So full, I fell asleep!

Hey Everyone! Hope you had a great evening. My husband and I spent the evening with his parents and had a wonderful time, like always. We arrived at their house about 6 PM and chit-chatted a bit over appetizers…

8,21 appetizer

We had spinach-artichoke hummus from Whole Foods which I thought was fantastic! I was a little thrown off by the green color at first, but then when I tried it I forgot all about the color.

8.21 appetizer2

For dinner, we all started with salads made with baby spinach leaves, red onions, strawberries, and a mix of dried cranberries and sliced almonds.

8.21 salad

My husband made the dressing which was a mix of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and spices. It was super zesty and a great balance with the sweet strawberries.

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This is my husband, trying to be a fancy photographer.

For the main course, my in-laws and husband had tilapia, but because I’m not a fan of fish or seafood of any kind, my mother-in-law also made lemon-broccoli chicken for me.

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We also had a twice-baked potato from Whole Foods which tasted very close to restaurant style potatoes – so yummy! We rounded out our entrees with grilled asparagus and green beans. Hmm…so goood and healthy, which makes it even better.

Although my in-laws provided the dinner, my husband and I did spring for dessert…

8.21 dessert2

A raspberry and white chocolate roll cake from Fresh Market. We paired the cake with a little Edy’s Vanilla Bean ice cream and some fresh strawberries. By this time, I was so full I wasn’t even sure I wanted the cake. But I’ve had it before and know that it’s really good, so I couldn’t pass it up.

I was so full on our long drive home that I actually fell asleep. Of course I had to wake up long enough to write this post, but now I’m off to bed.

Have a great Friday night everyone!

An Autumn Tease…

Oh my, what a chilly morning and a chilly day! It feels like Fall and it’s not even Labor Day yet. The Midwest is headed into a cool couple of days, with highs in the high 60s to low 70s. Although I’m not quite ready to say goodbye to summer, I feel like I should do something Fall-ish, like apple picking.

After my morning run – which was awesome by the way because of the cool weather, I had a little breakfast.

8.21 breakfast2

Cheerios Muligrain! If you’ve never been a Cheerios fan or have written-off Cheerios as old people cereal, I suggest you try this new kind. It’s higher in fiber than regular Cheerios, is made with whole grains, and has a great flavor. Today, I added about 1/3 of a banana and 1 tbsp of sliced almonds for added monounsaturated fat (MUFA).

8.21 breakfast1

After breakfast, I had to run to Target to pick up a birthday present for my nephew, a task to which I was unsuccessful at completing. Target never seems to have the birthday gifts I need at the exact time I need them. Somehow, I still spent $30 and came out with things I had never intended on buying. Has this ever happened to you?

Next up was Trader Joe’s. I always have a great experience at Trader Joe’s, no matter what time of day or the day of the week. The people there seem to genuinely love their jobs – and you can’t beat the all-natural food products! I stocked up on Trader Joe’s Low-fat Greek  yogurt, as well as olive oil, walnuts, and jasmine rice. If you haven’t been to TJ’s in a while, they now sell these cool reusable shopping bags (Whole Foods has them too), that are made with 100% recycled materials. They’re way cool and they have the typical Trader Joe’s Caribbean themes. Plus, they are only 99 cents! I didn’t get one today because they were all out of the specific design I wanted, but I plan to get one next time.

After TJ’s my husband and I met for lunch at the local Red Robin. Not the fanciest place, but they have great sandwiches.

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I had the California chicken burger which was fantastic! It was really a burger, but rather a grilled chicken breast topped with provolone cheese, guacamole, and pickles – everything I love. Red Robin’s burgers are so huge that I only eat 1/2 and take the rest home. This is a great way to indulge in some great-tasting, but not-so-healthy, fun food, and not overdo it.

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It’s on the verge of raining right now, so I’m not sure what I’m going to do for the rest of the afternoon. Now that I think about it, a nap sounds like a great idea!

Have a great afternoon everyone and see you tonight.

Lunch Break at Whole Foods…

Hey friends! I’m am so lucky I arrived at work early this morning, because later in the morning I ended up having two. back-to-back meetings. Those meetings kept me away from my computer (and all of my work) for over 3 hours! Sometimes, meetings are not as productive as they should be.

