Knights, Wenches, and the Queen, but no Shakespeare

Hi Friends! So, what did you end up doing today? I mentioned before that my husband and I were going to the local Renaissance Fair for the first time (well, it was my first time anyway). We had left for the fair about 11 AM, after intending to leave at 10 AM. It also took us about 45 minutes to actually get on the road, because we had a variety of errands to run before leaving town.

On the way there, we snacked on one of the new Odwalla bars that I bought from Whole Foods the other day…

8.22 snack

I decided to share my new Odwalla Chewy Nut Bar because it is over 200 calories and had 11 g of fat. A little too much for a snack if you ask me. The bar itself was very tasty – the whole almonds had fantastic flavor and it had just the right amount of sweetness to it. I think it could have used a touch of fruit though.

We finally arrived at the fair around 12:30 PM. It was perfect weather for walking around the spacious grounds – about 65 degrees. It was also not as packed as I thought it would be on a Saturday. We arrived just in time to see the Queen arriving with all of her subjects.

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It was pretty different seeing everyone, from young wenches to knights to strolling minstrels, in costume and in true British character. The buildings and facades also looked relatively authentic, resembling the architecture you might see in Stratford upon Avon in England. I was so surprised not to see a Shakespeare impersonator there.

8.22 Ren Fair2

By this time, we were starving. We had heard the food was pretty good and were actually quite pleased with the wide selection of themed and regular food – turkey legs, sassafras root beer, bbq chicken, stew, etc. Not surprisingly, the longest lines were for the old world pizza and the curly fries! So American!

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I ended up having the chicken salad on a pita with all of the fixins’….

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The sandwich had a great flavor and the pita was really soft and chewy. That was the only thing I had the entire 3 hours we spent there – I just wasn’t adventurous enough (or willing so spend more money) to try anymore of the food.

On the way back from the fair, we stopped at Toys R Us to finally get the present we needed for my nephew. Then, we headed off to our favorite local Italian eatery for a little dinner…

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I had a cup of minestrone soup and a 1/2 personal pizza topped with spinach, mushrooms, and goat cheese. Totally yummy!

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After walking around for hours and hours today, I am so ready to go to bed. Plus, tomorrow is my long run and my nephew’s birthday party. 

I’m signing off. Have a great night everyone!

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!

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..

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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. 

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!

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!

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.

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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!

Introducing the New Running With Cake!

As I’m sure you can tell, Running With Cake has a new look! My husband worked all day on setting up the new theme, graphics, colors, etc. and it looks fabulous. I do plan on adding a couple new features in the next week or so, including a few pics of me. Stay tuned for more health, fitness, and fun with RWC. In the meantime, let me know what you think of the new look.

Even though my husband was locked up on the basement for most of the day (don’t worry, we have a walk-out basement, so there is natural light) working on my new theme, he managed to help me make an awesome dinner.

8.16 dinner 3

Chicken soup? Yes, chicken soup even tastes great in the summer, especially when you’ve been sick. But, the biggest reason we decided to make this homemade specialty is the weather. Being from the Midwest, we know that the weather can change on a dime. But, I was so surprised today, when it went from 85 to 65 degrees in about 2 hours. Because of this drastic change, and the fact that we still had the central air on in the house, we were both freezing. Chicken soup sounded like a perfect meal to warm us up.

8.16 dinner 2

My husband’s chicken soup includes all sorts of healthy goodies, not to mention it’s a very low-calorie dish.

Scott’s Chicken Noodle Soup

  • 2 chicken breast halves, thawed
  • 4-5 carrots, chopped in large chunks
  • 3-4 celery stalks, chopped in large chunks
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped
  • 9-10 cups chicken broth/stock
  • 2-3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 3 cups wide no-yolk noodles, cooked and drained

Add all ingredients (except the noodles) into a large stock pot or soup pot. Bring to a boil over the stove burner, then let simmer on medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Carefully remove the cooked chicken from the soup and either shred or chop it. Return the chicken to the soup pot. Add cooked noodles. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread.

Just as I mentioned in the recipe above, this soup is great alone or when paired with crusty bread for dipping. Tonight, we had our soup with a 1/2 loaf of multi-grain bread with oil and balsamic vinegar for dipping.

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I also add a little sprinkle of parmesan cheese to my soup. It’s just a habit after working at an Italian catering hall for 4 years in high school. It gives the soup a whole different flavor!

Well, after warming up a bit with our soup, my husband had to run out to get gas for one of the cars. It just so happens that one of our favorite ice cream parlors is right by the Costco gas station. So, not only did he get gas, but he came home with ice cream for both of us…

8.16 dessert

Scott had a huge chocolate malt, but I ended up with a mere kid’s scoop of chocolate peanut butter ice cream – hmmm, that’s doesn’t seem very fair to me. No, I’m just kidding of course. The ice cream was an awesome treat and a great way to end our day, and our weekend.

