Bit of a short post today. I’ve been very busy this week! I was only supposed to work today and Tuesday, but I was called in to work for 2 hours on Wednesday and 7 on Thursday. Our weeks at work start on Tuesday, so my only day off this week is tomorrow, which should be quite busy as well – grocery shopping, 3 mile run, dropping Kris off to play Warhammer at some point, and then going to a reunion party with the awesome people that I interned with 4 years ago when I moved here. I have lots of good news, though:

  • Our Roku arrived! It cost more than an Xbox live subscription (we opted for the Roku 3 so that we could wire it in to the internet), but in the long run should keep us from having to pay that subscription again and again. We successfully watched 2 episodes of House of Cards on it. That show is just TOO intense.
  • Our cell phones arrived, too! Wow, now it sounds like we are big spenders. It just happened that both our cell phone contracts and our Xbox live expired in the same month. We have been planning these purchases for a long time and we will actually save quite a bit of money in the long run. Plus, these are used Nexus 4’s off Ebay, not like, brand new whatever phone is fancy now.
  • I got a hair cut! I always neglect this but I want to make sure I am looking nice and neat in case I ever get any more job interviews. Plus it always makes me feel nice 🙂
  • Belle and the cat, who shall be dubbed “Misty” unless the vet reveals that her fur was in fact thick enough to conceal her manliness, are doing much better together than we anticipated they would.  Kris let her in during the middle of the night last night and Belle did not fuss about her sleeping on the bed. I went out and bought all of the necessary cat stuffs today, so I guess she is ours now. Fun story: it took me 10 minutes to check out at Walmart because the lady did not want to use my coupon that applied to 20lbs or more of Tidy Cat cat litter for a 35 lb container of it. I apologized to the other people in my line.

Look how well we are all doing 🙂


Now, on to the food!

I didn’t make anything new this week, so I thought this might be a good time to do my Clif vs. Luna vs. Luna Protein vs. Larabar comparison. I touched on some of this in a previous post, but I’ll provide a fuller version here.

I have always been a pretty religious adherent to Clif bars, but mostly because I heard of them first, did not think they were gross when I tried them, and then only tried gross things like Quest bars.

I happened to try the Larabar Alt bars once when I had a coupon for them, and found that I enjoyed these quite a lot as well. I then basically bought combinations of my favorite flavors of those and Clif bars based on price.

I had been completely avoiding Luna bars because I felt that it was silly to have a protein/granola bar “for” women. When I was picking out bars at my local grocery store, though, I decided to give their “Luna Protein” line a try because they were much lower in calories than Clif bars with a similar amount of protein. I then noticed, though, that the regular Luna bars had a decent amount of protein, so I grabbed one as well, just to compare. My comparisons are based off of eating these different bars in the middle of long shifts (we don’t get breaks).

The verdict: I have now tried all of these kinds of bars, with the exception of the regular version of Larabars, and the only one I am not a fan of is the Luna Protein bar. First of all, it looks like this:

It bothers me that it is trying to look like a chocolate bar instead of something that is pretending to be healthier than a chocolate bar. Also, the appearance is misleading, it is nothing like a candy bar.

I also did not like the taste of the Luna Protein bars. I had chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough flavors and did not think either one resembled its namesake. Furthermore, the texture was off – I feel like these had a similar texture to Quest bars, which are extremely grainy. Perhaps I am the only person with these texture issues, but it was a huge turn off for me. Finally, I did not see much nutritional benefit to eating these fairly gross bars over the others – I think they only had 1-2 extra grams of protein. I know other things matter, but I primarily eat these bars as large snack/small meal substitutes when I lack access to normal meals for hours at a time, so I am looking for something that is filling rather than something that provides empty calories, which typically means something quite high in protein and/or fat. Despite the high protein, I actually did not feel very full from these at all, perhaps because I did not find them satisfying to eat.

