Copycat LaraBar Chocolate Brownie Granola Bar

Copycat LaraBar Chocolate Brownie

The question is, are these a dessert or a healthy snack? Don’t you love it when you have that problem?

Do I eat this as a morning snack at…umm..9:00 a.m. (I eat my breakfast early, okay?) when I know it’s impossible for me to make it another three hours until lunch? Or do I count this as an after-dinner dessert, because, let’s face it, anything with chocolate in the name could and should be considered a dessert.


Well, I’ve got some great news, because no decision making is needed for this one — it works as both healthy snack and healthy scrumptious dessert! Yippee!

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Howdy, everyone! I hope your weekend was a good one and that your Monday is off to a good start.

Philip and I packed our bags this weekend and left behind our paint brushes, cleaning supplies, and rags at home for a relaxing weekend with my family in Iowa this weekend (yes, we’re still working on finishing up projects and deep cleaning our house from when we bought it last December. *Sigh* Will it ever get done?). It was a much needed break and it was so nice to not only be with family that we hadn’t seen in awhile, but also to be “forced” not to do any touch ups on our house all weekend. Yep, when we’re at home, I’ve come to realize that it’s inevitable that we’re going to be doing something on our house.


So, this weekend, instead of scrubbing floors or painting walls, I stamped and colored (bringing back my creative side of yester years), read books and sang songs, decorated sugar cookies just like I did with my mom when I was little, and was a patient in the “doctor’s office” getting my check-up…over and over and over again. Thankfully, my three-year old niece is a gentle doctor and my shots never hurt.

Saturday Collage

And let’s not forget this little, cute dude! What a hunk, right?! He was all smiles (and drool) almost the entire time we were there.


My mom pulled out all of our favorites on the trip, too (she never lets us down) with her famous cinnamon rolls, her homemade banana bread, and a few other classic favorites. One of those being Scotcheroos — the most signature, Midwest dessert there is. I mean, just the name alone, sounds like something the Midwest would create.


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Spicy Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry

Spicy Pineapple Chicken Stir Fry

Welcome to another week, friends!

My weekend included a good balance of work and relaxation and enjoying the gorgeous weather we’re continuing to have! The only downside is I came down with a nasty cold over the weekend (due to my inability to slow down), leaving me sniffling and watching the clock for the next time I can take some DayQuil.


I should’ve known I was maybe a little feverish when I was at the grocery store on Friday, embarrassing myself at the seafood counter. There to pick up some salmon that was on sale, I commented on the fresh salmon that was arranged into a “W”. I was wracking my brain, trying to figure out what it may mean, totally not thinking that I live in Wisconsin, in the same city as the University of Wisconsin, or the fact that the UW Men’s Basketball team was playing in the championships that day. What’d I come up with? “Wild Caught” for wild caught salmon (because everybody would come to that conclusion, too, right?). I quietly took my salmon and walked away…

In my defense, the salmon were wild caught.

Anyway, moving on… Since spring weather has been staying around for awhile, it has me in the mood for some light and refreshing meals that are loaded with fresh vegetables.


This Spicy Pineapple Stir Fry is just that. It’s light, not heavy like some sauce-ladened stir fries can be. It’s fresh, with the lime juice and pineapple chunks along with the peppers, carrots, onion, and snow peas. And it has a touch of heat that compliments the sweetness from the pineapple perfectly. Plus, the vegetables stay slightly crisp, giving this stir fry a great texture.

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Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting + Decorating for an Adventure-Themed Shower

Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting

Is it too early to say that we’ve made a turning point (for good) in the weather…finally?! It was so refreshing to not have to wear at least 3 layers of clothing when going outside (or inside, if we’re going to be honest), to not have my shoulders hunched all the time to keep warm, and to be able to walk outside and actually enjoy it!

The sun was shining all weekend, the birds were chirping, and it was the perfect weekend to host a bridal shower! Which is exactly what I did. A dear friend of mine is getting married this spring and it was such a joy to be able to bless her with a shower.


Back in the day, I loved crafting and scrapbooking, and I always got way too excited about school projects. Somehow, that hobby slowly slipped away (I blame college) and when I finally emerged from all the homework and studying, I started up a new hobby — cooking and baking (I also blame credit my schooling of dietetics on that switch). Long story short, it was so much fun to be able to combine both of those hobbies together for this shower!


My friend’s wedding theme is “adventure”, so I matched the theme and set out to make the decorations with anything involving maps, stamps, and planes with the help of another close friend. I think it was a success!


The decorations were fun to make, but I still felt “in my element” in the kitchen, whipping up one of the desserts for the shower — Lemon Cupcakes with Blackberry Frosting. The perfect flavor combination for a warm, almost-spring day.


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Mom’s Homemade Banana Bread

Mom's Homemade Banana Bread

Happy Monday! Are you staying warm out there?! I hope the cold weather didn’t stop you from having a fun and relaxing weekend. My husband left me for the slopes in Colorado this past weekend (no hint of jealousy there at all), so I was left to fend for myself for a few days while he skied with his brother and dad. I was productive and got things crossed off my list, but it was so nice having him come back on Sunday afternoon.

Being the great wife that I am, I made some homemade bread yesterday so he could come home to a warm house filled with the smell of fresh bread (and maybe, partly because I really just wanted to make some bread and I finally had the time to do it — but that’s neither here nor there). While I didn’t make Mom’s Homemade Banana Bread yesterday, it’s just as comforting, warm and inviting for a cold day (which is today!) — plus, it’s even easier than the bread I just made since there’s no yeast involved! This quick bread couldn’t be quicker — literally, just dump and mix everything together.


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Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese

I’m celebrating today with a big, warm bowl of Cauliflower & Aged White Cheddar Mac & Cheese today. You know why? Well, for one, it’s cold outside, but I’m celebrating because this little corner of mine on the web, called RD in the Midwest, is exactly one year old today! One year! I don’t know if I’m more excited about making it a year of blogging or when I reached a year working at my “real job”.

What a year! I honestly can’t believe I’ve been navigating my way through blogging for already a year now, sharing with you little glimpses into my Midwest life as an RD, runner, and wife.


My platform has remained the same (sharing with you mostly healthy recipes, but also sharing some of my favorite sweets — since everything is okay in moderation…famous last words of a dietitian) over the year and I don’t plan on changing it anytime soon. It’s been so encouraging hearing from readers when they’ve tried a recipe, maybe that they normally wouldn’t have tried before, and enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making, eating, and writing about it. You guys are the reason I keep with it each and every week! There are days when I feel like my posts are going out into space somewhere, unread and under appreciated for the work that goes into them, but then I get a comment from a reader and I realize once again why it’s all worth it.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

How is it that Valentine’s Day is already this week?! Weren’t we, like, just celebrating Christmas?

Are you a Valentine’s lover or hater? Or somewhere in between? I wouldn’t say that I embrace the holiday, but I’m not one to completely disregard the whole day either — as in, I wouldn’t be completely against my husband doing something special for me on Saturday (hint, hint). ;)


Growing up, I wasn’t one that got called to the office after school to pick up my bouquet of flowers or — the more desired gift — a donut cake or giant heart-shaped cookie from her mom or boyfriend, but I still had fun handing out my own homemade treats or candy to friends.

I’d like to say I’ve grown up a bit from passing out Sweethearts or Dum Dums during Homeroom…I’ve moved on to cupcakes with sprinkles! Baby steps, here people, baby steps.

But these cupcakes aren’t just any kind of cupcake, though. These Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting will win over anybody’s heart once he or she bites into this little bit of heaven. It’s moist. It’s rich. And it’s topped with cream cheese frosting — and cream cheese frosting makes anything better. Amiright?! You could put cream cheese frosting on a cookie that is as hard as a rock and I would probably love it. But don’t worry, these cupcakes are already good enough to stand their own — the frosting just takes them to the next level.


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Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza

Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza

Whew, what a weekend! The weather, the excitement of the Super Bowl…


…and the completion of another weekend project!

First of all, was I out of the loop or did this snow come from no where? I knew it was supposed to snow this weekend, but I didn’t know it was going to snow all day yesterday! There was no hope for leaving, so I had a productive day checking one thing off my list after another. Don’t you love it when that happens?!

Since I don’t care all that much about the Super Bowl, I’ll jump to what I’m most excited about: our completed dining room!


After last week’s big debate on colors, I finally made a choice and we got it up on the walls on Saturday. Although initially it looked a bit bright (because, let’s face it, it is), with the furniture and things back on the walls, it looked a lot more inviting. While I’m not a huge fan of vertical blinds, we changed the vanes to a gray color and it made all the difference. I’m realizing my last minute choices seem to be the most successful ones.


And you know what else I’m excited about? This pizza — Brussels Sprouts & Pancetta Pizza.


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In My Home… + Weekend Getaway Recap


No matter how unready you are for the week, Mondays come around with unforgiving regularity, don’t they? Usually I’m rushing to finish up odds and ends on Sunday in order to catch even just a little bit of R & R on Sunday evening before the start of the week. But not this weekend. Nope, Philip and I had a weekend full of relaxation.

With all the moving, house projects, and general craziness going on, it couldn’t have come at a more perfect time. We put aside our “home to-do list” and headed North for a weekend getaway at my aunt and uncle’s lake house. They graciously let us stay there for the whole weekend and take advantage of all of their “winter toys”.

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Citrus Salmon with Kale & Whole-Wheat Couscous

Citrus Salmon with Kale & Whole-Wheat Couscous

Can we just talk about the weather we’ve been having lately? It’s been…well, not miserable! Finally. Okay, so it hasn’t actually been all that bad (yet) compared to other years, but when it’s cold, it’s cold. But the weather the past few days have made going outside almost enjoyable. It was so nice on Sunday (a balmy 40 degrees) — and knowing it wasn’t going to last long — I took the opportunity to drop what I was doing and go for an impromptu run around our new neighborhood. Just what I needed! Cabin fever is a legit thing, I tell ya.

With the great much improved weather and the idea of “fresh starts” still on my mind with the new year, I was craving something other than soups for once. Citrus Salmon with Kale & Whole-Wheat Couscous was the result.


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