Category Archives: Greek Yogurt

New Tricks

Scones!

Hi, Sweeties! This week has been so busy. I’m so glad the weekend is almost here! I’ve had basically the same thing for breakfast and lunch day after day, but I’m not complaining! Luckily, I’ve had a new breakfast up my sleeve (or… actually… in the freezer), and it has been getting me off to a good start in the mornings. What is your ideal breakfast for a busy day?

I’ve always loved the overly sugary and often frosted scones for sale at local coffee shops, but I’ve learned that they make a better dessert than meal. The hit of sugar gives me energy for a little while, but they aren’t very good when it comes to staying power. If I have one for breakfast, I’ll be hungry again in no time. I saw a scone recipe in a Prevention newsletter a few weeks ago that looked as if it might be a bit different. Whole wheat flour, a wealth of nuts, no sweetener aside from what is found in the protein rich vanilla yogurt, and a smattering of dried fruit makes for a delicious, but not too sweet, breakfast treat!!

Eight Meals in a Pan

The link to the original recipe can be found here.

I changed it a bit by using:

  • Regular whole wheat flour instead of whole wheat pastry flour for a nuttier and chewier texture
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. of canola oil instead of 2 Tbsp.
  • Lemon zest in place of orange zest 
  • Dried cherries instead of dried cranberries (b/c that was what I had in the pantry)

I like to have one of these scones with a big pile of fruit and my morning coffee.

BrekkieThe scones are yummy, and, thanks to the healthy fats and protein, they keep me full until lunch time!! I will be making these again, and, undoubtedly, experimenting with variations. I had a few fresh ones, but I froze most of the batch. I had my first scone from the freezer this morning. I zapped it for about 20 seconds, and that was long enough to thaw it out and warm it up just a bit. Tasty– and quicker than my bowl of oats!

I’m so sad that the summer peaches are almost gone. If the farmer I spoke with at the farmer’s market last week was right, I may not have any more of these little gems until next season:

Peachy KeenI’ve been stocking up each Saturday, and then using the paper bag trick to ripen a few at a time. I was spoiled by the peaches from Swihart Orchard, near my hometown, as a kid, and I never find peaches at the grocery store that are worthy of my spoiled taste buds. The peaches from the farmer’s market have been amazing, and I’m going to miss them so much!  🙂

Speaking of the farmer’s market, I happened to catch this fuzzy little guy frolicking among the blooms on Saturday:

BuzzzzzzzzzzI love blogging because I always seem to have my camera when I need it! 🙂

In other news, I tried a “new to me” product this week, and I’m a big fan! I’m sure many of you already keep these in your freezer, but, for those of you just starting to explore the realm of frozen veggie burgers, I thought I’d tell you about these:

Spicy!I always keep a variety of soy and veggie burgers in my freezer. While I like most of them just fine, there are only a few that I really get very excited about. These spicy black bean burgers are on that list! I had them crumbled on top of my lunchtime salads this week with lettuce, tomatoes, fresh corn, reduced fat Mexican cheese blend, fat free Greek yogurt and salsa.

EnsaladaYUM! Seriously, I even love the way these burgers smell while they are cooking. The only problem is the fact that I’ve eaten them all. I need to buy more!!

The other fun thing I’ve had this week is the result of a little griddler experiment. I was cooking a pork tenderloin on the griddler, and I wondered what would happen if I tossed some thinly sliced potato on with the pork.

Griddler Me ThisI’ve never tried to grill potatoes, and I wasn’t sure what would happen. I love making fries in the oven, but sometimes I just hate the time it takes to heat the oven to temperature. I would also hate to heat the whole oven to cook one little potato. If this worked… oh my! I’d have a whole new quick method for making something fry like! My fingers were crossed!!!

