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Filtering by Category: product review

black bean soup and yoga


Aaaahhhhh.....I am in post-yoga bliss right now.  Another wonderful class at Studio 206, taught by Hilary.  I must say though that I am more of a 60-minute class kinda girl.  The 90-hour class is nice, you get extra time to work on balance positions, extra meditation time etc., but I really hate to get home after 9pm.  And, I honestly feel that I get as good of a workout in 60 minutes as I do in 90, its just stretched out more in 90. Anyway, the studio only offers one 60-minute class that works with my schedule each week so it looks like I'll have to make do... :) Knowing that it was going to be a late night, I thought ahead this morning and revved up the crock pot for some black bean soup.  I love this simple, wholesome, filling recipe...I could eat it every single week. 081118-d3 Black Bean Soup Ingredients:
  • about 1 pound dry black beans
  • one onion, diced
  • one red bell pepper, diced
  • 3 big garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz)
  • 8 cups beef or veggie broth
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • cayenne pepper to taste
081118-d1 Steps:
  1. Put all ingredients in crock pot EXCEPT for salt, pepper and cayenne.  
  2. Set crock pot to low.  I do this in the morning before work and when I get home 10 hours later the beans are perfect.  You could cook them on high, but they would probably only take 5-6 hours total. 
  3. When beans are done, stir in salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.  I don't put these spices in at first because they intensify with slow cooking, and I don't want my soup too salty or spicy.
081118-d21 That's it!  So easy and sooooooooo good.  I make brown rice to pour my soup on top of, and Brian likes saffron rice.  We sometimes chop up sausage or ham in the soup which also makes it really, really good. Cheese, sour cream and scallions are all good toppers.  You could add many other types of veggies to make it your own...its so versatile. Instead of sausage in the soup this time we pan-fried it and had it on the side.  I knew Brian would want lots and I just wanted a little taste, so this was the best compromise.  This sausage is from Babes in the Wood, a local company that breeds a certain type of pig that they allow to forage in the woods.  Its a highly sustainable practice and the pigs lead happy lives eating the things they are meant to eat.  And, it is DELICIOUS.  I am not a big fan of sausage, but this stuff makes me pretty happy. my dinner bowl my dinner bowl
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups black bean soup
  • 1 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 sausage link
brian's dinner bowl brian's dinner bowl
  • saffron rice
  • lots of bean soup
  • lots of cheese
  • 1-1/2 sausage links
For dessert I had a Kozy Shack rice pudding cup with berries on top. 081118-d8 A little backtrack, tonight before yoga I tried the Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel bar. 081118-s11 Product Review: Clif Mojo Peanut Butter Pretzel Ok, I know I've been saying this a lot lately and you're probably going to stop believing me if I don't give something a bad review soon, but this bar was AMAZING.  Seriously.  I felt like I was eating a candy bar. The only negative thing I have to say is that it has 200 calories...I usually like to stay in the 120-150 calorie range for my afternoon snacks.  But, every single extra calorie was worth it.  I thought about only eating 3/4s of it but once I bit into the peanut-y, pretzel-y goodness there was no turning back.  I polished it off. Plus, I burned 350+ calories at yoga tonight.  So there.  :) Now I am off to enjoy my post-yoga bliss before crashing in bed.  Have a great night!
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great run + simple dinner


