Gobble, Gobble, Gulp: Guide to Holiday Eating

The season for eating has begun. Not only does the colder weather bring a hankering for heavy, comforting dishes stuffed with yummy goodness (like the vat of homemade Mac and cheese I consumed last night), but food is the centerpiece at the holidays we celebrate this time of year.

Gulp. Take a deep breath. This does not have to be stress-inducing.

Food, and eating and enjoying it, not a bad thing, nor should it be seen as a villain. It is simply knowing your limits, listening to your body’s signals, choosing healthy and manageable portions, and maintaining healthy habits during the other days.

Halloween kicked things off with the delectable options of chocolate dangling over my head, but when I reached into the bowl, I chose a few of my favorites, portioned them out over a course of days, and savored what I enjoyed.

Isn’t that the kicker? When we eat eat eat and haven’t even processed what it was we consumed? Holidays are all about celebrating with loved ones and taking the time to appreciate what you have and who you have it with. Food is part of this, but make sure you pay attention to what you’re eating, both from an approach of keeping track and to enjoy. Often, when we really take the time to savor things, we find that a little less hits the spot in a big way.

On Thanksgiving, I try not to pay too much attention to all the calories I’m consuming because I know it’s one day. My go to approach over the past few years has been to start the day with a refreshing, energizing, and filling breakfast before fitting in a strong sweat session. I get myself to the gym to squeeze in some strength conditioning because it burns calories all day long along with short bursts of cardio for the full effect. This could simply be banging out a few sets of body strength moves like lunges, squats, push ups, etc and a few sprints.

After dinner, before I settle myself down onto the couch with a cup of Baileys and coffee, I go out for a long walk with my mom and whoever else wants to join. This eases the digestion process, keeps your juices flowing, and makes that dessert go down easier a little later.

Good

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Foodwise, I enjoy a bite of the delicious appetizers my mom cooks up like the culinary genius she is, but save my heartier appetite for the main course. I am lucky because I happen to like vegetables, but even if you have to smother them in gravy, cranberry sauce, or melted marshmallow, eat em all up! Nothing helps your body process a day of stuffing your face quite like throwing a handful of veggies along with it- and that earlier workout or walk!

Good

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It might help to remember that maintaining a healthy lifestyle is not about dieting. Dieting gives off the thinking that something is temporary. Most people can’t cut carbs, sugar, or meat forever, but see it as a temporary fix to help them lose weight. This reminds me a lot of the thinking behind some of those weight loss programs that provide premade food. It may help you to lose weight initially, but it does nothing to help you learn good habits and how to eat real food. If you cut something that’s your own choice, but please don’t think you have to do it to be healthy.

Diets can end, but dedicating your life to being healthy more often than not is a lifetime commitment that gets easier the longer you do it. Losing weight is hard, maintaining is harder, depending on your initial approach to weight loss. Take it from someone whose worked through that with blood, sweat, and tears. If you see it as a lifestyle, those habits become ingrained and not quite as fear-inducing. Plus, you don’t have to cut out all the goodness!

You also won’t feel as bad if you have a grand day of feasting because you trust your instincts and you choose the things that you really want, rather than waste time, energy, and calories on things you don’t really care about.

NO

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Also very important, which is always important: drink, no chug, WATER. Drink more water friends! Always and every day.

Thanksgiving is often so busy and enjoyable that you don’t even find time to feel guilty. Well, guess what? There’s no need to feel guilty at all! The next day, if those dredges of doubt and self-sabotage course through you, remember it was one day. Sticking to your usual healthy eating and work out plan during the days leading up to and after the holidays will almost make this huge splurge day nonexistent in the scheme of your life.

There’s a reason why we stuff ourselves into oversized Christmas sweaters after Thanksgiving hits, but don’t allow any splurging to derail your confidence or healthy habits. I always remind myself that moderation is key and any day is a new day to start on over, even if it’s at 11:55 at night and you’ve talked yourself out of eating that sleeve of Oreos. That’s progress! Side note, why are Oreos so good? Asking for a friend. For the record, if I reach in for the Oreos, I stick with one and maybe two, not the sleeve.

Christmas necessitates much of the same game plan for Halloween and Thanksgiving. In general, I would just say to enjoy yourselves, appreciate and be thankful for what you have- every day- but take this day to really feel that love from family, friends, and food!

