Layers of stress

I did go out for a breather last night to combat the homework- and heat-induced hallucinations … and ended up running 3.2 miles! This was a very exciting accomplishment, 12-minute miles and all, as the chafing of my shirt against my arms was more painful than my aggravated muscles. Stats: 38 minutes, 304 calories. I hope this improvement keeps up!

I came back and made a complicated snack to keep my mind off the final paper drama. These were some of the things I used: chocolate-peanut butter-flax egg custard, a mom-gifted apple, and the rest of Vani‘s crunch time peanut butter.


Here’s the scoop on the chocolate-peanut butter-flax egg custard. My roommate Tara had three egg yolks left from her breakfast yesterday morning, so I whisked those over low heat with 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, 1/2 cup water, 2 tbsp ground flax, 2 chopped dates, 1 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, and 2 tbsp PB2. Once the mix thickened, I ran the immersion blender through it for good measure and poured it into three small ramekins to go into the fridge.

ForΒ  last night’s purposes, I used half of one of the ramekins as the inspiration for this parfait:


For the other layers, I used (1) half of the apple, shredded and mixed with the pb and (2) 1/3 cup total of yogurt mixed with part-skim ricotta and 1 tbsp pb2.


I topped it all off with a biscotti bite for fun.

That mind-blowingly delicious parfait distracted me from school stress for about 30 blissful minutes. When the bliss wore off, I pulled out this little slice of frozen cake from my mom’s birthday πŸ™‚


And then I went to sleep since I knew I wasn’t going to get anything else done!

This morning at the gym, I did 20 minutes Stepmill, legs/chest on Cybex, and 15 minutes elliptical, along with stretching/abs and the jog/walks there and back (hurt again this morning, grrrrr). Stats: 1 hour and 16 minutes, 475 calories, 129 average heart rate, 172 max.


Breakfast was ready to go straight out of the fridge because I prepared it last night, and the day is too hot for hot oats! On the stovetop, I cooked 3 tbsp oat bran and 1 tbsp ground flax with 1/4 cup soymilk and 1/2 cup water. When it was done, I mixed in 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta and lots and lots of cinnamon. I ate it cold this morning topped with 1/4 chopped cinnamon bun from the hotel buffet and more cinnamon.



I mixed it all up to eat:


On the side was half of a thinly sliced apple with cinnamon and a tsp of south of the border pistachio butter:


And white peony iced tea (with green in the background!!):


This week is going to be full of research madness. I may never surface again. HA, I’ll probably be back tonight. But if I seem to disappear into a black hole without warning, please don’t be alarmed. I’m just hyperventilating somewhere.

Are you hyperventilating about anything today?

FYI, you can get a free sample of KFC’s new grilled chicken today!

Time crunch, crunch time

I had very important hotel breakfast plans this morning.


I hopped out of bed at 7:30, threw on some running gear, grabbed an expandable bag (hotel buffets and I get along very well) and went for a nice and easy jog (1.3 miles, 15 minutes, 128 calories, average heart rate 154, max 165) up to the Holiday Inn Express where my mom and stepdad were staying so I could join them for the breakfast buffet.

While there, I had a packet of instant oatmeal with 1/2 of a chopped banana and a couple splashes of skim milk. It looked so plain that I considered sprinkling froot loops on the top for color but then thought better of it and crumbled some cranberry muffin and warm cinnamon bun (thanks for the idea, Brandi!) on top.


On the side, I had an interesting egg (it almost had a pancake texture, so I bet it the egg batter had flour or something in it as a thickener) that was folded in half with velveetaish cheese inside. I unfolded, removed the cheese, and gobbled up the remaining eggcake:


The dazzling spread:


I stuffed the other half of the cinnamon bun (plus one more for luck!) into a travel cup to bring home πŸ™‚


Yummm, I predict more cinnamon bun oatmeal on the horizon!

Obviously, the cinnamon bun was not all I brought home. With mom’s help, I stuffed the expandable bag with more oatmeal packets, mini-muffins, oranges, apples, lots of bananas, milk, and yogurts. The buffet did have hard-boiled eggs, but I passed on them since I have enough eggs already!