Good evening!  Tonight Brian and I tried an after-work run downtown.  It was fantastic!  The temperature was a good 10* warmer than it was this morning, we were still in "go" mood from being at work and, best part, we weren't trying to drag ourselves out of bed and onto the road.  We did a little under a 1/2 mile warm-up walk, 1-1/2 mile run and a 1/4 mile cool-down walk.  It was perfect.  This was my first 1-1/2 mile run on the road (not the track) since the start of the training program and it felt really really good.   For dinner we had leftovers in the fridge for Brian, so I wanted to put something easy together for me.  I was still in comfort food mode and wanted something warm and satisfying after being out in the cold.  So, I pulled an Amy's Tomato Bisque out of our pantry, a couple of slices of leftover oatmeal bread and some broccoli together. 081117-d1 I was going for a tomato soup and grilled cheese kinda thing, so I put 1/2 a slice of 50% reduced fat white cheddar on each of my oatmeal slices and broiled them in the oven.  The cheese didn't melt very kinda looked like plastic wrap while it was in the oven.  Scary.  I also steamed some broccoli and added a sprinkling of sea salt to it.  I don't understand why restaurants put butter or cheese on broccoli, its natural flavor is so great and perfectly enhanced with a bit of salt.  Yumminess. 081117-d2 081117-d3 081117-d5 The Amy's Tomato Bisque is pretty good.  Its definitely not homemade, but I just didn't have the energy in me tonight.  I'll do a tomato soup soon though, I've got a couple of recipes that I love and now I'm in the mood...  This meal was really filling, I only finished 1-1/2 pieces of the bread and about 3/4 of the soup, but I ate all of my broccoli like a good girl...  And Lucy was more than happy to finish off the cheese bread for me, how could I resist this face? lulu-1 For a snack today I had my Clif Nectar Cacao: dark chocolate walnut about an hour before my run. Product Review: Clif Nectar Cacao: Dark Chocolate Walnut This bar was SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO GOOD!!!  I had never tried any of the Cacao flavors, and sadly this is the only one my Whole Foods carries so it may be the only one I try for awhile.  It had a wonderful, dense texture, almost like a really chewy brownie.  And big chunks of walnuts!  It was a great energy boost for my run and held me over until dinner a couple of hours later.  I will definitely be buying these again!!! 081117-s11 I also tried a bite of Brian's Clif Builder's Chocolate bar....also really yummy!  He loved it, which says a lot because he is NOT a protein bar fan.  I wanted him to try out some Clif bars this week for me and give me some reviews.  He says "it tasted almost like a candy bar"..."really filling".  So there you go.  :) And last, but not least, my favorite coffee shop downtown broke out the Spiced Apple Cider!!!  You know I was all over that this afternoon...nothing says "its fall!" like spiced apple cider... s1 Have a great night!  Oh!  I added a Meet Andrea page, so if you feel like learning a bit more about lil' ol' me, check it out!  :)
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comfort food for hubby, new challenge for me


When we were in college, my roommate Jackie and I used to make a big "southern dinner" and invite a bunch of friends over to feast.  The meal consisted of:
  • breaded, fried chicken tenders
  • macaroni and cheese
  • mashed potatoes
  • collard greens w/ bacon
  • black eyed peas
  • fried okra
These six items are at the top of my list of favorite comfort foods, and those meals are some of my favorite memories from college.  After we started dating, they quickly became some of Brian's favorites as well.  I already mentioned that my hubby was craving some good ol' stick-to-your-ribs comfort food, and this was exactly the kind of meal he wanted. So, tonight we cooked together and made chicken tenders, mac + cheese, garlic + dill mashed potatoes and steamed green beans (I had to have SOMETHING healthy!).  It was a wonderful, filling meal, and I didn't even try to over-"healthify" anything (hubby may have divorced me...not really!).  I did load my plate with steamed green beans and took smaller-than-normal helpings of the other, not-so-healthy options though. 081116-d2 081116-d3 The one thing I changed in my mom's amazing mac + cheese recipe was that I used brown rice pasta instead of semolina...I LOVE this stuff!  Its texture is so similar to semolina, I don't even notice a difference. 081116-d11 I loved the meal, and I loved cooking with Brian, and I love that this kind of food brings back such great memories of friends and family, but I don't love the guilty, nagging voice I have in my head that is telling me I should have tried to make a healthier dinner.  :(  Why does classic comfort food always involve frying, cheese and potatoes?  Now, I'm not saying that my healthy meals don't evoke satisfying feelings, because they do, its just a different kind of satisfaction.  Think how heightened my enjoyment of the meal would have been if I had made healthy chicken fingers, mac + cheese and mashed potatoes that still tasted just as good as the originals?!?!   So I'm setting a new challenge for myself and my hubby.  One night a week we are going to pick a classic comfort food from mine or Brian's past and "healthify" it.  And we're going to do it together, because part of what was so great about tonight (and last night's home made pizza) was being in the kitchen cooking side-by-side.   And, another even bigger challenge for myself is this:  On these very occasional nights when we decide to have a blast-from-the-past with a not-so-healthy meal I'm not going to feel guilty about it, because it doesn't happen THAT often.  :)
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homemade pizza and groceries


