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I love that I’m writing my weekend wrap-up on a Tuesday! Don’t you just love short weeks like this one?

I had a fantastic weekend! It was a perfect mix of fun, obligations, and down time. If you follow me on Instagram (bellablogger), you’ve seen many of these photos already, but most of them are good enough to view more than once.

Saturday Scenes

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Sofi & I started off with a late-morning walk around our neighborhood. I’m happy to report that I was able to walk at my pre-plantar fasciitis speed. Sofi was as relieved as I was that I’m back to normal.

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Later in the afternoon, I met up with Tinkerbell, her hubby, and two of their friends for a “biker gang” bike ride. I’ve never ridden with 4 other people before. I’m sure we were a funny site, since we all have beach cruisers. It as a gorgeous day, and there’s nothing I enjoy more than riding my bike on a sunny Saturday.

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This week marks the end of my amaryllis. A student had given me the bulbs as a thank you for a letter of recommendation that I wrote for her, and I’ve enjoyed watching it grow and bloom since November.

Sunday Scenes

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Sunday morning I headed out bright and early to take yoga at my local Lululemon store. I love that local instructors from all sorts of studios take turns leading these classes. It’s always a form of vinyasa, and since that’s the type of yoga I’m least familiar with, I’m really enjoying trying it. Plus, I woke up the next day sore all over, which is always a great sign.

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Ani had met me at yoga, and afterward we grabbed tea and basked in the sunshine. It was a great way to begin the day.

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Sunday afternoon my 49ers came back from a 17-point deficit to secure their spot in the Superbowl!!! As a lifelong 9ers fan, I can’t tell you how excited I am that they’re returning to the glory days of the 80s and early 90s. It’s been a long time in coming, but it just feels like this year is our time.

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After the game, my friend Di and I met up for iced tea (Passion tea for me)and “catch up” time. Yes, that does make two trips to Starbucks in one day, but at least both of my drinks were calorie-free and counted towards my water intake.

Scenes from Monday

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After skipping the aqua aerobics class I’d planned on because it was way too chilly out, I was sure to make my date with the elliptical. Again, I’m seeing progress in my heel, because just a few weeks ago I wasn’t able to stand on the elliptical for 30 minutes. I also want to note that I actually burned 605 calories.

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A post-wrokout, post-grocery store shot of me driving with the convertible top down. It was in the high 60s all weekend, and you know when it gets anywhere near a warm temp like that, my Beetle goes topless. (It also helped that I was so warm after my workout that the breeze didn’t bother me one bit).

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Finally, a shot of the roasted broccoli I made last night. I’m not a huge fan of broccoli (one of the only veggies I don’t really like), but I do like it roasted. I added a bit of olive oil, sea salt, and quite a bit of cayenne pepper. I popped it in the oven at 400 for 20 minutes. Delish! (I make cauliflower the same way, but at 425 for 25-30 minutes).

The rest of the day and evening on Monday was spent cleaning and getting ready for the week ahead.

All in all, I had a really fun, productive weekend.  I’m proud of myself for working out each day, seeing several friends, and getting everything else accomplished.  If only all weekends could last 3 days!

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Throughout the month of December, I’ll be participating in #reverb12: celebrating the successes of 2012, honoring the challenges of 2012, and planting the seeds for a rich and rewarding 2013. December is the perfect time to reflect on the year that has passed and start to manifest dreams for the new year.

Day 15 – What was the most extraordinary dish you sampled in 2012? What made it so magical? It needn’t be the most extravagant dish, just the one that knocked your socks off with its flavor, texture, aroma, freshness, color, significance, timing… whatever. Relive the magic and help us savor it with you here.

