Enjoy Dessert In a Martini Glass

I was really on a roll this afternoon – but I still have a ton more to accomplish this week. 

A few hours after lunch I was feeling a bit hazy from staring at the computer screen. I woke myself from the trance with a little snack. I nibbled on a few thin pieces of Tillamook’s Vermont White Cheddar Cheese. As “block” cheeses go, this is one of my and my husband’s favorites. I put the cheese on this baby!

Kracker

You might think this is just a cracker but really this is no ordinary cracker, it’s a Dr. Kracker flatbread piece – Sunflower Cheddar flavor. If you’ve never had Dr. Kracker flatbreads, they are organic crackers made with spelt flour (wheat-free flour) and all-natural ingredients. The crackers are huge, so at 105 calories-3 g fiber, one is sufficient.

Dr. Kracker

Although they are expensive, I prefer this cracker over all others because the flavor is amazing. And, the cracker is so sturdy you can load just about anything on it, from cheese to dips, and from meats to salsa. They also have to be the crunchiest cracker I’ve ever eaten.

Dr. Kracker Ingredients

I’ve seen Dr. Kracker products at Whole Foods Markets and Fresh Market, but I’ve also heard that Costco sells them – I’m still searching for them in their miles of aisles! Plus, if you’ve ever been to Jason’s Deli, they have individually wrapped Dr. Kracker crackers in their salad bar. I always snag one extra for a work snack the next day.

For dinner, I finished the homemade chicken and rice soup that I made on Saturday. It was probably a little too warm out for soup but who am I to let good, healthy food go to waste?

Chicken soup

I enjoyed the soup with a side of 12-grain artisan bread from Fresh Market, with a little of the dynamic duo – Trader Joe’s olive oil and balsamic vinegar. So yummy!

Bread-oil

With just a small bowl of soup and a little bread in my belly, I left plenty of room for dessert. I finished off the chocolate peanut butter ice cream in the freezer (about 1/2 cup) and had mixed feelings about seeing the bottom of the carton. I was sad to see it was gone, but happy that it would not be in my house anymore!

Chocolate PB ice cream

This time, I enjoyed the ice cream in a martini glass. That may seem a little eccentric, but my husband and I have a load of glassware that we received for our wedding that has basically gone untouched since we put it in our cabinets. I often wondered why we were waiting for a big dinner party or the president to come for dinner to use our fun glassware. So, I decided to live on the edge a little and use our fancy stemware –  martini, margarita, and wine glasses –  for everyday use during meals. Also, these glasses are typically smaller than regular drinking glasses and much smaller than bowls (such as those for ice cream). So it’s really difficult to overfill them, a technique that helps you eat less but enjoy what you do have to the fullest.

Besides – chocolate ice cream in a martini glass – now who wouldn’t drink to that!

A Lucy Lunch – Recycle Fancy Store Bags

In spite of my very sparse breakfast, I did not eat lunch until around 1 PM. Somehow, my 80-calorie green apple got me through nearly 5 hours of work. I think I was so crazy busy to notice that I was hungry. I don’t recommend this long stretch of not eating, especially if you eat a very small breakfast. Eating a very light breakfast with no protein often makes you snack throughout the rest of the morning and can lead to overeating at lunchtime. Fortunately for me, this was not the case today.

Nevertheless, when 1 PM rolled around, I made myself take a break to eat. And, I was ever so happy to dig into my very substantial lunch!

Fajita salad

Lunch was a lovely chicken fajita salad, made from Sunday dinner leftovers. It included 2 medium size slices of fajita meat, grilled veggies (peppers, onions, tomatoes), all on a bed of about 2 cups of green leaf lettuce. I topped it off with about an ounce of monterrey jack cheese. No guac though – it just doesn’t travel well on my 45 minute commute. This super tasty lunch really made up for breakfast. The protein from the chicken and cheese also gave me loads of energy to start my full afternoon of work.

You could also say my lunch was very green today (and not from the lettuce). I packed most of the lunch last night and stored it in this cool bag that I saved from a Lucy store purchase. 

