Tag Archives: tuna

Day Two

Good evening! How are you all this beautiful Friday evening? I for one could not be happier about being in bed and under the covers at 11:30 on a Friday night, away from the blustery cold and a long day.  I’m a little too comfortable… I’ll be very proud of myself if I make it through this whole post without nodding off!

We ended up making rich mugs of hot chocolate last night before we went to sleep (I’m not sure there’s a more perfect nightcap on the market) using Jacques Torres’ hot chocolate.

Ari was in charge of the preparation….

He did a pretty good job.

The chocolate was very thick and filling, almost like a pudding.  I topped mine with marshmallows and cinnamon.

It knocked me right out, and I fell asleep almost immediately.   Although I’ve been getting less rest than usual this past week, I bounded out of bed as soon as my alarm went off.  Must be the pre-work jitters!

I made another rich breakfast, hoping it would hold me well into the morning: 5 grain cereal with ground flax, cinnamon, 1 small banana, warmed frozen berries, almond butter and agave.

I got to the office right on time, ready to start Day 2 of training.  Did I mention I have my own office? 😀   Around 11:30 my stomach was growling pretty loudly, so I dug around in my purse for a snack.  Unfortunately I was a little distracted last night and didn’t have time to pack a lunch or snacks, but luckily I found a Date Heart Thrive hidden away!

We broke for lunch around 1:30 and I dashed out to grab a salad.  Hopefully I’ll be able to plan better in the future… I can’t spend $11 every day for a mediocre meal!  I had a mixed green salad with marinated mushrooms, tofu, avocado, asparagus, and chili lime vinaigrette.  It was pretty blah.

I needed a little pick-me-up, so I visited the fancy coffee machine in the communal pantry.

We’re running low, but there are so many flavors to choose from! Each cup is brewed “to order”, with the push of a button.  Pretty cool, hmm?

I spent the rest of the day trying to learn as much as possible from my trainer… I’m on my own starting Monday!

After work, I met my Little Redheaded Friend for dinner.  We went to Friend House 2 (I was very sad to discover that the original Friendhouse, one block over, had closed within the last month 😦 ) for Japanese.

We started with miso soup:

For my entrée, I strayed from my usual order (sashimi) and ordered a roll combination instead.  I must have been craving carbs!  By the time I finished my Sweet Potato, California, and Spicy Tuna rolls, I was thoroughly stuffed.

Kalle and I sat and chatted for a little while and let our tums settle before making our way to Whole Foods for dessert.  We’d originally wanted to go to a proper coffee or dessert shop, but it was so cold and windy out that we just decided to take refuge in the supermarket.  I got a “Caramelita bar”, which tastes like a cross between a Hello Dolly/Magic/7 Layer bar and Pecan Pie.

This was as big as it looks, and then some.  I’d broken it in half and had fully planned on saving the rest for later, but we were in the store for almost an hour and I ended up nibbling the whole thing. It was a little too rich for me, but it was still very tasty.

Well, I made it through the post without falling asleep!  I’m watching A Christmas Tale while I wait for Ari to get home, but it’s a pretty long movie my chances of finishing it are slim.  What are your favorite holiday movies?

Have a great weekend!

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Wacky Wavy Crazy Day

Evening! How are you doing on this fine Thursday? Today has been a strange day and I’ve felt a little out of sorts for most of it! Not in a bad way, just… different.

This morning I woke up bright and early, eyes-a-burnin’, ready to work.  I made a pot of coffee (and drank it black, which is unusual for home-brew… I usually only drink it straight when I’m out) and got breakfast ready.  It was nutty,fruity, and choco-coconutty.

In the bowl:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • frozen berries
  • leftover un-balled chocolate snowball dust
  • flaxy PB

I worked all morning, got ‘er done, and before I knew it, it was almost time to go to physical therapy.  But what about lunch?! I made a very quick salad, and ate it even faster.

In the mix:

  • baby spinach
  • escarole
  • grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 Gala apple
  • celery
  • Morningstar Farms Pizza Lovers Burger
  • sesame vinaigrette

When I left the house it had started raining, and kept on for the rest of the day.  I got to the subway and they were doing track work on my line again, so I had to call my PT and push the appointment back. Again.  They must hate me! But I was able to get an appointment at 3:30 instead of 2, even though I probably would have made it on time.  I was scheduled to run five miles today; it would have been too dark by the time my appointment was over and I got back home, but I didn’t have enough time to go to the gym first.  Quite a conundrum! So I decided to push the run back until tomorrow, but it’s supposed to rain again so I might just have to tough it out and get wet.  I’m going to have to figure this out soon, though, because it’s getting darker earlier and earlier now (4:30) and I don’t think it’s a good idea to run in the park at night by myself.

While I was weighing each option, I took shelter from the rain in the subway and snacked on a cup of Strawberry Oikos.

