Homemade-Better Oats + Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

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Two work days down…only one to go before I get to enjoy some vacation time! Yay!

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Breakfast this morning was extra yummy thanks to two homemade ingredients.

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homemade almond butter

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and homemade granola.

I know it seems like a lot for so many homemade things to be in my eats, and two years ago I would have scoffed at myself like…really…WHO makes their own almond butter. But, I do. And it’s easy. You could do it too…promise.

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The almond butter and granola made the oats over the top.

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By the way, the chic-turquoise spoon really helped breakfast taste better, too. hehe

In today’s bowl of oatmeal:

  • extra-thick oats
  • milk
  • water
  • chia seeds
  • cocoa powder
  • banana
  • chocolate chips
  • coconut flakes
  • homemade granola
  • homemade almond butter

Nom!

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In other news, Bailey has figured out a new trick.

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He has mastered the art of finding the coziest, plushest, and most comfortable spot on any resting area. Note his body stretched across two pillows and one blanket. Nice, dog…nice.

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Hubby picked up Which Wich for lunch for us, but I added some cooked veg to complete our meal – steamed cabbage and baby carrots.

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Pickles.

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Plus a WW chicken sandwich, BBQ sandwich, lettuce, pepperoncini.

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The boys are liking the new couch.

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Oh and I have a new dough ball flavor for you!

Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Balls

Inspired by Annie the Baker

*Be sure to check out the original – chocolate chip dough balls – click for recipe*

*Update – I’ve made a new variation – Butterscotch Oatmeal Dough Balls! Click for the recipe*

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 stick butter, softened/room-temp
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 egg (or flaxseed-egg)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 cup toffee chips (I used Heath)
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix sugars and butter till creamy. (I used a handheld mixer, but you could probably just use a whisk). Add egg and vanilla and mix till combined.
  4. Mix wet into the dry. Note: it will appear there is not enough liquid for the amount of dry ingredients, but continue mixing. It will form into a dough, it will just be a firm dough. See tips above for combining. Careful to not overmix.
  5. Gently fold toffee and chocolate chips into the dough, without overmixing.
  6. Refrigerate dough for at least 20 minutes before using a small sorbet scoop to scoop out dough into small mounds. Roll each mound into a ball and spread evenly on a baking sheet, leaving roughly 2-3 inches between each ball.
  7. Bake balls for 10-14 minutes, depending on how set you want your centers. If you use egg, and you’re paranoid like me, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure the centers of the balls are at least 160 degrees F, which many web sites say is the safe temp to eat eggs.
  8. Let your dough balls rest on the baking sheet to cool at least 5-10 minutes.
  9. Enjoy!

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Oh yes! Another tasty dough ball flavor comin atcha! Booyah!

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I brought a couple dough balls to Zumba tonight. Gina and Jane thoroughly enjoyed them. :)

Btw, zumba class was awesome! I’m now on 3 days in a row! I’m not teaching this week, but I do still go to classes of other instructors. I helped lead Aaja Soniye and Alright. Alright is one of my new faves. It’s a hot Pitbull track and I highly recommend downloading it because it’s F-U-N!!! I just wish I could show you our dance to the song.

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On my way home from class, I swung by Pasta & Provisions to get some fresh spaghetti.

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Oh and some of their famous rosemary foccacia.

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Hubby and I did a simple spaghetti dinner tonight.

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Is anything better than fresh pasta?

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Maybe dough balls? ;)

One more work day and it’s turkey time! I’m also looking forward to spending some time with family and hopefully picking up some of my unfinished crochet and knitting projects. I’m oh-so-good at starting them and not-so-good at finishing them. lol

Are you traveling for Thanksgiving? Where are you going or how far away from home?

Work Chic: Let the Office Be Your Kitchen

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Over time, I’ve started keeping a few essential food-related items at my desk at work to make myself more comfortable.

