What I Ate Wednesday #6 (February 29, 2012)

Hi there, can you believe it’s already Wednesday? Or that tomorrow is March 1 (where is time going)? Or that the high for today is 60 degrees (in Pittsburgh, at least)? It’s so odd…. annnd I guess I’ll stop asking questions now.

So today is the last day of February and also the last day to celebrate/take part in “Love Your Veggies Month” over at Peas and Crayons for WIAW. To end the month with a bang, I made sure to eat some delicious veggie-inspired meals yesterday. I am also pretty excited for next month’s theme….

Breakfast – 5:30 am

For breakfast yesterday, I had some Bob’s Red Mill 8 Grain Hot Cereal that I made by combining the following in a saucepan and cooking for about 5 minutes:

  • 1/4 c cereal (1 serving)
  • 1/2 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 small banana (mixed in)
  • 1 tbsp ground flax (mixed in at end)

Toppings:

  • 1/2 small banana, chopped
  • small handful golden raisins
  • 1 chopped dried apricot
  • 2 tbsp chopped walnuts (toasted by microwaving for 2 minutes)

I really like switching up my breakfast grains from time to time, and I love the texture of this cereal (it is more chewy and more “oat bran-esque” than oatmeal). It was a nice change from my normal bowl of oatmeal that I tend to eat in the morning. I also especially liked the addition of the toasted walnuts  (I need to remember to top oatmeal/hot cereal with toasted walnuts more often…).

Snack – 9:00 am

As my mid-morning snack, I had a random trail mix concoction I made that contained:

  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • chopped dried apricots
  • golden raisins
  • dried mango
  • Kashi Heart to Heart cereal

Lunch – 12:30 pm

 My breakfast and snack did a great job of keeping me full for quite a while, and I was able to hold off on lunch until 12:30 (I usually am very ready to eat by 12).For lunch I had a big veggie-packed salad (a great way to squeeze in a lot of vegetable servings!) that contained:

  •  spinach
  • carrots
  • cucumber
  • peas
  • beets (from a can – I never really buy beets but I saw them at the store this week and impulsively bought a can. I used to eat these all the time when I was younger, so they always oddly remind me of my childhood…)
  • chickpeas (approx 1/2 cup)
  • quinoa (approx 1/2 cup)

Dressing: Drew’s Goddess Dressing (I forgot how much I love Goddess dressing…)

I also enjoyed a new to me orange with my lunch: a minnelo. It was so sweet and and so delicious. I may need to start replacing my daily lunch apple with an orange….

Snack: 4:00 pm


I was still busy at work around 4 pm, so I snacked on a Fugi apple and a small handful of Kashi crackers as I worked and finished things up.

Dinner: 5:30 pm

I did my best to make this look appetizing...I think I failed

I had plans to go to the gym at 6:30 yesterday (for a BodyAttack class!), so I had a lighter dinner before I left to fuel me through the class. I had a Boca veggie burger on a piece of toast with some steamed stir fry veggies (a frozen mixture I recently bought) on the side.

One of my favorite ways to prepare frozen veggies is to microwave (aka steam) a small serving for 1-2 minutes (to get them warm), and then stir fry them in a medium-high skillet for 2-3 minutes. This browns the veggies a little and makes them more crunchy and “fresh” tasting rather than mushy and bland as they can sometimes get – which is never fun or tasty. I also like to add fun seasonings to them to spruce them up.

I decided to go with an “Asian theme” for my dinner last night, so I added some ground ginger and gomasio (a seasoned sesame seed) to my veggies. To make my Boca burger fit the “theme,” I used some Trader Joe’s Oriental Sesame dressing as the condiment for my toast and added some romaine, cucumber and gomasio as my burger toppings.

This was such a simple dinner to make and came together in less than 10 minutes. I wasn’t expecting much out of it, but it ended up being a pretty good meal. I especially liked the kick that the ground ginger gave to the veggies and how the TJ’s dressing absorbed into the Boca burger and toast, making everything rather delicious. I love when simple meals happen to taste amazing…

Dessert/Snack – 9:30 pm

To end my day on a sweeter note, I had a container of applesauce with a small handful of raisins and Kashi Heart to Heart Cereal sprinkled on top. I never eat applesauce, but for some reason it sounded appealing last night. I am glad that I had a few containers in my fridge that I haven’t touched in months, because this ended up being quite a delicious and refreshing snack…

I ate this as I read up on some Bio notes and attempted to watch the Biggest Loser (I have issues watching it these days due to the blatant/obvious advertising that seems to happen every 3 minutes on the show… does this bother anyone else?).

