Mac and Cheese

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Being that it has now officially gotten cold, Mac and Cheese is the perfect comfort food for a cozy night in. This recipe is rather indulgent and totally beats the usual Weight Watcher’s recipe I follow, but it’s sweater time- perfectly ok to splurge once in awhile.

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And splurge we did. I used my fav girl Ina’s Barefoot Contessa recipe and followed it exact, except I did use whole wheat pasta. Sure, I’ll cook with piles of shredded cheese and butter, but use regular pasta, nope! Oh and I used panko bread crumbs verses the white bread she references- because once again there’s that voice in my head says “no-white-grains” but throw some extra cheese on top—sure thing! Chopped broccoli was used instead of fresh tomatoes since we have a non-tomato lover at home (which falls under things I’ll never understand). I love tomatoes and do think the addition of them would be excellent.

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Let me also mention that this was super simple, so creamy, rich and delicious. And most importantly, don’t be afraid to let this baby bake, the crunchier the top- the better!

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Let’s talk BOOKS

I recently finished two great books that I’ve been recommending like crazy. These were the type of stories that I couldn’t wait to get into bed at night and read, which is always my favorite way to finish off the day.

Wild- Cheryl Strayed
LOVED, loved, loved this memoir. Totally wanted to reinvent myself after and go on some sort of “finding myself’ trip and while that probably isn’t happening I thoroughly enjoyed reading Cheryl’s journey. The novel is her story of hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, no she’s not a hiker, and how she got back in touch with herself. You follow her as she makes this difficult journey- and while this part is entertaining by its self, what really intrigues is how she resonates with her past and then begins to see the light to start over.

A favorite quote – “I knew that if I allowed fear to overtake me, my journey was doomed. Fear, to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told. I decided I was safe. I was strong. I was brave. Nothing could vanquish me.”- Cheryl Strayed

Beautiful Ruins- Jess Walter
I absolutely adored this story. It’s funny, included a powerful love-affair and the backdrop between the Italian coast and Hollywood was quite nice to daydream about. It tells a full story from when the characters were younger until they grow old which I always enjoy-it paints a full picture. It’s a perfect novel to get lost in and relive the dramas of a different time.

To quickly put it- “Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962…and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.”

And now I’m currently reading and enjoying, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. I’ve been meaning to read this one for awhile because I was curious as to what it has to say about the authors own personal “happiness project” that she takes on for a year. I’m not that far into it yet but was definitely hooked from page one. Excited to see where this one goes!

Have any suggestions for me to read next?!

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Chia – the lowdown

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If you add one healthy addition to your diet this week, let it be these nutrient-packed, energy fueled, tiny, little seeds. I recently started throwing them into my breakfast every morning and have become quite the fan. They keep you feeling full and have loads of benefits to them- plus you can eat them in their natural form so there’s zero prep work.

Who even knew a seed could be a superfood, but in fact these are it. They are packed with healthy Omega-3’s, protein, iron, fiber, antioxidants, calcium- the list goes on! Quite a lot for something you can easily toss on anything you eat and with a nutty flavor it’ll actually taste good!

Here are some of my favorite ways to incorporate the seeds into my diet with little to no work:

(using about 1 tbsp straight from the bag)
Mixed into oatmeal, yogurt, cereal, granola
Smoothies – once blended they will create a little crunch
Sprinkled on a Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwich
Tossed into a veggie stir fry or salad

And if you want to take them one step further try the below:

Chocolate chia seed pudding:
1 1/4 cups almond milk or coconut milk
3 to 4 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup chia seeds
Mix all together and let it sit in the fridge for a few hours. Super tasty and healthy!

There are tons of recipes out there using chia seeds, I haven’t tried cooking or baking with them just yet- but I hope to try it out soon so stay tuned…