Category Archives: Bread

Banana Wheat Bran Scones and a New Favorite Eatery!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Banana Wheat Bran SconesBanana Wheat Bran Scones

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all purpose flour

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

1/2 cup wheat bran (or oat bran)

2 Tbsp. butter, chilled and cut into little pieces

1 tsp. baking powder

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

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

1 Tbsp. brown sugar

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

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

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

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photos from the process:

The Dry Team

Coarse Crumbs

Kneading in the Bowl

Before Baking

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

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

Ciao for now, bloggies!

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

Back In The Groove… Sort of

Hi! Wow, I’m so glad that Monday is almost over. Mondays are always tough, but it is especially hard to go back to work after a particularly nice weekend. I guess we need the week days in order to really appreciate the weekend. Based on my breakfast, I wasn’t completely ready to get back in the routine groove just yet!

Picnicky BrekkieIf my breakfast is any indication, I was more inclined to pretend I was on a picnic. 🙂 I had the last piece of bran bread from the freezer with some White Chocolate Wonderful PB, a piece of Trader Joe’s Apricot Amaretto English Cheese, and some grapes. I had a skim milk/almond milk tea latte along with it. I wasn’t sure if this would keep me full until lunch, but that bran bread has some sticking power! I was ready for lunch when it came along, but I wasn’t gnawing on my desk with hunger. It’s always best to avoid getting to the point where the office furniture starts to look tasty.

When lunchtime rolled around, I had the makings for the same lunch I made yesterday. I’m really enjoying this combo!

Lunchitty LunchYesterday, I chopped up four chipotle chicken sausages from Trader Joe’s and browned them in a skillet. Then, I fixed three little bowls, each with a sausage and a serving of my succotash (I ate the other sausage…). This morning, I only had to toss some of my beautiful farmer’s market lettuce and a bit of feta into a big container and grab a little bowl of my sausage and succotash combo to reheat and toss on top at lunch time.

There is so much flavor in the topping and the cheese, that I don’t need any dressing at all. Plus, this is nice delicate lettuce that gets a little bit wilted when I put the toppings on. It’s so good! I remember getting the spring lettuce out of the garden and topping it with hot bacon grease as a kid. This reminds me of that, but, um, it’s a little better for you. 🙂 It’ll be in the lunch bag again tomorrow! For dessert, I had a few things:

Lunch DessertI was excited to try the Brown Cow Boysenberry yogurt. It was good, but nothing remarkable– not like the Wallaby Dulce de Leche yogurt I tried on Saturday. I’ve got to get some more of that stuff. Oh my! I had some Zoe’s cinnamon raisin granola with the yogurt, and I also nibbled on part of a Theo’s cherry and almond dark chocolate bar. YUM! I didn’t go looking for a snack until some time later. Then, of course, it was time for some Blue Ridge Dairy Greek yogurt. It seems like I have to have it at least once a day!

Snacky SnackI had some of the pomegranate honey jelly I got at the farmer’s market in my yogurt, and a chocolate vitatop on the side. The vitatop actually ended up in the yogurt, but I was too busy scoffing my snack to snap a photo. It was good, and quite filling! I was at work a bit later than usual, and I needed a little bite of something else to keep me from getting crazy hungry before I got home and made dinner. I had a few little vanilla wafers with some Bee’s Knees PB. I think I probably have about 8 jars of nut butter open right now. That’s normal, right? 🙂  

Little NibblesIsn’t my paper towel china lovely? It’s a pattern I like to call “ridges.” It’s very sophisticated! Ha! These little nibbles hit the spot, and kept me from getting hangry before I could make this:

Din DinIf you are a pierogi purist, my apologies. This was my freezer dish of the day, and I just sort of put some things together that I like. I sauteed a bag of spinach, and tossed it with some Mrs. T’s cheddar potato mini-pierogies that have been in my frozen jungle for awhile now and some Trader Joe’s bruschetta sauce. I topped it with a bit of Greek yogurt and some freshly ground pepper. I usually like these frozen pillows of goodness baked in the oven and nicely crisped up, but I was too hungry for that, so I just gave them a quick boil and treated them like ravioli. This dish was gooood!!