The verdict: I will probably keep Clif and Larabar Alt in my rotation (especially the peanut butter cookie Larabars…I swear they are just mushed up coookies), but I will be giving Luna more of a chance. I found that some of the Luna flavors, like white chocolate macadamia nut, are actually tastier and more aesthetically pleasing than the Clif version, plus they seem to have more nutritional bang for the buck (less calories, core 4 vitamins, and about the same amount of protein). There are also some unique flavors! I’ve had lemon and peanut honey pretzel now, and there is a box of “nuts over chocolate” downstairs that I picked up on sale at Target to work my way through. My personal opinion is that it is silly for them to market them as a women’s bar, though – why not just make all Clif bars more like this? I will never understand!

Food Friday

Time for Food Friday again! This week started out pretty boring – Kris and I were sick so we were pretty much just eating canned soup and orange juice (more out of being lazy and cold than anything). I also had to work at night on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so I didn’t really make any dinners those nights. I ate something small (like a granola bar or a can of soup) before work and a peanut butter sandwich when I got home. How appetizing!

On Thursday, we were basically running out of food, and after packing an incredibly pathetic lunch for him, Kris and I decided it might be best to go out to lunch. We settled on Neato Burrito, which is basically a local Chipotle clone (if Chipotle was run by even bigger hipsters). One nice feature they have over Chipotle is that they offer a special salsa every day in addition to regular mild/green/hot offerings and have multiple wrap flavors, making it possible to have a “burrito of the day.” Yesterday the burrito was a Pad Thai inspired creation. I decided to try it even though I could have eaten vegetarian there very easily because it sounded fairly unique – chicken, black beans, brown rice…and banana-cashew salsa on whole wheat. I was intrigued. The only thing I didn’t really like was that in true burrito fashion, all of the cashew nut sauce ended up on one end and all of the banana bits at the other. The salsa really was great, though, and I am sad that I can’t seem to find a recipe for something similar online – I guess I’ll just have to keep looking! Sorry for the lack of a picture – being a burrito, it was not very good looking.

Then, for dinner, I attempted to make curry for the first time using this recipe. I chose this recipe because I had a bunch of lentils and chili powder left over from the lentil-quinoa chili, and I thought it turned out great and it was really simple to make. Note: I would agree with the comments on the recipe that you need to add extra curry powder and garlic. I more than doubled what it called for and it was quite spicy (which I enjoyed). I served it over brown rice with whole wheat naan and it was delicious and low calorie, coming in at 540 calories for one serving of curry, rice, and half a piece of naan. Side note: the naan selection at my grocery store is dreadful and expensive. Again, I didn’t take a picture because it looked disgusting, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. I rounded out the day by making some chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. Nothing fancy, just the recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag, but they really hit the spot!

Now, on to today, which includes pictures!

Yesterday when I was at the store, I went to grab a couple of Larabar Alt bars. I really like having filling protein bars around now that I have such weird work schedules – they are perfect if I have to go in for a shift that has a meal time right in the middle so that I can feel full the whole time without eating 2 dinners. Clif bars used to be my go to favorite, but Larabar Alt has just as much protein with fewer calories and I would argue tastes about as good. I still buy Clif bars sometimes because there are more flavors available, though. Anyway, when I went to grab the Larabars, I noticed something new – Luna “protein” bars. I have never tried Luna bars before because I see no point in them – they are Clif bars “for women.” To be fair, they have extra vitamins in them or something like that, but I feared they would be lacking elsewhere in order to make them lower calorie because that is obviously all women desire in their food. These bars apparently have like 14g of protein in 190ish calories, though – whoa! In comparison, Clif and Larabar Alt have about 9-11g. I decided to do an experiment where I compare Larabar Alt; regular Luna (which I’ve never tried, but it’s protein content is equal ); and Luna Protein bars to each other by eating them before long shifts and seeing how hungry I get.

