• Feeds

the biggest loser

Does anyone watch The Biggest Loser?  I do, and I’m obsessed with the show!!  I love the idea of the show (although, with so many seasons under their belt now, the contestants seem to be more dramatic every season)!  But, I get over that and just watch in amazement at how these people drop so much weight in such a short amount of time.

A contestant this year, Rudy has lost over 120 pounds in 10 weeks?!  That seems impossible, and normally I would say that this is such an unhealthy way to loose weight.  However, the people on this show are so overweight that they need that kick in their butt in order to notice a change in themselves and their bodies.  It helps them to stay motivated.  They are getting a second chance at life!

  Tonight, Rebecca’s journey ended and she was so upset about it.  She was afraid to go home…afraid that she was going to gain the weight back.  I always look forward to the before and after photos…and Rebecca looks amazing.  Way to go!

My favorite part of the show, however, are the trainers.  I love Jillian Michaels, and recently picked up her new book Master Your Metabolism.  I have not read it yet, but in the book she talks about what foods you should eat in order to get the most benefits for your body (amongst other things).  I am excited to give it a read.  Anything nutrition related is of interest to me, and I like to read about how others view it.

cranberry-pear cake bars

I made the most delicious bars tonight!  They were super easy to make, they taste great, and they aren’t completely unhealthy.  I was going through some older issues of my Everyday Food magazine, and came across these.

 

Cranberry-Pear Cake Bars

(I switched up a few ingredients to the items I already had in my cabinets)

makes 16 bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup turbinado sugar
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated orange zest
  • 2 firm pears, cored and thinly sliced
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries (if frozen, thaw before using)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

 

Below are a few of my organic ingredients that I used in this recipe…I forgot to snap photos of the others…

 

Directions:

– Preheat oven to 350°

– Line a 9″ x 13″ pan with parchment paper, which a few inches over the sides (for easy removal).  Lightly spray with olive oil cooking spray.

– In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.

– In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla and zest. Add flour mixture and stir just until combined.

–  Gently fold in pears, cranberries and walnuts – the mixture will be quite thick.

Local Cranberries

close up

Pears and cranberries added

Walnuts added

– Scoop the mixture into the lined 9″ x 13″ pan.  Make sure to even it all out so that it will bake evenly.

Ready to bake

– Bake until a toothpick placed near the center comes out mostly clean with a few moist crumbs attached, about 35 to 45 minutes. Remove and place the pan on a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into bars.

all cooked

-After the bars have completely cooled, pull the parchment paper on each side to remove bars.  Place on a cutting board, cut into squares and enjoy!

Ready to eat!

This recipe was really easy to make, as many bars are.  Definitely a delicious treat!

sometimes you have to splurge

We spent our day today watching the Brown football team take on Dartmouth in the pouring rain!  We love visiting Providence, RI.  What a nice, small city!  Since we were down there for the game, we made a stop to the best pizza shop – Antonio’s!  This pizza place is famous for their pizza-by-the-slice varieties.  They literally have anything you could imagine, Chicken Quesadilla Pizza, Buffalo Chicken, Taco, Meat Supreme, Cinnamon Apple – literally everything!

I picked Brant up The Noreaster: breaded chicken with bacon, diced tomatoes, red onion, ranch dressing, mozarella and cheddar cheeses (i think I’m forgetting some toppings!).  I snapped a photo quickly before it was gone!

I went for an old favorite – Chicken Quesadilla: spicy chicken, onion, tomatoes, crushed corn chips, sour cream and cheddar cheese.

As usual, the slices were delicious!  (even though I felt crappy after eating the whole slice!)

TGIF and chocolate!

Thank goodness for Friday!!  It has been a very long week, so I am super excited for the weekend!  I started my morning out with a delicious 1/2 grapefruit.  I love grapefruit, but I always forget to pick it up in the grocery store.  This week they were on special, so they were staring at me as I entered Whole Foods!

YUM – it was juicy and delicious!

Then, I moved on to another favorite – Justins Chocolate PB and Cinnamon Raisin Toast!

Dark Chocolate

Another favorite thing of mine (especially on Friday’s) is dark chocolate!  Friday is the one day of the week that I do not feel guilty splurging!  I always say, everything in moderation, but sometimes I go overboard!  I love dark chocolate and I love trying new varieties.  Today, I went to my local health food store and picked up these 2 bars:

They are both All Natural, Organic and Fair Trade chocolate.   And, they are both Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Almonds – YUM!  I did a taste test and decided that they were both delicious, but the Endangered Species brand was to die for!  Little chips of cherries and almonds were peaking out of the bar.  The Theo bar was great too – not as many pieces of cherries and almonds for my liking, but the actual chocolate was delicious.  Very bitter and melt-in-your-mouth at the same time.

Theo:  Dark Chocolate with Cherries and Almonds features rich 70% dark chocolate combined with tangy, sweet dried organic cherries and crunchy roasted almonds.

Endangered Species: this dark chocolate bar is made with all-natural, shade-grown, ethically traded, single-origin cocoa. Combined with cranberries and almonds, the dark chocolate is 72% cocoa content.

Both brands have a variety of flavors!  They are definitely worth a try :-).

tea & honey

The fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love to smell the crisp, cool air and see the leaves all changing colors.  I love when I can go outside with only a sweater or a light jacket.  I love apple picking and carving jack o’ lanterns.  I love hot apple cider and apple pie.  I love bundling up under lots and lots of covers.  And, I love sitting on my couch under a blanket with a nice hot cup of tea!

Tea is one of my most favorite things because there is such a history behind each different type of tea leaf.  There is black tea, white tea, green tea, herbal tea, red tea – and varieties of tea within each of those categories.  It’s unbelievable how good tea is harvested and how each individual list is cared for.  And, of course, it tastes good!

Tea is almost like wine, in that you have to try numerous different types until you find the one you love!  I love trying different types and brands of tea, but my favorite is black tea.  It is so fun to see how each one tastes differently.  I do have some favorites, but am always searching out something better.

I have a pretty decent tea collection at home, if you can call it that :-).  It takes up an entire shelf of a cabinet!  I do have a lot of popular brands which you can buy at the grocery store (because I always want to try something new!).  However, my favorite tea is the loose leaf I buy from local tea shops.  When travelling, I also seek out tea shops in new neighborhoods to try them out.  Small tea shops are great!  I purchased a bunch of empty tea canisters to store my tea away from light and moisture.

IMG_0070

I picked up two of the teas below at a local farmers market!

IMG_0071

IMG_0072

IMG_0074

I prefer loose leaf tea to tea bags, but tea bags are great for tea on the go.  Although, when I have time, I usually make my own ‘tea bags’ using my loose tea, and tea-sacs.

 

Tips for Tea Lovers

It is important to take care of your tea, so below are some of my tips for purchasing and storing tea!

Purchasing tea – it is important to purchase whole tea leaves in order to get the best flavor from a tea.  Most companies mass produce tea bags and do not care about the quality of leaves that they are putting into those bags!  Many tea bags that you would purchase in a grocery store have the dust or fannings of tea, not the actual leaves.  Tea is ranked in different categories, with dust being the lowest.  Dust is the small particles that are left over after the tea is processed, thus being the cheapest form of ‘tea’.

Storing tea –  Loose leaf tea does not like light, and keeps much better stored away from light and moisture.  If you store your tea correctly, it can last for up to a year!

Brewing tea – it is important to only steep your tea for a certain amount of time.  If you steep too long, the tea will taste bitter!  The guide below shows some basic timeframes:

  • Black tea: 3-5 minutes
  • Green tea: 2-3 minutes
  • White tea: 1-2 minutes
  • Herbal tea: 5-7 minutes

 

A few of my favorite tea sites:

Windsor Tea Shop – adorable little tearoom

Tea Gschwender – their Oriental Moon tea is wonderful

Tealuxe – love the Lady Londonderry

 

My absolute favorite tea was found through a friend of mine.  It is a black tea with both fruity and floral notes.  I actually prefer fruitier teas, even though tea conoseauers would say it is a sin to add any flavor to a tea :-).  This delicious tea that I found is by Mariage Freres of France, called Marco Polo.

IMG_0075

Normally, I buy the loose leaf, but my tea shop on had the tea bags this time.  But, I didn’t mind because they come in a gorgeous box and each baggie is individually hand tied in muslin.

IMG_0076

How cute are they?!  I am such a girl :-).

IMG_0078

I just enjoyed a mug of this delicious tea this afternoon, with just a bit of honey.  In the mornings, I normally drink my tea black, but I love to add honey as a treat!  Because of my enormous tea collection, it would only be fitting to have a big collection of honey as well :-).

IMG_0081

I like all types of honey, but I prefer something all natural made right from the honeycomb and not with any additives like those honey bears in the grocery store!  I try to purchase local items to eat, so I always look for honey at farmers markets in order to support our local farmers!

I bought some delicious honey on our honeymoon in Mykonos, Greece.  There was an entire honey shop with honey made from all different things.  They type we bought was made from a fir tree!  How cool!  It definitely has a different, heavier and nuttier taste.  It’s wonderful on cheese and crackers, and in tea, of course!

I’m off to my couch with my cup of tea!