What Do I REALLY Need?

By Katie, 5:21 am

If you’ve ever gone on a restricted diet, you know the feeling you get when your body screams at you, “NO MORE DRY LETTUCE!” – when all you can think about is how to get your hands on as many of these as you possibly can.


In that particular situation, the urge to overeat is coming from a place of actually needing to eat; you aren’t getting mixed signals or anything.

But in most instances – at least when you’re not dieting - the urge to overeat isn’t coming from a place of desperately needing food. It’s coming from a place of desperately needing something else.

I have had great success with the simple process of feeling the urge to go for the pint of ice cream, stopping myself in my tracks, and pondering, “What do I REALLY need right now?”

The answers have been wildly varied: 

  • a hug
  • a nap
  • a trashy romance novel
  • a venting session with my journal
  • a mini temper tantrum, often involving some pillow-punching
  • some time away from any and all technology
  • sweatpants
  • a good, hard cry

Now just because I take the time to figure out what I really need doesn’t mean I always get it. There are plenty of times when I need a hug but I’m alone, or I need a nap but I’m at work.  In those cases I just accept that the situation isn’t ideal, and plan for a future time to give myself what I really need.

I don’t – or at least I try really hard not to – settle for an alternative. Because the simple truth is this: when what I really need is a hug, even the best chocolate chip cookie won’t do. When I really need to shed some tears on a supportive shoulder, a spoon and a jar of peanut butter are rather poor substitutes.

Food will never hug me back. It will never hold me and assure me that everything will be ok. In most cases, it just isn’t what I really need. The urge to eat subsides when I truly recognize that.

Have you ever turned to food when you actually needed something else? Have you ever asked yourself the simple question: What do I REALLY need right now?

Corn & Black Bean Pizza

By Katie, 5:06 am

When I make pizza at home, I usually just root through my fridge and use whatever suitable toppings I come up with. But every now and then I am a little more intentional with my pizza toppings, and the results are fabulous. 8-)

Corn & Black Bean Pizza? YES, PLEASE!

I’ll be honest: I took the easy way out with this dinner and used a pre-made, whole wheat Boboli pizza crust. Which essentially means that all I did was mix together the toppings, spread them on the crust, and grill the whole thing for a few minutes. But I’m still calling it cooking! ;-)

You could, of course, make your own crust. Or use store-bought dough that isn’t already cooked. If you are ambitious like that, be sure to click on the link to the original recipe, which will give instructions for how to grill said crust. Like I said, my version required more “heating up” than cooking! And that’s ok! :-)

The intentional toppings on this pizza are: BBQ sauce, diced plum tomato, black beans, fresh corn kernels, and shredded Mexican-blend cheese. A simple yet very flavorful combination! I also think chicken or shrimp would make a delicious addition.

Because I used the pre-made crust, this dinner was also super fast – it was on the grill for probably 5 minutes and then it was ready to be devoured! Which is exactly what happened. 8-)

Is your mouth watering a little bit right now? Because I think I just drooled on my keyboard a little bit. I only wish I were kidding! 8-O

Corn & Black Bean Pizza
Adapted from Eating Well

1 plum tomato, diced
1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup cooked fresh corn kernels (about 2 ears, or you could use frozen/thawed)
1 large pizza crust – store-bought, homemade, whatever you’re digging
1/3 cup BBQ sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese

1. Combine tomatoes, beans, and corn in a medium bowl.

2. Place cooked pizza crust on grill over medium heat. Spread with BBQ sauce, then top with tomato/bean/corn mixture. Sprinkle evenly with cheese.

3. Close the lid and grill until the cheese is melted, all ingredients are heated through, and the crust is slightly crispy – about 5 minutes.  

Do you like making homemade pizza? Do you top it with whatever you have on hand, or are you more intentional with your combinations?

Time To Mix It Up

By Katie, 5:03 am

They say that variety is the spice of life, and I’d say that’s true for certain things in my life. Like ice cream flavors. And jewelry. And exercise. 8-)

I know some people who can stick to the same routine for years, and they never get bored and continue to see results. But I’m just not one of those people. Both my body and my mind crave change, and lately they’ve both been telling me that the time to mix it up is now.

