Tone It Up Meals: Week 2

I’m on week two of the Tone It Up Bikini Series challenge so I thought I’d share my meals from Monday with you. The goal of the challenge is “lean, clean, and green” meaning lots of protein, whole foods, and veggies!
Breakfast was a cup of Chobani with a few walnuts on top.

I’d never tried the cherry Chobani flavor before but this one was really yummy! The walnuts were a nice crunch.

morning snack

For my morning snack I had a couple of clementines and a handful of cashews. It was a nice sweet and salty combination that kept me full until lunch! I munched on these while calling into meetings and answering emails. I had a lot to do so the morning flew by!

I grabbed lunch at Panera and decided to switch things up and try the Medeterianian Quinoa Salad with a cup of vegetable soup. It was my first time having the quinoa salad but it was delicious! I’d definitely recommend this. I’m glad restaurants are starting to offer more healthy, vegetarian restaurants. (I’m so tired of ordering salads without the chicken!)

I had more meetings in the afternoon (work, work, work, work…) so I had another snack while I finished a few things.


We picked up Honeycrisp apples at the store which are the best. I’m pretty sure they weigh as much as gold but they’re a nice treat!

My mom cooked dinner while I finished working so it was nice to wrap up and see dinner was already on the table! She knew I was trying to follow the Tone It Up nutrition plan so she made a really healthy and delicious dinner!

kale salad

This kale salad was amazing. I’ll have to share the recipe because it was so good. I’ll be making this at home!


We had it with this delicious pasta dish which was whole grain penne with tons of roasted vegetables in a “no-cream” primavera sauce. The seasoning was great and the vegetables were delicious. This would be a perfect dish to make if you’ve got lots of leftover vegetables in your fridge. We had ours with carrots, broccoli, tomatoes, peppers, and green beans.

After dinner, we relaxed around the house and I got my parents started on The Jinx. I’ve already seen it but it was so good that I needed them to watch it! It’s an addicting mini-series! We snacked on pistachios and fruit while we watched the first episode.

We snacked on pistachios and fruit while we watched the first episode.

What are your favorite movie snacks?

I’m linking up to What I Ate Wednesday on Sprint to the Table!

Healthy Road Trip Snacks

There are three things you need for a perfect road trip:

  1. A good co-pilot (who will chat along the way)
  2. A great playlist (with plenty of songs to sing along to)
  3. Plenty of snacks (that won’t make you feel sluggish and yucky)

My friend Alexa and I took a road trip to Ohio for the weekend and luckily I had all three of those things. We chatted most of the way, taking a break to sing along to Beyonce. We also packed quite a few snacks which we munched on along the way. Gas stations and fast food places don’t generally have a lot of healthy options (especially not for vegetarians!) so packing snacks is essential.

HealthyRoad TripSnacks

I have a few favorites that I love to bring along so I thought I’d share my picks and I’d love to hear what your favorite healthy road trip snacks are!

apple chips

I love apples but sometimes I want something more crunchy and chip-like. Hello apple chips. I actually have an easy apple chip recipe that you could make at home but a bag of these also makes an easy road trip snack. It’s also a little less messy than eating an apple, so it’s a convenient option.

curate bars

These taste like a candy bar but the ingredients are much cleaner and it contains a decent amount of protein and fiber, so it’ll keep you full, longer. You have to be a little careful because these could get melty but they’re delicious. It’s funny because I snagged a box of these in Ohio and noticed on the package that the company is actually based in Columbus! Luckily, I think you can find them at most Target stores. 


I love these clementines because they’re easy to peel and they don’t have a bunch of seeds. They’re perfect to toss into your purse and grab when you get hungry. They’re satisfying if you’re craving something sweet! I had a few of these throughout our trip and they hit the spot. 


