Thanksgiving by Muddy Melissa

For all of my Pittsburgh-local friends, my healthy meal delivery business, Green Light Meals, is proud to offer Thanksgiving dinner packages this year! Now you can enjoy the same delicious and nutritious foods I regularly feature on my site and in my books— all cooked by me personally! Have a happy. healthy, and blessed holiday this year!

Leftover Halloween Candy… Now What?!

It’s that time of year again. The trick-or-treaters have gone… but those bags of unused candy still remain! It’s so easy to succumb to temptation; that delicious, chocolatey, oh-so-sweet candy is just sitting there, and, well, of course you don’t want it to go to waste— what to do, what to do? Don’t let that leftover candy derail you from your goals. Instead, why not put that candy towards a good cause? Not only will your body feel better, but your spirit will feel better too! Check out a few ways to help those in need with your leftover Halloween candy!


Operation Gratitude

Operation Gratitude sends over 200,000 care packages to veterans, first responders, wounded warriors, military care givers, and families of those deployed every year. With a mission to uplift the spirits of the military community as a whole, Operation Gratitude accepted 533,891 pounds of candy in 2016 alone to redistribute. To contribute, simply visit Operation Gratitude’s website to find a local drop off location in order to donate your unused Halloween candy for others to enjoy! While you’re at it, feel free to include other much-needed items such as letters, pictures, toiletries, batteries, socks, survival bracelets, and more.

Halloween Candy Buyback

Usually hosted by dental offices, Halloween Candy Buyback Programs exchange candy for items like toothbrushes, toothpaste, hygiene kits, coupons, and (in some cases), even cash! Enter your zip code at the Halloween Candy Buyback website to find a local buyback event near you!

Treats for Troops

Treats for Troops is a program run by Soldiers’ Angels which, similar to Operation Gratitude, collects candy for military members. Simply visit their website to enter your zip code in order to find a drop off site near you. Kids are also often eligible to receive goodies for their donation. As a bonus, you can get a tax deduction receipt for your donation!

Ronald McDonald House Charities

Ronald McDonald House Charities serves to support severely ill children, as well as their families, during their time of need. At Halloween, many locations accept unused candy to redistribute to these kids in need in order to lift their spirits. Unlike most kids, these kids cannot go trick-or-treating. Call your local Ronald McDonald House to ask if they’re currently accepting candy for these children and families in need.

Operation Stars and Stripes

Founded in 2001 in memory of a Vietnam War hero, this organization supports service members with care packages, letters, and more. Packages of unopened candy can be sent to the organization’s Georgia headquarters. Specific shipping info can be found on the website.

Operation Shoebox

Not just limited to Halloween, Operation Shoebox also collects candy at Christmas and Easter, as well as year-round. Operation Shoebox delivers “shoeboxes” to troops (and stockings at Christmas time!) filled with items, ranging from gum to instant coffee to toiletries. To see a complete list of needed items, visit here.

Any Soldier

The Any Soldier program sends care packages (as well as letters) solely to military members stationed overseas. To send a care package, simply visit the “Where to Send” page of Any Soldier to request a soldier’s address. While you’re at it, feel free to visit the “What to Send” page as well, in case you feel like including a view other much-needed items to support our deployed military members!

Local Organizations

If none of these options appeal to you, you can always reach out to local organizations to see if they’re accepting candy donations. Some options include: food pantries, homeless shelters, nursing homes, or retirement centers.

Save It!

Of course, with the holidays just around the corners, another good option is to store that candy away! At Thanksgiving, you can fill treat bags for your loved ones or fun candy bags for the kiddos. At Christmas, you can use that leftover candy as stocking stuffers or to add to a festive gift basket!


No matter what, don’t let the holidays derail you. This time of year can be difficult to navigate, with Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, and Christmas cookies. Just remember this: discipline means knowing the difference between what you want right now… and what you want most!

The Cookbook Countdown…

As many of you may know, I’ve been hard at work for well over a year (two, maybe?) on a print cookbook. Well… I’m happy to say that my cookbook is rapidly reaching its finishing touches, with a current recipe tally of 103! Yeowza! There’s still more to come, mostly smaller items such as sides and shakes and the like, but it appears that the bulk of the work is behind me! The print cookbook will have a little something for everyone— from unique recipes to classic dishes— all with my typical clean eating flair, of course! Stay tuned guys: the pre-order is coming! Thanks so much for all of your love, support, and (as always) patience!

xoxox,

Muddy Melissa

New Year. Same Me.

Disclaimer: Before I delve into the details here, I want to clarify something. This article is not intended to belittle New Years resolutions. Absolutely not! Making resolutions, setting new goals, and working towards something is great! This article is only intended to get you thinking about what happens after you achieve that resolution.

Please excuse my grainy mirror selfies :)

Please excuse my grainy mirror selfies 🙂

This is me. January 2017. New year, new me? No. It’s not because I’m perfect (far from it, actually!). Sure, I’ve got plenty of resolutions… but not a single one of them is fitness-related.

Why? Because I’m happy with my body. I have no holiday backslide to overcome. I have no Christmas cookies to undo. I absolutely need no diet overhaul.

This is me. January 2017, December 2016, July 2016. Small improvements, sure. More improvements to come too (I hope). But, still… same body, same me.

Hear me out, here. I know, I know… this sounds pretty condescending towards those of you who ARE making resolutions, whether you’re just starting out or whether you’re getting back on track.

No, I’m not judging you. We’re all human. It happens! You have nothing to feel bad about— so do not (I repeat: do not) beat yourself up about it!

For a moment, though, I want you to imagine the feeling of going into the new year sans fitness resolution. How freeing does that feel? To think about what you’d do to change yourself for the whole new year, and just feel… mostly content? “No thanks. I’m happy with my body as is. Maybe I’ll focus on other things.” No need to start over, do double time to undo bad choices, feeling like you need to find your way back “on track.” Just the pure freedom of knowing that at any given moment during the year… you’re right where you want to be, fitness-wise.

Wow, what an amazing feeling! Right?

So why am I discussing this? Is my point “haha, I’m in good shape, and all of you suckers should feel bad about yourselves.”? No! My only goal is to get you to start thinking about that feeling— that feeling of being content, that sense of freedom, that lack of burden— as part of your goal. I want you to start visualizing that long term success… instead of just fixating on the short term goal.

When we set a goal, we think about achieving it. But then what? What happens after we’ve gained that 10 lbs of muscle we promised ourselves we would? What happens after we’ve lost that 25 lbs we worked so hard to lose? What happens after we’ve finally bench pressed our goal weight? We backslide. We fall into bad habits. We end up right back where we started.

Then… another year, another resolution.

Don’t worry— you’re not alone. Everyone has been there, trust me. But it’s time to break free from the vicious yo-yo fitness cycle.

So this is my point: don’t just think about the goal. Don’t just focus on the end. Don’t tunnel vision on just the resolution. Instead, think about the day in, day out freedom. The constant happiness with your body. The security of knowing that whether it’s January or June, you’ll feel comfortable in your bikini. That you are right where you want to be.

Focus on that feeling, and make it a part of your goal. Because THAT, my friends, is what’s going to change your “new year, new me” from becoming a “new year, temporary me.”

Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Since I’ve been bogarting all the recipes for my upcoming print cookbook (look for it to be available before Christmas!), I thought it was high time I let you have a little somethin’ somethin’ to keep you guys going until then! I let you guys vote on it, and the votes are in… and bruschetta stuffed chicken is the winner! Winner, winner chicken dinner! This bruschetta stuffed chicken is a delicious combo of Italian spices bringing out the fresh flavors of baby spinach and the bold tang of sun-dried tomatoes with a whop from plenty of garlic. Enjoy!

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Bruschetta Stuffed Chicken

Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, sliced in the middle

2 cups baby spinach

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon oregano

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine baby spinach, garlic cloves, sun-dried tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, and plain Greek yogurt until well combined. Stuff the mixture evenly into each sliced chicken breast. Arrange on a baking sheet. In a bowl, combine sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, thyme and oregano. Sprinkle over top of both chicken breasts. Bake for 30-35 minutes until chicken is thoroughly cooked. Enjoy!

Food for Thought Friday: 10 Week Nutrition Video Series Intro


This week for Food for Thought Friday, I’m introducing my upcoming 10 week nutrition video series— which will cover EVERYTHING you need to know about nutrition. Whether you’re a nutrition novice or a fitness know-it-all, I can guarantee you’ll learn a lot from this video series. Don’t miss out on any of my videos— enter your e-mail below (beneath the video series overview) to get all 10 weeks of the videos directly sent to your inbox!