Altering my exercise routine isn’t as simple as mixing up, say, my earrings – dangly one day, studs the next, and hoops the next – but it’s still worth the effort. I’ve decided that my new schedule will focus on two activities I’m currently loving:

1. Body Pump classes


I used to take Body Pump (an hour-long, full-body, endurance-based strength training class) in college all the time, but then I got out of the habit. I’ve been going to classes again and already notice the difference; I love feeling STRONG. 8-)



Yep, I’m going there. 8-O Well actually, we’re going there, as Dave and I will be doing these DVDs together. We’re hoping to bond over high knees and push-ups. ;-)

Insanity touts itself as the toughest workout program ever put on DVD. Dave and I have only done one workout so far, but we both think that statement is probably accurate! We won’t be following the program exactly; rather, we’ll be doing the workouts, in order, three days per week.

So here’s what my new schedule looks like:

Monday: Insanity DVD (ranging from 30-60 minutes)
Tuesday: Insanity DVD
Wednesday: Body Pump
Thursday: Rest or Light Movement (walk/jog, yoga, stretching, another DVD)
Friday: Body Pump
Saturday: Insanity DVD
Sunday: Rest

Would I like to keep up with my running simultaneously? Sure, but I’ve made the decision not to at this particular time. Maintaining my running routine – plus Body Pump and Insanity – would require a lot of extra time and effort that I’m simply not willing to give, for two reasons:

1. I have a history of going overboard with exercise, so I am hyper-aware of the importance of sticking with a moderate schedule.

2. The purpose of my exercise routine is to help maintain good health and to manage stress. I’m not planning on breaking any records anytime soon, so I really don’t need a more intense schedule.

I’m really looking forward to mixing up my routine! I already feel excited and rejuvenated, so I suppose it’s already working! :-)

Do you stick to a regular exercise routine, or do you crave variety?


Have you ever taken Body Pump? Ever tried the Insanity DVDs?

Hierarchy of Food Needs

By Katie, 5:47 am

If you’re reading this right now, you probably have an interest in food. Perhaps you love cooking. Maybe you love trying new kinds of cuisine at different types of restaurants. Perhaps you’re an athlete who carefully uses food to fuel your workouts. Maybe you even write a food blog.

Or it could be that your relationship with food is a little rocky, a bit more love-and-hate. In any case, you are probably reading this blog because you take some kind of interest in food.

Which means that you have enough of it. Which means that you have access to a steady stream of it. Which means that you are in a position to make informed, conscious choices about it.

I’d like to start out this week by asking all of us to remember those for whom that is not the case, to remember that being in a position to take such an interest in food is a blessing in and of itself.

Those of you who studied psychology may recognize this diagram. It’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – an illustration of Maslow’s theory that humans must first have certain, basic needs met before we can move on to pursue other, higher needs.

For example, if we don’t have our physiological needs met (like food and water) or our safety needs met (say, we live in a war-torn country) we’re probably not too concerned about building up our self-confidence or finding a career that fosters our creativity. Because we’re just trying to survive.

Interestingly, I recently came across a related pyramid through the blog Sociological Images. This one, however, diagrams only our food needs.

Lisa from Sociological Images writes:

The graphic suggests that getting enough food to eat is the most important thing to people.  Having food be acceptable (e.g., not rotten, something you are not allergic to) comes second.  Once those two things are in place, people hope for reliable access to food and only then do they begin to worry about taste.  If people have enough, acceptable, reliable, good-tasting food, then they seek out novel food experiences and begin to make choices as to what to eat for instrumental purposes (e.g., number of calories, nutritional balance).

Of course I’ve always known that I’m extremely blessed to live such a secure life, with all of my basic needs met. But seeing it visually illustrated like this made me pause and try putting myself in another’s shoes for a moment. I exist entirely at the top of this pyramid: my food decisions – dictated completely by taste, the enjoyment of eating, and the nutritional composition of the food – are indeed higher-level choices.

But the choices made by many other people, in this country and around the globe, are determined by much more basic needs; they aren’t concerned about calories or about trying new types of cuisine because they’re too busy making sure that the whole family gets enough to eat, that no one is forced to go to bed hungry. I cannot even begin to imagine what that is like.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with having a passion for all things food, or that we should all feel inundated with guilt about our blessings. What I am saying is that today I am taking a moment to pause and be truly thankful for those blessings. I’m taking a moment to think about those who don’t know what it’s like to fantasize excitedly about what to cook for dinner, who instead worry about whether or not it will even exist. I’m taking a moment to thoughtfully consider what I can personally do to reach out to those people – to use my blessings to make their situations just a tiny bit easier – and I hope you will join me.

What kinds of things do you do or would you like to do to help people who are hungry? Have you ever volunteered in a soup kitchen or donated money to an organization that works to end hunger?


Have you ever experienced a moment that simply stopped you in your tracks and made you say THANK YOU for all of the blessings in your life? Seeing that pyramid really hit home for me; I realized that even though I struggle with food, I don’t have to worry about getting enough of it to survive. I need to be more grateful for that.

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes

By Katie, 5:32 am

Today is Saturday. Otherwise known in my household as Farmers’ Market Day. Otherwise known as the day I recommit myself to eating locally and in season. :-D

Right now, that means I’m all about tomatoes!

There is something wonderful about a fresh, locally-grown, perfectly ripe tomato. You simply cannot beat that flavor.

This quick, no-cook recipe stuffs the tomatoes with a simple mixture of tuna, capers, lemon juice, olive oil, and parsley. It’s a fresh but subtle flavor that stills allows the tomato to shine. Hollowing out the tomatoes is a little messy, so be sure to use a decent knife (the tomato innards don’t go to waste – they are added to the tuna mixture).

Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes
Adapted from Cheap Healthy Good, originally from Real Simple
Yields 2 tomatoes

2 large tomatoes
6 oz. tuna, packed in water, well-drained
2 tbsp capers
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1.5 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
sea salt and black pepper, to taste

1. Slice the top off of each tomato. Discard the seeds and goopy innards (technical term right there), and chop the remaining flesh.

2. In a medium bowl, combine that remaining tomato flesh with the tuna, capers, parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Divide the mixture between the tomatoes. Serve immediately or (if you’re not a food-at-room-temperature kind of person) refrigerate for 10-15 minutes before serving.

In other tuna-related news, I was inspired by this recipe and by Lisa of Early Morning Run to try a new take on tuna salad.

Per Lisa’s suggestion, I decided to make a tuna salad with hummus instead of mayo or yogurt. Interesting idea, no? I combined: tuna, hummus (plain, and not too much), cherry tomatoes, capers, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Verdict? Delicious!

What are your feelings on tomatoes? Love ‘em? Hate ‘em? Neutral?


What in-season food are you totally digging right now?

Keepin’ It In Perspective

By Katie, 5:30 am

Are you the type of person who has no trouble seeing the bigger picture, who never gets too wrapped up in the day-to-day, immediate stresses of life? Yeah, me neither. :-?

For most of us, keeping the little things in perspective is hard work. It’s tough not to focus solely on tomorrow when it’s so swiftly approaching! Indeed, the only way I can consistently remember to keep my eye on the bigger picture is to actually build in reminders to myself throughout the day. Here are four of these reminders.

Four Concrete Ways I Keep It In Perspective

1. My Phone Tells Me to Breathe

I don’t remember where I first heard about BreatheText.com; all I know is that I immediately signed up. At a random time each day I receive a text message that says something along the lines of “Take a Moment to Breathe,” or maybe “Breathe in, Breathe out.” And almost every day, without fail, the message comes at exactly the moment I need it most – the moment when I think my Inbox might swallow me whole, the moment I think it’s entirely possible I won’t make it through the day in one piece, the moment when I completely forget that tomorrow will come and go and soon be but a distant memory.

