All-in-one

Well, I suppose it’s time to get moving on a recap of the entire day! Seriously, where does the time go??

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I got back into the cardio groove this morning (thank goodness because my body was craving some sweat action) with a solid run around the park. Stats: 4.2 miles, 41 minutes, 380 calories, average heart rate 160, max 173. Despite the cloudy chill outside, the air sort of smelled like spring. Do you know what I mean? And I saw a few little yellow daffodil buds peeking out on the side of the road. Very exciting!

I got crafty for breakfast. Last night, I mixed 1/4 cup of my spinach oatmeal blend with 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats and spread it on a plate to set in the fridge breakfast cookie-style. This morning:

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Because the cookie behaved so well, I smothered it with 1/3 cup of modified healthy cream cheese icing: nonfat Greek yogurt, part-skim ricotta, cinnamon, vanilla, and 1 tsp each of lemon curd and goat cheese. You may be skeptical of the goat cheese-in-a-sweet-meal combo you’ve been seeing on here lately, but believe me when I say it pairs perfectly with the lemon curd!

I topped it all with strawberries, granola/trail mix, and some cocoa-java almonds:

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I was running ridiculously late for class, so I ended up rolling the whole thing into a breakfast burrito of sorts and stuffing it into a container so I could enjoy on the train.

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And enjoy it I did!

I continued nibbling all throughout class, starting with a sliced apple and my second packet of Barney Butter from the Foods That Fit prize pack.

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(Sorry for the recycled picture! I got to class too late to do my usual photo shoot before it started.)

Next was the last two stuffed collard greens:

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With a half cup roasted veggies:

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And, of course, my colorific tropical fruit salad + yogurt topped with golean crunch:

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After all the healthy, I needed chocolate and peanut butter stat. Luckily, Lisa came through with this golden nugget:

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When I got back to the Slope later, I popped into the library to return a couple books and pick up my latest reservation, Gastropolis. I’m so excited for this one!

I also stopped into Union Market for samples — a cube of gruyere, two rice crisps, and some marinated mushrooms. I continued the snacking when I got home with 1/3 cup of fruit salad with trail mix and dark chocolate-pomegranate tea (leftover black tea from this morning, a fresh bag of TJ’s pomegranate white tea, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, splash unsweetened soymilk, spinkle of cinnamon):

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(Warning: Before you try this at home, I did not sweeten this tea because I was in the mood for some bitterness. If you’re not into straight unsweetened cocoa powder, you should prob add some sweetness!)

I got hungry again around 4:00 and decided to just go straight for dinner instead of messing around with some sort of snack endeavor. I made a quick open-faced sandwich with two slices of pumpernickel baguette (from work last week), a smear of goat cheese, slices of radish and granny smith apple (also from work), and two Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Black Bean-Salmon Patties.

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In the background, you can see the last 1/3 cup roasted veggies that I tossed in for bulk:

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Dessert was brilliantly fun! I heated about 1/2 cup of the Sylvia’s banana bread pudding from work yesteday (thanks again, Pura!) and froyo’d a mix of 1/3 cup Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta, 1/2 mashed banana, 1 tbsp cocoa powder, 1 tbsp peanut butter, and 1 chopped hershey’s kiss. Here’s the resulting chocolate chocolate chip peanut butter banana ice cream sundae, garnished with sliced strawberries to appease my dad and his brownness-aversion 🙂

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And to conclude, I had 1/2 a chocolate rugelach (from the Gastropolis event mentioned above) and two Jasmine Tea Biscotti Bites.

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Speaking of the bites, more reviews have been popping up around the blogworld, thanks to Vani and Brandi. Three dozen of these goodies could be all yours on April 6! Make sure you save the date so you remember to bid on these and other treats during Meghann‘s bake sale for a good cause!

kreativIn other exciting news, Dulcie of Daily Dulcie and Leanne of Fuel and Fitness have both awarded me with the Kreativ Blogger award. Thanks, ladies!! This is such a huge compliment coming from bloggers of your “kreativ” caliber 😀

When and where do you feel most creative?

    Brooklyn comes through

    As promised, Gina, Kate, and I went out last night for our fancy dinner as part of Dine-In Brooklyn, an annual week-long extravaganza during which pricey Brooklyn restaurants offer a three-course dinner menu for $23. This is still more than I’d generally spend, but I like to take advantage of it because I’d never go to most of these restaurants otherwise.

