Not Your Everyday Football Fare

Any Saints fans out there?  Tonight was a big game for the “Bless You Boys" against the “dirty birds.”  And thankfully the New Orleans Saints pulled it together to get a W on the board against the Atlanta Falcons.

Earlier today Mom and I went to La Madeleine’s for lunch and she asked if I was planning football food on the dinner menu.  I desperately needed to cook my spaghetti squash that I purchased a few weeks back, so I wasn’t planning on typical game food, but more of a meal to go along with squash.  Just before the big game I asked Chris what he felt like eating for dinner with the squash and replied pork chops.  So on to the store I went to collect much needed staples and pork chops, which just so happened to be buy 1 get 1 free today.  Score!

Prior to running to pick up groceries, I turned on the oven and prepped the squash for roasting as previously done here roasting the whole squash.  I asked hub to stick it in the oven so it would be nearly done by the time I got back. 

Once home, I seasoned my center cut bone-in pork chops with salt and pepper and browned them in a pan sprayed with nonstick spray for 5 minutes on each side.  The chops were removed and I added a sliced green pepper, sliced onion, and a tad of water to the same pan used to cook chops stirring and scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  As the vegetables cooked sown I removed the seeded pulp from the squash and then scraped out the spaghetti strands to be added to the pepper and onion mixture.  Along with the veggies, I added about 3/4 cup of teriyaki sauce to the pan.  The chops were placed on top of the veggie mixture, covered, and  cooked on low for twenty minutes more to ensure they were cooked through. 

This meal came together on a whim and turned out great!

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The squash did not keep its natural yellow color; it absorbed the teriyaki brown color, but it was still tasty.  The dish reminded me much of braised cabbage and pork.  Chris said “dinner was great” and it reminded him of french onion soup. 

As for my earlier eats today, I started with oats—more because I wanted to use my new bowl and less of the fact that I had no banana or milk to put in it.

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So I stirred sweet potato pecan butter into my very plain oatmeal and topped it with Fage Greek Yogurt with Honey.  It turned out to be a satisfying, not very warm breakfast.

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Mom and I headed to the gym a while later for cardio.  I did 20 minutes on the killer of a stair stepper, 20 minutes on the arc trainer, and 10 minutes on the bicycle.  I finished with some stretching to try to relieve the pain in my lower back/tailbone area and left hip.

Mom and I then stopped for lunch at our usual.  I ordered the wild fields salad and a bowl of country potato soup with cheese and bacon, please.

salad

Spring mix with balsamic vinaigrette

soup

Totally.hit.the.spot.

I also had a few bites of Mom’s pasta salad and sandwich.

While waiting for dinner to cook I shared a piece of cheese with my German Shepherd, Niko.

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And during the game—no beer for me, just coffee…

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No nachos, wings, or burgers; just an apple.

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Late Night Planning

Although I am exhausted as it nears 9:00 p.m. each night, my morning goes so much smoother when I plan ahead.  Last night I took some time to prepare for today.

Overnight oats were prepared…breakfast check.

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Of what remains of an empty peanut butter jar, I made my Overnight Oats in a Jar.  The mixture included:

~1/3 c plain 0% greek yogurt

~1/3 c old fashioned oats

~1/3 c lowfat milk

~cinnamon

~1 ripe banana

~less than a tsp of honey

~less than tsp of peanut butter remnants (it looks like more, but it really isn’t much)

~small handful of granola added in the a.m.

All ingredients were mixed up in the jar and set in the fridge til morning.  This may very well be my favorite breakfast.  I had some hot  chai on the side.

DSC00741                                DSC00745 DSC00747 Salad was made…lunch check.

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Spring mix, grape tomatoes, celery, strawberries, reduced fat feta cheese with…

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Workout gear was packed…exercise check.

On my way home from work, I stopped at the gym for some cardio.  I started with 18 minutes on the bicycle until one of the ellipticals were available.  I then did 30 minutes on the elliptical machine.  To end today’s session, I did ten minutes of stretching and abdominal floor work including basic crunches, planks, leg lifts, and torso twists using the medicine ball.

Red beans simmered on the stovetop for three hours…dinner check.

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Thanks to hubby, the beans were reheated and the brown rice was cooked when I got home from the gym.  I measured out 2/3 cup of brown rice and topped it with a cup of the beans. 

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I did end up going back for a couple more spoonfuls of beans and rice.  They were delish!!

