Sunday, September 27, 2009

granola bars & a happy anniversary

IMG_4863 Thank you all so very much on your encouraging comments on my funk this past week. I think just being so tired with work and school really wiped me out, and I have to be more cognoscente of this happening. I can’t run myself ragged without sleep. I also have to make it a priority to get some kind of activity in because it always gets my energy levels up and makes me feel good. I was stuck in the cycle of tiredness, no activity and no sleep which fed the cycle of more tiredness. I always like to think that this too shall pass and I just have to pick myself up for the next week :)

Friday night wasn’t too exciting and we had good ol’ sloppy joe leftovers for dinner. I love how tomato-based dishes taste even better the next day. Boy, these were good! The cinnamon really added that extra sumthin’ sumthin’. The highlight of my night was IMG_4832 a new energy bar experiment! Getting in the kitchen always makes me feel better and I really wanted to try these when Emily had a guest post of Dan’s Pumpkin Spice Bars.

Oh my goodness, these are the BOMB! They are similar to Clif bars, but not as sweet with lots of spice, just the way I like them. The texture was superb, slightly cookie-like, but not as gooey and sticky as Clif bars.

IMG_4831 I had a few alterations: (FYI the Kashi Warm Cinnamon Cereal is out of this world, in a bar or not). I couldn’t find red flame raisins, so I just used regular ones. I used mixed nuts instead of walnuts. I only had peanut butter, not almond butter. Had canned sweet potato instead of pumpkin. I also whirled my dates & H20 in the food processor after whirling the cereal.


The bars turned out really wonderful and I put them in baggies for us to take on our rides and have during the week as a yummy snack. Look at those nutritionals . . .

imageThis bar has a great nutritional profile, thanks to the help of the kashi cereal and all the wholesome ingredients. I got 17 bars out of this batch, well not counting the little bit I scraped from the bowl (shhh!)

Other good stuff:

18% Vitamin E, 31% Vitamin B6, 30% folate, 24% Vitamin B12, 54% Manganese, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, selenium . . . awesome!

Also for the bar about 72% CHO, 23% fat, and 14% pro, nice balance for some good energy. Yes, 12% DV of CHO! I don't know why I was thinking of the entire bar, not the %DV that is on the label, hello :) (just having a retard moment)


Thanks Dan and Em for a great bar recipe! Chris told me that he really likes them and wants to eat them all! I will have to make a double batch next time. I’m just wondering when the next installment will be or if we can go into business together?! hehe


Speaking of rides . . . what a better way to banish the funk than going on a nice ride?! aahhh so invigorating, tiring and I loved it. We went on a club ride for about 36 miles and it was great to get back in some activity. I just really miss it when I can’t get it in. I also had a pumpkin spice bar on the ride :) I love how it isn’t too sweet and sits well on my tummy.

That night we decided to have a nice little anniversary celebration at that pizza place we went to last weekend called Settebello. We signed up for their newsletter and they have special pizzas each week. This week was zucchini blossom pizza!!!!!! Oh my gosh, I really wanted to try this, especially since they specified it as a limited appearance!


IMG_4861We started out with a little appetizer called the misto. It had various Italian meats, olives (they weren’t too bitter like regular kalamatas), mushrooms, artichokes, and flatbread.

It was really good, Chris was ravenous from his 62 mile ride that day so he ate most of it. It’s nice to have the bottomless pit around to eat for you :)

But on the other hand, have you seen this study? It’s surprisingly true, darn you Chris! hehe


Along with the appetizer I had a small glass of the Danzante Pinot Grigio. This is my favorite type of white wine. Very fruity, dry, not too grassy and nicely balanced. I just wish their pour was a little bit taller :)


The pizza was really interesting and yummy! It was a white sauce pizza (I traditionally like the tomato-based sauces), with sweet corn, ricotta, mozzarella and topped with zucchini flowers and olive oil. It did need a little something extra so I put some black pepper and chili flakes on mine for just a little heat :)


Zucchini flowers are so neat and taste very delicate and sweet! They matched perfectly with the sweet corn.