The bars in question:

Luna Protein bars (12-14g?): both available flavors, chocolate peanut butter and cookie dough; Regular Luna (10g?) in white chocolate macadamia nut (it was on an endcap); Larabar Alt (10g?) in peanut butter cookie (favorite bar ever)

Today, I tried the plain Luna bar. I must say it did it’s job – I ate it at 9:45ish for a 10 am – 2 pm shift, where I wound up staying until 4. I started feeling hungry around 2 (meaning it worked as long as intended) and when I ate a couple breadsticks for “lunch” I ended up feeling too full. My only “complaint” – it was definitely more “girly,” though I found the “girly” traits to be a plus (maybe because I’m female?).  Though the white chocolate macadamia nut flavor of Clif is very sweet (I don’t know what I was thinking when I chose this flavor, I really don’t like it), this was somehow sweeter, even though it has 10g (!!) less sugar. This could be a plus if you like very sweet things. I also found it more aesthetically pleasing – Clif bars and Larabars look like mush, or occasionally mush with chocolate drizzle. This looked like a cereal bar with a nice chocolate coating on the bottom and drizzle on top. The texture was far better as well. I imagine they made all these changes to make them more appealing to women, which makes me wonder why they make the men’s bars have such bad texture and mush-like appearance. I always assumed it was because they couldn’t improve them without hurting macros, but apparently not – the women’s even have more vitamins! I’ll probably try one of the Luna protein bars before my 5 hour shift starting at 5pm tomorrow to see if it is even more effective with all of it’s extra protein – and to see if they have to revert to manly mush!

A comparison of the two bars so that you can be reminded of how gross and mushy the men’s one is:

Luna version. Image credit: pbfingers.com, because I forgot to take a photo

Men’s (?) Version

I then ended the day with something you think I’d be sick of – pizza! You think I’d be sick of pizza from my job, but trust me, that is impossible (plus I never really eat pizza at work or I’d gain all 110 lbs back). Kris and I went with an old favorite tonight – white pizza with spinach and tomatoes! Fun story: he actually made fun of me for taking this photo, so I tried to justify it by telling him white pizza with veggies looks healthier than it is, so I had to take a picture so that I would look really healthy on the blog.


Oh, and one final piece of info – I finally created an email address that is specific to the blog. If you want to contact me, you can do so at therewere2ofme@gmail.com

Food Friday

I am so sick of winter. Today is one of those deceptively sunny winter days – it is only 15 degrees!

I haven’t run in well over a week because of snow and ice. I’m supposed to run the Runs for Cookies virtual 5K tomorrow, but it is supposed to snow another 2 inches. Even if the weather was half decent tomorrow, I’m not sure I could run it – the entire park is still covered in snow. If it was just ice, I could wear my ice spikes (which I now have), but with the added inches of snow I’m not really sure what to do. I’ve considered walking it with Belle, but I’m afraid it will be too cold and too hard on her little paws. I might just have to sit it out and pretend it doesn’t count because it’s a virtual race. I feel very disappointed and frustrated and I’m becoming more genuinely worried that I will lose a lot of my running fitness and have to essentially start from scratch this spring. I am now remembering why I started going to the gym on campus last year around this time! Unfortunately, unless I get a full-time job (I’ve had a couple interviews, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed) I can’t really afford a gym membership here (the gym on campus was free).

On top of all this, Kris has a cold. So we are just sitting around being totally lazy while he recuperates and I worry about him because that is what I do. I have been trying to keep up with workouts at home but with everything going on I’m afraid I’m having far too many days like yesterday, where I did well with my “rest day” until dinner where Kris and I shared a large stromboli and I ate 3 brownies while watching Battlestar Galactica. Oops.


The good news is that I was able to accumulate enough content for a Food Friday post this week! This should be unsurprising, considering yesterday’s post where I bemoaned the amount of groceries that I decided to purchase.

I purchased one new thing to try this week: fancy pierogies. I briefly mentioned the pierogies (side note: WordPress wants to correct that word to “groupies”) in last night’s post, and I will note that while I have eaten many pierogies in my life, I have not purchased them in a long, long time and I had no idea how many varieties there are now, which is why they are something “new.” When I was growing up I did not know they made pierogies beyond the “cheddar and potato” variety, and after learning about other terrifying options like “potato and onion” I mostly ignored pierogie offerings. That was until the other day when I went shopping for them and couldn’t even find plain old cheddar and potato. Instead, I “had” to buy broccoli cheddar, spinach and feta, and five cheese (all with whole grain noodles). I was pleased to find these slightly fancier and healthier sounding options and plan to eat them for quick meals sauteed with some peppers! Fun fact: Mrs. T’s pierogies and Yuengling beer are made in the same county in PA (Schuylkill), further proving that PA produces all of the best things.