Once my mom and John got all packed, they drove me (and the goods) back to my apartment, popped in for a glass of white peony iced tea and some biscotti bites, and then continued on their way back up to Massachusetts. An endless trip for them (Massachusetts to Georgia and back … in the car!), but a pleasantly short and sweet visit for me πŸ™‚

I recently (as in four days ago) realized that the final paper for one of my classes is due a week from tomorrow instead of at the end of May (panic panic panic panic), so researching for that was first on my agenda as soon as the fam took off. Of course, I kept finding other things to do, like sweep the floor. (Sweep the floor??? I NEVER sweep the floor. Obviously, I’m desperate.)

At some point, I got hungry again. I considered my new “groceries.” I’d brought four Dannon fruit-on-the-bottom yogurts back from the buffet. I don’t really like flavored yogurt, so I opened each of the containers, extracted the “plain” yogurt part, and combined all the syrupy fruit parts in one container that went into the freezer for a future project. I mixed the still-sweet-berry-tinged “plain” parts with my authentically plain homemade yogurt to decrease the sweetness and sugar content per serving.


For my first lunch, I had 1/2 cup of the resulting yogurt mix with the rest of this morning’s cranberry-orange muffin crumbs and a dollop of the PB & Co. crunch-time peanut butter that Vani “forced” me to take home from her lunch yesterday.


On the side, I had an orange:


With white peony iced tea:


A little while later, the next installment of lunch was due. I had just cooked a bunch of brown basmati rice to mix with the leftover coconut seafood curry that my mom and John brought me yesterday (I’ll be using this curry for the week’s lunches). I had about 1/2 cup of the cooked rice left, so I mashed in half of the overripe banana mom brought yesterday along with cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of soymilk.


I topped my banana rice pudding with a dollop of part-skim ricotta and another dollop of Vani’s pb.


And, because I was trying to do some work for school and also trying to avoid doing it, I got “hungry” again very soon. I had three little rye toasties topped with sofrito sauce and a sliced air-damaged cheese stick that mom left behind for me. Five minutes in the broiler took care of the damage πŸ™‚ I topped my crispy sofrito-cheese toasts with freshly ground black pepper and cayenne pepper:


Then I brought a slice of healthy cheesecake out of the freezer to let thaw. Well, I actually didn’t quite let it thaw before I started in on it.


I did keep it up on the kitchen counter though, forcing myself to eat it slowly, one bite at a time, over the next hour every time I got up to do something else.

And now, I’m trying to take slow and deep breaths and tell myself that I will get all my work done in time. I feel on the verge of insanity, so a fresh air break may be in order. We’ll see.

Is your crunch today coming from food, stress, or both?

It’s genetic

My mom and John got stuck in quite a bit of NJ Turnpike traffic last night and didn’t get to Brooklyn until around 8:30 or 9. I snacked on the orange pieces I saved from Friday’s work event while I waited:


When they did arrive, I decided we should take advantage of the car and go to a restaurant in a nearbyish neighborhood that’s a little awkward to get to on foot or on the bus. I’ve wanted to try Picket Fence for a while, so that’s where I directed us. As soon as we pulled up outside, I knew we had made the right choice. Look how charming:


Restaurants with homey charm and cozy glows are always instant hits with me. They could have fed me dog poop at this point, and I wouldn’t have noticed. OK, maybe I would have noticed a little bit.


We requested a spot in the garden since it was still in the 70s, even at the late hour!


And they brought free plain popcorn (the perfect whole grain pre-dinner snack) to the table while we waited:


Mom and I shared the apple salad with Granny Smith slices, arugula (my favorite green!), red onions, grape tomatoes, blue cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette on the side:


I ordered the special: blackened red snapper with pineapple glaze over ratatouille.


This was perfect! Geez, I’m sorry I’m being so positive. If there was one drawback to my dinner, it was that it made me think of Rudolph with that half of one grape tomato sitting on top.


I also had a teeny bite of mom’s pan-seared scallops.


Scallops are my favorite seafood, but things often go wrong in preparation. Not so with these. They were brilliantly crisped on the outside!

And a teeny bite of John’s crab cakes:


Also verrrrrrry tasty.

So, it’s safe to say we were pleased with our food (even though it took forEVER to come out):


We picked one dessert to split three ways. We almost ordered two but then decided that one would probably suffice. Take a look at these “picket fence” dessert menus. Can you guess what we got?


