Caramel & Chocolate Showdown (+ a Giveaway!)

Woohoo for yummy lunches!

Today I enjoyed a PBF favorite… a noodle bowl!

Noodle Bowl + Cheeeeeese

My bowl o’ pasta was a bit different today, as it did not include my beloved red sauce. Instead I opted for a cheesy sauce made with melted Laughing Cow light original Swiss cheese wedge and Babybel cheese.

Laughing Cow + Babybel

The combination of the two cheese flavors was delicious and definitely stood out against the chopped spinach and lightly steamed broccoli I also included in the bowl.

Lunchtime!

Though my bowl of noodly goodness was pretty darn fantastic, something else managed to steal the show.

Oikos Caramel Greek Yogurt

So stinkin’ good!

Last week Stonyfield (the company that makes Oikos organic Greek yogurt) sent me some coupons to sample their new caramel and chocolate Greek yogurt.

If you read this blog with any regularity, you know I am basically in love with Greek yogurt for its creamy texture and fantastic protein content, so naturally I jumped at the chance to try the new dessert-like flavors.

All I can say is hoooooooly (organic) cow! 😀

Both flavors were incredibly delicious, though I think for the first time in my entire life I preferred the caramel variety to the chocolate.

I really liked how the caramel and chocolate “topping” was located at the bottom of the cup, because it allowed me to enjoy as much or as little of the sweetness I wanted to at any given bite. Gotta love a healthy way to satisfy that sweet tooth!

Caramel Heaven

Eat Up!

Now that I’ve all but professed my love for these new flavas, it’s your turn to give ’em a try!

Oikos is offering one reader a Chocolate Indulgence Giveaway Package that includes:

  • 1 coupon for a free Green & Black Organic Chocolate Bar
  • 1 sample of Numi Organic Chocolate tea
  • 1 Dagoba/Eco Lips Organic Chocolate chapstick
  • 1 Skinnyskinny real cocoa organic soap bar
  • 2 free coupons for Chocolate and Caramel Oikos multipacks
  • Recipe card set featuring Chocolate Cheesecake, as well Oikos spatula

To enter this giveaway, simply comment on this post, telling me what dish that involves chocolate or caramel is your favorite. For additional entries follow Stonyfield on Twitter or become a fan of Stonyfield on Facebook and comment back telling me you did so.

A winner will be randomly select a winner tomorrow afternoon. Good luck!!!

Of Possible Interest

For the Non-Blog Savvy Folks

This morning as I was packing my lunch, I sampled the Chavrie goat cheese I planned to use in my lunchtime sandwich.

Chavrie Goat Cheese

HOLY COW (or should I say goat?). This stuff is insanely delicious.

I easily could have inhaled the entire block.I loved its silky texture and the mild flavor. Though strong goat cheese is delicious, I actually prefer the more muted flavor of this brand.

I probably ate two servings while packing my lunch, but fortunately enough of the cheese remained to include in my cucumber sandwich this afternoon.

Though this goat cheese is freakishly delicious, I’m not sure how often I’d be willing to shell out $6 for it. For a special occasion (like a Wednesday, apparently), it’s definitely worth the extra dough.

Along with my goat cheese and cucumber sandwich, I enjoyed a freshly sliced green pepper and a cup of grape tomatoes.

Cuc + Goat Cheese Sandwich with Green Peppers

Green Pep

Grape Tomatoes

For a little sweetness, I rounded out the meal with a cup of Oikos honey Greek yogurt.

Honey Bee

All Togetha Naw

Mmm, mmm, good. 🙂

For the Non-Blog Savvy Folks

I am not a very computer-savvy or blog-savvy person. It literally took me a year to discover Google Reader and realize you could subscribe to blogs.

If this sounds foreign to you, then this section of today’s post is just for you!

(Picture Source)

If you are a blog-reading pro, then the following content will likely bore you to bits! 😀 Just warnin’ ya.

