Monthly Archives: April 2009

The Day Before Friday…

My Thursday thoughts often drift to the fact that it is the day before Friday. Not that I’m wishing my life away, but the weekend is almost here. As usual, I’m so ready!! I feel like this week has been a bit of a treadmill of tedium, and I’m ready to jump off and do something fun. I did try to break up the boredom a little bit with a different kind of breakfast this morning:

BrekkieI took a banana wheat bran scone out of the freezer, toasted it and then topped it with some PB2 and pomegranate honey jelly. I take back my negative opinion of these scones. Topped with some PB and jelly, this little scone was awesome! I had some blackberries on the side, and a bowl of my “ambrosia.” I had 1/2 a cup of Greek yogurt mixed with some canned mandarin oranges and topped with a little bit of sweetened coconut. I loved it just as much this week, as I did when I came up with it last week. Unlike last week, I didn’t eat the whole can of oranges today, so there’s more in my future! I also had a cup of coconut coffee mixed with skim milk and some sugar free hazelnut Torani. This breakfast was a fun and different start to the day.

Throughout the day, I snacked on this little baggie of Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal. This is, of course, my favorite “snacking” cereal, and you could win a box in my 100th post giveaway. If you haven’t entered already, you have until midnight on Friday. Just go to this post to find out how to enter. I’m looking forward to announcing a winner on Saturday, and Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack is all packed up and ready to go to its new home. It could be headed your way!

Baggie of SunshineAround 11:00, I had what has become my traditional morning snack this week:

Pink Lady LoveI had a little trouble removing the middle with my plastic child safe knife today, so there are some extra pieces. There was plenty of Bee’s Knees PB to go around!

When lunchtime rolled around, I had another of my turkey burgers from the other night on an Arnold’s thin with some dijon and brie. I scored this brie the other day at a party, Sarah style, and I decided it would taste good on today’s burger. Using a different cheese was an easy way to change up my leftovers! Plus, I’ve eaten all of my chipotle cheddar. 🙂 I also had hummus and some baby carrots. Is it just me, or are these baby carrots huge? Several of them were bigger than my thumb. They really are as big as they look in the photo, and it took some serious chomping to eat them. I kind of liked the crunch!

Lunchy LunchSpeaking of crunch, I had one of these after lunch:

Mmmmm.....I love taking a bite and letting the chocolate and the honeycomb sort of melt in my mouth. YUM! Still craving chocolate, I went and got a fudgy peanut butter vitatop out of the work freezer. I started eating it before I remembered to snap a picture. Oops!

Oopsie!Ok, now I need you to put your imagination cap on. You have one of those, right? It might be hanging next to your thinking cap? I had another work reception to attend this afternoon and it included a random afternoon glass of vino, a few nibbles of parmesan, an artichoke heart, and a few nibbles of marinated zucchini and peppers. I skipped the bruschetta, and other items, but had enough nibbles to satisfy my curiosity. That seemed reasonable, and balanced. Hooray!

After that, I went back to my office and had my afternoon bowl of oatmeal:

Afternoon OatsToday’s bowl is full of Kashi Heart to Heart Apple Cinnamon instant oatmeal. Unless I find some hiding in an unexpected place, I believe I’m out of pre-flavored oatmeal packages. CRISIS! Ok, not really. Maybe I’ll just have a different snack tomorrow, or maybe I’ll take some plain oatmeal and fix it up. Either way, I’m kind of happy that I’ve eaten all of my random little pouches of oatmeal. That means I can buy a new kind to try now! Since I have limited kitchen storage space in my apartment, I have to try to use things up before buying more as often as possible. That rule obviously does not apply to coffee from the ‘burg!

When I got home, I had something great planned for dinner. The weather was kind of dreary today, and I decided to abandon my plan completely and just have a bowl of Trader Joe’s turkey chili topped with a piece of cheese. It doesn’t get any easier than opening a can, and I really wanted the warmth and coziness of this bowl. I’m doing better at thinking about what I really want, and trying to have it. I can just make my new recipe another night. This bowl was completely satisfying, and I don’t think you can go wrong with melted cheese!

Cheesy Turkey ChiliI followed that up with a small salad. I had the rest of my farmer’s market lettuce mix topped with a little goat cheese, a few dried cherries, and some balsamic vinegar. It was a bright little spot of green. I’m definitely going to visit the lettuce lady again on Saturday!

Little SaladMy veggies were followed up with the rest of my little container of Vanilla Snowflake LaLoo’s goat’s milk ice cream topped with vanilla almonds and a few blackberries. I’m sure I don’t have to tell you how much I love this ice cream. My previous posts have probably made that point. Ok. I’m going to tell you again anyway. It’s SO GOOD!!! 

Woo hoo, LaLoo!I got back from the gym later than usual. It was 10:15 by the time I got back to my apartment and started writing this post. While I’ve been typing, I’ve been munching on one of my favorite little sweet snacks:

Sweet Little SnackI have some Galaxy vanilla almond munch granola mixed with some Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. This bowl keeps me nibbling for a nice long while, and feeds my chocolate tooth. It really is one of my faves. I’ve been eating other granolas lately, and I was so excited when I made the return to the Galaxy. I love it, and I especially dig all of the whole almonds in the mix!

Now, I’m going to make some chamomile tea and read a bit before I head to bed. My workout was really good tonight. I burned 706 calories and felt totally energized throughout the workout!! In fact, it left me a bit too energized for bedtime. 😦 Sometimes that happens. I’ll count some sheep, sip some tea, and hopefully nod off pretty soon. What helps you to unwind at the end of the day?

Have a great Friday, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway if you haven’t already!! Ciao for now, bloggie friends!

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Filed under cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Wednesday Reruns and a Giveaway Reminder!

Hi!! I hope everyone had a nice day! There was no sunny lunch picnic in the cards for me today, but there was an umbrella. A chilly rain has been falling all day, and when it’s raining out, all I want to do is nap! How about you? Despite the weather, I had a pretty productive day. Thank goodness! I’m trying to get things wrapped up at work since I’m leaving for Alaska on the Monday after next. I’m hoping to tie up as many loose ends as I can before I go. I can’t wait to be on vacation!

