Archives for February 2013

February 2013 Foodie Pen Pals

It is the last day of the month, do you know what that means??

It’s Foodie Pen Pals day!

FPP

A huge thanks to Lindsay, as always, for hosting!

And now it’s time for some details about Foodie Pen Pals.  In case you’re a new reader, here’s a reminder of what the program is all about:

On the 5th of every month, you will receive your pen pal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your pen pal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions. The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

Foodie Pen Pals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your pen pal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

This month, I received my package from Kim who lives in Baltimore, Maryland. Kim emailed me in early February to see if I had any food preferences or allergies – I only requested no caffeine and then left it up to her to create my package, I really enjoy the surprise aspect of this pen pal program so I don’t like to give a lot of direction :)

Kim sent me a huge box full of awesome goodies!

The first thing I noticed was Old Bay Seasoning. My dad lived in Annapolis, MD for a few years and every time I would visit, we would go out for a feast of Maryland Blue Crabs covered in this seasoning! TOTAL YUM! I can’t wait to use the seasoning!

Old Bay

The next thing that caught my eye was a dog treat for Mitchell! Anyone who gives my little man a treat, is #1 in my book! The treat was a Red Barn Roofle and looked just like a waffle with syrup. Super cute.

Mitchell loved it… He even tried to eat it in the packaging before I could unwrap it ;)

Dog Treat 1

Dog Treat 2

Mmmm… popcorn! Kim must have secretly known that I have a serious love for popcorn. It is my go-to snack that sometimes turns into dinner :) Kim sent me both Wye River Crab Seasoned Popcorn and Fisher’s Caramel Popcorn – both companies have small stores that she has visited. The popcorns were the first items I dug into and they were AMAZING! Both definitely lived up to my popcorn expectations and my popcorn expectations are high.

Popcorn

Kim also included Utz Crab Chips and Katy’s Kettle Corn Popchips. I haven’t had a chance to try the Utz Crab Chips yet these yet but knowing my love of chips and crab-seasonings, I will LOVE these! And the Popchips were delish! I love that they are a somewhat healthy option for chips. Kim told me that she actually won a Facebook Popchip contest and received an entire case of these Popchips, with one bag signed by Katy Perry herself. Cool!

Snacks

Lastly, Kim included a jar of pear butter from Toigo Orchards and Otterbein’s Lemon Sugar Cookies. Kyle loves apple butter so he is excited to try the pear butter and well, we both love cookies so I am excited to try these once our Valentine’s Day candy is gone :)

Sugar Cookies

Kim did an amazing job with my pen pals package this month! Everything was local (to her) besides the Popchips and everything was exactly the kind of thing I would buy for myself. Thanks Kim!!

I sent my Foodie Pen Pals package to Olga this month. If your curious what food items I picked, check out her blog!

See what I received in my January 2013 Foodie Pen Pals package!

I miss college.

I miss college.

iowa state logo(Image Source)

I miss the feeling of “being free” and living on your own for the first time. I miss the flexible schedule that allowed for my daily afternoon nap. I miss meeting new people every semester. I miss the rush and excitement of the beginning of a new year. I miss tailgating every Saturday during football season. I miss FAC (for those of you unfamiliar with this awesome event, it is Friday After Class – awesome deals at the bars!) and my ability to get 3 drinks for $2.25. I even miss being so poor that I couldn’t afford full-priced clothes and only spent $15/week on groceries.

Cheap bars, fun times.

I miss it all.

My gorgeous BFF and fellow G Phi, Heidi and I on a cold VEISHEA weekend!

You would think that by extending my college time by two years (THANK YOU grad school!!) and being out in the real world for almost 4 years that I would have become accustomed to the 9-5 (This timeframe is a joke, BTW – They really need to change the saying to 8-6!) life. Sadly, this is not the case.

Jana and I fresh off of the plane in Amsterdam – Zero makeup and awake for approximately 24 hours… Of course it is time for a Heineken tour! Goodness I miss my International Business course…

I remember one of my professors in college telling the class that “we didn’t know how good we had it” – referring to the life of a college student. At the time, I scoffed. Hello?? I work 50+ hours per week in 3 jobs while taking 18 credits which included labs (and labs, my friends, are MUCH more than 18 hours per week!!)

When you’re 22, you’re skinny enough and young enough that dresses this short are appropriate! Oh Cancun, I miss you.

The thing is, time was flexible and you could make your own decisions. If I didn’t want to go to 8am biology, guess what – I didn’t go! (Just kidding, Mom… I went to ALL of my classes ;) ) And yes, I worked a lot (as a teaching assistant, a barista, a server, a student-athlete tutor, a biological science aide, a sustainable ag advocate…) but I always had time and energy to meet up with my friends for lunch or happy hour FAC or for a movie.

