Mizuno Wave Rider 18 Review

The following post is sponsored by FitFluential LLC on behalf of Mizuno. All opinions are my own.

Mizuno Wave Rider 18

Check out my new kicks!!! I figured marathon week was the perfect time to tell you about the shoes I plan to wear for my 26.2 mile journey through the boroughs of NYC on Sunday. You may remember my love of the Mizuno Wave Rider 17? When I first tried those babies, I had just recently made the switch to neutral shoes after coming back from an injury. I’d tried on a bunch of brands and had a pair of shoes I liked enough, but when my new Mizunos came in the mail, it was love at first step! I had a GREAT first run in them! I felt light, fast, and totally at ease.

It’s always nerve wracking to try out a new shoe, but I have to admit as much as I loved my 17s, I love my Mizuno Wave Rider 18 EVEN MORE!!  They come in at a super light 7.8 ounces (for the women; 9.2 ounces for men) with a 12 mm ramp, and they fit like they were made for my foot! They have just the right amount of flexibility. They are known for their double fan wave which helps absorb the shock of, ya know, your foot pounding the ground for 3 hours at a time.

Mizuno Waver Rider 18-2

Finding the right shoe can be SO overwhelming! Am I the only runner who still doesn’t understand shoe specs? Here’s what I do know for sure, the right pair of shoes makes you excited to lace up. They can be the difference between you wanting  to run and feeling like you have to run. I tend to have a lot of aches and pains, especially in the foot/ankle area following a long run, but I have felt so good in this pair of shoes. The best I’ve ever felt, in fact!

They arrived just as I started to go into taper, and I was having reservations about wearing them for the marathon, but they have felt so awesome that I have no doubt that they will be the perfect shoe to take me to the finish line! Added bonus? LOOK HOW PRETTY THEY ARE!!! I love the design and color combo. You can check out all the color options here.

So if you’re a neutral runner and you’re looking for some new kicks, I would highly, highly recommend the Mizuno Wave Rider 18! I converted quite a few friends when I fell in love with the 17s, and (I know, I know, I’ve said it like 7 times because I feel so strongly!!) the 18s are even more incredible!

PS: If anyone else was like me and had trouble with blisters in the Wave Rider 17 (wasn’t a big deal, and was fixed with body glide), I just wanted to mention that the slightly new fit has completely solved that for me, so if anyone else experienced that in the previous model, don’t let that deter you!

For more from Mizuno, check them out on Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Instagram | Pinterest.

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty mini Snickers and topped with sea salt for the perfect extra bite. These gluten-free Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies are the perfect way to use up Halloween candy, a great Christmas cookie, or perfect for any occasion!

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Oh, hello cookie. Cookie that tastes and feels like a brownie. Cookie that is stuffed with one of my very favorite candies. Cookie with melty chocolate, caramel and nougat in every bite. Cookie with big sea salt crystals adding the perfect balance to all that candy sweetness. Just wanted to say heyyyyy.

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Let’s chat about candy for a second. I have really strong opinions. For example, 3 Musketeers–WHAT IS THE POINT? It’s just so fluffy, and soooo overly sweet, and there’s nothing to it. Ick. And then there’s Milky Way. That’s just like a lesser Snickers. It’s like it’s trying to be a Snickers for the poor people with nut allergies, but without the salty peanuts to add crunchy and bite, what is even the point?? Then we get to the good ones. Snickers, Butterfinger, Reese’s and Twix.  Those are the ones that, come Halloween time (okay…any time), I can’t resist grabbing a mini, or 7. In fact, the leftover Snickers from these cookies were totally bad news. I usually end up taking them into work and using them as bribery to toss at the kids that impress me in rehearsals. I know, I know…I should give them carrot sticks, probably, but I’m a terrible influence.

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Anyway, these cookies are a bit indulgent, but they are whole grain, gluten-free, and shockingly don’t contain any butter or oil! They taste like a rich, buttery brownie, so you’ll never notice the little healthier adjustments. Of course, you are free to use real butter and white flour–they will still be great, but I honestly can’t taste the difference!

