Determination And Wellness

Posted on March 26, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Giveaway | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I apologize for the absurd length of this post. If it’s any consolation, I’m the one who actually had to write it 😉 And there’s a giveaway at the end, so hold tight.

Sunridge Organic Jolly Beans

Sunridge Organic Jolly Beans

I was eager to get a run in before lunch today, though apparently running didn’t feel the same way about me 😦 I pushed through 3.33 miles at the gym before just wanting to give up; I felt like I was running on empty. That was one option. The other was to get some quick carbs in me, finish the 10 miles I had planned, and worry about refueling afterwards. I’m stubborn and determined if nothing else. I ran back to my dorm, grabbed a handful of organic jolly beans, and got back on that horse treadmill.

10 Miles In 1:29:04

10 Miles In 1:29:04

I managed to finish the 10 miles in 1:29:04. It was a pretty difficult run as they come in all respects, but I’m just glad I pushed through. I’m trying to adjust to running at different times like mid-morning for my half but clearly my body would prefer I get up and going at 7. If nothing else, I got to see this segment of the Today Show which pretty much sums me up and how I grocery shop. 100% natural on products means nothing, but unless you’re determined to pay for the organic seal then you have to read the ingredients. And organic chicken legs?! What was up with those? After a quick 5-minute shower, I was ready for a lunch meeting.

Chilled Salmon Salad With Citrus Fruit And Vinagrette

Chilled Salmon Salad With Citrus Fruit And Vinagrette

My gym friend, the res life dean, invited me to lunch to get to know each other off the treadmill. I was excited to see the ins and outs of the faculty club, which had an amazing selection including a chicken, maple, and walnut salad that had my mouth drooling. But since it is a Friday in Lent I kept it kosher(so to speak) and went with the chilled citrus salmon salad, which had grapefruit, mandarin orange slices, and a citrus vinagrette. I loved the mandarin orange here; it was so nice and flavorful! It made things seem like Spring, even though it was snowing this morning.

Red Delicious Apple

Red Delicious Apple

Vivani 72% Dark Chocolate

Vivani 72% Dark Chocolate

When I got back to my room, I made a quick dessert of an apple and some Vivani 72% dark chocolate. With just 3 ingredients, this chocolate is a dream and perfectly sweet. It’s even better ingredient-wise than my favorite dark chocolate(Sorry, Endangered Species, but clearly you don’t need soy lecithin to make something solid).

Chickpea And Raw Cheese Salad Over Dressed Spinach

Chickpea And Raw Cheese Salad Over Dressed Spinach

An hour later, I was pretty famished. It wasn’t even snackish-hunger, but I was ready for a meal. Since I was going to have chickpeas for dinner, why not 2 and 1/2 hours early? I made a salad of chickpeas with Next Generation Dairy Organic Garlic Parsley Cheddar Raw & Probiotic Cheese. The spinach I dressed with some Foods Alive Hemp Oil Sweet & Sassy Dressing, all of which was deliciously sweet. I could definitely be happy eating chickpeas every day if I kept that many cans in stock.

Apple

Apple

In the afternoon, I braved the cold temperatures(seriously, New England, don’t you know it’s almost April?) to get some food from the dining hall and Tedeschi. While I was out, I snacked on an apple, and then forgot to take back more for my dorm. Drats! Good thing I’ll be going home tomorrow.

Tuna Salad With Chili Lime Cashews, Broccoli With Honey And Sunflower Seeds

Tuna Salad With Chili Lime Cashews, Broccoli With Honey And Sunflower Seeds

2 apples, a crap load of greens, and 3 meals later, I just might be full. I think this day easily makes up for those when all I’ve eaten has been chocolate. I mixed a can of tuna with the remainder of some Voskos plain-non fat yogurt and topped it with chili lime Yumnuts; I think I’ve become officially obsessed with that combination since I ate it last Friday on a picnic with a friend. On some steamed broccoli I added sunflower seeds and a drizzle of honey–love that crunch!

Instead of bore you with more food-food and not desserts, I’ll launch my Wellness Giveaway. First, here’s a recap of all the mental health tips from the week.

Me-Time

Everyday, especially those at rough or difficult times, make sure you have an activity 20-60 minutes to spend on you. Treat yourself or just enjoy alone time. In the end, you’ll be grateful for those moments and you’ll realize that that’s not thatmuch “time lost” in the grand scheme of things; in fact, it’s time gained.

