Hi! How are you? Is it hot where you are? Right now in Chicago it’s 82, or that’s what it said on the marquee on the bank while I was waiting for the bus outside of Trader Joe’s. Which brings me to the first thing I love…
1. Trader Joe’s. I love Trader Joe’s. Whole-heartedly. TJ is one of those things that my family and friends are really sick of hearing me talk about. I never really went to TJ until I moved to Chicago. Now, I go whenever I can- especially when I spend the day subbing (I sub at Coach’s school) because a) there is a TJ on the way to the train- imagine my delight- and there is nothing that helps me shake off a day of little people and their incessant questions like a little three buck Chuck and other miscellaneous treats. Today is my last day of spring break (I sub tomorrow. Kindergarten) so I decided to live it up by hopping on the bus and heading to my neighborhood TJ. I love every part of the process. I love picking out the interesting food, I love the atmosphere, I love being greeted by the fresh flowers when I walk in. I was on a mission to buy certain things today (more on that later) but I also stocked up on some treats such as beefless ground beef, Chai latte mix, and vanilla beans, which for some serendipitous reason are being sold in a two-pack for $3.99. These will very soon be turned into some of Skinnytaste’s vanilla sugar which was such a hit present at Christmas and hopefully some of Joy the Baker’s homemade vanilla extract. Joy, one of my number one food blogging Internet heroes, explains how to make this extract in her cookbook that is as beautiful and comforting as a bedtime story.
2. Women’s Health magazine. I believe I’ve mentioned it before. I really love Women’s Health. I get most of my health/beauty/style information from this source. I love the advice. I love WHM. Coach, who reads Men’s Health, also loves my WHM. In fact, many times when my latest issues come in the mail, Coach gets ahold of it before me. Most recently, I love WHM’s book, Look Better Naked. For me this is not at all about nakedness and totally about the fact that when I zip my wedding dress I can’t breathe. I think you have to be able to breathe to say vows and to thank people for coming to your wedding, so I need to do something about the size of my body. Specifically my midsection. While my new Spanx should come in the mail soon, I’m also taking the opportunity to learn the plan put together by some of the wonderful people at WHM for eating, exercise, and other things such as how to make my skin prettier. The book came in the mail (finally!) yesterday. I got up to the 6-week meal plan, which is why I bought the following at TJ: Brussels sprouts, flaxseed, tofu, artichoke hearts, and frozen boneless, skinless chicken breasts. So far, I am completely intimidated by the plan (why does effective exercise have to hurt? I like my easy hour on the elliptical watching Criminal Minds reruns!) and totally excited about it. Reading the meals made me hungry- they sound really good. If you are looking for a plan to help you eat right and get in shape, I would totally recommend it. LBN is developed by trained people who know what they’re talking about, and focuses on health- not just results.
3. Vegetarian meat options. I’m not a vegetarian, although I think I could be a really good one. What I am is someone who is watching her calorie and fat intake (see above). I especially love the Morningstar chipotle black bean burgers (stay tuned for something delicious to do with these burgers) and their breakfast sausage patties. In my freezer now I also have Morningstar chickenless chicken nuggets, which I thought I was going to have for dinner tonight with Frank’s Red Hot and blue cheese dressing, until I thought of a better idea based on my new LBN book (if it’s good, I’ll post about it!). In my fridge I have tofu, as mentioned, and beefless ground beef, as mentioned. You might remember that awhile ago, I made homemade meat sauce. And when I saw how many calories were in that serving of ground beef, my brain exploded. Totally, totally not worth it! Unfortunately, Coach believes that ground turkey is totally, totally not worth it. Which means we are at a taco impasse, and I need tacos in my life. Which means I make them for lunch, with my meatless meat. I think you should give meatless meat a try, if you haven’t. There are so many reasons to cut down on our meat intake, and so many delicious ways to try!
4. My Vitamix. When we first bought the Vitamix, I was afraid of it. It is a high-powered, expensive kitchen appliance. I read the books cover-to-cover (I do not believe I have ever done that before). I started using it very slowly, like in the tomato sauce, and a smoothie here and there. But now, I am on Vitamix fire! The smoothies are so delicious. What an easy and tasty way to get fruits, veggies, fiber, and protein into my diet. I’ve been making Coach smoothies for breakfast every day with strawberries, bananas, vanilla soymilk, and vanilla whey protein powder. Since I can sit down and eat (and to be honest, I’m not a huge fan of the frothy effect of the milk + protein powder on the smoothie), I make an egg and toast or PB and toast and a smoothie of just fruit and carrot juice. It is delicious and wonderful and perfect to drink while making my a.m. Internet rounds.
5.Tom’s wedges. I can’t lie- I just ordered two pairs of these bad boys. The Lina pair (l-o-v-e) and the gray pair. I’ve never been a full-time heel wearer, you know? I like heels a lot in theory. I like to be fancy, in theory. I also travel by walking, especially now in Chicago, which means if I want to wear heels, I either carry a big bag with extra shoes or I have sore feet. But, I discovered something amazing this past Saturday- you look SKINNIER in heels! Who KNEW?! Not me! I do now though, and I also needed to add some footwear to my summer collection. I’m adding to my trosseau, after all. I couldn’t decide which pair- crazy and fun or sensible which will match everything? It was Coach who was finally like, “why don’t we just order both? It’s not like you won’t wear them.” SO I DID. And I’m so excited. They are so cute and have great reviews. I’ll be long and lean looking all summer long! Stay tuned for Instagram pictures and my own reviews.
Have a great Friday tomorrow and a great weekend! I hope the weather is good where you are. Check out the blog in the next couple of days for some fun with meatless meat and LBN-inspired recipes.