Embrace Fall, y’all!

You don’t have to love Fall and the chilly temps to love this super easy apple tart recipe. It takes only a handful of ingredients, takes very little time to make, and is super versatile. Is this tart a breakfast item? Sure! Dessert? You bet! Tasty snack with a cup of coffee? Ok! I love foods that are flexible like that!

Beyond the simplicity of this recipe comes the presentation. It is one that always wows when I make it and one that most people assume is more challenging than it is to make. So if you are someone who needs a quick dessert or item to take to a potluck and want to appear to be a fancy baker, this apple tart needs to become your go to.

Ingredients:
-1 sheet of frozen puff pastry dough, cut in half
-2 whole apples, cored, cut in half, and sliced incredibly thin
-1 cup of brown sugar
-Juice of 1/2 a lemon
-Dash of salt
-Powdered Sugar
-Caramel Sauce

Preheat oven to 425. Allow the puff pastry dough to thaw enough where it does not break during the unfolding process. Cut in half. Place apple slices in a bowl with lemon juice, brown sugar, and salt, and toss until apples are coated completely. Arrange the apple slices in a straight line down the middle of the pastry, overlapping. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Remove from pan immediately and place on a serving platter. Drizzle with caramel sauce and powdered sugar if desired, or serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

***You can cut the dough into thirds if you would like thinner tarts without as much pastry on the edges.

Tag me on Instagram (@sparklefitnessbabe) if you make this and let me know what you think!

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The finished product: absolutely delicious.

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It’s a Hard Knock Life.

Isn’t it at times though????

A lot of people I know (myself included) are going through a rough patch right now, and while we cannot avoid them in life, there are things that you can do to get through them easier. For me, exercise has always been my #1 go to because of the energy it gives me as well as the happiness and sense of accomplishment. Beyond that, writing has been something that has helped me tremendously, not just with my blog, but with my book and personal journal, too.

Recently I found a writing prompt to help when you are feeling down, and I wanted to share with you all in case you are quietly going through a harder season of life and could use an activity to lift your spirits.

56 Lists to Make When You Are Feeling Down

1. Your life goals.
2. Countries you would like to visit.
3. Stories you would like to write about.
4. Adventures you would like to live.
5. Dreams for the future.
6. Where you would like to live.
7. What you will be doing over the next few years.
8. Things you would like to get.
9. Skills you would like to learn.
10. Wish List.
11. Favorite songs.
12. Favorite jokes.
13. Favorite movies.
14. Favorite tv shows.
15. Favorite books.
16. Favorite places.
17. Favorite food.
18. Favorite restaurants.
19. Favorite places in your town.
20. Favorite quotes.
21. Favorite podcasts.
22. People you love.
23. People who love and adore you.
24. How you met your favorite people.
25. People you would like to meet.
26. What you would like to do with your friends.
27. What you would like to do with your family.
28. People you would like to reconnect with.
29. Things you would like to do with both your friends and family.
30. People who inspire you.
31. Every friends you ever made who made a positive impact on your life.
32. People you don’t know who positively influenced you.
33. Gift ideas for your favorite people.
34. Everything you love about your partner.
35. People who would love to get a piece of mail from you.
36. Date night ideas.
37. Favorite memories.
38. Your best qualities.
39. Bet days you’ve ever lived.
40. Compliments that make you feel amazing.
41. What you like most about yourself.
42. Your most precious possessions.
43. Bucket list of things you would like to do.
44. Things that make you happy.
45. Positive adjectives that describe you.
46. Your values.
47. Favorite ways to relax.
48. Fun things to do at home.
49. Things you are grateful for.
50. Things you are proud of.
51. The scariest things you’ve done.
52. Dreams that have come a reality.
53. Biggest accomplishments thus far in your life.
54. Ways to celebrate your wins.
55. All the things you are good at.
56. Things you are grateful for at this very moment.

Hope those help you <3.

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Something that makes me happy: My puppy Macho Man Randy Savage. 

 

Let’s Hash It Out!

I’m talking about breakfast hash, kids…..just making that clear right now.