Stress Sleep

First up, I’m not saying sleep like you’re stressed. I’m telling you to put a stress on sleep. That’s the best thing you can do for your mental health at a time when you might otherwise be distracted. We’ve all been there: Too much to do and the first thing you’re willing to sacrifice is sleep. But that’s not the answer. In fact, in times when we just need clarity, sleep can be the most beneficial thing for us and boost brain power and concentration in our waking hours. It also helps to “normalize” hunger cues. Despite a 6:15 wake-up call, I prioritized and managed 7 and 1/2 hours of sleep last night to be a sharp thinker for my tests. Between 7 and 8 hours is the recommended amount, but this varies slightly between person to person.

Declutter

I could not imagine leaving my room with an unmade bed. Hell, I couldn’t imagine being around with an unmade bed, dirty dishes, unorganized pile of papers–you name it. My point is not to make your bed, however; I don’t even do this at home when I spend almost no time in my room. My point is to declutter the area you spend the most time focusing. It’s a fact that if you only look at mess, you’ll only feel like a mess and stress out. Keeping a work area neat and tidy is the most important thing not just for organization but also mental health.

To-Do Lists

I want to talk about how to work! While we could try to juggle everything in our mind, why? All that remembering and forgetting easily adds stress. The first step is to put it down in writing. I use Google Tasks because it goes wherever I go, and I can have different lists for everything from blog stuff, to television shows I need to watch online, to my grocery list, etc. And my favorite mental booster is to cross off–not erase–tasks gone by; seeing things with a strike through them will remind you of what you’ve done and make you feel more accomplished.

Meal Planning

This is the happy union of being a foodie and doing things for your mental health: meal planning. I know it’s something a lot of other bloggers are passionate about. The 1 week we did it for my family back in January, I remember meals being the last thing on my mind all week, which was such a comfort. Now that I have such a small refrigerator to work with and so less options, I don’t keep up the practice. But I do keep meals in mind, and usually am able to plan at the very least 3-4 hours ahead.

Don’t Sweat It

Sweat during your workout? Definitely. But one of the best things you can do for mental health is not stress what you do not control. Some people find this through acceptance; some people find it through a higher power. Whichever way is right for you, it’s important to recognize there are some things in life we don’t choose but we can prepare for.

Keep Your Eye On The Reward

Sometimes, when you’re leading a tough time, it’s best to keep your head up and eyes focused on what’s at the end of the tunnel rather than your present situation. It may sound like it was on a whim, but really I had that trip to Juniper planned all week long. At the very least, it gave me something fun and different to look forward to as a “reward” for a potentially stressful week. It doesn’t have to be food. It doesn’t even have to cost money. But doing something for yourself special or out of the ordinary is a great way to keep your mind in a healthy place.

Now for the giveaway. One lucky winner will receive the Celestial Seasonings Natural Wellness Kit. I got 6 teas to keep me healthy and sane this week, all of which will be given review pages in due time. My favorite so far is actually the honey vanilla, which I wasn’t sent but found in the store and bought myself. I like how most of their teas are caffeine free, because herbal wellness doesn’t have to come with a big dose of caffeine and a crash later on.  The kit itself includes:

  • Four wellness teas to ease  symptoms associated with the cold and flu including Sleepytime Extra, Echinacea Complete Care and Tummy Mint
  • Two green teas to support a healthy immune system year round – Authentic Green Tea and Honey Lemon Ginseng Green Tea
  • Mug, soothing lip balm, honey sticks and Celestial Seasonings Sleepytime Bear and the book “Herbs for Health and Happiness” by Celestial Seasonings founder Mo Siegel and Nancy Burke

Do you need some wellness in your life? There are plenty of ways to enter, just be sure to leave a separate comment for each one to make sure it counts. Answer/do any of the following:

  • Which of these tips did you find most helpful? How did you incorporate it into your life this week?
  • Which flavor from the wellness kit or Celestial Seasonings website most appeals to you?
  • Tweet this contest, saying “FoodMakesFunFuel is having a Celestial Tea giveaway http://tinyurl.com/ykub24n @EvanFMFF” and leave your Twitter name.
  • Blog about this contest and leave a link to the post.

That’s 4 possible entries to rack up. The contest will run through the end of March and I’ll announce the winner April 1st. Good luck!

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That Dirty Quaker

Posted on March 3, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Happy humpday! How was yours? I’m just glad mine’s over. Nothing went bad particularly, it just felt like a good day to get through. That being said, I’ve hardly been in my room for a couple of hours now and things are still strewn about, so clearly I have a lot to do before it’s really “over”, but I’ll manage.