My appointment went well; I did a lot of leg work on the pilates machine which I have a feeling I’ll feel tomorrow!  Even though I had recently eaten, my stomach was grumbling the whole time and as soon as I walked out of the office I dug into my purse and found an Apple Pie Larabar.  Never underestimate the importance of the “emergency snack.”

The bar held me over for a while, but when I got home at 5:30, I was already thinking about dinner again.  I think it must be the darkness outside that’s throwing off my internal clock.  I looked in the pantry, the fridge, and the hanging produce basket to see what I could see.

Brandi‘s pasta-stuffed squash inspired me, so I decided to combine two of my favorites: roasted veggies and loaded macaroni and cheese.  I cut an acorn squash in half and rubbed each with olive oil, salt, pepper and cayenne; then I roasted them at 450˚ for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, I sipped on a glass of Rosemount Sauvignon Blanc.  Sauvignon Blanc is one of my favorite white wines, and from my experience, unless the wine is really cheap (and you remember buying it at the liquor store near your college’s campus), it’s a pretty safe bet.

Rosemount is an Australian-based vineyard. In traditional French Sauvignon Blanc,  Sauvignon Blanc and Sémillon grapes are often blended together; Sémillon come from Bordeaux and Southwest France, whereas Sauvignon Blanc can come from Bordeaux, the Loire Valley, southwestern France and Languedoc.(FWFD 19).  “Sauvignon Blanc is the dominant grape variety (60 to 100 percent) in most of Bordeaux’s dry white wines, whereas Sémillon dominates the sweeter white wines…. The Sauvignon Blanc part of the wine offers immediate charm; it’s crisp, lively, herbaceous, light0bodied, and develops early” (FWFD 70). Rosemount’s version is also a Sémillon blend.

When the squash was just about done, I made a bowl of macaroni and cheese mixed with tuna, nutritional yeast and chili flakes.

I packed the mixture into the squash halves and baked them for 2 minutes longer.

These were so good! I loved the sweetness of the squash, the saltiness of the tuna and the cheesiness of the pasta noodles.  I know I’ve been getting a little crazy with my mac ‘n cheese lately, but it’s so much better that way 🙂

I was craving ice cream for dessert, so I started with a Pure Dark Chipotle/ semi-sweet/bittersweet chocolate sauce.  A few drops of water, 30 seconds in the microwave, and a quick stir gives you melty freshness that’s far better than Hershey’s.

I added a little Brown Sugar ice cream, and had a nice lil sundae for myself.

I needed to take the night off from thinking about (un)employment, so I climbed in bed with my dessert and popped Wristcutters: A Love Story into the DVD player.  It was pretty cute, in a twisted sort of way.  I’m going to try to get a quick yoga sesh in and hit the sack.  Bed before 10? You betcha!

Early to bed, early to rise…

Is it wrong that it’s only 9:15 and I’m considering going to sleep as soon as I Love You, Beth Cooper (one of the silliest movies I’ve seen) is over?  When sleep calls, I’m not one to ignore it!

Yesterday I got up early, packed up, had a quick breakfast and headed out.  I toasted an Ezekiel English muffin and topped one half with a light Babybell cheese and egg whites and the other with peanut butter and raspberry jam. Fun fact: I lost my first tooth in a Babybel cheese!

Breakfast Sandwiches

I met my mom at our voting station to do my duty, then took care of some paperwork so my visa will be in order for Russia.  I still can’t believe I’ll be there in less than a month! I also can’t believe the high will be 9˚ Fahrenheit.  Brr!

Mama brought me a Jonagold to help me sign and date papers for the embassy.  It was hard work!

Apple

When that was all taken care of, we set off in search of a great coat for an even better price.  We found a good one at The North Face, but are going to keep checking around some more.  Who makes your warmest coat?

We broke for lunch at Le Pain Quotidien.  Because it’s a chain restaurant, they’re required to post the calories in all of their dishes.  Their meals are really healthy, but it’s nice to be reminded of what’s inside your food!

Le Pain Quotidien

My mom and I split the seasonal appetizer special: red quinoa with roasted beets and butternut squash.

Red Quinoa with Roasted Beets & Butternut Squash

I only had a couple bites because my entrée was huge!  I ordered the shrimp salad with avocado, mango, and salsa.   It was mighty fine… I ate every scrap.

Shrimp Salad

We were full, but not too full for dessert 😀  We set off in search of frozen yogurt, and bumped into Ada on the way! To celebrate her 19th birthday, she’d just gone on a 13 mile run!
Ada had also just come from The Lite Choice, and told us the flavors were worth the trip.   I got a small cup with Oreos ‘N Cream and Espresso Truffle.

TLC

After our treat, I left my mom and went across town for physical therapy.  I have another appointment tomorrow to see how my therapist thinks I’m doing after my fifteen minutes on the treadmill… I’m very optimistic! In the past month, I have been to four different branches of my gym.  The one I went to yesterday was by far the biggest, but it was also the most confusing! I literally got lost in the locker room. Twice.  What do you like most about your gym?