Gobble, gobble my friends. Happy Thanksgiving!

*Note: pictures were found on Google. Thanks for letting me use them if they are yours. Credit where credit is due 🙂

Mockingjay: What Goes Into A Revolution

I’ve talked a little bit about Mockingjay my past two posts, but I thought I would detail more about it for this week’s Rave Review Tuesday.

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To be honest, I didn’t remember much about the book going into it because it was not my favorite and I was bored through a lot of it. It is rare that I will ever claim to have liked a movie better than a book, and to be fair, I won’t make the official claim because I would need a refresher on the book, but I enjoyed it a lot in this format.

The acting in this film is what set it apart. Jennifer Lawrence is a no brainer in every movie I’ve seen her in and she seems to have gained a full grasp on Katniss. It will be interesting to see how she does in the final film as it finishes its run. One thing I will say is that I didn’t care for how Suzanne Collins portrayed Katniss in this book.

I was talking to my cousin Mikey as we were leaving the theater and we agreed that there’s more of a lovesick angle going on with her, rather than the struggles she undertakes as the brave, reluctant heroine she begins as. To make it more effective, I would liked to see her accept her role in the revolution without it being all about the boys and her mixed feelings on them. That’s not to say that there shouldn’t be elements of love involved because it’s so natural to human nature. One series that incorporated both love and war extremely well was, of course, my beloved Harry Potter. I rooted for relationships and enjoyed seeing them be fostered and mature, but the characters made full progressions with and without who they were with in the end.

The other standouts for me were Phillip Seymour Hoffman and Elizabeth Banks. I feel like I missed a few of their lines because people were laughing so hard every time they talked. Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore were also excellent, but underused thus far. I believe they play a larger role in the next installment, though I don’t quite remember. As for Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson- I’m more of a Gale girl myself- they also did a nice job, even though Josh wasn’t who I envisioned for Peeta.

Without comparing it to the book, because I don’t think I could make a fair assessment, I will say that the action scenes played out very well. There was a heavy element of suspense that built throughout. This was due in part to how emotional the characters and the events progressed to a point of desperation. I can’t say more though because I try to remain relatively unspoilerish. The purpose of here first part of the story is to establish the set of circumstances that lead people towards revolution and end at the climax just before it begins. I say this as general as possible and I think they do an excellent job of this.

As we go forward, I am paying more attention to the posts that get the most hits or likes, not because I’m focused solely on that, but I’m trying to gain a better theme for my blog. I’m not certain my reviews are effective enough to be worthwhile sharing, but I’m not sold on quitting just yet. I know that my reviews on books are better than other mediums and I think that has a lot to do with my experiences analyzing literature.

Perhaps I should focus on formulating a thesis of sorts before just writing and reflecting as I go instead of giving it up. Please let me know your thoughts!

A Week Of Yummy

This was not my healthiest week of eating, but I can’t say I didn’t enjoy my meals. I’m very much looking forward to Thanksgiving and will be extra cautious this week on the other days.

Back to recap this past week, I started off with some tasty and delectable French toast. For whatever reason, the bread was extra crunchy this time around and it paired well with the pumpkin flavor.

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To use up more of that canned pumpkin I opened, I baked up an oatmeal dish. This included some white chocolate peanut butter, strawberries, and blueberries. So good!

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These pancakes are still my favorite. I tossed in a handful of blueberries to the batter, which makes things that much more satisfying. An array of redness accompanies it.

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More oatmeal, this time the stove top variety, with dark chocolate peanut butter, pomegranate seeds, and blueberries.

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These pancakes were made with whole wheat flour, oats, Greek yogurt, and an egg white. On their own, they were a little bland, but topped with peanut butter, jelly, and toasted coconut, they were a dream.

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Before a busy day of shopping, I got to eat these poached eggs over toast. One of my favorite breakfasts!

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I ended my week with more peanut butter pancakes because I won’t have time anymore to make them as often as I have been doing. I ended up burning everything from the cakes to the coconut, but they were still yummy.

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First up for lunches was an experiment of sorts with this mason jar salad. It was very filling because I stocked it with too many veggies, seemingly impossible, I know. It was good, but I didn’t realize you were supposed to pour it all into a bowl when it was ready to be eaten, so it’s something to work on more.

