Meal Makeovers

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

Today was the day. 1 week ago, I got a major craving for American chop suey–a pasta dish with elbows, tomato sauce, green peppers, and ground beef. We had this all the time when I was younger, and I just couldn’t get it out of my mind. As excited as I was that we would recreate it today, I was a little bummed that it’s a heavy dish and not an “everyday” kind of meal in my mind. So instead I thought that I would make it into an everyday kind of meal. I asked myself: How can I eat my pasta and enjoy it too?

American Chop Suey

An easy swap was the macaroni: regular for whole wheat and right there we were pumping up the fiber, protein, and whole grains. We used 2 instead of 1 pepper for more flavor and bulk. What we didn’t switch was the meat; we still used 85% ground beef, but a lesser amount so that is was more of a seasoning than a hefty portion. As a creative side, we roasted the other 1/2 of the spaghetti squash from last Monday. And finally, I took a cue from a vegan pantry and swapped the parmesan for nutritional yeast and sea salt(that and I just really like nutritional yeast).

Madeover American Chop Suey

Yum! Not only could you eat like this everyday, but who wouldn’t want to? The entire bottom half of the bowl I filled with spaghetti squash. Then I scooped an 8oz portion of the chop suey on top(which is probably the proper serving but definitely is not the typical amount of pasta served at restaurants or in American homes). And to top it off, I doused sprinkled with yeast. The chop suey flavored the squash really well; Joanna of Fitness & Spice made a great challenge this morning about surrounding your meal around a vegetable and not a protein or starch and I think this was a good example of that with the spaghetti squash being the real filling food here. I didn’t go for seconds on the chop suey but there was a little bit of squash left.

Emptied Out Spaghetti Squash

Did I mention I’m a member of the clean-squash club? 😉 In the afternoon, surprisingly Mr. UPS made it to our house through the snow storm.

Zevia 6-Pack

I got a package and it was the Zevia I won on another blog contest! Yay! I’ll be drinking well now(that sounds wrong). Did you know they’re coming out with a Dr. Pepper style Zevia? That could be interesting; I just hope it doesn’t have all 21 flavors. The stylish lunch cooler will be put to good use in the new semester 😉 After a while of reading and MLK TV marathons, I decided to use up my Artisana Coconut Oil and make another chocolate bar.

Homemade Raw Chocolate Bar

This one came out so much nicer looking than my last attempt; I must be learning. I also switched up the recipe by mixing the coconut oil and agave nectar first and using 2 grams less agave nectar and 2 grams more cocoa powder. You’re probably thinking that that doesn’t sound like much, but it actually made a HUGE difference. This was noticeably thicker–more like a paste. After it set up in the fridge for 10 minutes, I made an afternoon snack tray.

2% Greek Yogurt With Raspberry Jam, 1/2 Homemade Raw Chocolate Bar

I could have gone the afternoon just eating the whole bar like yesterday, but this time there were witnesses who knew about(and expected to taste) the chocolate 😉 Therefore, I only took half along with some greek yogurt. Like I said: The small adjustments in the recipe made a HUGE difference. This wasn’t exactly bitter, but it was noticeably less sweet and darker than yesterday’s bar. It wasn’t perfect, but I liked it more and will continue to tweak the recipe once I get more coconut oil. And thank you for all your wonderful suggestions! I’m 99.5% sure I’ll be getting coconut oil soon and know what type/brand it will be.

For dinner, would you believe somebody suggested lentils? And would you also believe that somebody wasn’t me? It was actually my mom–go figure. Good thing, too, because after that meaty lunch I was not thinking about another animal protein. After raiding the pantry I found out we had the fixin’s for a new and delicious supper.

Lentil Taco Ingredients

Last time we were at Trader Joe’s, I picked up this taco seasoning on a whim, not really having any plans for it but thinking it’d be nice to have around. Tonight, it was just calling my name. On the back it gives a recipe for making 6 servings of beef tacos. Instead, we used lentils instead of beef, 3 servings instead of 6(because, uhh, that’s how many of us there are?), used 1/2 the packet and 7oz of tomato sauce. As I was whiffing it simmering, I could tell the taco seasoning had a little too much heat and threw in some cinnamon to balance out the flavor. We don’t keep taco shells or tortillas around here, so I improvised.

