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Fresh Start: Day 3 & 4

Before I get into what I have been munching on the last few days, I need to share something with you.

I know you are not going to believe me when I tell you this, but I lost my keys today.  No joke.  The universe is having a blast with me and the idea of locking me out of things.  Can someone please translate this for me?

So, as suggested by my husband, I stayed home most of the morning.  Harper and I lounged in our PJS, built igloos with her blocks and did some chores.  In the midst of doing laundry, I ran out of soap.  So I decided to run to the store to pick some up.  While I was out I figured I would take care of some other errands I needed to do.  Harper and I took a trip to Michaels to get some treat bags for her Valentine’s day party tomorrow.  As I approached the car I went to grab the keys from the shopping cart and they were gone.  I went back in the store and walked each aisle 3 or 4 times.  I kept asking the store clerks and the managers if anyone had turned them in but no such luck. I reluctantly called Freddie again and he said he would be to us as soon as he could.  In the meantime I went back out to the parking lot and scoped out the scene.  I decided to go into a few other stores to see if someone had turned them in there and sure enough I found them at RiteAid.  But after yesterdays debacle, I didn’t feel like laughing, I felt like crying.  Guess I need to start affixing my keys to my hip.  Lesson learned.  Again.

Luckily, I am loving this Fresh Start Challenge.  So lets focus on what’s right around here and take a look at the grub…

day 31.  First Thing: Amazing Grass’s Amazing Meal mixed with Coconut Water-  Still totally in love with this drink.  It’s sweet, it’s healthy, it’s delicious.  I will most definitely be continuing this routine once the challenge is completed.

2.  Breakfast: Spinach and Egg Scramble-  Talk about a party in the skillet.  Eggs, spinach, garlic, green onions, red bell pepper, goat cheese, tomatoes and avocado.  Yummy in my tummy.  This meal had me FULL!  So much delicious goodness I lasted until the late afternoon before I was ready for lunch.  Breakfast of champions for sure.

3.  Lunch:  Fresh Tuna Salad over Lettuce-  Finished off the last of the fresh tuna today.  Such a simple dish to make and yet so life changing.  Had I known it was this easy to make homemade tuna from fresh fish I would have been doing this ages ago.  My favorite recipe so far.

4.  Snack:  Amazing Grass Bar–  A chocolate bar that is healthy?  Look no further.  Amazing Grass has made all of my wildest dreams come true.  You need to eat one of these.  Stat.

5.  Dinner:  Tomato Basil Bisque with Quinoa and Goat Cheese-  This vegetarian soup knocked my socks off.  Love the addition of the quinoa and goat cheese which made it a bit more hearty.  It was the first time I ever cooked with coconut milk and I am officially hooked.  Can’t wait to share the recipe with you guys!

6.  Snack:  Nana’s Peanut Butter Cookie–  So, the meal plan suggested Nana’s Gluten Free Cookie Bars, but I was unable to find them.  Which means I indulged in a peanut butter cookie instead.  And it was oh so sinful (in a good way).  No refined sugar, no eggs and no dairy.  Looking forward to seeing what their other products taste like.

day 4

1.  First Thing: Amazing Grass’s Amazing Meal mixed with Coconut Water-  Not much more for me to say except for I am officially Amazing Grass’s number one fan.  As much as I love the Pomegranate and Mango flavor, I can’t wait to taste some of the other varieties they offer.

2.  Breakfast: Naturally Sweetened Goat Yogurt– After my Amazing Meal, I wasn’t really hungry for breakfast, so this yogurt was perfect.  I have a few other flavors in the fridge but went with my favorite Apricot Mango instead.  Next time, strawberry :)

3.  Lunch: Brown Rice Sushi-  When I read that I got to eat sushi today I started having daydreams of enjoying fresh sushi at my favorite japanese restaurant while sipping on a mug of green tea.  And then I remembered I had a toddler, and realized, it would probably be easier to pick up some sushi from Whole Foods (which happened to be where I was buying my laundry detergent anyways).  Their sushi is pretty good and very fresh and the whole experience of eating it in the comfort of my home while Harper scarfed down her mac and cheese was much more relaxing than eating at a restaurant.

4.  Snack:  Almonds and an Apple- Nothing fancy, just something simple.  But the perfect pairing, really.  Salty and sweet.  And easy to eat on the go.  I grabbed this snack before heading out to take Harper to swim class and it absolutely hit the spot.

5.  Dinner:  Smoked Salmon Rolls- Stuffed with goat cheese, avocado, arugula, Dijon mustard, Kalamata olives, green onions and a little bit of cilantro, these little gems are beyond decadent.  I can see serving these as an appetizer or thrown on top of a salad.  I am not the biggest fan of smoked salmon, but putting them under the broiler for 6-8 minutes almost made them taste like bacon.