I had several food reruns today, but I think that’s a good thing. I love a warm breakfast on a rainy day. I started out with a bowl that looks almost exactly like yesterday’s breakfast:

Another Bananabrannerriffic Bowl25 grams of oat bran

15 grams of wheat bran (the rest of my little bag… I need to buy some more from the bulk bin…)

10 grams of Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder

1 cup of water

1 1/2 Tbsp of sugar free Smucker’s syrup

1 banana

ginger 

cinnamon

more cinnamon

I decided to add some ginger and a ton of cinnamon to the bowl this morning, and it’s amazing what a difference it made. It really spiced things up! This bowl was quick and simple, and got me off to a warm start on this chilly morning. Along with my bowl of bran, I had a cup of coffee using some of the beans I bought at my favorite coffee place in Williamsburg the other weekend. As you can see, I stocked up on the beans!

Beans!Since I get them whole, rather than ground, the beans tend to stay fresh for awhile. That’s good. It will definitely take a while for me to make my way through five pounds. I do love the Coffeehouse! I had skim milk with my coconut coffee, and it was soooo yummy!

Just like yesterday, my breakfast wasn’t quite as hefty as it is some days (no PB today for one thing…), and I was ready for a pink lady with some Bee’s Knees PB around 11:00. I think I kind of like having a morning snack. I might start going a little lighter on my breakfast and factoring in an 11:00 nibble. It’s a thought, anyway. Do you eat a morning snack, or do depend on your breakfast to hold you until lunch?

Look Familiar??Speaking of lunch, I had a leftover turkey burger from the batch I made last night and some chipotle cheddar cheese on an Arnold’s thin. I think Arnold’s thins make awesome buns! I also had some Tribe chipotle hummus and a pile of orange pepper slices. Leftovers are your friend! This lunch was tasty, although my office smelled like a turkey burger for awhile. Who knew they were so fragrant?!

Lunchy LunchI also had a bowl of peach Chobani, some Fiber One for crunch, and another of my yummy little crunchie mini bars from the stash in my desk. I was full and happy!

Crunchie!When I got ready for a snack, I had another rerun from yesterday. I had the other half of my berry Fruit Newton Crisp pack with some more PB. I like this combo, and it is going to be a great way to use up the crisps. As I said, they are yummy, but they have no staying power.

Drool-worthy ReadingI decided to pose my snack on top of the book I’m currently reading. Yes, that is a post-it note from the middle of the pad. I was out of napkins and didn’t have time to go in search of one so I improvised! I finished reading The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao on Monday evening. After reading that, I decided I needed something a bit… lighter. I loved the movie, Chocolat, which featured one of my favorite actresses, Juliette Binoche. It also featured Johnny Depp. Yummy. Anyway, I thought I might like the book when I found it for a dollar at a used book sale not long ago. I started it yesterday, and I’m really enjoying it so far. If you like mouthwatering descriptions of chocolates and other candies, this is the book for you. I might have been drooling a bit while reading it on the metro today. 

My final snack of the day was another rerun:

Afternoon Oatmeal SnackI told you yesterday that I thought the afternoon oatmeal might be turning into a habit. I had another bowl today, and it held me over nicely until dinner. It also satisfied my afternoon sweet tooth while providing a bit of positive nutrition. I think that’s always a good balance to strike! I’m almost out of the pre-flavored pouches so this habit may get broken, whether I like it or not, if I don’t make a trip to the store. We’ll see what happens.

When I got home, I heated up another leftover turkey burger, and made a big salad:

Leftover SaladI topped some of my lettuce from the farmer’s market with a chopped up turkey burger, the rest of my chipotle cheddar, some scraps of gouda that were sitting in the fridge, a bit of Greek yogurt and a little bit of salsa. I also wanted a bit of baked potato so I microbaked one, chopped it into chunks and added half of it to the salad. It was a big potato, so I’ll have the other half tomorrow. This salad was tasty, and had lots of nice protein in it. It really hit the spot. Who says that leftovers have to be boring? I’m all about reinventing them whenever possible!

After that, I had a bowl of LaLoo’s vanilla snowflake topped with some chopped vanilla almonds and a few blackberries. I loved this combo, and I didn’t even miss my usual side of cake. Aren’t blackberries beautiful?

Lovely LaLoo'sAfter all of that, I had a little time for my food to digest before I went to kickboxing. My workout schedule has gotten a bit mixed up lately. For example, I won’t be working from home tomorrow, like I usually do, so tonight was my only opportunity for kickboxing this week. That’s ok. The Wednesday night class is a good one, and I definitely had a great workout! The only bad part is that my Thursday evening won’t be free since I can’t work out during lunch. 😦 I like to free up my evenings when possible, but those opportunities are rare during the week. You can usually find me in the gym at night, and that’s why my posts tend to be a bit on the late side. It actually kind of works out since I often get home from the gym around 9:15, and then I need some time to unwind from my workout. That’s the perfect time for me to write my evening post! 

Now, I’m feeling nicely “unwound”, and I need to get ready for bed. I’m probably going to have another little snack before I hit the sack, and then I suspect I’m going to sleep well. Kickboxing really is a good way to burn off excess energy, and that always helps me to sleep better. 

Before I go, I want to remind you again that you have until midnight on Friday evening to enter to win Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack! I hope you will enter, and tell your friends to enter too. 🙂 I’m going to announce the winner on Saturday, and I can’t wait!! 

Have a great Thursday! The weekend is getting closer every second. Ciao for now, bloggies!! 🙂

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Filed under Bananas, Chocolate, diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Williamsburg

Afternoon Oatmeal: Habit Forming?

