Monthly Archives: May 2009

We Need to Get Caught Up!

Red VelvetCome on in! It’s nice to see you. It’s been awhile. 🙂 I’ve been a bad blogger this weekend. I got home on Friday night after another busy day, and all I wanted to do was crash on the couch and watch one of the Netflix movies collecting dust on top of the television. I took photos of my food all day, but I decided I needed to just relax and stay away from the computer for a bit. Instead of blogging, I watched “Juliet of the Spirits,” put my feet up, and kicked it. Yesterday was just busy! I hope you understand. 🙂

Now, are you wondering what Red Velvet is? Here’s a hint:

I Saw the SignIt would be a long post if I showed you everything I’ve eaten this weekend, so I’m just going to tell you about cupcakes, fro yo, shortcakes (with a recipe) and a few other things sprinkled in as a garnish. Yum! Some garnishes are tasty!

Friday:

Friday was a busy day at work. I wrapped up a few things, which is always good on a Friday, and I was ready to celebrate the start of the weekend with a special treat. My law school friend, Mr. M, works in an office close to mine, and he agreed to meet me for some frozen yogurt at Tangy Sweet after work. You might recall that I tried Tangy Sweet’s fro yo right before I went on vacation. I really couldn’t wait to go back!

The flavor du jour was chocolate. Chocolate isn’t usually my choice when it comes to ice cream flavors, but I tried a little sample. As it melted on my tongue, I realized that it tasted a bit like chocolate cheesecake. I decided to have a cup of it with some fresh strawberries on top.

Fro Yo!Check out the rain. There was a serious gully washer outside! I braved the weather just for you! 😉

This was gooooood!! I’m still kind of amazed at the way Tangy Sweet’s fro yo doesn’t taste very sweet during the first few bites, but then the flavor transforms and becomes sweet as the tang fades away. It’s like magic– tasty, tasty magic! 🙂 

Speaking of magic, cupcakes are one of the foods I consider to be the most magical. They are adorable, delicious, and they hearken back to childhood fun in a very lovely way. Red Velvet is a “cupcakery” next door to Tangy Sweet. If you are in the area and are interested, both places are at 7th and E in Penn Quarter. Here is a glimpse of the cupcake case:

Cupcakes!On my previous fro yo excursion, I stuck my nose in the door at Red Velvet, but I didn’t make any purchases. This Friday, I decided to get a couple of little cupcakes and take them for a spin. I was hoping to find a cupcake to rival the one I recently had at Sugar Mama’s in Skagway, Alaska. Those were SO good!!

Here’s another peek in the case at Red Velvet:

CupcakesThe cupcakes I chose were called “Southern Belle” and “Vanilla Bean.” Southern Belle was a traditional red velvet cupcake topped with a whipped cream cheese icing. Vanilla bean was a vanilla bean cake topped with a Madagascar bourbon vanilla frosting. 

Yum one and Yum twoMr. M was kind enough to agree to split each cupcake with me, so I had half of each. What a nice guy! I know it was a sacrifice. 🙂 While it would be hard to fit two whole cupcakes into a day of healthy eating, two halves work out just fine! Yes, I love cupcakes, and NO, I don’t plan to ever make them off limits. I’d rather figure out how to work them in with my nutritious eats so that I can… yep… “have my cake and eat it too.”  That’s a balance worth striking!

Check out the thickness of the frosting!

Aaaaahhhh!Southern Belle’s cake was delightfully moist, dense and rich. The beautiful color was matched by a beautiful flavor. I loved the cake! As for the icing, well, I don’t think I prefer my cream cheese icing whipped. It was good, but I like my frosting to be thicker and a bit more solid. That’s my personal preference, and I’m sure plenty of people prefer it whipped and gooey. If that describes your preference, this is the cupcake for you! 

Vanilla Bean was my favorite of the two. I love vanilla cupcakes, and this cake was moist and sweet with a nice, strong vanilla flavor. I think that I was expecting buttercream (note: read signs more closely!!), so I was surprised when I first bit into the frosting. It wasn’t the buttercream I was craving after my Alaskan cupcake, but I really liked it nonetheless. The vanilla flavor came on strong, and it really was a great cupcake.

I still haven’t found my DC Sugar Mama’s, but I’m looking. 🙂 Since Red Velvet is close to work, I foresee more samples in my future. I need to try their buttercream for sure! 

When I got home, I had a bowl of sauteed spinach, broccoli and smoked tofu. I liked having dessert first! Later, while lounging around watching my movie, I decided to open up this little bag and take these barbecue flavored Pop Chips for a whirl.

Pop ChipsI’ve wanted to try these for a while, but I hate buying big bags of chips. Since I don’t tend to choose salty snacks very often, a big bag of chips often goes stale before I get around to eating them. I was excited to find a single serving bag of these in a nearby deli, and they seemed perfect for movie munching. I really liked them. They were barbecue sauce sweet and deliciously salty at the same time. Perfect! The texture is much more like regular chips than the baked chips I’ve tried, and they aren’t made with any weird Olean type chemcials. I’m sold. These are good! If you find them where you are, give them a shot!

My other movie watching snack was a tiny bowl of chocolate chip cookie oat bran.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Oat Bran

I made half a serving of oat bran, added a bit of vanilla extract and some brown sugar to the bowl, and then topped it with chopped almonds and mini semi-sweet morsels. It was a good way to satisfy a craving for something sweet without having another real dessert. Since I’d already had the fro yo and the cupcakes before dinner, I thought I’d dial things back a bit. I’m doing my best to keep my sweet tooth in check, while still enjoying plenty of treats. This is an example of my attempt to balance things out a bit!

Saturday:

Saturday morning, I woke up to find the sun shining and a nice breeze blowing through my balcony door. It was going to be a great trip to the farmer’s market for sure! I got ready, and headed to the market armed with my reusable shopping bags, some cash, and my camera. I missed the market last Saturday. I knew that the Westmoreland Berry Farms people had been there with strawberries for sale because A Daunting Tale of Scale Warfare was at the Courthouse market last Saturday, and she featured a photo of her haul (including the berries) in her post. Grrrr!!! I was so sad to have missed the berries… and so jealous! 🙂 Luckily, there were plenty of berries waiting for me this Saturday!

BerryliciousI made up for missing the market last weekend by buying a ton of things today. I got two big containers of the berries along with: garlic scapes, radishes, tomatoes, asparagus, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, Greek yogurt, low-fat ricotta sweetened with honey and vanilla, eggs and an oregano plant.

If you haven’t heard of garlic scapes (they are the green things curled around the eggs), I’ll be posting one of my favorite scape recipes soon! I’ll tell you all about them then.

The BootyIt was quite a haul! When I started looking at all of the berries, I realized that I might have gotten a bit carried away. While freezing the berries was a definite option, a phone call from my friend, Inga’s mom, led me to a better plan. Remember the lovely Inga? My favorite dog friend?

Inga DingaInga’s parents were going to fire up the grill, and I promised to bring over some strawberry shortcake for dessert. I also promised to bring Inga her present from Alaska. 

Hello, Squeaky Moose!Hello, Mr. Squeaky Moose! I think he knew he was doomed, so he was lying on his back in defeat.

Chewy!Mmm…. chewy! I didn’t expect for this flimsy little moose to have a long life, and she had already de-squeaked him by the time I headed home last night! I’m so glad that she had fun with him, and that Mr. Squeaky Moose will no longer be squeaky. I felt like the aunt who gave her niece a noisy drum set for Christmas. Hee hee! 

I mentioned shortcake. Here’s the finished dish:

Strawberry ShortcakeWhen I started looking for a lightened up shortcake recipe, I found a ton to choose from. None of them were exactly what I wanted, so I sort of combined ideas from several in order to come up with my version. Here’s my recipe:

Sweetie’s Olive Oil Shortcakes

Ingredients:

2 cups of all purpose flour

2 Tbsp. granulated sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. salt

3 Tbsp. chilled butter, cut into small pieces

1/3 cup skim milk

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 cup egg beaters (or one egg)

2 tsp. Turbinado sugar (or granulated sugar–  for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. I used a silpat, and I sprayed it with cooking spray as well.

In a large bowl, combine flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a whisk to thoroughly combine the ingredients. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse crumbs.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the milk, yogurt, vanilla, egg and oil. 

Add the milk mixture to the flour mixture, and stir just until moistened. Turn the dough out on to the baking sheet. Spray the top with cooking spray to keep it from sticking to your fingers, and use your hands to shape the dough into an 8×8 square. Then, using a sharp knife, cut into but not through the dough, dividing it into 16 squares. Give it another spritz with cooking spray and then sprinkle the Turbinado sugar over the top.

BeforeBake for 15 minutes or until golden. 

After

Cut along the lines to separate the cakes, and then top with sweetened berries and the whipped topping of your choice.

This makes 8 servings with 2 squares per person.

I liked these, but I think the shortcakes would have been yummier if they had been warm when I served them. Since they are lower in fat, they got a little bit chewy when they cooled. I also underestimated the amount of berries we needed, and I would have liked a few more berries and a little more juice on my shortcake.

