Friday, October 7, 2011

Not your average grilled cheese sandwich.

It's time to throw that Wonder bread and Kraft cheese away!  We are talking gourmet grilled cheese today.  Grilled cheese isn't traditionally thought of as a healthy thing to eat, but I'm going to give some examples of ways you can make it a little more healthful than it usually is.  
Mari's post on that perfect fall butternut squash curry soup inspired me to make a fall dish I have had my mind on for a while.  Utah decided to go from 85 degree weather to snow in the matter of 24 hours, so it was the perfect excuse to make this delicious fall dish.  Here is the recipe (I got it from one of my favorite chefs, Chuck Hughes.  Love him.) for a lovely tomato soup and some iPhone pictures of the process:


  • 2 tablespoons/30ml olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 12 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 piece Parmesan rind, optional
  • 1/4 cup/60ml 35-percent cream
  • 2 tablespoons/30ml butter
  • Salt and pepper
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving
  • Chopped fresh chives, for serving


Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the brown sugar and tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes more. Add 1/2 cup water, the thyme and Parmesan rind, if using. Cook for about 25 minutes.Discard the thyme sprigs and Parmesan rind. Puree the soup in a food processor or with an immersion blender until smooth. Strain through a fine sieve set over cleaned saucepan. Stir in the cream and butter. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan and chives.

Caramelizing shallots.

 Aged white cheddar and shallot filled grilled cheese.  YUM!
Tomato Soup.

Here are some grilled cheese recipes I have tried, or am dying to try that I came up with:
  • Focaccia bread, mozzarella, basil and heirloom tomato, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil
  • French bread with brie, cranberry, and roasted turkey
  • Whole grain bread with fire roasted bell peppers, jack cheese, spinach, rotisserie chicken and spicy mustard
  • Whole grain bread with aged white cheddar and caramelized onions
  • Sourdough bread with olives, tomato, and Parmesan cheese
  • Wheat bread with Gorgonzola, prosciutto,  and caramelized pears
  • French bread with Havarti, apples and ham
  • Rye bread with avocado, chicken, and pepper jack cheese
Try adding fruits, veggies, and sources of protein to you grilled cheese next time you're in the mood for one!  It will be delicious and much more nutritious than  ever before.  I'd love to hear what combinations you come up with and what inspired you!  Share in the comment section below.

Happy and healthy this lovely fall season,

Monday, October 3, 2011

October is here!

Pull out your sweaters, scarves, and boots! The most wonderful month of the year is here & I couldn't be happier. With this wonderful change of season and to welcome in October,  I wanted to share a delicious fall recipe with you.  
It's only 270 calories per serving (1 serving: 1.5 cups + 2 tablespoons of cheese)
It's so MmmmMmmm Good! :)

 Curried Butternut Soup

You can make this rich soup with any kind of squash, or even sweet potatoes!! 


  • 8 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 2 pounds)
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cups chopped peeled Granny Smith apple (about 3/4 pound)
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 3 (14 1/2-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated extra-sharp white cheddar cheese


  • Preheat oven to 400°.
  • Arrange squash in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 45 minutes or until tender.
  • Melt butter in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add apple, onion, celery, and bay leaf; sauté 10 minutes. Stir in curry powder and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add squash, broth, and salt; stir well.
  • Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, uncovered, 30 minutes. Discard bay leaf. Partially mash mixture with a potato masher until thick and chunky; stir well with a spoon. Top each serving with cheese.
 Recipe courtesy of


Thursday, August 11, 2011

my 1st happiness project

You know what I love? Surprises. Not the 'oh, it looks like you're going to need a root canal' kind, but the gooooooood ones! Surprises like cheery flowers showing up on the kitchen table 'just because', a sweet thoughtful text or message from a friend, or 'So sorry the baby shower is canceled because Shelby is in labor!'. 

Surprises are just fun!

In my constant effort to keep life 'spiced-up' (just ask Chris, he hears me tell him to 'spice up' his life on a regular basis....and yes, the Spice Girls song has been a delivery method) I have decided that I am going to spread the surprise love & give more little surprises to others. 

I am hoping this little project of mine is as fun as I think it is going to be. I know we all enjoy making other people smile :) The little things in life go a long way.

My first surprise will be hiding these little notes around the apartment for my sweetheart (each of them saying something different). 
Wish me luck!

wishing happiness projects to all!