    We picked Chestnut, a restaurant in Carroll Gardens with a self-proclaimed “refined rustic” style. The lighting in the dining room was so cozy, and I loved how the wall of French doors allowed a view of Smith Street (one of Brooklyn’s most charming streets packed with amazing restaurants).

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    Once we were seated, the server brought us rosemary foccaccia and whole wheat raisin walnut bread (plus pickles, but I let the other girls eat all of those because I’m not a fan). I had a slice of each bread dipped in olive oil.

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    The foccaccia had a sprinkling of sea salt over the top and was sooooo good with the rosemary. And the raisin walnut bread was dense on the inside and crunchy on the outside because the crust was geniously studded with walnuts.

    During these restaurant weeks, many restaurants offer a separate “downgraded” menu with just a few choices because they are stingy and don’t want to give away their best dishes for reduced prices. Chestnut, however, had the full menu available! The only catch was that certain items (the ones marked with smiley faces) would cost an extra $7 … but our server explained that even if we ordered two “smiley face” courses, the charge would still only be $7 (and not $14). That made me happy. So happy that, in an unprecedented maneuver, I decided to go smiley face all the way 😀

    For my first course, I ordered the grilled octopus with sunchokes, kumquat, & fennel pollen:

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    Let me just say that I love grilled octopus. I know that some are afraid of the suction cups:

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    But if you are afraid, you really need to get over it because it’s sooooo good. The texture is similar to chicken, so it’s really not that scary. Gina and Kate each had a successful bite 🙂

    I had to taste everything at the table, of course, so I also had a “nugget” of Gina’s potato gnocchi with prociutto and oyster mushrooms.

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    I generally don’t like gnocchi due to my potato-aversion, but I thought these had a very creamy inside texture with a bit of crisp on the outside. Gina, who has much more potato experience, thought they reminded her a little bit too much of tater tots.

    Kate ordered the buckwheat crepe with faro, gravlox, and creme fraiche:

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    This one was definitely a winner! The faro inside the crepe added a satisfying nutty chew, and the smokey flavor from the salmon infused the whole tower perfectly.

    I continued the seafood theme for my main course because I so rarely cook fish (making arrangements for leftovers can be challenging) … and because it’s normally the most expensive thing on the menu. Here’s my wild striped bass with celeriac and spicy sopressata:

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    This was so tasty! Another dish with a fun, crispy outside (seems to be a theme of this meal), as the salmon was pan-seared and then drizzled with orange olive oil. I loved the bed of celeriac and sopressata matchsticks.

    (Side note: It was not lost on me that my more expensive selections arrived in the teeeeeeeeeniest portions. But that was probably a good thing since I had eaten about 100 pounds of produce earlier in the day!)

    Gina ordered the chicken breast with sausage filling and potato gallette. The gallette was so impressive! A work of potato art:

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    I tasted some of the chicken and stuffing, also delicious. I feel like a broken record, but everything that touched my lips at this restaurant tasted amazing!

    Kate ordered the kabocha squash ravioli with pumpkin seeds and ricotta salata:

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    Also super yummy. The sauce was sweet and buttery, and the cheese added just the right amount of tang.

    And then it was time for dessert! I’m so lucky that my friends get just as excited about food as I do 😀

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    I chose the chai affogato with cardamom ice cream and pistachio. I had no idea what that meant, but I accepted the challenge because (1) it’s hard to go wrong with dessert and (2) the flavor combo sounded unbeatable. I was kind of hoping for some sort of warm chai cake with cardamom ice cream on the side and a sprinkling of pistachios over the top. In reality, I got a cold tea ice cream float:

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    Even though this dessert did not match up to my original fantasy, the flavor combo was still delicious, and I think it would be the ideal summer treat.

    Gina’s choice was the chocolate budino (sort of like a warm lava cake) with peanut butter mousse:

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    Ooooh, this was so rich! I had a microscopic bite, since the dessert was pretty microscopic to begin with, and the flavors completely exploded in my mouth.

    Kate ordered the cheesecake with mixed berries and hibiscus syrup:

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    I obviously had a bite of that, too. The mix of hibiscus syrup with thick graham cracker crust made me swoon.