I quartered 1 1/4 pounds of berries, and added the juice of half a lime as well as 2 tsp. of sugar. There were only six people at dinner, and we ate all of the berries. Next time I make shortcake for eight, I think I’ll probably prepare at least 2 pounds of berries– maybe more. You can never have enough berry goodness!

I’m kind of happy that I had a couple of cakes leftover. I already put one to good use today in a big bowl of berry jam sweetened Greek yogurt and berries:

Yum!I like having a shortcake recipe up my sleeve because you can top them with so many different things. Summer fruits are the obvious choice, but not the only good one! I’m so glad I was able to share my haul with my friends, and I had a great time hanging out at their place– as usual! 

So, now you are pretty much caught up– cupcakes, fro yo, berries, farmers market shopping and Inga. Those are definitely the highlights of my weekend so far. I need to say Ciao and go and run some errands before what’s left of the weekend evaporates! I hope you have a great week, and I can’t wait to share my garlic scape recipe with you soon!! Ciao for now, bloggies. 🙂

What was the best thing you ate this weekend??

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Filed under Baking, Cake, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Eats and Feats (of the exercise variety)

Bowl o' BrekkieHappy Thursday, friends! I couldn’t be happier that tomorrow is Friday. Sometimes, short weeks seem to last forever. That has been especially true this week because I have been crazy busy at work. I’m looking forward to leaving it all behind for a couple of days! I haven’t had time to do much cooking this week, but I think I’ve still eaten quite well.

My big batch of slow cooker steel cut oats have made my mornings go a bit quicker, and I’ve been enjoying their creamy goodness over the past few days. This morning’s bowl had some raisins and almonds on top– you can’t go wrong with that combo! I also mixed in the very last of the pomegranate honey jelly I bought at the farmer’s market a while back. I was sad to scrape the last bits from the jar. 😦

The UsualI needed a bit of a morning snack, in part, since I didn’t add any protein powder to my oats this morning. It really does make a difference in whether or not I stay full until lunch. I had the usual apple with peanut butter. I always love this combo, although I’m glad that this was the last of the fuji apples in my fruit bowl. I like crispier apples, and these fuji apples just weren’t doing it for me. I bought a few pink ladies at Whole Foods the other day, and I’m really looking forward to them.

You might also notice that the apples are in front of a brightly colored plate. I got the plate last summer in Portugal, and I use it as a perch for a candle. I vowed not to have the bluebird sisters in every photo today. The bluebirds are privileged to sit in my sunniest spot, which is why they seem to sneak into every photo. 🙂 This spot seemed to work ok!

Smoky Tofu LoveSee the little bit of bluebird sneaking in to the top corner of my lunch? They are so persistent! Ha!

Lunch was an interesting mix. Yesterday, there was an e-mail at work about some items leftover from a luncheon that featured salads from Chop’t. Usually, the e-mails are about leftover cake. I was excited about the prospect of salad items! I had taken a salad to work for lunch yesterday, so I just picked up a few add ins.

I got a little bit carried away, and later realized that I probably didn’t need smoked tofu and chicken to go along with the hardboiled egg, turkey bacon and goat cheese already topping my salad. I decided to bring the smoked tofu home and do something else with it. At the end of the day, I volunteered to rescue the rest of the spinach from a trashy fate because, while it wasn’t the freshest, I knew it would be fine when cooked. I hope that Sarah will be proud! 🙂

So, today’s lunch bowl is courtesy of work (spinach and tofu) with some asparagus, broccoli and Country Bob’s sauce from the fridge tossed in. I had only tried smoked tofu once before, and, although I liked it, I kind of forgot about it. It was so good that I made a trip to Whole Foods today in search of more. I’m hooked!

Smoked tofu really reminds me of smoked gouda, which I love, and hey– you can’t really stir fry gouda without making an interesting mess. It might be tasty, but I’d hate to have to clean the pan. I can’t wait to have more of this tofu and spinach combo. I had to get some more spinach today too because I’ve already made it through most of the leftovers I brought home. Just call me Popeye!

Messy Yogurt BowlAfter my tasty bowl of goodness, I had another tasty bowl of goodness. This is a mix of Greek yogurt, strawberries, honey and some of my broken graham cracker pie crust crumbles. Yum! It was sweet, but not too sweet. I’m trying to save any serious sugar eating for later in the day, and that strategy really seems to be helping me to keep the evil sugar monster at bay. Hooray!

Bowl of CherriesMy first afternoon snack was a delightful and luscious bowl of cherries. I should compose an ode to cherries. I love them SO much!

Munchie BowlSome time after that, I had this little bowl of random munchies. I had a lot of food in bowls today! I have a bit of Galaxy Granola Almond Vanilla Munch in here along with some Quaker Crunchy Corn Bran squares, mini semi-sweet chocolate chips and peanut butter chips. I loved this little mix. I probably would not have thought to mix it up in the morning and take it to work, but since I was working from home today, I had the luxury of going in the kitchen and coming up with the snack I was truly craving. What a perk!

On a Steeeek!Another great thing about working from home is my proximity to the freezer…. and my frozen bananas! This is one of the ginger chocolate bananas I made the other day. Seriously, if you haven’t made your own, you should find the most amazing looking bar of chocolate on the shelf at the store and wrap it around a few frozen nanners. Oh, and I decided to pose him in front of my very old cake cover too. The blue bird sisters were kind of miffed, but I think they will get over it.

Lovely LeftoversDinner was a leftover salmon cake and some grilled zucchini straight off of the Griddler. The raspberry honey wasabi mustard on the top of the cake really adds a nice sweet flavor and a bit of a bite. I bought that mustard on an impulse when I was in some foodie type store. I really like variety, and I tend to pick up things like that if they speak to me. I’m so glad I opened up the jar the other day when I made my salmon cakes. I doubt I will find this particular mustard again, but I’ll be on the look-out for something similar. Yum!

What a Treat!Ah yes. Dessert! When I was avoiding the neighborhood gelateria the other day by buying gelato (with nutritional information… unlike the gelateria…) at Whole Foods, I got more than one kind. 🙂 Dolci Gelati is a local company, and this was my first time to try their frozen goodness. Pumpkin pie gelato sounded too good to pass up. I suspect this is a brand that might only be available around here, so I won’t emphasize how good it is. Nope. 

My papaw always had such a serious sweet tooth. When I was a kid, I could never resist asking him how he liked his dessert. I knew what the answer would be. In between smiles and bites, he would say something like: “This is awful. You don’t want any of it. It’s no good.” That’s how this gelato tastes. It’s awful! 😉

After my yummy (oops… I mean awful) dessert, I headed off to a session with my trainer. A few people have asked about my workouts, and I haven’t really said much about them lately. My workout schedule has gotten a bit off track, so I haven’t been to kickboxing in ages. I’m hoping to make it next week, and I’m sure it will be HARD! I’m kind of looking forward to the challenge. Is that twisted of me?

The times I can meet with my trainer are a bit limited, and I have to organize other work-outs around my strength training sessions. It’s no big deal, but that’s been the reason (plus vacation) that I haven’t worn my pretty pink boxing gloves in nearly a month. 

Tonight I worked out with my trainer, and also did forty minutes of cardio split between the elliptical and the stairmaster. I should have hopped on the treadmill for a bit of a run, but I just wasn’t feeling it. I thought it might be interesting if I told you how a typical class with my trainer might go.

Each exercise lasts for a minute, and there is a cardio interval in between movements. Tonight’s interval was three jumping jacks followed by a squat, three jacks, one squat, three jacks and one more squat. So, just plug that sequence in between each of the following movements and you will see how my work-out went this evening:

Wall Sitting

Walking Plank Hold

Cherry Picker Type Movement with a Medicine Ball

Bicycle Crunches

Total Body Crunches with a Ball

One Legged Hip Thrusts (to work the hamstrings– one leg for a minute and then the other leg)

Push-ups

Lat Pull Down (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Press (weight machine)

Plie Squats (while holding a 20 pound weight)

Regular Squats (while holding a 25 pound weight)

Chest Presses (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Presses (free weights)

Standing Bicep Curls (free weights)

Bench Dips (to work triceps using body weight)

This thing that involved stepping on and off of a weight bench with one leg, and then doing another set on the other leg

The END… except for the cardio. 🙂

Classes last about 45 minutes, and I really enjoy them– for the most part. Tonight, I was sick of squats by the end after doing the squats with weights and the jumping jack squat sequence a zillion times! Even though I’m usually pooped, I always feel such a sense of accomplishment at the end. When I first started these classes, gosh, two years ago? Has it been that long? I had such a hard time doing many of the moves. My strength and balance have certainly improved, and I’ve lost a ton of weight since I started. I can do push-ups… on my toes! I would never have thought it possible!! As happy as I am about those improvements, I think the best part is probably the fact that I just feel so much more confident in the gym. That’s one of the awesome benefits of exercise that can’t really be measured on the scale!

