Posts made in January 26th, 2012

[guest post] accepting gradual change


Posted on Jan 26, 2012 in Motivation

I asked a few of my favorite blog friends to guest post for me while I’m getting the hang of my new culinary school schedule. It’s an opportunity for me to catch up on homework (so. much. reading.) and for you guys to get introduced to some of the people that fill my heart with joy.

First up is a post from my dear friend Krissie from Questions for Dessert. Krissie is one of the most inspiring, warm and well-spoken people I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. I think the world would be a much better place if we were all just a little bit more like Krissie (including me). Take it away, awesome lady.


I kinda have a love/hate relationship with gradual change.

In the last three years, I’ve lost a lot of weight. I’ve kept it off through some very discouraging times. I’ve gone from the girl who used to pray that the XXL would fit to a girl who can usually fit into a medium. I’ve gone from the girl who struggled to walk a mile to a girl who can run 10 miles without being sore the next day.

I’ve come a long way, friends. When I started my journey to health, though, I didn’t think it would take this long. I guess that’s the hate part of my relationship with gradual change. These changes didn’t happen overnight. I would never be the person on the infomercial who proudly lost a huge amount of weight in a small amount of time. I have lost 65 pounds in three years. Just like when I run, I am slow and steady. When I look back at pictures from 3 years ago, I look so incredibly different. But from 6 months ago or even a year ago? The Krissie that looks back at me looks very similar.

Sometimes this bothers me. Sometimes I want to be the person who loses 2 pounds a week. Sometimes I just want to get this weight off once and for all. Sometimes I think I would just give in to some crazy fad diet just so my Wii stops yelling “that’s OBESE” whenever I step on. But that’s not me.

Because even though gradual change in my body is frustrating, gradual changes in my behavior have been the key to my success. Three years ago, I started making small steps toward being healthy. And as I became accustomed to my new habits, I wanted to see what else was out there, how much farther I could go. I kept looking for the next step. The more good choices I made, the more they snowballed. And the less they felt like punishment or restrictions. My healthy choices became who I am.

Three years ago, I didn’t set out to eat a mostly vegetarian diet. I just wanted to cut out most fast food. But then I stopped eating all fast food (except Chick-Fil-A – long story). And then I stopped eating most processed food. We drastically reduced how often we ate out anywhere. And then I stopped eating meat unless I knew how it was treated. And then I wanted to make as much of our food as possible just to see if I could. My health choices have been a gradual progression, and I’m sure I haven’t stopped growing. I don’t know that I could ever become 100% vegetarian – this girl loves her sushi – but I’m willing to get really really close. I do think about making more of our dairy products, learning how to can, and figuring out how to make (and store) our on-the-run foods.

Three years ago, I didn’t set out to run a marathon. I wanted to run a 5K someday. I started walking on a regular basis. Then I started training for a 5K. That was a horrible, discouraging, incredibly fulfilling experience. Then I trained for a 10K. And then a half-marathon. And then a few trail races and 5 more half-marathons. Now I’m smack-dab in the middle of training for the Flying Pig Marathon. How crazy is that? Three years ago, I struggled to run for 60 seconds. And in 3 months, I’m going to run 26.2 miles. Twenty-six point two. I have no doubt in my mind that I can do it. I don’t know how long it will take me. I don’t even have a time in mind, and I’m okay with that. My goal is to cross the finish line in a run, with a smile and the desire to keep running.

I am really trying to use that type of thinking with my weight loss journey too. I don’t want to be thin, but I would like to be thinner. I know I am healthy, but I can be healthier. I would like for there to be less weight on my knees. I’d like for the scale to tell me that I’m “normal.” I want to feel comfortable in my skin for the first time in my life. And, honestly? There’s a part of me that is vain and just wants to know what it feels like to wear an article of clothing that is less than a 10.

And I’ll get there. Eventually. I am trying to do less projecting, to think less about what I should be losing, what I could weigh in 6 months, or when I will get to a certain weight. I am trying to recognize and appreciate gradual change. I am trying to remember that I never dreamed that I could live the life I have today, that I would have the health I have today, and that it would feel happy, normal and not at all restrictive. I don’t know when I’ll get smaller or how small I’ll get, but I know I’m not done.

Just like running, weight loss it isn’t about how fast I get there. It isn’t about who gets there faster and who I leave in the dust. It is about being steady, being happy, and being thankful. It is about finishing with a smile and a desire to keep on going.

Do you prefer the quick fix or gradual change?

whole wheat cottage cheese pancakes with mixed berry chia syrup


Posted on Jan 26, 2012 in Food

Raise your hand if you don’t like pancakes.

I really hope none of you raised your hand. I mean seriously, who doesn’t like pancakes? While absolutely delicious, pancakes can be a bit of a health nightmare. Sure you can doctor them up with whole grains to make them a bit better for you, but the whole point of pancakes is to cover them in sugar, sugar and more sugar. After a nice stack of flapjacks, you might feel full, but you are full of simple carbs, which don’t fuel you for long and certainly aren’t balanced. To turn pancakes into a balanced breakfast, this standard needs the sugar levels to drop and the healthy fats and protein numbers to skyrocket. Enter these pancakes…

The cakes themselves are made with whole grains, egg whites, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese. The egg whites, Greek yogurt and cottage cheese are barely noticeable after cooking, but add in a nice bit of healthy fat and protein. These pancakes are big, fluffy and everything I love about Sunday morning breakfast. Not a fan of thick pancakes? Check out my recipe for Johnston Finnish Pancakes. Those’ll satisfy the folks on the thin side of the pancake fence. Although, I have to say, these pancakes may have even converted the thin pancake lover in our house (*coughBabyfacecough*).

Whole Wheat Cottage Cheese Pancakes

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Makes: 4 servings

These fluffy pancakes will fool even the biggest whole grain hater. Babyface took one bite of these and said, “Do these have any whole wheat flour in them at all?” Yes, they certainly do!


  • 1 1/4 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup cottage cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 cup egg whites (8 eggs)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Cooking spray


  1. In a large bowl, mix together bread flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add cottage cheese, yogurt, applesauce, egg whites, maple syrup and vanilla extract. Stir until just combined.
  2. Heat a griddle or nonstick skillet over medium low heat. Coat in cooking spray and spoon batter into middle. Cook until edges begin to brown and bubbles rise to surface, about 4 minutes, flip and cook for 1-2 more minutes. Keep warm in oven while cooking remaining pancakes.
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I chose to top my pancakes with a simple mix mixed-berry syrup that I thickened up using chia seeds. I know chia seeds are still a bit out there for most folks, but if you can find them, get them! Chia seeds have almost no flavor but add an awesome amount of healthy fats to everything they’re in. Plus, in this case, they play the part of syrup thickener. No need for the full cup of sugar most fruit syrup recipes call for.

Mixed Berry Chia Seed Syrup

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Makes: 4-6 servings

This slightly-sweet syrup is great on top of pancakes but would make an awesome yogurt or ice cream topping as well. If your berries are particularly tart, try upping the maple syrup amount by a couple of tablespoons until the sweetness is to your liking.


  • 10 ounces frozen mixed berries (about 3 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  1. In a medium saucepan, mix all ingredients and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 8-10 minutes or until syrup is thickened. Using a potato masher or fork, mash the larger berries. Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes before serving, syrup will thicken more as it cools.
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Thin pancakes or thick ones?