Blogmas Day 21: The Best Recipe I’ve Ever Made

Guys. I know I shared a recipe yesterday, but I couldn’t wait on this one. I can’t call myself a baking expert, but one thing I consider myself to have mastered is the art of one particular quick bread recipe. I’ve taken the base for it and modified it in SO many different ways at this point, and it has yet to fail me.

This recipe is probably the best modification. No, definitely the best modification. It’s INSANE.

I KNOW I just posted peppermint bark bread, but today’s chocolate peppermint bark bread knocks the socks off of yesterday’s.


After making the peppermint base in the previous bread, my mom requested a chocolate base for the next loaf (we still had plenty of peppermint bark to use up.) I wanted to modify my favorite quick bread recipe, and as a result, this bread has a secret ingredient: sweet potato! No, you cannot taste it, but it gives it an amazingly moist texture, and of course some nutritional punch!

While whipping this up, my mom and I enjoyed a festive holiday happy hour, complete with Pentatonix Christmas Pandora station, and a new beer to try. I randomly found a Kansas City beer, which seems to be the closest I can get to St. Louis!

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Chocolate Peppermint Bark Bread



1 cup cooked, mashed sweet potato

1/3 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (plain would work)

1/2 cup milk

1 tsp vanilla

2 tbsp oil

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 cup cocoa

1 1/4 cup flour

1 egg

2 candy canes, crushed

2/3 cup chopped peppermint bark

1/3 cup mint chips (can sub other chip or omit)


Preheat oven to 350.

Mix up sweet potato, yogurt, oil, egg, and milk in a medium bowl.

Once combined, add all dry ingredients except for the chips, bark, and candy canes. Mix thoroughly.

Stir in mint chips and peppermint bark.


Pour into a foil lined loaf pan.


Sprinkle crushed candy cane evenly on top.


Bake at 350 for 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Enjoy, and happy holidays!


Blogmas Day 3: Pumpkin Gingerbread

Welcome back to Blogmas! I hope you’re enjoying reading these posts, because I’m certainly having a blast making them. It forces creativity and a little more special effort to be put into each post, and having new content helps keep things fresh around here. As I type this up today, I’m cuddling under a blanket with my trusty sidekick.


I brought him here, oh, 4-5 hours ago, to help me read microbiology and he has not moved. During that time, I’ve done reading, eaten lunch, made this recipe, and walked the dog. He’s still snoozing. No shame.

Today’s recipe is another idea that popped into my head while walking around the zoo and dreaming of the holidays. My FAVORITE healthy pumpkin bread recipe ever doesn’t actually call for any spices, so I usually add a ton of pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon to make pumpkin bread. But I thought, huh, why not make this into gingerbread? And just add gingerbread spices? I don’t have the original source of the recipe since it’s a print out from many years ago, but I adapted it to make delicious pumpkin gingerbread.


This loaf has a warm flavor that just feels like the holidays. Even though we have yet to get a tree or put up decorations, when that sweet, molasses-ginger scent fills the house, I know it’s December!


This recipe also packs a bit of a nutritional punch: it’s filled with Vitamin A from pumpkin, lots of important minerals from molasses (iron, calcium, magnesium, and more), and it isn’t a sugar bomb.

Pumpkin Gingerbread



2 1/4 c flour (I used GF but this recipe works well with half whole wheat and half white)

1/2 T baking powder

1 t baking soda

1 t salt

1 large egg

1 egg white

1 can of pumpkin (about 1.5 c)

1/4 c oil (I used avocado but you could use any type of vegetable oil)

1/2 c molasses

1/4 c packed brown sugar

1 t vanilla

2 t ginger

1/4 t nutmeg

1/8 t cloves

1 t cinnamon

powder sugar for dusting (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Whisk all dry ingredients besides the sugar together in a large bowl.
  3. Stir in wet ingredients until well blended.
  4. Pour batter into a tinfoil-lined loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, or until done.
  6. Sprinkle powdered sugar on top. Enjoy!


*Extra points if you have a holiday-themed plate.



Thunder from Down Under+Last Post from This Side of the Mississippi Round 2

Guys. It is currently Saturday night (this post will go up Sunday while I am in the air), and I leave for TN tomorrow. My flight LEAVES at 5am. Ouch. This is my last post from this side of the Mississippi! Recently on time hop, I came across my “Last Post from This Side of the Mississippi” from my summer in DC, so I guess this is round 2! I definitely want to blog about my experience in TN, but understand that I can’t talk about what I’m doing due to confidentiality reasons, so expect more of the usual food and fitness+weekend adventures!

This week has been crazy, trying to do everything before I go.

You may be wondering about the first part of the title of this post. My parents and I went to “Thunder from Down Under” Tuesday night, aka an Australian Shepherd playgroup at the local dog training/agility facility. Chloe LOVES playing with other dogs, and is a rough player. She hasn’t had the chance to play with a ton of Aussies. This was just the cutest idea! 6 dogs showed up, and Chloe stuck with the same one most of the time. I wish my pictures were less blurry, but crazy dogs=constant motion.