So, that’s an example of the workout I do twice a week. It’s a bit different each time, but it is usually something along those lines. If you haven’t incorporated strength training into your workout, I have to recommend it. It even makes carrying groceries easier!

I’m curious to know what other people do, so I’d love to hear about the ways you pump some iron. Do you have a set of five pounders that live in your closet? Do you work out with a trainer? Do you do your own thing in the weight room at the gym? Do you just shop a lot and carry around heavy bags? I really would love to know!

I’ll leave you with those questions now, because I have a few things to do before I mosey off to bed. I hope that you have a great Friday, and, more importantly, an awesome weekend!!! Ciao for now! 🙂

 

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Filed under cooking, D.C., diet, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Salmon, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

I’ve Gone Bananas!

Hello to you, and here’s hoping that your Tuesday was more like a Tuesday than a Monday. Mine? It was Monday all the way. Ugh! I had a busy day, and it spilled over into my evening. I’m going to make this quick so I can get to bed and be ready to tackle tomorrow!

I have one more set of photos from my vacation that I want to share from our zipline adventure in Ketchikan, but I don’t quite have them ready. I have so many photos to sort through, it’s taking awhile! Instead of me in crazy zipping gear, here’s a quick mountain scene of the calming and majestic variety:

Beautiful!My vacation was so relaxing, and that photo is a nice reminder of the calm. That’s just the kind of scene I need after my hectic day!

Blue is known as a calming color, so keeping with that theme, here’s one more glacier photo too from my helicopter glacier adventure:

Calming BlueI was so taken with the blue water that I have a ton of photos just like this one. The glacier really amazed me. I do promise you some zipline photos soon (hopefully tomorrow), and then I think my vacation recap will be done. I missed y’all while I was gone, and I’m glad I’ve been able to show you some of the cool sights I saw while I was away!

Now, on to today’s menu! I put four servings of steel cut oats (1 cup dry) in the slow cooker last night with about 5 cups of water. I set it on medium low and left it all night. When I woke up, I had lovely, creamy oats ready to go into my bowl with some Jay Robb’s, raisins, cinnamon and brown sugar. I love this classic combo!

Steel Cut LoveI have oats ready to go for the next three mornings, and they will only need a quick zap in the micro. I love a little morning time saver like that! Speaking of time savers, I realized one of the benefits of keeping my little camera in my purse when I decided to buy some dried cherries out of the bulk bin at Whole Foods on Monday. Instead of searching for a scrap of paper in my purse and then scribbling down the nutrition info, I have this:

Paper SaverI’m glad I remembered the camera, and I’ll be using this trick from now on for sure!! Ok, back to today’s eats…

For lunch, I had a big salad full of crispy veggies (lettuce, celery, cucumbers, scallions and grape tomatoes) topped with a hardboiled egg, two slices of crumbled turkey bacon, an ounce of goat cheese and some Italian dressing.

Lunchie LunchI typically just prefer vinegar on my salad so the dressing is a bit unusual for me. I recently found these little packets on sale and decided they might not be a bad thing to keep in the desk drawer stash. It was nice to have something different, and it was great not to have a vinegar spillage incident in my lunch bag. I’ve had that before, and it was NOT pleasant. This isn’t really my favorite dressing, but, for 25 calories, it was pretty good! 

I also had the Wallaby nonfat Pineapple and Coconut yogurt that you see in the photo. This was a new flavor for me, and it was pina colada-esque, as I expected. I could tell that it was nonfat yogurt, unlike my favorite Wallaby– the Dulce de Leche species, and I definitely think I prefer a little fat in my yogurt. Still, I liked the flavor, and I’d buy it again!

My snacks this afternoon were pretty typical. I had some cherries (nom nom nom!!!) Such a treat!!

Sweet Cherries!I decided to follow those up with a salty snack even though I had a hankering for something sweet. This popcorn seemed to do the trick, and the sugar craving went away. Yay!!

PopcornLater on, I wanted some peanut butter. I realized that I often eat extra foods just because I think something needs to go with the peanut butter– vanilla wafers, crackers, celery, whatever. Sometimes, a spoon is the best accessory! I had a few prunes on the side, but I ate this like two separate snacks.

PB and PrunesI have a smarty pants camera, and it made me laugh today. I took the photo of the PB and prunes, and my camera highlighted one of the prunes and said “Did someone blink?” Maybe my camera saw intelligent life in the prunes? Oh well. I ate him so we will never know! 🙂

I had one last snack this afternoon. Can you find it in this photo? It’s hiding!

Search for the SnackI love recycling these pretty metal tea boxes by using them to hold my writing utensils. You can see one holding plastic eating utensils in the background too. I don’t usually keep string cheese in there, but I needed to have a little goofiness break. 🙂

When I got home, I grilled up a zucchini on the Griddler, made a quick micro baked sweet potato, and reheated one of yesterday’s salmon cakes. It was a very tasty dinner indeed!

Din DinI followed my dinner up with a bowl of the new gelato living in my freezer and topped it with some rescued broken graham cracker crust. Yum!!

GelatoliciousFinally, I tried one of the ginger chocolate covered bananas I made yesterday. I love the ginger!! I can report that this is a winning combination. The crystallized ginger pieces are nice and a little bit chewy, and they go well with the chocolate and the banana. I’m loving these bananas! I hated bananas as a kid because of the texture, and I wonder if I would have liked them frozen. It seems possible. I certainly like them now. Yummy!!

Ginger Chockie NannerI just finished my workout for the evening, and I’m looking forward to having Wednesday off from the gym. I’ve had some good workouts over the last week, and it has actually been nice to get back into the gym after my week away. Even so, I’ll be happy to relax tomorrow night, and I can tell you that my body will appreciate a break too! Now, it’s time for me to make a cup of tea and head to bed. I have another doozy of a day to look forward to tomorrow, and I definitely need my rest. Ciao for now! I’ll catch you later! 🙂

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Filed under Alaska, Bananas, Chocolate, diet, Fitness, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Snapshots, Salmon Cakes and Sweet Frozen Bananas

Hi friends! Happy Monday! As promised, I have a few pics to share from my trip again today. After that, I have a new recipe for you so stay tuned. First….

Iceberg!!

Iceberg! Dead ahead!! We got to see glaciers “calving” on several occasions. Calving is when big chunks of glacier fall into the water following an amazingly thunderous noise. It was definitely a sight (and sound) to behold! That, my friends, is the recipe for an iceberg. The water was so beautiful, but I was certainly not tempted to go for a swim!

Here’s a silly photo. While in Anchorage, I was petted by a bear!!

DSCN3264_2I can’t resist silly tourist type photo ops. Further evidence from Anchorage:

Cheese!Those pants are a bit big on me even though this was the end of a week of constant eating! Awesome! Have you ever given in and done the touristy photo op thing? Come on! Fess up! Sweetie wants to know! I hope my friend, Miss M, won’t mind appearing here with her pickaxe. 🙂 I just couldn’t get that moose to go any faster. I tried! While you might think these little photo shoots were the highlight of our day in Anchorage, I’m sure you will be shocked to hear that there was actually something even better…

KobukThe Kobuk had a sign in the window promoting their old fashioned style donuts, and, after a long bus ride from Whittier to Anchorage, that sounded like just the ticket!

Old Alaska HospitalityI love the teapot mural on the side of the building. So cute! I had an old fashioned donut topped with chocolate and a peanut butter bar:

SweetsThe bar was not what I expected. I had a nice surprise when I realized that it was like the cornflake cluster candies that my grandmother used to make at Christmastime. I’d say it involved cornflakes, peanut butter, corn syrup and butter. That would be my guess. It was soooo yummy, but the donut, well… drool.

So I didn’t have donuts today, but I did start off with a nice breakfast. I’m sorry to say that it isn’t very interesting to look at:

BrekkieI was in the mood for steel cut oats, and, since I had a day off, I had time for the 30 minute stove top method. I liked them so much that I’m going to put a batch in the slow cooker tonight so I can have more tomorrow. I like their chewy texture, and I usually have some in the pantry. I just don’t think to make them very often since they take longer. I can’t wait for breakfast! Today’s bowl was a classic. It had brown sugar, cinnamon and raisins. I also added a little Jay Robb’s for some protein sticking power. Three hours later, I was ready for an apple with some cashew butter. YUM!

Apple Cashew Butter Goodness

The bluebirds kept jumping into every photo today. I don’t know what got into them!

Not long after my apple snack, it was time for lunch. That brings me to the new recipe I promised you. I hope you didn’t think the iceberg recipe was it for the day! 🙂 As a kid, I did a lot of the cooking. We were on a pretty tight budget so stretching a can of tuna or salmon was definitely a goal. Add that to the fact that I was just learning my way around the kitchen, and the results were often less than stellar. I made countless batches of salmon patties that could probably best be described as gluey, bready, slightly fishy, hockey pucks. Thank goodness for ketchup! I had a can of salmon in the pantry today, and I decided to come up with a healthier and more grown-up version. I was very happy with the end result! Here’s the recipe:

Grown Up Salmon Cake

Sweetie’s” All Grown Up” Salmon Cakes

Ingredients:

cooking spray

1 14.5 ounce can of salmon, drained and flaked (if bones are included, do your best to sort of crunch them up while flaking the salmon… no reason to waste that calcium!)