In talking with some of my non-blog savvy friends, I realized there are a couple of things I should probably touch on that may seem so obvious to those of you immersed in the blog world, but are completely over the heads of those of you  more like me who tend to pick computer-related things up rather slowly.

Let’s get crackin’:

  • Subscriptions: If you read certain blogs every day, you may want to subscribe to these blogs. This means that every time the blogger posts, you’ll receive an update. Most blogs have an icon on their homepage that you can click to subscribe (you may see mine at the top, left of this page or simply click here to subscribe to this blog).
  • Google Reader: When you choose to subscribe to a blog you can receive email notifications or have the blog updates populate in certain blog-reading programs like Google Reader. I subscribe to a bunch of blogs and check all of them through Google Reader since it keeps everyone’s blog updates in one spot. This allows me to keep up with blogs I love without having to individually check the sites or type in the website addresses every day.
  • Bookmarking: If subscribing to a blog isn’t your cup of tea,  you may be more interested in bookmarking a favorite site. To do this, simply hold down the “Ctrl” and “D” keys on your keyboard and click “Done” and the site will be bookmarked!
  • Commenting: I was shocked when one of my very best friends told me she didn’t know she could comment on my blog! She was confused by my “Questions of the Day” and didn’t understand why I’d ask them when no one could answer. 😀 Well, you can! At the bottom of a post, you’ll see red text with a whole bunch of links. If you click the one that says “Leave a Comment” or “15 Comments” etc., then you can simply type in your name (or nickname), your email address (which no one but me will see) and your web site (if applicable) and then comment away!
  • Twitter: Many bloggers are really into Twitter. I recently started “tweeting” a couple of weeks ago and absolutely love it. It’s a great way to follow some of your favorite bloggers, venues and companies. I especially love it when companies or actual cities “tweet” about promotions and sales. Twitter is a great tool to use to be “in the know.” You may follow me on Twitter here.

I apologize to those of you who were rolling your eyes and saying “DUH!” as you read the above content, but hopefully it helped at least one of you out there have a bit of an “Ah ha!” moment! 😀

Questions of the Afternoon

  • Do you consider yourself blog-savvy?
  • What’s something that took you a while to pick up regarding blogging or blog-reading?

Looks Like the 4th of July

Judging by my breakfast, it looks like the 4th of July came a bit early!

Red, White, Blue

“It makes me want a hot dog reeeeal bad!” 😉

(Love that movie.)

Today’s red, white and blue concoction was quite patriotic and tasted great to boot! Definitely a winner in my book.

Patriotic Parfait

My patriotic parfait was inspired by Angela. I created this breakfast treat by layering strawberry banana “soft serve“, Oikos vanilla Greek yogurt and a handful of blueberries several times until my fancy-dancy wine glass was filled to the brim.

Summer Treat

I created the “soft serve” by blending a frozen banana (broken into chunks) with a handful of frozen strawberries and a bit of cold water to get everything to move around a bit.

I would highly recommend doing this in a food processor if you have one. That was my original plan (see photo below), but when I plugged in my Cuisinart food processor, it decided to be moody and didn’t work. 😦 I’ve probably used this food processor less than 10 times, so I was pretty bummed that it already wasn’t working.

The Original Plan...

Fortunately my blender did the trick (I use an old Krups blender that I love), but I had to add a bit of water and it took a bit longer to get the soft serve smooth and creamy than it would have had I used a food processor.

Even without the food processor, this breakfast turned out quite tasty.

Sadie clearly agreed.

"Why Do I Always Get the Scraps?"

Another Sadie Picture for Good Measure

All this red, white and blue talk has me awfully excited for the 4th of July!

My family, Ryan and I have plans to head to the Florida Keys for a long weekend of scuba diving over the 4th. I can’t wait!!!

Question of the Day

  • What are your 4th of July plans?
  • What is your favorite red food?

