Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dancing for a Cause

I know we’re all getting ready for THANKSgiving… but tonight I want to tell you about DANCEgiving.  If you’re a longtime reader of Confessions of a Former Couch Potato, then you know I’m a Zumba instructor and I love dancing!  There are so many rewards to being an instructor, including seeing participants grow stronger, lose weight, make friends, and find confidence!  However, I am lucky to work for a company that frequently tries to give back to the community. 

This past Saturday, we held a DANCEgiving party.


The purpose of DANCEgiving is two-fold:



get a great 90-minute workout…


and collect non-perishable food items for a local food bank.

The event was so much fun.  There were 6 instructors there, so we got to take turns teaching and teach some songs together.  Participants were able to attend for free with a donation of canned goods.


It is always great to be able to do something that you love, while also helping the community! 

Is everyone ready for Thanksgiving?  What is everyone making?  Ryan, Sadie, and I attend TWO Thanksgiving celebrations (One for each family), so we have certain things we are assigned to bring to both.  For Thanksgiving Number 1, I will be making lemon merangue pie and redskin mashed potatoes.  I’ve never make a lemon merangue pie, so I am trusting a dessert expert: Paula Deen.  She is one of my go-tos when I need a dessert recipe.  For Thanksgiving Number 2, I will be making pumpkin pies, collards (soooo excited to make collards—I have been craving them!), and rolls.  I think I am going to make my Easy Mini Cinnamon Roll-Ups.

We always think of food first when we think of Thanksgiving, but I am so looking forward to having a few days off of work to spend time with family! 

Now, I want to hear what you all are doing.  Where are you going?  What are you cooking?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Paleo Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

Usually, by this time of year, I would have gone through about 10 cans of pumpkin.  All of the bloggers I follow have been cooking pumpkin EVERYTHING and it all looks so delicious and wonderful.  Finally, I am joining the bandwagon.  I have been tweaking a recipe for some Paleo Muffins.  I was going to make apple muffins, but then I thought… “Apple + Pumpkin…” and these muffins were born!

These muffins are a bit more dense and have a slightly different consistency than a traditional wheat flour muffin, mainly due to the pumpkin and the coconut flour.  They are slightly sweet, but not overly sweet.  If you like them sweeter, then you could always add one more tablespoon of honey, although I have not tested them with 5 tablespoons.I would say they are slightly sweeter than a corn muffin.  I added a pat of real butter to mine (not Paleo) and that made these muffins even better.  I decided to have the husband taste-test them, just because I know he is a pickier eater (sorry Honey, but you know it is true) and he gave it a thumbs-up. 




Paleo Pumpkin-Apple Muffins

(adapted from Cindy’s Table’s recipe, found here.)


  • 1/2 cup coconut flour (found at Earth Fare or other health food stores)
  • 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 can or pure pumpkin
  • 1 apple, chopped (I left the skin on mine)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (melted)
  • 4 Tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, spices, and baking powder. In a separate bowl, combine the other ingredients and mix well.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until combined.  Divide evenly into 12 muffin cups.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. 

Note: these do not rise like regular muffins, so you can fill the muffin cups to just below the tops.



I think next time, I may try a plain apple version of these.  I think that could be a delicious alternative. 


In other news, I just signed up to run in one of my favorite 5K Events: The Reindeer Romp!  I’ve been running some on the weekends and it feels good to be running again.  Since I have not been running as often, I am a little slower (3 miles in about 39-40 minutes) but I am hoping to improve it just a tad before the run on December 1.  I have run this race for several years, and it is always lots of fun.


(Ryan and Me in 2010)

This race is a part of Rock Hill’s annual Christmasville Festival.  I LOVE Christmasville!After the race, there are all sorts of fun events to help get you in the holiday spirit, including:

  • ice skating
  • carolers
  • gingerbread house contests
  • chili and soup cookoff
  • storytime and crafts with Santa

and more!  If you are local, I have to say that this is one of the best events for kids!  I can’t wait!  You can click here to view one of my previous posts from Christmasville

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Anniversary Dinner at Vivace in Charlotte

Hello, friends!  I hope all of you had a wonderful weekend!  We sure did here at the Confessions House.  Guess what… yesterday was our 11-year anniversary!  It is so hard to believe that we have been married for that long.  The time has passed by so quickly!  Here we are on November 17, 2001.


