Monthly Archives: October 2011
It’s Halloween! Halloween is probably my favorite holiday, since I enjoy all things spooky and eerie mixed with fun and whimsy! There are so many things I look forward to on this day:
1) Seeing boatloads of little ones running all over the place in desperate searches for candy, candy and more candy!
2) Marveling over those houses across my small state that display elaborate and creepy Halloween decorations!
3) The Roger Williams Park Jack O’ Lantern Spectacular! Admittedly, I do not actually go to this festival of thousands of glowing, carved pumpkins, simply because the lines to get in are outrageous! However, I always am excited to see the pictures of the creative and artistic pumpkins each year.
4) Watching at least one scary movie– last night, it was the Shining! There’s nothing like totally freaky kids in Halloween movies!
Yesterday morning, I powered through a 1 mile walk to the gym, a 10 mile treadmill run, and the returning 1 mile walk home, all after consuming my favorite weekend morning, energy-boosting breakfast. I enjoyed a cup of plain 0% fat Greek yogurt, a sliced banana with cinnamon, a spoon of raw almond butter, and a serving of Paleonola Original Granola. I will spare you a picture of the bowl, since I probably showed you all a similar pic at least ten times. Let’s just say it was delicious, nutritious, and . . . grain-free?
Yes, that’s right, my Saturday morning breakfast was grain-free. I have waxed poetic a number of times (here and here) already about my obsession with Paleonola Granola, which is chock full of seeds, nuts, and dried fruits– but no oats or other grains. Mind you, I have no reason or desire to purposefully avoid grains in my breakfast– I just think it is interesting how my standard morning meal has sort of evolved to become grain-free, and I always have sustained energy after eating it for hours! Also, I have noticed less tummy troubles in the morning when I consume a grain-free granola versus one with oats. It’s just something I thought I would note– I am in no way advocating grain-free meals or a grain-free diet (especially since the rest of my meals always include whole grains); rather, I am just making an observation that perhaps the lack of grains at breakfast may help with ensuring more energy and smoother digestion at the start of the day. It’s just something I will try to pay attention to more.
Now, I promise– this will be the last Paleonola post. . . for at least a week! Just kidding. No, but seriously, I have no affiliation with the company other than the fact I love their product. Last week, I went to Whole Foods to stock up, and I was shocked and saddened to see all the Paleonola was gone! I went to another Whole Foods in search of Paleonola, only to find that branch did not carry it at all. In a moment of desperation, I jumped onto their website to order a bag. A bag turned into the sampler pack, which includes five full-sized bags of all of their flavors, two of which I have not yet tried. A few days ago, my granola stash finally arrived!
I desperately clawed at the box with my nails to unseal the packing tape. When I finally got the box opened, I was greeted with this adorable note:
How cute is that? It’s small, personal touches like that which make me support certain companies, and I really thought that was a nice way to be greeted by the package! Anyway, I gingerly removed the note and was faced with what I can only call a sight for sore eyes:
Oh yes– it was packets upon packets of the good stuff! I decided to have a bit of a photo shoot with my newly acquired Paleonola stash. First, the flavors I have already tried and fell head over heels for: The Original, Chocolate FIx, and Maple Pancake:
More importantly, here are the two I was most looking eager to get my hands on (the two flavors I could not find in stores):
Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie! I die! The pumpkin pie flavor especially has me intrigued– as you know from my dinner at Al Forno, I love all things pumpkin! As soon as I am finished with the bag I have open now, I am cracking into this one, and I will report back as to how it is!
Look at that line-up:
I am a lucky girl.
Have you gotten any fun packages lately?
Many aspects of my day were pretty normal– I woke up extremely early, went to work (in the dark), taught my little heart out, got mistaken for a student at work, and felt absolutely drained the second I walked out of my school building. My usual Friday inclination to skip the gym in favor of a nap also hit hard; however, I managed to remind my brain that I would be extremely pleased with myself if I hauled my tired little behind to the gym. The side of me that decided not to be lazy reigned supreme– and I call that a definite victory for me this Friday! Not only did I eek out 60 minutes on the elliptical, but I also lifted weights for arms and shoulders!
I can boast a few more victories today– accomplishments that are a bit out of the norm for my typical Friday routine. Not only did I spend time at the gym, but I spend a good two hours correcting essays! Don’t get me wrong– I am not done yet– but it is such a great feeling to know a lot of my weekend correcting is already behind me!
My final break in my typical Friday routine involves food. As you know, Fridays usually involve take out or a meal at a restaurant. However, I decided to cook because quite frankly, I am a bit sick of eating out. I whipped up Mama Pea’s Spicy African Peanut Stew again, but with a few changes.
First, I used chopped butternut squash instead of sweet potatoes, I added a diced red pepper, I incorporated almond butter instead of peanut butter, and I about doubled the spices. The result was phenomenally tasty; I was so proud of cooking a homemade meal on a Friday night! I can’t remember the last time I did that. I definitely call that a victory!
Here’s a snapshot of my plate–I feel so virtuous eating that many veggies!
I’ll be eating this for a while (though I am not complaining!). The modified recipe makes a ton, which is just fine by me!
A long workout, a correcting spree, and a homecooked meal? I call that an unusual, but victorious Friday!
