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16 May

Happy Friday!

Today’s been a great day – my mom came with me to the gym, and it was really fun. I’m so proud of her! She hasn’t exercised in at least a decade, and boy, was she ever a trooper. Not only did she come to Weighted Workout with me, but she did all 45 minutes of it! It wasn’t easy, but she did it, and I don’t know too many people that would’ve. She seemed to enjoy aqua aerobics a little more, and it was easier on her joints, so she’s pledged to do that all of next week. It may be baby steps, but they’re pretty big ones to me.

We rushed around most of today, so not too many food pics. Breakfast was a pumpernickel bagel with a little Smart Balance with Flax for 228 calories, and in between classes, I munched on a string cheese and a handful of almonds for 122 calories. Since my mom has never been to Panera Bread, we had lunch there. The Fuji Apple Salad with chicken sounded amazing, so I ordered that with a side of the french baguette. Boy, was I in for a shock! Without any changes, the salad alone was 520 calories and 30 grams of fat, which is absolutely nuts for a salad! I only used 4 forkdips of dressing, and they forgot the pecans, so that brought it down to 357 calories and 12 grams of fat. Not great, but definitely better! Between the salad, the baguette, and a teensy sample of a cinnamon crunch bagel, lunch came out to 518 calories.

E’s little brother is graduating from WVU’s school of nursing tomorrow, so we made the drive to Morgantown earlier this evening. For some reason, I get super munchy anytime a road trip comes into play, and today was no exception! Even though it only took us about 3 hours, it felt like we were driving for-e-ver. I ate dinner pretty early on, which was probably my first mistake. Since we took home some of last night’s picnic leftovers, I took sliced up some of the jerk grilled chicken and grilled zucchini and squash, and mixed it up with some fresh pineapple salsa and pasta salad (whole wheat penne, a few pine nuts and broccoli). It came out to 370 calories, and even though it was definitely tasty, it wasn’t filling at all!

I found organic carrots on sale the other day for $0.19/lb, so I peeled some up this afternoon. Good thing, too – by the time we’d gotten to our hotel, I’d eaten 4 of them, and they were the best carrots I’ve ever had, hands down.

Once we got to the hotel, I had some orange sections and some of the biggest cherries I’ve ever seen – imagine this x2. My fruit and veggie snackout came out to 208 calories.

Which means the total for today was 1447 calories – perfect! Tomorrow I may not be so lucky – we’re having lunch with the fam at Red Lobster, and my goal is to avoid the Cheddar Bay biscuits at all costs. They’re total Kryptonite, and I can never stop at one. I’ll report back, and let you know what happened.

When is one never enough for you? I can’t be alone in this!


Friday Finds: Archer Farms’ Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese

9 Jan

Even though E and I did all of our Christmas shopping online this year, it still felt like we were running around like headless chickens, tying up loose ends and getting last-minute necessities. On one particularly late evening with a hungry husband in tow, I caved, and pulled out another boxed meal I picked up from Target, Archer Farms’ Buffalo Macaroni and Cheese. E and I are both big fans of hot sauce and blue cheese, so this seemed perfect for us!

Priced under $3, this meal promised 3 servings and a one-pot mess. It’s pretty simple; bring a measured amount of water to a boil, add in both the pasta and powdered sauce mix, and cook until pasta is tender and sauce has thickened.

For me, this meal fell somewhat flat – although super-convenient and easy, the sauce never thickened fully, and was somewhat liquidy until it fully cooled. Maybe it’s personal preference, but when it comes to pasta dishes, especially a mac and cheese, I like a nice, thick sauce that coats the noodles. In terms of flavour, this was okay. I didn’t find this tasted like blue cheese or buffalo sauce at all, never mind a combination of the two. It just felt a little flat to me, and although E seemed to like it, this isn’t something I’d choose to eat again, although I did appreciate the convenience of it.

I jazzed this up with some peppered feta cheese sprinkled on top and served it with celery sticks and cucumber ranch dressing, which did improve it slightly. A great value and really convenient, taste is important, and this just didn’t do it for me.

Friday Finds: Steamfresh Meals for Two (Sweet and Spicy Chicken)

2 Jan

A few weeks ago, I clipped out a coupon for $2 off Steamfresh’s new Meals for Two. I’d seen them in the freezer section of our local Kroger’s, and I had wanted to try them, but priced at $7.49, they were a little beyond my budget. Armed with my coupon, they became a little closer. Since they do not make any vegetarian options for E and I to share, I picked the most interesting sounding selection, and decided to go it alone.

Sweet and Spicy Chicken is described as “Tender roasted chicken, tomatoes, onions, black olives and plump raisins tossed with rigatoni pasta and topped with a sweet and spicy tomato sauce.” The preparation is simple: take the bag out of the freezer, put it into the microwave, cook for 10 minutes, and eat! Thankfully, this meal stays true to its word, and it really is that simple. I ended up having to heat it a little longer due to cold spots, but the extra time didn’t seem to sacrifice the ingredients’ quality.

I did end up really enjoying this; a little different, the flavour is addictive after the first bite, waking up the taste buds. Although the sauce was a little watery, it had a much better consistency than I thought. The pasta was firm, and the chicken was moist. I don’t think the chicken is necessary, and that the dish would’ve been just as good without it. The portion size is reasonable, and will definitely serve two, especially if paired with a salad.

As much as I enjoyed this, I probably won’t buy it again. It irks me that there is no vegetarian option, especially considering there are 6 meal types on the market (4 with chicken, 2 with shrimp). Birds Eye could easily replace one of the chicken meals with a veg one, or release some of the meals sans meat. It would allow consumers the choice to add in the protein of their choice, possibly using up leftovers, and would probably cause the price to lower. Make no mistake – this is good, especially for a quick meal, but I have a hard time paying almost $8 for a convenience food my husband can’t eat.

Feel-Good Fettuccine Alfredo

30 Dec

With Thanksgiving and Christmas behind us and New Year’s fast approaching, it seems hard to imagine getting back to the routine, especially one that involves a healthy diet and exercise.

Here’s a dish to get you back in the mix, and quickly too: Fettuccine Alfredo. I know, I know; cream sauces are not exactly a health food, but this one’s a little different, without sacrificing any flavour. Serve with roasted vegetables and a warm roll, and you’ve got a winner.

Trust me.

Feel-Good Fettuccine
adapted from a Kraft Foods recipe
serves 4 (or 2 starving adults)

  • 1/2 lb. fettuccine, uncooked (I used Rossi’s Parsley & Garlic, a local favourite)
  • 1 no-chicken bouillon cube dissolved in 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 4 teaspoons flour
  • 1/3 cup fat-free cream cheese
  • 3 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese (I used the powdered kind)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 Tablespoons freshly chopped parsley
  1. Cook pasta as directed, and drain.
  2. In a medium saucepan, bring broth up to a simmer, and whisk in the flour, a teaspoon at a time, until well blended.
  3. Add in cream cheese, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan, nutmeg and pepper. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture comes to a boil and starts to thicken, about 2 minutes.
  4. Taking saucepan off the heat, add in the pasta, and toss to coat. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and parsley, and plate.

Taste and Create: Lemon Fettucine

29 Dec

During the month of November, I participated in “Taste & Create”, a monthly event that pairs up food bloggers, where each has to recreate a dish that the other has posted on their blog. Due to computer problems and family issues, I’m late in posting this here, but thankfully, managed to get it submitted to the main site on time.

I was paired up with Min of The Bad Girl’s Kitchen, and was thrilled to be matched with a blogger who’s been around for a fair while, therefore giving me a wider selection to choose from. I quickly narrowed the options down (since a fair amount included meat or fish), and finally settled on Lemon Spaghetti. A Giada De Laurentiis dish, it promises to be fast with fresh flavours. As I’ve been looking at picking up “Everyday Italian” for a while now, this gave me the opportunity to test drive it, so to speak.

Fast indeed, this meal took me less than 15 minutes to prepare, including the time it took to cool the fettuccine I used. I liked that the recipe was straightforward, and used simple ingredients I usually have around the house. I was not thrilled by the end result, however – my family will understand when I call it The Good-Bad Salad Dressing Effect. E somewhat liked it, and should I make it again, would eat it. I think the main issue lies with the olive oil; since it does not specify, I used regular olive oil, and this really should be made with an extra-virgin – you really can taste the olive oil quite a bit. I’ll probably be making this again at some point with good oil to see if it makes a difference, because it does deserve a second chance for its simplicity alone.

Lemon Fettuccine
from The Bad Girl’s Kitchen
serves 4

  • 2/3 cup olive oil (seriously, use a good one!)
  • 2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (I used Realemon)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound dried fettuccine
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I omitted)
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the oil, Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, 3/4 teaspoon of salt and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper to blend.
  2. Set the lemon sauce aside. (The sauce can be made up to 8 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but still firm to the bite.
  4. Drain, carefully reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid.
  5. Add the fettuccine to the lemon sauce, and toss with the basil and lemon zest. Toss the pasta with enough reserved cooking liquid, 1/4 cup at a time, to moisten (I didn’t need to, mine was moist enough).
  6. Season the pasta with more salt and pepper to taste. Transfer to bowls and serve.