Live and Love to Eat

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Thank you so much for reading!

Greek Pizza Bites and Asking for Advice

I can’t say enough about the Trader Joe’s garlic herb pizza dough.

Pizza is one of those foods that I could eat several times a week – I was sick of it for a while after dorm life, but now I like a really flavorful, veggie packed pizza as opposed to the cheap, greasy, cardboard chain-store pizzas.  I used to think nothing could beat homemade dough, but paying only 99 cents and getting a flavor packed crust in minutes is pretty much perfect.

I used half of the dough to make a pesto shrimp pizza (similar to this socca) earlier this week, and wanted to try something different with the dough I had left.

Enter: healthy pizza rolls -> pizza bites!

Ingredients:

  • pizza dough of choice (I used half a package)
  • 4 artichoke hearts, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 roasted red pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/3 cup crumbled feta
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat shredded mozzerella
  • olive oil or pesto, for brushing (about 1-2 Tbsp)
  • flour for rolling

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. 
  2. Roll dough as thin as possible and cut in to 2 inch pieces. 
  3. Combined artichokes, peppers, and cheeses, mixing well. 
  4. Scoop 1 tsp of mixture on to each piece of dough, pinch the sides and top closed, and place on baking sheet.  Repeat with all pieces of dough. 
  5. Brush tops of dough pockets with olive oil (I used oil from the top of pesto for more flavor). 
  6. Bake 18-22 minutes, until tops are lightly browned. 
  7. Serve with tomato sauce for dipping (I used garlic flavored jarred pasta sauce).

 

Makes approximately 30 pizza bites.

These were supposed to be an appetizer but just might have been my dinner last night. 

You might want to wait a minute before biting in to one straight off the baking sheet – no matter how amazing they smell. 

Trust me on that one.

Way healthier than deep fried frozen pizza rolls! 

Dessert was also amazing thanks to Janetha’s genius protein cheesecakes

I’ve been trying to cut down on the added sugar in my diet, and it’s tough when my mother makes her homemade cheesecake.  These did the trick for my craving!  I didn’t have graham crackers, so I made the based with dates and Kashi cereal – amazing!

On to business… I need some help!

Self Hosting for Dummies

Foodie Blog Roll, who I’ve been working with almost since I started my blog, decided that WordPress blogs won’t get credit for their impressions even when they show the non-script adds correctly (as my site has been for months).  It’s been extremely frustrating and their customer service has been terrible.

Secondly, not being self hosted really limits the things I can change and widgets I can add to my blog.

I tried switching to self hosting once before but found it incredibly overwhelming.  My domain is currently with iPage, so I plan to upgrade to their hosting package, but tried again last night and got frustrated (and frantically emailed Matt, sorry!) with a bunch of errors when trying to export/import my old posts into their WordPress plug in.

If anyone has a comprehensive, “switching to self hosting for dummies” resource, I’d really appreciate you sharing it! 

Pain in the Knee

Secondly, my knee has been killing me since my surprisingly easy long run last week.  From my research I think it’s “runners knee”, but the soreness that I get from sitting all day long is almost unbearable.  I’ve been trying to rest it (and only doing upper body exercises this week), but now that the rest doesn’t seem to be helping (for more than a week), I’m thinking maybe I need to just use it and get past it?

It’s so frustrating because I want to start training for the half marathon next week.

I’m trying to avoid seeing a specialist since they never fixed my ankle injury.  I’m wearing a brace today but it doesn’t seem to be helping too much – and the other muscles in my leg (above and below the knee cap) are becoming affected.  Any runners have advice for me?

On a happy note…

I’m so thrilled to have won Laura’s vegetable cookie giveaway!  Cookie Underground is such a great concept (and their website has drool worthy photos).  Can’t wait to try them and share my opinion with you all!

Stay tuned for another giveaway from my FAVORITE yogurt company… the life changing new flavors might just be involved. ;)

Brownie Batter Yogurt

Good morning! 

For everyone who has never heard of a Shamrock Shake, they’re apparently on their way to a McDonald’s near you.  But don’t bother, just make my lightened up version instead. :)

My morning has already been great – I woke up starving so actually ate a light meal before leaving the house (I usually bring breakfast to work). 

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TJ’s low carb tortilla, 2 egg whites, avocado (perfectly ripe), and reduced fat sharp cheddar.  Eggs and avocado are a match made in heaven.

I knew this would only last me a couple of hours, so I got creative with a yogurt based snack for before lunch.

  • 6 oz plain greek yogurt (Chobani)
  • 4 drops vanilla stevia
  • 2 Tbsp Almond Meal
  • 1 Tbsp dark chocolate cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbsp almond milk

After mixing, I tasted it before adding strawberries – it was like a cross between raw brownie batter, chocolate cheesecake, and the most decadent chocolate mousse I’ve ever tasted.