We actually ordered the special: banana bread pudding with vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce.


Mmmmmmmmm, it was warm and gooey (and melty by the time I finished photographing and let the vultures have at it!):


Mom and I had a spoon Olympics battle at the end for all the drips:


I’m not used to having to compete for my plate-cleaning title! Mom did claim, however, that she is the original plate scooper, and I guess she has a point there. She did come first!

Speaking of letting nothing go to waste, mom and John have been busy raiding Holiday Inn Expresses and their continental breakfasts up and down the East Coast over the past week for all sorts of goodies to bring to me! Left to right: leftover Thai coconut seafood curry, jam/honey/pb/syrup, tea, thank you mints, skim milk, fruit cups, apples, banana, instant oatmeal, instant cheddar grits, microwave popcorn, breakfast muffins, and loads of cinnamon bun-scented hotel toiletries!


Now you know why I turned out the way I did. Thanks, mom!

Why did you turn out the way you did?

Nuts, balls, and freebies

So last, night, even through I was all caked up, I managed to have one last little snack before I went to bed: the last 1/2 cup of my chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt (unfrozen) from a couple nights ago.


So so so so so so delicious. And there’s not even anything junky in it! Maybe I need to start having chocolate peanut butter frozen yogurt at every meal …

This morning, I woke up at 6:30 even though I had time to sleep until 8. I love waking up to sunlight because it’s so easy — I just wish the sunlight didn’t arrive until at least 7:45 on weekends! Around 8, I made a too-much-cake-upset-tummy-settling bowl of oat bran:


On the stovetop, I whisked 1 egg, 1/4 cup soymilk, and 1/4 cup water over low heat until it thickened custard-style. At that point, in went 2 tbsp oat bran, 1 tbsp ground flax, cinnamon, nutmeg, 1/4 cup pumpkin, and a chopped Medjool date. Once it got “mealy,” I immersion blended to make it creamier:


Around the outside is 1/3 cup of yogurt mixed with 1 tbsp PB2 (and sprinkled with unsweetened coconut):


With soymilky celestial seasonings almond sunset tea:


After breakfast, I headed up to Physique 57 for for the first of my two free classes with the coupon that Melissa handed out at the blogger brunch last month. I was quite a bit nervous for this class because I’ve been reading the reviews of it by some of my other NYC ladies — Ashley, Diana, Dori, Missy, Sara — and they scared me with their talk of quivering thighs and name-brand designer gym clothes! But, the class ended up being much more manageable than anticipated. Granted, I had sweat running down my face and I was certainly quivering at points throughout (I was also convinced my legs would burst into flame at any moment) but always had time to recover — and no one laughed at my four-year-old gym clothes from Target πŸ˜€ The instructors were helpful, patient, and encouraging, and I really enjoyed the class. I’m going back next Saturday for #2. Thanks, Melissa!

From Physique, I headed up to meet Vani at Penn Station, where we had planned to collect Danielle from the NJ Transit for our lunch date. Collection was successful, and the three of us enjoyed a summery (apparently, there will be no spring in ny this year??) 30-ish block walk from there to Peanut Butter & Co for lunch. Now, I’ve always wanted to eat at PB & Co. … yet I’ve somehow never managed to do so despite living in the city for nearly nine years, four of which were spent within a five-block radius of the darn place!

It was so airy and bright and cute inside:


We ordered our food and then took pictures of it (though I think the best part of this picture is the random crazy child in the background) πŸ™‚


I got a The Heat Is On sandwich with whole wheat bread, spicy pb, pineapple jam, and pieces of chicken breast:


The sandwich came with chips and carrot sticks, but I don’t like chips so I got it with extra carrots instead:


Mmm, simple on the outside but full of bite and zing on the inside. I kept offering Vani bites by accident and then forgetting she was vegan. Even though I couldn’t share with Vani, she shared some of her sampler platter with Danielle and me:


What a great deal — all 8 flavors with plenty of extra to take home! I had some on a celery stick:


And some on a melba toast:


When we finished at PB & Co, Danielle requested we make a pit stop at Tasti-D since she’d never been. While there, I had a sample of their peanut butter flavor (because there’s no such thing as too much pb!).


