Category Archives: Bananas

Griddle Me This, Griddle Me That…

…Griddle Zucchini and Sausage (low-fat…). Summer is here, and I don’t know what I’d do without my Griddler!! More about that later. Let’s begin at the beginning. Here are yesterday and today’s brekkie bowls. The only difference is the shape of the bowls.

Yesterday:

Square MealToday:

Well Rounded MealI did it, friends. I ate Mr. Banana Man. I finished off the last two crazy banana locks this morning! This is the same bowl as usual: oat bran, five grain cereal, Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein Powder, bananas and TJ’s Peanuts, Berries and Almonds. Yum!ย 

I snapped photos yesterday, but I didn’t have time to post. I hope you won’t mind seeing double today! I hate to waste my photos! ๐Ÿ™‚ Yesterday’s lunch was another picnic special. Yogi would approve! I even ate outside with friends, so it was a real al fresco picnic instead of a picnic of the fake desk variety.

Hey, Boo boo...I love my picnic lunch!!! I was so glad to hear that several of you have nice memories of Yogi and Boo Boo!! What fun!

Today’s lunch was different, since I was working at home, but it shows a similar approach to lunch.

Tuna Fish and Tater Totties... sort of...What’s the same? Well, aside from the obvious mini pitas, this is another meal made up of lots of little things. I love little bits of this and that. Yes, I am a fan of tapas! Both of these lunches involve some fresh produce and some protein. That’s a typical lunch formula for me. If you think you have nothing healthy to toss into your lunch bag, consider making a little snack plate like this one!

Today’s plate includes a Dr. Praeger’s Potato Pancake. One of my mother’s favorite little lunches involves tuna salad and tater tots. I thought of her today. This is no tater tot, but it is pretty darn close! I also have some Trader Joe’s triple layer hummus on the side. If you have a TJ’s nearby, and you haven’t tried this hummus, trust me. It’s GOOD!! It’s one of my favorite hummus flavors for sure!

The tuna salad has hardboiled egg, sweet pickle relish and dijon mustard along with a tiny bit of light mayo and some Greek yogurt mixed in with the tuna for a bit of creaminess. There’s just enough mayo for a mayo flavor, but it gets most of its creaminess from the Greek yogurt. That’s one of my favorite salad tricks!

Yesterday, I snacked on a few graham crackers with peanut butter (as usual), and I also had an afternoon stroll to Tangy Sweet where I tried a bowl of their strawberry fro yo.ย 

Berry Yummy Fro YoSigh. I do love Tangy Sweet.

This afternoon, I had some sweet and creamy treats too.ย I sent some skim milk, blueberries and half a packet of Weight Watchers vanilla chai smoothie mix for a little ride in the Magic Bullet, and was rewarded with a yummy and brightly colored smoothie.ย 

True Blue

After that, I had a blueberry Oikos with some coconut on top. I don’t know why I’ve never added coconut to my Greek yogurt before. Umm…. yum! It was a nice addition. I’m sure this won’t be the last time I put this pair together!

Berry CoconuttyThis afternoon, I also had a tiny little snack bowl:

Snick SnackA few chocolate almonds, a smidgen of granola and a few butterscotch chips made the perfect snack close to dinnertime when I just needed a little something to tide me over until dinner.

So…. Dinner. My title pays tribute to my favorite summertime dinner making gadget: my Cuisinart Griddler. It’s great for me, since I don’t live in a place where I am allowed to have an outdoor grill. It also makes dinner preparation SUPER quick. I love grilled veggies, and this is a nice way to grill them right in the kitchen.

I took a package of TJ’s chicken sausages out of the freezer yesterday, and I had zucchini and other veggies in the crisper. Those ingredients are definitely the makings of several dinners for one. Last night’s plate:

Din DinI’m now out of my Dr. Praeger’s Potato Cakes. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Last night’s dinner was good. Tonight? Well, not to get all Emeril on you, but I kicked it up a notch. Should I say it? I shouldn’t say it, right?

Bam!It has to be said. BAM! Yes, inspired by Mara, I whipped up some quick polenta for one, and it made this one of the best quickie dinners I’ve made in a long time. The whole thing was done in ten minutes!