As much as I enjoyed my dinner, I could hardly wait to get to dessert. My shortbread baking friend, BDK, has been in the kitchen again. This time he made some very pretty Easter egg cookies. I love sprinkles so much! He brought a couple by this morning, and I was so excited!!

Shortbread Stylings of BDKThe eggs got a little bit cracked on the trip home, but I still wanted to show them to you. The other day, I asked if you preferred the combo of “milk and cookies” or the combo of  “cake and ice cream.” Someone said that “cookies and ice cream” was their favorite. I certainly can’t scoff at the combo, and that’s what I enjoyed this evening:

YUM!The cookies are so good– no surprise there! I can’t wait to eat the rest. 🙂 Thanks again, BDK! I’m almost done with this ice cream too. I really wish Edy’s slow churned ice creams were available in smaller containers. I like the ice cream, but I hate having to buy it in a huge quantity. It takes me forever to eat it. Edy, if you are reading this, I’d like some smaller options!! 

I had one more little snack before I headed to the gym:

A Ray of Honey SunshineI had a tiny sized bowl of Kashi honey sunshine with a bit of almond milk. I just needed a little crunch. I scorched 800 calories in the gym this evening, and I’m about to celebrate with a bit of popcorn and… sleep. It’s been a long day.

I seem to snack on cereals like the honey sunshine quite a bit, but I never really eat it for breakfast. Do you have a favorite “snacking” cereal? I’m always looking for something new to try, and I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Wish me an unburned bag of microwave popcorn! I’ll wish you a happy Tuesday. Ciao for now!

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Filed under Bread, Cookies, cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Soy, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Sweet Sufferin’ Soybean Succotash

Hi and I hope you’re having a great weekend! Mine got off to a very wet, damp and chilly start, but at least the bad weather didn’t keep me from visiting the farmer’s market. I asked one of the vendors whether we needed the rain, and I felt a bit better about my soggy shoes when he said “yes.” If it means great apples in the fall, I guess I can soak up some rain drops. 🙂 The market is really starting to come to life as winter loses its hold and spring takes over in full force. Just look at the flowers for sale today:

Bountiful BlossomsI was interested in finding some lettuce or other greens, and I stopped by the Endless Summer Harvest booth:

Gorgeous GreensThere were so many great choices, and I decided on a little bag of salad mix. I also restocked my Blue Ridge Farm Greek yogurt and smoked mozzarella, and got some chicken breasts from the EcoFriendly folks, a couple of sweet potatoes and a little bunch of arugula (that I had for dinner) from another farmer, some Chipotle Pepper Cheddar from a very nice man at Fields of Grace, and some pretty pink lady apples from the Toigo Orchards. It was worth getting out in the rain! I love apples with the leaves still on top. 🙂

My HaulBefore I headed out, I made a quick breakfast. I think that the holiday spirit put me in the mood for something special. I made a couple of pancakes, using my very favorite sweet potato pancake mix from Bruce’s, and had a quick scrambled egg beater and a few grapes on the side. I also made a latte and fixed it up in the very cool mug I got from Laura. It’s so pink and cheerful! I love it! It went to the market with me, and I was glad to have something warm to sip in the chilly morning rain.

BrekkieAfter I got back from the market, I decided it was time for today’s freezer clean-out project. My freezer is looking so much better after just a couple of weeks of really trying to use up the things inside. I’ve had a bag of frozen, shelled edamame that I bought months ago with succotash in mind. I also had some of Trader Joe’s awesome super sweet organic frozen corn, and a jar of roasted red and yellow peppers from Trader Joe’s in the pantry. Succotash was on!

Succotash!

Sweet Sufferin’ Soybean Succotash

Ingredients:

1 tsp. olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 clove of garlic, chopped

6 Tbsp. of roasted red peppers (or the red, yellow and orange combo I had in my jar)

1/2 tsp. sea salt

1/4-1/2 tsp. ground black pepper (I used 1/2 but I like the heat along with the sweet corn)

16 ounce bag of frozen, shelled edamame (soybeans)

2 cups of frozen corn, rinsed

3 Tbsp. water

Directions:

Prepare the frozen edamame according to package directions. Mine involved boiling the edamame for five minutes and then draining it.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet and then saute the onion and garlic for three minutes over medium/medium high heat. Add the salt, pepper and roasted peppers. Saute for two additional minutes.