    To conclude, here’s some more evidence of the “refined-rustic” decor of the restaurant:

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    This is the view of the bar from outside. The window looked so pretty, and if you inspect closely, you can see the wooden ladder behind the bar that the bartenders climb when they need things up high. Very charmingly “rustic,” if you ask me.

    I had worried initially that I would leave the restaurant stuffed out of my mind because I really wasn’t that hungry to begin with, but I felt perfectly satisfied, thanks to all the reasonable portions. Chestnut was one of the best restaurant week experiences I’ve had, taking into account Manhattan’s restaurant week as well. Yay for food success!! We’re planning a restaurant week brunch for Sunday at a different restaurant, so we’ll see how that stacks up.

    Do you have restaurant weeks like this in your town?

    Eat food. [Not] too much. Mostly plants.

    I am so full of produce right now!

    We had a lunchtime meeting (with snacks provided!) in one of the nursery rooms at noon today. Here are my goods aligned on the mini-ironing board:

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    First up was leftovers from yesterday‘s lunch: a variety bowl of my roasted veggies, Myrna’s chicken/rice/corn, and Belkis’ moro de habichuela.

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    Next: baby carrots and red peppers with a big pile of salsa for dipping.

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    I had two plates just like this.

    And finally, grapes, apples, and an oatmeal chocolate chip cookie (baked by the nurse Sarah using the recipe on the Quaker canister, sooooo good).

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    I probably had two plates more of apples and grapes (and I wrapped up some extras, along with two cookies to take home after the meeting :-)! ).

    I snacked on more leftover produce as the afternoon continued. Grapes and red peppers:

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    Plus approx a cup of Inginia’s chicken and veggies soup with kale, spinach, and mushrooms:

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    Pura came through our floor around 2 to to inform us that there was banana bread pudding from Sylvia’s … as in the queen of soul food.  This was amazing amazing pudding — complete with Nilla wafers all over the top! I had about 1/4 cup in the moment and packed up another cup to take home.

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    And then some more produce around 3pm:

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    Plus a chocolate star mint:

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    And my gold medal winning gymnastics yogurt + fruit salad doing its mat routine because it really wanted to show off its toned underside:

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    A 4:30 strawberry on steroids from Vianni:

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    And finally, a baby orange soda candy:

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    So much faster to do a post on the work computer than on my computer at home! I’m staying here a little late tonight because I’m meeting Gina and Kate at 7 for a delectable three-course meal as part of Dine In Brooklyn, the most wonderful week of the year. You can be sure I’ll be reporting back on the food excitement!

    Also, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you probably know about the next bake sale Meghann is hosting on April 6 to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society as part of Team in Training for her upcoming marathon. To support her cause, I’ll be putting three dozen of my Jasmine Tea Biscotti Bites up for auction. These bites are a delicious and healthy treat and have been taste-tested by a number of my fellow bloggers — Kath,  HangryPants Heather (aka my self-proclaimed big sister), and Olga — to rave reviews. Please consider supporting Meghann (and giving yourself a fun treat) by bidding on my bites when the time comes!

    I’m off to dinner now! Yay for three courses :-D.

    How many servings of fruits/veggies did you get in today??

    Food, doldrums, and a tale

    Dinner last night was quick and easy because I was rushing to finish up that assignment. I had two more stuffed collard greens leaves:

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    And two Sweet ‘n’ Spicy Black Bean-Salmon Patties with a thick layer of cinnamon-cayenne peanut butter between them:

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    I see those weird looks you’re giving me, but come on, you know you want to try it!

    Halfway through I remembered about the radishes and lettuce in the fridge I should be using, so they got inserted into the middle. Less pretty but more nutritious:

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    Dessert was about 1/3 cup of my tropical fruit salad (look at that juice!) with a dollop of part-skim ricotta mixed with lemon curd and a sprinkling of granola/trail mix/cocoa java almonds:

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    And dessert dessert — the One Lucky Duck blonde macaroon sample from Sunday’s brunch:

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    This was delicious and made me think about how I really need to get into the macaroon-making business.

    This morning, I slept in until 6 and then did the 20-minute Morning Flow #1 yogadownload. On top of feeling achy, I’ve been feeling unmotivated about the gym and just stretched too thin in general all week. The yoga was a good way to combine extra sleep with more gentle exercise … but I also keep finding myself trying to make deals in my head, i.e. you didn’t do cardio this morning, so no cake today if some shows up. I need to stop that!