By the time I got out of the second meeting it was after 1 PM. You could tell people were getting hungry because they were getting grumpy. For my own lunch, I warmed up the last of the chicken soup …

8.20 lunch

I think I’ve had my fill of chicken soup for quite a while. Immediately after lunch, I bolted out the door for a Whole Foods run. The store is about 20 minutes roundtrip from where I work, so I really only had about 20-30 minutes to look around. I was mainly looking for new products to try and this is what I walked away with….

8.20 Whole Foods

I bought 4 items, which came to a total of about $10, not bad for Whole Foods. I did, however, manage to snag a few coupons at the front of the door, which saved me more than $3. I ended up with Maranatha all-natural creamy peanut butter, Dr. Kracker mini-flatbreads in sunflower cheddar, an Oikos Greek Yogurt Strawberry flavor, and a new Odwalla granola bar.

In the afternoon, I made up for lost time spent in meetings by really kicking things into high gear. Then, around 5:15 PM, when I felt like I had accomplished enough, I left for the day.

For dinner, I defrosted some of the chili I had made earlier in the week and it really hit the spot..

8.20 dinner2

I paired the homemade chili – made with spinach and grape tomatoes! – with whole-wheat pasta from Trader Joe’s. This dish was a double whammy – loaded with 1) protein from the beans, turkey meat, and cheese, 2) and fiber from the beans and whole-wheat pasta. Not to mention it had a nice showing of vitamin C from the spinach and tomatoes.

Since it’s nearly midnight, I think it’s about time I called it a night. 


Top 15 Foods Runner's Should Eat

Good morning! Yes – I’m actually at work right now and it’s only 8:15 AM! All the stars and planets seemed align this morning so that I could actually get to work early rather than late. It helped that it was raining this morning so I didn’t end up running. I’ll be out there tomorrow though – bright and early!

For breakfast, I changed things up a bit. I have been eating cereal quite a bit, mostly because we bought industrial size boxes of Cheerios and Kashi so I feel like once they’re open, I have to finish them before I open anything else. I decided to change things up today….

8.20 breakfast2

I had a Thomas Multi-grain English muffin. These little muffins only have 100 calories and are packed with fiber – 8 g, that’s a LOT for a bread product. I topped my muffin with the last of my all-natural raspberry preserves and a couple dollops of all-natural creamy peanut butter. Too bad I didn’t run this morning, because this would have make an excellent post-run breakfast.

8.20 Breakfast

This got me thinking…as a runner, what exactly are the foods I should be eating to stay healthy and increase my performance? After doing a little research, I found 15 superfoods that Runner’s World recommends runners eat, at least on a weekly basis to improve performance and maintan overall health. I then assessed these superfoods to see if I was incorporating them into my overall diet. Let’s see how I’m doing….

Top 15 Foods Runner’s Should Eat

  1. Almonds – I definitely eat these on a weekly basis.
  2. Eggs – Hmm, I’m not much of an egg person, but I can try to eat more.
  3. Sweet Potatoes – Love these! But I don’t find them as convenient to make as other side dishes.
  4. Whole-grain cereal with protein – This is practically a staple for me!
  5. Oranges – Could definitely eat more of this, but oranges are so expensive so I find it a challenge to eat them every day.
  6. Canned Black Beans – Not a big fan of these unless they are part of another dish.
  7. Mixed salad greens – No problem in this area.
  8. Salmon – I do not eat seafood – so this is a big dilemma. 
  9. Whole-grain Bread – Yes, this is an every day food for me.
  10. Vegetables – Are you kidding me? I don’t think a day goes by where I don’t eat at least one vegetable.
  11. Whole-grain pasta – At least weekly, but I try not to overload on carbs.
  12. Chicken – This is a no brainer, I will likely turn into a chicken soon.
  13. Mixed Berries – Hmm, I definitely eat these when they are on sale, but I could use more.
  14. Dark Chocolate – At least weekly, if not daily. Now that I think about it, I probably eat a little too much of this!
  15. Low-fat Yogurt – Oh my – how could I not eat this weekly?

As far as the ideal runner’s diet, it seems that I’m not doing too bad. Although I do need to increase my intake of eggs, sweet potatoes (actually have these in the pantry right now!), oranges, and seafood (not gonna happen).