My favorite red food is red velvet soft serve. 😀

Why Not to Go Shopping Hungry

Why you should not go shopping when you’re hungry… Exhibit A:

Goodies

Ryan and I stopped by Walgreens before dinner yesterday with the healthiest of intentions. I needed to buy a battery for my heart rate monitor and ended up with that plus some tasty extras… like Oreos… and Boston Baked Beans… and M&Ms. Hey, I just had to try the new coconut M&Ms! (They’re fantastic, by the way.) This is why I cannot go shopping when I’m hungry. My sweet tooth controls all!

What foods can’t you resist at the grocery store when you’re hungry?

I seem to gravitate toward the bakery section or cake mixes and ice cream when I’m shopping on an empty stomach.

Breakfast

Some of the candy from our Walgreens run ended up in my breakfast this morning.

Candy Yogurt

Into my Oikos Greek yogurt cup went coconut M&Ms, Boston Baked Beans and honey roasted pecans.

There’s nothin’ like candy in the morning! 😀

Wednesday Breakfast

I enjoyed my candy yogurt with a hot cup of Yogi triple echinacea green tea. I’m on my second cup already, but not because I’m thirsty. I’m downing hot tea because I’m freezing.

Hope you’re all stayin’ warm today.

Vanilla Pumpkin Overnight Oats

The anticipation of a good breakfast makes getting up in the morning a bit easier for me.

Last night I prepped my morning meal: overnight oats with lots o’ pumpkin!

Vanilla Pumpkin Overnight Oats

The thick ‘n’ creamy mixture included:

Oikos

Kashi Vanilla Hot Cereal

I stirred it up and let it chill in the fridge overnight. This morning I dug in and loved every bite of this sweet and thick concoction.

Yum, Yum

What’s your favorite make-ahead meal?

As I said last night, my favorite make-ahead meal is definitely something in the crock pot. There’s nothing like coming home to an apartment filled with the smell of a delicious dinner.

Morning Work Out

Ryan is transitioning into morning workouts. Usually I work out in the morning, and he goes into work early and hits the gym after work… so by the time I’m off work he’s done working out. Lately though, he said he wasn’t in the mood to go to the gym after a full day at work. I don’t blame him and can’t remember how on earth I would workout after work when I first graduated from college. Ick.

Do you prefer a morning, lunchtime or evening workout?

I definitely prefer getting my workout done first thing in the morning. It feels good to check it off my list and accomplish something right off the bat!

Waking up at 5:30 a.m. seemed insane to me before, but like anything else, after a week or two of dedication it became habit.

After his first morning workout yesterday Ryan said he was in a good mood all day and was happy to be able to relax after work rather than rush to the gym. I’m sure Sadie likes the extra time with her daddy too! 😀

This morning I did 50 minutes of cardio:

  • 10 min. stair master
  • 10 min. arc trainer
  • 20 min. elliptical
  • 5 min. run
  • 5 min. incline walking

I really enjoy breaking up my cardio into shorter segments on various machines. It really prevents boredom and makes the workout fly by!

Enjoy your Tuesday, fabulous readers! 🙂

Wedding Dress Blast from the Past

Last night Ryan and I arrived in St. Pete by 6 p.m. to meet my parents and one of my dad’s colleagues at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club to check out the facility as a potential wedding venue.

We enjoyed touring the various ballrooms before sitting in the lounge to enjoy some cocktails. Fun! The Yacht Club is definitely a gorgeous facility and we have some thinkin’ to do!

When we came home we all enjoyed several bowls of hot homemade chicken soup with sweet corn and edamame and a frozen pizza (forgot to snap a pic of my two slices… oops!).

soup

Homemade Soup

Mom’s Wedding Dress

When I first walked in the door to my parent’s house I immediately saw my mom’s beautiful wedding gown hanging up. She brought it out of storage because my mom, sister and I are all heading out to try on dresses today! Exciting!

 After dinner my sister zipped me up in the gown and I did a lil’ fashion show in my mother’s dress. It actually fit, which was neat!

wedding dress mom

In My Mom's Wedding Dress

mom's wedding dress

Modelin' the Dress

wedding pose

Ta Da!