Bananabrannerriffic!Hi bloggie friends! I hope everyone had a good day. Mine was pretty good, although I didn’t get as much accomplished as I had hoped. Some days are just like that, I guess. I did start off with a hearty bananabrannerriffic breakfast bowl. This bowl had:

  • 20 grams of wheat bran
  • 20 grams of oat bran
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of sugar free Smucker’s maple syrup
  • 10 g of Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder
  • 1 sliced banana
  • 1 cup of water

It wasn’t my usual bowl– no strawberries or peanut butter, but simple and quick was on the menu this morning. I had a cup of coffee with skim milk and sugar free Torani on the side. I usually have a mix of skim milk and Almond Breeze in my coffee. My store was out of unsweetened Almond Breeze the other day so I picked up some unsweetened Almond Dream instead. I’ve noticed that it sort of curdles in my coffee, whereas the Almond Breeze always mixes in nicely. Has anyone else experienced this? I’ll be using the Almond Dream in smoothies, but not so much in my lattes. Yuck! 

My breakfast was a little lighter than usual, and I got hungry with an hour to go until lunch. I decided to have a little bitty pink lady apple I got at the farmer’s market with a great big glob (1/2 Tbsp, actually) of The Bee’s Knees PB. I love honeycrisp apples the best of all, but pink ladies take a strong second place!

The UsualWhen lunchtime rolled around, my co-worker and I decided, sort of on the spur of the moment, to take the lunch blanket that lives in my office and go out for a little picnic on the lawn at the National Building Museum. It was nice to sit in the sun. My office is usually FREEZING, and I love having the opportunity to thaw out during lunch. I had a Morningstar Farms Chik’n Patty on some Nature’s Own Light Honey Wheat bread, some steamed carrot, broccoli and cauliflower mix, a baggie of cucumbers and bell pepper slices, and a little bit of Tribe chipotle hummus. There was a lot of orange and green in today’s lunch. Orange and green are tasty! 🙂

Al Fresco Lunchitty LunchI split a little piece of chocolate with my friend, and then had this when I went back in to the office.

Z-LiciousThe chocolate brownie Zbars are my favorite, but the blueberry ones are a close second. It was a nice little dessert. After my big veggielicious lunch and the Zbar, I didn’t really need a snack until much later. I started digging through the desk drawer, and then I had an idea….

PB on Something DifferentI think I mentioned the other day that I have some of these fruit crisps that I bought awhile ago. I don’t often choose them because, although they are tasty, they don’t really have much nutritional punch and they do zip for my hunger. I decided to eat one of the crisps (there are two per pack) with PB on top for a little protein. I think that the remaining crisps are going to meet a similar fate. The PB gave it a little bit more sticking power, and the combo of the fruit crisp and PB was yummy!

That reminds me: I’ve totally neglected my page of snack ideas since I stopped doing Friday weigh-in and snack idea posts. I’m hoping to update it soon with some of the snacks I’ve added to my repertoire. I think there should be a category called “Things That Go Well With Peanut Butter.” That’s a common theme in my snacks for sure!

Oatmeal SnacktimeAnother common theme over the past two days has been the afternoon bowl of oatmeal. I wanted a substantial snack today when dinner was still a couple of hours away, and a big bowl of blueberry oatmeal did the trick– again. I think I might be developing an afternoon oatmeal habit! Do you have any snack habits? Is there a snack you have every day like clockwork?

It was a good thing I had something substantial. The metro was having issues this evening, which meant that it took me much longer to get home than usual. When I finally got back to my apartment, I was definitely ready for dinner. I had something good planned.

Before I tell you what I had for dinner, I want to give you a little update. Remember this photo of the freezer jungle?

BeforeEvery time I opened the door, there was an avalanche of frozen things falling out and landing on my feet. I would have failed a pop quiz about what was hiding in the back of the freezer, and I had all sorts of things crammed in the door. After focusing on trying to use things from the freezer this month, I’ve managed to turn the scary jungle into this:

Freezer Update

Now, if you are a super organizational type person, you probably think this still looks like a mess. For me, this is perfection! I didn’t get the best shot of the interior, but trust me that there is plenty of empty space next to that bag that is sort of propped up vertically. There is also some space up at the top, and the stuff in the door looks more orderly. I think that the best part of this little project has been using up the random little bits of things, like the pineapple, in unexpected ways. Now, I know what’s in my freezer. There is nothing ancient or weird lurking in the back corner. I’m pretty pleased, and I’ve made so many things with items that were just sitting here in the freezer jungle waiting to be used! 

Tonight’s dinner used up another item from the freezer, although it wasn’t anything particularly creative. I took a package of ground turkey breast out to thaw yesterday, and I mixed up a batch of turkey burgers this morning and put them in the fridge. That gave them time to chill and firm up, and they were ready to toss on the Griddler as soon as I got home!

Turkey Burger!I made five burgers out of the turkey, and here’s what was in them:

  • 1.3 pounds of ground extra lean turkey breast (I like nice even numbers… “.3”???)
  • 1/3 cup chopped onions
  • 3 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp Country Bob’s Sauce
  • 1/4 cup of egg beaters

The burgers were moist and flavorful and cooked up super quick on the griddler. I have four leftover burgers, and I know what’s for lunch tomorrow! Tonight, I had my burger on an Arnold’s sandwich thin with some chipotle cheddar and mustard. On the side, I had a quick microbaked potato with butter spray, salt and pepper. I also had some of the pretty lettuce from Saturday’s market topped with a little salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar. The lettuce is so good that it doesn’t need much in the way of dressing. It was a tasty dinner, and a very filling one!

I followed it up with a So Delicious Neapolitan Mini-Ice cream sandwich. It was 90 calories of deliciousness! I love these!!

So Delicious!After my quick dessert, I went to work out with my trainer and then to do some cardio. I burned 625 calories this evening, and had a good workout even though I wasn’t really in the mood when I made myself go to the gym. This was one of those days when I had to make myself get moving, but found that I really enjoyed my workout once I got started. Since the weather is warm, we went out and lunge walked up the big hill behind my building. I hadn’t really missed the hill during the cold months, but it was satisfying to find that it was easier tonight than it had been when we moved our lunges indoors back at the beginning of the winter. 🙂

Goat's Milk Ice Cream LoveSpeaking of satisfying, my sweet tooth was in all out crazy mode this evening. I had a bowl of LaLoo’s Vanilla Snowflake goat’s milk ice cream topped with berries and a few chocolate chips after the gym. I followed that up with this:

The Final Snackdown

Three little reduced fat nilla wafers, topped with some of the Brunette praline spread I bought at brunch on Sunday, and the last piece of the Theo’s coconut curry chocolate bar made for a yummy little plate of nibbles. I think my sweet tooth has finally gone to sleep for the night. Speaking of sleep, it’s time for me to head to bed too. 

