The Easiest, Most Delicious Roasted Sweet Potato Recipe

So recently I attended the Pennsylvania Farm Show and had one of the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever eaten. It was soft, and the texture was incredibly smooth. “I could eat this every day!” I thought….and I have almost ever since.


Turns out that sweet potatoes are a great post-workout recovery food! The amount of time it takes to prep the sweet potatoes frustrates me sometimes: washing the skin, peeling the potatoes, and cutting them into little cubes (from a 3-lb bag of potatoes) can be daunting when you don’t have much time on your hands.


However, I discovered this recipe and fell head-over-heels in love with it. It takes less than 10 minutes to prep, and as long as you’re okay with letting the potatoes roast in the oven while you watch television, then you’re good to go.


Here’s the recipe video and breakdown:



Feel free to print this out and save it for yourself!





Did you like this sweet potato recipe? Share it with a friend!

How to Stay Motivated Throughout the Entire Year


I hear from people almost every day that say, “I wish I could be fit like you, but I can’t.
[insert excuse here: “I don’t have time”; “I can’t afford it”; “I don’t have exercise equipment”; “I don’t like to exercise”; “It’s just not for me”, the list goes on.]”


I used to feel the exact same way. I was never athletic growing up, and exercise did not come naturally to me. I had to develop motivation after many (many) attempts on my own.

Here are some of the ways I’ve found motivation so that my New Year’s resolution is still going strong, even at the end of the year:

1. Focus on the fact that this is a permanent lifestyle change, not a 3-week “phase”. 
If I miss a day or two on my workout schedule or I fall off the nutrition wagon for a week, I don’t quit. I forgive myself (although it can be incredibly challenging), I hit the “reset” button and I move on.

2. Follow a researched and effective workout plan. 
I am a fitness instructor, but even I know my limits. I don’t claim to be a certified personal trainer (yet!), and I don’t claim to have researched exercise science. I believe in following a safe, effective plan that I can do from the comfort of my own home. Trying to create my own program does not give the results I want! I’ve found that I see the results I want when I take my ego out of the equation.

3. Follow a nutrition plan. 
This is another one where I am humbled sometimes. I don’t find the results I want when I think I know everything about nutrition. However, I do not believe in “dieting”. (refer to #1!) My nutrition plan is exactly that: a plan. If my plan changes because I went out of town for a few days with my family, then I do the best I can. I bless and release, and let it go.

4. Celebrate the little victories. (spoiler alert: They don’t necessarily revolve around the number on a scale!)
Did you follow your workout calendar to a “T” this week? Give yourself a dance party and unwind with a magazine and a clay detox face mask!
Did you do well on your nutrition plan this week? Great! Paint your nails and watch “Parks and Recreation” or whatever you like.
Did you have a crappy week taking care of yourself? Oh well. It happens to literally all of us. Read those quotes I put above (or google some of your own). One week does not have the power to ruin your entire year.

5. Get connected to a team who’s got your back. 
Making a permanent lifestyle change for yourself is much easier when you connect with others. I am a coach to help people across the United States and Canada find a way to connect, motivate, uplift, and support each other.

Don’t have time to go to a gym? Pop in a 25-minute, scientifically-researched workout in your living room. Let us know when you’re done, and we’ll be there, cheering you on. Boom.

And there you have it! Some of my thoughts halfway through the month of January 2017.

Want to kick it into high gear, even though it’s not January 1? Not a problem. Email me at and let’s get started. Life is easier when we work towards bigger things together!

Wedding Trends and Tips for 2017


When I’m not being a fitness coach, I am a church organist! Yes, I know. You probably expected an 80-year old named Marilyn to play your church organ, but that’s not necessarily the case. In fact, I’ve been working at a church that is famously centered in our city to house beautiful, panoramic views. As a result (along with a fabulous church culture), we have a lot of weddings each year.


I calculate that since I started at this church 8 years ago, I have played about 450 weddings. This year alone I played for 83 weddings. Yes….Eighty. Three. 


I meet with almost every single bride that gets married at my church. I help them through the last 3 months of their wedding, and end up playing the music as she walks down the aisle. The entire process is a responsibility I don’t take lightly.


As an organist for so many brides (and a bride myself in 2015), I’ve seen a lot of things. It’s true. Here are some of the things I’ve noticed as trends coming in, trends leaving, and advice for any 2017-2018 brides. Read onward, and email it to anyone who got engaged over the holiday season!



Things that are trending (in a good way)

  • Bridesmaids trends: think pink (not necessarily matching)
    The color of this year was blush pink, especially in summer bridesmaid dresses. There was a weekend when I saw the same shade of blush on two separate set of bridesmaids! Brides still love the look of having different styles in the bridal party. This allows for the bridesmaid to pick the silhouette that they think is most flattering.


Blush definitely had its moment this year!

  • Wedding Dress trends: Sleeved wedding dresses, less strapless, low backs and lace. One of my favorite personal trends! Wedding dresses are becoming more and more modest, and unique sleeves made its hayday this year. Low-backed dresses with form-fitting silhouettes stole the show this year, combined with a more modest look in front. From intricate beading to the demand of lace, wedding dresses definitely don’t look cookie-cutter these days.

Allure Bridal style 9167


  • Bridal Party Trend: bridesmen”, “men of honor” and “best women”. Bridal parties are catering more towards the bridesmaids as the bride’s friends, and the groomsmen as the groom’s friends.


  • Ceremony Music: Bach Cello Suite no. 1 made a huge statement this year. I had three brides hire a cellist just to have this song at their wedding! It’s a beautiful piece, and if it speaks to you, consider investing in a cellist for your ceremony so it can be done:

  • “Please don’t take pictures during the ceremony”: I think this came after the previous years filled with people holding up their huge iPads during ceremonies. It became comical:

Source: Corey Ann Photography

Source: Rachel Whyte Photography

And lastly, the most interesting thing I’ve seen all year:

    • Streaming your Wedding Ceremony on Facebook Live: This one was kind of surprising to me, as historically you invited the people that you wanted to witness your wedding ceremony. However, I’ve seen it used several times when family members couldn’t attend (or people loved sharing their joy). Here’s an example from a wedding where the bride was from Lebanon. Part of her family couldn’t be there, so she streamed it on Facebook so they could watch it from home. (Note that the ceremony was in English and Arabic to accommodate both families):




Things that may be on its way out (or you may not need)

      • Ceremony Music: Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” and Mendelssohn’s “Bridal March”. These two songs have been used so many times in TV commercials, movies, and everything in-between. In fact, many Catholic Dioceses do not allow the use of these songs because of their completely secular (non-sacred) nature. Ask your ceremony musician for some joyous, “fresher” takes on the bridal entrance and departure:


      • The Unity Candle: There was a definite decrease in use of the Unity Candle in weddings over the past two years. While it has no liturgical significance in a Catholic wedding, it is a nice symbol for those who want to use it. However, you are still married either way!

      • Aisle Runners: Aisle runners used to be a way of announcing a bride’s entrance; however, they have since become liability issues and end up getting torn easily and quickly. This might be one that you can skip in the budget.

      • Short, Teeny Bridesmaid Dresses: There was a time a few years ago when bridesmaid dresses got smaller and smaller. I once saw a bridesmaid pull up her dress, then pull it back down to cover her legs! On behalf of every bridesmaid out there, I want to thank you for allowing more fabric to be a part of your bridesmaids’ dresses.

      • Homemade, DIY bouquets. Homemade bouquets made from brooches were really big a few years back. This is a great way to save money (or include some heirlooms/personal items that mean a lot to you), but when it comes to your bouquet, flowers still seem to be the way to go.



      • Kids In Wagons: There was a trend a few years ago where children under the age of 2 were wheeled down in wagons. I didn’t see this in 2016, and to be honest…I’m alright with its departure.

        Source: Pinterest

      • Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes: Cupcakes made its way into our hearts in a big way in the early 2010’s. While there are still cupcakes at weddings, we’re seeing less of them than we had in the past decade.

      • Trinkets for Wedding Favors: Many people are opting out of giving a trinket at wedding receptions (they did just pay $60+ for your dinner, after all). In lieu of a trinket favor, consider donating to a charity you both feel passionate about.

