Monthly Archives: November 2009

Je-diet Mind Tricks

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelette

Hi, friends. It’s the weekend. Woo hoo! Finally some time to catch my breath. It’s been a busy week. Let me catch you up in a hurry. Oh, and the photo at the top is a teaser. I’ll tell you about it in a minute. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

  • I’ve just finished 10 days of level of one Jillian’s notorious 30 day shred workouts. So far so good. I’m trying to shock my body a bit with some new tricks in my weekly routine, so I’m replacing 20 minutes of my usual cardio with 20 minutes of shredding. I’m still working out with my trainer, and I’m not shredding on those days. I haven’t worked out without resting days in between in a long time, and I’m only planning to do it for a few weeks. I’m not out to create any overuse injuries, but I am trying to shake things up a bit. So far, I feel stronger and I have more energy. The workouts are tough, but I like a challenge. Have you shredded?? What did you think?
  • I just finished the second week of participation in a stair climbing contest at work. One of my favorite co-workers organized us into teams of five, and, each week, we compete to be the team to log the most flights (only ascending flights count). Prizes are awarded weekly. Last week, my team won the contest with nearly 700 flights!! This week, I wasn’t a very useful team member since I was out for training on Thursday and Friday, but I’m sure my team rocked it again this week anyway! They are awesome. Getting a little exercise throughout the day has given me a real boost. It has also made me realize how easy it is to park in front of the computer for hours at a time without moving. Honestly, I’ve also realized that it’s pretty easy to get up and move around too. I hope I can keep it up when the contest is over. 
  • Last Sunday, I went to the Metropolitan Cooking and Entertaining Show here in D.C. I attended Tyler’s Ultimate Food and Wine pairing, and had some very tasty nibbles.

The Stage is Set

TylerOk. So, Tyler wasn’t a nibble, but he is rather tasty. Yes? We were also treated to a visit by another Food Network favorite…

SamplingTyler has started making wine, and he was giving Paula a little sample of his wares. 😉 I had a great time at the show, and I sampled a ton of stuff at the expo too. I’m definitely going to try to go again next year!

Now that I’ve given you the quick catch up, I want to talk a bit about the title of this post “Je-diet Mind Tricks.” Over the past few years, I’ve looked for ways to make my food more enjoyable without piling on lots of extra calories. I’ve learned a number of tricks. For example, I’d always heard that serving your food on a smaller plate or in a smaller bowl would make you think you were having more. I’m sure I’d read that in magazines in the past and dismissed it with an “Oh please!! I’m way too smart for that” kind of attitude. The thing is, it does work. I have lots of small bowls, and I use them often. I like eating smaller meals off of smaller plates, and I tend to eat ice cream out of tiny little heart shaped bowls I picked up at Crate & Barrel.

My Heart is Empty?One fourth of  a cup of ice cream really does look like a lot more when it fills up my small bowl than it would if it were sitting in a little blob in the middle of one of my big oat bran bowls. These bowls are also great for little nibbles of granola, trail mix, almonds and that sort of thing. I’m a fan!

Another trick I’ve learned comes into play in my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes. I could just call them muffins, but they are much sweeter and more like cake. Truth in advertising, right? 🙂 Have you ever made a lightened up recipe involving chocolate chips? Often, these just seem to involve using a smaller portion of the chips you might use in a regular recipe. That’s not a bad strategy, but it can lead to a treasure hunt type scenario for the three little chips that might have made their way into your muffin. There is an easy solution to this, and I think it makes a huge difference with regard to the satisfaction factor– mini-chips!

Mini YummiesLook inside this muffin. See all those brown specks?

Chocolate Bonanza!Those are the mini-chocolate chips. There are several bits of chocolate in each bite, and a great deal of satisfaction. Employing another je-diet mind trick, I also used turbinado sugar in the topping because the crystals are bigger and add a nice crunch. I’ve made this with granulated sugar in the topping, and it doesn’t maintain its character nearly as well. It certainly seems like a bigger treat when I see the sweet little crystals and feel them crunch in my teeth. Tricky? You bet!!