Before I go, if you haven’t entered the giveaway for Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack, do it now!! You have until midnight on Friday. I can’t wait to send a big box of foods I love to the lucky winner!

I also wanted to mention that Bella is having a giveaway that you should check out!

Have a great humpday! Ciao for now, bloggie friends! 🙂

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Filed under Bananas, Chocolate, cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Pineapple, Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

The Work Week Returns…

Banana Bran Scone BrekkieGood evening everyone! I hope you had a great Monday. I was a bit sad to be back at my desk instead of out enjoying festive brunches, but I made due with some pretty tasty eats. Before heading off to work, I had one of my banana wheat bran scones with some berries and a tiny dollop of Greek yogurt sweetened with honey. A scone alone would never fill me up! I want to give you a little review of my own “product”: I’m not a huge fan of these scones. It could be that they aren’t very sweet (as a scone really shouldn’t be that sweet), and I needed to add jam. It might be the taste of the wheat bran. These scones are fine, but they  don’t rock my socks off. I just thought I’d pass that along in case you were considering making a batch. Since I knew I needed more protein if I was going to stay full until lunch, I also had an ugly, but satisfying smoothie along with my cup of skim milk, coffee and sugar free Torani.

One Ugly Mug!In the smoothie:

1 packet of chocolate Weight Watchers smoothie mix

28 grams of spinach

1 cup of almond dreams unsweetened almond milk

a pinch of cinnamon

It may be ugly, but it made up for its looks with some tasty staying power!

When lunchtime rolled around, I had a lunch that reminded me of the kind of plate you might find yourself with after a trip to a family style buffet like the Golden Corral or Sizzler:
Lunchy LunchWhat do I mean by that? These things don’t really “go” together. I recall many trips to the buffet where I would return to my seat with some salad, mashed potatoes, lasagna, perhaps an egg roll, a tiny taco and, well, you get the point. I used to love buffets like that, by the way. Now– not so much. I had the last of my leftover Buitoni mushroom pasta with asparagus and spring onions, along with some Tribe chipotle hummus, veggies and a little cup of green tea chai pudding. Kind of weird, right? I do hate to waste food, and this is what I came up with out of the fridge this morning. It was good despite being a bit mismatched! 

CrunchyliciousI decided that I needed some Fiber One crunch in my little cup of pudding today. I’ve been cutting back on fiber a bit, but it really does keep me full. Facts is facts. After that, I had one of these:

Crunchie!!!I had my first Cadbury Crunchie bar a couple of years ago when some friends, who were living in London at the time, brought a bag of mini crunchies along on our vacation in Italy. I think I might have emptied out the bag. I found them to be completely addictive. Yikes! I’ve since found them in D.C., and I like to keep a few around. The bag stays securely in the drawer and I enjoy one from time to time like a reasonable and sane person rather than a Crunchie schnarfing lunatic!

Honey LoveLook at the crispy honeycomb goodness. It tastes kind of like the burnt sugar on the top of a creme brulee… wrapped in milk chocolate. If you’ve never tried one, don’t!! 🙂 I find that having a little treat like this one after lunch leaves me feeling satisfied longer and I’m less likely to reach for other snacks as quickly. Maybe it’s a mental game, but I’ve found it to be true for me. I did eventually look for another snack, and I found a herd of stick turtles lumbering across my desk:

A Herd of TurtlesVanilla wafers topped with PB and bite sized prunes is one of my new favorite little snacks. The sad little stick legs and contextual “art” are optional!

Feeling a bit of an afternoon slump coming on, I ate this little pack of Sunkist fruit snacks that a friend gave me the other day. I’m not usually a huge gummy candy/fruit snack eater, but these really hit the spot! I got past my slump and was able to move along faster than my herd of turtles. Are you a fruity/gummy candy eater or does your taste usually turn in a different direction? I enjoy the occasional gummy worm, starburst, fangtastic or sour patch kid, but I usually prefer chocolate or caramel myself.

Chewy Fruit GoodiesI was really hungry by five o’clock, but it wasn’t time to go home yet. “What to eat?” was the question. I had a calorie goal in mind for my snack, and I almost reached for one of the bars in my drawer. After thinking about it for a minute, I realized that I could have a bowl of blueberry almond oatmeal (the target brand… archer farms, maybe?) in about a minute, and it would certainly keep me full much longer. I added a little PB on top because I just really love PB with my oats. What’s not to love about that?!

Afternoon Oatmeal BreakAfter my bowl of oatmeal, I wasn’t hungry for a huge dinner when I got home. I heated up the rest of the black bean taco filling from the other night, and I put it on top of a bunch of beautiful lettuce from the farmer’s market along with some blue tortilla chips, chipotle cheddar (also from the farmer’s market), Greek yogurt (yep, from the market too) and salsa. I often use Greek yogurt in place of sour cream, and I almost think I prefer it at this point! 

Taco SaladOf course, I always have room for dessert, and I decided to crack open my new container of LaLoo’s Vanilla Snowflake goat’s milk ice cream. This is really my very favorite vanilla ice cream ever. I can’t explain what it is about this kind that makes it special, but it almost has a frozen custard flavor to it. The vanilla is also impossible to miss. It’s just so good! I had more berries on the side and a little bit of the Brunette praline spread that I bought at brunch yesterday. Berries and cream… YUM!
LaLoo's LoveI was pretty stuffed after all of that, and I decided that, since I had a night off from the gym, I’d watch one of the Netflix selections that has been lingering on top of the television for awhile now. Vicky Christina Barcelona was this evening’s featured film. Have you seen it? I’m still processing my thoughts on that one, but they seem to be headed in a positive direction. After the movie, I decided I needed one last snack since I was feeling a little rumbly and I hate trying to fall asleep if I’m hungry. I just finished this little bowl of Quaker Corn Bran cereal topped with a splash of almond milk. Now, I’m nice and full again and ready to head to bed!

