Tag Archives: restaurant

Recipe for a perfect Thursday

12 Aug

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1. Drive a few hours (TOTALLY worth the trip) to meet these two lovely ladies who you haven’t seen in WAY too long.

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2. Eat lunch at a cute little place in Port Elgin that your friend recommended – tomato and bocconcini salad and a Hello Dolly bar, enjoyed on a lovely outdoor patio. IMG_2540

3. Go for a walk on the Port Elgin beach on a beautiful, if a little windy, day. IMG_2543

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Be genuinely touched and surprised at the thoughtful early birthday gift (totally milking the extended birthday this year and LOVING it)from the girls – food magazines and CHOCOLATE (thanks so much ladies)! *FYI, they both loved the house-warming/engagement gifts of wine and s’mores truffles. And, best thing EVER – I walked in and gave them to my friend and she was like: “I just saw these come up on your blog!” – LOVE IT!

5. Drive home, enjoying the beautiful weather and countryside, and stopping at numerous little country markets/farmstands, eating some of the birthday chocolate (hey, put me in a card over the dinner hour with 3 chocolate bars – what do you think is going to happen?!?!), 2 peaches and a mini muffin that your friend packed you as “emergency snacks,” and then stop at Starbucks for a frappucino and a Sobey’s visit to re-stock on tofu shirataki noodles.

6. IMG_2542Arrive home, satisfy your craving for nachos for a late dinner after all your treats and snacking – made with Guiltless Gourmet chips, light shredded cheese, green onion, tomato and a mini pepper from your garden Smile, hot peppers, fat-free sour cream, refried beans and delicious homemade corn salsa that you bought at the cutest little Mennonite farm market. Eat the one s’mores truffle you saved for yourself (‘cause any more would be trouble), plus a few more snacks for dessert.

Insert contented sigh here….perfect day.

Now, because I don’t want to leave you without a recipe/food inspiration going into the weekend, I will share with you a delicious Hungry Girl recipe for PB cookies I made on Wednesday with another lovely lady I know. Try these! They are so easy and so so so good. It’s kinda a good thing that they make such a small batch, if you know what I mean (FYI, recipe says it makes 6, but those are 6 HUGE cookies…if you want ‘em a bit smaller, you can get about 8 reasonably-sized ones).

Hungry Girl’s Peanut Butter Oatmeal Softies

  • 3/4 cup regular oats (not instant)IMG_2530
    1/3 cup whole-wheat flour
    1/4 cup brown sugar (not packed)
    1/4 cup light peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. Splenda No Calorie Sweetener (granulated)
    2 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread, room temperature
    2 tbsp. no-sugar-added applesauce
    2 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute
    1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
    Dash salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar, peanut butter, Splenda, butter, applesauce, egg substitute, and vanilla extract, and mix thoroughly with a wire whisk or fork.

Add flour, baking powder, and salt, and stir until completely mixed and smooth.

Add oats and mix until they are thoroughly coated with the batter.

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Spoon batter onto the sheet in 6 evenly spaced mounds. Using the back of a spoon, spread and flatten batter into circles about 3 1/2 inches wide.

Bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cookie comes out clean.

Remove baking sheet from the oven, and allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the sheet. Then slide parchment paper onto a cool surface, and let cool COMPLETELY. (Really, they taste best once they’ve totally cooled.) Enjoy!

MAKES 6 SERVINGSIMG_2531

Serving Size: 1 large cookie
Calories: 170
Fat: 6.25
Sodium: 160mg
Carbs: 23g
Fiber: 2g
Sugars: 7g
Protein: 4g

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Make these! You know you want one (unless you’re allergic to PB, then maybe not so much…anaphylaxis is not where it’s at)! It’s supposed to be a rainy weekend, so what’s better for a rainy day than baking delicious cookies!

 

 

Happy weekend my friends! There are, dare I say it, not that many summer weekends left – so enjoy it!

If I was a normal person…

11 Aug

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…who had spontaneously decided on a Tuesday night to go see Captain America (loved it, by the way) and then after the movie, go to one of my favourite local restaurant’s weekly Tapas nights (and so not be eating until well after 9 o’clock), and wanted a snack to tide me over, I would probably have just grabbed a granola bar, or some fruit and a cheese string or something.

But, as we all know by now (or if not, I sure have been doing one heck of a job pretending), I am not normal. So, for a “light snack” before the movie, I made a salad with loads of fresh corn (I had been planning on eating corn on the cob for supper,  and so was really craving it), veggies and herbs; ham slices wrapped around some of my homemade dills (I made even MORE…we have a HUGE jar now) and a peach. Not your average “snack,” I know, but it was full of fibre and some protein, so it tided me over so well that, come 9 o’clock, I wasn’t even that hungry.

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And the tapas? Also quite delicious. The Belworth House, a local gem of a restaurant, has started offering tapas on Tuesday nights. Now they’re not tapas in the sense that they’re Spanish, more in the sense of small plates for sharing. You get a menu, and highlight the selections that you want, and they’re brought out for you one at a time. You can get 4 for $25 or 6 for $35. My mom and I each got 4, and shared (except for the seafood ones she got, which I do not care for). It’s a fun night out, and I didn’t leave feeling stuffed at all.

Here are my tapas:

August 10 2011

(sorry for the bad photos…low lighting). Clockwise from top left: potato bites with goat cheese and bacon, cowboy steak and corn on the cob, sesame chicken with bell peppers and crispy wontons, beets with haloumi cheese. All were REALLY good! The beets/haloumi were quite unique – haloumi is a cheese that you can grill without it melting all over the place, so it had a nice smoky flavour. The cowboy steak was really good too, it had a sweet sauce on it, which I liked.

My mom’s tapas:

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hummus with olives, caprese salad with olive vinaigrette, perch frites, scallops. I had some hummus (no olives), Caprese, no perch and a tiny bite of scallops. All around, it was a delicious, fun evening out, and a nice spontaneous Tuesday!