Annd that concludes my meals/snacks from yesterday. Now I’m off to check out the delicious things that everybody else has been eating this week! Have a great day everyone.

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WIAW #5 (February 22, 2012)

Hi there, happy Wednesday (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY JON)!

I thought I’d switch things up this week and show my meals from Monday. Since I am on the go literally all day, I thought it might be interesting to show a day of my packed meals/snacks on one of these days vs. the days when I am less busy. I also always love to see what people pack to eat (I love easy/healthy meals!), so I am hoping/assuming others feel the same?

Breakfast 7:00

On Monday I literally ate every meal away from home, which usually isn’t the case. I usually always eat breakfast at home. It is actually one of my favorite parts of the day, and I have a whole routine of reading blogs, watching the news, etc.  during this time. Breakfast is what gets me up in the morning (I brainstorm what I will make/eat pretty much as soon as my eyes open…).

On Sunday night though, I somehow set my alarm to the wrong time (1 hour late!) so I somehow magically woke up (thank god) with it with just enough time to get ready and pack myself something quick to eat for breakfast at work.

I ended up going with a pumpkin yogurt +oatmeal + peanut butter combo.

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 c plain greek yogurt (approx) with a spoonful of pumpkin mixed in – sweetened with a squirt of honey
  • 1 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 banana
  • small sprinkle of raisins

Snack 1: 10:00 am

Since I ate breakfast a bit later than usual, I wasn’t as hungry for my mid-morning snack. I just grabbed a handful of walnuts and almonds before I had to do some testing at work.

Lunch: 12:30

For lunch I packed myself a big salad that included every vegetable I could find in my fridge. I also added some kidney beans and veggie spiral pasta (I love adding pasta to salads!) for some staying power. I wasnt ‘expecting  much out of this salad, since it is one of my more normal combos, but, for some reason, this was SO good. I love eating big, delicious salads full of fresh veggies on Mondays to start the week off on the right foot. This creation contained:

  • spinach
  • broccoli
  • mushrooms
  • carrots
  • red kidney beans (about 1/2 cup)
  • Trader Joes veggie spiral pasta (about 1/2 cup)

I also especially liked my dressing choice of the day: Drew’s Rosemary Balsamic… It soaked into the broccoli and pasta really well and made everything very delicious.

To end things on the sweeter side, I had my daily apple (a Fugi… if you were curious) with lunch.

Snack 2: 3:00 pm

 Before leaving work  to head to class I was feeling a little hungry, so I snacked on 2 clementines and a small handful of almonds

Dinner: 5:00 pm

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have Biology at 5:30, so I usually will eat my packed dinner around 5 in the student cafeteria/study area. On Monday, I was trying to get some studying done before class (I have my first Chem test on Friday), so I took a quick study break to eat dinner. I packed myself a whole wheat wrap that contained:

I also had some carrot sticks and sugar snap peas on the side.

Again, I didn’t think this would be anything special, but it ended up tasting soo good to me (maybe I was missing vegetables in my life over the weekend?). I love the wraps I have been buying (they are a whole wheat variety I buy at Costcos) – they are so doughy! – and the combo of black beans + hummus + nutritional yeast was especially delicious for some reason. I love mixing hummus and nutritional yeast together. It is such a cheesy/creamy combo.

Snack 3: 7:00 pm

After class I had a plan to go to the gym, so I snacked on a Honey Graham Clif Z bar on my ride there.

Dessert: 9:00 pm

And lastly, when I got home from the gym, showered, packed up all my things for Tuesday and settled in to watch the second hour of the Bachelor with a few friends, I decided I wanted something sweet to end the day. I ended up having some cottage cheese with chopped strawberries, raisins, and a few chopped walnuts sprinkled on top.

And that concludes a day of packed meals/meals-on-the-go.

I hope you have been enjoying some delicious food this week as well! I’m excited to go check out what other people have been eating and get some new ideas!

WIAW #4 (February 15, 2012)

Hi there, Happy Wednesday! One day closer to weekend….

And also time for another What I ate Wednesday!

This WIAW post documents everything I ate yesterday (2/14). I was going to show you Monday’s meals this week, but I figured my Valentine’s Day-inspired meals were a bit more exciting to share….

Breakfast: 6:15 AM

For breakfast yesterday, I decided to get in the Valentine’s day spirit by having a chocolate inspired breakfast (that I previously showed in yesterday’s post). I had a Fitnessista-inspired breakfast cookie made with the following:

  • 1/2  oats
  • 1 tbsp pb
  • 1 tbsp Hershey’s Dark Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 banana
  • splash soy milk
  • topped with 2 chopped strawberries + strawberry jelly

I LOVE breakfast cookies as a quick, delicious oatmeal alternative in the morning, but I go through phases where I forget about them.  I might need to start bringing them back into a normal rotation in the mornings. They are super easy to throw together the night before, and it’s so nice to have breakfast waiting for you in the morning. I especially enjoyed the chocolate addition in yesterday’s breakfast.

