Saturday, February 27, 2010

Be Aware, and Ask

Did you know that today is the end of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week? I just learned about this event yesterday, and I think it's great. As a recovering/recovered disordered eater (or non-eater, as the case may be), I really appreciate this week-long event. For me, a great deal of the damage of my eating disorder originated in the secrecy surrounding the sickness. Once I started being honest and open with trustworthy friends and family, the power of the eating disorder began to fade. I wasn't immediately cured, but "coming out" about my battle with anorexia not only gave me courage to keep fighting, but also the blessings of praying friends, added support, and loving accountability.

In the spirit of honesty, healing, and the power of information, I started up a Formspring account where you can ask me anything, anonymously. I'd love to answer your questions about my personal experiences with eating disorders (I'm not a licensed professional, just an ex-anorexic still fighting the good fight for health) as well as other random queries. I of course reserve the right to NOT answer questions that I feel are inappropriate or too invasive, or that the Best Husband Ever and I don't want to share about. I am, however, standing by to answer questions about my favorite books and films, our dogs, good (and bad!) eats, and rats (yes, rats . . . intrigued? confused? just ask!), in addition to eating disorder-related queries.

Fun, right? I think (and hope . . .) so! Ask away by visiting my new Formspring page, or check out the handy green widget on my sidebar.

While you're web surfing, be sure to check out these awesome eating disorder resource sites:
Happy Saturday!

(FYI -- in case you were wondering, I took this photo [top] on April 2, 2008. It is the result of an EKG test showing that I had an extremely low heart rate. Shortly following the test, my doctors referred me to the Best Therapist Ever, who helped save my life. I am realizing more and more how blessed I am to have had her on my side. Not every person being treated for an ED can say the same of their therapists and doctors. All that to say thank you to my amazing therapist, and to continue to proclaim that ED healing is possible. Keep fighting, my friends!)

Friday, February 26, 2010

First Friday of Friday Firsts

Is that title enough of a tongue twister for you? I'm just trying to keep your mind strong and toned. Or I'm running short on catchy post monikers.

Anyway, alliterative successes aside, I am enjoying the courageous kitchen adventures that I've been having this week. In fact, I've been trying so many new recipes, in addition to revisiting old favorites, that I couldn't just pick one to highlight on my first Friday Firsts posts. Christina is hosting this fabulous weekly blogging event in which she traverses new culinary terrain and invites the rest of the food blogging community to join her. I already submitted yesterday's eggpancakes, but couldn't stop there! Check out the other cool stuff I've been putting in my mouth this past week. (Yes, that sounds sort of dirty, but still not as dirty as nooch.)

Speaking of nutritional yeast, there has been more nooch pizza. I made this one with a base sauce combo of tomato paste, pureed spinach, balsamic vinegar, garlic and spices, inspired by Angela's green goddess pizza, and toppings of cranberries, mushrooms, and bell peppers. And humnut sauce, with nooch. Obviously.

I continue to pack my Laptop Lunchbox. Can you see what's in the top right of this one? It's fresh pear with full fat whipped cream cheese. My verdict on the non-non-fat version of one of my favorite spreads? Yum.

I had my first taste of coconut butter, courtesy of Love Street's sample (pictured here for breakfast on a wheat tortilla along with defrosted tropical fruit in Greek yogurt, sprinkled with vanilla, which also hails from Love Street Living Foods). The coconut butter, as with the whipped cream cheese, was also quite delicious.

The Best Husband Ever and I tried out our first Morningstar Farms item, a Mushroom Lover's [Veggie] Burger. It was, in the hubby's words, "eatable," but nothing too special. I put plain yogurt and BBQ sauce on mine, along with some veggies.

I felt the full fat whipped cream cheese love at breakfast when it topped my bowl of Greek yogurt + chocolate Amazing Grass + defrosted strawberries.

I ate my first fruit leather for a snack. It was good. Watch for a review. (Thanks, Nicolette, for the samples!)

And don't think that I'm forgetting about dessert . . . because I'm not. Because that would be irresponsible of me, letting dessert feel all forlorn and lonely. Abandoned, even. I could never let that happen.

As you can see, it's been quite a week! Full of firsts, to say the least. How was your week? Any big weekend plans? Any fun recipes to share?

Happy Friday, blog friends! May it be fabulously first-y!

Friday Firsts /

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Rolling in Pancakes (Sort Of)

I know I must be getting better. Balanced living is becoming a more present reality as I take step after successful, careful step to keep any disordered behavior in check. My current triumph is in taking a rest day. Every week. Even a few months ago, I would not have considered such a thing. Not so today. Today is a rest day.