Those of you who follow me on social media know I started a new workout program a little over a month ago (I’ll be blogging about that soon), and I was super excited when I saw the nutrition guide and recipes that accompanied it. This sweet potato breakfast hash recipe was one of the recipes I couldn’t wait to try, and based on the response I had when I shared on my IG, you guys are anxious to try it, too!

Want to know the best part of this recipe? It’s a sheet pan recipe….meaning minimal dishes! Everyone loves that! Here’s how to make it:

Sheet Pan Sweet Potato Hash with Eggs

Ingredients:
-2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
-1 medium onion, chopped
-2 cloves garlic, chopped
-1 red bell pepper, chopped
-1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained
-1 cup corn kernels
-2 tbsp +2 tsp olive oil
-1 1/2 tsp chili powder
-1/4 tsp ground cumin
-1/4 tsp smoked paprika
-1/2 tsp sea salt (divided use)
-1/2 tsp ground black pepper
-8 large eggs
-2 tbsp chopped cilantro

How to make:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray, then set aside.

2. Combine sweet potatoes, onion, garlic, red pepper, beans, corn, chili pepper, cumin, paprika, 1/4 tsp salt, tsp pepper, and oil in a bowl, tossing to blend.

3. Place sweet potato mixture on pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, stirring after 10 minutes.

4. Create 8 wells in mixture, cracking an egg in each. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Bake for an additional 8-10 minutes or until eggs are set.

5. Garnish with cilantro and serve!

*********A Quick Recipe Change Up***********

I have major issues with egg yolks and have to use egg whites only. I modified this recipe by just omitting the step with the egg wells. Instead, I scrambled my egg whites and mixed them in with the hash mixture after removing from oven. So good!

Tag me on IG if you try it @sparklefitnessbabe!

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Boats and Meatballs.

Confession: I may or may not have been watching Stepbrothers for the millionth time as I wrote this article and considered naming it Boats and Hoes for obvious reasons. Who else loves that part in the movie? Hopefully not just me!

I’ve been doing a lot of experimenting this past few months with recipes and the concept of going vegan, but it hasn’t stuck yet. It all started a few months ago when I accidentally caught a documentary about the treatment of chickens. After that I decided not omit chickens as a protein source and haven’t had any since. I haven’t given up steak or burgers yet, though I am hoping at some point I get there, too. Baby steps…..your girl is a carnivore, remember?????

I have found some great substitutes for meat that I have been enjoying quite a bit, one of those being the meatless meatballs you can find in the grocery section of Aldi. Last week I had them with spaghetti squash pasta, and this week I decided to make a meatball zucchini boat. We all know how much I love a zucchini boat…they are so versatile and a great way to use veggies as a base!

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This recipe was super simple and delicious so I had to share!

Katie’s Meatball Zucchini Boats

Ingredients:
-Meatballs (you can use the meatless meatballs I used or make your own, it doesn’t matter!)
-Zucchini
-Mozzarella Cheese
-Sauce
-Fresh Parsley

I’m not including an amount because it depends how many you want to make or eat in a serving!

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Step 2: Cut zucchini in half lengthwise, then hollow out inside of zucchini. I recommend saving the innards to make zucchini brownies or muffins!

Step 3: Place zucchini in a dish drizzled with olive oil and Italian Seasoning (You can omit this step if you prefer). Bake for 15 minutes until zucchini is mostly tender. Remove from oven, changing settings in oven from BAKE to BROIL.

Step 4: Mix meatballs if making your own or prepare them if purchased store bought. Once fully cooked, place meatballs in hollowed out zucchini boats.

Step 5: Pour sauce or purchased marinara around the meatballs. You can also mix with meatballs before filling boats if you prefer.

Step 6: Top with mozzarella cheese and broil for about 5 minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!

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I’m back, bitches!!!

What a hiatus, eh?????

I haven’t posted on my blog since February!!!! But……it’s been for a very good reason. I’M ABOUT TO PUBLISH MY FIRST BOOK!!!! Yeah, you read that right, my first book! Because of that I have been spending all my free time writing and proofing and rewriting and all the fun that goes into writing a book. I cannot tell you how excited I am for it to be finished and out there for the masses.

So my apologies, blog and blog subscribers….that’s why I have been MIA, but do not worry! I AM BACK and will be coming at you with lots of fun recipes and reads here in the near future!

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Tots, tots, tots tots tots, tots!

Everybodyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!

Ok, no one else likes replacing “Shots” in LMFAO’s hit with “tots” other than me? That’s ok….no shame here!

When I shared my meal prep for the week on my Instagram (follow me HERE ), my inbox blew up with questions asking for the recipe for my Broccoli Tots. Ask and you shall receive!

These tots are something I have been making for ages, and they are so incredibly simple….not to mention they are made up of only FOUR ingredients!

Katie’s Broccoli Tots
Ingredients:
-3 cups fresh broccoli florets, chopped fine
-1/4 tsp garlic powder
-1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
-1 egg

To make:

Place chopped broccoli florets in a microwave safe bowl and cover with a piece of Saran Wrap. Poke a few holes in wrap to allow steam to pass through. Microwave for about four minutes.

Remove broccoli from microwave and squeeze out excess water (be careful here….broccoli will be hot). Add the remaining ingredients, then form small tot like shapes, placing on a prepared baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes at 450 degrees.

A few tips:

**You do not have to squeeze the excess water out. Do this only if you prefer a crispier texture.

**I recommend using a Silpat in place of parchment paper or just plain cooking spray.

**You can use any cheese you like. These are very good with mozzarella as well.

ENJOY!!!!!

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Rise.

Guys….I did it. I finally freaking did it.

I got a tattoo.

When I starting talking about going to get it and arranging the appointment, many of the people in my life were shocked. I’ve never really had a connection with anything that was strong enough for me to commit to a lifetime tattoo, and while I love them on other people, never really thought I would be a fan of them myself. Yet here I am, joining the club of tatted females.

To be honest with you all, the tattoo I ended up getting was one I have been wanting to get since I lost my dad in November 2015. Shortly after he died I stumbled across this picture and thought that it would be a perfect tattoo for me. I kept in on the camera roll of my phone and looked at it pretty much daily.

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I shared on facebook, but for those not connected to me there, Rise has been my word of the year ever since January 1, 2016 hit. I never shared much about the word, but it was the one I kept going back to and what motivated me. Choosing a word for your year has a purpose: to help you face each day with resolve, make decisions, and keep you centered. Rise was and is my word, and Still I Rise is my phrase.  I have LIVED this phrase every  day, and it has become who I am.

When I lost my dad unexpectedly in November 2015, I was devastated and became severely depressed. Did I allow myself to stay down? No. I chose to RISE.

Throughout that time and since I have been battling additional forms of grief stemming from losing animals that I loved more than words could say to mourning the loss of my grandmothers to being forced to deal with some challenging personal situations that have made me question everything. Have I stayed down? No. I have chosen to RISE.

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I did it!

I WILL CONTINUE TO RISE EVERY SINGLE TIME I GET KNOCKED DOWN.

I have been knocked down more times that I can count, yet still I rise. Knock me down seven times, this girl will get up eight. And each time I get up believe me when I say I get up FASTER, STRONGER, MORE FOCUSED, and MORE RESILIENT THAN EVER.

My dad taught me that life was 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react to it. So here I am, freshly inked with the reminder that I have the CHOICE and the OPPORTUNITY every single day to not sit around and lick my wounds, but instead bandage them up and live a life that would make my loved ones proud. This tattoo symbolizes so much for me. This tattoo reminds me I always have to get back up, regardless of how devastating the fall.

So finally….after thinking about it nonstop, I made an appointment at a tattoo shop where a high school friend worked, made the hour drive, and got a tattoo. I am beyond thrilled with it, and no, it didn’t hurt. Yes, I already want others.

Remember, you always have the opportunity to rise. It’s just making the decision if you accept the challenge or not.

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Enjoy these muffin tops!

Happy New Year, guys! I hope you had a great end to 2018 and that 2019 is off to a killer start for you!

