Change Your Choices

Change Your Life…Tips for a healthier you

I Feel like Laura Ingalls

My Pinterest addiction is in high gear and I am finding all sorts of recipes, workouts, and cleaning tips.  I’m so busy pinning that I really don’t have time to cook, exercise, and clean!

Seriously, I have found lots of good stuff on Pinterest and decided to try making homemade laundry soap.  In the words of my daughter, “Now why the hell make your own detergent when you can just pour it out of a bottle?”  Good question.  I’m not really sure why.  Perhaps because I am tired of buying soap and tossing the plastic containers.  I already add Borax to the stinky loads so why not just use it as part of the soap?  It also makes me feel very Laura Ingalls.

And–it costs about 6 cents per load, the usage is 1 tablespoon per load so this will last me for YEARS!!  I have a top loader, if you have a front loader and use HE soap, this will save you even more as HE detergent is more expensive.

The original post explains it perfectly so go here: to check it out.

Here are my notes after making it.

-I was able to find all 3 ingredients at Festival Foods but I would guess these are available at pretty much any store that has cleaning supplies.

-I used Ivory soap because I wash a lot of athletic wear and I read the Fels Naptha is rough on polyesters. A Fels Naptha mix would be a few pennies less and probably better if  you have really dirty laundry.  Mine is mostly just sweaty laundry, not many stains or dirt.

-Instead of grating the Ivory soap, I used the microwave suggestion and it is SO cool!  Unwrap the bar, put it on a plate in the microwave, I hit 2 minutes but it didn’t take long at all before it turned into a “cloud.” I pulled it out when it was huge, let it cool a bit and it just flaked in my hands.  I kept putting the non-cloud portion back in the microwave until it was all flaked.  This is almost too much fun!

Ivory Soap after a minute in the microwave!

This batch was made  with 1 bar of soap and 1 cup each of the other ingredients.  It filled a 1 lb. deli tub with a little left over.  If I only use 1 tablespoon per wash load this is going to last forever.  From start to finish this took 10 minutes to make and there is absolutely no mess.  And…my hands are super clean from flaking that bar of soap.

I haven’t had a chance to use it but I am also going to add vinegar to the softener dispenser instead of liquid softener and see what happens.  Another suggestion is to throw some balled up tinfoil in the dryer to eliminate static.  I’ll report back after trying this.  If it works I will be very happy to eliminate lots of chemicals from the detergent and softener.  (and save money, too!) More info on that:


I’m not quite this much of a pioneer woman. yet…

I will not be churning my own butter any time soon, mostly because I don’t eat butter, but I might try making my own toothpaste!





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Greek Yogurt Pancakes

This plus flour and egg=pancakes. For real.


This ranks right up there as on of the oddest recipes I have tried.  The great thing about Pinterest is that I can find so many good-looking recipes and read the comments before actually trying them. Back in the old days, we had to assume the finished product would be as easy and beautiful as what was pictured.  Through the internet we can hear from real people and learn from their mistakes!  This recipe had lots of positive comments and very little tweaking to the original so I gave it a shot.

I love pancakes but they are loaded with carbs (which I am not totally against) and calories so I have always been looking for an alternative.  I also dislike Greek yogurt (oh, stop looking shocked) but bought some when it was on sale.  Why?  I don’t know.  Perhaps I thought I would wake up one day and decide I liked it.  Imagine my delight when I saw a way to make healthier pancakes AND use up the Greek yogurt.

