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Things I Love: Wednesday

It’s the middle of the week, and though I began compiling this blog on the train ride home from NYC, I figured it was time to share with all of you the things that are keeping me cheerful this week.

Last Christmas was when I had the pleasure of trying out Philosophy’s bath and body products. My cousin got me Snowman Body Wash/Shampoo and it was great! This Christmas season they are featuring a “Recipe Box” including Red Velvet Cake and Sweet Creamy Frosting body washes/shampoos. The cool thing about Philosophy’s products is that you can wash your hair and your body at the same time. What a time saver! Plus these two products smell delicious. I purchased mine at Ulta for $18.00, and have been using them every day. My skin is soft, the lather is FABULOUS, and it feels like I’m bathing in cupcake batter. Definitely a great stocking stuffer or gift for your friends! It also comes with two real baking recipe cards!

Next up, Tom Perrotta! I was introduced to his books by my friend Kelly. She let me borrow a book called “Little Children” and I ended up buying it for myself and telling as many people as possible to read it. But this isn’t about “Little Children”, (though that’s a great read) this is about “The Abstinence Teacher.” This book kept me hooked from the beginning. One of the main characters is a teacher, and it just shows what teachers have to go through when the “man” steps into your classroom. The book also gives a look into the world of religion, and what happens when religion and public education mesh together. (It’s disastrous in my opinion–but that is a whole other blog post). To me, the characters were believable, and I loved the flashback style Perrotta used.

Going on with the book theme, my next obsession is Goodreads. I joined it because I’m currently compiling a reading portfolio/unit for a Sarah Dessen novel for my class. I was planning on creating a Goodreads project, but figured I should be familiar with HOW the site works, not just what I’ve heard from fellow bloggers. Needless to say, I’m hooked and I have tons of fun ideas for my future students to use and explore this website. You can add me and I would love that. I especially like the site’s trivia section. It’s infinite!

Finally, exchanging recipes is something else that I’ve recently gotten into. If you remember from Easter I received a recipe box and am currently working on filling it. At my Aunt’s house on Thanksgiving I planned to exchange recipes via snail mail with my cousin’s brother. I sent him a Manicotti recipe and my Taco Dip recipe. The art of letter writing is NOT dead. I love writing letters, and I love getting recipes. Do you have any favorite recipes?

Your best meal options at MY job!

As you probably know by now, I’m a breadslave, that meaning I work at Panera Bread. Panera has been voted the #1 for healthiest eating on the go in my area, but that’s only if you’re INFORMED of what our healthiest choices are. With Panera Bread taking the world by storm (everyone is obsessed for some reason), get informed and make healthy choices. With this information from an Associate Trainer insider, you’ll be on the road to eating healthy on the go at one of the most popular fast food restaurants in the nation.

While you want to get energy and a good start to your day, you don’t want to spend a ton of calories to get that boost.

  • Choose: Whole grain bagel (370 calories) & reduced fat plain cream cheese (130 calories). Get your coffee/juice and you have a breakfast meal for less than 500 calories and 15g of fat. Plus the whole grain bagel packs 8g of dietary fiber.
  • Ignore: Grilled Sausage, Egg, and Cheese Sandwich (550 calories and 30g of fat!!). The ciabatta bread doesn’t have much fiber and sausage is the fattiest breakfast meat. If you MUST have a breakfast sandwich choose the Breakfast power sandwich with a much more modest 330 calories and 14g of fat. The whole grain bread will keep you full.

    Lunch and dinner are a little trickier. If you’re going to have a heavy meal choose it for lunch so you’re not going to sleep after wards. Eating heavy meals after 8pm can cause weight gain. For dinner go a little lighter with a salad or soup.

  • Choose: Low Fat Vegetarian Black Bean Soup (200 calories and 2g of fat.) This is my go to meal when I’m working. It keeps you sustained and tastes great. Get a side of whole grain baguette (150 calories and 1.5g of fat) and you’ll have a fiber packed meal.
  • Choose: Smoked Turkey Breast Sandwich without Mayo (460 calories, 6g of fat). Getting rid of just the mayo saves you over 100 calories. The veggies will help to keep you full and the mustard gives some flavor.
  • Choose:Classic Cafe Salad (170 calories and 11g of fat). The fat grams come from the balsamic dressing. Add chicken on the salad for 110 calories (pepper mustard chicken).
  • Ignore: Baked Potato Soup (350 calories and 21g fat!!), Frontega Chicken Panini (860 calories and 39g of fat), Italian Combo Sandwich (1040 calories and 45g of fat), and Chopped Chicken Cobb Salad (490 calories and 35g of fat).

    So, you can see that there are healthy choices and not so healthy choices. We might have gotten voted as #1 for healthiest on the go eating, but remember than nothing is healthier than brown bagging it, and it saves your money as well.

    Pick the healthy choice options when you visit my job and you’ll get to keep your figure. Remember, anything titled “panini, creamy, cheesy, or breaded” tastes great, but is not the best option for you.

    Things I Love: Thursday!

    As of 7:30 this evening, my first week of classes for the Fall Semester of 2009 has been completed. I’m taking 4 classes and really only need 3 to graduate, but took an extra one to remain full time. I’m taking The Teaching of Writing, Special Education, Reading & Literacy, and Ceramics! I can’t wait to be able to snap some photos of the projects I’ll be making. I’m not the most artistic person, but ceramics was something I always loved in high school. Maybe it’ll help to relax me throughout my last semester before I Student Teach? So, with the new school year up and running, I’ve found some new things to love, and some things that will be keeping me happy for this important and bittersweet semester.

    I’m at school at really crazy times, so I sometimes need a snack to tide me over during that awkward after lunchtime but before dinner time period. I saw an ad for Ritz Crackerfuls in my US Weekly, and they were referred to as “The Grown Up” version of cheese and crackers. They pack 5 grams of whole grains per serving and are made with real cheese. I’ve tried the cheddar and picked up some of the four cheese flavor today. They really do satisfy you when you need a crunch, and anything with cheese in my opinion automatically gets points for me.

    It’s only been two days but so far I’m loving my Ceramics class. I’ve rolled out all four of my slabs for my tile series project and look forward to smoothing them out and starting my carving on Tuesday. The only thing about working in clay for 4 or more hours a week? Dry hands! I constantly wash my hands as it is, and have raved about this lotion before, but if there are any other ceramics students out there, I definitely recommend this! Eucerin is the best product ever! Wash your hands and apply when your hands are still a bit moist. Works like a charm and absorbs quickly.

    Since we’re all trying to cut back on expensive purchases I switched from my beloved MAC Green Gel Cleanser to try a cheaper alternative by Neutrogena. My friend Kathleen recommended it to me and I’ve been using it for over a month now. It smells delicious, has fun little beads that refresh and exfoliate, and it truly does wake me up when I’m washing my face in the morning. I still miss my MAC, but during these times, it pays to be frugal where you can.

    And last but not least…I love Keith. He’s been keeping me calm throughout the first week, and trust me that is a full time job. Not only does he take me out for dinner, he lets me poke his nose, and is just plain awesome. I never include him in a TIL post, but it should be mentioned that I definitely do love him. <3

    Three Healthy Summer Drinks Made Even Healthier!

    So, although it’s only April here in CT, the summer weather is definitely here, at least for now, which leads me to think of my favorite summer pastimes: PARTIES! There’s nothing like going to a summer get together or hosting a cookout at your house. Since Memorial Day is about a month away, why not start thinking of some healthy drinks you can serve or partake in when you attend a party? I did some searching and have managed to find some great healthy cocktails that are not too difficult to make.

    Another great idea? In this economy invite every person who’s coming to bring something. Have a potluck style drink setting. Have each person bring some of their own personal favorite cocktails. This allows everyone at your party to have a choice, and your healthy drinks are still within reach. Above all else, have fun, enjoy the recipes, and don’t drive drunk!!

    I loved the recipe for the Blueberry Lime Margarita. Blueberries are one of my favorite fruits, and lime always adds a light summer flavor for your drinks. Margaritas are a great summer drink, but can be loaded with sugar. The recipe below is much healthier and weights in at only 125 calories per serving, but shaving off some extra calories is easy. There is always a way to make healthy drinks even healthier with some improvising!

    Blueberry Lime Margarita
    Combine ice, blueberries, blueberry nectar, seltzer, limeade, lime juice and tequila, if using, in a blender and blend until smooth. Rub rim of 2 glasses with lime wedge and dip in salt. Divide the margarita between the prepared glasses and serve.

    2 cups ice
    1 cup frozen blueberries – (Swap out for fresh blueberries!!)
    1 cup blueberry nectar – (Try sugar free blueberry syrup and slice the sugar/carbs!)
    1/4 cup seltzer
    2 tablespoons frozen limeade – (Concoct your own Limeade: Juice of one lime (about 2 Tbsp), 1 tsp Stevia, 8 oz. Water)
    1 tablespoon lime juice
    3 ounces tequila, optional
    1 lime wedge
    Coarse salt

    As you can see, there are plenty of ways to makeover a recipe for drinks. Just by using diet syrups in place of fruit nectar, and making your own Limeade, you can cut the sugars in a drink almost in half, leaving you room for other things you may want to put on your plate without undoing your whole diet.

    When I think summer, I always think Raspberries. They’re delicious, packed with antioxidants, and they’re kind of cute looking too. I took this recipe for a Raspberry Wine Spritzer (spritzers are always a healthy option), and cut the sugar here too! This guy weighs in at 168 calories, and isn’t bad for you to indulge in. The best part about this drink is it can be made virgin for party guests who might not drink!!