I also attempted two recipes for the first time: Lentil Quinoa Chili and homemade guacamole.

I liked the lentil quinoa chili, but it was not my all-time favorite vegetarian chili recipe. The only changes I made to the original recipe were that I used frozen bell pepper strips instead of buying and cutting up a pepper and I ran out of cumin so I just put in taco seasoning. I also made it in a crock pot instead of standing around cooking it for an hour. I think it just wasn’t spicy enough for me (most things aren’t). I still like it, though, and would recommend it to those who are more into flavor than heat.

A not very aesthetically pleasing picture of the chili.

I will note that the guacamole recipe I linked is a very generic one, and I followed it mostly because I have never made guac before and needed to know avocado:tomato ratios. I am fairly certain that I had never heard of guac until I was about 16 years old so obviously my parents do not make or buy it (though they love it at Mexican restaurants!) and I therefore had no idea how to make it. I also spent the last 3 years living with someone who makes incredible guac so there was no reason for me to even attempt it. The first thing I saw when I entered the grocery store was avocados and tomatoes on sale, though, so I was inspired. I think it went ok – I’ve certainly eaten worse. To my friend the amazing guacamole maker: you will be pleased to know that Kris has deemed it “good, but nowhere near as good” as yours. I blame the fact that I forgot fresh cilantro and had to use dried.

Close-up of the guac.

Food Friday

Yesterday, we were supposed to get the first snow storm of the season. It was supposed to begin freezing rain early in the morning and then turn to snow in the afternoon. I was supposed to awake to 4 inches or so of snow on top of ice this morning. There were rumors that they would cancel classes (the last day of classes!). I even had to go to campus to help proctor an exam for a professor who didn’t want to drive in the storm! My roommate had people coming into her retail job to pick up packages for people who couldn’t make it in because of the “storm.” Let’s just say I’m thoroughly confused, though I am quite delighted that our weather has remained non-dangerous. It has been really odd, though – I even rode my bike one day this week because there was a high of 60 degrees!

I’ve gone out to eat/been provided with free food quite a bit this week (yay Indian and pizza), but I do have a few foods to discuss:

  • I arrived on Monday to find these pastries waiting for me in my office. They were a gift from the first year grad student that I mentor. They are super delicious (because I am sure they are pure butter). I’ve never had Middle Eastern pastries before and I must say the simplicity of the nuts and pastry dough is a nice change from the chocolate everything we typically have in American foods.

  • I also tried the peanut butter and jelly version of the Emerald on the Go packs that I really like. I prefer this over the maple ones that I bought because it has a bunch of yummy candied almonds, but I must say that the original breakfast blend remains my favorite.
  • Finally, I attempted to make a vegetable pot pie. It turned out to be kind of meh. I think this is because I used almond milk instead of regular milk and the “gravy” (veggie broth, “milk,” and flour) turned out poorly and tasted a bit sweet. I mostly made this to use up all of the random foods I had around before leaving town next week, though, so it was a success in doing that.

Simmering on the stove…how am I going to fit this into a pie pan?!

Wow, apparently it was just the right size!

 

Food Friday

I finally tried one of the seasonal Clif bars that I ordered a few weeks ago. I am happy to report that pecan pie flavored Clif bars taste yummy. However, I am sad to report that they don’t taste very distinct. It reminded me of white chocolate macadamia nut. Still, if they were a flavor that was available year round, I’d probably buy them. Too bad they don’t seem to sell the seasonal flavors around here.

This week, I also tried two new recipes. One turned out very well, the other turned out kind of meh.

First, I made these amazing butternut squash and black bean enchiladas. I am always looking for new ways to ingest butternut squash because it was the best and as an added bonus these make a great meatless entree. I tweaked a few things (was too lazy for fresh cilantro; made mine like 10x spicier) and they turned out great! They were fairly easy to make, too, other than peeling and cubing the squash which is the only thing I don’t like about butternut squash. The other good thing about these was that I made them the day we were under tornado threat so that helped to distract me/calm me at least a little bit!

