Food Friday

This week’s post will be a discussion of food “failures.” This week was so weird – everything I tried to make had SOMETHING wrong with it, though in no cases was it a complete failure.

Monday: Attempted to make lasagna. I had planned to do this, as Kris randomly said “hey, why don’t we get ricotta cheese?” at the store and I realized we had all of the ingredients except zucchini, which I ran to buy. However, when I got home, I discovered that the “giant container” of lasagna noodles had only 6 noodles in it; parts of the top 2 layers were made with spaghetti instead.

Tuesday: Started making coconut-peanut Thai curry only to find that I was “out” of red curry paste. That’s ok – I’ll improvise – after all, I had all of the ingredients for curry paste on hand! After putting my half-ass curry paste mix into the sauce, I look over to see the curry paste. I had put it somewhere “clever” while preparing to cook. It turned out ok in the end, as there was only about 2 teaspoons of paste in the jar in the first place. The curry was a bit too spicy for Kris, though 😦

Random morning I don’t fully remember because it was pre-coffee: put 3/4 of a cup instead of half of a cup of liquid into my oatmeal and it was really really really gross 😦

The good news: I only had to cook 2 days since I made lasagna!

I actually had another relatively major fail this week: my first attempt to go to the company gym. Yesterday, it was very cold and windy and I had some errands to run after work, so I planned on heading back into work to use the treadmill. When I got there, I couldn’t find the locker room at first. Then, I decided to go change in the “bathroom” (note: the gym is not on my floor, so I am unfamiliar with this floor’s layout). For some inexplicable reason the “bathroom” had a secure entrance requiring me to scan my ID, which I thought was weird…until I walked in and discovered it was a completely unmarked locker room in a different hallway than the gym! The worst part: I couldn’t even work out at the gym because I forgot my sports bra and had to go home; I ended up just doing a workout video.

I guess I’ll try again next week! After all, next week is going to present a new challenge: balancing overtime and working out. My job is in a completely new division of the company, and very little of the work was being done before we arrived (due to lack of manpower); therefore, we are a few months behind where we need to be and will be working mandatory overtime until we are caught up. It looks like I’m going to have several nights of working until 7-9, meaning I will have to hit up the gym afterwards if I want to get a workout in. Let’s just hope I don’t resort to too much takeout and too many frappucinos in the meanwhile!


Oh – I do want to end today by noting a change of plans: I will not be running the 10 mile race I had planned to this weekend, despite my weeks of training (even in the ice and snow!). My grandfather is unfortunately very ill in the hospital, so I will be going out of town to visit my family. At least I hadn’t paid for the race yet, and it still had the positive side effect of forcing me to get my ass back outside and running! I’m not sure what my next race will be – the next one I had considered is a half on April 6, and I don’t think I’m prepared for that (the longest I’ve run this month was 9 miles, and I missed a run this week). A lot of the other races I had been thinking about aren’t until October; are too difficult/too soon; or they are sold out. I’m sure I’ll find something soon, though!

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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

I hope everyone is having a good Valentine’s Day! Kris and I will be spending it the way we usually do – apart! I have to work for like 9 or 10 hours today so he will have to chill out alone most of the evening until I get home. At least we won’t be in separate states for it this year 🙂

We usually don’t exchange gifts, but figured that since we would actually be in the same city that we should go out for a date. We ended up going out on Tuesday night because Kris had Warhammer on Wednesday, the giant snowstorm occurred yesterday, and I have to work today, tomorrow, and Sunday!

For our date we went to a local restaurant that Kris went to for a former coworker’s retirement party. I really enjoyed it. One of the reasons we went there was that it was BYOB I’ve never been to a BYOB place before and I must say it was nice to enjoy wine for both of us for only $11! I’m always really awkward at drinking wine in restaurants, though, because I don’t know any etiquette (this was most embarrassing when we got wine at a really nice place in NYC and the server wanted us to sniff and taste the wine first and we were just kind of like “well, it doesn’t seem terrible, so we’re cool”).

I really enjoyed the food at this place, too. sorry I didn’t take any pictures – the atmosphere didn’t seem right for me to be snapping tons of smartphone photos (we were in a room of maybe 8 tables). We shared the best spanakopita I’ve ever had as an appetizer (spinach-feta phyllo pastries – they are a mediocre generic app at a lot of places, not here); for my entree I had fried ravioli with spinach in a creamy sauce, one of their many vegetarian options (they were a bit more crunchy than I expected, though); and we shared an amazing piece of tiramisu for dessert! I love chocolate but tiramisu is always one of my favorites. The place was a little more pricey but I didn’t feel like it was overpriced because of the quality of the food, which is rare because I can be a super cheap person.


I tried a ton of new things for Food Friday this week!

I’ll start with Sunday, when I actually had enough energy to take crappy smartphone photos of what I was making. I tried a second recipe from Budget Bytes – “Italian Wonderpot.

I don’t think I significantly changed anything about this recipe. It turned out really well and the serving sizes were larger than I was imagining on the basis of the photo that she showed. I’d probably use a bit more seasonings next time, though, as it wasn’t quite as flavorful by the time I got around to eating it as I thought it would be from the smells while cooking! Kris really enjoyed it as well, and it was VERY low in calories (about 350 per serving), so I am sure I will be making it again.

Everything I used to whip this together.

In the pan…I included this because it looks so much less appetizing than the photo on her site, especially with all that shimmery olive oil!

The finished product!

The rest of the week we basically ate this for leftovers, until Thursday, when we were stuck at home all day and decided to do nothing but eat. Seriously – we started out the day with cinnamon rolls, snacked on apples and peanut butter, and I tried new recipes for lunch AND dinner. I’m really glad it doesn’t normally snow this much! Unfortunately I was not as diligent with snapping photos of these, so you will just have to rely on my descriptions.

When I went home for Christmas, my grandpa had given me some canned salmon for some inexplicable reason. Well, perhaps it was that he had no idea what to do with it, because neither did I. I Googled “recipes with canned salmon” and came across a list of 50 things to do with it. The first thing on the list sounded easy enough so that is what we had for lunch. It was…ok. I was really grossed out by the canned salmon -it was like slimy looking and there was a lot of skin I had to peel off –  and sort of lost my appetite. I would have been happier just with the eggs, potatoes and vegetables, I think, but I made it with the intent of using the salmon so I made myself eat it. To be fair, this was “smoked salmon,” and it had like maple syrup and brown sugar in it or something, so perhaps that is why it was slimy looking. I have plain canned salmon and I’ll give it another chance with one of the other recipes later.

For dinner, I was inspired by this recipe for black bean-quinoa enchiladas. The added bonus of this recipe was that I got to give crockpot beans another attempt to make black beans and it went quite successfully. My freezer is now full of beans! I wanted actual enchiladas rather than a casserole, so I I halved the recipe and cooked it up in some tortillas. The only other major change I made to this recipe was that I used canned green chiles instead of bother to chop up a jalapeno, because the jalapenos at my grocery store are generally overpriced and low quality. I really enjoyed these, though I thought the calorie count was a little high (my fault for using tortillas) and Kris must have really liked them because he ate like half of the pan – there went my plan for leftovers! I still think I personally prefer the butternut squash ones I made before, though.

 

 

 

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 🙂