I sprayed the thin potato slices on both sides with cooking spray, and then sprinkled them with a little bit of salt. The end result:

YES!! Griddler Fries!Yes!!! We have griddler fries!! They were crispy on the outside, and nicely cooked in the center. A few of the thinner pieces got super crispy and tasted like potato chips. I’m so happy I tried this, and I’ll be making more… and more… and more… of them in the future! They went well with my sauteed swiss chard and pork tenderloin. Don’t be fooled by the photo, however. I did decide to have some ketchup with my fries. What could be better?

What’s your favorite way to eat a potato?

P.S. Mara is having an insanely awesome and cheesy giveaway. You should definitely check it out!!

Christina is also having a celebratory giveaway (Congrats, Christina!!) and you should check it out too!!

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Filed under Baking, cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Nuts, Recipes, Uncategorized, Weight Loss Success Story

Soup Weather

Lying MugThe mug. It lies. If I had a “Curried Carrot and Squash Soup” mug in the cabinet, I would have used it, but this seemed like a good alternative. 🙂

It seems like Labor Day flipped the switch on fall weather in D.C., and I’m not complaining! The weather this week has been decidedly fall like, and I’m loving every minute of it. In fact, it inspired me to make a warm, cozy and spicy soup with things I had on hand, and I wanted to share it with you.

I had a pile of yellow summer squash, a partially eaten bag of baby carrots and the usual staples of broth, onions, nut butter (of course!) and Greek yogurt (as always!!). Add to that, the variety of spices in my spice drawer, and a creamy soup was imminent. I used lots of spice, because I love a little burn, but if you aren’t a fan of spice, you could certainly use a bit less curry powder, give it a taste, and add more if you decide you want to kick it up a bit. What’s better than roasted veggies? They are always just the way I like them– nice and sweet!

Carrot Roast

Squash Roast

Pot of Coziness

Sweetie’s Curried Carrot and Squash Soup

Ingredients:

Cooking spray

3/4 pound baby carrots

1 1/2 pounds yellow squash, quartered and cut into 1/2 inch slices

salt

1/2 tsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

3 cups chicken or vegetable broth

1 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground red pepper

1 Tbsp. almond or peanut butter

1/3 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt

salt

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray. Layer the baby carrots on one baking sheet. Spray the carrots with cooking spray and then sprinkle them with a bit of salt. Layer the squash chunks on the other baking sheet. Spray the squash with cooking spray and sprinkle it with a bit of salt.

Place both sheets in the oven. Roast the carrots for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they become soft and start to brown. Roast the squash for about 25 minutes, stirring the mixture at the halfway point. 

Heat 1/2 tsp olive oil in a 3 1/2 quart saucepan. When the oil is hot, add the onions and a sprinkle of salt. Reduce the heat and cook the onions for seven minutes, or until they become soft. Add the squash, carrots and broth to the saucepan, bring it to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. 

Add the curry powder, cinnamon, ginger, red pepper and nut butter to the veggie mixture. Using a blender, carefully puree the veggie mixture in batches. I usually remove the stopper from the top of the blender container and hold a dish towel loosely over the opening to allow some steam to escape while the veggies are pureeing. They are hot and they will spatter so be careful!

Add all of the pureed vegetables back to the saucepan. Stir in the Greek yogurt, and heat the mixture through on medium heat. Add salt to taste.

This makes 5 or 6 servings

The roasted veggies make it slightly sweet. The spices make it cozy, and the nut butter and Greek yogurt add creaminess as well as protein. This soup is low calorie with a high satisfaction factor. That’s a match made in heaven!