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My essential kitchen items to keep at work list includes:

  • A ceramic bowl
  • A ceramic mug
  • A ceramic plate
  • Pretty napkins
  • A personal sponge

Ceramic Plateware

So…why all the ceramic? Well, if you’ve ever tried to microwave food at the office, you may have had a tupperware or two melt on you, depending on how long you were trying to heat said food item. There are some things you just can’t heat up in plastic. Beyond that, I’m trying to move away from plastics in general. I feel like when I heat food up in plastic that poisonous chemicals are slowly leaching into my food. Not sure if that’s real or not, but if you’re not sold, read the first reason of this paragraph.

And why not paper plates or other disposable items? I think it’s more eco-friendly and cost-effective to simply re-use plateware.

Currently, I am using disposable forks, knives, and spoons, but I would like to get a set that I can keep at the office and re-use.

Additionally, I brought in some of my favorites for my work-plateware. I mean…you have to look at your plates etc at work than you probably do at home, so they may as well be something you enjoy seeing and using. I brought in items that were colorful and pretty.

Pretty Napkins

This is the same reason I have the pretty napkins. On most days, I use whatever paper napkins I’ve collected from getting food out, but the pretty ones are nice to have when you want to use them.

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Personal Sponge

Ok, and so what’s up with the sponge you ask? If you’re going to keep re-usable plates at your desk, you’re going to need a way to clean them. Sure some places have a sponge in the kitchen, but…Well, have you ever seen the community sponge at the office? You know, the one that is multiple colors, has remnants of someone else’s food on it, and smells funky? Yea…there’s no possile way I’m using that one. I’ve seen offices with clean-looking sponges, but as a germiphobe, I have a hard time using something that has been used to clean things that have touched half the office’s mouths. Ew. I keep my own little sponge in a cup at my desk so I know exactly how clean it is and where it’s been used.

Be sure to check out my other Work Chic Post: Best Healthy Snacks to Keep at the Office  and stay on the look out for more office tips coming your way soon. :)

***

After my fabulous oatmeal-on-the-go breakfast, I moved on to a new twist on stir-fries…

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How’s about stir-fries with a new healthy addition – sea vegetables!

I learned from my acupuncture appointment that most Americans are deficient in iodine, which sea vegetables are high in. I think I’d heard this before from reading random news articles…and I’d heard that in general, they were good to eat, so I’ve been adding them to my pantry. I currently have: nori, wakame, and now dulse in my pantry.

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I first learned about dulse from Brendan Brazier. The ingredient is commonly found throughout his book Thrive. I ended up picking some up with a health food store groupon and have been wondering how to use it.

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I like to find easy ways to incorporate healthy foods into things I already eat (like sprinkling nutritional yeast on steamed veggies or salads). So, on Wednesday, I figured…what the heck, why not toss some into my lunch time noodle stir fry?

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In my stir fry, I have: tofu, edamame, udon noodles, soy sauce, chicken broth, sesame seeds, and of course…dulse.

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The dulse added an interesting flavor to the stir fry, but nothing bad. Just different. I think I’ll have to keep up this new habit in future versions.

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Hubby also brought home this giant churro from Costco. It was truly huge.

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So large, this sweet tooth fan and churro fanatic couldn’t finish it.

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After work, hubby and I went out to run errands and stopped by IKEA.

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We decided to just go ahead and eat dinner there. He had the pasta combo and I had the veggie soup, which I think is pretty good.

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And what meal wouldn’t be complete without an IKEA cinnamon roll. It wasn’t nearly as good as the one I had last time, and I only ended up eating about 3/4 of it. I think I’m losing my sweet tooth touch. First the churro, then the cinnamon roll. Whoa! lol But, I wasn’t going to force myself to finish eating something when I was already full either.

We also stopped by Crate and Barrel and I got some fab goodies that I can’t wait to share!

Do you keep any kitchen items at work?

Black and Red Halloween Eats

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When it comes to Halloween eats, I usually prefer trick over treat. That is, I prefer to style things (food, decor, etc.) on the scary side vs the funny. Instead of going more the classic orange and white (the colors of pumpkins and ghosts), I like to go black and red…the colors of night and blood. Bwa hahaha. But I don’t like to go off the deep end. No, no Rob Zombie stuff here…that’s too extreme for me. I prefer to go for scary sophisticate a la Martha Stewart, as evidenced by Foodie Halloween party yesterday.