Overall it was a great night. We were thinking of going to see The Informant after dinner, but poor Chris was so tired from his ride that we just rented a movie to take home in case we fell asleep. We try to watch movies, but usually both of us are so tired, we just fall asleep to them! We rented Yes Man, and it was actually pretty funny. I myself am a huge Jim Carrey fan, especially Dumb and Dumber!

Today I even got a jump rope and weights class in, yay! Now about that studying . . .

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

What’s your favorite granola/energy bar?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

in a funk

IMG_4824This week was certainly not my best as far as fitness goes.  So far I haven’t made it to the gym this week!  I think all the studying/working and fitting in the fun last weekend with lack of sleep really started to get to me.  I think it was Tuesday when I started to feel like ick and my body was definitely trying to tell me something.  After having to get up for work at 4:30 that day, I came home, took an hour long nap, ate dinner and then went to bed for a total of 10 hours!  This is totally not like me.  If I take a nap after 3pm I usually can’t sleep at night.  I think I’m just running myself down right now and really need to take it easy somehow.  It was really weird, I felt nauseous tired and my muscles didn’t want to work.  Has anyone else had this feeling? 

I loved college because at least when we stayed up late studying and working (and occasionally a fun time?), we got to sleep in to at least 7 or 8am.  I’ve been taking my daily vitamin as an insurance policy right now, especially with the season of germs starting and going out to the middle schools (germ factories) now.  My iron levels are normal since last visit, so I don’t know what’s my deal.  Ah well, hopefully the funk will pass and sleep will miraculously just not be needed.  I think that would be wonderful if I didn’t have to sleep because so many things could be accomplished in those 5-7 hours!

I am looking forward to the month of October though because my hours are being cut back.  It’s just for one month based on my contract position which is kind of weird.  This really isn’t a good thing as far as the paycheck goes, but I think it will be nice to have a tiny bit of extra time.  It seems right now my time is worth more than what I’m getting paid.  Unfortunately, I think I will have to request less hours with my next contract.  Just for me, I don’t think I can do this and work on my thesis and research.  Half the time I’ll be working on something only to look down and see that it’s already 11pm and wonder where the heck the time went and why didn’t I accomplish more?   

Anywho, I turned in my first very rough draft outline to my chair today and hopefully we can get my committee formed!  I’m excited, yet nervous! 

This weekend doesn’t look as exciting as last :)  I’m going to try to at least get a bike ride in on Saturday morning and then I’m not sure if Chris has any plans Saturday night for our 3-year anniversary (the non-wedding type)?  I told him we don’t have to do anything, especially since we splurged on dinner and the concert last weekend.  Sunday will be reserved for lots of school stuff!

Lately, I’ve been going for easy dinners :)  Tonight we had some good ol’ sloppy joe’s!  Kind of reminds me of childhood when my mom would use that packet or canned stuff.  As I got older, I really didn’t like those pre-prepared packages, and making sloppy joe’s from scratch isn’t too bad.

I adapted the recipe only slightly from the blog Pinch My Salt.  This blog has some great photography and recipes :)



Sloppy Joes

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 T. Olive Oil
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 t. chili powder
  • 1.5 t. ground cumin
  • 1/8 t. cinnamon (this is so good!)
  • 1/8 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t. kosher salt
  • 1 small can tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup fruity balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. brown sugar
  • 1/3 C. ketchup
  • 1/2-3/4 C. water

Sauté onions, peppers and garlic in olive oil until softened; add beef and cook until browned.

Make a circle in the middle of the pan, add tomato paste and balsamic vinegar and cook down for 10 minutes.

Add all other ingredients to the ground beef mixture and cook, stirring, over low heat until thickened (about 10 minutes).  Add more water if it gets too thick.

Serve in whole wheat buns and get messy!

I like to serve a big salad along side.  This time mine had goat cheese, cranberries, heirloom mater and carrots. 


Also topped it with some gooey cheese . . .


What’s a food you remember from childhood?  What do you do when you get in a funk?

Have a great weekend!

Monday, September 21, 2009


IMG_4798 It’s been a whirlwind of a weekend, but it was lots of fun and fairly productive.  Yes, I could have accomplished a lot more to be honest, but there were fun things going on that I couldn’t pass up! 

Friday night was spent studying and trying to get something done without getting distracted by the fact that it was Friday night.  This usually signals my brain to think that it is the weekend (freedom!) and I have ample amounts of time (ha!)  funny funny.  This is not the case. 

Saturday I also tried to get more studying accomplished, made a trip to the library and also met with my advisor to discuss my next steps in the thesis process.  He’s actually very approachable and believes that I should just go for it.  I’m getting caught up in small research methods that I’m not sure if I can do.  There is my planning oriented mind getting the best of me again!  He wants me to just come up with a simple outline of the study for now, even if I don’t know how to do something or what to measure, because this will be discussed during the pre-prospectus meeting.  He even told me not to spend too much time on it before the meeting because it will get hashed anyways.  I like things to be definite and known, so this is hard for me, but I actually left the meeting feeling very excited and empowered!  New Motto:  Just go for it!

IMG_4765 Saturday night we went to the Greek Food Festival!!!  We look forward to this every year and really enjoy the festivities and most importantly, the FOOD!  Oh how I love all Greek food!  My friend, Chris and I got there a little early to get a seat and munched on things through the evening.  It’s good to come with a couple people so you can get different foods to try without having to eat the entire thing by yourself.  I love sharing food :)

There was live entertainment too.


First we started with a greek salad.  It was really good and fresh, but a little heavy on the dressing.


IMG_4776 Next we decided on a gyro and greek fries with lemon and spices.  I think gyros are my favorite, well one of them anyway.  I love lamb and all the spices that they put in the slow-roasted goodness. 

oooh!  and I can’t forget the tzatziki sauce.  This is my condiment of choice for pretty much anything.



Moving on I decided to get some Loukoumades to share.  It is pretty much fried dough, drizzled with honey and cinnamon.  Now who doesn’t like that?!  This isn’t something I really eat, but it is sure fun every once in awhile.  I had 2 of the chewy, doughy, heavenly goodness.  Don’t they look like they are glowing?


IMG_4783Another group of friends came to the table and they got a bottle of wine to share.  Yay, more sharing!!  This wine had some rich, deep back notes to it and a good finish.  I had a small glass and also a sip of this really good greek beer.  Not IMG_4784 too much of a beer fan when there is wine to be had, but it was good!

 We sat and chatted for quite awhile.  Poor Chris, he was so tired from biking 65 miles earlier that he went home and slept (he didn’t share any food and ate a lot!).  I promised I would get him some baklava for later and came out with these beauties.  The honey cake was delicious.  Again, can’t be trusted in any fun food purchasing situation!


This festival was really fun and we all had a great time, I can’t wait for next year!!

I spent a good part of Sunday catching up on cleaning, wash and errands.  I also got a little studying done.  The highlight of my day was the Pink Martini Concert!!!!  Chris and I decided to go out to dinner beforehand since this is kind of our anniversary gift (can’t believe we’ll have been together 3 years on Saturday).  Boy was it a great night, although I wish it wasn’t on a Sunday.  I’m pretty tired today, but it was really worth it.  I haven’t been to many concerts in my life (maybe 2), but there’s just nothing like hearing a great group that you love right there in person.  What’s your favorite concert?

IMG_4805 We went to a restaurant nearby so that we could just walk to the concert in case we had some drinks.  It was a little place called Settebello, and I’m so glad we tried it out!  The food was right up my alley.  Mostly pizzas and antipasti, but very delicious and simple.  The food was actually quite reasonable, but we got a little crazy with the drinks.  That’s where they get cha!  Another great thing about this place?  . . . the lighting was PERFECT for pictures, yay!  Most restaurants are like a dark dungeon, so this was a nice and pleasant change.

We started with a salad of various greens and herbs, roasted mushrooms, pine nuts, tomatoes, artichokes, parmesan and a vinaigrette, along with a glass of Ruffino Chianti.  This is always a great pick on most restaurant menus and isn’t too expensive if you buy it at a store either.