I’ve been having this for lunch over the past few days, and I’ve been looking forward to it each time. While packing my lunches this week, I realized it has been awhile since I have made a big batch type food for my lunchtime munching. I love having a hearty and filling soup ready to go in the morning, and then being able to match it up with whatever suits my whim– peanut butter on an Arnold’s sandwich thin, hummus and pita, cheese and crackers, whatever! I know that the soup will guarantee that I will have a full tummy, and that’s a good thing! Soup is also one of my favorite ways to eat my veggies. 🙂

Since the weather is cooling off, I thought I’d give you a little flashback with links to some of the soup type things I’ve made and blogged about in the past:

“Big Batch” Bulgur Chili

Cleaning Up the Apartment Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

Creamy Cauliflower and Cannellini Soup

Just Sweet Enough Pinto Bean Soup with Tomato Chipotle Ketchup

“Not Going to the Store” Garlic Scape, Eggplant and Red Lentil Stew

“Project: Clean Out the Freezer” Spinach and Sausage Soup

Super Quick Lentil, Carrot and Tomato Soup

My little trip down memory lane reminded me of several things I need to make in the cooler months to come. I see bulgur chili in my near future for sure.

Bulgur ChiliMmmmm…..

Most of the soups I make are created using what I have on hand. How about you? Do you have a favorite soup, stew or type of chili? Is there one ingredient that always inspires you to whip up a pot of comfort?


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Filed under cooking, diet, Food, Greek Yogurt, Lowfat, Recipes, Soup, Squash, Uncategorized, Vegetarian Recipes, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

Sweetie’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Sweetie's Chocolate Zucchini CakeHi, sweetie pies! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend. Mine has been pretty laid back, but nice, so far. We have had a very mild summer up until now, and I think the month of August is going to be a hot one. I’ve been kicking it with the A/C as much as possible and laying low. It has been a perfect opportunity for me to spend some time in the kitchen.

My mom and I were talking on the phone the other day, and she mentioned that my dad had brought in a few “baseball bats” from the garden patch. The meaning of that statement was immediately clear– baseball bats are oversize summertime zucchinis! She was trying to figure out to do with them, and we laughed about one of our favorite ways to enjoy zucchini– in chocolate cake. 🙂 There is an old zucchini cake recipe that we used to enjoy that was pretty decadent. I started to wonder if I could get the same yummy result with a few tweaks. I love revamping an old recipe to fit the way I prefer to cook now. I am especially happy when I get a result that I deem to be just as good as the original. I’m happy to report that such was the case with this recipe. Mom, here you go– If you make it, let me know what you think!

Mmmm...Sweetie’s Chocolate Zucchini Cake

Ingredients:

1/4 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup apple sauce

1/4 cup egg beaters (or 1 egg)

1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 cup plain fat free Greek yogurt

3/4 cup all purpose flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. salt

1 cup grated zucchini

2 1/2 Tbsp. chopped pecans (or other nuts)

1/4 cup chocolate chips (I used mini chips, but any chips would work just fine. The minis just go further.)

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Spray a 9×9 inch baking pan with cooking spray.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla extract. Add the applesauce, Greek yogurt, and egg beaters and continue to beat the mixture until the ingredients are thoroughly combined (about two minutes). You can’t overwork this part of the mixture so don’t worry about just letting the mixer run for a bit.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the dry mixture to the mixing bowl, and beat just until the dry ingredients are moistened and the mixture looks smooth. 

Using a spatula, fold in the grated zucchini. I used the small holes on my grater to make finer shreds of zucchini. Pour the batter into the baking pan.

Sprinkle the nuts and the chocolate chips on top of the mixture, and bake for 40-45 minutes. When it is done, the center should spring back when you touch it with your finger. Just be careful, and don’t try to touch your finger to the hot, melted chocolate chips. Not that I did that myself. Nope. I would never do something silly like that. 🙂

This makes 9 to 12 servings, depending on how hungry you are for cake! 

Being the farmer’s market junkie that I am, I was so excited to see a new vendor a couple of weeks ago. They had whole wheat flour for sale. Of course, I had to support my local economy by buying a bag. 😉

Local GoldI’m happy to have this bag of beautiful flour in the fridge. The Greek yogurt and the zucchini in this cake came from the market as well. My zucchini was on the plump side, but it was no baseball bat!