6.  Snack:  Avo-Banana Pudding-  This was a true experiment for me.  I have never attempted using avocado in a sweet dish but the result was awesome!  Plus, I got to use fresh coconut for the first time which was rad.  The fresh strawberries really took this healthy dessert to the next level.

I am halfway through my first week and I am feeling great.  I am not only enjoying delicious foods but I am learning a ton at the same time.  In addition to the daily meal plans, the Fresh Start Challenge shares a video about how and why these life changes are important.  I am so grateful for all the knowledge that I am gaining on this journey.  My hope is that now that I know better, I will do better.

Wanna join me in turning over a new leaf?  Check out Amazing Grass’s Two Week Challenge and commit this new year to creating a new you :)

*Full Disclosure:  Amazing Grass provided me with one bottle of Amazing Meal free of charge.  I was not paid to write this post. With exception of some of the factual information given about the various products, all opinions regarding the products are my own and 100% honest.

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What I Ate Wednesday #14

This time last year, I had yet to indulge in a pumpkin treat.  Shameful, I know.  So this year, I made my best effort to stuff my face with all things pumpkin during the holiday season.  I don’t think a day has gone by that I haven’t started my day with Pumpkin Oatmeal, treated myself to a few Pumpkin Bars, or scarfed down a bowl of Turkey Pumpkin Chili.  And just when you thought I couldn’t possibly eat any more pumpkin, with only a week left until Thanksgiving, I decided to up the ante and incorporate it into my day as much as possible.  Because after next Thursday, it’s all about peppermint, gingerbread and egg nog :)

Breakfast:

Pumpkin Pancakes (recipe coming soon)

Side of Kielbasa

I have always taken pride in my homemade pancakes.  But these pumpkin pancakes kind of blow them out of the water.  I’m just saying…they are pretty darn scrumptious!  And nothing completes a pancake breakfast like a side of burnt-to-the-crisp kielbasa.  The blacker the better.  I like it scorched.  Can’t wait to share the recipe with you :) (the pumpkin pancake recipe that is…)

Snack #1:

Pineapple Chobani Yogurt topped with Fresh Raspberries

A handful of Roasted Coconut Chips

Believe it or not, I am still trying to work my way through my huge Chobani shipment.  So today I enjoyed my favorite combination of all…Pineapple Chobani Yogurt topped with fresh raspberries.  It’s so sweet and refreshing it kind of takes me away to a deserted island.  Magical.  And then I had to take it to the next level with a handful of my latest addiction: Trader Joe’s Roasted Coconut Chips.  Can’t go a day without them.  You MUST try them.

Lunch:

Chicken Cornbread Salad

After a fun and festive music class, Harper and I were ready for a healthy and hearty lunch.  This salad is one of our favorites.  With add ins such as grilled chicken, dried cranberries, walnut pieces and crumbled cornbread, it’s pretty much an autumn explosion on a bed of mixed greens.  If only my homemade salads where this fancy.

After Lunch Treat:

Slice of Pumpkin Spice Rice Krispie Treats

Ever since I received my Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows from my Foodie Pen Pal, I have been wanting to whip up a batch of Rice Krispies Treats.  Sadly, Halloween has come and gone and my poor Pumpkin Spice Marshmallows were still sitting on the counter.  Even though Thanksgiving is around the corner I couldn’t let me my fun idea for Jack-O-Lantern Krispies Treats go to waste.  Besides, now I have a killer idea mastered for next year’s festivities!

Snack #2:

Bolthouse Farms Mango Protein Smoothie

Since Harper has swim class on Tuesdays, dinner is always later than usual.  I was looking forward to a filling meal, but my tummy couldn’t wait.  Luckily, I found this sitting in the fridge and it was the perfect snack to take the edge off of my hunger until dinner was served.

Dinner:

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Pork Chops with Butternut Squash

Sautéed Swiss Chard

Comfort food has never tasted so good.  Butternut squash is one of my favorite autumn veggies and it pairs perfectly with pork.  I normally serve this meal with a side of broccoli but grabbed a bunch of chard from the crisper instead.  I love to sauté chard with some olive oil, onions and a few splashes of stock (chicken in this case).  It’s so quick and easy and the result is mouth-watering.

So just in case you were keeping count, I managed to squeeze pumpkin into 3 of my meals today.  Which in my opinion should win some sort of pumpkin rockstar award.  Granted it was more of a “pumpkin essence”, but the bottom line is, I am a pumpkin machine.  And tomorrow I am shooting for 4 pumpkin filled meals :)

Your turn:  What is your favorite way to incorporate pumpkin into your meals?  Any favorite pumpkin recipes you want to share?  Looking forward to reading your responses :)

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What I Ate Wednesday #10

No matter how old you are, it’s always nice to have your mom around.  To chat, to giggle with or to help with laundry (I can’t help it, my inner child emerges and I forget how to do all my chores!).  My mom came out last week to visit me for my 30th birthday (still working on the post) and has another few days to go before she heads back to Ireland.  It has been such a pleasure to have her at home.  She and Harper have been having a blast together.  They spend all day playing with toys, coloring, reading books and going for walks.  I think my mom wins hands down for being the best “Amma” in the whole entire universe.  I hate to see her head back over to the Emerald Isle, but am so grateful that she came out to visit for a while (ooh…I made up a rhyme!)

So what does all that have to do with food?  Well, let’s just start with the first meal of the day…

Breakfast:

Homemade Pumpkin Oatmeal

My mom makes the best oatmeal.  I can remember when I was growing up, she would always make a big batch and keep it in the fridge for an easy breakfast to grab before school.  This morning, I woke up to a fresh bowl of homemade pumpkin oatmeal.  Yep…mama’s in town and it’s beginning to feel a lot like fall :) ps: recipe coming soon…

Snack #1:

Apples and Cheese

There is something about the combination of apples and cheese that makes my tummy smile.  The sweetness of the apples paired with the saltiness of the cheese is a match made in heaven.  And this snack was even more special because the apple actually came from a friend’s family farm.  My mom brought it with her on her 36 hour journey (planes, trains and automobiles) and it is the best I have ever had.  Yum!

Lunch:

Homemade Turkey Ricotta Meatballs with Tri-Colored Quinoa

Last night I made another batch of my favorite meatballs (they also happen to be a great toddler meal).  The leftovers make for a great lunch (in fact, they might even taste better the second day).  I love how they are packed with fresh spinach and bathed in homemade tomato sauce.  Hits the spot every time :)

After Lunch Treat:

Little Duck Organics Strawberry Mango Tiny Fruits

Remember last week when I raved about these little guys?  Well, I am at it again.  Tooting their little horn (or is it quacking their duck?)  Anyways, Harper and I enjoyed a few handfuls after lunch to satisfy our sweet tooth.

Snack #2:

Low Fat Vanilla Yogurt with Almonds

It’s no secret, I LOVE all things Trader Joe’s.  And this week, I am hooked on their sidecar yogurt.  They offer 3 different flavors (including mango and pomegranate) but this vanilla with almonds is a winner.  I love the crunch that the almonds bring to the silky yogurt.  It was the perfect pick me up before music class.

Dinner:

Homemade Turkey Burgers with Carrots and Zucchini and Baked Zucchini Fries

Whenever I get the itch for a burger, I love to whip up a batch of these veggie packed patties.  I dress them with some avocado, white cheddar cheese and a tad bit of ketchup and suddenly In-n-Out’s got nothing on me.  The carrots and zucchini not only help to add moisture to the burgers but also help to sneak in a few servings of vegetables.

After Dinner Treat:

A few handfuls of Roasted Coconut Chips and a Coconut La Croix Sparkling Water

Believe me when I tell you I am not a coconut fan, but both of these products have me head over heels in love with coconut.  I recently picked up these coconut chips on one of my many Trader Joe’s shopping sprees and now I am hooked.  They are a great way to help take the edge off a sweets craving.

Your turn:  What are some of your favorite spooky snacks and healthy Halloween treats?  Looking forward to reading your responses :)

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Healthy Surprise

My addiction continues…I’m hooked on yet another subscription box.  But this box is different.  This box is filled with healthy, delicious snacks that are natural, vegan and gluten-free.  So you can enjoy yourself without feeling guilty.  And trust me…you will indulge!

Healthy Surprise is a service that delivers packages of delicious snacks directly to your door on a monthly basis.  All of the products are natural, vegan and gluten-free.  Similar to other subscription boxes I have tried in the past, each month’s box boasts a different assortment of sweet and savory snacks, allowing customers to be introduced to a variety of new products and brands.

The name for this company is perfect.  Not only do they encourage and support a healthy lifestyle, but truth be told, I was very surprised at how yummy everything was.  As someone with a serious sweet tooth, I had reservations about some of the cookies and bars.  Could something that was good for me actually satisfy my sugar habit (which, by the way, I am trying desperately to kick…)?  The answer is yes…100 times over…YES!

I am so excited to share these amazing goodies with you I can’t help but dive right in.  So here it goes…

Bare Fruit: Granny Smith Apple Chips– I have been a fan of apple chips for quite some time now.  My mom used to pack them in our lunches growing up.  So it was really nice to take a walk down memory lane as Harper and I enjoyed a few handfuls.  Filled with tons of fiber and vitamins, these chips are a great way to satisfy your snack craving while fulfilling your “apple a day” quota.

Bliss Bar: Honey Gold–  I am so in love with the Bliss Bar, I wish I had an entire case full.  Then again…I might end up with a tummy ache if I ate them all at once (because I have officially lost all self-control…).  Not only are these things ridiculously delicious, but they are packed with everything that is good for your body.  Protein rich and filled with potent energy enhancing superfoods, essential enzymes and immune enhancing properties, this tiny little snack is more than a yummy treat.  I can’t wait to get my hands on some more…

Living Intentions: Gone Nuts! Thai Curry Lemon Cashews, Almonds and Coconuts– If I wasn’t a total wimp in the heat department, I would scarf this down by the handful.  But unfortunately, I just can’t hang when it comes to spice.  Nevertheless, I couldn’t help but taste it.  Once I got past the fact that my mouth was literally on fire (only because I am true amateur), I was impressed by the savory curry taste.  For those who enjoy snacks that are full of flavor, this is the perfect choice for you.  I’m looking forward to checking out the Sesame Teriyaki or Raw Cacao Brazil Nuts.  Those variations are more my speed :)

Hail Merry: Vanilla Maple Almonds–  Ever tried a nut that tasted like cookie dough?  Yeah, these babies are THAT good!  And they are good for you too.  Full of oleic acid, these snacks can actually improve cholesterol profile, reduce inflammation and make skins and hair more radiant.  What’s not to love about these things?

Happy Hemp– Hemp seeds are one of the most nutritious and delicious foods on earth.  They are full of protein, fiber and essential amino and heart healthy fatty acids.  Adding a sprinkle of hemp seeds to your ordinary meals can elevate them to super-food status without changing the flavor.  I have had hemp seeds before but wasn’t aware of their amazing benefits.  I can’t wait to make hemp seeds a part of my daily diet.  Starting with this smoothie recipe.

Home Free: Vanilla Mini Cookies– I have officially turned into the gluten-free cookie monster!  These vanilla mini cookies are to die for.  Good thing I received two bags, because Freddie and I were having a hard time sharing with each other :)  Multi-award winning (I can see why…) these cookies are free of the top eight allergens.  Which means they can be enjoyed by all!

Oskri: Coconut Bar Cherry– My dad is the try coconut lover in the family, but to my surprise, this bar wasn’t too bad.  What usually turns me off about coconut is its gritty texture.  But this bar was soft, chewy and smooth.  With a variety of flavors to choose from, there is sure to be one that tickles your fancy.  I am drooling over the Mango and Pineapple.  Talk about a tropical vacay in your mouth!

Skinny Crisps: Cinnamon Crisps– When you offer your guests a bag of Cinnamon Crisps and it comes back empty, that means that they were good right?  Tonight ended up being an impromptu movie night at our house and these were the perfect after meal treat.  Similar to a cinnamon graham cracker without the added junk, these yummy snacks are low in carbs so they have little effect on your blood sugar.  Which means you can satisfy your sweet tooth without your body even knowing it…where were these when I was pregnant?

Two Moms in the Raw: Cranberry Nut Bar– Described as a cinnamon roll without the roll, this bar is a great combination of nuts, fruit and spices.  A perfect pairing of sweet and salty, I also can’t get enough of the contrast of crunchy and chewy.  I have tried my fair share of fruit and nut bars in the past, but this one is by far the best.  Full of flavor and healthy goodness, it’s the perfect treat any time of day.

At first glance, if you would have told me that I was going to love every single item in this box, I wouldn’t have believed you.  As much as I consider myself a healthy person, I have my reservations about going raw, vegan and gluten-free.  I love my carbs, I love my meat, I love my sugar (all in moderation of course…).  And most of all, I don’t want to feel deprived.  Well, this experience has clearly opened up my eyes to a whole new world.  These snacks have proved to me that you can enjoy yummy treats while eating well.  I am truly inspired.

Thank you Healthy Surprise, for educating me on all of the nutritious and delicious snacking options that exist out there.  I couldn’t be more happy with my introduction to your subscription service.  I appreciate your commitment to natural, vegan and gluten-free foods, and your desire to educate others about the wonderful benefits of eating well.

Interested in changing your snacking habits?  Click here for more information on the four different subscription boxes that Healthy Surprise currently offers.

* Full Disclosure:  Healthy Surprise provided me with a Starter Box free of charge.  I was not paid to write this post.  With exception of some of the factual information given about the various products, all opinions regarding the products are my own and 100% honest.

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