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Holiday Hostess

My cheeks and jaw are sore from laughing so hard last night. The can’t-breathe, eyes-are-watering kind of laughing. Those are good moments. :)

My parents are very good at hosting friends for meals and tend to go way overboard with the amount of food they prepare. Last night, they set up a build-your-own-pizza bar for some of their friends and mine while we played games like Taboo for about 6 hours.

I made a ‘fruits & veggies’ pizza – pineapple, tomato, artichokes, bell peppers, onions and spinach. It’s funny how differently everyone designs their pizzas! My best friend Kerri and I used to have a lot of homemade pizza nights in college and we had very strong opposing opinions on cheese placement. She argues that the cheese goes between the sauce and veggies like glue. I believe cheese goes on the very top like a seal. We agree to disagree.

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Seeing how my parents host parties and events with their friends makes me excited to do the same in my own place. Two years ago, I hosted Thanksgiving at my apartment in Flagstaff, AZ while I was a senior in college and I loved planning the drinks and decorations and place settings. Last year, I was in charge of appetizers and dessert.

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Obviously food is at the core of holiday celebrations. When you live that healthy lifestyle, a full day of feasting can be a little stressful. I don’t like to let my healthy values fall to the wayside on major holidays because overindulging typically results in feeling guilty and that is not a feeling to associate with a day of thankfulness.

Side dishes that are individually portioned are one way to avoid over-eating. One pre-sliced crostini with a tablespoon of toppings is a two-bite snack that won’t ruin your appetite for dinner.

Our Thanksgiving dishes aren’t extremely traditional. Basic recipes are typically heavy on the butter/salt/cheese ingredients and low in nutritional value. Plus, after decades of the same boring turkey and mashed potatoes, we are ready for something unique, spicy and creative! We’ve made curried sweet potatoes (try something besides marshmallows, I dare you) and bacon-roasted brussel sprouts. I do think these butternut squash and sage crostini’s were my favorite appetizer, probably in large part to how pretty they plate!

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Butternut Squash & Basil Crostini App: 

  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Dash of salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch of fresh sage, rinsed
  • 4 Laughing Cow cheese wedges (I used the asiago flavor)
  • 1 baguette, cut into 12 slices

1.) Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stir butternut squash cubes into the olive oil, salt and pepper, and place on a cookie sheet.

2.) Bake the squash for 45 minutes.

3.) Place the baguette slices in the oven for 4-5 minutes until warm. Top with a tablespoon of cheese, squash and some fresh sage.

Enjoy!

Another appetizer success last year was my spicy cranberry jalapeno relish and “stuffing sliders.” I’ll share this clean-eating recipe later this week.

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A week from today, my office is having a Friends-giving potluck lunch with the office and I signed up for a sweet potato dish. Sweet potatoes are one of my top 5 favorite foods ever and I’ll make a post about my favorite sweet potato recipes as well. If you’ve only ever eaten sweet potatoes with marshmallows and brown sugar, these will change your life. ;)

Feel free to share any of your favorite healthy or not-so-healthy holiday recipes!

XO Kenz.

 

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Memorial Day + Skinny Mojitos

Happy Memorial Day! :)

(If you’re looking for something patriotic, I will direct you to the Skinny Berry Pies or the Red, White & Blue Kabobs!)

Last week I worked my first full 40-hour week. It included three days with 4:30am wake up calls for morning workouts, evenings at the gym and a Friday night full of chores. My point: this three-day weekend is much-appreciated.

Skinny Girl Mojito Recipe / Light Cocktail | Stronglikemycoffee.comHow are you spending your holiday weekend?! It seems like we have been eating, working out, eating, working out, eating and working out. In a fun way, I promise ;) We’ve taken advantage of extra time to make colorful and elaborate breakfasts, lunches & dinners. We spent nearly four hours on a nine mile walk/hike, just taking our time to explore and leisurely enjoy the quiet Sunday morning. We squeezed in a couple of HIIT circuits, fueled mainly by guilt from our late-night frozen yogurt excursion. There was a cardio carnival at the gym and a couple rounds of Alexa Jean Fitness Sore to the Core workouts.

But I mainly soaked up the extra hours spent cozily inside, with a new book and some coffee. My brain and my body wanted a rest.

Coffee table novel / Love or something like it | Stronglikemycoffee.com

The phrase “Skinny” cocktails is like saying a “short” marathon… It is a bit of an oxymoron because alcoholic beverages don’t offer much in the way of nutritional value. However I believe a healthy lifestyle includes moderate indulgences like ice cream, sushi, and the occasional cosmo. Personally, I like to save cocktails for the special occasion or social event because they are often “empty calories” and can have negative effects on my fitness goals. When I am splurging…I love me a good mojito :)

Since turning 21, I have become the bartender on holidays. (Remember the Thanksgiving Fire Jolly Rancher?) Memorial Day is no exception, and I tried my hand at an easy Skinny Girl Mojito concoction:

Skinny Cocktail Mojito Recipe  Stronglikemycoffee.comTo be perfectly honest with you, I eliminated the rum from my jar…which leaves a sparkling lime and mint water. Still wonderfully refreshing and feel free to do the same if you are looking for a non-alcoholic party drink!

Skinny Girl Mojito:

  • Bottle of Skinny Girl Mojito (32 calories per 1.5 fl. oz.)
  • 1 lime, cut in wedges
  • handful of mint leaves
  • ice cubes
  • Sparkling lime water (I used Perrier but several other sparkling water brands now have lime flavors)
  • Extra lime wedge for garnish
  • Pretty straws if you’re feeling festive

This recipe eliminates sugar, and substitutes Bethany Frankel’s line of Skinny Girl bottles for straight rum to reduce the calorie and sugar content.

1.) Put 5-6 mint leaves, 1 lime wedge and the juice of 1 lime wedge in the bottom of your glass. I used little mason jars with handles. “Muddle” the mint with a long utensil, crushing the lime and mint leaves.

2.) Put a handful of ice cubes over the mint mixture.

3.) Pour in 2 ounces of the SG Mojito; then pour in 6 ounces of lime-flavored sparkling water.

4.) Stir with a straw, add a lime wedge to the rim, and enjoy!

Easy, right?! This drink is so refreshing because it’s not too sweet but the mint and the lime are very flavorful. It’s also just a pretty drink.

After we sipped our cocktails and mocktails, we started planning some summer adventures….

Planning the summer's adventures / Map and Coffee | Stronglikemycoffee.comIt’s gonna be a good one & I can’t wait to share!

Enjoy your weekend and don’t forget that today is about remembering our nation’s fallen heroes. <3

 

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