Zuke. E. KneeThe zucchini adds a lovely moistness to this cake, and it becomes virtually invisible (unless you know to look for a few flecks of green) in the finished product.

I swear, it's in there!See… it’s in there!

Sprinkles of GreenI substituted applesauce for the oil called for in my original recipe, and I will admit that the applesauce sub was the switch that concerned me the most. I feel like I’ve tried that trick before only to end up with overly dense and sort of gummy baked goods. That is no bueno in my book. I don’t know if the Greek yogurt somehow balanced it out (which wouldn’t be surprising since GY is my kitchen superstar), but I didn’t find this cake to be overly dense at all. In fact, it had nice crumbs, was lovely and moist but was rather light and fluffy as well. Just the way I like it! Check out the side view. Do you see any green (aside from the plate)? Subtle, right?

YUM!When I woke up this morning, I realized that the thing I really wanted for breakfast was… yes… you guessed it… a piece of this cake! It seemed perfect for a Sunday morning, and I savored it along with my yummy cup of coffee. Maybe I should make some in muffin form…? They would certainly be similar to the cake like muffins for sale at Starbucks.

I’m finding that one of the amazing things about intuitive eating is the fact that, if I have what I really want, it often doesn’t take a lot of it to satisfy me. If I’m satisfied, I’m not going to go rooting through the kitchen looking for something more (or trying my hardest NOT to do that). For example, I’ve realized that I prefer my morning coffee to have a little bit of half and half mixed with unsweetened almond breeze. The flavor is so rich and satisfying that I’m completely satisfied with one cup. I’m really learning a lot from this new approach to eating, and it gets a bit better each day. I’m not just eating cake all day long, but it’s nice to enjoy my cake without feeling guilty and like I’m cheating on my plan. 

Speaking of the cake, I made this cake last night, and shared it with a friend, Mr. T, who came over for dinner. The dinner I made last night was not enormous, but I was very happy at the end of the meal because the ingredients were good quality, very fresh and cooked the way I liked them. In addition to testing out this new version of the cake recipe, we also tried out Emeril’s Steak Rub. I received a package in the mail the other day, from the Foodbuzz tastemaker program, and it had several of Emeril’s products for me to try out. So far, I’ve used a couple of them, but I’m planning to tell you about all of them in one big Emerilicious post. Stay tuned for that! I already have plans for the other two items, so I expect to post about them very soon. By the way, Mr. T seemed to enjoy the cake. Good thing since I sent a big chunk home with him. 🙂 

Now, I’m going to brave a Sunday afternoon trip to Trader Joe’s. I haven’t been in awhile, and I can’t wait to see what I find. Unlike Whole Foods, Safeway and Giant, I have to actually drive to Trader Joe’s. As a result, I probably only go to Trader Joe’s once every couple of months. That may seem funny, since it is probably only a ten minute drive, but I love living in a place where I can walk to do errands, and I try to stick to that as much as possible. I love getting a little bit of bonus exercise, and I know that leaving my car at home is better for the environment too. Can you walk/bike to run errands where you live? Do you?

Growing up in the country with no sidewalks and not a lot of stores, walking or biking to run errands wasn’t much of an option. We often hopped in the car to go “to town” to get groceries at Kroger, Piggly Wiggly, Save-a-lot and, later on, the Wal-mart supercenter. The post office was really about the only thing within walking distance. Walking to run errands is one of my favorite things about the place I live now. TJ’s is always super crowded on Sunday, but the fun stuff I find usually makes getting in the car a worthwhile venture. Wish me luck!

