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Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sunday is now Bar Day

I've actually had these bars over the past few days, but I decided to wait until today to review all of them.

First, I bought some Larabars after reading about them on all of your blogs. I got three varieties of the Jocalat bars (Chocolate, Chocolate Orange, and Chocolate Coffee) because they were on sale.

I had the Chocolate first, and I really wasn't that impressed. It was dry and crumbly, but I did like the flavor. Next was the Chocolate Coffee, which was much better than the first. I liked the texture and could taste the coffee flavor, but it was subtle. I actually decided the first bar must have been stale - probably why it was on sale in the first place.

I haven't tried the chocolate orange, but I am hopeful because that is one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations!

And speaking of good flavor combinations, I had an Honest Foods Cran Lemon Zest country square for breakfast one morning (with coffee, of course). This is my favorite one out of all of them! I have also tried the Choco Peanut and the Apple Ginger (I think?) and the Cran Lemon is the only repeat purchase I have made.

In exciting news, my Clif Z Spooky S'mores came! I found them on, and I was rather impressed with their service. I got free standard shipping for a purchase over $25 and it came in three days.

I really enjoyed this bar. It tasted a lot like my favorite one, Honey Graham, with a marshmallow flavor. I didn't really taste any chocolate, but I was looking for the marshmallow flavor anyway.

I also got a box of Honey Graham.

So, my question is this - do you think it would be okay to freeze the Clif Z bars? Or just put them in the fridge? The expiration dates are far off, but I know it will take me awhile to get through 36 of them.

Also, if any of my faithful readers (all two or three of you) would like a sample of either Clif Z Bar, just shoot me an e-mail with your address and I will be glad to share!

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Cooking Light

I bought the September issue of Cooking Light several weeks ago, but didn't have time to really look at it until a few days ago. I think this issue had a lot of great recipes. It's probably not on the shelves any more, but you should definitely search for this month's recipes on their site.

The first recipe was Turkey-Ricotta Meatballs. Sorry, the recipe isn't posted on their site yet, but I'll try to remember to link it once it it. These meatballs were great - they were very easy because they are baked, and they stayed moist due to the addition of ricotta cheese. The recipe called for part-skim, but I used fat free since that is what I had on hand.

I think my favorite part of the recipe is that it did not give specific directions on how to serve them, and I have found that they are extremely versatile. I put one half of the batch in some homemade tomato sauce (more on that later) and served it with pasta, and tomorrow we are having the second half in a stroganoff-type dish. I imagine they would also be tasty in some barbecue sauce or something similar as an appetizer.

Here they are, straight from the oven:

Now my dilemma is this - I have over half of a container of ricotta left over, and I don't like it on its own. Does anyone have a good recipe that incorporates ricotta?

Tonight I made the Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp. I really like Thai food (and by that, I mean all I have ever had is pad thai), so I decided to try making it. I have to admit that I have never ordered a curried dish at a Thai restaurant before because I was didn't think I would like something with coconut milk in it, but this recipe was quite good and very light.

I only made one substitution - I used dried basil instead of fresh because I couldn't find any at the grocery store.

With brown rice and steamed broccoli:

We also had some frozen and thawed mango for dessert. Yum!

I think I may subscribe to Cooking Light. I have really cut down on the magazines that I subscribe to due to so much paper used and the fact that I can find them online. There are some that I still really enjoy reading in print, though.

What magazine subscriptions do you have?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Move over, peanut butter.

I had been holding off on trying cashew butter for two reasons:

1. I don't like almond butter, and didn't know if I would like nut butters other than peanut.

2. It's very expensive, and I didn't want to waste the money if I didn't like it.

Anyway, I decided to bite the bullet and went to EarthFare yesterday. I was pleased to find a half size jar of MaraNatha:

My review: Oh my. OHHHH MY. This has to be one of the most delicious things I have eaten. Ever. In my whole life, all 28 years of it.

I tasted it alone first, then decided the best delivery method was 1/2 mini whole wheat bagel:

I quickly went back for the second half. It's official - I'm in food love.

Monday, September 22, 2008

More highlights from the weekend.

The boyfriend's sister and I went to the farmers' market on Saturday. I am so lucky to have one close that is open all of the time - every day from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. I intended to just browse during this trip, but of course I came back with several purchases.

When I got back, I had some goat cheese on a mini whole wheat bagel and an Americano:

This goat cheese is fabulous. They actually had 7-8 different flavors of spreadable goat cheese, as well as come marinated in oil and herbs and several hard cheeses. I'm a sucker for a free sample and bought a whole container:

I also got some veggies. I mentioned a few posts ago that I am trying to incorporate at least one new fruit or veggie per week, whether it is something completely new or just a new variety/color of something I already like.

Clockwise from top left: yellow tomatoes, carnival squash (isn't it festive?), baby eggplants, and Cherokee purple tomatoes

My dad bought some of the Cherokee purple last time we went and gave one to me - it is seriously the best tomato I have ever had.