When I got home Ari had some errands to run so I tagged along.  I brought an apple with cinnamon for the ride, and for the second time in a row, Ari ate half of it! I think I’m rubbing off on him 😀

Cinnamon Apple

Since The Upwelling is going to be on the road for the next month, Ari and I decided to go out to dinner to spend a little time together to get away the craziness of packing.  He had a few things to do before we could go, and my stomach couldn’t wait.  I ripped into Josh’s bag of barbecue-flavored pretzel thins… I’m not a huge fan of bbq-flavored chips, but I could have eaten the whole bag.  I don’t know what it is about flat pretzels, but they really get me going!

BBQ Wing Pretzel Crisps

Ari was craving chicken parm so we went to the diner for dinner.   Now, while I love going there for eggs, something feels a little off about eating there for a meal other than breakfast.  It turns into a more upscale restaurant, but I’m just not a fan of their post-brunch fare.  We still had a very nice time.

All dinner entrées come with soup or salad, and I went with salad.  Hello, onions! (Sorry, boyfriend.)

Side Salad

Nibble at the dinner roll… starting to feel those pretzels!

Dinner Roll

For my main, I ordered the pecan-crusted ahi tuna in a balsamic-fig reduction with Mediterranean orzo and cherry tomatoes.   It was good, but very filling.  Orzo is such a confusing (but delicious!) grain… it looks just like rice but I always forget it’s actually pasta! I also forget how much I like it.  I’m going to see if I can find a whole wheat variety at the grocery store.

I ate about 2/3 of this and boxed the rest up.

Seared Tuna w/ Orzo

For dessert I had a bowl of Ben & Jerry’s Everything But The… ice cream with a warmed up Edgie brownie.  No one will ever accuse me of not knowing how to indulge!

Brownies & Ice Cream

Now that Ari’s gone for a little while, I’m going to be cooking a lot more and eating out a lot less.  We like to eat home-cooked meals when he’s home, too, but we’re on such different schedules that it’s often hard to coordinate dinner.  It’s a goal of mine to cook more frequently when we’re both around… I’m pretty sure that any dish with mushrooms in it is a safe bet 😉

Hope you had a fabulous day. Bonne nuit 🙂

This Sedentary Life

Hey there, chickadees.  It’s 2:40 on a Wednesday, so for all you working lads and lasses, your week is more than halfway done! I hope it’s been a good one.   As for myself, I’ve spent the past few days with my fingers fused to the keyboard, searching for any and every job post.  My boss forwarded me this article yesterday… talk about depressing!  I’m still optimistic, and feel like there is always something somewhere, even if it’s not exactly what I’m looking for.  There is hope!

Yesterday I got up on the very early side to finish some reading and writing for my internship.  I caffeinated myself and prepared this lovely (if not very random) breakfast.

Yogurt Muffin Mess

In the mix:

  • Stonyfield Farms organic fat free plain yogurt
  • Trader Joe’s Mangolicious mango/berry blend, warmed
  • 1 kiwi
  • 1/2 Silver Moon pumpkin muffin, smeared with peanut butter

On Tuesdays when I intern at the office, there’s usually only an hour or two of work for me to do.  When there, I file, run errands, and read manuscripts; when I’m at home, I read and write in the comfort of my bed.  Yesterday there were a few outdoor things to do; I always enjoy a trip outside to stretch my legs and a chance to re-start my energy with a snack.  On one such occasion, I snacked on a Great Date w/ Chocolate YouBar.

Great Dates w/ Chocolate YouBar

I really liked this bar! I will write up a full product review once I have tried all of the samples I was given, but should you decide to make a purchase at YouBar in the meantime, enter the code “Lilveggiepatch” at checkout for a 5% discount.

At noon, right as I was leaving the office, I got a call from an orthopedist’s office letting me know I had gotten a last-minute appointment with the doctor to figure out just what’s going on with my knee.  I had just enough time to pick up a salad at Ready To Eat, an upscale takeaway deli near work.  I picked up a curried shrimp salad, which came with mixed greens, avocado, orange, tomato, and lemon. It was on the pricey side ($9.95) considering I hadn’t planned on buying a meal (had to cancel a lunch date with my mom for the appointment), but the salad was really big and very filling.

Ready To Eat Shrimp Curry Salad

In what’s becoming true LVP-style, I inhaled my lunch on a bench in the subway in less than ten minutes.  Sadly, in my frenzy to eat and make my appointment on time, my poor tomato flipped out of the container and onto the ground. The 5-second rule does not apply in NYC public transit, sorry.  It was a good thing I took the time to sit and eat, however, because I bumped into a good friend I hadn’t seen in an embarrassingly long time, and who now lives in California!  It was a very nice surprise, but we were both in a hurry and had to rush off.

I got to the hospital an hour before my appointment to take X-Rays.