Add the edamame, corn and water to the skillet and saute for 3-5 minutes or until the corn is heated through and the water has evaporated. Easy! 

This makes a good sized batch. I divided mine into 12 side servings, but I may double them up and have them as a main course for lunch this week. I think that there is enough protein in there to keep me full for awhile. If you are not a soy eater, you could always use the traditional lima beans. I just love the combo of corn and beans together, and the bright colors make me happy!! 🙂

Lunchy is ServedI had some succotash on the side with my last leftover burger from the other night and a little Country Bob’s sauce. YUM! Then, I made a teeny bit more room in the freezer by eating my last blueberry muffin along with a little glass of almond milk. I love those muffins! 

The Last Muffin My sweet tooth was still not satisfied so I had one of these:

Easter TreatstersOn Thursday, I mentioned that I was unable to find any Cadbury Creme Eggs on my Facebook page. Every place I tried in my neighborhood was sold out! I really look forward to having a couple of these each year, and I was bummed that I couldn’t find one. I was on a genuine Easter egg hunt, and my basket was empty. One of my co-workers noticed my Facebook comment, and told me that she would bring me one of hers on Friday. Yay!!! She brought it by on Friday morning, and I set it aside to enjoy after lunch. When I returned to my office after lunch I found, not one, but three little eggs on my desk!!! The Easter bunny had smiled on me. Well, actually, another co-worker had read my comment and very sweetly fixed me up. I have such awesome co-workers,… and awesome candy. Tanks, Eastah bunnies! 🙂

Later this afternoon, I had a pink lady with some Mighty Maple peanut butter on top. Mighty Maple is absolutely my favorite PB&Co peanut butter, and I love it best on crispy apples!

Mmmmm....Before I went to the gym, I decided that I needed a bowl of Greek yogurt with some berry jam and a bit of Zoe’s granola to fuel my workout. I also just think it’s tasty. 🙂

Bowl of GoodnessAfter I got back from the gym, I was hungry… again. I’ve been hungry a lot this week. I’m not sure if it is because of last Sunday’s super calorie burning trek, but I’ve wanted to eat everything under the sun. I decided to try out the Wallaby Dulce de Leche yogurt that I had in the fridge. This is another yogurt that I wanted to try forever, but didn’t buy because it would be a little higher in points than my usual. I love Dulche de Leche, and the slightly burnt caramelly flavor was amazing in this yogurt. Wow. SO good!!

Oh my!After that, I hopped in the shower, and when I got out, it was time for dinner. I love potatoes and greens together, and I decided to saute a chicken sausage with my little bunch of arugula and use it to top a quick baked potato. I tossed a little feta and some chipotle Tabasco on top and, ta dah– a quick dinner that involved the greens and potato combo. 

Din DinMy dinner was really satisfying so I decided to just have a little nibble of something sweet before I went to finish up my grocery shopping. I had a slice of bran bread from the freezer topped with some PB2 and jam.

Little NibbleThe PB2 is growing on me. I’ve decided that I can’t really taste it mixed into my oatmeal, and I think the flavor is pretty lackluster when it’s just mixed with water. If you mix it directly into the jam or jelly however, it’s quite good! I’m certainly going to experiment with it some more, but, for now, I’m enjoying it mixed with my jam. It’s kind of magical, actually. You keep mixing this dried powder and, all of a sudden, you have peanut butter. Fun!

After I got home from the grocery store, I ate a Chex Turtle Bar. I didn’t take a photo, but I did enjoy the bar. I’d heard that these were good, and it really was delicious. It was also much more dense and chewy than some other cereal bars I’ve tried. I’m not sad that I have five more in the box. So, in case you can’t tell, I’ve had a pretty laid back day. That was fine with me! I really like days when I don’t have a schedule to keep. Now, I have a DVD to watch and I’m going to read some more of my new Alice Waters cookbook and sip on some bee pollen tea. Yes, I still have a couple of lazy Saturday hours left, and I plan to make the most of them! 

I’m making something special to take to Easter dinner at a friend’s house tomorrow, and I’m really excited! I can’t wait to tell you about it. For now, I’ll leave you with a photo of my aunt’s cat, Cricket, making friends with a neighbor’s bunny. Apparently, they got along pretty well. They look so much alike, they could be cousins! Ciao for now, friends. See you tomorrow! 

