Pumpkin Breakfast Barley

November 20, 2014

Disclosure: I developed this recipe in partnership with Collectively for the Grain Foods Foundation. I received compensation for my time. 


Barley is one of those grains that I pretty much only use in soup or a salad here and there. That changes with this recipe! In the winter months when it is freezing cold I love having something hot in the morning with my smoothie, sometimes I have oatmeal but I knew barley would be just as delicious. Especially when I can make at least 4 days worth of breakfast by adding this to the slow cooker when I was doing all my food prep for the week.


Add all the ingredients in, stir it and 4 hours later you have breakfast to put in containers for a few days. As I was prepping it for each meal I added a drizzle of maple syrup, a few dried cranberries and some sunflower seeds for a little added crunch and just a hint of salt to balance out the sweetness. All I did when I got to work each day was microwave for it a few minutes and added in a splash of almond milk at the end. Warm, delicious, healthy and filing. Whole grains for a hearty breakfast is where it’s at!


This is great around the holiday time if you are entertaining and want a hearty breakfast that each guest can customize. I added maple syrup to mine but you could try a little agave nectar or honey, even some jam on top. Make this one of your six whole grain servings for the day! I know there are a lot of people who have cut down on the amounts of grains they are eating but it is still an essential nutrient in your diet, hello wonderful things like iron, potassium, magnesium and the ever so important fiber.


Pumpkin Breakfast Barley (1 of 2)



Breakfast barley in the very early morning light! 5:30am.


Pumpkin Breakfast Barley (2 of 2)


Pumpkin Breakfast Barley

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 4 hours

Serves 4

Pumpkin Breakfast Barley


  • 1 cup barley, rinsed and drained
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups almond milk
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract


  1. In a slow cooker stir all the ingredients together and cook on low for 4 hours, stirring occasionally.
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Disclosure: I participated in an Influencer Activation on behalf of Influence Central for Kenwood Vineyards. I received product samples and a promotional item to thank me for my participation.


California wines are some of my favorites! Kenwood Vineyards is located in the heart of Sonoma and the land has been producing wines since the early 1900’s. They focus on small lot production and have a strong commitment to sustainability. 40% of their grapes come from their main vineyards with the remaining percentages come from trusted growers. With their commitment in the Sonoma Valley Kenwood is focusing on helping to end hunger this Thanksgiving season by donating $25,000 to WhyHunger.


With a goal to connect those in need with nutritious, affordable food WhyHunger is a great cause to support this time of year. I donated vegetables and dessert (because those are some of my favorite things on the Thanksgiving table) and every family deserves to have those. And while we don’t always have the most traditional of Thanksgiving dinner we do always make time to give back and to help those in need. The past few years we have spent our holiday travelling but this year we will be with close friends at a cabin up north making new traditions.


In addition to sharing the news about the donation to WhyHunger, Kenwood also sent some delicious wines to try. We tried the Russian River Valley Pinot Noir, Sonoma Chardonnay and Zinfandel.


Kenwood Wines (2 of 3)








Kenwood Wines (1 of 3)









The pinot noir was perfect for a snowy, cold afternoon. If I just want to relax with a glass of wine I often turn to pinot noir. It tends to be a bit lighter with great fruit notes and a nice herbal finish. I love it with salmon or chicken too! Regular retail price on this is $20, but you can find it on sale at most liquor stores. Scott and I enjoyed this Monday night curled up by the fire. It was cold (a whole 11 degrees) and this was perfect with leftover chicken.


Kenwood Wines (3 of 3)













My favorite Kenwood wine was the zinfandel. Kenwood uses a variety of growers and some of the wine in this vintage comes from vines that have been producing grapes since the 1940’s and I love hearing about the history. The use of both French and American oak in this wine give it a great complexity. And I’ve seen this under $14 a quite a few places. This is a great everyday wine. And to be fair to the Chardonnay, it’s true to the California style. Chardonnay is not my thing. Nor are buttery or oakey. And this is both. If you like that in a chardonnay you would love the Kenwood. At around $14 this is also a pretty good value.


Not wanting to waste any of the wine (that is just wrong), I used the chardonnay to make a chicken dish with. Half the bottle was for the marinade and another 3/4 cup went to deglazing the pan. That left about a glass for each Scott and I. We enjoyed those glasses and especially loved the chicken. That feels like a win/win to me.