Hospital for Special Surgery

The X-Ray technician was great. Each time she moved me or took a photo, she explained exactly what she was doing and why.  Here is the X-Ray of my right knee:

Knee X-Ray

Unfortunately, the appointment with the doctor himself left me frustrated, confused, and really irritated.  He did not go over the X-Rays at all, explain what he was doing as he manipulated my leg, and only gave me information when I asked him directly.  Do I have a sprained mensicus? No. I was told that I did… is it possible that it healed itself already? No.  My knee-cap clicked a bit just now… is that normal? You have a little arthritis.   He did say that it was caused my overdoing it, and that low calcium + vitamin D is probably part of the culprit.  I should take Citrical supplements, and get a bone density scan. (I used to take a massive quantity of vitamins every morning, but didn’t want to spend the money re-stocking when I ran out.)

He left the room about two minutes later, and still didn’t know what I could and could not do.  When can I run? Can I strength train? What, if anything, should I do at the gym? Arthritis?! I got dressed and found him outside in the hallway, and, desperate for one more minute of his time, asked if I had arthritis.  He then examined me in the middle of the hallway, lifting the back of my shirt up all the way and having me bend completely over, as he stood very close to me and ran his fingers along my spine. I don’t think I need to elaborate on what that looked like from the side.  I’m sure the doctor wasn’t trying to do anything inappropriate and didn’t think that I might be a little uncomfortable in front of other patients with my shirt up, but I was really uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable, and angry that the doctor hadn’t made sure that I understood what was wrong with me, and how I could fix it without hurting myself again.  Not knowing how to improve is so frustrating.  I think I’m overly sensitive about it because running was a reliable way for me to structure my day now that I don’t have a job, and now I just feel like I’m floating in limbo.

On the way out of the office, I scheduled a bone density test for Thursday at 8:30 AM.  I also received a prescription for physical therapy, although the prescription is for work on my left knee, and not my right. (Mistakes can happen, and luckily this isn’t a serious one… I have a friend who had the wrong side of his body operated on a few years ago.) I talked to my dad, near tears, right after I left the doctor’s office.  He said this is usually how “network doctors” (doctors who are covered by insurance) work, because they have so many patients to see each day.  I understand that, but I also wanted some answers.  He called the office and asked them to call me back… the doctor’s assistant actually just called (a day later) as I was typing this post.  She didn’t know much else, except that I have a “knee sprain.”  I asked about the arthritis, and she said that, from the X-Ray, I don’t have it. I should only use the recumbent bike at the gym, and no strength training.   So now, I really don’t know what to think.  The doctor basically told me the exact opposite things that the physical therapist did last week.  I need to start seeing the physical therapist so I can gradually start running again, but I haven’t been able to get their office on the phone.

It isn’t news that doctors are overstretched and, unless they’re privately hired, don’t have time to work closely with patients.  I’m lucky to not have really needed hospital or serious doctor care until recently, and I need to learn to be patient with “the system.”  That patience needs to be transferred to my job search as well…. Om.

When I got home from the hospital yesterday, I was pretty hungry and made a yogurt bowl with a microwaved apple, cinnamon and granola.

Yogurt Bowl

After spending a couple hours decompressing, I set to work on a new baking project.  Since high school, cooking and baking has always been a way for me to relax and take a break from more stressful things like school work and job searching.  Even though the finished product might not be “perfect”, it’s finished, and I can feel good about that.  So, without further ado, I give you…

The Virtually Fat-Free* & Vegan Banana-Pumpkin-Date Tea Loaf! (And don’t let the name scare you off… it tastes pretty darn good.)

*Bananas have a very small amount of fat.

Adapted from Veganomicon‘s Lower-Fat Banana Bread.

Fat Free Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf

Ingredients:

  • 3 small ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin pie mix
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 crushed cloves, or 1/8 teaspoon ground
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup chopped dates (about 7 medjools)

Preheat the oven to 350˚ and lightly grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, mash the bananas with a fork until no large chunks remain.  Add molasses, applesauce, and pumpkin pie mix and stir.  Mix in half of the flour, spices, and salt. Stir in the remaining flour until no clumps remain.  Fold in chopped dates.

Pour batter into pan.

Fat Free Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf 1

It will be very thick.

Fat Free Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf 2

Bake on middle rack for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted through the center comes out clean.  Cool. It will be dense, but adorable.

Fat Free Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf 3

While the bread cooled, I made a quick and easy dinner that was a tribute to my college days of yore.

College Mac & Cheese

I mixed a cooked sweet potato and a can of tuna into a packet of Annie’s Mac & Cheese. I always enjoy Annie’s with a little more cheeze than the packet comes with, so I added a scoop of nooch as well.  A sprinkle of chili flakes made it the perfect meal, taking me right back to long days procrastinating writing papers.

