How To Be A Smart And Healthy Shopper

Posted on April 30, 2010. Filed under: Health | Tags: , , , , , |

Today I went grocery shopping. I did a lot right, but also some things wrong. I hope this post to be a reminder to both you and me for the ways of healthy shopping. *And if you never read my post on how to save at Whole Foods, here it is.

Do: How far is the store? I walked to my Whole Foods today, which is 1.2 miles away. If a store is nice and close, you can and should enjoy the walk for activity. Even if it’s not close, you might be able to get there through an alternative method like public transportation, especially if you live in a city. All this can be better for you and the environment.

Groceries

Groceries

Groceries

Groceries

Do: Have a mental list. I knew exactly what groceries I wanted.

Do: Shop where the healthy groceries are. Is trail mix and cereals your weakness? Don’t go to that section of the store. Keep yourself surrounded by fresh vegetables and that’s all you’ll have the chance to put in to your cart.

Don’t: Shop while you’re hungry. Not only can it lead to impulse buys, but those often won’t be the healthiest choices. If you do find yourself in this situation, do buy some fresh fruit and eat it as a snack while shopping.

Don’t: Go to the cashier without having your coupons ready. I did this and ended up not using any because I felt so disorganized. I still got all the benefits of store sales, but I could have saved at least an extra dollar or two if I had coupons ready.

Reusable Shopping Bag

Reusable Shopping Bag

Do: Bring reusable shopping bags. They both save waste from the environment and many stores these days will offer discounts to shoppers who use them.

Don’t: Forget to give your grocery bag to the bagger.

Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

Daiya Mozzarella Style Shreds

Don’t: Buy things without having a plan for them. I’ve been dying to try daiya soy-free, dairy-free vegan cheese. But I honestly have no clue how or when I’ll use it. I have no GF pizza crust, not tomato sauce, nothing my Italian side would know what to do with. I’m determined to eat it now that I have it, but I wish I had planned better.

Rice Whip

Rice Whip

Do: Look for the least processed items that fit your lifestyle. Ideally, I would love to buy local cream and whip it myself; that’s just not happening in a dorm room. The two options the store had was Non-fat, sugar-free 365 brand whipped cream or Rice Whip(they were out of regular whipped cream). The ingredient list of the Rice Whip was simpler and more recognizable, so I chose that.

Do: Pick your proteins right. I always make a point to buy hormone and nitrate-free poultry, as well as grass-fed beef. It’s slightly more expensive but it has less saturated fat and more omega-3’s, which to me is worth the extra money.

Are you a smart and healthy shopper? What are your tips and tricks? Share in the comments! And here’s a teaser from my eats today; happy Friday Sundae to me!

Soy-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Sundae

Soy-Free, Dairy-Free Chocolate Sundae

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TGIT!

Posted on February 18, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update, Product Review, Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

I can’t decide if that 2nd T should stand for “Thursday” or just “Today” becuase today has been so much better than any average Thursday! I know wordpress has been down a lot, so if you missed this morning’s post you can read it In A Jiffy 🙂 No worries–it’s really quick because I was really in a rush. My breakfast ended up looking more like this:

2% Yogurt With Pumpkin Flax Granola Bar, Soy Yogurt With Milk Chocolate Peanut Sunspires

I realized after posting that it might give the impression I was eating all those sunspire candies. Nope! Haha, I took a reasonable amount for my yogurt; that’s just my whole stash 😉 I realized in class what these granola bars taste like: Apple Jacks! I can’t say why, but they’re dead on.

University Whole Foods

I made the decision to go to Whole Foods in between classes to get some Asian style chicken for dinner; I was having a craving and knew I couldn’t eat meat tomorrow even though I’d had more time so I thought I’d go today. I called ahead to make sure they had it, and then walked the 1.2 miles. Obviously, I spent a good amount of time perusing the aisles while I was there.

Golden Sesame Tofu

It occurred to me around the hot foods area all the things that fall under my Lenten giveup, like these! At first I thought giving up prepared soy was kind of a cop out and wouldn’t affect me much. but since I’ve almost slipped twice in 2-days, I’m thinking this was a good one. I also looked on non-soy veggie burgers while I was there but nothing impressed me.