Snack: 9:45 am

I got a little hungry before a meeting I was scheduled to have at 10 am yesterday, so I snacked on a  little trail mix/cereal mixture that contained:

  • Kashi Honey Sunshine (about 1/2 c)
  • raisins + golden raisins
  • walnuts + almonds

Lunch: 12:15 pm

I usually eat lunch around 12, but I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from the front desk at work  saying that a package had been delivered to me:

My boyfriend, Jon, sent me flowers! I was so surprised (I have never had anything sent to me at work before)! I had no idea he was doing it… and am quite impressed with his sneakiness. He’s the best.

For lunch I had a tempeh, cheddar, spinach and jelly sandwich on a whole wheat sandwich thin (a combo I have been meaning to try out for a while!), with some carrot sticks, celery and snap peas on the side.

This particular sandwich  combo ended up being really good! I loved the sweet jelly mixed with the salty/savory tempeh and cheddar cheese. I love eating tempeh in sandwiches, and I am just loving the sweet/salty combo these days…. (side note, if you’ve never tried tempeh or need some new ideas check out Meghann’s post… she has a lot of great suggestions!). I also had  a Fugi apple with lunch as well.

Snack: 1:30 pm

My coworker, Amanda, was so sweet and baked/brought in some Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies for the office yesterday in order to celebrate Valentine’s Day . She found the recipe on Pinterest (we bound over our mutual love of the site), and I must say, these brownies were pretty delicious. It served as the perfect afternoon Valentine’s Day snack.

Dinner: 7:00 pm

we were extra classy and put our seltzer and pepsi in wine glasses....

Jon and I decided to made dinner together yesterday to “celebrate.” We made Sautéed Citrus Salmon with roasted potatoes (tossed with basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme and garlic) and garlic green beans (we sautéed them with minced garlic, salt and pepper).

This meal ended up being pretty simple to make (fish-making always intimidates me a little and I don’t know why… it’s easy), and the salmon turned out so well. It was really good. I found the recipe on Pinterest (notice a theme here….), and I would highly recommend it.  The lemon peel and lemon juice added a really nice flavor to the fish and it had plenty of crispy edge pieces (my favorite part!). I am pretty sure this is one the best meals Jon and I have made together. It’s one of those meals you want to go back and eat again (or have dreams about eating… anyone else have this happen to them? I can’t be the only one that thinks about delicious food all.the.time.).

Dessert: 8:00 pm

For dessert we had some chocolate mousse that I made on Monday, topped with some whipped cream and strawberries. I can’t even describe to you how good this stuff is. I wish I could swim in it… I even debated having another glass full of it when I finished the glass above. It is so chocolatey and delicious. I am totally making this whenever I  have a dinner party (since I do that so often?…one day) or want to “impress” guests (it is so “fancy,” but so easy to make). Go make this. You won’t regret it.

Overall, I must say that I had a great day of eating yesterday.  Everything I ate was amazing…. I don’t think I could even choose what the best meal of the day was, I enjoyed them all.

What was the best thing you ate yesterday?

Easy (and healthy!) ways to get your V-day chocolate fix

Happy Valentine’s Day! Are you celebrating today?

While I know many people are hater’s of this particular holiday,  I am on the more neutral end of the spectrum. I, more times than not, have not had a “valentine” on Valentine’s day, but I  feel like the day should focus less on whether or not you are in a relationship and should be more about celebrating those that you love in general. I know when I was growing up my dad would always buy my sister’s and I mini Russel Stover chocolate boxes, and when I went to college,  my mom started a tradition of sending me an edible arrangement every year.  I never felt like I needed a valentine to take part in the day.

 The holiday doesn’t have to be bitter, it should be about celebrating love…. and having an excuse to eat chocolate all day, anyone with me?

Speaking of chocolate, does Valentine’s day make anyone else crave it like crazy (the big chocolate hearts in every supermarket and drugstore probably don’t help)? I feel like it is mandatory to eat something chocolately and delicious today. While I like to eat big pieces of chocolate cake, chocolate bars and heart-shaped boxes of candy as much as the next girl, I believe there are healthier ways to enjoy it as well. If done the right way, it is possible to enjoy “indulgent” treats all day and not end up feeling lethargic with a sugar coma.