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Chloe and her new BFF, Bacon. It was so funny to see all the dogs play and interact with the same behaviors and mannerisms!

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About halfway through, they started to get a bit tired! When she gets tired, Chloe tends to just roll on her back and play from the ground.

Thursday was another busy day for me. I started with morning Crossfit. I did cleans for the first time since my stress fracture, 2 months. I was careful and kept it light, but was still sore the next day! My foot felt good during them. I went straight from there to meet my sister for iced coffee.


And then from there, I ran home to pick up Chloe for a walk with my High School friends. I hadn’t driven her in my small car since she has been full grown, and she kept trying to come into the front seat/my lap! She’s too big for that! It was great to see my friends.

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Since my foot injury, I haven’t walked any sizable distance. That plus Olympic lifting that morning was a lot, and my foot was sore the next morning.

I was more than ready for lunch afterwards!


Microwave quesadilla, salad with Greek Feta dressing, and chicken.

More food: Fig and Goat cheese salad.


Microwaved gluten free blondie with caramel sauce and frozen yogurt.


Friday, my dad and I went to the Giant’s game. Food, as always was the highlight. Cauliflower flatbread with truffle oil for me, plus a cucumber and feta salad split with my dad.

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Plus some of my dad’s hot fudge sundae.


We ended up pulling out a win by inches…it was not pretty there at the end!

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As per usual, it was freezing. I had a long sleeve, sweatshirt, north face, and scarf, plus we had a blanket, and I was still so cold! I feel like I need to soak up the cold though before heading to TN!

It was fireworks night, so we stayed after the game to watch. While we waited, the birds swooped in!


And then, it was time for fireworks. It was a great show—the fireworks were really sparkly and pretty, plus we were really close.

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The next morning, I drove down to my school Crossfit for the last time. I’ve been sad for a while about this day. This Crossfit has really become my family over the past 3 years. Through crazy school stress, illnesses, and two major injuries, it’s always been there. I spent so much time there over the past 3 years, and it really was one of the highlights of my college experience. While I still argue that sometimes you regret a workout (some types of soreness are brutal), I knew that whenever I went in, no matter what else was going on, I would leave feeling better. I think I’ve been there in every imaginable mental state. The workout was a great one to end on. A LONG partner workout, similar to the previous week but worse because of the addition of wall balls.

2 Sets

AMRAP 5 Rest 1

Max Assault Bike Cals
16 Alternating DB Snatch

AMRAP 5 Rest 1

Max Rower Cals
20 Wall Ball

AMRAP 5 Rest 1

AMRAP 5 Toes to Bar + 5 Burpee
5 Pt Shuttle Sprint

For the final grouping, I subbed 25 kettle bell swings for the shuttle run, and push ups for the burpees. KB swings combined with toes to bar KILLED my grip! It’s funny; I haven’t done many toes to bar lately (not for any good reason), but they have still gotten WAY stronger for me since doing so much ab work while my foot was in a boot. I guess it does carry over!

At the end of class, I said my goodbyes which I tried my best (and failed) to keep it together for. I’m really going to miss that place.

After a failed errand, lunch at home was rotisserie chicken, avocado toast, and fruit (pictures is the nectarine, plus cherries and some pear).


We had more errands to run that afternoon to prepare for my trip, but on the way, I wanted to get froyo. We ended up at Menchies. I love how they label all their nutrition info+allergens. And that they have sample cups readily available! I got some toasted marshmallow and some chocolate frozen yogurt, which I topped with hot fudge, strawberry,s and milk chocolate.


Dinner at home was a good one. Cheese soufflés (it’s a Cooking Light recipe that we’ve made quite a few times over the years).


Plus steamed artichokes and roasted Japanese yams. IMG_7729

For dessert+plain snacks, I made some more sweet potato zucchini bread, but with a few changes. I didn’t have quite enough sweet potato, so I threw in half a banana, and to change up the flavor a bit, I reduced the spices and put in butterscotch extract. It was a hit in my house!

And with that, from this side of the Mississippi, that’s all she wrote.

Where is your favorite place to go in the summer?

Yoga Fixed My Shoulders

Phew. Yesterday was quite the day!

I started my morning teaching a 7am spin class on campus, which was awesome. I didn’t think we’d get a big turn out because it wasn’t that well advertised and it was early, but I got a good group out, including a friend!

Then, I had a weight lifting session with my trainer. I tried to move it to not the morning I had to teach, but that didn’t work out so I had to suck it up and go in with less than fresh legs. We worked on cleans, back squats, and jerks. I PRed my clean again at 148#! That’s a 8# increase this summer, so I’ll take it! Sometimes being a little tired helps things-I don’t overthink the lift, plus I was super warmed up! I also hit 95% of my back squat max for 2 reps. This is especially good because my max is a year old, and I maxed out at my 95% when I tested it back in the spring.

As for the jerks, we didn’t go super heavy but they felt better than expected. Over the last year or so, I’ve developed very creaky shoulders, especially when I go overhead with the bar. I basically have not been able to go overhead more than once a week without stiff shoulders and pain when I press up. Earlier this week at Crossfit, we did a ton of push presses and high volume overhead work. But, the jerks yesterday felt fine! It was a night and day difference. So what changed? I started yoga about 6 years ago to help with flexibly (because I have none). I honestly think yoga was key for helping me stay injury free in my many years of softball. (I was a pitcher and never had any shoulder/arm trouble which is rare for someone doing it for 10 years!) In the past year, yoga has kind of fallen by the wayside. Last month, I finally started making it to class again, and I’ve noticed my shoulders getting stronger and looser. I felt a drastic difference from just last week’s class to this week’s class when doing low push ups-my shoulders felt strong and were losing their creak. Plus, this week I walked out of class with much less foot pain because I spent 60 minutes stretching out my tight calves. Needless to say I will be making yoga a regular thing again if possible!

After my training session, I met my sister for coffee at Bliss in Redwood City for any locals.


Of course, I got a cappuccino and it was fantastic. It was a light roast, and had premium quality milk foam (which is clearly what matters, if you ask me!)

After coffee, we headed home for lunch. I made myself a salad with truffle goat cheese (because we didn’t have any regular goat cheese), dates, a nectarine, and deli turkey.


Sweet potato seed crackers were on the side.

I spent the afternoon resting, and then apparently going on a baking frenzy.

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It’s 4 days into September and I’ve already make 3 loaves of pumpkin bread and a loaf of sweet potato bread. Besides the pumpkin bread, I did lots of experimenting and improvising.



For the pumpkin bread, I baked some Noosa honey yogurt into the center for something fun.

If you take one look at my recipe page, you’ll see that most of what is up there is quick breads and salads. Those are my two claims to fame. I’ve gotten very good and making up recipes for healthy quick breads. I have one base recipe that I use, and I have yet to screw it up, surprisingly, despite how many modifications I’ve tried. (That’s actually not true-the one thing that didn’t work was coconut flour banana bread. Apparently bananas and coconut flour are not good together. It was gross.) I’ve even started making it with gluten free flour, and you would really never know. At this point, nothing contains more than 1/4 cup of sweetener, but you’d never know. Even my sister approved, and she is wary of anything “healthy.”

When the sweet potato bread came out, I decided I am a freaking genius. It was on point.


My third loaf was a total experiment, and I was running out of flour so I had to really improvise. The bread? Awesome. Exactly what I was looking for. The appearance? Uhhhh.


The batter was completely gray-this picture doesn’t do it justice. Anyone want to guess the secret ingredient that reacts to turn this color? I’m guessing it reacts to baking soda/powder. Because of the appearance, I’m not 100% sure I’ll share the recipe. Plus, it still needs tweaking because I think if I had more flour and didn’t have to improvise quite so much it would be better!

As for the sweet potato recipe, it’s coming this weekend-I promise!

That evening, I went to run club at Crossfit. My legs were not really up for it, but I’ve been wanting to go for a long time now and this was the only week I could really make it. Since everything is based on paces, I had to do a timed mile. Blech. I clocked in around 8:10, and with tired legs, I’ll take it. I should probably actually do a timed mile sometime with fresh legs! Back in the glory days, in another life I was actually reptty fast. I think my all time best mile is 6:53, but that’s not happening any time soon! Overall, between warm up and cool down, I covered 3 miles which is exactly what was on my half training plan for the day.

Dinner was another basic one. Stir fry veggies and cheesy polenta. The cheesy polenta was just cooked polenta with smoked gouda stirred in, and it was delicious!


I hope everyone has a fabulous labor day weekend. I’m on puppy duty full time, so I’m trying to think of things to do with her! And check back for that recipe this weekend!

What are your weekend plans?

Giveaway Winner+Cookies+Cats

Hey guys! Sorry for not posting about the giveaway winner until now-my power was out so my wifi was down! SO without further ado-the winner of the giveaway!

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Lindsey C-please email me with your address and I’ll send it to you right away! (astottler

So-now that that is squared away, what have I been up to?

GRE studying. Yayy. And cat cuddling. That makes it just a little bit better!

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I also had my annual Christmas cookie baking session with my high school friends! Every year we get together and make and decorate sugar cookies My favorite shape is the turkey!

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Hence why there are so many turkeys. We took about 1,000 pictures. 5 cameras between the 4 of us, and we had 200 pictures from the night! Holy cow.

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And was a great reunion, and a fun tradition!

If I don’t get a chance to pop in here before Christmas-Merry Christmas!

What kind of holiday cookies do you make?

We do sugar cookies with buttercream frosting.