Healthy Food Staples

Cheese is one of those foods I think I could eat at every meal and still not get remotely sick of it.

There are so many different varieties of cheese and it’s just so darn delicious that I cannot help but crave it all the time!

Today I included a slice of Land O Lakes smoky Provolone cheese in a cheese, arugula, spinach and cucumber sandwich.

Oh Provolone!

On the side I enjoyed cucumber slices and grape tomatoes for some added color and nutrition.

Cucamaters

I am looooving grape tomatoes lately. They’ve been on sale for more than a month at my local grocery store and it’s fantastic!

I also had a cup of Smartfood white cheddar popcorn because it is the JAM.

Chedda Makes it Betta

This was a great lil’ Monday lunch.

The Spread

Healthy Food Staples

Woohoo! Today is the day I begin tackling the first of your reader’s requests from last week. First up: my healthy food staples!

There are certain foods I try to always have on hand. I find that I can create a healthy meal fairly easily as long as I have a few tasty and nutritious staples available to me.

Each week, I make sure I have the following items in my kitchen to make healthy eating throughout the week easier and oh-so-convenient:

  • Greek yogurt: I love the creamy consistency and wonderful protein content of Greek yogurt. A cup of this stuff, paired with berries, nuts, barley or low-fat granola makes breakfast a breeze and keeps me feeling full for hours. It’s also fabulous in Greek yogurt pancakes.

Greek Yogurt Pancakes

  • Whole wheat tortillas: These lil’ babies are so versatile. I use them almost every day in my morning snack when I make microwavable quesadillas by microwaving a stick of string cheese on top of a tortilla and folding it over. They’re also great for wraps made with lean meats or peanut butter and banana roll-ups.
  • Nut butter: Though peanut butter is obviously my nut butter of choice, having any nut butter on hand makes it easy to incorporate healthy, filling fats into your diet. Simply stir a scoop of the nut butter into your morning bowl of oatmeal, or spread it over a whole wheat sandwich thin and enjoy with sliced pears for an easy pb & p sandwich.

"Gimme the PB and Nobody Gets Hurt!"

  • Protein Powder: I don’t consume protein powder daily (or even weekly sometimes), but I do like having it available to blend into smoothies or stir into oatmeal to add extra protein to otherwise less-than-filling meals. My favorite protein powder is All the Whey, but everyone’s tastes are different. I had to try a bunch until I found my favorite!
  • Fresh veggies: For me to feel truly satisfied after a meal, I have to eat a lot. I like to fill my plate with lots of vegetables so I can eat a ton without overdoing it in the calorie department. Though I don’t count calories, I am aware of them and find that filling up on vegetables not only provides my body with healthy nutrients, but also makes me feel more energetic and satisfied after a meal.
  • Oatmeal or Barley: Having a go-to whole grain on hand makes it easy to always have a healthy meal available to you. I love incorporating oats or barley into yogurt bowls made with Greek yogurt because they add extra fiber to my meal, which keeps me feeling fuller for longer. Protein pancakes made with oatmeal also have some serious staying power.
  • Fresh or Frozen Fruit: Fruit is so tasty and I’m always in the mood for fresh berries, so having fruit available makes it easier to select something nutritious to snack on. Apples with peanut butter and frozen bananas make great snacks. Tossing a handful of berries into a morning bowl of oatmeal or a cup of yogurt adds volume, vitamins, flavor, texture and fiber! Eat up! Frozen fruit is perfect for smoothies.

Smoothies with a Spoon = Extra Thick

  • Eggs: You’ll always have a great source of protein on hand if you keep eggs in your fridge. I’m a big fan of breakfast for dinner and love using eggs to make healthy meals such as a healthified Egg McMuffin, banana almond-stuffed French toast or French toast strips.

Dippy Eggs!

And there you have it. My healthy food staples. I love ’em all!

Question of the Afternoon

  • What are YOUR healthy food staples?

Let’s share some ideas! 😀

Typical Lunchtime Sides

Meat ‘n’ cheese. The old stand by!

