Monthly Archives: January 2011

(healthy!) Nutella-Smothered Popcorn (+ Strength Training Sunday!)

It’s Strength Training Sunday!

Instead of going to the Y (it’s always SUPER busy midday on Sundays), I got set up in my basement with Sex and the City 2 and my freeweights.  Here’s what I accomplished:


  • 12 modified pushups
  • 12 backward lunges with 3lb weights
  • 15 double leg stretches
  • 20 bicep drops with 3lb weights
  • 20 squats with 3lb weights
  • 20 criss-cross


  • 15 modified pushups
  • 15 backward lunges w/ 5lbs
  • 20 DLS w/ exercise ball
  • 20 bicep drops w/ 5lbs
  • 20 sqauts w/ 5lbs
  • 25 crunches balancing on ball


  • 10 regular pushups (YAY ME!!!!)
  • 12 backward lunges at 10lbs
  • 15 double leg stretches with lifts w/ ball
  • 18 bicep drops with 7.5lbs
  • 20 squats with 10lbs
  • 2 forearm planks and 1 plank

It only took me about 35 minutes!  I have a confession: I sorta hate lifting weights.  But these cycles are so much less boring than doing set after set of the same exercise in a row since you are constantly changing moves.  It’s (almost) fun!  Plus, it helps for muscle confusion, which means you are majorly challenging your muscles as you quickly switch from muscle group to muscle group.  I also make it fun by making my last move a “Core Exercise Wildcard!” since I am a nerd and actually enjoy core exercises.  There are so many different fun ones!

This strength training routine is also great because you can pretty much do it anywhere.  In lieu of freeweights, you can use things like cans of soup, textbooks, or other random heavy, hand-held items.  Or, you can just gradually increase reps through the cycles.   Or, better yet, you can make a customized weight-free routine.   For the first cycle, do as many reps as you can of each exercise (challenge yourself and try to only stop on increments of 5).  For cycle #2, set a number of reps that you think is challenging (around 12, give or take, is a safe bet for any exercise) and do them as quickly as you safely can.  For the final set, do 5 reps of each exercise in slow-motion, as precisely as you can.  You certainly don’t need all the fancy gym equipment to build up some muscle: your body weight is challenging enough!

Now for the exciting stuff….


This recipe was inspired by my friend Beth who said she was “sitting at my desk dipping a fork into a jar of Nutella and then into a bag of popcorn…it is one of the most tasty concoctions ever, I feel that it is not good for my form.”  Nutella and microwave popcorn are definitely college staples, and nothing beats the goodness of a salty-sweet study snack!  I thought to myself, “I can totally healthify that!”

Start by air-popping some popcorn.  Buying popcorn kernels in bulk is so much cheaper than buying the microwave bags.  Plus, air-popping it is so much healthier than the buttery-salty microwavable versions.  Here is how you do it:

Start by putting 1/4 cup of popcorn kernels into a brown paper bag.  It’s just enough to cover the bottom of the bag.  It won’t look like enough, but trust me, it’ll make 4 cups of popcorn!

Fold the bag shut (I folded it 3 times, for good measure) and place it sideways in the microwave.  Heat it up until it’s done! I set my microwave for 2 minutes, but it was done in about 1 minute and 40 seconds.  Keep a close eye on it just in case the kernels get so excited that they escape the bag 😉

See! It really works!  Air-popped popcorn costs you about 15 calories per cup.  Plus, did you know it’s a whole grain? It’s true! So munch away!

But I admit, snacking it straight from the bag pretty much tastes like crunchy air with the essence of brown paper.  The good news is that the possibilities for toppings are endless and delicious!  Keep it light by tossing it lightly with sea salt, cinnamon, finely shredded Parmesan cheese, or even a few dashes of hot sauce!  Or, of course, you could smother it in Nutella.

I don’t have any Nutella right now, so I decided to create my own.  I put 1 good handful of dark chocolate chips + 1 good spoonful of almond butter into a big bowl.  (If you have Nutella, for this step, just put 2 good spoonfuls, or 2tbsp, into a large bowl)

Microwave it until it was nice and melty (about 1 minute).  Stir with a spoon to get a dreamily smooth texture.

I added the popcorn to the bowl, handful by handful, joyfully mixing it about.  This was the end result:

Heaven =)  Share it with 3 friends, and you’re getting a totally light, but totally indulgent munchie-buster.

Happy studying!