The recipe sounds bizarre and there is no way it should work, but it does.  Here is the link to the original post:

My comments are in parentheses.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes


  • 6 oz of your favorite Greek yogurt ( I used Chobani 0% vanilla/honey for the first batch, black cherry for the second batch )
  • 1 egg
  • scant 1/2 cup flour (I used white, might try whole grain next time)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • (I added a splash of vanilla but it’s optional)


  • Open the yogurt container and stir the yogurt until it’s smooth and creamy.  Crack an egg over the yogurt and stir to combine.   The resulting mixture should be pale yellow in color and have a few lumps here and there.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and baking soda.
  • Pour yogurt/egg mixture into the bowl with the flour and baking soda.  Stir to combine.  The batter will be extremely thick.
  • Spoon the batter onto a sprayed griddle or pan heated to medium-high. I usually make four big pancakes, but you could also make 8 smaller ones. (I made 4 big pancakes)
  • Flip the pancakes when they start to bubble a bit on the surface. (I had trouble flipping so these weren’t pretty but they tasted good)   Cook until golden brown (mine were more dark brown) on both sides and serve with butter, syrup, fruit, Nutella….anything! Enjoy!

Seriously, that is the whole recipe.  I actually had everything on hand and it took all of 2 minutes to throw together.  The batter is pretty thick and not as easy to work with as regular batter but my second batch turned out better once I knew what to expect.  We topped it with sugar-free syrup.  Nutella is mentioned in the original recipe but take a look at the ingredient list.  You might as well melt a candy bar, most have more nutrition that Nutella.

So- is this crazy pancake healthier than the original?  You bet!

Each pancake:

Calories= 76

Fat=1.3 g

Cholesterol= 46 mg (you could lower this by using just egg whites but I like the whole egg)

Sodium=36 mg (awesome!)

Fiber- .2 g (whole grain flour or some flax seeds would increase this)

Sugar=3.3 g (watch it with the syrup to keep this sugar nice and low)

Protein=6.4 g (hurray for Greek yogurt!)

While recipes may vary, a standard buttermilk pancake has 175 calories, 7.2 g of fat a whopping 402 mg of sodium.

As you can see, the Greek pancake is WAY healthier and it also tastes great.

Try them and let me know what you think.  With this recipe you can even have some bacon on the side and not feel guilty.

This picture is from the original blog. My pancakes were flatter and darker but still really, really good. I also don’t put butter on my pancakes to save some saturated fat and calories for the bacon.



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Born To Run or Too Hot to Run?

I’m combining two earlier posts, Born to Run from June 2 and How Hot is Too Hot from June 27 because both collided for me this morning.

The good news- about 6 weeks ago I decided to take running seriously.  I could never run more that a minute or two at a time and I wanted to change that.  Well, I now run 3 miles (in a row!!)  and have run 5 miles (in a row!!) once.  I have averaged 9-10 minute miles but have done a few in 8 minutes.  I used a “couch to 5k” training regimen and it is working.  Never in my life did I think I would look forward to running and never did I think I would run a mile, let alone 5.  So- if you think you can’t do it, think again.

The bad news- it has been HOT here.  I like hot and I don’t mind humid but we are in the longest hot spell that I can remember.  I have advised against exercising in the heat because even the most physically fit people can succumb to heat stroke.  Perhaps I need to heed my own advice.  I was excited to go out for a Sunday run as I had plenty of time and could really push it.  However, the temp at 6:30 am was almost 80 and the sun was shining brilliantly in a cloudless sky.  This should have been a warning sign but I went out anyway.


Another warning sign- I ran into my friend Tracy out on the trail, she was on her way back from a long run.  This girl is an experienced marathoner and had her tool belt filled with water bottles.  We stopped for a 5 second chat and she basically said it was a really tough run and she was dying.  (not literally, but close!).  At that point I should have gone back home.  If Tracy is struggling, an amateur like me would be in trouble.

But, no, dammit.  This is my day off and I’m going to run.  I started off well but it didn’t take long for the heat and humidity to catch up.  At this point I was running downhill with the sun at my back.  Did I think about the return trip being uphill and into the blazing sun?  Of course not!  Did I bring water?  No, that would have been too smart.

I did make it 1.5 miles before I had to slow down and walk.  At that point, I started to get goosebumps which is a warning sign of heat stroke.  I did not heed the warning and started my run back home.  Up the hill, into the sun, panting and pushing.  Sweat does nothing to cool a body at such a high dew point so my body was just heating and heating.  I would like to be dramatic and say I passed out and handsome young EMT’s came to my rescue but I made it home alive with no real problems.  However, I was a bit dizzy and had a tough time cooling down.  The worst thing to do is jump into a cold shower so I just wiped down with a damp towel until I felt better.