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Prep Time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Yield: 2 dozen

Serving Size: 1 cookie

Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies

Rich, fudgy, brownie-like chocolate cookies stuffed with melty mini Snickers and topped with sea salt for the perfect extra bite. These gluten-free Snickers Stuffed Chocolate Brownie Cookies are the perfect way to use up Halloween candy, a great Christmas cookie, or perfect for any occasion!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I use Hershey's special dark or Dutch process)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate, melted and cooled
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 5 tablespoons apple butter
  • 2/3 cups brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 24 mini Snickers candies (I bought a combination bag with regular, peanut butter and dark chocolate)
  • coarse sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Instructions

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together baking blend, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together melted chocolate, eggs, vanilla, apple butter, and sugars until well combined, then slowly beat in dry ingredients until just combined. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat. Spray hands with nonstick spray (this sounds weird, but it will prevent dough from sticking to your hands during rolling) and roll dough into about 1" balls. Press the center with your thumb to make a whole for the Snickers. Gently press 1 mini Snickers into the center and then re-roll dough around it. Make sure dough is completely covering the candy. Add more dough if necessary. Place onto prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Sprinkle each cookie with a small pinch of coarse sea salt (if desired) just before baking.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes until just set. Cool completely on pan. Store in an airtight container for one week (these cookies stay pretty darn soft and gooey for days!).
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Pumpkin White Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes

These Pumpkin White Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes have a gingersnap crust, soft and tender pumpkin cupcakes, white chocolate ganache and a toasted marshmallow frosting. They are mash-up heaven. 

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

I have been on a serious s’mores kick lately. Pretty soon you’ll see what I’m talking about, but I have become a girl obsessed. It’s probably because of this frosting. The most perfect, decadent and beautiful marshmallow frosting that coming together in minutes. Every time I serve it, my friends and family are suuuuuper impressed. Shhhh….just don’t let them know how simple it is!

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

I was inspired to make these 2 years ago when I saw this recipe on How Sweet It Is. So pretttttty. So perfect for pumpkin season!

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

Okay so, to be fair, these take a lot of liberties for being “s’mores”. The graham cracker is replaced by a perfect gingersnap crust, and the regular chocolate is replaced by white chocolate. Have you ever had pumpkin and white chocolate together? It is like match made in heaven.

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

Even though it seems like there are a lot of components going on, these cupcakes are actually really easy to make. You can prepare the batter while crust is baking, then the ganache and the frosting come together in minutes. Brulee-ing is optional, but I mean….LOOK HOW PRETTY! It definitely will take your dessert to the next level.

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

The pumpkin cupcakes are ultra soft and tender and pair perfectly with the spiced gingersnap crust and melty white chocolate. Speaking of that white chocolate…it is so good, you will want more. I tried a batch putting some on top of the crust and on top of the cupcake. It was sad because it seemed like such a good idea, but I was overzealous (shocking) and there was too much, and it stuck to the wrapper. You probably can still get away with adding extra if you you use a small enough amount that it stays perfectly in the little crust cup. Otherwise, just spread it on real thick on top. That’s what I did round 2, and it worked great!

Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes: Gingersnap crust, pumpkin cupcake, white chocolate ganache & toasted marshmallow frosting {gf}

Also, as you can see, I made normal sized and mini cupcakes. I prefer the minis–then you get to eat two cupcakes! But, again, make whatever you like. You’ll love them either way!

Pumpkin White Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes

Prep Time: 45 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 15 standard cupcakes or 36 minis

Serving Size: 1 cupcake

Pumpkin White Chocolate S’mores Cupcakes

These Pumpkin White Chocolate S'mores Cupcakes have a gingersnap crust, soft and tender pumpkin cupcakes, white chocolate ganache and a toasted marshmallow frosting. They are mash-up heaven.