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I had a medley for this meal that included half a grilled pepperjack and pepperoni grilled cheese, veggie sticks, and a big bowl of popcorn.

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This lunch was another grilled cheese with a few celery sticks and a bowl of the tomato chickpea soup stuffed with veggies. I came up with it all on my own, but I should have added some more water because it was very chunky.

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A leftover piece of veggie quiche with a side of whole wheat raisin toast was a quick, hot lunch after a long workout. It hit the spot!

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I enjoyed this shredded steak and veggie quesadilla out to lunch with my friend Molly. To finish it off, I pulled the filling goodness out of the tortilla rather than try to heat it up later and have it go soggy.

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A few hours into our shopping, my mom and I needed sustenance to help us regroup for another round of shopping. We each had a slice of pizza and a side salad. Yay on the cheesiness, nay on the lame salad. I can do so much better. Also, who puts egg and bacon on a spinach salad?!

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To cheer on the Patriots in their most recent victory, we ordered subs from one of our local favorites. I went with the chicken parm, a couple of chips, and a ton of chopped veggies. Great Sunday!

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Look at these veggies I grilled up for dinner on Monday!

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I threw my portion into a salad and made a steak quesadilla to go along with it.

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This chicken and spinach salad- done the proper way- is becoming a family favorite. The chicken is marinated in Italian dressing then thrown into a salad composed of baby spinach, walnuts, craisins, cucumber, tomato, and pepper, tossed with poppyseed dressing. I enjoyed mine with a piece of toast for my serving of grains.

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This veggie quiche is always a great, quick option to make ahead and eat when ready. They are also freezer friendly! Paired with a salad and I had myself a tasty dinner!

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Thursday night, I met up with my graduate school friends who I can’t believe I haven’t seen in so long. Last year, I saw them more than my family and they were my biggest support staff through the program (other than my parents). Reminiscing over some Bertuccis’ rolls, I went with this pasta, sausage, and pepper dish. I ate all of the sausage and peppers and had a few bites of pasta because I prefer the rolls!

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After that big quesadilla on Friday for lunch, I wasn’t starving for dinner. I went with a couple pieces of peanut butter toast and half a banana to keep things light, but filling. I can never go wrong with peanut butter!

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Shopping is one of my favorite things, but it’s also exhausting. A movie night to see Mockingjay with my cousin Mikey was just what I needed to relax. Oh, wait. That movie is not relaxing. I’ve read the book and I was still nervous and on the edge of my seat. The acting is phenomenal! And I didn’t like this book all that much- I enjoyed the first two though! Before the movie, we grabbed a quick dinner at a pizza shop. Knowing I was going to want this theater’s popcorn- note, real butter- I opted for this awesome Greek chicken kebab salad. Nicely done, fellow salad makers.

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Overall, I would say I ate out too many times than I would normally allow myself, but they all included fun times with amazing people, so I will not complain or fret! Happy Thanksgiving week, friends! Happy and healthy eating!

Help, My Lip Is Growing and Other Weekend Adventures

In my world of weird, I fell into bed the other night after a long writing session. Sleep was calling to me and I was gladly falling for it until my lip started tingling.

You know that moment when you’re hovering between consciousness and being submerged in sleep? Everything feels distorted and you doubt the real ness of things. Well, at first, I thought my tingling lip was a figment on my imagination, but then I realized my upper lip was actually growing.

I don’t know if I bit it or what, but I had to get out of bed, pop a Bendryl to quell the swelling and make sure it wasn’t an allergic reaction to anything, ice it, and tell my mom in case it was something serious. When I woke up- thankfully- I still had a bad case of half of my upper lip being plump and the other a thin line. I seriously considered thinking this was going to be how I looked the rest of my life, thinking that all of my upper lip fat fell into one half of it. My mom’ slaughter assured me this was not the case.

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It’s not exactly how I wanted to look during my shopping trip, so I was glad after a couple minutes of straight icing brought it back down to normal.

To recap my weekend, I started off Friday with a workout and lunch out with my friend Molly. That night, I dedicated a lot of time for writing, while enjoying some Gilmore Girls and one of those single-servings of Haagen Daz ice cream.