Do you have special Sunday plans this weekend?

cricket-and-her-bunny-friend

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Filed under Beans, Bread, cooking, D.C., diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Soy, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Washington, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

The Last Oikos Review and Another Journalicious Day

BrekkieHappy Humpday!! I’m glad that we are that much closer to the weekend! I still have a bunch of things on my “to do” list including planning my excursions, and I suspect that it will all come together this weekend. Thanks so much for the comments on yesterday’s post. I still haven’t decided what I want to do while in Alaska, but the input is much appreciated!! I also just love reading comments. You guys have such great ideas!

 I started today with another bowl of regular oats. They were good, but I’m missing my oat bran. Oat bran was kind of like the upgrade from the Keds I loved in high school to the fancy running shoes I wear now. Even so, this bowl was no slouch. I finally decided to get some PB2, because curiosity got the best of me, and there is some chocolate PB2 in the bowl. There is also a bit of honey, a smushed up banana, a slew of berries and a little spoonful of Dark Chocolate Dreams PB. I couldn’t really taste the PB2, but the verdict isn’t in on it just yet. I did enjoy dipping my berries in the Dark Chocolate PB. You can’t go wrong with strawberries and chocolate! I didn’t add protein powder this morning and… I was starving only two hours later. Lesson learned. I broke into my bowl of peanut butter Puffins about an hour before lunch, and I was too hungry to snap a photo. Imagine a ravenous wolf and you will get the missing picture.

Lunch on the Crazy Carpet

I had a pretty big lunch today. I met a friend at a frequent lunch spot– a museum close to the office. The tables were all full when we arrived so we started out sprawled on the floor. Don’t you love the crazy carpet? I haven’t cooked much this week because I’m having one of those “clean out the freezer” kind of weeks. I like making use of what I have, and making room for more. I had bulgur chili again today along with a piece of light string cheese, the rest of my cookie and a Mocha Latte yogurt from Stonyfield Farm. I’d never tried this yogurt, and I have to say that it was good. I’d had a coffee flavored yogurt made by another company before, and it had a funky after taste. This one didn’t. Yay! I’ll buy it again! Do I even have to mention how good the cookie was? Awesome!

Just like yesterday, having a bigger lunch seemed to keep me away from the snack parade much longer than usual. Around 4:00, I decided it was time to try out the last of my free Oikos yogurts from the Stonyfield Farm folks. I was excited about finding the blueberry at my store this weekend, and I would have been even more excited if I’d known how good it was. I loved this little bowl!!! The honey flavor was a bit too sweet for my taste. The vanilla flavor was good. The blueberry– oh my gosh! It had just the right amount of blueberry in the bottom and, together with the awesome creamy texture, it made for a very delicious mix. I will not only buy this again, but it might even deserve a special trip to the store. Did I mention that I love it?

Blueberry Oikos

As usual, I had some Zoe’s granola with the yogurt, but this would have been amazing on its own. 
Blueberry LoveAfter the yogurt, I had an apple with some peanut butter. What a classic combo! The apple was a Braeburn, and the picture doesn’t do it justice. I just can’t seem to find a good spot to take pictures in my office, but I’m working on it! It was a bit of a challenge to remove the centers with my plastic kid safe knife, but I got the job done.

A Classic!When I got home, I made up another of my Cabbage “Nests” Primavera concoctions. I broiled it a bit longer than usual and some of the cabbage got a bit crispy. I think I liked those bits the best. I should slightly burn my food more often!

Cabbage "Nests" PrimaveraAfter the main event, I had a piece of my cottage cheese bread, courtesy of the freezer, topped with some of the regular PB2. I’m not sold. I think I prefer my Better ‘n Peanut Butter. I just mixed it with water, but I’m sure that other liquids would make it more interesting. I think I’m going to try mixing it directly with jam tomorrow. If you are a PB2 fan, I’d love to know what you mix with yours. I thought the flavor was a little bland, although the texture was totally fine.

I also had half of a 3 Musketeers mint bar that I bought on a whim. It’s fun to buy things like that on a whim. It’s been a long time since I’ve done that. As for the bar, well, it didn’t satisfy my chocolate craving at all, but the mint was yummy. It reminded me of an overgrown Junior Mint. I tossed the second half in the freezer. I think I’ll like it better if its on the frosty side.