Ok ok, sometimes you want straight up candy. At least these dark chocolate peanut butter cups don’t contain a bunch of weird ingredients and flavorings. Plus, dark chocolate is so much yummier than milk chocolate! If you haven’t had Justin’s nut butter before, it’s incredible!

brussles bytes

If you love kale chips, try these Brussel Bytes. (If you don’t like kale chips then skip these because you probably won’t like them! My parents weren’t into it.) I love them because they’re crunchy and spicy and packed with flavor. There are 2 servings in a bag and even if you ate the whole bag (because uh, who doesn’t eat the whole bag?) it’s less than 300 calories. Plus you’d get 6g of fiber and 12g of protein, so that’s hard to beat. The ingredients list looks like the recipe of a salad so you don’t need to worry about any sort of fake flavors or powdered “cheese product” that you might find on some chips!

Alexa and I spent 8 hours in the car on Friday driving to Columbus but it was worth the trip! I got to celebrate my cousin at her bridal shower which was a great chance to catch up with friends and family. 

I can’t wait to see her tie the knot in June! 

I also got to catch up with old friends which is basically my favorite thing ever. As an extrovert, weekends like this just give me so much joy and energy. Hours in the car are worth it to be reunited with friends!

What are your favorite road trip snacks?

5 Tips for Super Thick Smoothies

When I posted this smoothie bowl on Instagram, a few people asked how to make their smoothies thicker. I only eat spoonable smoothies so I loved this question.

Tips for thicker smoothies? Your wish is my command! I’ve been blending up my breakfast for years. I got a Vitamix for my 22nd birthday (thanks, Mom & Dad!) and I’ve used it at least a few times a week ever since! Here are a few of my tips and tricks for making a super thick smoothie:

If you want to blend a super thick spoonable smoothie, try these tips and tricks!

  1. Use frozen fruit or freeze fruit overnight. I always have a stash of bananas in the freezer because they’re perfect in smoothies! Mango, pineapple, strawberries, and blueberries are also great in the freezer. Plus, frozen fruit tends to be cheaper and you can find fruit that might not be in season! Budget friendly and delicious? That’s a win-win.
  2. Freeze some of the liquid. If you typically use orange juice in your smoothies, freeze some of it in an ice cube tray and add those to your smoothies! I used to freeze almond milk in an ice cube tray to make my smoothies extra thick. Our freezer is on the small side so I don’t do this anymore, but it can work well if you’re really trying to make a thick smoothie. (Note: Storebought almond milk will sometimes separate a bit when frozen. It tastes the same when blended up in a smoothie but it might look a little funny.) This works really well if you like using juice in your smoothie!
  3. Use the minimum amount of liquid. The better the blender, the less liquid you’ll have to use. If you don’t have a fancy blender, you might need a bit more liquid but try to only use a little at a time while you’re blending. If you add too much, it’ll be runny. I start with a little bit and add an extra splash if it’s too thick to blend.
  4. Add some oats. A handful of oats can add thickness to your smoothie while also adding in some extra protein and fiber! I love tossing in some oats in this peach cobbler smoothie! You don’t need to cook them, just add them in raw!
  5. Toss in chia seeds. Adding in a tablespoon of chia seeds will add healthy fats that also make your smoothie more spoonable! They’re a natural thickener.


If you’re curious about what’s in that smoothie bowl pictured above, here’s the recipe!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Super Thick Blueberry Smoothie
Prep time
Total time
Recipe type: Smoothie
Serves: 1
  • 1 handful of ice (about 5 large cubes)
  • ½ medium banana, frozen
  • ½ cup almond milk
  • ⅓ cup frozen blueberries
  • 2 large kale leaves
  • 1 scoop of About Time Whey Protein Powder (Birthday Cake flavor)
  • Topped with chia seeds, raspberries, and almonds!
  1. Toss everything except your toppings into the blender and process until smooth!
  2. Pour into a bowl and add your toppings.
  3. Dig in with a spoon!

blueberry smoothie bowl
If you want to blend a super thick spoonable smoothie, try these tips and tricks!

What are your smoothie tips? Do you eat yours with a spoon?

Tone It Up Meals: Week 1

I mentioned on Monday that I’m doing the Tone It Up Bikini Series challenge for the next 8 weeks, so I’m focusing on meals that are lean, clean, and green! Since it’s What I Ate Wednesday, I wanted to show you what I ate yesterday!

