Category Archives: Food

Food Monsters and Spring Photos

Things here at Casa Recup are moving along, albeit slowly.  I’m having deja-vu with my caregiver responsibilities.  This time I’m the strong, healthy one leading around the foggy-headed, washed out, tummy-sensitive spouse.  It’s amazing how anesthesia affects people differently.  Craig is finding it hard to concentrate but nothing like what I was suffering last year (remember when I thought I was taking one of those online quizzes and found that I’d actually signed up for a dating service?) Yeah, he’s not that bad, thank goodness. 

Yesterday the both of us were a bit disheartened because for a brief time, Craig’s mystery pain came back.  It was so bad, he had to go back to bed for the rest of the morning.  I immediately went into panic mode and without even thinking about it began looking around in the kitchen for something – anything sweet.  I knew what I was doing and consciously made the decision to focus on what I was going to find instead of how it would make me feel afterward.  It’s amazing how determined one can get when she sets her mind to something.  If I had that kind of intense focus on other parts of my life I’d probably be rich. 

What is it about stress and food, specifically?  I’m reading other blogs where my cohorts are having the same issues: things get tough and all they want to do is comfort that fear, that loss of control, like I do -  with food.  What is it about our brain wiring that makes us head straight for the pantry when we know that it isn’t healthy for us to do so?  For me, that part of my brain just shuts off and I have tunnel vision until I achieve what I’ve set out to do: push that fear down with food until that uncomfortable feeling in my gut is all have left to think about.   I didn’t binge eat, but I did have the beginnings of a pretty good stomachache by the time I was done.  Mission…accomplished?  I’ve gotta find a different way.   On the bright side, I am able to manage these thoughts when I’m having run off the ordinary every day stress. It’s the kind of stress that shakes my world which causes me to seek out that sugar and carb abyss. 

It wasn’t until later that evening that I started thinking back about my own surgery last year.  I remembered something that I brought to Craig’s attention. 

As I was being wheeled back into my room after having had my hysterectomy I recall having the worst menstrual cramps of my life.  My first thought: What the hell?!  Didn’t I just have my gut opened up and worked on so that I never had to suffer this pain again?  What is happening? 

I relayed this memory to Craig and assured him that of course he will be having pain in the area that’s been causing him grief for nearly two months.  He just had surgery in that very spot and it’s going to take time to heal; we simply can’t make judgments this soon in his recovery.  Yes, it is unfortunate and unfair that we have more waiting to do, but this is the way things are and we just have to be patient.  What other choice do we have? 

I am so grateful that whenever I’m going through a personal crisis, there is usually something good happening to balance it out. 

When I was going through my first divorce, I became friends with Craig. 

When Patty died last year and I had my surgery, my art business was born. 

This year, as Craig and I deal with his health issues, surgeries and the unknown, my art career is beginning to move slowly forward.  I have been selling consistently at the gallery in Indianapolis (thanks in part, to a few very loyal collectors) and I was asked to provide nine framed prints of some previous work for an animal hospital that just opened this past week in my town.  In fact, they officially opened in their new building the day of Craig’s surgery.  So, while I’ve been caring for Craig I’ve also been getting work together to take to the hospital before their Open House next week. 

One would think I’d have no time to fool with unhealthy eating habits but hey, at least I’ve got a few surprises left to share, huh? 

Not having had time to paint, I’ve been taking lots of photos in my yard which is buzzing with activity.  Here’s a couple that have made me really happy this week: 

 

Poppies are my absolute favorite flowers; I’ve always wanted to paint them but was determined that they came from my own yard.  I haven’t painted flowers in a long time so you might be looking at my next painting. 

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My peonies are up as well, so of course I had to include Shaylee, my favorite fairy that watches over my creek every summer.  I’ve used her in a couple of paintings, one of which was claimed by one of my favorite people last year – Teresa from Spirit Grooves.  Photographing this sweet wonder along with my flowers and the many birds that stop by to cheer us up is enough to get me through the rough patches, and I really do feel blessed in my life.  This is just a hiccup, and I need to figure out more appropriate ways to deal with the challenges life brings.  I think as always, awareness is the first step. 

Date Night at Whole Foods in Mishawaka

Craig and I never did make it to Whole Foods the day of their Grand Opening last week in Mishawaka, Indiana.  Date Night foiled by a late night at work.  It was just as well, though.  I heard that the store was utterly swamped, and every day I’d pass by– no matter what day or time – there wasn’t a parking space to be had.  Craig and I are fickle about crowds.  Being among 20,000 other people at a Police Reunion concert?  We are SO there!  Being elbow to elbow while trying to get down the cereal aisle of a grocery store?  Not so much. 

By Sunday night though, we decided it was time to have the Whole Foods Experience. 

 

We came. 

We Oohed and Ahhed.

We opened our wallets; we poured forth our bills…. 

…and we took some pictures.  Unfortunately, no cutesy poses of me among the melons because they were still insanely busy with a huge crowd of shoppers (seriously, we were like sardines in a can!) but I did manage to capture a few images for you:

 

The first thing I noticed when I entered the store was how amazing their produce section was.  Every color of the rainbow, tightly packed and beautiful looking:

I especially loved the way they displayed their carrots.

 

I also noticed among the produce that there were items I’d never before seen in a grocery store!  Here’s just one example:

 

Cactus leaves?  What on earth do you do with these things?  Does anyone know? 

 

I really like it when a business supports the city its in, and was very happy to learn that there are over 20 local vendors who help stock these shelves.  Here’s one of Craig’s favorites:

 

Microbrew beer by Four Horsemen Brewing Company, made right here in South Bend.  This didn’t end up coming home with us though, because here in Indiana you can’t buy alcohol on Sundays.  Are there any other states in the country that still have this law or are we just super special?  Winking smile

Next up was one of my favorite aisles:  The TEA section.  Yes, even though I’m a devout David’s Tea follower, I did find myself lingering here for quite a while. I saw many new teas I’d never seen before.. 

 

 

Next stop: the deli.   There were salads and sandwiches and pizzas, and……well, you get the picture.

No?  Well you’re in luck then, because here’s another photo for you:

Where else can you get Artichoke, Fennel and Edamame salad?  We picked up a half pound and it was really quite good. 

Next we made our way to the Spice aisle:

 

I heard from you to watch out for this unique WF gem, and you were right – purchasing spices fresh when a recipe calls for it instead of paying for an entire container that will likely sit on the shelf way past its expiration date is just plain genius. 

I have one more photo to share with you; I’m sharing it for two reasons.  One, because Craig took it and wanted to contribute to my post – very sweet.  Secondly, for those of you who have always had the idea that I was tall and sinewy  willowy- a very complimentary vision that Roxie had of me before our first blogger meet-up a few weeks ago…oh, how I wish I could have met that expectation -  here is proof that I am indeed a shorty.  See me on my tiptoes? 

When I saw this snapshot I asked Craig if I stand that way very often.  His answer: ‘Every single time you stand at a counter.’  I didn’t realize I did this, but I really have to so I can see what I’m doing!  lol

 

So, there you have it.  I can’t wait to get back to the store so I can linger down every single aisle with plenty of room for a shopping cart;  I still need to find the Justin’s Vanilla Almond Butter that Mary mentioned in my last WF post!  Mmm!

Have a great day, everyone. 

~Ellen

Whole Foods Has Finally Arrived!

One year ago today I took a photo of this sign:

How funny is that?!  I had no idea I would be blogging about the same thing exactly one year later.  Tomorrow is the Grand Opening of Whole Foods here in town. 

Why am I so excited about this?  I wasn’t really all that sure myself until I’d read that it has been nearly 20 years since a grocery chain has graced our town with its presence.  Having the option of another store in which to shop (and from what I hear, grind my own peanut butter!) I am over the moon!  So much so, that tomorrow on our date night, Craig and I are going to roam the aisles of Whole Foods as part of our evening.  How’s THAT for romance? 

So here it is, the question that I’ve been waiting a whole year to ask: 

What do you like to shop for at Whole Foods and what should I put on my grocery list for my first trip there?

Drinking more water with a water infuser

I don’t eat a lot of meat, but on Easter the ham in the oven smelled so good I had to have a couple of pieces for dinner.  I woke up yesterday morning with fingers looking like small sausages. I don’t know how much salt was in that ham but it must have been plenty.  The only solution to my sausage fingers was to drink more water, which I’ve been doing, easily.  Here’s why:

 

It’s a water ball infuser that I found via Amazon.  It’s basically a plastic ball that has a hinge on it which opens up so I can stuff it full of fruits and/or herbs.  Once closed I just pop it into my pitcher and let it sit on the counter or in my refrigerator for a few hours while the flavors infuse into the water. 

I’ve been using this for about three days now and I have to say, I’m drinking a lot more water.  This particular pitcher has sliced lemons and wedges of a clementine inside.  I’ve filled my pitcher three times without changing the fruit slices and it still produces a nice flavor.  When I tire of this lemon and orange I intend to start getting more creative:  mashed cherries and a sprig of mint; cucumber slices; lemon and pineapple slices, etc.

The only complaint that I have about my infuser ball is that it doesn’t quite live up to its description of keeping pulp contained.  It does a fair job, but there is still some pulp floating around in the water.  A little bit doesn’t bother me, but I used it to snazzy-up the water I served on Easter and didn’t care to see bits of pulp floating around in the stemware. 

In all though, I think this is a great idea and I’m glad I bought it.  Plus, it’s really not expensive; at less than $5 I really couldn’t go wrong in trying it out. 

Do any of you own one of these?  Any other flavor combinations you can think of that would be good to try?

 

* I was not paid to endorse this product nor was I given this product for free.  I purchased it myself and am reviewing it here because when it comes to drinking more water I need all the help I can get. 

Some recipes just aren’t meant to be played with.

I’ve been trying to keep  myself busy as I patiently wait for my spinal injection to begin relieving some of my back pain. 

Okay, who am I kidding?  Patiently?  Truth is I’m growing more and more impatient as the seconds tick by.  I feel like a two year old who desperately needs a nap: this girl is cranky and fussy most all of the time time.   I think I may need an intervention.  lol

Pinterest is always a nice distraction when I’m icing my back.  Yesterday I was flipping through the recipes and came across an interesting one for cute little crispy cookies that involved using Earl Grey tea.  Tea and cookies in the same sentence?  Yes, please! 

I immediately did what I always do when a dessert captures my eye like that:  I scanned the recipe to see what I could substitute and/or eliminate in order to decrease the calorie count.    These cookies didn’t have many ingredients to begin with and of course I already had the tea. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, I’ll just use applesauce instead of butter, decrease the sugar by a quarter cup and substitute half the flour with wheat flour.’ Simple!  Once I was satisfied with my ingredients list I worked out the math and figured each cookie at 48 calories each. 

I know.  I should have suspected something was going to go wrong right then and there.  But I persevered.     

My husband came home from work and immediately asked me what I was baking in the oven.  I always hesitate at this point to tell him anything because I don’t want to get his hopes up.  Still, I could tell he was so excited about the possibility of having a homemade dessert in the house that I answered his question by cautiously saying, “I’m trying out a new recipe for the blog so this is really just an experiment.”  He knows his wife well; from his past experiences with black beans in brownies and soda in his cake, he always remembers Rule One – regardless of how good it smelled, there was only a 50/50 chance that something edible was going to come out of that oven. 

12 minutes later the timer went off and out they came.  Craig and I stood there comparing my cookies with the beautiful picture of the cookies on the blog from which the recipe came. 

Have you ever seen this hilarious photo around the Internet?

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Yeah well, the bottom photo – that’s kind of how my cookies turned out. 

In the world of healthful baking, I am ridiculously optimistic.  I am constantly reworking recipes in order to make them diet-friendly.  Unfortunately though, an impressive calorie count means very little if your finished product ends up in the FAIL pile – which by the way, is here:

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In the countless years I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen I am confident in sharing with you this statement:  these were the lousiest cookies I have EVER made.  To prove my point, take this photo for example:  how many cookies have you seen that are flexible?  

 

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Look at Brulee.  Even HE doesn’t want to have anything to do with them.  Sigh.  Back to the drawing board. 

On a brighter note, I am painting again.  I figured if I waited for my back to improve my paintbrushes would probably get dusty so I’m taking OTC pain meds which allows me to sit for small spells at a time.  I’m working on a commission piece – a lone Eastern Bluebird, and let me tell you it feels so good to be back to creating again which just goes to show:  if you want something bad enough, you find a way to make it happen.  Well, except maybe cookies without butter. 

Spa-riffic birthday and Hoo Winner

Good Monday, everyone!  Before I go any further with my post I wanted to announce the winner of the Hoo-rag from my giveaway post on Thursday:  by use of a random number generator app from Apple, Didi is the winner and proud owner of a new Hoo.  Congratulations Didi!  Send me your address and I’ll get your rag out ASAP!

 

Yesterday was my birthday.

Notice how I wrote that with simplicity.  Very matter-of-fact.  No all-cap sentences like, ‘YESTERDAY WAS ANOTHER BIRTHDAY FOM HELL!’ Could it be that the voodoo mojo has moved on?   You may remember this post in which I explain that my birthdays are notorious for being jinxed – hexed – cursed – whatever you want to call it.  But this year I am happy to say was different, thanks to my husband.  He had the brilliant idea to celebrate my birthday a day early, on the 16th – with a surprise trip to a spa where I had my feet and face polished & prettied up almost beyond recognition. 

Now, am under no assumption that my feet are even remotely attractive but today I am showing them off because:

a) they won’t be out from under my socks and boots again until Springtime,

b) these size 9’s are as smooth as a baby’s bottom, and

c) that nail polish changes from gold to purple in the right lighting which, even though you can’t see it, is pretty darned cool.

Pedicures and facials are things that I never treat myself to so those were very thoughtful and sweet gifts.  We then went out for a very nice dinner where the food was so good I immediately decided to save half of it for lunch the next day.  Well, that – AND because I was saving room for a piece of birthday cake.  Craig had half of his meal boxed as well, but by the time dessert came along we were both borderline uncomfortable, so we decided to get our cake boxed as well.  That way I could have cake on my actual birthday. 

I thought about that cake all night.  When I woke up yesterday morning and started into the kitchen to make a cup of tea, imagine my horror to find all of our leftovers still on the kitchen counter.  NOOOoooo!!!

Everything went into the trash.  Yes, even the cake Sad smile  The restaurant boxed it with a mound of real whipped cream on top, which I’m sure looked beautiful on Saturday night, but on Sunday my birthday cake was sitting in a soggy, runny mess of cream.  (this is the part of the story where I’m supposed to write, ‘but look at all of the calories I saved….’) Sorry; the memory is still just too painful.

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This week I have an appointment at our local hospital’s pain clinic.  Wednesday morning at 7 AM I’ll be waiting for another treatment which I hope will help my back: a spinal injection.  Just the sound of that makes me shudder, but I am assured by my friends that I’ll be okay and by my family that I’m running out of options.  I’m hopeful that this will work.  Last summer was dedicated to recuperating from surgery.  This summer I intend on spending my 43rd year on this earth enjoying more of my life instead of watching as it goes on without me. 

Wish me luck. 

Things I’m Loving: David’s Tea and Morningstar Farms

Some maintainers tell me that keeping at a steady weight in the summertime is harder than in winter.  For me, it’s the opposite.  Winter months leave me shivering most all the time, which makes me want to stay indoors with a cup of hot cocoa wrapped around my hands every moment of the day.  I regularly wear three layers: Smartwool, fleece, then a down vest – and I am still cold.  Freakish, I know. 

I’m finding though, that here in the coldest month of the year, maintenance has been a bit easier than I thought it would be.  At first I was worried, what with all of the Internet chatter about post-menopausal women ‘packing on the pounds’ after their hysterectomy.  I’m only 42 years old, but my body is acting like its somewhere between fifty and sixty.  I was really concerned that it would change faster than I could adapt and I’d end up 20 or 30 pounds heavier.  Before surgery I mentioned this fear to my surgeon and he simply said, ‘I wouldn’t worry about it.  Because of what you’ve already gone through to lose and maintain the weight, you’ll be even more careful.’ 

More careful?!

I was dismayed by that answer.  Frustrated – no, perturbed by that answer, actually.  I thought to myself, How on earth could I be more diligent than I already am?  If it gets more difficult than this to maintain, I’m in serious trouble, Mr. I’ve-Never-Owned-a-Uterus!

I can’t say I’ve enjoyed being hyper diligent since my surgery, but it is what it is. I mentally count the calories of most everything that I eat.  Having done Weight Watchers for as long as I have, I can easily keep track of my calories and add them up in my head without the need for a calculator or even a guide to tell me the amount in a serving.  Don’t get too excited – it’s the only Math trick I can do. 

I have found a couple of things I wanted to share that have made maintaining easier for me this winter.  I make certain that these two items are always in my kitchen, no matter what:

DAVID’S TEA

My winters have an automatic curse attached to them: the cold weather makes me want to bake – as in, banana bread, pumpkin muffins, cookies, cakes – you name it. I love the way the house smells when something is baking in the oven. The problem is, someone’s got to eat all of those goodies once they’re done, right? Yeah, that’s where I get into trouble. Luckily, my teas have got my back. You all know how I love tea, as in ‘Oh, Tea – I cannot live without you. Be mine forever….’ and have regularly mentioned how it curbs my never ending desire for something sweet to eat.

Always on the hunt for better teas, I recently hit the Mother Load when Craig and I were in Chicago right before Christmas. We were at Southport and I saw this shop named David’s Tea.  Hmm.  Never heard of them.  This means we MUST GO RIGHT NOW.    When I stepped inside and saw the flavors they had (Toasted Marshmallow….Red Velvet Cake…Banana Dream Pie, anyone?) it was like being in a calorie-free bakery! I chose Stormy Night as my first official introduction to David’s Tea. Here’s what the description says about it:

Black tea, Chocolate, cinnamon, coconut, vanilla – this drink is a real piece of work, alright. Hotter than an inferno and smoother than silk, it’s good. Almost too good.

I’m here to tell you, people – these folks from Canada don’t lie. It is that good.

I think Craig and I were in there for almost 45 minute chatting it up with staff and getting a whiff of nearly every tea they had in stock.  I left with sample sizes of over 7 different flavors and couldn’t wait to get home and try them.  The verdict?  These teas literally put all others I’d ever tried to shame.  I’m sorry other tea guys, but David’s Tea seriously knows what they’re doing. 

My favorite is the Red Velvet Cake.  With a bit of sweetener and a splash of almond milk, it tastes like, well – cake!  I wanted to show you some but I’m already out of that flavor, so I snapped a pic of one of my other favorites, which happens to be an herbal concoction.  Great for those times when I get the snack-attack happening in the evening while I’m in my studio painting; I can drink this and it won’t keep me up at night.  Ready?   Behold – Banana Nut Bread:

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As you can see, I’m almost out of this one, too.  And yes, it does taste and smell exactly like hot banana nut bread. 

I’ve never been one to drink my calories.  I’d rather skip a before dinner drink or cocktail at the bar and use those calories for dessert.  Here, I can literally have both. 

The question I wanted answered before I went off raving about the glory of David’s Tea is probably the same question some of you are thinking:  With all of those bits of goodies in their teas, how many calories and sugar are in a cup? 

This quote comes straight from the David’s Tea website: 

With all the fun sprinkles, candies and caramel bits that find their way into some of our teas, some skeptics wonder whether these blends are still a healthy beverage choice. The truth is that we routinely test the blends that contain sugary ingredients for their sugar and caloric content. So far, the caloric content in the liquor of these teas is below the limit that must be declared on food labels. They are not all at zero, but none are more than 5 calories per cup of tea.
And what about public enemy number one – sugar? Not to worry, our teas have all tested below 1 g of sugar per cup of tea (according to our steeping instructions).

I can live with that.  Check out David’s Tea here for a listing of some of their other wonderful concoctions and for a list of when they’re coming to your neighborhood. 

 

MORNINGSTAR BURGERS ‘Mediterranean Chickpea’

 

This is a new flavor from Morningstar.  Fixed the right way, it is completely satisfying and has a great flavor. Right now, it’s my new favorite veggie burger.  I purchase Morningstar on a regular basis anyway since I generally don’t care for the taste of meat but still loves me a good burger once in a while.   I received a coupon from a company named BzzAgent to try a package for free, and since Mediterranean food is my favorite right now I was really excited to see this added to Morningstar Farms already great lineup of flavors. 

What I do with mine is take low carb Lavash bread (I love the ones made by Joseph’s and American Bakery) which are 80 calories and 100 calories each, respectively.  I simply fix my Mediterranean Chickpea burger on the stove (110 calories), fill the lavash bread with greens and a bit of Holy Land cucumber sauce or Bolthouse Farms Yogurt dressing and I end up with this:

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Very filling, and under 240 calories for the entire sandwich.  Mix that with a salad or fresh vegetables and I have a whole meal for under 300 calories.  Not too shabby, huh? 

Anything in particular that you’ve found which has helped you stay on track this winter?  I’d love to hear about it!

Peanutta POW: A new powdered peanut butter review

Yes – another peanut butter substitute review!  I know, I know.  I just can’t help myself.

You all know that peanut butter has been one of those foods that used to beckon me in the middle of the night.  We’d have ourselves a rendezvous, then another…and another until the jar was gone and I was up 2 or 3 pounds on the scale.  Peanut butter has a way of hooking me like that – one bite turns into twenty. 

After lots of Internet research, you read as I found an alternative for my love of the stuff, in the form of powdered peanut butter (if you missed either of my posts about my quest for a peanut butter substitute you can read them here and here.)  I didn’t use powdered peanut butter regularly, but on those days when I craved the real thing, it was a fairly satisfying alternative. 

Fast forward to a month or so ago.  I ventured into one of my favorite local cafés after yoga class for something hot to drink.  As I was checking out I noticed in front of the register a full line of powdered peanut butter by Davis Chocolate called Peanutta POW.  When I picked it up to look at the nutrition stats I was happy to see that they were comparable to the packages of FitNutz and PB2 I still had in my cupboard, but I was downright thrilled when I read at the bottom of the package that POW was made right here in my hometown! Without hesitation I added a package to my order thinking, please, please taste comparable so I don’t have to pay shipping charges anymore! 

 

For my taste test I could have chosen to add a tablespoon to my oatmeal, or mix it in with my yogurt but I had to try this new brand the way that really counted: right from the spoon.  I measured out a serving (2 tablespoons) and added just enough water till the consistency was creamy.  I kid you not, it was the closest thing to eating the real deal I’ve tasted so far – surpassing both PB2 and FitNutz.  Score!

Now that more people are hearing about and using powdered peanut butter, there are a ton of recipes that you can use it for – both to cook and bake with.  But my favorite way to eat it is still by the spoonful. 

My favorite way to eat! 

This morning I had a taste for peanut butter on bread so I went to the frig and took out one of my bread staples: Healthy Life English Muffins (only 80 calories per muffin).  I mixed up a serving of Peanutta POW (2 tablespoons) with water and then added a bit of cinnamon. 

I must apologize; I FULLY intended on snapping a pic of my english muffin all toasted and peanut-buttered up, but I was multi-tasking (something I still have trouble doing since surgery) and ate most of it before remembering.  Luckily, you already know this isn’t a foodie blog and I know will forgive me Winking smileJust imagine a very filling treat, all for under 140 calories. 

 

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Here is my now nearly empty package of Peanutta POW…..

 

My nearly empty bag of Peanutta POW

 

…along with the nutritional stats taken right off the back:

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As you can see, the nutrition values and overall stats are pretty similar to the other brands that are out there.  What I couldn’t figure out though, was why some brands taste better than others.  I mean, pressing the oil out of a peanut isn’t rocket science, right?  However, if you scan the web for other bloggers’ taste-test comparisons you’ll find that everyone says they DO taste different – some better than others. I contacted the manufacturer/owner and he told me that the difference in taste comes down to the type of peanut that is used.  News to me, as I didn’t know there were different types of peanuts.  Okay, so I may not know my peanuts but I DO know a lot about the powdered peanut butter competition out there because you’ve watched me practically try them ALL.  This one however, gets my vote for the best flavor and closest-to-real-peanut butter taste. 

If you’ve limited your use of peanut butter due to the calorie content and can’t get past the slightly different flavor, my advice is to do what I do: add a dash of cinnamon and a drop or two of honey to the mixture.  The added calories are negligible, and my husband – my newly appointed ‘official FGWT taste-tester’, said that he could barely tell the difference between the Peanutta POW and the regular peanut butter that he eats.   Now, I’m just hoping that Davis Chocolate has something in the works for a chocolate version of Peanutta POW.  Did you hear that, Davis Chocolate?  You’ve got your first customer already in line!  (hint-hint)

 

 

Disclaimer: This review was made possible by Me here at Fat Girl Wearing Thin.  I did not receive any compensation from Davis Chocolate for this review nor did I receive Peanutta POW as a gift in exchange for a review.  I paid for this product myself and my thoughts and opinions are strictly my own.

They can’t all be winners

Have you ever been waiting at say, the doctor’s office or hair salon, and suddenly find yourself wanting to commit a crime?  Me – all the time.  Not by causing a scene of destruction because I’ve been waiting for over 10 minutes so WHAT IS THE HOLD UP??  kind of crime.  No, I mean stealing; as in, ‘Ooh, the recipe in this magazine must come home with me for I will try it and it will be the best thing I’ve ever created’.  Okay, it’s not the crime of the century but who hasn’t secretly wanted to deface a magazine in a waiting room, hmm???

However, I am a grown-up now and therefore a responsible part of this society.  I set a good example for the rest of the world and don’t give in to such urges anymore.  But three years ago – well, let’s just say I was at a bad place in my life.  I gave in to the seductive temptation of a recipe from a certain celebrity who shall remain nameless, though I don’t think it would hurt to give you a hint because we’re friends – (okay, you broke meit’s Tiffani-Amber Thiessen)

This girl still looked amazing, even though her Saved by the Bell years were long behind her.  And according to Tiffani, her Cinnamon Oatcakes would make me smile because of the oats’ B-Vitamin trigger production of serotonin AND keep me feeling full for a super long time.  You can see why I caved and gave in to the temptation, right?  Happy and Full?  Sold!

In my defense, the magazine was older than the hills and had already been ripped apart in so many sections, I seriously doubted if anyone would ever have known it was there in the first place.  At least that’s what I tell myself so I can sleep at night. 

I did the dirty deed and quietly ripped out the bottom left side of the magazine, making sure to cough with each tear of the paper so no one would notice (does that even work?) and tucked the tattered edged recipe with Tiffani’s smiling face into my purse. 

And then forgot all about it. 

For a really, really long time. 

In fact, I came across it just the other day and thought, ‘oh, yeah…..’ and knew that I had to try it for Craig since he was on vacation. Really, I should be saying that I tried it ‘on’ Craig.  I would have eaten it myself, but I’m used to eating things that normal people wouldn’t touch with a 10 foot pole, so I figured he’d be a better judge.  Here is the famous recipe that I broke the law to get: 

Cinnamon Oatcakes

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1/1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Vegetable oil cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup sliced strawberries

Mix first three ingredients together in a bowl.  Then create 4 individual oat ‘patties’ and place them onto a skillet lightly dusted with cooking spray.  Cook for 10 minutes, turning once.  Transfer to a plate and top with applesauce and strawberries.  Serves 2

Total calories per serving:  454 calories, 7 grams of fat, 75 grams of carbs, 12 grams of fiber and 22 grams of protein. 

Here is how mine turned out, minus the strawberries because we didn’t have any.  I did however, add cinnamon to the top of the applesauce. 

 

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You wouldn’t think that 4 egg whites would be enough to keep a bunch of rolled oats together, but oddly enough, they did – in fact, they stuck like glue.  I placed Craig’s serving in front of him and watched as he bit into his first piece all the while eyeing me oddly before finally asking, ‘Why aren’t you having any?’  Silly Craig.  He already knew the answer to that.  “Because,” I said.  “I don’t trust myself to contribute an unbiased, objective opinion when all I can think about is the need to tweak that recipe with brown sugar, raisins and flour and turn the whole thing into one big giant oatmeal cookie.” 

Satisfied with that answer, he dug in, as I ate a bowl of regular oatmeal and some Fage yogurt with granola.  Half way through breakfast I could tell something wasn’t quite right.  He left the table and headed into the kitchen, bringing back a single serve of applesauce and plopped it onto the remaining oatcakes.  I was going to ask how it was but since he kept eating, I thought it was best to just keep my mouth shut.

When breakfast was over and we stacked our dishes, I couldn’t resist any longer.  “So……how were they?” I asked. 

“You can tell your readers that they were a little dry,” he said with a raspy voice while reaching for more coffee. “I’m sure they’ll keep me full for a while, but they have a dry, chewy texture to them that I just couldn’t get past.” 

“Then why did you finish them?”  I asked.  He replied with the same answer he always gives when I try out recipes that scream Epic Fail“If I didn’t make it, I have no right to complain about it.  They weren’t inedible, just not……good, that’s all.” He was right.  I snuck in a few bites while he was rooting around the cupboards and they were rubbery. Aside from the applesauce they were practically tasteless.

If you’ve tried this recipe or are one of those few miraculous folks that can make the best food out of a nearly empty kitchen, I welcome you to try and liven up this recipe without adding too many calories and let me know if there is a way to improve upon them.  If not, it’s back to oatmeal in a bowl; not that there’s anything wrong with that. 

xo,

~Ellen

Thyme of Grace–Eating Local

You know me, I’m always late to the party (remember my post about my discovery of Greek yogurt, oh -about a year after everyone else was eating it?)  Yeah, I’m kinda behind on trendiness. 

I was MIA this week because of Craig’s vacation.  I decided that he shouldn’t have all the fun, so I quickly shirked my painting and writing responsibilities for the week and joined him in lounging around in the mornings, long dog walks in the afternoons and an occasional meal out. 

I am the absolute worst when it comes to picking a place to eat.  This is how our conversations usually go:

Craig:  So, where do you want to go?

Me:  Anywhere, really. 

Craig:  Do you have a taste for anything in particular?

Me:  No, not really.

Craig:  How about that Thai place across town?

Me: No, not there.

Craig:  Italian?

Me:  Meh.  That doesn’t sound very good either, for some reason. 

Craig:  Well, where would you like to go, then?

Me:  Anywhere you want to go. 

Yes, I can be THAT person.  I easily want to wring my own neck for that behavior.  Thank goodness I have a very patient husband.  I have found something out about myself, though.  If I can’t decide on a place to eat it’s usually because I’m tired of having to choose from the same places over and over again. Yes, we just had a Golden Corral and a Cheddar’s open nearby but combine those with other chain restaurants like Chili’s, TGI Fridays and The Olive Garden, it all starts feeling mind numbingly similar after a while.

Locally owned restaurants can be hard to come by if you’re not living in a major metropolitan area, and truthfully, easily forgotten about when the major chains have their billboards and commercials always there to remind you of where they think you should be eating.  I don’t know about you but it seems like the only flavors I’m ever exposed to whenever I go out are either an over abundance of salt or sugar.  There are so many spices and herbs I’ve never even tried, and for those of you who love to cook, you already know that cooking well is not just a skill – it’s an art; a true labor of love.  Local restaurants seem to get that concept, which is why Craig and I decided that if we ate out at all this week, it was going to be locally owned.

I started searching websites like TripAdvisor, Yelp and Thyme of Grace on Urbanspoon for new and interesting local flare.  Ultimately, we ended up at this small café/bistro called Thyme of Grace in South Bend.  Michele, the owner has been open for over ten years (4 years at her new location) but Craig nor I had heard of this place.

Now, I generally don’t write reviews on restaurants on my blog but this post practically wrote itself.  There was no stopping it.  I mean, just look at this salad:

 

Spinach, apple slices, fresh grated cheese – and on top: bacon-wrapped dates.  And did you see the beautiful mum and herbs resting on that lovely kale leaf?  This looked too pretty to eat; somehow I managed, though.  Yep.  I powered through Winking smile  So delicious.

And here is my turkey sandwich (so, so yummy) with a carrot slaw that was out of this world, which says a lot since I’m not generally not a big carrot fan:

The entire restaurant was warm and inviting and had quite the eclectic, artistic vibe throughout.  What I found charming was that our table was completely unique and unlike any others thanks to the charming mismatched décor, right down to the silverware, plates and chairs.   Michele, the chef, was absolutely delightful and, as expected, she incorporated flavors that I couldn’t identify but blissfully brought out the goodness in each and every bite. This place literally blew me away.

I’ve always supported local businesses but now understand more than ever how important it is since opening my own art business.  It’s the customers who keep small business owners afloat.   Without you, wonderful establishments like Thyme of Grace wouldn’t exist.  My own livelihood – my joy of painting wouldn’t exist. 

So, even though I’m a bit late in writing my post for supporting Small Business Day this year, I want to encourage you to venture out in your own town to the local businesses that rely on your support all year long.  Who knows what you’ll uncover!

What’s your favorite local hangout, and what makes it so special?