What’s the takeaway?  Running is fun.  Running burns tons of calories.  Running helps clear your mind.  But- running in the heat and humidity is dumb.  Go to the gym or do an indoor cardio workout like jumping jacks, jump roping or high knee running in place.

Perhaps this week I will practice what I preach! Take it easy- triple digits are in the forecast.


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A Little Something after Dinner

I always need just “a little something sweet” after dinner.  This can really add up if that little something is chocolate or some other sort of candy.  I try not to keep to many sweets in the house but if I don’t have anything I start climbing the walls!

Thanks to Pinterest, I found a great new dessert, the apple sandwich.

Slice an apple horizontally, cut out the center.  Spread with peanut butter, press some chocolate chips into it and top with another apple slice.  You could put a bit of granola on it as well but that’s just extra calories.  1 apple made a sandwich for both of us and we both enjoyed it.  This might become an every night snack.


Calories- each serving

1/2 apple= about 45

Jif peanut butter, about 1/2 tbl=45

Chocolate chips (I used 10!) =about 30

This is approx. 120 calories, plus fiber and vitamin C from the apple.  Yummy and filling!



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This Chicken Burger Gets a WOW+

I bought a big package of ground chicken and drew a blank on what to make with it. Randy is not a huge fan of ground chicken or turkey, he doesn’t complain, he just doesn’t get very excited about it.  I knew I had to make something that would have the WOW factor and I found it on Pinterest.  How much do I love Pinterest?  It is my new favorite source of information and a really awesome way to waste time.  I found this one by searching ground chicken which directed me to The Cookbook Junkie.  She borrowed this recipe from Rachael Ray.  See for the original post and a printable version.

I had most of the ingredients on hand and Randy likes burgers so I decided to give it a shot.  I did make some changes to the original and there are a few notes below.

Cacciatore Burgers Rachel Ray 365: No Repeats Copyright 2005

Extra-virgin olive oil

1- 1/3 lbs ground chicken or ground turkey breast (I used 1 pound of ground chicken breast)

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced. (I used roughly a tablespoon of the pre-cut kind)

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1 medium yellow onion (1/4 finely chopped, 3/4 thinly sliced) I used red onion as that’s what I had

2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

10 fresh basil leaves, shredded (don’t skip this)

Parmigiano-reggiano cheese (I used a shredded 6 cheese Italian blend)

2  sliced Portobello mushroom caps, I used 6 sliced baby bellas

2 cubanelle peppers, seeded and sliced. I bought Anaheim peppers.  MUCH hotter than I expected, I only used a small bit

2 hot cherry peppers, chopped (I omitted this)

4 slices provolone cheese, deli sliced

4 crusty rolls

Optional: Dickinson’s Sweet and Hot Pepper and Onion Relish

To Make:

Drizzle some olive oil in a bowl; add to it the chicken, Worcestershire sauce, chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, chopped onions, parsley, basil, Parmigiano (a generous palmful), salt, and pepper to taste. Combine mixture.

Preheat skillet, add drizzle of olive oil
Form  into 4 large patties; place patties on hot skillet; cook 6 minutes, then flip burgers and cook 5 minutes on the other side. (they were perfectly done following this exactly wth a nice brown sear on the outside)
Heat a second skillet over med-high heat; add 1 tablespoon olive oil; add in the mushroom caps, sliced onions and cubanelle peppers (if  used)
Season with salt and pepper; cook 5 minutes, stirring often.
Turn the heat off; add in the hot cherry peppers and a splash of their juice.( I omitted)  Place the provolone over the burgers and turn off the heat in the pan; tent the pan with foil to melt the cheese and carry-over heat. (or just use the lid!)
The original recipe called for toasting the rolls with garlic butter, I brushed them with the Hot and Sweet Relish and put them under the broiler.
Toast the crusty rolls until golden. Watch it, they will burn quickly! The relish added a slightly sweet element that was really good.
Place the cheese-covered patties on the bottoms of the buns; top with the peppers and onions; replace the top halves of the buns.

