How I Failed at CRONUTS (But Made the BEST DAMN DONUTS I’ve Ever Had) Recipes & Reviews

( Is it “DONUT” or “DOUGHNUT”?? Does anyone know for sure? )


I’ve gotten a little obsessed with CRONUTS, the half-croissant/half-doughnut creation currently all the rage in New York and London, with lines around block from the wee hours of the morning just for one little Cronut (or two, apparently that’s the limit). The recipe for these astounding creations is very well guarded, and no one but the bakers know for sure. As a result, the craze has spawned many knock-offs and attempts at recreating the recipe. I spent days researching all the recipes online (I told you I was obsessed) and narrowed it down to the two best contenders, and made them both. Here are my reviews, notes and thoughts on how I might make it more “Cronut-y” next time…(though these were truly the best donuts I’ve ever had!)

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Intermittent Fasting (IF), Alternate Day Fasting & T25 Focus: My Experience & Review 10 weeks in…(Hint: It’s Mostly Good)

Empty Plate

Unless you’ve been shacked up somewhere in the Arctic Circle (heck, even they probably have WiFi now), you’ve heard of Intermittent Fasting and Alternate Day Fasting, and have seen those T25 Infomercials whilst polishing off a pint of Ben & Jerry’s on a Friday Night. (We’ve all been guilty of that at least once). Well I’ve jumped on those bandwagons and I’m here to give you my full report.

DISCLAIMER: This blog post is NOT an endorsement of any particular diet or fitness program. It is simply my personal experience with these programs. We are all different, every body is different, and you should explore multiple options and decide for yourself what plan is the best fit for your lifestyle. And of course, consult your Doctor, dietitian, psychic, astrologer, are whoever it is you trust for diet and exercise advice. (Note: PLEASE do not fill my comments section with what I should/should not be doing or negative rants. I won’t post them, fyi. Positive comments and questions are always welcome. Thanks!)

A little background on my situation. As I confessed in a previous “Beauty & Fitness” post, the Bod had seen better days. A rough year contributed to falling off the exercise wagon and lots and lots of comfort food. I decided enough was enough, so I started back on near daily work-outs a few months ago, and started researching some of the newly publicized approaches to eating I’d been reading about. (I’ve always been an avid nutrition and exercise researcher). I was looking for an easy and sustainable way to go about this. I have been, like so many of you ladies reading this I’m sure, a life-long dieter. I’m over it. This time I wanted to take the slow and safe road. No more starvation! No more weirdness! (Remember the Cabbage Soup Diet? Yikes!) I love to cook, I love to bake, and I love to eat. I love my coffee with cream and sugar (ok, Agave). I love the occasional tasty cocktail or glass of red wine (or two). The last thing I want to do when I eat out is worry about what I can order. I’m a total foodie and enjoy the Hell out of good food and want to keep enjoying it. And, I want to feel FULL and satisfied after a meal. Is it possible to still have all this and lose fat off the Bod too? I knew there had to be a way. The studies on fasting looked promising, stating fat loss without muscle loss, and better health overall. There are two basic popular approaches making the rounds right now, and I tried them both. (FYI I’ve been walking this planet 45 years, am 5′ 4″, in good health, and have 20-25 pounds of fat yet to shed)

Alternate Day Fasting at first sounded like the answer. The theory is, “Fast” about every other day, eating 500 calories (or 25% of normal) on your fast days, and eat about 125% of your normal daily calories on the eating days. (You can read more about what Alternate Day Fasting is here: or just Google “Alternate-Day Fasting”) I gave this method an honest 2-week go. In short, I hated it. I was a big fat (no pun intended) FAIL at this approach. It may work great for some people, but the fast days were murder for me. By Mid-afternoon I felt weak, fatigued, and jello-legged. I had low energy and could hardly get through my work-outs, let alone put in a strong effort. I also found that I tended to pig out more on my eat days. Then I just felt bloated and gross. After a couple weeks of this torture, I switched to a different method referred to as Intermittent Fasting.

In Intermittent Fasting, you do all your daily eating within a small window of time. Theories on this vary, but the daily “Eating Window” will generally be between 4-8 hours, then nothing for 20-14 hours, or abstaining from food for a full 24 hour period (say, from 6pm-6pm the next day) a couple times a week. (You can read about Intermittent Fasting here: or Google “Intermittent Fasting”) This approach made a lot of sense to me for a few reasons, mostly because I’m not hungry in the morning. It never made sense to me that I should force-feed myself a morning meal when my body was saying it didn’t want anything, but I did it anyway as that was the prevailing wisdom. I should have listened to my body instead. I started nice and easy into the intermittent fasting with the largest eating window (8 hours), and was able to pretty quickly go to a 6-hour window comfortably. Note: I am not pigging out in the eating window! I eat pretty darn healthy most of the time, I am a vegetarian and do most of my own cooking. (One of the perks of working at home.) There was an adjustment period to be sure, while my body got used to the program, but I am really digging it now! The best part is, I don’t get hungry. I can eat a big meal if I want, and I feel full. I have noticed my cravings for carbs and sugar have really decreased, and I’m full on less food. I have more energy as well, and have no problem giving it my all during work-outs. And yes, I am losing weight! Almost 10 pounds gone so far (my goal is 3-4 pounds a month, and I’m right on track.) I have made a few adjustments to the basic program that are working really well for me. Here is what I’m doing: 5-6 days a week, I practice Intermittent Fasting. I eat nothing (I do drink a lot of water and have a cup of black coffee in the morning) for 18 hours, then eat about 1200-1400 calories during my 6-hour Eating Window. (For me, that’s Noon-6pm, though it can be any period of time that is convenient, and I don’t beat myself up if I’m a little off). This makes eating easy-peasy. I usually have one good-sized meal, then a smaller meal later. One or two days a week I give myself a break, usually on the weekends. I am a believer in the “Cheat Day” theory, in that if you have a good cheat day once a week or so, your body will not get used to a consistent lower calorie intake and slow down your metabolism. So far this has held true for me, (no plateaus!), and besides, it’s fun 😉 I don’t go totally crazy on the days off, I still eat pretty healthy, but I eat what I want and do have a treat or two. (For example, Saturday Morning Pancakes are a tradition in my house, and I’m still making (and eating) them most every weekend!) I usually consume 2000-2500 calories on these days. In addition, I always work out in a “Fasted State”, meaning I work out during the Fasting Window. This works great for me as I like to work out in the morning. The theory is, the body will burn directly from your fat stores instead of from any food you have in your system. The bottom line is, I feel good, I have energy, I do not feel in any way deprived, and this is totally sustainable for me. Yay! And speaking of working out…

T25 Focus. As of today, I’ve completed 10 weeks of T25. A little background: I’ve worked out on and off most of life, and have pretty much done it all. What I have stuck with through the years is calisthenics and weight-lifting, because they work. I have a pretty good fitness foundation overall, despite falling out of the routine from time to time. Last year (motivated by an upcoming trip to Burning Man) I completed both Insanity and P90X back to back. These are both great programs and really did work for me, but admittedly, it’s a big time commitment. So when Shaun T (Insanity) came out with T25, I was all over it. He promised a great workout in just 25 minutes, and I have to say, he delivers. I sweat more with this program than I have with any other. After 10 weeks, I feel like I’ve got my muscle-mojo back. I did get winded and struggle at first (after a pretty long break in regular work-outs, that’s to be expected) but I’m getting stronger every week and doing very well with it now. You have to put a real effort in, but it does pay off. And it’s only 25 minutes! (plus 3 minutes for the cool-down). The short time has been key for me to stick with it. When the work-outs were over an hour, it was much easier to make excuses and skip a work-out. Now, I have no excuse. I tell myself “it’s only 25 minutes!” And I get it done. I’ve only missed 1 workout in 10 weeks, and was feeling rather ill that day. I plan on repeating “Beta” (I am determined to totally keep up with the videos for every workout, and I’m getting close!) then I will move on to Gamma. (T25 has 3 sections, Alpha, Beta, and Gamma, each increasing in intensity). I do plan on integrating more weight-lifting back into my routine after completing Gamma (there is some in T25, but I like more 😉

In the final analysis, it’s all mental. I’ve stopped torturing myself. I’ve stopped beating myself up when I have a bad day. I only weigh myself once or twice a month (read: no more obsessing over the scale! It’s very liberating.) I’m being kind to myself and taking it easy. No one is perfect, we all eat too much, drink too much, or miss a work-out once in a while, and it’s ok. Life is too short to suffer, and I refuse to do it anymore. Maybe a plan like this will work for you, and maybe it won’t. Explore your options, try new things, and be good to yourself, always. It’s your life, and you deserve for it to be Fabulous.

The BEST Cup of Coffee Ever…and YOU Made it! Here’s how. Plus WIN FREE COFFEE FOR A YEAR From Pablo’s Coffee!

Ah Java, that elixir of the Gods. If you’re a fellow devotee of the mighty bean, then you feel me. Life is simply too short for a crappy cup of coffee. But there is hope. You can actually make the best coffee you’ve ever had, yourself, at home, with just a little guidance. Not only does it taste great, but it’s also way cheaper than going to your local Starb#@ks.

Awesome Coffee 101

#1. Toss your automatic coffee maker in the trash, (or rather, recycle it) and get a French Press. I know it may seen drastic, but they are simply incapable of creating a tasty cup of joe. Why? The main reason is the water temperature. Most machines do not get the water hot enough and cannot regulate the temperature as it pours through the grinds. (It is also my humble opinion that the filter alters the taste of the coffee.)

#2 The Beans. Quality beans are of the utmost importance. Always choose freshly roasted beans. This means you may have to make an extra stop at your local roasters, but it is oh so worth it, trust me. No more stale old bags of grocery store coffee for you! Always get whole bean coffee, and grind it yourself, right before you brew. Buy only a pound at a time (unless you have a huge coffee-swigging family) and store your beautiful beans in an airtight container, no need to freeze them. (Denver-Alert! See below for my favorite source of great beans, and how to get them at a big discount! For you out-of-towners, they ship, too)

#3 The Grind. The most important purchase you can make for great tasting coffee is a burr grinder. Be sure and grind your beans fresh, right before you make your morning cup. Why a burr grinder? Frankly, blade grinders suck. They provide an inconsistent grind, and tend to over-heat and even burn the beans. The more even the grind, the better the coffee. I know, burr grinders are more expensive, but essential. You can find good deals on them used on Ebay, and if you’re lucky like me, you’ll find a good one at the thrift store for $7.99…

#4 Good water. Use filtered water, it really does make a difference.

Now that you have the Awesome Coffee Basics, let’s get brewing…

First, gather what you need. French Press, fresh beans, burr grinder, filtered water, tablespoon measure, and a timer. (there are fancy coffee timers out there, but a decent kitchen timer will do the trick)


Start your water to boil on the stove, then grind your beans in your burr grinder. Be sure and double-check that it is set to the “french press” setting.


Measure about 8 tablespoons of fresh grounds for a typical 32 oz French Press. (you can adjust this to your taste)


When your water starts boiling, turn off the burner and let it sit for just a second. Don’t pour boiling water over the grounds. (and don’t let it sit longer than a few seconds or it will cool off too much). Pour the hot water steady, slow and even to fully saturate the grounds. Don’t fill to the top, but to the bottom of the “ring” on the press. (Otherwise you’ll just make a big mess when it’s time to plunge).

coffeewater  coffeesit

Start your 4-minute timer. After about a minute, stir it gently and put the top on. Don’t push the plunger down just yet, you have 3 minutes to go…

coffeetimer  coffeestir

At four minutes, it’s time to push down the plunger. Move slow and steady until it reaches the bottom.


