Finding the balance of physical and mental health through adventures and fitness

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Pizza is a weakness.

I’m not the only one that feels this way. We don’t really order take out because I’m going to want to eat the whole thing. No amount of lifestyle change has made an impact on how I feel about pizza.

I’ve talked about my own struggles with food and there are events in my history that my eating can be linked to – these are times of high stress, times my PTSD is triggered, times of anxiety. For me, like many people I’ve spoken to and worked with, removal of an item can be helpful, but it doesn’t necessarily teach us how to behave around that food.

One way I’ve learned how to behave and treat certain foods is to keep them around in moderation and make some of them on my own. Pizza is one of those foods.

This is easy and completely from scratch, so let’s get started with the dough.

Do you like a classic, standard crust or do you prefer a thinner crust? Choose your crust below.

Classic Crust

What You’ll Need

  • 3/4 cup +1 and 1/2 tablespoons of flour
  • 1/3 tablespoon of salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon active dry yeast
  • 3/4 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 cup of warm water (around 110 degrees)


  1. In a medium sized bowl combine flour and salt until blended well. Then make a well.
  2. Warm the water to 110 degree to active the yeast. Too cold or too hot can prevent the yeast from working. I used a cooking thermometer to determine exact temperature.
  3. Add water to the well and dump in yeast and sugar. Let is sit for about 10 minute until bubbly.
  4. Add olive oil to the well mix with a fork until most of the dough has formed a ball.
  5. Then using your hand kneed the rest of the flour and dough pieces into the dough ball.
  6. Let the dough rest in a greased bowl with a cover for about two hours so it can rise.
  7. On a counter or large flat surface, sprinkle some flour down so that your dough doesn’t stick.
  8. Wipe some flour on a rolling pin and roll your dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.
  9. If you’re using a pizza stone, prep your pizza stone as necessary. I used a metal pizza tray, which I sprayed with cooking spray.
  10. Lay your rolled out dough on the baking stone or sheet.

This nutrition of the whole crust is  482 calories, 4.5g of fat, 84g of carbohydrates and 15g of protein.

Thin Crust

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1/3 teaspoon baking powder (I used 1/4 teaspoon and 1/8 teaspoon)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/3 cup of water


  1. In a medium sized bowl combine dry ingredients until blended well.
  2. Add olive oil and water to flour mixture and mix with a fork until most of the dough has formed a ball.
  3. Then using your hand kneed the rest of the flour and dough pieces into the dough ball.
  4. Let the dough rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
  5. On a counter or large flat surface, sprinkle some flour down so that your dough doesn’t stick.
  6. Wipe some flour on a rolling pin and roll your dough out to a 1/4 inch thickness.
  7. If you’re using a pizza stone, prep your pizza stone as necessary. I used a metal pizza tray, which I sprayed with cooking spray.
  8. Lay your rolled out dough on the baking stone or sheet.

This nutrition of the whole crust is 620 calories, 20g of fat, 92g of carbohydrates and 16g of protein.

Now for toppings. This is where nutritional value can really change.

Pick your sauce. Pick your toppings and just be mindful.

Philly Cheeseteak Pizza

We went thin crust and sauceless because we made Philly Cheesesteak Pizza and felt that it had enough flavor that we wouldn’t be missing anything by not having sauce.

What You’ll Need:

  • 8 ounces top sirloin, sliced and pan-fried
  • 1 medium bell pepper – about 150 to 200g, sliced into strips
  • 1 small red onion – about 75g sliced into strips
  • 4 large mushrooms – 50g sliced
  • 56g of mozzarella provolone shredded cheese blend
  • 28g of Parmesan Romano shredded cheese blend



  1. Pre-heat your oven 425 degrees so it can warm up while you get your toppings ready.
  2. Trim excess fat off your steak and slice it into 1/4 inch thick strips, ours were about an inch or two long as well.
  3. Cook steak in a medium sized pan. You will use this pan for the veggies as well, so a medium to large pan is necessary. You can use olive oil or cooking spray if you think you’ll have issues with the meat sticking to the pan. We used a little bit of olive oil wiped with a paper towel.
  4. Cook steak about half way before removing it from the pan. It’ll continue to cook in the oven and no one likes dry steak. Spread evenly onto your crust.
  5. Using the same pan, add sliced veggies and sautee in the steak juices until tender. You can skip this step if you prefer crunchy veggies on your pizza.
  6. While your veggies cook, in a small bowl mix your shredded cheese.
  7. Sprinkle a small handful of cheese over the steak already on the crust.
  8. Add your cooked veggies to the crust. Try to spread them evenly. It doesn’t need to be perfect.
  9. Sprinkle the remaining cheese to your crust as evenly as possible.
  10. Bake for about 20 to 25 minutes depending on how crispy you like your pizza.


Nutritional Notes:

  • Fat content in dairy changed depending on the kind of cheese you buy, however, so does the melting. If you get a cheese that is lower in fat, it tends to be a little drier and won’t necessarily melt as well. If you want to go with a lower fat dairy, 2% still tastes good, melts and saves a gram or two on fat per serving.
  • Fat content in meat changes greatly depending on the cut. We used tri-tip sirloin steak, which has 9g of fat per 4 ounces according to the package we bought. Round, sirloin and top sirloin are the leanest cuts of steak.

We each ate half a pizza.

I also made a salad with tomatoes, lettuce, broccoli slaw and balsamic and oil.

When you’re cooking at home and cooking bulk or in an assembled way like a pizza is you make the best estimates for portions.

I know for certain that this WHOLE pizza was 61g of fat, 110g of carbohydrates and 86g of protein. We tried to spread the steak and cheese as evenly as possible and we got it cut pretty much down the middle.

I estimated that I ate about 30.5F (with 9.5g of saturated fat)/55C/43P or 667 calories.

Now before some of you freak out. Let’s discuss. The steak was pretty lean, the veggies were fresh veggies and the cheese was well under a standard portion at a restaurant.

I ate half a pizza, which was about four slices, completely loaded. If I compare this pizza to Domino’s Philly Cheesesteak Pizza here’s what we get:

A medium Domino’s pizza is 8 slices and so is the large.

1 slice of medium Domino’s Philly Cheesesteak Pizza has:

  • 230 calories
  • 10g of fat including 5g of saturated fat
  • 26g of carbohydrates
  • 10g of protein

So if I ate 4 slices of this pizza, I would’ve consumed 920 calories, 40g of fat (20g of saturated fat), 104g  of carbohydrates, 40g of protein.

1 slice of large Domino’s Philly Cheesesteak Pizza has:

  • 310 calories
  • 13g of fat including 6g of saturated fat
  • 35g of carbohydrates
  • 14g of protein

So if I ate 4 slices of this pizza, I would’ve consumed 1,240 calories, 52g of fat (24g of saturated fat), 140g  of carbohydrates, 56g of protein.

I want us to be realistic.

I’m sure many of you are saying well that’s not a lot healthier than going out for pizza because I ate half the pie – but be honest with yourself. Will you stop at a slice or two? Will the ingredients you’re getting be fresh or lean or antibiotic free (if you’re into that kind of thing). I’m pro-greasy egg rolls, sometimes, but cooking at home provides you the advantage of choosing your ingredients and building your nutrition skillfully.

I could’ve stopped at two slices, but I also planned for this. I knew I would want more than two slices. Knowing we were having a later lunch with the football game around 1:30 pm and we ate more densely and didn’t eat dinner until about 7 pm, which was chicken breast and broccoli #balance.

We don’t always make loaded pizzas like this. Sometimes we do lean chicken breast and veggies. Sometimes we do individual pies so we can each have different toppings. We almost always put veggies on our pizzas so we can say we did so.

Both of the crust recipes can be used for calzones or personal sized pizzas if you want something more individual or have picky eaters. I think you get more volume by making it at home than you do out at a restaurant, but to each their own poison.





Currently, there are 10 jars of nut butter sitting in my cabinet.

1. Cinnamon Raisin Swirl from Peanut Butter and Company

2. Mighty Maple from Peanut Butter and Company

3. Nutella – yes, that counts, hazelnuts!

4. Unsalted cashew butter, store brand

5. Pumpkin Spice from Peanut Butter and Company

6. Extra Crunchy Skippy

7. Smooth Jif

8. Brownie Batter from D’s Naturals

and now, chocolate protein walnut butter and plain walnut butter

It started with an email from The Peanut Principle telling me about their year of sale or coupon, regardless, I sighed because 1. I have a lot of jars in the cabinet and 2. I didn’t really need to spend the money on more right now. JP and I were getting dinner ready and I asked him if he thought we would have time to try to make our own this weekend.

He immediately turned to the cabinet and grabbed a full bag of whole shell walnuts and said “could we use this?” Yep. Yep, we could.

So I looked online so see if there was any magic to making nut butter and you know what, there’s not. So we played around and gave it a go.

Here’s What You’ll Need

  • Food processor
  • 1 to 2 cup of nuts, unsalted
  • optional – salt
  • optional – protein powder, we used Chocolate Cupcake from PEScience
  • optional – Hershey’s chocolate syrup
  • optional – vanilla extract


  1. Pick your nut! I know, I know, but you need to decide what butter you want. I chose walnuts.
  2. If your nuts are already shelled, you can add between 1 to 2 cups to your food processor. If they’re not shelled, shell them and make sure that all the piece of shell and inner skin are removed.
  3. Pulse your food processor on chop for a few minutes before switching to grind. If your food processor doesn’t have multiple settings or has numbered settings you will want to processor the nuts until they are smooth. Scraping the sides every now and then to ensure that all pieces of what may be meal now continue to be ground down.
  4. When ground to desired smoothness, pour into a jar and store in the fridge.

To make protein infused nut butter

  1. Make the recipe above and divide in half then add 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
  2. Once vanilla is blended in, add a scoop of protein of your choice slowly. We used chocolate frosted cupcake by PEScience, which will cause the nut butter to dry out slightly. I believe all powders would cause the nut butter to dry out though, not just the whey casein blend.
  3. To combat the dryness of added protein, add a little bit of water. I added 1/2 a tablespoon of water at a time up to about 2 tablespoons of water.
  4. To enhance the chocolatey-ness of the nut butter or because I wanted to add chocolate sauce… I added 1 tablespoon of Hershey’s syrup and blended.

Nutrition for a 28g serving of protein walnut butter using 100g of blended nut butter: 12.5F/3.6C/7.1P


I would wait until the next day to put add-ins into the nut butter because this gives the mix time for the oils to separate, which may help with mixing in the protein. Since it is naturally and minimally made, we have had to mix both butters before every use so that oils are mixed thoroughly.

It’s single digits and with the wind, we’re hitting negative temperatures. I know, I know. I live in New England, I did it to myself. I like it here, but living here for about five years doesn’t make it easier dealing with the snow, the bitter cold or plastic wrapping my windows. Yes, for those in warm weather – plastic sealing your windows can help keep the draft out.

One thing that has been helping us this fall and into the winter has been making soup and chili. Our rotation has been ground turkey chili, white chicken breast chili and broccoli cheddar soup with the latter being added to the recipe collection this season.

We’ve buy a lot of vegetables in bulk from BJ’s whole sale, we also go to you-pick places in the summer and I’ve been trying to utilize as much of the veggies and fruit as possible. Broccoli cheddar soup is one of the recipes that allows me to use all the parts of broccoli without waste.

To me, at least, the stalk is usually a little bitter and needs to roast a lot longer than florets do, however, in this soup all parts continue to cook down and there’s no lack of flavor.

Back in the day, I could easily consume a bread with broccoli cheddar soup from Panera, however, that was before my diet changed and before my digestion system changed. If you’re someone like me who experiences lactose intolerance to things like cheesecake, soft serve ice-cream or heavy whipping cream, but can handle hard cheeses or goat products – this recipe will be for you.

Low Dairy Broccoli Cheddar Soup for Two

What You’ll Need

  • 1/4 cup red onion chopped
  • 200g of broccoli
  • 1 tablespoon of butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped carrot
  • 1 and 1/3 cups of almond milk or other milk alternative
  • 1 cup of water + 1 tsp of salt free chicken seasoning (you can also use 1 cup of chicken broth, I’ve made this recipe both ways)
  • 1 tablespoon of flour (you can skip this step if you don’t want your soup thicker)
  • 1/4 cup or more of shredded cheddar cheese
  • Baking sheet
  • Medium sized pot
  • Food processor