Lucy Lunch Bag

Reusing fun store bags (especially those with handles) can be a great way to carry your lunch and they save trees! This bag is very sturdy and is just the right size to fit my whole lunch, plus a travel plate and water bottle. Unfortunately, you can only use it so many times before it gets too dirty or rips.

No time for a post-lunch walk today, see you all tonight!

Starbucks bait and switch pastry promo

Good morning everyone! It was another great morning and another great run. I was feeling extra strong today so I added a few intervals, alternating my normal pace with sprinting. After that, I was super charged and ready to start my day. But then, I had a big let down.

I headed to Starbucks and was VERY disappointed that they were out of their pastry supplies for the buy a drink get a pastry free day. I was actually quite irritated at the whole thing.

Starbucks heart

Yes, you just about broke my heart Starbucks. And, it really wasn’t about the pastry, because I don’t usually eat pastries for breakfast (or at all). It was that I felt like they ran a bait and switch promo, which is very unlike Starbucks. I arrived at 8:35 AM and the manager said that the pastries that were designated for the promotion were all gone, even though my voucher did not specify that there would be designated pastries for this promotion. There were plenty of pastries in the window but she said that those were designated for sale only and that all of the designated free pastries were gone by 8:30, just 5 minutes before I arrived. Sounds fishy, hmm a bait and switch? I was not happy and neither were the 10 other customers in the store.

But I’m not going to let it that hiccup ruin my day. I had packed an amazing lunch for today, which included a super juicy green apple, so I had it for breakfast instead. Definitely healthier than a Starbucks pastry, so maybe it was fate!

Green Apple

The apple was a mix of sweet/sour juiciness with quite a bit of crunch. But, because of my power run this morning, my light breakfast left me feeling hungry, probably because there was no protein in site. Even now I’m thinking about lunch. I guess this teaches me a lesson – not to rely on Starbucks for my breakfast.

Quick and Easy Stir Fry Rescues Dinner

Hello All! I had a very productive morning and afternoon at work, getting things ready for a big meeting I have in the next month or so. But, I wasn’t too busy to enjoy a nice, wholesome lunch! Unfortunately, I ate lunch at my desk – I was just too busy to leave my office – ugh.

sandwich

I enjoyed a nice size sandwich made with all natural 12-grain bread from Fresh Market, a high-end grocery store near my house. I absolutely love shopping at high-end markets and grocery stores like Fresh Market, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. It feels a little like shopping in a quaint market in Paris or London. But, what’s even better about these stores is that they specialize in high quality, all natural foods and their products just seem to taste better. You can also find a wider variety of specialty foods, like gourmet cheeses, meats, and super fresh produce. But a HUGE caveat is that these stores tend to be more expensive than a typical grocery store, so I can’t shop there as often as I like.

Anyway, I enjoyed the bread – it was very dense but you could still see all of the seeds and grains popping out – can you say holy fiber? My sandwich consisted of lean ham and a slice of peppered turkey breast with a smear of French brie. Of course, I had to throw in some raw veggies on the side.

After my stomach settled, I went for a 30 minute walk. I know, I know, I have work to do, but all work and no walking makes Jen a grumpy chic. I headed out with my cell phone which doubles as a radio and walked just fast enough to not break a sweat in my “work” clothes. It was just the thing I needed to clear my head and face the afternoon. I also burned a few calories which doesn’t hurt either.

Although my sandwich seemed filling at the time, I could tell that it just wasn’t enough to get me through the afternoon. About 3 PM, my stomach was growling like crazy, even though I had plenty of water and tea after my walk. I’m so glad that I brought an emergency snack – a homemade blueberry oatmeal muffin. It was pretty small, but hit the spot with some green tea with lemon. 

Blueberry muffin

Sorry to say, the recipe was not really my own recipe – it was an adaptation from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook. Although my father-in-law has an awesome blueberry cake recipe that I’m dying to try. The recipe was handed down from his father who actually won awards with it. I think it’s safe to say, I will not be sharing that recipe anytime soon!

