Guest Bender: Natalie from The Sweets Life

by Jenn (eating bender) on February 18, 2010

My guest posters are so amazing! I’m glad you all enjoyed Meghan’s tips on balancing a healthy lifestyle while in college. If today’s Guest Bender doesn’t make you drool — apologies for that image — I don’t know what will! Natalie certainly has a handle on what it takes to live the “sweet life,” and I’m not just saying that to be corny ;) Her recipes, photos and writing style will draw you in. I hope you enjoy!

P.S. Apologies to Natalie for the delay in posting this. I promise there is a good reason, which will reveal itself in time not only to Natalie, but to all of you! There I go trying to be mysterious again ;)

***

Life is Sweet

First of all, thank you so much Jenn for letting me guest post! I’ve been a big fan of Eating Bender for awhile. I don’t remember when I started reading, or how I found it, but I feel particularly akin to Jenn because she went to school in Chicago and my family lives in a suburb of Chicago…so I love hearing about things and places that are familiar to me :) Furthermore, I can relate to Jenn on so many levels. It wasn’t long ago that I was graduating from college, starting a full-time job, and planning a wedding.

Thinking back to those days when I was living alone and balancing this new lifestyle, I cringe when I remember some of my eating habits. I’ve always been an active person and a relatively healthy eater (with a raging sweet tooth!), but for those few months before I got married, my dinners consisted of a lot of pb&j, nachos (aka tortilla chips with cheese and salsa melted on in the microwave), and cereal…oh how I ate a lot of cereal!

Fast forward two years and I don’t even recognize that girl! Prior to marriage, I was not at all confident in my cooking skills and assumed my husband, Ryan, would be making the majority of our dinners. However, it wasn’t long after we tied the knot that I discovered I actually loved to spend time in the kitchen, preparing meals for Ryan and myself! Along with this discovery, I also discovered food blogs and healthy living blogs, both of which are a wonderful resource for tips and recipes. This ultimately led to the creation of my own blog, The Sweets Life. I have only been blogging since August, but I have quickly become addicted. It keeps me motivated to try new things in the kitchen, and it’s a fun hobby to maintain. If you peruse the recipes on my blog, you’ll notice a few things:

  1. Most of the meals are relatively healthy. I LOVE food, all kinds of it, but most of what I prepare at home is pretty good for you (and if not, is worth the splurge!)
  2. My recipes are simple. While I occasionally buy that hard to find ingredient, I prefer to stick to the basics or substitute what I have on hand. Similarly, most foods are easy to throw together…with Ryan and I both working full-time, it’s too hard to come home and spend hours in the kitchen!
  3. I LOVE dessert. Baking is a joy. I love trying new desserts and feeding friends and co-workers baked goods, so you’ll find plenty of those amongst my posts.

With that in mind, I wanted to include the links to a few recipes that I think are perfect for somebody like me, or somebody like Jenn (and I’m assuming a lot of her readers), who are short on time, but big on healthy ingredients and yummy meals!

My favorite way to save time in the kitchen? The CROCKPOT! Some of our favorite meals are crockpot creations. Some examples:

Indonesian Chicken with Peanut Sauce (by far the best thing we’ve ever made in the crockpot)

Sweet Potato Chili (definitely better the 2nd day!)

Crockpot Salsa Chicken (Not the most photogenic, but I could eat this once a week, easily) 

Other easy meals that are quick to throw together include sandwiches. Sandwiches can be much more exciting than the standard pb&j (not that I’m knocking one of my favorite combos!) A few I highly recommend trying:

Butternut Squash, Black Bean, Feta Pita Sandwiches (probably my favorite of the bunch)

Chicken Sandwiches with Mushrooms, Spinach, and Cheese (perfect for feeding friends)

And finally, it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t share some of my favorite desserts with you!

Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings (I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dessert more well-received than these!)

Raspberry Amaretto Trifle (when you want to impress!)

Margarita Ice Cream Pie (love margaritas? You NEED to make this!) 

Hopefully these examples have shown you that despite crazy schedules and life transitions, you can make lots of simple, healthful meals! If you’re interested in more, please check out my blog The Sweets Life and follow me on Twitter!

Thanks Jenn for letting me guest post!

***

YUM! So tell us, which one of Natalie’s recipes do you most want to try tonight?!

It’s almost the weekend…again! This week has flown by! What are you up to?

Abrazos!

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

1 eaternotarunner February 18, 2010 at 8:31 am

That Indonesian chicken looks amazing!

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2 mirandanr February 18, 2010 at 8:41 am

I totally want to try the Mountain Dew Apple Dumplings! That sounds so good – and so easy from the recipe.

:0]

Love the post!

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3 Katie February 18, 2010 at 8:45 am

I like the looks of the pita sandwich and raspberry trifle!

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4 adrienmelaine February 18, 2010 at 9:49 am

mm recipes look delish! Great post!

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5 Stef @ moretolifethanlettuce February 18, 2010 at 10:31 am

oh my, i want to try ALL of those recipes! esp the sweet potato chili one, i only discovered how much i love chili this past superbowl weekend, and i am now a diehard fan. throw sweet taters into the mix and i’m sold. that trifle is stunning too!

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6 Kara Jackson February 18, 2010 at 10:41 am

Mountain Dew??? interesting, but looks like it works, cant wait to try it out!

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7 jenngirl February 18, 2010 at 11:20 am

This post was so refreshing to read! I’m always worried that one day, when i’m with someone, i will be horrible at creating delicious meals for us. It’s great to know that it will happen!!

I want to try all of those recipes! :)

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8 Paige February 18, 2010 at 11:45 am

Indonesian Chicken with Peanut Sauce! Yum!

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9 John February 18, 2010 at 1:04 pm

I’m always sucker for chili. Probably more poker this weekend but thinking maybe indoor golf?!

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10 BroccoliHut February 18, 2010 at 5:24 pm

That trifle is like artwork!

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11 Leena February 18, 2010 at 6:58 pm

wow! all those recipes look amazing! i really like the looks of that butternut squash pita sandwich and trifle! thanks for sharing!

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12 ksgoodeats February 19, 2010 at 8:39 am

The feta pita looks fantastic!! I’m intrigued by the Mountain Dew apples though! Great guest post :)

This weekend = study central. I’m dying to hear what you have going on though!!

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