    Raspberry Spritzer
    Combine seltzer, raspberries, mint and raspberry-flavored syrup (or Chambord) in a small pitcher. Pour over ice.

    2 cups seltzer
    2/3 cup frozen raspberries (again, always go with fresh fruit!)
    2 sprigs fresh mint
    3 ounces raspberry-flavored syrup or Chambord (if you’re making this nonalcoholic, make sure to use sugar free syrup and save tons of calories).
    Ice cubes

    Finally, I cannot get enough watermelon during the summer, and since I’ve turned into a Gin fan over the past year of be being legal, this combines them both, and doesn’t take much tweaking to make it a bit healthier (you’ll see!!) To make it virgin, simply omit the gin, and at only 158 calories, this is definitely a good pick! While this final drink does take a little more prep time (30-45 minutes), it’s definitely worth it. I recommend Bombay Sapphire for the gin, but we all have our preferences.

    Watermelon Gin Fizz
    1. Freeze 1 cup watermelon for garnish. Puree the remaining 4 cups watermelon. Strain; divide the juice among 4 ice-filled glasses.

    2. Top each with 1 1/2 ounces gin, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1/3 cup ginger ale. Garnish with the frozen watermelon and lime wedges.

    5 cups diced watermelon, divided
    6 ounces gin, divided
    8 tablespoons lime juice, divided
    1 1/3 cups ginger ale, divided (diet Ginger ale!! Easy peasy!)
    Lime wedges for garnish

    So, now that you know it is possible to make a healthy summer drink even HEALTHIER, why not try it out. There’s nothing wrong with experimenting in the kitchen, and if you want to keep your figure throughout the summer while still enjoying yourself, this is a great way to trim those extra calories. Now go on you party animal, start mixin’!

    Things I Love: Wednesday!

    I’ve done one of these posts before, and I think I might make it a regular thing. Or semi-regular, haha. For some reason listing down things that make me happy and that I really enjoy give me a nice vibe for the day. So this week, here are the things that this Mop Top is diggin’.

    I’ve been loving this baby for a few weeks now, and it definitely needs some recognition. What we have here is the “Life Cycle” exercise bike. Though I’m usually a cross trainer girl when I hit the gym, you have to switch up your Cardio routines. Not only is it good for your body to get some extra work on other muscles, but it can help with the monotony of workouts. Let’s face it, we all get bored sometimes. Variety is what keeps us all motivated when we go to the gym and start a healthy lifestyle. If you have one of these at your gym, I HIGHLY recommend it. Try using the “Quick Start” program so you can get acquainted with the movement your body will be feeling, and start on Level 2 or 3, if you’re a regular gym rat like I am. The “Hill” program is going to be my next goal. Maybe one day I’ll be brave enough to try it.

    Next up this week? Starbuck’s Shaken Black Tea Lemonade. You can order it sweetened (a nice treat), or you can get it unsweetened which is what I do and add my own Splenda. Even without Splenda, this drink is fresh, delicious, and light. It’s great for the upcoming Spring (almost there!) weather, and reminds me of warm summer days sitting in front of Starbuck’s with my best friend Kathleen. The combination of Black Tea (great for your heart), and Lemonade is simply yummy.There’s nothing negative to say about this drink. And since I started this post with a fitness theme, it allows you to indulge your sweet tooth a little bit without going overboard. Remember! Moderation is key!

    Everyone’s raving about MAC’s new Hello Kitty line of cosmetics. I have always loved Sanrio’s characters, and of course have been a MAC addict for quite some time. Now, two of my favorite things are together? Amazing! I purchased the Hello Kitty Beauty Powder in Tahitian Sand. It’s a finishing powder with a new dewy/glow feel to it. The packaging is adorable, and I’ve been using it on my face with just some moisturizer for the past few days. I’ve also tried it as a finishing powder on a full face and I absolutely loved it. It’s a light weight pressed powder that comes in two shades. If you’re more tan like I am I suggest purchasing the Tahitian Sand as well. If you’re a little more on the pale/rosy side, definitely go with the other color. Best part? Hello Kitty’s face is on the powder itself. It’s almost too cute to use!

    And last but not least, I’m OBSESSED with “House.” Keith and his best friend Paul have always watched the show, but they recently got me into it as well. It’s a great drama with plenty of funny bits weaved in. Hugh Laurie is a sexy man, and second of all, he’s so dry and witty. In short, he’s kind of a jerk, but he does it just too darn well. If you’ve never watched the show, check it out. Here on the east coast you can catch it on Monday nights at 8pm, and in two weeks there’s a special two hour episode coming up. So, give it a try!

    These are the things that have been keeping me abuzz this week. Nothing better than a great workout routine, fancy drinks, new makeup, and an awesome TV show right?

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