Mac & Cheese w/ tuna, sweet potato & nutritional yeast

For dessert, I had two small slices of fresh low fat vegan banana-pumpkin-date tea cake, one plain and one with almond butter and raspberry jam.  It’s moist, soft, and perfectly sweet.  Possibly not the best idea to bake a whole loaf of bread when most of your roommates are on vacation, but…

Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf

I tried to hold out for as long as possible, but eventually went back for another plain slice.  What can I say? Blame Lexi Gray.

Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf 1 Pumpkin/Banana/ Date Tea Loaf 2

Alright, time to get a-movin’.  If the recumbent bike is all I can use, I’m off to bike-a-way.

A Chocolove Letter

In my rush to get home and relieve Charley’s straining bladder last night, I left my camera in Brooklyn at my little red-headed friend’s apartment! Horrible, I know.  It will be returned tomorrow, so to mix things up a little bit I’ll be posting about today instead of yesterday.  We don’t have to live in the past tonight! Crazy.

The alarm went off at the usual time this morning.  I’d smartly left my alarm clock (i.e. cell phone) across the room so I’d have to get up and turn it off.  Genius, no?  Not if it means I’m just going to get back into bed again.  Two hours later I woke up, completely disoriented, and with only forty minutes until a coffee date.  Oops.  Luckily, my date was understanding and we pushed the time back a bit, but I hate rearranging plans at the last minute! It’s my own fault.  I’ll just have to find a better system for waking up… or go to bed before 2 AM.

Breakfast was quick and easy: whole wheat toast with peanut butter, honey, cinnamon and 1/2 banana and a strawberry Chobani (eaten using the “plunge” method) with the rest of the banana.   I used my laptop to take the next few photos… the quality is pretty good for what it is, I think, with the exception of the mirror effect.

Breakfast

Took the pooch out for a quick (yet efficient) romp, then headed out to coffee and got my standard skim au lait with a shot of espresso.  Boy, did I need that!  My parents are running very low on coffee, and the problem needs to be remedied as soon as possible.  When I got home, I made a huge salad and thought about how much I need to trim my bangs.

Lunch

This was another salad winner.  I think I burned out on the beet/sprouts/hummus mixture (never thought that would happen!) and this was a welcome change.  I tossed in:

  • spinach
  • red chard
  • 6 oz (dolphin safe) canned tuna in water
  • 1 heirloom tomato (last one 😦 )
  • pomegranate seeds
  • baby carrots
  • 1 kiwi
  • dressing: olive oil, vinegar, Emeril’s Kicked-Up Horseradish mustard

The rest of the afternoon was spent scouring job boards and sending out cover letters and resumés.  It’s exhausting, let me tell you!  I broke for my second Chobani of the day… the pineapple is definitely my favorite, although after learning the right way to eat the fruit-flavored ones (from the bottom, up) I really love them all.  Too bad this was my last one 😦   See that little wrinkle under my left eye? It keeps getting bigger and bigger! I don’t really care that much, but if anyone has a tip to slow it on down, I’d appreciate it!

Snack

My parents got home from the airport (they’ve been in France since Tuesday) around 6 and were starving for dinner.  We went to our regular Japanese spot.  The place was packed and they were understaffed, so the meal was a little slow coming out.  I couldn’t decide whether I wanted sashimi or a bento box, and ended up going with the bento.  It came with green salad, mixed tempura (I peeled off a lot of the batter), salmon teriyaki, one California roll, and rice.  They forgot our miso soups, so we got them to go instead.  I didn’t eat any of the rice, so I packed that up too.  (My mom has the same camera, so I borrowed hers for the evening.)

Salmon Teriyaki Bento Box

When we got home from the restaurant, we had a chocolate tasting.

Chocolate Tasting

Chocolove– one of my favorite chocolate companies- was kind enough to send two bars of chocolate to review for the blog.   I’d tried their 77%, 70%, and 55% dark chocolate varieties before, and their Crystallized Ginger in 65% dark chocolate is one of my favorite chocolate bars ever. (Really. Try it.)  I first stumbled upon Chocolove at Whole Foods when I was in college; I’m a sucker for packaging and loved their wrappers.  They make really interesting flavors such as Chilies & Cherries, Cherries & Almonds, etc., that come in dark varieties.  I love flavored chocolates, but I’m not a huge fan of milk chocolate and that’s often the only option for exotic flavors. And best of all? Each bar comes complete with a love poem! It’s the perfect special date/baby-I-done-you-wrong/you’re-my-best-friend chocolate.

Here’s a little page the Chocolove story from their website:

Timothy Moley is the founder, owner and chocolatier at Chocolove. A tall and slightly eccentric man, he reminds you a little of Willy Wonka. His laid-back attitude, wry grin, and lanky physique would never lead you to believe he is a man who lives and breathes chocolate, and has been consuming two chocolate bars, every day, for the past ten years. Seriously.