4 ounces of jarred roasted red bell peppers, finely chopped

5 Reduced Fat Ritz Crackers, finely crushed (any crackers should work just fine)

1/4 cup of chopped scallions

2 tsp old bay seasoning

1/4 cup egg beaters

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees, and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray.

Combine all ingredients (except cooking spray) in a large bowl. Divide into fourths, and form each fourth into a ball. Press the balls out into patty shapes and place in the fridge to chill for ten minutes. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet on high heat and gently place the patties in the pan to brown– about 2 minutes on each side. Here’s a warning: These have very little filler, and very little glue. It may take some patience and some care to keep them from falling apart during this part of the process. If it happens, don’t worry. you can reshape it a bit before it goes into the oven, and no one will no the difference. Believe me. I know. 🙂 

Place the browned cakes on the baking sheet, and then spray the tops with more cooking spray for a bit of extra crispness. Pop them into the oven for 15-20 minutes in order to heat them through. 

A little recipe calculator told me that these are 4 points each.

My salmon cake had flavor! It was moist, and did not resemble a hockey puck at all. Success! I’ve had enough good crab cakes since moving to the east coast to know that the less filling there is in a fish type cake the better. That’s why there are only a few crackers and a bit of egg in these. I love the sweetness of the jarred roasted red peppers. If you don’t keep these in your pantry, you might consider giving them a spot on the shelf. I love them in potato salads, pasta salads and all sorts of things– including these cakes. I topped my cake with some raspberry wasabi mustard, and tossed a zucchini on the griddler to have as a side. I loved my lunch!

After lunch, I took one of yesterday’s chocolate covered bananas out of the freezer, and it was even better with the banana actually, um, frozen! It also took a long time to eat, which is a great quality in any dessert.

Chocolate Covered GoodnessI’m so enamored with these that I scoped out the chocolate at Whole Foods today in order to find some to wrap around my two remaining bananas. I found this:

The GoodnessGinger+ Chocolate + Banana? You bet! I made a batch this afternoon, and I can’t wait to try them! I also picked up a new bar that I snacked on after my WF trip:

Raise the BarThis Kashi GoLean Crunchy Chocolate Pretzel bar was ok. I think I like Coffee Cake flavor of this line of bars the best so far out of the ones I’ve tried. Even so, it was pretty good, and I definitely  liked the pretzel bits. I followed it up with a blueberry Oikos:

Blueberry OikosThe bluebirds approved! These were on sale at WF today, and I picked up several. I love the blueberry Oikos the best of any of the flavored Greek yogurts I’ve tried. I found the Chobani fruit flavored yogurts to be too gloppy and gooey. I think this one is just right. I didn’t even add any crunch!

Close to dinner, I munched on another little treat from my WF trip. I love cherries, and I look forward to their appearance at the farmer’s market and the grocery store each year. They are, hands down, one of my favorite fruits. They are so sweet and juicy, and I also think they are just so darn pretty!

Just a Bowl of CherriesThese are like Sweetie Pie crack. I could eat them all day. So good!!

When it came time for dinner, there was really only one thing I wanted: Breakfast!!

Dinner BrekkieI had two slices of turkey bacon, a fried egg, some berries, and two Van’s 97% fat free waffles topped with a bit of maple syrup. Yum! These waffles are much better than any other frozen waffles I’ve tried. I will be buying them again. This was exactly what I wanted, and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

Dinner was, of course, followed by dessert. I wanted to swing by the Gelateria up the street today on my way to WF, but since I’m trying to really behave myself post-cruise, I decided to splurge on a container of gelato at WF. That way, I’d know the number of calories and be able to make a wise choice. It wasn’t a sacrifice. Not at all! I picked up a container of Ciao Bella Maple Ginger Snap Gelato. Oh my!! It was delish! 

Ciao Bella!I’ve never found a gelato in the U.S. that comes close to the scoops I enjoyed a couple of years ago while in Italy, but maybe it just tastes different when you are in Florence or Rome? 😉 This will definitely do.

There is a bit of a story about the crumbs on top. I bought a ready made reduced fat graham cracker pie crust some time ago, and it fell out of the top of the cabinet and broke into a bunch of pieces. The pieces were nicely protected under the plastic cover, but it was still a broken mess hiding under the lid. I decided to just crunch it all up, put it in a container, and use it to top ice cream, pudding, yogurt and whatever else comes along. I’m sure I could add some butter and make it back into a nice crust shape, but I’m happy with my crumbles. 🙂 

That’s it for today’s eats. I’m doing better with my sugar cravings, and I think that’s because I’ve been eating more fruit. Now that there are cherries available, well, that should help matters tremendously!

I had a great workout tonight in the gym, but I’m sorry I didn’t get my bicycle out this afternoon before the rain started. It is collecting dust, and I’m missing feeling the breeze through my bicycle helmet hair. I vow to take advantage of the next nice day that provides the opportunity. Now, I’m off to turn on the slow cooker so my steel cut oats will be nice and creamy in the morning, and then I’m off to bed. Ciao for now, bloggies!

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Filed under Alaska, Bananas, Chocolate, cooking, diet, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Salmon, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Alaskan Cupcake Gold, Hungry Animals and the Nats

Get ready for a grab bag of a post! It’s a bit here and there, just like I have been myself!

While walking past an ice cream store in Skagway, Alaska (and considering whether or not to make an ice cream stop…), my friend and I heard this conversation between a mother and child leaving the store. The kiddo had ice cream:

Kiddo: Mom, why didn’t you get ice cream?

Mom: Because I want a cupcake from Sugar Mamas.

What’s that? A cupcake? Yes please! I did what any good cupcake hound would do and tailed them down the block and around the corner. I was rewarded with this sight:

Sugar MamaInside this adorable pink store, my friend and I were treated to a selection of luscious looking cupcakes as well as some fun little treats for sale and a very friendly dog. I believe his name was Carlos. The pup took the time to ask my friend to toss his stick back and forth. I should have snapped his photo, but I have this one for you instead:

Lovely!Look at the icing!! You may be able to read some of tags in the case. There were carrot cake cupcakes, fresh strawberry cupcakes with sprinkles, and several other kinds. It was NOT an easy choice, and I wish I had gotten a few to try later after I realized how great they really were. We both chose the Not So Plain Jane white chocolate cupcakes with buttercream frosting, and it was one of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had. This icing was buttery and sweet without being overly greasy and heavy (I hate greasy buttercream!!), and the cake was perfectly moist and sweet. I’m so happy that I was eavesdropping at just the right time. 😉 If the carrot cake had been equally as good, which I suspect would have been the case, I might not have gotten back on the boat!!

Now that you’ve had a little dose of Alaska (and you can expect some more for a few days more…), let me tell you about the Saturday I spent playing tourist in my own backyard. Of course, when you live just across the river from NW Washington, D.C., it’s pretty easy to find plenty of things to do.

A friend of mine, we’ll call him Mr. T, got a big new lens for his camera, and he thought the National Zoo would be a good place to try it out. I don’t love the zoo, typically. I especially dislike the apes. The way they stare back gives me the creeps! Primate issues aside, the weather was nice and the idea of walking around with good company for an afternoon sounded pretty good to me. Off I went! 

I took a ton of photos, but I’ll just share a few. Since this is a food blog, here are Tian Tian’s eats for the day. 

BambooliciousMmm… bamboo. I will spare you a photo of the Magpie’s eats for the day. Watching him chow down on dead mouse was pretty disgusting, but to each his own. Here is an elephant munching on some grindage (points if you remember that movie…) with me in the foreground. I think my diet might closely resemble the elephant’s!

Elephant DinnerThis tiger was just lounging in the shade, which is what I felt like doing after walking around all afternoon!

Tiger, Tiger, Burning Bright...I think these flamingos needed a snack. They seemed to be having some issues, and the vibe was NOT a happy one… Low blood sugar?

Fighting FlamingosIt was such a nice day to be out and about, and I can’t wait to see the photos Mr. T took! I’m sure to be quite jealous of his new gadget!! The weather was so nice that we decided to go and catch a National’s game after the zoo. 

NatsThere was a pretty big crowd for a Nats game since the Nats were playing the Baltimore Orioles. There were lots of O’s fans in town for the game, and there was a lot of orange in the stands. Unfortunately, the Nats did not win 😦 , but we had a great time anyway! I’m not a big sports fan, but I do like going to baseball games. There’s just something about it! Usually, I pack healthy snacks before going to the ballpark, but since it was a spontaneous decision, all I had left in my bag was a little package of dried apple snacks. Those would certainly not do as dinner and wouldn’t even fill me up as a snack. What to eat? Well, here’s what I came up with:

Ben's ChiliBen’s Chili Bowl is a Washington, D.C. institution, and their chili is really great. It’s nice and spicy with lots of juicy beef and plump beans. I have found that chili can be a pretty healthy choice, and it seemed like a better option than many of the other choices at the park. As much as I would have loved a big boat of French fries underneath my chili, I just got mine in a bowl with a bit of nacho cheese sauce and some chopped onions on top. I added a bit of yellow mustard, because I kind of like that in my chili sometimes. Anyone else do that? Is it just me? 