I rolled myself out of bed earlier than usually to do a treadmill workout followed by this workout video + a set of “daily moves” which were lots of squats and lunges. It took about 45 minutes to do it all, so once I was finished I was ready for breakfast.

blueberry smoothie bowl with toppings

This was a smoothie bowl with lots of yummy toppings. I need texture in my smoothies and they must be eaten with a spoon. (For me, real meals require a spoon! I can’t drink my breakfast.) This was so delicious and I was literally sad when it was gone.


My second meal of the day was a piece of Ezekiel sprouted grain bread (You can see my sprouted grains review here!) topped with a little almond butter.

For lunch, I packed a kale salad in a jar. I’d actually never done the salad-in-a-jar thing. I know. Who am I? But this worked surprisingly well.

salad in a jar

It was salad dressing in the bottom (grapeseed oil, agave, lemon juice) with quinoa, bell peppers, kale, and cilantro. I was a little skeptical but honestly it was delicious.


I also had an apple on the side. I love keeping my apples in the fridge so they’re super cold when I eat them. Does anyone else like their apples chilled?

For an afternoon snack, I had some popcorn.


The popcorn weirdly filled me up and I honestly wasn’t hungry until after 8pm. That’s super weird for me. Normally I’m starving at 5pm. Maybe it’s all the veggies? Anyways, I finally decided to eat some leftover soup around 8:30.

spiced chickpea soup

I had some leftover Moroccan Chickpea soup. I love all the spices in there! This hit the spot and kept me full for the rest of the night. I went to bed early because I was meeting friends for an early workout today. I’m not usually a morning workout person but I’m trying to get in the habit of it. I don’t think it’ll do it all the time but it’ll be nice to get it out of the way on busy days.

Curious about the Tone It Up Nutrition Plan? Here's what I ate during the Tone It Up Bikini Series Challenge. All of my meals were vegetarian and delicious!

Looking for more Tone It Up meals? Here are a few examples from last year’s challenge:

What’s the best thing you’ve eaten recently?

Linking up for What I Ate Wednesday!

5 Grocery Essentials for Healthy Recipes

I’m so excited that today is Monday, which might sound a little crazy, but I signed up for the Tone It Up Bikini Series 8 week challenge and it starts today! I’ve done a few of their workout plans in the past and I love them. They have a great focus on healthy eating and exercise and I’m thrilled for this next challenge! (You can check out my experience on the Tone It Up 7 Day Slim Down, when I first joined Tone It Up and a day of meals during the challenge from last year!)

To kick things off, yesterday was all about meal prep. I don’t usually cook much ahead of time but I wanted to make sure I’d have plenty of healthy options at home, so I’m not tempted to go out to eat or reach for a box of macaroni and cheese. Honestly, the meal plan isn’t that different from how I normally try to eat, but it’s a little cleaner. The main goal is lots of lean proteins, veggies, and fruit. Simple enough, right?

5 Grocery Essentials for Healthy Recipes

Whether you’re doing the Tone It Up meal plan or you’re just trying to eat a little healthier, these are some of the essentials that I always have in my fridge or pantry!

breakfast greek yogurt and berries

1. Greek yogurt. I went through a Greek yogurt phase for like… 5 years. I took a little break for a couple months and now I’m obsessed again. I typically buy the plain kind (0% or 2% milk fat) and add my own sweetener and fruit. Be careful of the fruit flavored because some of them are loaded with sugar.Fage & Chobani are my favorite brands!

banana muffins low calorie

2. Bananas. Bananas are so versatile and they’re budget friendly! I love them in my smoothies, muffins, and cookies! They’re also an easy grab & go snack between meals. When I buy them, I try to grab a range of ripeness so we always have some to use right away. When they start to brown, I peel them and freeze them. If you don’t have a high speed blender, slice before you freeze then and it’ll make smoothies easier.

how to make fluffy quinoa

3. Quinoa. This seed-that-poses-as-grain is perfect for nights when I’m craving some carbs but I want to get in more protein. I use it in soups, burrito bowls, tabbouleh, and this Mexican Quinoa Bake. Also, here’s how to make quinoa in a rice cooker, which is how I prepared my batch yesterday!