Cereal Snacker

Before I go, I want to remind you to enter my 100th post giveaway if you haven’t already. I think the jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB alone is worth posting a comment for a chance to win, but then, I might be partial to all of the things in Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack! 🙂 

I also wanted to mention a really cool and chocolatey giveaway over at Happy Texans! I always enjoy reading Kelly’s posts so much, and you should check out her site if you haven’t already!

That’s it for me! Maybe I’m now back on track with posting after being a bit behind for the last couple of days. Here’s wishing you a great Tuesday! Ciao for now, bloggie friends!

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Filed under Uncategorized

Banana Wheat Bran Scones and a New Favorite Eatery!

Good morning and happy Monday! I’m awake earlier than usual for some reason, so I decided to go ahead and tell you about my Sunday. My blogging seems to be running a bit behind my life this weekend, and maybe this will get me back on track! 

I had such an enjoyable Sunday! The temperature has gotten up around 90 here for the past few days, which came sort of out of nowhere. It’s as if the summertime switch has been flipped. I wasn’t hungry for a hot breakfast yesterday at all, so I just had a little bowl of strawberry frosted mini-wheats cereal. I also had a little bit of peanut butter on bread. I definitely feel less hungry when the weather warms up, but I was also trying to eat light since I had a birthday brunch to attend. 

I met up with my friends yesterday at a great neighborhood brunch spot, but there was an hour and a half wait for a table. Too hungry to wait that long, we went in search of an alternative. We decided to go to the Le Pain Quotidien that had just recently opened. I’m SO glad we did! I started off with a hibiscus tea sweetened with organic agave. Isn’t it pretty?

Hibiscus TeaI sat down, opened up my menu and nearly fell out of my chair. The menu was full of amazing choices and… it included the calorie counts for most of the foods!! Holy moly!! This was a dream come true right on my doorstep. The kinds of food available at LPQ are right up my alley. The boulangerie and patisserie selections alone could keep me entertained for a long time. For my lunch, I decided on the tartine with ricotta, mission figs, diced tomatoes, black pepper and organic acacia honey:

TartinesIt was so fresh and amazing! The ricotta was smooth and creamy and went so well with the figs and honey. In case you can’t tell, a tartine is kind of like an open faced sandwich, and mine was made on some amazing whole wheat bread. BLISS! I also got a massive bowl of fruit to go along with it:

FruitifullThis was the perfect amount of food for me, and it was all so very fresh and bright. Speaking of fresh and bright, check out my friend’s gazpacho!

GazpachoWhat a lovely lunch!! On the way out, I couldn’t resist picking up a jar of their praline spread and getting one of my favorites for the road:

Chocolate Croissant to GoI had my first chocolate croissant while I was studying abroad, and I’ve been a sucker for them ever since. This one did not disappoint! Happy Birthday to my friend… and happy new eatery to me. 🙂 

It was pretty late in the afternoon when I got back home after stopping to run a few errands on the way, and I spent some time putting my new plants into pots. I’ll take some photos of my little balcony garden soon so that you can see what I’ve been up to. It’s always nice to look out and see some living and growing things after a winter of staring at empty pots. 

When dinnertime rolled around, I decided to have some more of yesterday’s Buitoni creation along with my own little version of the salad I’d had at Art and Soul. 

Din DinYes, it really was that color! I topped some of the pretty lettuce I got at the farmer’s market with some goat cheese and almonds. That’s always a good start! Then, I got out my new magic bullet. Oh yeah. Magic bullet action! I put in a teaspoon of dijon mustard, a Tablespoon of fig infused balsamic vinegar and three blackberries with the tiniest whisper of salt and gave it a whir. Three little blackberries made for all of that color and gave the dressing an awesome texture and flavor. If only I’d had some watermelon pickles! I think this might be a good alternative to my usual mustard and vinegar dressing mixes.

After dinner, I had a few little snacks that I didn’t photograph including a So Delicious mini-neapolitan ice cream bar. It was a 90 calorie treat that really packed a lot of goodness into a small package. YUM! After my icy treat, I headed off to the Sunday session with my trainer (plus cardio… 572 calories crushed). Yay!!

When I got back to the apartment,  I decided to use up some more of the bananas out of the freezer and make a batch of scones with what I had on hand. In case you can’t tell, I’m a big fan of using up what’s on hand, and that’s why I put so many little options in the recipe. I’ve learned that substitutions are fine in many cases, and there’s no reason to run to the store unless it’s really necessary!  By the way, my recipe is an adaptation of this one from Cooking Light with some of my usual tweaks.

Banana Wheat Bran SconesBanana Wheat Bran Scones

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup teff flour (or whole wheat flour)

1/2 cup wheat bran (or oat bran)

2 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into little pieces

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup mashed ripe (or thawed overripe!!) banana

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

1/4 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt (or regular nonfat yogurt)

1 1/2 tsp. almond milk (or skim milk)

1 1/2 tsp. turbinado sugar (or regular granulated sugar)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Combine the bananas and the brown sugar in a medium sized bowl and allow to stand for five minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the first eight ingredients, AP flour through cinnamon, in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the flour mixture and the yogurt to the banana mixture, alternatively adding some of the flour and then some of the yogurt until the ingredients are completely incorporated, and stir until moistened. 

Using a rubber spatula “knead” the dough right in the bowl by pressing it down to really work in the butter pieces and then scraping the sides of the bowl. Continue to repeat that action for about 1 1/2 minutes. Alternatively, you could also turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it for a minute or so, but the bowl method is less messy and works just fine.

Transfer the dough to a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat. Press into a 6″ circle using the back of the rubber spatula. Use a sharp knife to cut into but not through the circle of dough, dividing it into eight wedges. Brush with the almond milk and sprinkle the sugar on top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes. It should be browned and should spring back somewhat when pressed on the top. Cool on a wire rack, cut the wedges all the way through and enjoy!

This makes 8 scones at less than 130 calories each according to the recipe calculator I used. Not bad!