I only made half a serving of polenta, which was plenty for me. I mixed in some cheddar, and saved some to put on top. I also topped it with some griddlered red bell pepper (yes, the same one I’ve been eating all week… it was big!) and some fresh basil from the balcony. I love polenta when I eat it in restaurants, but I really never think to make it for myself. This was so good! I can’t believe I’ve been missing out!! It took no more time than making my morning oats. Easy peasy!! It was so delicious alongside my grilled zucchini and my chicken sausage. Not to be boring, but I’m pretty sure I know what I’ll be having for dinner tomorrow evening!

I also have some visions of future polenta breakfasts. Oh yes. I have some ideas for sure. Grits are grits, right?

In addition to my evening griddling, I’ve also been diligent in my Holey Donut sampling duties. Last night, I tried the vanilla coconut donut.

Coconutty!Sorry the picture looks sort of electric. I love my blue plates, but they sometimes make for crazy photos!

Tonight, I tried the vanilla crumb donut (and a different camera angle).

D'oh-nutWhat can I say? Not surprisingly, they were both really good. I prefer the coconut donut over the crumb donut, but that’s just because I really love coconut. I’ve had to make a “one per day” rule for these little gems, but I think that just makes me enjoy them more. It would be easy to eat the whole box! “Wholey Donuts?” They are THAT good!

I tried one other new thing today:

RefrescanteThe package says that it is “like sticking a straw in a coconut.” I have tasted coconut milk straight from a coconut before, and, yes– that is what this was like. It was good, and it was refreshing. It wasn’t, however, a taste that captured my heart. I would have it again some time, but I’m not going to be making emergency runs to Whole Foods for a Vita Coco fix. It’s kind of sweet, and it does taste sort of like coconut. I don’t know. It was just a little… weird. I may have to try another one soon just to verify my feelings about it. Hmm. Yes. I think there may have to be a second taste test on this one. The jury is still out. ย 

This has been quite a day. I’m not really one who keeps up with celebrities, but I was certainly saddened by the loss of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. I remember watching Charlie’s Angels as a kid, and I have nice memories of singing “We Are the World” in my elementary school music class. Along with the metro crash this week, and the turmoil abroad, the news is even more depressing than usual. Here’s hoping for some happy news in the days to come!!

I can offer you this bright spot: I want to remind you about the opportunity to save $$ on Jay Robb products purchased from his on-line store using a special promotion code exclusively for Just Sweet Enough readers. For more info, check out yesterday’s post.ย I have a little Jay Robb in my bowl every morning! If you can’t find these products in a store near you, this is a chance for you to save a bit of money and summon some Jay Robb’s love right to your door.ย 

Now, I’m going to turn off the television, and finish the book I’m reading. I love knowing that I get to start a fresh new book in the morning! Here’s wishing you a very happy Friday and lots of happy news! Ciao for now, y’all!

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

Heeeey, Boo Boo… What’s in Your Pick-a-nick Basket?

Hey, Sweetie Pie! Long time no post! I’ve been quite remiss in my posting lately, but I’ve had a lot of things on my plate. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m in the midst of a bit of a personal project, and I’ve been pretty slammed at work too. The days seem to be getting away from me, even though it’s staying light until late in the day. I love the longer days this time of year! How about you? It would be ridiculous for me to try to catch you up on all that I’ve eaten since last week, but I hope you’ll enjoy a few highlights.

Breakfast is easy enough. In an effort to eat all of my baby bananas, I’ve had the same breakfast every day since my last post! It goes something like this…

Baby NannersIt’s a mix of oat bran, five grain cereal, Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, agave nectar, baby bananas and TJ’s PB&A. Yum! The only variation over the past few days has been the amount of agave nectar. I realized that I really don’t miss it if I leave it out altogether. Making my cereal a bit less sweet only makes the flavor of the sweet bananas pop even more. Yum! If you are intrigued by Jay Robb and his whey protein goodness, be sure to check out the bottom of this post for a little announcement!

In addition to my breakfast reruns, I have also enjoyed basically the same lunch every day. I liked last week’s picnic lunch so much that I’ve sort of adopted it as my standard over the last week or so. Do people still watch Yogi Bear? Do you get the reference about Boo Boo and the pick-a-nick basket in my title? Am I old? Don’t answer that…

Picnic!