Move over all-purpose flour, there are new flours in town! Here's a comprehensive guide to alternative flours. Learn which flours are best for baking, what you can swap for what, and which gluten free flours are the best!

4. Flour alternatives. When I’m trying to make healthier recipes, I like swapping in different types of flour, instead of sticking with all-purpose flour. From whole wheat pastry flour to almond meal, these different flour types can add a bit more protein and fiber to my recipes. In fact, I made a guide to alternative flours so you can see just how I use them!

granola with chia seeds

5. Chia seeds. These little seeds are a great way to add a little healthy fat and fiber to your smoothies or yogurt bowls! 1 oz of seeds has 10g of fiber! If you don’t like it in smoothies, try it in this chia seed granola. It’s perfect if you like crunchy granola clusters. Keep a bag in your freezer and add a tablespoon in for a little fiber boost. You can even use them as an egg replacer!

I’ll be sharing my meals and some of my workouts on the blog, but if you want a little more behind the scenes, follow me on Snapchat (username: HeartVegetables) and Instagram!

Have you ever tried a specific fitness challenge?

4 Tips for New Runners

I’ve had a love/hate relationship with running. Before I moved to Virginia, I’d never run more than a mile or two at a time. I signed up for my first 5K in December of 2010 and then ran on and off for a while. In 2012 I ran my first half marathon. The problem is, I’ve never been very consistent with running so every time I pick it back up, I’m starting from scratch. The first few runs feel awful and I’m convinced that my lungs are going to explode and my legs are going to give out on me. And then after a few weeks of consistent training, I start feeling like maybe I could enjoy it. Maybe.

Since I’m still trying to get the hang of this whole running thing, I reached out to my running-expert-blogging-friend Hollie, and asked her to share a few tips for new runners. Hollie is amazing and I love reading about her races. I’ve been reading her blog for years and even though we haven’t actually met in person, I feel like I know her well! So without further ado, I’ll turn it over to Hollie!


Thanks to Liz for allowing me to take over her blog for a day. Liz was one of the first bloggers I started following about five years ago.  

Hollie from Fueled by LOLZ

My name is Hollie.  While I’m a Virginia native, I went to college in Upstate NY and now reside right outside of Philadelphia.  I’ve been blogging for about five years now.  I work at a local running store and run anywhere between 50-70 miles with my favorite distance either the 5k or half marathon.

I see a lot of new runners that filter through the running store.  To be honest, starting to run can be both overwhelming and confusing.  Where do you start? What do you do?  How much running is too much or even too little?

Hollie from Fueled by LOLZ

So you made it through the hardest part, and you’ve decided you want to start running, now what? 

It’s a great hobby and one you can take up at any age or place in your life.  Some people run as a peaceful time to reflect upon on the day.  Others run because they need to get away from aspects of life.  Ultimately we all have different reasons to run, but it’s a sport we can do that.

4 Tips for New Runners

When you first begin running, there are a few things to keep in my mind.  Things I wish people told me.  Here are four lessons I’ve learned along the way:

1. Get fitted for a pair of running shoes

There is no “best” running shoe or brand, but there is the best shoe for your foot.  It’s important to get properly fitted for your first pair of shoes.

You are going to cover hundreds of miles in a pair of shoes, and it’s important to make sure your feet are well supported.  I recommend checking out your local running store, and they’ll help you out.  Without proper footwear, you are setting yourself up for an injury!

2. Build your Running Gradually

There are several great training programs out there.  The couch to 5k program is one of my favorites, and I’ve seen a lot of people have success with it.  It focuses more of time versus miles which is an important factor. (Note from Liz: I used this free training plan for my half marathon and it was great!)

3. Train Easy

Every mile does not have to be your fastest and in fact, it shouldn’t be! There is a common misconception that we must run our fastest all of the time to improve.  You should focus on getting out there instead of pace.  My range of pace is anywhere between a 6 minute and a 12-minute mile.  Each mile serves a different purpose.  The easier miles allow you to run faster miles.

4. There is No Secret to Success

Gaining speed and fitness takes time. 