TreatsI’m proud that I identified the chocolate craving and didn’t just eat random things. I had a chocolate brownie Z bar, and it did the trick! These bars always remind me a bit of no bake chocolate cookies. You know, the ones with all of the oats, chocolate, sugar and butter? With my chocolate craving taken care of, I headed to the gym.

Z Bar

My workout tonight was good. It was one of the “boring” nights where I just do cardio on the cardio machines. I say “boring” because it is much less entertaining than sessions with my trainer or kickboxing. Even so, I ran a pretty good mile, which surprised me. Sometimes I don’t feel like I have the energy to run. It’s usually ok once I get started, but I really hate running on the treadmill. Tonight was one of those nights when it was hard to get started, but, once I did, I felt sort of energized as I picked up speed. It ended up being pretty nice! I also put in my time on the elliptical and the stairmaster. I’ve said that I refuse to do things I hate, and I don’t hate these exercises, I just like a lot of other things better. Tomorrow is kickboxing, and I’m looking forward to it. This girl needs variety!

I saved one little treat for after the gym.

Goji Berries CrunchThis is yet another thing I bought at the store on Sunday that I’ve wanted to try but avoided because of points. I don’t know that I’ve been missing out with this one. It was good, and the cashews were awesome. However, there wasn’t much chocolate flavor and the 150 calories were gone in a couple of bites. It gets a “meh.”

I’m having so much fun this week just trying all of these new things that I’d left on the shelves before. My trip to Whole Foods was so much fun. I may go into fun overload the next time I visit Trader Joe’s!! Speaking of fun, there are a few giveaways to mention, and then it’s time for me to get to bed.

There is a very cool My Way Cereal giveaway over at Run to the Finish.

AND

An awesome Vita-Mix giveaway is going on over at Jumbo Empanadas.

I will see you guys tomorrow with my usual Thursday food journal post. I feel weird that I haven’t posted any recipes for several days now, but I’ll be back in the kitchen stirring up a batch of trouble once I make a bit of room. Get ready to see bulgur chili again tomorrow!!! Good night and have a great Thursday!

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Filed under Bread, cooking, diet, Fitness, Food, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Nothing says “Happy St. Patrick’s Day!” quite like singing muppets! Since this is a blog that is mostly about food, I’d like to point out that the Swedish chef is part of the trio. I love him!! I remembered to wear something green to work this year, so I didn’t get pinched. I even put on some green workout clothes when I headed off to the gym this evening for some strength training and cardio. Better safe than sorry!

The other way I celebrated today was, yep, you guessed it: green foods! I started the morning off with a bowl of oat bran, but this was no typical bowl. I had 1/4 of an avocado in the fridge, and I decided that it was time to try Heather’s raw chocolate “frosting.”Sarah made some a couple of day’s ago, and I decided it was time to give it a try myself. I added 1 tsp of maple sugar, 1 tsp of cocoa powder and splash of water to the avocado and blended it up in the food processor. I think if it had been a bigger batch, it would have blended up better, but it worked out just fine!

Chocolate PuddingIt was interesting, and… good! I love avocado. I love chocolate. I love maple sugar. What’s not to love!? I put my little bit of yummy frosting on top of my oat bran along with some bright red berries.

Morning Oat BranIt was fun to start the day off with something new, and I had a bit o’ green in my morning oats! Yay!!! I had a bit o’ green with dinner too. I’ve been craving egg salad ever since I saw Junglefrog’s batch. Aren’t ideas contagious?! 

Egg SaladI made two servings so I can have more tomorrow. I’m glad, because it was good! I used 2 whole eggs, one egg white, 1 Tbsp. of sweet pickle relish, 1 Tbsp. of light mayo, 1 Tbsp. Greek yogurt, 1 tsp. of dijon, 2 tsp. of chopped walnuts and 1 Tbsp. of fresh dill. There are at least 2 green things in the green bowl. Do I get extra points? 🙂 Each serving is 3 unofficial ww points, and lots of official points of yummy. I had a bit more green on my plate this evening since I ate the last of my roasted broccoli along with my sandwich:

Yummy Greens!