Doctor Kracker Fire Roasted Crisps

With some Dr. Kracker’s that I was sent to review pre-Christmas. Yikes! Didn’t the holiday season just fly by? And with all that good food! I guess it’s back to eating real stuff. i also made one of my favorite sides: maple curry squash fries. Just 1 1/2 acorn squashes steamed and sliced then tossed in maple syrup and curry spice and baked for 90 minutes until very dehydrated.

Fire Roasted Dr. Krackers, Lentil Tacos With Parma, Maple Curry Squash Fries

Whew! OK, where to start? First off–HOT! Everything here had so much heat; my mom(a spicy food lover) could hardly get through the taco lentils. Trader Joe really likes his pepper! These chips were also pretty hot, too. They definitely weren’t my favorite Dr. Kracker chip. They were bit more brittle, the black sesame seeds were awkward, and when did cheddar cheese even come in to play? At the same time, I can’t say they didn’t taste “fire roasted” or make a fire in my mouth. And the squash fries were so perfectly crispy and spicy, too. On top of the tacos I repeatedly shook some of my new Parma.

Chipotle Cayenne Parma

This is their second flavor, along with the original. I have to say I liked the chipotle cayenne sooo much more; it had some real flavor to it! And still all the nutrition of Omega-3’s and B-vitamins. Yum!

As for right now, I’m either

A) feeling oddly happy about the Roloff boys graduating from high school

B) thinking I shouldn’t enjoy Tick Tock as much as I do but c’est la vie

C) making up a menu for a meal makeover tomorrow night

D) all of the above

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Dinner Was A Boar

Posted on January 10, 2010. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Good morning, all. And good thoughts towards all the runners out at Disney right now! I can’t believe I’m saying this but I do not envy them for being at Disney; it’s cold down there. If I wanted that I could be running around my neighborhood right now, haha. Anyway I didn’t post last night because I was… eating. So really, I was just doing my job 😉 Yesterday, Montana had a morning visit to the vet, and since we were in Bellingham we planned to buy groceries for the week then and there. Market Basket was crazy, however, and I didn’t feel like getting bumped by 10 people with shopping carts at lunch time before I ate well, or I might have been tempted to bump back… and hard. Instead I popped in Whole Foods to grab more chicken that’s on sale this week and organic raw almonds which are the same price as Whole Foods’ cheapest this week due to sales. Woot Woot! We got home a good 2 hours after leaving so I was famished for some lunch. I resisted the urge to throw everything in the microwave and gobble it down.

Tofu, Sweet Potato Rounds, And Brussles In Sweet And Salty Cashew Sauce

Instead, I threw it all in a frying pan and gobbled it all down 😉 No, but really, this was a lot better than I thought it would be and appreciated it more after the fact. I cooked soft tofu and sweet potato slices in a pan with tamari. Then I threw in steamed brussels and let it all brown. In a mini-processor, I blended 1/2 an oz cashews, 1 1/2 tablespoons almond milk, and 1/2 a tablespoon tamari for a quick sauce. I loved the sauce and how sweet it came out for something only nuts, unsweetened nut milk, and soy sauce. The whole dish was really nice and I didn’t even need to add salt(granted–there was half a bottle of wheat free soy sauce in there). I didn’t even realize it was vegan or gluten-free until after the fact. Go figure.

To compensate for the Market Basket fail that morning, we decided to go to a different one in the afternoon, mainly because this one has some awesome salsa we were trying to track down. I threw together a weird craving for the car ride.

Crushed Pineapple With TRUWhip

All I really wanted was pineapple. Finding out you can take frozen TRUwhip and let it thaw on its own for 5 minutes is some dangerous knowledge. Really, why’d I have to go there? This Market Basket was a little better; we actually got a parking spot! And we found the salsa, along with most everything on our list, which was basically vegetables, vegetables, and more vegetables. This sight made me very happy when we had put everything away:

Counter Vegetble And Fruits

That’d be acorn squash, spaghetti squash, avocadoes, organic apples, bananas, and a rutabaga. And that’s just the ones we didn’t have to refrigerate! I’m going to eat vegtastically this week. I’m also going to start meal planning to keep leftovers moving in and out, so having a good sense of what there is will be really helpful. I definitely wanted something nutty and sweet to hold me over until dinner.

Pomegranate Pecan Bora Bora Bar

This bar was hit the spot; I won it from Averie’s giveaway and had never tried one before but figured the name said it all. It was pecan pomegranate, but weirdly I think cashews and cherries were larger ingredients than pomegranate.

For dinner, unfortunately, we did not tap into any of those vegetables 😦 Instead, we went out! 🙂 Today is my parents’ 23rd wedding anniversary. But it made more sense to go out on a Saturday night than one where they’d both have to work after, so we drove down the rode to Tomasso’s. We’ve been here probably 5 times now and I always find it such a local gem. When you walk in they have 12 food lessons from Michael Pollen posted, including “Eat local” and “Eat less, pay more”. It was so packed, we actually had to wait for a table for once. But soon enough we had sat down, picked out our orders, and got our appetizers.

Fried Polenta Stick, Marinated Roasted Root Vegetables

This was my appetizer plate, which I tried holding off on until my entree came but couldn’t resist fully. The vegetables were sooo good. I had a little more afterwards. Really, all it was was carrots, parsnips, and butternut squash, but they were roasted just right(needed salt, though). And that little thing would be the most dangerous and delicious food you’ll ever meet: fried polenta with sage.

Polenta Fries

As much as I tend to stay away from fried foods, I have no problem stealing one of these whenever we’re here 😉 It’s so much more than polenta and I’d love to know what they do. It tastes like there’s a good amount of parmesan cooked in the polenta, and maybe a little cream. I think the magic is in not knowing. For my entree, I couldn’t help but to go for the pasta special of the evening.

Housemade Butternut Gnocchi In Wild Boar Sauce

Where to start other than delicioso? The meat wasn’t grass fed; it was wild! 🙂 Who knows what it was doing before some hunter found it? It probably did a keg stand or two in its day 😉 I do normally like to portion 3oz of meat to truly appreciate what meat I do have, but I also know when a night out is a night out and if there’s 4 or 5oz of wild or organic meat on my plate, I’ma have to go for it. I ended up eating 2/3rds of the gnocchi and all the sauce. I’m not one for pasta but if you put a little vegetable in it, it ain’t half bad 😉 All in all, it was a good meal, which left me feeling full but not stuffed. And when we got home, I did a little detox.

Decaffeinated English Breakfast Tea

Because, in my head, having tea after anything essentially wipes the slate clean. Does anyone else work like that? It’s a good way to work. The majority of the night was spent between pajamas and a space heater. Sorry to say it, Floridians, but it’s still colder in the North no matter how bad it is down there. I thought I’d be fine with tea for the rest of the night. The rest of me thought otherwise, apparently.

Liberte Raspberry Goat's Milk Yogurt With Raspberry Dark Chocolate

Little known fact about me: I loooove goat’s milk. I’ve always found goat cheese so flavorful and tangy but we never have it in the house because it’s quite literally the 1 food in the world my mom won’t touch. Apparently, she doesn’t notice we have it when it’s in yogurt form 😉 Raspberry really compliments the natural flavor of the milk. And I’m really impressed with the nutritional info for this; sugar(or raspberry puree) is the last ingredient. That’s probably why it retains its tang. On top I had 3 squares of dark chocolate with raspberries in it, which doubled as an edible spoon 🙂 Goat’s milk obviously isn’t vegan, but it’s a good alternative for dairy sensitive people.

I went to bed a little earlier to fantastic results. I woke up with my alarm this morning and felt energized! As good as tea is to detox, a pumping workout is even better. I decided to revisit my “Count to 10” workout.


  • 10 flights of stairs
  • 10 push-ups
  • 10 flights of stairs
  • 10 sit-ups(I did 15)
  • Repeat 10 times

That had me feeling good. Next time, I think I’ll try 15 push-ups and 20 sit-ups each time, which completely ruins the name but oh well. And yes, those are the stairs for those wondering. I’m not sure how many there are; maybe I should count next time? Breakfast was in my head the whole time.