Running fitness is built over time.  The best piece of advice is: give running time.  If you are consistent, you will see improvement.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither was running fitness!

What’s a recent hobby you’ve recently started doing?

What advice would you add?

Follow Hollie here: Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

What I Ate in NYC 

Last Thursday, I had a work event in New York City, so Alex met up with me afterwards and we spent the weekend eating our way through the city. We’d both explored New York separately but this was our first trip together, so it was a fun adventure! Friday morning, we set out to explore Chelsea. I hadn’t been to that part of town so I was excited to see a few new things.

avocado toast

Our first stop was breakfast at Cafeteria. They had a lot of breakfast options but I couldn’t resist the avocado toast. I’m pretty sure there were 4 lbs of avocado on my toast. (Not complaining.) And I had about 3 cups of coffee. I can never have enough coffee.

After breakfast we went to the Chelsea Market and walked around some of the shops inside.

Chelsea Market

After some window shopping, we walked over to 192 Books. We did some browsing and I ended up grabbing a book recommended by the girl that worked there. I told her I wanted something in the non-fiction section and she suggested this book, Evicted. I’m about halfway through and it’s so interesting. It’s all about the rental market in Milwaukee and some of the struggles and challenges that people below the poverty line face. It’s really eye opening and I can’t wait to finish it.

192 books

After we were thoroughly caffeinated, we headed back out to grab lunch.

sandwich in NYC

I actually can’t remember the name of the restaurant but we split a veggie sandwich and a side of fries. The sandwich was piled high with carrots, cucumbers, hummus, avocado, lettuce, and sprouts. The bread was perfectly toasted and we both enjoyed it.

We went out for another walk, switching hotels and carrying our bags across the city. It turned out to be quite a workout since New York City blocks were a bit longer than I thought. After we got settled into the new spot, we hopped on the metro to go to Greenwich village for a comedy show. While we were on our way to a comedy club, a guy stopped us and told us about a free show happening at the bar we were standing outside of. Our curiosity (or maybe our midwestern politeness) got the best of us so we agreed to check it out.

The Lantern Comedy

We were super skeptical when we went down to the basement. It was almost completely empty but the guy told us he’d give us a free round of drinks so we figured we had nothing to lose! It ended up being a pretty hilarious night of stand up comics. It wasn’t what we expected but it was fun!

Afterwards we tried to go to By Chloe for dinner but it was too packed, so we walked across the street to an Italian place and grabbed pizza.


The pizza was actually on the small side (it’s hard to tell in the photo) so we stopped for a little dessert on the way home. We actually tried to get gelato  but every place was closed so we settled for a pint of Ben & Jerry’s.

I actually only have one picture of us from the trip (clearly my focus was on the food… oops.) but we did snap a quick picture in Central Park before heading home on Sunday afternoon!

We had such a great time and it was fun spending the weekend exploring New York City but I was pretty happy to be reunited with my bed on Sunday night. Traveling makes me appreciate home!

If you’ve been to New York City, what’s your favorite restaurant?

Linking up with Laura for What I Ate Wednesday!

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

When I’m trying to eat a little healthier, soups are one of my favorite things to make. They’re a perfect way to make veggies extra flavorful. I’ve been playing around with spices lately and I decided to bite the bullet and buy saffron. Do you know how much saffron costs?! I try to keep our grocery budget in check, so this was definitely a splurge. If you don’t have any saffron, don’t fret. You can make this moroccan chickpea soup without it. But, if you do have a pinch in your pantry, this recipe is worth it!

spiced chickpea vegan soup

5.0 from 4 reviews
Moroccan Chickpea Soup
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
This recipe is adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Vegetarian Cookbook
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion
  • ½ lb red potatoes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp hot paprika
  • ¼ tsp crushed saffron threads
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 2 (15oz) cans of chickpeas
  • 1 (14oz) can of diced, fire roasted tomatoes
  • 3½ cups vegetable broth
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Dice the onion and add to the pot with the oil.
  3. Cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the onion begins to soften.
  4. While that cooks, dice the red potatoes into ½ inch pieces. (You don't need to peel them.)
  5. Add in the salt, garlic, paprika, saffron, and ginger.
  6. Cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  7. Add in the tomatoes, chickpeas, potatoes, and vegetable broth and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are soft.
  8. Serve immediately or let the flavors meld together for a while and then reheat and eat when you're ready!