Filed under Fitness, Food, Recipes

Hot Yoga-Nut Butter Saturday!

Woke up this morning very excited for my Hot Vinyasa class at Sun Dog Yoga! Though I was also a little apprehensive.

I’ve never taken an actual Bikram or Hot Yoga class before, but in late August, at Yoga Vermont, it was in the high nineties in the studio, due to a late-summer heat wave.  The studio is on the 4th floor of an old building, without air conditioning, and just 3 small awning windows.  Balmy.  Regular Vinyasa classes unintentionally turned into Hot Yoga sessions, and I sweat like a beast as my mat turned into a Slippin Slide.  I hate the warm weather to begin with, and I often felt lightheaded and weak doing the challenging Asanas in the sweltering heat. Cold showers never felt so good.

But I have to be honest, I was thankful for the hot classes because they were efficient.  I sweat more in those classes than I ever had during yoga, and I felt like my muscles were melting into the poses.  After one class, I would feel as limber as though I’d been practicing all day long!  It really did wonders for opening my body.  And I was very focused…….on not fainting 😉

So this morning, I got myself prepared.  I got up an hour before class, got into my favorite yoga outfit (I was saving it all week for the special occasion), and had a good breakfast.  Technically, whoever sets the many rules of yoga, you are supposed to refrain from eating within 2 hours before practicing, so I usually don’t eat breakfast before going to a morning class (and frankly, it’s just silly to wake up two hours before a 9am yoga class on a Saturday!!!) I admit, this is probably not a good idear on any day.  So I figured I’d better fuel up this morning for the 1 hour and 15 minutes of Hot Vinyasa.

I had one whole, glorious grapefruit

It was delicious! When I am expecting to sweat so much, I try and eat something with a high water content to try and nip dehydration in the bud.  Of course, I also guzzled a huge glass of water.  Since citrus can be hard on an empty stomach (hello, drinking straight acid!), and I figured I should have something else a little more substantial in my belly, I had a granola bar.  A very cheap breakfast! Just one, big-ass grapefruit is actually pretty filling since it has a lot of fiber and H2O.  And if you buy granola bars in bulk (like at Costco) they are a very affordable meal replacement.  Buy ones high in fiber and protein to get the most bang for your buck (think Nature Valley instead of Special K).

Pretty soon I was on my way!  The drive over was very cold so I was excited to get into that sauna of a studio!  I got a godsend of a parking spot, checked in with my last free pass (thanks Mommy!), and settled in to my favorite spot, right by the window :).  It was indeed very cozy inside, but I was surprised because the heat did not feel as oppressive as it did in my classes in August.  I guess a hot yoga studio feels a lot different when you are living in a non-air conditioned dorm room in a heat wave in August than it does when you have had a snowstorm per week all winter long and a very chilly car ride to class.  Needless to say, it felt very pleasant indeed!

The class was more than tolerable, it was very enjoyable!  It warmed my body to the core, and I quickly eased into each posture, without the wooziness that I had experienced before.   Hot yoga classes are funny because they are so much easier than a regular Vinyasa class in some ways, but a heck of a lot harder in others.  The heat makes the transition between postures (especially those freaking Sun Salutations!) a lot more work.  I sweat A LOT, but the more you sweat, the more you get!

Cranking up the heat definitely intensifies the class.  It really improves the workout in every way since your body opens up more easily and you are working harder to get through each series of poses.  So, as long as you are staying hydrated, a Hot Vinyasa class is probably the healthiest yoga class you can do to. If you are going to spend money on yoga classes, I would suggest Hot Yoga (or Bikram Yoga) about once a week.  You are guaranteed to sweat out tons of toxins, work those muscles HARD, limber up–fast, and completely relax, all in just one class.

But the best part of a tough workout?…….

My post-Vinyasa fuel!  When I got home, I made myself a banana with nut butters.  So healthy and comforting.  I used Trader Joe’s Almond Butter

and The Nutty Vermonter Maple & Cinnamon Triple Nut Butter.

YOU MUST GET YOUR HAND ON THESE NUT BUTTERS!!! I’m pretty sure that this is what the ponds in heaven will be filled with:

That’s the Triple Nut Butter of course.  It’s made with almonds, cashews, and pecans.  It’s all natural, free trade, and made locally (in VT, lol).  I buy this nut butter straight from the nutty Vermonter herself at the Burlington Farmer’s Market, which is the most affordable place to get it.  It’s pricey, but it is an indulgence, so you deserve it!  I used to eat a spoonful as dessert in my dorm room.  That way, it lasts a while (if you have the self control to stick to one spoonful per night, lol).  Plus, it makes a great gift (Hello, Christmas gift to my mom!).  Yumsters!