Now it’s time to pour and enjoy your delicious coffee however you like. (I like it with a little agave and half n half, my man drinks it black) Be sure and pour right away, don’t let your coffee sit in the press or it will turn bitter. If you are not planning to drink it all right away, pour the extra into a carafe to keep it warm.

coffeepour  coffeedone

Now it’s time for our DENVER-ALERT! The Best Beans in Town (in my opinion) at the Best Price. PABLO’S. Pablo’s has two Denver locations, one at 6th and Corona, and the newest location at 13th and Pennsylvania. I’ve been getting all my beans there for about 3 years now. Both locations sell their awesome fresh-roasted beans, roasted daily less than a mile away. (

Here’s the Secret to getting a great deal on beans at Pablo’s. Two things. One, Tuesday is 20% off pound o’ beans day. That makes it about $12 instead of the usual $14 for a full pound of bean-y goodness. Two, ask for a bean punch card (you have to ask, they don’t have them out on the counter) When you buy 6 pounds, you get the seventh pound FREE. (they also have cup punch cards, if you just can’t resist getting a brewed cup, or my favorite, the Americano, while you’re there.) If you buy all your beans on Tuesdays (I do!) and use your punch card, it comes out to roughly $10.30 per glorious pound of beans after you average in the freebee. Can’t beat that for fresh roasted beans. They have many great varieties of beans. I’ve tried many of them and have not ever been disappointed, but I do usually go back to the Danger Monkey blend. It’s a good one, I highly recommend it. And speaking of Pablo’s…

WIN FREE COFFEE FOR A YEAR!! (Denver-area Only)

Pablo’s has generously offered an awesome prize. One pound of coffee per month for a year, FREE! (that’s about a $168 value!)

WE HAVE A WINNER!! Congratulations Anna Newell Jones! You’ll be enjoying fabulous Pablo’s Coffee for the next year, gratis! Enjoy, and thank you all who entered the contest!

NOTES: There are many other ways to make a good coffee, including the Aeropress, Chemex, and of course good ‘ol espresso. If you want to explore these other methods, try the Stumptown website for some great tutorials: or ask the folks at Pablo’s or your favorite local roaster for their recommendations. For good notes on methods and equipment, check out : and

Disclaimer: Marie Vlasic and the Year of Living Fabulously are receiving NO COMPENSATION from Pablo’s Coffee for this blog or the contest. (I actually just really love their coffee). Denver has several good coffee roasters, you can check them out here:

Easiest. Bread. Ever. Part 2. Rustico Olive Bread Recipe. So good, even you won’t believe you baked it…


Rustico Olive Bread – Baked, Sliced, and Ready to Devour


(adapted from the New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)

I’ve been making the Simple Bread Recipe for months now, and wanted to try some new versions. I made this Rustic Olive Bread last weekend, and it came out fantastic! Here’s the recipe:

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Easiest. Bread. Ever…A Simple Bread Recipe that will make you look like a Hero. Or at least, a baker.

Easiest. Bread. Ever.
(adapted from New York Times No-Knead Bread Recipe)
When I first saw this recipe, I was skeptical. No kneading? Seriously? But it’s true. It’s simple, easy, and delicious. Not to mention, costs about .50 a loaf* The same loaf at Whole Foods would cost you about $4.50. Make it, and you’ll look like a hero…

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Happy Cinco De Mayo! It’s Fresh PALOMA Time! Here is my Own Personal Recipe…

Did you know the most popular tequila drink in Mexico is NOT the Margarita but the Paloma? The Paloma (Spanish for “dove”, thank you Wikipedia) is a tequila-based cocktail, usually prepared by mixing tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda and served on the rocks with a lime wedge…

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