Tag Archives: Chocolate

Je-diet Mind Tricks

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelette

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

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

The Stage is Set

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

SamplingTyler has started making wine, and he was giving Paula a little sample of his wares. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had a great time at the show, and I sampled a ton of stuff at the expo too. I’m definitely going to try to go again next year!

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

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

Another trick I’ve learned comes into play in my Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes. I could just call them muffins, but they are much sweeter and more like cake. Truth in advertising, right? ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you ever made a lightened up recipe involving chocolate chips? Often, these just seem to involve using a smaller portion of the chips you might use in a regular recipe. That’s not a bad strategy, but it can lead to a treasure hunt type scenario for the three little chips that might have made their way into your muffin. There is an easy solution to this, and I think it makes a huge difference with regard to the satisfaction factor– mini-chips!

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

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

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

YUM!!

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cakelettes

Ingredients:

Dry Team:

1/2 cup all purpose flour

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

1 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

Wet Team:

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

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

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1 Tbsp. canola oil

Team Chocolate:

1/2 cup semi-sweet mini-morsels

Topping:

1 Tbsp. turbinado sugar

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

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

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

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

Divide the mixture evenly among the 12 muffin cups.ย 

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

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

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

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

Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Do you love pumpkin as much as I do? ๐Ÿ™‚

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

23 Comments

Filed under Baking, Cake, Chocolate, cooking, D.C., Fitness, Food, Pumpkin, Recipes, Squash, Uncategorized, 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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.ย 

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. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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.ย 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.ย 

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.ย 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. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

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! ๐Ÿ™‚

15 Comments

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

Eats and Feats (of the exercise variety)

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

My big batch of slow cooker steel cut oats have made my mornings go a bit quicker, and I’ve been enjoying their creamy goodness over the past few days. This morning’s bowl had some raisins and almonds on top– you can’t go wrong with that combo! I also mixed in the very last of the pomegranate honey jelly I bought at the farmer’s market a while back. I was sad to scrape the last bits from the jar. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

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

You might also notice that the apples are in front of a brightly colored plate. I got the plate last summer in Portugal, and I use it as a perch for a candle. I vowed not to have the bluebird sisters in every photo today. The bluebirds are privileged to sit in my sunniest spot, which is why they seem to sneak into every photo. ๐Ÿ™‚ This spot seemed to work ok!

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

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

I got a little bit carried away, and later realized that I probably didn’t need smoked tofu and chicken to go along with the hardboiled egg, turkey bacon and goat cheese already topping my salad. I decided to bring the smoked tofu home and do something else with it. At the end of the day, I volunteered to rescue the rest of the spinach from a trashy fate because, while it wasn’t the freshest, I knew it would be fine when cooked. I hope thatย Sarah willย be proud! ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What a Treat!Ah yes. Dessert! When I was avoiding the neighborhood gelateria the other day by buying gelato (with nutritional information… unlike the gelateria…) at Whole Foods, I got more than one kind. ๐Ÿ™‚ Dolci Gelati is a local company, and this was my first time to try their frozen goodness. Pumpkin pie gelato sounded too good to pass up. I suspect this is a brand that might only be available around here, so I won’t emphasize how good it is. Nope.ย 

My papaw always had such a serious sweet tooth. When I was a kid, I could never resist asking him how he liked his dessert. I knew what the answer would be. In between smiles and bites, he would say something like: “This is awful. You don’t want any of it. It’s no good.” That’s how this gelato tastes. It’s awful! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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

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

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

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

Wall Sitting

Walking Plank Hold

Cherry Picker Type Movement with a Medicine Ball

Bicycle Crunches

Total Body Crunches with a Ball

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

Push-ups

Lat Pull Down (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Press (weight machine)

Plie Squats (while holding a 20 pound weight)

Regular Squats (while holding a 25 pound weight)

Chest Presses (weight machine)

Overhead Shoulder Presses (free weights)

Standing Bicep Curls (free weights)

Bench Dips (to work triceps using body weight)

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

The END… except for the cardio. ๐Ÿ™‚

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

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

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

I’ll leave you with those questions now, because I have a few things to do before I mosey off to bed. I hope that you have a great Friday, and, more importantly, an awesome weekend!!! Ciao for now! ๐Ÿ™‚

ย 

13 Comments

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

I’ve Gone Bananas!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 Comments

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!

13 Comments

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!!

19 Comments

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

What? No Nut Butter?

That’s right. I had a day without any peanut, cashew or almond butter. I didn’t do it on purpose. I swear! That doesn’t mean there were no nuts. I saw several while riding the metro. *Ba dump bump* Ha! Oh, Sweetie Pie. What can I say? It’s been a long day. At least it started out with a tasty bowl:

BananabowlerrifficThere’s a smushed up banana in the bowl along with some oat bran and some five grain cereal. I topped it with a bit of honey and some of these:
Daily CrunchI bought these awhile back, and they are yummy. The problem is, it is 150 calories for the few little bites you see in that bowl. Hmph. My solution? I run it through my nut chopper and put 1/2 or 1/3 of a serving on my morning bowl. You’ll see some later in this post in another bowl too. On their own, it takes about three bites, and they’re gone. Chopping them up makes them go a bit farther, and they taste really good mixed in with the other things!