Ingredients

    For the gingersnap crust:
  • 1/2 cup gingersnap crumbs (I used gluten-free)
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • For the cupcakes:
  • 1 1/4 cups gluten-free baking blend (or white whole wheat flour)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 6 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • For the white chocolate ganache:
  • 4 ounces good quality white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk
  • For the marshmallow frosting:
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line 15 standard muffin cups or 36 mini muffin cups with paper liners. Spray lightly with nonstick spray if desired (sometimes lower fat baking sticks to cheaper liners). Set aside.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine gingersnap crumbs and 2 tablespoons melted coconut oil, stirring until well combined. Evenly divide crust mixture between prepared cupcake tins--about 1/2 tablespoon each for full sized, and scant teaspoon for minis. Use the back of a spoon or the bottom of a shot glass to press into a crust.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine baking blend, baking soda, baking powder, salt and pumpkin pie spice. In a large bowl, beat together brown sugar, egg, pumpkin puree, applesauce, coconut oil and vanilla extract until well combined. Mix in half the flour mixture, then almond milk, then remaining flour mixture, stirring until just combined. Do not overmix.
  4. Fill each prepared muffin tin about 3/4 the way full with cupcake batter. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with just a few crumbs, about 18-20 minutes for full size, about 12 minutes for minis. Cool completely.
  5. To make the white chocolate ganache, place white chocolate in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for 20-30 seconds just to warm the white chocolate. Heat almond milk until almost boiling, then pour immediately over warmed white chocolate. Stir until melty and combined. Spread white chocolate ganache on top of each cupcake.
  6. To make the frosting, either use a double broiler, or create your own by bringing about 2 inches of water to a simmer in a medium pot and placing a large heatproof bowl on top. Whisk egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar constantly until sugar is completely dissolved. Transfer to stand mixer with the whisk attachment. Beat on low and gradually increase speed to high, beating until stiff peaks form. The frosting should stand on the whisk attachment when removed. Frost cupcakes. Use a brulee torch to brown, if desired. Cupcakes can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for about 1 week.

Notes

Recipe inspired by How Sweet It Is Frosting recipe from Martha Stewart

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Crockpot Taco Chili

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes Launch as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I received free samples of McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes from McCormick mentioned in this post. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Creamy crockpot taco chili is the perfect, easy, weeknight dinner. Warm and comforting while still healthy and gluten-free. So good you’ll be fighting over the leftovers…if there are any!

Crockpot Taco Chili Healthy, easy and gluten-free

So…I have to go back to work today. And I’m totally whiney about it, which makes me feel like a total tool because in what other job do you get a week off for fall break when you’re a grown up? But ugghhhh, I just don’t wanna. And things are about to get so busy. Two shows in October and one at the beginning of November. Although, once that’s all over, it should be smooth sailing for the rest of the semester.

Crockpot Taco Chili Healthy, easy and gluten-free

As life gets busier, cooking dinner every night becomes more challenging, and my love for my crockpot grows into more of a deep dependence, can’t-live-without-ya kinda thing. In fact, if I could make every single meal in the crockpot for the rest of my life, I probably wouldn’t be even a little bit sad. I mostly only like cooking because I like eating, and I really like eating.

Crockpot Taco Chili Healthy, easy and gluten-free

Especially this chili. I really, really, really like eating this taco chili. Like, I was fighting Steve over the leftovers. I almost always make enough food to have leftovers for 2-3 lunch / dinners, and sometimes I make entirely too much and end up trying to guilt Steve into finishing it because I just am soooooo sick of it by the 4th time I’ve eaten it. But not this chili. I was hoarding, calling dibs, hiding it in the back of the fridge, and pulling out every trick I had up my sleeve to keep it allllll to myself.

Crockpot Taco Chili Healthy, easy and gluten-free

This is the second part of my series with McCormick. You may remember from my Crockpot Taco Dip that McCormick now has an entire line of seasonings that are certified by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness. Their gluten-free line includes Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning, Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning, Gluten-Free Brown Gravy and Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy. The best part is, ya know how normally as soon as something is labeled gluten-free the price magically shoots up? Not here! They’re the same price as all of their other seasonings, and they contain no MSG or artificial colors /flavors. I stocked up on the taco seasoning! It’s something I use all the time anyway, and I was so in love with the way these recipes turned out. It’s going to become a staple in my kitchen.

Crockpot Taco Chili Healthy, easy and gluten-free

This chili is bold and flavorful, rich and creamy, healthy and loaded with fresh veggies. It’s the kind of weeknight dinner you never get tired of, and something you will feel excited to come home to!

Crockpot Taco Chili

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 6 hours, 15 minutes

Total Time: 6 hours, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 servings

Crockpot Taco Chili

Creamy crockpot taco chili is the perfect, easy, weeknight dinner. Warm and comforting while still healthy and gluten-free. So good you'll be fighting over the leftovers...if there are any!