The presentation on this burger was amazing, it looks like a lot of work but by prepping everything ahead of time I was able to throw it together pretty quickly.

A few thoughts:

We like spicy food and peppers, usually the hotter the better for Randy.  However, he took a big bite of the Anaheim pepper as I was slicing it and his mouth was on fire.  I decided to add just a tiny bit of finely chopped pepper.  Combined with the red pepper flakes and the relish on the bun made this hot but not too hot.  I’m glad I eliminated the hot cherry peppers, use your discretion for your taste.

Ground chicken breast is a great low-fat lean protein, typically better than ground turkey (unless you buy turkey breast).  It is always on sale, I was excited to see that the Cookbook Junkie has loads of recipes for it.  The rest of the ingredients are all low-calorie and full of nutrients with the exception of the bun and the relish.  These burgers just scream out for a big ol’bun, I did use whole grain but it was still a big bun.

I made a lettuce salad as a side dish but the burger alone would have been plenty.  I ate one and was full. Randy loved it so much he had to eat a second one right away.  We will fight over the last one for lunch tomorrow!

This is not my picture but mine was very similar without the peppers.

You won’t need the fries, this is a filling burger!


How to Survive the County Fair and other Summer Events!

When I was a kid, my brother and I would get to the fairgrounds very early each morning, feed and water our pigs and then head to the foot long hot dog stand.  Nothing says County Fair like a foot long hot dog and a quart of root beer for breakfast! Now that I am older and a little wiser, I might think twice about eating that, but there are a few better choices.  Well, not many! 

The Minnesota State Fair is super fun and I spent lots of time there every year.  They are famous for “anything on a stick” or “anything deep fried”.  Say yes to Walleye on a Stick, say no to deep fried Twinkies and Snickers bars.  The twinkie has 420 calories and 34 grams of fat while the Snickers are over 700 calories!!

Most fair food is not nutritious, but I did find soemthing that is low calorie.  A cone of Cotton Candy is about 100 calories and no fat. It also has less sugar than a can of soda.  I’m not saying  you should eat it everyday, but it is a very sensible choice, given the options.

Sno- Cones really surprised me.  What could be wrong with ice with some flavoring?  Well, most Sno-Cones contain a shocking 540 calories!! Wow- that’s more than a deep fried twinkie! If you must have a Sno-Cone, see if they have sugar free syrup or ask them to go light on it. Most syrups have 80-100 calories per ounce and approx 6 oz is the norm. 

Burger or Hot Dog?  Ah, the age old question- which is healthier?  To be honest, neither is a great option but if you do decide to have one, get it without cheese and eat only half the bun.  Order extra pickles and go with mustard instead of ketchup.  If you can find grilled chicken, enjoy that instead. 

I love Ice Cream!  The trouble is, most places don’t serve my Edy’s Half Fat Sugar Free Slow Churned.  They serve full fat sugar laden ice cream in a waffle cone that can be over 1,000 calories!  Instead, choose a pre-packaged novelty like a Dilly bar or Push Up.  They aren’t any healthier, but if you can’t control the craving, at least it is portion controlled.

What else?

Soft Pretzel- 340 calories, 2 g fat, lots of sodium
Funnel Cake (Elephant ear in some areas)- 760 calories, 44 g fat
Popcorn, no extra butter- 400 calories, 27 g fat
Caramel Apple- 300 calories, 1 g fat.  A regular apple has 53 calories.  I’m just sayin’…
Chocolate Covered Frozen banana- 240 calories, 4 g fat

As you can see, the calories can really add up.  If you feel you really need a day to let loose, go for it and don’t feel guilty.  Just be sure you get back into your healthy ways the next day.  Otherwise, plan ahead to have one special treat and stick to your guns.  Weight goes on a lot easier than it comes off! 

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