It’s been a chilly spring so far here in Richmond so this soup hit the spot last weekend. I had a lazy Sunday morning so it was fun to spend it in the kitchen, smelling this delicious soup.

vegan chickpea soup

This moroccan chickpea soup is vegan and gluten free and the leftovers reheat really well so it’s a great thing to make on Sunday and pack for lunch the rest of the week. This recipe makes 4 large servings, but you could add in a salad or a sandwich and split it up into smaller servings.

spiced chickpea soup

I have a feeling this is a soup I’ll be making even when the weather warms up!

This Moroccan chickpea soup recipe is vegan & gluten free! It's a healthy soup that packed with flavor! It's a perfect make ahead meal or weeknight dinner!

Alex and I spent the weekend New York City so I’ll be sharing a recap of some of my favorite spots on Wednesday! We ate so much good food, I think I need some of this soup to reset my system back to normal! But hey, when in New York, right?

Do you have a current favorite spice?

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies

I am so excited to share today’s post with you, not just because it’s a drool-worthy recipe, but because it’s a guest post from my friend Jess who blogs over at Hello to Fit! Jess is a Virginia Blogger who I finally had a chance to meet in person a couple weeks ago! I absolutely love her blog and her approach to a healthy lifestyle so I asked her if she’d be willing to write a guest post for me! She developed this amazing brownie recipe, so while I spend the day exploring New York City, I’ll leave you with this amazing recipe… 

These chocolate coconut brownies are gluten free and made with coconut sugar! They're a healthier version of your favorite dessert!

Coconut products have been all the rage lately. Growing up, I remember that coconuts came in three forms: fresh, shredded, and as canned coconut milk. Welcome to 2016, where we can hydrate with coconut water, make a delicious snack with coconut flour, and then bake something sweet with coconut SUGAR.

These chocolate coconut brownies are gluten free and made with coconut sugar! They're a healthier version of your favorite dessert!

Coconut sugar is an alternative to regular refined sugar. It’s made from the sap of cut flower buds of the coconut palm, and has been utilized in regions around Southeast Asia for thousands of years. When I traveled to Thailand last February, I got to see local women making coconut sugar at one of the markets!

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies | Hello to Fit

While thinking of a recipe to make for you all, I knew I wanted to incorporate two things: simplicity (in regards to ingredients) and a unique ingredient (i.e. coconut sugar). With our busy lives and growing to-do lists, we can always benefit from making an easy recipe with simple ingredients, right?

While coconut sugar is “still” sugar, there can be trace amounts of benefits to cooking with coconut sugar as opposed to table sugar. Coconut sugar ranks 35 on the glycemic index, whereas regular sugar ranks between 60 and 75. A lower glycemic index could mean less chances of blood sugar spiking (less “crash” afterwards), which impacts insulin levels. Does that mean you should consume massive amounts of coconut sugar because it’s “healthier” than regular sugar? Not necessarily, but it’s nice to know that we can make small changes without sacrificing taste and flavor.

These chocolate coconut brownies are gluten free and made with coconut sugar! They're a healthier version of your favorite dessert!

Yes, you read that correctly. There is NO compromise on flavor and taste when it comes to these gluten free brownies! If taste-testing could be arranged over the internet, you’d be able to see, feel, and taste how similar this gluten free brownie is to a regular version. Crackly top? Check. Chewy on the outside, yet soft on the inside? Done. Bites that are packed with chocolate flavor, and just the right amount of shredded coconut? You bet.

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies | Hello to Fit

A dessert recipe that qualifies as “easy and simple” means that one bowl is used, and I can mix it by hand. After melting the chocolate chips in the microwave, all it takes is mixing the remaining ingredients together with a rubber spatula, pouring the batter into a square pan, and smelling the magic that unfolds in your oven.