To celebrate, I thought I’d suggest some healthy ways to incorporate some chocolately goodness into your life today.

Breakfast ideas:

  • Chocolate breakfast cookie – This was my breakfast of choice this morning…

I made mine with:

-1/2 c oats
-1 tbsp pb
-1 tbsp Hershey’s dark cocoa powder
-1/2 banana
-splash soy milk
-topped with: 2 chopped strawberries + strawberry jelly

1/2 c oatmeal with added cocoa powder (doesn't look appetizing but is SO good

  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Oatmeal – Mama Pea has a delicious recipe for this that I recommend (which my sister made this morning….)

Snack Ideas:

  • Chocolate-inspired trail mix (mix chocolate chips with some almonds, dried cranberries, and cereal….)
  • Warm a Chocolate Brownie Clif Z bar or any type of chocolate/oat based granola bar in the microwave for 3o seconds for an instant cake-like snack

  • 1 tbsp of Nutella or Justin’s chocolate Hazelnut butter/Chocolate Almond Butter with a chopped apple

Dessert Ideas:

  • “Apple sundae” – chop an apple into bite size chunks and place into a mug or small bowl. Top with a a few tsp chocolate sauce and a sprinkle of granola/sprinkles/raisins/small spoonful pb (the options are endless)…. my sister and I used to do this all the time. It’s rather tasty.
  • Healthified “chocolate mousse” – Mix  plain greek yogurt or cottage cheese with a few tsp of cocoa powder and honey or some chocolate pudding mix (a trick I learned from Julie!). Add some mini chocolate chips and chopped strawberries on top to make it extra delicious.
  • “Chocolate-covered” strawberries – chop some strawberries and top with  a few tablespoons of chocolate sauce –  my friend Mary is a big fan of this one… so simple but so good

(source: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/11/06/one-minute-chocolate-cake)

Annd if all else fails and you really want something decadent, make this chocolate mousse. I made some last night to have as a Valentine’s day dessert  for later and it is SO GOOD. It’s not exactly healthy, but there is always room for a little treat here and there, right? I won’t lie, I licked the mixing bowl clean… I can’t wait to have some later.

I hope you have a great day!

What are your favorite ways to incorporate chocolate into your life? Any healthy breakfast/snack ideas??

Built-in Self-Control

Hi there! Happy Monday… who’s ready for a new week?

I was a little tired when I woke up this morning (probably stayed up a bit too late watching the Grammys…), but I had a delicious oatmeal combo in my head that helped to peel me away from my warm bed… Pb&J oatmeal! (I am pretty sure breakfast might be the only effective way to get me up on chilly mornings….).

I had this idea after my sister Sami and I bought both strawberries and strawberry jelly at the store yesterday. Given that I just read that  it supposedly was also National PB&J day yesterday, I deemed it necessary that I should celebrate. Not that I don’t eat peanut butter every other day of my life…. (Did you know that the average American consumes more than six pounds of peanuts and peanut butter products each year?)

My oatmeal contained:

  • 1/2 c oats
  • 1/2 c soy milk, 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 banana
  • 2 strawberries
  • 1 scoop peanut butter + 1 tsp(?) strawberry jelly
  • sprinkle of ground flax

This was so good. Jelly + oatmeal is a combo I don’t eat enough of…

Self-Control and Dessert

One more thing I wanted to discuss this morning is dessert eating/self-control/your preferred way of eating the sweeter stuff. You see, while I tend to believe I exert self-control on most occasions when it comes to food, when it comes to certain things (like desserts), the control can be a bit more challenging (carrot cake – I am talking about you…). I bring this topic up because last night Sami and I ate some delicious mini cupcakes from the Pink Champagne Cupcakery.

Sami’s boyfriend brought a dozen mini cupcakes over for her this weekend and last night, we decided to try some out. There were a lot of delicious sounding flavors to try including caramel macchiato, hot chocolate, blueberry strudel, blue velvet and vanilla. They all sounded so delicious and all looked so delicious, we couldn’t choose which to eat. Given that Sami and I are both quite indecisive when it comes to making certain decisions about food (especially desserts), we put our sharing powers to work and tried all of them (1/2 of each type):

We added in the blue velvet about 5 mintues later when we decided it was necessary to try them all

This ended up being a great way to try all the delicious flavors, (my favorite was the blueberry strudel…. it had blueberry filling!, while Sami preferred the caramel macchiato) without going into a sugar coma or feeling sick (something that tends to happen when I have a box of delicious cupcakes or desserts staring me in the face). I love having variety and picking and choosing what to taste (which probably explains my love of salads and multiple oatmeal toppings quite well…), so this was the perfect way to try everything at once.

