Chirpy Monday + Kardea Bar Review

July 12, 2010 § 19 Comments

Today is one of those Mondays where I am absolutely upbeat, chirpy, and perky. While my research advisor and my lab mate were feelin’ the Monday blue’s, I was full of energy! Which is kind of weird since I only got 7 hours of sleep last night. Maybe it was the kite-flying on Saturday that lifted my spirits for the week, or the ample amount of rest I got on Sunday. No matter what it was, it was one of the best Mondays I’ve ever had! If that’s even possible..haha. πŸ˜€

Wait a minute, I think I know why. Nothing like a fantabulous breakfast to start a Monday!

A blueberry Alternative Bagel with rasperry jam, cottage cheese, and sliced strawberries.

Brekkie also included half a mango (unpictured).

Well, apparently my swellin’ mood didn’t stop after breakfast, because Christmas came early this year!!! I went to pick up my present at the campus mailbox during my lunch break.

Nutrition Bar Lemon GingerNutrition Bar Cranberry Almond
Nutrition Bar Chai SpiceNutrition Bar Banana Nut

A few weeks back, Nancy from Kardea Nutrition offered to send me some samples of their Kardea Nutrition Bars. Of course I said yes! I was particularly inspired by the history behind the origins of Kardea.

From the website:

Rob Leighton founded Kardea as part of a personal mission to lower his own cholesterol.

At 47, Rob found himself moving from β€œborder line” high cholesterol to outright high cholesterol. Rob notes that β€œit was not simply a matter of what I ate. It was a matter of genetics. Without medication, my mom’s cholesterol had exceeded 400mg/dl, and she found herself in early clinical tests for one of today’s leading cholesterol lowering medication.”

β€œI was not ready to start down a pharmacological road.” Rob recalls. Bringing a love of culinary creations and a belief in the science of natural cholesterol management, Rob founded Kardea to create great tasting, natural foods that enable daily compliance to heart healthy therapeutic nutrition.

Mission statement:

Kardea enables and empowers people to manage their cholesterol naturally and nutritiously.

We celebrate living life well and living life naturally. We create and market the delicious natural foods, quality supplements and educational materials that allow each of us to better manage our cholesterol levels and improve our overall cardiovascular health.

We’re committed to a deep and honest understanding of the evolving science supporting natural cholesterol management. To that end, we will actively partner with and support research that furthers the understanding of the power of nutrition to actively improve cardiovascular health.

There are four flavors, as picture above:

  • Cranberry Almond — recalls the taste of an almond croissant
  • Banana Nut — warmth of the home baked banana bread
  • Chai Spice — as flavorful as the tea, suggestions of pumpkin pie
  • Lemon ginger — with the zing of a lemon square
I’m also absolutely digging the nutritional stats of these bars! At 150 calories, one bar contains 7g fiber, 7g protein, 1 g of plant sterols (helps reduce risk of heart disease).
Other facts:
  • 2.5 Weight Watcher Points
  • 1 Diabetic Starch Exchange
  • Low glycemic
  • Kosher-Certified
  • Vegan

So which one did I pick as my afternoon snack today?

Warmth of the home-baked banana bread…”

They definitely got that right! It was very bananalicious and I love the nutty crunch and flavors from the walnuts in there. You can even see the walnut bits! The bar was also very dense, moist, and chewy–all things that I like! I think it might have even been more filling than a Luna bar :-D.

Down side? It kind of had a weird aftertaste though. But the pro’s definitely win the con’s! Over the next three days I will be sampling the other three bars as my afternoon snack, and I’ll be reporting back to ya!

So with a bomb breakfast, free Kardea bars, what else was in store for this already awesome Monday?

Dinner.

I first saw this sweet-potato and black bean ravioli on Jenny’s blog, which she got from Caitlin’s blog. Caitlin boiled hers like a ravioli while Jenny baked hers to crispy wonton-like raviolis. I opted for the second method ’cause I was in a crunchy

mood πŸ™‚

I used one large sweet potato and about 1.5 cup of black beans. After skinning and cutting the potato into bite sizes, I popped them into the microwave to cook. I was “too lazy” to mash the potatoes and beans by hand, so I whipped out my handy-dandy food processor to do the job.