[Late breaking edit: Please see this post for a review of the scones. They didn’t turn out to be my favorite thing and, in the interest of full disclosure, I want to give you my thoughts in case you are considering whipping up a batch! If you are trying to find something to do with overripe bananas, you might check out this post for a chocolate banana snack cake recipe that I adore!!]

Photos from the process:

The Dry Team

Coarse Crumbs

Kneading in the Bowl

Before Baking

Oven FreshThese were super quick and easy, and I think you could certainly add all sorts of things to this recipe to suit your taste. I’m thinking that some chocolate chips would be a good addition next time. 🙂 Chocolate!

Now, I’ve got to get ready and get to work. I hope you all have a good Monday, and don’t forget to enter my 100th post giveaway!! By the way, a special welcome to you if you are checking out my blog for the first time! Make yourself at home!! 🙂 

Ciao for now, bloggies!

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Filed under Baking, Bananas, Bread, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

100th Post Giveaway, Plus Art, Soul and Buitoni!

Hi!! I’m having such a lovely weekend, and I hope that you are too. I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday, but, as you will see, it was a busy day. Plus, with this being my 100th post, I didn’t want to shortchange it. 🙂

I woke up Saturday to the sound of birds and… buzzsaws. It was warm on Friday evening, and I decided to sleep with the patio screen open to let some fresh air into my winter suffocated apartment. They are building a new hotel next door to my building, and I’ve been hearing all sorts of construction sounds for the better part of a year now. They’ve planted some ornamental trees and it looks like things are in the final stages. I’ll be glad when the racket is done!

I got up and headed over to the farmer’s market. Today, it looked like it usually does when it is in full swing with people, dogs and green things everywhere. There were lots of plants for sale, along with the usual treats. I was most excited to finally score some fresh asparagus!

My HaulI also bought some spring onions, a cucumber, another bag of the gorgeous lettuce mix I tried a few weeks ago, a bunch of pink lady apples, a thyme plant, a mint plant and a sugar snack tomato plant. It’s planting season out on the balcony, and I’ve had such good luck with the plants I’ve gotten at the market in the past. I had a sugar snack cherry tomato plant last year, and it did pretty well in my big balcony pot. I’m hoping for similar results this year!

When I was shopping, I had lunch in mind. Like many foodbuzz featured publishers, I received this package of pasta in the mail the other day to take for a spin:

The MuseI love wild mushrooms, and I was sure to love the taste of these! I thought about different sauces, but decided that, since the pasta was pretty high in calories, I needed to bulk up the meal with a ton of veggies instead. I decided that the beautiful spring green onions and the fresh asparagus from the market would be the perfect complement to the pasta. 

PrettyI thought the onions were so pretty! I sliced up all three of these rather large green onions and sauteed them, along with a clove of garlic, sea salt and freshly ground black pepper in a teaspoon of olive oil and a spray of cooking spray. I know that a mix of olive oil and butter is common in cooking, but you get a mix of oil and spray more often in my kitchen. I cooked them low and slow for about twenty minutes. Just look at how bright and green they are!

Light and BrightWhile the onions were in the skillet, the asparagus was roasting in the oven. I love roasting asparagus, and I think the caramelized flavor really adds another element to the vegetable and to this dish!

Roasting the Aspara-guysOnce my onions had cooked down nicely, and the aspara-guys had gotten a nice tan, I mixed the two together. The pasta was nearly done at this point. It only took four minutes for the pasta to boil, which was pretty awesome!

Fresh and Green-- Just Like SpringI loved the bright springiness of this dish, and I also knew that all of these veggies would help to fill me up since I was planning to eat 1/3 of the package of pasta instead of 1/2, which was the amount that the package determined to be a serving. I tossed the two together and ended up with this:

All DoneWhat did I think of the pasta? I loved the wild mushroom filling and the quick cooking time. It was definitely delicious. I do think that it is probably too high in calories (320 for six of the pasta pillow) for me to have on a regular basis. Even so, four pieces of the pasta with all of the veggies, preceded by an apple with cashew butter and followed by dessert kept me full for awhile. 

Yum!Speaking of dessert, I tried something I’ve been meaning to try for awhile now:

Dessert!I took one of the remaining pieces of chocolate banana snack cake out of the freezer, cut it in half, and added a layer of mighty maple PB before giving it a 15 second zap in the micro. It was a good as I had suspected, but then, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate and PB! 

After all of that, I made a trip to Whole Foods and then followed that up with a really long, but good, workout. It included time in the gym as well as running outside, which I always prefer to running on the treadmill. I love the calorie burn I get from running, but I just don’t love running all that much. I have my moments where it feels really good, but it’s never my favorite thing. It’s always nice to be outside, however, and, since I haven’t figured out how to elliptical al fresco, I’ll keep running in my mix. 🙂

After that, I hopped in the shower and got ready to go and meet some friends for dinner at this place on Capitol Hill:

Art and SoulWhile I have certainly tried a number of places in DC since moving here in 2004, I have avoided going out as often as I would have liked because I find eating out to be such a challenge on a diet. Now that I’ve tried to take some of the pressure off, I find it easier to go out and to just try to make some smart choices. That doesn’t mean that I’m going to skip dessert, as you will see, but it does mean that I will likely opt for healthier choices in the other courses as a little bit of a compromise. It’s a treat, and one that I think should be enjoyed! I took photos of my dinner, but, since I was trying to be all stealthy and not use my flash, they look kind of weird. I thought I’d share them anyway.

First, I had the arugula salad with blackberries, goat cheese, almonds, watermelon pickles and a blackberry vinaigrette:

SaladThis was a nice big pile of fresh and peppery arugula topped with some of my favorite things. The pickles were sweet and had a bit of spice, but they were different than the watermelon rind pickles we used to make when I was a kid. Ours were cut into cubes, and were bright red in a cinnamony sweet pickle syrup. These were a bit more subtle and were really delicious along with the other components of the salad. I got the dressing on the side, of course, and it was really good. I’m pretty sure it contained fresh pureed blackberries, which would explain the slightly chunky texture, and it was perfectly tangy and sweet. I ate as much of the dressing as I wanted, but that turned out to be only around half of the little dressing container.