2. I Wear My Faith

More specifically, I wear my faith on my finger.

A few weeks ago MizFit posted about this phrase: Don’t dig up in doubt what you planted in faith. WOW. I couldn’t get that out of my head. It shook me.

In that same post, she showed off her faith ring from Lift Your Sole. Within 5 minutes I had purchased one, and it’s been on my finger ever since.

Every time I see my hand, I’m reminded of:

  • my faith in God’s existence and his everlasting love for me just as I am.
  • my faith in myself to never, never, never give up.
  • my faith in the process of self-discovery and self-reflection, my faith that it is worthwhile even when it’s really difficult.

3. I Sing to God…

…at the top of my lungs…in my kitchen. Seriously, it is diffucult to continue worrying about the immediate pressures of life when you’re belting out praises to your higher power while standing over the stove. Everything else just melts away for me in those moments.

4. The 5-Year Question

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, but I’m going to reiterate it anyway because it works! When I am  focusing entirely on the minute details of my life instead of on the broader significance of it, I ask myself, “Will this issue I’m presently facing matter in 5 years?” Heck, will it matter in 5 weeks? Will it matter tomorrow? Sometimes the answer is yes, but usually it’s a big old NO. In which case I give myself full permission to stop stressing over it so much! 8-)

So there you have it – 4 built-in reminders to keep it all in perspective. I’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions as well!

Do you ever struggle to focus on the bigger picture, instead of on just the immediate details of life?


What tips and tricks do you have for keeping it all in perspective? Think you’ll try any of the ones I use?

What About Emotional UNDEReating?

By Katie, 5:27 am

When I wrote the post on my Brownie Alert, several people commented that they couldn’t really relate because they don’t struggle with emotional overeating. In fact, some of them said they struggle with the exact opposite: emotional undereating.

But wait: Is undereating the exact opposite of overeating? I’m going to say no. I believe that overeating and undereating are inherently intertwined; in many cases, they are essentially two sides of the same coin.

I mostly discuss emotional overeating on this blog because that has been my biggest struggle as of late; however, I have plenty of experience with emotional undereating as well. And it really is emotional undereating. By that I mean, it’s not just about vanity or wanting to lose weight; it’s about  – as Mish so aptly pointed out in this postusing food to manage our lives.


Essentially, overeating and undereating have always provided me with the same comfort – I’ve used them both as (ineffective) coping mechanisms. For example:

  • I’ve used both overeating and undereating to numb me from feeling difficult emotions.
  • I’ve used both overeating and undereating to distract me from real life.
  • I’ve used both overeating and undereating to avoid situations that caused me pain or discomfort.
  • I’ve used both overeating and undereating as obsessions that drowned out the rest of the world.

For me, it’s always come down to that last part – the obsession. Regardless of whether I was planning a binge, feeling guilty over a binge, meticulously counting calories, or thinking about ways to restrict my food intake, I was always obsessing over food and my weight to the point of not living my life.

The point is that, be it overeating or undereating, bingeing or restricting, it’s masking something deeper. As Margarita pointed out, something lurks behind anyone’s obsession with food.

And just as the motivations are often the same, so too are the solutions. The key to freedom from emotional overeating or emotional undereating is digging out and confronting those demons that are lurking deeper; it’s learning to manage our lives with positive, effective coping strategies instead of harmful obsessions.

It’s learning to live a life that involves food, rather than one that revolves around it.

Have you ever experienced either emotional overeating or emotional undereating? Or are you like me and have experienced both?

And, if so…

Do you find that certain situations lead you to overeat emotionally, while others lead you to undereat? Answering that question is a good way to begin the process of digging up the real issues!

Help a Girl Out! Ice Cream and Chia Seeds

By Katie, 5:17 pm

This is just a random post to request some suggestions regarding the above two items. I know I’ve come to the right place! 8-)

But first, look who I had dinner with Tuesday night!

