Blackberry Pancakes


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?



DSC_0015 (2)

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!!

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  1. Congrats on going 3 days without pop! Keep it up!!

  2. sassy molassy 02.02.2011

    Ooh, nice TJ’s picks!! I made blueberry pancakes last night that were super yummy.

    The treadmill is weird for me. I always feel like I run way slower on the treadmill (but feel like I’m running faster than it says). I’m not sure what it is, but that tmill is a killlller. I always run on 2% as my baseline and then try to bump it up here and there for a little hill action. I still love the post you did about running on a decline on the tmill one night.

  3. Lauren 02.02.2011

    Yay for a snow day!!!! Those pancakes look ah-ma-zing!

    So, I just bought the garlic fries and made them the other night and I had NO IDEA there was even a garlic sauce pack. LoL Opps!

    I also just had the Alexia Fries last night and FELL IN LOVE!! Don’t they remind you a BBQ potato chips? YUm! I can’t wait to have them again.

  4. I LOVE tea, but I really can’t stand the brand you have pictured…esp their green tea. But in general, green tea has a very bitter aftertaste if you steep it too long. I wouldn’t steep for more than 3 mins. If you want to get into tea, don’t start with green!

  5. Those burgers look dynamite! And, so d the fries. You’re right though- total bummer about that sauce!

  6. Aimee 02.02.2011

    No fair! Drake University still had school today! Oh well, at least your blackberry pancakes made me feel nice and cozy! :)

  7. I love your addition of guac! Its such an awesome addition to so many things!

  8. Kathryn 02.02.2011

    Congrats on giving up pop and fighting through the temptations. It’s hard-I used to drink 2 diet mt. dews a day and now I have 1 or 2 cans of pop per week. I believe in moderation and not depriving myself.
    I also wanted to say don’t throw away food-give it to the food shelf. Someone will eat it:)

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.02.2011

      I agree – it was also passed its expiration date though…by a year, oops!!

  9. JennyV 02.02.2011

    I am envious of all the Iowans enjoying their snowdays!! (I’m currently living in FL)

    The pancakes looked a-maz-ing!!

    I had no idea that Jiffy Cornbread mix had crappy ingredients — time to make YOU recipe (with pumpkin!)

  10. I can’t wait to try those sweet potato fries! I always seems to burn them when I try to make my own! :(

  11. Garlic fries?! Giiiirl that sounds too good to be true! I wish I had a TJ’s nearby so I could cook some up:)

  12. I gave up gum when I found out it had aspartame in it. That one was a hard one, but like diet soda, I feel so much better without it! And I save a lot of money!

  13. Stacy M. 02.02.2011

    Good for you for kicking anything with aspartame in it. I totally agree! However, I would suggest donating the pudding to a food pantry instead of throwing it away!

  14. Tasha 02.02.2011

    I actually had the garlic fries tonight too! I didn’t really like them and I ended up making the entire bag cause i didnt want to risk it. Definitely too much garlic for the fries, but I agree definitely a good crunch. I also tried making the Pretzel Bread Sandwiches… AMAZING… so yummy, definitely having those again soon!

  15. jad18 02.02.2011

    We had a snow day today too and had blueberry pancakes this morning. You are lucky your work schedule matches the school’s schedule.

  16. I had no idea that Jiffy Cornbread mix had lard in it… No wonder its so good. Glad I stopped eating that when I left the south!

  17. Jess 02.02.2011

    The healthy snacking may not be completely in your head. It is theorized that consuming the artificial sweetners tricks your brain into thinking it is getting all the calories of the full flavored, full calorie stuff. When the food fails to deliver your brian goes into a binge mechanism and wants to consume more calories to make up for the fake calories that it didnt actually get. Also, there are ideas the the artificial sweetner is sweet overload so it stimulates the “sweet craving centers” in the brain and people who consume more of the artificial stuff wind up eating more sweet treats.

  18. Most recently I was horrified by the ingredient list on a package of whole wheat bread. Sugar was on the list three times, plus a bunch of chemicals I couldn’t even pronounce! I have baked my own bread since then, which is actually not as much work as I’d anticipated thankfully. Plus, it tastes so much better!

  19. Jane 02.02.2011

    I have the same issue with green tea, it’s gross! I drink white tea and early grey they are really good, no wonky aftertaste :) I use a squirt of local honey in mine, plus the earl grey has bergamot so it smells awesome!

    Haven’t had the spicy sweet potato fries yet, I’m worried they’d be too spicy! I like regular ones though, maybe I’ll get brave and go for the spicy :)

    Love the blog, we’ve had fun with the winter storm here is KS too! The car was actually frozen in place!!! Never had that happen before.

  20. Dream Mom 02.02.2011

    Congrats on day 3 without pop! You can do this! The pancakes look really good!

    In terms of being surprised, I gave up any products with soy in it a few months ago because it’s one of the top 4 genetically modified crops and every time I look at an ingredient label, it seems it has soy in it.

    In terms of food related quirks, I hate any “fake” foods-like Boca burgers, wierd noodles or things that are obviously manufactured in a lab. The things that scare me the most are the vegan fake meats and fake cheeses. If I can’t picture a plant or animal that the food came from, I won’t buy it, lol.

  21. Kendra! 02.02.2011

    Totally with you on the weird meat shapes thing…along with that I never trust meat that comes in frozen type meals – WEIRDS me out!! I used to buy Lean Cuisine chicken chow mein and pick the chicken out and just eat the rice and veggies every time!! Too bad they don’t sell more withOUT meat!

  22. I’m glad to hear the positive recommendation on the new sweet potato fries – I didn’t want to waste my money if they were no bueno so I’ve been sticking with their original ones, but these are on my list to pick up in the next couple weeks!

  23. YES! We have two bags of those Alexia fries in our freezer…yum.

  24. Guess you didn’t have the ingredients for Pioneer Woman cinnamon rolls? Those pancakes look pretty awesome though!

    And I couldn’t believe that most BBQ sauces have HFCS as the FIRST ingredient! GROSS!

  25. Daisy 02.02.2011

    another great meal brought to you by TJs & KP. you should be in advertising for these people! (serious – i bet they’d pay you well!!)

  26. Lisa 02.02.2011

    Congrats on the “no pop” thing! It is not really that bad once you get past the first week. For tea, you should try Tevana ( They have awesome teas! White tea is much milder than green tea and actually better for you. Check it out!

  27. Imwaytoobusy 02.02.2011

    Two of my favorites: TJ’s chicken burgers and Alexa Sweet Potato Fries! The best!

  28. I was completely snowed in today! That meant no gym and working from home…kind of a welcome break. I saw that you had TJ’s garlic fries. Have you tried the TJ’s brand sweet potato fries? Those are by far my favorite!

  29. Abby 02.02.2011

    OMG, I have a TOTAL ‘shaped meat’ hatred! Ha, glad to know I’m not the only one!

  30. Kristin from MN 02.02.2011

    You are lucky you get snow days at work! I am bummed to hear that Jiffy Cornbread mix has that gross ingredient in it! So what do you use for Corny Cornbread??? I love that recipe of yours but use Jiffy mix. :(

    • Iowa Girl Eats 02.14.2011

      My Mom used the Krusteaz brand cornbread mix for the corny cornbread – it’s sooooo good!!

  31. yeah for snow days! we had an ice day here, same diff :)

  32. Shelley 02.02.2011

    I’m always amazed at how many things have high fructose corn syrup in them. I try to avoid it especially for my kids (I’ve heard many people say that there is a noticeable difference in behavior when HFCS and food dyes/some preservatives are removed from the diet).

  33. Lauren 02.02.2011

    I have a small obsession with black and white mugs. Can you tell me the brand and style of your tea cup pictured here? Thanks:)

  34. Megan 02.02.2011

    Good job on giving up the pop. I gave it up about a year ago, but sometimes I still crave it … like when we have pizza!!! You need to try Zevia. Its all natural diet pop, its sweetened with stevia. Its expensive, but good for the occasional treat when you really want a pop. I think Trader Joes would carry it, but I don’t have one (booo), so not sure.

    • ashley 02.03.2011

      This is what I use! I agree, that you should try it. TJ’s doesn’t carry it, but Henry’s and Whole Foods does. Idk if you have one of those around you but if you do, check it out! I love Zevia’s orange soda.

  35. Eerrgg. I have a box of sugar free pudding in my pantry that I should probably throw away, too….thanks for the inspiration!

    Your dinner looked awesome! Trader Joe’s has been treatin’ you right!

    I don’t have many weird food quirks besides that if a food or beverage is supposed to be served hot, I want it REALLY hot. And if a food or beverage is supposed to be served cold, I want it REALLY cold. That’s why I usually warm my plates to serve dinner on, and put ice cubes in my milk : )

  36. Stephanie 02.02.2011

    I found those sweet tater fries not too long ago and

  37. Jill 02.03.2011

    Try TJ’s Blueberry Green Tea – its delish and cuts the bitter taste green tea can have. :)

  38. those pancakes look great- i am planning on making some saturday and can’t wait:)

  39. Yvette 02.03.2011

    Congrats on the giving up the soda. Aspartame for me is the worst of the artificial sweetners as far as how they make me feel. When I finally figured out that was what was bothering me I couldn’t believe how much food is made with it. Lots of yogurts have it, that is how I found Chobani and then ended up working for Chobani. I am so glad you posted the ingredient list, I have been trying to find something new to do with my ground chicken breast, we were getting burned out on Feta/Spinach and Roasted Red Pepper stuffed burgers but other flavors I have added have been fails. I am going to make my own Chile Lime Burgers. Love those Sweet Potato Fries but I can’t control myself on them so don’t buy them but sometimes make my own. I always feel better when I make my own everything. Love fresh fruit in my pancakes and love blackberries. I found Sweet Potato Pancake mix and they are yummy.