Of course, I needed dessert. There were tons of ice cream options, but Cracker Jack seemed like a better choice. It also didn’t hurt that the nutritional information was on the side of the bag so I didn’t have to guess at the number of calories I was about to eat. I appreciate knowing things like that most of the time! This whole bag (3 servings) was 350 calories. 🙂 I was a happy– and full girl!!

Cracker JackI would have photographed my prize, but it was so LAME! I miss the lick and stick tattoos and the games with tiny plastic ping pong balls in a maze. My prize was disappointing, but at least my Jacks were good. 🙂 I wanted something else, but managed to settle for a camera shy fountain Coke Zero. I’m not much of a diet soda drinker at all, but I like Coke Zero. Since I rarely see it as a fountain drink option, I decided to go for it. What is your favorite stadium food– healthy or… not? I do love a good hot dog, and the new stadium has Five Guys burgers, which are always an enjoyable treat. 

Saturday was such a nice day! I managed to keep my eating on track while staying in motion. I worked out in the gym on Saturday morning, and followed that up with several hours of walking around. It was definitely the sort of active day I needed during my “cruise recovery” program. 🙂  As for my Sunday, well, it has been a pretty laid back day. I still need to go to the grocery store, so I haven’t really done much cooking. I did make a sweet little treat that I wanted to mention: Chocolate covered bananas!

First, I peeled two bananas, sliced them in half, inserted some skewers, and put them on a plate covered with waxed paper:

Pre-FreezeI popped the plate in the freezer to let the bananas firm up for about three hours. Then, I melted 3 ounces of 77% dark chocolate with cocoa nibs (yummy), in the microwave in a small pyrex measuring cup:

Melted ChocolateI used to use the double boiler method whenever I melted chocolate, but, unless I’m making something super fancy, I think the microwave method works just fine! I’d say that you need about 1 1/2 ounces of chocolate per whole banana. Put the chocolate in a microwave safe dish and zap it for 30 seconds. Take it out, stir it, and zap it for 30 seconds more. Repeat this until the chocolate is melted and smooth. Then, dip the bananas. I decided I needed to use a rubber spatula to make sure I got the chocolate all over the bananas. After they were coated, I put them all back on the plate and popped them back in the freezer. You can see that the chocolate was already pretty much hardened up even before the second freeze:

Chocolate Covered BananasYou can see the bumpy little nibs too. Yum! Theoretically, these should stay in the freezer for awhile to allow the banana to re-freeze after being dipped in the hot chocolate. Realistically, I decided that 10 minutes was long enough!

Yum!I considered dipping these in nuts right after they took a swim in the chocolate, but the cocoa nibs in this chocolate bar gave it a crunch so I decided I didn’t need anything more. These are so easy, and quick. I’m not sure why I never made my own! I’ve seen some pricey ones in the freezer section at my Whole Foods, and those just seem extra silly now that I know how easy they are to make. Plus, I get to pick the chocolate I want. 🙂 

That’s the scoop on my weekend, and I’m so happy to have a bonus day off. I need another day like today to get things back in order after my trip, and I’m happy to be able to sleep late too!

Before I go, Christina made a batch of my cabbage nests and topped them with, get this, GRAVY! Genius! I’m so flattered, and so glad that other people are enjoying my recipe. 🙂 This really is a versatile recipe. Remember my barbecued chicken pizza nests? How about when I topped a nest with a fried egg? I feel like the possibilities are endless!

Now that I’ve got you all caught up, I’m off to bed with a book, Underworld by Don Delillo, that I’ve really been enjoying. Since I don’t have to work tomorrow, I may stay up late with my book. I love when I’m able to do that! Ciao for now, and I hope everyone has a lovely Monday.

Happy Memorial Day!!

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Filed under Alaska, Bananas, Chocolate, D.C., Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss

Take a Hike!

In Juneau, I hiked on the East Glacier Loop trail in the Tongass National Forest. After trekking up several hundred feet, we were treated to this view of the Mendenhall Glacier:

Mendenhall GlacierWhen I scheduled my hike, I knew it would be good exercise, but I had no idea I was going to enjoy it so much! The day was kind of cloudy, and the air was chilly and moist. It was also so FRESH! There were only six people in our little group plus the guide, and I think we were all struck by the peace and quiet and the smells of the forest. There were lots of lovely views along the way, and there were several little things that really struck my fancy. If you are a foodie, I don’t have to tell you how great these are:

Fiddleheads!Fiddlehead ferns! They were growing everywhere. I wanted to make like a bunny and start nibbling!! While tasty, given my music background, I also love them for the resemblance to stringed instruments. Although, I guess these were around long before violins hit the scene. Hmmm…

There were also some cute little mushrooms, but I, of course, wouldn’t nibble on those without an expert opinion first. 

MUSH-roomsIt was a bit early (and cold!) for flowers, but these little guys were doing their best to get the party started:

Party AnimalsWe took a little side jaunt and saw this pretty waterfall near the end of the trail:

WaterfallEverything was just so lush and green! I got some good exercise, learned a lot from our knowledgeable guide, and now I think I might need to find more opportunities for this sort of hiking in my own backyard. Bliss!

After the hike, I went back to town and met up with my friends at the super touristy but super fun Red Dog Saloon.

Red Dog SaloonI clearly needed to refuel with a big juicy burger, potato salad and a Guinness. 🙂

A Necessity!Excuse the messy hike hair. 🙂 I’d been hoping to see a bear on the hike, but I guess most of them were still napping. I had to settle for this one at the saloon:

TreedFun!! Today, I hiked to work as usual, and I didn’t see any bears on that hike either! Although, work was a bit of a bear. I had a super busy day, and, as convenience would have it, I ate exactly the same things I had yesterday. That’s my way of saying that I didn’t have time to take photos. If you’d like to see today’s breakfast, lunch and dinner, just check out yesterday’s post. 🙂 There were a few small changes. First, I didn’t have any more dried apples so I had a date and a piece of light string cheese instead. Second… I ate my celery first today and then just ate the peanut butter straight from the spoon. Hee hee. Sometimes I want my PB in a concentrated dose, and the crunch of the celery was sort of addictive on its own. 

I did have some different things after dinner. In keeping with my goal of eating less sugar, I made another smoothie. These really are sweet enough, filling and satisfying. I’ve been mixing fat free sugar free butterscotch pudding mix into pumpkin this week, and loving it! I finished off my pumpkin today, but I still had a serving of pudding mix left. I started to wonder…

Butterscotchie Shake SmoothieI used to love milk shakes with caramel ice cream topping blended in. I decided to put the rest of my pudding mix in a cup with 6 ounces of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, half a scoop of Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein and a few ice cubes, and then give it a zip in the magic bullet. I don’t know why I’ve never tried this before! The pudding mix made it extra creamy, and it totally reminded me of one of those milk shakes. This will not be the last Butterscotchie Shake Smoothie I make! Yum! What’s your favorite flavor of milkshake?? I always love smoothie inspiration! 🙂

I followed that up with this little plate:

Blue Plate SpecialStrawberries topped with a bit of Galaxy granola and a bit of dark chocolate dreams PB really hit the spot. I think I may have a vitamuffin before I head to bed because I should be able to sleep my way through any sugar hankerings that might result. All in all, it has been a great day! I’m so glad to have three days to get things back in order. I hope you are enjoying the photos from my vacation. I’m having a great time sharing them with you! I have a fun little outing planned for tomorrow, and I’ll tell you all about it later. For now, I’m off to hibernate like a bear until the morning. Ciao for now!

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Filed under Alaska, diet, Fitness, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Back on Track

Here’s today’s Alaska photo taken while trekking on Mead Glacier in Skagway, Alaska:

True Blue

I got a lot of close up photos of the glacier while walking around on its surface, and this is one of my favorites. I never realized that the water was really and truly so very blue!

To get on to the glacier, I took a helicopter ride, and I got to wear a groovy orange safety vest!

Safety FirstI also had on some awesome boots that kept me from sliding into a crevasse and a ski pole type thing for a bit of extra stability. Stylish! I learned a lot on this vacation, including the fact that glaciers are pretty dirty, in part thanks to all of the mountains and trees they have chewed up, and also the fact that moss actually grows on glaciers. Amazing! Talk about determination! Check out this little fella:

Awesome Moss-omeSo cute! One of my favorite sights from up in the air was this view of Heart Lake. I’m sure the name is self explanatory!