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Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

November 18, 2014

With all the cooking that I do, Tanner and Clifford do get a few bites here and there of what I am making. But this is the first time I am making something just for them! You should have seen their faces when I gave them each one of these delicious pumpkin dog treats. The great thing about all these treats is that you control the ingredients! These only have 4, and you don’t have to worry about your dog eating some strange chemical or random household object (chapstick and kleenex for Tanner, zippers for Clifford).


Most dogs love pumpkin (just like humans) and it is packed full of nutrients. If you make these watch how quickly your dog eats them and they look up at you and wonder where the rest of them are.



Pumpkin Treats (1 of 2)








Pumpkin Treats (2 of 2)











Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats

Cook Time: 10 minutes

2 dozen drops

Homemade Pumpkin Dog Treats


  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filing but puree)
  • 1 cup flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp molasses


  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. In a large bowl mix together until formed, if they are too dry add a splash of milk.
  3. Spoon onto a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Store in an air tight container.
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The winner of the Stubb’s giveaway is Kaylin. I will email you!


Reebok Cardio Ultra

November 17, 2014

Let’s talk about my love of workout apparel. I have multiple drawers of tops and pants, an entire bin of performance jackets, and at least 3-4 different pairs of shoes going at a time.


My current favorites are the Reebok Cardio Ultra. It’s a high impact shoe with enhanced arch support, a wider base and more cushioning. The Cardio Ultra is designed for group fitness glasses like boot camps, dancing, and other high impact type movements. I use these for a boot camp style class with lots of running, jumping and turning. They are so comfortable! The bright yellow color is so much fun too, I love bright colored workout clothes.

Along with the Cardio Ultra shoes (these will be available in early December) they sent pants with cooling mesh inserts and these babies stay put when you are jumping around. No need to be hiking them up constantly. And they truly are cooling!

I am going to be real honest about this top. It’s not something I would normally wear. While I like the design and think it’s really fashion forward. You will never see me showing my stomach in a workout class, an outfit or pretty much anytime I am not out by our pool. This has nothing to do with a lack of confidence or being comfortable in my body! I am most comfortable working out in a sports bra and tank. But to give it a fair review I new I at least had to try it.


Reebook Cardio Ultra (2 of 3)



Scott and I did an intense kettlebell and HIIT session in our family room and I wore it for that. The top was cute, functioned well and the whole ensemble looked nice together but it’s not something I would wear outside the house.


This is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Reebok.

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Thursday Thoughts: A Typical Day

November 13, 2014

You would have to dig back in the archives to 2009 to find a typical day post. I figured it was time to do one! This is Tuesday the 11th and for all purposes it’s a very typical day.   5:00 AM Alarm goes off, I seriously consider pulling the covers over my head and […]

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Wine Wednesday El Tiburon Merlot

November 12, 2014

If you’ve seen the movie Sideways you might remember the impact it had on Merlot. People basically stopped drinking it. Sales dropped significantly and if you mentioned the word people would give you a look.   That seems silly to me. Merlot really is a fantastic wine! The El Tiburon Merlot is very mellow, it […]

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Breaking Out the Boots

November 11, 2014

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Fitfluentail for Ahnu. I received product to review for this post.    In just a few days we want from fall to winter. It wasn’t a nice gentle transition, we had one heck of a storm yesterday. A mix of snow and freezing rain which made the roads quite […]

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Stubb’s Giveaway

November 10, 2014

This past year I have been working with Stubb’s on creating a few recipes and trying their fantastic products. The spice rubs, marinades, cooking sauces and now the injectable butters are really fantastic. They provide so much flavor! This one isn’t really a recipe per se, I bought 2 chickens and added the chipotle butter […]

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Fitness Friday: Getting into Weightlifting

November 7, 2014

Picture a 22 year old Mellissa;  a recent college graduate, I had just started my new “corporate” job, and was fully immersed in my cardio workouts. As a dancer I had always done a ton of cardio but the thought of picking up a weight had never crossed my mind. In college I worked out […]

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Wine Wednesday Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre (GSM)

November 5, 2014

Instead of a specific bottle of wine this week I am focusing on Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre blend (also known as GSM). This is one of my favorite reds, a great blend that has its origins in the Côtes du Rhône region. Before you tune out because I am going all wine geek on you, just […]

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