Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Living LIFE

Why hello there bloggies. Yes, in fact, I am still alive :). Let me tell you, I had every intention to set up a prescheduled post or two so it wouldn't be so much time between post, but it just didn't happen. Now, where have I been for this long absence? LIFE Camp of course!!

I seriously experienced one of the most amazing weeks ever. I met some of the most wonderful people ever, grew closer to God, got to know myself better, had a ton of fun and so much more during my week at Life Camp. I really miss it and all of the amazing people there! Sadly, it's a program you can only attend once :(.

Any who, so as you might imagine, camp food is not exactly the healthiest or cleanest thing out there. While I did take a lot of my own food, quite honestly, I didn't end up eating most of what I brought. I've eaten a lot of things in the past week  that were in no way healthy. Many processed, refined, gross foods entered my body. And you know what? I don't regret any of it. Say What?

Don't get me wrong, I am a total advocate for healthy eating, but you know what else I am an advocate for? Living life. If healthy eating interferes with ability to be an active part of a community, I really just don't think it's worth it. Being healthy is about more than the foods you consume. There is so much more to overall health than just the physical aspects. Part of being healthy is being happy. If someone stresses about eating the "perfect" diet, are they really any better off than someone who eats a few not so healthy foods but enjoys them? I don't think so. Sometimes I just think that the joy that comes from eating a few Oreos with friends outweighs the badness of the actual Oreo.

I could go on about this subject all day, but I'll stop for now. I want to know what you think about healthy eating in social situations? What about the importance of enjoying food? Feel free to disagree with me.

-Ann Claire

Friday, July 16, 2010

My First Product Review Ever! -Blisscuits!

I really love blogging. There are many things I love about it, but, I"m not going to lie, the fact that companies are willing to send me free products to sample is a nice plus. It really means a lot to me that companies are willing to send me products as I know I'm not (yet) the biggest or most read blog out there. That being said, I was really excited when I received some Blisscuit samples in the mail the other day.

Now you might be thinking, "A Blisscuit? What's that?" Well as they say on their website, "Neither a health bar nor a traditional cookie, Blisscuits™ are part of a new building category known as "functional food". No refined sugar – still sweet – low carbs – no wheat with a gluten free recipe – high comfort – real food and Blisscuits help to boost your immune system! Customers will come from the health food, snack food, protein bar, and cookie categories."

Each Blisscuit has 120 calories, 4 grams of protien, and 2 grams of fiber. They are also free of articfical colors, flavors and preservatives. Additionaly, they contain Omega 3's, cage free egg whites, are glueten free and have no hydrogenated oils. More about their nutritonal info here. The product is designed to "give you balanced health and energy, while satisfying your hunger and your sweet tooth."

I was sent both lemon and cinnamon varieties, both of which I was eager to try. I decided to try the lemon first. Upon opening the package I was greeted with a wonderful fresh lemon smell. I was intrigued and couldn't wait to take a bite. The flavor was nice and they were certainly moist, but there was something about the texture that I didn't love. I think they were a bit more dense than I would have liked.

I then got my mom to try the Lemon Bliccuit to see what she thought of them. She said they had a good aroma and flavor, but that she wouldn't buy them because she thought the texture was boring. She suggested they would be better if they had chunks of dried fruit or something like that to make the texture more interesting.
Later, I had my dad try the blisscuit. He said he liked that you could taste the zest and overall thought the Blisscuits had a nice flavor and texture.

Onto the cinnamon variety.

Upon opening the package, these too had a nice aroma. Of course a completely different aroma than the lemon but still a very appealing smell.

As you can see, these little guys really do look like a cookie biscuit hybrid (the lemon flavor looked just the same but different coloring). My opinion on the Cinnamon Blisscuits is very similiar to what I think of the lemon ones. They have a very good flavor and smell and are plenty moist but again the texture wasn't great, it was just too dense. Not awful, but not fantastic.

Bottom Line: Overall, I think Blisscuits makes a good product. However, they aren't perfect. They are a good choice as an on the go snack or dessert. As the package says, "Ones a snack, two is almost a meal." I really like the fact that they are all natural, and have no refined sugar or hydrogenated oils but, because of the dense texture, I wouldn't buy them regulurly.

Interested in trying Blisscuits yourself? Go here to see where you can purchase them.

Thanks! Please let me know what you think of my first product review ever.

-Ann Claire

Monday, July 12, 2010

French Toast, Preparation, and Product Reviews.