I didn’t add protein powder to my bowl this morning, and I got hungry earlier than usual. I really do need a good amount of protein in the morning if I’m going to make it to lunch. I had a little yogurt and some Fiber One about two hours before lunch. I like the Yokids. It isn’t too sweet, the serving is small, and it’s kind of perfect for a small snack with a calcium punch at only 80 calories. Plus, I can pretend I’m a kid. ๐Ÿ™‚

Yoooooo Kids!!I also broke out the piece of a Theo’s orange and dark chocolate bar that I had tucked into the lunch bag, and I sort of nibbled on it throughout the morning.ย 

ChockieDark chocolate is SO satisfying!

When lunchtime came around, I was very excited about my eats! I had a serving of the Springtime Market Potato Salad that I whipped up on Sunday, a hard boiled egg with some natural sea salt that a friend shared with me, and an Arnold’s sandwich thin topped with the rest of my container of Tribe chipotle hummus and some radishes and green onions from the market. My lunch was so fresh and springy. It made me happy. ๐Ÿ™‚ย 

Lunchy LunchSpeaking of happy… I had this after lunch:

Cookie LoveAs you can see, I cut it in half. This little cookie is a prime example of why it’s important to read nutritional information carefully. The cookie is two servings, although, you might think it was only one if you weren’t reading closely. It’s kind of high in calories, so I planned on having half. It was incredibly tasty, so I decided to skip one of my planned snacks and have the whole thing. Some times you just need the whole cookie!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ I like the whole graininess of Cookiehead’s cookies. This one also had various seeds and nuts with some very yummy chunks of chocolate. It was gooooood, and well worth the calorie splurge.

Since my lunch was a bit light on the protein, I made sure that a couple of my afternoon snacks were a bit higher in protein. This edamame gave me a little boost:

EdamameI followed it up with this pretty little apple. This would have been a usual place to insert peanut butter into the afternoon, but that was part of the cookie trade-off. This apple was crisp and sweet all on its own. Can you believe that it’s May already? Do you have anything special planned for the summer months? Vacation? Personal challenges? Lounging by the pool?

Pretty Little LadyAnother protein rich snack I had this afternoon was a bowl of Greek yogurt topped with some honey pomegranate jelly and some more crushed up Goji snacks. This combo was great! I had forgotten how much I love cashews.ย 

Greek yogurt!I still can’t believe I didn’t have any peanut butter on vanilla wafers, my apple, a newton crisp, a date, my finger… You get the point! My eats were a little different, and I like that! It’s so important to avoid the food rut for both my own eating enjoyment and for the purpose of including a lot of variety in my diet. Today was a good day for that!

When I got home, I made a huge salad with lettuce, radishes, tomatoes and green onions from Saturday’s farmer’s market trip. Look at the purple radishes. What fun!! I also topped it with some goat cheese, a chopped up chicken mushroom asiago sausage from Trader Joe’s, salt, pepper and a bit of balsamic vinegar. Yum!

Big SaladFor dessert, I had the bowl I’d been looking forward to all day. LaLoo’s Strawberry Darling goat’s milk ice cream. I really love this stuff. I put some chopped almonds on the top for a little crunch. Just look at all of the balsamic swirl in the bowl. Mmmm….

Strawberry Darlin'Finally, I finished off the day with a little bowlful of one of my favorite snack combinations: Galaxy Vanilla Almond Munch Granola and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. This is a perfect snack for a nibbler like me!

Galactic SnacktasticI worked out with my trainer tonight and followed the strength training up with cardio for a total calorie blast of 600 calories. I’m making the most of my workout routine this week in anticipation of next week’s vacation. I’m hoping to try a few new exercise classes for fun on the ship, but I’ll have to see what my choices are after I get there. I’m kind of hoping for Zumba. I’ve heard great things about it, and I’ve wanted to give it a try. Do you zumba?

I had a productive day at work today, and I’ve started a list of things to pack. I’m just so ready to go! I haven’t really taken any time off since the Christmas holidays, and I’m really looking forward to it. I guess it’s kind of like my very own spring break. I don’t think you are ever to old for spring break!

So now I need to take my clean sheets out of the dryer, put them on the bed, and crawl under the covers. I hope you are having a great week. We are already up to Wednesday, and my week sort of seems to be flying by. Time does fly when you are having fun… or when you are just really busy!!

Ciao for now, bloggies and have a happy humpday!

19 Comments

Filed under Asparagus, Bananas, cooking, diet, Farmer's Market, Fitness, Food, Greek Yogurt, Nuts, Salad, Uncategorized, Weight Loss, Weight Loss Success Story, Weight Watchers