Ciao for now, sweeties and I hope you all have a great week! 🙂

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Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Intuitive Eating, Recipes, Weight Loss Success Story, Zucchini

Greek Yogurt: Kitchen Superstar

Hello sweeties! I hope this finds you enjoying your summer! I’m enjoying mine. 🙂 As you know, part of my summer fun involves visiting the farmer’s market. I went to my market in Courthouse on Saturday and made a major haul:

Market BootyI bought peaches, one little nectarine, blueberries, blackberries, cherries, an onion, yellow squash, zucchini, Brandywine tomatoes, beets, garlic scapes, tomatoes, some silver queen corn (my childhood favorite!!!), a container of Blue Ridge dairy Greek yogurt, and a pork shoulder that is barely peeking into the picture on the bottom right hand side. There’s also a little piece of cherry pie that I just couldn’t resist. It was a little one, I swear! 😉

I had a plan for the peaches, and they’ve been sitting in the box with their nectarine buddy and ripening a bit this week.

What a peach!

This was all gone. 😦

Cherry Berry "Ice Cream"Time to make more frozen loveliness! I peeled all but one of the peaches and the nectarine (5 fruits), and gave them a blitz in the blender along with 1/4 cup of unsweetened vanilla almond breeze, the juice of a lemon, the scrapings from a random vanilla bean I had in the fridge and a little can of fat free sweetened condensed milk. Today, I added a bit of extra love to the batch too: 1/2 cup of fat free plain Greek yogurt. I put the mix into the machine and flipped the magic switch.

Magic MachineWhile my mix was going for a spin, I peeled and chopped the remaining peach. It was SO ripe and juicy. YUM!

Peachy KeenAfter the freezer had been running for 30 minutes, I added my ripe peach chunks and let it run for 10 more minutes. 

ChunkyTake a look at this!:

Peachy Creamy LoveThis batch is bursting with fresh peach flavor, creaminess and tang from the Greek yogurt, and the smooth sweetness of the condensed milk. I will be sure to add Greek yogurt from now on. I couldn’t believe the difference it made! This is the creamiest batch I’ve made so far. I’ve tried more traditional recipes using eggs and full fat dairy before, but I can be quite happy with a slightly less creamy dessert that still tastes great and is virtually fat free. The Greek yogurt really upped the creaminess (as well as the protein!) without adding extra fat. Me likey. Me likey a lot!

Seriously, I don’t know how I made it for so long without Greek yogurt in my kitchen! It’s great for making potato salad, chicken salad and tuna salad creamy. It works well in baked goods. It makes a great salad dressing when mixed with a bit of mustard/vinegar/pomegranate molasses/hummus. It’s yummy with honey/maple syrup/agave/jam/nuts and fruit. It works great as a sub for sour cream. It adds creaminess to curry. It makes a great dip for fruit when mixed with a bit of PB2 and jam. I’ve never asked it to make my morning cup of coffee, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it could do that too. Yes. I believe Greek yogurt has officially become a staple in my kitchen. In case you can’t find it where you live, you can always make your own! Making your own might be a cheaper alternative as well, and that’s a good thing these days.

Aside from my frozen deliciousness, I’ve had a pretty uneventful week in the kitchen. I mentioned that I bought a pork shoulder at the market on Saturday, and I’ve been eating leftover pulled pork all week. While not as lean as a pork tenderloin, it isn’t too bad, and I tried to minimize the fat as much as possible. First, I trimmed off all of the visible fat using my kitchen scissors, and rubbed the pork with some mesquite grilling spice mix:

Pork!Then, I put it into the slow cooker with 1/2 an onion, 1/4 cup of apple juice, 3/4 cup of water, and 2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar. Then I let it cook on high for two hours. After two hours, I flipped it over and let it cook for a couple of hours more. 

In the PoolAt that point, my meat thermometer told me that it was done, and I pulled it out and let it rest. Easy! 

Yum!

I let it cool and then gave it a good shred with a couple of forks. 

