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Forget love...I'd rather fall in chocolate!

My blogger valentine came today!! It's from Sarah at Tales of Expansion. All edible treats contained dark chocolate...that's what I call a valentine!

Check out the cute wrapping and note :)

Dark chocolate cranberries and and 85% caoco dark chocolate bar!

This chocolate bar is super intense! I love it! But the dark chocolate cranberries are my favorite!! Think big plump cranberries (not crasin-like) coated in chocolatey goodness! They are like gourmet raisinets :)

A cute cupcake candle!! 

This is not edible. I thought it was a truffle at first before I noticed the wick, and I broke off a little piece and tried to eat it....whoops! Doesn't taste good, but smells like a mocha! Mmm..

I also got these adorable little notebooks! 

The one on the right says, "Je prends mon temps" (aka "I take my time" in English). Love it! I've never mentioned this on the blog before, but actually used to take French in high school and I really miss it!

Chocolate Flashback:

This is me next to a GIANT CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN in Belgium a couple summers ago. 

The really good chocolate + the French message reminded me of this day. Also, my friend in the picture (who I met in Europe) was visiting me in America at this time last year :)

Thank you Sarah!!! What a fun valentine!

Savory Oats with Spinach and Gouda

Its a warm and beautiful day in Athens, GA! I stocked up on oatmeal supplies over the weekend, but when I woke up to 70 degree weather, cereal sounded more appealing than a warm bowl of oats. So I made this:

Kashi Go Lean with fresh strawberries 

My cereal bowl tasted wonderful, but by the time I got out of class, I was craving oatmeal! However, I also wanted some veggies. I found a delicious solution to these conflicting cravings: spinach and gouda oatmeal with sauteed green beans!

I am very proud of this creation! It turned out even better than I expected!

Spinach and Gouda Oats:
  • Cook 1/3 cup oats with 2/3 cup water
  • Mix in shredded gouda and fresh baby spinach while warm
  • Let cool and enjoy!
I sauteed my green beans in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I also added some black beans after I took the picture. So good!

I wonder what other mix-ins would make some good savory oats....pesto? Parmesan and black pepper? What if you cooked them with chicken broth then added a bunch of veggies?? Endless possibilities! I can't wait to do more experiments :)

What are the most creative oats you have ever made?

Hair of the dog that bit you

Drinking to help a hangover has never sounded like an appealing idea to me. But exercising to help muscle soreness? Sure!

Lunges and squats make me sore like nothing else!! The morning after my BodyPump class on Wednesday, my legs were killing me! I actually e-mailed Kelly from Every Gym's Nightmare Thursday night because I was dying to go to my spin class, but scared of perpetuating my leg soreness. She told me that spin was different enough from squats and lunges that I could go for it as long as I wasn't limping or having trouble sitting. Yay! With her permission, I went to spin class :) I had to go a little easy on the resistance, but I felt good to have my legs in motion.

Still sore on Friday, I was lured outside for a five mile run by beautiful weather! After being cold all week, how could I not go on a run when it is 60 degrees and sunny?! Although my legs had been hurting me all day while I was walking, after about a minute of running, the pain went away! I made sure to stretch out well afterwards. Today, my legs are still feeling the effects of the squats and lunges, but they are much much better!

Now onto a few yummy eats...

I bought some vanilla Greek yogurt at the grocery store that I used for a post-spin class snack:

This was very good! It was thick and creamy and had a mildly sweet vanilla flavor. 

This is how I dressed up my yogurt: blueberries, strawberries, almond butter, and cinnamon! Mmmm....

I often crave sweets when I first wake up, but this morning I was craving eggs! So I sort of tried to recreate the "Lovin' Bagel" I ate in Nashville last weekend:

My version has a scrambled egg on an Arnold sandwich thin with Sabra roasted pine nut hummus, pesto, spinach, and a generous amount of avocado. Exactly what I wanted!

New discovery: Larabar with almond butter spread on top = so decadent and wonderful!!! Try it :)

Guess what today is???