It takes a lot of self-control to wait until these brownies cool before slicing, but I did it. Aren’t you proud? For you, the blogging community? Anything. Even waiting to nosh on a couple of these, especially since no one wants to see messy, oops-sliced-them-too-soon pictures of brownies!

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies | Hello to Fit

5.0 from 2 reviews
Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 16
  • ½ cup peanut butter
  • ¾ cup coconut sugar
  • 8 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 egg, room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
  • ½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut, to sprinkle on top
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line an 8x8-inch square pan with parchment paper. Lightly grease with nonstick spray (I used coconut oil spray).
  2. Microwave chocolate chips in a large, microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir with a rubber spatula, and heat for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute, until melted.
  3. Using a rubber spatula, mix in almond butter, cocoa powder, and coconut sugar until smooth.
  4. Stir in vanilla extract, salt and eggs. Combine until smooth.
  5. Pour brownie batter into pan and smooth over with spatula, leveling out surface of batter.
  6. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the brownies are set in the center. Be careful not to over-bake.
  7. Remove from heat and cool for approximately 15 minutes before cutting.
  8. Brownies can be stored in an airtight container.

Gluten Free Chocolate Coconut Brownies | Hello to Fit

Have you tried coconut sugar?

headshot HTF


Jess is an ACSM certified personal trainer, AFAA certified group exercise instructor, and Power Vinyasa yoga teacher from Charlottesville, VA. Through her personal training and blogging, she hopes to share her experiences with living a balanced lifestyle: a lifestyle that includes an emphasis on strength and core training, moving as much as we can for health, while also enjoying those moments of indulgence.

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest

What I Ate on Race Day

Saturday morning, Alex and I braved the cold, wind, and snow (or was it hail?) to run the Monument 10K. With over 36,000 runners. This race is huge in Richmond. I’ve done it a few times but I hadn’t run it the past couple of years. It was fun to get back out there and run, even if the weather didn’t cooperate.

pre race breakfast

I started the day off with a protein shake and a side of almond butter. Perfect race fuel! We headed out toward the starting line and ended up walking about a mile before the race.


It was so cold, we had to bundle up! I was warm by the end but I was thankful that my headband kept my ears warm. I didn’t beat my previous race time, but I ran the whole thing so I was happy with that! I ran the first 2 miles with my friend Carin, so that helped a lot since the first two miles were rainy and cold. The sun came out around my third mile so it was great after that!

We had to walk almost a mile back to the car so by the time I climbed in the passenger seat, my legs were exhausted. We stopped at Ellwood Thompson’s on the way home and I grabbed some yogurt, fruit, and granola.

yogurt and berries

I actually wasn’t as hungry as I expected to be after the race so this filled me up for a bit. I also snacked on what was left of these multigrain crackers from Trader Joe’s.

multigrain crackers

It was a strange brunch/lunch situation but it hit the spot!

We spent most of the afternoon being lazy, lounging around, and watching TV. We shared some baked chips and guacamole but it actually wasn’t that good.

guacamole and baked chips

The guacamole was the pre-packaged kind from Trader Joe’s and that’s just never as good as fresh!

Once we got hungry for dinner, we ordered takeout from The Savory Grain. I had the warm kale salad which was grilled kalettes topped with goat cheese, pecans, pears, and sun dried tomatoes. This was so good. If you haven’t tried kalettes, they’re like a hybrid of kale and a brussels sprout. That sounds crazy but they’re yummy!

kale salad from the savory grain

I also shared some mac n cheese with Alex, in exchange for a bunch of his french fries.

mac n cheese from the savory grain

This totally hit the spot! I definitely needed some comfort food. We split a bottle of red wine and watched a 30 for 30 documentary on Netflix. I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing night!

Now that I’ve started running again, I’m going to make it a goal to keep at it. Getting back into running was hard. Every single mile seemed so hard but I know that half of it (or maybe more?) is mental. Now that I know how far I can run, I just need to keep at it! Thankfully there are lots of people in my neighborhood I can run with, so I’m hoping that’ll keep me going!

What’s your favorite pre-race food?

Linking up with Arman for What I Ate Wednesday.