Babies.  That’s what we were.  Wrinkle-free.  No grey hair.  NO idea what was in store for us!


But just as happy now.

We decided to keep it low-key this year, and just headed to Charlotte for a nice dinner out.  We packed up the kiddo for the night and hit the road.  We decided on Vivace.  Several friends recommended it, and after looking at the reviews on Yelp, I thought we should try it out.  If you aren’t using Yelp, it is a great FREE App and Website that is so helpful with finding local restaurants and events.  I use it almost every time we travel.  I love that you can even make reservations from the Yelp iPhone App!


Vivace is located on Metropolitan Avenue in Charlotte.  That area is so pretty with all the lights in the trees and all of the modern store-fronts.




As soon as we walked in, we loved the atmosphere, and our table was ready exactly at our reservation time.  We decided to start with the meat and cheese platter. 



Everything was delicious.  Ryan especially loved the honey and I loved the marmalade and the freshly-stone-ground mustard.  This might be the best mustard I have ever had. 

We also got the Calamari because the husband cannot turn down Calamari. 


We were feeling a little full, so we decided to split an entree.  Everything on the menu sounded amazing, but in the end we decided on Pork Belly Ravioli with Drunken Figs. 


(This is a half-portion of this entree.)

This dish was so wonderful.  The ravioli was delicious.  I don’t even know how to describe it.  The figs were sweet and just a little crunchy, like they were caramelized.  It was a wonderful combination with the sauce, which was on the salty side (in a good way).  If you gave me a cup of that sauce, I swear I would drink it.

As much as I wanted to try dessert, we were just too full, so I settled for a Cappuccino. 


It was a wonderful night, and although we missed our little munchkin, it was nice to have a calm and (adult) dinner together. 

If you are in the area and are looking for a great spot for Italian food, give Vivace a try! 

Reader Question: What’s the BEST meal you have ever eaten?  Where did you eat it?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Tonight's Dinner Is Brought to You By...

Today, I found myself at home on a Monday rather unexpectedly. A certain little munchkin was sick, so I was home playing nurse-mom. Fortunately, she is feeling MUCH better tonight. I think she will be back at school tomorrow.

For some reason, I really was in the mood for Chicken Tortilla Soup today. I really wanted to run out to the store to grab a few things, but I didn't want to take sickly out on the town. What to do...what to do? Then I remembered Lettuce Carry.

I have been seeing commercials for Lettuce Carry in the mornings, and have wanted to try it. From their website:

"Lettuce Carry is a new grocery shopping experience in Charlotte, NC.

We offer over 15,000 diverse items at your fingertips, this includes a complete selection of fresh food (including local and organic), household items, health and beauty supplies, tobacco, beer and wine.

We then deliver your items right to your door at no charge (next day standard delivery) and our drivers accept no tips. Best of all, you save money because our low overhead costs means we can keep our prices low."

Well, all that sounded great to me, so I thought today would be a perfect time to give it a try! I shopped for the items I needed and checked out.

I could have had free delivery if I had waited to get my groceries tomorrow, but it was worth the convenience to pay $10 for a delivery today. I really love the fact that you can pick the 2-hour time slot that works best, so you aren't stuck sitting around all day waiting. And they even called to tell me when they were 10 minutes away! I chose the 4pm-6pm time slot, and they arrived at 4:15. Did I mention that they have a NO TIPPING policy?! So if you choose next day delivery it is absolutely free.

Prices were fairly comparable to a grocery store, and if you are a Couponer, they do accept manufacturer coupons. (I didn't have any,though, so I cannot report back about coupon use.)

The groceries all came in nice, reusable bags, which was above and beyond what I was expecting. Also, many of the meats are local! Another bonus!

I could definitely see using this service during lunchtime at work and having the items delivered around the time I would get home. After all...no one wants to hit the grocery store after work. Am I right?