I actually planned to get up and hoop this morning. After going through my AM routine (wake up around 4:30 AM, make coffee, let the dogs out, have God time while sipping coffee cup #1, refill, photoblog/check email/do computer-based errands, feed dogs -- whew!), I set up my music . . . and then just could not find it in myself to hoop. Not because I didn't want to -- I did -- but because my body was crying out for a break. I've been doing fairly intense strength workouts all week in addition to some hooping, and yesterday I sweat with Jillian Michaels for the first time in a long while. All that added up to my muscles begging for a healing day. So I'm giving it to them.

But what to do with all that extra time in the morning? I could go to work early . . . but did not feel motivated to go do unpaid desk work. How about a dog walk? Nah, I decided, not wanting to meander in the cold damp outside with rambunctious beasts.

Then I realized -- I could get rolling.

I can practically hear you thinking, dear reader, "Huh? What in the world is she going on about now?" Two words (well, three, depending on how you read the hyphen): pancake roll-ups. A certain chocolate-covered blogger has been writing about this new invention of hers, and I've been drooling -- er, following along avidly. I wanted to try the rolled up pancakes for myself, but did not have enough time in the morning and didn't much feel like them come dinner. Until today, of course. Today I rolled, pancake-style.

Well, sort of. The only "problem" with pancakes for breakfast is that they tend not to tide me over until a mid-morning snack, much less lunch. I've been eating very protein-y breakfasts of late, and those keep me full and energized nicely. So as appetizing as pancake roll-ups were, I wasn't sure how well they would sustain me.

So I made eggpancake roll-ups instead. Chocolate eggpancake roll-ups. Complete with a veggie serving. Chinese egg pancakes as well as the Italian frittata already exist in the culinary kingdom's cookbook. Now the world can add my very own chocolate eggpancake roll-ups to the same chapter.

Maybe that doesn't sound very appetizing. Maybe the photos here don't convince you. Chocolate and eggs? Plus vegetables? I agree that it does sound suspiciously like a health foodie's kitchen playtime gone horribly wrong. But it's not, really. I promise. These eggpancakes were not only tasty, but are nutritious and protein-alicious, too. Here's my not-so-secret recipe. Judge for yourself.

Chocolate Eggpancakes
For the pancake:
3/4 cup egg whites (or replacer, or two
Eggland's Best eggs)
4 grams (1/2 of the little scooper) of
Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood
1 T cocoa powder OR sugar free chocolate syrup
pinch of vanilla (I used
Love Street's super-amazing raw vanilla powder)
raw cacao nibs to taste

For the "icing:"
1 big dollop of your favorite plain yogurt
1 T cocoa powder (I used No Pudge Fudge brownie mix because it's what I had)
4 grams (another half of the canister's scoop) of
Amazing Grass Chocolate Green SuperFood
water to thin

Heat a small greased skillet over a medium high flame. While the skillet is warming, mix together all the ingredients for the eggpancakes except the cacao nibs. Pour the mixture into the heated skillet. Allow the eggpancake to set and solidify for a few minutes. While it is cooking, mix the icing ingredients together in a separate bowl, adding water to combine as needed. Set aside for later.

Gently begin to lift the pancake away from the skillet as it firms, allowing the uncooked egg mixture flow underneath. Continue doing so on all sides of the cooking eggpancake until there is no more extraneous liquid. Sprinkle the cacao nibs (or chocolate chips, it's up to you!) on top, cook for another minute, then plate the eggpancake.

"Ice" the eggpancake with the yogurt mixture. Devour, using only your fingers if possible. A drizzle of maple syrup would not be amiss, and rolling your eggpancake up is optional but good fun.

Makes one amazing eggpancake.

Eggs: Free To a Good Home

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Treasure In a Jar

Love Street Living Foods, my brand new affiliate, sent some mini jars of some of their wonderful products, including this Artisana coconut butter. I think that some of this coconut butter plus fruit/rice cake are going to equal today's afternoon snack. Yum!

