Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Giveaway - Nana's [Vegan] Cookie Company Cookie!!!

Last week I received a package of samples of Nana's Cookie Company products, and I am in love!!!

Nana’s Cookie Company uses the most natural and healthful ingredients to make delicious, moist cookies and snacks. Baked with all natural ingredients, Nana’s Cookie Company prides itself on Nana’s No’s – a list of ingredients that will never be found in Nana’s baked goods: No Dairy, No Refined Sugars, No Eggs, No Cholesterol, No Trans Fats, No Hydrogenated Oils, No Preservatives, and No GMO’s. Nana’s Cookies are vegan and kosher.

I loved the Cookie Bars. They are really moist and full of great flavor!

My absolute favorite so far was the Cranberry Orange. I loved the flavor and the texture. My husband even said "mmm this is pretty good." These cookies include 2 servings, so my husband and I split one. We plan to order some more from Amazon soon.

If you want to get a package of some Nana's Cookies, go to Nana's Site and sign up for their newsletter (there is a big yellow link in the middle of the homepage), then come comment on this post that you signed up and what product you most want to try. If you have a blog earn a second entry by linking back and leaving a second comment telling me you linked back!
I will randomly pick 1 entry this Friday July 3rd.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Peanut Butter filled Pancakes

Ever since Jenn received an Ebleskiver Pancake Pan, I have wanted one. My mom ordered one from Williams Sonoma and gave it to be for at early birthday present (my birthday isn't until July 22). Thanks Mom!! If you are curious, Amazon also sells a ebleskiver pan for less than Williams Sonoma, sorry Mom I didn't know that when I had it on my list :)

We used our pan for the first time on Saturday and loved the results.

For our first experience with the pan we decided to fill them with some Peanut Butter & Co. Peanut Butter.

For the batter we just used a whole wheat pancake mix we already had in our pantry. You place a tablespoon of batter in the pan then a teaspoon of filling and then another tablespoon of pancake mix.

Once the batter begins to bubble you simply turn them over.

Ta da . . .

I enjoyed three pancakes with some banana. I think the cinnamon peanut butter was my favorite filling.

I can't wait to experiment with other types of fillings!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Zucchini as "pasta"

Tuesday we picked up our CSA box and here is what was in it:

Kale, potatoes, patty pan squash, eggs, cabbage, beets, onions, two heads of lettuce, and 3 zucchinis.

Even though I have a ton of produce, I went to a farm market with my mom today to walk around. She bought some great basil and parsley and gave me some.

So tonight I used my fresh herbs and one of my zucchini to make a "pasta", and zucchini as pasta is mmm mmm good.
I have ate some form of zucchini as pasta 3 times in the last week but finally took pictures to share with you tonight. I start my taking a vegetable peeler and keep peeling down the raw zucchini in long strips.
I start my putting some olive oil in a pan over medium heat. Today I added some fresh garlic and some green onion from my CSA. After the garlic and onion have sauteed a minute or two I add the zucchini. I then add some salt, pepper, and Mrs. Dash Italian Blend. After a few more minutes I added grape tomatoes, which I cut in half.
I topped the zucchini with a pesto, which is a mixture of basil, parsley, nonfat plain yogurt, salt and pine nuts, all which I placed in my food processor.
If you love the idea of spaghetti squash as a replacement for pasta, give this a try!!
Katie is giving away Jay Robb! Okay well not him personally, but his fab product!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Operation Beautiful!!

I hate "fat talk", and well so does my husband. I will be the first to admit that I have said many negative things about my body in front of my husband. If he thinks I'm beautiful, why don't I? I have enjoyed reading Caitlin's beautiful posts about ending "fat talk", and it has really encouraged me to try to love my body for what it has provided me (the ability to run 13.1 miles, bike 150 miles in two days, or even just pull reads). My mouth dropped open when I read that 54% of women would rather be hit by a truck than be fat and that 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of being fat. If I am blessed with a daughter someday, I want her to beat these statistics and be able to look in the mirror and say "I am strong. I am BEAUTIFUL."

One of the reasons that coach Girls on the Run, is because it encourages preteens to live a life of self-respect. So when Caitlin started Operation Beautiful, I had to jump on board. Today I finally posted some Operation Beautiful Notes in my gym's locker room.
I also took a picture of my dog with a sign saying "I love you just the way you are". And I printed out the picture and posted it on my bedroom mirror, so when I'm getting ready in the morning I can smile!

If you didn't visit Operation Beautiful yet, it is a very beautiful site to check out!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

I love my CSA!

I wrote a few months back that Steve and I signed up for a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) that we pick up every Tuesday. We love it and have tried so many new things because of it.

Tonight we decided to use up a bag of Braising Greens, which are a mixture of hardy greens such as kale, chard, collards, mustard, bok choy, radicchio, and turnip greens. We rinsed them off and chopped them up for a pasta dish. I started with a little EVOO in a pan with some garlic, chopped green onions and chives, and pine nuts. After a few minutes I added the Braising Greens.

Once the greens began to wilt, I added about 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes and some pasta sauce.

If you are interested, I used a pasta sauce from Trader Joe's.

I also used pasta from our CSA. This was a tomato basil pasta that was fresh when we got it, but we put it in the freezer the day we picked it up (it came only a few days before we left for our 2 week long trip at the end of May and we didn't have time to use it before we left). I could still tell that it was homemade because as I was boiling it, some of the basil came off and was floating in the water.
Here was my portion, which really satisfied me (I think the red pepper flakes helped too because I ate it slowly because it had some "bite" to it)!

I hope you all enjoyed your weekend!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Throwing a Baby Shower.

Last Saturday I hosted a Baby Shower at my house for a friend of mine. I bought a croissant sandwich tray from Sam's Club, and I cut each croissant in half because they were so large. Because expectant mothers are told to not eat cold cuts, I made chicken quesadillas, that were in the frozen section of Sam's Club (so by made I mean place them on a cookie sheet and bake them for 15 minutes). I also ordered wraps from Sam's Club that usually have turkey and cheese, but I asked for no turkey. So it had cheese, lettuce, and sun dried tomato spread. They were cut into pieces, so they looked like spirals and were not a large wrap. I also had a tossed salad.

I also bought a big tub of hummus from Sam's Club and some wonderful Mango salsa that is fresh in in the refrigerated section by the hummus. With the hummus and salsa I had Baked Tostitos and Pretzel Crisps. There was also cookies and someone brought cupcakes.

For the drinks I made a non-alcoholic punch that had cranberry juice, ginger ale (pregnant woman don't do diet or I would have used a diet pop), and some sherbet. For other occasions I also add champagne to this punch.

Both my kitchen and dining room tables hold 8 people, so I set up place settings at each spot. I used paper dollies and set the favors at each place setting. I also wrapped the plastic silverware inside a napkin and then tied it together with a piece of ribbon.

I then purchased to Edible Arrangements for centerpieces for both tables. This was the small size arrangement which was plenty!

This was the small size "Hearts and Berries" arrangement.

I have so much fun hosting parties at my house. I wish I could make a living out of event planning!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Save Money and Your Waistline While on Vacation

While we were in Europe, I knew no meals would be included, and it turned out that the breakfast at our hotel cost 30 euros which would be about $41! Plus, I was a little concerned about not being able to get enough protein in Belgium (tofu and veggie burgers weren't on the menu at any restaurant I visited), so I filled an insulated lunch box, which I bought from LL Bean, with bars and packets of protein.

Also, when I was at Sandals in Jamaica, where it was all you can eat all the time, I took some boxes of cereal from the breakfast buffet to use in Belgium. When I got to Belgium I bought yogurt and strawberries to mix with my cereal.

Because I brought protein powder, I also brought with me a water bottle and marked the bottle with a permanent maker to show 1 cup of liquid. I figured my room wouldn't have a measuring cup, so I planned this out before I packed. So I would pour the milk to the line, add Jay Robb's protein powder, and then add ice (because I like my protein drinks ice cold) and shake it up until the protein wasn't clumpy.

Because Steve was at a conference with a lunch included, I ate my breakfast and lunch in our hotel room from the above stash. I made sure to get veggies at dinner.
I should note that our room had a small fridge (it was actually mostly filled with things the hotel wanted you to purchase at insane prices), but even without a fridge, you could enjoy a healthy breakfast in your room.
Do you eat all of your meals out while on vacation, do you pack some food or do you stop at the grocery store when you get to your destination?

Friday, June 12, 2009

A Day in Paris

The last Friday we were in Europe, Steve's conference was over, so we took the high speed train to Paris for the day. We boarded the train around 6:30 am and left on the last train that night which was around 9:30 pm. It took about and hour and a half to get to Paris from Brussels.
We actually were there the same day as the Obamas. We didn't really know and were wondering whey there were french army men with huge machine runs watching only one leg (one that was closed) of the Eiffel Tower. Turns out Michelle Obama and her daughters were taking a trip to the top of it.

We ate dinner outside of a restaurant called Vesuvio, which is located on the Champs Elysées. Not a great restaurant, but we were hungry and just so happened to walk by and sit down.

I had a crepe that was filled with egg and a salad. There was bread, but sadly it was stale and I got a house wine that wasn't very tasty. I should have ordered a dessert crepe, but I thought I should eat real food and this was the only think that didn't have fish or meat.

Also in Paris I knew I wanted to find a macaroon. We found a bakery by the Notre Dame and I picked the chocolate one.

This cookie was amazing, however much too rich in chocolate for one person to eat the whole thing.

We were so happy in Paris and can't wait to return to the City of Lights, hopefully sooner rather than later in life :)

I'm hosting a baby shower at my house for a friend tomorrow, so I have to get busy! Have a wonderful Friday my friends:)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

When in Rome . . .

Okay well I wasn't in Rome, but as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans. So when In Belgium I certainly needed to indulge in Belgium chocolate, waffles, and nougat!

We stopped in a few chocolate places and the Chocolate Corner and the Chocolate Line in Bruges were my favorite two.

This was a chocolate covered cherry. I guess I was expecting the fake chocolate covered cherries that we have, so I in no means expected to bite into a pit. I almost chipped a tooth. Luckily I had a few other pieces from the Chocolate Corner to try over the week to evaluate their chocolate, because I was so annoyed by the pit that I didn't enjoy this piece too much.

We also found a fun cookie and candy store, that is a chain store. We went to the one in Bruges but we also saw one in Brussels.

Steve loves cookies, so we bought a few to enjoy over the week. I tried a piece of a macaroon and another vanilla cookie. I wish we would have bought more to bring home.

My favorite from this store was the nougat. It was so soft and chewy. There were so many different flavors. I tried a fig, almond, strawberry, and cherry. I loved the strawberry!

One night for dinner Steve and I had waffles topped with ice cream. This is not how the natives eat them. They eat waffles plain. I also tried a plain waffle later in the week and it was truly amazing. I have never had a waffle taste as good as these. Belgium waffles at your local dinner just can't compare.

I hope you are not bored of my trip yet, because I have a few more posts to share with you, including a post about our day trip to Paris.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ethiopian Dinner in Brussels

Luckily most of the restaurants in Europe include a menu posted outside, so I can easily see if there are any vegetarian options for me. Most restaurants in Brussels didn't have many options, so I knew when I read about an Ethiopian restaurant in our Lonely Planet Guide, we had to go. The restaurant was Kokob and if you are ever in Brussels, I highly recommend it.

We were seated in the back by the kitchen. The service was pretty awful, it took forever for someone to come over to us and take our drink orders. However the great food made up for it.

Steve started with a Duvel.

I started with a cherry flavored brew, which I really enjoyed.

Steve and I shared all vegetarian options, and it was good as Ethiopian always is. I think I order the same dished that I would normally order at the Ethiopian restaurant in Pittsburgh. Including potatoes and beetroots in a rich tomato sauce, carrots and beans cooked in a mild sauce, and a lentil dish. In the middle is an avocado salad.

I think one great thing about globalization is that normally when traveling to unfamiliar cities, there will be a large variety of ethnic restaurants, so even though the traditional Belgium food wasn't very vegetarian friendly, I knew I could find ethnic food to please my palate!

I have plenty more to post about my European adventures, so hope you come back tomorrow for more!

Monday, June 8, 2009

I'm home from abroad!

I'm back and so glad to be home.

I am sorting through our pictures, I think in the two weeks we took close to 800 pictures. These are the last of the Jamaica pictures that I'm going to post. So tomorrow I'll post some pictures of our Europe trip.

Steve and I went to the gym in Jamaica almost every day. We even tried out the rock climbing wall at one point.

Steve made it look so easy.
I'm glad that my spotter was looking at the ground and not paying attention to me!!

I know I already wrote about the wonderful food presentation at Sandals, but I just loved these melon carvings and needed to share them with you:

Stay tuned tomorrow for a posting on my fun in Belgium and Paris!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Live from Belgium, some more Jamaica pictures.

I had such a relaxing trip in Jamaica and am now having a great time in Belgium, but I only have pay by the minute internet, so I don't have too much time to blog.

I wanted to share with you a few pictures from Sandals that I had already downloaded on my computer.

A few nights a week Sandals had a large outside party with international foods. They spend so much time making it beautiful, including multiple ice sculptures

One of the nights they had little swan cream puffs. This little guy was cute but a little stale.

The nights of the outdoor parties they have fresh coconuts that they chop open in front of you ( I think I have a picture of the process on my camera that I can show you later). This had the coconut milk in it. I'm not really a fan, so I'm guessing I would hate coconut water!

The presentation for our sit down meals was very impressive. Even though it is an all inclusive, Sandals put in so much effort in everything.

This was rice, some mashed sweet potatoes with veggies, tomatoes with veggies, and steamed veggies. My one complaint is that the only rice option is white rice. At home I mostly eat brown rice.

I have more pictures to share from Sandals and a lot of pictures to share from Sandals. I'm not sure if I will be able to blog again until I get home on Saturday or Sunday, but if I can, I will!
So long for now! I can't wait to get home and be able to check up on all the blogs I have been missing out on!