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Chop broccoli into 1 to 2 inch pieces include both florets and stalk in using a crown, if you using pre-cut florets cut florets into smaller pieces suitable for roasting.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray and spread out broccoli pieces so that they lay flat and aren’t piled on each other. Spray broccoli with cooking spray. If you prefer to cook with oil, use about a table spoon of olive oil to toss the broccoli in before laying it on the greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake broccoli for about 15 to 20 minutes (this is the longest part of this recipe).
  5. While broccoli is baking, peel and chop the red onion and dice the carrots. These pieces should be small
  6. In a medium pot, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and add chopped onion. If you want your carrots a little softer, you can add them with the onion at this step. Let vegetables simmer for a few minutes until onions become more translucent.
  7. Add 1 and 1/3 cup of milk alternative. I used almond milk, but I have used cashew milk before.
  8. Add 1 cup of water with 1 teaspoon of salt free chicken seasoning – I did this as a chicken broth alternative because I was out. I’ve made it with 1 cup of chicken broth, you could also use 1 cup of water with a bouillon cube. If you want this to be completely vegetarian, you can also use vegetable stock.
  9. With a whisk, mix ingredients well and top with a lid and let simmer on low heat until broccoli is finished roasting.
  10. Once broccoli is down roasting, you have two options – chop in a food processor and then add to the pot or add directly to the pot. I’ve done both. With the broccoli chopped fine, the soup become thicker on it’s own while with the whole broccoli it’s more soup and may need a thickening agent.
  11. If you prefer a more soupy broccoli cheddar soup you can skip this step: After you’ve added the broccoli to the pot, remove a little bit of the liquid into a small cup or bowl and then add 1 tablespoon of flour to create a paste. Mixing the flour in a small amount of liquid allows for it to be combined thoroughly and prevents clumping. Add the paste to the pot and whisk thoroughly.
  12. Lastly, add your cheese. I used a shredded cheddar jack and used about a 1/4 cup. You can use more, you could also use a different cheese blend.
nutrition label for broccoli cheddar soup on blog

Nutrition calculation in MyFitnessPal Recipe Creator

Macro Nutrients: Fat (cheese, milk alternative, butter) Carbohydrates (broccoli, onion, carrot, milk alternative, flour) Protein (cheese, milk alternative, broccoli)

It wasn’t until after college that I ate seafood other than canned tuna as tuna salad. However, it wasn’t until a former student of mine and I met for sushi a few years ago that I started to really get adventurous with my seafood. There are still things I don’t like such as lobster – I know, blasphemous to many who are from New England. I had a bad batch of scallops that made me sick so I stay away from those too.

We will make seafood dishes every now and then, but as many people say financial barriers can make it hard to make healthier choices and that’s a huge reason why we limit the diversity in the seafood we have at home. When shrimp go on sale we will buy them and same with salmon burgers, fresh white fish and squid, but canned tuna is probably always going to be my go-to lean protein because it is more reasonably priced.

To help prevent meal burn out I try to keep diversity in my meal planning, but sometimes you can only have chicken so many ways before you decide it’s not what you want for lunch. Last week, while I was trying to figure out what I wanted for lunch that wasn’t chicken, I decide I could go for tuna, but I didn’t want a tuna sandwich or a tuna melt. I’ve had salmon burgers at a few restaurants in the area, not steaks, but a formed patty with spices and binding ingredients. I figured I could probably make a tuna burger if I looked hard enough.

tuna burger blog post


What You’ll Need

  • 1 can of tuna
  • 1 egg
  • 2T of flour
  • 1 tsp of seasoning blend of choice
  • Baking sheet
  • Cooking spray


  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Prep your baking sheet with a little cooking spray. You could also use olive oil.
  3. Drain a can of tuna and add to a small bowl. Break up tuna into smaller chunks.
  4. Add an egg and flour to tuna. Mix well. You may want to add the flour a little bit at a time so that it doesn’t poof out of the bowl.
  5. Add seasoning blend to tuna mixture. If you want want to use a seasoning blend, you can add salt, pepper and individual spices to your taste.
  6. Once mixed, take a flat spatula and move mixture to the middle of the bowl forming a circle. Slowly dump mixture to baking sheet and shape to a circular patty about half an inch thick. You can make one patty or two 2 ounce patties.
  7. Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes. Patty will be crispy on the outside and cooked through on the inside.

I served mine on top of lettuce with onions, tomatoes and sriracha mayo. You can serve it on a bun or in a salad. There’s a place in town that makes an excellent broccoli slaw.

Well, damn, Now I’m hungry.

Macros for a 4 ounce patty: 4.5f | 10c | 28p

❤ Cristina



My schedule this fall is pretty steady because I know which days are busy and which days I have down time. The days I have down time vary in what they’re filled with, but are pretty spread out. Tuesdays are pretty light: I eat, I workout, I do homework and sometimes when my Wednesday client can’t talk on Wednesday, we talk on Tuesday.

