Penne Vodka

I’m not really sure how people go carb-free.  Have I ever told you guys about the time I went carb-free?

I lasted many three days and then I ate a feast of pasta with a side of mashed potatoes with some chips.  SERIOUSLY.

I find that I need a little bit of carbs in my life in order for me to function and for me to smile on the regular.  I do try to make good choices about them though including multi-grain, complex carbs when I have them and in much smaller quantities than I used to eat them.

I refuse to live in a world where I think carbs are BAD.  Everything in moderation is what I need.  Eating everything in moderation makes sure that I don’t feel deprived.  When I feel deprived, I am more likely to binge.  There’ll be no deprivation, folks!

For example, the dish I share with you today is clearly a pasta dish… but it’s also made with multi-grain penne.  It also makes several servings, of which I only ate one.

And, can I tell you… it took some SERIOUS control not to eat more.  This stuff is insanely flavorful and so worth trying!

Penne Vodka

From Weight Watchers via Pinterest

Serves 6


1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (or cooking spray)

2 medium uncooked shallots, minced (about ½ cup)

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. parsley, fresh, minced

½ tsp. sea salt, or other coarse salt

¼ tsp. black pepper, freshly ground

3 Tbsp. canned tomato paste

2 oz. vodka

1/8 tsp. table salt, or to taste (for cooking pasta)

12 oz. uncooked penne

½ cups heavy whipping cream

20 fresh basil leaf, cut into chiffonade


1.  Boil salted water and cook pasta per the package instructions.

2.  Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium-low heat.  Add butter, shallots, and garlic.  Saute until carmelized (about 3-5 minutes)  Note:  I used 1 Tbsp. of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter in place of the butter.  I never have butter at the house unless my sister-in-law is visiting.

3.  Add parsley, sea salt, and pepper, stirring once or twice.

4.  Add tomato paste and mix to form a paste.  Cook for about 5 minutes, moving paste around pan occasionally.  

5.  Add vodka.  Scrape bottom of pan with a wooden spoon and cook for about 5 minutes longer.  

6.  Add cream to tomato sauce.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3 minutes.


7.  Add pasta to sauce and mix to coat.  Top with basil and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Per 1 Cup Serving:

CAL 192;  CARBS 30g; FAT 2g; PROT 17g; POINTS PLUS 9

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WOW: The 5K Approaches

For the past several months, I have been in training for a 5K.  I even declared I would be running a 5K on my resolutions list for the year… and so far, I’ve kept all of my resolutions!

I had these visions of how cool it would be to be a runner.  Wow… I think of all these other bloggers that run their little hearts out and how much they love it.  I mean, I could love it like that too, right?  I mean, Lynne loves it so much that she can’t wait to begin again.  And, Monica?  She just traveled across the country to run in a relay.  I seriously could go on for days about how many Healthy Living Bloggers are running up a storm.

I also have a ton of real-life friends who love it.  They claim to find it relaxing and freeing.  My friend Natalie loves to kill it on the treadmill; Donna‘s run a half.  I even have a friend training for an Ironman right now.  I mean, Mel is uh-mazing… and she’s totally going to do it.

I’m surrounded by runners!

So, considering all that contact with fast-moving folks, why am I just not into it?

I’m FOUR days away from Jodi’s Race for Awareness… and I don’t feel ready at all.  Mentally or physically.  The biggest issue I have is that I haven’t figured out my breathing.  The crazy part is that my legs are good.  No knee issues, my ankles don’t complain.  My breathing, on the other hand, gets strained really quickly and then I get nervous.  I push as long as I can, but often find myself walking after a period of about 5 minutes.

Knowing my physical limitations, I’m pretty sure that I am going to be doing some walking on Saturday.  In my head, I’m also thinking that I might be HIGHLY motivated by the crowd and inspired by the energy at the park.  I’m hoping that’s the case.  Sincerely hoping that’s the case.


I’m not very good at failure.  And, I’m HORRIBLE at hearing other people comment on my failure (i.e. “Didn’t you say you were going to run this?  Wasn’t this your idea?”)  Now, I’m going to try EVERYTHING in my person to make sure that I’m successful with this run… but I’m just putting it out there as a warning:  There may be a little walking.

When I think about Jodi’s Race year over year… there’s so much to be excited about.

  • My friend Bev is cancer-free!!!!!
  • I’m down about 25 lbs since the last race.
  • I’m in MUCH better physical shape this year.
  • I would have NEVER even considered running this 5K a year and a half ago.
  • Did I mention my friend Bev is cancer-free??
I had a quick chat with my yoga instructor this morning about the race.  Her suggestion was to do a meditation the morning of the race and the day before as well.  I think I’m going to do one every day leading up to the 5K.  A lot of running is mental, and I want to be in the best mental condition for this challenge.


No matter how it goes, I look forward to sharing the details with you guys post-race.

Many of you have offered your tips, your motivation, and your encouragement over time.  Now, I need to just get out there and do it.  If you remember, please send me some happy thoughts on Saturday morning (7am PST)… For every one you send, it’ll be like you’re there with me pushing through this challenge!!

Let’s do this!

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A Little Bird Story…

Who knew you could get the perfect nest platform at Crate and Barrel?

A few weeks ago, I spotted a little nest on my patio.  The little neighborhood birds decided to create their own little condo in one of my candle holders.

I rarely go out there, so I didn’t get a chance to see them working away at their new place.  I noticed it shortly after I got back from Montelucia, which was way back at the beginning of the month.

Cute, huh?

Since I realized that there was a nest out on my patio, I’ve been absolutely obsessed.  Normally, I keep my patio blinds closed, but these days…. no way.  I have them open so I can keep an eye on the action.

I can’t really see inside the nest because it’s super-high up.  But, I can see the parents from time to time…

These guys pretty much OWN my patio now.

If you can’t see it, my new squatters are a couple.  The female bird sits at the nest and is brown in color, and the male bird is a beautiful red color and just chills on the other candle.  I like that he hangs around.  I think they’re lovebirds.

Now, it’s been since the beginning of the month and there’s been no action….

I really was starting to think there was a problem.  So, I did what any resourceful girl would do.  When the parentals had flown away for a moment, I climbed on one of my chairs and took a picture of what was inside the nest.  It’s way too high to see in, but not too far to angle my fancy cam.

This is what I got when I snapped a shot on Saturday.

Not the best pic, but it looked like a sad little dead bird.  And to think that the parents kept coming back daily… just SAD!  Selfishly, I decided that this weekend was the perfect time to get rid of the nest (considering the situation) and to reclaim my patio (AKA plant my flowerboxes.)

On Sunday, once the parental birds had vacated, I decided to remove the nest.  When I detached the candle holder, I was SHOCKED to see something move.  And there was definitely more than one little birdie in there!!!

So, being the chicken I am, I got my Rebel back out and took a few more pics… here’s what I found.

All that little puffballness was a little flock of birds!!!


I honestly don’t know how many are in there, but I tried to put the container back exactly where it was. When I was at work today, someone told me that if you move a nest sometimes the momma doesn’t come back!  GASP!!!!  I MOVED THE NEST!!

Not sure you can see it, but those are TINY little beaks raised up and checking the world out (right near the chain). So cute!

So, tonight, I’ve been on a major bird watch.  The mom hadn’t been back… but I’m pleased to say I saw at least the dad bird.  My little birds are going to make it!

And... the parents are back!

I also planted some flowers this weekend.  My flower boxes will have to wait until next weekend, but I did put together a pot of geraniums and a lovely little herb garden.

Stay tuned for more bird stories… I’m obsessed and snapping pics like crazy (as you can see!)

A big pot of geraniums on the front porch

Rosemary, basil, and thyme... Whatever shall I do with these!?



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Arctic Zero Milkshake

This weekend was one of those where I REALLY cooked. I probably tried 4-5 new recipes that I just LOVED.  Good news for all of you… I’ll be sharing them with you over the next few weeks.  REALLY good stuff.

Of everything I tried this weekend (which was a LOT!), my very favorite new recipe was a 114 calorie milkshake.  Yeah, you heard me right… a 114-calorie milkshake!!

Have you ever heard of Arctic Zero?  It’s a Fat Free, Gluten Free Ice Cream alternative.  Oh, and did  I mention that it only has 150 calories for the entire PINT???


I heard about it first about a year ago and picked another pint up at the store a few weeks ago.   I was able to use the store locator on their website to find out where to buy it.  For me, I can get it at Sprouts grocery store and also at King Soopers.  Check out the store locator to find out where it’s sold in your area.

I had already eaten a bit of the pint during a previous ice cream craving.  On Sunday night, I didn’t really have to much going on.  So this is the type of crazy stuff I come up with when I have an extra day off.  This milk and “ice cream” combo is actually far from crazy – –  It’s downright delish!

Arctic Zero Milkshake

Serves 1


1 cup Arctic Zero frozen dessert

1/2 cup skim milk, plus 1 Tbsp. if desired

1/4 tsp. vanilla (optional)


1.  Scoop out 1 cup of ice cream and put it in a blender or food processor.  Note:  I need a blender.  Second Note:  I nuked my Arctic Zero in the microwave for about 25 seconds to get the ice cream to be easier to handle.  

2.  Add 1/4 cup of milk to the blender and vanilla, if it will complement your flavor choice.  Note:  I added one extra tablespoon of milk to reach the consistency I liked.  The Arctic Zero isn’t exactly creamy, but the milk blending with it makes it incredibly creamy and delish.  Play with the consistency… and make it how you’d like.

3.  Pour the milkshake into a glass and, of course, serve it with a straw.

4.  Sit on your couch… and enjoy!  Note:  This pic is after a big workout at the gym and before I hit the shower.  Objects in the image are exactly as dirty as they appear.

Seriously, before you know it, your milkshake will look like this.

Per Serving:

CAL 114; CARB 18g; FAT 0g; PROT:  11g

Since trying this recipe, I now have a freezer full of Arctic Zero.  I’ll keep you posted as I try other the Vanilla Maple and the Peanut Butter (Gasp) Chocolate.  Seriously, this might be the most perfect summertime treat ever.  So excited!

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