It seems like lately I've been in a bit of a breakfast eating rut, eating the same thing day, after day, after day. Toasted Ezekiel bread with cashew butter and maybe a piece of fruit is what I've had for breakfast many mornings in a row. Saturday morning I decided to use these same basic ingredients and mix it up a bit. In went 2 eggs, some almond milk (next time I think I want to try orange juice as the liquid), some cinnamon and a small amount of agave. Oh, and a few smashed up blueberries. I doused my Ezekiel bread in the mix and threw it on the griddle. While it was cooking I mixed some strawberries, blueberries, cinnamon and a drizzle of pure maple syrup and topped the French toast with it after it was finished cooking. Scrumptious, I tell you, scrumptious.

Doesn't my french toast look lovely?

Any who, I've been trying to focus on being prepared in terms of eating healthy. I am not the type to take my own food to a restaurant, as I don't find it necessary, for me personally, though I understand that for others it may be necessary. I generally just make the best choice I can out of what's on the menu and not worry if a few ingredients in it our not exactly "healthy" or "clean." However, there are some situations where I do bring my own food. One of these is theme parks.

I've never been a fan of theme park food; I find it overpriced, not very tasty, not to mention super processed and unhealthy. Hence, the other day, prior to going to Six Flags, the following went into my bag.
A cherry pie Lara Bar and an Ezekiel bread and cashew butter sandwhich (maybe my Ezekiel/cashew rut goes beyond breakfast?). What are your thoughts on taking your own foot to places where food is served?

Another reason preparation has been on my mind is because in a week I leave to attend a camp for eight days. One thing on the list of things to bring is food (in Ziploc bag so as to keep bugs away). While most of the other teens at the camp will probably bring things like gummy worms, potato chips, M&M's and other not-so-nutritious snacks, I of course will not. I've already been thinking about the foods I want to take. I'd really like to take some things that could be meals, as I don't know what type of food will be served at meals. So far I plan to take Lara Bars, crackers, cashew butter, and dried fruit. Any ideas of other foods that I could take with me to camp?

Oh guess what? On Saturday I received not one, but two products that were sent for me to review. Must have been my lucky day, huh? I'm still trying to decide which product will get the honor of being my first product reviewed ever! Check back soon for the reviews!


Ann Claire

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Veggie Lovin'

Veggie Lovin' had me a blast
Veggie Lovin' happened so fast
I saw carrot calling my name
Tasted asparagus green as can be

Tell me more, tell me more
Did you eat very much
Tell me more, tell more
Like did it have much fiber?

Okay, so maybe I don't have a song writing career in my future, but who doesn't love Grease?

Anyway, here are a few yummy veggie dishes I've made recently.

Stir-fry consisting of tofu, broccoli, edamame beans, carrots, and yellow bell pepper.

Fish on a bed of broccoli and tomatoes.

Mushroom tossed with jalapeno, red onion, corn and black beans. (Are mushrooms even a vegetable?)

Or how about some baked potatoes loaded with chicken, spinach and blue cheese with a side of broccoli.

Speaking of veggies, the other day I went to see Eclipse with a group of friends. One of them, Kat (mentioned in this post), brought a tupperware type container of carrots and grapes to snack on during the movie. Certainly a girl after my own heart. So much healthier and better than typical movie snacks! Anyway, all this to say, "Who says you can't snack on a big plate of veggies while you go watch Grease?"

What's your favorite movie snack?

Thanks for reading,
Ann Claire

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Oey Goey Chocolatey Goodness

So, I know I told ya'll my next post was going to show some much needed veggie appreciation. I hate to break my promise, but I made something today that I couldn't wait to blog about. So will ya'll forgive me if I share with you an easy, delicious, chocolatey recipe? That's what I thought.

The hardest thing for me about clean eating is desserts. Sure there are many great sweeteners besides sugar; agave and honey being two of my favorites. In breads and things like that it is easy to use whole wheat flour instead of regular flour. But, when it comes to cookies and cakes, whole-wheat flour just isn't the same. Then it dawned on me: flour less chocolate cake! No need to substitute whole wheat flour for regular as there's no flour to begin with. Off to the test lab, I mean kitchen, to experiment. I began with this recipe.

A few minutes and a couple of tweaks later, I had this.
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp almond milk
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 tbsp agave
1 tsp baking powder
1tsp oil

Crack the egg into a microwave safe bowl (I used a glass cereal bowl). Beat the egg and add remaining ingredients. Stir together until combined. Microwave for 30 seconds, continue to microwave in 5-10 second increments until desired texture is reached. Be careful not to overcook. Enjoy!