This pork shoulder was about 2 1/4 pounds before cooking. I put in enough liquid to keep the meat moist, but the meat was really just dipping its toes in the puddle. My goal was to allow the fat and juices to run off into the bottom of the pan instead of later appearing on my plate. I grew up eating Memphis style barbecue, which isn’t typically swimming in grease or sauce. I saw a number of recipes on line for cooking a pork shoulder in a slow cooker, and most of them involved adding bottles of barbecue sauce. I think that is no bueno from a calorie perspective and also from a yumminess perspective. I didn’t need that much sauce, and there would have been no way to avoid any of the fat that had cooked off if the drippings and sauce were all incorporated. I wanted to be able to taste the meat, and I was surprised at how much I liked this given that I cooked it without the benefit of a smoker. It was moist, delicious and, maybe by virtue of its ecofriendly upbringing, it really tasted like pork. Perfect!

My friend, Inga’s mom, came over for dinner Saturday night, and we each had a big plate of summer:

Plate o' SummerI’ve enjoyed something similar for my dinners this week, but now it is all gone. 😦 I’m going to have to do this again sometime soon!

I’ve had one other blogworthy eat this week. I picked up a little package of this wondrous stuff at Whole Foods over the weekend:

Awesome!I nibbled some by itself, but quickly realized its proper place:

Outstanding Oat BranThe. Best. Oat bran. Ever. It has chocolatey nibs, coconut, sweet raisins, berries and oat bran goodness all in one big bowl. Sadly, I’m out of this yummy little mix, but I will definitely be buying more on my next Whole Foods visit!!

So, now you’ve seen the highlights from my week. I know I’ve become a once or twice a week blogger this summer, but I’m finding so many nice outdoor activities to keep me occupied. Last night, I decided to walk home from work instead of taking the metro. It took two hours, and I was pretty pooped when I got home. However, the weather was great, I enjoyed my stroll through the city, and I got some exercise without hitting the gym. I’m trying to find more opportunities for that sort of activity, and it was a fabulous day for a long trek home. What’s your favorite way to get in some exercise without going to the gym?

I’m also trying not to focus so much on food. I think that, while useful, keeping a photo journal of my eats each day was putting way too much of a focus on my food and making me a little crazy. I’m sure to go back to that eventually, but, for now, I want to focus on new dishes and treats in my posts. I loved everything in this post, and I loved telling you about it!

Now, it’s time for me to head to bed. I did something weird to my shoulder the other evening, and I don’t think this evening’s strength training workout did me any favors. I believe that some ice may be called for, and then I’m heading to bed. 

I hope you have a great weekend, and I hope you stick with me and my infrequent posts. I think I just need to take it easy a bit and go from there. I’m sure I’ll be in the kitchen this weekend, and I’ll want to tell you about it for sure. Until then, ciao for now, y’all! 🙂

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Filed under Arlington, Farmer's Market, Food, Greek Yogurt, Recipes, Slow Cooker, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story

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! 

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! 🙂 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. 

Berry Yummy Fro YoSigh. I do love Tangy Sweet.

This afternoon, I had some sweet and creamy treats too. 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. 

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. 😦 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.  

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. 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. 

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

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? 

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. 😦 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. 🙂

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. 

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

Bacon Chocolate and a Day of Healthy Eats

Today has been a pretty typical day, and I decided it was a good day to do a food journal post. I’m trying to really get my eats back in order. I’m up a few pounds, some from the cruise and a little from last week’s treats, and I know it’s time to buckle down and get back on the healthy train. Today went well!

I started off in a rather usual way:

Gritsy Bran!I had a big bowl of “gritsy bran” (half grits and half oat bran) with some vanilla Jay Robb’s whey protein powder and honey mixed in. I topped it off with a lovely banana and a few grams of my new favorite Trader Joe’s snack: PB&A. Peanuts and almonds coated in a berry vanilla coating…. YUM!!! The PB&A combo was a great addition to my bowl, and gave it a little bit of crunch. Lovely!

For lunch, I had a picnic in my lunch bag. On Saturday night, I went to Wolf Trap with some friends to see the Gipsy Kings in concert. This was our fourth year in a row to sit on the lawn and enjoy the GKs, and, as usual, we had quite a picnic! I ended up with some leftover cheese, and I have a ton of fruit in the fridge so a picnic style lunch seemed like a great idea!

Picnic!I had a piece of Iberico cheese and a bit of Danish blue along with some berries, cherries, grapes and a hardboiled egg for an additional hit of protein. I loved nibbling on this lunch!

Speaking of our little Gipsy Kings feast, I found an interesting chocolate bar on Friday, and I knew that my bacon loving friends and I needed to try it. We’ve been amused by all of the interesting bacon products popping up these days including bacon salt, bacon vodka and bacon flavored dental floss. I couldn’t resist adding this to the picnic basket:

Bacon Chocolate?I love chocolate, and I love bacon. I didn’t really think this would be disgusting, but I was certainly skeptical that it would be good. I was expecting chocolate that had a hint of bacon taste, but nothing too dramatic. I was so surprised to discover that this bar actually has crispy pieces of bacon in the chocolate! No joke! Weird? Perhaps. Good? Well, um… yeah. I cannot tell a lie. It actually was really good. Perhaps I need to get over my skepticism about the crazy bacon products and invest in some bacon dental floss next! 😉

Getting back to my lunch, I decided to finish the meal off with a low-fat cinnamon graham cracker topped with 1/2 tablespoon of Bee’s Knees peanut butter.

Mmmm....Who needs a sandwich when you can nibble your way through eats like these??

Mid-afternoon, I decided to have a peanut butter fudge vitatop. I almost always pick one of the chips off before tossing my vitatop in the micro, which explains the empty little chip crater over on the side. 🙂

Vita LoveLater, I had a bowl of Greek yogurt with strawberries and berry jam. 

Greek Berry YoI got some really sweet little berries at the farmer’s market on Saturday, and I’m glad I got two containers instead of one. They are SO good! I love the pink shade they give to the yogurt too. 🙂

I had a camera shy bag of 100 calorie popcorn before heading home to dinner. We got a new microwave in our kitchen at work a few months ago, and I actually go to a different kitchen to make popcorn just because the new microwave turns my popcorn to cinders every time. I stand there. I listen. I still burn the popcorn. It’s worth a stroll up the hallway just to avoid the burnt pieces, and… the burnt smell. Yuck! Today’s bag was just right!

When I got home, I decided to make a quick egg beater omelette, filled with cheddar and ham, and I had some roasted cauliflower and roasted carrots on the side. The melted cheese (that you can’t see in the photo) was the very best part! 

Weird pictureSorry about the unappetizing photo. I promise that it tasted better than it looks in this picture!

I ended my meal with a bowl of Laloo’s Vanilla Snowflake goat’s milk ice cream topped with some more PB&A. Trader Joe, I love you!!! PB&A on top of my favorite vanilla ice cream in the whole wide world made for a fantastic treat.

So Good!!I just finished doing 35 minutes of cardio in the gym following a class with my trainer. Tonight involved a LOT of lunges, and I suspect I’m going to be feeling them tomorrow. Honestly, I’m already feeling the aftermath of the lunges tonight! I think I’m going to go and do a bit of additional stretching before I head off to bed. Extra stretching usually helps, and it certainly can’t hurt!

Do you have a favorite stretch? I love the basic hamstring stretch where you cross one foot over the other, and then bend down and try to put your palms on the floor. I seem to have tight hammies fairly often, and that stretch always makes me feel so much better!! I’ve also enjoyed seeing the increase in my flexibility. There was a time when I could really only touch my fingertips to the floor during this stretch. Now, I can almost put both palms on the floor. Yay!!! Sometimes the little things really do make me feel good. 🙂

I guess I’d better get to the stretching and move away from the computer. Ciao for now, y’all! If you see bacon chocolate at your local store, keep an open mind. 🙂 I’m just sayin’.

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Filed under cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story