Howdy from home! :D

I flew in from LA late Friday night, so Ben and I spent the entire day yesterday unpacking, bumming around and catching up. I cough didn’t leave the house all day cough, while he only ventured out to pick up Jimmy John’s for dinner, and Bridesmaids as our evening entertainment.


OMG it was JUST as hilarious the second time around! I laughed out loud the entire time, while Ben just laughed at me…and built us a fire.


I ordered it extra roaring. :)


Before I get to the cozy dinner I simmered up this evening, I wanted to recap my final day at the Dole Healthy Bloggers Summit (gahhh as I sit here eating leftover Halloween candy…!)


Anyways, on the final morning of the summit, our Dole hosts and us bloggers had a roundtable discussion of some of our favorite healthy weight loss apps, tools and tips. Here are some of my faves:

Healthy Weight Loss Apps & Tools:

Meal Snap App. Take a picture of your meal and the app will tell you how many calories are in your meal. Apparently it’s pretty accurate!

PaceMaker App. Set a target running or walking pace on the app and if you fall below or go above, a voice will tell you to speed up or slow down.

Fitbit Tracker. This tiny tracker clips on your pants or bra and tracks steps taken, distance traveled and calories burned. It wirelessly syncs to where you can track your weight loss and progress!

Healthy Weight Loss Tips

  • Eat almonds. A recent study showed that obese women who added 2oz of almonds to their diet a day and made no other changes, lost weight.
  • If it doesn’t come from the ground, don’t eat it as a snack during the day.
  • Get more nutrients and healthy vegetables by adding them to green smoothies.
  • Fill 3/4 of your plate with veggies and the remaining with meat/protein.
  • Eat slowly and eliminate distractions like television when sitting down to a meal. You will be able to more easily recognize when you are full and stop eating.
  • Challenge yourself to take 5 minutes to eat one small piece of dark chocolate. Normally in that time I would have eaten 5!

Interesting Studies Shared by Dole:

Stuff Yourself Thin with Volumetrics

Volumetrics is about choosing more high-volume, high-fiber, high-water content foods, like fruits and vegetables, and fewer energy-dense foods that pack lots of calories into little packages, like butter, sugar and junk food. Because foods in the former category happen to be packed with lots of nutrients, and those in the latter tend toward empty calories and excess salt, getting into this kind of eating habit will not only help you lose weight, but lower disease risk as well.

In a study of nearly 100 obese women, the volumetrics group – those encouraged to eat more fruits, vegetables, soups, whole grains, etc – ate more food by weight than another group told to cut back on portion size, yet ended up losing 33% more weight.

Surprising Vinegar Benefits

Arizona State researchers found that when dieters ate a high glycemic index meal accompanied by 4 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed in a glass of water, there was a 54% reduction in the amount of sugar that made it into the blood (when compared to eating the meal with water only). Not only did the vinegar affect how the body processed carbohydrates, it seems to have increased satiety as well, and the vinegar drinkers ended up consuming up to 275 fewer calories throughout the day.

Restaurant Diners Using Small Forks Ate 56% More

University of Utah conducted a field study in a popular Italian restaurant, in which 98 university students of both genders were provided a pre-weighed plate of food of their choosing off the menu. Some students were given a large fork (which fully loaded held 20% more food by weight), while others were supplied a smaller fork. The results: big fork diners left 179% more food on their plates! In other words, they ate 44% less weight than their small-fork counterparts.

By the way, I am officially crossing #4 off my 30 Things Before 30 list, as I got to meet Tina from Carrots ‘n’ Cake at the summit!


I was an awkward goober upon meeting her, per usual, as CNC was one of the very first blogs I ever started reading, and is a big reason why I started IGE. She is super chill AND ran the NYC marathon today. Go Tina! :D


I was also pumped to see Monica from Run, Eat, Repeat at the summit, as we met at BlogHer this summer. Let’s be real though – I loved meeting ALL the women in attendance. Three cheers for blogger buddies, and a HUGE thank you to Dole for an unforgettable time in LA!


Spending a few days in Cali has left me feeling very refreshed and inspired in the health department, but my meat and potatoes husband requested, well, meat & potatoes for dinner tonight. I satisfied both of our appetites by making healthified Beef & Barley Stew!

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This thick, hearty, man-approved meal is made healthy by using lean stew meat and simmering it in low-sodium chicken broth with TONS of veggies. You’ll see!

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I started with the aforementioned stew meat.


There was barely any fat on this meat to begin with, so I just trimmed it up a tiny bit then seasoned with pepper and coated the meat in flour.

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After browning it in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, I added fragrant veggies like carrots, onions and garlic.



I loathe cooked carrots except when I cut them myself and add them to soups or stews. This is the only way!!


Next, savory spices like parsley & thyme are added in. The layers of flavor built in the soup from the pepper, carrots, onions and seasonings allow you to cut back on the amount of salt used.

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After the carrots and onions sweat, low-sodium chicken broth is poured in, a lid is placed on top of the pot, and the whole mixture simmers for 45 minutes.


Next comes the goods. Mushrooms (which I picked out of my bowl, natch,)


White and sweet potatoes (I actually used a white sweet potato since Ben doesn’t like sweet potatoes. He had no idea they were in there! ;) )


Pureed Roma tomatoes,


and barley.


I heart barley, and it’s good for lowering cholesterol. Win!


After another long simmer, the stew with thick and silky, while the veggies and meat were super tender.


Frozen peas, Ben’s favorite, were stirred in at the end.


This bowl was like a big hug. :) I will totally make it again this winter!

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Ben scooped up every last bit up from his bowl, and I did too.

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I followed this recipe and added 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in the beginning to brown the meat in. Other than that – no changes. It was divine!

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Off to go cozy up to another fire and watch Once Upon a Time. Have you seen that show yet? It’s a modern take on classic fairytales and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. Tonight will probably decide it for me. :)

Have a great night, and happy Sunday!


What are your favorite ways to “sneak” extra veggies into you and/or your family’s diet? Green smoothies? Grated into soups/stews? Pureed and added into baked goods?