A MUFA-licious New Year

Afternoon everyone!

Yesterday, Scott and I spent most of the afternoon taking down all of the inside Christmas decorations. I didn’t put out as many as I normally do, so it wasn’t as bad as last year taking them down. I will miss how pretty my house looked, but I am glad to have it back to normal.

This morning, Scott left early to attend an Illinois v. Gonzaga basketball game in downtown Chicago. But, I managed to convince him to take a picture of me in my new Lucy shirt before he left…

1.2 Jen Breathe shirt 10.1

Thanks shman.

Blah, I just saw that Illinois lost. I didn’t go to U of I and, frankly, college basketball is NOT my thing. But I still want the Illini to win. Scott usually goes to the big game every year and hangs with all of his old college buddies. You think I would like basketball, even a little, after playing 4 years of b-ball in high school. Thanks, but I’ll pass. 

I didn’t end up going to yoga this morning like I planned (too cold to venture outside at just 6 degrees of bed separation). Instead, I started the morning with a few lunges, squats, and leg extensions. I usually start doing these in March to gear up for bikini season. But, seeing as I’m headed to Florida at the end of February then twice again in April, I figured I should get a head start! I also munched on some super nummy yogurt…

1.2 Trader Joe Greek Yogurt 2

Instead of buying individual 5.3 oz of Trader Joe’s nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt, I bought the big carton. I’m trying to really watch portion sizes this year, and I feel that the individual yogurts are a little too much for me. With the full-size carton, and a handy dandy 6 oz ramekin, I can fill up the ramekin 1/2 way, then add granola and blueberries. Honestly, this is ALL I need to get me started on most mornings.

1.2 Trader Joe Greek Yogurt 1

As for watching portion sizes, I’m not really trying to lose weight – I don’t have much to lose at just 107 pounds. I’m also not really the type to do New Year’s resolutions. But, every year, I try to start the new year off right with some of the basic principles of healthy eating…

  • Watching calorie intake
  • Loading up on fruits and veggies
  • Eating more fiber-rich foods
  • Cutting back on junk food
  • Saying “yes” to MUFA (monounsaturated fats)
  • Reducing diet coke
  • Kicking my Starbucks habit (I wonder if there’s a Starbucks support group I could join?)
  • Opting for all-natural foods, when possible
  • Limiting snacks

For instance, for lunch, I knew I’d be satisfied with a 1/2 reduced-fat salami sandwich, so that’s what I had (reduce portions – check). I made the sandwich on Brownberry double fiber bread (add fiber – check), and plus I threw in a few cherry tomatoes for the huge vitamin C but also because they are fruit (add fruits/veggies – check)

1.2 Salami Sandwich with olives 2

It’s a little strange eating lunch without Scott on a Saturday, considering we are almost always together on the weekends. No matter though, I had olive eyes watching me…

1.2 Salami Sandwich with Olives 1

Not to mention a beautiful a bird sitting in my tree who kept his hawk eye on me and my food…

1.2 Wild Hawk

I named him Nicholas Nickleby – Nick for short. Don’t ask me why, I was just in a Charles Dickens kind of a mood today. 

Tonight, I plan to do some major studying at Barnes and Noble and then tomorrow starts our 30-day restaurant diet – more details to follow 😉

So, what’s your healthy eating goal for the year?

Not Your Hello Kitty Yoga

Happy Christmas Eve²!

I can’t believe Christmas is nearly here – time sure flies when you’re busy. Although Wednesday is usually my day off for running, I decided to do a fast 30 minutes on the treadmill (Yes, my name is Jennifer and I’m a running addict) knowing that I may not run on Friday. About an hour after running, I headed to the gym for a much-needed 60-minute yoga session.

12.23 hello kitty yoga

Don’t let this picture fool you. There was nothing cute and cuddly about this yoga class. I have to admit, this class kicked my A-S today! Of course, I haven’t been to yoga since October, so the a-kickin’ was to be expected. Every pose seemed harder than the next. I had to really concentrate the whole time, when I can usually relax and just go with the flow. The only person that seemed to be having as much trouble was the 60-year old guy next to me – not a good sign on my part. I really think I overdid it between running and then yoga (and barely eating breakfast). I actually felt sick during shavasana but tried to lay there calmly to let the nausea pass. 

Anyway, I did get to show off my new yoga shirt from Lucy…

12.23 Lucy bag

Each year about this time, Lucy comes out with its limited edition Breathe t-shirts. I don’t know why I haven’t seen these shirts until this year, but as soon as I saw them I just had to buy one…

12.23 Lucy breathe shirt 1

Merry Christmas to me! How perfect is this for yoga, running, or really any sport! In addition to having “breathe” written on the front, the shirt sleeves also were creatively detailed. Too bad the shirts only come in white and black, otherwise I think I would have bought more (maybe that’s a blessing to my bank account!).

12.23 Lucy breathe shirt 4

After yoga, I spent the rest of the day wrapping gifts – save for an hour or two getting my hair cut (finally, time to relax!). I think I counted 35 gifts that I wrapped just today! I wrapped about 10 over the weekend, and that doesn’t even count the gifts that I already gave to my family members in Michigan over Thanksgiving. I really think we went way overboard on Christmas this year. Did anyone else overdo it on presents this year?

Gotta run to prepare for all of the festive fun for tomorrow. Have a wonderful night! 

Pretty in Pink

Hi All! Well my sister and I had fun-filled day of shopping! We found ourselves all over the place, including…

  • Crate and Barrel
  • Bath and Body Works
  • Gap
  • Ann Taylor Loft
  • Lucy 

Whew! Now were so exhausted, but not too tired to have a little late night dessert…

12.18 raspberry swirl cake

Raspberry and white chocolate swirl cake with a side of Edy’s peppermint ice cream – so yum! And I love the pink colors – how girly, don’t ya think?

Now, we’re getting ready for a little gift wrapping party – fun, fun, fun! Tomorrow, we’re headed to a Nutcracker-themed afternoon tea. I love the practice of taking tea in the afternoon – it’s so old-school British! We’re also hoping to go for a morning walk/run – although it might be too cold (30 degrees – brrrrr…)

Signing off for now, but stay tuned for pics of my cool loot from Lucy!

Hands Out of the Bread Basket, Please…

Wow, what a day! We went nonstop from about 1-9 PM and had so much fun! Right after lunch, we headed to Brookfield Zoo just north of Chicago. The zoo itself is amazing but it’s also featuring a traveling exhibit, Dinosaurs Alive!, until the end of September. A friend of mine had given us free tickets to the exhibit so we decided to go today.

9.12 dinosaur

The exhibit had about 10 life-size, animatronic dinosaurs, that moved and roared when you pushed a button. It was pretty neat – kind of like being on the Dinosaur ride at Disney World. The rest of our zoo time was spent viewing the animals – bears, gorillas, penguins, etc. While walking around, I got a little hungry so I tore open my third and final Odwalla bar…

9.12 Odwalla

Once again, I really did not care for this power bar so I only ate 1/2 of it. It was overly chewy and really did not have much of a flavor and what flavor it did have was not very good. I don’t plan on buying these bars again – unless I have no other options – give me a LUNA or LARA bar any day!

After the zoo, we headed to dinner at Antico Posto, an Italian restaurant, for dinner. We started with the typical Italian restaurant starter – bread and oil. But I do have to admit, this bread and oil combination was exceptionally good.

9.12 dinner1

That is my excuse for eating way too much of it! The bread basket is my #1 downfall at restaurants. I still haven’t figured out a way to control my bread habit. I always tell myself to only eat 1 or 2 pieces then push the rest away, but somehow I don’t hear that little voice when I’m actually munching on the bread.

For my entree, I ordered the cavatappi pasta with roasted chicken, fall veggies, and parmesan cheese all in a chicken-based broth.

9.12 dinner2

The dish was very good, although it seemed like it was missing something. I think a few red peppers or spinach would have made the dish even better. I ate about 2/3 of it then gave the rest to Scott.

After dinner, we did a little shopping. We hit Anthropologie, Lucy, and Nordstrom but didn’t manage to find anything within our budget to buy. For all you Foodie bloggers out there, Anthropologie had a ton of new dishes (plates, bowls, etc.) in all different designs and colors. They’re a bit expensive but worth a look if you’re wanting to spruce up your food shots.

On the way home, we stopped at Red Mango! I have been wanting to go to this place for months now. I’ve heard so many great things about it (as well as pinkberry) and really wanted to try it. I decided to get a regular size original yogurt with watermelon chunks and bits of Ghirardelli chocolate.

9.12 Red Mango

Oh my gosh – this tasted like pure Greek yogurt – and you all know how much I LOVE Greek yogurt! I loved this new treat and could easily see how a person could become addicted to the creamy, sweet taste. On the other hand, my husband did NOT care for the froyo at ALL. But then again, he does not like yogurt – Greek or any other kind. Thankfully, he tried a sample before buying a full cup. He opted for one of their flavored iced teas instead.

I am so tired now from walking around for hours and hours today – but it was great exercise! Tomorrow, I’m planning an 8-miler which should take me just over an hour to complete (hoping for no more than 65 minutes). So I’m off to bed.

Night All!

Sweet Smell of Apple Cake Success

Evening everyone! Well, I am very happy to report that my first-ever homemade apple cake turned out great! Other than slightly over baking it, it was very moist on the inside and has a super yummy apple cinnamon and sugar flavor!

9.8 apple cake

After an hour of baking, I let it cool for about 10 minutes and cut into it just to see what the inside look like. I was skeptical at first because the crust looked so thick and bland. But after cutting into it, I could see the very cake-like texture and was quite pleased with myself. 

Then, we were off to see Harry Potter in IMAX. I love this movie! It was incredible how much they were able to include from the book (although they did leave quite a bit of the unnecessary story lines out). I even became teary-eyed in a few parts. That was the first time I’d every gotten choked up at a Harry Potter movie – ha!

After the movie, I went shopping for a few hours as part of my last hurrah for vacation. I went to Lucy to see if the store had any good sales. The sales girl convinced me to try on one of their petite size new Hatha yoga pants. They looked fantastic! But, then I looked at the price tag – $88! I love yoga and Lucy, but $88 on yoga pants? I think I’ll pass.

Scott was teaching again tonight so I made a few leftovers for dinner…

9.8 dinner3

I had homemade fried chicken, veggies that I picked from the pasta salad, and some freshly-made Trader Joe’s white cheddar shells and cheese. I really love mac and cheese, and Trader Joe’s has one of the best all-natural, organic boxed mac and cheese that I’ve tried.

9.8 dinner2

Then, for the BIG finnish… Apple Cake!

9.8 apple cake2

Ahhh, so yummy! Not exactly like my mom’s famous recipe (in our family it’s famous!), but it was truly very good. I took one small piece, dusted it with powdered sugar and added one small scoop of Breyer’s natural vanilla ice cream. A practically perfect September dessert!

9.8 apple cake4

As for this recipe, I can’t take all of the credit. The Betters Homes and Gardens cookbook did help me quite a bit. I took the BH&G recipe and modified it slightly to make my own version of the cake, ie. used walnuts instead of pecans, used nutmeg instead of allspice, etc. Not bad for my first time!

Now, I’m off to bed. It’s going to be hard going to work tomorrow after being gone for 5 days!

Have a great night all!

Free Week of Yoga During National Yoga Month

Hey there. I’ve had such a long day. It seemed like it was never going to end. It doesn’t help that it was 72 degrees and sunny outside and I wasn’t able to get out for lunch. I kept hearing people say how gorgeous it was outside, so I decided to leave work earlier than planned.

Seeing as September is National Yoga Month, I headed to an outdoor mall near my house to check out the new yoga and running lines at Lucy and the Gap.


Me, in my most comfortable yoga pose and clothes!

Lucy had a bunch of brand new yoga and running gear – in fact they were just putting out some cool new t-shirts when I arrived. Lucy gear at full price is way too expensive for my budget so I have to wait for things to go on sale – I’m sure more than one of you can relate. On the other hand, the Gap had hardly anything on display, except for yoga pants, which was a big disappointment. Maybe I just need to go to their new affiliate store Athleta to fill my yoga and running gear needs.

On another note, both Lucy and Athleta have online communities that you can participate in by adding comments to a blog or attending events, etc. Way cool!

And, if you’re interested in trying yoga during National Yoga Month, check out Yogamonth.org. They have a promotion running right now where you can attend a free week of yoga classes in September at a studio near your house. You just fill out the form and it brings up all of the participating studios near your zip code.

Well, after my short and fruitless shopping excursion, I picked up dinner at Noodles cafe and headed home.

9.1 dinner1

I had a cup of tomato basil soup to which I added a bunch of fresh crumbled feta cheese. I’ve never had Noodle’s tomato basil soup before but I could have sworn this looked, smelled, and even tasted like tomato sauce and NOT tomato basil soup. I’m almost wondering if they gave me a scoop of their marinara sauce and not the soup! It was ok enough to eat though, but not what I expected. I also made a little homemade hummus bread…

9.1 dinner2

I took two very small pieces of leftover ciabatta bread and spread about 2 tbsp of red pepper hummus on top, then sprinkled the bread with fresh crumbled feta. The hummus bread was great alone and also for dipping in the soup!

There were too many rice krispy treats left from last night’s dessert, so I thought I’d have a couple more to help us get rid of them faster – he he!

9.1 dessert

I even added a dollop of MaraNatha all-natural creamy peanut butter to give my krispy a little protein and MUFA kick. The only thing that would have made this simple dessert better is melted chocolate. Hmmm….maybe tomorrow!

I’m off to do a little magazine reading and then, hopefully, hitting the sack early tonight.

Take care everyone and see you in the AM!

Running in the Rain

Well, it is raining for the third day in a row. I know we need the rain but come on! When I woke up this morning, it was just drizzling a bit, so I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. It was chilly so I wore running capris and a light rain parka with a hood. I was determined to not let the rain stop me – although I’m sure my ipod had other ideas. I actually don’t mind running in light rain. It definitely keeps me cool. A light misty rain also seems to clean away all of the dirt and grime from the ground and leaves things smelling fresher than before. And, somehow, everything just seems quieter, maybe because there are fewer people outside milling about. 

After my wet, but awesome run, I made a quick breakfast parfait….

8.28 breakfast

It almost looks like ambrosia salad in the photo! But really, it’s not. I mixed one container of Trader Joe’s nonfat vanilla Greek yogurt with strawberries, blueberries, and walnuts. 

Seeing as it is my day off, I leisurely got ready and then headed out the door to the mall to see if there were any end-of-summer deals. Well, no real deals to speak of, but Lucy’s Fall line of running gear looks very promising.

On my way back from the mall, I met my husband for lunch at our favorite Italian hot spot…

8.28 lunch1

I had a personal pizza topped with (very few) black olives, sun-dried tomatoes, and goat cheese – oh my, this was gooood!

8.28 lunch2

I also had a small Misto salad, made with mixed greens, grape tomatoes, topped with goat cheese and balsamic vinaigrette.

8.28 lunch3

It’s time to clean up the house and do a little more reading before heading back out into the rain this afternoon.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

A Pepper Trifecta and Stevia Review

Hey Everyone! It is an absolutely beautiful day here in Chicago! It’s about 70 degrees and sunny. The exceptionally cool weather really helped my long run this morning. I was able to do 6 miles (that’s long for me!) with no problem. I think I am ready for summer to be over – bring on the Fall!

8.23 breakfast

For breakfast, I had the new Oikos Greek yogurt I picked up from Whole Foods – it was strawberry flavor. It was a first for me and it was just yummy with a tablespoon or two of walnuts (for extra MUFA) sprinkled on top.

8.20 OIkos-strawberry

I also tried a new product that was sent to me in the mail – Stevia In the Raw 100% natural sweetener.


I actually tried it a few weeks ago in homemade lemonade and thought there was a weird after taste to it. My husband just raved about it in his homemade iced tea, so I thought I’d give it another try in my hot tea this morning.

Tea with stevia

I brewed Harney and Sons whole leaf English Breakfast tea and added 1/2 a stevia packet. I’m sorry to report that the sweetener still has a weird taste and after taste that I just can’t get used to. I haven’t given up on it completely though – I may try using stevia as a replacement to sugar during baking. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes.

After breakfast, I was just lounging around the house, checking emails, etc. I put on my comfy yoga pants from the Gap (my new favorite pants) and my brand new running/yoga shirt from LUCY.


The shirt really describes how my life goes on most days – I’m up and running with the sun!

Lunch was leftovers – the other 1/2 of the chicken sandwich/burger that I ordered from Red Robin on Friday…

8.23 lunch3

I paired it with some fresh grilled red, green, and yellow bell peppers and grape tomatoes…

8.23 peppers

A perfect pepper trifecta!

8.23 lunch2

Finally, I had a few Cape Cod low-fat potato chips. My husband and I love Cape Cod chips because they are made from all-natural ingredients and have an awesome flavor.

8.23 Cape Cod chips1

As you can see, they are made with potatoes, oil, and salt – can’t get any more natural than that!

8.23 Cape Cod Chips2

Now, we’re both relaxing on our deck before heading off to our nephew’s birthday party.

See you all tonight everyone.

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!