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

Tag Archives: winter

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’s been about a month since I’ve written on here, but let’s be honest, that was a recipe – that’s not real writing.

I’ve said it before on Facebook more recently, but here as well – I write when I feel compelled. I write when I feel it’s the most beneficial to me. I feel like this is something I always write when I’m coming back after a hiatus of not writing as well. But sometimes I need the reminder of why I blog or why I don’t, and I think you do to.

This year has been all over the place. I think it started with adventure and a new high. A new direction, a path that I was excited to take and discover. I felt that I was going to learn more about myself and the biological world that I had barely scratched the surface of. I’m sure some of you sat there and thought, well damn her life’s a mess – I’m pretty sure I said that a few times from my living room floor.

Academically, I have pushed myself well out of my comfort zone. This pursuit started so I could better meet my clients needs. I had been asked many times to help with weightloss and meal planning, I had been asked to coach people to help them create a healthier lifestyle, but people were asking based on my experience alone. For me, that’s not enough. I don’t think you can just have an education, and I don’t think you can just have experience. You need to blend the two and be open minded to learn more and learn often.

I’ve taken some classes that are straightforward like anatomy and physiology, and I’ve taken some that are more fluid like nutrition and sociology.

With finals I started to feel slightly burnt out, but that’s normal after writing thousands of words, reading through dozens of studies, studying for hundreds of hours and filling up multiple notebooks. It doesn’t matter if you take one course or five courses – it’s brain power. Along with my classmates, I had been saying I was ready for this semester to be over, but I’m also so excited and ready for next semester.

My courses: medical microbiology, chemistry and epidemiology. Eleven credit hours. All in person. All night classes. There are going to be some long days because I still work three days a week in a doctor’s office. I will also be starting an internship.

I start an internship for my program that should last for at least half the year. It’ll total roughly 300 hours at least. it combines my love of health and education along with serving specific populations – in this case, children. I think if we start the conversation while their young and the parents are involved, then positive habits can be created and in a fun way that doesn’t make them seem so tedious and boring.

On the more personal end of things- yoga, lifting and running have helped me get back to feeling like I did before with my activity. I’m feeling good about the ratio of ass sitting to mobility. I’m physically feeling more comfortable in my skin and have been working on getting my strength back up. I know the upcoming semester will be a little more unique as far as scheduling because I will have some long days shifting from work to internship to class to coaching, but that’s part of goal development. At different times, some routines make sense and others don’t. I’ve gotten better at not fighting it, and going more with the flow.

Since October 1st, I’ve run 76.62 miles. Nothing ground breaking, but a lot more than I had been running earlier this year because it wasn’t necessary to my training and I didn’t feel it in my heart to do so.

Eating has been normal. Indulging in a lot of cocoa and some treats that are only available at this time of the year. However, I’m creating a balance. I’m making the decision to indulge versus mindlessly doing so or feeling guilty about it. Stress hasn’t felt out of control, aside from the standard academic stress – I’ve been meditating a little less than I was before, but I also don’t think that’s a bad thing. My meditations have also changed, which wasn’t something I was expecting.

It’s been three months since I’ve been off birth control and hormonally, I’ve noticed a lot of change. My anxiety is different, reactions to similar situations are a little different – I feel less wiped out and that has been the biggest change.

Sitting down writing this out is weird because in my head I think I want to share what my next steps are, but then part of me goes who cares?  That’s the honest truth. I’ve always had both thoughts in my head, but the one always overpowered the other. I think about what is different, and I think I finally realized the answer.

I want to help people and that’s not a bad thing, but it also means that I forgot I can help someone indirectly by sharing my perspective.

On Facebook, I’ve started to share more about my interest in public health, my investment in organizations on campus, what I’m writing and talking about in class, but I’m going to start doing that here too. Writing has never been something I felt like I had to do, it wasn’t something that was an outlet for me. After talking with friends and doing a few too many videos on Facebook, I’ve been missing it.