Heart LakeI loved my helicopter excursion. It was so much fun, and the view from the sky was unlike any other! Needless to say, getting back to the grind has been a challenge over the last few days, and I’m missing the sights and sounds of vacation. I am not, however, missing the overeating! I started today with a bowl of my beloved oat bran:

BrekkieWhile on the cruise, I didn’t have the option of nuking the fruit along with the oat bran, so I just chopped up fresh pear to go on top. I realized how much I like the contrast in texture between the creamy oat bran and the crunchy pear. I may never cook my pears in the bowl again!  I also topped this bowl with a few chopped pecans and some cinnamon. There is some Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein and a small smackerel of hunny mixed in too. It wasn’t very sweet, but it was, well– just sweet enough. I realized how out of control my sweet tooth has gotten while on the cruise, and I’ve decided to dial it back a bit. Don’t get me wrong– I’m not ditching one of my favorite things. I’m just going to try to have a bit less for a week or two and see what happens. Speaking of things that are sweet, I hope you checked out my new moose mug! 🙂

When lunch rolled around, I had a nice little array of eats:

Lunchy LunchSince I haven’t been back long enough to really cook anything, I decided to grab a Trader Joe’s Soy Corn Dog out of the freezer. I got a box of veggies yesterday in order to restock the fridge, and I made sure to get plenty of cucumbers and celery. They are perfect low calorie crunchies for a girl who’s trying to get rid of a cruise pooch! I had some hummus with my cucumbers, and then I finished off with a dessert of Wallaby Dulce de Leche yogurt (my fave!!) and some Fiber One cereal for even more crunch. 

I came back to lots of things piled up on my desk, and I had a working lunch. I hate not being able to concentrate on my food while I’m eating it, but that kind of lunch happens from time to time whether I like it or not! I had some tasty snacks during my busy day too, and I tried to focus on fruits and veggies rather than sugary bars when I was packing my lunch bag this morning. What did I have? Well, first, I had a half cup of canned pumpkin mixed with 1/4 package (8 grams) of dry butterscotch fat free sugar free pudding mix. It sweetens up the pumpkin and makes the texture a bit creamy. I also had some Emerald Cocoa Roast almonds on the side. I need a bit of protein in any good snack, and these did the trick!

Sweetie Punkin' and Nutty GoodnessI also had celery with peanut butter…

Perfect Pair… followed by a bowl of afternoon oats.

Good Anytime of DayI really like this flavor. I picked it up at Whole Foods just because it sounded good, and it turned out to be a great choice! It isn’t too sweet and the flaxseeds give it a little bit of extra tastiness.

I was at work a bit late, so I decided to have a little package of dried fuji apples too. 

FruityliciousWhen I finally got home, I made a huge salad using items from the veggie box (tomatoes, cucumbers, scallions, celery and lettuce), chopped ham, goat cheese and a bit of balsamic vinegar. It was crunchy, fresh and light. What could be more perfect after a week of heavy eating?!

Big ol' SaladFor dessert, I decided to have a sweet treat, so I broke open one of the So Delicious mini neapolitan ice cream sandwiches. I really enjoy these, but they are definitely “mini.” The best way to eat them is one LITTLE bite at a time! After this treat, I headed off to the gym.

So Delicious!After I finished my workout, I wanted something else sweet, and I decided on a smoothie made with unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, vanilla Jay Robb’s and a few strawberries. This was very satisfying even though it wasn’t as sweet as some of the other options I considered. Taming the sugar monster is going ok so far!

SmoothI also had an apple with a bit of peanut butter to finish off my eats for the night.

Can't go wrong with this snack!All in all, I had a day of fresh eats, and I’m starting to feel better. I’m still suffering from tight pants and an inflated scale, but I know these things take time. I really appreciated all of the comments on yesterday’s true confessions post. You guys are awesome! Now, I need to get to bed. One more day and then we have a long weekend!! Thank goodness! I hope to get in the kitchen and make something good to have in my lunches next week. I missed my kitchen! 🙂 Ciao for now, bloggies and have a great Friday!!!

P.S. I’m still not caught up on blog reading, but that’s on the agenda for the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing what everyone has been up to!

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Filed under Alaska, diet, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Watchers

True Confessions

It was just as I had imagined…

Glacier BayThis is a photo I took in Glacier Bay. I know that this picture doesn’t do it justice. Alaska was, in a word– breathtaking! I had such a great time, and saw so many amazing things that I hope to share with you a bit at a time over the days to come. Speaking of you, I’ve missed you! I haven’t had internet access this week so I haven’t been able to post, and I also haven’t been able to keep up with all of my bloggie buddies! I’m hoping my google reader hasn’t exploded! 🙂

It was a fabulous week, and I’m sorry that vacation had to end. I heard a man say “enjoy reality” as I was stepping off of the boat. His sarcasm was appreciated as I headed back to work and the daily grind, but he probably didn’t know that there are some things about reality that I really am going to enjoy. First of all, I will be happy not to have options like the one below staring me in the face every morning (and close by just about any other time of the day…):

Pastries!Don’t worry. I have some beautiful sights to show you, but, since food is the main event in my usual blog posts, I thought I might as well get the “true vacation confessions” part of my trip out of the way since I’m back on the wagon and trying to focus on the positives after a week of, well, pretty unhealthy choices.

In the previous post, I listed several goals for myself during my vacation. I can tell you that my pants are most definitely too tight, and a quick and ill advised impromptu hop on the scale revealed a number that even I wouldn’t have imagined. Having said that, I enjoyed myself and the food that I ate (even if I didn’t enjoy the over-full sensation I experienced on SEVERAL occasions… Food Aversion Therapy (FAT) reared its head more than once…) As predicted, I’m more excited than sad to return to my usual fare, and there is something to be said for that. How did I do with my goals? Here is my honest appraisal.

  • Make sure to drink the usual 100 ounces of water a day: I ordered 10 big bottles at the beginning of the week and worked on them all week long. I didn’t quite drink 100 ounces a day, but I got quite close on many days and even exceeded it on a few others. This is a goal that I like because I remember the days when I didn’t drink water at all. The fact that I make it a priority and typically enjoy drinking it now is evidence of a definite lifestyle change. I did pretty well with this one. Yay!!
  • Visit the gym each day: Well… I did better than I would have a few years ago, but I can’t say I did a very good job of meeting this goal. I didn’t make it to the gym on the days I was traveling to and from Alaska, and I didn’t go on the days when I had excursions. I went on Tuesday for an hour, and then I never graced the door again. There were a few days with no activity at all. My long hike in Juneau was definitely a work-out (and a fabulous experience, by the way…), but my other excursions, although active, weren’t quite as strenuous. It could have been much much better, but it could have been worse. I think that scheduling lots of fun physical activities is a big key for me on vacation. That’s one way to make sure I get some activity into my day without having to put in my usual gym workout. Lesson learned. 
  • Try to eat as much fresh stuff as possible: If the goal had been “try to eat as much fresh stuff as possible,” I would have scored 100%. Hee hee. All kidding aside, I definitely ate fresh fruits and vegetables at each meal, and I know that, in times past, I probably would have zipped right past them and gone straight to the pastries. Instead, I had fruit AND pastries… and bacon. 🙂 For example, a breakfast would usually resemble this plate that includes a pile of fruit salad as well as a pear in my bowl of oats:

BrekkieI was so glad that there were oats every morning as well as lots of cool things to add to them! The plate above was typically followed by something that looked like this:

Breakfast DessertCarbalicious! A typical lunch started with 2/3 of a huge plate of salad (mostly veggies but with a few goodies) and a sampling of whatever random offerings were on the buffet that day. 

Lunch PlateBuffets are so weird. Don’t get me wrong. I ate more than my fair share this week, and I enjoyed most of it, but I still prefer to have things that make sense together. A wonton, baked beans, curried chicken and pasta in cream sauce are unlikely friends. My problem is that I like to try everything. That also goes for the desserts:

DessertThat brings me to the fourth goal–

  • Remember that tasting is fine and cleaning the plate is not necessary: I hate to waste food, so I didn’t set out to be wasteful. However, things did get left on the plate if they just weren’t very good. There were a number of things I tried over the first few days that proved to be less than stellar, and I didn’t choose those again. Some days, however, there were so many things I wanted to try that I’d make a plate like the one above and nibble my way through. Sometimes I ate it all, but there were often some things that didn’t make the cut. I’m happy not to have a dessert buffet in my kitchen on a daily basis. Yikes! I’m glad that there were at least some fruits and veggies involved, but I was definitely craving a menu heavy in fruit and veg upon my return home. 
  • Don’t overdo it on things I could have any day: I realized that this goal wasn’t really very helpful in a cruise ship atmosphere because I could have almost anything on any day. That includes the desserts. I wouldn’t have them ALL on the same healthy eating day, but I usually manage to work a few in here and there. This goal sort of morphed into my eating all the things I wouldn’t have on any old day, and eating them in abundance. I tend to lose all reason with regard to eating on vacation, even though I’m fully aware that my choices have consequences. I could have made much better choices and still had a good time. I hope to remind myself of that fact in the future. I would also have had even more fun if I hadn’t felt stuffed and sluggish on multiple occasions. Note to self: pastries are available anytime and it isn’t necessary to try to eat them all during a one week period. 🙂
  • Be kind to myself: This goal really kicked in a few days ago when I realized that my clothes weren’t fitting correctly. Honestly, I’ve been beating myself up more than I would like. I enjoyed myself, but I know that I went overboard and let my sweet tooth run rampant. Instead of the “Love Boat,” I was sailing on the “Sugar Ship.” Vacation should be enjoyed, but that doesn’t mean eating everything in sight. Striking that balance is one of the hardest things of all for me, but I’ll keep working on it. 