It all began in a cocoa field in Indonesia… Timothy was chewing on some cocoa beans doing volunteer work for USAID, a government program that promotes agricultural and technical education in developing countries. He had been living abroad on and off for two years, visiting over 28 countries, developing his palate with spices, teas and wines. And, like most of us, he had always dreamed of being his own boss, dedicated to something he loved. The idea of a career in chocolate inspired him and an idea began to form –  to create a premium chocolate bar, paired with the romance of love.

When he returned to the States, he began his chocolate education and quickly discovered a few key facts about the U.S. chocolate market: the average consumer could tell the difference between cheap chocolate and premium chocolate and they preferred premium chocolate; the available premium chocolate bar choices were limited, expensive and intimidating; no U.S. company was indicating the cocoa content on their wrappers; and flavors were boring.

I was excited to try two new flavors: Peppermint in 55% Dark Chocolate and  Coffee Crunch in 55% Dark Chocolate.

Peppermint:

Chocolove Peppermint

Peppermint Chocolove Ingredients

Peppermint Chocolove 2

This bar came with a poem by Robert Browning called “Meeting At Night.”

Peppermint Chocolove Poem

The Panel

Mama LVP: There’s something odd about the mint flavor. The chocolate has a good texture, but I would like it more without the mint.  I don’t like the aftertaste.

Papa LVP: I don’t think the mint is odd! Just “minty.”  It’s refreshing, even though I don’t normally eat peppermint-flavored things.

LVP: Tastes like a Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookie! I love Thin Mints. The mint flavor is pretty strong, but it’s blended nicely and, as Papa LVP noted, very refreshing.

Bottom line: Would I buy this? If the mood for mint struck me, most definitely.  I don’t often find myself hankering for mint, but the next time it happens, this is my fix!

Coffee Crunch in 55% Dark Chocolate

Coffee Crunch Chocolove

Coffee Crunch Chocolove Ingredients

Coffee Crunch Chocolove 2

This bar came with an excerpt from “The Dream” by Theodore Roethke.

Coffee Crunch Chocolove Poem

The Panel

Mama LVP: I like the texture. It has a nice crunch to it.

Papa LVP: The chocolate has a smooth, deep, and dark flavor. I like the crunchiness of the grains.  I’m not normally a fan of filled chocolates, but I like this.

LVP: It tastes the way a good coffee shop smells: a rich aroma you can get lost in.  It’s crunchy, but the coffee grounds don’t distract from the good quality of the chocolate itself.

Bottom line: Would I buy this? Yes!  This is like a better version of a chocolate-covered espresso bean: it satisfies both my desire for chocolate and my need for coffee.  What’s better than a treat with a buzz?

Thanks again, Chocolove! And don’t forget to check out that Crystallized Ginger in 65% Dark Chocolate Bar.  If I had any money to bet, I’d reimburse each person who claims dissatisfaction with that flavor.  It’s that good.

Our tasting also included Côte d’Or with dark chocolate and hazelnuts that my parents brought back from France (and apparently can be bought at Dean & Deluca!) and dark chocolate “twigs” infused with orange.  So pretty! Wouldn’t it be fun to make a chocolate forest out of these?

dark chocolate twigs

I’m in a bit of a chocolate coma, so I’m going straight to bed.  I need to get up early (for real, this time!)  and do some work for my internship.  How was your weekend? What was the best part?

Bonne nuit 🙂

NaCl + YOU: Salt & the Athlete’s Body

Over the past few weeks, I have been craving salt.   I’m careful about the amount of sodium I take in from packaged foods, but I’ve never been too concerned with table salt, one way or the other.  (In fact, only 10% of sodium found in packaged food occurs naturally; it’s okay to use real salt!)  Recently, however, it’s been going on everything from my salad bar meals at Whole Foods to a scoop of peanut butter on my oatmeal.  Sunday night, I caught myself doing the unthinkable:  salting the butter on my bread! My dad and I have poked endless fun at my mother for requesting salt for her butter when we are out to eat.  Well, looks like they’ll have to bring some for me, too.   I brought this up to my dad, who immediately thought it was because I’ve been running almost every day, and for longer distances that I’ve been used to in the past.

I’ve been investigating salt intake and the athlete’s body, and found a very helpful response to a runner’s concern about sodium on the Runner’s World website.

The National Academy of Sciences, the government organization responsible for setting nutrient-intake guidelines, recently lowered the daily recommended intake of sodium from 2,400 milligrams (mg) to 1,500 mg-or about 2/3 of a teaspoon of salt per day. The reason: Diets high in sodium have been linked to high blood pressure.

But the Academy’s new recommendation was designed with sedentary folks in mind and may not be sufficient to replace the sodium losses of many runners. During an hour of running, most of us lose about 1,200 mg of sodium. Combine this with the rest of your daily sodium losses (through sweat and urine) and the new recommendation could fall short. Low sodium levels can cause dizziness, low blood pressure, and an abnormal heartbeat.

