Manic Monday Challenge #4

Sadly, I missed last weeks challenge. First I had a sick child and now I am moving. Moving is a good thing but when it happens quicker then planned things get crazy.

Previous Challenge

The last challenge I posted was– NO fast food for a week. Did you do it? I sadly failed. Yes, I am human and as hard as I try I will not always pass these challenges. Fast food has been a major evil for me that I have been trying to conquer. I am often on the run with small kids and McDonald’s screams my name.  I wrote a entry on how to plan ahead so you do not indulge in the biggest calories out there but sometimes that doesn’t help either. As I mentioned above my 5-year-old, A, was sick for a week. This resulted in 2 doctors visit and an added plus of an ER visit. Fast food just happens sometimes. I would love to say maybe I will do without this week but since I am moving. I doubt it.

This weeks challenge.

This week I want you to have complete a food diary. Logging everything you eat can be an eye opener and help you get healthy. When you realize you had 10 M&Ms this morning at the office, some chips for a pick me up, 3 sodas, 1/2 your kids snack cake, and handful of this or that it makes you pay attention. I personally use MyFitnessPal because it logs calories, sodium, and other information. You don’t have to log all the nutritional information. Send yourself a text or jot it down. Look at everything you are eating for a week and you will start to change your eating habits.


Cinnamon Pancake Muffins!

Only 230 Calories!!! 3 Pancake Muffins with 1/2 Cup Sugar Free Applesauce

OK you are going to think I had these for dinner this morning but really it was a late night snack last night. One of my first post was Pancake Doughnuts so I got to thinking tonight when I wanted pancakes but did not want to stand in the kitchen and make them. Normally, I wouldn’t mind but I have a sick Hubby and my oldest, A, is sick too so fast and easy. Pancake Muffins!!! These are filling, yummy, easy, freezable, and low-calorie! Just be careful what you eat your muffins with. If you drowned them in syrup your sugar and calorie intake will soar. I like to dip them in 1/2 cup of sugar-free applesauce, only 50 calories.

Makes 15 Muffins ~~ Serving Size 3 Muffins ~~  Calories Per Serving 180

  • 2 cups of dry Hungry Jack Complete Buttermilk Pancake Mix
  • 1 1/3 cup of water
  • Cinnamon to taste


  1. Mix all ingredients together till only slightly lumpy. Allow mix to sit a few minutes for best texture.
  2. Fill lined muffin cups 1/2 full.
  3. Bake on 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Muffins are done when you can insert toothpick and remove it clean.
  4. Allow to cool a minute and enjoy!!

Hope you enjoy!


Popcorn! A Great Healthy Low Calorie Snack!

You have probably read the title and thought I was crazy. I use to think of popcorn as junk food and it is if you get at the movie theatre. That being said, if you make it at home it can be a healthy snack. Even though you can buy 100 calorie popcorn bags at the grocery store your best bet it to make it from scratch at home.  Skip the oils, butters, and who knows what else they put in those bags.

There are two easy and healthy ways I like to make popcorn at home.

Hot Air Popcorn Popper– These are inexpensive machines that pops the popcorn with just hot air. No oil! It is very easy and quick. Just measure out the kernels, pour into the machine, and watch your snack pop away.

microwave Now I know you read that and thought I must be going crazy. Yes, you can make popcorn in the microwave from kernels and not in a bag full of mystery ingredients. Take a plain brown bag, add 1/2 cup of popcorn kernels, fold bag down twice, put in microwave on high for 3 minutes. You can buy a bag of bulk popcorn kernels and a pack 100 brown paper sacks for less than you pay for a case of popcorn bags (which equals about the same amount of popped popcorn).

Is popcorn healthy?

There have been some recent headlines talking about movie popcorn being as bad for you as 3 or 4 Big Macs. What they don’t tell you

Hot Air Popper

is that homemade popcorn is not anywhere close to a Big Mac; maybe the bun but not the whole thing. Popcorn is very high in fiber. Fiber is essential to help have a healthy digestive tract. Most people do not get nearly enough fiber a day, so why not eat more popcorn instead of take a yucky supplement.

Are you getting your whole grains? Popcorn is a whole grain and just incase you have not heard whole grains are healthy for you. Whole grains are have been proven to reduce your risk of heart problems. Whole grains are also full of bran and vitamins.

Popcorn is also low in calories. It varies depending on your source but the common thought is 3 cups of popped popcorn is right around 100 calories. When you make it just check the bag. Wondering why they bag as an option for calories of kernels themselves before you pop them? No, they do not want or expect you to eat raw kernels. It is easier for most people to measure out raw kernels then to measure popped popcorn. This is especially true if you try the brown bag recipe above at work.