Organic Anjou Pear

I needed a snack for the 1.2 miles back. I would have totally hit up the tri-colored raw peppers from the prepared foods bar if they wouldn’t have set me back so much money. I also almost bought a chocolate bar but decided I should not be paying for chocolate when I have so much in my closet. 😦 A rough decision but it’s good to self-edit in the checkout line. Ironically, the person behind me picked up the bar I put down and bought it! Maybe it was destiny…

Groceries

What did I get? In short: sensible things. 2 Chobani, 2 So Delicious Plain Soy Yogurts, a Kombucha(for review), a ripe avocado, cocoa powder(I normally prefer Lake Champlain but this was what they had and cheapest), and General Tso’s chicken. Well, this did not leave me much time before my next class, so I hopped to making lunch!

1/4 Pounder Grass-Fed Burger, Sweet Potato Hash, Orange Steaz

I planned to cook this burger yesterday on Ash Wednesday–yikes! Thankfully, it was just as good today, though a bit browned. I cooked it alone in a pan and it could not have came out more perfect! While it was resting, I cut up leftover sweet potatoes and cooked them in the fat drippings. Holy yum. My thought today: You couldn’t eat meat yesterday, you can’t eat it tomorrow, so get your fill now!

I ate this entirely in Greek History. I almost fell asleep in class. Maybe the walking tuckered me out? If not for one of my best friends, Alex, to make fun of the stupid things this professor was saying(like trying to reference gameboys for a joke), I definitely would have conked out. After that, another class and then I was free! When I got out at 4, I officially began a 5-day weekend! let the celebration begin!

Xagave Chocolate Frosty

I’ve had this Xagave recipe bookmarked for a long time. I didn’t have an open can of coconut cream(is this even the same as coconut milk? I’ve never heard of it before) so I just used 1/2 a cup coconut milk kefir instead. I also cut the recipe into 1/4th, and even scaled back the Xagave to 1 tablespoon.

Bob's Red Mill Guar Gum

This gave me cause to break out the guar gum I was sent by Bob’s Red Mill to sample and review; I won’t review it quite now because this feels like something I’ll need to use a few times to get used to. There was more excitement in store for today, too:

Emmy's Organic Mint Chip Macaroons

I won a bag of Emmy’s Organic Mint Chip Macaroons. And in a poetry contest, no less! You can read my poem here. After lots of work and blending, things looked like this:

Probiotic Frosty Milkshake, Mint Chip Vegan Raw Macaroon

Wow. Where to start? As for the milkshake: It was really good! But I didn’t blend it enough I don’t think 😦 I’m always afraid to overblend things until they get hot and liquidy(TWSS), but I guess I shouldn’t be so long as I have the guar gum? Also, this was very sweet and had a strong agave nectar flavor. And that was after I cut down the amount in the recipe.

As for the mint chip macaroon: Holy Moly! I give a lot of things into consideration when I review a product, including price, availability, nutrition, taste, sustainability, etc. I had to give this a 10/10, even if it’s not completely available nation wide in stores; they were just that good. When I’m out, I’m going to cry for about 10 minutes and then order myself a batch. They’re amazing! They completely out shined the dinner I had planned all day:

General Tso's Chicken And Broccoli, Citrus Synergy

General Tso's Chicken And Broccoli

That being said, this was pretty damn good too 🙂 I had a major craving for Chinese chicken last night. And I knew I wouldn’t be eating it tomorrow. It’s glaringly not the healthiest option, but once in a while why the hell not? And because it was from Whole Foods, it was completely natural chicken. On the side, for good health, I had a citrus Kombucha drink. It’s not my favorite flavor, since I could hardly taste the sour through the vinegar of the kombucha. But it was still pretty good; and, as always, stellar nutrition! You can always eat the bad if it’s with some good 🙂

As if I needed any more sunshine today, Jessie of Vegan Minded sent some my way. Thank you! If you’ve never read her blog, you must go check it out if for nothing but inspiration! Everything she eats is Tasty with a capitol T. And now, here’s 12 more sunshiney bloggers or bloggers who need sunshine or just awesome bloggers!

1. Caitlin

2. Cara

3. Heather

4. Averie

5. Kalin and 6. Baby Brother

7. Abby

8. Maddie

9. K

10. Katie

11. Holly

12. Heather

And now Survivor is almost on! I’ve seriously waited all week for this, so you know I won’t be missing it!

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The Worst Thing About New Years…

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

The worst thing about New Years is dating everything 2009 for the next 2 months and having to cross it out. Seriously, I’m going to be doing that into March. But if that’s the worst thing about 2010, I’m guessing it’s going to be a good year 🙂

Isn’t it the case that whenever you’re hosting you forget something? For us, it was good parmesan cheese.

Parmesan Cheese

My dad and I ran to the store(in a snow storm) to grab a hunk. I also quickly looked for nutritional yeast while we were there but couldn’t find any 😦 I guess that’ll be one new thing to try in 2010! I also may have been convinced to come along by a McDonalds’ coffee–just saying.

Our guests called to say they’d be here more 5-ish because of the snow, so I definitely needed some snacks before party food.

Oatmeal With Mighty Maple

Red Delicious Apple

Oatmeal and peanut butter will still be a theme in the New Year; please, nobody fret. We laid out the appetizers…

Apricot Glazed Baked Brie

Savory Cheeseball

Whole Wheat Red Pepper Foccaccia

…and soon they were here. Can I just say that we demolished these? I think there was 3 slices of foccaccia left, 1/2 of the hummus, and 1/3 the cheeseball and… that was about it.

Whole Wheat Red Pepper Foccaccia, Apricot Brie, Dr. Kracker Hummus Maximus Crackers

I ate this times about 2 because I went back for seconds on them all. The bread was so good! It was a Food Network recipe–just store bought whole wheat pizza dough brushed with olive oil, garlic, and red pepper and topped with onion and parmesan. Could it get much simpler? I also really liked the Hummus Maximus crackers; I don’t know that there was anything specific about the flavor I could pinpoint as chickpea, but it was definitely unique and worked well with the hummuses. We did a very early toast.

Toasting Glass

Everyone had champagne except for me and their 4 year old boy, who had milk. Can you guess what was in my glass?… Black Cherry Zevia 🙂 And I wouldn’t have had it any other way(This, naturally, led in to the conversation of how something could be natural and diet soda and why my shirt matched my beverage ;-)). Once we were done with appetizers, we moved on to the main course.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Homemade Meatballs

Roasted Carrots And Turnips, Sirloin Roast, Roasted Broccoli, Homemade Whole Wheat Potato Gnocchi

Our guests were Korean and love their vegetables and red meat; can you tell we tried to accomodate that 😉 Everyone seemed to love everything, and there was nothing bad here. Our guest’s husband was soooo happy that the gnocchi was whole wheat because that meant “his wife would let him eat it”. Haha! Have I mentioned how much I love these people?

Roasted Brussels And Broccoli, Homemade Whole Wheat Gnocchi With Meatballs

This was my plate; I chose the 3 or 4 things I wanted and made a more-or-less normal dinner. I knew I’d be seeing this all for leftovers next year, anyway. You can pretty much assume I at 4 times the brussels and broccoli as pictured because that’s what I kept going back for more of. For the first time, my mom made her meatballs with all-natural ingredients so I made those my main course instead of the sirloin roast that the rest of the table had. They were so soft and moist they melted in my mouth! The gnocchi were also very good, too.

After dinner, we laid out the desserts.

Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownies, Peanut Butter And Chocolate Biscotti, Italian Bakery Bought Cookies, Tiramisu, Wine, And Newman's Organic Decaf Coffee

At first I was honestly too stuffed for anything but coffee. After a few cups and about 30 minutes of sitting and talking, I had room.

Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie, Tiramisu

This was my dessert plate. Oh My God, did these gluten free brownies turn out good! They didn’t even stick to the pan and were super super fudgy. I was worried 3 tablespoons peanut butter chips wouldn’t make a difference but you totally got the peanut butter flavor. Our guests brought a homemade tiramisu made with hazelnut liqueur. It was good! I appreciate that they made the cake bottom instead of using HFCS-laden ladyfingers. We’re not sure what happened with the top layer, which was rather thin, but overall the flavor was there.

Our dessert conversation ran through everything from my bacon milk chocolate bar to beliefs in God. The good thing about good friends and family is you can argue and disagree and everything and it won’t matter 10 minutes later 🙂

Our guests left around 9:45 to go home, put the little one to sleep, and spend time with their grandparents. Within 30 minutes, we had the house back to spick and span and our PJ’s on. We actually got a call from our neighbors to come over to their house but we were exhausted and did not want to think about leaving the house. Oh well, we’ll see them sometime this year.

Tiramisu, Peanut Butter And Chocolate Gluten Free Brownie

I made a snack plate. Seriously, these brownies are addicting! I’ll be making another batch before I know it. We watched Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin since we’re such fans of hers and wanted to see what she’d say. Good thing no drinking games around here because there are a ton with her and we’d all had been wasted.

Tiramisu

At 11:58 I unapologetically went back for another scoop of this dessert. It was last year, so it totally doesn’t count anymore, right 😉 And, of course, we watched the ball drop. After that, though, we pretty much went straight to different rooms and crashed. Midnight is a stretch for me!

So far, the New Year has been filled with laziness, not-working out, and baking. Excellent 😀 How long can I reasonably keep this up? We shall see… Actually, I did wake up at 7, but since no one else was alive I felt free to sleep for another 90 minutes. After coffee and a shower, I decided that my banana goodness bread would be my first dish of the decade. Whether it’s a new home or a new decade, I think homemade bread just says “welcome”. I mushed bananas, sifted flour, and stuck it in the oven. While it was baking I had my first breakfast of the decade.

Pumpkin Oatmeal With Vanilla Almond Butter And Strawberry Yogurt Frosting

See? Things don’t change overnight! That’s partially why I haven’t made any resolutions: I do that enough day-by-day that I feel no pressure to do it year-by-year. Anyway, I wasn’t too hungry and this was late so I kept it simple with delicious, Springtime flavors. I love my salty sweet 🙂 Eventually the bread was done.

Banana Goodness Bread

Another perfect loaf 🙂 This time I swapped out the flaxseed for wheat germ and sprinkled vanilla sugar over the top for some crispness–beautiful. Then my grandmother came over for a New Years lunch. It used to be our tradition when I was a little kid to have chinese take out every new Years day with my grandparents. Instead, we had leftovers, which were 10 times tastier anyway.

Roasted Vegetable Medley, Sirloin Roast, Banana Goodness Bread

Was I supposed to hold off on slicing into that bread? I’m sorry; I think I missed that message 😉 I portioned out 3oz of meat and then loaded up on bread and veggies.Yum! I kind of wish I had the sirloin last night when it was freshly cooked and dripping red but oh well–that’ll happen again in my life sometime. The bread was simply perfect. The key to a crispy stop is a little sprinkling of sugar and it is sooo worth it. Today it sounds like we’re “getting out” because it’s going to snow for 3 straight days, so I’ll be curious to see where we wind up.

A coconut bliss ice cream giveaway! Never tried this but it sounds delicious.

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A Day In NYC

Posted on December 24, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Technically, yesterday started at around 4am when I woke up hungry and had a bowl of oatmeal with NuttZo. I didn’t bother taking a picture because I was hoping that wouldn’t be the most exciting part of my day(though NuttZo is always tasty);-). After I got back to bed, my alarm went off promptly at 6:45 and we hit the road by 7:20. The plan was to drive to a Stamford, Connecticut to take the train in to NYC. The car ride was such a great time to relax and get away from anything; I read 3 out of 5 magazines I’ve had lying around since October! Bliss. Somewhere along the way I “made breakfast”.

2% Chobani With Kashi Vanilla Creamy Oatmeal, Barney Butter, And A Vitabrownie

I think being a sort of food McGuiver is so much fun! I had a bag packed of snacks and I was determined to make something healthy and well balanced out of it and I think I did. I mixed a packet of vanilla oatmeal with Chobani, salt, and stevia and let that sit and soften the oats. Then I added some Barney Butter I was sent to sample and review a while ago and this was the perfect opportunity. On the side, for good balance(or chocolate. Yeah, definitely chocolate) was a vitabrownie. This was delicious. I liked the Barney Butter more than I remember and might pick up a jar if I see it on the shelves. At 11:30 after a 60 minute train ride we arrived.

Grand Central Station

It wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be the day before Christmas Eve but still when is NYC not hustling and bustling? We had to rush to meet our Georgian friends for lunch at 12 at Carmines. They’ve wanted to eat here for years and finally got reservations. Honestly, the restaurant couldn’t have been a worse fit for me. The whole mindset behind it was gargantuan portions of meat and pasta served family style(I don’t have anything ethically against pasta, I just happen to be one of the few Italians who doesn’t like it). Still, I stuck with my guns and found a meal somewhere in there.

Apple Pear Vinagrette Salad, Grilled Marinated Portabella Mushrooms

The salad was OK; very oily. The mushrooms were good with salt and red pepper. At the same time, I don’t think mushrooms should ever constitute a meal. Everyone else at least had a good time and had their fill of fried calimari, meatballs, penne, and lemon cream sauce chicken.

Aunt Chris And Mom

Afterwards we had to finish up and rush off to a 2 o’clock matinée. It’s a tradition that we always see a play when we meet them in New York. It’s not my cup of tea but they’re a very artistic family and enjoy this stuff. It’s always a surprise what we’re seeing because they go to the box office that morning and find the discounted shows and choose from those. This year it was Mary Poppins.

Mary Poppins On Broadway

The show was great; technically it was probably the most amazing one we’ve seen. With trap doors and wires, they had Mary flying through the sky and even replicated her bag that holds far too much. I might have dozed off a bit during supercalifragilisticexpialidocious but it was only because the theater was so nice and warm. Midway through I had a snack.

Lemon Ginger Gnu Bar

That definitely curbed my hunger for the rest of the show. Afterwards, we had some time left with them so we worked out a new plan. My dad, knowing Goji Gourmet cookies were on my Christmas list, located some in the city so we decided to walk to a coffee shop that sold them. Of course, we took in the sights as we walked.

Times Square

Interestingly, the numbers still say 2009; when do you think they’ll change that? It was cold out–about 26. I managed to step in not 1 but 2 puddles. I’m a genius, right? Fortunately, we were able to find the little coffee shop and grab some cookies which now are under the tree. We also convinced the man behind the counter(who probably thought we were crazy tourists and was sooo right) to get a group photo.

The Sterns And Thomas Family

We 3 are on the right and the other 5 are them. Really, what was going through our mind was “Please take 20 more so we can stand in your warm shop without having bought much”. After that we walked back into the car they rented and drove around to take in some of the sights that were too cold to walk to.

Pop Culture Yogurt Fruit And Nut Bar

I grabbed this while we were in the car. This bar was also sent to me and it seemed perfect to save for a day like this when yogurt would not be as handy. overall, it was OK. The yogurt coating was soooo good, but the fruits and nuts were a little M.I.A. But with probiotics and 4g fiber, it was a good deal. We drove past the tree at Rockefeller center and then ended up back at Grand Central Station where we said our goodbyes until we see them again in July.

Grand Central Station

Dinner was a bit of a debacle; frankly, I was a little upset having only eaten mushrooms and bars I brought all day and wanted somewhere nice. At the same time, all we could find was chains and ones that served mostly meat. Just when we were about to give up and grab something quick and board the train, we found this restaurant hiding in Grand Central Station.

Charlie Palmer's Metrazur Menu

Yes, it was more meat. But this was good sounding, local meat that I could really get into without questioning. It was a bit pricey but how often do you get to eat in Grand Central Station? My mom wanted just a salad and my dad and I funnily enough chose the exact same entree.

The Natural Chicken

This sounded sooo good. It was a piece of white meat and dark meat chicken in a truffle broth. Underneath were broccoli rabe, oyster mushrooms, and soft and tender potato gnocchi; it was heavenly. I gave my dark meat to my mom(her favorite) and practically cleaned the bone of the other. The desserts sounded good, too, but I figured there’d be enough of those over the coming days and I was full. We ended up catching an 8:10 train and getting to our car at 9:30, driving home by 12:15. In the car I had a dessert of my own.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found these cookies at the same bakery that served the Goji Gourmet ones. Peanut butter and chocolate; how could I resist? They were also fairly healthy with simple ingredients like whey protein, rolled oats, peanut butter, eggs, brown sugar,chocolate chips, butter, baking soda, and salt. They were really delicious; I thought the protein powder might affect the flavor but not at all. I also ate an apple in the car but that wasn’t nearly as exciting. When we got home, I pretty much passed out in my bed; it was 90 minutes after my bed time afterall 😉 And this morning I got to wake up to a full inbox and google reader. Joy to the world, and happy Christmas Eve!

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The Oven: A Roasting Machine

Posted on December 23, 2009. Filed under: Recipe | Tags: , , , , , , |

For the past 4 months I’ve been at Brown, what I’ve had to work with has been limited, to say the least. Now that I’ve been home a few days I’ve been stretching out and exploring all these fancy gadgets and gizmoes. I’ll admit: about 80 percent of that I make is still with the microwave. However, I’ve also discovered than my long-time baking friend, Mr. Oven, can do so much more. Most noticeably, he’s a roasting machine!

Roasting is a great way to let heat slowly seep through the food from the outside to get a nice browning. It often tends to add a nutty flavor to whatever you’re making. You can really roast anything your heart desires.

Sirloin Roast, Roasted Brussels, Noggy Butternut Squash

For dinner a few nights ago, we had sirloin roast. Now, over the Summer(if you’ve been reading that long) you might remember I was Mr. Grill. I love our grill and it’s such a great way to cook things. Unfortunately, ours is under 6 inches of snow right now, so I thought there was no way I’d be enjoying well-cooked rare meat. Boy, was i wrong. After 15 minutes of roasting at 325, this meat was juicy and tender. It was a most perfect cut of meat.

Meat not your thing? That’s fine, because I’ve been doing plenty of vegan roasting, as well. At that same meal was roasted brussels sprouts, which my mom tossed with 1 tablespoon canola oil and had in the oven for 30 minutes after steaming. I, however, prefer a different leafy green roasted.

Roasted Broccoli, Buttered Apple, Maple Apple Chicken Sausage

There is few vegetables better than broccoli in my book, and roasted broccoli tops it all. The buds on the stalk get nutty and charred while the stalk gets crispy like a french fry. Really, this makes it into a whole new vegetable. The perfect way to roast broccoli is to steam it until virtually fully cooked, then roast it at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Don’t worry if it gets blackened; black is flavor here.

Veggies still not your thing? Maybe you’re just nuts for nuts, which I can relate to. In that case, you should learn how to roast those, as well.

French Toast Almonds

Roasting and flavoring your own nuts can be a great homemade gift for others or a tasty treat for yourself. First I line a cookie tray and heat my oven to 350. After laying out the nuts, I roast them for 15 minutes, shaking the pan every 5 minutes. In their heated state, you can really play around with them. In the past I’ve made maple cashews by melting 1 tablespoon vegan butter spread with 1/4 cup maple syrup and tossing that with roasted cashews. I’ve done the same to almonds(pictured) adding in cinnamon and vanilla powder. After that I drop the temperature to 300 and roast for another 12 minutes, then let them cool and setting.

So there you have it: plenty of new ideas for your oven. Really, any of this can be applied to so many other foods that the possibilities are endless! For a wintery, nutty flavor, roasting is the perfect way to make a meal special and show you put thought and time into it. B

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