Photo: Joe Appel Photography




Things that don’t matter as much as you may think:

      • Pew Flowers for the Church: Pew bows for a church wedding may not be worth what your florist may charge you! For my DIY’ers, a simple loop of tulle can be enough to make a nice touch. Or find out if your church has pew bows that they can lend you for free!

      • Choosing your Ceremony Prelude Music: This is the music before your ceremony that sets the tone as your guests arrive. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: you don’t hear it, and your guests barely do too! It’s meant to be talked over, and your musicians are okay with that. Let your ceremony musicians pick some appropriate songs for prelude music.

      • Wedding Program Design: People love wedding programs. Any wedding brings together a group of people who are Christian, non-Christian, Jewish, Atheists, and everything else under the sun. That’s okay! They are there to support you two. Ribbons, sequins, and fancy embellishments don’t necessarily matter on a wedding program, but the order of the ceremony does. People refer to that program the entire time, so if anything, typing up the order of the ceremony encourages people to participate (if needed).

      • Kids under the age of 3 in the Bridal Party: Everyone is different, and everyone has different reasons of putting children in the bridal party….but from my experience, the kids cry. They almost always cry when they walk down that aisle alone, with hundreds of people watching them.



My Advice for Brides (and the Bridal Party) on The Big Day

      • Eat enough during the day. Dear God, Eat. I’ve seen too many bridesmaids collapse during a wedding because they hadn’t eaten enough for the day. I’ve been in weddings and I know it’s tough to get enough to eat, so I would strongly recommend it to your bride (or sneak a few protein bars in your purse). You’ll thank me later.

      • Be as invested in your ceremony as much as your reception. Now, I know I’m a church organist so I have to say this, but really. If you believe that what’s about to happen to you and your significant other is one of the biggest things of your life, then reflect on that. Get involved in the church where you’re getting married (if you’re a church-going person). If you’re getting married in a field, then sit down and reflect on the music or scripture or poems that you want to reflect such a sacred moment. I’ve met too many couples that want to “get the ceremony over with”, but really, the second celebration can’t happen without the first.

      • There will be one major thing that goes wrong, and that’s okay. I’ve seen it all, and the couples still get married!


That’s all for now! With another full  year of weddings, I’m sure I’ll have more trends to report in a year. But in the meantime, share this post with your fellow brides and grooms, and ramp up for Wedding Season 2017!



My 6 Pearls [of wisdom] from 2016

I always feel as if I am mentally paddling onto this huge wave during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. I know something big is coming and I should paddle hard, but I can’t fully believe it. I sit in denial for a few days, avoiding the whole “New Year’s ‘Resolution'” thing as I put away Christmas presents.

But it’s coming. Turn the page, the chapter’s ending.


How do I sum up a year that seemed to go by so quickly? If I could sum up 2016 with “nuggets” of wisdom, it’s the following 6 things. If one of them speaks to you or is something you needed to hear, then I will have done my job. Here we go:

1. Don’t be afraid to travel. 

This one has more than one meaning: My husband and I were supposed to go to Paris and Brussels this year, but in the wake of the attacks on both cities, we abruptly changed our itinerary to go to Italy instead. My husband wasn’t as keen on going to Italy as he was with the original brewery-filled plans of Brussels, but he and I fell in love with the golden, cobblestoned roads of Italy much more than we anticipated.

It renewed my faith, which brings me to #2……


2. In this crazy world, don’t be afraid to connect to a Higher Power. 

When I remind myself that I’m really not in charge, I can always feel a burden lifting from my chest and my shoulders. Whatever you believe in, I hope you come to realize something that I have: there’s something much greater than us, and when things look ridiculous and insane, take a deep breath and realize that we don’t get to see all of the cards.

I still need reminding of this on a daily basis, but it’s a good practice to remind myself.


3. There is nothing more important than taking care of your health. 

I know, I know, you’re probably thinking, “she’s always harping on and on about exercise and nutrition!” but I feel as if I have earned my right to do so. Growing up in a household with a father who had kidney disease brought me staring in the face of illness many times. Illness does not just impact the person, it impacts the lives of those they love the most.

When it comes down to it, that football jersey or new car or top-of-the-line cell phone isn’t going to give you more years with your loved ones. Furthermore, being healthy means making small, seemingly insignificant choices on a regular basis that add up over time.

I attend a lot of funerals (it’s part of the job as church musician), and I’ve yet to hear a eulogy from a priest or a loved one that goes like this: “Rose was a beautiful person, and in her last days of suffering, she wished she hadn’t taken care of her health when she had the chance.” The fullness of life comes from being present to it, as strongly and with as much life as you can, for as long as you are able to, God willing. I’ve heard it said that “people spend their health to gain wealth, then spend their wealth to try and re-gain their health.” I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Health-related New Year’s “Resolutions” seem to be frowned upon lately, but I will never stop preaching about how important it is to take care of yourself. I firmly believe that I am writing these words for you, whomever you are as you read them. Which brings me to #4……


4. Surround yourself with the people who see how amazing you are. 

One of the best things I ever did for myself was begin to take care of my mental health. I read personal development books every single day, and I now choose the people in my life with intention. It’s tough, but it’s true. Choosing the people in your life can make a world of difference in how you feel.


5. Dance to the beat of your own song. Be different, and be okay with it. 

I’ve never felt like a normal person. I had three part-time jobs in high school, and I worked the opposite hours of everyone else. (I still do.) My friends didn’t understand why I couldn’t just take the weekend off because I was playing church services at two different churches. Now, as an adult, I still feel like the outsider….but lately I’m working on embracing that. If you feel like you never fit in, then that’s okay. Color outside those lines, and don’t be afraid to boldly live. Never apologize for being exactly who you’re supposed to be.


 6. Set goals for 2017, and stick to them. Never stop growing, and never stop looking for another way to make a positive impact. Forgive yourself when you miss the mark, and get right back to work. 


Enough said. 🙂


Are you ready for 2017? I am.

Coming Soon: the January Newsletter!

Over the past few months I’ve been priding myself on my monthly newsletters. I love having a connection with you, my readers & followers, so I started to reach out to those who subscribe to my mailing list!


And so this morning I am writing my January Newsletter to my followers, and I’m very excited!

I’m working on some great things for January:
-the Top 5 things you should aim to do for yourself in 2017;
-a brand-new recipe they only get access to;
-some fitness tips to ring in the new year,
and more!

If you want to get this newsletter too, it’s always free!
Sign up by clicking here. I want you to join the party!

Posted on December 28, 2016

Filed under Health
Comments Off on Coming Soon: the January Newsletter!

[unbelievably good] Cinnamon Roasted Pecan Recipe

Christmas is less than one. week. away.

How did that happen!?

I myself am running around like a chicken with my head cut off….but I recently found a moment to make roasted cinnamon pecans.

They are unbelievably good! If you need a gift idea, this one is sure to wow any family member (that is, if they aren’t all eaten by you first!)

Before I release my newest blog entry, I wanted to give you first access to it! Here you go… roasted cinnamon pecans:

-1 egg white
-1 tbsp cold water
-2 1/4 cup pecans
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

-Preheat oven to 225 degrees F.
-whip egg white and water together with whisk until the egg white starts to get just a little stiff. (I use my judgment on this one. If it looks like there is enough egg white mixture, I just go to the next step.)
-fold in pecans; use spatula to fold in and make sure all pecans are coated.
-add sugar, salt, and cinnamon. Again, fold through all pecans in bowl to make sure that each one is well-coated.
-pour pecans on parchment paper-lined pan.
-cook for 60-75 minutes, checking every 15 minutes and moving pecans with spoon/spatula as well (so they don’t cook in one huge cluster).
-cool and enjoy!



I also woke up with a sore throat this morning (lovely), so just in case you need tips to beat that cold, check out my blog entry from last year. I hope it helps you as much as it still helps me!


Stitch Fix Box Review #3: One More Try

I’ve tried two different Stitch Fix boxes (Box #1 review & Box #2 review can be found here) and after the last box, I decided to stop getting automatic shipments. Stitch Fix, however, has excellent customer service. They offered to waive the $20 styling fee if I would give them one more try. I gave them feedback that my items were too basic, and so they wanted to see if they could give me more unique pieces that fit my style. I took them up on that offer…and 10 days later, my Stitch Fix box arrived on my doorstep.


Amanda Plazek Stitch Fix Box



Here we go! A little fashion show of all the items I received:

1.The 41Hawthorn Pintuck Blouse: $68




Did it fit the “unique” factor”? I’d say so! it had that nice magenta color that I enjoyed from Box #1 , but the ruffling, pintuck look just didn’t do it for me. It also fit strangely, as it was too short in the front.

Verdict: Return. 


2. The 41Hawthorn Stud Detail Blouse: $58




Again, a more “unique” piece due to the studs! I liked the length, and I do like 3/4 shirts, But this one just wasn’t me. I’m more of a sequins vs. studs person. 😛

Verdict: return. 


3. and 4. The Kensie Collarless Blazer ($88) and Renee C Elvira Pencil Skirt ($54)



The price was right on the pencil skirt, but that was pretty much it! I actually didn’t mind the blazer much. Styled right with a scarf and sweater, it would have been right up my alley! But I already have a 3/4 length blazer that looked very similar (but had a collar!). The pencil skirt, however, was one big no. No, no, no. Just…no.

Verdicts: return and return. 

5. The Donna Morgan Jersey Shirt Dress ($118)




Ah, the crowning glory of the box. I pinned this item on my Pinterest board months ago, so I was really happy to see it in my box! I was a little apprehensive, though, because I don’t wear jersey dresses or shirt dresses. I don’t feel that they are flattering on me….but I was wrong with this one. It was comfortable, the pattern was unique, the sleeve length was great, it was machine washable…the list goes on. I was in love.


Verdict? Return! 🙁

But why?! Two reasons: 1) We are getting into the cold winter season where I live, and I live in chunky sweaters. No layering piece looked right with this jersey dress when I tried it on. 2) I couldn’t legitimize $118 for this dress. Maybe in the spring/summer, but alas, not right now. Oh, beautiful dress, I’m so sorry.



What I’ve learned from the Stitch Fix Process

  • Customer service is so important, and Stitch Fix is literally in the business of listening to their customers. I was happy to see that transcend to the feedback of the overall system as well.
  • Brand awareness doesn’t necessarily have to matter, but I’m still a brand junkie. I’ll admit it. I love J.Crew because I can depend on the length of each garment. Stitch Fix showed me that 41Hawthorn- a brand I had never heard of until this process- makes items with longer torso lengths as well.
  • If anything, Stitch Fix makes you think outside of the box and bring a fresh perspective to your wardrobe. From now on, I plan to go to Pinterest and see if I can get inspired for a new look for the holidays!
  • Stitch Fix is great for someone who doesn’t necessarily like to shop. I do, so I don’t necessarily see the value in this as much. 😛
  • At the very least, it’s fun. I looked forward to getting that box every time, and it felt like Christmas each time too.


Want to give it a try yourself? Click here and get started!


Have you ever tried Stitch Fix? What did you think? I’d love to hear from you!

in peace and good health signature


Friday Announcement: My OWN Black Friday Sale!

AmandaPlazek Black Friday Sale






Yes, it’s true! I’m having a Black Friday Sale unlike anything I’ve ever done. I can’t tell you what it is yet, but believe me, it’ll be great! If you’ve ever considered committing to a healthier lifestyle for yourself, this is the opportunity you don’t want to pass up!


Subscribe by typing in my link (it’s case-sensitive, all lowercase) and you’ll be the first to know!


Quantities are limited, and once something’s gone, it’s gone for good!


I seriously can’t wait- see you there!

in peace and good health signature

Stitch Fix Plot Twist! (+ other Friday musings)

So this week has been an insane week (for life in general), but I’ve had some great highlights & plot twists that I wanted to share!


  • THANK YOU to all who read my Stitch Fix reviews! + news

My Stitch Fix reviews ( The first one is here and the second one is here) are some of the most popular blog entries of all-time! Thanks so much for reading them!


Something funny happened after I wrote the last one….I got an email from Stitch Fix offering to waive the $20 styling fee if I were to try one more box of clothes. I decided to go for it for two reasons: 1) I always appreciate excellent customer service, and 2) I wanted to blog about it and share it with my readers. 🙂

The box is set to arrive next week, so stay tuned!


  • My new workout program has me kicking and screaming. [well…maybe just kicking.]

I started a new workout program called Core de Force. So far, I describe the program as this: “you kick, you punch, you feel like a badass. Then you’re sore the day afterward.” It’s been awesome. It was quite easy to motivate myself to kick and punch as therapy this week, but for the sake of peace, I’ll leave it at that. 😉
Anyways, the workout is segmented into 3-minute rounds. You work as hard as you can until you hear the bell (similar to a 3-minute boxing round). I feel like a badass, but I look like a child. Eh, I’ll take what I can get. It’s just another reason why I love exercising at home!



  • Yelling “plot twist!” on my nutrition plan 

So my nutrition plan for this workout program is quite easy to follow. There are no unreasonable food restrictions, and plenty of really healthy food to eat. But I’ve had some low points this week…let’s call them “stress eating”. But I’ve learned that we don’t live in a vacuum. It’s ridiculous to think that we will all eat perfectly. Life happens, and I’m moving past it.


  • Skinny Pop is awesome!

So a few weeks back, I wrote a blog entry about healthy lunch food on-the-go. I included Skinny Pop as an example, and I received an email saying that they are sending me a gift as a “thank you!” Yay! 🙂


  • FINALLY putting away things in our house

My new project? Finally unpacking all of the things into our new house. I plan to do some major de-cluttering, and some home projects myself! Here’s hoping I don’t put a huge hole in a wall….

Ever want some little home tips for yourself? See what I’m up to on my Pinterest page!

Anyways, tgif. This week’s almost over, folks. Stay positive, be an example of peace and love for others, and let’s keep moving.


in peace and good health signature

What’s on my Plate: Week of Nov. 7

Today is a very exciting day! There are lots of new beginnings, so why wait? Here comes the breakdown:



  1. I have a group of over 20 people who are counting down 21 days of gratitude with me! Gratitude is a hot button term that tends to pop up in November, but I wanted to take this one step further: Each week will focus on one overall theme, and each day is guided towards a certain topic/area.
  2.  I am officially starting a new workout program today! It’s called Core de Force and it’s a kickboxing, martial arts-style program. It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but then again, fitness didn’t come naturally to me about 4 years ago. I can’t stay in my comfort zone bubble forever!
    The workouts require no equipment, and are 30-47 minutes in length. I tried it over the weekend and I was ridiculously sore. I’m ready to feel that level of soreness all week! The soreness goes away, but the badassery doesn’t. 😉
  3. My meal prepping hasn’t been super on-point lately (read: not at all on-point). Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been eating healthy overall! But I love prepping my meals the way that I like to prep my meals. I can’t do a spreadsheet that tells me what I’ll eat all week. We don’t have room in the fridge for that! But I plan on working out this morning, getting ready and then heading to the grocery store to make plenty of food for the week.
  4. My menu of food for the week:
    1. Turkey Chili
    2. Pumpkin Squash soup (this one is so cheap to make, it’s insane)
    3. Italian Turkey Meatballs
    4. Roasted Butternut Squash
    5. Roasted Parmesan Sweet Potatoes
    6. QuinoaOverall costs for food: 
      Butternut squash: .99 cents each
      Ground Turkey: 5 pounds for $13 at Sam’s club
      Beans (for chili): .69 cents per can
      Canned pumpkin: .69 cents per can
      Vegetable stock (for soup): $2.69
      Sweet potatoes: about $1.99 for a 3-lb bag
      Quinoa: $2.99 for a bag
      ALSO: we always, always buy organic spinach and put it in our Shakeology, so add about $4.99 for a 16-ounce container of spinach in there too.

I’m going to keep it simple, healthy, and affordable this week!
GIVEAWAY!: If you sign up for my mailing list, I’ll send you my personal recipes for the rest of the food above!


Subscribe to my Mailing List here!

* indicates required



I hope you have a healthy and happy week! Take care of yourself and your body, or no one else will!

in peace and good health signature