The cottage cheese bread sliced up easily, and toasts up quite nicely. I froze about 12 slices, and we will see how it does after some time in the arctic. I’ve been using the freezer more these days, and I think the key is to remember what’s in there. I found some long forgotten muffins a couple of weeks ago, and I didn’t want to waste them. Freezer burn adds an interesting flavor. I hope to avoid that particular enhancement with the bread. I had a piece with my bulgur chili today topped with a little peanut butter and a chopped up date. It made for a tasty little dessert!

My shoulders are really tight from my strength training workouts on Sunday night and tonight. I’m trying to get better about not shrugging when I lift, but it’s tough! I feel like I need to put on an iPod with a voice that repeats, “roll your shoulders back” ad infinitem. I try to remember to do it during the day when I’m sitting at my desk too. Years of having more weight in various places has thrown my posture a bit out of whack. It’s good to have mini projects in the scheme of bigger workouts, and that is definitely one of mine.

Now, I’m going to roll my shoulders back, eat a few chocolate chips and make a cup of tea. I’m getting wild and crazy here on St. Patty’s Day!! I’ll make sure to sleep in something green. 🙂 I hope you had a great day! Tomorrow is humpday. Hooray!!!

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Filed under Bread, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Loafing Around

Plays Well with Peanut Butter!Going back to work after a lazy weekend is always tough. It makes it a bit better when you have yummy eats to look forward to all day. Another thing that can vastly improve a Monday is finding out that you are the winner of the past week’s BSI contest! I was so excited and honored when I found out that my Very Strawberry Almond Butter Bars were declared the winning recipe this week. I know that the competition was tough. Thanks so much for hosting, Laura, and thanks for choosing my little bars!! Thanks to all of you for the positive comments on the post as well. I’m really enjoying the bars, and, if you decide to make up a batch, I hope you will enjoy them too! Don’t forget to check out Christina’s site, Dinner at Christina’s, to find out about the BSI for this week’s contest. I already peeked, and she chose a good one!

I had a yummy bar this morning, bulgur chili in my lunch, and I had last night’s loaf of bread waiting at home as an incentive to make it through the day. I love cooking all weekend long. It makes for a week of good eats!! I saved room to have a couple of slices of the bread after dinner with, well, what else?? Peanut butter! Last night I had the deconstructed PB&J you see above. Tonight, I had one slice with regular peanut butter and another with PB&Co Dark Chocolate Dreams. I just love having fresh bread, and this is an interesting loaf. As I mentioned, I’m trying to bump up the protein in my diet. I decided to make a simplification of a recipe from the same book I used for my “Big Batch” Bran Bread: Martha Rose Shulman’s Great Breads. This recipe is great because it has a ton of cottage cheese in it, and that gives it a little protein boost! The end result is a loaf with a nice crisp crust and a very moist interior.

PBs!!

The original recipe was for an herbed version of this bread. I’m sure it would be good, but I didn’t really want to be wedded to dill for an entire loaf, so I decided to leave out a few things and just make the basic bread. Here’s the recipe:
Yum!
     

Cottage Cheese Bread

adapted from Great Breads by Martha Rose Shulman

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. active dry yeast

1/4 cup lukewarm water

1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar

1 3/4 cups 1% lowfat cottage cheese, at room temperature

1/4 cup egg beaters, at room temperature

2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. baking soda

1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup all purpose flour (plus extra if you are kneading by hand)

1/4 cup teff flour (you could use another flour or just use more all purpose flour if you don’t have teff)

nonstick cooking spray

 Directions:

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl (the mixing bowl if you are using a mixer), and stir in the agave nectar or honey. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, until creamy.

Press the cottage cheese through a sieve or give it a zip in the food processor. Stir it into the yeast mixture. Beat in the egg beaters, olive oil and baking soda. 

Combine the flours and salt in a medium sized bowl. Add all at once to the yeast mixture. Use a spoon to stir the flour into the liquids until the dry ingredients are moistened. Place the mixing bowl on the mixer stand, and, using the dough hook, mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Then increase to medium speed and mix for 8-10 minutes. The dough will be sticky. After kneading it in the mixer, it should be fairly smooth and elastic and should spring back when indented with the fingers.