How much salt is safe for runners? Up to 3,000 mg of sodium per day should adequately replace the sodium lost through an active lifestyle. Keep in mind that most of us easily take in this amount simply by eating processed foods (salt is almost always added during processing), drinking sports drinks, and salting foods while cooking. So there’s no need to go out of your way to add salt to your diet. And if you have high blood pressure or other health concerns, your doctor may still advise you to limit your salt intake even if you are a runner.

I’ve often found myself feeling faint after long runs, even after I’ve more than adequately re-hydrated with water.  Could a little salt be the solution? In their July 2009 issue, Runner’s World has a list of various pre- and post-run beverage options.  They list vegetable juice as an option for runners who crave salt after runs… remember when I was on my carrot juice kick and deemed it my recovery drink of choice?  I guess my body enjoyed its benefits as much as my taste buds!

I did not have a hydration or sodium problem yesterday, as I was more or less sedentary for the entire day.  At 10 in the morning, I walked to the mailbox, and at 10 at night, I took out the trash and went across the street to the diner.  With half a heart, I did 8-minute abs, but even my tummy seemed a little zoznked.  Oh, to be unemployed!

When I woke up, I quickly came to the sad realization that all of my homemade almond milk had gone bad.  I’m out of almonds at the moment, so it’ll be a while before I make a fresh batch.  I rooted around my stash(es) of goodies. (Yes, I admit it: I hoard food in the closet.  I’ve already taken over more than an entire shelf in the pantry and the refrigerator is filled with my things, so rather than be that obnoxious roommate, the closet it is!)  Out came a sample of Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal, which I’ve had back there for several months.

Kashi Honey Sunshine

I ended up pulling together a pretty random breakfast… Greek yogurt, (salted) peanut butter, Honey Sunshine, a peach, and cinnamon.

Yogurt Cereal Fruit mess

I wasn’t a huge fan of this cereal. It was very sweet, and reminded me a lot of Cap’n Crunch.  Not that there’s anything wrong with sugary cereal, but I prefer to eat those as snacks or dessert and enjoy something a little heartier in the morning.

In between housework, chores, and applying for jobs, I grabbed some chunks of energy to keep me awake.

Chunks of Energy

Lunch was an “everything but the kitchen sink” type of salad so I could use up some ingredients that are on the cusp of going bad.

Kitchen Sink Salad #1

I topped the last of the sprout salad with an egg over medium (microwaved for 30 seconds), corn, edamame, feta, hummus, and beets.

Kitchen Sink Salad #2

I think I must have overdone it on beets; I’ve eaten them so often since summer started that the last few times I’ve had them they’ve made me gag.  Mr. Beet, we need to spend some time apart.  It’s you.

My Edible Arrangement provided a festive lunch dessert; we’ve eaten everything except some chocolate-covered strawberries, which will probably make an appearance at breakfast soon.

Edible Arrangements

I spent the rest of the afternoon trying to stay awake finishing my book, during which I snacked on an apple with cinnamon.

Apple w/ Cinnamon

I got dinner almost entirely ready, but at the last minute Josh and I decided to go to the diner.  I knew Tuesday was going to be a late-ish night, so at least dinner would be all prepped and I’d be able to eat as soon as I got home.  Josh and I both ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna Wrap w/ Whole Wheat Chips, wasabi aioli on the side. The chips were deep-fried and a little greasy, so I only ate a couple.

Ahi Tuna Wrap

The sandwich came with a mixed-green salad, which I enjoyed…  I haven’t been very good about eating dark green veggies lately.

Side Salad

When we got home, I tore into the last cupcake.

Billy's Bakery Pumpkin Cupcake #1

Do you even have to guess the flavor? My oh my, do I love pumpkin.

Billy's Bakery Pumpkin Cupcake #2

Well kiddos, Ari is almost home and I have to get Green Lantern all queued up for his arrival.  Yep, we’re big dorks 🙂  Before I say goodnight, I have an important question for you: what do you think about the F.T.C.’s ruling that blog writers must disclose their connection with companies whose products they review? I’m still mulling that one over, but it was a hot topic in the office at my internship today.

Bonne nuit!

The Big 6

I’ve always thought that the day I ran 6 miles would be the day I finally became a “real” runner.

When my alarm went off at 8, my mind was filled with that excited dread that often comes with the first day of school and first dates.  Since my day is already jam-packed today, I’d written out a list of everything I would do, from waking up to going to work, with corresponding times.  This type of thing doesn’t usually work for me, but I really wasn’t even able to include a margin of error.

Still, I puttered around, wasting time… I checked on the laundry (three times), I did the dishes, I checked the weather (chance of rain)… I was nervous, and I wanted to prolong the run for as long as possible.  But, I was also excited, and had a good feeling.  I knew I could do it!

I quickly put together a no-fail playlist.  These are all songs I’ve run to over and over again, and I know they keep my legs running.

6 Mile Playlist

Before I left, I had half a cup of coffee, half a Luna Bar, and a lot of water.