I think I am a new fan of mini desserts… You have an excuse to eat more than one flavor/type of something yet don’t have to commit to a whole piece. That’s a win-win in my book.

How do you exert self-control when it comes to desserts? Are there certain types of dessert that are more difficult for you to say no to? I have a definite weakness for carrot cake and cream cheese frosted anything, but I can usually cut myself a (big) slice and be content.

Did you celebrate National PB&J day?

Things I’ve learned this weekend…

1. Three  years can go by really fast….

My boyfriend, Jon, and I celebrated our 3 year anniversary yesterday. I honestly can’t  believe it has been that long…. I feel like we just met next to the keg in the basement of that lovely college apartment where neither of us knew anyone…

While our relationship has evolved quite a bit over the years, he still makes me laugh everyday, is always my #1 fan, and I love him now more than ever. I don’t know what I’d do without him.

I love you Jon! Happy 3 years!

2. I want to be Ina Garten

Yesterday afternoon, Sami (my sister) and I made and brought lunch over to our friend Erin’s house to have a lunch/homework “party” (Hi Erin and Erin!). From reading my blog(!) and seeing Sami’s lunches during breaks from class (Erin is in Sami’s grad program), she was interested in having a Dana/Sami-inspired salad. I, of course, was happy to bring over some healthy and delicious food for us to enjoy (since I do want to start a lunch-packing service), and packed us some Asian-themed salads.

Asian-themed salads with edamame, cabbage, carrots, mushrooms, snap peas, teriakyi tofu, brown rice, sesame seeds....

I felt a lot like Ina Garten, since she always seems to be whipping up and packing food to-go for special occasions. I won’t lie, I am a big fan of hers, and I kind of liked channeling my inner Barefoot Contessa yesterday. I love packing lunches for myself and for others, and if it were possible for me to make a living traveling around and making people healthy/colorful/delicious lunches and snacks, I totally would do it.

I need Ina to come give me some tips….

3. Bulgur wheat is a delicious oatmeal alternative

1/4 c bulgur, 1/4 c oats, 1 c almond milk, 1/2 banana, big scoop pb

Yesterday morning, I tweaked my normal oatmeal/banana/peanut butter breakfast by replacing a 1/4 cup of my normal oatmeal serving with a 1/4 cup of some bulgur wheat (that I got in the bulk bins at Whole Foods).  I first read about this grain over at Carrots ‘n Cake, and it is a great grain to enjoy for breakfast (here is some info about it if you’re interested). It is a bit chewier than rolled oats, but I find that combining it with oats creates a great combination of texture. It is a great way to switch up breakfast and  incorporate fun, new, and healthy grains into your diet! I really enjoyed this breakfast yesterday. (Note to self: eat more bulgur for breakfast!)

I  hope you are having a great weekend!

Anything you have “learned this weekend?”

Any types of grains you like to enjoy for breakfast other than oatmeal? I have tried using barley and quinoa as alternative breakfast grains before, and I know Bethenny has a brown rice breakfast that I tried a few years ago…

Thursday Waffles

Good morning! How are you doing today? (good news… my Biology test is finished, and I think I did well!)

I am so glad that it’s Thursday. I have Chemistry lecture and lab from 5-10 on Fridays (I am so exciting, I know), so Thursdays kind of feel like my Fridays sometimes. I love just going to work in the morning and knowing I will be home at a reasonable hour to work out, eat dinner (off of a plate), hang out with my boyfriend/friends…, etc.

So while I do love being busy and being challenged, I definitely need the balance of these “lazier” (since I’m still at work by 7/7:30 am), more relaxed days as well. It’s all about the balance, right?

Anyway, to “celebrate” the completion of my Bio test,  I had a delicious breakfast this morning that I must share:

I made myself 2 Kashi Multigrain toaster waffles with 2 different types of toppings (something I seem to be a fan of these days…. I love having variety!):

  • Waffle 1: peanut butter, defrosted peaches (I have a HUGE frozen fruit mixture from Costcos), a sprinkle of ground flax
  • Waffle 2: goat cheese, defrosted strawberries (from same bag), and honey….I am really loving the goat cheese + strawberry combo lately

This was so easy to pull together, and I felt like I was eating such a “special” breakfast for a random Thursday morning. All I did was:

  • put waffles in toaster oven
  • microwave fruit for 1 minute, 30 seconds
  • get out peanut butter, goat cheese, flax and honey
  • spread peanut butter on 1/2, sprinkle goat cheese on other 1/2….. top each with fruit and “toppings”

Total time: 5-6 minutes (I know this because I am super aware of my time in the morning…. I have quite the streamlined schedule).