I raced out the door about 5:15 and made it home around 5:45, not bad for a Monday. I started preparing a little dinner – it was a stir-fry kind of night.

Stir fry

This stir-fry recipe is homemade, courtesy of my mother-in-law. I won’t give away the super secret sauce, but the stir-fry itself included boneless chicken breast, red bell peppers, celery, carrots, onions, and broccoli (added at the very last minute). My husband and I put this on a bed of brown rice for a super Monday night meal. By the way, if you haven’t already heard, brown rice is a more nutritious choice than white rice – it has more fiber which fills you up more so you eat less.

I had about 1/2 cup of rice and about 1 1/2 cups of stir-fry, which ended up being a pretty low-calorie, very filling dinner. But, I had enough room for dessert!

Chocolate peanut butter

Alright peeps, it’s off to bed for me. I have a jam-packed day at work tomorrow and need to fit in a run in the AM or else I won’t make it through the day. By the way, Starbuck’s is offering a free pastry tomorrow with the purchase of any drink from open until 10:30 AM. Starbuck’s states that it’s pastries contain no trans fat, no high fructose corn syrup, no artificial dyes, and no artificial flavors. I know where I’m going tomorrow morning!

Homemade Granola Adds Crunch to Breakfast

Good morning all! What a great day for a run! The sun was shining and the air was so crisp – I was even a little chilly in my shorts and long-sleeve t-shirt. I was up and out the door by 5:45 AM, which is pretty typical for me. I usually don’t see many people that early in the morning, especially on Mondays. But today, due to the beautiful weather no doubt, there were a few new faces outside at the crack of dawn. I just give a friendly wave or head nod and keep on moving.

I spent a little too much time lollygagging (inside and outside) this morning so  I had to make a quick breakfast of cheerios. But, I livened it up a bit with 3 tablespoons of homemade granola and a handful of blueberries. Crunch!

Cereal-blueberries

That’s the great thing about granola – you can throw it on top a variety of foods to liven things up a bit. I’ve put it on ice cream, oatmeal, pudding, and, of course, yogurt. You can even eat it straight like cereal which is fantastic, although you don’t need much to fill you up.

Granola Jar

My husband is working in the city all week, which means he will be home later than normal each day. This makes dinner quite a challenge. In the past, during our not-so-healthy times, we would simply go out to eat, grab a pizza, or eat prepared food. As we are trying to save money, going out to eat has become less of an option. But, we’ve also become much better at managing his unpredictable work schedule and our dinners have improved because of this. 

We try to prepare things ahead of time, such as chop veggies the night before or thaw chicken, which saves us time when we get home from work. This week, we’re having a few of our old standbys to get us through. Although these meals are relatively easy to prepare, they are all homemade and balance protein with veggies and carbs. Take a look….

  • Sunday – Fajitas (hmmm…they were gooood!)
  • Monday – Chicken Stir-fry with homemade sauce
  • Tuesday – Chicken soup with rice
  • Wednesday – Grilled Italian sausage with spinach risotto
  • Thursday – Turkey burgers, steamed carrots, orzo with spinach and feta
  • Friday – leftovers

Have a great morning everyone!

Trader Joe's Guacamole and Fajitas: A Perfect Duo

Oh boy, was dinner ever good! I had some awesome chicken fajitas courtesy of my husband. Fajitas are one of my husband’s specialties. He actually gets requests for these babies when we have guests. There’s just something about the way the chicken is marinated – not too spicy, not too bland.

fajitas

As you can see, I packed my tortilla so full that I could barely pick it up! But, the tortillas were small, not the supersize ones for burritos. I’m not a huge fan of tortillas anyway, especially the ones made with white flour – they have very few nutrients. Tortillas made with wheat flour offer more bang for you buck, but we had none on hand.

In building my fajita, I first put down a layer of green leaf lettuce, followed by a few slices of fajita meat. I topped off the meat with grilled veggies – red peppers, cherry tomatoes, and onions – monterrey jack cheese and a big dollop of guacamole.