Good evening!  I hope everybody had a wonderful Saturday, despite any dreary weather you may have had (like me!).  After my BSI submission I cleaned up the house a bit, lounged around a bit, blogged a bit and made a grocery list. For lunch I had leftovers: 1-1/2 cups green potage and 2 slices of oatmeal bread, one with roasted garlic hummus. 081115-l1 Turns out the garlic hummus and oatmeal bread weren't that great of a combination...I only ate about 1/2 of that slice. Before grocery shopping I had a Clif Nectar bar so that I wouldn't eat or buy everything in sight. Product Review: Clif Nectar lemon vanilla cashew flavor 081115-s2 This is my all-time favorite Clif Nectar flavor, and I'm so glad that my Whole Foods still carries it. I also really love the cranberry apricot and cherry pomegranate but they've discontinued them at my store...SO SAD!!!  :(  This flavor is wonderfully sweet from the vanilla but still has a nice tartness from the lemon, and there are big chunks of cashews.  Yum. The bar held me over through our various errands and grocery shopping, and kept me from ordering anything when we drove through Taco Bell so Brian could snack on a bean burrito. Here is a sampling of the grocery store loot this evening: First, the regular items. groceries-1
  • bananas
  • brussels sprouts
  • sweet potato
  • broccoli sprouts
  • mushrooms
  • cauliflower
  • broccoli
  • raspberries (!)
  • z-bars (!!)
  • Clif Nectar Cocao (this should be on the newbie list, never tried this flavor before)
  • tofu
  • Silk plain soymilk
  • Oikos (!) (would love to try Chobani, but my store doesn't carry it!!!)
  • vino
  • honey
  • Amy's soups
  • Kashi cheddar crackers
  • whole wheat pitas
More regular items. groceries-2
  • rolled oats
  • part skim mozzerella
  • Wallaby yogurts (Brian's good!  they have great flavors and are super-creamy)
  • red bell peppers
  • pomegranates (2 of these!  2 for $5!)
  • feta cheese
  • frozen edamame
  • coffee
Regular items not pictured:
  • cucumbers
  • tortilla chips
  • more vino
  • lunch meat / cheese for Brian
  • arugula lettuce mix
  • scallions
  • onions
  • cream cheese for Brian's bagels
Newbies!!! groceries-3
  • Clif bars!!!  (the Whole Foods Whole Deal has tons of coupons, lots of taste-testing this week!)
  • new hummus - roasted red pepper
  • PB&Co dark chocolate dreams (!)
  • turbinado raw sugar
  • Smart Deli veggie pepperoni slices (for our pizza tonight)
So excited about my newbies!!!  Especially the PB&Co, I didn't realize my Whole Foods even carried it!  And, I discovered that they carry the MaraNatha almond butter, but I'm not in need right now so I will try it next time I'm all out. We also stopped at Bodo's to get Brian a supply of everything bagels for the next couple of weeks, groceries-41 and the Organic Butcher to get chicken breasts and some bacon.  I love the Organic Butcher, most of the meat that he carries is local and it feels great to support a local business as well as local farmers.  We actually reserved our local, organic turkey for Thanksgiving tonight!  :) By the time we got home I was STARVING!  Brian and I put together a wonderful homemade pizza with fresh pizza dough from a local pasta shop.  Sadly they were all out of whole wheat, but we were in SUCH a pizza mood that I couldn't say no to white flour. 081115-d1 We made up for it with part skim mozzarella, veggie pepperoni slices and lots of veggies. 081115-d2 I had about 1/4 of the 12" pizza, and paired it with a salad and small glass of red wine. 081115-d3 081115-d5 081115-d4 My salad consisted of:
  • arugula salad mix
  • cucumber
  • red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp feta crumbles
  • 1/4 cup red raspberries
  • 1 tbsp sliced almonds
  • 1/2 tsp grape seed oil
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar
This Syrah is a new bottle we found at Whole Foods, just $9, and is pretty good! 081115-d6 I'm off to watch SNL...have a great night!
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pumpkin oats and leftover veggies