Saturday included my mom and I arriving to the outlets an hour before they opened due to a scheduling conflict- two sources online providing conflicting hours. It was quite a productive day of the best sort- clothes!- but shopping is also exhausting so I wasn’t looking to do anything extravagant that night.

To relax, I went to see Mockingjay, the latest Hunger Games films with my cousin Mikey. Let me tell you, I was not a huge fan of the third book because I found big parts of it to be boring and I had a problem with how the heroine acted through it, but this half of the book was exciting on screen! I think I hit Mikey at one point because I was so nervous. It was a fun night that started with dinner and funny times. Sorry you had to miss it, cough Erin and Jimmy.

To end my Saturday, I got into another strong roll of my writing and went to bed later than I should have. When it flows, you can’t stop writing!

Sunday, I woke up and got right to work after breakfast. In college, Sundays were always my organization and homework day. I am big into production, however nerdy that might seem. This fascinating day included folding laundry and introducing my closest to my beautiful new clothes. After, I got things organized for the week, including chopping up a ton of veggies to be thrown into lunches and dinners with ease. Prepping as much food on Sunday makes things a ton easier throughout the week. One of the biggest downfalls to healthy eating is convenience. Sometimes eating healthier takes more time or will be ignored if you have a choice between options right in front of you. So I make it convenient when I have the time! While digesting my lunch before my workout, I got in even more writing time.

Listen, I am a big fan of rest, relaxation, and a touch of laziness, but sometimes productive days just hit the spot!

Here’s to a great week! Gobble gobble.

Baby It’s Cold Outside For A Run, But It Can Still Be Done

Workouts this past week started with that long run I mentioned I was going to do on Wednesday, but then I delayed it until Thursday. I’ve been making the four straight miles a regular routine and my only complaint is that in order to extend it to five, I’m going to have to incorporate more hills. I finished off with a mile walk and a good stretching session.

On Friday, I did a barbell strength workout that included five sets of ten bench presses, dead lifts, front rows, high pulls, squat presses, leg presses, bicep curls, front shoulder presses, tricep pullovers, and then finished up with some dumbbell bent-over flies and tricep push backs. After, I went through a difficult leg workout that included a ton of Plyometrics and left me feeling nice and sore the day after.

Even though my box jumps are still on the smallest box and I will admit that I am not the world’s greatest- or graceful- jumper in the world, it’s still a great workout. With them, I also did jumping jacks, high knees, skater jumps, single-leg hip lifts, squats, lunges, and push ups. I finished the day with a few minutes of jump rope.

After my leg-heavy workout on Friday, on Saturday, my legs were not feeling enthusiastic about the run I set out to do. Not helping was the fact that I was at the track where running is considerably more boring and it was freezing. I have a stand-by plan of attack for running outside in cold weather, which I prefer over the treadmill for as long as possible. I was not yet prepared for such frigidity and headed out in just a light jacket and nothing to protect more pore head. I could only get through two miles before meeting up with my parents and did two more miles run-walking.

Listening to my body, I took Sunday off and instead enjoyed the day with my family. On Monday, I was feeling a lot better and did a dumbbell workout that included bench presses, bicep curls, shoulder presses, front raises, rows, shoulder flies, and tricep extensions in a circuit of six sets of eight. Then I went over to the barbells and completed four sets of twelve of side dead lifts, squat presses, leg presses, and elevated bench presses. When I finished, I did some box jumps and jumping jacks before heading home and doing a quick ab workout.

The next day, I did a quick strength workout using the medicine balls. Starting with the dreaded burpees, arrow lunges, then did wall throws, squats, and standing kickbacks on the bosu. I used the stability ball to do a core/strength combined workout that included knee tucks, kneeling roll outs with my arms, pull overs with the medicine ball, elevated hip lifts, and roll outs lying down with my legs. To finish, I did another circuit that included mermaid raises, hundreds to v ups, ankle grabs, Russian twists, and push ups on the medicine ball. In the pool, I got in a mile swim incorporating a few sprints in there to make things harder and go a little more quickly.

Today, I headed out into the glorious sunshine and very cold temperature for another four mile run. This time, my legs were stronger and I was much more prepared for the cold. I threw on my athletic ear muffs that don’t slip and hold ear buds in place, a wrap around scarf, and two jackets. Though I was nice and warm, my one qualm with running outside in the winter is that my sweat turns clammy and my skin dries out easily. Yuck!

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I would like to point out that in this picture, my eyebrows are more defined and darker than they normally are. I think it’s because my hair is pulling my skin tighter than usual. Also, I may or may not have ran to a little Christmas music, depending on your reaction. But I will say that listening to Idina Menzel and Michael Buble sing “Baby It’s Cold Outside” was appropriate. For the record, I was also listening to other music interchangeably so I’m not a complete psycho.

I finished off my run with a two mile walk and then two more with my mom with the dog. When I got back, I did a short Yoga flow with a ton of planks and an ab workout that seemed to do the trick.

Next week for Workout Wednesday, I’ll include my game plan for working out during the holiday season!

What I’ve Been Listening To This Week- Kristin Chenoweth

I missed my Rave Review Tuesday last week because I haven’t been a good reader lately and I haven’t watched anything new. This remains the case once again this week (I’ve been watching a lot of Gilmore Girls, alright), but I do have something different to review this week.

The trend in Broadway from my observations (not that I’m an expert) has been for performers to release live albums. So far I’ve gotten Norbert Leo Butz’s first, Aaron Tveit’s, and Laura Benanti’s. They have all been really fun and incredible to listen to and have made me appreciate them as performers even more.

I’m a huge fan of the live thing because it mimics the feel of a live performance. Obviously, there is a huge difference in not seeing it live, but there is an intimacy and a better understanding of a performer through hearing them sing and provide little anecdotes as they go. I suppose it has to do a lot with the comfort level and esteem of being on stage in front of an audience rather than locked up in a recording studio- and lack of auto tune!

Brief interlude- why can’t we accept things as they are? Why can’t we allow performers the little mistakes they make or people the imperfections they have? Isn’t there beauty in the fact that these are humans doing extraordinary things in their human way? The more “reality” we want, the less real things become and it takes away from the integrity of performing.

Thankfully, Kristin Chenoweth’s album, Coming Home, which dropped yesterday, is raw entertainment in its purest form. However, any “mistakes” that she may have made in her singing are not apparent to my ears, which is partly because I have an untrained ear, but also because she is a seamless performer who is in absolute control of her talent.

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It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of Kristin’s and even though I love seeing her on Broadway, my absolute favorite medium is to see her perform live as herself. I’ve been to a ton of really enjoyable concerts over the years by various singers, which has included a lot of dancing and dramatic background thematics, but it takes someone very special to be able to stand up in front of an audience with a handful of musicians and just sing, and for that to be interesting. Very few artists can get away with this type of concert these days- Adele comes to mind- and Kristin is the absolute best at this (of course I’m biased.)

Live performances best reveal the nature of a performer and Kristin’s album was recorded in her home town, which adds to the emotions emanating from all of her song choices and the descriptions she offers as a preface. Every so often, you can hear there are moments where she gets choked up and overwhelmed, but if anything, it only lends to the performances. When Kristin sings, you can tell that she connects to the song, to music, and to performing in general, which again, is unlike many current performers. I don’t mean to mock or put down other singers, but I just want to magnify this exceptional talent.

I’ve been listening to the album while doing various things around the kitchen and typing up this blog post and it’s funny to hear my mom throw in her opinions. For one thing, she keeps saying “wow,” then she compared her to Madeline Kahn, which is funny because Kristin will be starring in a role Madeline Kahn originated on Broadway in On The Twentieth Century. Even my dad chimed in and offered, “Menowitz can really sing” (he changes the name for everything). I think that’s the best way I can show how astounding this album is.

Many of these songs I’ve heard from previous concerts or albums and I’m so happy to have them in my collection. I dare you to listen to “Coloring Book” and “Hard Times” and not getting something stuck in your eye. Listen, listen, listen, and then demand more live albums.

As a young professional attempting to find my way in this world, I do wish it were obvious to see what I am supposed to do in this world. With Kristin Chenoweth, at least in one facet, it is overwhelmingly evident that she was meant to perform and we are very fortunate to experience it.

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A Week In Meals

I’ve been making quite a bit of French toast lately because it’s easy, fairly healthy, and delicious. The pumpkin adds a fun twist and makes the egg wash thicker. It’s also one of those dishes that is nice in the summer, but so warming and filling in the colder months.