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Another case of “if I was a normal person.” If I was a normal person, and going to visit two good friends from university who I hadn’t seen in a while, as I am today, and one of them had recently gotten engaged, and the other bought a house, and I wanted to bring something, a normal person would just grab a bottle of wine for each of them, right? Not this insane-live-in-the-kitchen kinda gal, nope. I bought them each a bottle of wine AND made them homemade s’mores truffles (yesterday was national s’more day, I’d love to say that’s why I made these, but I’d be lying. I really made them because I wanted to bring a chocolate creation, and I wanted a way to use up some hot chocolate mix in my cupboard). These are an original creation, and as they have not yet been eaten, I cannot give you a review…but the bits and bites I *didn’t* eat (wink wink) while I was making them sure tasted good! Winking smile

S’mores TrufflesIMG_2504 – makes about 25, depending on size you choose

  • 1 heaping cup hot chocolate mix (this measurement is not exact because I used up what was in the container, but that’s what it came to)
  • 1/3 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup icing sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not in the original ingredients shot because I added it later IMG_2505on to thicken up the mixture without getting it too sweet)
  • mini marshmallows, as desired (depending on how marshmallowy you want the truffles to be – I used about 1 to 1 1/2 cups, I’d say)
  • chocolate to coat (melting wafers are best, if you can’t find them, use what you’ve got)
  • vegetable shortening, if necessary, to thin the chocolate
  • graham crackers, crushed, for sprinkling (I opted to crush whole graham crackers rather than use crumbs, ‘cause I wanted a chunkier, more homemade look/texture)

In a small to medium bowl, combine icing sugar, cocoa, hot chocolate mix, butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer until combined. If the mixture seems a little sticky to you, add more cocoa/icing sugar as needed.

Use a spatula to gently fold in the marshmallows.

Line a cookie sheet with waxed paper. Use a cookie scoop and/or your hands to roll the mixture into balls. I left mine imperfect – it was easier with the lumps or marshmallows and, again, I was going for a homier look. Chill in the freezer for at least 30 minutes or up to several hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Melt the chocolate in a small bowl in the microwave. Use a spoon to dip the balls into the chocolate, one at a time. Tap off any excess chocolate, return balls to waxed paper-lined sheet and immediately sprinkle with crumbled graham crackers. Chill until set, and store in the refrigerator.

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We’re all mixed up, how about some marshmallows?

 

 

 

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In you go! (if you’re like me, and don’t use marshmallows all that often, chances are they’ve been sitting in your cupboard for longer than you’d care to admit and they might be slightly stuck together. That’s ok, you just need to use your fingers to separate them and help things along a little bit)

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The marshmallows you see in the above photo weren’t enough….I added more! But now these guys are ready to play ball, or balls, that is. *Note: your truffle mixture will be quite thick and a little hard to stir, but that’s how it should beIMG_2508.

 

 

I love cookie scoops, they make my life so much easier. You really should get one if you don’t own one yet.IMG_2509

 

 

 

The truffles are rolled and ready to go into the fridge. And remember, don’t let that stuff in the bowl go to waste! Smile

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The “outside” ingredients. If you find whatever chocolate you’re using is a little too thick to coat easily, just add a tiny bit of shortening to thin it out – works like a charm (thanks Bakerella)!IMG_2511

 

 

Just wanted to show you guys a close-up of my crushed graham crackers and the coarse texture I was going for.

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Let’s take a dip, shall we?

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Graham crackers top it all off, and we’re done! Just a quick trip in the fridge and you’re ready for truffle perfection.

Try these! They’re a perfect summer gift for anyone, or great for a party! And since there are fire bans due to the dry summer, this may be the only s’more chance you get (unless you try Tina or Donna’s s’mores on a stick) – so go for it, I say!

*Just to clarify, since tone doesn’t always come through in blog posts, I am not telling you about about all my crazy culinary exploits to brag or say “look how great I am,” I’m just poking fun at myself and my desire to do all this stuff in the kitchen where normal people would go with something simpler – okay?

Where are you not normal/go a little crazy or over the top sometimes?

Life is funny…

5 Aug

If you’re like me before I started my own blog, you read other people’s blogs, and hear them talk about how much blogging has changed your life, and think things like “oh sure,” “that’s nice,” “sounds good.” But when you start your own blog, you get it.HLS badge

Take for example, my upcoming trip to the Healthy Living Summit (which I am SO excited about by the way…in 2 weeks I will be there)! I went out on a limb, asked 2 bloggers I didn’t know to go with me, and was all set to go with Donna. I met up with her in person a couple times, and now have a blog buddy who lives just over a half hour away…sweet!

But….long story short, passport issues forced Donna to cancel her trip! Sad smile While this was (and is) a MAJOR bummer, I have found someone else to make the trip with me. It’s crazy how this blog has put me in touch with people from my past. All my posts publicize on facebook, so I never know who reads. Well, Katie, my best friend from childhood/early high school, who I have been mostly out of touch with for several years and is now a dietician, has become quite  the avid reader. She had left comments on the blog a couple of times, so I contacted her to see if she wanted to catch up and go out for dinner – right around the same time the Donna drama was going down (Donna, love ya girl and DO NOT in any way think you’re a drama queen…it just sounds fun to say).

I went out on a limb AGAIN and asked my friend Katie to go with me, and after consideration, she said yes! So I have a HLS partner in crime once again! And she even liked my new idea to stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania on the way back (yes, I know it’s sort of ironic to stop in Chocolatetown USA on the way back from the Healthy Living Summit).

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Katie and I still got together for dinner this week. We went to one of my FAVOURITE local restaurants (okay, we don’t have all that many to choose from), The Blue Elephant. It is a restaurant the specializes in Thai food and pub fare. Another thing I LOVE about the Blue Elephant is they really make an effort to feature local produce, and have a different featured local menu each month.