Roast Beef + Provolone

Sometimes I forget how delicious a simple sandwich made with lunch meat and a slice of cheese can be.

The Spread

Today I was reminded of just how tasty this elementary school staple is when I bit into my roast beef and Provolone cheese sandwich.

I used a slice of Land O Lakes Provolone cheese with smoke flavor in the sandwich, which was fantastically flavorful and packed a protein-punch (6 grams!) to boot . Yum!

I included fresh spinach, deli mustard and sauerkraut on the sandwich to make it a little more “adult.” 😉

Spinach + 'Kraut

On the side, I snacked on green pepper slices and two large handfuls of cherry tomatoes.

And a Side of Nutrition, Please

I love eating fresh, raw veggies at lunchtime. They fill me up, pack a nutritional punch and aren’t too bad to look at either. Talk about vibrant color!

Though I love raw veggies now, when I was growing up they rarely made an appearance in my lunchbox.

As a kid my side items of choice included:

  • Gushers (Seriously, how good were these?)
  • Hi-C fruit snacks
  • Fruit roll-ups
  • HoHos
  • Apple slices

I also remember always feeling jealous of my friend Kristen’s bag of Harvest Cheddar SunChips!

When you were growing up, what were your typical lunchtime “sides?”

Ladies Who Lunch

According to Wikipedia, ladies who lunch are “slim, well-off, old-money, well-dressed women who meet for lunch socially, normally during the work week. Typically, the women involved are married and non-working.”

Well, today I was a lady who lunched with two friends, but all of us are employed, and only two of us were married (Not me… at least not yet!)… We’re off the mark a bit from Wikipedia’s definition, but I think that’s a good thing. 😉

Lunching Ladies

Are you a “lady who lunches?” If not, would you want to be?

I’ll take the old-money, well-off, slim stuff… but the “unemployed” part throws me for a loop! I think I function better when I have more stuff on my plate, and without kids or anything to occupy me in the day, I think I’d go crazy without a job!

Lunch

Today I met up with my friends (and former coworkers) Ryan and Ashley for lunch downtown.

Ryan and Ashley

I enjoyed a roast beef and provolone cheese unwich (a sandwich made on lettuce rather than bread) from Jimmy John’s.

Jimmy John's Roast Beef and Provolone Cheese Unwich

We had a nice time catching up over yummy food.

Ashley got married in the beginning of January and I haven’t seen her since her wedding. I loved hearing about her newly married life.

Ryan ran her first half marathon at the end of February and I was anxious to hear about her race. She did awesome! We’ll both be running in a 10K on Saturday which should be lots o’ fun. 🙂

Q & A Update

Last night I took a lot of time revamping my Q&A page. I added a bunch of the questions I received multiple times during the Ask Me Anything week to the page and I think it’s a lot more comprehensive. I hope you enjoy! As always, if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you at pbfingers@gmail.com.

Tonight

After work today Ryan and I are taking a mini road trip (Does a one-hour drive count as a road trip?) to Winter Haven to check out some scuba diving equipment that my dad found on craigslist.

The pricing seems great and we’re anxious to see if the stuff looks good in person. The couple is about our size so hopefully everything will fit and be functional.

We’re hoping to get some decent scuba gear as the summer approaches because we want to be able to dive a lot!

Are you a fan of craigslist? Have you ever bought anything from someone who posted something on the site?

I love craigslist. I’ve found three apartments and a couch on craigslist. I’m quite a fan!

A First Attempt at Bridesmaid Dresses

Normally on the day after Christmas I cannot help but feel a little sad. All the hustle and bustle of the holiday season comes to an end, and I know I’ll be back at work, away from my family, in no time.

Fortunately my family had a lot on the agenda on the day after Christmas this year so I didn’t have any time to dwell on the fact that we have to wait another whole year to celebrate again.

Next year I will be a married woman at Christmas! Holy cow!