~ ~ ~

Thank you all for your amazing support and kind comments on my last post. I am continuing to revel in the freedom and joy that I find in eating and living in a balanced, God-trusting manner. I don't know why He cares about crazy, slow-learning me, but I'm unspeakably glad that He does!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Eating Joy

Do you read Sophia's blog, Burp and Slurp? If you have not discovered the sassy, smart, silly foodie fun that is the essence of the House of Burping and Slurping, I recommend that you check her out. She's another Jesus-loving recovering anorexic chef and food fan, and is just all-around fabulous. Miss Burp and Slurp is also very wise. Last week she shared this in a post:
During my ED days, I became a creature of habit: I had my own little daily routine, my own strict rules of things I could and could not eat. That lifestyle made me safe, and I was comfortable in predictable meals and behaviors. But it also restricted and enchained me into a life not worth living.
I can relate to that. Such habit formation was an integral part of my eating disordered lifestyle. However, the reality of this type of living (or not living) is more recently familiar. This past November and December I fell into some poor eating habits, emotional eating, and depression. I gained some weight, and I felt out of control. So I took my nibbling in hand and refocused my appetite back toward more healthful habits. I started every morning with a green smoothie, and brought a second to work for lunch. In the evening I would have a salad, some carrot fries, and an entree. Maybe some crackers, and then some homemade and/or fat-free ice cream.

I got back on track. I felt more in control. The extra weight fell off (without, I should add, me trying to lose the weight) and I returned to my recommended weight range. All was right and well again.

Except not really. I had created what at first appeared to be healthy habits, but my eating disordered brain took theses habits and turned them sour. It began to re-imprison me into the over-controlled, food-obsessed, calorie-counting nightmare that nearly killed me and nearly ruined my life and my marriage. It snuck up on me, and when I was happy and comfortable and feeling healthy, it twisted everything around. Smoothies became restricted. Dinner became a borderline binge. Every new day was a renewed battle against my body.

Sophia's words comprised one of a few wake-up calls, not least being a loving but urgent pressure from God to change something. The realization came to me a week ago in the midst of a morning hoop session. As I spun in the early dark of my living room, rocking out to some Phil Wickham, the thought came -- I can't do this anymore. I have to change or I'll die. Maybe not physically, but I knew I'd watch my life stagnate and shrivel in a way that matters more than physical death. I realized that, in trying to change my unhealthy habits, I'd created a new one and was now living for dinner.

So I set about making some changes, focusing on nourishing my body so I could enjoy life, not just my final, bordering-on-binge meal of the day. Here are some of my goals:
  • Spread out the food from dinner throughout the day so my body is not overwhelmed by calories, regardless of their labeled healthfulness (i.e., a binge on carrots is still a binge)
  • Eat a small snack when my body calls for one in mid-morning and late afternoon
  • Drink more water
  • Exercise moderately (i.e., don't start to overexercise)
  • Eat more fat (everything had started to go fat-free/low calorie again, which is a sign of disordered behavior making a comeback)
  • Eat dinner at the table with the Best Husband Ever
  • Don't eat the same thing for every meal, every day
Easy peasy, right? Well, maybe not at first . . . but whatever struggle is worthwhile. I don't want to waste my life, or my marriage. The Bible says this about what my life (and your life!) is worth:
For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom he paid was not mere gold or silver. It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God (1 Peter 1:18-19).
I don't want to dump Jesus' gift down the drain. I want to connect to God. I want to connect to other people. I want to live.

So I've been trying. Not being perfect, but just trying. And, so far, life is better. I feel more balanced, more connected to God. I enjoy the Best Husband Ever, our dogs, my job, and cooking more than I have in the past handful of months. I don't know how my weight will be affected, but frankly, I don't care. I feel at ease. I feel at peace. I feel balanced. Woo hoo! Praise God!

And while you're praising Him, check out some of my eats since starting the new joy-inducing regime:

I've had some beefed-up breakfast smoothies, with more nutrition.

I broke out my Laptop Lunchbox for workplace meals, and have been enjoying fill it up with tasty and nutritious goodies.

There have been regular small, sustaining snacks . . .

. . . and different, delicious dinners.

Not to mention continuing nooch experiments!

I feel like I've been eating joy and peace instead of food. I feel blessed. Maybe it won't always feel like this, but the knowledge that living for dinner is empty will never become false.

What about you? What do you live for? What would you like to live for?

Sunday, February 21, 2010

No-Smoothie Sunday

Look at what I had for breakfast today! It was a super delicious bowl consisting of 1 perfectly ripe sliced pear, a handful of defrosted cranberries, a sprinkling of Kashi Go Lean Crisp! cereal, and (drum roll, if you please) 1 single-serve container of Greek yogurt. Did you get that? Greek yogurt. Yum.

Like I said, this little breakfast bowl was hugely amazing. But the most amazing part of this meal was that it was the first non-smoothie breakfast that I've had in -- well, since I can remember. It's been that long. And when was the last time I had Greek yogurt? I can't begin to fathom. I also cannot fathom how I let my disordered thinking begin to trap me into seemingly healthy habits that spoil with overuse. I'll be writing more on that this week, but I wanted to kick off with my reunion with my once beloved breakfast bowls. I think it's about time I visited some old friends!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Bah, Humnut!