Now, you wouldn’t expect a restaurant specializing in pub fare and Thai food to have a lot of healthy choices, would you? But surprisingly, the Blue Elephant does. I went with my standard – lunch in a bowl (even though it was supper. For lunch I get the half order ‘cause it’s HUGE). For lunch in a bowl, you choose your meat – chicken or pork. You choose your starch – noodles or rice. And you choose your level of spiciness. I went with what I almost do – chicken, noodles, medium. It’s just a BIG bowl of soup, seasoned with Thai spices, the meat and starch and LOADS of veggies. A total healthy eating SCORE for restaurant fare, if you ask me. It was delicious as usual.

Speaking of Donna, everyone’s favourite Happy Blonde, she nominated me for the blogger fun that is “7 links” earlier this week. If you, like me, don’t know what that is, here are the goal and the rules:

The Goal:

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavour to share lessons learned and create a bank of old, but not forgotten, blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

The Rules:

1. Blogger is nominated to participate.
2. Blogger publishes his/her 7 links–1 link for each category.
3. Blogger nominates 5 more bloggers to participate.

So, here goes!

Most Beautiful

Oh Happy Day! Ok, so compared to a lot of the tear-jerking, emotional posts out there, this might not be at the top. But it does tell the story of why I ran a marathon, and shares the joy of new growth in the garden, so those things are beautiful to me.

Most Popular

Q and As for Summer This was the day my stats went through the roof. While I’d like to say it was all because of me, a very large part of it was that this was the day I was featured in my local paper…yeah, that might have been why. Still a good post though!

Most Controversial

I don’t consider myself highly controversial, but I would say my recent post In a Funk generated a lot of buzz (thank you once again to all of you who commented/facebooked or emailed positive feedback, it meant a lot). It was controversial to me, because I wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to get that real or raw about issues I was facing, but I decided it was worth it in my efforts to “keep it real” (hopefully it was).

Most Helpful

My Favourite Things: Winter Fruits and Veggies Edition. Sorry, I know it’s not in season right now (but don’t forget this one come December!). But this is where I first told you all about my love for kale chips (and several of you have since told me you’ve tried them). I also shared a lot of my favourite ways to use ingredients I love but that might not be so familiar to you all. I love doing these favourite things posts (I should get on that soon!).

Post who’s success surprised you

I fit a whole state in the oven, the post where I showed you step-by-step when I made baked Alaska. I was just surprised at how many hits it got, especially since it isn’t really a “typical” healthy food (although you can make it with low fat cake and frozen yogurt and it’s not too bad). I guess you all just enjoyed looking and the process and results?!

Post that did not get the attention it deserved

I echo Donna’s sentiments on this one – I’m happy with any attention I get and truly enjoy writing all my posts, despite the numbers. However, I posted this one on Favourite Things: Healthy but not-so-whole foods on Canada Day (and if you were out celebrating our great nation, I bear no grudge that you weren’t inside reading my blog), so it didn’t get as many views, and I feel like it’s a really interesting topic that I would love to hear more feedback on.

Post you are most proud of

The Wynn Workout This is when I was on vacation and made the best of a bad situation and created my own KILLER workout consisting of running hotel stairs, body weight resistance exercises and swimming. I felt pretty hard core, and was proud of myself for McGuiver-ing up a workout. I am also proud of this post, because it showed me working up a sweat AND indulging in a major way on vacation – pretty much my constant battle (minus the vacation part).

Now for the nominations (drumroll, please!):

Errign’s Adventures

Read Eat Sweat

The Sometimes Healthy Living Blog

I’m not quite following the rules because a) I’m a rebel (but you already knew that), b)it’s quite late as I type this and c) several of my favourite blog buddies have already been nominated.

It took a bit of effort to dig those up, but it was fun – hope you enjoy reading them! Happy Friday friends!

Question: If you are a blogger, what crazy connection has blogging made in your life? If not, how have you re-connected with someone from your past in an unexpected way?

I did something stupid

29 Jul

…I’m not sure what. But somehow, I had a post almost completed, meant to press “ctrl B” to make something bold, evidently pressed something else, and DELETED AN ALMOST COMPLETED POST!!!!!!! Crying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying faceCrying face Lame!

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But I am not going to cry about it (except through my crying face emoticons above), I am just going to move on, re-type everything (while obsessively hitting save) but probably do so in a less wordy fashion, to save precious time.

First up: shoe review. Yesterday was my first run in my new Asics. I completed a wet 13 km (last week, extreme heat, yesterday, rain) in these guys. I actually don’t mind running in rain, as long as it’s not a torrential downpour (although I’ve done that too). I’m happy to report no soreness today, and no blisters from “breaking them in” (I’ve done that before – not pretty). I can tell these guys are way more supportive than any shoe I’ve had before. So far, so good!

It’s been one of those weeks where I feel like I’ve barely been home or eaten in my own kitchen. Observe: Monday: cater pool party for Aunt. Tuesday: Lunch with Lynne the Landlady in London (like the alliteration there?). Wednesday: Help with funeral food at church, lunch with sister, quick gym workout, then get-together for dinner with family friends. Thursday: market, lunch/pool party with friends, then Bible study. So that means Friday morning is being spent at home in pyjamas, putting off my workout until lunch. Smile

IMG_2318So, my Wednesday lunch was with my sister at Boo’s Bistro, one of her and my brother’-in-law’s favourite restaurants. I had a Wagjag coupon for $50 worth of food for $25, so it was a no-brainer! Since I’m trying to save on words this time around, I’m just going to give a brief description and let the food speak for itself. But let me say this – while a heavy meal and 80/20 splurge, I can summarize the meal in one word: YUM!

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Appetizers: mango salad (mostly me) and crabcakes (sister. I had one bite – not bad for crab).

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Main course: burger (both) with apple, gouda, bacon, caramelized onion marmalade. Mixed greens (me), frites (sister, but also me a bit because she shared).