Today I got back on track, had a great workout and renewed my commitment to healthy eating. Feeling stuffed into my clothes gave me a glimpse of what my future could be like if I stopped fighting the good fight, and it wasn’t a nice sight. I already feel better after a day of normal eating, and I’m sure that, as the days and weeks pass, the scale will move back in the right direction. If you are a person who struggles with these sorts of things the way that I do, you know that the most important thing is to get right back on the healthy path and look forward rather than wallowing in a slip up and exacerbating the problem. My feet are firmly on the positive path, and I know that I’m headed in the right direction.

Before I go, I thought I’d share one more photo from my trip. This is me on the ship as we are leaving College Fjord. It was truly a beautiful place, and I can’t wait to share more photos and tidbits about my trip over the next few posts. In case the smile on my face doesn’t give it away, I had a great time.:-) Ciao for now, and I’ll catch you later!

College Fjord

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Filed under Alaska, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Packed (almost…) and Ready to Go!

Happy Mother’s day to you (if you are a mother), and if not, well, happy Sunday! I thought I’d leave you with a quick post before I head off on vacation. I’m not planning to post while I’m cruising in Alaska, but I will be taking tons of photos. I can’t wait to share them with you when I get back!

I’ve been busy trying to do some last minute shopping and packing over the last couple of days, and I haven’t had time to post up until now. Rather than try to catch you up on everything I’ve eaten, I thought I’d tell you about the yummy things I had on Friday. Everything else has basically been an adventure in refrigerator clean-out, and not that noteworthy.

On Friday, a friend of mine called before I left work, and we decided to hang out in the District for a bit before fleeing to our Virginia suburbs. We didn’t really have a plan, but I had just heard about a new fro-yo place that I wanted to try that was close by, so I proposed that we check it out. I loved the sign on the sidewalk outside of  Tangysweet:

I Saw the Sign“The bastion of zesty frozen delights”… Now, that’s high praise! I wasn’t sure what to expect from this fro-yo place, based on what I’d read about it on-line ahead of time. The website describes their fro-yo as being “tart.” I was intrigued! They have a number of permanent fro-yo options including vanilla, green tea and pomegranate, as well as a daily featured flavor. They also offer a wide array of toppings. There were lots of fresh fruits and berries, nuts and interesting cereal topping choices like Cap’n Crunch and Cocoa Puffs. I decided on the green tea fro-yo topped with some sliced almonds:

Fro-YoThe nutritional information (according to the website) is pretty awesome! There are 90 calories and no fat in 1/2 a cup of the yogurt itself. I got the small size, and it was plenty! The coolest thing was the way my tastebuds reacted to this frozen treat. It did seem quite tart at first. I wasn’t sure if I liked it very much during the first few bites. Then, it started to taste really sweet to me as I continued eating it. It was very interesting the way it seemed to transform as I neared the bottom of the cup. I really enjoyed my treat, and I can definitely see myself becoming a regular at Tangysweet!

After that, we just started walking while trying to figure out what to do next. We ended up doing the most logical thing to do after having dessert: eat dinner. I had seen so much awesome food on various posts in honor of Cinco de Mayo, and I kind of wanted to make up for the fact that I hadn’t had as much as a tortilla chip to celebrate. Make up for it, I did.  We decided to go to Rosa Mexicano. Their food is always very fresh and interesting, and they make the best guacamole right at the table:

Holy FreshamoleyLook at the fresh cilantro! I had a pretty frozen pomegranate margarita on the side– talk about a treat… I never have these! I was already in vacation mode without even leaving town!

Pomegranate MargaritaFor my main course, I ordered the chicken tacos. They came with a tiny little bowl of  red bean chorizo chili, plenty of super spicy salsa, and a cooling little dish of fresh sweet corn in a cream sauce. 

Chicken TacosI ate some of the chicken in taco form, wrapped in little corn tortillas, and then I put my fork to good use and finished off the chicken, peppers and the lovely melted chihuahua cheese in the bottom of the little skillet. They also brought out some delicious black beans and rice for us to share, and I sampled those a bit too. Yum! I love beans!!

Beans 'n RiceI think it is worth mentioning that there were plenty of chips left in the basket at the end of the meal, as well as plenty of beans and rice. They were good, but I was stuffed! There was a time when that chip basket would have been reduced to crumbs whether I was full or not. I love tangible evidence of progress!

Even though I didn’t polish off the chips, I was so full that I didn’t feel well. I started having premonitions about my upcoming cruise. Of course, I believe that vacation is supposed to be fun, and food is one of the parts I enjoy the most. I often enjoy it so much that I don’t feel well afterwards– which is not fun. As with my daily eating, I need to find a better balance between eating what I really want and not overdoing it. I had planned to stay on track (also known as weighing and counting each morsel I ate) until I left for my trip on Monday morning, but the spirit of vacation crept in a bit early with this Friday night fiesta. 

I often think of that sick feeling I get from overeating as “FAT,” which is my acronym for “Food Aversion Therapy.” Just so you know, I deal with lots of acronyms in my job and I love making them up for all sorts of non-job-related things too. Another favorite I have is “PITA,” which stands for “Pain in the Arse.” Anyway, there are days when I want to whine like a moody child that it’s not faaaaiiiirrr that I can’t eat whatever I want all the time and maintain my weight. What usually happens is that, after a week or so of eating whatever I want, I’m more than happy to come home and eat my usual healthy fare thanks to a bit of “FAT.” I know that I feel much better when I’m making healthier choices, and that overstuffed feeling tends to drive that point home.

While it is likely that I will experience some “FAT” over the next week, here on the eve of vacation, I’m setting a few modest goals for myself. I won’t apologize for the fact that I plan to indulge while on vacation. I could choose to only eat healthy things, but that wouldn’t be nearly as much fun. 😉 Even so, I know myself well enough to know that I will still experience a bit of guilt and remorse when I experience “tight pants” syndrome on the way home. I know the negative consequences, but that doesn’t mean that I will do my best to avoid them. I wish that I could banish all food related guilt with a snap of my fingers, but I know that, for me, it isn’t that easy. What I can do is try to come up with a few positive things I can do while on vacation!

  1. Make sure to drink the usual 100 ounces of water a day. There are so many reasons to do this. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you. Plus, I like water and it keeps me from drinking calories, which I prefer not to do. I’d rather eat them in most cases.
  2. Visit the gym each day. I don’t expect to work out at the same level that I do when I’m at home, but I know that if I stay active, it will help a bit. It’s also hard to munch on baked Alaska while running. 🙂 My friend and I walked to a distant metro station after the Mexican feast, and I felt a bit better knowing that I had done something besides just collapse into a stuffed lump of lead. Exercise is always good for my mental health as well as my physical health. I’ve also booked a couple of excursions that are pretty active, as a way to make sure to work in some exercise, and I’m really looking forward to those.
  3. Try to eat as much fresh stuff as possible. I have no idea what to expect as far as food choices go, except to expect that there will be a lot of them. Hearing the phrase “floating buffet” applied to cruising has left me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, that means that there will be tasty food available 24/7, which means constant temptation. On the other hand, that probably means that I will have enough options to mix some healthier choices in with some unhealthier choices. I figure the easiest way to do that is just to make sure to focus on getting plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables into each day along with whatever else I might decide to eat. 
  4. Remember that tasting is fine and that cleaning the plate is not necessary. Variety can get me into trouble because I like to taste everything. I just need to remember to try to share things with my cruising friends, and to ask myself whether I really want that next bite. I’m a bit of a grazer, which you might be able to tell by looking at my daily food posts, and I’d like to try to stick to little portions of things as much as possible. A bite is often enough for me!
  5. Don’t overdo it on things I could have any day. That theory helped me make a few good choices while I was in Williamsburg recently, and it just makes sense. Saving room for the really special things makes more sense than eating Dunkin Donuts or something else that I could have any old day.
  6. Be kind to myself. I can be very hard on myself when I know that I’m eating in a way that is contrary to the weight loss goals I’ve been so dedicated to for the past few years. I’m hoping that, by writing all of these thoughts down, I’ll make peace with it a bit. I know that the scale will gravitate upwards for a little while after I get home, but, past experience has told me that it will go back down once I get back on track. I shouldn’t be so hard on myself, and I should just enjoy my time with friends, new sites, and fun experiences. I know that a fear of gaining back 180 pounds is largely what drives my negative thoughts, but I’m also smart enough to know that a week of eating “off-track” isn’t going to result in a 180 pound gain. I just need to have a good perspective, a good attitude, and try to stick to a few of the goals I’ve set for myself. I know that focusing on the positive rather than the negative is usually a much better approach in any situation. 

