Posts made in May, 2012

what i ate wednesday: oh, sugar, sugar


Posted on May 30, 2012 in Food

I have a gnarly sweet tooth and it seems to present itself in a lot of ways that aren’t always that obvious—extra honey in my tea, a cup of flavored yogurt, or a granola bar for a snack. Now all of these things alone don’t mean much, but when you add it all up in a day (plus add in the real sugar bomb desserts that I refuse to give up), you get a ton of sugar. I don’t mind naturally occurring sugars in fruits and veggies, but there is a lot of research out there that shows that refined sugars are bad news bears. Even the low- and un-refined sugars have their issues.

I love doing WIAW posts because I am, quite literally, turning the camera on myself (well, my food) and I really get to see it from an outsider’s perspective. While I was eating yesterday, it didn’t seem like I was eating a lot of sugar, but now that I look at it all in one place, I’m amazed and how much sugar I pounded back in one day! It’s really got me thinking about cutting back on my sugar intake.

Programming note: sorry for the rotten pictures. It was rainy and cloudy yesterday and that means not a lot of light for iPhone photos.


Green smoothie! Made with rice milk, banana, orange juice, spinach, protein powder, and chia seeds. I also had a glass of unpictured iced green tea sweetened with a bit of honey.

Morning Snack

Small granola bar leftover from this weekend’s festivities and a perfect, tiny little peach.


A leftover, sliced up brat with some grilled peppers and onions, plus watermelon.

Lunch dessert was a peanut butter chocolate square (made my Babyface). Delicious!

Afternoon Snack

A few orange slices plus three Medjool dates.

Plus a cup of Rooibos Chai. Love this brand.

And then, once I got home, I made a recipe with Nutella and definitely licked the residue off the measuring cup. Leave no Nutella behind.


A small bowl of Emily’s Sesame Soba Noodle Salad (pictured is the whole recipe). I’m desperately trying to recondition my taste buds to like Asian flavors and I’m tackling it one flavor at a time (although I’m not sure I’ll ever like soy sauce). This was super good, but I could only handle a small bowl. Baby steps. I have some more for lunch today. In other news, Babyface plowed through two bowls of the stuff. Sorry I almost never cook you Asian food, Rocksteady.


FEED ME SUGAR. Yesterday was a two dessert kind of night.

Strawberry-Rhubarb pie (with a whole wheat crust) plus some vanilla ice cream. So good.

And a few hours later, a popsicle! This recipe will be coming up soon.

The Stats

What’s the best thing you ate yesterday?

Strawberry-rhubarb pie. See aforementioned sweet tooth.

things i’m digging…


Posted on May 29, 2012 in Lifestyle

1. Annie’s Lite Honey Mustard Dressing.

This stuff is so crazy good. It makes me actually want to eat salad. Which is a feat, trust me. Usually I eat salad out of obligation only.

2. Having a tan.

For the longest time, I was kind of a shut-in. I didn’t like my body, so I stayed inside on the couch. And when I did go outside, I wore pants and cardigans even in the middle of the summer so I could hide my body. But with my resurgent confidence in the past few years, I find myself outside in sundresses and shorts and tank tops. And even though I’ve been layering on the sunscreen every time I’m outside (did I mention we went through six bottles while in Florida?), my skin has been getting slightly darker each time I step outside. It’s amazing how much more confident I feel when I’m a little bit more golden. I’m definitely one of those people who tan easily (hence the tanning through sunscreen), so it feels “right” to be a bit tan. If that makes any sense. Tan skin makes me feel like I’ve got my groove back.

3. Cascade Ice Sparkling Water.

I’ve been a big La Croix fan for years, but Cascade Ice is quickly moving to the top of my sparkling water charts. The lemon lime flavor tastes straight up like unsweetened Sprite (yum!) and the Citrus flavor tastes like unsweetened Crush (double yum!). I’m a fan.

4. June.

The amount of fun-ness upcoming in June is insane. I am so excited! First up, we have the Avon Walk in Chicago, then the Bloomington Craft Beer Fest the next weekend, then we’re headed to Milwaukee the next weekend for the IndyCar race, then my 29th birthday (smack dab in the middle of the week, booooo), then the weekend after that we’re moving. Gosh, that all sounds exhausting. But fun! I love June!

5. CamelBak Day Packs.

The amazing people at CamelBak hooked me and Babyface both up with hydration day packs and we absolutely LOVE them. We used Babyface’s this past weekend at the Indy 500 and it was packed full pounds and pounds of gear you need for six hours in the sun. I can’t wait to use them on a day hike once the weather stops being hell-like. We have the Rim Runner and the Aventura and both of them are totally kickass. Thanks, CamelBak!

What are you digging?

crispy baked fried chicken drumsticks


Posted on May 24, 2012 in Food

My parents and I went on a camping trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan the summer after my senior year of high school. It’s one of those trips that will always stay with me. I was in one of those big major transition periods in life (although, like always, I didn’t recognize it at the time) and a trip with my parents to a beautiful part of the country was just the thing I need to feel safe, secure and ready to head into the next chapter of my life.

One evening on the trip, we were headed back to our campsite at a state park in St. Ignace, Michigan and all three of us got an overwhelming craving for fried chicken. Maybe it was the fact that everyone was remarking on our Southern accents (which I don’t have, thankyouverymuch) or that we were so far from home, but something was triggered in us that we needed some good ole country fried chicken.

As you do when on a trip, we decided to ask the locals for the best place to get good fried chicken. We asked the first person and they all but laughed in our faces. After we assured them we were serious, they mumbled something about KFC being on the other side of the bridge while snickering as they walked away. If you’ve ever had real fried chicken, you know that KFC isn’t even an option.

It took a few more locals looking at us with confused faces for it to click in our dense Southern Indiana brains—apparently we were too far North for there to be any good greasy fried chicken joints. Our hometown was surrounded by them, but apparently, that’s not something you see a lot of in the U.P.

Go figure. I’m not sure what we ended up eating that night, but it wasn’t fried chicken.

There are a lot of moments in my life that have been punctuated by fried chicken. And as much as I love really good fried chicken, we all know it isn’t the picture of health food. It’s great in moderation—my family still hits up one of our favorite local fried chicken places once or twice a year and stuff ourselves silly on biscuits slathered in apple butter and plate after plate of crispy fried chicken. But for an everyday solution, baking chicken is where it’s at.

There are a lot of recipes out there for baked fried chicken, so you are probably wondering what makes mine special. Well, I’ve got two words for you—breakfast cereal.

My Mama has always used cereal (corn flakes, to be exact) as a coating for her baked fried chicken, and it’s hard to beat. The cereal sticks beautifully to the chicken and stays nice and crispy. And by “crispy” I mean crisssssss-peeeeee. Like, it crunches so well you’ll have to turn up the TV. It’s such a nice paring with the tender, juicy meat of the chicken.

You can really use any flake-y cereal you’d like, but I chose the breading as an opportunity to make the chicken a bit more nutritionally-dense by using flax bran flakes. Whatever cereal you choose, just make sure to choose an unsweetened or just lightly seasoned flake. You don’t want to be rolling your drumsticks in Honey Bunches of Oats. I promise.

If you are a purist to my Mama’s recipe the only thing you’d add to the crunched up corn flakes are a bit of salt and pepper (and maybe some garlic powder). Simple and easy. I decided to up the flavor ante in the breading a bit with my own blend of herbs and spices. Feel free to play around with whatever flavors make you happy. I’d imagine adding a handful of grated Parmesan and some oregano and parsley would make for some delicious baked fried Italian-flavored chicken. Yum!

Crispy Baked Fried Chicken Drumsticks

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Makes: 6 drumsticks


  • 2 cups bran/flax or corn flakes, crunched into fine crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 6 chicken drumsticks


  1. Preheat oven to 350°.
  2. In a shallow pan, mix together cereal crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, sage, and paprika.
  3. Place flour in a second shallow pan.
  4. In a third shallow pan, whisk together the egg and milk.
  5. Dip each drumstick into the flour, shaking of excess, then into the egg mixture, shaking of excess. Then press into the cereal crumbs until well-coated. Place drumsticks (not touching) in a baking dish coated with cooking spray and bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes or until juices run clear.
Powered by Recipage

Are you a fan of fried chicken?



Posted on May 24, 2012 in Lifestyle

1. I love Pizzeria Pretzel Combos. They are probably my favorite junk food ever.

2. My ranking of Rory Gilmore’s boyfriends goes like this: (1) Logan (2) Jess (3) Dean. I understand that’s probably a really unpopular way of organizing them, but Dean’s hair is too annoying for me to appreciate any of his redeeming qualities.


3. I’m nervous about the weather forecast for this weekend. I’ve been to some really, really, really hot Indianapolis 500s (like 2006, when I actually had to go and sit under the stands in the shade because I was seeing double), but they are talking like this one will be the hottest ever. I think I’ll pass on the beer this year and instead focus on lots of water. At least the humidity is going to be low…

4. We’re trying to eat through our pantry and freezer plus not buy much more food so we don’t have to move a lot next month. This means we’re having a lot of not-so-gourmet meals. Like English muffin pizzas and breakfast for dinner. It’s delicious. But not very photogenic. We’ll see what kind of stuff I can scrape together over the next few weeks. It could get very interesting.

5. My shins still hurt from walking 20 miles on Saturday. I’m going to be in some serious pain after 39.3.

Want more confessions? You can view all of my confessions posts here.

Do you have any confessions to share?

hiking to the top (giveaway)


Posted on May 23, 2012 in Fitness

I’m so glad to hear that you guys are loving the Under Armour What’s Beautiful Challenge! I thought it was a super cool program and am stoked to be partnering with them. It would be so freaking cool if one of you guys won the challenge! Go BTHR readers, go!

You have joined in, right? And set your goals? How are they going? Have you completed any of the challenges?

As you know from last time, my goal is to hike 100 miles before the end of 2012. Now that we are all well-acquainted with the What’s Beautiful competition, I thought I’d talk a little more about why I love hiking and what it means to me.

Hiking is something that I’ve done since I was a little girl, but as I got older and the go-go lifestyle started creeping in, I stopped hitting the trails.

For years, I’ve been trying to find an activity I truly loved. I knew I needed to workout, but I never found something I really wanted to do. I tried lots of stuff. I tried running. I tried dance classes. But it wasn’t until I came back to hiking that I truly felt like I’d found something I could do for a lifetime.

There are so many things I love about hiking. I love experiencing the world outside of cities and towns. I love unplugging from my technology-driven lifestyle. I love sharing the experience with my husband and puppy.

But I think what I love the most about hiking is the sense of pride I get from it. I find something incredibly empowering about hikingó especially with the crazy steep inclines in our area. I’ll get to the top of a long, demanding hill, look down to where I just came from and think, “Wow. I’m really strong! I can’t believe I just hiked up that.” It’s so nice to be able to physically see the space conquered. Not a distance on a treadmill display or a number of reps in my head. I can actually look at a section of terrain in front of me and know that I conquered it. It’s a pretty awesome feeling!

I have a lot of hiking dreams. I want to will hike the Grand Canyon from rim-to-rim. I want to thru-hike the entire Knobstone Trail. I’d love to section-hike the Appalachian Trail. And there are some pipe dreams, too. I’ve been looking at the Trans Canada trail, Continental Divide Trail, and the American Discovery Trail. I’ve never had those kind of grandiose dreams with other types of exercise. I’m addicted to that feeling of standing on the mountaintop and reveling in my own strength. It’s not a bad addiction to have.

But before I can even think doing any of those over-the-top plans, I have to get myself in hiking shapeóand that means hours on the trail.

We’re really fortunate that we have an amazing mountain bike park incredibly close to our apartment. There are miles and miles of trails that are perfect for quick jaunts. I love it because even though it’s in the city, it feels so remote and desolate. I usually do between 3-5 miles per week just on those trails alone.

But on the weekends we like to whip out our guidebooks and find new (and hopefully strenuous!) trails around us. We are smack dab in the middle of an amazing network of rugged hiking trails, and it’s been a blast over the past few months exploring all the beauty nature has to offer in our area of the country.

We’ve been hovering around 4-6 miles on our weekend treks, but I’d love to step it up and do entire day hikes. The only thing that is holding us back is gear. We’re slowly (but surely!) collecting all the stuff we need to be out on the trail for an entire day or even longer. We recently acquired some amazing hydration daypacks, and I’m loving all my gear from Under Armour. It’s so important to stay dry and comfy. The last thing you want is to be four hours away from the car and need to change your clothes.

Under Armour hooked me up with some gear to try out on the trails, and let me tell you, I am absolutely in LOVE with their Slash Capris. Not only are they comfy and fit well, but they also make me feel kinda hardcore. Business in the front. Kickass chick in the back. I definitely feel a little more of a pep in my step when I’m wearing these guys. It may sound crazy, but wearing these definitely adds to that whole “feeling empowered” thing. It’s so interesting how clothes can change your attitude and outlook.

If I keep up my with my 7-12 miles a week on the trails, hitting my goal of 100 miles by the end of the year will be no problem at allóespecially if we are able to slot in a few longer distance hikes a few times. Want to keep track of my progress and conquer your own empowering goal? Head over to What’s Beautiful and sign up. While you’re there, follow me!


Didn’t win the $500 gift card last time around? Well, lucky for you, Under Armour is feeling really generous and is giving away another 500 buck-a-roos to use online or in store. Nice people, eh?

To get entered, all you have to do is answer one question:

How do you empower your workout?

Here are the deets you need to know:

  • No duplicate comments.
  • You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

a) Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post

b) Tweet (public message) about this promotion, including exactly the following unique terms in your tweet message: ì#whatsbeautifulî ì#sweepstakesî; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post

c) Blog about this promotion and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post. To comply with FTC Guidelines (see, entrantsí blog posts must disclose that they are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post.

d) For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

  • Entries from all participating blogs will be pooled for winner selection; only two entries per household.
  • This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. You have 72 hours to get back to me, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
  • The Official Rules are available here.
  • This sweepstakes runs from 5/23-6/11.
  • Be sure to visit the Under Armour page on where you can read other bloggers reviews!


As you probably guessed, this blog post is sponsored by Under Armour in conjunction with BlogHer. All views expressed are my own.