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Dessert: chocolate pot de creme over top of a sweet cherry compote (shared). Delicious and adorable.

 

 

 

 

 

Thankfully, before the next food fest, I made a visit to The Athletic Club to go to UFC class, as it was the last day of my $19 one month membership. UFC is basically a high-intensity circuit class of weights and cardio. Example: burpees with a medicine ball: epic. I felt the burger at times (I am NOT used to eating such a big meal at lunch), but was glad I did the class afterward – I felt great!

No pictures of dinner – but it was a typical summer meal – beef on a bun, salads, corn on the cob, veggies and dip, cake, cake pops, fruit and ice cream. The amount I ate actually wasn’t a lot, and would have been fine if I hadn’t had such a huge lunch. I couldn’t resist a cake pop, ice cream and fruit for dessert. Needless to say, I was full when we left. Thank goodness for yesterday’s long run!

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My girlfriends and I potlucked for lunch yesterday. Nicky made tasty wraps with lettuce, tomatoes, corn and cheese in a dressing that was half Ranch and half salsa – yummy! Heather made a deliciously summer-y salad of cucumbers, peas, and onions in creamy cucumber dressing (which I haven’t had in forever and forgot how much I loved).

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I did dessert (naturally) and brought fresh cherries from the market and a quickie mini chocolate raspberry trifle I made (perfect size for a small group). Although trifle is usually a feed-a-crowd kinda dessert, you can easily make a smaller one if you have a small bowl (or do in wine glasses for individual servings and a cute presentation). And, as you know I was short on time this week, you can whip something like this up in 15 minutes if you’ve got the right stuff on hand (that’s all it took me). Here’s what I did:IMG_2314

Quick Chocolate Raspberry Trifle

Grab a bag of 5 chocolate zucchini muffins from your freezer (they may or may not have been there since last summer, but if you can’t use slightly freezer-burned muffins in a trifle for your girlfriends, where can you use them?).

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Thaw muffins in the microwave. Remove papers and crumble them (and please, eat any crumbs left on the paper liners like I did). Set aside.

 

 

IMG_2316Make a package of Jell-o fat-free chocolate instant pudding mix with just over 1 cup of skim milk. Gently whisk in about one cup of fat-free Cool Whip. Optional: add a couple teaspoons of unsweetened cocoa powder. I just like the added depth of chocolate flavour.

In a small glass bowl, layer half the crumbled muffins, fresh raspberries from your garden (ok fine, a store if you have to) and half the pudding. Repeat the layers, top with more Cool Whip, garnish with strawberries. Put in the fridge – you’re done!

This can easily be made with any combo of pudding/cake (or muffins)/fruit. And trifle (especially when it contains chocolate) is always a crowd pleaser!

The weekend is full of a LOT more food and fun – but thankfully, it’s all home-based, so I don’t have to go anywhere. We’ve got company coming tonight, and then we’re having a HUGE BBQ party Sunday.

Canadian friends – what are your plans for the long weekend? Whatever they are, enjoy. Hopefully, if you’re lucky (like me) you will be surrounded by good food, family and friends!

Tea for Two

28 Jul

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I had an awesome landlady for the 3 years I lived off-campus during university. As in, free parking in the driveway, drive you to the hospital and wait with you for 5 hours and pay the parking ticket when you needed stitches kind of awesome. So when I bought a groupon to Dishington’s, a tea room just outside of London, I called her and asked her if she wanted to get together for lunch to catch up (she’s an avid HHH reader…Hi Lynne!). Thankfully, she accepted, and Tuesday we had lunch.

When I thought tea room, I was thinking creamy salads, sandwiches and baked goods, but thankfully, I managed to find some healthier options (since this week/weekend are PACKED with food-focused occasions, I didn’t want to start 80/20 –ing too early Winking smile). I ordered the “soup, salad and biscuits” with a garden salad. The soup of the day was tomato vegetable, so pretty healthy. I didn’t snap a picture of the biscuits, but I only ate one (no butter). I LOVE biscuits, but rarely eat them, so it was a nice treat. The salad was your average salad, and the soup was good.IMG_2306

Lynne and I decided to share a dessert. Given my love for peanut butter and chocolate, when we heard that peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake was the feature, that was our choice – YUM! It was pretty much just as delicious as it looked and sounded. The tea was good, but I was a little disappointed that at a fancy tea room, it was just Lipton! I was hoping for something a little more special.

All-in-all, it was a great lunch though. So nice to catch up with Lynne, who is no longer my landlady, but a dear friend. And I treated myself without going too overboard.IMG_2313

After saying good bye to Lynne, I headed downtown to The Running Room to get new runners. My current pair have been through a marathon and a half marathon with me, so they were well past their prime. After consulting with the helpful staff, I came away with the most expensive running shoes I’ve ever owned – these Asics. The guy told me that the shoes I have now weren’t supportive enough for my arches (I expected as much. I have flat feet and was in MAJOR pain when I crossed the finish line last fall at my marathon). I’m planning my “maiden run” in them today, so I’ll keep you posted!

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I was really hungry by the time I got back home (around 6). Although my lunch included some yummy treats, what it didn’t include was very much protein. I wanted something that would be satisfying and filling, but still pretty light. Enter: zucchini “pasta” with meat sauce.

Not only does zucchini “pasta” IMG_2309have way less carbs and calories than the usual stuff, it also cooks up WAY quicker ( a great benefit when your stomach’s eating itself). All you do is use a vegetable peeler to make thing strands from the zucchini. As long as it’s not too big and seedy, you can use the whole thing (one medium zucchini makes one serving).

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I cooked my “noodles” in salted water in my microwave cooker for 4 minutes, drained, seasoned with salt and pepper and that’s it!