I didn’t get as scary with the eats at yesterday’s party as I like to, but there’s still time to celebrate Halloween!

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Here’s a good example of a black and red food combo that is a bit nerve-wracking at the looks, but delicious to the taste buds.

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I served some of the leftover meatballs and tomato sauce from the party over some black spaghetti.

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Your imagination can run wild with dark names for this dish, but it’s really just spaghetti and meatballs.

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The pasta is colored with squid ink.

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My total feast was not so scary looking as the individual dish. Had I served this at a dinner party, I’d try to make the sides more scary-themed, too.

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And don’t look now but a particular creepy-crawly has it’s beady little eyes on you.

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Another fine black and red color combo here.

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These spider cupcakes almost look like they could jump off the table at you!

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In fact…there were a lot more of these guys yesterday. Wherever could they have all run off to? Hmm…

What are your favorite Halloween color combos?

Cozy Chicken Noodle Soup

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It was humid and rainy here, so I thought the weather called for cozy food.

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First up – OATMEAL! Plus nice, hot coffee, of course.

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Pre-cooking:

  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tsp chia seeds

Cook stove top till thickened.

Post-cooking:

  • handful of blueberries, stirred in at end
  • flaxseed on top
  • sliced almonds on top
  • cacao nibs on top (so glad to have these back in the rotation!)

Remember you can get cacao nibs (or anything else in my OpenSky shop) either 20% off or with free shipping with these codes (july20pct or julyfreeship) in my OpenSky shop. Click here for details.

Lunch was sort of random.

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Chips and salsa

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Giant salad:

  • baby spinach/lettuce mix
  • organic celery
  • organic red bell pepper
  • organic baby carrots
  • farmers market cucumber
  • sunflower seeds
  • TJ’s balsamic

I got stuck in meetings and didn’t get to the rest of my lunch till 4pm. Luckily (or not so luckily), I had a 5-6pm meeting. So, I used my snack tide me over till dinner.

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My snack was related to a recent package I got – Barney Butter!!!! Yes! Barney Butter sent me some individual packages of almond butter for me to enjoy! Woohoo! :)

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Yep…Barney Butter + Whole Grain Goodness = fabulous-o snack!

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I toasted the bread and spread the BB on top. Love the way the heat makes it nice and gooey.

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And for a little something sweet – organic cherries!

***

No workouts for me today. I worked out Sunday, twice on Monday and taught zumba on Tuesday. I think it’s time for a rest day. :)

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Like I mentioned before, I’m still working on cooking more recipes from my cook books, starting with the 3 Ina Garten cookbooks my mom got me recently.

Since declaring my desire to try some of Ina’s recipes, I’ve already made one recipe – Ina’s Strawberry Country Cake – a real winner!

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One of the recipes I selected was Ina Garten’s chicken noodle soup.

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I used parsley from my garden in my soup.

And to save time, I roasted extra chicken breasts when I made dinner last night and used the leftover chicken to make tonight’s soup!

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I adapted Ina’s recipe because I like sauteing my veggies and I wanted to add onion.

Chicken Noodle Soup

Adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe from her book Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole (2 split) chicken breast, bone in, skin on
  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • dash garlic powder
  • dash dried rosemary
  • 2 quarts Chicken Stock
  • 1 tbsp EVOO
  • 1/2 large onion chopped
  • 1 cup medium-diced celery (2 stalks)
  • 1 cup medium-diced carrots (7-9 baby carrots)
  • 2 cups wide egg noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Drizzle chicken with EVOO and rub into skin. Top chicken lightly with dashes of salt, pepper, garlic powder and rosemary. Roast 35-40 minutes (you may need to cook longer if the chicken breasts are really big). Set aside to cool. Note: You can also cook the chicken the night before like I did this week – cook extra for dinner one night and more for the soup – use the leftover meat for the soup.
  2. When the chicken is cool enough to touch, remove meat from bones and skin and pull into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  3. Heat a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrots and cook till onions translucent – about 3-5 minutes.
  4. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil.
  5. Add egg noodles and reduce to simmer. Simmer for 9-10 minutes or until pasta cooked al dente.
  6. Add chicken and parsley and cook to warm through.
  7. Serve with crusty bread.