The best dish I created in 2012 was the evening I had my parents and sister over for a seafood feast.  I indulged on the ingredients, but it was worth every penny to experience their enjoyment of the meal.  Here’s a repost of my original one:

Originally posted on August 28, 2012, as part of a #WIAW post.
It all started when I saw this lobster salad recipe on Skinnytaste. I’ll get into the details of that meal later, it’s a good one. Ever since school started I’ve been in the mood to try new recipes. Summertime is always really laid back, and I go with the flow in terms of recipes. Now that school’s back in, I find myself craving the creative outlet that trying new recipes gives me. It’s strange, you’d think that I’d do more innovative cooking in the summer, when I have nothing but time on my hands, but I guess I like to keep it flexible, even with cooking.

First up is a delicious baked crab cake recipe from Skinnytaste. (Can you tell I love her site?) I tried the recipe out earlier in the week, because it was my first time making it, and I didn’t want to serve it to my parents and sister at Saturday’s dinner party without trying it first. I modified the recipe just slightly, and although mine don’t look half as appealing as hers, they tasted great.

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The diner party was designed around Skinnytaste’s Chilled Lobster, Sweet Corn, and Tomato Salad. There’s quite a story behind making this dish, but I’ll save the details for the actual Bella Cooks blog post. One thing I will say is that this is one time that living on the West Coast puts me at a disadvantage. Lobster is expensive here – two lobster tails were $50! But my family is worth the splurge, and the salad tasted so fresh and healthy that it was well worth it.

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I wish this photo wasn’t blurry, because the dish really looked gorgeous.

I wanted to start off the dinner with a nice accompaniment, and my sister actually suggested an avocado salad. I searched, and found this Chilled Avocado Soup on EatBoutique. This was the surprise hit of the evening. Everyone raved about it, and I agree. I’ll absolutely make this again. I don’t like cilantro, so I substituted Italian parsley, and it was simply divine. And it only took about 15 minutes to put together!

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Here’s a shot of the seafood feast. One of my FB friends said that this angle makes it look like you’re sitting with us at the table, so I thought I’d include it. My mom, who is an amazing cook in her own right, was incredibly impressed by my planning and execution, and I think she was really touched that I put in all this effort for my family.

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.


This post is going to be my last WIAW for awhile. I’ve embarked on a new phase of my weight loss journey which doesn’t include a ton of creativity in the kitchen. This week’s post is actually one that I meant to write up last week, but just didn’t find the time.

Last week I did my best to make recipes that use the bounty of late summer veggies. A Sunflower Farmer’s Market/Sprouts went in down the street from my school, and I’ve been hitting it once a week to stock up on veggies and other essentials for these recipes. It won’t replace Trader Joe’s, but it is coming in a quick 2nd.

What’s better than pizza on a Friday night?  I made taco pizza, which I found on Julie’s blog.  You can’t tell from the photo, but it’s got lots of healthy toppings – tomatoes, bell peppers, fat free refried bans, olives, and lowfat cheese.  I used ground turkey instead of ground beef, which also saved some fat.  I’d definitely make it again, especially for a football party or something like that.

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20120916-094920.jpg Can you tell how gigantic these prawns are?  Sunflower Market had them on sale for $5.99/lb, and they were phenomenal.  I quickly sauteed them in a chili lime marinade that I found on sale (98 cents!) at Target, and they were delicious.  Keeping the shells on insures that they won’t come out dry.  I cooked them until the shells were just pink, and they were perfect.

Last week my sister made dinner for me, and since the weather was hot, she thought a Chinese chicken salad would be great.  It was!  She makes this amazing dressing with hot Chinese mustard and sesame oil that is a show stopper.  A little goes a long way, so this was still a really healthy salad.  She also topped it with a tablespoon of chopped peanuts for some crunch.  We had jasmine rice on the side.

20120916-094929.jpg If it looks like there’s a ton of chicken, it’s because there was.  LC was tired when she put this together and used an entire container of Trader Joe’s Just Teriyaki Chicken for the two salads.  As soon as I looked at the plate and realized it, we immediately removed half the chicken.  She had enough for two more meals.

This next recipe is a Summer Veggie Stew that I put together from a recipe I found on Pinterest. It made a ton of stew, so I froze half of it to enjoy for the next couple of weeks.  The flavor is wonderful, especially since I kicked it up a notch with some added spice.  The only thing I dislike is that the colors of the vegetables get so dulled when you cook them this way.

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Finally, another recipe from Skinnytaste.com, Crock Pot Santa Fe Chicken.  I love crock pot recipes, because once you get everything organized and chopped up, you just set it and go.  This one takes 10 hours on low, and it is worth the wait.  So yummy.  Very versatile, too.  I ate mine over some brown rice, but you could make tacos or burritos out of it as well.  There was so much chicken that I shared half with my parents, and we all made several meals out of it.

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  • What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?
  • What’s one habit you want to “fall into” this season?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

I’ve been really getting into trying new recipes lately, and I am loving it. I mentioned Monday that I’ve just started using Ziplist, and I love it because it:

  • lets me add recipes that I find on websites or blogs to a central recipe box
  • plan those recipes using their meal planner, which I can then add to my iCal (it has other calendars, too)
  • add the ingredients of those recipes to a list, categorized by section of the supermarket
  • suggests recipes that have been popular within the community

I absolutely love it! It has helped me make meal planning so much less time consuming, and because I can use it to search ingredients, I have been using up the food that’s in my freezer, which means less waste. Win, win.  The other side benefit of all of this cooking is that the time that I spend standing up cooking keeps me from sitting on the couch and snacking mindlessly.  By using my time wisely, I find that I’m craving less, and that I can stay on track easier.

But now let’s get to the food!

I saw this bag at Target, and I bought it merely because of the name – Boom Chicka Pop.  How cute is that?  The “35 calories/cup” also appealed to me as a side dish to salads for lunch.  It tasted really natural and delicious, with just the right amount of crunch.  If you can find it, it’s definitely worth a try.
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On Saturday night I made these Mexican Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Black Beans  from One Lovely Life. It makes a huge amount, so there’s plenty leftover for lunches and dinners.  Because the peppers come out “al dente” on the first night, they reheat beautifully.  I absolutely hate mushy peppers, so this recipe was awesome.  They were really filling, and perfect for a meatless meal.

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Lunches this week are this really tasty Kale, Cannellini Bean, and Tuna salad that I saw on Kayln’s Kitchen. I changed the recipe slightly by using more tuna (I used a 12 oz can) and by cutting down on the olive oil and adding some lime, and it was delicious.  My sister is actually enjoying it for her lunch today, and she doesn’t even like salads.

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I wish the vibrancy of the salad could come out in this photo. I may try to re-take it Wednesday morning from school.

The main habit that I’m trying to fall into this season is planning my meals and buying food so that I save money and have less wasted food.  I’m slowly working my way through my freezer, and I’m realizing just how much I overbuy on a weekly basis.

  • What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?
  • What’s one habit you want to “fall into” this season?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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First and foremost, for all of my U.S. readers (which is most of you)…

I love Rosie, don’t you?

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There’s no FMM post today because Kenlie is still dealing with the aftermath of Isaac, so I hope you’ll all stop by her blog, go on Twitter, or FB and let her know you’re thinking of her.  I have lived through earthquakes, but never something as devastating as a hurricane, so I can’t imagine what she is going through.

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You guys may have noticed that I’ve been making a lot of great new recipes lately.  I haven’t posted about every single one, because this would turn into a food blog if I did, but I’ll link up and show pics on WIAW posts.  One reason I’ve been able to make all these recipes is something called ZipList.  I found out about it through Skinnytaste.com, and I adore it.  There’s a website and an app, and between the two, I can copy any recipe from any blog or website and save it to my “recipe box,” plan a meal with it, and add the ingredients on a shopping list.  I love it!  I’m sure there’s so much that I haven’t explored yet, but even in the few weeks I have used it, it has become such a time saver.  It also lets me see what ingredients I might already have, so I’ve been using food that might have otherwise been forgotten in my freezer, which saves money.  If you like cooking and keeping organized, check it out.

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I just finished reading Summer in the City (Carrie Diaries #2), which is book two of the “YA” version of Carrie Bradshaw’s young life.  It’s been fun to read the backstory about how Carrie came to NYC, how she met Samantha and Miranda (Charlotte only makes a cameo so far), and how she started wearing all of her famously funky fashions.  I didn’t have much expectation of this book, but I am really hooked on this series, and can’t wait for #3.

Next on the bookshelf is a quick short story, The Diary of Darcy J. Rhone by Emily Giffin and then

The Recipe Club: A Novel of Food and Friendship by Andrea Israel.  Since I’ve been cooking up a storm lately, it seemed like an appropriate choice.

What have you been reading?

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I know Halloween is a long time from now, but I just found Janine Basil’s Etsy shop (via a Pinterest pin) and I bought this headband for this year’s outfit:

As a teacher, I want to show my spirit by dressing up for Halloween, but don’t want to get into full costume because I want to stay comfortable.  This year I think I’m going as a super hero. {Update: An hour or so after I posted this, I found this shirt on Cafe Press, so I’m all set for my costume:

If you guys use promo code PRGEYT5KATL6, you can get 25% off Cafe Press, too.

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Speaking of shopping, last week in my FMM post, I found a laptop bag from Kailo Chic, and I’ve been obsessed with it since, so I broke down and got it:

I’ve also been needing a new fall/winter black tote as an everyday handbag, so I was thrilled when I found this one by AmeriLeather:

I love the proportions of this bag, which work well for my size.  (I avoid small bags because they look so teeny tiny on me).

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I’d better get cracking if I’m going to hit all my To Do’s for today:

  • wash and fold laundry
  • vacuum and spot mop floors
  • change sheets
  • get together with Ani (Sofi & Riley) for a puppy play date, and some time at the pool
  • OnDemand kickboxing workout
  • prep tonight’s dinner, as well as breakfast and lunches for Tues-Fri.
  • polish nails and toes
  • read for an hour

I hope you have a lovely day. How do you plan to spend it?

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Autumn has arrived! Which means that life is back to normal – school’s in, my schedule is busy, and obligations abound. But I won’t use those as excuses to slack on my goals. The great thing about fall is that the weather is cooler and there are no holidays or other social commitments to derail me from strictly adhering to my food and workout plan.  I’m determined that fall 2012 will be when I achieve my pre-surgery weight loss goal.  Since weekday mornings are hectic, I’m moving my weigh-in day to Sunday.  Sundays are the day that I use to get ready for the week ahead by grocery shopping, prepping my food, planing my meals, and organizing my workouts.  Sunday mornings are relaxed, so it’s the perfect day to weigh in.  Plus, Sunday weigh-ins will keep me accountable through the weekend.  Throughout the fall, I’ll be giving Sunday progress updates called Fabulous Fall Weigh-Ins.

This week wasn’t one that I’d like to repeat in terms of weight loss.  There were some good things (I have been cooking up a storm), and some bad things (I didn’t workout at all during the week).  And then there was the status quo (I logged all my food each day).  Overall a very “meh” week.  Which, in the grand scheme of things is bound to happen, but when I have a surgery goal that I’m trying to meet, “meh” isn’t going to cut it.

{Okay, Bella, that’s all good and well, but what we really want to know is how you did on the scale}. Right?!

Today I weighed in at 304.0, which means I stayed the same this week. So, I have 23 lbs to go to reach my pre-surgery goal. It could have been a lot worse, especially considering that someone took over my brain on Friday night, but I’ll get to that in a second. The main reason for this stall is that I put no effort into working out M-Th.  I had a lot going on at work, and stayed hours after each day, but that can’t be an excuse.  Staying hours after school puts me at about the same time people with office jobs get home on a regular basis.  And they make time for workouts.  I let being exhausted become an excuse this week, which won’t fly.

I think exhaustion is part of what happened on Friday night, too.  I headed to the drive-thru window at Wendy’s.  What?!  All summer I never once had a slip like this, and then it happens on Friday night, after a really long walk with Sofi, mind you.  I was tired from the week, but proud that we’d gone on a long walk. I knew that I didn’t have anything quick at home to eat for dinner, and I didn’t feel like cooking a meal that would take 30+ minutes.  Instead of heading to Subway or to Safeway to get a Lean Cuisine or something (not great choices, but better than a drive-thru), I drove to Wendy’s, almost on autopilot.  Which is strange, since I wasn’t craving it or anything.  I logged it all, and was sickened by the calories.  It’s a good thing that I did get in a long walk with Sofi, otherwise there would have surely been a gain this morning.

I didn’t let this slip up turn me inside out, though.  Immediately on Saturday I got busy and headed to the 10am Zumba class I love.  It felt good to sweat and move and have an amazing workout done by 11am.  While we were waiting in line for the prior class to get out, a couple of the ladies recommended that I try the Thursday night UJam class.  I’d gone to a UJam class once before at a different club, and found it to be too much “street” dancing for my abilities, but they both said that this Thursday class was very accessible.  As much as Zumba, if not a bit easier to follow.  So, I’m giving that a try sometime soon (I’d go this week, but we have Back to School Night on Thursday).

The other cool thing on the workout front is that one of my colleagues sent an email early in the week to let us know that a yoga studio not 10 minutes from our campus was offering K-12 teachers free yoga throughout September.  They offer classes at 4pm and 4:30, which would be ideal for my later days at school.  I wouldn’t count yoga as a workout on it’s own (as I found out this summer), but it’s a good way to transition from work to home.  I’d like to go to classes at least twice a week.

I said last week that I didn’t want to put pressure on myself by making a strict schedule of workouts, but I think I’m the type of person that needs a bit of pressure.  Plus, I love making plans and sticking to a schedule.  Here’s what I’m thinking:

Sunday: walk w/ Sofi; housecleaning; OnDemand kickboxing
Monday: walk w/ Sofi; bike ride
Tuesday: walk w/ Sofi; UJam Fitness (this wasn’t the instructor they recommended, but I’ll give it a whirl)
Wednesday: walk w/ Sofi; Zumba
Thursday: Elliptical 5K; walk w/ Sofi
Friday: Heated Vinyasa; walk w/ Sofi
Saturday: Zumba; walk w/Sofi

If any of these workouts don’t happen, I will do an OnDemand workout in their place.  With my body, exercise is the key to weight loss.  No matter how tired I am, I have to remind myself of the surgery goal.

I’ve been doing really well with the food, and having fun trying lots of healthy new recipes.  My creative dinners were definitely one of the things I did this week that I’m really proud of.  More of the same this week.  I’m trying:

I’m using ZipList to organize and plan my menus, and I absolutely love it.  I think I may write a whole post about ZipList, because it’s amazing.

Until next Sunday, my friends. I hope the scale treats you well, and that you have a wonderful week!

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

This week I tried lots of new recipes. In fact, I made 3 of them for a dinner I hosted for my sister and parents on Saturday night (recipe blog pots to follow). It all started when I saw this lobster salad recipe on Skinnytaste. I’ll get into the details of that meal later, it’s a good one. Ever since school started I’ve been in the mood to try new recipes. Summertime is always really laid back, and I go with the flow in terms of recipes. Now that school’s back in, I find myself craving the creative outlet that trying new recipes gives me. It’s strange, you’d think that I’d do more innovative cooking in the summer, when I have nothing but time on my hands, but I guess I like to keep it flexible, even with cooking.

First up is a delicious baked crab cake recipe from Skinnytaste. (Can you tell I love her site?)  I tried the recipe out earlier in the week, because it was my first time making it, and I didn’t want to serve it to my parents and sister at Saturday’s dinner party without trying it first.  I modified the recipe just slightly, and although mine don’t look half as appealing as hers, they tasted great.

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The diner party was designed around Skinnytaste’s Chilled Lobster, Sweet Corn, and Tomato Salad.  There’s quite a story behind making this dish, but I’ll save the details for the actual Bella Cooks blog post.  One thing I will say is that this is one time that living on the West Coast puts me at a disadvantage.  Lobster is expensive here – two lobster tails were $50!  But my family is worth the splurge, and the salad tasted so fresh and healthy that it was well worth it.

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I wish this photo wasn’t blurry, because the dish really looked gorgeous.

I wanted to start off the dinner with a nice accompaniment, and my sister actually suggested an avocado salad.  I searched, and found this Chilled Avocado Soup on EatBoutique.  This was the surprise hit of the evening.  Everyone raved about it, and I agree.  I’ll absolutely make this again.  I don’t like cilantro, so I substituted Italian parsley, and it was simply divine.  And it only took about 15 minutes to put together!

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Here’s a shot of the seafood feast.  One of my FB friends said that this angle makes it look like you’re sitting with us at the table, so I thought I’d include it. My mom, who is an amazing cook in her own right, was incredibly impressed by my planning and execution, and I think she was really touched that I put in all this effort for my family.

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The cooking bug has struck, because even after all that cooking on Saturday, I still made unique and interesting dinners for myself this week.

Monday’s dinner was my version of these Authentically Baja Fish Tacos that I found on Healthy Chic Eats.  These were, by far, the best fish tacos I have ever eaten.  I used Swai, and I loved the way it tasted. I changed thing up a bit, because I didn’t have bell peppers or jalepeno peppers on hand, so I used Sriracha instead.

20120828-201104.jpg The mango salsa had red onion, green onions, lots of spices, and lime juice.  I wish this photo had turned out better, because the colors on the plate were so beautiful.  I ended up making more of a taco salad, using shredded cabbage as the lettuce, topping it off with a scoop of guacamole and a dollop of nonfat Greek yogurt.  So filling and so delish!

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Finally, Tuesday night I made Skinnytaste’s Baked Chicken Milanese with Arugula and Tomatoes.  I’ve never used lemon juice and olive oil instead of egg to add breading to chicken cutlets, but I will from now on.  The citrus flavor of the lemon added so much to the chicken.  I used chicken tenders instead of full chicken breasts, but it still made enough for lunch today and dinner at least two more times.  If you have access to homegrown tomatoes, you HAVE to make this salad!  It was fairly simple to put together and reminded me of my Nana’s kitchen, while still being super healthy and low calorie.  The entire plate is only 250 very filling calories.

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What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

  • Which food blogs are your favorite?
  • Any recipes to share? Leave ‘em in the comments, please!

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

This past week I found a bunch of fun new foods/drinks and I also started the new school year. Which means I’ve transitioned from “summer staples” to “school staples.” I have a lot of fun photos to share with you this week, so let’s get started.

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My sister actually told me about this Arnold Palmer zero calorie drink from Arizona Iced Tea. It’s really refreshing and definitely not too sweet.

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I’m a sucker for matching “lunchables.” I got the coffee tumbler from Target, and it keeps the coffee hot for quite some time. The insulated lunch bag is from Sachi.

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My lunch staple for this time of year, before the weather turns cold. Fruit, salad (this version had mache, a tiny bit of sweet corn, 1/2 cup of sugar snap peas, and 3 oz rotiserie chicken) and Chobani yogurt. It keeps me full till dinner.

20120821-201643.jpg I tried The Fitnessista’s Breakfast Cookie for the first time this week, and I can say that it is the best make-ahead breakfast I’ve had. Period.  Delicious, modifiable, and packed with protein.  If you haven’t tried it yet, do it.

Next up is a fabulous food find from Trader Joe’s: Gourmet Chicken Meatballs.  I bought both flavors: sun-dried tomato, basil, provolone AND spicy buffalo style with blue cheese.   The nutrition is for the buffalo, but the sun-dried were similar (150 calories).

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Tuesday’s dinner: Salad (romaine hearts, Persian cucumbers, raspberry vinaigrette), buffalo chicken meatballs, and brown rice medley.

Those who know me know that I am a coffee lover, so I was thrilled to see this can of limited edition Peaberry Kauai coffee beans at Trader Joe’s.  It says medium roast, but it’s definitely a full-bodied coffee.  A great way to start the day.

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What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

  • Do you have a go-to salad idea to share?
  • Have you found any new foods?
  • What’s your favorite make-ahead breakfast?

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

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On a side note, late last year when school was ending, I was really struggling with heavy snacking in the afternoons, after school until dinner.  It was like I had a compulsion to overeat, and I set myself back every single day because not only was I eating way too many calories, but I would get really sluggish and not work out.  I had some ideas for how to tackle this, and I’m proud to say that so far this year (I’m only 2 days in, but I’m feeling confident about this), I’m not having that same issue.  Part of it is that I’m eating more at each meal (400 calories), but I’ve also changed my habits.  I get home, change, and take Sofi for a walk immediately.   Then when we get back, I clean up my lunch stuff and set up my lunch bag for the next day.  Afterward, I head straight into a workout.  And by then it’s time for dinner.  Alternately, I’ll go straight from school to workout, then come home and do the walk, clean-up, set out tomorrow’s clothes, and cook dinner routine.  The point is, I keep myself busy and don’t sit down until it’s finally time for dinner, and that makes all the difference.

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Today’s recipe comes courtesy of Gina @The Fitnessista. If you haven’t checked out her blog, make sure you do! Not only is she a Zumba instructor, she’s a young mom, military wife, and all around healthy-living guru. I’d been on Gina’s site many time and read about her famous breakfast cookie. It wasn’t until school was starting and I needed a make-ahead, protein-packed, stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast. I loved my green smoothies throughout the summer, but let’s face it, you can’t make them the night before, and I need every precious moment in the morning on weekdays. So, after reading many rave reviews, I decided to give the Breakfast Cookie a try.

The Fitnessista’s Breakfast “Cookie”

Nutritionals: Because the cookie ingredients can vary so greatly, the numbers will differ, but for the one that I made in these photos:

Ingredients: This is where you can customize it to your liking. There are so many possibilities that this same base recipe could be eaten every morning for breakfast and never get tiresome. Monday night I made the cookie with canned pumpkin (instead of banana) and pumpkin pie spice (instead of ginger) and it was delicious.  Seriously, the combinations of flavors and add-ins with this is endless.

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1/3 cup oats
1/8 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 scoop BSN Lean Dessert, Cinnamon flavor
1 TBSP nut butter of your choice (I used pb)
1 banana, mashed
cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger to taste

  • The original recipe called for stevia, but since the protein powder I use is sweetened, I left it out.  Again, know your ingredients and add the right amounts to suit your tastes.
  • The original recipe also called for a dash of sea salt to brighten the flavors, but I find that my pb has plenty of salt already.  Modify  this for your diet and tastes.
  • I was really thrilled to see the cinnamon in this recipe, because it meant that I finally found a use for the cinnamon-flavored protein powder I bought and decided wasn’t great for smoothies.  It’s IDEAL for this type of recipe.  (I bet it would be great in a protein pancake, too).

Directions: This recipe really couldn’t be simpler, but just in case you’d like a step-by-step, here goes.

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir so that the spices are well

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oats, protein powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg

Add the peanut butter (I forgot this step until the end, which is why my photos don’t quite match up) and incorporate with the dry ingredients until crumbly.

Add in almond milk.

Next add mashed banana (or canned pumpkin, or applesauce, etc).

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The pb that I’d forgotten in the earlier step. It doesn’t make a huge difference when you add it, as long as you have it in there.

Empty “cookie dough” onto an appetizer-sized plate and smooth out with the back of a spoon until it looks like a large, thick cookie:

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It already looks great, doesn’t it? Yum!!

20120820-214047.jpg Cover plate with plastic wrap and leave in fridge overnight.  Doing this allows the oats to soften and the spices to become fully potent.

The finished product looks much like the pre-refrigerated cookie, so I didn’t take another picture (well, that, and it won’t be “done” until the morning and I wanted to write this up Monday night).  The cookie doesn’t really harden, but remains gooey.  Definitely something to eat with a spoon or fork.  The idea of eating a cold mass of ingredients may not sound appealing, especially on a crisp morning, but one taste and you’ll see just how delicious and satisfying it is.  I haven’t tried heating the cookie up in the microwave, but I’m sure you could for 20-30 seconds, any longer and it might get really runny.  I just left mine out at room temperature for about 20 minutes before eating it, while I was still getting ready.

The “cookie” kept me satisfied for HOURS!  I ate it at 6:45 and it held me through lunch at 12:15.  That’s the staying power of 30g of protein along with some good carbs.

I enjoyed the cookie so much that I plan on eating it most weekday mornings throughout the school year.  Try it, I think you’ll really like it.

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It’s Wednesday, which means it’s time for another WIAW. What I Ate Wednesday is a fun weekly post/blog social event started over at Peas and Crayons. If you want to follow my eats everyday, become my friend on MyFitnessPal.

This week I was able to make some really yummy food, which is always fun to share on these WIAW posts.

A salad of prawns, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, corn, and chives dressed with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, a dash of olive oil, and the juice of one lemon.

This salad was inspired by the Chilled Lobster Salad with Sweet Summer Corn and Tomatoes recipe I saw on Skinnytaste.  I substituted shrimp instead of lobster and added in cucumbers for a bit more crunch.  The weather here has been over 90 degrees for a week, so a light, summer salad was an ideal dinner.  I liked the original recipe so much that I decided I’d indulge in the lobster and invite my parents and sister over on the 24th to make it for them. I’ll make sure to post pictures.

Grilled pork chop with Chaka’s MMM sauce, steamed zucchini, and toasted pine nut couscous.

This meal was my “recovery” dinner after my grilling disaster on Saturday night.  If you want to feel better about yourself as a cook, go and read that post.  This dinner turned out really well, and since it’s been one of the staple meals this summer, I was so glad to have all the components on hand.

My second attempt at these pancakes turned out much better than my first batch a month ago.

I originally found the recipe for Blueberry “Cheesecake Pancakes from Sara @ Nourish and Flourish. The first time I made them, I was making 4 servings and had to use my blender and hand mixer to get the dough blended.  It also turned out that the original recipe had been missing one key ingredient (1/4 up of milk/almond milk), and they turned out very dense.  This time I only made one serving, so I was able to use my Magic Bullet, and what  difference it made!  The Bullet completely ground up the oats into a true oat “flour,” which made my batter much lighter and fluffier.  I also used coconut oil for the first time with this recipe (to grease the pan). I love making these pancakes on a Sunday morning as a special treat that still packs quite a protein punch (37g for a 300 calorie serving).

This week I also spent some time on Pinterest, Self.com, and of course Peas and Crayons gathering great ideas for future lunches and dinners.  I can’t wait to try them out soon, and when I do, you can believe they’ll be in a future WIAW post.

I highly recommend joining in on the WIAW posts! Not only do you get a TON of great ideas for healthy, interesting meals, but you can make some new blogging buddies, too.

What was the best thing you’ve eaten today? This week?

  • Do you have a go-to summer salad idea to share?
  • How would you recover from a recipe gone wrong?
  • What’s your favorite weekend breakfast?

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