While I am usually a peanut butter and banana fan in the morning and put the two on EVERYTHING including, oatmeal (regular and overnight), yogurt, toast/waffles, cereal…. it was fun to switch things up and have a different fruit and topping combo. If you haven’t tried goat cheese and strawberries yet… DO IT (it’s so good).

I hope you have a great day!

What did you eat for breakfast this morning?

WIAW #3 (February 8, 2012)

Good morning! Can you believe its already Wednesday! This week is going by quickly…. and I am not complaining.

So today is a rather busy day for me  between work, class and lab (I have my first Bio test today ahhhh), but I am going to try to remain as positive as possible. I am feeling a bit sleepy at the moment (never a good sign…) but its nothing that a grande Starbucks coffee can’t fix. Does anyone else ever feel like they are on crack when they drink it (or what I assume crack would feel like)? It makes me so productive/talkative….

Anyway, since it is Wednesday, it  is time, once again, for another installment of WIAW! These are all my meals/snacks  from Tuesday, and since I had the day off from work yesterday (which was SO nice!), my activities were a bit more varied and you may see more photos that were taken other places than my office….

Pre-workout snack: 5:45 am

I planned to take a 6 am BodyPump class yesterday (to incorporate more strength training into my life), so I got up at 5:30ish, ate half a banana with some peanut butter and headed to the gym only to find out the class was cancelled! I was a little disappointed, but I did stick with my weight training goal of the month and did 20 minutes on the elliptical (2 miles) and 35 minutes of strength work + abs (!) that looked like this ( I did each move for 15-20 reps and repeated the sequence 3x):

  • Bicep curls (10lbs, 15 reps)
  • Lateral Raise + shoulder press (10 lbs, 15 reps)
  • Chest press (12 lbs dumbbells, 20 reps)
  • Back rows (12 lbs, 20 reps)
  • Tricep extensions (12 lbs each side, 20 reps)
  • Lunges + lift (15 each side – 1st set), squats (30) + alternating lunges (15 each leg – 2nd set) alternating lunges ( 15 each leg – 3rd set)

Abs: random moves for 5 minutes that included bicycles, reverse crunches, a plank, crunch pulses…. I always just try to stay moving for about 5 minutes

I won’t lie, I was pretty pleased with myself for sticking with the weights. I usually struggle to do 3 consecutive sets (which is why I love BodyPump for pushing me past my usual stopping point) but I pushed through and stuck with it. It felt SO good to have my workout completed by 7:00 am.

Breakfast: 8:00 am

I have been loving yogurt these days so I decided to have a yogurt bowl with some “fun” things added in for breakfast. I had:

  • 1/2 c greek yogurt sweetened with a squirt of honey
  • 1/3 (?) c pumpkin
  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • almond butter (1/2-1 tbsp)
  • raisins
  • cinnamon

I am still loving pumpkin and don’t see it ending anytime soon….

Snack(?) 11 am

I went to a baby shower for an old boss and picked at a few different things while I was there. I didn’t take any photos since I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos in the big group (maybe one day….?).

I had:

  • 4-5 bites of chocolate cake (butter and egg-less…. my friend/former co-worker Maggie’s go-to cake recipe)
  • a small scoop of quinoa salad (made with quinoa  and chopped raw veggies)
  • fruit salad
  • a bite of a cake pop… it was too cute not to try

Lunch 1:30 pm

After the shower I headed to the library to study for my Bio test. I packed myself   an “Asian-themed” wrap to eat while I studied. It contained:

  • edamame
  • veggies: spinach, cucumber, mushrooms
  • sesame seeds
  • a little teriakyi sauce.

I also had some carrot sticks and apple on the side.

The wrap was a little overstuffed (I always do this! I need wrap folding help…) so I ended up eating the insides out with a fork and then eating the wrap by itself afterwards (which ended up being pretty good since it soaked up the teriakyi sauce.)

Dinner 5:30

For dinner I tried a new to me veggie protein, TVP (Textured Vegetarian Protein)!  While I try to limit my intake of soy proteins to a couple times a week and don’t like rely on it too much, I do love eating tofu and tempeh from time to time and am always up to trying new things. I have heard of TVP before, but I never really had the urge to try it until I stumbled upon a recipe for BBQ TVP the other day. When I was at the store yesterday and saw it in the bulk bins, I figured it must be fate, and I might as well give it a try. Now or never, right?