This morning I decided to use the leftover pumpkin puree' in my fridge on my oats.  What a great combination!  I was inspired by Jenna's recent breakfasts, and will be using this combo again (probably tomorrow, to use up the rest of the pumpkin!) 081114-b1 Ingredients:
  • 1 cup prepared rolled oats
  • splash of Silk vanilla soymilk
  • 1/4 cup of pumpkin puree'
  • 1 mashed banana
  • sprinkling of pom seeds
For lunch I packed up my leftover spaghetti squash and veggies.  I love when I have leftovers to pack for lunch, it makes my morning so much easier! 081114-l1 For snacks I have had a pink lady apple and a slice of banana apple bread...yum! 081114-s1 So, I skipped a couple of meal postings the last couple of days because they just weren't interesting and I was feeling stressed from being behind with the deadline and all.  But, a couple of things are definitely worth talking about... Product Review: Clif Z-Bar peanut butter flavor! 081113-s1 I LOVE these bars!!!  This is my second flavor, I tried the chocolate chip last weekend.  I think the chocolate chip is my favorite so far, but the peanut butter was REALLY good.  I had it as an afternoon snack anticipating that I would be going to spin class, which was canceled, but it held me over nicely until dinner was ready around 8pm.  It had great texture and flavor, very similar to a peanut butter cookie.  Those Clif people sure know what they are doing!  :) I can't wait to go to the store tomorrow and pick up a few more, especially since I scored some coupons out of the Whole Foods Whole Deal...definitely pick one up if you haven't yet. Coupons for practically every type of Clif Bar available and Stoneyfield coupons, along with some other good stuff. Product Review: Larabar cherry pie flavor! 081112-s4 I've been a long-time fan of Larabars, and cherry pie is one of my favorite flavors.  They are so wholesome and filling and always hit the spot.  I love the fruitiness of their fruit pie flavors, but I'm also really wanting to try come of the non-fruity flavors.   I've never been able to find the chocolate coconut, coconut cream pie or peanut butter cookie flavors, and I'm dying to try them!!! They are so hard to find... Have a great afternoon!  I'm trying out my BSI recipe excited!!!
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almost there...


Good morning! I'm going to try to keep this quick so I can get back to work.  Deadline is tomorrow at noon so life should return to normal then...hopefully!  :) Last night Brian and I went to watch our friend defend her title at CLAW, the Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers.  We had just enough time after work to run home to feed the dogs, but not ourselves.  So, we stopped at our favorite pizza place on the Downtown Mall, Christian's Pizza (no website, sorry!).  I wanted to get one of their vegan slices so as to be a bit more healthy by eliminating cheese and adding a whole wheat crust, but they were all out of the pre-made vegan slices.  So, I settled for a classic fresh tomato, mozzerella and was delicious.  :)  I had one slice, but these are some huge pizza slices so it was perfectly filling. 081111-d1 When we got home we decided to watch a movie and I was in a sweet/snackie mood.  I decided to try out the Annie's Bunny Grahams and...let me tell you...I was very impressed!  (sorry for the blurry...) 081111-s3 I love these little bunnies!!!!!  First off, they are adorable.  Second, they have amazing flavor and Third, they are perfectly, deliciously crunchy.  I paired a serving of them with a sliced pink lady apple.  A very satisfying sweet/snackie experience. 081111-s2 Ok, now for today.  And I'm sorry again for being so quick... Breakfast: Ezekiel cinnamon raisin muffin (1/2) with almond butter and banana slices on top, paired with a cup of plain Oikos and the rest of the banana slices. 081112-b3 These Ezekiel sprouted wheat muffins are great.  I'm still not totally sold on the plain sprouted wheat bread, but the cinn raisin muffins and the onion sesame bagels are really tasty. 081112-b11 And I've been using Whole Foods brand almond butter, but I'm not totally sold on it yet.  I'm really trying to love almond butter, but this brand isn't doing it for me.  Do any of you have a favorite almond butter brand? 081112-b2 Lunch:  What is becoming my "I don't know what to make for lunch" lunch...the veggie wrap.  Its just so tasty and it never fails to satisfy me so its a great go-to lunch when I'm not feeling creative in the morning. 081112-l1 Ingredients:
  • whole wheat tortilla
  • 2 tbsp roasted garlic hummus
  • baby greens
  • red bell pepper
  • cucumber
  • banana peppers
  • alfalfa sprouts
Paired, of course, with a pink lady apple.  :) 081112-l2 And for a snack I have yesterday's Larabar stashed in a drawer at my office.  The salad filled me up so much that I ate just 2/3's for lunch, had my apple and hour or two later, and the rest of my salad a couple of hours after that. 081111-s11 And thats my day!  Tonight Brian and I are going to a friend's house for the premier of Top Chef!!!!!!!! We have a tradition of cooking with a theme on Top Chef nights, sometimes it is a key ingredient (think BSI contest).  I think I may try to come up with a recipe for the BSI contest this week using sweet potato and try it out on everybody... I'll report in later.  I was so inspired by Meghann's recipe this week, if you haven't seen it yet you should check it out. Have a fabulous Wednesday!
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