health & beauty

Yum Alert: Pineapple Carrot Muffins with Walnuts and Raisins

pineapple carrot muffins

I am kind of terrible at eating breakfast. The complete opposite of a morning person, when it comes to the most important meal of the day – I want it fast and easy. My waist line would also like it to be healthy and filling. I do a lot of protein / veggie smoothies lately because I can just uncap, drink and go but sometimes you want something a little more on the fun and indulgent side!

A friend shared this recipe from for pineapple carrot muffins made with raisins and walnuts and using half all purpose flour and half wheat flour. Scanning the ingredients list, I was pleased to see it used ingredients I mostly already had on hand. While grocery shopping this morning I added some chopped walnuts and a can of crushed pineapple to my cart and I was good to go!

Making the muffins was a breeze. I had a bag of carrots from our local CSA that I ran through a food processor to shred – making way more than I needed so I might have to make the recipe again soon! The recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded carrots. This is probably the most labor intensive part of the process and you could totally cheat and buy pre-shredded carrots but it only took me a couple minutes to shred mine and I could feel good about using straight from the farm produce!

When my son came home from school I gave one to each of the kids to test out and they were gone seemingly within seconds. They both loved them and trust me, they are a tough crowd! I had one myself and I have to agree with them. It was sweet without being too sweet and the texture was perfectly moist with a nice crunch from the walnuts. The pineapple gives it a nice, fresh citrus flavor without being over powering and the half wheat flour will make the muffin more filling without tasting like “health food”.

This is a great versatile recipe – you could swap in different nuts or dried fruits to change up the flavor profile and maybe even play with what canned fruit you use. And you can eat it guilt free pretty much any time of the day. It’s perfect for a fast breakfast or a healthy afternoon snack for the kids – or you can “sneak” one at night and call it a super sensible dessert! The recipe makes about 16 muffins and each muffin has only 200 calories. Not bad!

Check out the recipe at!

books & reading summer reading

Summer Reading Challenge: The End

summer reading button

My son just got onto the school bus for his first day as a second grader – so the summer vacation is officially over here and of course the summer reading challenge ended September 1st. I know I’m a day late posting the wrap up post but Labor Day was a full and busy one and I decided nobody would be too upset about the delay. You forgive me, right?

So my goal for the summer was to read 9 books, preferably ones I already owned.

Unfortunately, I didn’t quite make my goal, reading only 7 1/2 books:

  1. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker (June Book Club) – Finished June 12, 2013 – This is going to be one of those books that stays with me for a long time. The overall concept of this story is both fantastical and disturbingly plausible – the way any good dystopian kind of story should be. I think the author did a great job of fleshing out her story, providing a main character that was both realistic and likeable with plenty of side stories that had less to do with the world potentially ending and more to do with coming of age. This was a book that really sucked me in while I was reading it – I really liked it. – Full Review
  2. The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart – Finished July 5, 2013 – It was really fun to read a little of the back story on Nicholas Benedict from the Mysterious Benedict books – he was a pretty amazing kid! The story itself stands on it’s own so if you haven’t read the other books in this series, you can feel free to read this one first. I found the book to be well written and funny with plenty of mysteries to solve.
  3. The Paris Wife by Paula McLain (July Book Club) – Finished July 21, 2013 – I’m kind of grateful that I didn’t previously know very much about Hemingway’s life, much less his wife Hadley’s, because there was never any moment in this book where I definitely knew what would happen next. Beautifully written, this book was a favorite of mine. I really sympathized with Hadley and found the book to be a fascinating look at marriage, literary history and life in the 1920′s. – Full Review
  4. The Selection by Kiera Cass – Finished July 24, 2013 – This book just sucked me in and refused to let go from the first page. Though the writing is fairly simple (YA book), the story is fascinating and the characters are even better. I downloaded the following book, Elite and her novella, The Prince before even finishing this one. – Full Review
  5. The Prince a novella by Kiera Cass – Finished July 25, 2013 – It was really interesting to get a chance to get to know Prince Maxon a little better and see the Selection through his eyes. There were a few funny moments when you see his reaction to something that you remember America going through – and it’s a nice quick read – it took me an hour to finish the story.
  6. The Elite by Kiera Cass – Finished July 27, 2013 – Good lord, I could not put this book down. I am really enjoying this series and anxious for book three.
  7. Moranthology by Caitlin Moran – Finished August 20, 2013 – I think I enjoyed this book even better than her last. With a variety of topics, this book is hilarious and insightful, but mostly hilarious. Interviews with famous musicians, reviews of Downton Abbey and Sherlock and stories about her marriage and childhood and everything in between. If you like Caitlin Moran, you will LOVE this book. If you don’t know who Caitlin Moran is, but you like Tina Fey or Jen Lancaster or The Bloggess – you will LOVE this book. – Full Review

I am halfway through reading Secret Lives of First Ladies by Cormac O’Brien, a non-fiction book that gives you the low down on all of the first ladies and also a few quick paragraphs about the rest of the president’s wives who weren’t first ladies for one reason or another but mostly death. I’m really enjoying it but my reading time seemed to evaporate in mid-August and I’ve been having a hard time getting in a lot of time with my books at night.

So even though I didn’t finish my challenge, I did read some great books and feel accomplished and pleased with what I did read. As far as how many of these books I already owned BEFORE the challenge started: 5. Not… awful. It’s more than half.

How about a bit of superlative fun?

Let’s pretend our summer reads are classmates in a yearbook. Tell me your favorite book, least favorite, most educational, cutest couple, etc. Whatever you feel applies!

Cutest Couple: America and Prince Maxon from The Selection series by Kiera Cass. Followed closely by America and Aspen from the same series…

Sketchiest Husband: Ernest Hemingway for the win! I think I thanked my husband every night for not being Ernest Hemingway while reading The Paris Wife by Paula McClain.

Biggest Gossip: Cormac O’Brien – his book, Secret Lives of First Ladies is kind of one big omgdidyouhear??? giving you the skinny on ALL of the first ladies that your high school history teachers never told you.

The Class Clown: Caitlin Moran of Moranthology by Caitlin Moran fame. Need a laugh? Caitlin’s writing will keep you up at night cackling and jabbing your significant other in his sleep to read him hilarious passages whether he likes it or not.

Book Most Likely to be thrown across the room: That would be the one I didn’t finish – The Alienist by Caleb Carr just wasn’t doing it for me at all and brought back memories of reading Nathaniel Hawthorne in high school except much more gruesome.

Most Likely to Succeed: Nicholas Benedict. Whether you’ve read previous books already or not, after reading The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart you KNOW that Nicholas is going places!

Alright guys, if you participated in the challenge and would like to share your results and / or superlatives, you can submit your links in the Mr. Linky below or leave me a comment!

I hope you all had a great summer!