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef (93% or higher)
  • 2 x 15 ounce cans fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 x 15 ounce cans black beans, not drained
  • 1 x 15 ounce can corn, drained
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped (I prefer red or orange)
  • 4 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature in 1" cubes
  • 1 packet McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning
  • For topping:
  • freshly shredded cheese
  • fresh cilantro
  • nonfat plain Greek yogurt

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Sautee garlic and onion until fragrant, about 3-5 minutes. Add beef and cook until browned, about 10 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add cooked beef mixture, tomatoes, beans, corn, bell peppers, cream cheese, and taco seasoning to your slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours, stirring once in between if possible. Once chili is finished, stir together to ensure cream cheese melts fully and combines. Serve topped with shredded cheese, cilantro and Greek yogurt if desired. Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to one week.
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Other gluten-free seasoning options include Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning, Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy, and Gluten-Free Brown Gravy. For more from McCormick,  you can follow them on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes Launch as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I received free samples of McCormick Gluten-Free Recipe Mixes from McCormick mentioned in this post. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Rich, creamy and bold chicken taco dip made easily in your slow cooker, topped with melty pepper jack. This dip is so full of flavor, you won’t be able to stay away!

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

I have a confession. I never make my own taco seasoning / pumpkin pie spice / tomato sauce seasonings / etc. I love to cook, but I am honestly all about convenience, and I’m a busy human who needs for things to be quick and easy when I’m cooking at home. Sometimes I feel like, because I have a food blog, I have to be one of those 100% from scratch type cooks. I just can’t live up to that. I mean, I guess I’m somewhere between that cookie dough that’s not just already made, but already cut for you and someone who churns their own butter.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

Something that really surprised me when Steve found out he had a gluten intolerance was just how many things contained gluten. I mean, we’re both pretty lucky in the fact that we’re more gluten-get-grouchy than gluten intolerant (well, he is closer to intolerant, but does okay with cross contamination), but even still, so many of the seasonings that we’d used in the past contained flour–what is that about?? We learned to label check like crazy, even things you wouldn’t imagine, and it’s even more important for our friends with Celiac.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

We LOVE that McCormick has some of our favorite seasoning mixes that are certified by the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness and they contain no MSG, artificial colors or flavors. The flavors are bold and spot on, and they make it so easy to turn a boring dinner into a flavorful one! I also love that their gluten-free products are the same price as their regular products. Eating gluten-free can get soooo expensive (hellloooo $5 for a loaf of bread…), and it’s really refreshing to finally have a product that has the same cost.

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

This dip couldn’t be easier–I just took some chicken breasts, a can of refried beans, a block of cream cheese and the McCormick gluten-free taco seasoning and threw ‘em in the crockpot. I added some Greek yogurt after they were done cooking then topped it with pepper jack cheese that I put in the oven on broil until it got all bubbly and dreamy. The taste and the texture were absolutely amazing. I couldn’t stop eating it, and ended up eating dip for dinner. Oh well, I guess there’s worse things. ;)

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 5 hours

Total Time: 5 hours, 5 minutes

Yield: about 9-10 cups

Crockpot Chicken Taco Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken breast
  • 1 x 16 ounce can refried beans (I used fat free)
  • 3 cups salsa
  • 8 ounces reduced fat cream cheese, softened and cut into 1" cubes
  • 2-3 tablespoons McCormick Gluten-Free Taco Seasoning
  • 1/2 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese
  • 1 jalapeno, sliced (optional for serving)
  • corn tortilla chips for serving

Instructions

  1. Place chicken breasts at the bottom of your slow cooker. Cover with beans, salsa, cream cheese and taco seasoning. Cook on low for 4-5 hours, stirring once in between if possible.
  2. Remove chicken and shred. Take about a tablespoon of warm dip and mix into Greek yogurt to temper, then add Greek yogurt and stir to combine.Stir in shredded chicken. Transfer to an oven safe serving dish and top with shredded cheese. Cook on broil until cheese starts to brown and bubble, about 3-4 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning.
  3. Top with sliced jalapeno and serve immediately with chips. Leftovers may be refrigerated in an airtight container for 5-7 days.
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Other gluten-free seasoning options include Gluten-Free Chili Seasoning, Gluten-Free Turkey Gravy, and Gluten-Free Brown Gravy. For more from McCormick,  you can follow them on Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram!