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music festival winners!


Thank you all for entering to win tickets to the Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival and The Festy!  I used a random number generator to pick the winners, who are listed below.

The winner of the Brew Ridge Trail Music Festival tickets is...Greg!

The winner of The Festy tickets is...Jes!

Greg and Jes, please send me an email ( with your full name and contact information, and I will pass it on to Stephanie who will make sure there are tickets waiting for you at Will Call! If I don't hear from you by the end of the day Sunday August 15th, I'll do another drawing to give the tickets to somebody else.

Thank you all for entering!

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homemade gift ideas


Christmas is only 5 days away (!), and I'm guessing that most of you already have holiday gifts determined and purchased...right?!?  This post is probably a bit late, but I thought it might be helpful to those of you still looking for last minute gifts for friends, family and co-workers. Brian and I have given homemade gifts out for the last few years, and always enjoy the pleased responses we receive in return.  In a time when spending significant amounts of money is difficult for most, putting personal effort into gifts rather than cash is a nice alternative.  I've compiled a few ideas for you to choose from...enjoy!

Homemade Jam

Homemade jam can be made with fresh and frozen fruit.  Be sure to use a proper method of preservation if you plan to give the gifts un-refrigerated.  If you'd rather not tackle the canning process, tell recipients to keep their jam refrigerated for up to 4 weeks. blackberry peach jam

Homemade Granola

A batch of granola is quick to whip up, and keeps for weeks in an airtight container in the pantry. mixed fruit granola

Homemade Almond Butter

Nut butter made from scratch is so much better than store-bought because you can mix your own interesting combinations.  It can be a bit pricey though, depending on the nuts you choose. cinnamon vanilla almond butter

Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix and Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows are nothing like their store-bought cousins.  So light and fluffy, they truly melt in your mouth (or your hot cocoa).  For a little twist, add some peppermint extract in place of vanilla.  If you don't have vanilla sugar for the cocoa mix (it takes about 2 weeks to make your own) just substitute regular sugar. hot cocoa mix marshmallows

Homemade Baked Goods

Always a winner, nobody frowns at a box/tin/basket/bag full of baked treats. triple ginger cookies dark chocolate almond bites peppermint eggnog scones citrus scones with cranberries and ginger
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bridging the gap


We're almost there!  The cherry and plum trees are starting to flower, the crocus and daffodils are up, gardens are being prepped for planting.  Daylight Savings Time means there is light when I leave the office, and I've been taking advantage of our lovely weather with evening runs both yesterday and today (I'm feeling very well-prepared for the 8K on Saturday!!!).  Spring is just around the corner and I couldn't be more excited.   The change in seasons has me craving lighter foods but also has inspired me to clean out my pantry, to use up the winter-worthy ingredients that are dwindling in quantity and make way for those that come with spring.   scone-1 Among the items found?  Crystalized ginger, dried cranberries, a bowl full of oranges.  Okay, so the oranges were on my table, not in the pantry, but to me they make the perfect bridge from winter to spring.  You see, I grew up in Florida, where winter citrus is abundant as are 80* December days.  I've never associated oranges with cold weather and probably never will.  And who doesn't think of warm, tropical places when biting into a juicy orange?  Anybody? The power of positive thinking will get you far and I am determined that my bowlful of cheery oranges will carry Virginia straight into Spring without another winter storm.  :) scone-2 On Sunday morning while perusing my pantry I was dreaming of baked goods, as is often the case, and thought of one I hadn't made in awhile.  Scones. scone-3 For years I wasn't a fan of scones.  Those I had tried were dry and crumbly, with nondescript flavors that left them completely unmemorable.  Until one fateful Friday morning when a friend shared her daughter's fresh-baked scones at an office meeting, and I was hooked.  Soft and supple, moist and flakey, the mix-in possibilities were endless.  I knew I had to have the recipe, and lucky for me she shared. scone-4 The basic recipe for these scones was given to me years ago and I've been trying different variations ever since.  Many different flours have made it into the experiments, all-purpose, bread, white whole wheat and whole wheat included.  The whole wheat pastry flour is my favorite.  It gives the scones the fluffier texture found when using the all-purpose, but leaves you with a happier conscience after having one for breakfast. scone-6 Citrus Scones with Cranberries and Ginger makes 8 scones Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract
  • 3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1-1/2 tsp orange zest
  • 8 tbsp cold, unsalted butter, cut up
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I used turbinado), plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup crystalized ginger, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 375*.  Spray a baking sheet with oil.
  2. Mix buttermilk with egg and extract, whisk smooth.
  3. Sift flour, baking powder and salt in a large bowl.  Add orange zest.  Stir to mix well.  Add butter and rub in with your fingers until the mixture looks like course bread crumbs.  Add sugar, cranberries and ginger and toss to distribute evenly.
  4. Add egg mixture and stir with a fork until a soft dough forms.
  5. Turn out dough on a floured board and give 5-6 kneads, just until well mixed and cohesive.  Flatten dough into disk about 3/4" thick.  Cut disk into 8 equal wedges.
  6. Bake on prepared baking sheet for 20-25 minutes until medium brown.  Let cool on sheet for 5 minutes before moving to wire rack to cool completely.
scone-7 For another Bella Eats scone variation, click here. Thank you all for the great feedback regarding future bella terra posts.  I'm really excited!  :)  I hope to answer all of your questions in posts over the next few've given me some great ideas. And, a thousand Thank You's for all of your kind words and good thoughts towards Kelly and her recovery.  She is home and healing and we are all so thankful that she was wearing a helmet.  For those of you who doubt the importance of wearing one, read this post. Be sure to check out Heather's blog for an exciting Coconut Milk Product Giveaway!  I've been dying to try this stuff... And new job is awesome!!!  I've only been there two days but I am LOVING it so far.  Yay!  :) Have a great Wednesday everybody!
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and the winners are...


Hi All!  I'm sorry the Country Bob's All-Purpose Sauce Winners announcement is coming so late today.  I was really hoping to have a recipe post to share tonight but I am a t.i.r.e.d. lady.  It was a very busy Saturday, filled with a lovely run, an intense 90-minute Vinyasa Yoga class and lots of work in the garden because we had some BEAUTIFUL weather here in Virginia today!  So, I'm finally just admitting to myself that the post won't be finished tonight, and decided to just go ahead and announce the winners. 'Cause that's why you all are tuning in today anyway.  :) And the winners are... Comment #28, Marie with 
Glad to hear the employment situation is going well! On a different note, I’d love to win some Country Bob’s!
Comment #65, Sara from Eat Fab in NYC with
Love the recipes! I think it’s an amazing idea! You’ve been linked  I have a couple of giveaways coming up too…stay posted!!!
Congratulations Ladies!!!  Send me an email at with your full name and address, and I will forward it on to the Country Bob's folks.  :) Alrighty, I'll be back tomorrow with a [hopefuly] much more interesting post.  G'night!
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a walk in the woods


I hope that each and every one of you had as lovely of a weekend as I had. Some friends were in town, which meant great company, lots of restaurant-eating and much vino. I got to catch up with two of my best girls from grad school and participated in a wedding food tasting with one of them who is getting married here in C'ville in May.  So fun!  Other highlights included a walk in the woods, an afternoon nap, a trip to the running shop and the viewing of Slumdog Millionaire with my hubb, which I highly recommend seeing if you haven't yet.  All-in-all, a very satisfying weekend. That being said...I was a bad healthy food blogger. Not only with my dining-out choices but also with documentation. The food I ate at home (breakfast) was unremarkable, and the remarkable food I ate out is undocumented.  I thought that I would offer you a lovely baked bread instead of a food journal recapping my weekend, but failed miserably at adapting a recipe out of Baking With Agave Nectar.  Not the book's fault, I'm sure, I just messed with the recipe a bit too much.  I can't help myself!  So, note to me, when trying to bake with new ingredients like silken tofu (its called for in nearly 1/2 the recipes in the book) perhaps I should follow the recipe exactly until I get the hang of it... So instead of a lovely baked good, I give you a few pictures from our walk in the woods.  So sunny, so serene, so left me wishing for spring... 090125-woods-31 090125-woods-1 090125-woods-4 And I'll be back in the kitchen tomorrow...I do hope you'll check in.  As my pantry door shows, I've got plans for the week!  Hopefully the rest of the menu will be a bit more successful than the first item.  :)  G'night! 090125-menu PS:  LRM is a trip we're taking with friends in April.  The fig blondies and marshmallows have already been requested after they saw them on the blog, so I'm keeping a running tab to make sure nothing is forgotten!  :) PSS:  My foot is feeling better so I'm going to try a run tomorrow evening.  I'll give a full report, don't worry!  Thank you all SO MUCH for your continued support and are amazing!!!
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birthday blondies


Friday is my dear friend Beth's birthday.  Beth and I met the summer before I started graduate school when she was an intern at the architecture firm I had been working for.  We became fast friends because we shared many interests:  design, food, running, yoga.  We swapped recipes and design ideas for two years before she moved to Philadelphia to take a job with a fabulous firm.  I miss her.  She was the person who first introduced me to brussels sprouts and kale, both of which I now can't live without. She also introduced me to figs.  I owe her many thanks for bringing dried figs into my life. These fig almond blondies are for Beth.  Happy birthday dear friend. brownies-1 brownies-2 090114-blondies-1 This recipe comes from VeggieGirl.  I said last night that Jen @ Running With Food can cook...well, VeggieGirl can bake!!!  This is the second blondie recipe I've tried of hers, and it is definitely a winner in my household.  I will be holding both her Fig Almond Blondie and her Pear Pistachio Ginger Blondie recipes near and dear for a long time. Fig Almond Blondies adapted slightly from VeggieGirl's Fig Almond Blondie recipe makes 16 blondies Ingredients:
  • 6oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup applesauce
  • 1 cup turbinado sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp blackstrap molasses
  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour (next time I will try whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 10 dried Turkish figs, chopped
  • soymilk, as needed
  1. Preheat oven to 350* and spray 8x8 cooking pan with oil
  2. In a large bowl, mix the yogurt, applesauce, sugar, vanilla and molasses together.
  3. In the same bowl, add the flour, baking soda, almonds and figs.  As the mixture combines it will thicken, add a splash of soymilk as needed to help mix.  Don't add too much!!!
  4. Spread batter into greased 8x8 pan and smooth the top.
  5. Bake for 32-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Remove pan from oven and place on wire rack to cool. Allow to cool completely before cutting.
090114-s21 A quick recap of today's eats so far... Breakfast:  Oats!  I'm so in love with my normal combo, I just can't get enough!  This morning I stepped it up an extra notch by adding dried figs.  Yum!  The fig seeds added perfect little bits of crunch. 090114-b1 Lunch:  Leftovers!  I know I promised another wrap, but when I opened the fridge this morning and saw a perfect lunch-sized portion of leftover pot pie and collard greens, I couldn't resist. 090114-l1 Snack:  1/2 cup Fage 0% and 5 lovely strawberries.  I have to say, I'm really loving the Fage.  Its making me miss my Oikos less and less each day... 090114-s1 Tonight the hubb and I are going over to our friend Amy's house for dinner, which is why I'm posting a bit early.  I'm making a quick lasagna recipe that I'm really excited to try and can't wait to share the results with you tomorrow! Be sure to check out Oh She Glows for a fabulous Honest Foods Giveaway! Have a great night!  :)
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i owe you...


...a post.  But instead of telling you about my sunday eats (which were unhealthy, eaten in the car, in ikea or out of a dominoes box) I decided to break up today's food journal posts.  Since I missed out on all of my baking plans this weekend (a trip to Ikea and the resulting piles of boxes, plastic wrap, tiny allen wrenches and discarded old furniture will do that to you...) I'm hoping to play a little catch-up tonight and tomorrow night.  Which means lots of pictures of baked goods are coming.  Yum.   Thank you all for the sweet congratulatory comments on Saturday's post!!!  I am so lucky to be part of such a supportive network of people, it really means a lot to me that you all are cheering me on.  :) Breakfast:  toasted Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin Muffin with 1 tbsp almond butter, sliced apple and 1 tbsp cranberry ketchup. 090112-b1 I'll give you a preview of what I'll be eating for lunch and my snack today.  I pack my food in the morning and take all of my photos before work, which is why I always have the same background in my shots.  I like the consistency, and it allows me to avoid awkward questions from my boss and co-worker.  They just don't need to know about the blog.  Not yet anyway. Lunch:  baked sweet potato with 1/2 cup of corn and 1/4 cup of edamame...and a good sprinkle of sea salt. 090112-l1 Snack:  1/2 cup of Fage 0% and 4 beautiful strawberries. 090112-s1 Last week I read this article by Mark Bittman of The New York Times about what common pantry items to ditch in 2009.  I found it very interesting and thought you all might as well.  He suggests replacing pre-packaged, preservative-full items with their natural counterparts...sounds right up our foodie alleys, doesn't it?   A couple of examples: OUT:  packaged bread crumbs or croutons IN:  make your own by chopping up bread and placing in a low-heat oven until brown and crispy.  Mark claims they will keep for a long time! OUT:  aerosol oil IN:  good olive oil in a hand-pumped sprayer OUT:  old spices - they're only good for one year!!!  (looks like I have some cleaning-out to do...!) IN:  fresh spices - if you take a whiff of your spice jar and get dust or a musty smell instead, toss it! OUT:  canned beans IN:  dried beans.  Cook up a pound over the weekend to use all week long.  They taste better, are more economical and take up less space in your pantry. There are so many other great suggestions...check out the article! I hope you all have a fabulous day, I'll be back tonight.  :)
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a little queasy


Happy Friday!  I hope you all had a great end to your week.  I'm still not feeling so great.  Its a good thing I piddled around with this post while at work today, otherwise you'd probably just see a series of photos with no explanation!  I came home from work and laid down for an hour, which helped, but I'm looking forward to going to bed shortly.  I'm sorry my eats have been a little blah these last couple of days... For breakfast this morning the hubb and I met our good friend Amy for our Friday morning tradition at Blue Grass Grill.  I've raved about this Charlottesville spot before, and I'll rave again.  They have the most amazing breakfast options, and this morning's was my favorite.  Sadly, I have no pictures, so I'll try to describe with the best of my foodie lingo. Breakfast:  Imagine this...a bed of perfectly roasted potato hashbrowns topped with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, feta and mozzarella cheeses.  Stick the whole dish in the oven and broil until the cheese is perfectly melted, bubbly and browned in a couple of spots.  Oh. my. goodness.  I ate the whole thing.  I also ate 1/2 of the perfect honey wheat biscuit that comes as a side, with blackberry preserves.  It was definitely an indulgent breakfast.  There were healthier options, like the veggie egg white omelet without cheese that I had last time we were there, but I just could not say no to this skillet. Luckily, lunch was nice and healthy.  Remember this spaghetti squash from last night?  I thought about using him in our Mexican Dip, but was vetoed by the hubb.  So instead, 1/2 the squash went into a pyrex container with a mish mash of other eats to make my lunch today. 090108-d11 Lunch:  Roasted spaghetti squash, steamed broccoli and leftover lentil salad (the last of it!). 090109-l11 Even though I had a big breakfast this morning, when the clock struck 12:30 my body was ready to eat. This is a big pyrex container, 8" x 6" x 2".  That's 1/2 a spaghetti squash, 1 cup of lentil salad and 1 broccoli floret.  Apparently I wasn't as hungry as I thought because I only ate about 1/2 the contents. I thought about having the rest as an afternoon snack (or second lunch) but just wasn't feeling it.  My tum's been a bit iffy today, perhaps all of the cheese last night and this morning?  You'd think I'd learn...but I love my cheese too much. Afternoon Snack:  Cashew Cookie Larabar. 090106-s21 This was my first experience with the cashew cookie flavor.  The taste was great, but it was drier than other Larabar flavors I've tried...more crumbly.  Has anybody else tried this bar?  Was mine a textural dud?  The peanut butter cookie flavor I had last week was SO much better, much softer and more cookie-like. For dinner I was planning on making Tofu Veggie Masala, but the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was cook.  When I woke up from my nap, my hubb had ordered the perfect dinner to help my sore throat and queasy tummy...Egg Drop Soup. Dinner:  Egg Drop Soup with some crunchy noodles and an Egg Roll.  It wasn't my egg drop soup, but it still hit the spot.  :) 090109-d1 I'm feeling better than I was earlier, but I'm going to head to bed so that I can get a good night's sleep before my 5 MILE RUN tomorrow!!!  I can't believe that tomorrow morning I will be at the halfway point in my 10-miler training!!!  WooHoo!!!
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ringing in the new year


Happy New Year!!!  I hope that everybody had a safe and enjoyable evening filled with excitement and hope for what 2009 has to bring! 081231-d1 The hubb and I had big plans to attend a New Years Eve / Surprise Birthday Party for a good friend of ours.  We got back into town mid-afternoon, unloaded the car and made a trip to the grocery store to stock up on food and an appetizer to take to the party.  We timed everything perfectly so that we would finish our errands and get home with enough time to shower and get ready for the celebration. I'd even picked out exactly what I wanted to wear in my mind as we drove home from the store.  When we got home, we had a big surprise waiting for us... Our dogs had eaten 22oz of Lindt Dark Chocolate Truffles, and about 1/2 of the wrappers. Needless to say, we panicked.  I immediately got on the internet for advice while the hubb called our 24 hour emergency vet.  With the help of the vet and my research on the 'net, we determined that each dog would have to consume 20+ ounces of dark chocolate in order for it to be toxic for them.  The problem was, we had no idea if one or both of them had consumed the goodies and how much each of them had eaten.   081231-dogs So, instead of attending a fabulous party with wonderful friends, we got to stay home and force each of our dogs to vomit in order to remove as much of the chocolate from their systems as possible.  Not exactly how we had planned to say goodbye to 2008, but considering some of the challenges we faced in the year it was almost fitting... Because we hadn't planned on this turn of events we weren't prepared to fix dinner.  So instead I ordered us some Chinese food.  I didn't even worry about how healthy it was...after our evening, and considering that the next day was a whole new year to eat healthfully in, I ordered whatever sounded good on the menu.  Szechuan String Beans, Veggie Lo Mein, Hunan Veggies and Tofu and Cheese Wontons. 081231-d2 Luckily we had picked up some champagne while at the grocery store so we were still able to ring in 2009 with a little bit of bubbly.  And, the dogs are feeling much perkier this morning and seem to be over their chocolate feast.  Happy New Year to us.  :) So what's in store for 2009??? Driving 14 hours from Florida to Virginia the last two days left me with a lot of time to think about 2008 and all that came with it.  There were certainly challenges...
  • Running injuries that kept me from completing the 2008 Charlottesville 10-Miler
  • Double knee surgeries and a 5 month recovery for our dog, Lucy
  • Our vehicle transmission dying at the most inopportune time
But with those challenges came opportunities for new beginnings...
  • My inability to complete last year's race led to my decision to train again this year and start this blog to track my progress
  • Lucy is now mostly recovered and the hubb and I feel that her surgery has had many positive effects on us.  We feel that we are now better dog owners, have gained better perspective on our finances and were given the opportunity to really examine our priorities during a time when money was tight and free time was limited.
  • There was no saving our previous vehicle so we purchased a 2008 Honda Fit and are so excited to see the improvement in gas mileage from our old Mazda Tribute SUV.  We're helping to save the planet!  (and our wallets!)
There were also many exciting events and accomplishments... The hubb and I returned to New Orleans and the restaurant where we were married. 2008-1 I celebrated my 26th birthday with some wonderful girlfriends. 2008-3 I finished my graduate thesis, Housing for Seniors in Post-Katrina New Orleans. 2008-4 And was rewarded with a Master's Degree in Architecture, along with some amazing and unexpected awards. 2008-5 I managed to find a job I really like in a hurting economy, many of my friends weren't so lucky. The hubb and I picked up a new summer hobby, kayaking!  I can't wait to get back out on the water... 2008-7 And welcomed the second year in our garden and the beautiful harvests that came with it. 2008-9 We discovered a new vacation spot that we'll be returning to often, I hope. (lostrivermodern) 2008-12 And voted for a new president. 2008-11 And of course, on November 1st, 2008 I started Bella Eats!   bella-eats-header-small-right All-in-all, 2008 was a good year filled with simple pleasures, opportunities for self-reflection and lots of time with family and friends.  I'm looking forward to 2009 and have laid out some goals for myself this year.   I have professional goals:
  • Finish logging all of my internship hours so that I can continue working towards my license in Architecture
  • Sit for the LEED professionals exam (I'd be certified in green building technology, basically)
And physical wellness goals:
  • Complete the Charlottesville 10-Miler on April 5th, 2009
  • Commit to running 4-5 days/week, strength training 3 days/week
  • Find my ideal weight by May 1st, 2009 and maintain my healthy lifestyle through and beyond 2009
And mental wellness goals:
  • Read more
  • Bake more (baking is a huge stress relief for me...I love it!)
  • Spend less time behind the computer
And married life goals for the hubb and I:
  • More date nights
  • Save more, spend less
  • Better household chore routines so our weekends aren't consumed with cleaning and errands
On this first day of 2009 I am excited for a new beginning, hopeful that change is coming and thankful for the memories I have of 2008.  Happy New Year!!!
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holiday bootie buster challenge


I'M SO GLAD ITS FRIDAY!!!!!!!  Is it just me or was this the longest week ever?!?  So I just discovered Run To The Finish's Holiday Bootie Buster Challenge and am super-excited to participate! I'm a few days late, but luckily I have a blog so I've got a good record of my exercise so far this week (although it doesn't amount to much yet...).  Here's my count so far...
  • 12.10.2008: run 2.7 miles = 2.7 points
  • 12.10.2008: abs for 15 minutes = .5 points
  • 12:11.2008: yoga for 50 minutes = 1.7 points
Total HBBC Points = 4.9  Its a bit of a slow start, but I'm hoping this challenge is just what I need to kick my exercise up a notch! This morning the hubb and I continued our new Friday morning breakfast tradition, meeting our friend Amy at our favorite breakfast spot, The Bluegrass Grill.  This morning I felt like something salty instead of sweet, so I decided to go with a veggie omelet. Breakfast:  Veggie Egg White Omelet with green pepper, green onion, tomatoes and black olives (no cheese), topped with salsa.  Hashbrowns and the AMAZING honey wheat bisucuit on the side.  I only ate 1/2 the potatoes and 1/2 the biscuit with a packet of strawberry jam on top.  And a cup of coffee, of course! 081212-b1 Lunch:  Leftover Butternut Squash, Kale + White Bean Soup and a handful of Kashi crackers. 081212-l2 081212-l1 Snack:  A banana and 1/4 cup of Melissa's Trail Mix, plus a chocolate covered pretzel...I just couldn't leave him out!  :) 081212-s1 Dinner tonight was quick and easy.  Grocery day is tomorrow which means we are LOW on in we don't have any.  We briefly thought about take-out but then I remembered that I picked up some pre-made ravioli at Trader Joe's on Tuesday...perfect dinner in a pinch!  I also found some frozen spinach in the freezer...I've never cooked frozen spinach on its own, just put it in sauces etc, so this was a new experience.  I just steamed it for 8 minutes, then sauteed some garlic in Earth Balance and added the spinach to the pot.  It was just...ok. Dinner:  TJ's Portobello Mushroom Ravioli with TJ's Vodka Sauce and steamed spinach on the side.  Also, a GIANT glass of TJ's was a TJ's kind of night! 081212-d2 081212-d1 I told ya...BIG glass of wine.  It was a frustrating day at work, what can I say?!? Dessert:  I made a sweet snack bowl with Annie's Honey Bunnies, TJ's pumpkin spice granola and 3 gingersnaps.  It was a little dry (obviously) so I added a few spoonfuls of unsweetened applesauce after I snapped the pic. 081212-d3 Tomorrow ends Training Week #7 with a 3 mile run!!!  I can't believe we've already finished 7 weeks!!!  Crazy.  I think the weather will be decent so the hubb and I are planning to meet the group at the UVA track. However, if group one is still run/walking on the track we're going out on the road on our own for several reasons.  #1) We are planning to run the full 3 miles after our fabulous 2.7 mile run Wednesday.  #2) Running 3 miles on the track sounds like the most boring thing EVER, except for maybe running 3 miles on a treadmill...!   What are your weekend plans?  I'm hoping to finish my Christmas shopping/making!!!
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BSI: GINGER round-up!


I am so excited by all of the fabulous recipes that were submitted for the BSI: GINGER contest this week!  You all did a great job working with an ingredient that many of you weren't completely comfortable with.  I'm so proud!!!  :) Here are all of the entries I received over the last week... Mel @ A Taste of Life : Gingered Chicken and Vegetable Potstickers Caroline @ Banana Cabana : Ginger Orange Balsamic Glazed Chicken Beth @ Biggest Diabetic Loser : Grilled Chicken Wraps with Creamy Citrus Ginger Dressing Becca @ Bites of the Day : Ancho Ginger Applesauce and Ginger Rugelach Christina @ Dinner at Christina's : Crustless Apple Pie with Ginger Topping Jessica @ Johnstone's Vin Blanc : Chocolate Gingerbread Bars Miss Tiffie @ Miss Tiffie Munches : Apricot Ginger Pork Tenderloin Jess @ See Jess Run : Maple and Ginger Roasted Salmon Ashley @ Sweet + Natural : Crystalized Ginger Cookies Tri to Cook : Blueberry and White Chocolate Chunk Ginger Cookies and Curried Lentils with Butternut Squash VeggieGirl : VeggieGirl's Veganized Pear-Pistachio-Ginger Blondies Catherine @ Stevia + Spice : Extra Snappy Gingersnaps

Extra Snappy Gingersnaps

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ginger
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 1 1/2 cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, room temp
  • 1/2 cup shortening, room temp
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (packed) light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup mild-flavored molasses
  • 1/4 cup egg whites (from 2 eggs)
  • Sugar (for rolling)
  1. Combine flour, soda, spices, salt and grated ginger in a medium mixing bowl.  Whisk to blend.  In a separate bowl, cream together sugars, shortening and butter until fluffy.  Add egg and molasses and beat until blended.  Cover and refrigerate 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 F.  Line 2 baking sheets with silpat cookie sheets.  Spoon sugar in thick layer onto a small plate.  Using wet hands, form dough into 3/4-inch balls; roll in sugar to coat completely.  Place balls on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. 
  3. Bake cookies until cracked on top but still soft to the touch, 8-10 minutes.  Cool on sheets one minute.  Carefully transfer to racks and cook.  (Can be made up to 5 days ahead of time.  Store airtight at room temp.)

**makes 60 small cookies.

Thankfully my hubb offered to help me with the judging, I don't know how I could have made this decision on my own! There were so many great examples of sweet and savory uses for ginger, and in the end we chose a recipe that we felt could also be used both ways... The winner of BSI: GINGER is... Becca's Ancho Ginger Applesauce!!! What we both loved about this recipe was not only its originality and simplicity, but also the fact that it immediately evoked images of a summer barbeque on your back deck.  Big ol' bbq pork (or bbq tofu!) sandwich in your hand with Ancho Ginger Applesauce on top, the juice dripping down your arm as you take a big bite...  Ahhh summer.  Maybe its the fact that I had to go out in below freezing weather to get ancho chile powder that made this image so divine in my head, but after I tasted it I was even more sure.  Especially when I realized that its flavor truly transcends all seasons, summer barbeque, paired with roast pork and veggies for a fall dinner party, dessert on a cold winter works in every scenario. bsi-c2 bsi-c3 bsi-c4 bsi-c1 Excellent work, Becca!  Hubb and I ate it for dessert tonight...  :)  I'm still deciding on a are my top 3 choices:
  • Trader Joe's care package (do you have one near you?)
  • A copy of one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegetables Every Day by Jack Bishop (if you don't already have it, if you do I can pick a different one)
  • A loaf of my pumpkin cranberry bread along with a few of my favorite baking ingredients
What do you all think it should be? Next week's BSI Host is... Ashley @ Sweet and Natural!!!  I LOVE Ashley's blog, she posts fabulous, naturally sweetened recipes several times a week along with very informative posts about key ingredients.  And she has a wonderfully witty style of writing that always has me laughing.  I'm sure her contest will be a blast so check in with her to see what the new ingredient is! My hubb and I had fun this weekend testing out some of the entries...check out what we tried! Mel's Gingered Chicken + Veggie Potstickers 081206-d2 081206-d3 081206-d5 081206-d9 081206-d11 They were SOOOO GOOD and so easy to make!!!!  These fabulous little potstickers even managed to evoke a food dance out of the hubb...that rarely happens and you know when it does that whatever he is eating is goooood.  The ginger was the PERFECT compliment to the ground chicken and veggie filling...I even wished we had come up with some great spicy ginger sauce to pour over the top of them but we just used some teriyaki we had in the fridge.  This is a DEFINITE KEEPER in our house! VeggieGirl's Veganized Pear Pistachio Ginger Blondies bsi-a2 bsi-a3 bsi-a4 VeggieGirl did an amazing job at veganizing this recipe...hubb and I are both EXTREMELY IMPRESSED!!!  This is our first dive into vegan baking, and we honestly couldn't tell a difference!  Not that we've tried the original recipe...but you know what I mean.  The blondies are perfectly chewy in texture, and the flavors meld together wonderfully.  I especially love when you occasionally bite into a chunk of the crystalized ginger...YUM!!!  Or as VeggieGirl says...HOLY YUM!!!!  :) Jessica's Chocolate Gingerbread Bars bsi-b1 bsi-b2 bsi-b3 These bars were wonderfully chocolate-y and spicy, with a perfect chewy texture.  I took them with me today to a little knitting party and they were a BIG HIT!  Definitely a great start to the holiday baking season... I was planning to try Ashley's Crystalized Ginger Cookies as well...I just ran out of ginger, and energy.  :)  Look for it later this week, ginger cookies are a FAVORITE in our house! Ok, I can't write anymore.  Its a shame, too, because Brian made a beautiful dinner tonight that deserves a great post...its just going to have to happen tomorrow.  :)  Goodnight!
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BSI: GINGER reminder!


Happy Saturday everybody!!!  Remember, 8pm tomorrow is the cut-off for submitting your BSI: GINGER recipes to me!  Please either comment on the blog or send an email to let me know you've posted so I can keep track. Also, I started a category on the right side of my blog called BSI: GINGER entries so far...please check to make sure I've got you down if you have submitted a recipe and send me an email if I've somehow missed you, I hope you are all having a great weekend so far!  I'll be back later to report my eats...  :) PS:  Anybody have any good ideas for PRIZES????  I need to look back at old BSI contests to get some inspiration, but I'd love some suggestions!!!  :) 081205-d11
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BSI: ginger!!!


Hi Everybody!  I am so pleased and excited that Amy has picked me to host this week's Blogger Secret Ingredient Contest!!!  I was totally blushing when I got her email this morning...!  As a newbie to the blog scene I'm completely flattered that she chose me and hope that I can meet the expectations of all of you fantastic foodies out there! A quick recap of the BSI past...
Rules Reminder:
  1. Recipes can be submitted by linking to my blog ( or e-mailing me with a link to your recipe. I'd prefer an email, so I can easily keep track of all the entries!
  2. Even if you don't have a blog, you can definitely still participate! Just email me the recipe, the steps, and some photos and I will add it to the entry list.
  3. Please have your recipe sent in by Sunday, December 7th, 2008 @ 8pm (EST)
As you can see from the title of this post, I have picked GINGER as the BSI this week!!!  This was really tough, because I had actually thought of an ingredient last week that I thought I would pick if I were ever chosen as BSI host.  However, it wasn't conducive to baking and I really wanted an ingredient that could be either sweet or ginger it is!
I will accept any form of ginger...
fresh ginger root
crystalized ginger
ground ginger
There are so many fabulous things to say about ginger, but I don't want to keep you waiting any longer so I'm going to post this and update it later.  And, I have baked ziti coming out of the oven and a hungry husband staring me down...
UPDATE:  Ok, I have a full stomach and a happy hubby so I can now provide you all with a bit more information about ginger.
  1. Fresh ginger should be peeled before cooking.  Keep fresh ginger wrapped in a paper towel and placed in a plastic bag.  It can be kept in the fridge for about 3 weeks or the freezer for about 3 months.
  2. Fresh ginger can be substituted for ground at a ratio of 6 parts fresh to 1 part ground.
  3. Fresh ginger and ginger juice is often used as a spice in Indian and Chinese cuisine, especially with savory dishes such as fish.  Pickled ginger is common in Japanese cuisine.
  4. In the Caribbean, ginger is a popular spice for cooking and also for making drinks such as sorrel and ginger beer.
  5. Powdered ginger root is typically used to spice gingerbread and other baked goods.
  6. Candied (crystalized) ginger can be used as flavoring in cookies, crackers and cake, an is also the main flavor in ginger ale.
  7. Ginger root has many medicinal properties, including helping to cure nausea, diarrhea, sore throats and headaches.
  8. I've had an amazing crystalized ginger and pear juice martini before...heaven!!!
I hope you all have fun with this week's BSI choice!  I can't wait to see all of the entries you come up with...ginger is such a versatile ingredient that I really think you can get creative with it!!!
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Good morning (err...afternoon?!?) all!!!  I have an exciting announcement to make...Tanya over at has featured me on her site to share my Healthy Foodie Favorite Products of 2008! I am so very excited and flattered that Tanya contacted me, and have discovered that her site is a fabulous resource of product reviews.  You all should hop over there to check out her reviews of all low fat, low carb, reduced sugar, whole grain, natural, organic or high protein products that she can get her hands on!  Thank you Tanya!!!  :) So, last night I caved to my craving for eggnog.  It is definitely my holiday must-have treat, but luckily, after a glass (or 3 or 6) during the first week of December I am GOOD for the rest of the year. Eggnog is one of those things that I can only handle a very small amount of, thankfully since it is certainly not light in the calorie/fat area...! 081130-s2 Breakfast:  Bowl of oats...yay!  So much more filling and satisfying than yesterday's (non-breakfast) cookie.  This standard bowl featured
  • 1 cup prepared rolled oats
  • 1 mashed banana
  • 1 tbsp almond butter
  • sprinkling of pom seeds
081201-b1 I enjoyed my long weekend immensely, but I am excited to be back into my regular routine and healthy eats. Lunch:  I've felt like my lunches have been lacking in the protein department lately, so I decided to mash up some chickpeas this morning with a little extra virgin OO, salt, pepper, garlic powder and cayenne pepper. 081201-l1 I spread about 1/4 of the mashed chickpeas into a whole wheat pita, and filled it up with leftover roasted veggies.  On the side, the last of the roasted veggies and mashed sweet potatoes.  I just finished lunch, and am really full after just 1/2 the pita and all of the extra veggies/sweet potatoes. We'll see if I'm hungry for the other 1/2 a bit later... 081201-l2 Snack:  My trusty Pink Lady apple.  And maybe a piece of maple banana corn bread too...  I brought about 1/2 the loaf into the office for my co-workers and it has been a BIG HIT so far, so we'll see if there is any left for me this afternoon... 081201-s1 I hope you all have a fabulous afternoon!
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photo failure


Today was not the best photo day for me.  I relied on my iphone a bit too much, but I did snag this shot of our Friday afternoon snacks at the office while my boss was away from the table.   081121-s3 I had 6 crackers and probably 1-1.5 oz of yummy smoked gouda.  And a small glass of wine.  Look at that knife!!!  Haha, we really need to work on our tools for these little events.  :)  I didn't eat my Clif Nectar for a snack because I was anticipating the wine/cheese Friday tradition.  However, in hindsight the bar might not have been a bad idea because I wouldn't have been tempted to eat quite as many crackers...  Oh well.  It was tasty!  :) When we got home we had a package waiting on our doorstep.  If any of you have younger siblings you will be familiar with this scenario.  A month or so ago we got an email from Brian's mom explaining that Bri's little bro was having a fundraiser at school.  We had a catalog of things to choose from, and wound up ordering some wrapping paper and these little beauties. 081121-s2 Considering that we paid $15 for 10 little 1" x 1" toffee squares I couldn't resist eating one of them, but I'm happy to let Brian finish off the box cause they are calorie heavy. And now for the real photo tragedy.  I was so rushed taking my dinner pictures that I didn't realize that my memory card was not in my camera.  :(  So sad.  I'll tell you about dinner, but you'll have to picture its loveliness in your head. Dinner:  Chicken tenders a la coffee talk with sauteed garlicky collard greens and roasted parmesan cauliflower.  The tenders were good, I did half the batch with honey mustard dressing and the other half with bbq sauce.  I baked the tenders for about 20 minutes, smeared them with sauce, then broiled them for about 3 minutes on each side.  Watch closely though, every oven's different and they could burn quickly! The collards were great as me some greens.  And the cauliflower was okay.  Brian really liked it, but I thought maybe I put a bit too much parmesan on it, it was a little rich for me.  I only ate about a 1/2 cup. I realized my camera mistake by the time I fished some dessert out of the fridge: Kozy Shack rice pudding with frozen blueberries again.  This was the one photo I could have done without since it looks exactly like last night's dessert!   081121-d1 Tomorrow is a big day!
  1. I am making our grocery list for Thanksgiving!!!  We're going to pick up the non-veggies tomorrow during our normal grocery shopping trip, then pick up the veggies Tuesday or Wednesday.  I am so excited for Thanksgiving, I'll give details tomorrow of our plans. 
  2. I figured out my BSI recipe tonight!  I'm going to try it out tomorrow, but I need to pick up a couple of things at the store...
  3. Week #4 of the training program!  Saturday is long run day...our long run is up to 1.75 miles, we're slowly creeping up there!  Because it is going to be so cold tomorrow at 8am when the group meets, Brian and I decided to wait and go on our own at noon.  It will be a balmy 37* then so I'm sure we'll be out on the road in shorts and tank tops.... Kidding.  :)
Do any of you have big weekend plans?
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i co-won!!!


I can't believe it!  Thank you so much Melissa for picking sweet potatoes, what a great ingredient to work with!  This contest and all of the great recipes that were submitted have opened my eyes to what a versatile ingredient the sweet potato is! And congratulations to my co-winner Marianne!!!  Your recipe looks amazing, I can't wait to try it out!!! Don't forget to check out Lindsay's blog for this week's BSI... Yay!!!  Monday just got SO MUCH HAPPIER!  :) bsi-winner
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sunday recap


We've had a beautiful, but CHILLY day here in Virginia!  I slept in 'till about 8am, and met my buddy Christine for a hilly walk around the neighborhood.  We were pretty slow today because we had her dog with us and he's a big sniffer, but it was still a nice, hilly 3-mile walk in just under an hour.   After that I made a quick breakfast and spent some time catching up on a few blogs.   081116-b1 1 tbsp almond butter spread on a piece of my banana apple bread and a cereal bowl filled with 1/2 cup Kashi H2H, 1/2 cup Back to Nature Maple Medley, a banana and 1 cup of hemp milk.  Yum! Oh!  I almost forgot.  Last night after posting I had a craving for something sweet, and thought it was a great opportunity to try out my new PB&Co Dark Chocolate Dreams!   081115-s3 I spread it on a piece of banana apple bread and OH. MY. GOODNESS.  I don't think I need to say anymore. After breakfast and blogs I did a little cleaning, then went to my favorite vinyasa yoga class at Studio 206. It was amazing as usual.  We spent a lot of time working on our hamstrings which was wonderful and is going to be so beneficial to my training.  I've only been back at yoga for about 3 weeks now but it feels so great to be there.  I've always been pretty flexible so its been an easy transition back into my old favorite classes, I just need to work on my upper body strength.  I don't have a gym membership, but I do have a couple of sets of handheld weights at home.  Does anybody have any good suggestions of great at-home strength training dvd's that I could order on Netflix??? For lunch I decided to try out a sweet potato and black beans combo!!!  This was my first, but I've been reading about it on blogs for a few weeks now and was dying to try it.  I had an extra baked sweet potato leftover from my BSI submission, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity (especially since the hubby had leftover pizza to make him happy, he wasn't such a fan of the sweet potato for lunch idea). 081116-l1 It was fantastic!!!!!  I used one medium-sized sweet potato, 1/2 tbsp Earth Balance buttery spread, 1/4 cup black beans, 1/4 cup corn, chopped scallions and sea salt.  So simple, so delicious and so filling.  :) After lunch Brian and I did some yard work for about an hour...its been a pretty good activity day!  Which will make up for the fact that tonight we are making a favorite, classic dinner.  Chicken tenders, homemade mac + cheese and green beans.  Yum.  This week's menu has a few more hubby-friendly meals on it (thus the homemade pizza last night, mac + cheese tonight...).  While I can subsist on veggies and grains pretty much every night of the week, his tall frame and ridiculously-speedy metabolism don't do well with that kind of diet.  So, this week my challenge is to strike a healthy balance of good-for-me meals with good-for-hubby meals.  I don't think that means changing a whole lot, I think it just means adding in meat for him to eat in addition to my veggies and grains...and a few comfort food favorites.  :)
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Hi All!!!  I'm sorry I've been absent last night and today...  I'm officially through my deadline, WooHoo!  I will do a catch-up post this afternoon/evening.  Unfortunately I don't have that much exciting food news to creativity with food flies out the window when I'm stressed and we've eaten out a lot the last couple of days.  I'll still post though, if nothing else than to keep myself accountable!  :)  Its DREARY here today!  I hope you all are having better weather where you're at!
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12 days of cookies!!!


Hi y'all!  I was just perusing the Food Network site (just a little break from work....) and saw that they have started the sign up for 12 Days of Cookies!!!!!   WooHoo!  Just thought I would share.  :) I think we should have a blogger contest when we get closer to the holidays to come up with fun, creative and healthy holiday baked goods! What do y'all think?
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