Here was where I strayed from the recipe. I seasoned the mash with some salt & pepper, about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, and this spice that my mom got awhile ago. I don’t remember what exactly it was, because I threw its original container away, but it’s red, a little spicy, and so good with veggies and whatnots.

Stuffed about one tablespoon-ful of the filling into a wonton wrapper and sealed with a little water. I got Dmitri to help me with this πŸ™‚

I baked ’em at 400 degrees for about 20 min till nice and brown.

Ta-daa! Topped with some fire-roasted tomato salsa and feta cheese.

Peek-a-boo!

This made alot! I think I ate about 7 of those and Dmitri about 12? We still had 7 left which I divided between the two of us to bring as lunch/snack for tomorrow. This recipe was no doubt worth the time.

Alright you lovely people, I’m off to devour some H2O melon! (yesyes, what a nerd I am)

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+ Have you ever had a Monday that was just impossibly good?

+ Okay, this is important (to me)! I’m planning on getting a new phone sometime in the near future. I was considering getting the new iPhone 4, but have also heard great things about the HTC Aria and the Spring EVO 4G. Any suggestions/advices/comments? Any of you using one of those three phones or have friends who own them?

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Today I… + EcoEd Thursdays

June 24, 2010 § 18 Comments

Today I…

…made a simple breakfast…

Cinnamon spice alternative bagels, smeared with raspberry preserves and PB2. Sliced nectarines and cottage cheese on the side.

…went into the lab for 2 hours and did some lab work…

…ate three EXTRA LARGE slices of San Biagio’s Veggie pizza…

…came home and took a siesta

…on the comfy couch and pillow.

Today I whipped up my virgin Janetha-inspired faux frosty…

…topped with the last of my raspberries :-(.

Today I did some reading…

(yawn)

MUCH better πŸ˜€

YESTERDAY I cooked up a batch of polenta and let cooled in a pan overnight.

Today I was calm in the kitchen, and cut them up into squares to make polenta gnocchi.

(Sprinkled with some nutritional yeast and baked at 350 degrees for ~ 25 minutes)

Meanwhile, I steamed a bunch of green beans in my rice cooker/steamer (hauled from TAIWAN!!!)…

and chopped up some SmartDogs.

I cooked some plump, meaty mushrooms in some vegetable broth and white wine vinegar

…threw in the Smartdogs

…then dumped in the last of my TJ’s basil marinara sauce.

(empty jar)

Of course, we can’t forget some parsley flakes and pepper

…and before you knew it, dinner was ready.

Still had some leftover slaw

From kitchen to table in less than 30 minutes. What a big difference it makes when you are calm in the kitchen.

Today I also made use of these sad-looking bananas

…and decided to transform them into Banana Oat Cookies.

Banana Oat Cookies
(adapted from Steph Chows)

You’ll need:

  • 3 large, ripe bananas (the browner the better!), well mashed (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup almond meal (almond slices + food processor for a few pulses) whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/3 cup flax seeds
  • 1/3 cup coconut, finely shredded & sweetened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup dried cherries or other dried fruit of your choice (I used craisins)

Destruction Constructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, wire rack on the top third of the oven.

Combine bananas, vanilla, and apple sauce in a large bowl and mix well.

In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients.

Add dry to wet. Mix till just combined.

Add in the sweet bits and mix.

Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet.

Bake 12-14 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack. Lay them out pretty and take pictures.

Today I devoured these cookies.

~~~

Today is…EcoEd Thursdays!!!

Okay I’m going to keep this one short since I still have some boring exhilarating readings to do. So sort of branching off from my last EcoEd post on plastic bags, today I am going to talk about Ziploc bags!

You use ’em, you love ’em. Don’t deny it, you probably have 5 boxes each of different assortments and sizes at home. It’s so convenient, from keeping veggies fresh to bringing it with your sandwich inside to work, to using them to keep your toiletries, loose coins, candies, cookies, chapsticks, lotions etc, in one place.

It’s okay, I use them all too often as well.

But one way to be more environmental-friendly with these cute, handy ziploc bags is to reuse them. I’d pack sliced apples to work one day, but I’ll wash and reuse them to pack other stuff for up to five times. They don’t break easily, as you can see. If I buy a box containing 50 sandwich-sized bags, I can subsist on this one box for up to a year.

Next time when you’re subconsciously tossing a “dirty” ziploc bags into the trash, consider the conditions of the bag and see if you can reuse them. Not only will you be reducing plastic waste on this planet, you’ll also be saving some moolah! πŸ˜€

~~~

Till Friday fellow blogsters!

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+ Complete the sentence: “Today I…”

Very raspberry

June 23, 2010 § 13 Comments

First of all, I’ve updated my Meet Me page. It’s newer, spankier, more thorough, more detailed, and you can learn more about me now! πŸ˜€

This week is one of those weeks when I just feel like I’m running out of steam. I felt like I was just dragging my body around the lab the whole day yesterday! Thankfully, tomorrow I decided to take a “reading day” off. Ever since I started this research thing back in May, I haven’t had the time to really sit down and read primary papers that might be of importance to my project. Tomorrow will be, simply put, “sit-on-my bum-all-day-and-read” day. I’m usually not one who likes to veg out all day, but I am actually looking forward to a day of resting my legs a bit.

What’s a foodie gotta do when he/she is running out of steam?

Cook and eat! (balanced out with exercise, of course)

Lately, I’ve been indulging in foods from all seasons.

From the summery raspberry concoctions…

Raspberry preserve + sliced fresh raspberries, and Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese wedge on cinnamon spice Alternative bagel.

Banana + PB wrap topped with raspberry ricotta sauce (raspberry preserve + fresh raspberries + a scoop of ricotta, simmered on low heat). Cottage cheese and more sauce, raspberries, and cinnamon for dippage.

To some fall flavors.

Homemade Greek yogurt with sliced bananas, Lauren's (Whole Wheat or Bust) pumpkin roasted chickpeas, homemade pumpkin butter, and more cinnamon!

Yum yum chickpeas!

While the boyfriend opted for some wintery cuisine.

Moroccan "Lamb" Stew cooked by the boyfriend. The "lamb" was replaced by TJ's Beefless strips. Served with whole wheat couscous, roasted broc & carrots.

my plate

What about spring? Maybe some cool slaw?

Tossed in Waldens Farm’s Raspberry viniagrette, more white vinegar, honey, and pepper.

Ate the slaw with a quesadilla made with TJ’s spicy hummus and nutritional yeast, pressed in La Tortilla’s 100-calorie wrap.

I definitely like their soft wraps the best. So soft and chewy! But alas, they are the most expensive, and only comes in 6 tortillas per package :-(.

~~~

Okay, so now that you’ve all been pumped with some food pictures, don’t mind me while I go on and whine about my problems lately.

Lately, I’ve been feeling stressed in the kitchen, usually before dinnertime. Mornings are my calmest times, where I can let my creativity flow as I scavenge for my victims in the fridge and pantry to make a delicious breakfast. Come dinnertime, I am cranky, impatient, and lacking creativity (at least for this week). I guess it’s the combination of long work days, coming home to a house that is “messy” (in my definition), a boyfriend that is clearly hungry, and trying to get dinner on the table as soon as possible.

Call me superstitious, spiritual, whatever, but I am a firm believer that good food is prepared with calm minds, gentle hands, and most of all, with love. That is why home-cooked meals outrank any 5-star restaurants dishes, because they are prepared in a household filled with love and happiness.

In yoga and Buddhism, there is a belief that one can taste the mindset of whoever prepared his/her meal when he/she prepared it. If the cook’s mind is disturbed, angry, upset, or frustrated at the time he or she prepares the meal, that same energy is transferred into the food, and whoever ate it will obtain that negative energy. On the other hand, if the cook is calm, grounded, and undisturbed, the positive energy will flow from the cook to the food to the eater.

Now, nobody wants bad energy flowing around do they?

But that’s what I’ve been this past week: a grumpy, grumpy old cook.

Stress definitely is not a good thing to bring into the kitchen. Everything will go wrong if you bring that monster in. I slightly burned one of the omelet on Monday because my mind was distracted. Today, I initially wanted to make some sort of sweet potato hummus quesadilla, but the sweet potato got burnt in the microwave while cooking, which almost set of the fire alarm. Almost.

As for the slaw, I initially wanted to go the creamy route, where I’d mix in some yogurt, honey, mustard, etc. But my creativity was blocked while my stress took over.

Trust me, it’s no fun to cook when your mind is everywhere but in the present–right there, in the kitchen, meditating on preparing your food.

You heard me right, it’s cooking meditation, ladies and gents, boys and girls.

It makes perfect sense, because when you’re preparing your food (in a calm mindset, of course), your breathing is steady, your mind is focused on what is in front of you, whether it be on the stove, the cutting board, mixing bowl, etc. It’s just you, your food, and your kitchen gadgets.

In order to avoid taking my stress with me into the kitchen, starting tomorrow I will take a deep breath, exhale slowly for 10 seconds, shed all thoughts and distractions from the day, before I step into the kitchen.

Stress, be GONE!!!

Because the kitchen is a sacred place where energy is transferred. Cherish it.

————————-

+ Have you been on a raspberry obsession like I have? How are you eating them? I eat them alone, simmered with preserve, or topped on yogurts or ice cream! πŸ˜€

+ How do you feel when you are in the kitchen in the morning? Noon? Evening? I am usually the calmest in the morning, because my mind is still free of the distractions that will come throughout the day. I am also usually the only person up at that time, so the house is really quiet.

Back to the basic + EcoEd Thursdays

June 17, 2010 § 9 Comments

I’m in a swell mood today, folks, mainly because I got to leave the lab at 5:15pm! It’s supposedly a 9-5 job, but somehow it turned out to be more like 9-6, sometimes 9-7, and one incident of 9-8:45.

Anyhooz, after yesterday’s divine eats for breakfast, my cravings did a 180 this morning and I went for the basics. Sometimes a simple breakfast can be as glorious, if not more, than an elaborate one.

A grapefruit. Hah, like that’s gonna keep me full for the next 4 (5? or maybe 6?) hours.

A toasted Ezekiel cinnamon-raisin English muffin, topped with PB2 and raspberry preserves. I cut up half of the grapefruit (hello! long time no EAT!) to go with some cottage cheese (topped with more raspberry preserves).

Oh, forgot about my daily Teeccino.

Taa-daa! Oohh and you can see the steam from my “coffee”! πŸ™‚

And of course, no mornings are complete without this face!

This was yummilicious, and surprisingly held me for the next 4.5 hours. I usually need a snack 2.5-3 hrs after my brekkie, especially this past week when I was always hungry. Was it high amounts of fiber, or the satiating all natural plant protein in the English muffin? Either way, I need to get some more Ezekiel stuff.

After reading Julie’s post last night, I was craving some fried eggs myself. I thought, why not incorporate it into lunch tomorrow? And a bagelwich was born, created by cinnamon spice alternative bagels, arugula, basil, Laughing Cow Light French Onion Cheese,Β  a fried egg, and a squirt of ketchup. Who would have thought fresh basil tastes oh-so-good in a sandwich? Especially with cheese & egg? I did not provide a picture here because 1)I forgot to snap some shots of it when I finished making them last night, and 2) they were already in the most unpresentable, unphotogenic (is that a word?) state when I opened my sandwich package. But I believe you’re all creative people, so use your imaginations πŸ™‚

I was excited about getting off from work early today, but was more excited about the dinner I’ve been daydreaming about while in lab (I am certainly not a model scientist!). I bathed some gigantic portabello mushrooms last night in balsamic and olive oil, but wasn’t sure where to go from there. A burger? A salad? Burger? Salad?

Salad.

Mainly because I enjoyed the Portabello Cobb Salad so much that I wanted to recreate it. So after work I stepped on the gas and accelerated home (within speed limit of course! :-)), chopped up veggies, did some sizzlin’, roastin’, seasonin’, and dinner was on the table.

The salad menu: arugula, tomatoes, chopped celery, roasted eggplants, roasted zucchini, roasted red peppers, sauteed onions, chopped hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and of course the star, portabello mushrooms. I dressed the salad in some salt + pepper, and doused it with more balsamic + olive oil combo.

I realized the salad wasn’t picture-perfect, i.e., the ingredients were not placed in a “pretty” manner. I just kind of threw all the veggies onto the plate one after the other. At least it’s presentable right? πŸ™‚

~~~

So I’ve been dreaming about this idea for a couple of weeks now: EcoEd Thursdays. I grew up in a fairly environmentally-conscious country and family, and ever since my becoming a yoga enthusiast 4 years ago and a vegetarian almost 2 years ago, my awareness for the environment has jumped up several notches.

Despite the fact that all who are hanging out in the food blog community are die-hard foodies and will probably never get bored of reading, writing, dreaming about food, I feel like blogs still need some variety. Hopefully, I’ll have enough topics racked up in my brain to keep y’all entertained for a good while.

So, without further adieu, the first post of EcoEd Thursdays……(drum roll)……

PLASTIC BAGS VS TOTE BAGS!

If there are any patriots out there, please do not be offended by what I have to say next. But for a “developed country,” the United States does the most horrible job at raising awareness for recycling. Look at your local grocery stores, they put 3 items in a flimsy plastic bag and call that “packed.” It’s no surprise that a regular weekly grocery run would end you up with 10 more plastic bags.


And what do your average Americans do to these bags? Directly. into. the. trash. No second thoughts about how they might possibly be able to reuse them for their next store run, or at least recycle.

Taiwan, on the other hand, sets great examples in my opinion. What’s Taiwan compared to the great United States of America? A measly island that nobody cares about (I get the “Is it part of Thailand?” wayyyy too much). And if they do care, it’s always about China vs. Taiwan. Or the same old argument saying that Taiwan is part of China. Sorry, getting off topic.

Back to the business about plastic bags, in Taiwan you have to buy plastic bags if you go to the store. This encourages people to bring their own reusable bags or tote bags. However, unlike the flimsy plastic bags that can’t even hold the smallest weight in the gym without tearing up, the plastic bags in Taiwan are made out of some durable stuff! Heck, you can put 5 bottles of 1-liter sodas and you’ll still be fine.

According to this website:

  • The U.S. goes through 100 billion plastic shopping bags annually, which requires approximately 12 million barrels of oil to make that many plastic bags
  • Plastic bags cause over 100,000 sea turtle and other marine animal deaths every year when animals mistake them for food
  • The average family accumulates 60 plastic bags in only four trips to the grocery store
  • Each high quality reusable bag you use has the potential to eliminate an average of 1,000 plastic bags over its lifetime. The bag will pay for itself if your grocery store offers a $.05 or $.10 credit per bag for bringing your own bags

So next time you hit up the store, remember to bring your own reusable or tote bags! Even when I go clothes shopping, I carry my own tote bags and just ask them to put the clothes in there. Think of how many lives you’ll be saving, especially now that the numbers of marine animals are plummeting due to the oil spill. What a tragedy 😦

~~~

That concludes my first EcoEd post. I don’t really have a detailed route as to what direction these posts will go, but I am open to any suggestions you guys have!

I am outz! TGIF tomorrow! πŸ˜€

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+ What’s your favorite “basic” breakfast?

Loving ’em strawberries & chocolate!

May 24, 2010 § 2 Comments

Boo-yaw!

Like the new layout? I kind of got sick of looking at blue, blue, and more blue, so I decided to change it up a little. Don’t say that I didn’t warn you, I get sick of desktop wallpapers, gmail templates, the likes pretty quickly. So, you’ll probably see my page changing now and then πŸ˜‰

Where should I start? How about breakfast this morning? I had yet another fab breakfast this morning, featuring strawberries and more of April’s protein brownie batter.That thing is addicting I tell ya! GO, GO, GOOO try it out now! You’ll want to drizzle that chocolatey goodness on everything. I also had some on freshly sliced pineapples last night too. I actually add a splash of vanilla and a shake of cinnamon to mine.


Sweet cinnamon alternative bagel, toasted and smeared on one side with some sunbutter, layered with sliced & microwaved strawberries, completed with a drizzle of the protein brownie batter and 1-2 spoonfuls of yogurt.

The chocolate fudge and the yogurt was oozing out of my bagel–it was just heaven in my mouth and my tummy!

Gosh, I definitely loovvveee breakfasts. It’s easily my favorite meal out of the three. I mean, who doesn’t love oatmeals, bread, toasts, cereals, granolas, pastries, fruits, nuts, etc….this list goes on.

How about you?

+ What’s your favorite meal of the day? (Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack)

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