Friday, February 25, 2011

Fast Food Oatmeal Is Not Good for You

Folks, there are so many companies out there trying to mask things as "healthy," and really, they're just helping you get fatter, zap your energy, and making you feel worse, when you're trying to do the right thing.

Lately, the topic has come up through this New York Times article on McDonald's Oatmeal. The fact of the matter is, the best oatmeal you can eat, is the quick oats you mix up with water or milk in your own kitchen, period. Sure, there are a lot worse breakfast options you can have, but did you really think that McDonald's is cooking up something good for you? Heck no, that would cost a lot more than cooking up something that looks good, but is full of cheaper filler, rather than actual oatmeal.

Other oatmeal pedlers aren't much better. Caribou, Starbucks, & Jamba Juice, they're guilty too. Caribou's oatmeal with berries on top has 400+ calories. The oatmeal I make at home: a half cup of quick oats, mixed with a half cup of skim milk, and topped with a half cup of frozen mixed berries adds up to 278 calories. So, what is Caribou putting in their oatmeal? Well, the second line in the ingredients reads: salt/sugar, so there you go.

My point is, read before you eat, investigate. I hear people say all the time, "but I'm eating a Lean Cuisine for lunch, and those are good for you!" Again, WRONG! The first thing a nutritionist told me was that microwave diet meals are high in sodium, and offer little nutritional value, plus with their carbs to protein ratio, they leave you more hungry.

I give a lot of credit to Panera, who now lists the calories for their items right on the ordering board, as that place often seemed to mask itself as healthy, when a lot of their food packs a mean punch to the waistline.

So, after ranting, and ranting about what NOT to eat. I promise that my next post will be some good things I've found to help in healthy eating. Good recipes, cheap and easy snacks, etc.

Also, myself, I'm going to try and start eating more of a clean diet, less processed, more vegetables, fruits, meats and nuts.

Monday, February 21, 2011

A Weekend of Discoveries

This weekend I went to Kansas City, Missouri to visit my brother Nathan, his wife Jessica and my nephew Andrew for my brother's birthday and before he deploys in about a month. My parents also drove down from Wisconsin, so it was a great weekend with all of us together.

I discovered this weekend, that despite only being 430 some odd miles from Minneaapolis, Kansas City sure is a lot warmer. I left the Twin Cities at 20 degrees, and arrived in Kansas City to nearly 60 degrees.

Andrew and I enjoying the sunshine

I also found that my sister-in-law is trying to get more into running and exercising. She has a goal of completing a 5K in the near future. So, we went to a near by running store to get her fitted for proper shoes. They had a very cool camera set up so they could analyze the way you run, and get the right shoe for you.

Jessica's feet being analyzed

This was all very exhausting for Andrew

She also got her first foam roller for her IT band issues, and I assured her, it would change her life!

This weekend, Jessica and I also helped my mom discover Ann Taylor Loft! We all found so many great things, Jessica and I both got this cute tunic in navy blue. I also got this tank top in gray to wear with blazers and sweaters, the ruffles make it super flattering.

Due to the foot+ of snow that was forecast to hit the Twin Cities Sunday, I had to leave on an early Sunday morning flight out of Kansas City, much earlier than I had originally booked. It's a good thing I did too, because all other flights that day to Minneapolis out of Kansas City were canceled.

I also discovered that you can actually find relatively healthy food to keep you full in the airport. Although I had packed snacks, and eaten some oatmeal before I left, I was in need of substance, and I found this, perfect!

We had a bumpy ride into MSP, and when I arrived the snow was falling in huge, blowing chunks. Ben picked me up from the airport with Cooper, and the roads were already horrible.

Snowy drive home

Later that afternoon, having no staples to make lunch, and no gumption to go grocery shopping, we decided to hit up Chipotle, and I discovered they now sell mini bags of chips because of their kid's meals. Perfect for when you're craving chips, but don't want to OD on the salty goodness of a huge bag of them.

This mini bag runs $.80 plus tax

I've also recently discovered my love for skinny black pants, and that it's an art to find great ones. That you have to find ones that don't have too much stretch, and ones that don't make you lay down on your bed to zip them up. So far, my favorites are The Really Skinny Pants in True Black from Gap and the Jolt Double Button Skinny Pants from Nordstrom.

I bought them both in my same size as regular pants. I've found that a lot of people buy skinny jeans and pants a size higher, thinking they need too, but then when the pants stretch you're left with baggy excess material in the crotch and butt, and it just looks and feesl awful!

Also, the Gap offers different lengths, so if your height and weight don't match up to the national average that they size things at, you're in luck. Nordstrom shortened my Jolt pants for free, as I found out they offer free alterations on all regular priced items. The Gap, also often has coupons for regular priced items or discount plus days for on sale items that could make these pants a steal.

Did you discover anything new and fun this weekend? It's the little things like all of these that get me excited and keep life interesting. =)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

I'm full!

As of recently, I've been eating pretty crappy. Usually, I can strike a good balance, eating out and splurging when with friends periodically, but packing healthy lunches and making lean dinners at home the other nights.

Lately though, I've been so bored with my routine, forgetting to pack lunches (sometimes on purpose), not feeling inspired to cook things, and boy, can I tell in how my body looks and feels.

Sure, I've been doing pretty well on my 60 Salads in 60 Days, but I need a kick in the rear. So, recently I found this easy little recipe for White Bean Salad with Tuna and Avocado from Kate in the Kitchen, and I decided to try it myself. Tuna has never appealed to me, so I made it with canned chicken instead. It seemed like the perfect mix of protein, fiber, and good fats, plus the garlic and thyme would give it a kick. Also, Kate had told me it's a meal that keeps her full all afternoon.

