted to pick a recipe that was a naturally high protein source for individuals who need extra calories and protein due to liver disease. I came across my recipe in a Food and Nutrition Magazine (by the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics). I know that these tasty snacks are not anything new, however they typically call for a protein powder. This one does not but still has 280 calories and 8 grams of protein per serving. Yes they are high in calories, hence why I am making them for individuals with liver disease. I would caution eating too many of them if you already get plenty of calories from your meals. For snacks I like to stick to 100-200 calories and only if I am hungry. A good serving for these then would be just one ball, which I think you can be satisfied after eating just one, they have a lot of flavor!

Rolled balls

Here are the ingredients that I used for my recipe, not pictured, Vanilla Greek Yogurt. I was supposed to use Siggi’s but I forgot to get it at the store!! I was also supposed to buy dates without added sugar and I made the mistake of assuming those didn’t have sugar. So my end product was a little sweeter than it should be!

balls recipe

             rolled unfinished ballscoated ballsball close up

The ingredients were expensive to buy in total: $40 ish dollars, however I didn’t use everything for just this one recipe, but if you don’t have these items at home, just a heads up! They blended well in the food processor and didn’t take long overall. Like I said, they were a little sweeter than should be but definitely still tasty. I think that they are also perfect size for a crowd to sample next week. I look forward to making them in a larger amount next time with the correct yogurt and unsweetened dates.

Question of the day: What is your favorite go-to snack?

~Meghan

RD Advice

What’s Trending – Dietary Supplements

Hi guys, I am coming to you this post with a new what’s trending topic about dietary supplements. I know that in the dietitian world, this topic is a classic – I felt that it was my time to put a word in for why I do not recommend money spent on dietary supplements for most individuals.

Image result for supplements

What are dietary supplements? Dietary supplements are vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and herbs. They come in the form of tablets, powders, liquids, soft-gels, and capsules (1). Most of the components of dietary supplements can be found in the foods that we eat.

This is a statement taken directly from the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) website: “Unlike drugs, supplements are not intended to treat, diagnose, prevent, or cure diseases. That means that supplements should not make claims such as “reduces pain” or “treats heart disease. Claims like these can only legitimately be made for drugs not dietary supplements.”

Are dietary supplements regulated? Yes they are! The FDA regulates supplements under a set of regulations established under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act. Basically the FDA is trying to make sure that the above statements are not being applied to supplements and steering people the wrong way. The FDA also wants to make sure that supplements are safe for consumption. However, keep reading…

Along with the statements about regulation, this is also noted on the FDA website :

The FDA is not authorized to review dietary supplement products for safety and effectiveness (do they actually do what they claim to do) before they are marketed.

Basically meaning that something that has very little research about its safety and claims can be marketed for consumer consumption before being reviewed by the FDA. They step in when a report has been filed about a product and take steps to research that report and determine if the supplement is okay for consumers to buy.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also steps in to help with advertising claims. Again, they only enforce rules if a supplement is found to be guilty of false advertising after it is already on the market.

What is the research that supports or opposes supplements? Its hard to research individual supplements on your own. For a really good resource about a specific supplement that you are currently taking or interested in taking, try one of these resources, compliments of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and Medline Plus:

Dietary Supplement Fact Sheets

Botanical Dietary Supplements

Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets

Dietary and Herbal Supplements

Herbs at a Glance

Dietary Supplements

Why the big fuss over supplements? I like to write about how marketing and media influences what we eat. I think it is fascinating. I believe the push for supplements comes directly from marketing schemes and great advertising campaigns, not specifically from research.

Who would benefit from a dietary supplement? While not a research article, this article is from the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, which is a trusted resource that summarizes the latest research. It explains who may need dietary supplements and who does not.

  • Children
  • Pregnant women need to take a prenatal
  • Individuals who have been tested for nutrient deficiencies
  • Individuals who are at risk for bone density loss (calcium and vitamin D combined supplement)
  • Recovering alcoholics
  • Individuals with liver disease
  • And select other cases – please speak to a Registered Dietitian to determine whether or not you need to be taking a supplement.

Am I harming myself by taking supplements? Probably not, but you may not be getting any gain from it. If you already have a diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, dairy or fortified dairy substitutes, lean meats, and whole grains then you are already getting 100% of what your body needs for vitamins and minerals. Anything more than what you need gets excreted in your urine. Kinda like peeing out $$$…..you know how thrifty I am!

For some vitamins and minerals there is a toxic upper limit, meaning if you over do some of the foods, there may be side effects. Please look into your supplement and do some research online to determine if there is a risk for over-supplementation. This is a good resource to identify what vitamins and minerals can have side effects if over-supplemented: https://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm118079.htm#risks

If there would be a supplement to look into it would be…?

  • Fiber supplement (many Americans don’t get enough fiber through their diet – try to do that before looking into this supplement)
  • Calcium and Vitamin D supplement (if you are at risk for bone loss, which is many post-menopausal women)
  • Prenatal Vitamin (a must when you are pregnant)
  • Iron (only if you are deficient)
  • Vitamin B12 (if you are vegan you may need this)
  • Multivitamin (not everyone needs one of these though!)

Do I take a supplement? I almost wrote no, but then realized that I sometimes will take melatonin, 5 mg, to “help” me fall asleep. I was actually surprised when I researched melatonin and found the body of research to be rather inconclusive. I have had nights where I believe that I fell asleep because after I took the melatonin I got sleepy. After performing some research on that I think that my melatonin just might give me the placebo effect. Is it worth it for me to still buy and take occasionally? That is a yes in my opinion, but my mind may be changed in the future when I run out of it. I also looked to see if melatonin was safe and it is, even if used in large doses.

Question of the day: Do you take a supplement and what for?

~Meghan

Fitness

Lower Body Burn Workout

Hey all, I have some good news! I was able to give my resignation at work! And the best thing is that they are super supportive and happy for me, however a little bit sad. I was the first full time dietitian in their clinic and they really enjoyed having me around. This was a great job in my opinion, perfect for my first role as a RD, I couldn’t have found anything better.

I’m coming at you today with a lower body burn workout. Last week I did 5 days at the gym, which doesn’t sound like a big deal, but trust me, it had been a while since I did 5. I feel sore still today but proud of myself. One of the reasons that I am a little sore is because of this leg workout that I made and performed on Sunday. I paired this is 30 minutes of steady cardio on the elliptical and my favorite ab workout right after it. I think I will repeat this in the future, it was so simple, required minimal equipment, and is easy to remember. I hope you enjoy!

Lower Body Burn 2

  • Weighted squat with a dumbbell:

Image result for how to do weighted squat with dumbbell

  • Bulgarian Split lunge:

Image result for how to do a bulgarian split lunge

  • Curtsy lunge:

Image result for how to do a curtsy lunge

 

  • Bent leg donkey kicks:Image result for how to do kneeling bent leg lifts
  • Straight leg donkey kicks:

Image result for how to do kneeling bent leg lifts

  • Fire hydrants:

Image result for how to do a fire hydrant

Family, Uncategorized

My faith and me

Hello there friends! I am happy to say that I survived bachelorette weekend #2! During several conversations with my mom, my sister, and my friends, I am coming to see this time by myself as an experience that is good for me and I am hoping that I will learn a bit more about myself. That is what my mom says at least – I think that maybe the most important thing that I will learn to do is fall asleep by myselfSmile

But more seriously, I know that God is using this time for good, whatever that may be. While I may not know yet  what that good may be– I know it exists…just like I know that he will always take care of me and my family. I move ahead with a blind faith that God is in control and to over-anticipate His plans is time-consuming and fruitless.

First, a couple of weekend highlights:

  • Friday night girls night with some great gals and Tikki drinks that took us to a tropical paradise even though it was around 20 degrees outside:

Hawaiian style old fashioned

  • Saturday packing in the morning (I loooooove to pack!) and a 5 mile treadmill run in the afternoon. I also had a bonus skype date with my hubby.

5 miles

  • Saturday Night: Using my gift-card to Whole Foods for dinner from their hot bar and dessert afterwards. I did a blog post about why I don’t shop at Whole Foods. This was the first time I have been in one of their stores. It was beautiful and I appreciated some of their delicacy items. However my mind remains unchanged. I could probably walk out of their blowing up my grocery budget for the week, even if I went for just a few items.

saturday dinner

  • Saturday night movie night with kit kat. We watched Age of Adeline. I know this has been out a while but it was never something that Zach volunteered to watch with me so it was the perfect sappy love story to watch when you are missing a loved one.
  • Sunday morning meal planning, gym, grocery store.
  • Afternoon errands, baking, and meal prep. I made a couple of types of lemon chia seed muffins. One was a gluten-free variety with a lemon glaze. They were dense but the glaze made them pretty good. Find the recipes here: Flour-less Lemon Chia Muffins and here: Healthy Lemon Chia Muffins. I also made a couple of types of quiche, both crust-less, but one with torn up bread pieces on the bottom. I didn’t use a recipe because quiches are a normal dish in this household. I usually sauté some vegetables, whip up 4 eggs with some milk and spices, and pour this on top of the cooked vegetables and 1 hearty cup of cheese. I bake them for 45 minutes at 375.

gluten free lemon muffinslemon chia seed muffins

chopped vegetables

quiches

I am a Christian, which you may have been able to tell from the topic of this blog post. I feel that it is important to say out loud on this blog because I want to incorporate this part of who I am into every part of my life. While I may be Christian, that doesn’t mean I am the best one – not even close in fact, and I know that I will always have room to grow, learn, and change to be a better person in this area of my life.

Something that I have been working on for quite some time is being intentional with this area of my life. I can definitely say that I have allowed myself to get swept up with the busyness, striving, and struggle of the world and I have often put intentionality with God at the bottom of the To-Do list. What have I allowed to get in the way? Let me share with you my list of excuses:

  1. My relationship with my family and friends
  2. My high school and then my college “work-load”
  3. Wedding planning
  4. Moving
  5. Exercising
  6. Housework
  7. Moving again
  8. Studying to become a RD
  9. Media (watching TV, Facebook, Instagram, ……and now blogging) And more..

There have been several times in the past 8 years (I was 16 when I accepted God into my heart) when I have said, enough with it, I need to make time. And there have been several times when I have not been cautious enough and once again have found myself in the same place again, hanging my head and asking God to forgive me for putting literally everything else ahead of Him.

I am very lucky to have a wonderful mom who is a great role model to me in this area of my life. While she may not know this, she is one of the reasons that I continue to fight for an intentional life with God. She prays for me, she encourages me to always seek Him in my life and make time for him, and she also shares with me what she is working on in her relationship with God. I love that I can always count on her prayers when I ask for them, and even when I do not Smile

So where does that leave us at the end of this post? I don’t quite know, but I do want to encourage any of you, wherever you may be in your relationship with God to fight for that relationship. Personally, I think that it is time that I try being intentional in a different way than I ever have before. When I try to be intentional with other things in my life I usually succeed or improve by writing that activity into my week. I plan my meals and my exercise. I think that I also need to plan quiet time with God into my week. If I need to chillax on some of the things that I think are important to be a “good dietitian,” like cooking, exercising, and blogging, then so be it. There are many things in my life that are more important than my career and God is one of them.

Question of the day: What do you do to intentionally make time for your relationship with God?

~Meghan

RD Advice

Meals for One: Week 1

Happy Friday!

I am a bit bummed that March hasn’t unrealistically warmed up to 70 degrees yet, but this morning’s walk to the bus stop was exceptionally beautiful.

snow.jpg

Every Friday is Bagel Friday at work, it’s absolutely amazing! My manager goes to either Brueggers (Pittsburgh Bagel Shop) or Panera and buys 30 some bagels and flavored cream cheeses. We all get to work a little bit earlier (or at the same time I guess) and toast our bagels and eat and chat in the break room. If and when I become a manager, I will employ this strategy as it is very good for employee morale and gives us something to look forward to for the week.

I didn’t post yesterdaySad smile My apologies about that, I am finding that there is quite a bit of stuff for me to do after I get home from the gym. It won’t be long before I have to have the house completely packed up and cleaned out so I took off some blog writing time to really get packing. I made great progress but ran out of boxes….guess its back to the wine store for me!!

empty closet
My closet is looking cleaned out!

 

nice kitty
Kitty on my bed this morning. I wanted to stay home with her on this snowy day!

I have a new favorite Netflix show, The Great British Baking Show. It is very interesting, they make baked goods that I have never heard of before, have baking skills that I will never obtain, and I love all of the British and Scottish accents. That show and the kitty keeps me company, I can’t believe a week has almost gone by since Zach left. Here’s to the next 4sih!!

 

The topic for this post is Meals for One. Last Sunday I went to Aldi and for the first time I had to try to limit my purchases to enough for just one person. Did I come with a shopping and meal list?… of course! This week I had planned on the following meals:

chicken soup
Chicken vegetable soup!

-Morning Glory Muffins (double batch so I could freeze one for myself and keep them frozen for quick snacks). You seriously need to make these!

-Chicken Vegetable Soup

-Chicken with roasted vegetables

-Kale Salad

-Other: meaning I wanted to pick up some foods to try to make my own recipes with this week.

How did I do with my spending? Pretty swell, but probably could have done a bit better. I spent $35 this week on groceries. Zach typically eats 1.5x as much as I do so I should be able to spend around 25-30 dollars per week just for me. I also have to take into consideration the supplies that I had to buy for the muffins. Overall though, I think I did well.

On Sunday I roasted vegetables and chicken that I quickly marinated in Greek Salad dressing. These roasted vegetables and chicken have been lifesavers for quick meals! At the store I picked up some whole wheat 100 calorie wraps, Greek yogurt, avocados, and on-sale fruits and vegetables. A couple nights ago I had a panic moment when I thought that I had bought too much produce and that it would suddenly all be bad at the same time. I recovered from this when I remembered that I have a freezer and that I could easily freeze my left-over chicken soup so that I could focus on using up my fresh items (bagged greens, asparagus, bananas, berries, etc) before they get smelly and mushy.

Monday breakfast: Morning Glory Muffin with Plain Greek yogurt, berries, flax seed, and a few chocolate chips

Monday lunch: La Palapa left-overs. I only ate half of my meal on Sunday night (although I could have eaten the entire thing and been stuffed for the next two days!)

Monday dinner: Roasted vegetable whole wheat wrap with avocado and balsamic dressing. Salad on the side with mixed greens, mushrooms, and more avocado.

Tuesday breakfast: Muffin with yogurt and similar toppings

Tuesday lunch: Dinner left-overs. A Roasted veggie wrap plus fruit and yogurt.

Tuesday dinner: Dinner with friends.

Wednesday breakfast: Avocado, banana, greek yogurt, almond milk, and kale smoothie

Wednesday lunch: Roasted veggie wrap…see a pattern here?

Wednesday dinner: Chicken vegetable soup. Delicious! I sautéed 3 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, and one onion in olive oil with salt, pepper, and dried basil. I then added 3.5 cups of low-sodium broth and 1 lb. shredded roasted chicken. I cooked this for about 15 minutes, then added more seasonings and 1 cup of white wine. The wine made it have a really rich taste. (See above) It was delicious!

Thursday breakfast: Cereal day! Raisin bran, banana, peanut butter.

Thursday lunch: Chicken vegetable soup.

Thursday dinner: Roasted vegetable and chicken wrap with massaged kale salad (recipe for this to come later!)

Friday breakfast: Bagel Friday!!!

Friday lunch: You guessed it! Roasted vegetable wrap with chicken and left-over massaged kale salad. Although I am pretty over this wrap by now, good thing its Friday!

kale and wrap
Roasted vegetable wrap with massaged kale salad

 

As you can see my meals have been pretty repetitive. This is for a couple of reasons.

  1. I am not used to making smaller dishes. Therefore I end up with a plethora of left-overs and I refuse to throw out perfectly good food!
  2. I seriously doubt I would have the motivation to cook a new meal more than 3x a week. Without an audience to ooohh and ahhh over my meals, besides eating healthy, I have very little reason to vary what I am eating.

My Advice for Cooking Meals for One

  1. Pick a day on the weekend to meal prep some large batches of items. Its fun to cook in large quantities (makes me feel like I am preparing a feast) and the hard work will pay off during the week when you have zero motivation.
  2. Get used to left-overs or figure out how to re-invent last night’s dinner. If you made chicken, use it in soup, wraps, chicken salad, a stir fry, etc. If you have lots of roasted vegetables you can do the same.
  3. There is a cute trend that involves small portions of things made in a cup. Lasagna in a cup, cookie in a cup, etc. You could try this however you would have to still buy large amounts of the ingredients and then have to use them up before they go bad.
  4. Plan 2-3 meals that you will make full size for the week. From these meals you will have plenty of left-overs for lunch and dinner and if you are creative enough you can even reinvent your left-overs.
  5. There is no science to cooking for one, but these are what I have been thinking of this week.

I will have a new batch of items to cook next week. What I will be trying to do over these next few weeks is clean out my stores. I will be using up all of my pasta, rice, quinoa, freezer items, salad dressings, canned goods, etc. The rest of my spices and flavored oils are going to some of my girlfriends. I told them they could raid my pantry:)

I’m excited for this evening. Some friends and I are going to a popular cocktail bar in Pittsburgh. Pictures to come on Monday. Happy Friday to you all!

What are your weekend plans?

~Meghan