Lettuce Carry delivers all over the greater Charlotte area- even to Rock Hill and Fort Mill, SC! If you are tired of going to the grocery store, give them a try!

Click here to visit the Lettuce Carry website.

Now, let's talk about this Chicken Tortilla-ish Soup I made tonight. I don't know what brought on this craving...maybe just the cooler fall weather. I have been making soup at least once a week. I also welcome any excuse to make spicy food.

Chicken Tortilla-ish Soup

If you want to make a Paleo-friendly version of this soup, then skip the corn and the cheese. I decided to add cheese mine for a little treat. Since I don't buy tortillas anymore, I took a cue from PaleOMG and used crushed Plantain Chips (just because I had them on hand) and sprinkled them over my soup. They added a little crunch. I am sure you could also add some sour cream as well if you like.


  • 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (mine were baked)
  • 2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 3/4 cup frozen yellow corn kernels (I am sure fresh would be fine also)
  • 1 14-oz can of fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 10-12 oz. chicken stock
  • Handful of chopped cilantro
  • Cumin, ground cayenne pepper, salt, and freshly cracked black pepper to taste (I used a TBSP of cumin, 1/2 tsp. cayenne, and a dash of salt and pepper)
  • Optional extras: crushed tortilla chips or plantain chips, shredded cheese, sour cream

In a medium saucepan, heat EVOO over medium-high heat. Add onion and pepper. Sauté until tender. Add corn kernels. Sauté one minute longer. Add diced tomatoes. Stir. Add spices, chicken, chicken stock, and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer about 15 minutes covered over low heat. Serve hot with any garnish you like!

This recipe will serve 3-4 people.

You can enjoy it naked (above) or accessorized (see below).

This soup was so delicious! One of the best things I have made in quite a while! I hear it's gonna be chilly this week...make yourself a batch!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Weekend Recap

Happy Monday! How was your weekend?  The weather was absolutely beautiful here in South Carolina! It was crisp at night and in the morning, but during the day it was so gorgeous!  We’ve really enjoying the wonderful fall weather. 


Look, it’s fall, y’all! 


She can’t help it.  The child sees a pile of leaves and she had to go jump in them and give herself a leaf shower.  To be a kid again, right?  It’s not as much fun to watch this as a mom and think, what bugs (or worse) might be hiding under that leaf pile?!

This weekend was great.  I was able to squeeze in a 3-mile walk/run on Saturday morning.  I’m going to try and do some more running this fall/winter.  I hate running outside when it is hot.  I love when it is nice and cool. 

Saturday breakfast: breakfast bowl.  In the mix: spicy sausage, sweet potato, gala apples, and onion.



Then we decided to head to the aquatic center for family swim that afternoon.  By the end of the summer, Sadie was swimming so well that we wanted to make sure she didn’t lose it.  At the end of the summer, she was able to throw a diving stick in the pool and then retrieve it from the bottom.  She was so proud of herself!  I was really worried that she would be frustrated now, having been away from the pool for a few months.


However… it was like she never left!  Ryan and I were both amazed!  She was like a little fish again!


On Sunday morning, we went to a delicious brunch at church.  It was nice to be able to spend time with friends catching up.  I was busy taking pictures for the church website and newsletter, but I managed to get a friend to snap a pic of our little family. 




On Sunday, I actually had some time to bake.  I haven’t done much baking since adjusting to being “Mostly-Paleo,” since most baking requires wheat flour.  However, I had found a new recipe for sweet potato brownies that I wanted to try which called for coconut flour.  I finally was able to find coconut flour at Earth Fare.  It’s expensive… but man, does it smell DELICIOUS!  It’s the first flour I have ever opened and wanted to taste!  (I didn’t.) 


These brownies turned out good taste-wise… very chocolatey and sweet and rich.  However, even after baking them for close to an hour, they didn’t really take on that cake-like texture I was looking for.  I think it might have to do with me doubling the recipe.  I think I will work on these a bit to try and perfect them a bit and try again.  I am thinking if I add a little more coconut flour, that may help. 


So hopefully soon I will have a Sweet Potato brownie recipe to share with you all! 


For now, I am taking the philosophy that even an imperfect brownie is better than no brownie at all! ;)

Have a great week, friends!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Good and Evil of the Internet

Let's talk about the Internet. You know, it is hard to believe, but when I was in school, there was no such thing. I remember when I was senior in high school, I had 2-3 friends who could get online at home. Back then, we called it "surfing the net." If you say that now people will look at you like you have grown three heads! ;)

The Internet is...in a word...AMAZING. Seriously...A. MAZ. ING. You literally have the world at your fingertips now. The other day, I was going to make Paula Deen's Broccoli and Swiss Casserole. I pulled into the parking lot at the grocery store and realized I had left the recipe at home. I pulled out my iPhone and Googled it. Within seconds, I had the recipe and ingredient list on my screen. From my PHONE, people. Technology is amazing, right?

Last week, I made this amazing soup. Guess how I found it? That's right... The Internet.

It was pretty cold and chilly around here last week, so I was in the mood for soup. I happened upon the blog, Paleo Savvy, while surfing the net. That's right, I said it. Anyway, as I was clicking through recipes, I stopped at this one: Asian Chicken Soup with Napa Cabbage and Bok Choy. I love bok choy, cabbage, and sesame oil, so I knew I needed to try it! The only change I made to this recipe was using beef broth instead of chicken broth, and I did that unintentionally. However, the soup was still great! I really like how the carrots were peeled with long strips. It just made it prettier.

This soup was very tasty and probably a lot healthier than something you might get from a local take-out spot. It is also Gluten-Free and Paleo-friendly! Visit Paleo Savvy for the recipe! You can also download a portion of her new cookbook for free!
So now, I know you are wondering why I said the Internet can be evil. I'm about to go off on a little rant, so feel free to stop reading here. You've been warned.

I've been really disheartened the past few days seeing so much ugly talk over the Internet regarding the election. Here are some comments I have seen on Facebook and Twitter:

  • I'm never voting again.
  • I'm moving to another country.
  • Congratulations, voters. You just ruined America.
Seriously, people?! I wanted to say (and now I AM saying it) to these people: do you have a roof over your head? Did you eat breakfast this morning or dinner last night-- or both??? Did you go to a restaurant this week? Did you drive your own car today? If you answered yes to any or all of these questions, then you are better off than many others in this world. No president has ever been or will ever be perfect. Regardless of who you supported in this election, it's time to pull up your big girl (or boy) pants and support the country. Comments about how awful things are don't help any of us.

This past Sunday, my Sunday School class had a great discussion about what would make the world a better place. One of us made the comment, "What if we all just prayed for each other and supported each other?" Think about how much better the world would be if we did that. Lets just try that and see what happens.

End rant.

Mary's Cafe

A few weeks ago, I discovered a hidden gem right here in my own city. Don't you love when that happens? When you find a restaurant that you never even knew existed? And it is fabulous? And cheap? Come to the light, my Rock Hill friends.

I first visited Mary's Cafe with coworkers a few weeks ago. I had actually driven right by it several times and never really paid attention to it.

The building is kind of plain on the outside, but don't be fooled. Appearances can be deceiving! When you enter, you can sit wherever you like, and trust me, you will not be waiting very long to be served! The menus are right on the table under a glass tabletop.

I recommend that you get the meat and 3 veggie plate or the veggie plate. The price is fantastic ($5.95!) and you have a wide variety of selections. I opted for the pork chop, collards, cabbage, and fried green tomatoes.

The food was delicious! I am very picky about collard greens and I believe that the ones I make are the best, but these were pretty darn good. The fried green tomatoes were wonderful. You can't get those too many places.

Mary Vu (hence the name Mary's Cafe) who was originally from Vietnam, learned how to cook southern cuisine from her adoptive mother when she came to the U.S. in 1975. Mary and her husband, Van, run the restaurant together.

Mary's Cafe is open for lunch and for dinner. Stop in sometime soon and give it a try! You will not be disappointed!

Visit the website for the menu and more information!