Hey boo boo, what's in your pickanick basket?I fill a container with a nice assortment of fruits, and then have some protein in the form of cheeses and perhaps a hardboiled egg on the side. I love all of the fresh berries and cherries available this time of year, and I love nibbling my way through a big colorful bowl of fruit. It is a definite bright spot! The cheeses (cheddar, Iberico, goat cheese, ricotta… whatever is in the fridge) along with the hardboiled egg add a nice bit of hunger smashing protein, and the fruit is very filling too. This is absolutely a collection of food that I’d take on a picnic. I love it!

The ricotta in the second photo is slightly sweetened with honey and vanilla. It’s another awesome product from one of my favorite vendors at the farmer’s market: Blue Ridge Dairy. The slightly sweet ricotta smeared on the strawberries is to die for!!

I’ve also had a number of the same snacks over the past few days. Including:

Doodles

Nanner Crackers

Weetabix GoodnessPeanut butter, low fat graham crackers, Weetabix, baby nanners… So many possibilities!

The past few days have also included a few egg beater dinners. I made an omelette a couple of nights ago…

Din DinLast night, I made an especially tasty frittata with egg beaters, red bell pepper, ham, cheddar and fresh basil snipped from the pot on my balcony.ย 

FrittataliciousBoth dinners involve egg beaters, ham, cheddar, and red bell pepper. However, the meals are different enough that I don’t feel like I had the same dinner twice. I really love having a lot of versatile ingredients ready to go so that I can have a filling dinner ready in a hurry! The basil really made the frittata snazzy, and my basil plant was happy to get a bit of a pruning.

Speaking of my balcony plants, my first little sugar snack tomatoes are ready to be eaten!

Sugar SnackI also have this cute little bell pepper that’s growing larger every day:

Bella BellI’m obviously not expecting to feed myself with my balcony harvest, but it’s still nice to have a few things growing outside my door. ๐Ÿ™‚

In other news, curiosity got the best of me. I ordered some Holey Donuts!! They came on Friday, and I’ve been doing my best to sample each of the flavors I ordered so that I can tell you, my dear reader, all about them. Yes, I do it all for you. ๐Ÿ™‚

Holey Moley!They arrived at the door in a freezer package, and they were still frozen solid. I was impressed! ๐Ÿ™‚ I got several different kinds including chocolate crumb and toasted coconut:

Chocolate Crumb

Toasted CoconutI really LOVE anything involving coconut, and the toasted coconut flavor is so good! The coconut cream pie Holey Donuts… I can’t even begin to tell you how good they are. They are my hands down favorite so far. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to get a good photo. I have some left so I’ll try again the next time.

Holey Donuts aren’t cheap, and they can be tough to resist, so I’m not planning to restock my freezer once these are gone. However, they’ve been a great treat, and they really are as yummy as other bloggers have made them out to be. If you just can’t resist donuts, a shipment of these might be a worthwhile investment for you. I think they’d make a fun gift for a sugar loving health conscious friend too. You can be both of those things, right? I’d be happy if these little gems showed up at my door!

In case you aren’t familiar with them, they are cooked in a way that greatly reduces the fat (and calories). They arrive frozen, and you gently thaw them in the micro just before eating. I’m still trying to find the perfect number of seconds that will make the donut soft and warm without melting the icing. They really are delicious, and I don’t miss the heavy greasy feeling that you get from a normal donut.

I ordered mine after receiving an e-mail offering a free half dozen swirl donuts with an order of three assortments. If you sign up on their website, Holey Donuts will send you e-mails with special offers. They really are awesome, but it’s worth waiting for a special offer to get a little more bang for your buck.ย 

In case you can’t tell from the foods in this post, I haven’t really been doing a lot of cooking. Ok. I haven’t really cooked anything lately! The warmer weather and my busy schedule have really sort of moved my focus from food to other things. I’ve decided that’s a good thing as I was becoming a bit too focused on my eats anyway. I’m really just enjoying collecting the fresh items from my fridge and making a meal of them. The picnic lunches are among my favorite lunches ever.ย 

I also think it’s so interesting how my appetite changes with the weather. I definitely want to eat rich, warm, comforting foods when it’s cold out. Now that it’s warmer, I’m happier with lighter fresher fare and less preparation too. Have you noticed any changes in your appetite coinciding with the change in season?

I have some garlic scapes that I need to use, and I’m still planning to make my favorite scape recipe soon. I need to eat the rest of the hummus in the fridge first. Is that a hint as to my favorite scape recipe? You bet!ย 

Now, I have some laundry to fold and some blogs to read so I need to wrap up. I did, however, promise you a bit of Jay Robb’s news. Are you ready???

I add Jay Robb’s Vanilla Whey Protein Powder to my breakfast bowl almost every morning. It’s also perfect in breakfast cookies, and it makes an awesome smoothie mixed with a bit of fruit, milk and ice. I’m a huge fan! If you’ve been wanting to try sexy Jay Robb’s products, but haven’t found them at your local store, I have a deal for you!

Jay RobbThe folks at Jay Robb’s contacted me and offered to give my reader’s a discount on orders from theirย on-line store. I really do like the product a lot, so I was very happy to be able to provide a discount to my lovely readers. You can get 15% off using the special promotion code,ย BLOGJ9TJSE,ย between now and July 4th. If you are looking for a way to add a little protein to your day, this stuff is great!! It’s also lower in calories than many of the other protein powders I’ve scoped out. Oh, and… it’s yummy!

I keep the vanilla whey variety on hand because it’s so versatile. I have tried the chocolate and strawberry flavors of the whey powder, and I really liked them as well. I know that there are other JR products that I haven’t tried, including the egg white and rice protein products, and, if you try them, I’d love to know what you think!

That’s all I have for tonight! I expect to continue with my sporadic posting for awhile, but I’m not planning to go anywhere! I’ll be around, and hopefully, in the kitchen a bit more. Although, I have to recommend the no cook lunch pick-a-nick!!

I hope you are having a good week, and that all is well in your neck of the woods. Ciao for now, and check out Mr. Jay Robb if you haven’t already!!!

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Filed under Bananas, diet, Farmer's Market, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Mr. Banana Man and Random Portion Size Reminders

Hi!! I hope everyone is having a good week. Tomorrow is Friday, you know. Woo hoo!!! As usual, I’m ready for the weekend. How about you? Any big plans?ย 

My big plans today included a big bowl of breakfast. I had oat bran, 5 grain cereal, Jay Robb’s vanilla whey protein powder, agave nectar, a baby banana, and some Trader Joe’s Peanuts, Berries and Almonds ((PB&A)) in the bowl. So good!! Baby banana, Sweetie Pie? Just wait. You’ll see….

Baby Nanners

The baby nanners are super yellow, and super good!

For lunch, I grilled a Trader Joe’s Chile Chicken Lime burger, and used it to make a quick taco salad.

Another Big BowlI put lettuce, red bell pepper and corn in the bowl along with some crunched up light Tostitos and some little cubes of Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar. I topped it with the chopped up burger, and then added salsa, Greek yogurt and a bit of Tostitos Bean and Cheese Dip on the top. I love salads like this one! I don’t want to discuss the ingredients in the Tostitos dip. I’m sure it isn’t the greatest. Speaking of Tostitos products in jars, I have to confess that I love their cheese dip more than I should. Seriously. It’s perfect when I need a Taco Bell type powdered cheese fix. Sometimes it really hits the spot.

Following my big salad….

Mr. Banana ManIntroducing: Mr. Banana Man!! I bought this huge bunch of baby bananas at the international food grocery store last weekend, and I can’t seem to make a dent in them. I love baby bananas because of their smaller portion size. They’re also really cute! I have a feeling some of these babies are about to get frozen and dipped in some chocolate, since I have so many, but, um… I’m ok with that! I couldn’t resist playing with my food a bit. Mr. Banana Man has vanilla wafer features, a banana mouth and a PB& Company Cinnamon Raisin Swirl PB goatee. alternatively, he has a PB mouth and a big banana ‘stache. I’m not sure which it is. What do you think?

Later in the day, I sliced up a pretty pink lady apple, and then made a very tasty dip.

Hey, Pretty Lady!I mixed 2 Tablespoons of PB2 with a Tablespoon of Greek yogurt and half a Tablespoon of berry jam. It was vaguely cheesecakey, and totally delicious!! This might be my favorite use for PB2 so far. Too bad I’m out of apples. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily, I’m sure it would taste great on a baby banana, and goodness knows I have plenty of those!

Closer to dinner time, I had a little snack bowl.

Snickitty SnackI often have this mix in the evening, but I really wanted it for an afternoon snack today. I think this bowl is a great example of how quickly little bites of things can add up caloriewise. I put about half a serving of Quaker Essentials Crunchy Corn Bran squares, one fifth of a serving of Zoe’s honey almond granola and one third of a serving of Reese’s peanut butter chips in the bowl. This added up to 115 calories despite being little bits of this and that. That’s certainly not a bad total for a snack, but seeing the total is a great reminder of how the little bites add up!

For dinner, I was feeling the urge to use something out of the pantry. I had so much success with my little freezer clean out project, that I’m now trying to clean out the pantry. It was cool and rainy most of today, so it seemed like the perfect day for a bowl of Trader Joe’s turkey chili with beans.

TJ's Bowl of GoodnessThere is some roasted cauliflower hiding under there, and a couple of blocks of Cabot 75% reduced fat cheddar on top. Sometimes a simple dinner from a can is a nice thing. Finding a meal in the pantry is sort of like finding change in the couch cushions. I love a hidden treasure!

For dessert, I had a serving of the Breyer’s All Natural Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream that we bought while my parents were here.

Chocolate Minty GoodnessMint chocolate chip is such a perfect combo! There is a lesson in this bowl too. In case you haven’t noticed, I have ice cream almost every night. I love it!! I always weigh out a serving because it saves me from having a dirty measuring cup, and I know I get a more accurate serving. The other thing I always do is put it in a small bowl. Tonight, I grabbed a regular sized bowl, and I couldn’t believe how empty it looked! Using a little bowl really does make your brain think you are having more ice cream. This also is a good reminder of what a serving of ice cream looks like. The next time I find myself in front of a huge bowl, I should keep this in mind!

After my little dessert, I went to work out with my trainer and do some cardio. I loved reading about your favorite stretches in the comments on my last post! It sounds like the old classics rate pretty high with y’all. They do with me too! Sadly, I was still a bit sore from all of the Tuesday night lunges when I got to class tonight. Of course, there was more lunging. Ugh! I feel like both of my strength training work outs were really good this week, but I suspect that I have another day or two of soreness in my future. What’s that saying? “Pain is weakness leaving the body?” Well, I think I’m leaving a trail of weakness behind me. ๐Ÿ™‚

After my work out, I treated some strawberries, 1/2 a cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze and 1/2 a packet of Weight Watcher’s Chocolate Smoothie Mix to a little spin in the magic bullet. Yum!! I think this would be an interesting color for nail polish:

SmoothI love chocolate and berries together. Strangely enough, I’m still hungry. I think it’s time for a few almonds and then I’m off to bed. I’ve had a hard time falling asleep this week, so I’m going to have a nice cup of chamomile tea along with my almonds and I hope that will do the trick.ย 

Before I go, I wanted to tell you that Lucky Taste Buds is hosting a massive giveaway, so be sure to check it out. LTB is always a fun blog to read, and I’ve learned about a number of interesting eats from her site. I highly recommend a visit to Lucky Taste Buds!

Ciao for now, y’all and I hope you have a great Friday!

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

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!ย 

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

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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!ย Have you ever given in and done the touristy photo op thing? Come on! Fess up! Sweetie wants to know!ย I hope my friend, Miss M, won’t mind appearing here with her pickaxe. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

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.ย 

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 ย 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!ย 

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? ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰ 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!ย 

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.ย 

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.ย 

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 ๐Ÿ˜ฆ , 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?ย 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.ย 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

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,ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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

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!!ย 

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 ย 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!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ 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?ย 

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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!ย 

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.ย 
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!ย 

Since everybody loves a Friday, I’m wishing you a speedy day and a great weekend too!! Ciao for now, bloggies. ๐Ÿ™‚

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