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to make some Tazo Awake tea – too bad that’s not on the Runner’s World list!

Have a great day everyone!

Whole Foods Saga….

Hi Everyone. I am so glad to be home and on the verge of going to bed. I’m really tired tonight for some reason. Could be the pending change in the weather (it’s supposed to be in the 70s for the rest of the week). Or maybe it’s because I’ve only been getting about 6 hours of sleep a night. No matter the reason, I’m trying to go to bed early tonight.

My morning just flew by (probably because I didn’t get to work until 9:15 AM!). Before I knew it, it was time for lunch at 1:30 PM. I didn’t bring much for lunch because I was rushing around the house this morning trying to get out the door.

8.19 lunch

I just had about a cup of chicken noodle soup. I’m going to turn into a chicken pretty soon after having so much chicken soup!

I was really busy this afternoon, so much that I didn’t get to go to Whole Foods like I had planned – sniff. I still really wanted to get to WF to do a little new product shopping, so I did the next best thing. I did a search for some of the new products coming out at the store. Whole foodsBut instead of finding new products, I found a bunch of very recent articles and blog posts about people boycotting Whole Foods. What gives? I don’t get into politics very much, but I understand the issue relates to something WF’s CEO said about President Obama. Sounds like Whole Foods needs a very good Public Relations company to get them (and the CEO) out of hot water. 

Late this afternoon, it started pouring down rain. There were even tornado watches and warnings near our area. Despite the rain, my husband and I made a date to meet at the local Cheesecake Factory for dinner. I arrived early so I decided to step into the nearby Barnes and Noble for a quick read of the new magazines. The new Body and Soul magazine looks awesome! It features 25 very easy and healthy recipes. I was so tempted to buy the magazine (but it’s kind of expensive at $4.99 right off the rack). I’m glad I didn’t because, come to find out, you can also get these recipes online! Awesome!

For dinner at the Cheesecake, I had a cup of their baked potato soup. None of the photos in the restaurant turned out very well as you will see….

8.19 dinner

It honestly tasted much better than it looked! I also had a few bites of my husband mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. The salad just tasted like a basic salad, but the photo turned out terrible – not even worth posting.

We decided not to have dessert there. My husband and I don’t care for cheesecake – so why even go to the Cheesecake Factory, right? Well, they also have amazing cakes! That’s usually what we get for dessert if we get anything. Tonight, our waitress was moving pretty slow – or so it seemed – so I didn’t want to wait even longer for dessert. We just headed home and called it a night.

I’m starting to fall asleep as I type so I better wrap this up. See you all tomorrow!

All work and no vacation

I don’t know what’s going on with me this week. I just couldn’t get my act together this morning. I even woke up an extra 15 minutes early to start my run earlier. Yet, I still didn’t get to work until 9:15 AM! I’m usually there by 8:30, so it’s really unlike me to arrive so late. I know what it is – it’s the end of summer and I still haven’t taken a real vacation! I really can’t take one though because this is my busiest season. But, all work and no vacation makes Jen a very cranky girl.

Enough complaining already. Because I was running so incredibly late, I had to make a quickie breakfast….

8.19 breakfast1

A cereal mix of Cheerios and Kashi Go Lean Crunch, topped with about 1 tsp of sliced almonds (for added MUFA). You just can’t beat that huge CRUNCH in the morning! Always wakes me up, that’s for sure.

8.19 breakfast2

I went outside to enjoy my breakfast on my usual front porch breakfast table and got a rude wake-up call. There was a horrible natural gas smell all over the area. I couldn’t smell it in the house thank goodness, but it was really thick around the house. I should really call someone about that….

Today, my boss is coming back to the office after being gone for about 10 days. So, I guess that means I really have to start working – ha! Who am I kidding, I’ve been working nonstop (hence the need for a vacation.)

Now that I’m at work and it’s nearly 9:30 AM, I really need to buckle down and get a few things done. I really want to go to Whole Foods at lunch, but have a long list of things I need to accomplish before I can head out the door. 

Enjoy your day!

Treat a Cold With Chicken Soup?

Hello All! I had another highly productive day today. I was so productive, that I gave myself a break this afternoon and had a nice big treat….

8.18 snack

A great big chocolate chip cookie from Panera Bread. It was a little dry, so I only ended up eating about 2/3 of the cookie. I also enjoyed some hot chamomile tea from Higgins and Burke while eating my cookie (forgot my Tazo at home)….

8.18 tea

I never did end up going to Whole Foods. I was on the conference call for longer than I had planned, then had another spontaneous meeting. I’m going to make a concerted effort to go tomorrow.

Tonight, Scott was working late so I decided to make dinner simple and have leftover chicken soup…

8.18 dinner

…which tasted mighty good!

The Healing Powers of Chicken Soup

Chicken soup may be very simple but it is simply amazing. It is low in calories and fat, is a great source of protein, vitamins A, C, and a whole host of others. But, what’s really amazing about chicken soup is its ability to heal. Nearly 10 years ago, a landmark study in the journal CHEST found that basic chicken soup really does help to prevent or treat a cold or the flu, because of its potential anti-inflammatory effect on the body. See, mom really was right when she told you’d feel better after eating your chicken soup! I wonder what else she was right about..hmm…

After dinner, I cleaned up the house a bunch because it was left in such disarray this morning – and I can’t stand a messy house!

Then, I was in the mood for something sweet so I topped off the night with a little dessert…

8.18 dessert

One scoop of Breyers all-natural chocolate and vanilla ice cream and 1 tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips. Just enough.

Now, I need to get some work done before heading to bed. Have a great night everyone!

Whole Foods Withdrawal

Afternoon everyone! Hope you’re day is going well. I had such an awesome run this morning. It’s so nice not being sick!

For breakfast, I had a quickie PB sandwich…

8.18 breakfast1

I took a very fresh slice of Brownberry Multigrain bread spread with about 2 tbsp all-natural creamy peanut butter. I also had about 3-4 oz of Tropicana all-natural OJ. This may not seem like much, but the nuts in the bread (and high fiber) combined with the peanut butter can really fill you up!

It took me forever to get ready for work today and nearly as long to actually get to work. I felt like everything was going in slow motion. It was after 9 AM by the time I arrived to work. So, immediately I jumped right into action on my first project, which took me nearly all the way to lunch.

8.18 lunch

I had another slice of Brownberry bread with about 1 oz of sliced turkey and low-fat salami deli meat, paired with carrots of course! Not very exciting, but definitely a nutritious office lunch.

I’m actually on a conference call/webinar right now, but plan to have a big chocolate chip cookie for an afternoon snack. Someone put them out in the staff lounge and I snagged one before they were all gone – he, he!

I think I may head out to Whole Foods after my call for a quick grocery run – I’m in need of more Dr. Kracker flatbreads! Also, I haven’t been to Whole Foods in nearly 3 weeks so I’m going through withdrawal.

Gotta run for now. Have a great afternoon everyone!

A Healthy Ice Cream Sundae

Hello All. I had such a great day today. I was really focused at work and was able to get quite a lot done (although there’s still more to go!). I love it when I’m super productive, it makes having to leave early so much easier.

For lunch, I packed some of the homemade split-pea and ham soup that my husband and I made a couple weeks ago. I froze some of the leftovers in individual containers (mostly for me, because Scott won’t eat the leftovers) and knew they’d come in handy for work lunches.

8.17 lunch

I only had about a cup of the soup but it was sooo rich and filling. That’s why legumes (peas, beans, etc) come so highly recommended – because they are full of fiber and they fill you up, even with a small amount.

I left work around 2:30 PM to make a 3:15 PM doctor’s appointment. After that, I perused the local Barnes and Noble for the September issues of Natural Health and Yoga Journal, but didn’t have time to read more than a few pages. It was my night to make dinner so I needed to scoot home and get that started.

Tonight was chili night! I made my husband’s homemade turkey chili with beans, but I added a few variations to give the chili more veggie power.

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Scott’s Original Homemade Chili

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2-3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1-2 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1-2 tbsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 green or red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 24 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1 McCormick’s Original Chili packet
  • 1 16-ounce can chili beans
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2-3 cups whole wheat elbow or other short noodle, cooked and drained

Add oil to a large sauce pan and heat for 1 minute. Add turkey meat and chop into fine pieces. Add garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cumin, and pepper to meat and cook until 3/4 of the way cooked. Add green pepper and onion and continue cooking until meat is completely cooked through. Add tomato sauce and chili packet and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add beans (with juice) and simmer for 10 minutes. Add cinnamon, stir, and cook for 1-2 minutes more. Serve over noodles, bread, rice, or plain. Add cheddar cheese for extra flavor. Leftovers can be frozen and then reheated in the microwave or on the stove.

Serves 8 people.

I’ve been eating this chili for as long as I’ve known my husband and never thought I could love chili so much! But tonight, I threw caution to the wind and added two secret ingredients…1) when I added the beans, I also added about 1 cup of sliced grape tomatoes; and 2) when I added the cinnamon, I also added about 2 cups of baby spinach and mixed it into the chili thoroughly.

8.17 dinner3

I absolutely LOVED my new variation of the chili! The tomatoes added even greater flavor to the chili and the spinach (although you couldn’t even taste it) added a ton of vitamins that spinach is famous for.

However, my husband was not so pleased. He immediately asked, “what did you do to the chili! Did you add spinach to it!?” And then he grumbled a few things under his breath. I calmly explained that, on more than one occasion, he has complained that he does not eat enough vegetables. So tonight, I tried to sneak a few more in for him. Hmm, it’s not always a good thing to be a sneaky vegetable cook. After all was said and done, he did admit that the chili tasted good (although he had picked over most of the tomatoes and spinach which defeated the whole purpose – I get points for trying). As for me, I would definitely try this variation again, but for newbies, you may just want to stick with the original recipe provided above.

After dinner and clean up, I needed to the head to the library to return a book. I ended up bringing about 20 more books and DVD’s home! I’m so glad there’s no limit to what you can check out. 

Then it was dessert. Scott and I made homemade sundaes.

8.17 dessert

For my sundae, I started with 2 small scoops of Breyers all-natural vanilla/chocolate ice cream. Then I added:

  • 1/4 sliced banana
  • 1 tbsp chocolate chips
  • 1 tbsp hot fudge sauce
  • 1 tsp sliced almonds

It sounds so indulgent, but it was actually quite healthy. Bananas are a great source of potassium and fiber and the almonds are an awesome source of monounsaturated fats (MUFA’s) or the good fats that our body needs to stay healthy. Combine all of those goodies with the antioxidants in the dark chocolate I used, and the sundae is practically a health food! Ok, I shouldn’t go that far, but more nutritious than a Dairy Queen sundae, and much smaller too.

Now, I’m finally going to read my new Marie Claire magazine that’s been sitting on my nightstand for two weeks.

Have a great night!

Relieve Stress With Lemons and Lavender

I woke up extra early today for my Monday morning run. Come to find out, there was a huge thunderstorm passing through my area. So I opted NOT to run outside and hopped back into bed. NOT running on days I had planned on running tends to stress me out a little. So, although I went back to bed, I didn’t go to sleep. I just laid there thinking about not running and all of the work-related projects I have yet to accomplish before our big meeting at the end of the year. All of these racing thoughts can really stress a girl out. Maybe I need some lemons…

Lemons: www.flickr.com/photos/22829128@N08/2426112655

Why, you ask? Well, a new study shows that certain scents, like lemon, mango, and lavender, can actually help boost your mood and help reduce stress. The way I’m feeling right now, I think I need to combine all three scents to get the maximum relaxation effect – he he!

Well, I don’t have lemons, mango, or lavender in the house at the moment. So, rather than just laying there being stressed, I decided to get up and start getting ready for work. Then, I had a little breakfast..

Breakfast1

Breakfast was a nice bowl of mixed cereal, 1/2 Cheerios and 1/2 Kashi Go Lean Crunch. Then, I headed out the door to work, bypassing Starbucks. Instead, when I arrived at the office I made a huge cup of Tazo Awake Tea. I probably should have had chamomile to calm my nerves, but Awake helps me start my day with a clear head.

Now, I need to be heads down for the rest of the day – which, ironically, ends at 2:30 PM for me because I have a doctor’s appointment – and not for a stress test!

By the way, if you have a favorite, all-natural stress reduction tip, please give me a shout!