Pre-run fuel

I debated whether or not to run with a water bottle, but I didn’t want the extra awkward weight to sabotage my run. Instead I kept running back to the kitchen for more water, just to be safe.  I should probably invest in a CamelBak sometime soon…

This was my first time running with snacks.I stuffed my baggie of gummies (who needs Shot Bloks?) into the waistband of my running pants.  I’m sure there was a better option… I tried to put it in the side of my sports bra, as I’ve heard other runners do, but it was really uncomfortable.    Where do you stash your mid-exercise snacks?

Mid-run snack baggie

Finally I set off, with a not-so-brave face.

Not so brave face

I’d promised myself I was going to run at a slow, easy pace… it was more important for me to log miles than go for speed. I’m not racing against anyone! To achieve the 6 mile run, I’d planned on fusing together my go to 4.5 mile and 2.0 mile runs.  It started to rain as I passed the 2-mile point, but I powered through it.  At almost the same time as the first raindrop hit my face, I got a stitch in my right side… the same spot I’ve been getting them for the past week or so. I tried some breathing techniques, but mostly just told myself to ignore it… and it worked!

After I finished my 4.5 mile loop, I stopped and ate half of my gummies.  Then I picked the pace right back up again.  I felt as though my legs were carrying me through, and the only thing I had to do was stay awake for it.  I expected to be sore, but I didn’t think that I’d be so mentally tired! But I powered on.  I stopped and ate the last of the gummies during the final mile.

I got home, stretched and calculated my total distance: 6.4 miles!!!

6.4 miles of victory!

Total distance: 6.4 miles

Total time: 1:10:27

Maximum heart rate: 177 (89%)

Average heart rate: 166 (83%)

Calories burned: 739

For a few minutes, I felt a little nauseous and not very hungry.  I couldn’t decide what I wanted for breakfast, and puttered around for a little.  Then all of a sudden… WHAMO! I made the quickest bowl of oatmeal you’ve ever seen, just so I wouldn’t eat my own arm.

Post-Run Oatmeal

This was made with:

  • 1/2 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • splash of skim milk
  • cinnamon
  • 1 banana
  • brown sugar
  • scoop of peanut butter

After showering, I slathered on a generous helping of Bengay and promptly burned the bejeezus out of my glutes.  I also got so cold that I had to pile on Ari’s sweats (shh!) and climb under the covers.  I guess “everything in moderation” doesn’t only apply to food…

I took a bottle of POMx Pomegrante Wildberry Light White Tea to keep me hydrated on my subway ride across the boroughs.

POMx Wildberry Iced Tea

FYI: I will be posting a POMx review once I’ve tasted all of the flavors.

POMx Wildberry Nutrition

I needed to pick some things up chez maman et papa, so I stopped at Whole Foods to pick up lunch to eat at home.  It was, sadly, my quickest in-and-out trip to the store.

When I got home, there were two exciting packages waiting for me! First… my RoadID came! I wish I could show it to you, but my Photoshop program isn’t working and I can’t edit out my personal information.  It’s very cool, though!

I also received the Kay’s Naturals package I won from Jenny‘s giveaway.

Kay's Naturals

With lunch, I snacked on some Crispy Parmesan Protein Chips.

Kay's Naturals Parmesan Protein Chips

They look like baby Sun Chips!

Kay's Natural Parmesan #2

And, unlike other brands, this one was filled with chips! Don’t you hate when you buy something and realize you’ve paid for mostly air? They were pretty good… they had the consistency of Soy Crisps.

Kay's Natural Parmesan #3

My Whole Foods lunch was filled with greens, Israeli salad, grape leaves, vegan chicken salad (LOVE THIS), lemon tempeh, glazed tofu, crunch sprout salad, and a farro/wheatberry pilaf.

Whole Foods Salad Bar

While I was home, Charley and I played dress-up…

Charley's tongue

He’s joined the ranks and is now an Upwelling Dog.

Upwelling Dog

I was still snacky, so I ate a raisin walnut roll on the subway on the way to work.

Raisin Pecan Roll

Business at the restaurant was non-existent, so I went home at 7. Wahoo!  I took a salad to go, but decided to save that for lunch the next day and stopped instead at the Japanese mart on my walk to the subway.  I’ve always been curious about these seasoned “wildweeds”:

Hmm..

Unfortunately, I really didn’t care for them at all.  Something about the taste, and the brown weeds (which reminded me of Distric 9… sorry for that gross tidbit!) really turned my stomach and I only ate half.  This looks deceptively small… but as the above photo shows, it weighed 18 ounces!

Japanese vegetable sampler

The brown rice tuna and avocado sushi, however, was just right.  I should have just gotten more sushi!

Tuna avocado roll

The weeds left a taste in my mouth that wouldn’t go away, so I had a glass of Pinot Grigio to usher it out.

Pinot Grigio

I hadn’t had a dessert plate in a while, so I helped myself to dried fruit, Israeli pop-rocks chocolate, and almond butter.  MMM!

Dessert plate