The cooking process!

About to go in the oven.

Already to eat! Don’t they look cheesy and yummy?!

My other recipe attempt came from making these enchiladas. I usually use dry black beans rather than canned (cheaper and BPA free) so to make these I had to soak the beans overnight so that I could cook the beans the next morning. I must have been super tired, though, because instead of putting in 1/2 a cup of dry beans to yield 1 1/2 cups total, I put in 1 1/2 dry beans, and ended up with 3 times the beans that I needed. I made myself a black bean-egg breakfast one day and black bean tacos a couple of nights, but still had some. So I decided to try black bean brownies which I have heard of before but never been brave enough to try. It went okay. Here is the recipe, because I blame myself, not the recipe. The brownies this person made look way different than what I ended up with! An added bonus to black bean brownies is that they are gluten free, so I will probably attempt these again for some of my flour-less friends. 

So, what went wrong? First of all, I will note that the brownies taste pretty good considering that they are made out of beans. I used peanut butter instead of chocolate chips in mine and they are quite yummy. They taste like chocolate and peanut butter with a hint of coffee (who knows why, there is no coffee in them). My problem is texture based.  Maybe it is because I used sugar free syrup instead of honey or regular syrup? Maybe it is that I baked them in cupcake cups because I didn’t have an 8×8 pan? Maybe it is because I am impatient and didn’t put them through enough chopping in the food processor? Who knows, but they just feel a bit…grainy? It could also just be me, as I am pretty sensitive to food textures.

I’ll try to pop in for a post or two over the weekend, but if I don’t get the chance, have a good Thanksgiving holiday, everyone! It seems appropriate to wish you a good food-based holiday on a food-based post, anyway 🙂

Food Friday

Exciting event of the day:

  • Cinnamon crunch bagel from Panera
  • Er, I mean, 25 minute 5K!!

I haven’t done a 25 minute 5K in awhile, and I was going to run 4-5 miles today, but I decided to go for a one mile walk with River first, and was thinking I could reduce my running down to 3-4 miles due to the walk. I told myself that if I was going to reduce my mileage I would have to run hard, though. I ran my first half mile in under 4 minutes and thought…why don’t I try for a 25 minute 5K? I barely squeaked it in! 3.11 miles in 25:00 on the dot (no screencap from runkeeper because despite my watch saying 3.11 25:00 it imported 3.07 miles and 24 something minutes)! I would say by biggest limitation was my cardio fitness – my heart rate kept hitting max near the end and I was having trouble breathing! My legs don’t even hurt. I find this interesting consider all of the running I do and my lack of strength training. Also, my husband has the opposite problem. His legs hurt, but he has no trouble breathing. Interesting!

In other exciting news, I received these in the mail this week:

Yay for seasonal Clif bars! They don’t sell them anywhere around here except the bike shop and they were out. I was very happy when a deal to get one of each for $3 with free shipping came up on the company’s Twitter. I barely use Twitter, but I’m glad that I check it occasionally because I got these bars. I’ve only tried the pumpkin, and I ate it when ravenous and didn’t pay much attention, so I don’t know how they really taste yet. Expect an update soon!

I also tried two new “recipes” this week. Well, only one was really a recipe, but we’ll go with calling it that for now.

First: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Bars. I had 2 containers of cream cheese to use up, so I looked for a pumpkin cream cheese recipe. These are really good! They taste like pumpkin pie topped with oatmeal, basically. The only thing I don’t like is that I expected them as a bar to be more solid. They are very weak/crumbly so they aren’t really good for bars that you could like carry around or something. Also, warning: this recipe is not for beginners, as it involves making crust from scratch. Even though I have done this before, I still messed it up (almost forgot to put oatmeal in and baked it for 30 seconds before taking it out of the oven to mix it in, melting the butter).