I’m in the mood for some sweetness so hot chocolate is in the making and a perfect accompaniment to this frigid winter night.  Good night!

N’awlins Tradition

Back to basic eating habits and back to work I went.  Today’s breakfast was light yet did the trick.  I fixed a yogurt bowl made of a sliced banana, 1/2 cup plain 0% greek yogurt, and less than 1/2 cup granola all drizzled with honey. 

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Hot, plain chai tea was sipped alongside my yogurt bowl as I leisurely read emails and blogs.  In the morning, I like to take some time to breathe before the start of the busy on-the-go day. 

Lunch was made this morning pretty hastily because I knew I would need any extra minutes to get to work this A.M. due to the rain causing traffic.

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Deli Turkey Breast, Laughing Cow Light Mozzerella and Sundried Tomato and Basil Cheese Wedge (I am trying to use this flavor up because I don’t particularly like the strong herbed flavored cheese), shredded lettuce, celery sticks for crunch and an apple for some sweetness.

Funny question came about during lounge talk; another teacher asked me what a good detox was since feasting on so many Thanksgiving treats and eats.  I recommended fruit and vegetables for their natural fibers and cleansing powers because that is all I “use” so to speak.  Do any of you reading recommend any detox methods to cleanse the system?

I had my mind set on making the traditional Monday food fare for dinner tonight—N’awlins style red beans.  So before leaving this morning I took out the frozen creole vegetable seasoning, pickled meat, and smoked sausage.  However, once I arrived home I realized I was missing one ingredient, the main ingredient—the Red Beans.  Hello!?! Can’t make red beans without the beans.  Luckily the husband worked a little late and called me on his way home, so he picked up a pound of dry red beans. 

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Now they are simmering on the stove top and I may have to have them tomorrow since I got a late start.  For the recipe I use check out the tradition behind red beans on Mondays in New Orleans on my recipe page or by clicking here.

While waiting for MY BEANS (I always think of the Blue Runner Beans Commercial whenever I say “my beans”) I had some snackage to hold me over.  Almonds, strawberries, and bread and butter.

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And for giggles, the bean commercial…

 

I now want to share one of our traditional Thanksgiving recipes that I made this year; mom has been making these for a while now.  When you are in the mood for cheesy, fattening, rich crawfish pie or dip that tastes delicious this recipe is for you.  Otherwise, stand back.

This recipe can be used as a dip on its own or filled into miniature pie shells that have been cooked according to package directions.  For Thanksgiving I doubled the recipe, but certainly did not need to for the 16 mini pies that I made.  I had a ton of the crawfish filling leftover and brought it over to a friend’s house for the depressing LSU game on Saturday.  There, it was eaten as a dip with tortilla chips.  Delish either way!

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Mom’s Cheesy Crawfish Dip/Pie Filling

1 stick butter, salted

1 chopped onion

1 rib celery, chopped

1/4 c green bell pepper, chopped

1- 10 ounce can diced Rotel Tomatoes with Green Chiles

1 can reduced sodium cream of mushroom soup

1- 8 ounce block of Velveeta cheese, cubed

1 pound crawfish tails, cooked and peeled (I used defrosted from frozen)

1/4 c scallions/green onions, chopped (shallots as mom calls ‘em, but scallions are needed)

miniature pie shells*

Melt butter over medium heat.  Saute’ onion, celery, and green peppers in butter until wilted.  Stir in canned tomatoes, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 30 minutes.  Next, add cream of mushroom soup, cheese, crawfish, and scallions.  Cook 20 minutes. 

*At this point you can enjoy as a dip with chips. If making pies, fill prebaked shells with filling.  Once pie shells are filled, bake in 350* oven until tops are set and golden about 25 minutes.

Enjoy!

Onset of Winter Brings Soup Craving

After seeing pictures of Lentil Soup on some other blogs since the turn of Fall, I have been wanting to make some of my own.  So several weeks ago I purchased a pound of Camellia’s dried lentils intending on simply following the recipe on back of the package for cooking the legumes.  They were stuck in my cabinet with little thought as to when they would be cooked.

I’ve grown up my entire life eating Camellia’s red beans, great northerners, black eye peas, but I do not [think] I have ever eaten lentils.  With the onset of the cooler weather this past weekend, I decided today was the day to conjure up some lentil soup of sorts in addition to using up some of the sweet potatoes from hubby’s garden.

After scrounging the Internet for a recipe after work today, I decided I did not have all of the ingredients needed for each of the recipes I found–including some items I’ve never cooked with like leeks and pancetta as well as some more common items like celery and carrots.  Alternatively, I decided to “wing it.”  The entire time I was a bit nervous as to how it would taste, but Chris and I both agreed it was flavorful and delicious. Okay, truthfully my husband said, “I love it! Are you going to tell them on your blog?  Make it a good one.” 🙂  He also mentioned it had a nice aftertaste and said it made the house smell good.  So here goes!

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Lentil, Sweet Potato, & Bacon Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. dried lentils, rinsed

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon minced garlic

4 slices of bacon

6-10 cups water (I used about 8 cups.)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon celery seed

Salt and Pepper

Optional toppings: hot sauce, gouda cheese, greek yogurt

Directions: In a large pot, brown bacon until cooked through; remove bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.  Drain out most of the bacon grease leaving approximately 1 tablespoon in pot to saute’ onions.  Add onion to pot and sauté for 5-8 minutes until tender.  Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.  Toss in sweet potato cubes, lentils, and 6 cups of water (add more throughout cooking time if necessary to make soup) and stir.  Season soup with curry powder through salt and pepper, to taste.  Bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on low for an hour, stirring occasionally.  Crumble bacon before serving soup.  Ladle soup into bowl and top with desired toppings and bacon pieces.

DSC00360 I ate a bowl of this with way too many of these.

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Crackers  + Brummel & Brown

The rest of today’s meals included:

Sweet Potato Pie + Greek Yogurt + Maple Syrup + Cinnamon for Breakfast.  And a mug of chai tea.

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Lunch was a Sandwich Thin topped with Laughing Cow Light Swiss, Bell Pepper, frozen cucumbers from my refrigerator, spring mix + apple and peanut butter + five Triscuit crackers.

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Surprisingly, my sammie was yummy with frozen, soggy cucumbers and all!

Now I have to go finish cleaning the kitchen and packing leftover soup to stick in the freezer.

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Good Night and Stay Warm! 😉

Winning Cherry Bells

I am not actually speaking of food when I say Cherry Bells.  But I did find a Cherry Bell Recipe you might find enjoyable.  I am referring to these kinds of Cherry Bells.

source

Yesterday evening, after a long day including a great workout with Mom and  a winning Saint’s game (Who Dat!!) Mom and I decided to go to a fair being held at my local elementary school.  Each October, they hold the annual Cochon de Lait (translated as pig in milk or suckling pig) where on Saturday Night they have a real pig roast and dinners are sold the following day.  The main purpose of the fair is as a fundraiser for the parochial (private Catholic) school.  They sell all kinds of fair foods, have game booths, and rides.  Additionally, a band plays each night for adult entertainment, though the kids enjoy it also. 

Mom and I started with some grub.  I ordered some jambalaya, seafood pasta and Mom got the pork po’boy. 

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I enjoyed the pasta more, but did not finish it all.  The jambalaya was a bit salty, but I ate all of the rice and left some of the meat including whole pieces of bacon and sausage.  I have never had bacon in jambalaya before; and it was not a welcomed addition in my opinion plus it was undercooked.  If I  am going to eat bacon it at least needs to be crispy.  I also prefer more of a Creole, red jambalaya opposed to a Cajun, brown jambalaya which they served.  After finishing our dinner, we found a spot near the stage to listen and dance to the local band called the Topcats.

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They put on quite the entertaining show playing songs from the 80s like Bon Jovi’s “Shot Through the Heart” and music from the 21st century including Lil Jon’s “Get Low.” 

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After listening to the band for a while, we headed over to the Cherry Bells Booth.  I put up $2 and Mom $5 for seven tickets.  We won $8 dollars from the seven cherry bells so we traded them in.  We then won $10 from the eight.  And then Mom split the ten cards evenly.  On my third card, I think I’ve never screamed and been more excited/shocked in my life.  I hit the big one.  FIVE HUNDRED DOLLARS!

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So I was led to a secret back room in the school rectory (church office) and given my money.  We headed back to the band for a little while longer before heading home.

Seriously, I have been on a lucky streak.  I also one $25 yesterday from the Saint’s pool I am on with my coworkers.  That was my fourth time winning the pool and out of 100 squares, you would think I wouldn’t be so lucky. 

As for today, I started with peanut butter and plum on a whole wheat English muffin sprinkled with cinnamon.

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Plus a side of Mango Black Tea.

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Lunch included a turkey wrap with baby spinach and smoked creole mustard.

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With a Yoplait Strawberry Greek Yogurt and a Banana.  I prefer Fage or Chobani over this greek yogurt.  It was more like regular yogurt with the pink and strawberry pieces distributed throughout.

After work I had a babybel cheese round on my way to the gym.

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Before starting my cardio, I grabbed a Tropical Sunrise Smoothie at the Cafe.  It was made with Orange Juice, Pineapple, milk powder, and protein powder.  It was cold and refreshing.

My cardio included thirty minutes on the elliptical, 20 minutes on the bike, and ten minutes of stretching and abs floor work.

Finally arriving home, I heated up some braised cabbage from the freezer and  cooked some brown rice. 

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Braised Cabbage + Pickle Meat—it looks quite mushy, but it was very tasty.

I added corn from the fridge to my bowl of rice and cabbage.  I left all but one small piece of pickle meat for the Hub.

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I also ate some leftover rotisserie chicken on the side.

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Most of this went to the dogs.  I ate my fair share as I was picking the bones waiting for the rice and cabbage to be ready.  I ate one wing and about half of a breast plus a few bites of dark meat.

I’m off to enjoy a few mini peanut butter cup chocolates Mom got me from Trader Joe’s in her first round of goodies from Chicago.

Question of the Night:  Have you had any good luck lately?  How so?

Working at the Car Wash

Initially I thought the title of the post would be “History of a Working Girl.”  However, I thought some may get the wrong message with a title like that. 

As I look back at my previous jobs prior to being a teacher, part time jobs that is, I recognize that each of those jobs aided in my living an unhealthy lifestyle through high school and college.

My first “job” as a freshman in high school was in sales—concession stand sales at a local playground.  Working in that environment where I was surrounded by candy bars, buttered popcorn,  hot dogs, french fries, and NACHOS among other things played largely into justifying my eating for sheer pleasure rather than as a needs to fuel my body.  I would eat as much calorific nachos and cheese and buttery popcorn and sugar laden sodas as I desired.

After a year or so of concession stands I moved up in the world.  Not very far.  The next year and a half was spent working in a snowball stand.  I must explain because otherwise you cannot know how detrimental working in a snowball stand could be to one’s health.

Snowballs are common hear in Louisiana especially during the summer months.  Snowballs are much like snowcones in other regions of the country, but they are much better and have a more addictive quality about them.   The ice is finely shaved almost like a powder of ice crystals.  The powdery ice is then covered in sugary flavored syrup made from sugar water.  That is not the worst part.  In addition to that syrup, one can get evaporated milk on top, condensed milk, whipped cream, soft serve ice cream stuffed in the middle of the snowball or a combination of two. 

Heading to the stand straight from school without anything else to eat, I often had a snowball for a snack, or two, or three, or four since I wouldn’t have dinner until after getting off at 9:00 at night.  This unhealthy habit led me to my highest weight in the 160s. 

Safari Car Wash logo.

Five years of working at the car wash as a cashier and being removed from food implied a fallacy that my unhealthy ways would fade away.  Contrarily, a different type of unhealthiness ensued.  I would sometimes work a ten hour shift only eating a bag of Ritz Cheese Bites from the vending machine with a Diet Dr. Pepper to wash it down since I was expected to eat at the counter without an official lunch break and opted out of scarfing down an entire meal while waiting on customers.  Eating a 200 calorie bag of crackers all day ended with a night of binge eating shoving one thing after another into my mouth until I was finally satisfied.  And if I did actually get a meal because two of us were working that shift and would cover each other, I often got what the other person got just because it was comforting and the socially appropriate choice in my eyes at the time.  There was never any consideration of portions or what a healthy alternative might be.

Currently, in my teaching position I get a lunch break, so no problems there.  I eat breakfast unlike in my past, and I cook dinner as much as possible.  When ordering out, I do try to choose healthy alternatives and try my hardest to not skip meals and eat a snack if feeling hungry.  I am certainly not perfect.  For instance, confessional–last night, late at night after I had already eaten dinner, I was shoveling Whopper Jrs. and onion rings in my mouth.  That was plural on the burger end. 