 

 

 

 

For my quick meat sauce, I sauteed ground turkey, onion, garlic, mushrooms, IMG_2308red pepper and yellow pepper (from my garden!) in a teaspoon of olive oil until browned. Then, I added part of a can of San Marzano tomatoes, a splash of red wine (because it was sitting there, I was feeling rebellious, and I like the taste of wine in sauces, just not to drink)and salt and pepper; brought to a boil, then reduced the heat and simmered for a few minutes.

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Right at the end, I stirred in a generous handful of chopped fresh basil and oregano, simmered for a few more minutes, and we were good to go. I poured the sauce over my “pasta,” added some Parmesan, garnished with more fresh basil, and dinner was served!

 

Thank you to those of you who submitted questions to me earlier in the week. I plan to answer them in a post to come – it’s just been a bit crazy this week. Stay tuned for the rest of my eating adventures (and a shoe summary).

If you are a runner (or any other type of exerciser for that matter) have you shelled out the big bucks for shoes, and was it worth it?

Road Trip!

21 Jul

I am blessed to live where I do. grapes of wrathNot only do I live within driving distance of most of my extended family, I also live within driving distance of many fun places to visit, such as Stratford Ontario, home of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. So when my Aunt asked if I wanted to go with her and my cousins to see a play in Stratford and go out for dinner (and generously offered to buy my ticket…thanks Auntie Rue!), how could I refuse?

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Since the play was at 2, we planned to leave around noon, which meant I’d be eating on the road. By now, you know me better than to think that equals McDonald’s (at least I certainly hope you do). I packed a nice little car-friendly meal: PC blue menu Tzatziki and veggies (including peeled pickling cucumbers…oh how I LOVE them….so crunchy…seriously one of the best parts of summer), ham slices with lemon dill mustard wrapped around arugula, 2 Source: Dessert Selection yogurts and fresh cherries. Since I was eating cherries and wearing a white skirt, I packed a paper towel, just to be on the safe side (thankfully there were no fruit/fashion mishaps). This lunch was perfectly portable, and perfectly delicious.

The play we saw was The Grapes of Wrath. Let me warn you, if you are feeling a little sad, or down-in-the-dumps, I wouldn’t recommend this one. It takes place in the depression, and it was, well, depressing. Don’t get me wrong, it was a really good play – very well done, superbly acted and great music, but not exactly a feel-good play, and you don’t come away feeling all warm and fuzzy. Thankfully, my Aunt and Cousins and I all have a pretty good sense of humour, so we were able to get our spirits up over dinner afterward.

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Speaking of dinner, we ate at Pazzo, which has a fancier trattoria upstairs and a more casual pizzeria downstairs. I ate a couple bites of a piece of bread and to start, my Aunt and I both had the “soiled reputation greens, roasted chickpeas, monforte toscano, lemon and olive oil” salad. Delicious! Perfectly dressed (not over-dressed at all) and the chickpeas had a pleasant crunch to them that worked beautifully with the other tastes and textures in the salad.

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Since we were at a pizzeria, of course we had to go with pizza for our main course. You can choose your crust and toppings, so my aunt and I shared a whole wheat crust (nice and thin, incredibly crispy, and not oily in the least) with tomato sauce, mozzarella, goat cheese, roasted garlic, portabellas, roasted red pepper, fresh basil, sundried tomatoes and roasted red onions (I think that’s everything). You pay by the topping, so it wasn’t cheap, but it sure was tasty! I ate two (plus a little bit) slices and enjoyed every bite.

Me and my cousin Emily at Pazzo (think we look alike? You’re not the first.)

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All-in-all, a great day. Nice weather, good (albeit rather sad) play, great food, and even better company. Thanks again Auntie Rue!

 

What are your go-to road-trip meals and snacks?IMG_2235

P. S. See this guy? It’s a yellow cherry tomato. It came out of my garden on Tuesday. It’s a slow start, but, my friends, tomato season has begun…stay tuned!

Bites from Buffalo

4 Jul

Happy Monday! And if you’re American, Happy 4th of July! Hope you guys don’t mind that I took a little blog break yesterday. I was feelin’ the whole “lazy Sunday” thing, and figured, it being a long weekend and such glorious weather, IMG_1946you had better things to do than sit and read my blog.

But, I’m back and, as promised, I’ve got a full recap of all the delicious eats from my mini-vacation shopping trip in Buffalo last Thursday-Friday. 80/20 eats were had for sure, but I’d say overall, I made pretty good choices.

We arrived in Buffalo around dinnertime Thursday night, and opted for the IMG_1947Cheesecake Factory (can you tell I was in the mood to splurge Winking smile?). But it wasn’t all out over-the-top.  Since I knew we were going to have cheesecake (c’mon, how can you go to the Cheesecake Factory and NOT have cheesecake), I opted for the “Weight Management” (under 590 calories) spicy chicken salad, and, since the salad was so healthy, made a nice dent on the bread basket IMG_1948too. It wasn’t an over-the-top-amazing salad (I’m sure I could have recreated it at home if I wanted), but it was a good size, and full of lots of fresh flavours. It did the trick – after all, the main course was not the main event here. My mom also made me a small plate of her tomato/basil/chicken pasta, which was really tasty.

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Now, I gave you a preview of dessert on Saturday, but if you want to know exactly what we ordered, it was the “Reese’s Peanut Butter Chocolate Cake Cheesecake,” described on the menu as: “Chunks of Reese’s® Peanut Butter Cups in our Original Cheesecake with Layers of Delicious Fudge Cake and Caramel.”

Now, I have to note 2 things about our choice of cheesecake. 1. According to this article from SeriousEats, the flavour we chose is named as the most decadent. If you’re gonna get cheesecake, why not go for the top, right? 2. This cheesecake was being featured to help charity. The menu told us that: “25¢ from the sale of each slice will be donated to help feed hungry Americans in our communities.” I mean really, that’s the only reason we even got cheesecake, our strong philanthropic beliefs and desire to help those less fortunate than ourselves! (do you believe that? Yeah, me neither). Nevertheless, this stuff was A-MA-ZING. Seriously, totally worth it. I also had an (unpictured) frozen vanilla latte (skim milk and sugar-free) at Borders later on that night.