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Approximate nutrition: 190 calories, 8 grams fat, 22 grams protein

I can’t wait to dig in to this!

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Happy Friday eve!

Veggies All Day Long

I love Jenn’s idea of focusing on veggies this month – and I absolutely did yesterday! Peas and CrayonsBreakfast #1: Lightened Up Shamrock ShakeVeggie count: 1 (spinach)

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Breakfast #2: A packet of Better Oats “Raw” (my favorite of all oatmeals), an organic pear, and coffee.

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Lunch: 1/2 package of Trader Joe’s brown rice California Roll. 

Veggie count: 2! (carrot/cucumber)

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Anyone else obsessive over the perfect balance of ginger and wasabi on each piece of sushi?

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Lunch, part 2: Plain Chobani yogurt & frozen berries (unfrozen after being the fridge all day)

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Midafternoon Snack: Baby carrots and hummus

Veggie count: 3 or 4 – if you count the beans in the hummus! ;)

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Dinner, out: Grilled portabella salad

Veggie count: 5-10!  Portabella, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, onions, mixed greens

Dessert, at home: Microwave pumpkin cake + green grapes

Veggie count: 10/11 (since it’s technically a fruit ;))!

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What was your veggie count yesterday? 

I’ll admit my veggie intake was unusually high!  I had about 4 servings of fruit, too.  How’d I do, Jenn?!

Restaurant Review – Lidia’s

I’m honestly surprised at how many people have never ever heard of a Shamrock Shake!  You can read more about them at Wikipedia here, see the frightening nutrition facts here (for a small!), or make my delicious minty-vanilla green monster version.

Have you ever had such terrrible service at a restaurant that you wouldn’t go back even if they have amazingly delicious food?

I’m sad to say that last Friday night was that kind of experience.  My family and I have been juggling a lot recently, so we made a point of picking a nice restaurant to all dine out together last Friday – my parents, my brother, my husband and I went to Lidia’s in Pittsburgh’s Strip District.

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Lidia’s Pittsburgh opened in 2001 after their success in two spots in New York City and one restaurant in Kansas City.  Lidia herself was a famous TV chef and the restaurant is famous for their homemade pasta. 

We started with a bottle of wine (which we ordered from the manager since our server was gone for 10+ minutes after handing us our menus).

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I’m always excited when the soup of the day is vegetarian – and this tuscan bean and fennel was right up my alley.  There was at least 2 cups of soup in this portion!

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I also sampled my mother’s arugla, beet, and walnut salad.  Simple and delicious.

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For my entree, I opted for the Primi Butternut Squash ravioli with almonds.  The server suggested increasing it to a dinner portion, but I knew it would be at least 6 ravioli – which is a serving in my book (and plenty after the filling soup).

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One of their coolest menu features is their pasta trio – three homemade pastas that change daily, which they serve tableside in unlimited amounts.  Here’s my husband’s first plate: penne with sweet sausage and broccoli rabe, goat cheese ravioli (OMG!), and tagliolini with fresh tomato basil sauce.

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In theory, this is an awesome choice for any pasta lover – he snuck me some extra raviolis and only ordered more of his favorites (the ravioli and tagliolini).  However, the tableside servers refilled plates at every table but ours – my mother and husband were still waiting while the rest of us had finished our meals.  :(

All of the pastas were delicious, but our server never offered us freshly grated cheese, either – something happening all over the dining room, but not at our table.

My brother ordered the lamb shank – disturbing to any vegetarian.

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Even more disturbing was that he ate the whole thing – practically licked the bone clean!

After speaking with the manager we were given a gift card (which barely covered the wine), but the whole experience was just miserable – it was almost as if we were intentionally ignored all night long, and not as “important” as the tables around us. 

My mother’s dinner came with dessert, which we opted to have wrapped to go since we had had enough.  When we got home, we opened it to see a 2 inch sliver of what looked like a tasty cake brownie – not at all what the menu described.  You’d like the disappointment would have ended at the restaurant!

Sorry, Lidia, your food is delicious, but your staff is sub-par.  I’ll stick to making my own pasta at home.

Have you ever had a bad enough experience to not give a restaurant a second chance?  Typically the food is most important factor, but our service was so bad that it wasn’t worth it!

Lightened Up – Healthy Shamrock Shake

Starting in high school and then in college, people would declare themselves obsessed with Shamrock shakes – they had to be the first to get their hands on one when they were released in February, and whined when they disappeared around Easter time.

I had some really troubled friends who decided mix them with vodka on St. Patrick’s day.  Eww.  By the way – you can now report your first sighting of the shakes.

I thought I’d beat them to the punch this year – and save them about 400 calories, 16 grams of sugar, and 9 grams of fat. You’re welcome.