TJ Guac

Typically, I prefer to make my own guacamole with fresh avocados. But in the essence of time, Trader Joe’s guacamole does very well in a pinch. TJ’s guac is so yummy and it’s made from all natural ingredients – a huge bonus. Avocados are so good for you too – loaded with antioxidants and good fat, so I never feel guilty when I have an extra few spoonfuls of the green stuff!

Guac ingredients

I ended up having two fajitas with a few all natural corn tortilla chips and more guac. I was satisfied, borderline full, but not stuffed, which is just how I like to be after dinner – because it gives me enough room for a little treat! I waited a couple hours after dinner to partake in dessert – about 1/2 cup of chocolate peanut butter ice cream from an old-fashioned ice cream parlor near my house. The ice cream literally has chunks of peanut butter in it – love it! 

Now, it’s off to bed for me. I have an early date with my running shoes in the morning!

Have a great night everyone!

Fresh Granola Is A Tropical Treat

Good morning everyone! My Sunday started off great with a 5 mile run followed by some strengthening exercises. I felt so energized after my workout and was super hungry. I decided to nosh on some Greek yogurt with homemade granola and fresh blueberries.

TJ's Greek Yogurt with RWC Pina Colada granola mix.

I started with a base of Trader Joe’s (or TJ’s) Organic Greek Yogurt in vanilla. If you’re a yogurt lover and have never tried Greek yogurt, you sooo need to try it. Whether it’s TJ’s or Fage, Greek yogurt is so thick and creamy, you may never want to go back to regular yogurt again. It also has a ton more protein than regular yogurt. Just be sure to buy the nonfat or lower fat kind because the full fat is just that – FULL of fat! The only downer is that it’s about 3 times the cost of regular yogurt – but it is well worth every penny!

To my creamy Greek yogurt, I added about 1/4 cup of Running with Cake granola – this time I used the RWC Pina Colada mix and it was unbelievable. It was almost a little too sweet, so I think next time, I’ll cut out the some of the brown sugar when making the base granola. I added about a cup (big handful) of fresh blueberries – my husband and I bought the industrial size blueberries from Costco so I’m adding blueberries to everything!

Trader Joe's Organic Greek Yogurt in Vanilla

The thick cream cheese-like yogurt (not watery like many regular yogurts) helps keep the granola crunchy. Although the yogurt already has plenty of protein (which is very important for breakfast) my granola mix included a few walnuts, which gave each bite an added crunch.

Super crunchy granola - yum!

And the dried pineapple and banana pieces really rounded out the taste. So yummy and super filling. Overall, breakfast came out to be about 250-275 calories (1/4 cup RWC granola only has 75 calories!) and I washed it all down with some of my favorite tea – Harney and Sons English Breakfast loose leaf tea. My husband bought the tea for me for Christmas and I’ve been savoring each cup!

My husband and I headed out to do a little shopping. I checked out Lucy – an awesome women’s yoga/running store near our house. I can honestly say I love Lucy – although she’s quite expensive so I try to only shop during the sales. Ha!

My yogurt-granola bowl can only keep me full for so long – especially when shopping. We headed into the nearby Go Roma for a little lunch.

Veggie pizza a la Go Roma

I am usually a pepperoni and cheese kind of a girl, but I’ve been trying to add more veggies to each meal. I decided to change it up by order the vegetable pizza with spinach, red peppers, mushrooms, pesto, and goat cheese. Holy yum! I’ve never had a veggie pizza taste this good – way to go Go Roma! Although the pizza was only the equivalent of two regular slices, I am so full from it. I didn’t even eat the whole thing. Now that’s good food.

I’m hoping I do not slip into a post-pizza coma because I have a ton to do today. I’m also hoping my pizza wears off in the next few hours (it’s already been 2 hours since I ate) because we’re making chicken fajitas tonight. Fajitas are one of my favorite dishes, especially in the summer when they’re made on the grill. I just can’t resist the grilled vegetables and the char-grilled chicken. Come to think of it, the only time I don’t like fajitas is when I’m too full to eat them – like now – ha!