I can be stubborn about some things. And I've decided not to give up on nutritional yeast and Mae's humnut sauce. Today I whipped up some more humnut cheese at lunchtime for some nooch nachos. I used a little less nutritional yeast this time, and spread it over Guiltless Gourmet chips and my favorite salsa flavor, mango peach (yum!). I have to say that this round of humnuttery pleased me more than my first attempt and ended up tasting quite good, but I can't decide if that's due to the unquenchable goodness of the salsa.

Like I already said, however, I can be stubborn. And nutritional yeast, I'm throwing down the noochy gauntlet -- you will not defeat me! I wonder if my hummus base for the sauce is adversely affecting the final flavor. I used a lot of paprika, which is not in my standard hummus recipe. Perhaps I'll try a more neutral tasting hummus for my next nooching. I will prevail!

Friday, February 19, 2010


Do you know what "nooch" is? Until a short while ago, I would have guessed that its meaning was dirty and not quite family-friendly. In reality, "nooch" is an abbreviation of "nutritional yeast," and there's nothing dirty about that.

Nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast, meaning that it won't rise. (Of course this makes my rather dramatic imagination instantly fill with what horrors could might ensue upon eating active, unbaked yeast. Did yours?) This supplement is apparently the newest food blog trend, and I'm only now cluing into the party. I live in Montana, though, so it's okay -- we're always behind the times on fads.

But what's so great about nooch anyway? Why has its popularity exploded across the blogosphere? I definitely wondered, and so I went a-Googling. I discovered that nutritional nooch is apparently quite the nutritional powerhouse, especially for vegetarians. Nutritional yeast has oodles of B-complex vitamins, which are difficult to find outside of animal products and can manage both stress levels and metabolism. Nifty, eh? I thought so.

Then I discovered May's humnut cheese sauce. This innovative blogger uses nutritional yeast to create a vegetarian/vegan-friendly topping to replace cheese on her pizzas. May's cheese-less, hummus-ful nooch sauce purportedly changed HEAB's life, and food bloggers across the web are swooning over the stuff. Who am I to argue with that? I decided to get my hands on some nooch. (See how dirty that sounds?!)

Large flaked nutritional yeast in hand, I set about making a pizza topped with humnut sauce for dinner last night. The two major components of this recipe are nooch (obviously) and hummus. I was hummus-less, so first I fixed that problem. I turned this (a can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed, 1 heaping spoonful of minced garlic, 2-ish T lemon juice, a squirt of sriracha hot sauce, and a bunch of paprika):

into this:

With half of the humnut sauce's ingredient list accounted for, I began prepping my pizza. I followed May's instructions to the letter, omitting only the tahini because I just don't like it. What I did like, however, was May's method of cooking the pizza in a skillet, and then broiling it for a few minutes in the oven. I loved the texture and crispiness of the resulting pizza.

As you can see, after spreading on May's tomato paste sauce, I added some broccoli and sliced apple before topping it off with hunnut cheese. It sizzled away in a skillet over medium high heat for about five minutes, and then I set it under the broiler for no more than two minutes.

As for the effectiveness of the nooch, I'm still unsure. Was it life-changingly tasty? No, but it wasn't bad, either. I'm just not quite decided on how good it was yet. I ended up adding some barbecue sauce to this pizza at the last minute beecause I was afraid the humnut cheese would be kind of gross. It certainly was not gross, and I'm going to try it again. I'm eager to test it out with nooch nachos.

The vitman B12-seeking chef is not limited to making humnut cheese with nutritional yeast, though. There are a number of other popular uses for the supplement. The option that I found cropping up most often during my searching was to sprinkle nooch on popcorn. Vegetarian Cuisine's Suite 101 website offers a bunch of other intriguing suggestions, as well as info on nutritional yeast's benefits and how and where to buy it.

Want to try some humnut sauce? According to May, combine 2-3 Tablespoons of your favorite hummus with 2 Tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Add a bit of water to thin the mixture and voila! -- you've humnuttered.

So what's your take on the latest and greatest foodie fad? Do you use nutritional yeast? Does it leave you saying "bah, humnut!" or do you belong to the nooch fan club? What's your favorite way to nooch? And if that doesn't sound dirty, I don't know what does.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

I Want Spring!

If you'd like to see more mostly wordless photography by me, I keep a 365 photoblog called Camera Cowgirl. How's that for shameless self-promotion?