10 Week Nutrition Video Series Overview

  1. Protein
    1. Why protein is important
    2. How much protein do you need?
    3. Essential vs. nonessential amino acids
    4. Complete vs. incomplete proteins
    5. Examples of lean protein sources
    6. Overview of different protein powder types
  2. Carbs
    1. Why carbs are important
    2. How much carbs do you need?
    3. Complex vs. simple carbs
    4. Blood glucose physiology
    5. Examples of complex carb sources
    6. Examples of simple carb sources
    7. A note about no carb and low carb diets
  3. Fiber
    1. Why fiber is important
    2. How much fiber do you need?
    3. Soluble vs. insoluble fiber
    4. Examples of ideal fiber sources
  4. Fats
    1. Why fats are important
    2. How much fat do you need?
    3. The types of fats
      1. Saturated
      2. Monounsaturated (MUFAs)
      3. Polyunsaturated (PUFAs)
      4. Trans
      5. Omega 3 fatty acids
      6. Omega 6 fatty acids
    4. “Good” fats vs. “bad” fats
    5. Examples of ideal fat sources
    6. “Good” cholesterol vs. “bad” cholesterol
    7. Dietary fat does NOT equal body fat
  5. Hydration
    1. Why water is important
    2. How much water do you need?
    3. Electrolytes (Maintaining F/E balance)
  6. Portion Control
    1. Understanding food labels
    2. Calories
    3. Macros
    4. The “hand” system
  7. Athlete Considerations
    1. What you need more of— and why!
    2. Nutrient timing
    3. Carb loading
    4. Supplementation
  8. Food Psychology
    1. Why “diets” don’t work
    2. Our emotional relationship with food
    3. Our social interactions surrounding food
    4. Our negative food associations
    5. Mindful eating
  9. Clean Eating
    1. What is clean eating?
    2. Why is clean eating important?
    3. Evidence based methodology
    4. Whole 30 vs. paleo vs. clean eating
    5. My recommendations— and why!
  10. Conclusion
    1. Question and answer session

Subscribe to this video series!

Apple Bacon Chicken Salad

Well… the votes are in! My apple bacon chicken salad is the winner, so that’s the recipe I’m sharing with ya’ll today! I guess you’ll just have to wait for the cookbook to get your hands on my purple pesto stuffed shrimp & sriracha oat encrusted shrimp recipes! This recipe is ideal for meal prepping for lunches— just make a big batch, and keep it on hand for lunch-on-the-go throughout the week! Enjoy!

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Apple Bacon Chicken Salad

Serves 4

2 slices bacon, chopped

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed

2 garlic cloves, diced

2 tablespoons red onion, diced

1/2 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 teaspoon dijon mustard

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 green apple, finely chopped

2 tablespoons green onions, chopped

In a lightly oiled pan over medium heat, brown chopped bacon, garlic cloves, and red onion. Saute 2-3 minutes until crispy. Add in the chicken breast cubes. Continue to cook another 5 minutes or so until the chicken is no longer pink. Remove from heat. Once cool, transfer to a food processor. Add in plain nonfat Greek yogurt, apple cider vinegar, dijon mustard, sea salt and black pepper. Process together until thoroughly combined. Lastly, gently fold in chopped green apple and chopped green onions. Serve on cucumber slices!

New Camera for New Cookbook!

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Ever since I released my e-book, EVERYONE has been clamoring for a print cookbook. Okay, okay… message received loud and clear guys! I’m on the mission! To help me on my print-cookbook-writing endeavor, I recently picked up a shiny new toy… a Canon Rebel T5 DSLR camera!

Now, I am by no means a photographer whatsoever (the title of photographer in the family firmly goes to my mom!)— but, in the process of blogging, cooking, and writing (along with the advice from my uber-creative mom and from some of my awesome friends)… I’ve learned a thing or two about food photography. I still have a long way to go, but it’s a journey (with many, many baby steps!).

Now I look back on some of the very first pictures I posted on my blog along with my clean eating recipes… and I just cringe! They’re terrible. Just terrible! If you’ve stuck with me since the beginning, I apologize… and I thank you! You must be really patient and really understanding people! 🙂

I’m looking forward to hopefully being able to capture more of the deliciousness of my recipes in my pictures from now on, and I can’t wait for you to see what’s in store for the upcoming print cookbook!

Love you guys!

xoxox,

Muddy Melissa

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A shot with my new camera— even Clover looks cuter with my new Canon!

Creamy Chicken Marsala

There are few things better in life than chicken marsala— the pan-sautéed mixture of earthy mushrooms, fragrant onions, and juicy chicken… all swimming in just a hint of marsala wine. Perfecto! But, unfortunately, traditional versions rely on a butter base, flour coating, and cornstarch thickeners. Not healthy! This cleaned-up version skips all of that… without skimping on the flavor. Enjoy!

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Creamy Chicken Marsala

Serves 4

4 small (or 2 large) boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 small red onion, sliced

8 ounces baby bella mushrooms, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup marsala wine

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/4 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt

2 tablespoos fresh chives, chopped

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

In a lightly oiled pan over medium heat, sauté red onions, bella mushrooms, and garlic until fragrant. Add in the marsala wine and chicken broth, and simmer 2-3 additional minutes. Move the mushrooms and onions towards the outer rim of the pan, and place the chicken breasts in the center of the pan to cook in the marsala sauce. Sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper. Cook while covered until the chicken breasts are no longer pink in the center (roughly 20 minutes depending on the size). If you need to, add more chicken broth as necessary. Lastly, just before serving, stir in the plain nonfat Greek yogurt and freshly chopped chives while removed from heat. Serve and enjoy!

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