The prayers of school-aged children everywhere (ok, “grown up” children too) were answered this morning. A snow day was declared throughout the entire city – whee! :D

Truth be told, the weather wasn’t too bad, but my work follows the local school system’s delays and closings, so if they’re shutting their doors – we are too. We didn’t get any snow today, and the wind was light, but a lot of the rural roads weren’t plowed and it was way too cold for the little kiddos to wait for their buses out in the sub-zero temps. 8O

After we learned the news this morning, Ben went to work shoveling us out from last night’s snowfall, while I sipped on cinnamon roll coffee and flipped us up some hot Blackberry Pancakes for breakfast!


I LOVE pancakes, and these totally gave the house a cozy Saturday morning vibe. :) All I did was mix up some multigrain pancake mix with skim milk, vanilla & maple extracts,


then dropped in a big handful of plump, juicy blackberries.


After I flipped the cakes on a hot skillet, I squished the berries down with my spatula so their sweet juices ran throughout each pancake. UH-mazing.


Finished with a sweet drizzle of maple syrup and more fresh blackberries!




Soft, juicy and sweet – these were awesome! I never realized how much I heart warm berries. I need to cook them into my pancakes more often. Love. :)


The roads around my house were cleared pretty quickly, so this afternoon I bundled up in my very favorite Eskimo coat and hightailed it to the gym to complete this butt & ab blasting treadmill routine:

Time Speed Incline
0-2 4.0 1%
2-5 6.0 1%
5-10 6.5 1%
10-15 7.0 1%
15-20 6.5 1%
20-30 Alternating between 8.0 and 6.5 every minute 1%
30-35 6.5 1%
35-40 7.0 1%
40-45 6.5 1%
45-48 6.0 1%
48-50 4.0 1%
subtotal: 5.4 miles
50-55 4.0 4%
subtotal: .3 miles
Total: 5.7 miles

Ooooo those sprints hurt so good! I could feel my buns and abs aching as soon as I hoped off the ‘mill. Love it! :mrgreen:

Oh, I forgot to mention in my How to Run Longer and Faster post that increasing the treadmill’s incline will also help you improve your running speed & endurance, especially if you switch to running outside when the weather is nice.

I started setting the incline at a minimum of 1% after getting tired of getting my butt KICKED when I’d ditch the treadmill and head out to the trails every summer. Treadmill = flat. Nature = not flat. I was unprepared.

I need to kick the incline up a notch (I’ve been stuck at 1% for like a year, I feel!) but even so, I could totally tell the difference when running outside the first summer after incorporating inclines into my treadmill runs. Here are a couple routines with inclines to try!

Running Hills Routine

Oxygen Magazine Incline Routine

I was STARVING after the gym and gobbled some of last night’s Chicken & Bacon Potato Chowder with a Pomegranate Chobani for lunch. My brain hadn’t caught up to my stomach yet and, shortly after, I tore into some Trader Joe’s Chocolate Cats with a vengeance when my hunger could not be satisfied!


Thankfully I found a rogue green tea bag in the pantry to curb the craving before I could do too much damage.


It was awful (I told you – I can’t get into tea!) and a squirt of agave nectar didn’t help much, but it did stop me from demolishing 150 chocolate cats, so, win?! :D


It wasn’t but a short time later that I realized my brain had been right. I was still starving, so I opened my freezer and got to work on dinner. Trader Joe’s night came a day early booyah! :D


The meal centered around these frozen Chili Lime Chicken Burgers.


So I have this weird thing about not trusting meat that isn’t in its natural state – e.g. a chicken patty vs chicken breast – unless I form it myself from the ground meat. I know, irrational, right?


However the ingredients (ground chicken, onions, bell peppers, garlic, cilantro, salt, lime juice & red pepper flakes) and nutritionals (19g of protein in 1 patty!) for these babies were right and, hello, it’s TJ’s – so I decided to give it a go.


The patty went straight from the freezer to the skillet, and was done in about 5 minutes. I topped it with a creamy-spicy slice of pepper jack cheese and popped a lid on the skillet to heat until it was melted.


Meanwhile, I got to work on the fries. Can’t have a burger without fries, can ya’?! ;)


I got TWO types to try. The first came from the regular grocery store, as I had gotten a coupon to try a bag free from Foodbuzz: Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries.


The second came from deep within the TJ’s frozen tundra: Garlic Fries. Awwww yeeaaahhhh.


The sweet potato fries were easy enough, but the garlic fries came with a garlic sauce packet that you’re supposed to pour over the entire bag of cooked fries. What if you only want to make 1 or 2 servings of fries??


Unsure, I thawed the sauce packet and squeezed out a small portion to toss with my serving, then put the packet back into the freezer. It’ll be fine. I bet…


Luckily the taste swept all confusion under the rug! They were crisp with an audible crunch,


and the garlic flavor was crazy good! Crazy strong, too, so don’t go making any kissing plans after eating these. Or enjoy them with your sweetie. Two garlic breaths cancel each other out, don’t you know. ;)


The Alexia fries were boooooooooooooooomb.


The outside was just as crispy as the garlic fries, and the inside was super creamy.


The spicy exterior was such a great contrast to the sweet interior too. YUM!!


Finally we have zee burger.


Like I said – a little freaked out about unnaturally shaped foods I don’t make myself – but I topped the whole thing with a blob of homemade guacamole and hoped for the best.


I had nothing to worry about! Fabulous, zesty flavor and a very unscary texture. Cool guac and spicy cheese were the perfect toppers, too.


Served on half a bun because I’m saving the other half for a peanut butter bun later tonight. Toasted bun + melty peanut butter = peanut butter bun. Yes!


Ok, rating time:

Garlic fries: 7 out of 10. I’m annoyed that you’re supposed to make the whole bag and seasoning packet at once, but the crispiness saved the day.

Alexia Spicy Sweet Potato Fries: 10 out of 10. Crunchy, spicy, sweet. ‘Nuff said.

Chili Lime Chicken Patties: 9 out of 10. Flavor was top notch and they would have gotten a 10 out of 10 if they sold this as seasoned ground chicken so you could make the patties yourself. I know!

In other news – it’s been 3 WHOLE DAYS OF NO POP!!! I feel really good. Less puffy for SURE, and I’ve been making excellent snacking decisions to boot. That part actually might be in my head – mentally I know I’m kicking aspartame, which causes me to want to make healthier choices in other parts of my life – but it doesn’t matter. I like it. :)

OH! I was cleaning out my pantry this afternoon and guess what else has aspartame in it? Sugar Free Jell-O Pudding!!


I haven’t made Jell-O Pudding in Heaven knows how long, and I knew the sugar-free stuff I had in my pantry would obviously have some sort of fake sugar in it, but to find out it was aspartame?



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Like, one commenter said the other day, “If it’s too good to be true, it probably is.” Amen sister!

Ok – I’m off to go enjoy the rest of my snow day. It’s back to the grind tomorrow. See you!


Have you ever been surprised by an ingredient included in the foods you love?

I was devastated last year when I found out Jiffy Cornbread mix has partially hydrogenated lard in it. Haven’t touched it since. Tragic. :(

Do you have any weird, food-related quirks?

I don’t like eating unnaturally shaped meat items unless I make it myself, my Dad refuses to eat leftover pasta or cold chicken, and Ben has a phobia of new food combos. For example, he refused to try the cheddar + apple slices snack plate I made last night! If only he knew of the deliciousness he was missing!!