Please excuse the unattractive photo. I had issues making this look appetizing... annnd my BBQ sauce exploded out of the container

I followed the recipe exactly, only adding some additional s+p and chili powder to the spice mix. I served it on top of some quinoa and had some sautéed kale (I love sautéed kale) on the side as well.

While it wasn’t bad, I found it to be a little bland… I think I maybe used too much liquid? I was unsure of how much I would like the texture (I usually don’t like “meaty” soy proteins), but it definitely grew on me as I ate it.  I am not going to say I am a huge fan, but I am not giving up on it quite yet. I loved the BBQ idea and it was really easy to make, so maybe I need to try again….Anyone  have some tips for me?

Dessert: 7:3o pm

I was really craving chocolate after dinner yesterday so I warmed a Chocolote Brownie ZBar for 30 seconds in the microwave, added a little almond milk, and ate it out of a mug… It didn’t look too appetizing so I’ll spare you and show you a picture of the wrapper. It ended up being delicious and exactly what I wanted. I love it when that happens.

So there you have it. I feel like my day was rather random yesterday, but I guess that’s what happens when you have a random Tuesday off….

Have a great day everyone!

You eat with your eyes first – How to make food look “pretty”

Last week, I shared a few tips on how to make meal packing fast and cheap. Today, I thought I’d share some tips on how I make my packed lunches/meals look “pretty.”

This might seem like a pointless tip or something that isn’t worth your time, but I am a firm believer that you eat with your eyes first. Food that looks better, tastes better… I promise.

Now, I know when lunch packing already seems like a hassle, the last thing you  probably want to think about is, “How can I make this look “pretty?” or “How can I make this sandwich look better?”” I realize it can sound ridiculous, and I know it is definitely easier to throw things in some tinfoil and plastic baggies and call it a day.

I am not saying that it is necessary to spend hours upon hours on food presentation everyday, but with just a few extra seconds each day, it is possible for all of us average joes and Tupperware  packers to have Whole Foods salad bar worthy food(or insert your own “best looking food I can think of here”) .

I find that when I focus more on how my food looks, I focus more when I actually eat it (and don’t just shovel food into my face). Food becomes more important. It tastes better, and I appreciate it more. The simplest foods can taste amazing when you take the time to make them look nice.

So without further ado, here are some of my tried and true ways to make food look appealing. Please come back and tell me when you get asked where you bought your lunch…

1. Focus on color!

Colorful food is more exciting to look at and to eat. When you focus on adding color to meals, you are also guaranteed to be eating more healthy/nutrient dense foods as well (it is an idiot-proof way to incorporate more veggies in your diet!). I always try to include at least a few colors in each meal.

One way way I do this is by trying to add something green in my lunches and dinners (whether it be spinach, kale, broccoli, celery….).

2.Put food in “sections”

I do this all the time, and it is an easy way to make food look more “pulled together.” I always get compliments on my meals when I do this (and sometimes get asked where I bought them!), so this definitely works.

I usually will chop everything I am using at once ,and I then just put each item on the salad/concoction that I made in a different area. It is an easy, instant way to look like you are a meal packing pro.

3.Don’t underestimate the power of mix-ins/additional “fun” items

This is the fun part. A meal automatically looks better and tastes better when fun and/or “themed” items are thrown into the mix. If you make an “Asian-themed meal”, add sesame seeds or sriacha (if you like spicy foods); If you are making a more basic salad with veggies and beans, add some dried fruit and nuts to make it “fancier.” If you have a few extra items on hand you can really make any meal look and taste more exciting with this simple step. Some “extras” I like to have on hand:

  • a variety of nuts
  • seeds (pumpkin, sesame…)
  • dried fruit (apricots, raisins, currants, mango) I love to go to Trader Joes and the bulk bins at Whole Foods for stuff like this
  • additional veggies (my sister and I like to add “fun” veggies to our meals like roasted brussel sprouts, jicama sticks, shredded carrots, chopped peppers, chopped green beans, beets, cubed sweet potato chunks… the options are endless)
  • other (wasabi peas, a small sprinkling of cheese, crackers, condiments…)

4. Invest in simple, well-sized Tupperware containers

Your salad/sandwich only looks as good as the container it is in. It seems silly, but it is true. I used to HATE all my Tupperware and could never find what I was looking for when I was packing my lunches. As soon as I bought a 4-pack of salad-appropriate containers and a 4-pack of dressing containers, meal packing became SO much easier. Plus, it was so much easier to make my food look more appealing. It is hard to make a salad look good in an old yogurt container… trust me.  This applies to plates and dishes too. A simple, white square plate will make your food look better than a cracked, beat up plate any day. I love to go to Target for cheap dish options.

