Sunday, November 15, 2015

My Blog Grows Up

Welcome to my blog...Living Light and Breezy.

As the title says, I am excited to show you my journey as an Army wife, student, coach and someone living life to its fullest.

I graduated from Van Meter High School in May 2012. I finished my associates degree in May 2013. I am currently attending my second term at CSU-Global to get my bachelors degree in marketing.

From the time I was little, I have always loved to cook and live healthy. I have also been very interested in new ways to eat and cook clean. Having these interests has brought me to the conclusion that I would love to live a life that incorporated nutrition, exercise, and living healthy.

After I finished my associates degree in 2013, I moved to live with my husband in North Carolina. We lived there for two and a half years. It was a huge change for me since I had lived in Iowa my whole life. It was a struggle moving across the county and learning to live on our own. Staying active and coming up with new healthy recipes helped me a lot with all the changes. It was something that I was familiar with and made me feel more at home in our new environment.

My mom and I joined Big Oven together. It is an app and website. It is really fun to share what we are cooking and even shopping lists for the week. It keeps us connected too.

We just moved to Belgium on July 14. We are very excited about the move and can't wait to get out and met others that are interested in living a healthy lifestyle. I also can't wait to go to the markets. They have a lot of fresh fruits, veggies and meats. It will be interesting seeing the difference between Europe and America.

I am very excited to get started with this new adventure and I love learning more about my true passion in life. 

I am going to do a few things to get ready for this new adventure. Along with my blog, I am going to start connecting to others in the nutrition and healthy cooking world using Twitter (@brimariecua) and Facebook (brimariecua) .  I hope you follow me there too.

I also started writing down all the recipes that I create so I can work on my very own cookbook.  I will post these on my blog.  

Hope you enjoy


I have been wanting to try chestnuts ever since my dad told me that he plated chestnuts trees on his farm a couple of years ago.The topic of chestnuts came up again while we were spending time together last Christmas. We went out and tried to find them at the store but we came up empty handed. 

A couple of weeks ago I was at the Commissary and I saw that they has chestnuts. Of course I had to get some and give them a try. Needless to say my first attempt was a fail. I tried to roast them in the oven but did not cook them long enough and they came out very hard and nearly impossible to peal. Last week I got chestnuts again from the Commissary and decided to try again! 

Let me share with you how I found the best way to prepare chestnuts is. Below are the first steps to take before the cooking process begins. 
My dad shared this link with me from and it was very helpful. The most important step is to make sure to cut the shell so that the chestnut does not explode. 
I let the chestnuts sit out for about a week to sweeten. I found the easiest way to cut into the shell is by making an x on the flat side of the chestnut.

Before making the slits into the chestnuts shell get a pot of water boiling on high heat on the stove. 
Once slits are made and water is boiling add the chestnuts into the boiling water, and let boil for 10-15 minutes, or until the shells have begun to peel back and open. Turn off the heat.
Using a slotted spoon transfer 1 chestnuts to a clean dish towel. Bundle the towel around the nut to keep the heat in, and use the towel to help peel back the shells and rub off the inner skins. Repeat this process until all of the nuts are shelled. 

Using a towel makes the peeling process very easy compared to using my hands to the last time I made chestnuts.

You may want to use an older, rattier towel for this, as the mahogany colored shells may leave some stains.
That's it! 

The reason I found boiling to be better than roasting is that boiling is a little faster than roasting. Boiling makes the chestnuts quite a bit softer and easier to peel. Also,the flavor is a little more mild compared to roasting, but still sweet. 

Chestnuts are a delicious treat with lots of healthy benefits. They are rich in folate and nutrients. They have a high vitamin c content. They contain less fat then other nuts. They counter effects from sodium.They control blood pressure and improve metabolism. They offer a decent dose of vitamin A. And they are very rich in potassium and protein. 

I can't wait to make chestnuts some day with my dad from the trees he plated. 


Saturday, November 14, 2015

No Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Coconut Bars

No Bake Chocolate, Peanut Butter, Oatmeal, Coconut Bars 
-1 cup natural peanut butter
-1/2 honey
-1/2 coconut oil
-2 cups old fashioned oatmeal
-1 cup organic unsweetened coconut
-1 cup 100% cacao powder
-1 tsp vanilla

1. Combined peanut butter, honey and coconut oil in a bowl. Put the mixture into the microwave for about a minute or until completely melted.
2.Mix oatmeal, coconut, cacao powder and vanilla into the melted mixture. Stir well
3. Pour mixture into wax paper covered 9x13 inch pan
4.Put into the fridge for about an hour or until cool. Or if short on time put into the freezer for thirty minutes.

These are a great treat when you are craving a treat but don't want to go all out.

In my recipe I say to use cacao powder instead of coco powder. Wondering what the difference is? Let me tell you. 

Cacao powder is the raw unprocessed cacao bean. It has an ORAC* value of 95,500. Cacao powder is a wonderful source of essential fatty acids, fiber, iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, calcium and sulfur. 

Coco powder is is cacao bean after it has been roasted and processed. Coco powder has an ORAC* value of 26,500. Because of being heated and processed it losses a lot of its nutritional goodness. 

*method of measuring antioxidants. 

Cacao powder offers many benefits and tastes delicious. I love chocolate and cacao powder is a great way for me to enjoy it and still get healthy benefits.

I hope that you enjoy these bars! They are one of our favorite treats. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

A Great Way To Start Your Day...Banana Protein Pancake's

I don't know about you guys but I love breakfast!

I also love pancakes and bananas so I came up with this recipe for Banana Protein Pancakes.

What you will need:
- 2 bananas
-1 scoop vanilla whey protein powder
-2 tablespoons flax seed meal
-1/3 cup white whole wheat flour or whole what flour
-2 egg whites
-1/4 tsp cinnamon

Directions: - Mix together the banana's and egg whites.
-Then mix together the protein powder, flax seed meal, white whole wheat flour, and cinnamon.
-Mix both the wet and dry mixtures together until smooth.
-Warm up a pan with a little spray of olive oil on low heat.
-Put 1/3 cup of mixture in the pan and cook until light brown.

This recipe will make 4 pancakes. They are also great with honey on top.

I used Calorie Count to make this "Nutrition Label" for Banana Pancakes. If you haven't checked out Calorie Count yet you should. After you create an account, you can save all of the recipes that you create and be friends with others in the network as well.  

A great addition to this recipe is the flaxseed. There are so many benefits and it is easy to add into recipes. Flaxseed can protect against heart disease, lower bad cholesterol, promote weight loss, reduce risk of cancer, stabilize blood sugar, help digestive health, aids detoxification, and helps make healthy skin and hair.

I hope you enjoy the banana pancakes as much as we did!  :)

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Roasted Chicken Thighs with Brussels Sprouts

This meal is a perfect weeknight meal. It only takes about 40 minutes to prepare and it is delicious. I like to serve it with brown rice.

1 tablespoon olive oil; divided
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme; divided
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt; divided
1/2 teaspoon black pepper; divided
4 skinless boneless chicken thighs
1 lemon, cut into wedges
1/2 cup dry white wine; divided
1.5 tsp cornstarch
1/4 cup thinly sliced onion
1 pound Brussels sprouts; halved
1/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth


1.Preheat oven to 425°.
2. Combine 1 teaspoon oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Rub this mixture on chicken thighs. Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat. Add chicken thighs to pan, cook for 4 minutes. Turn thighs over and let the other side brown; top with lemon wedges. Place pan in oven; bake at 425° for 18 minutes or until done.
3. While you are waiting for the chicken heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 1 minute. Add remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, 1 tsp thyme and Brussels sprouts; cook 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add broth and 1/4 cup wine to pan; cover and cook 5 minutes.
4.When the chicken is done remove chicken and lemon from pan; discard lemon. Discard drippings (do not wipe out pan). Return pan to medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup wine; cook 2 minutes, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add cornstarch and heat till slightly thickened. Remove pan from heat.
5. Place 1 chicken thigh on each of 4 plates; serve with 1 cup Brussels sprouts and 2 tablespoons sauce.

I think it is important to track how many calories you are putting into your body and also what kind of nutrition you are getting out of those calories. I like to use Calorie Count and add my recipes so I can see how many calories my meals are. I like to see what I could do to make them healthier.

Above is a table with the nutrition facts for this recipe. This recipe got a B rating on the nutrition grade. If you wanted to make this recipe a little healthier you could use chicken breasts instead of thighs.

Thanks for visiting my blog! Enjoy!