Here's some more, which is slightly less shameless due to the fact that I look rather ridiculous manhandling my poor hoops, and also because I haven't posted a hooping video in a while:

Happy hump day/Wednesday/today!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Carb Crazy: Cereal and Cracker Reviews

I hit the sample jackpot. A few weeks ago, Nicolette, representative of Bear Naked and Kashi, contacted me and asked if I would like to sample some new granolas. Would I?! Yes! Mere days later I was the happy recipient of a package of crunchy goodies: two bags of Bear Naked granola and a box of Kashi's GoLean Crisp! cereal.

You may remember that I already professed a love for this new Kashi GoLean cereal. You may also be thinking that I free-loaded off poor Nicolette, stealing her cereal freebie without intending to review it. Don't give up on me yet, readers! I confessed to Nicolette that I already reviewed (and enjoyed!) the cereal, and she sent it anyway. Thank you, Nicolette!

Back to the reviews. Upon finding a package of granola sitting on my doorstep, I immediately tested out its contents. Nicolette sent me Bear Naked's two newest granola varieties, Maple Pecan and Peak Flax Oats & Honey. My first thought as I crunched into the Peak granola, complete with dried blueberries, was, "Mmm, pretty good." Then came, "Holy yummaliciousness!!!" when I tried the Maple Pecan. After that I didn't say much because I was in too much ecstasy over the maple and pecan goodness delighting my tastebuds.

Since the above review may be a little vague, I've restructured my initial reactions into coherency for your reading pleasure. I liked the Peak Flax Oats & Honey granola. Crunchy, tasty, low in the empty calories and saturated fats that seem to plague most granolas, it was good, with some decently sized grain clumps (I prefer chunky, clumpy granola). I particularly enjoyed its dried blueberries and other natural ingredients. This granola tasted good. Not amazing. Just good, plain and simple and, while not all that singular, not bad at all.

The Maple Pecan granola was a different story, as you might imagine. I admit that I already really enjoy all things maple, so I suppose that I was predisposed to liking this variety. But the Maple Pecan granola rocked my socks off. It contained pecans lightly glazed in maple syrup, and the grain clusters were perfectly crisp and clumpy, exuding wonderful maple-ness with every chomping bite I took. Plus, as with the Peak granola, the Maple Pecan was also light and natural, not oil or sugar-laden. I don't think I can rave enough about this granola. If I was in a granola-buying mood, this product could very well find itself in my shopping cart. Well done, Bear Naked, well done indeed.

When I emailed Nicolette to thank her for the granola samples, she wrote back with a question -- would I like some more samples? I think you all know how I responded. So once again a package o' goodies made its way to my front door, and I opened it with all the enthusiasm of a child opening her first gift on Christmas day. This new box's contents were almost all from the Kashi Heart to Heart line. There were two cereals (Honey Toasted Oat and Warm Cinnamon Oat), two boxes of whole grain crackers (Original and Roasted Garlic), and two Dark Mocha Almond TLC granola bars. I must admit that I felt a little disappointed with my plunder. I had already tried the two cereals and one of the cracker varieties, and I'm not all that crazy about any of them.

Take the Heart to Heart cereals, for example. While I like the Honey Toasted Oat cereal, I don't favor the Warm Cinnamon Oat. I'm not really sure what I dislike about it, other than it seems to be a step down from the original Heart to Heart cereal instead of an improvement. At least the cereal pieces are still heart-shaped, which makes me happy, but I don't buy food for its looks. In my opinion, these cereals are just not worth their hefty price tags.

As for the crackers, I still had a box of the Roasted Garlic Heart to Hearts in my cupboard that I was slowly working my way through when I received these samples. I normally go gaga for garlic. Just ask the Best Husband Ever -- I put garlic in everything I can! So I figured that the new Heart to Heart cracker variety was a sure thing and bought myself a box. Sadly, I was wrong. I just could not coerce myself to like these. Me, the garlic-lover! This is an unprecedented event. Sorry, Kashi. I wish I could say something different about this product. I really, really wanted to like these crackers -- but didn't.

However, the Original flavor of the crackers redeemed the Heart to Heart brand in my eyes. Unlike their green-tinted garlic counterpart, the Original crackers were quite tasty. I had never tried these before and felt pleasantly surprised. The texture and light saltiness of the Original crackers pleased even the Best Husband Ever. In the hubby's own words (or word, I suppose), the Original Heart to Heart crackers are "eatable." (That's a compliment.)

While the Heart to Heart cereals were just so-so, and the Roasted Garlic crackers a failure to please, the TLC granola bars were darned yummy. The newest TLC bar variety, Dark Mocha Almond, gets oodles of stars in my book. It has a great chocolate/coffee flavor, perfect chewiness, and each bar is topped with mini chocolate chips. For all that goodness, the Dark Mocha Almond snack bar clocks in at 130 calories per bar, with 0.5 grams of saturated fat and 4 grams of fiber. I just finished eating half of one for a mid-morning snack about 45 minutes ago, and it's holding me over until lunch quite deliciously.

Wow, that was a lot of reviewing, wasn't it? Just FYI -- these are my honest opinions, and I'm receiving no endorsement of any kind from Kashi or Bear Naked. In other words, I'm a free agent! And this free agent gives many a thumbs up to Bear Naked's Maple Pecan granola, two thumbs up to the TLC Dark Mocha Almond granola bar, and one thumb each for Bear Naked's Oat & Honey and for Heart to Heart's Original crackers. Thanks again, Nicolette, for the opportunity to taste and type about some of the newest carbalicious options out on the natural foods market!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Olympics, Shmolympics

Did anybody watch the opening ceremonies for the 2010 Olympics last night? We didn't. Mostly because we have not connected our television to receive any input outside of DVDs, but also because the Best Husband Ever and I don't care much.

And we forgot.

And the hubby's sick.

Plus, I agree with a lot of Carrie's reasoning behind skipping the ceremonies, as a recovered anorexic. So there are a bunch of reasons why we dissed the Olympics.

I did, however, watch this:

Ahh, zombies. Always to be counted on for a spot of fun.

Did you watch the Vancouver opening ceremonies? What did you think? Who are you rooting for?

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Meet the Pups

After yesterday's bestial Wordless Wednesday post, a few people were wondering who was who in our dog family. Meet our little zoo! They're a motley crew, as you will see.

First came Cody. I adopted him soon after I moved to Montana, before I met the Best Husband Ever. My reason for relocating to Big Sky Country was to work at an animal sanctuary for blind and disabled animals. When he was a puppy, Cody moved to the sanctuary from a shelter in Wyoming because the folks there thought he was blind. He's not, but he is vision impaired. That doesn't stop him from have a blast with a ball, though, and Cody is rather amazing at catching pieces of carrot tossed his way. I adopted Cody in early 2006 after he beat a case of parvo. Yep, he's exceptional! Cody looks like a white lab, and is probably some sort of Labrador/Great Pyrenees/Akita mix.

In October 2008, Cody got a new brother -- Jackson! The Best Husband Ever and I adopted Jackson at a Petsmart adoption day. He had a rather dopey name at the time (which I cannot remember!), but also a happy face and gorgeous eyes. Jackson was an old puppy, or a teenager, I suppose, when we adopted him. He likes to run like crazy, is super smart (he's our Petsmart puppy school star!), and can jump fences with ease. We don't really love that aspect of Jackson, as it means he can't enjoy our fenced backyard, but we still think he's great. Jackson is a Rottweiler/Australian Shepherd/Basset Hound mix. I have no clue how that last bit got into him.

Last but not least came Lio. This crazy little chihuahua came to us as a puppy from (to my shame) a pet store in late summer of 2009. However, he is my little baby! I never thought I'd be a chihuahua person, but now I'm so glad that he's in our family. True, he refuses to be potty trained and he likes to lick the inside of ears (yes, ears) with ridiculous abandon, but he is so sweet and precious. It's a good thing he likes big dogs, because wrestling is another of Lio's favorite pastimes:

There you have it -- the canine branch of our family. They're very pleased to meet you!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


This is a typical scene in our house. Who knew our adorable beasts could look so vicious?

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Holy Brocamole!

Costco rocks. I mean, really -- where else can you find pounds of fresh produce on the cheap, not to mention a great selection of nutritious packaged foods? No where, I tell you.

There is one drawback to bulk stores, though: you have to eat said pounds of fresh produce before it spoils. Even though there are just the two of us, this is usually never a problem for the Best Husband Ever and I. Probably mostly because I'm a veggie fiend. Whatever the reason, though, we tend to make it through all of our Costco purchases before they expire.

Sometimes, however, that is not the case. This week I misremembered our broccoli stash at home and bought a second massive bag of the stuff. We've been making good headway, but the broccoli is now starting to go bad, and fast. What to do?

Well, I had seen a curious recipe floating about the blogosphere some time ago. I heard tell of a different kind of guacamole -- brocamole, if you will. My first sighting was of HEAB's Broc Guac, I believe, and when I went searching for inspiration this weekend I also discovered Kath's Fiesta Broccoli Dip. Armed with ideas, I hit the kitchen and revved up my blender. This was another I-got-no-measuring-cups concoction, but here's what I did, more or less.


1.5ish cups of broccoli
1/2 cup yogurt (I used super thick fat-free yogurt)
1 heaping T garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Mexican-style hot sauce
pinch of salt
lime juice to taste
cilantro to taste (I used dried because it's all I had, but I recommend fresh)

other veggies as desired

Place the broccoli in a microwave safe bowl. Add a little water (I used no more than 1/4 cup) and microwave for 1 minute. Transfer the broccoli and what water remains to a blender or food processor. Add the remaining ingredients, except for any additional veggies. Process until fairly smooth, adding more lime juice and cilantro as desired. If you would like extra texture, pulse in some corn (I used frozen, which was a mistake -- I recommend thawed/fresh), bell pepper, or tomato. I'd imagine that some black beans would not be amiss, either.

This dip can be served with tortilla chips, mixed into soups, with carrot sticks, or however your Mexican food-loving soul desires. I mixed my brocomole with the last of my mango peach salsa (from Costco) and a new food find, also at Costco -- Sandwich Thins! This is another item I have spied on other folks' blogs, but up until now I had only seen them in local stores for close to $4 for a package of six thins. As that's nearly a dollar a "bun," I did not indulge. Now that they're at Costco, home of thrifty bulk bargain love, you can bet these thins found a home in our pantry.

I'm not excited. No, not at all.

What about you? Do you have a favorite dip, guacamole-inspired or otherwise? Have you ever made an alternative version of a traditional dip, spread, or garnish? Do tell, because you know I'm always looking for new ways to torture -- er, use my blender.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Everybody Wins!

We have a winner! And I don't mean the New Orleans Saints, who apparently won the Super Bowl yesterday. (Can you tell that the Best Husband Ever and I don't watch much professional football . . . or any?) Nope, I'm talking about the winner of Kitchen Courage's Progresso soup giveaway!

So who walks away win a gift box of Progresso soup, plus a super cute mug and a digital jump rope?

Jane Beall!

Congrats, Jane! Email me at escagnel04 (at) yahoo (dot) com with your mailing name and address, and I will pass it onto Laurie over at Progresso. Thank you for participating! (Please note that that's a zero in the first part of my email address, not the letter "o.") Also, let me know if you can figure out the digital jump rope -- I could never manage to sort out how to work mine.

That's not all, though. The folks over at Holey Donuts! wanted to offer a Valentine's Day special. These donuts are super tasty, and don't have all the bad fats and high sugar content of regular donuts. I've tried these products, and I really like them. I recommend any of their crumb donuts (there are chocolate, vanilla, and caramel varieties) or a standard glazed donut. They even have a super cute (and delicious) pink frosted Valentine's Day donut!

If you'd like to try a few boxes of Holey Donuts!, head on over to their website and put three boxes of product into your cart. Then at checkout enter the code "VDAY1" and hit recalculate, and one of your three boxes will be yours for free. Yum! There is also a contest for blog readers to win four free assortments and $250, so be sure to check out the Holey Donuts! contact page to enter as well.

Happy Monday!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Back in the Smoothie Groove

I don't know why, but I love me some green smoothies for breakfast and lunch, despite the frigid Montana weather. (I can't believe I just used that horrible grammar in the name of artistic license. Will you ever forgive me?) They're super nutritious as I incorporate protein and lots of spinach (hellooo, vitamin K, vitamin A, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, vitamin C, vitamin B2, potassium, and vitamin B6, to name a few spinach perks). Plus green smoothies are energizing, fun to make and eat, and just plain yummy. The only things I don't like about smoothie meals are a) that they stress out my poor little blender-that-could, and b) that I shiver in my cold office after eating one. But then I drink lots of hot tea, so it's all good. The side-effect of the smoothies' chill factor is that I end up consuming more water than I might ordinarily feel motivated to do, which is no small feat.

Today's breakfast and lunch smoothies are fairly representative of the flavor combinations that
I enjoy. These green smoothies might not actually be green, but rest assured that they both contain powerful and verdant nutrition within. Want to eat what I ate today? Give these smoothie concoctions a whirl -- literally! in your blenders! -- and then tell me what you think.

Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie
1 cup of water
1 cup of yogurt (I used plain organic non-fat)
splash of skim milk
1/4 tsp guar gum
1/2 tsp xantham gum
pinch of salt
sweetener to taste
1/2 cup frozen blueberries
a few large handfuls of spinach
3 big handfuls of ice (added after blending all the above ingredients)

Chocolate-Covered Strawberry Smoothie
(Okay, so the strawberries aren't so much chocolate-covered as made one with the chocolate, but the first option makes a better sounding title, don't you think?)
1 cup of water
splash of skim milk
1 scoop of whey chocolate protein powder (I've tried Jay Robb's, but I like my local store's brand better)
1 scoop of Amazing Grass' chocolate Green SuperFood
sweetener to taste
pinch of salt
about 2 Tablespoons sugar-free chocolate syrup
4-5 large frozen strawberries
3 big handfuls of ice (again, blend together all of the above ingredients before adding the ice)

Easy, healthful, tasty, good transporters and keepers -- what else could you hope for in a smoothie breakfast or lunch? What's your favorite smoothie concoction? I'm always looking for new inspiration.

Don't forget -- today is the last day to enter to win free Progress soup! A can of soup is no green smoothie, it's true, but I wouldn't say no a hot bowl of soup, either. Good luck!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Soup-ed Up

I am continuing to eat my way through the bevy of soups that Progresso sent my way a few weeks ago. This week I tried two new-to-me flavors for a couple of lunches, and I thought you might be interested in my thoughts. You can win your own bundle o' soup, too, if you enter the giveaway by Friday (that's tomorrow!).

On Tuesday, I packed a can of Light Chicken and Dumpling soup for lunch, and my microwaved bowl is pictured above. You may noticed that there's not a lot of liquid in said bowl. That's because I drain some of the liquid off. If I don't, I feel really bloated and uncomfortable, possibly from all the salt. Progresso is really good about keeping their soups low in unhealthy fats and chock full of veggies, but the salt content is pretty excessive. One can of Light Chicken and Dumpling soup contains nearly 60% of your daily sodium intake! That's a lot, in my opinion.

Thankfully, I don't eat a lot of salty foods, so I figure that I'm pretty safe on the soup front. Besides this soup has some nice nutritional stats, especially if you're being careful about diet and weight loss. Plus, it was fairly tasty. I felt a bit nervous about the look of the turd-like (yes, I did just use "turd" to describe food!) dumplings, but they ended up tasting pretty good. My one complaint is that I would have liked the dumplings to be made from a whole grain flour.

For Wednesday's lunch I made a meal of another new variety, the Light Italian Style Meatball soup. I tend not to go in for meat dishes, and meatballs are especially not my thing. However, I really did enjoy this soup. It seemed to have a lot of veggies, and I liked the contrasting texture of the meatballs and pasta pieces. What's more, this soup smelled really appetizing and, well, Italian. Yum! Again, though, whole wheat pasta would not have been amiss, and each can contains 40% of your daily value of sodium. And another thing -- if this is a meatball-based soup, where is all the protein? Each can only offers 6 grams of protein.

To sum things up (and because I like lists), here's a rundown of my Progresso soup thoughts.


  • the ease of packing and prep (2 minutes in the microwave = lunch! with veggies!)
  • good flavor
  • low calorie (good for those hoping to lose a few pounds) and low in unhealthy fats
  • decent price, and many of the varieties are available at bulk stores like Costco


  • the high sodium content
  • too much liquid in each can (I want more veggies!)
  • there could be so much more nutrition in each can (whole grains, more veggies, more protein)

What do you think of canned soup? Want to win some?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Meet Me In Vancouver

Photo by Guang Niu/Getty Images

I cannot believe that the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver are about to begin. And by "about" I mean next week . . . but they've still snuck up on me! It's a good thing that I stay in impeccable shape and in peak figure skating condition. It's not easy to do that one-legged backbend that I'm demoing in this photo.

Okay . . . so maybe that's not me. Maybe that is, in reality, Kim Yu-Na of South Korea. And that I'm not that bendy. None of that changes the fact that I have a morbid fascination with figure skating (and, to a lesser degree, ladies' gymnastics). I can get sucked into hour upon hour of gawking at the television during a figure skating competition. I think the sport is beautiful and
intense and . . . a little scary.

Scary how? In a few ways, in my opinion. First, as with gymnastics, the competitors seem to be getting younger and younger. How is it that Michelle Kwan was considered too old to compete when she was barely 20? And let's not even get into the body image issues that are embedded in the sport. For me, though, I watch the figure skating cringing a little, waiting for somebody to fall and crack their brains across the ice. Or, even worse to my freakish brain, their teeth.

But I watch it anyway. And I like it. I don't really go in for other Olympic sports as a spectator, but figure skating gets me every time.

What about you? Are you going to watch the Vancouver Olympics? Which is your favorite event?

Don't forget to enter the Progresso soup giveaway! Deadline is Friday, February 5, y'all.