It is a very special day end of post to find out :)

But first here are some good eats of today! This morning, I tried my second ever Odwalla bar:

Yes, the bar was a greenish color!! Doesn't look very appetizing, but this was actually very tasty!! It had some raisins in it and a subtle banana flavor. I think I like it better than the Berries GoMega flavor I tried last week.

I was starving after class, so for lunch I went up to Big City Bread, one of my favorite restaurants in Athens. I ordered my usual: chicken salad sandwich with a Greek salad. Their chicken salad is made with free range chicken and danish blue cheese and served with spinach on their walnut wheat bread. This is my favorite chicken salad in the whole world!! Their Greek salad is made with spinach, feta cheese, artichokes, chickpeas, olives (which I always tell them to leave off), and a lemon tahini dressing! Mmmm....I was so excited when my food came out that I accidently ate it all before I took a picture. Sorry!

I did take a picture of the little dessert I ordered:

A chocolate raspberry truffle!!!

Dark chocolate and raspberry is a divine combination!! Another wonderful and decadent combination is chocolate and hazelnut, which brings me to today's special celebration....

Guess what today is???

It's World Nutella Day!!!

I just found out yesterday that February 5 is officially World Nutella Day. I so glad this wonderful product has its own holiday. Unfortunately, I am very unprepared. I actually don't have any Nutella right now, but it will still be in my thoughts today. My all time favorite way to enjoy Nutella is to dip strawberries in it! What is your favorite way to eat Nutella??

Also, Frugal Foodie is having a Valentine chocolate box giveaway! Check it out here!

Blog Worthy Oatmeal and New Workout

I have recently rediscovered my love for oatmeal thanks to reading food blogs. I've been in a cereal rut for a while, but after seeing all of your mouthwatering pictures of oats, I am convinced that oatmeal is the easiest delicious, filling, healthy, and versatile breakfast, and I should be eating it all the time! After a little trial and error, I have now created my own perfect bowl of oatmeal based on Kath's recipe for whipped banana oatmeal. 

My Favorite Oats:
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 whole banana (sliced)
  • cinnamon!
  • dried fruit and nuts
1. Put oats, milk, water, and banana in a microwavable bowl. Cook for 2 minutes.
2. Whip up the softened bananas in the oatmeal with a fork until smooth consistency.
3. Cook for 1:30 minutes and let cool a little.
4. Pour on some extra milk, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and add dried fruit and nuts!

Today's oats were topped with dried cranberries and cherries, toasted almond slices, and pecans. Perfect breakfast! I like to use the whole banana in my oats because I love the flavor and the sweetness it adds! My oatmeal has the perfect amount of sweetness for me without tasting like one of those overly sweet instant oatmeal packets...

My favorite part of making this oatmeal is that it makes my kitchen smell like banana bread!! What a great way to wake up on a cold morning! I'm also having fun experimenting with different toppings. One morning I put fresh blueberries in my bowl...reminded me of a blueberry muffin!

Today, I did a workout that is very different from my normal routine... I went to a BodyPump class at my school's gym. They were having a special today were you could drop in on a class for $5 to check it out. You basically lift weights for an hour while listening to techno music. Lots of weighted squats, lunges, chest presses, bicep arms feel like jello! Maybe if I did this consistently, I would look like the BodyPump ad girl :)

We did a million a couple sets of those squats she is doing. It was a challenge, and I will most definitely be sore tomorrow! Although I had fun, I don't plan on going back enough to get those ripped abs and awesome biceps.... I know that weight bearing exercises are so good for you, but I feel more satisfied if a go for a long run, swim, or bike ride. I guess I am a cardio girl at heart. Hopefully, my legs won't be too sore for spin class tomorrow!

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming...

Title inspired by Dori from Finding Nemo. Does anyone else love that movie?