Stay warm.

Get nutty.



Filed under Fitness, Food, Yoga

WOAH shrimp scampi!!

My mom had a late afternoon doctor’s appointment, so she asked me to make dinner for the family.  She said to do something with the shrimp in the freezer and serve the bread on the counter. Yikes! I was nervous because I’d never made anything with shrimp before (except grilled shrimp for my Dad, but I’d only ever prepared it, not done the actual cooking of it).  I was also nervous because I had to make it before my spin class tonight.  And of course it had to be yummy and healthy!  So I quickly got to work.  I went on FitSugar and just searched “shrimp” into the search engine and stumbled upon a very simple recipe of which we had all the ingredients on hand! Check it out:

So basically I inspected the package of frozen shrimp in the freezer.  Pre-peeled and de-veined! 🙂 Looks friendly enough…..

4:00pm Place shrimp in a bowl and cover with cold water (Uh-oh! Only 20 shrimp?! Not nearly enough for my hungry family of 6!)

4:10pm Drain shrimp and refill with fresh water (ooohlala! shrimp are already thawing!)

4:12pm Oprah

4:20pm Drain shrip and refill with fresh water (again?!)


  • Chop about 1/3 of an onion found leftover in the fridge.  (Thank God for watching too much “Barefoot Contessa” this week.  Onion choppin is E-Z!)
  • Peel 6 cloves of garlic to prepare to be crushed.  (Recipe calls for 4, that means 6 for us!)
  • Go to and get my Jenny Lewis channel pumpin (Man-man-man-eaterrrr!)
  • Fill up a pot with water and start to heat it for the pasta to cook (a watched pot will never boil! better give this lots of time)
  • Get the pan heating up
  • Open and measure out 1/2 cup Pinot Grigio (must resist!….later….:)

4:24pm Add oil, onion, and garlic into the pan (Garlic press = best. invention. ever.)

4:25pm Drain shrimpy water and cut off their tails (Something smells good, and it ain’t this raw shrimp!)

4:27pm Shove around onions, garlic, and oil.  Decide it’s time to add in the shrimp.  Holy crap! The water’s already boiling! And bubbling all over the stove!  Frantically pour in the box of rigatoni (really?).  Shove around shrimp.  Accidentally flip one and see that it’s already cooked.  No one told me it would cook this fast!! Flip all the shrimp over.  Add the spinach.  That looks like too much.  Self, it’ll cook down!  Continue to add more spinach.  Neaten up a bit and discover the wine.  HOW COULD I FORGET THE WINE?!  Impulsively add the wine.  Was that a good idea? Turn up the heat to encourage alcohol incineration.

4:32pm Let simmer. Shrimp are certainly done.  Pray not overcooking shrimp.

4:38pm Timer! Rigatoni is done.

4:39pm Test a noodle.  Not ready yet!

4:41pm Drain noodles.

4:42pm Forgot about bread! Set oven heat to 350 and hurriedly slice it and wrap it in foil.  Pop it in the oven.

4:43pm Stare at shrimp and spinach.  Add salt, pepper, and “Italian Seasoning” I found in the spice cabinet.  Definitely not enough spinach.  Never enough spinach I suppose.  I hope I’m not overcooking the shrimp.  Definitely not enough shrimp.

4:44pm Taste test!  Delicious and non-alcoholic….did I mention DELICIOUS!

4:44pm Make myself a plate.  Dinner is served!

4:50pm Take the bread out of the oven.  Mmmmm nothing beat bread and butter!

Moral of the story:  This was so easy and quick to make! And healthy!  If I had planned at all, I would have gotten a thin whole-grain pasta or even just brown rice.  I also would have added some lemon juice and more wine so that it was saucier.  I also would have added it earlier, lol. Maybe even skim milk to make it saucier.  You could add some cubed tofu with the shrimp as well!   I will also add more spinach next time.  I will believe it next time when I convince myself that it COOKS DOWN lol. And next time, I will feel organized enough to take pictures 🙂

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Fitness Goals

Woke up to another snowy day!

We got more than a foot of snow.  I don’t have to go to work, can’t go run any errands, and I really shouldn’t make the trip to the gym until later tonight (signed up for a spin class).  So it’s just me and this one bumming around the house all day!

Ghia frolicking in the little path Dad tredged for her.  Trying to be productive, I looked at the calendar and realized that I only have a little over two more weeks at home!  I’d better make the best of it!  I set fitness goals.  I also put some of my extra time into making my schedule extra puuuurty:

So I’m finishing up this week with a sha-bang!  Spinning tonight and hot yoga on Saturday.

I have one more free pass to the fancy yoga studio in town (a gift from my loving mamma xoxo) and it expires on the 31st so I need to use it soon!  I wish I could make it to an Ashtanga class in time, but alas, their times aren’t the most convenient for my schedule.   So I decided the most challenging class would be the hot yoga class this Saturday morning.  I’m not a huge fan of hot yoga, but it will probably feel pleasantly thawing in the midst of all this wintry weather!  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Then, the following two weeks will be Strength Training on Sundays and Thursdays, Spin Class on Mondays and Wednesdays, Tuesday is The Day of Rest, Fridays will be for Treadmill running *sad face*, and Saturdays are for Hatha Yoga Class.

For my strength training, I do a BASIC FREE WEIGHTS CIRCUIT as follows:

  1. ARMS Push-ups
  2. LEGS Backward lunges
  3. CORE Double-leg stretch [Pilates abs move]
  4. ARMS Bicep drops
  5. LEGS Squats
  6. CORE Core/Abs Wildcard!!!

I do one set of each of these exercises for one cycle, then add weight or reps for the next cycle, then either add more or decrease (depending on how strong I’m feeling) for a third and final cycle.

The spin classes I go to are usually 45 minutes long (though tonight’s is 55mins…HELP!) and I run for about 30 minutes, depending on how much fun I’m having.  Winter running is no fun for Emma 😦

On rest days, I try and stay active by taking the dog for a walk and/or practicing some of my favorite yoga poses at home.

When I am home, I am able to use my family’s Y membership, and the only class I really enjoy that I can attend on a regular basis is the Hatha Yoga on Saturdays.  It’s easy, but it’s a big challenge for my meditation.

Well there you have it!  Those are my fitness goals for my remaining 2 weeks in Pennsylvania.  Let the fun begin!


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Veggie Scramble

I’m home on winter break, which means FREE FOOD, all-you-can-eat, 24/7!  Mom’s kitchen is always open, and it’s the cheapest place in town!  However, when someone else is buying the groceries, its a lot harder to make healthy eating choices.  My trick is to stick with the staples. Such as eggs.  Eggs are the healthiest thing you are guaranteed to find in every kitchen. And they are so versatile!  The easiest things is to cook it in a pan with whatever scraps of veggies you can scrounge up from Mom’s fridge.

Here’s what I did today, a simple little veggie scramble.  You could eat it with a piece of toast, or with salsa on top and wrapped in a tortilla.  Delicious and nutritious.


2 eggs (I was hungry!)

a handful of salad greens (this one’s a combo of spinach and arugula, but whatever you have leftover from Sunday dinner will work just fine)

1 or 2 mushrooms, chopped

1/4 of a tomato, chopped

Drizzle some oil (butter is the least healthy, olive oil is the most healthy) in a pan and add the veggies.  This is the part of the recipe with the least health benefits, so don’t go crazy with it! You won’t need much, especially if you are using a Teflon pan.

Cook them at a medium heat for a few minutes.  Meanwhile, lightly scramble the eggs in a bowl (I always just use a fork) with a splash of (skim!) milk.  Here if you want to spice it up a bit, pun intended, you can add some hot sauce, cayenne pepper, pesto, garlic powder, dried spices like oregano, or even curry powder.  The possibilities are endless…whatever you can find!

Shove around the veggies a bit so the greens cook down and they look like this:

Then, pour the eggy mixture on top!

Use some great finesse and shove it all around a bit more.

As I always say, cook it until it’s done! Sprinkle with a little bit of salt and as much pepper as you desire!  Enjoy 🙂

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The light in me honors the light in you.

NAMASTE! I’m Emma 🙂

When I’m not an education student in elementary ed, special ed, and human development/family studies at the University of Vermont,


working as a substitute preschool teacher at the Y,


ending world hunger, one grilled cheese at a time at FeelGood,

I’m an avid runner, yoga enthusiast, and health-food junkie.

Here I will share how I maintain a healthy lifestyle as a crazy-busy college student: this means feeling my best while low on cash and even lower on spare time!

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