I brought a cup of it for lunch today, paired with a serving of Kashi crackers, and the delicious factor was out of this world. Plus, it kept me full!! Finally! It's amazing what eating something more than empty carbs can do!

It may not look pretty, but yum!

I figured out the nutrition facts through the Spark People Recipe Calculator for One Cup of this Salad, and here it is:

Calories 286 Sodium 239 mg
Total Fat 11 g Potassium 433 mg
Saturated 2 g Total Carbs 28 g
Polyunsaturated 1 g Dietary Fiber 13 g
Monounsaturated 2 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 20 g
Cholesterol 29 mg

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Pizzeria Lola & Cocina del Barrio Reviews

Recently, I checked out a few relatively new restaurants in the area, that I had to update you all on.

First, a few girlfriends I checkout Pizzeria Lola in Southwest Minneapolis. If you check out the website, be sure to read the owner's story, it's amazing about quitting the climb up the corporate latter and pursuing her dream of a restaurant.

The food there was amazing! We started with two pizzas to split between the four of us, the Seasonal Pizza that contained: Butternut squash, spaghetti squash, brown butter, Taleggio & sage. Plus, the Sweet Italian that was topped with a delicious red sauce, smooth mozzarella, onions, provolone and sausage.

The Seasonal Pizza, hands down, a favorite

As wonderful as the pizza was, the dessert is what really took the cake here. They have a house made, soft-serve ice cream that was beyond words. So creamy and smooth, I can't even begin to describe how delicious it tasted. Plus, the fresh and warm chocolate chip cookies we paired it with, made it even more wonderful.

My mouth is watering just looking at this right now

I'm a gal who lives for dessert, and this was right up my alley.

This week, Ben and I tried the latest addition to the Barrio franchise, Cocina del Barrio in Edina with some friends. This Barrio is more food centric, with more food options, but still has a great drink menu and tequila selection like the other locations.

We started with their delicious chips, salsa and guacamole, which are seriously some of the best I've ever had no matter which location you go to.

For the main course, Ben had the Chicken Tostada and a Skirt Steak Taco. He liked both, but said he felt the tostada was built up with a lot of greens and didn't have a lot on the meat side to give it substance.
Ben and his Tostada

I had the Pork Carnitas Taco and the Potato Sopes. The Potato Sopes were filled with Goat Cheese, and a spicy salsa, and I just loved them! I was so glad I took a leap to try something brand new.

Potato Sopes

I absolutely love trying out new restaurants with friends, especially during these cold, winter months when we all feel so trapped in doors. Going to Barrio this past week was a great way to break up the work week, where we can fall into such a boring routine. We left that night feeling fat and happy!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Kettlebell Workout

This past summer, I tried a Kettlebells intro class at my gym. I did the intro, and liked it, but then got the sales pitch, that in order to continue with Kettlebells, I had to pay so much per class. Bologna! Not going to happen with how much I already pay for the gym, and there are plenty of great classes that already come with my membership.

However, I spotted this Kettlebell set at Target, and decided to give it a whirl, for when I needed a nice workout at home, and last night was just that night. With it feeling like -14 with the wind chill, I knew my running clinic wouldn't hit the trails, so tonight was the perfect night to finally break out my Kettlebell DVD. I only had 20 minutes to do it, but dang, did I get in a workout.

The DVD starts off with the intro to the exercises, then goes in to routines. Just doing 20 minutes of the DVD my heart was pumping! Working with the Kettlebell does a great job of working multiple parts of your body at a time, and is something different than regular strength training.

I really liked this workout, and thought it wasn't difficult to pick up on. I'd highly recommend picking up this kit for the $30 price tag. I would suggest that you get the product in the store, rather than online, so that you can try out the different weights and see which one will work best for you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Caramels and Snow Shoeing

This weekend was jam packed with fun, but first things first...


I am obviously beyond thrilled about this, I may live in Minnesota, but I've been a Green Bay Packer fan all of my life, and sometime I will tell you all why I love them so much, and how sweet victories like this are to Packer fans.

Saturday afternoon I had a great afternoon making caramels and enjoying small talk with Kate and Elle, and Elle's daughter Olive over at Kate's house.

Kate hard at work on the caramels

I had never made homemade caramels, and had a hankering to learn, so Kate took me under her wing to learn. How fun, and they turned out delicious!

The finished product!

Ben and I finished off the caramels I brought home before half time on Sunday Night

Saturday night, Ben and I rented snow shoes and went to the Luminary Loppet in Minneapolis. It's a fun cross country ski and snow shoe event, where they set up ice luminary's around Lake of the Isles and then open up the lake for everyone to enjoy. It was SUCH a fun and different way to spend a Saturday Night.

Afterward, we went to the Uptown Cafeteria, where I had fried Chicken and Waffles and washed it down with a tasty fruity drink!

So, basically any calories I burned while snow shoeing around that night, I packed right back on. But, if you've never had fried chicken and waffles before, I highly recommend it! It may seem like a weird combination, but the salty and the sweet are great. Apparently it's a food delicacy that started at a placed called Roscoe's House of Chicken and Waffles in LA. I mixed the gravy AND the syrup on top of the chicken and waffles, yum!

Lastly, the winners of the Chobani Give Away are in! They are..

Michelle by Milwaukee & Marsha!

Congrats you two! Leave a comment with your e-mail address and we'll e-mail about getting those coupons from Chobani to you. Thanks everyone who entered!