Be extremely careful when cooking this. The first time I made it I microwaved it for 1 minute and it was overcooked but the next time after 45 seconds it was not cooked enough. It totally depends on how powerful your microwave is (mine is very powderful).

What's your favorite way to enjoy chocolate? Dark or Milk? Plain or mixed with other stuff?

Now go make yourself some chocolate cake; you deserve it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Fruity, Fruity, Frooty

Wow, how does some much time manage to pass between when I post? I haven't even been out of town or anything. The only excuse I can muster is that any time I've gotten on the computer lately has been devoted to online drivers ed which I completed this morning. Whoo!! I will be getting my license very soon! :)

I have made many yummy things lately; I'd love to tell you about them all but that would be a bit much for one post. Today, I want to focus on something we all know and love: fruit.

As I mentioned in my last post, I made Katie's Fudge Babies. I made the original recipe, but substituted cashews for walnuts and rolled them in a mix of cocoa powder and coconut. These were really good! Super simple to make, too. With the only ingredients being dates, nuts, cocoa powder, and vanilla, they are very healthy, too. I was amazed at how sweet they were without having any added sweetener. All in all, super yummy. I encourage you to try them! I didn't take a picture but Katie's has lots of Fudge Baby pictures and many other great recipes.

I made another fruity recipe recently courtesy of Chocolate Covered Katie. This flavorful recipe was in the form of a pizzert. Not sure what that is? Head of to Katie's blog to find out.
I  made the blueberry pizzert and topped it with cashew butter and halved grapes to add even more fruity goodness. Yummo! (so what if yummo isn't a word..neither is pizzert :))

Speaking of yummy things involving blueberry, in my last post I mentioned something about blueberry muffins. You see, the other morning I woke up and upon walking into the kitchen I was greeted by fresh baked blueberry muffins courtesy of my wonderful mother. As appealing as they were, I decided I better make myself something else as surely these muffins were  surely loaded with lots of white flour and sugar. My mom soon informed me that she had "cleaned up" the muffins. She substituted whole wheat flour for regular flour, used unsweetened applesauce instead of oil, and because of the natural sweetness of the applesauce she was able to use 1/4 cup of raw cane sugar instead of the 1/2 cup regular sugar the recipe called for. My mom and I both really enjoyed these. My brother said he didn't think they were that great; of course, he said this after consuming 2 and learning that they were healthy....besides what does he know?

Here the recipe.

1/2 Cup Rolled Oats
1/2 Cup Orange Juice
1 1/2 Cups whole wheat flour + I Tbs Gluten (the gluten probably isn't necessary if whole wheat pastry flour is used)
1/4 cup raw cane sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 egg slightly beaten
1 Cup blueberries

Combine oats and orange juice to moisten oats. Add remaining ingredients. Drop batter into a greased or lined muffin pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 18-22 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.

My last tribute to fruit is in the form of a restaurant I dined at today called Froots. Upon entering, I immediately loved the place. The atmosphere felt very fresh and welcoming. Trouble occurred when looking at the menu. Too many things sounded good; I couldn't decide! Luckily, I was dining with my wonderful friend Kat. She suggested we each order something and trade half. Great idea Kat! I ordered the Mediterranean Wrap (hummus, feta cheese, onion, tomato, black olives, cucumber, spinach balsamic vinaigrette). She ordered the California Turkey Wrap (turkey breast, bacon, Monterrey jack cheese, tomato, onion, sprouts, avocado, spring mix, ranch dressing). I really enjoyed both wraps; if I had to pick a favorite though, it would be the Mediterranean.

We also both enjoyed small Razz Attack Smoothies (raspberries, strawberries, strawberry-kiwi juice, fat-free vanilla yogurt). These were super tasty too! The total for my order was $7.55, not bad for a wrap and smoothie. My only complaint is that they asked if I wanted a white or wheat tortilla for my wrap and naturally I said wheat. The tortilla of the wrap they gave me looked pretty white. All in all, I really enjoyed this place and can't wait to go back. I'm thinking next time I"ll order a Go-Go Veggie Wrap (tofu, blue cheese, tomato, onion, sprouts, black olives, cucumber, spinach, balsamic vinaigrette). I highly recommend Froots! Check their website for locations near you!

All this time dedicated to fruit, I think our wonderful vegetable friends are feeling a bit deprived! My next post will feature some much needed vegetable appreciation! Check back soon.

Thanks for reading,

Question of the day: What is your favorite recipe involving fruit?

-Ann Claire