Vani and I spotted some balls across the street, so we raced over to get in on that action. I ordered an unsweetened almond milk tea. We posed with our treats:


Next, we made a super-exciting stop at CVS so I could buy a box of band-aids since my feet were struggling to adapt to their first flip-flop experience of the season. Once I applied about 30 bandages, we were off again … this time to the Union Square Greenmarket. Somehow, I managed to get my hands on a million samples as we strolled the grounds. I don’t know how that happened. Scoring samples is very unlike me πŸ˜›



Vani, caught in the act:


All in all, it was a super fun day full of sunshine, perfect company, and peanutbuttery food.

In your opinion, what are the three most necessary components of an excellent day?

I’m off to take a very necessary shower and get ready for dinner. My mom and stepdad are passing through the city tonight as part of their massive East coast return road trip — Providence to Atlanta and back, all driving, stopping at several points along the way to visit family and friends — and staying overnight in Brooklyn. I need to think of a good place for us to go. Hmmm …

A thousand cakes

There was more work with eggs to be done this morning!


I made french toast with two slices of whole wheat bread that my coworker Jessica gave to me earlier in the week and a batter that consisted of an EB egg, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and a splash of soymilk. I turned the french toast into a sandwich with a tbsp of the spicy “south of the border” pistachio butter I made yesterday:


Salty, sweet, and spicy … my favorite combination!

On the side, I immersion blended 1/2 cup yogurt, just under 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta, 1/2 cup pumpkin, the usual spices, and one chopped date. Joining the pumpkin yogurt this morning was a tbsp of ground flax and a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut:


One at work, I broke out my Passover sponge cake and, coincidentally, Heather had brought in some farfel kugel that she had made from leftover Passover ingredients as well. Our second Passover took over the conference room. Here’s the view from my desk:


Have I mentioned that the agency where I work was started by nuns?

Moving on, I had some Jewish cake and kugel:


And then I had seconds of each:


Since I sit right there, I kept taking more teeny pieces of each all day long. I don’t even want to guess how much of that is in my belly right now!

Lunch was my last serving of the mushroom agnostuff:


And a couple of spoonfuls of Mildred’s gandules:


And a piece of her bollo, which is made of cornmeal and milk, among other things. The texture was like polenta, but the taste was more like slightly sweet cornbread to me.


And the piece of cheesecake flan that Vianni made and brought in yesterday in honor of Mildred’s birthday. I had asked her to save me a piece since I knew I would miss it!


It was amaaaaazing. I shared a couple bites with Deborah, but mostly I inhaled the whole thing.

After lunch, I headed downstairs to work on an event I had helped organize. Some volunteer moms and their children came to the agency to do an art project with our families. At the end, we had snacktime with oranges and Girl Scout cookies …


I had two plates like that … and then about four more of those little cookies in the background. Out of control, I tell you!

When I came up from the event, Mildred had put out leftovers of her actual birthday cake from her celebration at home. I know, does it ever end? πŸ˜€


It was a pineapple cake with marshmallow frosting and sugar flowers. Maybe I’ll be sick of cake someday, but it hasn’t happened yet!

When I got home tonight, I had the final piece of sponge cake (I rescued it from its solitary perch on the conference room table as I walked out of the office) with the pumpkin banana yogurt I brought to work today but never got a chance to eat. The yogurt turned the cake healthy by association.


And to end this post on a slightly healthier note, I did go to the gym this morning. I have special strength plans for tomorrow, so I focused on cardio today with 20 minutes on the Stepmill, 10 minutes on the rower, and 15 minutes on the elliptical (plus the usual jogs there and back, stretching, and abs). Stats: 1 hour and 16 minutes, 536 calories, 137 average heart rate, 174 max.

While at the gym, I did some interesting reading. Did you know that you would have to eat 11 pounds of rhubarb leaves in order to die of rhubarb poisoning? That’s word on the street, according to The Oprah Magazine. I had always kind of envisioned taking one bite of rhubarb leaf and collapsing unceremoniously to the ground. I guess I was wrong. Interesting fact #2 from the same magazine: apparently, the fatty acids that are stored in hip fat aid fetal brain development. So, ummmm, let’s get the fat flowing. Enjoy your cake!