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Very easy and tasty!

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Hubby and I enjoyed our soup with Great Harvest Whole Grain Goodness toast and a dab of real butter (his had a lil extra butter).

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Hubby got his hair did today.

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And dessert – hubby picked up 3 mini cinnamon rolls from GH when he was getting bread. They aren’t nearly as good as one large cinnamon roll, which is what he was going to get me until the 2 ladies in front of him ordered the very last 2! Bah! I’m not mad – 3 cinnamon rolls in mini size are way better than none. And they’re pretty darn tasty on their own, too – just not as tender.

***

Remember I scored you guys some deals on my OpenSky shop (20% off Galaxy Granola anyone? What about cacao nibs?) – click for details

And check out my latest recipe – marinated kale! Nommm

Do you like to eat anything in particular when it rains? I always seem to think comfort food – oatmeal, soup, casseroles, cobblers…you?

Just Dance – Gonna Be Ok

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Happy Friday!

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My day is always brightened with my cozy coffee. Soooo warming and awakening. :)

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Hubby picked up bagels for our Bagel Day Friday. I haven’t been celebrating my bagel day as much as my Starbucks day – mostly because I’m trying to eat as much whole grain as possible and the local bagel shops don’t exactly make whole grain bagels. Why have a bleached-white bagel when I can have lovely whole grain toast?

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But sometimes you just want a bagel, ya know? We had ours with sloppy scrambled eggs. And my bagel of choice today was rosemary olive oil.

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I finally re-stocked on yerba mate tea at Trader Joe’s. Thank goodnes…I’ve been missing this stuff.

***

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I finally harvested some of the swiss chard that’s been growing in my garden for awhile now. I can’t believe how tall it’s gotten!

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Look at those bright stalks!

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I took off a few bright and beautiful stalks.

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Plus a couple of my tri-colored beans – purple, yellow, green! (uhh – think I need to plant a couple more green bean plants though) lol

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I whipped up a quick mac and cheese lunch using the Boursin cheese leftover from that fancy-schmancy dinner I made the other night.

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Boursin Mac and Cheese Non-Recipe

I was a little unsure how this would turn out as it was completely experimental. I boiled water for the pasta (about or under half a box of penne), then cooked the pasta (with salt) in the pot for 9 minutes, then added the swiss chard (cleaned and chopped) for the last 3, then green beans for the last 2.

For the sauce, I melted butter in a pan (about 1 tbsp), then added about 2 tbsp of flour and cooked for a minute. Then I whisked in about 1/2 – 3/4 cup of milk. Once that was combined, I added the rest of the Boursin (about half a container), which I whisked to combine. I was a little terrified the sauce was going to be a complete bust, but it turned out ok. phew!

I added the cooked pasta and veggies to the sauce mixed. Done and done.

You could probably sub out different veggies…or even forego the veggies totally (though I would at least have some on the side to complete your meal).

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Anywho, it turned out really great! I loved the garlic-y mac and cheese with the tender chard. Yum!

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Plus lightly-buttered nine grain toast.

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Bailey says “hey!” guys! :)

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Anywho, remember how I was all worried about my cheese sauce. Guess what came on TV later? Barefoot Contessa! And she made a cheese sauce for croque monsieur using nearly the same steps I did! With a different cheese though. Hey, maybe I’m not so bad at this making-up-recipes thing.

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Snack = 1/2 coffee cake scuffin

***

I had a really stressful day at work today. Add that to some additional stress and drama going on in my personal life and I wasn’t really feeling a work out today. I went back and forth between whether or not to go to class. I felt really zapped of energy. Yet, at the same time, I knew that I would feel better after a workout.

Well, I decided to go!

As I was driving to class, Just Dance by Lady Gaga came on.


The chorus struck a chord with me. She said: “Just dance. Gonna be ok.” And I thought, you know what…zumba class tonight (dancing) is just what I need. I knew I made the right decision going for my workout. See, in zumba, I can let go and forget all my worries and for one lovely hour, I can do as Lady Gaga says – just dance. Without fail, I can go into zumba with the crummiest attitude or feeling totally down and by the end of class I feel …happy.

So…I went to class. I danced. And I know it’s all gonna be ok.

Very glad I went to class! :)

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Post-class, I had just-under-one-scoop of Vega Whole Health Optimizer in vanilla chai mixed with water. My current fave post-workout protein.

***

I had to rush home to shower and change to make it to a show.

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I had my other half of the coffee cake scuffin on my way.

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Can you guess the show from this photo?

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It’s Annie! I went to see the show with friends to support my friend’s daughter who was in the show.

Gosh just hearing the first few notes of the opening song made me feel so sentimental. I used to watch this movie all the time when I was a kiddo!

The sun’ll come up…toooomorroooooowwwwww!

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I got Dove’s autograph for when she’s famous. ;)

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Me and Dove – future movie star!

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After the show we all headed out to grab a quick dinner. I was disappointed Panera closed at 9pm because I was feeling one of their yummy soups, but Dean and Deluca came through.

I had a random assortment of food for my “dinner” – tomato basil soup and pita chips with hummus. I only finished about half of everything.

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Cheers!

What do you do to cheer yourself up after you’ve had a bad day or if you’re in a bad mood?

Cut Zumba Tank + Shrimp Pasta

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Thank goodness for being able to WFH. I took the opportunity to stay home today.

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I love how WFH lets me enjoy HOT meals!

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Oven-reheated Applesauce (Cranberry) Oat muffins.

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Plus a fried cage free egg.

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The return of Fresh Market Breakfast Blend! Hubby got more the other day…hoorah!

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I also get to enjoy all the hot tea I can stand. Yerba Mate first up.

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Dinner was thanks to the freezer,

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my herb garden, and my farmer’s market find from the weekend.

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Organic Sunshine burger, plus mayo and fresh dill from my garden.

I wanted to make a yogurt or tahini sauce, but since I had neither, I worked with what I had on hand – canola mayo.

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Yay greens!

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More hot tea – mate vana + rooibos caramel.

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Sleepy puppy!

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I got to use my mini handmade bowl! Galaxy Granola + vanilla rice milk.

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I broke into those new bar samples I got the other day by Lighter Living. First flavor of choice – CHOCOLATE!

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Pretty good ingredient list though Mr. Pollan wouldn’t agree. Way more than 5 ingredients and a 5th grader wouldn’t know a lot of them. Ups for organic and natural ingredients – and dates are #1! That may possibly make them a good pre-workout option.

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I really liked the bar. It had a nice brownie-like texture and taste. In fact, the bar reminded me a lot of the PURE bars, which I also enjoy. I liked how the yogurt coating wasn’t over-the-top thick or sweet unlike some bars. This one was a nice compliment instead of stealing the show.

If the others are as good as this one, you may be seeing these bars in my OpenSky shop soon!

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Post work, I did a quick DIY zumba top shirt by de-constructing a tank top I already had.

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The finished result. Psst…I followed this video tutorial – very easy!

I’m currently stalking the ZIN forum for old, used tanks that I can play with. I can’t stop cutting my tops! I. need. MORE!

One+ fabulous dance fitness workout! I’m pooped, but looking forward to more tomorrow already!

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I came home and cooked dinner in my PJs. Hubby was a great helper tonight. He had everything prepped by the time I got home!

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Mmm…pasta.

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Dinner was fab – served with focaccia (had 2 pieces) but something was missing – a veggie side! No salad, no sauteed veggies…nothing. Doh! I seriously need to get my arse to the grocery store! We have no fruits or veggies left! Some frozen veggies but ZERO frozen fruits. Gah!

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I had a mini Vega health optimizer shake with vanilla rice milk as a quick fix / band-aid. I don’t think anything can totally substitute real veggies, but this is probably the closest I could come without going to the grocery store.

Do you feel your meal is incomplete if something is missing? I used to think a meal wasn’t complete without meat but now I think it’s not complete with a veggie! :lol: You?

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