Do you ever set goals like these for yourself when you go on vacation? 

With that, I will leave you with the extra little treat I had yesterday. Most of yesterday’s choices were of the healthy variety following the Friday “FAT,” but I did manage to sneak in a treat from the Farmer’s Market. There are always some vendors with lovely baked goods, but I typically don’t stop by their booths. In the spirit of vacation (and since I couldn’t buy produce that would go bad while I was gone), I bought this lovely, spicy, fruity and nutty Appalach Apple cookie from the folks at Quail Creek Farm:

Awesome Apple

I’m reminded of the words from the mirror on my car: “objects in mirror may be larger than they appear.” This cookie was big. I had some right away, and I saved the rest for after lunch. Yum!

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you don’t think I’m silly for worrying so much about my upcoming vacation eating. Eating “off plan” is a genuine source of anxiety for me and something that I’m gradually getting better at dealing with. My main goal, above all– the goal to top all goals–  is to have fun!! Striking a balance is my constant challenge, and I’m sure it always will be. Good thing I like a challenge!

I hope to post again on the 19th or the 20th, and I can’t wait to show you some of the sites (and tastes) that I encountered on my trip. I’ll also tell you how I did with my vacation goals and attitude. I hope you will have lots of fun while I’m away. I will miss you all!! 🙂

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Filed under Beans, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Frozen Yogurt, Uncategorized, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Return to Normalcy… and Berries!!

Square MealGood evening, friends! I want to thank you for the comments on yesterday’s post. It’s always nice to be reassured that I’m human, and that everyone has overly eatful days. I’m just trying to find a good balance, and days like yesterday totally throw me for a loop! Hearing the ways that y’all react to bottomless pit days really made me feel better. Hugs to you all!! 

Today was back to normal, as I’d hoped. Thank goodness! I started off with a big bowl of five grain cereal, oat bran, smashed banana, vanilla almonds and honey. I’ve been having bananas in my breakfast bowl all week because I’ve been trying to eat things I have on hand rather than restock the fridge in preparation for vacation. As you will see in a second, I caved today. I had bananas in the freezer so it’s been bananas every morning. Tomorrow, I’ll be back to a morning favorite…

I was definitely back in my nut butter groove today after eating less than usual over the last couple of days. I had a little pink lady with some mighty maple as a mid-morning snack:

Snick SnackNut butter is just SO satisfying! There was an interesting bit in the Post about nut butter (and how awesome it is!!) If you are interested, you can check it out here.

For lunch, I had not one– but TWO cabbage nests topped with the rest of the goat cheese from the fridge, some scallions, some chopped up pieces of chicken breast that I tossed on the griddler this morning and a little Country Bob’s sauce. Barbecued chicken cabbage nest pizzas? Cleaning out the fridge is underrated!!

Cabbage Nest LunchingI followed that up with a piece of Chocolate Banana Snack Cake from the bag of baked goods in the freezer. I put a little layer of mighty maple in the middle. PB hit #2 of the day.

Chockie PB LoveRather than just feed on one sweet snack after the other, I decided to try to have a savory snack. I think the sugar monster was a bit out of control yesterday, and I think that might have been part of the issue. I popped a 100 calorie bag of popcorn and topped it with some Kernel Seasons ranch seasoning. I’d seen Kernel Seasons products on-line, and I was shocked when I found some hiding on a bottom shelf at my Safeway. I got several flavors, but I hadn’t actually tried any of them until today. I’m sure that greasier buttery popcorn would do a better job of holding on to the seasoning, but it worked just fine and added a little bit of extra flavah. I approve of Kernel Seasons. Sah-loot! I’m going to have to try this on a baked potato. I have a feeling it’ll be goooood!

The KernelWhile snacking on my popcorn and working on the long draft that occupied much of my day, I heard something. I had to investigate. There’s a fountain down below my balcony, and, as much as I love it, it’s kind of loud– even up here on the 12th floor! Today was the day to turn it on, and the results were interesting. Apparently, it could have used some preliminary cleaning. I’m no fountain expert. I’m just sayin’…

Not So PrettyYuck! I can envision the Addam’s Family with a black fountain, but it isn’t such a great look for my building. I hope it looks better tomorrow. Ewww.

I  made some iced tea this afternoon that was a much nicer color than the fountain water. This loose melon tea makes great iced tea, and today, in a stroke of sudden inspiration, I figured how to satisfy my love of sweet tea by adding a bit of sugar free French vanilla Torani syrup to this glass. It was so good with the melon flavor. I don’t know why I never thought of it before!!! 🙂 Oh, and speaking of French… in case you haven’t noticed based on various pictures in numerous posts, I’m a sucker for cheesy things with French words on them. What can I say? Ooh la la!

TealiciousIf you love tea as much as I do, you should definitely check out this awesome tea giveaway hosted by the Hungry Yogini! Actually, don’t check it out. I want to win!!!

When it came time for another snack, I decided to have a container of my favorite pre-flavored yogurt, the awesome Wallaby Dulce de Leche. On the side, in keeping with my attempts to impose a bit of restraint on the sugar monster, I picked one of the lesser sweet cereals in the pantry– Quaker Essentials Crunchy Corn Bran. A serving of this cereal is huge, and it kept me crunching for a long time. I also think that, since the yogurt is so sweet, the less sweet cereal makes a great pairing. People get jobs doing wine pairings. Do you think I have a future in yogurt/crunch pairing? 

Wonderful WallabyI needed a bit of nut butter, so I followed that a bit later with a few little wafers topped with PB #3 of the day. This was Mighty Maple again. Love it!

PB NibblesAfter I logged out of work for the day, I decided to combine a quick run with a trip to Whole Foods. I couldn’t stand the lack of fresh things anymore, and I wanted to buy a few things that would last in the pantry and be ready for me when I return from vacation. Before I headed out, I had this bowl– one of my faves!! Milk chocolate Ghirardelli chips and Galaxy Granola Vanilla Almond Munch. I lurve it!! I figured a few carbs would make for good fuel. 😉

AwesomenessI was planning to do about 20 minutes of running, but it started raining around minute 10. At minute 15, I decided to go ahead and duck into Whole Foods to do my shopping in hopes the rain would stop for my walk home. I went to the gym tonight to finish up my workout as planned anyway, so I just tacked on five more minutes. No biggie! It was nice to run outside a bit, and it was great to just break up the monotony. I didn’t get to kickbox today because something came up around lunchtime that needed my attention. I’m usually able to go to class on my “work at home” days, so I can’t complain too much about missing on occasion. I think I might try to go to the Saturday class. We’ll see.

I picked up some almond breeze, frozen fruit, a new huge container of Jay Robb goodness, oat bran (I was almost out… eek!), some yogurt and egg beaters with June expiration dates, and a few other things that will last just fine in the fridge and be here for me when I get back. I hate coming home from vacation to an empty fridge! I’m usually ready to eat super healthy, after some vacation eating, and I hate when I don’t have good things at my fingertips! I also got some fresh berries, spinach, cucumbers and hummus because I was going crazy without them. I don’t think it will be hard to eat them all up before I leave on Monday morning. I don’t mind that challenge at all!

After I put the groceries away, I had a lovely plate of cold foods along with more iced tea. It was like a picnic! I had some more of the chicken I grilled this morning, some Springtime Market Potato Salad (loving it, by the way…), some fresh cucumber, and my favorite Whole Foods hummus— caramelized onion. This may sound like a bad thing, depending on your taste, but it reminds me of the Lipton onion soup mix and sour cream dip that we used to have a few times a year. I always loved it, and that’s why I’m such a fan of this hummus. Good memories… and good eats!

Blue Plate SpecialI followed that up with some Vanilla Snowflake LaLoo’s goat’s milk ice cream and some strawberries. Oh, how I’ve missed my berries this week. Seriously!! I need that hit of red. I tossed in a few little vanilla wafers too. Yum! 

LaLoo- hoooooooo!After that lovely bowl, I went to the gym to finish my workout. Then, I decided it was time for more of my berry loves. It was time for more chocolate chips too. This bowl is like deconstructed chocolate covered strawberries. There’s no way to go wrong with that!! It was yummy, and it really hit the spot. 
BerryliciousNow, I need to hustle off to bed if I’m going to tuck myself in by 11:30 I have a lot to do this weekend (including packing for my trip!!!), and I’m hoping that tomorrow flies by! I’ve already mixed up a breakfast cookie to have in the morning, and I’m looking forward to that too. I’ll have sweet dreams knowing it’s waiting in the fridge! 

Since everybody loves a Friday, I’m wishing you a speedy day and a great weekend too!! Ciao for now, bloggies. 🙂

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Filed under Asparagus, Bananas, Chocolate, diet, Fitness, Food, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story