I should mention that there were some fun pull apart type garlic rolls before the salad, but they didn’t photograph well at all! They were tasty, and I love the interactive element of pulling them apart and sharing them around the table. Yum!!

For my main course, I had grouper topped with pesto sitting on a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes and strips of carrot, zucchini and yellow squash. That was all topped off with a carrot cider broth:

GrouperduperIt didn’t look nearly as neon in person. 🙂 I’m not the world’s biggest fish eater (aside from sushi…), but I’ve definitely expanded my fish eating horizons since moving to the east coast. I am honestly not sure that I’ve ever had grouper, but I am certain that I would order it again. The flesh was firm and tender, and the flavor wasn’t fishy or strong at all. It also didn’t hurt that it was sitting on top of a pile of mashed potatoes and surrounded by a sweet carroty sauce. The mashed potatoes are the thing that tempted me the most.

I’d checked out the menu on-line before going to the restaurant and done a bit of research. Nerdy? Prepared! I learned that, of the meats/seafoods featured on the menu, grouper was one of the lowest calorie choices ounce for ounce. Now, if you sit the grouper on top of, say, a stick of butter, it obviously doesn’t matter. This plate seemed reasonable to me, the portion wasn’t out of control, and, most importantly, I enjoyed it while trying something new. Maybe I saved a few calories by ordering the grouper, and maybe I didn’t when the accompaniments were figured in. I just think that making some sort of educated choice made me feel good about my meal. I don’t think that there’s anything wrong with that! I also learned that I like grouper, and next time I see it on a menu, it will be a contender! 

Feeling pretty good about my choices, I decided that dessert was a must. That’s no surprise, right? There were some really delicious sounding things to choose from on the dessert menu including an almond pound cake, a bourbon pecan pie and some Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts. At the top of the list was a dessert called “Baby Cakes,” and the caption underneath said that they were the chef’s favorite. This was curious indeed! I asked the server to tell me about them, and, after hearing his description, I knew exactly what I wanted!

Baby CakesI almost always prefer little samples of different things over a big plate of one thing. The baby cakes were perfect for me!  The little cake in the upper right hand corner involved bananas and a bit of fluffy whipped cream with a hint of mocha? I’m not sure, but it was good. The cake beneath it with the swizzle of glaze is a bit harder to describe. One of my friends had baby cakes as well, and she said it reminded her of coffee cake. I have to agree. I think there was some white chocolate involved and there was some raspberry on the bottom. It was good, and definitely breakfasty. On the bottom left hand corner was a delicate lemon cake with a lemon powdered sugar glaze. I love lemon cake with glaze, and this was one of my favorites on the plate! In the upper left hand corner… carrot cake. Oh my! Just look at the frosting. It was sooooo good! It probably gets my first place ribbon. Top and center was a very dark and rich chocolate cake that won my heart too. I had my baby cakes along with a nibble of another friend’s Pennsylvania Dutch style donuts, and I was a happy girl. 

I would definitely recommend Art and Soul for an evening out. The atmosphere was very nice and comfortably casual, and the food was very good. The noise level was low, which made it perfect for chatting with friends, and the service was great too. 

So, that about sums up my Saturday. I have some plants to put into pots today and a few more things to do to get ready for the week. I’m thinking about making some cookies today, but I’ll have to get the other things done first. One other thing I have to do today is to tell you about my 100th Post Giveaway!!!

I really enjoy writing my blog, and I’ve gotten to know some very cool people and found some awesome blogs since I started my own back in January. I can’t believe that I’m already at my 100th post! I wanted to have a little giveaway with some of my favorite things as a way of celebrating. Without futher adieu, I give you “Sweetie Pie’s Prize Pack:”

Sweetie Pie's Prize PackI’ve included a box of Kashi Honey Sunshine (my favorite “snacking cereal”), Lesser Evil Black and White Kettle Corn (one of my favorite snacks), a jar of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB from PB& Co. (often part of my morning chocolate and strawberry fix), some chocolate Jay Robb’s whey protein (since I’m a fan of JR, and thought I’d share the love), a jar of the orange fig spread that I adore mixed into my Greek yogurt, one of my favorite little Z bars, and one of my favorite Theo chocolate bars too. These are all things that I love, and I can’t wait to share them all with one lucky winner!! Here’s how to enter:

  1. For one entry, post a comment on this post telling me which of the items you would most like to try, or, which item is already one of your favorites.
  2. For a second entry, If you have a blog, link back to this post and tell your readers about my giveaway. Please let me know that you’ve done so in the comments section. If you do not have a blog, you can e-mail me at melodylawgirl@yahoo.com, with the word “giveaway” in the subject line, and you will receive a second entry.
  3. Finally, you can earn a third entry if you have a blog and you add me to your blogroll. Just let me know that you did so in the comments section.

If you have been reading, but not commenting, now is your chance to say hello!! I’d love to meet you! I will announce the winner next Saturday, and I’ll be receiving entries until midnight on Friday evening, 5/1/09. I can’t believe it’s almost May!! 

Now, I’m going to do a bit of balcony gardening. I hope you enjoy the rest of the weekend!! Ciao for now.

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Filed under Art and Soul, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Checking in On My “Pointless” Month and “The Microwave Scrambler”

Happy Friday and happy weekend to you all!! It is officially one month since I stopped counting Weight Watchers points and started with my new approach. It has been a good month, and I’m still very happy with my decision. I promised a weigh-in post today, and I’m happy to deliver.

Before I get into all of that, I thought I’d tell you about my lunch today. I made a batch of black bean taco filling a couple of nights ago, and immediately started thinking of other uses for the beans. The tortillas I use have to be heated in a skillet in order to be good, so an actual taco wasn’t really a lunchtime option. I’d considered the omelette possibility, but I couldn’t really whip up an omelette at work either. I could, however, do the next best thing and make a scramble! At least, I thought I could. I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but here’s what I did:

I put my black bean filling and my cheese in a little container, and put 1/2 cup of egg beaters with some salsa in a bigger container. I didn’t think it would be smart to mix them this morning because I was afraid that the beans might soak up the eggs while sitting in the fridge.