Banana Oats With White Chocolate Cherry Almond Butter

Peanut Greek Yogurt With Peanut Butter And Chocolate Biscotti

I really wanted one of my biscotti 🙂 Yesterday at Market Basket, I bought 2 16oz yogurt containers instead of 5 individual ones, even though they basically worked out to the same price because it was “better for the environment”. As I’ve mentioned, I like the individual ones more, so the environment better send a thank you card >:-( Other than that, I repeated yesterday’s white chocolate cherry almond butter to try and get towards finishing that jar. It’s a fun flavor but I don’t think it’s one I’ll be ordering again; I have my own in plan 😉

Speaking of plan, this morning I’ve been making a meal plan for the week! Really, it’s just dinners that I’m doing in detail, and letting most other stuff fall where it may. I’ll post the weekly eats this afternoon. Can I say I’m drooling thinking about some of these?

A giveaway for probiotics(we all know how I love those).

Another giveaway for probiotics, this time Chobani!

And one for chocomize chocolate 🙂 Let’s not go into how much I love that

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Bitter And Sweet And Savory, Too

Posted on September 29, 2009. Filed under: Daily Update | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Firstly, thank ya’ll for the well wishes. Yesterday definitely was a great start to a brand new week and the 10-miler was just the kick-off to it. Despite being a full hour behind schedule, I made it to Latin class well and prepared with 1/2 eaten 1/2 muffins in both of my hands. We managed to get through 3 poems, which I think is a new record, but still slightly frustrating since she has us translate about 6 a night and we’ve fallen way behind. Oi. When I got back I finagled a bit with my Google Reader. Here’s a tip: Don’t click Mark As Read on the home page or it’s a lot harder to catch up on all the lovely blogs out there 😉 So just don’t do it. I was equally as excited for a new week in the Ratty and to see what food lines there were this week:

Gnochi, Italian Veggie Melange, Asian Vegetables With Moroccan Chickpea Stew

Gnochi, Italian Veggie Melange, Asian Vegetables With Moroccan Chickpea Stew

I’ve got a feeling, wooo ooo, that this week’s gonna be a good week, that this week’s gonna be a good good week. The mashed potato bar of last week is gone and in its place is a make your own noodle bowl. I’m not a fan of Japanese noodles, but this does mean endless supply of Japanese veggies 🙂 And that AMAZING Moroccan stew from last Friday also will be there ALL WEEK. I checked the website to find out what made it so great–raisins, cinnamon, and tumeric. I wouldn’t have guessed but it makes tons of sense after tasting it. Gnocchi was the Italian option; normally I don’t go for heavy, carby lunches but it was good fuel after a 10 mile morning.

Well those 2 boxes amused me through Greek History as much as the professor, followed by Epic poetry where I got my first essay assignment of the year! Don’t I sound enthused? Hmm, can’t even fake it, oh well. Something very exciting DID happen in the 10 minutes between classes. For a solid 10 feet I walked directly next to Emma Watson. It was kind of like this:

Walking With Emma Watson

Walking With Emma Watson

Except, you know, my head was attached to my own body and all. It was pretty great, nevertheless. In response to any requests for me to take a picture next time I see her, I feel like that wouldn’t exactly be helpful in making her feel welcome as a normal college student and make me a very obvious creeper. So until a proper opportunity arises and she makes herself available for a photo opportunity, I will not be whipping a camera out will-nilly. I celebrated the afternoon mostly by sitting and not doing homework. I spent my time doing better things, like making a damn attractive afternoon snack:

Banana Goodness Bread, Voskos Yogurt With Banana Pineapple Rum Jam, Sliced Banana, Butter Toffee Peanut Butter, Stevia

Banana Goodness Bread, Voskos Yogurt With Banana Pineapple Rum Jam, Sliced Banana, Butter Toffee Peanut Butter, Stevia

Winner, winner, ‘naner dinner? If that works for ya, then definitely. I heated up the bananas and banana bread slightly after being in the fridge to get them warm but not hot. Then I made a side sauce of 2 ounces thick Greek yogurt and 1 tablespoon of that sweet jam. A little Butter Toffee Peanut Butter to round out the plate with healthy fats and a sprig from Steve(because who doesn’t love edible garnish?). I think taking the time to make your plate look nice makes the whole eating experience more enjoyable; I’ll definitely be making that more of a priority–when I’m not an hour behind and running to class that is. Speaking of pretty presentation, I caught up on Top Chef with the rest of the afternoon; I think it’s still at the point where they’re eliminating all the characters we don’t really care about. I still say one of the brothers will win. Dinner was more of the same, but that’s a good thing this week:

Tomato Barley Soup, Broccoli Rabe, Cooked Carrots, Hugh Jass Salad With Morrocan Chickpeas

Tomato Barley Soup, Broccoli Rabe, Cooked Carrots, Hugh Jass Salad With Moroccan Chickpeas

This school has an obsession with barley in soups. I’ll never understand it, but I suppose that’s one way to get a whole grain. And I probably should have known this but broccoli rabe is B-I-T-T-E-R. It took a LOT of salt to get through that. The salad was a little bit of everything, including spring mix, grape tomatoes, raw onion, mushrooms, sunflower seeds, cucumber slices, and, of course, more sweet Moroccan stew. Can I just get a vat of that delivered to my dorm room? Kthnxbai.

Monday night has a jam packed line-up of TV, so I started by watching HIMYM and making a probiotic snack, when I found this:

Mold In Oikos

Mold In Oikos

Mold in my Oikos? Ew. I’ve long expected my fridge and freezer aren’t cold enough; thank god oats will survive anything. For now I took what I could from around the mold and dumped the rest of the container.

Pumpkin Peanut Yogurt With Turbinado Sugar

Pumpkin Peanut Yogurt With Turbinado Sugar

So this kind of comes out like a candy bar, but I don’t feel bad because I don’t eat candy bars, ya dig? I love how the turbinado sugar melts with a little bit of time, even though I’m wildly impatient. I thought HIMYM was good, but it didn’t have me laughing as much as I hoped. I actually found The Big Bang Theory a little later to be funnier. I also watched the season premiere of Family Guy on the fox website. Hilarious: If you’ve ever watched and loved an episode of Family Guy, you are encouraged to keep doing so. I did, however, completely miss Heroes due to my lack of remembering show times. Alas, I’ll find it online another day. I made some more snacks since I wasn’t convinced what I’d eaten over the day properly refueled a 10-miler:

Toast With Mocha Peanut Butter And Strawberry Jam, Loaded Scone

Toast With Mocha Peanut Butter And Strawberry Jam, Loaded Scone

English Muffin With Cookie Dough Peanut Butter And Fig Spread

English Muffin With Cookie Dough Peanut Butter And Fig Spread

The scone is my own recipe, which you can find here. I felt it was missing something after the first bite when it dawned on me: cream cheese. I lathered it up after that. The mocha peanut butter by Naturally Nutty is really a mystery to me. It’s kind of like the peanut butter I reach for when I don’t want peanut butter? The flavor is very unique is all I can say. I topped one half of my last TJ english muffin pulled out from the back of the freezer with cookie dough peanut butter by P.B. Loco and the other half with a fig I mushed up. That peanut butter is delicious if I may say so and I’m working hard to get some oats in a jar action on that some day.

One of the best things happened right before I went to bed: It started pooring! I’ve always loved the rain and lightening while I’m inside and especially as I’m going to bed; it’s just so calming, don’t ya think? When I woke up I was a little tired but got my booty moving because Tuesday’s an early class day. Because of the rain I opted for the treadmill, and, can you get this, a girl changed my TV station to watch infomercials? Umm, what? I was working 2 TV’s, so I wasn’t really upset or lacking, I just thought what a ridiculous thing to change it to. I ended up doing 7 wonderful miles at a perfect pace and finished in 55:59 minutes. I got back to my room with my roommate still sleeping and the door unlocked–just like it should be–(actually, he’s still sleeping), showered, and made a savory-sweet breakfast like no other:

Oats With An Egg And Steak Sauce, Peanut Flax Maple Greek Yogurt

Oats With An Egg And Steak Sauce, Peanut Flax Maple Greek Yogurt

If you haven’t tried the egg and steak sauce oats because you’re one of the crazy cool vegans out there, no sweatin’ it. But if you’re a meat and potatoes person who’s just been a little lazy or scared off, I say go for it. It totally redefines breakfast for me. The yogurt was delicious and, again, candy bar-esque. Unfortunately it was my last probiotic source in the fridge so I think I need to go pick up more today. I might even look for some good kefir after my great experience with it at yesterday’s breakfast.

Speaking of breakfast, if you enjoyed drooling over my descriptions of the vitatops these past weeks, drink extra water for a special post later today at 4 that sums up all my reviews into one, convenient post. No doubt after reading it you’ll have a good idea of which flavor’s for you.

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