I started with a recipe I’ve used for a long time, and I gave it some pretty significant tweaks. I love remaking an old favorite. The cinnamon and chocolate combo gives it a slightly Viennese twist, and the pumpkin just tastes like fall. Here’s the recipe:


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes


Dry Team:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1/4 cup whole wheat flour and 1/4 cup teff flour (or 1/2 cup of whole wheat flour) 

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Team:

1/2 cup egg beaters (or two eggs, beaten)

8 ounces (1 3/4 cups) of canned pumpkin

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. canola oil

Team Chocolate:

1/2 cup semi-sweet mini-morsels


1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 12 unit muffin tin with cooking spray. 

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “dry team.” Make a well in the center.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the ingredients in the “wet team.” Pour the wet mixture into the well in the center of the dry mixture, and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups. 

Mix the turbinado sugar and cinnamon together to form the topping, and sprinkle the mixture evenly over the top of the muffins.

Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the muffins spring back when pressed lightly in the center. Remove the muffins from the pan and allow them to cool on a wire rack.

Based on my calculations, these come out just below 150 calories a piece. Not bad for a sweet treat in my opinion!

You could bake the batter in a 9×9 inch baking pan for 20-25 minutes if you would prefer to serve it like a cake. I kind of like the built in portion control I get by using a muffin pan, but I’ve made this as a cake many times. I’m also positive that cream cheese icing would be great on top if you were feeling more decadent or serving these to a festive crowd. 

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? 🙂

Now, it’s time for me to take my first run at doing level two of Jillian’s shred. Wish me luck! I may need it!! Ciao for now, y’all!


Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., Fitness, Food, Pumpkin, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, Weight Loss Success Story

Georgia On My Mind

Rolling on the RiverHi, friends! Yes, it has been a long time since my last post, and no, I did not fail to survive the 10K I was about to run when last I posted. 🙂  Thanks to those of you who were kind enough to check up on me. You are too sweet!! The race went pretty well, by the way, considering the fact that I don’t run very often, and I beat my previous 10K time by just enough that I feel a sense of overall fitness progress. Since the race, I’ve been running another 10K of sorts. Work has been busy, and my weekends have been quite busy as well. 

My friend, Adrienne, her brothers and I spent the long Columbus Day weekend in Savannah, GA, and I couldn’t possibly let all of the foodie photos I took go to waste! I can’t believe it has been so long. Hopefully, I can get back into some sort of regular blogging schedule. I’ve really started to miss it, and I’m going to do some serious thinking about the kind of posting schedule that might work the best for me. I will keep you “posted”! 😉

I’ve wanted to visit Savannah for as long as I can remember, and it is, hands down, one of my favorite places– ever. I decided that I’d give you a little picture tour/travel idea post, in case you are looking for a good option for a long weekend trip. I’m primarily going to post highlights about what we ate, but rest assured, we saw many historic sites, kept the sidewalks hot while walking from square to square, and did plenty of shopping too. Without further adieu…

When we arrived in Savannah on Saturday, lunch was the first order of the day. Thanks to an article that was forwarded to me by a friend, we found a barbecue place that was literally down a little dirt path. Thank goodness for this sign! 

This Way Down the Dirt PathMac and Cheese, greens and pulled pork… YUM! Greens are one of my favorite things!! Wall’s Barbecue is not the kind of barbecue I’m accustomed to, being from the Memphis area, but I have to say that this unique Savannah version of barbecue was quite good. The sauce involves cayenne and worcestershire sauce, so it was definitely something different for me. There was also some unpictured cornbread. I had to have it to go with the greens, of course!

Wall'sAfter lunch, we checked out the Colonial Park Cemetery, and then it was late enough that we could go and check into our room at the very hip Thunderbird Inn. It’s a retro motel. It’s funky. It’s cool. It’s also, cheap, clean and within easy walking distance of just about everything. Here’s the sign against the night sky:

Thunderbird InnI would definitely stay there again!