5. When in doubt… layer

I like to think that layering is always a fancy way to make food look nice. I mean, parfaits always look good, so why not apply the concept to other foods? I tend to do this with salads or with dinners. In a salad situation, I will prep all my ingredients and then just place them on the plate one at at time. For example, Ill lay out 1/2 my lettuce base, then add 1/2 of the veggies one at a time, then  1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the “extras”… then just do it all again. Its fun to do and always makes a meal look a little more “special.”

So, there you have it, some of my tried and true ways to make food look and taste better. I swear this is an important part of meal packing and in the enjoyment of meals – and it is so easy to do! Let me know if you try any of this out (or have any other tips to add to the list).

Do you focus on how your meals look? Do you think food presentation is important?

WIAW #2 (February 1, 2012)

Hi there! Happy Wednesday! Can someone please explain to me,

  • How the is high for today is 50 degrees? It is so odd (but I am not complaining)….
  • How it is February 1 today (I swear it was just December)?

I always get excited for new months. I like to plan things to accomplish and ways to make the month fun. February already has some fun things built into it…. my boyfriend and I are celebrating our anniversary this month, it is his birthday month…. so I have a few things to look forward to and to plan (which I need to get on quickly, typing this out is making me realize that these things aren’t too far away!).

Anyway, I enjoyed doing this last week, so I thought I’d join the What I Ate Wednesday party again. Thanks Jenn for letting me participate!

Breakfast – 6:15 am

Yesterday for breakfast I had an odd craving for eggs. I usually never want savory things for breakfast (I am all about eating peanut butter and banana in some form), so I was a little surprised. I am not one to ignore a craving, so I just went with it. I had an omelette with:

  • egg whites
  •  peppers
  • mushrooms
  • zucchini
  • goat cheese

I always get a little excited when chopping vegetables, so I had an extra pile of extra omelette filling on the side, as well as a slice of whole wheat toast.

Snack 1: 9:15 am

For my mid-morning snack I had a handful of pistachios and a few pieces of chili dried mango (from Trader Joes). Both were pretty delicious and kept me quite content until lunch.

Lunch: 12:00 pm

For lunch I had a “pasta salad” – heavier on the veggies than the pasta, with some balsamic vinegar + honey on top. My salad contained:

  • spinach/kale (base)
  • peppers
  • zucchini
  • carrot
  • whole grain pasta
  • white beans
  • goat cheese

I also had a Fugi apple on the side as well. I am usually a big Pink Lady/Honeycrisp fan because they have the perfect tart/sweet balance and  the right amount of crunch that is necessary in an apple.  I have been pleasantly surprised by how much I have been liking my Fugi apples this week.  (I have a slight obsession with apples if you can’t tell….).

Snack: 3:30 pm

As my afternoon snack I had a (brand new!) Uber Larabar in the Bananas Foster flavor. I was pretty excited when I spotted these in Whole Foods last Friday, since I have a definite love of  bars (Larabar, Clif Bars, Kind Bars…) and I’ve never seen these (anyone else have one yet?)!

I must say, it was rather delicious. It tastes like the normal banana bread flavor, but has a good amount of crunch and texture from the addition of whole walnuts, almonds, and pecans. I would definitely recommend it. I also tried my sister’s Cherry Cobbler on Sunday, and it was equally as good. There are a few more ingredients in these than the normal Larabar flavors:

but it was soooo good. I am a new fan of the Uber bar. Now I just need to try the Roasted Nut Roll and Apple Turnover flavors…

Dinner: 5:45 pm

I ate dinner before going to the gym, so I tried to keep it rather light. Its weird, I can eat before going to the gym in the morning and have no problem at all, but, for some reason, at night I have issues. Maybe it’s what I’m eating vs. when I’m eating? Who knows. I’m working on finding a good balance.

I had a veggie burger on a piece of whole grain toast with romaine, broccoli sprouts,and hummus and also had some sautéed broccoli and cauliflower on the side.

Snack/Dessert: 9:00 pm

I almost always have to have something sweet at the end of the day. It is like my day is not complete without it. Last night I had some cottage cheese (4% – which is really good, by the way – its so creamy!) with pumpkin, peanut butter and some crushed Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal on top.

I haven’t had pumpkin in a while and was a little “pumpkin-ed” out in the fall, but this was really good. I think I may need to bring it back for a while longer. The pumpkin + peanut butter combo never seems to fail me.

So that concludes WIAW. I kind of love seeing what other people eat (it’s why I became so interested/fascinated by blogs), so I’m glad that this little tradition exists and that I can take part. Thanks again Peas and Crayons!

Have a great day everyone!

What’s the best thing you ate yesterday?