My goal is to be more active in writing because I do enjoy it, but I need to protect it so that it doesn’t feel like an emotional burden. Some part of me also believes that there are people who click on my posts to actually read them, not just skim them to see if I’ve fallen on my face. So there’s that – the indirect way to help someone else.

I’m not putting a schedule out there for writing, but my promise to myself is that I’m going to sit down more often. I have a few recipes in my drafts folder I’ve been meaning to finish as well. So that’s on my to do list during break.

I have a list of things I want to do over the break before the spring semester starts. There’s no penalty if things don’t get crossed off, but I have a wish list, but that’s for another conversation.

❤ Cristina


Insert winter/holiday season pun/quote here.

I’ve probably consumed more pumpkin foods than I should’ve this fall, and now I’ve been turning to gingerbread and mint. As my adventure through my Pinterest pins continues, I’ve been trying to see how I can utilize my baking pantry in other ways that cookies and muffins.

I had found a few pins for gingerbread oats, but many had barely any oats and they were loaded with sugar. You can make good, sweet oats, without loading them with sugars or carbohydrates that won’t provide satisfaction.

So if you don’t mind stove top and you have about 5 minutes or so, this recipe may put you in a mood that satisfies the desire for gingerbread cookies  while leaving you’re stomach full.

What You’ll Need

  • Milk or milk alternative – I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • Rolled oats
  • Molasses
  • Almond butter – I used crunchy
  • White chocolate chips (optional)


  1. Using a medium sized pot, you’ll want a little room, warm on low heat about 3/4 cup of milk.
  2. When the milk is slight hot to touch (not boiling), add half a cup of rolled oats. This is a serving for the store brand I used.
  3. Keep the burner on low heat, you don’t want these boil and burn on the bottom.
  4. Mix in 3/4 tablespoon of molasses.
  5. Mix in 1/2 tablespoon of almond butter, I used crunchy because I prefer it. You can use smooth or crunchy – you can even use peanut butter if you don’t like almond butter.
  6. Immediately remove pot from burner and either store in a tupperware for later or bowl for serving. Removing from the burner is important because even if you turn it off the heat will continue to cook the oats.
  7. Top off with a few white chocolate chips. This is completely optional.

As always, brands and portions impact nutritional value. These oats were 280 calories, 8.5F/46C/7P



/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/eef/66154586/files/2015/01/img_3372.jpgBefore we begin with my check-in. Let’s take a look at a quick comparison. To the right are two photos. The left is me in June 2014, when I started my first prep for first show in November 2014. The photo on the right is the 7th day of my second round of prep for my upcoming shows this spring. This is a 15 pound difference in my starting weight.

I’m feeling really confident this round for sure. I lost 25 pounds the first time I prepped, and then gained about 10 pounds post show (thank you holiday cookies!) While I had been eating in moderation, I wasn’t paying attention to my macros and was definitely eating over my nutritional goals.

Below is a photo from day 7 workout. Seriously, I’m really excited with where I’m starting with this time. I’m focusing a lot on my weight lifting, and trying to minimize my cardio to strictly HIIT sessions. I’m going to be doing more double days like I did last prep. This helped me fit in my workouts without feeling like I wasn’t effectively using my time. Tomorrow is a good example, I’m doing HIIT in the morning before work and then lifting legs tomorrow night.


I’m 13 days into this prep and I’m down 3 pounds of the 10 gained post show. Not too shabby. I’ve already discussed with myself (because I do that) weighing only on Wednesdays like I did last prep. This gives me consistency without over checking. It also gives me a goal to look forward to.

I’m hoping to lost another 22 pounds on top of the 3 I’ve lost for another 25 pound loss, which will be a 105 pound total loss. Crazy, I know.

I’ve been taking pictures like a looney, but I love the comparisons of how I’ve come. It reminds me that even on bad days, I’m still  far ahead of where I was. How may people can say they were a 24 and are now a size 6? I have 101 days to go and I can’t wait to share this part of my journey with you all.

Well I’m heading to bed. It’s 0 degrees outside, but it feels like -22, when I wake up for the gym it’ll be -7 with a windchill of -29. Hello winter! I hope you all stay bundled up!

❤ Cristina