Low Calorie Popcorn Seasoning

Now you probably want to know how to you can eat your flavorful popcorn without all the oil, butter, and salt. Below are some great recipes (some I have tried and some I have not) you can try. I would love to hear in the comments which ones you try or what you do at home with your popcorn. Most of these mixes can be kept in an air tight container for about 6 months. I like to make a few batches and keep them in the cabinet so I have choices when I make my popcorn. You can also try any of these of by themself: parmesan,  garlic, cinnamon, onion powder, chilli powder, just about any powder.

  • Cinnamon Chocolate – Mix 1 packet (4 serving) of dry chocolate pudding mix with 5 teaspoons of cinnamon.
  • Parmesan Ranch- 1/4 cup shredded/grated parmesan and 1 packet of dry ranch dressing mix.
  • Pizza – 1/2 cup parmesan cheese and 2 tbsp of crushed Italian seasonings.
  • Sweet Peanut butter Heat up a small amount of peanut butter and honey till runny and drizzle over popcorn.
  •  Taco – Taco seasoning and a pinch of chili powder.
  • Cinnamon Sugar – Mix 1/4 cup of cinnamon and 3 tbsp of sugar.
  • Spicy- Drizzle with a thin hot sauce.
  • Maple – Warm up 1/4 cup of maple syrup till runny and drizzle over it. (Watch the brand you buy or it will be high in calories.)
  • Lime and Chili- Mix lime juice and chili powder to taste. (this one cannot be stored

Note: Trying these mixes or others is better than using the premade mixes. Just take a look at the ingredients on those bottles and it will scare you.

Food Scale & Portion Control

Rather you are trying to lose weight or just start eating healthier the first thing you need to learn is portion control. Over the years super sizing has become so common most people cannot recognize a correct serving size. As I began to join message boards on getting healthy I realized I needed a food scale to help me learn the difference. I had been measuring portions with measuring cups/spoon but I realized that was not even close to accurate. Depending on my much you packed the measuring cup made the “portion” vary in size, sometimes doubling what it should be. Before I move onto scale I want to show you to pictures portion control.

This first picture I have seen time and time again in my kids doctor’s office but never really paid attention to it. As I look at now I realized I have been serving way to much. I know you can’t see all the words in the picture but you can see the main purpose of it.

Again, with the second picture I apologize that some of the words are not clear but the message of the picture is. Over time portions have become much larger and unhealthy. I am currently trying to train my stomach to prefer smaller meals. For example, if I do get a fast food meal I get a kid’s meal or just a small burger. Your body only things you need a mega sized combo meal because you have trained it that way.

This is where food scales come into play. You weigh your food and get accurate amounts. I am not saying you need to tote around a scale and measure every bite every time you eat. Even I as a devote scale user have not taken it into a restaurant. What I am saying is you should start measuring EVERYTHING at home when you eat.

No matter how hungry you are start with just one portion of each of the food you made for dinner. If you are still hungry twenty minutes after you get done eating then you can eat more. Scales are easy to use. No mater what type you have-digital or manual you get the weight of the container , take the weight of everything, and the subtract the weight of the container. Easy! At fist I did not measure things I could count by hand; example when it say 14 pretzels. I learned that even just counting out 14 pretzels was wrong. On some things the number they give you will weigh more than 28g serving specified and sometimes when you are lucky you get to have more than 14 for the same weight.

I even measure out liquids. Just like with solids there are variables when using measuring cups; how they are made, if they have become warped, or if you are like me you don’t want to fill them to the rim because you will spill. Instead of trying to make sure all the variables I use a cup and measure out however many ounces I need.

Worried that you may not be able to convert units? I am not good at math so I was very worried. Thankfully if you just type in what you have to what you want it to be (18 grams to ounces) in google they will convert for you.

Scales come in digital and non-digital. The main things to consider is your budget and that ease of use. Amazon has over 200 different scales starting at less than $10 and going up to $300.

Do you use a scale? Tell me about it!

100 Calories or LESS Snacks!

I love to snack! Everyone loves to snack! Being a bust moms snacks are sometimes all I get to eat. I keep some in my glove box, diaper bag, and just about everywhere I can. Its better for my diet and pocket-book to grab a snack from the car or diaper bag instead of grabbing the bag of chips while grocery shopping or the corn dog in the mall food court. Below I have listed some 100 calorie snacks (some even have less than 100 calories). Don’t worry I have listed fruits, veggies, healthy, and non healthy. There is something for everyone. So now is the time to invest in some Ziploc baggies or small Tupperware to make your snacks.

Tip: When you buy a box/bag of something at home  put it into portioned out bags and put the bags back in the box. That way when you want a snack you just reach in and grab one.