Dori's mantra often passes through my head during swim practice. Swimming is probably the most challenging leg of the triathlon for me, and I feel like no matter how much I practice, I just don't improve that much.  Sometimes I just feel like I'm flailing around in the water...forget concentrating on my form or trying to go fast...I just don't want to drown! Last night was different though. I'm not exactly sure what I did differently, but something just kind of *clicked* and I suddenly felt so much more efficient! I felt like I got a great workout :) 
For anyone curious, this was the workout last night:
Warm Up: 300 meters
Main Set: 4 x 100 meters (faster every 100)
2 x 200 swim + 50 kick
400 meters (concentrate on distance per stroke)
4 x 100 meters (triathlon pace)
Cool Down: 200 meters EZ

This morning I went in for an appointment at the health center to get my resting metabolic rate measured. This is the amount of energy your body expends at rest...not including any calories you burn walking around, cleaning the house, exercising, etc.  There are formulas that we learn in class that can estimate resting metabolic rate, but I always question how accurate they really are. The formula that is considered most accurate is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. This is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation for women in case you want to try it out:
  • [10 x wt (kg)] + [6.25 x ht (cm)] - [5 x age (yr)] -161 = RMR (calories per day)
  • Then multiply by a physical activity factor to determine your total calories expended (1.3 for sedentary, 1.5 for active...etc)
I found out that the dietitian at the health center at school can use a device to measure you metabolic rate using indirect calorimetry. I won't get into all the science behind it, but basically you breathe into this machine and it tells you what your resting metabolic rate is after a couple of minutes! This is much more accurate than the equations. I was really curious to know exactly how many calories I need, so I made an appointment.

The dietitian told me that normally women expend about 8-10 calories per pound of body weight. This is often on the higher end if you have more lean body mass. Mine was actually a little more than is expected for my body weight, so I was very pleased! (It was actually only 30 calories under what the Mifflin-St Jeor equation estimated. The dietitian said the formula tends to overestimate for women.) 

To determine the total amount of calories I need, we added on an extra 800 calories per day to my RMR to account for my exercising (about 45 minutes, 5 days a week) and daily activities (walking around, riding my bike to class). Most people who get their metabolism measured are having trouble losing or gaining weight and want to see if their metabolism is unusually high or low. I was just really curious, and it was pretty cheap to get this done as a student, so why not? 

The only appointment time I could get was at 8 AM, which was cutting it close to go back home and eat breakfast before my 9 AM class (you can't eat before you get your RMR measured). I almost grabbed a Carrot Cake Clif bar to take for breakfast, but I tasted it before I ran out the door, and BLEH! Did not taste like carrot cake!! All I tasted was soy nuggets! So I made myself a quick bowl of cereal:

Some Trader Joe's High Fiber cereal mixed with sweetened bran flakes, fresh strawberries, toasted almonds, milk, and lots of cinnamon!! This made me 5 minutes late to class, but it was totally worth it!

Close up on the wrap I had for lunch.

This wrap was amazing! Whole wheat wrap with Sabra Lemon Hummus, pesto, avocado, turkey, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. This was a great flavor combo!

Another close up :) Mid-afternoon snack = banana with almond butter!

Dinner: Salmon with lemon and rosemary, sauteed spinach, and cherry tomatoes! After I started eating it added some avocado and toasted a piece Publix bakery bread. Mmmm...

Something to ponder: What was the best thing before sliced bread??

Good Eats in Nashville!

I just got back last night from spending the whole weekend in Nashville with my sister! I really wanted to go visit her before school got crazy with midterms, spring break, etc. I had a great time, and I ate some great food! For breakfast on Saturday, we went to a restaurant across the street from her dorm called Noshville. They had a huge menu with pages of breakfast and lunch items. I got overwhelmed and ordered scrambled eggs with toast and fruit. This sounds very non-foodie, but check out how I dressed it up:

I spread cream cheese and blackberry jam on their whole wheat bread (so fresh and delicious!) and topped it with the eggs and some pepper! Yum!

Next stop was Las Paletas for popsicles.  These aren't ordinary popsicles, which are usually just artificially flavored ice on a stick; these are fresh and creative gourmet popsicles! The restaurant was featured on Bobby Flay Throw-Down, and Las Paletas' popsicles were judged better than Bobby Flay's! My sister got the chocolate wasabi popsicle, which was very chocolately with a kick of spiciness at the end. They also have a bunch of fruit flavored ones with real chunks of fruit in them! I was tempted to try the avocado flavor, but I ended up choosing a yogurt popsicle with nuts, granola, and dried fruit:

Best. Popsicle. Ever.

Dinner was at a small, nearby Mediterranean restaurant. Mediterranean is probably my favorite type of cuisine...mainly because I am obsessed with hummus! All the food we got was amazing!

Jalapeno hummus with warm pita bread for an appetizer.

The veggie platter: falafel, tabouli, rice and lentils, and more hummus :)

On Sunday we walked to Cafe Cocoa, one of my sister's favorite restaurants. It was 60 degrees outside and beautiful!

By the way, all of these restaurants are included on the meal plan for Vanderbilt! They get a certain amount of money to spend at local restaurants in addition to meals in the dining hall! This is very unfair (really wish it was like this at UGA), but I benefited from it this weekend because my sister used her meal money to feed me...thanks! 

Anyway, here is the delicious food (and drinks) we got at Cafe Cocoa:

A perfect cappuccino. This reminded me of Europe. It was not like a cappuccino at Starbucks that is basically just a latte with extra foam. This was good quality espresso with just a little steamed milk and a thick layer of creamy foam. Divine!

Fruit cup that came with my meal.

I ordered the "Lovin' Bagel." Fresh whole wheat bagel with pesto, tomato, egg, and swiss cheese!

Sister ordered a ham sandwich with spinach, cheese, and pesto on focaccia bread. This was much flavor!

And since it was so nice and warm outside, we decided to walk to Yogurt Oasis afterward (also on her meal plan!). They usually have really creative frozen yogurt flavors (sis says she has had butterscotch, kahlua, coconut...). They didn't have any really exciting flavors when we went yesterday, but it was still tasty! I was intending on getting a modest cup of fro yo, but this turned into a massive cup within seconds! It is impossible to get a small cup of frozen yogurt there... you fill your own cup, and the fro yo comes out so fast!! Not that I'm complaining though....I can eat lots of ice cream, so this was not a problem :)

My cup: strawberry and vanilla fro yo with blackberries, heath bar, chocolate sprinkles, and white chocolate sauce. Oh yes!

Now I'm back in Athens and trying to catch up on school work. Hope you all enjoyed your weekends!

Also, Hangry Pants is having a contest to win a free jar of almond butter. Yum!!

A whole lotta woman needs a whole lot more!

For explanation of title, see video at end of post :)

New product! Well, for me, at least. These have been around for a while, but I just tried my first Odwalla bar!

I tried the Berries GoMega flavor. I don't think I've seen anybody blogging about it before, but the cutesy flavor name caught my eye, and I liked how they used all natural ingredients. The taste? I wasn't sure about it at first--tasted a little like a Nurti-Grain bar, but by the end, I think I liked it! I would definitely buy this again, and I would really like to try other flavors.

I also made a delicious sandwich yesterday on some Publix Bakery Multi-Grain bread. I am a little obsessed with this is so soft and fresh and has lots of little seeds in it.  I put some oven-roasted turkey, avocado, baby romaine, peppers, cucumbers, and hummus on the sandwich. (Also a side of baby carrots and hummus--not pictured).


Today's lunch was a Kashi Southwestern Style Chicken meal over baby greens with avocado:

I love Kashi meals...the avocado I added to this one makes it incredible!

You will notice on the side that I am in the process of updating my pictures. I've been feeling guilty about having the pictures I originally put up representing me because I was actually pretty underweight at the time. I have been paying more attention to taking care of my body, and I have (finally!) reached a healthy BMI after a year of trying to gain weight. For your info (and to remind myself) here is why I decided to gain weight:
  1. I felt hypocritical being a dietetics major and not maintaining a healthy weight and not giving my body proper nourishment.
  2. I was determined to do a triathlon. I had assumed that since I was a good runner that I was in good shape... but then I tried swimming and biking. Having a higher fat mass gives you buoyancy in the water and scrawny legs will not power you up hills on the bike!
  3. Curves are sexy. Not that I will ever truly be voluptuous (boyish figure genes...), but skin and bones is not a good look!
  4. I like shopping in grown up stores. When size 0 doesn't fit, it's really embarrassing.
  5.  I don't want to be given a kid's menu. Being really skinny makes you look a lot younger. I'll pass on the chicken fingers and sippy cup. I'll have scallops and Chardonnay. I am 21, not 12!
  6. I am a foodie!!! Eating delicious, exciting, fresh foods is fun! More good food = happy :)