Celestial Teas

This morning I tried the 2nd of my new Celestial teas I got from Stop & Shop: the honey vanilla chamomille. It tasted very medicinal, but in a good way! Kind of like what you would expect if you walked into a therapist’s office, lied down on the couch and was served tea. LOL. Not like I’d know much about that, but I can imagine 😉 Lunch was such a dilemma; I just didn’t know where my taste buds were at.

Roasted Garlic Hummus Chips

I remembered I picked these up from a convenience store on campus a long time ago and thought I might as well give them a try. They’re chips(my crack) made with garbanzo bean flour instead of any wheat, so they’re gluten free! Good news for me. I haven’t really been bloated at all besides Sunday, which is when I had a whole wheat cookie at breakfast. Coincidence? I think not…

Chickpeas With Sea Salt And Garlic Over Spinach, Hummus Chips, The Heat Is On Tofu Salad

Amazingly, this came out to be a well-composed, not-random dish. I used the 2nd half of a can of chickpeas and tossed that with grated garlic to match the chips–yum! I loved them both. For the tofu salad, I took a chunk of soft tofu(a little more than 1 serving) and mixed that with a forkfull(is this a measurement? Now it is) of The Heat Is On PB&Co and sea salt. This combo is always perfection. I only wish I had more time to enjoy it before I had to run off to discussion section; I had to be there today to give my friend, Alex, one of the cupcakes I made over the weekend. She loved it! Bob’s Red Mill knows how to make some good grains.

Organic Decaf Coffee

In between classes, I had just enough time to grab some coffee. I don’t know if it’s the fact that this was brewed by someone else, or the NuNaturals sweetener, or that it was snowing sideways at all day. But this totally hit the spot. Don’t you love when drinks or food do that? This particular class is 2 hours and 20 minutes long(Ugh, right?), so every week someone brings in a snack. This week, a girl brought in 2 bags of these Quaker snacks.

Perhaps I should start off by saying that, in spite of a lot of what I’m going to write, these are probably better than 90% of things you could snack on, and would be good to raise a family with. In fact, in high school I remember demolishing a bag of the apple cinnamon ones after school a lot of days. With that disclaimer out of the way, these are a lot more decieving than I would have thought.

  • A “serving” has 60 and 70 calories respectively. Sounds great, right? The same serving is also about 1/2 as much as weight as potato chips or nachos would be. So, essentially, you’re getting half the calories because you’re eating half as much. Mr. Quaker has a trick up his sleeve to deceive.
  • On the ingredients list for the apple cinnamon flavor is sucralose(aka Splenda). Would you have thought to see it here? Probably not, but there it is. It really bugs me when this particular artificial ingredient is snuck onto otherwise great snacks. It’s also on Emerald’s cocoa almonds, which is why I no longer buy those.
  • On the ingredients list for the cheddar flavor is partially hydrogenated oils(aka trans fats). Because it’s less than .5g, it doesn’t appear on the nutrition panel. But fear still because it’s there. If you asked Mr. Quaker, he’d deny it.

My point–believe it or not–is not to bash these products; in fact, I might have mistakenly grabbed these at any point thinking they fit my diet only to realize they don’t. What my point really is is to emphasize how important the ingredient list can be. Even a trusted quaker can be out to deceive you. So what did I eat?

Fruit & Nut Perfect Foods Bar

I had a bar from Perfect Foods flavored as Fruit & Nut. Again, not to rant, but… the only “fruit” here was raisins and the only “nut”(besides the peanut butter base) was walnuts. Does 1 fruit and 1 nut really make it fruit & nut? Besides that, the honey flavor was delicious. And I love all the other ingredients, especially the whole food powder. This is an amazing source of vegetarian iron! 40% your daily value! Can you believe that?

So Delicious Soy Yogurt With Surf Sweets' Sour Worms

When I got back to my dorm room, the first thing I did was throw my backpack somewhere. Then I sliced up a sweet potato and shoved it in the oven. Normal stuff, right? After that I made a snack to hold me over of So Delicious soy yogurt and sour worms from Surf Sweets. This was so good! I love sour and sweet. And I didn’t even need to sweeten the yogurt with stevia! My sweet tooth must be dimming down a bit, which I can’t say I mind. Then again, what needs stevia when its bearing candy? And the sweet potatoes lead me to dinner…

Grass-Fed Beef Burger With Ketchup And Sweet Potato Fries

Dinner was a bit late tonight, but oh so welcomed. There’s nothing like roasting veggies after a long day, even if they take a little longer. And while I was waiting I cooked some grass-fed beef to perfection(rare) in a pan–glorious. And wow! Look at the time(I suppose this bears no meaning whatsoever since you could be reading this at 8am)! A late dinner throws me all out of whack; time to kick myself back on a schedule and clean up around here.

But first–I need to ask–are you an ingredients hawk? Since declaring an all-natural diet and running an all-natural food blog, I kind of have to be unless I want to live out of Whole Foods and local natural food stores. But it’s actually really easy once you get used to it! And I’m surprisingly lenient with foods otherwise. Overladen with sugar? Sure, I’ll give it a shot if it’s from a natural source. Lastly, check out this giveaway for a chance to win a kitchen scale(I love mine), and this giveaway from The Mom Buzz to win some Surf Sweets.

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But I Just Want A PB&J!

Posted on March 1, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wow. The comments on this post have been phenomenal. Whether it’s vegan guilt or any other kind, there is something so therapeutic about writing it down. It doesn’t have to be on a public place like I did, but if you have anything inside, consider writing it on a piece of paper, even if that only thing that sees that paper is the inside of a trash can. You’ll feel better.

Celestial Teas

This morning, while running errands, I was sipping on the Bengal Spice Celestial tea and I had to mention it because it’s phenomenal. It’s very earthy with cinnamon and nutmeg, and has a definite Indian spice to it. And I got both of these for $3 total with sales and store coupons at Stop & Shop Sunday–good deal! I managed to pry the cup out of my hand long enough to do laundry and make a trip to the dining hall before a phenomenal lunch.

Garbanzo Bean Salad

Chickpeas, Raw Cheddar Cheese, Hemp Seeds, Hemp Oil, Mulberries, Spinach

Normally, I couldn’t care less for salads, but WOW was this good. The base was just a spinach and greens medley with plenty of hemp oil sweet & sassy from Foods Alive. On top of that was 1/2 a can of chickpeas and a diced cheddar raw & probiotic cheese stick from Next Generation Dairy; I’ve nibbled on this cheese before(so I knew I liked it) but I finally got an accurate review up. If you love cheese, check it out, because this practically redefines cheddar from a flavor and nutrition point. Lastly, I topped it with Bob’s Red Mill‘s hulled hemp seeds and Navitas Natural’s Mulberries. I’ve had the mulberries before and wasn’t a fan, but here there mellow sweetness really worked, almost like golden raisins but duller and more superfoody. This held me over for a good while until my chocolate tooth struck.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding With ChocAlive! Dark Chocolate Crunch Truffles

From raw cheese I went to raw pudding and truffles. I made a batch of chocolate avocado pudding using 1 tablespoon coconut milk and 2 tablespoons water for the liquid. The topping was no question; recently, Chocalive! sent me a couple of samples to review. They’re completely raw, vegan, and endorsed by Alicia Silverstone! I tried the dark chocolate crunch ones first. The inside was to die for–so chocolaty and soft. The cacao nibs were a bit too bitter in contrast for my taste :-/ I’ve never really liked those sucker. Can you imagine that? A part of the cacao pod I don’t enjoy? Go figure.

Cranberry Crunch Perfect Foods Bar Lite

Before dinner, I snacked on a Cranberry Crunch Lite bar from Perfect Foods. There’s nothing particularly “lite” about this bar; it’s just not a full meal replacement bar like their other flavors and filled with brown rice crisps for volume. I liked how, even though they cut the calories from 300 to 180 in here, they kept the same mentality of a bar with a focus on healthy fats, protein, and a whole food blend. And their signature raw honey made this so sweet! It seemed like there was something raw in everything today.

Oatmeal With White Chocolate Raspberry PB, Greek Yogurt With Organic Raspberry Conserves

For dinner, I had an odd craving for me: PB&J. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day? Well, anyway, I don’t keep any bread around; gluten-free breads are usually more expensive, I don’t know of any good brands, and I don’t need bread that much, so what’s the point?(Sidenote: When I told my mom I don’t eat bread over the weekend, you would have thought I shot her in the chest. She loves bread, especially the Italian white stuff.) Sooo I improvised with some PB oats and J on the yogurt.

Oatmeal With White Chocolate Raspberry Peanut Butter

My poison PB of choice was the last of the raspberry white chocolate peanut butter from P.B. Loco(who apparently have fallen off the face of the earth since I did a review for them in the Fall). I just go loco for anything white chocolate and/or raspberry. I’m sure there’ll be more peanut butter celebrating in a little bit but this was definitely a delicious start 🙂 Did you celebrate? How so? And now I’m going to do a little research to figure out what the heck happened to P.B. Loco.

Here’s a giveaway for Tropical Tradition’s coconut oil and here’s another for their coconut creme concentrate–both great products!

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