What kinds of small victories have you experienced today?
I found many wonderful things yesterday– some required a bit more effort to locate than others, but all were certainly welcome into my day!
Let’s see. . . we can begin with the package waiting for me on my doorstep, wrapped in plastic in order to be protected from the cold October rain that was falling here in Providence. I was hoping it was the variety pack of Paleonola I just ordered, but sadly, it wasn’t. However, it was something maybe just as exciting– my and my husband’s Halloween costume!
I can’t yet reveal what it is, but the costume theme of the party we are attending on Monday night is “move characters.” Anyone have any guesses? I’ll give you a hint– don’t hold your breath and get blue in the face wondering what we are!
Yesterday, I also stumbled upon something else– the energy to run six miles after school! I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day, and I told myself I would try running, but if I was too tired, I could do something else. I hopped on the treadmill, and the first few miles were tough. However, Top Chef repeats kept me going, and once I hit mile four, I coaxed myself into going just one more mile. After that, I ran another one, mixed with a bit of walking. All in all, I ran five consecutively, and 1 mile punctuated by walk breaks!
Once I returned home from the gym (and found the above-mentioned package), I had to quickly locate one of my most treasured seasonal possessions– my heated blanket!! My sweet mother-in-law, armed with the knowledge I tend to always be cold, purchased for me a heated blanket last Christmas. It was the best Christmas gift I could ever receive! I fell hard for that warm, fuzzy feeling of the heat encapsulating me whenever I felt a chill. Well believe me, today I felt a chill! I whipped out my trusty blanket, and all was well with the world!
Lastly, I found a very nice surprise on my DVR– the season finale of Top Chef Just Desserts!
This show is made for me– as much as I heart the regular Top Chef series, sometimes I just cannot relate because so much of what is cooked is meat that I have no interest in whatsoever. However, everything in Top Chef Just Desserts is right up my alley!! I want to try practically every single sweet creation those pastry chefs come up with (OK, maybe with the exception of falafel-inspired ice cream!). I’m about to go watch it right now, while I snuggle with my blankie and recover from my run, with my feet up and a smile on my face!
Have you found anything good today?
I apologize if my blog just feels like one big weekend recap, but this past weekend was so jam-packed that I need to write separate posts for each thing I did! Maybe I will start with something from today, and then flashback to my Saturday night birthday dinner numero dos!
So today, I ran after school, expecting it was going to be quite the struggle. However, seven miles later, I felt strong and fantastic! I wonder if my unusually high energy levels had anything to do with my concerted efforts to up my healthy fats, calories, and protein in the afternoon. Today, I added some sprouted beans to a typical guacamole, veggie and hummus pita sandwich, and I’d like to think that gave me my extra burst of energy for my run!
Now, we can go back to Saturday night! Before my Wright’s Farm cake feast featured yesterday, my husband, sister, brother-in-law, and two cutie nephews celebrated my birthday at Amici Bar and Grille, located in the Federal Hill Italian neighborhood of Providence. We were racking our brains on where to go– my husband and sister wanted Asian food, and I wanted Italian. Finally, Amici popped into my head– it was the perfect place because it is a casually upscale restaurant with a menu that features both cuisines!
As the sign suggests, Amici offers a huge variety of sushi, while also serving wood-fired brick oven Italian favorites. I know it seems sort of a strange hybrid, but believe, me, this restaurant pulls it off! I was able to indulge in some of my traditional Italian-American favorites, while the rest of my crew ordered up lots and lots of sushi!
Amici starts diners off with an enormous basket of warm, fresh focaccia bread with a spicy olive-oil for dipping. I downed one and a half pieces immediately!
I heart flavored olive oils!
I ordered my standard Amici fare– the margarita grilled pizza with extra cheese. Their pizza is outstanding– rustic and simple, with the flavors of the fresh ingredients really shining through!
I devoured two gorgeous slices:
I also ordered a salad consisting of greens, grapefruit, and goat-cheese and pistachio encrusted grapes, all tossed in a tangy cranberry vinaigrette. Oh, there was also some grilled asparagus to be found in the mix!
The salad was tasty, although I found the asparagus to be an odd addition to an otherwise sweet and tart salad. I think some candied nuts would have been a nice touch, as well as some sliced apples or pears. Regardless, I still enjoyed it, down to the very last piece of lettuce!
I sat across from my eight-year old nephew, who ordered a pasta with shrimp and cream sauce. Can you tell he was satisfied with his meal?
He never passes on a chance to ham it up for the camera:
Amici has really become a staple for my husband and I because we have such different food preferences, that it is often difficult to find just the right thing. It’s a perfect compromise restaurant– he devours boatloads of sushi, which he proclaims as excellent, and I get to stuff my face with one of my favorite food combos of pizza and salad. Additionally, Amici boasts a trendy, modern and somewhat upscale atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re in the scene, just waiting to see and be seen! I’m so clever, right?
We had a fantastic dinner, and the fact that everyone’s taste buds were delighted made it even better. I highly recommend Amici, especially for those times when you just can’t decide what you want! Pasta and sushi together? Sure! Edamame and bruschetta? Why not!
Do you frequent any restaurants that dabble in multiple ethnic cuisines? What do they have to offer?