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We skipped the provided breakfast at our hotel the next day (memories of the greasiness on my March Buffalo visit) and headed to Starbucks, where I got the perfect oatmeal (actually my first time), enjoyed with added cinnamon, Splenda and the fried fruit topping, water, and a Grande nonfat iced coffee.

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After breakfast, I headed over to Target where I got all the great stuff you see in this photo, plus a couple of cute tops (including a silk one for less than $20…I can’t wait until Target opens in Canada Smile). I just HAD to get a cute summer bowl, since I have bowl envy after a certain fellow blogger (won’t mention any names *cough*Katie) has passed on her bowl addiction to me.July 2 2011

Before returning to the mall, we did the Olive Garden for lunch. This place is packed with bad choices, but also some good ones. We both went with the unlimited soup, salad and breadstick lunch (a steal at only $7.50). I skipped the breadsticks, had two bowls of soup (one minestrone, one pasta e fagioli, both delicious) and went mostly-dressing-less on my salad (I’ve heard the stats on this stuff, and they’re just scary). Since I was sort of on vacation, and made smarter entree choices, I treated myself to a “fancy” drink – berry agua fresca (sparkling water with berry puree). Sadly, it was a little too sweet for my tastes. I liked it, but didn’t finish it all.IMG_1955

We had planned our shopping tradition, afternoon coffee break with a little something from Godiva (ever since we were little, when shopping together, my mom would buy us one little thing from a chocolate store, usually Laura Secord back at home), but discovered that the Godiva at Walden Galleria had closed since our last visit (the horror!). Never fear, we decided to try a Starbucks petite sweet with our afternoon caffeine fix. Alongside my light caramel frappuccino, I had a salted caramel sweet square. Ohmigoodness – out of this world! Although it is petite, it is definitely a splurge and not something I’d enjoy on a typical Starbucks visit. If you’re a sweet and salty fan, are at Starbucks, and wanting to treat yourself for under 200 calories, then this little bite of bliss is a MUST!

After Starbucks, I headed to the grocery store for some fun food finds (expect to see more of them in the coming days). And before continuing with this post, I have to confess to all the “undocumented bites” of Buffalo. I had a few samples stuffed my face at the kitchen store Le Gourmet Chef, ate a mini, delicious soft-baked chocolate chip cookie that was offered to me along with a cute bottle of water as I browsed at Brighton Collectibles, ate a few tasty grocery store samples (hello buffalo chicken dip on fresh bread and birthday cake ice cream) and snacked on a few of my grocery store finds while waiting to cross the border. There, I feel better!

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Supper was Applebee’s where I resisted the call of all their mouthwateringly delicious sounding burgers and chose a steak from their “Under 550 calories menu” (Canadian restaurants take note: Why won’t you follow this trend?!? Healthy eaters like to have some choice when dining out. I mean, it’s not that hard to make healthy choices when dining out, but it would be nice to have some options!!!). Okay, I had a bit of my mom’s quesadilla burger. Now, this wasn’t the best steak I’ve had. But for the price tag (both calorie and money-wise…it was less than $12 I think), it was decent.IMG_1957

On the way home, we stopped to see my sister and brother-in-law, since we wanted to see them before my sister left for her 10 day vacation to a friend’s wedding. They were out for dinner with friends, but we got there just in time for dessert (perfect timing, eh?). I (along with 3 others at the table) opted for the deliciously tart strawberry rhubarb pie, served with ice cream. I hardly ever eat pie, so this was delicious.

After a brief visit to see their new IMG_1958shelves (and eat a caramel and chocolate from their candy jars Embarrassed smile), we headed home, where I unpacked and tried to find space for all my new grocery goodies (and may have nibbled as I did so), and then we sat on the couch and finished the day by watching the highlights of Will and Kate’s visit and trying some of my new Parmesan Tuscan Herb baked Lays (YUM!).

Overall, it was a great trip. Did I eat more than on a typical day? You bet. But, for the most part, I felt like I made wiser choices, and treated myself without going totally over the top. And, I did not once feel stuffed or disgusting. For a “vacation” day, this is an accomplishment for me. So far, the new food purchases I’ve tried have been delicious, can’t wait to try more (and share with you)!

How was your long weekend?

Recipe for a Super Saturday and a Delightful Dip

19 Jun

June 18 2011

Recipe for a Delightful Summer Saturday

1. Go to Military Tone that is (finally) not cancelled.

2. Get all prettied up and go on an hour and a half road trip to London, city that you loved and lived for five years. Eat carrots, cucumbers, fresh strawberries IMG_1827and a fibre one 100 calorie bar on the way there.

3. Go shopping and successfully use your first groupon at Old Navy, buy coconut sugar to use in recipes in your new Biggest Loser dessert cookbook and fancy sea salt at Winners, and a grad gift for your cousin and impulse-buy fancy mints at HomeSense.

4. Meet up with a university friend (and feel old for meeting up with a university friend) at Loblaws to follow the President’s Choice Summer Tour, be a little disappointed that Galen Weston wasn’t there, but enjoy your free (adorable) mini pink lemonade ice cream cone, sparkling cranberry pomegranate juice and mini sausage on a bun, and have an amazing time catching up.

5. Decide that it’s a hot day and that the mini cone just wasn’t enough and go for AMAZING tart frozen yogurt with loads of fruit, some cool passion fruit juice ball thingys, and just a few Reese’s Pieces, 1 piece of chocolate, and one slice of chocolate-covered banana.

6. Say good bye, drive home, and be hungry when you get there. Don’t know what to eat because you feel like you’ve sort of been eating all day, but yet haven’t really had a full meal. Decide on this:

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7. Even though you’ve had fro yo already, clearly, you still need dessert, so make a relatively healthy but refreshing banana chocolate smoothie (1/2 frozen chopped banana, ice, 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, cocoa powder and Splenda).

8. Sheepishly admit you got sunburned, berate yourself, and tell yourself to do better next time.

That was the Saturday recipe, now onto the dip. IMG_1829What I am about to share with you my friends, has to be pretty much my favourite dip of all time. It’s always a huge hit whenever I make it. It may take a little time (chopping the onions and then caramelizing them), but it is SO worth it! If you like the kind of dip you make with Lipton Onion Soup Mix and Sour Cream, you will LOVE this…it is 10 000 times better (that is a fact)! And waaaay better for you than Helluva Good French Onion Dip (although that stuff is pretty tasty).

Surprise, surprise, this is a Hungry Girl recipe….so you know it’s gotta be good! I made it last night for today’s family Fathers’ Day BBQ. I’m planning a mostly make-ahead menu since we’re going to a concert in the afternoon then coming back here for a BBQ. The only thing we’ll have to do is throw the meat on the grill. Like all dips, it’s better if you can make this one ahead to let flavours blend. It’s great with veggies, crackers, chips, or by the spoonful (I won’t tell)!

Hungry Girl’s Sweet Caramelized Onion Dip

2 large sweet onions, chopped
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. fat-free cream cheese, room temperature
1 tbsp. light whipped butter or light buttery spread (I used Becel light)

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

Heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat on the stove. Once butter has coated the bottom of the pan, add onions, salt, and cayenne pepper. Onions may be piled high in the pan, but they’ll cook down. Sauté for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for an additional 25 – 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned and caramelized.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine sour cream, mayo, and cream cheese. Whisk until smooth. Then refrigerate.

Once onions are caramelized, add mustard and vinegar to the pan. Continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
Once cool, add onions to the large bowl and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate overnight to allow flavors to combine.

Serve at room temperature with your favorite veggies, chips, and/or crackers for dipping.

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This is what the onions should look like when you add the balsamic and Dijon….and they smell AMAZING right now!

 

 

 

 

With summer BBQ season coming up, this is a great recipe to have in your roster. Make it….seriously! DO IT!

Happy Father’s Day to all the great Dads out there!

Meat-free, the way to be!

11 Jun

…don’t worry, I haven’t gone vegetarian. Smile I just ate vegetarian suppers two nights in a row, and I like post titles that rhyme! June 10 2011

Thursday night, after meeting up with Donna for a chat and to plan our August trip to the Healthy Living Summit together (we were both relieved that we got along so well…otherwise it would be a long 9 hours to Philly), I met up with my mom and sister for a lovely ladies’ night out. We met at Devlin’s, a lovely “country bistro” (that’s what the website says) for dinner and then my mom surprised us by treating my sister and I each to a pedicure after dinner for an end-of-the-year treat (we’re both teachers) – thanks mom!

Instead of bread waiting for us, there were chips and black bean and corn salsa on the table. I nibbled on a couple, but it wasn’t anything fantastic, so I saved myself for the main meal. My mom ordered a Caesar salad, and was kind of enough to share a little bit with my sister and I (okay, so if you count the bacon bits, it’s not technically a vegetarian meal Winking smile)…we all LOVE restaurant Caesar salad.

I was trying to go for the “healthier” option on the menu, so I ordered the vegetarian roasted tomato ragout with polenta for my entree. The polenta was nice and creamy, and I liked the flavour of the ragout, but it was REALLY oily (I tried to ignore this). It was pretty good, but I fell like I could have made an equally tasty and less oily version at home. Shoulda gone with what I craved and got something else – oh well, live and learn.

Dessert was 80/20 in a BIG way! Caramel peanut cheesecake anyone? And, except for the two bites my sister had, I ate that WHOLE thing! Embarrassed smile…and had a bite or two of my mom’s rhubarb crisp too. I definitely did not need that whole dessert, but since I didn’t order an appetizer or eat a huge entree, I didn’t feel TOO horrible. The problem was that I munched on a few things when I got home (that whole Thursday night mentality). It wasn’t absolutely horrible, but more than I needed. What can I say? I’m a work in progress!

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Last night’s vegetarian effort was homemade, and, not to brag, but at least for the entree part, I enjoyed it MORE than the restaurant ragout (I haven’t quite figured out how to make a healthy cheesecake that tastes that decadent…any suggestions? Winking smile).

Since it was Friday, that meant PIZZA! Specifically, a balsamic wild mushroom pizza with goat cheese. My sides were roasted asparagus (roast at 450 for 20 to 30 minutes with PAM, salt and pepper, add balsamic at the last minute) and a simply amazing tomato and roasted red pepper soup with fresh basil. Mmmmm….the perfect spring supper celebrating seasonal veggies and herbs. I made the pizza and soup recipes sort of “in tandem” (read on and you’ll see what I mean, so I’m going to write those recipes up simultaneously.

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If you’ve read HHH for any length of time, you can already guess what I did for my pizza crust. For the base of my pizza topping (and soup), I sautéed half of a sweet Vidalia onion in one teaspoon of olive oil on medium-high heat until it just started to brown, reduced heat and cooked a bit more, then I added two cloves of chopped garlic. After cooking for a few minutes, I removed half of the onions to use later for the soup. For the pizza, I added chopped creminis, shitakes and one half of a GIANT portabello mushroom (you could use any combo of mushrooms you have).IMG_1710 I turned the heat back up to medium-high, then cooked the mushrooms until starting to brown and they were nice and juicy, then added chopped fresh sage from my garden (fresh sage and mushrooms are simply DIVINE together…try it!) and splashed in some balsamic. I let it all cook together until the liquid evaporated, seasoning with salt and pepper.

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For the sauce, I used a new Costco find (I made a trip on Monday) that is sure to become a favourite ingredient: mashed San Marzano tomatoes. It’s just tomatoes and basil, but it’s all pureed, so it’s the ideal base for sauces and soups – you can just add your desired seasonings and meat/veggies. So flavourful, but healthier than pre-made sauces with lots of additives. My pizza sauce was creamy – I combined one wedge of Laughing Cow light with a bit of this stuff, a splash of balsamic vinegar, a touch of Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.

I spread the sauce over my crust, topped with the mushroom mixture, a few spinach leaves for added colour/nutrition, and crumbled goat cheese (just LOVE goat cheese and mushrooms…can’t get over it). I baked at 450 until the cheese had melted, only about 5 or 10 minutes.

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Meanwhile, my soup was going on. In a small saucepan, I combined the reserved onion/garlic mixture, about 3/4 cup of the tomato puree, a bit of water (tip: it was the bottom of the jar and I didn’t want any of the puree to go to waste, so I rinsed out the jar with water and poured straight into the pot to get all the goodness) and salt and pepper, I brought to a simmer over medium heat. I added one roasted red pepper, 2 wedges of Laughing Cow (can’t say enough how great this stuff is for creamy soups), and right at the end (remember, add late for maximum flavour), a handful of fresh basil. I pureed with my immersion blender (really, you NEED one) and topped it off with a bit more fresh basil.

After meals like this, I think it wouldn’t be heard to be vegetarian (but then I think about it and realize I’d never last). This meal was also perfect, as it was nice and light, which I needed after Thursday night’s splurge, and a few delicious samples I consumed while shopping at the market and grocery store yesterday afternoon. Embarrassed smile

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For dessert, I was excited to try some of the Chapman’s Yogurt Plus: Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble frozen yogurt I bought, topped with some of the new batch of stewed rhubarb I made and fresh strawberries. It was ok, but honestly, I wouldn’t have guessed there was rhubarb in there if I couldn’t taste it. It just tasted like ordinary strawberry fro yo to me (it was no soft serve sundae, that’s for sure). I do like Yogurt Plus though: it’s packed with fibre and probiotics, so can’t go wrong there, right?

Happy weekend! I’m hoping the weather forecast is wrong and we can enjoy some sunshine. Sun

Do you eat vegetarian very often, or are you a carnivore to the core? (I am on a rhyming role today Smile).

Grand Canyon: Chews and Views

24 May

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If you’re reading this, it means that it’s Tuesday, and the last day of my vacation….sigh. It’s been a great one – great food, great times, and at the grand canyon – great views! To mark the end of this great adventure, I thought I’d share some snapshots of the Grand Canyon portion of the trip.

We left Las Vegas on SatIMG_1396urday morning to drive to the Grand Canyon (about a 4 and 1/2 hour drive). On the way there, we stopped for lunch in the town of Williams, Arizona, at a restaurant called “Pancho McGillicudy’s” that appeared to be a cross between Mexican and an Irish pub. I’ll admit, my hopes were not high. But it was actually SO good (and way cheaper than our Vegas eats). Of course, Pancho started with chips and salsa. My mom and I each got the lunch special – that MASSIVE burrito for only about $8. The meat was grilled outdoors, right in front of us (I had chicken, she had beef), and it was filled with black beans, rice, cheese, avocado, sour cream, pico de gallo and more. It was really fresh-tasting, with lots of cilantro. Don’t worry, I didn’t eat all of that monster! Winking smile

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In between lunch and supper, we saw the views above (and more)! Gotta love the Grand Canyon – hard to take a bad photo.

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Supper was at the historic El Tovar hotel inside Grand Canyon National Park. I had some bread with the fancy monogrammed butter, part of my mom’s salad, and BUFFALO STRIP LOIN!

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It was good, nice and tender with a fig sauce. Really, it just tasted like a good steak. If I didn’t know any better, that’s what I’d think it was. Didn’t eat much of the mashed potatoes. If they’re just plain, mashed potatoes don’t really do it for me.

After supper, we saw this:

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Continental breakfast at our hotel was surprisingly awesome. I had all of the above (I never would have imagined such a great fruit selection at a continental breakfast). Made a nice mix of cereals – raisin bran, fruit loops and granola – 3 things I enjoy, but never have. There was also a ton of other hot stuff – boiled and scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, oatmeal, toast, pastries…it was great!

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….Grand Canyon hike.

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…up close and personal with a squirrel.

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Canyon hike snack break.

 

 

 

 

 

For a vacation lunch, how can you get better than an ice cream cone (butter finger and cookie dough…YUM!) and then a pretzel, enjoyed outside, in front of the grand canyon?!?!

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After lunch, how about a Grand Canyon Helicopter ride? Okay!

 

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Supper at the hotel restaurant was surprisingly good. I enjoyed some of the bread and started with soup (vegetable with meatballs). Soup was good, not anything too special, but tasty nonetheless. IMG_1483

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For my main course, I ordered something I enjoy but rarely get to eat – duck! I like duck ‘cause it’s all dark meat (best part of a bird). You just have to scrape off the thick skin/fat. It came with a IMG_1484delicious fruity sauce, a great selection of fresh, still crisp veggies, and mashed potatoes with smoked gouda and chiles – all delicious! I ate all the veggies, but left some of the potatoes and duck behind (it was hard though – they were tasty)!

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We shared a piece of chocolate/banana/Bailey’s cake for dessert. Wasn’t sure what to expect from it, but it was GOOD!

 

 

So, all in all, it’s been a great vacation, full of lots of food and fun. I’ve enjoyed all my splurging, and tried not to stress to much. I won’t lie though, I’m looking forward to getting back to my usual, healthy eating….my body has been craving fresh fruits and veggies in a serious way!

What do you do to get back on track after vacation?

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P.S. While I have been posting all during vacation, what you’ve seen on here is NOT all that I’ve eaten (although it would probably be better if it was). Depending on what’s going on this week, I may post more bits and bites from my photos…we’ll see how it goes!