The wedding preparations continued yesterday when my mom, sister and I (once again!) headed out to try on wedding gowns. We ended up browsing around in the bridesmaid dresses section for quite a while and really enjoyed looking at all the different styles.

I want my bridesmaids to feel beautiful and look classy and a bit trendy at the same time.

Luckily my sister was on hand to model a couple of dresses. She’s one heck of a model though and everything seemed to look good on her!

The red dress below was our favorite.

Option Number One

The woman at the store encouraged me to try it on as well so we could see another body type in the dress.

...And Again

I loved how this dress looked on my sister, but wasn’t crazy about the dress on me. I am super-aware of my butt and hips and generally like more A-line styles on myself. I’m a lucky bride because all of my bridesmaids are gorgeous and have great figures and would look good in any style.

The second option was more whimsical.

Option Number Two

...And Again

I thought this dress was very romantic, but a little too casual for the vision I have for our wedding.

I really liked option number one, but when I showed pictures to Ryan he isn’t sold on the one-strap look. We’ll see!

Regardless of the dresses we pick, the bridesmaids will likely wear dresses that are a champagne color to go along with our color scheme of yellows, whites, creams, golds, etc.

I tried on dresses again and am still set on the Maggie Sottero gown I liked the last time. It’s more expensive than I want to spend on a dress though, so we’re still lookin’ around.

Lunch and a Boat Ride

After a couple hours spent trying on dresses, we headed home to meet up with my dad, cousin Ricky and his girlfriend Abby to grab a quick lunch before heading out on the boat.

I made myself a cheesy sandwich with Provolone cheese, tomato, portobello mushrooms and spinach.

Open Faced Sandwich

Provolone and Veggie Sandwich

My Lunch

I also enjoyed two Reese’s peanut butter cups that I got in my Christmas stocking for dessert. Mmm, mmm.

After bundling up in multiple layers and bringing several blankets onto the boat, we were ready to head out!

It was a beautiful but chilly day on the water.

Captain and First Mate (Dad and Mom)

My Cousin Ricky and His Girlfriend Abby

While boating we saw lots of dolphins! They even swam right under the boat so we got a close-up view. It was really neat!

My dad also took us by the Vinoy, our wedding venue.

The Vinoy

Once we were frozen solid, we headed back inside to hang out a bit before heading off to The Clubhouse for dinner.

Dinner

Ryan arrived at my parents’ house after spending the day with his dad in Bradenton. Before leaving for dinner he was kind enough to snap a picture of our little gang.

The Gang

(Yes, my sister and I are wearing the same Ugg boots. Wanna know what’s worse? Underneath her jacket is a black sweater. Why do we dress like twins? It was unintentional but happens way too often!)

Once we got to the restaurant, our waiter brought us complimentary shrimp dumplings to enjoy.

Shrimp Dumpling

Before my meal, I ordered a miso soup to enjoy.

Miso Soup

It was salty and tasty!

My main course was sushi. I ordered the California roll with cucumber instead of rice. I also shared a Philly cheesesteak and fries with Ryan.

California Roll (Sans Rice)

Philly Cheesesteak and Fries

Yummy!

My Love-ah Love-ah

Dinner was delish!

Afterward Ricky and Abby headed on the road to visit Abby’s uncle for the rest of the evening. We came back home to make homemade Neiman Marcus cookies.

Cookie Time

Abby told us about these special cookies while we were on the boat and we knew we wanted to make them.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Dough

The recipe makes a lot of cookies! Fortunately we cut it in half, but we still had several dozen cookies!

Freshly-Baked Cookies

I think we all were sick off of the dough by the time the cookies came out. Still, that didn’t stop us from enjoying some of the freshly-baked goodness.

These cookies are amazing! Definitely add them to your list of cookies you must make.

Neiman Marcus Cookie Recipe

2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. soda
2 cups sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal**
24 oz. chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey Bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. vanilla
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)

** Measure oatmeal and blend in a blender to a fine powder.

Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey Bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet.

Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.