I don’t know about everyone else, but I am happy to be at this point in my calendar. The last month of the year always have me hiding in my turtle shell and reverting to a someone introverted human being. Luckily, that only lasts the time frame between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I’ve been working on lots of behind the scenes projects, mostly my book which will publish sooner than later. I can’t wait to share with you guys! That has kept me busy while I was under the radar.

Many of you have shared how much you love when I share recipes, so I am going to do my best to share even more with you this year, starting with this healthy and delicious muffin recipe! It is one I love making when I am entertaining guests or family because they are so good and no one knows they are healthy (shhhh….don’t tell them).

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Look at that beautiful muffin top. 

Katie’s Healthy Banana Muffins

Ingredients:
-1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
-1 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-3 bananas (the riper the better)
-1 tbl vanilla
-1 tbl coconut oil (melted)
-1 egg
-1/2 cup plain greek yogurt
-1 tbl almond or soy milk
-1/4 cup honey (pure)
-1/2 cup chocolate chips (Enjoy Life is the brand I use)

Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together. Set aside. Blend all other ingredients together (you can even mix them all in a blender to make it easy). Blend the wet and dry ingredients together, then fold in the chocolate chips. Bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees!

If you are one of my clients following one of my meal plans, one muffin equates to 1 yellow, 1/4 purple, and 1 tsp. Sometimes I use blueberries in place of the chocolate chips and that changes the purple count to 1.

Enjoy!

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Sleigh the Holidays

The holidays are in full swing, and you know what that means….

The season where elastic waist pants are celebrated because we want to eat alllll the things in comfort, right???!!!!!

You guys all know me….I love to eat, and I don’t like missing out on the wonderful foods associated with the holidays, yet I refuse to fall victim to the dreaded holiday weight gain. So how do I manage to still indulge at Christmas celebrations and stay on track? Here are some of my tips to sleigh the holiday season (see what I did there…..hehhehe).

1. Schedule your workouts. I know that may sound silly, but the holidays can be crazy. Brunches here, dinners there, Christmas Caroling, tree lighting, etc…. Review your schedule prior to each week to know what your schedule looks like and schedule in that workout. Make it a priority to get it done. My workouts are a non-negotiable for me. I will not miss them, especially since I know I will be eating a lot. That balance is important to me.

2. Don’t set lofty goals over the holidays. I know, I know….this probably isn’t something you are used to hearing from me. If weight loss is your goal, don’t focus on it during the holiday season. Focus instead on making healthier choices and creating habits that will allow you to be more focused on weight loss goals once you get past the holiday season. These goals could be to just getting in that workout every day or starting to pay attention to the portion sizes of what you are eating.

3. Drink lots of water. Water is your best friend when you are working on getting healthier because it helps you feel fuller longer. Try to drink half your bodyweight in ounces of water each day. Struggle with water? There are lots of great tools out there to help you. I love my Hidrate Spark water bottle because it lights up and syncs with my phone, letting me know when I am not drinking enough. You can grab one HERE.

4. Make five minutes of alone time a priority each day. Many people get overwhelmed with the holidays and the stress that surrounds them. Take at least five minutes each day where you can sit in peace and quiet and decompress from the day. For me, this time happens in the morning with a hot cup of coffee, the Christmas tree lights on, and a soft blanket. No tv, no phone, just me enjoying the peace and quiet. If my day is crazy, I will sneak in an extra five in the evening. This time may take place for you in a bubble bath, by a fire….whatever makes you feel calm.

5.  Make a plate….don’t linger by food. Snacking can do you in over the holidays. Instead of lingering by the spinach artichoke dip that you know you could demolish by yourself, make a small plate and leave the area where the food is placed. This will avoid the constant snacking and also losing track of what you eat. It is easy to “graze” as you talk and catch up with family and friends….and before you know it you will have eaten way more than you wanted. Be aware of the food choices you are making.

6. Focus on portion sizes. There is nothing wrong with eating the holiday foods you love, but eating them in excess can be detrimental. If you want to enjoy something that isn’t the most healthy of options, have a very small amount so you are satisfied and move onto something else on your plate.

