Are You A Tea Snob?

I attended a conference over the weekend and had the extreme fortune of trying my first ever Mighty Leaf Tea. As you all know, I am a tea-loyalist, with my faves being Tazo Awake, Harney and Sons Paris tea and English Breakfast. But I have to admit, Mighty Leaf Tea really threw me for a loop – the chamomile citrus was fantastic – so fantastic that I actually swiped an extra one to take home with me! Like Harney and Sons tea sachets, Mighty Leaf uses whole leaves in their cute little sachets, which makes the tea rich with flavor and very classy. Mighty Leaf also carries organic brands of tea which I think is very cool.

I’m actually headed out to Whole Foods today to see if I can find the English Breakfast sachets. Wish me luck!

By the way, do you consider yourself a tea snob or tea loyalist? What’s your favorite tea?


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…

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

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A perfect pepper trifecta!

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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

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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…

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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.

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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).

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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..

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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!

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….

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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.

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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….

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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…

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…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…

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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!