    I’m going to try to find some time this weekend to revamp the exercise routine because I think the biggest problem is that I’m getting bored.

    And, of course, spinach oats yet again for breakfast! (Click here for the process.)

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    Topped with strawberries, homemade almond-cashew butter, granola/trail mix, and unsweetened coconut:

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    And I’ll leave you this morning with a mini Tale of Expansion from my good friend Wife, who you met in a couple photos here. Wife is in the process of getting her PhD (!!!!!) in Athens, GA, but she recently spent spring break in Tucson with her boyfriend. Here is what she had to say about that:

    Ted and I went for high tea at the Tohono Chul Tea Room in Tucson over spring break. Not nearly as official and elaborate as the three tier Harrod’s affair when we were in London, but as you can see the scones still make me go crrrrraaaaaazzzzy.

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    What makes YOU go crrrrraaaaaazzzzy?

    Misplaced birth

    The spinach oats kept me going until about 10:30 this morning — 3 to 3.5 hours seems to be the most distance I can get out of a bowl of oatmeal. Fine with me since the hunger means I get to start eating earlier 😀

    I had a small chopped apple with one of the packets of Barney Butter that came in my Foods That Fit prize pack.

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    It was my first time trying Barney Butter, and I was enough of a fan to pull apart the little packet post-squeeze and make sure I took care of every last one of the 90 calories in there!

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    As tasty as the BB was, I don’t think I’d buy it. It has a bunch of unnecessary ingredients in it that I’d rather get from, say … cake! My nut butter can keep being made out of just nuts, thank you very much.

    I was hungry again by 11:30 and decided to honor the feeling pronto with lunch #1: three more of the stuffed collard greens that I described last night and a sampling of my roommate Tara’s baby hydroponic tomatoes because she told me they were blogworthy and I agreed.

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    The green ones look like mini-watermelons — so cute!

    I ate real lunch at about 12:30 and, since I am once again the luckiest girl in the world with the most amazing coworkers, Myrna cooked last night and brought in a TON of food for me! I shared it with Vianni, and there was still some leftover to put toward tomorrow’s lunch. Here’s my bowl:

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    My roasted veggies are in the back, and Myrna’s culinary masterpieces are in the front: rice with corn, potatoes, and chicken breast. I don’t even like potatoes, but Myrna seasoned these so beautifully that I actually ate all the skinny burnt pieces I could get my hands on.

    Myrna supplemented the food she cooked with her leftover mangu from yesterday, be still my heart. I had about a cup of it.

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    Next, Belkis appeared with her famous black beans and rice. I was in heaven and had about 1/2 cup:

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    And for dessert, another tongue-painter candy:

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    I have to say that I was kind of nervous about these “paint” candies because having a bright tongue could potentially challenge my credibility with clients, but I’m so weak when it comes to strawberry-flavored candy! Luckily, there was no lasting damage to my oral pigmentation yesterday OR today.

    I had to leave for another visit around 1:40 and could tell hunger was coming back for me, so I ate my pretty yogurt before I left:

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    A number of you commented yesterday about how delicious my yogurt breakfast combo looked when I ate this for a morning snack. I would just like to clarify that never in a million years would this itty bitty container with 1/2 cup fruit and 1/2 cup yogurt suffice for breakfast! It’s all about the oats 😀 That’s why they get their own post. I just use the yogurt as a tasty vehicle to keep the munchies at bay inter-meal!

    And an on-the-way-to-the-visit breath freshener 😉

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    When I got back to the office at 3:30, I had another super exciting treat waiting! Belkis’ cousin had stopped by with some freshly made habichuelas con dulce, YUM. I inhaled about a cup. Look at those big chunks of sweet batata!

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    Perhaps I should have been born in the DR. Mom and dad, what were you thinking with the whole Massachusetts thing?

    I had one more candy before calling it a day:

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    I’m going to go out on a very sturdy limb and say that habichuelas con dulce is my new favorite dessert drink (my old and other favorite dessert drink is the balls of course). What is your favorite dessert drink?

    Now I’m home, and I just remembered I have an assignment for class due Thursday that needs to get done stat!! Ahhhh, I’m off to go bury my head in the books … or the overpriced coursepack, as the case may be. I hate remembering things like this last minute! I’ll be back eventually with dinner because I’m 150% sure I’m about to eat in 3 …2 … 1 …