I made two versions: one with ingredients that almost anyone could find at their supermarket, and one with more “blogger friendly” ingredients.  I hate when you have to go order something online to try a recipe – but they both taste pretty accurate.  No green food coloring needed (but you knew that already, right?).

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I bought the mint extract around Christmas time and then accidentally poured it in a batch of muffins.  That was a bad morning.

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Lightened Up Shamrock Shake (version 1)

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (about 1 cup, packed)
  • 5-6 almonds or cashews (I think salted cashews are best)
  • 1/4 of a single avocado (or 2 heaping Tbsp) * key to a creamy shake
  • 1 cup milk of choice (will change nutrition info)
  • artificial sweetener as desired (I used 5 drops stevia – you can sub 1 Tbsp powdered sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp mint extract (I don’t like them super-minty)
  • 3-4 ice cubes

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Approximate nutrition info: 175 calories, 9 grams fat, 11 grams sugar, 5 grams protein

Food Blogger Shamrock Shake (version 2)

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 2 handfuls of spinach (about 1 cup, packed)
  • 1.5 tsp nutritional yeast (I think salted cashews are best)
  • 1/4 of a single avocado (or 2 heaping Tbsp) * key to a creamy shake
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • artificial sweetener as desired (I used 5 drops stevia)
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp mint extract (I don’t like them super-minty)
  • 3-4 ice cubes
  • optional: pinch of xanthan gum to maintain creaminess

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Approximate nutrition: 160 calories, 6g fat, 11 g sugar, 6 g protein

You could definitely make this a meal with a scoop of vanilla protein powder.

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Are you obsessed with these green milkshakes?  Maybe we can use them to help introduce green monsters into the diets of the average American! ;)

Spaghetti Squash Caprese

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Sure, you could make this with real spaghetti.  But when spaghetti squash is so delicious and low in calories, why would you?

I had a spaghetti squash that I bought almost a week ago, plus remaining ingredients from my paninis earlier in the week.

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The squash cooks in the microwave for the same amount of time it takes to boil the noodles.  And there’s no pasta pot to clean!

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I added sautéed spinach, chopped roma tomatoes, and pesto, then warmed it all together in a skillet (this is only half the squash).

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If I still had ricotta I would have used that instead, but I substituted with cottage cheese – the protein and creaminess was perfect.

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High quality parmesan balanced out the cream cheese.

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The resulting mixture was placed back in the squash rind, topped with buffalo mozzarella (and a bit more pesto), then thrown into a hot oven for a few minutes.

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Spaghetti Squash Caprese

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cored and roasted (or microwaved)
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp + 2 tsp pesto, divided
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated parmesan
  • 2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese (or ricotta)
  • 2 oz buffalo mozzarella, thinly sliced
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Shred squash, using a fork – save the rind.
  3. In a large skillet, lightly sauté spinach until wilted; stir in tomatoes.
  4. Add shredded squash & 2 Tbsp pesto to spinach mixture.  Toss to coat evenly.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and basil.
  6. Carefully re-stuff the rinds with the squash mixture.
  7. Evenly distribue mozzarella slices on top of each half, then drizzle with remaining 2 tsp of pesto.
  8. Place directly on oven rack for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Serves 4 (as a side).  Approximate nutrition (per serving): 160 calories, 12 grams carbs, 9 grams fat, 9 grams protein
I’m already looking forward to have leftovers for lunch today.

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PS – Thank you so much for all of your opinions and advice on deciding whether or not to run the half marathon.  I’ll keep you posted. <3

What is your favorite way to eat spaghetti squash?  Feel free to link a recipe!

Thinking About It Thursday

Good morning!

Why had I never thought of mixing avocado into tuna salad?  Another great idea from the blogosphere.  It made a filling, healthy, deliciously creamy dinner last night.

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  • 1 can chunk light tuna (in water)
  • 1/4 avocado, mashed
  • 2 Tbsp plain Chobani
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp relish
  • 1/4 cup chopped tomatoes

Spread on Crisp n Light Wasa (20 calories a piece!), topped with low fat Cabot cheddar, and warmed.  Served with sweet potato “fries”, which cooked in only 15 minutes at 400 in the toaster oven.

So what am I thinking about this morning?

Pittsburgh Marathon Logo

If you’ve followed my blog since last Spring, you’d know I sustained an ankle injury running a 5k in April.  There was no identifiable “snap” or pain, but at the end of the race (when I stopped running) I could barely walk to the car.  After several tests (I opted out of the $2,000 MRI), the specialists never were able to diagnose it as a break or tendonitis, but I had to wear a walking boot for 3 months.

It was a very stressful summer since I was getting married in September and couldn’t walk in regular shoes, much less run or take a spin class (and of course chose a very form fitting wedding gown).  Even after the boot came off, it hurt to walk in heels or to do any high impact activity.

I’ve completed a few runs (maybe once or twice a month) since getting back from our honeymoon in October – taking it slow, stopping if I experienced too much pain.  Most recently, I completed 4.6 miles on Tuesday – it was a beautiful day and once I started I just felt great and didn’t stop. 

My ankle didn’t hurt, but my knees have been killing me for two days.

So many bloggers seem to run a half marathon (or whole marathon) every other weekend, but considering training for a half blows my mind.  The first time I considered running it (3 years ago), I got a tibial stress fracture.  It seems like I’m not meant to be a runner.

But my company is one of the marathon sponsors, which means I could run for free.  Not discounted, but FREE.  Many of my co-workers are running (some the whole, some the half), and I’d like to be a part of that experience.

I ordered new shoes, which will hopefully combat the knee pain from Tuesday.

I think I want to run a half marathon.  Even if I run/walk.  Even if I’m too embarrassed to share my time with all of you seasoned marthoners.

What do you think?

My husband doesn’t get it at all – he never wanted to run any distance.  My parents will say I’ll just injure myself again.

On another note, I had a very good thought for breakfast today - an oatmeal “pie crust” topped with my favorite black cherry yogurt (Chobani).

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  • 1/4 cup oats
  • 1 Tbsp almond butter
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 Tbsp almond milk

Mixed, microwaved, and brought to work.

Best desk breakfast of the week – protein packed cherry pie!

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To run or not to run?

 

Second Round WIAW

As I put together my weekly “day of eats” post, I realized almost everything was already mentioned on the blog – these foods were so delicious I just had to have them twice. ;)

Breakfast - 8 am, at work: Laura’s zucchini bread oats (I added too much liquid!)

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Ugly but delicious and healthy!

Lunch - 12 pm, at work (recycled photos): Broccoli and cauliflower soup [original recipe here], and 2 crustless quiche cups (the second batch), and a banana with peanut butter

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PM snack – blueberries, greek yogurt, and almond meal (new favorite thanks to Aubrey)

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Workout – 4.6 mile run with no ankle pain!  I had to get out and enjoy the crazy 58 degree weather we had yesterday.

Dinner - 7:30 pm, at home: I was seriously craving a caprese panini but didn’t feel like going to Panera.  My husband and I went to the grocery store and bought the necessary items to make them at home instead.

We also had my favorite roasted red pepper/tomato soup on the side (the cheap Aldi version).

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Dessert - More than one of these cookies [Gina's recipe here], and some of Mama Pea’s chocolate chips cookies (de-veganized) for my husband (I made them for him Monday night after he had a rough day).

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I was in a hurry while baking the cookies and melted the margarine in the microwave (I know, I know…) which in turn melted the mini chocolate chips once I stirred them in.  They ended up with a pretty swirled design, but less concentrated chocolate flavor.

Do you like leftovers or prefer to eat things only once? I’m frugal (read: cheap) and don’t like to waste food (especially delicious food), so I’m fine to eat the same thing a few days in a row!

Pumpkin Ricotta Pancakes (Low Fat)

I’m sorry it took so long to share these with you.  I’ve really been holding out.

Packed with whole grains, fiber, and protein (17 grams), these are an amazing weekend breakfast – and very rewarding after a tough morning workout.

I had leftover ricotta from making this creamy roasted red pepper pasta and these lemon ricotta muffins – but these are good enough to keep ricotta cheese on hand all the time.  I bet thinned out or whipped cream cheese would work here, too.

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup oat flour (or other flour)
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • pinch allspice
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin
  • stevia, to taste (I used 5 drops vanilla)
  • almond milk (as needed)
  • 2 Tbsp lite ricotta cheese (I used Micelli)
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients, and separately combine egg whites and pumpkin until well mixed.
  2. Add egg white and pumpkin mixture to dry ingredients, stirring just until combined – add almond milk (or other milk) as needed to thin batter to desired consistency.
  3. Scoop batter onto greased, heated griddle (I made 4 small pancakes).
  4. Immediately drop ricotta by 1/2 teaspoons on to top side of the cakes.  Cover with extra pancake batter (if desired).  Do not flip until you see bubbles forming – and only flip once for best results!

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 Approximate nutrition facts (entire recipe, no toppings): 300 calories, 4 grams of fat, 48 grams carbs, 17 grams protein(!)

Perfectly light and fluffy – the melted ricotta makes these a great balance of sweet and savory! 

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Pancakes are pretty much my definition of a weekend breakfast. 

By the way – Aldi still has pumpkin for 99 cents a can!  I think I need to buy another case to make sure I make it to November!

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