Q: If you’re familiar with our series, we always like to jump off having our features share something about themselves. What’s a fun fact we should be familiar with?
A: I used to believe I was healthy when I was eating Lean Cuisines, low-carb and low calorie foods, and “light” food products. After incorporating more fresh produce, whole grains, natural foods and lean meats into my diet, and taking the initiative to prepare my own meals rather than relying on something “lean” from the frozen foods section, I found myself feeling more energetic, and much, much more satisfied. I cannot tell you how filling a bowl of whole grain pasta, topped with a bunch of steamed broccoli, marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese is when compared to a rinky-dink tray of frozen food!
Q: You grew up in Chicago, we’ve read, so what brought you to Central Florida? And how long have you been a resident?
A: I moved to St. Pete with my family in June 2003 after I graduated high school because my dad changed jobs. I knew I wanted to go to college close to my family, so I chose UCF and moved downtown after I graduated in 2007 because I loved the area so much.
Q: Anyone who’s familiar with your blog “Peanut Butter Fingers” knows you’re very active in life, and eat healthy – definitely an inspiration to others. How would you encourage others to eat healthy and be active in their own lives?
A: The only way you’ll continue to live a healthy and active life is if you enjoy it! Find a form of exercise that you love (hiking, biking, swimming, group exercise classes) and make it a part of your daily routine.
When it comes to healthy eating, don’t be afraid to try foods you think you will hate! When I first started incorporating more vegetables into my diet, I would buy a veggie I had not tried in years and look up how to prepare it in a way that appealed to me. Tossing veggies like broccoli or cauliflower in olive oil and sprinkling them with garlic salt before roasting them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes is one of my favorite ways to prepare vegetables.
Also, keep in mind that a healthy life is a balanced life, so it’s 100 percent okay to indulge every once in a while!
Q: When I stumbled across your blog it was love at first sight! I always leave hungry after I’ve been there. Where do you find ideas for the food creations you make?
A: I have such a huge sweet tooth and am tempted by indulgent foods. Many of my creations are simply healthy takes on otherwise unhealthy foods. For example, when my fiancé ordered banana walnut-stuffed French toast at a restaurant once, I knew that was a recipe I could easily recreate in a much healthier way.
Q: How does your blog connect you with other culinary enthusiasts?
A: I think the people that enjoy reading my blog are normal people who have an interest in simple, healthy meals. The average, everyday person can recreate anything I post on my blog – often in less than 20 minutes! I am not one to make difficult meals that require tons of abnormal spices. I think people who don’t consider themselves a whiz in the kitchen may feel more confident tackling a recipe that requires only a couple of ingredients they already have on hand.
Q: Do you find the majority of people who are devoted to your blog are from Central Florida? Or do they come from all over?
A: At first my readers were my family and friends, so they were mostly Central Florida residents. Since I began blogging in September 2009, I’ve been fortunate to see my blog grow a bit and have now received comments from readers nationwide and overseas, which is really neat!
Q: What’s your take on the Central Florida culinary community (if there even is one)?
A: I wish I knew! I am just an average girl who loves to cook, so I think most people who are culinary wizards would probably laugh at my recipes and obscure ideas!
Q: OK, since you love food we must ask: What’s your favorite restaurant in Central Florida?
A: Houston’s or Season’s 52. The hot fudge ice cream sundae from Houston’s is my favorite food of all time. Cold, creamy vanilla ice cream, topped with rich chocolate fudge and candied pecans… You can’t go wrong!
Q: You blog so frequently. Where do you find the time?
A: Time is probably my biggest obstacle. I work full-time and in order to blog, I wake up half an hour earlier than I otherwise would to blog about breakfast and my morning workout, and use my lunch break to blog about my lunch. I also write down my blog ideas as they come to me, so when I sit down to blog I generally have an idea of what I want to write, which makes creating a post much faster than sitting down to write without a specific direction in mind.
Q: Why did you start blogging?
A: I love to write and I love learning, writing and reading about health and fitness. I created my blog as an outlet to write about healthy living and to share my recipes and food ideas with my family and friends. I continue to blog because I honestly love it. The blogging community is so wonderfully supportive and I enjoy corresponding with readers, especially those who want to live a healthy life but aren’t quite sure how to get there. I am not an expert by any means, but I love learning and sharing what’s worked for me with regard to living a healthy and balanced life.
Q: Like you, I like to take pictures wherever I go. Do you get strange looks from people like I do?!
A: Definitely. Since I take pictures of almost all of my meals, I receive some strange looks from people when I snap photos of my meals in restaurants. At first I felt uncomfortable, but now I’m used to it.
Q: Your fiancé Ryan is featured pretty regularly on your blog. Is he cool with this public exposure? (He undoubtedly reaps the benefits of your hobby!)
A: Ryan is amazingly supportive. He calls me his “little tourist” because I snap pictures almost everywhere we go. I feel very lucky that he’s so open to trying all of my healthy recipes and provides me with honest feedback about what tastes good and what doesn’t. He’s often the source of a lot of my blogging ideas and is a great sport about everything.
Q: You’re obviously interested in athletic and outdoorsy activities. Where are some great places to do these types of things here in Central Florida?
A: One of my favorite places in Central Florida is Wekiwa Springs State Park (hey…we love it there, too!). Ryan and I love taking our dog Sadie hiking on the many trails and have seen deer, wild turkeys and other exciting wildlife while exploring the area!
Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time—if you have any—in Central Florida?
A: I love taking our dog to Fleet Peeples dog park with Ryan, shopping at the Prime Outlets (the Banana Republic & J.Crew outlets are amazing!), walking around Lake Eola and visiting the Downtown Orlando farmer’s market on Sundays. These days much of my free time is also taken over by wedding planning!
Q: Are there any “secret treasures” in the Central Florida area, people should know about?
A: I’m not sure how “secret” these are, but here are a couple of little treasures I love:
- Raphsodic Cooperative Company (a delicious, eco-friendly bakery)
- All Fired Up (pottery painting)
- Jeremiah’s Italian Ice
Q: And in closing, what is one piece of advice you’d like to leave with our readers?
A: Living a healthy life is not black and white. Striving to be “mostly healthy” is a great goal. Balance your indulgences by fueling your life with healthy food and fitness most of the time but understand that treats are part of living a healthy life. Be sure to take time to relax and enjoy an ice cream cone every once in a while!