If you choose to knead the dough by hand rather than with the mixer, you should incorporate the flour and then knead on a floured work surface for 10 minutes adding extra all purpose flour as needed, up to 1/2 a cup. If you are a points counter, you may want to keep track of the additional flour and refigure the points using the recipe builder.

Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl and onto a lightly floured surface or a nonstick mat coated in nonstick cooking spray. Knead for a minute or so by hand. I sprayed my hands with cooking spray as needed to keep the dough from sticking. Form the dough into a loaf by flattening it into a rectangular shape and then folding it like a business letter, pinching the seems to seal. Tuck the ends toward the center and pinch to seal those seams as well. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Just make a loaf. 

Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray. Place the loaf in the pan with the seam side down. I placed the loaf pan over my bread and then flipped the baking mat over rather than trying to lift the loaf off of the mat. Spray the top of the loaf with cooking spray.

Cover with a towel and allow it to rise for 2 hours, or until the top of the loaf curves above the side of the pan. 

About 30 minutes before baking, preheat the oven to 375 degrees, with the rack in the middle.

Bake the loaf for 35 to 40 minutes, until it sounds hollow when tapped. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack.

This makes 12 unofficial 2 point slices or 24 unofficial 1 point slices (when made using teff flour and no additional all purpose flour)

I decided that I’d rather use a sieve for the cottage cheese than dirty up my food processor. It didn’t take me too long to press every last bit of this through the mesh.

Cottage Cheese in a SieveI can never resist taking a photo of the dry ingredients. I think they are so pretty. The darkest part is the teff flour. I bought a bag the other day, and I’m having fun mixing it in to all sorts of things. As I said above, you could just use 3/4 of a cup of all purpose flour instead of the AP flour and teff flour combo if you don’t have teff flour on hand. 
The Dry Team
I love using my dough hook, but kneading by hand obviously works well too. I’ve certainly made my share of bread without the luxury of a dough hook. A benefit of the mixer is that you don’t need to add as much extra flour in order to work with the dough. Extra flour adds calories, but also makes for a heavier bread in some cases. As you can see, this is a pretty sticky dough, and I’d rather let the mixer do the work than get my hands stuck in the middle of it.
You don't "knead" the mixer, but it makes it easier!
This bread is a bit easier than some because it only has to rise one time. I can never resist buying old pyrex with funky designs like the one on this loaf pan when I spot one at Goodwill. I just think they are fun! Here’s how it looks before it rises:
Before the Rising
 Here’s how it looks after it rises and right before it goes into the oven:
After the RisingOops! That one was a little blurry, but you get the point. Finally… here is the finished loaf!
Loafing Around
My workout was great last night, and it was nice to come home to a loaf of fresh bread and the aroma of baking. I think that there’s nothing like it! I see a lot of peanut butter toast in my near future, and I’m planning on making a special sandwich filler for tomorrow. That will have to wait for now… 
What would be on your ideal slice of toast??? Sweetie Pie wants to know!

Now that I’ve posted two bread recipes, I can honestly say that I think the bread recipes are the hardest to write. If you have any questions or find anything to be absolutely confusing, please let me know. 

Before I go, I want to tell you to check out Missy’s awesome granola giveaway at Missy Maintains in celebration of her new domain name. Check it out! 
Also, there is a fun British bar giveaway over at Thinspired. Happy Blogaversary!

I’m shooting for an early bedtime this evening, and I need to fix some of this bread up for the freezer before I crash so I guess I’d better get to it. Have a great evening, and don’t forget to check out this week’s BSI over at Dinner at Christina’s. Ciao!!

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Filed under Baking, Bread, BSI, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers

Creamy Cauliflower and Cannellini Soup

All Set For You!I had such an awesome day today full of great weather, amazing friends and… fabulous soup! A couple of very good friends came over for a laid back lunch. I haven’t seen either of them in a while, and we had some serious catching up to do! It was great spending some time with them, and it reminds me that I should have people over more often. It’s so much fun to cook for someone other than just myself!

Today’s Menu

Garden Salad topped with Smoked Paprika Hummus, Lemon Juice and Greek Yogurt Dressing with Toasted Chickpeas and Pumpkin Seeds

Toasted Bran Bread with Assorted Jams

Creamy Cauliflower and Cannellini Soup

Fresh Pineapple

Bittersweet Chocolate Oat Bran Cookies

Lunch is Ready!