Once we were situated, we set out for a stroll around the city. The sky was still clearing from a big rain storm, and we were treated to this beautiful sight:

RainbowThere are many beautiful old churches in Savannah, and I was so happy to have the opportunity to snap this photo. Here’s another:

Stained GlassWe saw another beautiful sight, of a different sort, while strolling from square to square… We decided to stop at a very cool looking coffee place, Gallery Espresso, where I could not resist getting this luscious looking slice of red velvet cake:

Red Velvet at Gallery EspressoSorry about the lipstick on my mug. I started without you. 🙂 I love having a friend around to split tasty desserts like this one. Hooray for the two fork approach!! The cake was probably the best red velvet cake I’ve ever had, and the coffee was quite good as well. We made the most of our little sugar high and walked some more. Savannah is probably one of the most walkable places I’ve ever visited, and I loved that about it. Among other things, we saw Flannery O’Connor’s childhood home. Very cool! After a good amount of wandering and a bit of shopping, we made our way to our dinner restaurant, 700 Drayton

Located in the Mansion on Forsyth Park, 700 Drayton was funky, artsy and vibrant, and the food was excellent! I started off with an organic baby spinach and berry salad topped with roasted petite vidalia onions, peach roasted pecans, a big crispy brie crouton and a lovely blueberry viniagrette. The big cube is the brie crouton, and it was essentially a big hunk of fried brie. Um… Yum!

Brie CroutonThe next thing on my plate was 700 Drayton’s Morroccan spiced rack of lamb with Israeli cous cous, rum soaked rasins, artichoke hearts, olives, vidalia onions, organic baby carrots, and cardamom honey drizzle.

Lovely LambThere was a lot going on in this dish and all of it was GOOD! I followed that up with Leopold’s “Oh Savannah” ice cream which was chock full of rum, caramel, pralines, shortbread, and nougatine.

Ice Cream!!It is a very good thing that we had made the conscious decision to do as much walking as possible during our little weekend jaunt. It certainly helped to balance at least some of our tasty vacation eats!

On Sunday, we visited a TV Food Network institution– The Lady and Son’s. By the way, if you expected lots of healthy eats in this post, this should settle that matter once and for all!

The sign:

Bring on the Butter!My plate at Paula Deen’s (already in progress…). Hoecakes and biscuits not pictured. 

Home Cookin'This is the kind of food I grew up eating, and it really took me back. I think the fried chicken and creamed corn alone made the wait in line worthwhile. Oh, and there was quite a wait. We got in line around 9:30 a.m. in order to get on the list to come back for lunch around noon. It is a tourist hot spot, which isn’t always my scene, but I would have been sad to have missed out on this meal. As a bonus, there was sweet tea and Almond Ooey Gooey Butter Cake!

Sweet Tea!

Buttery Goodness!After our massive lunch, we hopped in the car and headed to Tybee Island. I would like to think that my climb to the top of the lighthouse burned off at least a few bites of that Mac and Cheese! 🙂

Tybee Island LighthouseIt was such a gorgeous day! After climbing the lighthouse, we hit the beach for awhile. It was so warm, and the water was perfect!

Monday was a day of grazing as we walked along the riverfront and nibbled on this and that (can you say “pralines?”). In addition to checking out the stores along the riverfront, we toured the historic Owens-Thomas House. It was a beautiful home, and the history was fascinating!

A visit to the Savannah Bee Company  was high on my list of things to do, so we headed that way in the afternoon. Is it bad to have biscuits and honey for lunch? 🙂

Savannah Bee Company

The store was glowing with all of the beautiful honey, and it was a sweet visit– quite literally. We were treated to a honey tasting, and it was so much fun to sample all of the different varieties side by side. It’s amazing how different each honey really tastes when compared with the others. The variety of colors is a good indicator. 

Honey Honey

Just to sweeten the deal, we couldn’t resist trying honey lattes. I had mine made with the Sourwood honey. It is sort of maple syrup like, and soooo delicious! I had the same on my biscuit. 😉

On the Menu


Sigh. So good. After that, we walked through Savannah’s City Market, and checked out some of the local artwork. We also grabbed dinner at a place at the market that was recommended by a friend of mine who spent several years living in Savannah– Vinnie Van GoGo’s. The presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design lends a delightful artistic flavor to many parts of the city. I love the vibe, and I loved the artist inspired name of this pizza place!

Vinnie Van GoGo'sWe split a salad and each had a slice.

SaladI opted for a slice with sausage and mushrooms. 

My SliceI loved the casual “college town” atmosphere at Vinnie Van GoGo’s, and I’m so glad my friend recommended it! This really hit the spot. We followed our dinner with a walking ghost tour. It was a lot of fun and it fit in well with our plan to walk as much as possible. 

We had a Tuesday afternoon flight back to D.C., but we made the most of our Tuesday morning. I’m still amazed at how many things we did in such a short time. Because it is so easy to walk from one place to the next, it’s easy to do a lot of things in just a few hours. First, we decided to have breakfast at the Gryphon Tea Room. We had spotted it earlier, and I’m glad we decided to check it out. 

The GryphonLocated in a turn of the century pharmacy, the tea room features cozy dark wood cabinetry and vibrant stained glass panels in the walls and the ceiling.

Look Up!

Lovely!Most importantly, I had an awesome pot of cinnamon orange tea and some mouthwatering fruit and apricot scones!

Pot of GoodnessY’all know how much I love tea… and baked goods! 

SconesI wish this tea room was in my neighborhood. I’d be a regular!!

After our breakfast, we set out to tour the Green Meldrin House. Sherman stayed in that house during his time in Savannah during the final months of the Civil War. We also visited E. Shaver Booksellers, where I bought, what else– a book about the civil war! 

We started to get hungry again while at the bookstore, and we decided to go and find that last “must eat” place on our list: Harris Baking Company. We had looked for it earlier, but it had eluded us. Armed with the assurance that it really was where it was supposed to be, we went back. Luckily, it eluded us no more.

Harris Baking CompanyHave I mentioned that I love baked goods? 🙂 Harris Baking Company did not disappoint. They had me with the samples at the register! I ordered a salad and this awesome sandwich with turkey and peppered bacon.


The bread was amazing, and the freshly made pickles were a nice touch too. I also needed a couple of cookies, including a pecan praline cookie, for the flight back.

C is for Cookie

Of course, we managed to squeeze in a visit to one of the Telfair museums before we headed to the airport, and I got to see a few paintings by one of my favorite American artists, Frederick Frieseke. Did I mention that we did a lot in a short time? I’m not a traveller who likes having a very tight schedule or a detailed agenda, and even I have to say that I never felt rushed or stressed about getting from one place to the next. It’s just so much easier when you (and your feet) are in charge of the travel. 

So that’s it! I do hope you enjoyed my little recap. Savannah is full of gorgeous sights and amazing food. Thanks to the seriously copious amounts of walking, I didn’t come back with extra vacation weight either– much to my surprise. I now see the real value of active vacations, and I will definitely seek out those sorts of trips in the future. I know it isn’t fully reflected in this food focused post, but believe me when I tell you that the beautiful historic homes, weathered monuments, verdant squares and southern hospitality made this a memorable trip too. How nice that it was rather close to home. I’d love to go back sometime, and I’m just sorry I waited so long to go. 

Where is your favorite place to travel that’s close to home??

Now I need to go and pack a lunch for tomorrow. I haven’t been cooking much, so it could be a challenge. Luckily, yesterday was Merry Produce Wednesday, and I had a nice fresh box of produce waiting for me when I got home from work. I see a salad in my future… Ciao for now, and I’ll try not to be such a stranger!


Filed under Food, Travel, Uncategorized, Weight Loss Success Story