Making Watermelon MORE Refreshing

The salad that Ryan and I enjoyed during the Greek cooking class we took at Whole Foods on Friday night has stayed with me.

Though I loved all of the flavors in the salad (feta cheese, mmm, olives, mmm), the flavor combination that really stuck with me was the watermelon and mint duo.

Watermelon is already quite refreshing on its own, but when paired with fresh mint leaves, it reaches a whole new level of refreshment.

Watermelon + Mint

I enjoyed a big bowl of cubed watermelon with fresh mint leaves during lunch today and the combination of the two flavors was just as fantastic as I remembered.

Just to keep you guessing, I included some other totally random foods in my midday meal.

Along with the watermelon, I also had a bowl of lobster-flavored imitation crab meat and a cup of Greek yogurt.

Gimme!

I think Sadie wanted in on that fakie lobster meat.

Crab? Lobster? Fish? Delish!

The Spread

I also enjoyed this monster of a cookie that was leftover from my bridal shower.

Cookie Monster

Yum.

PBfingers.com Update

As some of you may have noticed, my blog, which is normally located at PBFingers.com, is in the process of changing hosts. While undergoing this transition, I’ll be posting here at peanutbutterfingers.wordpress.com, but PBFingers.com should be back up and operational this evening! 🙂

Greek Cooking Class

Another successful date night!

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September’s date night took us to Whole Foods, but not for grocery shopping… 

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We were there for a Greek cooking class that featured a three-course dinner with appetizers to boot!

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The class was only $10 a person. Who says a fun and delicious date night has to cost mucho dinero?

Ryan and I arrived and took our seats at a long table with the other class participants and were immediately served a glass of wine.

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I love a good glass of white wine! I much prefer white wine to red because I like my wine to taste like juice and  that’s harder to come by when enjoying red wines.

Once everyone was happily sipping on their glasses of wine, the class began.

It started out on an interactive note with some hummus-making!

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The homemade hummus contained chickpeas, garlic, lemon juice and tahini (sesame seed paste).

Guess who was our table’s designated chickpea crusher?

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That is Ryan’s “I’m really into this chickpea crushing business” face. 

As he crushed away, I couldn’t help but quip “a food processor would be pretty great right about now.” The instructor said that a food processor would take all of the fun out of the hummus making process.

False.

It would take all of the lumps out of the hummus-making process. 😉

Once Ryan was done making the hummus, we enjoyed it spread on fresh pita bread.

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Ryan and I thought the hummus was okay… but in some serious need of seasonings. Sue recommended adding roasted red peppers if we recreate the hummus at home which I think we would really enjoy. I think this less flavorful hummus would be delicious on a sandwich, but when enjoyed on a pita alone, it was a bit bland.

Luckily the other appetizer was very flavorful.

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Grape leaves stuffed with rice and seasonings. So good! I had three while Sue prepared our salads with another Whole Foods team member.

It’s rare that I will say a salad is the best part of any meal, but in this particular situation it really was!

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The salads were comprised of a very unusual combination of foods:

  • Watermelon
  • Olive
  • Endive
  • Feta cheese
  • Mint
  • Olive oil
  • Balsamic vinegar

We were all a little skeptical about how the flavors would taste together, but they were unbelievably delicious! My favorite bites were the ones with the watermelon, feta and mint. YUM.

We basically licked our salad plates clean.

Then it was time for the main course.

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Chicken gyros were served with pita bread, cucumbers, tomato, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a yogurt-based sauce known as raita sauce.

My favorite part of this dish was definitely the raita sauce. It was cool and creamy and I cannot wait to try to recreate it at home.

Dessert was also delicious.

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We were served plates of stracciatella gelato, which is essentially an Italian sweet cream flavor of gelato with chocolate shavings. It was topped with mint leaves and orange blossom honey (so good!) and served with watermelon, cantaloupe and sliced, frozen grapes.

Ryan and I finished our respective desserts very quickly and were able to share a second scoop of the stracciatella.

Clearly the gelato sparked our sweet tooth, because once the class was over we headed to Whole Foods’ bakery and nabbed some chocolatey goodies.

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I am seriously in love with Whole Foods’ bakery. Their oatmeal chocolate chip cookie is unreal. I could eat those bad boys all day every day. Ryan shares my love of these cookies and we spilt a big one between the two of us (it looks small in that bag, but it was the size of my hand).

I also nabbed a chocolate twist from the bakery which I planned to save for tomorrow.

It didn’t make it out of the parking lot. 😉

Good food + Good company = Great date night

The rest of our evening will be spent cuddled up on the couch with the dawg. My kinda night!

See ya in the mornin’, friends!

Apple, PB & Granola Sandwich

Does this breakfast scream fall or what!?

Apple Sandwich Stacks

With all of the hullabaloo (fun word!) about pumpkin popping up around the blog world, apples, another autumn staple, sometimes fall to the wayside.

Not today!

Bring back the apple! 😀

Last week my friend Betsy sent me a link to a recipe for apple sandwiches, featured on Whole Foods’ website.

The minute I clicked the link I knew I had to recreate the fine lookin’ fruity sandwiches.

This morning I got to work, slicing an apple into horizontal slices before carefully cutting around the core to pop it out. (Yes, and apple corer would work wonders here, but I don’t have one. My apple corer also slices the apple, which is phenomenal, but doesn’t work for this particular recipe.)

Once I had several apple slices ready to go, I quickly ate all but four, because that’s all the recipe required and I was hangry!

I then topped two apple slices with about a tablespoon of peanut butter each before sprinkling the nut butter with ginger granola that I purchased from Whole Foods last night.

PB + Granola

Open-Faced Apple Sandwich

I topped the granola and peanut butter covered apple slice with the remaining nakie apple slice to seal the deal.

Topped Off

Autumn Apple

While making the apple, peanut butter and granola sandwiches, I enjoyed a peanut butter finger as did this little one…

My body is 95% Bones & 5% Peanut Butter

She needed the extra fuel after our 2.5 mile walk this morning and I’m not about to deprive someone who craves a lil’ pb. That’s just evil.

Workout

BodyPump, will you ever get old?

I sure hope not because that class always is a good workout and makes me do exercises I despise but know are highly effective (squats, lunges).

Today’s class was a great one and included the song “Now You’re Gone” by Basshunter during the shoulder track. That techno gem is my favorite BodyPump song everrr. (Ross, I figured you might appreciate that one too! 😉 )

Now it’s time to get to work, my friends!

Let’s start this week on a good note. Happy Monday!

Weekend Warrior

P.U.

The Brie cheese we bought yesterday at Whole Foods may be the stinkiest cheese I’ve even encountered.

Stinky Brie

The rank stench isn’t enough to put me off though, and the pungent cheese was the highlight of my lunch today.

For your viewing pleasure…

Brie + Apple Sandwich

I made myself a Brie and apple sandwich on honey wheat Pepperidge Farm deli flat bread.

On the side, I enjoyed a pop of color in the form of grape tomatoes and a sliced carrot from the farmer’s market.

Pop 'o' Color

Fruit (apple, tomato) + Veggies (carrot) + Protein (cheese) + Fat (cheese) + Whole Grains (bread) = Well rounded meal

Monday's Lunch

Weekend Warrior

As you may have noticed from my posts this weekend (namely the three-dessert extravaganza on Saturday night), I tend to indulge more than usual on the weekends.

By indulge I don’t mean I have an extra cookie or two… I really indulge, and sometimes eat so many sweets that I feel ill from all the sugar.

This doesn’t make me feel guilty, because it isn’t something I do daily, but it is something I’m becoming increasingly aware of.

Since I don’t deprive myself during the week, I know my weekend indulgences are not brought on by depravation or cravings, but rather by opportunity.

On the weekend, I find myself eating out more often, attending a BBQ at a friend’s house, or engaging in other activities where unhealthy food is available and often the center of the activity.

This realization prompted me to brainstorm some tips to help myself maintain my healthy eating on the weekends, which I thought I would share with you below:

  • Eat a healthy breakfast: Start your day on the right foot by eating a breakfast that includes healthy carbs, fat and protein.
  • Take time for snacks: I am often busier on the weekends and won’t eat my mid-morning or afternoon snacks like I normally do during the weekdays. Make it a point to eat your snack to avoid extreme hunger (and possible overindulgence) come mealtime.
  • Assess your surroundings: If you’re truly at a special event (like a wedding), indulge (but don’t overindulge) in something special (like wedding cake). If the event is a routine BBQ or a simple get-together with friends, don’t use it as an excuse to down copious amounts of chips and dip.
  • Fit in fitness: My days off from the gym put me in lazy-Julie mode. Even on rest days, get out of the house and go for a walk to remind yourself that healthy-living occurs on days away from the gym as well.
  • Keep your hands busy: I tend to head into the kitchen when I’m hanging out around the house simply because I like to be doing something. Watching TV or a movie can make me antsy. Keep your hands busy with something else (file your nails, pet your dog, exchange hand massages with your boyfriend, flip through a magazine) while watching TV to avoid the urge to wander into the kitchen.

Do you struggle with healthy eating on the weekends? What are your tips for maintaining healthy eating habits over the weekend?

Rethinking

I’ve been rethinking some things today…

First, before lunch I met up with my friends Merri and Laurel at the pool by Laurel’s apartment to soak up some sun and catch up.

My Friend Merri, the Bathing Beauty

Both Merri and Laurel are running in the Chicago Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon with me on August 1 and started their training last week. Initially, I figured I would follow Hal Higdon’s training plan, which requires two decent runs a week, along with one long run.

Then, I began considering shortening my running days to one run on Tuesdays, followed by a long run over the weekend so I could continue to take BodyPump Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and also take a yoga class on Thursdays and fit a rest day in on Saturday or Sunday.

Though I am excited to run in the half, I just want to finish the race and I am not worried about my time in the least.  I want to finish strong though and feel adequately prepared, so after rethinking my plan, I am going to try to make running part of my workout three times a week, but I won’t beat myself up if I feel like missing a day for yoga or cross training instead.

Hal Higdon’s plan worked for me back in 2007 when I ran my first half, so I suppose sticking to his plan again is a pretty safe bet! 🙂

Snack + Lunch

Post pool time, I came home and enjoyed a snack of Brie cheese and whole wheat crackers with Ryan.

Brie + Crackers

We bought the cheese at Whole Foods after church this morning, and booooy is it a stinky wedge!

I really filled up on the cheese and crackers combo (I think I easily ate three-plus servings), so I wasn’t very hungry when lunchtime rolled around.

I wanted to try the Wanchai Ferry Beef & Broccoli frozen entrée I received to sample from Wanchai Ferry through MyBlogSpark, so I cooked it up to share with Ryan.

Wanchai

Sizzlin'

After looking at the slew of ingredients and nutritional information, I must admit this is not a product I would purchase on my own. Flavor-wise it was very tasty, but the long list of ingredients, white rice (I prefer brown) and less-than-stellar nutritional stats would deter me from buying it for myself.

Ryan, on the other hand, really loved it! 😀

Beef, Broccoli, Rice

Snack #2

Though my cheese and cracker snack sustained me through lunchtime, around 2:30 p.m., I started to get a little hungry again.

I made myself a protein frosty, following Janetha’s recipe.

Protein Frosty

It was really delicious but took a while to make because my blender struggled to chop down all the ice!

Rethinking Bridesmaid Dress Color

On to the second thing I am rethinking today…

This afternoon, Ryan came with me to the bridal boutique where I found the bridesmaid dress I like.

Bridesmaid Dreess Number One Contender

(You may see a picture of my sister in the dress here.)

I wanted to check out the color swatches for the dress one last time before fully committing to the cashmere/champagne color I love.

Though Ryan liked the dress itself, he seemed a little unsure about the color. When I described the color as “champagne” he thought that color was a light pink. Ehhh, not really. 😉

Ryan said he “trusts my vision,” but his reaction to the color is making me rethink my choice at the moment. I think the cashmere color is classy and timeless, but I want my groom to like it too! I picture the color with our flowers and color scheme (yellow, gold, ivory, white, wheat) and think it could look gorgeous. (Here’s an example.)

Ryan and I looked over some swatches and both liked the maize color, which was basically a muted yellow, so I am considering changing the dress color to that. We’ll see! I’ve got some thinkin’ to do!

Dinner

Post-bridesmaid dress dilemma, we headed next door to The Fresh Market to pick up a couple of whole wheat baguettes to use for our meatball subs for dinner.

The Fresh Market

While there, we also picked up a kitchen sink cookie to share on the way home, but that was gobbled up so fast that it eluded any photographs.

Once home, we straightened up the apartment for a bit before getting to work in the kitchen.

I used Quorn meatless meatballs as the base for our meatball subs, and smothered them in marinara sauce before topping the subs with lots of mozzarella cheese and placing them in the oven to get all ooey-gooey.

Quorn Meatballs

Balls 'n' Bread

Meatball Subs

Cheesy

Dinner is Served

Dinner was delish and suuuuper easy. Ryan and I both agreed this lil’ combo will be recreated again soon. 😀

Dessert?

I’m in a baking mood. I see some homemade treats in my future… Off to browse some recipes!

I hope you’re all enjoying the last little bit of the weekend. 😀

A New Failure

For a while there, Ryan and I were eating ravioli about once a week.

Monterey Pasta Company made our ravioli of choice. (Just FYI, the spinach ricotta and lobster ravioli are the best flavors.)

Unfortunately the pasta itself wasn’t whole wheat and I had a feeling there had to be a tasty whole wheat ravioli option out there.

A couple of weeks ago, I picked up a bag of frozen 365 organic whole wheat spinach and cheese ravioli from Whole Foods, stuck it in our freezer and forgot about it.

When Ryan went to throw some ravioli in our cart at the grocery store this week, I stopped him and remembered the ravioli chillin’ in the freezer.

Tonight we put the whole wheat ravioli to the test…

We served it with cauliflower, mushrooms, zucchini, marinara sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Whole Wheat Ravioli

Mushrooms + Zucchini

I love lots o’ veggies with my pasta.

My Bowl

Dinn-ahhh

The verdict?

Mehhhh. We were both pretty disappointed in the ravioli. 😦

The whole wheat pasta had a funky flavor to it and overpowered the flavor of the spinach and cheese filling.

But have no fear, we still managed to clean our plates. 😉

T-Shirt Trivia

Now for some Tuesday night fun…

What does my t-shirt represent?

Where-Oh-Where Is My T-Shirt From?

 Answer to come in the morning!

(Oh and you will get 10 points if you answer this correctly. Points are good for bragging rights. 😀 )

Acorn Squash Sweet Salad

I am on a Pumpkorn kick. I cannot get enough of these delicious pumpkin seeds!

Today I incorporated a big handful of the honey ‘n’ flax flavor into my lunch .

Acorn, Pumpkorn, Cranberry Relish

Last night I prepped an acorn squash by piercing it before microwaving it for 5 minutes on one side and three minutes on the other. I used all the yummy flesh in my acorn squash salad today. I added several scoops of homemade cranberry relish for extra sweetness.

My afternoon snack is more Pumpkorn. I think I’ll be digging into my sea salt Pumpkorn sooner rather than later… not because I’m hungry, but because I’m obsessed.

Have you ever tried pumpkin butter? What’s your favorite kind of nut butter?

On random foodie Web sites I’ve seen pumpkin butter for sale and have always wanted to try it. Sounds delicious to me. My favorite nut butter is… duh… peanut butter!

I want to eat you!

I really love the honey nut peanut butter grinding machine at Whole Foods where you can grind your own honey nut peanuts into the most amazingly creamy and sweet nut butter. Whoa, is that a puddle of drool I see on my desk?

Peanut Butter Fingers Confession

I have an embarrassing peanut butter confession. About two weeks ago I was eating one too many peanut butter fingers. Ryan was about to leave for a soccer game and I thrust the peanut butter jar at him and told him to hide it from me so I wouldn’t eat the whole dang jar.

Let me just say I am one of the most curious people in the world. I’ve always tried to find my Christmas presents before Christmas (sometimes I’ve succeeded!). Ryan actually hid my engagement ring in his car for fear I’d find it. (Disclaimer: I don’t snoop unless I know someone’s planning to give something to me. I just wanna know what it is NOW!)

Anyway, about an hour after Ryan left for his soccer game, I felt my curiosity kick in. I promise you it wasn’t just another peanut butter craving (believe me I know how to identify this feeling). I knew he hid the peanut butter jar in the spare room of our apartment. After some digging, I found it in his closet and rewarded myself with another peanut butter finger! 😀

Naturally I placed the jar back in the closet and shut the door to hide my embarrassing lack of control over my own curiosity. When Ryan went to change after his shower he immediately said “Hm… someone found the peanut butter!

Caught! Ah! Apparently I didn’t place the jar back in the closet exactly as I’d found it. Note to fellow snoopers: return your finding exactly as you found it. Don’t get so excited about enjoying another peanut butter finger that you place the jar in the closet vertically when you found it horizontally. I’m so embarrassing.