Little Bowl

 

Big BowlWhen lunchtime rolled around, I set the cheese aside and heated up the beans. Then, I mixed the beans into the egg beaters and put it in the micro for 30 seconds.

All Together Now

I took it out, stirred it, and zapped it for 30 seconds more. I repeated the process, and, after thirty more seconds, I had a perfectly respectable microwave scrambler in my bowl!

The ScramblerSince I try to focus on getting plenty of protein in my diet, I often favor eggs over bread when it comes to choosing a food “holder.” I think it was just a matter of time before I figured out how to put this to play at work. The experiment was a success, and I have a whole new option for a quick and easy lunch made with leftover veggies and meats! Hooray for the “microwave scrambler!!”

Shifting gears now, if you are a regular reader you may recall that I decided to stop counting points and worrying so much about weekly weigh-ins because it was becoming counterproductive, and I was feeling like I was in a major rut. You can find the post about my decision to switch here. Almost immediately, I decided to start counting calories because I found that I wasn’t comfortable without some sort of framework. I felt bad about it at first, but now I’ve realized that it is a step in the right direction.

I’ll say it again, Weight Watchers worked very well for me. If you are reading my blog and are currently following the Weight Watchers plan, please know that I don’t mean to be negative or discouraging about WW in any way. It is still in my list of options, and I will return to it in a heartbeat if I find that I’m unable to manage my weight with my new approach. I’d just been doing it for so long that I felt like I really needed a change. I stuck with it for the past four years because it DOES work. 

I discovered some things about the way I’d been eating when I made the switch to calories and went “pointless.” First, I realized that I might have been eating way too much fiber and not enough fat. Admittedly, if I’d been diligent about eating my daily requirement for oil under the WW plan, that might not have been a problem. I’m not sure, and I don’t love math enough to go back and figure it out. What I do know is that I’ve found some higher fat foods to be much more satisfying than what I was eating before, and I’ve felt more satisfied with my food choices over the last month than I have in a long time.

I also realized that I might have been too good at gaming the system. I might have been eating too many zero point foods of the healthy variety, since I knew my zero point options like the back of my hand, and I’ve learned that even my spinach has some calories in it. Well, I knew that, but now I understand it much better! A calorie is a calorie. Period. There’s no formula to apply. There’s something comforting about that to me. 

WW taught me well that eating a bunch of empty calorie foods, although staying within my points, would not necessarily fill me up. That’s a lesson that has carried over, and many of my meals look just the same as they did while I was counting points. One thousand calories worth of chocolate would never keep me full like one thousand calories made up of oat bran, omelettes, fruits and veggies. I think that keeping that in mind when making day to day food choices is key.

When I decided to go “pointless,” I was also struggling with the fact that my weight had stayed the same for the last few months. When I weighed in on March 20th, I was at 159.8. After a week of going “pointless” I dropped down to 153.8. I was so surprised! I think that there is much to be said for shaking things up. Today, the scale said 158.8. So, am I saying that I lost a pound this month? No. I’m getting better at looking at my weight over the course of time and not pinning all of my hopes on one snapshot weigh-in day a week. My weight had stayed around 155-157 for most of the month, but I don’t think that my weekend of eating Williamsburg’s best helped me out much for today’s weigh-in. The thing is, I’m not so freaked out about it anymore.

When I decided to make the switch, I also decided to make healthy choices and just see what happened rather than making myself miserable with the pressure to keep shedding pounds. This has done wonders for me, but I find that it is one of the things I struggle with the most. I’ve been so much more relaxed with my eating this month, and I’ve enjoyed so many things that I would have avoided before. I tend to fall back into the old patterns of worrying about staying on track in order to have a loss more often than I’d like, but I’ve gotten better about reminding myself that I don’t have to lose when I find myself in situations where I want to be less strict– like last weekend. The thing is, after a month of being more relaxed, I haven’t gained back 50 pounds. I’ve hovered around the same number and even lost a little. I needed to know that it was possible to achieve that, and I’m so very happy about it. 

My goals moving forward are to continue to stay around the weight I’m at now, or somewhere below. I really don’t want to gain anything back, but I’m ok with maintaining where I am. I also want to get better at paying attention to hunger signals. I feel like I’ve made some improvements in this area over the course of the month, but I have far to go. I would also like to focus even more on making healthy choices than on the scale number or the calories logged in my Sparkpeople calorie tracker. In other words, I’d like to keep working on eating more intuitively. 

This is an on-going process, and I know that I’ll always struggle with my weight. After this month, however, I’m even more convinced that the struggle is well worth it AND that I have the tools I need to be successful while enjoying my life. Isn’t that, after all, the best of both worlds?

As an example of the new approach in action, I will leave you with this:

LaLoo's LoveI attended a retirement ceremony this afternoon at work, and I decided that I really wanted a piece of the celebratory cake. I actually decided to have cake before I even went to the party so this wasn’t a case of seeing it and wanting it. I just wanted it. Period. I used to avoid the cake completely and munch on whatever fruits and veggies were available. That’s definitely a healthy strategy and one that I rely on often. Today, however, when I had my heart set on cake, it wouldn’t have been the best tactic for purposes of avoiding feelings of deprivation. I had my cake, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Yum! Cake with frosting is a major treat in my book! Striving for some balanced choices, I decided to finish off my LaLoo’s this evening without the usual side of chocolate cake from the freezer since I’d already had my cake today. I had a couple of reduced fat nilla wafers instead. I feel good knowing that I didn’t deprive myself of something I really wanted, and that I found a way to balance that out without guilt or deprivation. I’m figuring this thing out, one bowl at a time. 🙂 

This is post #99. I’m excited!! You’ll be hearing about my 100th post giveaway in my next post. If things go as planned…. that will be happening tomorrow! For now, thanks for reading, and I hope that my experience can be helpful to someone or, at the very least, kind of interesting. Writing it all out is definitely helpful for me. Thanks for reading it. Ciao for now, bloggie friends!

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Filed under Beans, Cake, cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers