#BeBrave and the Race for the Cure Recap

ready to face and endure danger or pain; showing courage

What comes to mind when you hear the word “brave?”
A firefighter? Police officer? Soldier? 

We all understand what it means to be brave in those aspects, and appreciate and honor those who dedicate their lives to defend, help and protect us each and every day. They are true heroes and display braveness, above all else, in their daily lives. 

However I’m here to recognize a different form of brave. 
A quiet form that often gets overlooked. 
An internal brave that many people must endure at some point in their lives.
Probably one of the most difficult situations where one may ask you to “be brave”. 

When my mother was diagnosed with stage 4 of an aggressive form of breast cancer, we knew we would need to encourage her to be brave. It was important for her to stay positive; to keep hopeful; to trust her doctors.

When she courageously underwent weeks of chemo, radiation, surgeries, and days where she just could not get out of bed, we would encourage her to be brave. And on that last week, when the outcome was inevitable, we would continue to tell my mother to be brave.

My mother bravely fought for her life until her last breath, and above all else, that is what I remember her for most. My mother was strong and outgoing; fun and positive. She was SCUBA certified, and wasn’t afraid to try new things. She was all about grabbing life and making the most out of it. She was one of the bravest people I had ever met. 

I often think about my mother in moments where I need to find my own braveness, and because of all that she went through, I have adopted this motto for my own life and for #TeamJudy. Because being brave is what makes life worth living. 

Being brave is about fighting against the things that try to take life from us. 
It’s about staying strong and positive; even through the roughest of life’s moments. 
It’s about being there for the ones you love. 
It’ about going for your goals and the things you want. 
Being brave isn’t about being fearless. Being brave is about feeling the fear, and doing it anyway. 

Last weekend we showed our support for #TeamJudy and our #BeBrave campaign by participating in the Race for the Cure  5k in St. Pete. It was an amazing event honoring those who are fighting cancer, the brave survivors and remember the ones we have lost. Here are some snapshots from race day. If you’d like to join us next year, please check back for details as race details are released. 









Sometimes you just need to shake things up

Sometimes I feel like I’ve been on this weight loss journey my entire life. 
Well, honestly, it HAS been. 

As many of you have learned already, I have been “overweight” as long as I can remember. 
Being heavier than the average child, teenager, and young adult had far more disadvantages than the health concerns carrying extra weight brings. As most of the world knows, there is a certain stigma attached to the overweight. And because of that, I never really had a lot of friends as a child. Being overweight made me VERY shy, and embarrassed, and so I just kept to myself. I opened up a bit more in Junior High and High School, and although I was able to grow my circle of friends, as people began to date and pair off, I never even went on so much as a date in high school. 

Continue reading


Healthy cooking for beginners

Out of all the searches that drive readers to my blog, the top search phrase has always been “healthy cooking for beginners”. I get a LOT of questions about how to meal plan, how to shop and how to cook. I’ve had people tell me that their eating habits are horrible because they “can’t cook”, and resort to pre-packaged foods, fast food and dining out. I’ve heard this on the blog, social media and even in person. 

Well, I’m here to tell you that healthy cooking is EASY. No seriously, I promise! Here are my tips for getting started in a healthy meal prep routine… and making a habit of it!  Continue reading


Eggplant stuffed mushrooms

Hors d’oeuvres are one of those things that I always save room for when dining out. I’m the kind of person that would rather snack on something savory before a meal than sweet after. When I’m at home cooking, I rarely prepare appetizers. I’ll go as far as whipping up a salad, but nothing more complicated than that. 

While I was grocery shopping this morning, I suddenly had this ridiculous craving for my favorite appetizer of all time: stuffed mushrooms. I didn’t know what I was going to cook for dinner, but I knew I was going to whip up something unexpected in our household: a Hors d’oeuvre!

Your typical restaurant style stuffed mushrooms aren’t always the image of healthy eating since they’re typically stuffed with loads of bread and cheese. My eggplant stuffed mushrooms are delicious! They’re a snap to make if you’re looking to bring something scrumptious to a party.

And don’t worry. You’ll get the same amount of satisfaction as the bready gems you find in restaurants. They’re that good.  I predict that it will become a versatile go to filling too. I’m already thinking it would be fantastic stuffed inside some boneless chicken breasts.

Or as a topping for baked fish.
Or mixed inside an egg frittata.
Or devoured with a fork right out of the skillet like a stoker desperately shoveling coal into a steam train’s engine.

I may or may not have done that last one already.

Eggplant Stuffed Mushrooms serves 4-6 (as an appetizer)
The eggplant combined with the garlic, onion and freshly grated Parmesan cheese make for a hearty, rich and savory filling that won’t disappoint.

1 whole eggplant, peeled and diced (health benefits of eggplant)
½ Vidalia onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley
10-12 grape tomatoes, halved
10 baby bella mushroom caps (health benefits of mushrooms)
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (you can omit if you’re dairy-free)

1. Heat olive oil in a saute pan on medium heat. Add diced onions and saute until just soft and starting to get translucent.
2. Add peeled and diced eggplant to the onions and cook until caramelized and soft (around 8-10 minutes). *Eggplant is very spongy and will absorb liquid quickly. I suggest covering the skillet and lowering the heat a bit halfway through the cooking process if you notice the mixture drying out.
3. Add in minced garlic, grape tomatoes, parsley and a tsp. of salt and pepper. Stir to combine, and then cook on medium heat for about 2 minutes- just until the tomatoes begin to blister a bit. Turn off heat and stir in 1/4 cup of Parmesean cheese (optional). Set aside. 
4. Remove the stems from the mushrooms and brush with a damp paper towel to clean. Using a dinner spoon, stuff baby bella mushroom caps with the eggplant mixture, then place into a small baking dish or pan lightly greased with cooking spray or a bit of olive oil. 
5. Top with additional Parmesan cheese (if so inclined) and bake mushrooms at 400 for 12-15 minutes. Let cool a bit then enjoy!

Don’t forget to share!