  • Dannon fit and light yogurt = 80 Calories
  • 1/2 Hershery Special Dark Chocolate Bar = 90 Calories
  • Three cups of air-popped popcorn = 93 calories
  • Two large red bell peppers cut in strips = 85 calories
  • One medium bosc pear, washed and sliced = 96 calories
  • 17 unsalted peanuts = 99 calories
  • One small banana = 90 calories
  • 48 Rold Gold Pretzel Sticks = 100 Calories
  • 24 baby carrots = 50 calories
  • 2 Reeces Cup miniatures = 88 calories
  • 4 Hershey’s Kisses = 90 calories
  • 2 Twix Mini = 86 calories
  • 1 cup Sugar free Strawberry Jello = 10 calories
  • 2 Werther’s Sugar Free Caramel Apple hard candy = 16 calories
  • 2 Baskin Robbins Sugar Free Pralines and Cream hard candy = 22 calories
  • 30 Grapes = 90 Calories (3 calories a piece)
  • Vitatops = 100 Calories
  • 1/ Cup Sugar Free Apple Sauce = 50 Calories
  • Small Apple = 94 Calories
  • 3 Cups of Air Popped Popcorn = 92
  • 37 Goldfish = 97 Calories
  • 1 Large Hard Boiled Egg = 78
  • 20 Reduced Fat Cheez-it = 90 Calories
  • 1/2 A Cantaloupe = 100 Calories

Eating Healthy & Saving Money

I hate to admit it but some healthy food does cost more than junk food. That being said you can still save money when shopping and cooking healthy. Below are a list of tips I have tried or have recommended to be. If you have more tips than what you see below I would love for you to share them with us.

  • Boy cheese in a block and shred it your self.
  • When making instant pudding (cheap dessert) use 3 cups of milk instead of 2. It will take a bit longer set but it will set and taste great. This will give you a little more pudding.
  • Buy after the holidays. Turkey and ham go on sale sometimes up to 90% after the holidays. Freeze these items for later. Same goes for other holiday favorites (pumpkin, cranberry, ect).
  • Use your leftovers for the next days work lunch. I know this doesn’t save while cooking but it save you lunch money.
  • Make some items in bulk (sauces, chili, stew, ect) and freeze them. Crock Pot Spaghetti & Meat Sauce is cheap to make in bulk and can feed you plus have two frozen containers.
  • Buy food that is versatile and on major sale. You can always go on-line and look up a recipe for it.
  • Farmers Market! During the correct season the farmers market can be a cheap way to help local business.
  • Add extra liquid to mashed potatoes. This will make them creamier and turn 2 servings into 3 or 4.
  • Most fruits are more than one serving. Most people are just as happy with a small apple as they are with a big apple. Buying smaller apples gets you more per pound. Same with bananas, oranges, ect.
  • Make your own waffles and pancakes and freeze them instead of buying the prefrozen ones. An entire box of pancake mix is cheaper than one box of frozen pancakes.
  • Buy big packs of meat or the Buy 1 get 2 packs. My family doesn’t like the seasoning Albertson’s put on their Buy 1 get 2 chicken but I love the price so I buy it, bring it home and it rinse it. Once I rinse all the seasoning off I place it in Ziploc bags based on how much my family will use.


Getting healthy or trying to loose weight? You need support! Even if your goal is just to eat healthier and start working out having people to support you on your off days. I know there are lots of websites and groups out there but I wanted to give you a review on the one I use. MyFitnessPal (MFP) is wonderful!

When you sign up for MFP you fill out a profile with all your current information and your goals. To help you reach your goals MFP provides daily food logs, a recipe calculator, messages boards and more.

Each day you log your food and try to stay under goals. It is an eye opener when you start logging food. When you see that the Jumbo Jack you had for lunch is more than half of what you were suppose to have for the day it starts to put things in perspective. MFP has a large database of food making it easy to input your nutritional information. They also allow you to enter food information if it is not in the database yet. Many doctors will tell you food diaries are the first and best step to take to change your eating habits.

MFP also provides you will a recipe calcultor on it’s website. Ever cook something at home and wonder about the nutriitional value? This calculator will be your best friend. It is what I use when I cook something for this site. All you have to do is log each food you put in your recipe and tell it how many servings it makes and you have all your information. You can even make your recipes public so your family and friends can log them in their food diary. MFP makes cooking at home but staying within your goals easy.

Everyone needs support! From message boards to your MFP friends you will find an abundance of support on MFP. They have many topics in their message boards for you to post questions, comments, or even just post you need a push. You will find recipes, exercise ideas, equipment reviews, and more. You can also make friends on MFP kind of like on Facebook. This great! There is a running feed that shows you when your friends exercise, when they close the day under calories, or when they make comments. You can comment on their updates and they can comment on yours. Again, this is a great motivation when you have a day when you don’t feel your best.

On the go a lot? MFP is easy to use on the go too! They have applications for your Android and your Ipad. All you have to do is put the information on your device and it will sync with the website. The Android application I know for sure has a scanner on it where all you have to do is scan the barcode on the product and it will put the infromation in for you. Can it get any easier than that? Nope.

I want to say that this review is in no way sponsored by MyFitnessPal. I just wanted to write about a site that has helped me out greatly and can help you too. You can add me as a friend (mammafrog) if you would like. Thank you!