This was a very simple lunch, but it was perfect for catching up with old friends. The soup recipe I came up with turned out so well, and I can’t wait to eat the leftovers in my lunches this week! After making bread last weekend, I froze half of it and was happy that it toasted up so nicely under the broiler today. The smoked paprika hummus is a new flavor to me, and the dressing had a bit of a Thousand Island taste to it. I think I might add a bit of sweet pickle relish the next time. That was the only flavor missing from the Thousand Island experience, and it might just be a good “special sauce” for a Boca burger. 

This soup recipe came about because I had some cauliflower and wanted to make a soup. The end result tastes more like the beans than the cauliflower, but I’m not complaining! It was rich and creamy and satisfying while costing a mere 2 points for a huge bowl. Plus, it is vegetarian friendly, which was perfect since one friend is a long time vegetarian. I’m already thinking about making more, and I know it is going to be a staple recipe next winter! Here’s my recipe:

Creamy Cauliflower and Cannellini Soup

Ingredients:

nonstick cooking spray

1 medium sized head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1 cup chopped onion

1 medium sized carrot, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

1 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped

4 cups of broth (chicken or veggie)

2 cups of water

juice of half a lemon (about 2 Tbsp)

1 19 ounce can of Cannellini Beans with the liquid (I used the Progresso brand in calculating points)

1 cup of 1% lowfat cottage cheese

Salt to taste

Fresh dill for garnish 

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Place the cauliflower on the baking sheet and spray the cauliflower with cooking spray. Roast in the 475 degree oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Spray a large pot with cooking spray and heat on medium high. When the pot is hot, add the onions, garlic and carrot. Saute for 7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the chopped dill and saute for an additional minute. Add the broth, cauliflower, water, lemon juice and beans (with the bean liquid) to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the soup for 20 minutes. 

Puree the soup in small batches in a blender or food processor incorporating half of the cottage cheese in the first batch and the other half in the second. Continue processing the soup until it has all been pureed. Return the processed soup to the pot, stir well and heat through (about a minute). Add salt to taste. I added 3/4 tsp., but the broth I used was reduced sodium. The bean juice adds some salt too, so I’d just give it a little taste and adjust it to your liking. Garnish each bowl with a sprig of fresh dill if desired.

This makes 6 unofficial 2 point servings or 8 unofficial 1 point servings.

Soup's On!I was so pleased with this soup. The carrot gives it a little sweetness and color. Roasting the cauliflower beforehand adds some nice caramel bits as well. The beans and cottage cheese work together to make the soup creamy and give it a punch of protein, and the lemon and dill give it a few bright notes. I honestly have to say that this may be my favorite of the soup recipes I’ve concocted this winter. I’m so happy to know that I’ll be having some more tomorrow! 

After lunch, I headed downtown to a very cool bowling alley, Lucky Strike, to celebrate a friend’s birthday. I got to catch up with a few more friends while I was there, and it was just nice to be out and about on a very springlike day. If my friend is reading this, Happy Birthday to you!! I got there a bit late, so I didn’t actually bowl, but I had a great time watching everyone else and just hanging out. After the bowling, I headed home for my Sunday night cardio session followed by strength training with my trainer.

It was a full but fun day. Now, I’m going to try to get on track with the changes to the clock, so I’m headed to bed with a cup of tea and Pasta Queen’s book. I finished Dietgirl’s book, and I loved it so much. I think when I weighed over 300 pounds, I sometimes felt like I was the only girl in the world suffering through the experience. It’s so nice to read the words of someone who has walked in the same sensible and comfortable shoes as me, and who has endured so many of the same things. It’s also nice because her story has a happy ending. I’m a sucker for a happy ending!! As a bonus, Shauna has a stellar sense of humor, and I think we’d be fast friends. I highly recommend it!

Tonight’s workout was pretty great. I just find that I have so much more energy when the weather is favorable. I’m like a bear when it is cold. I’d rather just stay in my cave and hibernate! So, my question to you is this: What is your favorite thing about spring?

I wish you all sweet dreams in the wake of the time change! G’night… hopefully…! 🙂

 

 

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Filed under Baking, Bread, Cookies, diet, Fitness, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers