Archive for September, 2011

My Blogging Penpal

Posted: September 30, 2011 in bloggers, penpal

In today’s world of emails, texts, and apps the art of the letter has slipped away. I used to love getting “fun mail”; now I get bills.
But thanks to my blogger friend Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean, fun mail is back and it’s been blogger healthified! Lindsay created a blogger penpal system that started this month.  She assigns bloggers and readers a “penpal” and you send that person a $15 package of your favorite healthy (or not so healthy) goodies and other fun things.  At the end of the month each blogger writes about it and the love grows.

My penpal was Jordan at Food, Sweat, and Beers. What a cute blog name! She’s a graduate of UNC who blogs about food, her love of Les Mills classes, and craft beer!

 She sent me a FANTASTIC package complete with sweets, new glasses, and new treats!

 My favorite item was the Chapel Hill dark chocolate toffee!  Can we say addicting? That was a sweet treat to enjoy in my usually clean eating only kitchen!

I was also interested to try Annie Chun’s seaweed snacks.  I had heard about them on blogs, but never seen them with my own eyes. Wellllllll…..I saw them…..and I can live without them.  I ate them in class and some people liked them.  I didn’t “dislike” them, however they were really thin so I felt like I was eating a Listerine Seaweed patch.  Hey, I tried!

My package included some homemade love to which was fudge peanut butter brownies with a pretzel crust. Salty and sweet? Very, very good! Jordan was inspired to make them from another blog; Jessica at How Sweet It Is!

Kyle enjoyed the brownies….and these sausage links. They were gone in a flash! The boy loves protein, salty snacks!

A BIG thank you to Jordan for such a sweet package! Please follow her blog and her tweets too!
I think the blogger penpal was a GREAT idea! It strengthens the bonds in the blogging community and it gave me some special treats to look forward to.  I’ll be joining in next month too!

Want to join? It’s open to bloggers AND just blog readers.  Just follow up with Lindsay’s instructions below:

 -On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact each other and get mailing addresses and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. *US Residents only please at this time- hopefully we can expand soon!*
If you’re interested in participating for October, please send me an email at and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
I will need to hear from you by October 4th as pairings will be emailed on October 5th!
Now I think I’ll go fill up my NC brewery glass with some ice cold H20 and think about my 17 hour day at the Wine & Dine Half Marathon tomorrow!  Good luck runners!
Love & flat rate boxes,
Carissa & Kyle

This is Halloween!

Posted: September 30, 2011 in cat pictures, foodbuzz, holidays
This is Halloween! This is Halloween!

Ok maybe Jack Skellington and I are a weeeeeee bit early, but my decorations are up in full force, pumpkin coffee from Godiva is in the machine, and I feel a crisp breeze coming this weekend!

It’s FALL Y’ALL!  And I couldn’t be more excited.  Fall = party time.  Halloween + birthday = a good time for everyone mainly me!

Kyle calls me a glitter mummy!

I love October- December so I try to enjoy, decorate, celebrate, and take in every magical moment.  Hence the decorating beginning tonight.  

Kyle was kind enough to get down my decorations just before the USF game. Aren’t we festive?

Actual black cat. Not a decoration.

I also have a special fall treat this am. Pumpkin Spice Coffee in my own home!  Godiva was wonderful enough to send me 2 fall inspired flavors of their ground coffee. I recieved these as part of the FoodBuzz Tastemaker program.

The smell of the pumpkin spice coffee is everything you’d expect.  Just perfect and literally smelling it makes me happy.  It doesn’t make me look less creepy in my glasses and PJ’s…just makes me happy!

We have A LOT of October birthdays between my friends & family. A LOT! Like 10+! So there will be a lot of fall gatherings and dinners where we enjoy coffee.  I can’t wait to see what the family thinks about these delicious, aromatic Godiva flavors.

What’s your favorite part of fall…y’all?

Love and ghosts, 
Carissa & Kyle

When I grocery shop I do so with a detailed list and my coupon binder. For me, the key to healthy eating is preparation and the grocery store is where it all starts. Every once in a while, however, something jumps off the shelves at me and gets me pretty stinkin excited!

Say hello to “Go Picnic” lunch boxes!

A-MAH-zing! Healthy foods often aren’t convenience foods. That puts me in a pinch when im in a rush or have a long day. Go Picnic you are my healthy/fast/no refrigeration needed savior!

Healthy boxed lunches to-go. Its killer, right?

It gets better! Some of their options are gluten free!  That just rocks my world. It is so hard to find gluten free choices anywhere. These Go Picnic boxes can travel anywhere and provide GF nourishment in a jiffy. And they taste great!

Even Asia is a fan.

My friend Kim first alerted me to Go Picnic online. She has Celiac disease, so gluten-free is a must. Once I saw these babies on the shelves at Target I had to try them! Love, love, love!
Kyle and I enjoyed two turkey pepperoni boxes while climbing Mt. Kennesaw on vacation. 

Climbing fuel from Go Picnic.

Check out the variety:

  • SunButter and Crackers *gluten-free *vegan
  • Hummus and crackers *gluten-free *vegan
  • Turkey pepperoni and crackers *gluten-free
  • Tuna and crackers *gluten-free
  • Salmon and crackers *gluten-free
  • PB and crackers

I reached out to the folks at Go Picnic, because… I’m a fan. They sent us 2 more boxes to try….and….they’re giving some away to a lucky reader!

Here’s how to enter:
1. Sign up for the GoPicnic newsletter at
2. Like GoPicnic on facebook
3. Follow GoPicnic on Twitter
4. Visit and tell me what flavor you’d like to try and WHY!
5. Tweet a message like “Great #glutenfree giveaway at  @gopicnic @carissaanneb”
6. Leave a comment here telling me where you’d eat GoPicnic lunches!
Each task will be a separate entry. Just leave a comment on the blog here or on our Facebook. The winner will be chosen Monday night (October 3).

If these awesome GoPicnic boxes aren’t in your stores you can score a great deal online at Use the code FLEX10 to get 10% off your order. That’s like coupons and good health sent right to your door!

Go healthy, go thrive, GO PICNIC!

Good luck!

Love and sweet mountain snacks,
Carissa & Kyle

Extreme Couponing on TLC

Posted: September 28, 2011 in coupons

Tonight is the premiere of Extreme Couponing on TLC. Are you a couponer?

Locked and loaded.

I was watching a marathon of old episodes as I cooked dinner tonight (French’s onion chicken nugget salad) and I got inspired to share some coupon tips with you.  I got so inspired I’m fighting the urge to plan out next week’s shopping trips with coupons right now!

I am not a new couponer.  I clipped coupons as a kid. It was like a game and it still is.  However with TLC’s extreme couponing last year, I took my couponing to a new level.  I just felt like there was money to be saved and I wanted to do it!

Why am I crazy? I have a hot pink coupon binder and I spend several hours a week clipping and organizing coupons.

What am I not crazy? I don’t buy things I don’t use. I keep some brand loyalty. AND I don’t buy junk food items just because they’re pennies or free.

Since couponing seriously in April I would say I save about $50 a week on groceries. Some weeks when I have more time I’ll make the extra tips to Walgreens & CVS for their extreme deals. This is where my “stockpile” grows.

Here are my first 2 posts on “how-to coupon”: Crazy Coupon Lady, Extreme Couponing Tips

The items/brands I most often use coupons for are: Greek yogurt, Yoplait smoothies, coffee, coffee creamer, cereal, peanut butter, dressing, marinades, v8, almond milk, cat food, kitty litter, blue/feta cheese, frozen veggies, and every beauty/cleaning product. 

If you coupon or want to up the ante here are my tips for you:

  • Use the internet. There are specific sites that do all the work for you.  They find the best deals and you can shop and save knowing you’re getting the best deal! My favorite sites are below.
  • Be organized. You don’t need a coupon binder, but keep all your coupons organized and in 1 place. Nothing is worse than being at the store and missing a deal because you left a coupon at home.
  • Get the Sunday paper and BEG friends for theirs! Thank you Nancy & Cindy for the weekly coupon offerings! 🙂
  • Know the coupon policy.
    • Publix will accept a competitor coupon and a manufacturer. So I can use a coupon online from Target with a regular coupon.
    • Target accepts a “Target specific” coupon with a manufacturer coupon.
    • The CVS/Walgreens rewards deals are confusing. Do your research and don’t be ashamed to take something back if you didn’t get the deal you wanted.
Seriously, utilize the internet and the sites above.  Spend 10 minutes a day printing new online coupons and tracking weekly deals for the week.  Or if it’s too much for you just mail your coupons to me and call it a day! 🙂

Love and pennies saved,

Carissa & Kyle

Welcome to WIAW v 14.0. The WIAW of the bean explosion.

What I Ate Wednesday is a collection of blogger food journals organized by Jen at Peas & Crayons. You can check out all the great bloggers there.

And now onto the food I ate…

Soy milk, berries, oatmeal, chia seed, spinach, Pea protein smoothie
v8 low sodium
Sun Dried Tomato Tuna
Annie Chung’s Wasabi Seaweed
(I got these from a VIP. More about that Friday)
Crock pot buffalo chicken quesadilla on a whole wheat tortilla with blue cheese
No beans – they exploded
So I compensated with Quaker rice cakes
1/2 cup Fiber 1 + raspberries + soy milk
Eaten pre-run with Grey’s Anatomy
3 mile run – 8:54 pace! Woohoo! (I’m trying to get faster!)
Archer Farms chicken garlic & spinach sausage with caramelized onions
Roasted red potatoes
Spring Mix salad
Now the bean explosion.  Oh the bean explosion!
When I get home from school I am starving for lunch. I’m ravenous.  I’m also OCD so I clean up the kitchen, take care of my kitties, and then make lunch.  This only makes me hungrier and obviously a little off kilter.  I was crisping my quesadilla and microwaving some baked beans.  Took the beans out of the microwave – enter hand spasm – Beans fall to the floor. With an intense velocity sticky, hot baked beans fly all over my kitchen. No bueno.
Did you make any messes this Wednesday?
Love and the magical fruit,

Carissa & Kyle

BE sure to check out past WIAW parties: WIAW:version one,  twothreefourfivesixseveneightnineten, eleven, twelve, thirteen

Welcome back to “Thinking Tuesday“.  
Food, diet, and nutrition has become a world of myths, misconceptions, and utter confusion.  Am I right?  One day it’s good to eat something and another day its not.  It can be frustrating to put it mildly.  

Mom, I just don’t know what to think anymore!

Sugar is one area where I get asked a lot of questions.  Some sugars are marketed as “healthier” than other sugars. Do I believe that to be true? No.

Sugar is sugar.  Once it inside your body it is primarily converted to glucose for metabolic fuel. End of story.  
Does a $8 bottle of agave nectar shave inches off your waist when used in your fave chocolate chip cookie recipe????  What do you think? It doesn’t.

Here’s the not so sweet truth:

  • Sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon. 4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon. 
  • Eating sugar won’t make you gain weight, provided you don’t exceed the amount of calories you need daily 
  • Sugar does have some negative effects.  Too much sugar in your diet can elevate the levels of fat in your blood and lower your HDL (good) cholesterol levels.
  • Your taste buds can’t distinguish between naturally occurring sugars (an orange) and added sugars (an orange soda)
But I didn’t need to tell you that sugar wasn’t a pillar of good health. I’m trying to help you weed through the mess of sugar stories out there and get the truth.
1. Is honey healthier than sugar?
          – Honey contains a negligible amount of potassium, but has more calories than sugar. (21 calories per teaspoon vs. 16 for sugar).
2. Is agave nectar healthier than sugar?
          – Agave nectar is 1.5 times sweeter than sugar, however it still contains calories. Simply because it is “less processed” and from a plant doesn’t make it less of a sweet mess.  Agave sugar does have a lower glycemic index than sugar. The glycemic index determines how quickly carbohydrates are digested in your body. The more quickly they’re digested, the quicker they get into your bloodstream and deliver a sugar rush that affects your blood sugar level. While sugar has a high glycemic index, the agave nectar glycemic index is low, meaning it won’t impact your blood sugar as much. This can be especially important to diabetics.
3. Is maple syrup healthier than sugar?
            – Maple syrup costs significantly more than sugar and has a high glycemic index.
4. Is brown rice syrup healthier than sugar?
             – Brown rice syrup has a low glycemic index but may still spike blood sugar due to maltose.
5. Is High-Fructose Corn Syrup healthier than sugar?
            – Well this one really depends on who you ask.  I’m not going to take on the HFCS machine.  I will say that I personally avoid HFCS at all costs simply because it’s very processed and contains “high levels of fructose”.
So what’s the point??? I don’t know!  I’m not the final authority on all things food related.  I’m just presenting facts.  Facts that might help you make a better food choice down the line.  Facts that might help you think twice when someone says their granola bar is “healthy” because it was made with honey.

For me personally I try to limit my added sugar intake and avoid high fructose corn syrup.

What’s your take on this sweet situation?

Love and sweet tooths,
Carissa & Kyle

If you’re new to Thinking Tuesday you can catch up here:week 1 hereweek 2 hereweek 3week 4week 5, week 6.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor or an RD (yet). I’m simply presenting facts.  This research was from my Nutrition & Me book at I used in my Principles of Nutrition class.

My Trainer is Mean

Posted: September 27, 2011 in salads

My trainer is mean.
My trainer is tough.
My trainer is punishing.

My trainer is darn good.
Those of you who workout with Kyle may have thought lots of “colorful” things while training with him.  Don’t worry.  I thought some not so sweet things about him today! But he knows I love him and crave the kick butt, high-intensity training he gives me.  
Today was extra special. After I had leg pressed, squatted, lateral lunged, and split squatted…Kyle handed me 2 30lb weights and told me we were going outside to sprint.  In the rain. In the dark. It hurt and I don’t want to talk about it anymore. 🙂

But he’s the best trainer you’ll ever find! Just ask his clients; preferably 30 minutes AFTER they workout!

Monday is usually salad and sprints night, but we had some scheduling shuffling today so my Monday am workout moved to Monday pm.

The salad survived.
Apparently salad Monday is catching on, because there were no rotisserie chickens at Target today. Ok- so I realize it’s not “catching on” but it could! I waited 15 minutes, checked out, and the sweet deli lady at Target saved me a chicken. Thank you. She also told me to have a “blessed day”. So sweet.
In the salad mix:
– Rotisserie chicken
– Asparagus
– Cucumber
– Grape tomatoes
– Sliced beets
– Pecans
– Blue cheese
– Organic spinach and spring mix

Are you on board with salad Monday? Would you give it a try?

Fear the Beard!

Posted: September 26, 2011 in Uncategorized

Welcome back to the work week! (womp womp waaa). Here’s a recap of some of our blogging from over the weekend. Just in case you missed something!

Recipe of the Week: Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Magical Dining Month: Emeril’s
Creating Controversy: Too Late to Apologize
Notable others: Burgers, Another One Bites the Dust

Some of you may have noticed Kyle’s facial hair increasing over the past few weeks.  Smooth as a baby’s bottom on top, but man can he grow some fur on his face.

The beard evolves.

Why the mountain man look?  
This month is SeptemBEARD.  Get it? September + beard = Septembeard.

What is Septembeard? It is a movement aimed at eradicated and educating men about prostate cancer.  Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths in men. Early detection is critical the fight against prostate cancer and cases caught early have a much higher survivial rate.
So this month Kyle put his facial hair to good use.  With 1 week to go he’s still going strong and stubbly. At the end of the month we’ll make a donation to the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

So know that the mystery of the beard is solved, spread the word!  Tell any man over 50 that you know to have their prostate checked.  Grow a beard, donate some green, or just RT this blog!

Be the change you want to see in the world!

Love and less shaving, 
Kyle & Carissa

Yes, it’s still September. Yes, you can still get a 3-course gourmet meal for $30. Yes, we had an awful time at Ocean Prime. Yes, we gave Magical Dining Month another go at Emeril’s at Universal City Walk.

Emeril’s was FANTASTIC! The service and food were amazing from start to finish!  Everything we expected Magical Dining Month to be it was and that only makes the bad experience at Ocean Prime more sad for them.  
Magical Dining is supposed to bring you to new restaurants.  You fall in love with them. You get a great deal.  You come back for full price.  Emeril’s you win.  We’ll be back. BAM!

Emeril’s is a place we don’t usually think to head to.  It’s at Universal City Walk, which for Orlandoians is in the middle of tourist-ville.  You have to pay to park and walk upstream through sweaty tourists on their way out of the park. But the meal far outweighed the difficulties of the location. I had some Happy Hour specials with my Mom last year after a day in the parks and wanted to go back for the “real deal”.
Kyle’s parents Nancy & Jerry joined us for this dinner. It was great to have them there and they really enjoyed the meal.

When we told our waiter that we were there for Magical Dining Month, he was excited to have us! Excited! He brought us a special amuse bouche from the chef which was amazing!  What was in it? Don’t know exactly! A meat, a goat cheese, frisee, and a balsamic glaze I think? It was good.  And that was great service!

For my appetizer I went with the New Orleans BBQ shrimp with a rosemary biscuit.  I got 4 delicious shrimp with a killer BBQ sauce.  With a kick! Best part of my meal!

My entree was the citrus salmon and it was flavorful and cooked perfectly.  Nancy and Jerry went for the “boursin and bacon stuffed chicken breast”.  They raved about it!  I think it was the star of the show. 

Dessert was a choice of bread pudding or fresh fruit with sorbet.  Since our dining trips have been plentiful during September I went for the fruit.  Great choice!

I left feeling happy, satisfied, and not overly stuffed.
Emeril’s you get a hand clap!  Thanks for a great meal!

After we left the restaurant and were safely in our cars the bottom dropped out on some dark clouds here in Orlando.  Good timing for us!

What’s the last restaurant to impress you?

Love and cloth napkins,
Carissa & Kyle

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Posted: September 25, 2011 in cardio, recipes

Have I been on a pumpkin kick or what?  My Vitamin A and C levels are skyrocketing!
This week I’ve made pumpkin black bean soup, pumpkin spice cupcakes, and had pumpkin ale.
Finally, on a Sunday am I had the time to make the pumpkin protein pancakes I saw on Julie’s blog.  We woke up at a leisurely time, I got in a 2 mile run with 8 sprints, and with NFL Live on in the background we cooked up some pancakes!

Here’s what my run looked like:
-1 mile jog – 9:30 pace
– 15 second sprint, 45 second recovery x 8
-3 min cool down

I love fall, I love pumpkin, and I love lazy Sunday mornings!  I love coffee too which I made a special way too.  I added cinnamon to my grounds, which is something I saw on Tina’s blog.

Julie did some great work with this pumpkin recipe.  We doubled it since both of us were eating. It turned out amazing!  The pumpkin flavor was subtle but there and the texture was perfect.  It was like warm, pumpkin pie for breakfast.

Pumpkin Protein Pancakes

Serves one (makes three medium-sized pancakes). We double it this am.
  • 2/3 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/4 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg (optionall)
  • Spray pan with cooking spray and heat to a medium heat
  • Combine all ingredients in a blender until fully mixed. You can also use an immersion blender.
  • Pour batter onto the warm pan to form three medium-sized pancakes
  • Allow to cook until edges start to harden, about three minutes
  • Flip pancakes and allow to cook until batter is no longer runny, about two more minutes
  • Top with syrup, nutmeg or desired toppings and enjoy
My pumpkin looks like an apple!
Today’s plans are to clip coupons, intently watch my fantasy team (we’ve had A LOT of injuries), and head to Kyle’s cousin’s house for the 4 o’clock games and dinner.

Love and orange vegetables,

Carissa & Kyle