  40. Hope 02.03.2011

    Such good looking food in this post! The pancakes look so fluffy and delicious! I really want to try those TJ burgers now. I like your addition to guacamole on top of the burger. I think that would make it taste wonderful! I really like Alexia fries too! They are great!

    I am with you on the Jiffy! I didn’t realize that it contained lard until I read it somewhere and then saw it on the back of the box! I couldn’t believe it. Jiffy was my go to for cornbread. Now I am on the search for a good cornbread recipe. I’d rather find a recipe then eat lard! Ick!

  41. Megan 02.03.2011

    Those pancakes look amazing! I love berries in my pancakes but I somehow always end up burning pancakes OR undercooking them. What is your secret? I would love to know as I love pancakes!

  42. Lindsay P 02.03.2011

    I’m starting to discover that some of my favorite beauty items have parabens in them. So, very similar to your aspertame/hydrogenated lard story. My expensive Kate Sommerville scrub, most of my Body Shop items, and philosophy purity face ALL have parabens!

    Good for you for ditching the diet soda. Artificial sweetner is BAD! I cut that out after reading the chapter on it in Skinny Bitch.

  43. Traci 02.03.2011

    I LOVE tea and I hate the tea brand you have pictured, haha. I second someone’s recommendation to try Teavana for tea – it’s a bit pricey, but SO worth it and you can find flavored ones that taste soo sweet. I just bought Blackberry Mojito Green Tea and a mix of lemon & blueberry tea and it’s the. best. I also get a mix of Mate and Roobos tea that’s amazing.

  44. Christy 02.03.2011

    If you love berry pancakes you’ll have to check these out. I’m normally not a Rachael Ray fan but these are fab! Pancakes with Berries and Granola, how much better could it get!?

  45. Rachel 02.03.2011

    I’m slowly working my way away from food with ingredients that I can’t pronounce or don’t know what they are. It’s hard since chemicalized stuff seems to be in EVERYTHING these days. I don’t really have many food-related quirks that I can think of, though, other than that one!

  46. Isn’t it crazy what you start discovering once you read the ingredients on certain things? I’ve cut alot of foods out of our diets that we used to eat because of ingredients that I just don’t want going into my body (Jiffy cornbread was one of the first! also have you ever looked at the ingredient list on a package of goldfish crackers? it’s a mile long full of chemical names – yuck!) Good for you on quitting the diet soda too (love that you call it “pop”!!!! you never hear that in VA) – I have a feeling that you are going to kick that habit before you know it :) :)

  47. Celeste 02.03.2011

    I’m totally with you on the “weird” shaped meat. School lunch today in WDM is Fish Treasures! I have no clue what that means, but meat shaped into treasures is just wrong!

  48. Caitlin 02.03.2011

    Congrats on the no pop campaign! I agree with a previous post- don’t give up on tea after trying the green- I think it’s an acquired taste. If you make it into downtown DM, try Gong Fu Tea: They have literally a wall of fresh teas to choose from. Staff is really knowledgeable about their product so ask questions, smell different kinds, sample a few. I meet up with friends there sometimes on the weekends. Some teas are very high in antioxidants and can have a great taste. Good luck- keep up the good work!

  49. Machelle 02.03.2011

    I love regular ole black hot tea. Lipton or Bigelow brand. I have it with a little sugar (the real stuff!) & milk. My mom started us girls drinking it when were little…we had REAL tea parties….w/Lorna Doone cookies! ha! I don’t have many food quirks, altho the ex always loved those nasty turkey logs that come frozen in a box & I HATE them! It’s not even the flavor I hate, it’s the idea it’s in log form! I do get grossed out when I find a bone in my fish, and it can not have eyeballs, gills or a tail still attached! Also…my both my grandmas made the best homemade cornbread & they made it w/lard. Mixed a little in & then melted some in the cast iron skillet for baking. It was THE best! And I’m not talkin Crisco here, it was homemade lard! I would guess homemade is better than store bought. Less freaky ingredients & from a free range animal.

  50. AnneWF 02.03.2011

    We had a snow day and a half at work. I work at a health club and can you believe people were actually angry that we were closed yesterday. We had to dig out of a blizzard! 22 inches of snow!! Crazy.
    My big food dissappointment was all the foods that have hydrogenated fats. Taco seasoning? Steak seasoning? Why?
    My big food weirdness is that I cannot eat fish in restaurants but I can eat it if I prepare the fish myself. If I find a bone I’m a wreck and then I can’t finish it. Weird I know.

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