Sara from Nourish and Flourish! She’s currently visiting DC, and was kind enough to make the trip to Baltimore so that we could meet. We went to Tapas Teatro, where we shared a variety of small plates. There was a Mediterranean Mix of tomatoes, artichokes, and olives:

Spicy shrimp with capers:

This really, really delicious striped bass (we’re both seafood lovers - just one of the many things we have in common!):  

And asparagus with Serrano ham and shaved Parm:

We had such a lovely time chatting! Dave joked that I was going on a blind date, but I truly felt like I knew Sara already, even though this was my first time meeting her in person. And the whole experience made one thing perfectly clear: I need to meet more readers/bloggers in person! If you’re close to the Baltimore area – or if you’re ever traveling around here – please let me know! And hopefully I can make it to your neck of the woods as well. 8-)

All-in-all, a lovely evening, despite this too dark/grainy photo! Thanks for dining with me, Sara!

Now on to the HELP that I need from you!

As I mentioned before, last week Dave surprised me with an ice cream maker. Of course we put that puppy to work right away.

For our first attempt we decided to go with basic vanilla, using the following ingredients. True, this recipe is not for the faint of heart – it’s not a “healthified” version by any means. But you know what? Because this ice cream is the real deal – thick and creamy, with a strong vanilla flavor – I’m truly satisfied with the small serving shown here. So in this case I think it’s worth it to go big – whole milk, real sugar, heavy cream, the whole shebang. 8-)

Katie and Dave’s Basic Vanilla Ice Cream
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Yields: A TON! (almost a gallon?)

4 cups heavy cream, divided
5 cups whole milk
2.25 cups sugar
pinch salt
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (not the imitation stuff!)

1. Pour 2 cups of the cream into a large saucepan and add the sugar and salt. Warm over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Remove the pan from the heat and add the rest of the cream, the milk, and the vanilla.

3. Chill the mixture in the refridgerator for a few hours (at least 2). Then freeze according to the ice cream maker’s instructions.

*You could also use a vanilla bean(s) and less extract, but those things aren’t cheap! ($10/bean! 8-O )

Mix-ins include: fresh peaches, fresh blueberries, crushed Annie’s Bunny Grahams, and Dark Chocolate Dreams peanut butter.

Here’s where you come in: I need ice cream recipes! All kinds – healthified, non-healthified, vegan, non-vegan, vanilla, chocolate, fruity, fro-yo, sherbet – the sky is the limit! Please share with me your favorites!

And then there’s these:


I just purchased a small bag of chia seeds for the first time, but I’m not sure what I should do with them! I’ve heard they’re good in overnight oats, but that’s all I know. Please share with me any experience you have with chia seeds!

I appreciate your help with any of these endeavors! :-)

Creamy Taco Pasta

By Katie, 5:09 am

A few weeks ago my mom came down to Baltimore and stayed with me for a few days (Dave was out of town, and I hate staying by myself at night…one of the many ways I am still a child. :oops: )

My mom is many things, but an adventurous eater is not one of them. So I really wanted to make a dish that would be both healthy and satisfying while still being very familiar to her. That meant no tofu, no tempeh, and no green smoothies (I will get you to try one someday, Mom! ;-) ).

What could be better than a homemade, healthified version of Hamburger Helper? Otherwise known as Creamy Taco Pasta.

Here are some of the ways I made this version a bit healthier than the kind from a box (other than the simple fact that it didn’t come from a box! Ha!)

  • ground turkey instead of ground beef
  • whole wheat pasta
  • creamy sauce made from a mixture of plain Greek yogurt and reduced-fat cream cheese
  • homemade taco seasoning

I’ve actually never made my own taco seasoning before, but I realized I had all of the ingredients on hand – chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion powder, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

It was awesome – and no extra sodium required. :-)

The Creamy Taco Pasta itself is simple to make. I just cooked the pasta in boiling water, and simultaneously cooked my ground turkey in a skillet. Then I added onion, garlic, diced tomatoes, and my homemade taco seasoning. Finally, I made a sauce with cream cheese, plain Greek yogurt, and some of the pasta water. Put these three elements together – turkey mixture, cooked pasta, and sauce – topped it all with shredded cheddar, and dinner was served!

And a delicious dinner it was!

Next time I’d consider adding chopped cilantro, and maybe even some avocado – yum!

Creamy Taco Pasta
Adapted from Annie’s Eats
Yields 4 hearty servings

1 lb. ground turkey
8 oz. dry whole wheat pasta
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
3-4 tbsp taco seasoning, depending on your tastes (I used Annie’s simple recipe)
3 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste
shredded cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta in boiling water according to package directions. Drain and set aside, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook the ground turkey until no longer pink, breaking up with a wooden spoon.

3. When the turkey is almost finished, add the chopped onion and garlic, cooking for another minute or so. Then add the tomatoes and the taco seasoning.

4. Mix together the cream cheese, Greek yogurt, and 1/2 cup reserved pasta water, then add that mixture plus the cooked pasta to the turkey mixture. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is well-blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

5. Simmer over medium-low for a few minutes until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. Remove from the heat and serve, topping with shredded cheddar.

What foods would you consider “familiar”? Did you eat Hamburger Helper growing up?


Have you ever made your own taco seasoning, or do you stick to the pre-made packets?

Sweat Session with Lady Gaga

By Katie, 5:19 am

While I wouldn’t exactly call myself classy, I do like to think I have pretty good taste. For example, I have excellent taste in food…

pretty good taste in clothing…

and unbelievable taste in men. ;-)

But one thing I do not have good taste in (much to my husband’s dismay) is music. Don’t get me wrong; I love music. Indeed, I have quite a reputation for randomly breaking out into song and dance in my living room. 8-) But I don’t discriminate against high and low quality music. If I like the tune, the beat, or the lyrics (better yet, all three!) it gets a thumbs up in my book. Done and done.

I will add that the music I like to listen to while I’m working out is nothing like the music I prefer when I’m belting it out in my car or in my kitchen. In those cases my choices are Christian worship music and Broadway showtunes (ha!), but when I’m on the treadmill or the elliptical, it’s pop music all the way.

And by pop music I mean Lady GaGa. 8-)

Yes, she’s a bit eccentric. Yes, some of her lyrics are so explicit that they literally make me blush. :oops:   But I submit that The Fame is one of the best workout albums ever produced (and The Fame Monster isn’t so bad either!).

I was recently contacted by Chris Lawhorn, creator of the workout music database Run Hundred. It’s basically a log of popular exericse music, sorted by genre, decade, or beats per minute. He offered to make a playlist for me based on the tempo of one of my favorite workout songs – “Telephone” by Lady GaGa and Beyonce. Stop callin’, stop callin’, I don’t wanna think anymore…

Here’s what Chris had to say:

I wanted to take one of Katie’s favorite gym jams and put together a workout playlist that would highlight songs with the same tempo (122 beats per minute).

To that end, each of the songs below clocks in at that speed. It’s a fairly dense area in the scope of things, so I had lots of leeway to pull up recent tracks by Taio Cruz, Black Eyed Peas, and Three 6 Mafia. But I also tried to throw in a few older tracks by Michael Jackson, Prince and Lipps, Inc. Lastly, there’s a surprisingly feisty track from Mandy Moore and a Daft Punk album track to appease folks who’ve had enough of the hits.

On the whole, it’s an eclectic mix – albeit set to a single beat. For what it’s worth, 122 BPM will probably serve you best for a brisk walk or lower rep activities (Stairmaster, Elliptical, etc.) than it would for a run.

Check out the Playlist:

I have to say, a lot of those songs are new to me. Overall I love the idea of finding new workout music based on the tempo of the songs I already enjoy, and I’ll definitely be using Run Hundred as a tool for finding new tunes and making new playlists. Thanks, Chris!

What kind of workout music do you prefer? Is it different than the music you listen to in life outside of the gym?


Have you ever created an exercise playlist based on the beats per minute? Think you would?

Panorama Theme by Themocracy