IMG_4799 Dinner was the Pizza Lasagna with tomatoes, ricotta, cheese, sausage, roasted mushrooms.  We always order a side of basil because everything is better with basil :)  Their dough is really delicious and chewy, not too thin or crispy.  The menu claims they cook their pizzas traditionally, and they have a great pizza oven.  Boy I wish I could have one of these in my kitchen or backyard some day.  That would be awesome!


Instead of ordering dessert (they had some yummy looking gelato), IMG_4801we had some time to kill so we decided to go hang out at the bar.  I ordered a lemon drop with grappa, limoncello, lemon juice and basil, and Chris ordered this drink with tuaca, amaretto and frangelico. 

These were so good!  I would go back just for the drinks, even though they are pricey.  It was kind of fun just to hang out at the bar after dinner because we don’t usually do this :)



Chris and I really enjoyed the concert.  We were in row B, so we IMG_4809were right there!  It brought us back to Portland when we saw them the first time.  After the show they signed our t-shirts and a CD and also took a few pictures.  How cool!  This is a great group if you like instrumental music, yet it’s a little different (she also sings in different languages like Spanish, Italian and Turkish) and fun to listen and relax to.  I really want to wear my shirt, but they all signed it so now I can’t wash it! 

IMG_4811 IMG_4813

IMG_4814Whew, I was so pooped when we finally got home.  I didn’t get to bed till after midnight and then had to get up early today for work and had an exam today . .  eek!  I think I did pretty well on the exam.  Most of the stuff I had learned before, so I hope I didn’t make some stupid mistakes.  I hate when that happens.   

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!!! 

I am catching up on all your blogs, slowly but surely, thanks for reading!  I really appreciate all your encouraging comments on my thesis topic :)       

Friday, September 18, 2009

study hard, play harder

IMG_4740whew, this week just flew by!  This is great but it’s been a little too fast.  I feel like the weeks are just getting away from me.  While I never really was a party animal, I’m employing the motto of ‘study hard, play harder’ this weekend since I’m going to try to fit in both!  While tonight is Friday, I’m going to try to get somewhat caught up so that I can enjoy the Greek Food Festival Saturday evening and the Pink Martini Concert Sunday night.  Boy do I have lots to do, as I’m sure you guys are no stranger to this, right?


Thursday I rushed to the farmer’s market after work and before class and found some yummies.  I think I cut the cantaloupe too soon because it wasn’t very good, but the dates are AMAZING!!  I think this is my new love.  I have to be careful because when I brought them home I had 5!  hello fiber and carbs!  I want to try to make granola bars with them or some kind of quick bread.  Do you have any good date recipes to share???  Yum!

The bag had a bunch of different varieties,  I liked the tiny brown one in the back the best. 


They also had date bread and cookies and I about bought them all!  Next time I want to try the bread.  Oh my gosh, this cookie was just wonderful, you’ll see . . . 


IMG_4745I’m meeting with my chair tomorrow at a coffee shop, since it’s so hard to meet during the week with work.  I need to look over some more research, but I think I’ve decided on a thesis topic focusing on coconut water!  eek!  I’m excited yet very nervous about the whole thing.  It will be something like ‘The effect of coconut water on rehydration after exercising in the heat’  What do you think? 

Everyone I’ve told or asked about it doesn’t seem too excited and many people don’t even know what coconut water is.  But, no one in the department is giving me any other ideas!!!  I’ve been very frustrated and discouraged trying to find something, but I hope this will work.  I’d like to compare it to traditional electrolyte replacements to see if it is better (that would be neat), does the same, or is not a good sports drink.  I’m just having a discrepancy between how much sodium is in the product.  The USDA database says 252 mg/cup, but most of the brands available say 60 mg or less.  That isn’t really ideal for a ‘sports drink’.  I contacted ZICO brand and they said the USDA must be in error.  Anyone have any ideas?  I haven’t heard back from the USDA as of yet.

IMG_4720Yesterday for dinner I made peanutty noodles.  Peanut butter is one of my favorite things and I can have it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert pretty much or just straight from the jar.  I love this recipe because it’s pretty darn versatile.  I didn’t have any bokchoy so I just left it out and added more carrots.  Yum!  I like to use soba noodles, but anything you can find works.




You can find the recipe here.


And the yumminess I promised!  I topped 1/4 of the date chocolate chip cookie with a bit of vanilla 1/2 fat ice cream.  Wow, it was the perfect combo! 


So that’s what my weekend is going to look like, I need to get to studying and brainstorming asap!  Hope you all have a wonderful weekend :) 

What’s your motto lately?

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


IMG_4696 Yay for Wednesday!  I hope all your weeks are going well.  Last night I was determined to be efficient with my limited time.  I was thinking about stopping at the Whole Foods on the way home, since I was missing a few ingredients for dinner, but I knew that would just be danger.  I try to make only one or two grocery-related stops per week, otherwise if I just stop to pick up one thing I tend to walk out with the entire store!  I like to peruse the aisles, finding any cool thing to try and discover.  Any one else like that?  Plus it’s a big waste of time, so I decided to fight the urge to stop and improvise with what I had at home.  But, somehow I still managed to go to the store, you’ll see (I mean read).

I decided to make lettuce boats sometime this week and last night was perfect because they are really pretty quick.  I also killed two birds with one stone and prepped veggies for the peanut butter noodles I plan on making for Thursday.  I think this is really what I need to do from now on.  I need to prep on the weekends with the little spare time I have (ha!) so that dinner during the week isn’t so laborious and time consuming.  Cooking is supposed to be fun, right?  I love cooking because it is like an outlet for me and I enjoy the time and every sensory aspect of it, but it is just not as feasible now.  Plus, Chris is also working full-time and taking classes at night so while he’s getting ready for class, I’m left prepping and cleaning up.  Even though he is a good helper when he has time :)

Another great and quick dinner is Annie’s Mac and Cheese, but I always have to ‘spruce up Annie’ with a little extra ingredients like veggies, tofu, mushrooms, yogurt and cheese.  Here’s my first sprucing up post.  This time I just threw in random leftovers we had in the fridge, easy and yummy!


Here’s the lettuce boats, don’t you love the ancient plates :)  Hey, they work, right?


Yum!  They turned out really good and refreshing.  You can find the recipe here  :)  I also like to pair them with some soba noodles.


Before I left from work around 4pm I had a snack of greek yogurt, cereal and cantaloupe, because this helps me from getting too hungry for dinner.  If I get too hungry I tend to raid the kitchen like a crazy person.  Usually I just much on baby carrots while I make dinner and that works.  I also felt pretty full from dinner, but for some reason I was still craving something after dinner!  Oh no, the munchies were attacking!  Okay plan B.  When this happens I try to go for a walk or go upstairs to work on things to take my mind off of it.  I did the above and usually that works, but last night I was really craving some fro yo! 

The urge would not leave me (Chris was also not helping) and so I decided to fuel our cravings and went to a nearby Fresh & Easy to get something cold and creamy.  I normally don’t shop here exclusively, but boy this store is dangerous and has really good prices.  I went in for some frozen yogurt and came out with cereal, fig bars and pb pretzels too, geez!  All for only $10, though.  I can’t be controlled in any grocery situation :)  Every grocery store should come with a warning:  CAUTION! you WILL buy more than you really need.

I had a bowl of 1/2 fat vanilla bean and a crumbling of 1/2 leftover banana muffin on top  mmmm . . . but then I proceeded to grab a handful of popcorn and pb pretzels to try!  And that was it, the munchies were defeated, well sort of.

I am sooo looking forward to the weekend and the GREEK FOOD FESTIVAL!!!!!!!!!!!!  We absolutely love this every year and the food is well, phenomenal.  We may also be going to a pink martini concert on Sunday night (this group is really awesome), but I really have to study, research, get ready for a project and an exam on Monday eek!   

What do you do to battle an attack of the munchies?