Why?  Because that is what my husband was eating and I was craving a hamburger and he bought me two, so after one I said I was done, but ended up eating the second just because for that moment I lost self-control and went with it.  Did I feel guilty? Yes.  Is it the end of the world?  No.  Did I make better choices today?  For the most part, I think so. 

On to today.

Breakfast—Pumpkin Yogurt Smoothie with Granola and Cinnamon Almonds.

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In the smoothie:

1/2 frozen banana

1/2 c greek yogurt

1/2 c canned pumpkin

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

pinch allspice

2-3 tbsp. fat free half and half

Sprinkle of flaxseed

All blended together.  Topped with 2 tbsp. cinnamon raison granola and five cinnamon almonds.

Enjoyed with Pumpkin Spice Coffee.

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Someone wanted a taste.

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That would be Maxwell, our cat.  I often forget he is a part of the family because he only meows if he needs food or needs to go out.  And when he comes in he meows the cutest sound of “hello, hello”  but sounds more like “heerrrrrroooowww.”

The gorgeous day began with some children’s football—my nephew’s team.

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And hanging with my twin nieces.

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After the game the in-laws, hub, and I went to Cherry Blossom for some sushi.

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California Roll + Salmon Avocado Roll + Salad + Miso Soup

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Plus I traded a few pieces of my salmon roll for Hub’s Philly Roll and one snowcrab.

Afternoon snackage included more cream cheese (guess I didn’t get enough of Hub’s) and pita chips.

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1/3 less fat onion and chive cream cheese + multigrain chips

Later on in the day I headed to my sister’s house to visit.  We ordered dinner from a cafe down the street.  I had the Veggie Wrap with fries.  The wrap contained a garden burger with black beans, salsa, cheddar, lettuce and tomato on a wheat wrap.

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I ate just about all of this minus a couple of fries and two bites of the wrap.  I wish the burger had been cooked slightly more, but it was tasty nonetheless.

All in all, it was a beautiful day spent with my beloved family.

Question of the Night:  Has any of your jobs ever influenced your eating habits—good, bad, or otherwise?  Please share.  

EFNEP

Today I had the opportunity to sit in on the Louisiana State University Ag Center’s Expanded Food & Nutrition Education  Program (EFNEP) Advisory Board meeting.  On Monday I was invited to be a part of this leadership committee for the Parish of Jefferson.  I, only being a teacher, felt somewhat out of place sitting in on a meeting with Vice Presidents and Executives of local business entities.  However, I enjoyed being included. 

The program’s purpose is to disseminate information to parents and teens as it relates to health and nutrition in making the best choices possible.  Karen Walker, Registered Dietician for LSU Ag Center, is designing the program for underprivileged teens in the area along with Bertina, representative of EFNEP; the meeting was held to gain some insight from community members regarding what we felt were the most important issues that should be targeted within their educational program.    After some discussions and input the top three topics were adolescent nutrition, childhood obesity, and parental support and involvement.  I look forward to hearing what comes of the program, how I can help, and participating in our follow up meeting to be held in January.

Due to my meeting today, I was able to sleep in and to capture my breakfast in daylight hours.

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Greek Yogurt and Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffin mixed with two tablespoons of granola and half a fuji apple.

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The apple with the granola reminded me of a candied apple—so good!

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I even had time to brew some pumpkin spice coffee with fat free half & half and truvia.

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At the meeting I ate 1 mini zucchini muffin made by the RD.  She said she would email the recipe.

Lunch included leftovers from last night green beans and potatoes with pickle meat + creamed cauliflower.

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Plus some blueberry greek yogurt.

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I stayed late at work to catch up on some planning and paperwork, so I grabbed some pretzels out of the vending machine.

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When I arrived home, I found Mom bearing gifts.  She took another trip to Chicago and I babysat her dog.  So I got a jumbo sized Trader Joe’s insulated bag filled with treats and eats.

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I had to have one of the oatmeal raisin cookies—so soft and good for you!  I was in no mood to cook dinner tonight so I pulled a Caitlin and had a sweet potato topped with baked beans and steamed broccoli drizzled with teriyaki sauce (which was too gingery). 

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As for the potato and beans, Caitlin was right; it is a winning combination! 🙂

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Question of the Night: Which of these topics seems most important to you?

*Adolescent Nutrition

*Childhood Obesity

*Teen Athletes

*Teen Pregnancy

*Putting Gardens in Schools

*Adult Nutrition

*Parental Support and Involvement