Now, I have to get ready for bed. Monday morning seems to be hitting me extra hard these days. Have a great night everyone!

When you're sick, even pizza doesn't taste good

Hello All. I’m feeling better this evening, but still have a sore throat. When I have a sore throat or am just plain sick, nothing seems to taste as good as it usually does. Take dinner, for instance. My husband and I went out to our local Italian bistro and ordered a full pizza.

8.15 dinner2

My 1/3 of the pie (and I mean third, because my husband felt that I would not eat a 1/2 all by myself) included pepperoni, spinach, red peppers, and goat cheese. I’ve written about this pizza before and how much I love it. Well, tonight, it was just ok. In fact, when I think about it now as I type, I will likely not order that pizza for quite a while. It could be because I’m sick – and when you’re sick, even you’re favorite pizza doesn’t taste good. Or it just be that I need to try something different. Could be a bit of both.

After pizza, we tried to walk around for a bit, but I just wasn’t in the mood for mindless wandering. I really wanted to just sit down, or lay down, and relax.We headed home and a little while later, I decided to see how my taste buds would react to a little dessert…

8.15 dessert

Thankfully, my taste buds did not protest at these two little butter cream cookies with chocolate frosting and sprinkles. My in-laws brought these over today, along with the coffee cake. These cookies were seriously like butter – the cookie part just melted in my mouth. 

Now, I’m going to finish a few things on the computer and head to bed – 9:30 PM seems sooo early to go to bed on a Saturday night. Because I was sick yesterday and today, I really didn’t get a whole lot of work done – except for a little laundry. So tomorrow is a work day, or at least a partial work day. I’ve blocked out about three hours for me to review a bunch of work-related things in order to get a jump-start on this week.

Have a great night everyone.

I hate being sick…

Ok, I’m officially sick. Headache. Body aches. Chills. I was so cold this evening, in fact, that it felt so much better outside on our deck in 85 degree weather than it did in our air conditioned house. I also sat wrapped in a blanket at dinner. Guess I won’t be going to yoga tomorrow – bummer, this will be my second week in a row missing yoga. I hope I don’t fall off the yoga wagon. I also won’t be shopping with my mother-in-law, which I had planned to do. 

Despite being sick, I did manage to eat dinner…

8.14 dinner2

I had Polish sausage, steamed carrots, and orzo made with chicken broth and chopped grape tomatoes. I had one serving of each and ate it sooo slow. It was all I could do to get the fork to my mouth. 

Now, I’m watching a new episode of Psych – love that show! – and waiting for my Nyquil to kick in. All of a sudden, I’m burning up, what gives? I hate being sick. No time is a good time to be sick, but especially when I have a ton of work to do.

Well, hope your night is better than mine. Bye.

That's what Julia would do…

Oh my, if you are at all a foodie or even like eating food (who doesn’t?) then I highly suggest you see the movie Julie & Julia. I saw it this afternoon with my husband and it was fabulous. I want to give you my thoughts on the movie, but I’ll get to that in a sec. 

After eating a decent size lunch (although it was mainly grilled veggies) I was still not hungry for dinner after the movie. And I had such a headache by the end of the movie – the second day in a row that I’ve had a headache. So, instead of a big dinner, I had an RWC kid’s meal:

8.13 dinner2

Yes, it’s just what it looks like – peanut butter and jelly. Now, I love high quality, gourmet food, but sometimes, you just need to eat peanut butter and jelly. I made my 1/2 sandwich with one piece of Brownberry Grains & More bread. I love it because it’s super high in fiber – 6 g per slice! On it, I spread about 1 tsp of all-natural raspberry preserves and 2 tbsp of all-natural creamy peanut butter.

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Not very glamourous, but adequate nonetheless. I also had a really juicy nectarine which was just delicious…

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Now, I’m sooo tired, I just want to go to bed. But first, Julie & Julia

I don’t want to give away too many of the details but the movie chronicles a year in the life of an aspiring writer who cooks and blogs her way through, the now deceased, Julia Child’s book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking. The movie was quite funny at times and very heartwarming. Meryl Streep was amazing as Julia Child and Amy Adams was just as good playing her distant protege, Julie Powell. The movie really showed you a different side of Julia that most of the public never got to see. And, I absolutely loved all scenes of France – so charming and rustic!

Although I loved the movie, it also made me a little sad. I saw how each women used food/cooking to fill a void in her life, and I could definitely relate. Although I’ve been a health and fitness writer for many years, I’m a novice blogger. Sometimes, I don’t even know if it’s worth writing, because why write when no one is reading anything that I say, except for my dear husband – and like Julie Powell’s mother – he doesn’t count. 

So, if you’re out there and have any words of encouragement, I’d love to hear them. For now, I’ll keep on writing, even if it’s only to fill my own void – after all, that’s what Julia would do.