In college, you can wear sashes around your head and it is completely normal, even if it isn’t St. Patrick’s Day!

Go Cubs! Loved this trip to Chicago!

And now, looking back, yes, I really did have it good. Sigh. For those of you still in college, savor every. single. minute. Yes, savor the exams, the cramming, the all-nighters, the 50+ hours/week that you are working to pay for school, the flexibility, being poor, your roommates, all of the free things available to you as a college student because YOU WILL MISS IT when it is over.

21st Birthday. No comment here ;)

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job and I love the paycheck that comes with it. I love being able to afford nice things like expensive purses and clothes that are not on the 75% off sales rack and vacations and fancy restaurants. But, if someone were to offer me the opportunity to go back to college knowing that I would have to live the life of an overworked, poor college student once again – I would do it in an instant.

Seriously.

Since I had a little too much fun going through all of my old college photos, enjoy a few more of the best 6 years of my life!

I got Mitchell Man in college – I don’t recommend this! But look how cute he was!!! No wonder I adopted him :)

CUTENESS.

Emily at I in the limo after Heidi’s wedding! I loved being a bridesmaid while still being in college :)

Pre-tailgating at 5am. We were so cool ;)

What do you miss most about college?

 

Mini Andes Mint Cupcakes

There is only one flavor combination that rivals with my love of chocolate + peanut butter. Yes, it is true. I like something almost as much as I love my daily dose of chocolate-y peanut butter.

Chocolate + Mint.

Andes 6

Velvety, rich chocolate combined with crisp, cool mint is a heavenly combination. It satisfies my chocolate craving and leaves my mouth feeling clean and refreshed. Pretty good for a dessert, right?

Andes 9

As a child, one of my favorite memories of going out to eat includes restaurants that gave mints when they brought the check – especially Andes Mints at Olive Garden! My sister and I would quickly grab up the Andes Mints and enjoy them after a carb-loaded, pasta-filled dining experience. Funny how I never reach so quickly for the check now ;)

These miniature cupcakes bring back wonderful childhood memories with the flavors of milk chocolate and sweet mint.

Andes 8

These soft and fluffy bite-sized cupcakes are topped with a creamy, mint frosting and pieces of Andes Mints.

You will be swept away by the taste and have zero guilt due to the miniature size of this delectable dessert!

Andes 3

Mini Andes Mint Cupcakes

Makes 36 mini-cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes:

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Frosting:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 3 drops green food coloring
  • 1 drop yellow food coloring
  • Andes Mint chips for topping, optional

Directions

For cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a mini-cupcake pan with mini-cupcake liners. Mix all dry ingredients together in a large bowl and then add in wet ingredients. Stir until well blended; there will still be a few lumps in the batter. Spoon batter into cupcake liners, filling almost to the top. Bake for 10-12 minutes, until an inserted toothpick removes clean. Remove from pan and allow to cool on a wire rack completely.

For frosting: Combine butter and 2 cups powdered sugar in an electric mixer. Add in milk, mint extract and remaining sugar. Once mixed, add in food coloring and blend until combined.

When cupcakes are completely cooled, top with frosting and Andes Mint chips. Enjoy!

Andes 4

In addition to being ridiculously tasty, these cupcakes would be perfect for your St. Patrick’s Day party in a few weeks. Green cupcakes + green beer sounds like a good party to me! ;)

What are your favorite flavors to combine with chocolate?

Push-Up Challenge – FINAL Days!

Hello my push-up lovin’, strong-biceped, dedicated gals!

Can you believe that our push-up challenge is almost complete? That’s right, this Thursday – February 28th – we will all do our final count of push-ups and see how far we’ve come!

Push-Up Challenge

This morning, I was able to do 12 push-ups. I still have a ways to go to reach my goal of 15 but 12 is SO much more than I could do 3 weeks ago. I am so proud of how much stronger I’ve become!

Since we will be doing our final push-up count on Thursday, I want you all to take Tuesday and Wednesday OFF from all push-up related routines. You will need your muscles to be well-rested in order for them to perform at their best.

I am not creating a new push-up workout this week. I want you to focus on working your arms for what is best for you.

This is what I plan on doing on Monday – my final push-up workout!