My dad is convinced I need to wear this on my big day. 🙂 He’s so cute because he always talks about how perfect my mom’s dress was and how gorgeous she looked.

Unfortunately I’m not sure that the turtleneck and long sleeves are Florida-appropriate. 😉  

I’m excited to see some dresses today! YAY!

Breakfast and a Morning Run

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. This is after going to bed at 2 a.m. My mom, sister and I always seem to stay up late talking whenever we get together! I just couldn’t seem to sleep in because I was excited for the day.

I decided to make the best of the gorgeous weather and leashed up Sadie for a fast 5-mile run. I LOVE running when the weather is cool because it doesn’t feel nearly as difficult. It’s great! I was truckin’ the whole time and Sadie was lovin’ life.

When I got home I made an awesome breakfast. I prepared a fruit, yogurt and granola parfait, topped with whipped cream.

parfait

Breakfast Parfait

I layered Yoplait cherry pie yogurt, Oikos blueberry yogurt, raspberries, blueberries, granola and Honey Nut Cheerios to make my pretty lil’ parfait. It was delish!

Photographer

After breakfast and a much-needed shower, my mom, sister, Ryan and I headed off to meet with a potential wedding photographer.   

julie mom leslie

The Ladies

Ryan and I needed two attempts to get a decent picture…

ryan julie 2

Take One

ryan julie

Take Two

The photographers we met with were two young girls who were very sweet but so far have only taken portrait pictures and have never shot a wedding. I love their style though because they capture moments and emotion in their images. I’m just not sure if we want to take such a huge leap of faith with photographers with no wedding experience. We’ll just haveta see!

Now we’re off for my FIRST attempt at trying on wedding dresses! I’m actually a little nervous but so excited! We have about a million different pictures torn out of magazines or printed off the internet to bring in as references. Let the madness begin!

Snack Time Ain’t Just for Kindergartners

I am a constant snacker. I eat throughout the day mainly because I love food and can’t stand only eating three meals daily. I get too excited about my snacks to eliminate my mid-morning and afternoon snack from my food regimen.

My post-breakfast snack yesterday was one of my favorites to date.

I started with a cup of Oikos organic honey Greek yogurt (first time trying this flavor thanks to the wonderful coupons Stonyfield Farm sent to me – thank you!).

Me and one of my all-time favorites... Greek yogurt!

Me and one of my all-time favorites... Greek yogurt!

In keeping with the honey theme, I packed a small box of Kashi honey sunshine cereal to add on top of the yogurt.

Aw Honey, Honey

Aw Honey, Honey

I didn’t realize the honey was at the bottom of the yogurt cup until I opened it up and began stirring. Those people over at Oikos are generous with their honey!

Lots o' Honey

Lots o' Honey

I couldn’t resist trying a bite before topping the yogurt with the cereal.

I typically enjoy plain Greek yogurt topped with various goodies, but OH WOW this honey yogurt was phenomenal… thick, creamy and sweet… it tasted like an indulgent dessert.

Honey Sunshine Cereal and Honey Greek Yogurt

Honey Sunshine Cereal and Honey Greek Yogurt

This combination was unbelievable. I am a huge honey fan, so this snack hit my honey-lovin’ spot.

There was too much cereal to fit into the cup, so I ate some and stirred the rest in, topping the yogurt again with another sprinkle of the honey sunshine puffs.

Sweet and Creamy

Sweet and Creamy

Mmmm!

Mmmm!

Snack time is one of my favorite times of the day!

Some of my favorite snacks include:

–  Greek yogurt topped with basically anything

– My protein brownie

– Whole wheat tortilla and light cheese melted together (quesadilla-style!)

– Apple with nut butter (or just a simple peanut butter finger will do ;))

– Protein/cereal bar of some sort

– Fresh fruit and a handful of nuts

Question: What are some of your favorite snack foods?