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Baked oatmeal is another terrific colder month breakfast. Simply make in advance, or if you have extra time in the morning wait it out, reheat and enjoy. This is stocked with oats, pumpkin, raisins, walnuts, and dates and mashed banana for sweetness. Surprise, surprise, I topped mine with a spoonful of peanut butter.

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I had been bragging last week how good I was getting at flipping eggs over easy and proved myself wrong this week. Not only did I break a yolk after cracking the egg in the pan, but it kept flipping them on top of each other. No matter the appearance, they were still delicious paired with a side of toast and fresh fruit.

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I took my usual pancake recipe and filled them with chunks of strawberries. It was an excellent idea in theory, but not quite executed to perfection. I should have chopped up the strawberries into smaller pieces so that the cakes weren’t so heavy. Once again, I had a flipping fail for one of my pancakes, but it still turned out yummy.

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This oatmeal made me very excited. I brought my usual milk to a boil, threw in the oats, a heavy-handed dash of cinnamon, and some mashed banana. I twirled in some dark chocolate peanut butter and when it was all finished, folded in handfuls of pomegranate seeds in the bowl. It was so good! Pomegranate seeds are my new obsession because they contain such a burst of flavor and crunch into something so tiny. The chocolate, fruit combination is a must!

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In need of something quick, I toasted up two Van’s whole wheat waffles, topped them with peanut butter, jelly, and toasted coconut and served them with a heaping bowl of fruit.

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More eggs over easy with toast came in Sunday and the presentation looks a touch more appetizing. I found this whole wheat cinnamon raisin loaf at Wegmans, and though the pieces are small, they are delicious!

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A good salad never fails to be a satisfying lunch, especially if you stack it with all sorts of healthy, crunchy, yummy goodness. I served this with a piece of toast and a cup of plain Greek yogurt with spoonfuls of pomegranate seeds.

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More salad, this time served with a bowl of leftover macaroni and cheese and half of a leftover sausage. Quick and delicious.

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For this lunch, I’m fairly certain I had something more than just a cup of yogurt and veggie sticks, but I can’t remember for the life of me what it was. I think it was a day I had been on the run and needed to eat small meals in shifts.

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Leftover pizza is all anyone needs to make their day a little brighter. I chopped up some more veggie sticks and had a great lunch.

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After a tough workout on Friday, I hopped over to Whole Foods to pick up a few necessary items-hello, bananas- and decided to treat myself to a bite at their hot bar. I went with a ton of veggies compiled into a salad, a spoonful of chicken stew, and a scoop of Mac and cheese. All so good!

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Another day, another hot bar, this time at Wegmans. There were so many choices and it was crowded, but I got a delightful variety. I chose some chicken curry, a chickpea dish, a scoop of rice, and a bunch of veggies. I was disappointed that they had run out of naan by the time I got there, but I still left feeling full and satisfied.

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My first dinner of the week included whole wheat penne pasta with an Italian sausage and some grilled zucchini and peppers.

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I visited my friend Katie on Tuesday and she served up a chicken stir fry with veggies and rice in a tasty sesame ginger sauce.

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My mom and I had a mid-week girl’s night out and shared a huge Greek salad and a roasted red pepper pizza.

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I made myself another chicken stir fry with tons of veggies and a side of homemade baked sweet potato fries. I once again sliced into the same cut on the same thumb, but it wasn’t too deep. I guess I need to pay more attention!

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After my big lunch from Whole Foods, I wasn’t too hungry at dinner, so I went with a bowl of Raisin Bran Crunch and a toasted pumpkin English muffin with a tablespoon of peanut butter. Not too shabby, but awful picture in the dark.

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Here’s another stir fry, this time with steak marinated in barbecue sauce, a variety of parsnips, red pepper, carrots, and zucchini over a bed of brown rice.

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After came this delectable bowl of cookies n cream ice cream with an incredible hot fudge melted on top. It was cold out, but never too cold for ice cream!

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The family came over Sunday afternoon for an Italian style dinner. We had cheesy chicken Parmesan, whole wheat rotini, meatballs, cauliflower, and broccoli. An excellent end to the week!

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