  1. As many real push-ups as possible.
  2. 3-5 minute rest, until my arms no longer hurt
  3. Try to reach the number of real push-ups I did for #1
  4. 3-5 minute rest, until my arms no longer hurt
  5. Try to reach the number of real push-ups I did for #3
  6. 3-5 minute rest, until my arms no longer hurt
  7. Try to reach the number of real push-ups I did for #5
  8. STRETCH!! So I am not sore on Thursday :)

Whether or not you think you will be able to reach your goal or not, I guarantee you can do many more push-ups than you could at the beginning of February! Proof that hard work and dedication DO pay off :)

How is your challenge going? Do you think you’re going to be able to meet your goal?

Weekly Health Goals

Good Morning! Happy Sunday :)

I’m going to keep this post short and sweet. It is bright and sunny and ABOVE freezing outside this morning (yay!!!) so my plans for the day are a 5-mile run, 2-mile walk with Kyle and Mitchell, a little baking and yoga tonight.

On Friday night, Kyle and I cashed in a Groupon for Nami – a sushi bar in downtown Minneapolis. We ordered a variety of sashimi and one roll and it was delicious, as always. After enjoying our sushi and wine, we headed to Barrio for some margarita action! It was National Margarita Day and I couldn’t not partake in this holiday :)

Saturday morning, I ran to Lululemon to pick up a couple of pairs of Wunder Unders that I had to get shortened. Thankfully they have free alterations for us short people ;) While there, I had a gift card that was burning a hole in my pocket so I picked up a new jacket (that was on sale – only $59 from the original $150 – woot!!) and a pair of Ebb and Flow pants. Lululemon is one of my all-time favorite retailers, next to Target and Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s and Nordstroms. And if you are wondering, yes, I may have a shopping problem.

Tulips

After my shopping spree, I headed to Trader Joe’s to pick up our weekly groceries. I didn’t go grocery shopping last week so I had A LOT to buy yesterday. I ended up spending $116 but that included flowers and some other random items that I thought I needed at the time. Considering that we have a bad habit of blowing over $100 when we go out to eat, feeding the two of us for breakfast/lunch/dinner for $116/week is pretty good!

TJ's Saturday

The rest of the day was spent cleaning, going on a 3-mile run, a sweaty, hot yoga sesh, prepping my fruits and veggies for the week and watching The Perks of Being a Wallflower to end the night.

This week, my health (and financial health!) goal is to stop buying so many lunches out at work. It’s expensive, it isn’t the healthiest and it really isn’t even that good. I have planned LOTS of delicious, healthy meal options – from a few of my fellow bloggers – this week so I will have an abundance of lunch options to choose from this week.

Weekly Meal Plan

Weekly Fitness Plan

  • Sunday: 5-mile run + Yoga
  • Monday: CrossFit
  • Tuesday: Yoga
  • Wednesday: Run
  • Thursday: CrossFit
  • Friday: Yoga
  • Saturday: Run

How was your weekend? Did you celebrate National Margarita Day?

It’s a Wonderful Life

I was originally planning to post about CrossFit today but yesterday I came across two inspirational quotes – one I found online, the other was shared by my yoga instructor – that I want to share with you.

But before I get to the quotes, yesterday was also the last day of Jamie’s Intuitive Eating Challenge and the beginning of my own intuitive living journey.

I’ve learned so much from Jamie over the past 21 days. Her focus hasn’t solely been around food, she has guided me – as well as the other participants – to learn to live from the inside out, to intuitively live my life.

She has taught us that we need to love and accept ourselves before we can truly begin to trust our bodies to guide us intuitively.

She has taught us that it is okay to make mistakes and to take a few steps backwards – it is all a part of the journey.

She has taught us to trust ourselves. To trust our cravings, to trust that our bodies will tell us when we are hungry and when we are full. To trust our ability to know what is best for us. No one else knows what you are feeling or thinking or experiencing on the inside besides you so no one knows what is best for you, besides you!

She has taught us to let our bodies guide us, whether it be with our food choices, our fitness routine, our career, our entire lives. Our bodies and minds are extremely intelligent and will guide each of us to where we should be if we only allow ourselves to listen.

I am so thankful for Jamie’s guidance and cannot wait to begin living my own intuitive journey through life!

I found this first quote online yesterday morning and immediately saw its relation to living intuitively. Once you love yourself, you learn to let go of all of the things that do not benefit you – You honor your mind, your body and your spirit.

Charlie Chapman Quote

The second quote that was shared by my yoga instructor resonated with me for hours after my class. Too often we take the little miracles in our lives for granted. Because of this, I’ve made a list of all of the little miracles I’ve been thankful for this week.

  1. My first handstand in CrossFit – It was against a wall and I didn’t hold it for very long but I. DID. IT.
  2. Jamie and her life-changing Intuitive Eating Challenge.
  3. An email I received from Haley earlier this week. It was about a retreat we will both be attending in May and her short note made my day :) Never think that the small actions you take won’t have a big impact on others.
  4. My body and that it allows me to do handstands, to practice yoga, to run. I really need to treat it better in return for all of the miracles it performs for me on a daily basis.
  5. My mom and her willingness to send me recipes multiple times because I tend to not write them down :) Her patience is incredible.
  6. Kyle and his love of wine. Yesterday morning before work I saw him seated at our kitchen island with a Surdyk’s wine sale catalog, a wine and food pairing guide and a pen in hand planning his wine purchases. It gave me a HUGE smile.

I’ll end this post with my second quote. From Thich Nhat Hanh:

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child – our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

I hope you all have wonderfully happy and fulfilling weekends!

What are some things that you were thankful for this week?

Mango-Jalapeno Salsa + Mystic Harvest Chips

A few months ago, I discovered my new favorite chip! Let me explain…

If you know me at all, you know that I love nachos. And not just any nachos, my nachos have to be ULTRA-cheesy, served with a side of guacamole and involve purple corn tortilla chips. Yes, my nacho chips must be made with purple corn.

A few months ago, while shopping at my local corner market, I stumbled upon Mystic Harvest Purple Corn Tortilla Chips. I read on the packaging that the chips were made of all-natural, non-GMO ingredients and contained no trans fats, hydrogenated oils or preservatives, PLUS they were purple. I was sold!

Chips 1

When I arrived home, I had no choice but to put the Mystic Harvest chips to the test. It’s a hard life, the life of a nacho lover ;)

These chips are the PERFECT size, texture and saltiness and remained intact regardless of that fact that I threw them into a big tote and walked 1.5 miles home with them. One of my biggest disappointments when I get home from the grocery store is when a bag of chips consists of small, broken fragments. Broken chips do NOT make for good nachos!

All-natural, non-GMO ingredients, perfect texture and saltiness AND very few broken chips. Purple chip Heaven, my friends. But wait, there’s more!

Mystic Harvest Purple Corn Tortilla Chips also have healthy antioxidants and a high ORAC score.

What is an ORAC score? According to Wise Geek: “An Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity (ORAC) score is a test tube analysis that measures the antioxidant levels of food and other chemical substances.  If a food has a high ORAC score, then it means the food is high in antioxidants. The antioxidant’s strength is its ability to eliminate oxygen free radicals. With the ORAC score, a higher score means the food is better at helping us fight diseases such as heart disease and cancer.”

These purple corn tortilla chips have an ORAC score of 6,000 – This is higher than red wine or blueberries! For more information about the health benefits of purple vegetables, check out Mystic Harvest’s website.

Contrary to what I once believed, a girl cannot consist on nachos alone. So today, to accompany these healthy chips, I bring you a healthy Mango-Jalapeño Salsa!

Salsa 1

Sweet, juicy mangos, creamy avocado, spicy bites of jalapeño and crisp red onion will make it seem like summer is finally here. At least in your mouth ;)

Salsa 2

Mystic Harvest chips are sturdy enough to pick up a big ol’ scoop of this salsa and their slight saltiness perfectly complements this sweet, yet spicy summer salsa.

Salsa 3

Mango-Jalapeño Salsa

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1 mango, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeño, finely diced
  • 1 avocado, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  •  Juice of 1 lime

Directions

Mix all ingredients together and top with lime juice. Serve with Mystic Harvest Purple Corn Tortilla chips. Enjoy!

Salsa 4

Healthy salsa, healthy chips, now all we need is a healthy dose of Vitamin D from the summer sun!

What is your favorite healthified “unhealthy” food?

**Disclaimer: Mystic Harvest provided me with a few bags of their purple corn tortilla chips. All opinions and views expressed on Olives ‘n’ Wine are my own.**

I am an SPA!

I have some exciting news!

I found out this afternoon that I was accepted as a Sweat Pink Ambassador! I was going to wait to share the news until Thursday, but I am just too excited to keep it in any longer :)

SPA(Image Source)

Sweat Pink is a community of enthusiastic, positive and inspirational women who strive to reach their health, fitness and life goals via ongoing support from their fellow Sweat Pink ambassadors.

Sweat Pink’s Mission:

“We believe that kicking ass is best done in pretty shoes. We’ve learned that real women sweat, and sweat hard. We know that assertiveness, strength, and ambition are the ultimate feminine qualities. We concede that sometimes it takes hours to get ready, but we’re also no strangers to just rolling out of bed and going. We’re convinced that we run faster in pink shoelaces. We believe in pushing ourselves, and we believe in giving ourselves a break, too. We’re all about the rush of endorphins and the thrill of the challenge. We’re all for looking great and feeling even better. We’re committed to finding our best fit, and making it stick.”

According to Sweat Pink’s website, “Sweat Pink Ambassadors are:

  • Enthusiastic health nuts who love sweating and eating well, but can also appreciate the finer things in life (chocolate, cheese, wine…)
  • Natural leaders. They motivate those around them to achieve their best, and set an example of healthy, positive living. They set up running clubs for their friends, and organize gym dates early in the morning or after work. They get their co-workers to try yoga, and to order fruit instead of donuts for meetings.
  • Passionate. Whether they go gaga for green smoothies or tear up the floor every day at Zumba, there’s something about living well that really gets them going, and their enthusiasm is infectious.
  • Curious. Always looking out for the latest fitness or foodie craze, eager to learn, connect, share, and discover.”

This description fits me perfectly! Just ask some of my coworkers about me dragging them to multiple hot yoga and spin classes, instigating a “Vegan Week” at work and bringing in fruit along with decadent, yet healthy, made-from-scratch pastries for Friday team breakfasts!

Or, ask Kyle about the green smoothies I make on the weekends and my enthusiasm for getting both of us to the gym when we feel like being lazy!

And, well, you already know about my love of chocolate and wine :)

I ordered my Sweat Pink swag today – A cute workout tank and pink shoelaces! I’ll be sure to post some photos when I receive them!

A BIG thanks to the women of Sweat Pink for inviting me into their community! I’m SO excited to be a part of this great organization :)

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Some days I just need chocolate for breakfast.

Sweet, creamy, satisfying chocolate.

BBO 4

I could resort to taking a big bite out of the dark chocolate Lindt bars that I keep stashed away for “emergencies” but apparently society doesn’t approve of eating candy bars for breakfast.

BBO 5

Last week, I was having one of those chocolate-needing days. I wanted something healthy but I also wanted chocolate.

Enter, my Banana Bread Oatmeal!

BBO 2

Creamy oats, soft, flavorful bananas and – most importantly – sweet, sweet chocolate chips. This breakfast is healthy, will keep you full for hours and satisfies even the most intense chocolate cravings.

BBO 1

Banana Bread Oatmeal

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 TBSP chocolate chips

Directions

Cook oatmeal with almond milk per package instructions. Add in brown sugar and banana slices. Split between two bowls and top with chocolate chips. Enjoy!

BBO 3

This breakfast comes in under 200 calories per serving – perfect for those days when you NEED chocolate but want to stay healthy :)

If you’re craving some real banana bread, check out my recipe! It is one of my all-time favorite breakfast foods!

Do you ever eat chocolate for breakfast? What is your most creative way to satisfy a chocolate craving?

Push-Up Challenge – Week 4

This is the last *full* week of the push-up challenge!

How are you feeling? Stronger? More toned? Like you can take on the world??

Push-Up Challenge

I’m definitely feeling stronger but am going to have to really push myself to get to my goal of 15 by next Thursday. I was able to get to 12 today! Not a huge increase from last week but I’ll take anything I can get ;)

The yoga studio that I recently bought a Groupon for has classes called “Sculpt” that involve yoga with weights, aerobics, kickboxing, sit-ups and LOTS of push-ups. I went on Friday and we did over 60 push-ups, in an 105 degree room! Needless to say, that was my 3rd push-up workout of the week! A woman in the class was wearing a heart rate monitor/calorie counter and she burned 650 calories in the 60 minute class – How awesome is that?

Anyways, back to the subject at hand… our push-up challenge!

This week, I am selecting my 3 favorite workouts from the past 3 weeks for you. Some of the workouts have been hard, some have been painful and some I have just loved! These 3 are my loved ones :)

I hope you love them as much as I do and that they help you get to your push-up goals this week!

From Week 3 – Lots of planks and lots of push-ups and a few burpees just for fun ;) I love that this strengthens both our arms and our cores!

Push-Up Challenge Week 3 Workout 1

From Week 2 – I love the variation in this workout! Planks, push-ups, triceps and claps – what more could you want? If you have questions about any of these moves, check out my post from Week 2 for details.

Push-Up Challenge Week 2 Workout 2

And another one from Week 3 – This one incorporates REAL push-ups, the movement we are all trying to conquer! So let’s practice and be awesome at it!

Push-Up Challenge Week 3 Workout 3

How many real push-ups are you up to? Do you think you are going to meet your push-up goal?

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