I also got two Honeycrisp apples, which was amazing because I usually dislike any apple other than Granny Smith. These were very tasty, however, and I will buy more. They are kind of sweet, a little tart, and very crisp (I HATE grainy apples!!).

Also a big chrysanthemum plant. Definitely not a necessity, but pretty. I ♥ orange flowers!

Finally, some pink roses from my sweet boyfriend. Not to take away from the farmers' market theme, but they are too beautiful not to include. I think I'll keep him.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Breaking up is hard to do...

I'm on a mission to end my relationship with Splenda. As of right now, I only use it in oatmeal (when it's not cooked with banana) and hot tea. I have stopped using it in iced tea, iced coffees, and on top of frozen berries.

Today, I had my first cup of plain, non-fat yogurt. I had planned on mixing in thawed cherries, but I tasted it by itself first so I could get a "feel" for it. I immediately wanted to add a packet of Splenda to ease myself into eating it plain, but I resisted and only added the cherries. I have to admit, it's going to be an acquired taste, but I think I can do it!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

River Twist Kitchen

My boyfriend's sister is visiting this weekend, so I was looking for a new restaurant to try. There is a restaurant review in the entertainment insert of the local newspaper every Thursday, and this week it reviewed the River Twist Kitchen. It is a renovated Esso station located in Jamestown, NC that is also a garden and gift shop. The menu consists of several salads and sandwiches and a couple burgers, and they also offer catering.

Note: This is the first time I took pictures with my phone instead of my camera - I think they turned out well!

Since it is such a nice day and there was limited seating inside, we (boyfriend, his sister, and I) decided to eat outside. I took some pictures while we waited on the food:

The owner was extremely nice and helpful when we mentioned that we had never been there before. He said they had been slammed since the newspaper article and they were actually out of today's special. He did offer us a sample of their most popular item, the Sugar Breast Turkey Salad, which my boyfriend's sister and I both ended up ordering (she ordered it on a croissant, I got it on salad greens). It is so good - turkey, celery, dried cranberries, sugared walnuts, and mayo dressing. My boyfriend got the the owner's personal favorite, the Honey Onion Turkey sandwich.

My plate:

I ate the entire salad, but didn't use any of the dressing. The dressing in the turkey salad was enough, especially with the other flavors of mandarin orange and additional walnuts.

I also had one bite of the boyfriend's sandwich:

It was a little pricey, and the drive was longer than we would normally do for a meal, but well worth it. The scenery was beautiful, and the food was excellent. We will definitely go back!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Three weeks later...

I'm back! The whole full time job + full time graduate school schedule took a little longer to adjust to that I expected. Anyway, I'm settled in at the job, and I turned in my first major assignment. I decided to celebrate tonight by doing a little blogging and NO homework!

Since it has been awhile, I'll just hit some highlights from the past couple weeks.

In "Eat a different fruit or vegetable each week" news, I bought a personal seedless watermelon:

Let me start by saying that I have never liked watermelon, but I was willing to give it a another try since I am trying to eat a diet with a lot more water-rich foods. Since watermelon is 92% water, it was the logical choice. Also, it has loads of lycopene! The verdict: I still don't like it.

Question: Has anyone eaten other colors of watermelon? Yellow or orange? Also, has anyone tried watermelon rind in any form (stir-fried or pickled)?

In "Rachel, get off your lazy butt" news, I bought a pedometer:

I was talking to my boyfriend's mother, who wears a pedometer daily and aims for 10,000 steps. She walks her dog twice a day and also tried to get in some extra steps at work. This picture was from my first day, but my numbers have ranged anywhere from 13,000 to 2,000 (bad, but in my defense, I was sick that day). By the way, with my stride length, 11,795 steps = 5.63 miles.
In "comfort food is good for stress" news, I made a childhood favorite for dinner one night:

Spanish Rice
(named this even though I'm fairly sure there is nothing Spanish about it)

1 lb. lean ground beef or turkey
1 large onion, diced
1 large green bell pepper, diced
1 14 oz. can tomato sauce
1 1/2 c. hot water
1 cup raw brown rice (the 10 minute kind)
1 T. yellow mustard (bottled, not the spice)
salt and pepper

Brown the meat, onion, and pepper, then drain. Add all of the remaining ingredients and simmer on medium-low heat until the rice absorbs all of the liquid (approx. 25 minutes).

This makes a huge batch, so I freeze half for another meal. I also serve this with garlic toast and corn, just like my mom did when I was little.

And finally, in "I can't resist a sale" news, I bought some cute square shaped bowls at Target:

And I filled them up with stir-fry. I stir-fried onion, mushroom, broccoli, water chestnuts, and shrimp and put some of that fantastic Garlic sauce and served it with some brown rice. Also, notice my new placemats, which were a gift from my boyfriend's mother. She made them - aren't they pretty?

Anyway, I'll be back again soon!