Last Tuesday, I had a pretty light day and while it’s nice to not have to be “go-go” all the time, the down fall of being a “go-go” person is that you can’t decide what to do with yourself when you do have down time.

I thought I would go out and read with a cup of coffee, but I didn’t really want to spend the money on coffee knowing we have a solid collection in the pantry. I figured I just wanted to get outside, it didn’t necessarily need to be physically out near other people. So I went for a run outside and looped the area.

Later in the day I still wanted a drink, but I didn’t want to go out for it. After some searching on Pinterest and knowing what I do about lattes, I made one for myself at home on the stove.

latte blog post photo

So if you have about 10 minutes and don’t want to leave the house this fall, or worse, get snowed in this winter – this may be a fun pick-me-up. It’ll also save you some money and calories as we head into pumpkin, maple, gingerbread season!

Here’s some variations we’ve tried and how to make them.

Blueberry Caramel Latte

This was the first one I made to see if I could even make these stove top. I looked at a few recipes and played with the ratios, so here’s what worked.

What you’ll need 

  • Blueberry coffee
  • Caramel topping
  • Milk or milk alternative
  • Small pot


  1. Brew your coffee a little stronger than normal. I filled my coffee pot to the 4 cup line and used 1/4 cup of grounds.
  2. While your coffee is brewing measure out 2/3 cup of milk or milk alternative and warm up on stove top using low to medium heat. I used unsweetened cashew milk for my milk because that’s what I had on hand.
  3. While the milk is warming up whisk in 2 teaspoons of caramel sauce.
  4. When milk is up to temperature add half of the coffee and whisk together.
  5. Pour in your favorite mug, top with whip cream if you want and drink.

Nutrition for Blueberry Caramel Latte: 1.5f | 13c | 1p or 70 calories

*nutrition varies based on milk/alternative and flavor add-ins



Hazelnut and Honey: Substitute blueberry coffee for hazelnut and caramel topping for 1tsp of honey.


Pumpkin Spice: Substitute flavored grounds for unflavored, cinnamon or pumpkin and use pumpkin pie spice blend to taste, 2T of canned pureed pumpkin and either 1tsp honey or caramel sauce.

I’m still playing with combinations, but check out Pinterest for other ideas!

❤ Cristina

I eat a lot of chicken. I mostly bake it, sometimes I pan fry it. I own a million spices and seasoning blends so it’s never boring to me. However, that doesn’t stop my boyfriend from asking if the “chicken is going to be exciting for dinner.” Well, yes dear the chicken will be exciting and I promise I won’t feed you sometime I wouldn’t want to eat myself. So because he asked again tonight how exciting the chicken would be tonight, I decided to make something a little different for us tonight – homemade chicken nuggets.

These are better than any store brand, frozen bag not just because the chicken is fresh and there’s less additives, but you get to play with flavors. To me, flavor is important. It makes food interesting and can really change the dynamic of a meal. So tonight’s flavor of choice was Kickin’ Chicken blend.

This recipe is broken down for 1 serving to keep it simple.

What You’ll Need

  • 5 ounces of chicken
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Kickin’ Chicken blend by Weber (or other flavor blend of your choice)
  • 1 egg *
  • 2 tablespoons cold water*

*egg mixture is good for 2 servings


  1. In bowl combine all dry ingredients thoroughly
  2. In a separate bowl combine egg and water
  3. Using tenders or chicken breast, trim off any excess fat and cut meat into bite size pieces
  4. Add chicken to egg wash, then dip each piece into the dry mix until coated
  5. Place chicken pieces on a greased baking sheet, spray chicken lightly with cooking spray and bake for about 7-10 minutes at 350 degrees

I served my nuggets with 15g of honey mustard and 100g of broccoli. The macros for just the nuggets were 6F, 17C, 31P. Definitely an improvement over the macros from the dinosaur shaped nuggets you see in the frozen food aisle. These were also a winner with my boyfriend. When I started prepping them, he asked if they would be fried. I laughed and said “do I ever fry anything?” He replied, “well, no. Ha, well why did you ask then? For being baked, these little guys had a little crunch because of the cooking spray applied before they went into the oven.

Overall, it probably took my 15 minutes to get dinner together and it was a home cooked meal that I don’t feel guilty eating and since I know it was a hit with my guy, I may need to make them more often so he doesn’t feel consumed by chicken breast and “burrito bowls”.

I hope you enjoy making your own nuggets,  with spices the possibilities are endless!


❤ Cristina