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Organic Produce

My adorable friend Sarah over at The Thirteenth blog shared a post that I just had to pass on! As you may already know I love Organic. I do! I do! Organic (to me) means no chemicals and all of the good stuff. Sarah put it perfectly when she said "a medical investment". When I eat a vegetable I don't want to worry about what chemicals I may be ingesting, rather, I would like to think about the fact that it is entirely good for me. 

Ahem, anyway. I am a big supporter and lover of Organic.
But what if you cannot find it! (we have all been there right?) And you are forced to settle for a non-organic....(insert dramatic music "dun-dun-duhh")

Have you heard of the "Dirty Dozen" and the "Clean Fifteen"? Those are lists of produce that have the most and the least amounts of pesticides. Essentially, the idea is that you should try to buy organic when it comes to any of the fruits or veggies on the Dirty Dozen list, but it's okay to skip the organic label if a food is one of the Clean Fifteen. 

This adorable cheat sheet is printable & easy to put in your wallet for when you go to the grocery store. 
I was pretty excited when I saw this & thought you all might like it too. A special shout out to Sarah for sharing it! <3

Here's to healthy shopping & giving our bodies what they deserve!
Mari Liz

Friday, June 10, 2011

Lemony Herbed Quinoa Salad

A refreshing and tasty salad! You can add yummy things to it like grilled chicken, steak, or seafood. 
*Tip! the salad will improve in flavor if made ahead of time!

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp grapeseed or safflower oil
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1/4 sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
*sea salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
(recipe compliments of for the love of salad)

Enjoy your yummy summery super-healthy salad! 

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My favorite bruschetta recipe

Bruschetta is the perfect healthy appetizer or lunch choice.  This recipe is easy to make and delightful on the taste buds.  We love it in the Alvord household.  It never disappoints.  The following is a single portion recipe, so if you are making it for a group just multiply the following by however many people will be enjoying this delicious concoction.  I always add the ingredients to taste so the following are approximate measurements.

  • 1 baguette (10 slices per serving)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 5 fresh basil leaves chopped
  • 1/4 C toasted pine nuts
  • sea salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • fresh grated parmesan cheese to taste
  • 1/4 C balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

To make:

Dice tomatoes, chop garlic and basil and place in bowl.  Add other ingredients and combine.  I always sprinkle the sea salt and add the vinegar before I add anything else because I like the tomatoes to marinate for a minute in that combination, but that is totally not necessary.  Slice your baguette into 1/3 inch slices and drizzle olive oil over their tops.  Toast your bread until it's golden in color.  I broil mine in the oven for just a minute or two.  Top your bread with the delectable tomato combination and enjoy!  I hope you love it as much as we do.

Happy to share a healthy recipe, 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Baby Food

Well my friends, the time has come for my daughter to start eating solids.  I can't believe we are already to this point in her life!  Where have the past 4.5 months gone?  

One thing I was sure of before I had Lucy, was that when the time came, I was going to make her baby food.  I bought a Baeba babycook before she was even born and was so excited about it.  I came to the decision to make her babyfood myself when I realized what goes into many jarred baby foods.  Many baby foods (not all, but many) are full of fillers, preservatives, water, and thickeners,  in place of real nutritious food.  Over half of Gerber's most popular selections contain these fillers instead of the fruits and vegetables advertised.  Also, many of the natural vitamins and minerals found in foods are stripped in the process of making and storing jarred baby food.  Jarred baby food is expensive, and after a little research on my part, I found it's not as nutritious as the big companies trick us into believing.  I also tasted some of the baby food options available and they taste nothing like the actual food they are supposed to be!  I want Lucy to be exposed to the taste and way I prepare food from the beginning so she is less likely to reject those foods later in life, if we were to make the switch from jarred food to my food.  I also don't want to allow her to get a separate meal from us every time she eats.  I want her to eat what we are eating.  Meal time in our home is and will be a family event and I refuse to make each of my kids something different at every meal.  So between the ingredients in shelved baby food, the taste of them, the cost and the lack of nutients, homemade baby food it is for us!

I have decided to only use organic fruits and vegetables, (and when the time comes, meats as well) to ensure she isn't getting any pesticides or hormones in her food.

It is recommended that babies main source of nutrition is breast milk until at least six months of age, one year is best.  Babies can be started on solid foods between 4 and 6 months of age, as a supplement to breastfeeding or formula.  Before starting your baby on solid food, always consult with your pediatrician.  A lot of the old baby food 'rules' are changing and things aren't as strict as they used to be (i.e. you can give your baby strawberries before 1 year of age, whereas that used to be on the 'forbidden' list).  It's more of a watch-and-be-careful kind of a policy now.  If there is a family history of food allergies, extra care and timing are crucial, and a pediatrician should certainly be consulted with before the child is exposed to any food.  I did tons of research and talked to Lucy's pediatrician about this topic, and only two things are absolutely off limits in the first year, milk and honey.  I had heard of the milk, but never the honey.  Honey can cause botulism in babies under one year old.  Although milk is off limits, cheese and yogurt are ok for babies to consume.  They are easier to digest than milk, and milk itself can cause the body to be unable to absorb iron which is a necessary vitamin for infants.

Although not necessary, it is recommended that you wait 3 days between exposing your baby to new foods in case of an allergic reaction.  If there is a food allergy, it will be easier for you to identify the cause.  

Some of the easiest foods to start baby on are rice cereal, bananas, and avocado.  All have a nice texture that is easy to swallow,  are nutritious, and are pleasant on the taste buds.  Mixing the baby's first food with expressed breast milk may allow the baby to accept the food easier than if it were plain or mixed with water, because of the familiar taste.

You can make and freeze your baby food in bulk at the beginning of the week or month and freeze it.  Just pull it out and thaw or heat appropriately before mealtime.  You can freeze your food in designated baby food freezing trays, or in ice cube trays.  Once the food is frozen, remove it from the tray and store in a labeled freezer bag.  Be sure to include the date of preparation and ingredients on the label of the bag.  The frozen food should be used within a month of being prepared.

Baby food is so easy to make!  If you are eating a healthy and balanced diet, you can most likely give them some of what you are eating every day.  The best way to prepare vegetables and fruits, in order to best preserve their nutrients is to bake, sautee or steam them.  Never prepare baby's food in a microwave, either to cook or thaw it.  Once cooked, let the food cool a bit and blend it in a blender, food processor or your baby food maker.  Naturally soft fruits should never be cooked, as cooking them takes some of their nutritional value away from them.  Just mash them up and enjoy!

I'm excited about the Baeba because it cooks, steams, thaws, heats, and purees the food all in this single bowl.  It is BPA and PVC free, easy to clean and easy to use.  Although it's a fun accessory, it certainly isn't necessary to have in order to make your own baby food.

Here is my sweet Lucy the first time she ate solids.  We chose to go with rice cereal and breast milk for her first go.

A few days later she was very fond of the bananas we prepared.

I'm very excited to introduce her to more and more foods and food combinations.  I have a whole menu planned out that we will be exploring over the next several weeks.  Below I have listed some websites where you can find more information about making your own baby food, ways to prepare it and recipes to follow.

Enjoy!  I know my happy and healthy Lucy will.

Monday, January 31, 2011

2011 Goals

One of my goals this year is to get back into running. After my foot surgery I lost a lot of muscle & became more out of shape than ever before. Now that I am able to run again I realize how much of the ability I've lost. I've always felt that running is one of those things that you have to continually work on or you lose it. Maybe that's just me? :) Anyway, at this point I can run a slow-steady 1mile. That's my limit. I would like to get back to my running level before the surgery. I know it's a slow and steady climb, but I'm going to try.

Which brings me to another point....I wanted to share my experience with the Vibram 5 Finger shoes thus far. I LOVE THEM! Really. I love them. I have had less foot pain and been less sore after my runs (as far as feet go). They are a little funny and take a few tries to get used to. After my first run I liked them but they smashed one of my toes...the next run I loosened the strap on the back and the toe problem was fixed. It was about a 3-5run learning curve for me.  My legs were a little sore in places they hadn't ever been before..I think it's because I'm now using muscles I hadn't really used in the past. Overall I really do like these shoes! I think they are going to help my feet.
I just hope that as my runs get longer that I still like them just as much! 

Here are my goals for 2011:
  • Run 3 races this year
  • Work out a minimum of 3 days every week
  • Expand my cooking by making at least 1 new recipe per week
  • Take 1-2hrs per week to do something for myself, anything that makes me happy
  • Ensure our home is filled with healthy food (so we don't have to eat garbage late at night! eek!)
  • Help my husband find balance in all aspects of his life
  • Bring Yoga & Running back into my regular work out routine
  • Show more gratitude
 Here's to a new year & to keeping my be healthy be happy goals!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blond Barbecue Sauce + Shallot Vinaigrette

I stumbled upon some lovely recipes that I wanted share with you! I plan on making them this week. I picture the chicken and the salad served together. You could top your salad with some lovely nuts and tomato, maybe an avocado! It's a very versatile salad dressing, so the possibilities are endless.


This sweet, spicy sauce is easy to throw together with kitchen staples and makes a wonderful glaze for pork or lamb ribs (or chicken). Just salt the meat, slather with sauce, and roast on a baking sheet at 350F, basting occasionally with the sauce, until the meat is tender and the glaze is golden brown.

Makes 1 1/3 cups; Serves 6 - 8

1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
3/4 cup apricot preserves
 3   tablespoons red wine vinegar
 1   tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine everything in a pan and heat, stirring, until bubbling and the preserves are dissolved.


Vinaigrette is best used the day it's made but will taste good for a few days if kept refrigerated. If the oil is added slowly while whisking, the mustard emulsifies the dressing. Even after it has sat for awhile and separated, the dressing will re-emulsify when shaken if it was correctly made the first time.

The ratio of oil to vinegar varies. Use the lesser amount of olive oil first, then taste by dipping the tip of a lettuce leave into it. Depending on the flavor of your salad greens and your own taste, you may want a sharper vinaigrette (less oil) or a smoother one (more oil).

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

1 small shallot, finely minced (or 2-3 tablespoons finely diced red onion)
1 small clove garlic, crushed to a puree (optional)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (or other type of mustard)
1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme)
1/4 cup canola oil (or other veg. oil)
1/2-3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 

In a deep bowl, mix the shallot, garlic (if using), red wine and balsamic vinegars, salt, pepper, mustard, and thyme with a whisk or a fork. Let stand for about 15min.

Slowly whisk in the oils, beginning with the canola oil. Drizzle the canola oil in to the bowl in a thin stream while whisking constantly, the mixture should thicken slightly. After adding canola oil, whisk in the olive oil in a thin stream. Taste. Add more oil if necessary. Sometimes you will want a very tart vinaigrette, other times a more oily one. You decide!

Eat Healthy & Stay Happy,

Friday, January 21, 2011

This is sure to make you happy

I know this is about a month overdue but it will certainly make your heart happy.  I love everything about it.  Enjoy!

I once read that when you smile, you use 42 muscles.  What a great exercise!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Forks Over Knives

In Theaters March 11
Not sure how I feel about it.
I do know that I will be going to see it to find out.
What are your thoughts?


Monday, January 17, 2011

Barefoot Running

I guess you could call me desperate.

It's been almost 1 full year since I had foot surgery on both feet. They removed two bunions on each foot, cut my big toes in half and straightened them...and finally, they put one big screw in each to keep it from happening again. Bunion + realignment surgery= ouch. So, Why? was painful to workout. Not excruciating but, painful. I spoke with my doctor and was told that this surgery would improve my feet & relieve the pain. Recovery would be 6-8weeks...


Here I am, a year later, to tell you that was not true.
Although my right foot has regained total function and range of motion, it still has moments where it just burns and aches.
My left foot, well, let's just say a day doesn't go by where it doesn't hurt, even if for just a minute. And you can forget about the range of motion, that toe won't bend at all.

Long story short, I'm frustrated. I'm in more pain than I was before surgery. But I don't want this to be the end. I don't want to give up. I don't want to just accept that I will have pain forever and that I will never be able to wear half of my shoes again.

All of this has brought me to purchase a pair of these funky looking shoes. They are called the Vibram 5 Fingers. Simply put, they are shoes that are meant to act as a shield between your feet & the elements, nothing more. They are meant to function as if you are wearing no shoes at all. I've read countless testimony after testimony about how great these shoes are. People have claimed they eliminate pain in joints, knees, and feet. They also help with your lower back (says an avid runner on a barefoot blog)... I'm sure the results vary per person. So I'm not saying they'll be the cure for my problems or the answer for everyone. But the idea is so intriguing, right? Here is what they post on their website:

"Our revolutionary design makes feet healthier by allowing them to move more naturally and freely.
The typical human foot is an anatomical marvel of evolution with 26 bones, 33 joints, 20 muscles and hundreds of sensory receptors, tendons and ligaments. Like the rest of the body, to keep our feet healthy, they need to be stimulated and exercised."

I've been watching people at my gym wear these during the fall months and have been so interested. I've read mixed reviews in running magazines, but even the bad reviews said they notice their feet are stronger after using these. Finally, a day or two ago, a good family friend told me how much it helped her cousin with foot was just enough to motivate me to buy myself a pair.