7. Make healthier options if you are responsible for bringing a dish. If you are attending a potluck or holiday gathering where you are bringing your own food, make something healthier so you know you can at least count on one healthy option. If you don’t have to make something, always have some healthy snacks in your bag just in case.

8. Enjoy the things you love. Yes, eat the things. The cookies, the pasta, the appetizers….but refer back to #5 and #6.  Do NOT feel guilty for eating things that you like or that are special holiday traditions. All in moderation, my friends.

9. Drink in moderation. If you are someone who loves alcohol, opt for healthier alcoholic drinks, like red wine, white sangria, basic bloody marys, vodka seltzer. Try to drink a glass of water between alcoholic beverages to remain hydrated and also to feel fuller.

10. Wear jeans. Yes, you heard me right. The Queen of Leggings is telling you to NOT wear the elastic waist pants and instead choose something that buttons up, like jeans or dress pants. If you do, you will feel the discomfort if you start to overeat. No one likes feeling like a busted can of biscuits. No one.

Let’s sleigh this holiday season and make choices that make us feel good and set us up for success!

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DIY Wood Accent Wall

Happy almost December, friends!

WTF happened to November (other than flying by)??? In my world, that is okay…..we all know I am not a fan of the month and anxiously look forward to getting past the holidays. Still, I hope you had a good Thanksgiving!

I have been working on a lot behind the scenes, and when I say a lot, trust me…..it’s A LOT. My biggest focus has been getting my book finished up for publication, but I’ve had a lot going on with my business (good stuff….our team is kicking some serious butt) and personally. I could use some extra hours in the day every day, and I know I’m not alone with that statement.

In the mix of all of my craziness, I decided I really wanted to focus on doing some projects around the house and finally finishing all the interior design. Since moving in a little over two years ago, there are a few rooms I hadn’t truly decorated or paid attention to, and my goal is to get them done asap. One of these rooms was the great room, which is located to the left of the foyer, meaning this space is one you see immediately when you enter the house. I had taken forever to pick out the blue velvet furniture for the space and knew I wanted the room to be a mix of blues, white, grays, and silver, but I had one big problem with the room: the huge wall that your eye went to as soon as you walked in the house.

I knew I did not want to have a flatscreen in that room, nor did I want to do a large gallery wall of photos or anything like that, so I was torn with what to do with that space. One day while spending an excessive amount of time on Pinterest, I came across a tutorial and pics of a DIY project that I felt would be perfect for that wall. Ironically, a few days later a few of my friends ended up doing a similar wall in their home, only in a deep blue color. I shared the idea with my mom, and we decided to do it when we had time.

This weekend we FINALLY got around to getting our DIY on, and I couldn’t be happier with the result. Here is a look at the wall before we did anything to it. We had already painted the wall white to make it pop once the wood detail was added (the rest of the room is a light grayish color).

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My mom and friend Lori measuring

This wall project cost me less than $100 to do and requires minimal supplies. Here’s what we used:

-Trim boards (purchased at Home Depot)
-Nail Gun and nails
-Saw (we used some fancy electric one that my uncle owned)
-Paint (The color we used was Behr Satin Polar Bear)

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When your friend is an engineer, you rely on her expertise!

Basically all you are doing is creating a grid with the trim pieces you have cut to fit your wall. The sizing of your grid depends on you. I have seen some that are smaller squares, while others have been larger more rectangular types. I did attempt to use the nail gun, but I liked it maybe a bit too much and had it taken away from me, so the majority of the project involved me supervising. It probably was better I did that….

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Here is a look at the final grid! I am beyond in love with it! This was before we applied the final coat of paint to the pieces of trim board.

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The original tutorial I found on this can be accessed HERE.

The most challenging part of this was just figuring out how to use the nail gun (thankfully my friend Danielle figured it out for us) and just how time consuming it was to cut all of the pieces of wood. There is a lot of measuring and precision involved, so if you do this, make sure you are good with that stuff or someone is helping you who is.

I love how the eye goes to this wall now when you walk into the house! Now I just have to finish decorating that room……..

If you do this accent wall, make sure you send me pics!

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