The reactions I used to get from people when I was at my lowest weight were very interesting. People were either concerned about my health (once in a coffee shop, a homeless looking man told me I was "real skinny" and tried to buy me a muffin!!) or they tried to convince to go into modeling.  How messed up is that? Apparently, you have to look malnourished to be runway worthy!

So now, I introduce some more recent pictures of me on the side! New pic of me and my bike coming soon.

In the spirit of not striving to be stick skinny, here is a video from one of my favorite artists! If you have never heard of Mika before, you most definitely need to check this out:

Happy Friday everyone! I'm going up to Nashville this weekend to visit my sister at Vandy, so I won't be posting for a couple days....see you Monday!

Cookies and Local Food

As promised, here is the recipe from the cookie dough I was eating last night (they are delicious cooked also!).  I was inspired by this recipe: Maple-Pecan Chocolate Chip Cookies, but I added my own touches to it. Here is my version:

Crazy Maple Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 3/4 cup AP flour
  • 1/2 rolled oats
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup real maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1/2 cup 60% caoco chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup pecan
  • 1/4 cup toffee pieces
  • handful of unsweetened coconut (didn't measure, sorry)
I just mixed everything together and baked for 10 minutes at 350.

Great warm and dunked in a glass of milk! This is the only batch that actually got cooked. We just ate the rest of the dough raw, haha.

Now onto some exciting purchases I made today!

Earlier in the week, I ordered some items from where you can order fresh produce from local farmers!! I ordered some fresh eggs, rosemary, and Jerusalem artichokes. Pick up time was this afternoon. Check out what I got:

The eggs came in this cute, hand packed carton.

I was so excited that the eggs were multicolored! Looks like Easter!

The rest of the loot :)

Jerusalem artichokes are something I had never even heard of before, so of course I had to buy some! They look like little ginger roots. And the rosemary smells amazing! It was a very aromatic drive home!

Excited to try my new food, I immediately cut up some of the Jerusalem artichokes, tossed them with salt and olive oil, and threw them in the oven. This is my default way to cook veggies. 

Then I cracked open an egg right on to the pan, cooked it, and then ate it with some rosemary sprinkled on top! Wow. What a taste! If you get the opportunity to buy some fresh eggs, do it! I'm really going to enjoy these.

When my Jerusalem artichokes were cooked, I had no idea what they were supposed to taste like. I popped one in my mouth, and it actually tasted exactly like an artichoke! I think I prefer them to normal artichokes because they have a nice crunch, and they are much more efficient to eat since you don't have to scrape the good stuff off of a leaf!

Jerusalem artichokes. Don't look too pretty in the picture, but they were delicious!

Has anyone else try any new and exciting foods lately?

Will run for ice cream! (and wine)

I really pushed myself at run practice yesterday for triathlon club. We ran around some trails behind the intramural fields at about a 7 min/mile pace for 45 minutes... about 6 miles. I definitely never run this fast on my own, so I was very proud of myself. It was a very challenging run, but I felt incredible afterwards! I love endorphins :)

After my runner, I needed some delicious refueling! Dinner went much better then the baking disaster on Monday! My roommate and I made salmon, gnocchi, and sauteed spinach! I got this idea from a recipe card at Publix. They always have really quick and easy meal ideas. I used my frozen wild salmon filets I found at Wal-mart last week. Yup, Wal-mart. Who would have thought? Wild salmon actually has a lot more omega-3 fatty acids than farm raised; they are also usually darker in color and more flavorful. It is normally way more expensive to buy wild salmon...but not at Wal-mart! I was super excited!

Dinner: Marinara Salmon and Gnocchi with Butter Sauce and Sauteed Spinach

  • First, we put a 16 oz. package of gnocchi into a shallow, microwave-safe dish with 1 cup garlic flavored chicken broth, 1 tbsp butter, and paprika. We sealed it with plastic wrap and nuked it for 10 minutes. The broth and butter turned into a nice and creamy butter sauce :)
  • While that was cooking, we seared salmon filets on both sides, then covered them with spaghetti sauce (we used Classico Cabernet Marinara) and simmered until they were cooked.
  • We also sauteed some spinach in olive oil. It is always good to eat your greens with some healthy fat because it helps you absorb more of its nutrients! I love sauteed spinach, but I get a little sad when a heap of fresh spinach turns into a little blob. It's so tasty, but it seems like so much more food before you cook it!
  • This whole process took less than 20 minutes. The finished plate:

We sprinkled a little mozzarella cheese on everything :)

The wine selection. I love pinot noir.

We don't normally drink wine for weekday dinners.... but we also don't normally cook together and sit down for dinner on weekday, so I considered it a special occasion! 

We had some cookie dough in the fridge left over from some awesome cookies we made over the weekend! The cookies were good, but the dough was even better! The dough had no eggs in it, so for dessert we made coffee cookie dough ice cream!!

Breyer's coffee ice cream with cookie dough and whipped cream!

I had two servings of this. What an indulgent dinner. Thank goodness I like to run! I will share the cookie dough recipe with you next time I post.... it has lots of crazy good stuff in it, including maple syrup!

And for all you coffee drinkers, I discovered an NY Times article today that says coffee is good for your mental health. Yay! Drink up!

Baking Disaster + Yummy Desserts!

Last night I picked out this almond blondie triangle recipe to bring to my friend's cocktail and dessert party! I was very excited-- almonds + white chocolate...what could be better?? APRICOTS!! So my roommate and I added some dried apricots. The batter tasted amazing, and it had an almond crust. This is what it looked life before going into the oven:

Fluffy batter with toasted almonds and dried apricots :)

And then after:

What??!?! Top was burt crisp and inside was not cooked AT ALL! And we were late! I had no idea what we did wrong until I was looking over the recipe today....we left out 1 1/4 cups flour. Whoops. I feel dumb. I guess we were in a hurry!

I threw this plate together and ran off to the party:

Brie, cinnamon graham crackers, dried apricots, strawberries, and grapes

Here are some of the highlights from the party:

Chocolate covered strawberries!! These were my favorite!

Dark chocolate truffles in chocolate cups with orange peel. These were divine!

Fruit pizza...yum!

And of course there were cocktails. I had a pomegranate martini :)

So it was a good night, despite our baking mishap! I imagine that most food bloggers are more experienced cookers/bakers than me, but I would love to hear any of your cooking disasters!

Also, Every Gym's Nightmare is having a book giveaway, so check it out before Friday!

Applesauce Banana Berry Pancakes

I woke up this morning in a cooking mood, and decided to make some pancakes!! After browsing some recipes and looking through my kitchen, I made these:

Applesauce Banana Berry Pancakes (adapted from allrecipes)
Makes 2 pancakes
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat buttermilk pancake mix
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tbsp egg whites
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • cinnamon to taste
  • handful of blueberries
  • 1/2 banana sliced
I added fresh blueberries and sliced bananas after spooning batter in pan.

After I cooked both sides, I added more berries and sliced banana. Yum!

Had some almond butter and whipped cream on the side. The almond butter doesn't look too appetizing in the picture, but it was oh so good!

The aftermath. I licked the plate after taking this picture. I'm not kidding.

After this very satisfying breakfast, I did a yoga video that yoga is yummy posted! You do it right in your kitchen using counter tops and your fridge! It was some much needed stretching :)

Then I made some coffee:

Mmmm...I added a little vanilla syrup and a big splash of skim milk.

This stuff is so good! And it's fair trade!

I love Sunday relaxing. I'm really excited about the dessert I'm going to make tomorrow for my friend's birthday, so stay tuned!