I can only hope this will aide me in my recovery. I have no idea if it will, but I am hopeful. The shoes should be arriving by Wednesday. I will be updating on my progress and my personal story with these crazy shoes, let's hope it's a success story! :)

For more information about barefoot running and 5Finger Shoes you can go here and here. Here is a personal story from a family friend.  Want more information than that? Just Google "barefoot running" or "five finger shoes"'ll get lots of info, trust me!

hoping to have happy feet soon,

Friday, January 14, 2011

Healthy Pregnancy Tips, Part 1

I have had several people ask about the things I did to stay as healthy as possible during my pregnancy.  I have decided to break it down into a few posts, so look out for more coming up in the near future.   These will consist of things that I did, that worked wonderfully for me.  Of course they are just suggestions and every woman, body, and pregnancy is different, so make sure you listen to your body and discuss your plans with your doctor before you change or add anything to your routine.

If you are having a normal, healthy pregnancy exercise is something that is great for both you and your baby.  It is recommended by the American College of OBGYN that pregnant women participate in 30 minutes or more of moderate exercise 5-7 days a week.  

When I was pregnant, I craved the movement and activity exercise provided.  My Dr advised against aerobic classes, anything with a lot of bouncing or jumping, kickboxing, and running, all of which I love and do regularly when I'm not pregnant.  Initially, I felt very limited in what was safe for me and the baby, but soon discovered I had so many options when it came to workouts that were ok.  Here are some physical activities I did while pregnant that helped me stay active, keep my blood pressure at a healthy level, avoid gestational diabetes, and maintain a healthy weight:
  • Hikes and nature walks- I did several of them throughout my pregnancy.  It was nice to have a change of scenery and breathe some fresh air.  Luckily I live within minutes of some of the most beautiful mountains in the world.  Remember to always go with someone when you are pregnant.
  • Yoga- I did yoga about once or twice a week until the middle of my third trimester.  Yoga has so many benefits for pregnant women.  It helps with balance, strength, and flexibility and muscle/body awareness during delivery, making pushing easier and more effective.  Make sure your instructor knows you are pregnant so they can modify moves for you, or participate in a prenatal yoga class.  Prenatal yoga DVDs can be purchased for practice at home.
  • Light weights/resistance training- I lifted until just days before Lucy was born.  Make sure you are using proper form, and the correct weight to ensure injury prevention.  I lifted arms, legs, and still did core strengthening exercises while I was pregnant.
  • Squats and lunge, you can find a variety of lower body exercises here, here, and here.
  • Elliptical machine- I would do a level 6 for 30-60 minutes.  I needed to be at a lower level than usual in order to avoid my heart rate getting too high.
  • Hill and stair climbing, both at the gym and outdoors
  • Daily neighborhood walks

Here I am, 36 weeks pregnant, on a hike with Josh in Park City.

This was taken just two days before I delivered Lucy on a nature walk just outside our family's cabin in Sundance.

What are some exercises you have found you enjoyed while pregnant?

Next pregnancy post:  FOOD!

Happy to have had a healthy pregnancy,

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Happy New Year!

Well, I'm back at it again!  It's a new year, and much has changed.  

My body went from this:
To this:
In just 9 short months.  I would say she was well worth it though.

I have some goals set for myself this new year, that I want to document on this lovely blog of ours.  I feel that if I make them public I will have an easier time holding myself accountable and sticking to my plan.  They are nothing crazy but they are very important to me.  Here they are:

  • I will continue to breast feed Miss Lucy until she is one year old.
  • When the time comes, I will make all of her baby food with fresh, organic ingredients.
  • I will be in bikini shape by Summer.  I don't have lbs that need to come off but I need some major toning to occur.  I want to feel fit, confident, and healthy.
  • I will cook 4 dinners a week for my family.
  • I will read 3 non-parenting books this year.  That may not sound like a big deal, but for me it is.
  • I will spend more time with my husband and give our relationship the attention it deserves.  I love that man.
  • I will update this blog, and my family blog once a week.
  • If my milk supply allows, I will run the SLC half marathon in April.  If not, I will be there to cheer on those who are running.
  • I will keep my house clean and organized. 
  • I will be able to touch my toes while standing, with my legs straight by April.  
See, nothing crazy or out of the ordinary.  I'm really looking forward to this year, it will be my first as a parent!  There are so many things to be grateful for and I want to enjoy life to its fullest in 2011.
Happy and healthy,

P.S. What are your goals for this new year?