 

I also made some homemade almond butter with the almonds I bought on sale. This turned out great! It was easy, but it takes a lot of patience. The person who wrote the “recipe” (more like instructions has a lot of great pictures, but I thought I’d add some of my own, too, so you can really believe this takes patience. Picture 2 is about 5 minutes in, and I swear it didn’t change in appearance for another 10 minutes! I almost gave up then started to see little liquidy spots and persevered! The final product took about 20 minutes. I used 1 cup of almonds just to experiment and ended up with about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of almond butter. I did stir a little sea salt into it at the end.

After only a few seconds of grinding. Already all chopped up!

After about 5 minutes. I was thinking I was almost done – it’s already clumping together!

The final product!

 

Food Friday

I don’t have too much food to talk about this week. Lots of PB&J, oatmeal with raisins, and those little emerald nut packs. I am making that black bean quinoa chili again, but I already talked about that once so it’s not very exciting. However, I did try three pumpkin items (because of course I did):

  • Dunkin Donuts Pumpkin Coffee. Not my favorite of their flavored coffees (that title goes to chocolate donut), but perhaps this is just because it burnt my tongue this morning 😦
  • Buffalo Bill’s Brewery Pumpkin Ale. This and the next item were luckily tried last night, giving me something to talk about without much effort on my part. I really liked this pumpkin beer. Not as sweet as Traveler’s Shandy; not as beer-like as Blue Moon’s. In terms of sweetness, my friend who only likes shandys does not approve, for comparison’s sake. Then again, I love beer, so I’m cool with that.
  • Turkey Hill Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream. Not only do I love everything pumpkin, but I also love everything Turkey Hill. I really like this because it had cinnamon graham cracker crumbs in it, and most other pumpkin ice creams seem to have nothing mixed into them – they are just pumpkin flavors. I would still say the Edy’s  I tried a couple of weeks ago is almost as good, though, especially considering that the Turkey Hill has almost twice as many calories.

I also thought that while I was on the topic of food, I would take some time to talk about an “experiment” I’m doing. I use the term “experiment “loosely – I am trying out something new, but it isn’t TECHNICALLY an experiment, and, as an instructor of a research design course, I would not give a student points for labeling my actions an “experiment.” This discussion of proper use of the word “experiment*” should be your warning that shit’s about to get boringly nerdy here, by the way.

I’ve been struggling a bit lately with feeling like I’ve been eating “too much.” Even though my weight hasn’t gone up, I feel like I’ve been eating so much food and it makes me feel like I must be doing something wrong and that one day I will just wake up having gained the weight back again. Irrational, I know, but it is really difficult for someone like me who spent over a year losing weight to let myself actually eat enough food. I mean, I don’t feel like I need to eat a super low calorie diet but I just see days on MyFitnessPal adding up to like 2300 sometimes and can’t help but think that’s ridiculous.

So I decided to convince myself it’s ok with statistical evidence. For the month of November, I will be keeping track of how many miles I ran per day; how long that took me; my average pace; whether I lifted or not; whether I biked or not; my total calories; and my net calories. In the end, I am hoping to prove to myself that big calorie deficits = bad paces. I am guessing I will also see that forcing myself to bike and lift in addition to running is actually somewhat detrimental to my paces. This is supposed to help convince me that I am NOT lazy if I just don’t feel like biking to campus one day (especially as it is getting cold). I know that Thanksgiving will mess up my data a bit, but I think it will be interesting to see the results. Already my mind has been blown just by physically seeing my net calories. MFP says how many calories I ate total and how many calories I burnt but it doesn’t actually subtract them for me, so I forget to think of it this way. I see “Oh, I ate 2200 calories and burnt 600” instead of “I only gave my body 1600 calories to use for its normal functions today.” Also, because of some days where I don’t eat a lot, my average calories are lower than I expected. I know part of this is that I’ve been on track most of the week (my worst day was less than 100 calories over), but I really felt like I was messing up more often than I was. Hopefully I learn something interesting by the end of the month.

* Now that I’ve said “experiment” like 18 times, I feel like it is necessary to point out that it took me like 3 years to learn how to spell it. Sometimes the simple things are what really give you trouble.