Friday, March 26, 2010

A Sublime Meetup

I do love meetups!  In the more than (gulp) 15 years since I have been using the internet I have had the occasion to make and meet many great friends online!

I have one group I met online at least 12 years ago, most of whom live in my city.   After getting together many many years ago we became fast friends and while we don’t get together often enough, we do try for at least once a year…and still keep in touch regularly online.  

I also recently had a fun meetup with some other local Miami healthy living bloggers…meeting people for the first time you feel you “know” because you have been friends online or at least following them online is so much fun!

So recently when one of my favorite bloggers, Angela from Oh She Glows announced she was coming to Florida, and was going to have some blogger meetups I was seriously excited!

Since she was coming to Ft. Lauderdale, not Miami, it was going to be a bit of a drive for me.  She wanted to meet at Sublime, THE vegan restaurant to go to in South Florida, taking my excitement level up another notch…I had been looking for an excuse to drive all the way to Ft. Lauderdale to try Sublime for a while!

I emailed her and offered to make the reservation for our group…when she emailed me back and told me to go ahead, she had me make the reservation for 15 people…meaning I would also get to meet 7 other South Florida bloggers!  This was getting better and better!

After going back and forth a bit with the restaurant and the party size, they told me our large party would be at two tables side by side in the back of the restaurant.

Wednesday night I piled my family into the car (we usually come as a package deal!) and up to Ft. Lauderdale we drove.

Our reservations were for 8 p.m., but because we had such a long drive and knew were going to be hitting major rush hour traffic, we left really early!   So we got there really early!  We were the first ones there!


Other than Angela and her husband Eric, I had absolutely no clue who else was coming!

As we walked up were greeted by these beautiful windows…the water falls down them on the inside, although you can sit and watch the water stream down the outside.  FabPreteen has declared she wants these in her room.  I told her I would see what I could do.


First to arrive after us were Eliana and Marc from Not All Who Wander Are Lost.  I heard them ask the front desk about the table and the front desk pointed to me and told them their party was here…so they looked at me and since I didn’t look like Angela, they seemed like they thought the front desk might be wrong!

I went up to them and asked if they were with our party, and when they said yes I introduced myself and asked who they were…their names didn’t mean anything to me, but when Eliana had told me about their blog I knew who they were right away…I had visited their blog!

Pretty exciting!

At this point the hostess seated us and we chatted while we waited to see who else would arrive.  It was like a continuous blind date…the hostess would head towards our table with someone who would look sort of lost (the only one we all knew was Angela!) and we would introduce ourselves and ask who she was…and what her blog was!  Not everybody had a blog though…some people just followed Angela’s blog and came to meet her.

When Angela and Eric arrived everybody was very excited…yes, she looks even more glowing in person!  She sat down at our table, which by now was getting a bit crowded.

But even though our table was for 8, as people arrived we kept scooting over, closer and closer together (and ignoring the second table), until we had 12 people seated around our table.  I noticed that even though the restaurant had specifically told us we couldn’t put the tables together, they kindly overlooked us all cramming into the one table and eventually even seated another party at it!

Here we all are…our server was great with the pictures.  She  happily took pictures with at least three different cameras…and even looked to make sure they came out good, retaking when necessary.  She was so patient with it I wondered if she was a blogger herself!

DSCF2430Here we all are around the table…starting with FabHubs, Me, Marc, Eliana, Lesley, Angela, Eric, Jelena, Stacey, and Kelly. 

It was so much fun…and I was excited to find out that everybody else was actually from Miami (except Stacey who is from Boca but lived in Miami) so I know a Miami blogger meetup is in our future!

Now on to the food….FabHubs knows I love eggplant, so he ordered the eggplant rollatini for me, filled with “ricotta.”  This was really delicious and I thought the filling was remarkably close to ricotta…if I didn’t know I never would have guessed!

DSCF2420 FabStepson and FabPreteen each enjoyed a Caesar salad.  FabSS devoured what he told me were tofu croutons, but FabPT didn’t like hers…when I tried one I found it wasn’t tofu but artichoke!  No wonder Miss Picky didn’t like them!  I was happy to relieve her of those…I love artichoke!DSCF2422 The beers all had some funky names like Hazed and Confused and more.  I love dark beer so I ordered a Mocha Porter Rogue which was so good! DSCF2424A surprise from the kitchen, compliments of the chef!  Pesto Polenta!  We passed this around and shared (two plates of it).   This was really good as well.   I have been wanting to make polenta for a while…this reaffirmed for me and I know I will be breaking out the cookbook to give it a try.DSCF2427My unadventurous family all ordered the same thing…Margherita Classico.  Yes…all three of them.   The same thing.  I did try a piece and while the crust was a little thinner than I normally like the pizza was excellent. DSCF2431Looks like cheese, doesn’t it?   DSCF2436

It was rather humorous to hear the discussion going on between these two about the cheese.  FabPT (who always seems to get what’s going on..she is a girl) told FabSS that it was not real cheese.  He, on the other hand, insisted that yes, this was real cheese, real mozzarella.  They went at it for a little while on this issue.  But again, if you didn’t know, you probably wouldn’t guess…it was that good!!DSCF2437

I ended up going with the “Four Sides” dish,  because I loved all the sides.  I am surprised I ended up being a bit disappointed!

The sides I chose were the grilled asparagus, whipped potatoes, blackened tofu, and garlic broccoli.

The asparagus was great…everything else was actually kind of bland and looking back I wish I would have chosen the tofu grilled instead of blackened.  The “blackening” was actually a dry powder coating on the outside, not blackened like I am used to.  Next time I would try one of their signature dishes instead. DSCF2435After dinner, Angela passed around her Glo Bars as a wonderful treat for everybody.  The kids promptly tore into theirs…FabHubs and I waited…until the drive home where we shared ours!

Leaving the restaurant we had a couple more photo ops, and then very slowly chatted our way out to the parking lot.

DSCF2441It was sad to say goodnight…but it was late and we had to go…kids still had to get up for school tomorrow and they were dragging.

What a fun evening!!!! 

Two more blogger meetups I one day hope to have…with my Losing To Win buddies (mostly out in Utah and Colorado) and my SBI support group, spread all over the eastern part of North America!

Blogger Giveaways

Since so many great bloggers give away so many fun things, I have decided to add a little giveaway section at the bottom of my posts. 

Click through to check out some new blogs and enter some giveaways:

Gliding Calm is giving away a raw food book to try some new raw food recipes!

Tricia at Endurance Isn’t Only Physical has an amazing Kettleworx Essentials package to give away.  I sure want to win this!  While you are there read her incredible story of how she lost over 100 pounds.  She is very inspirational (and since she lives in Ft. Lauderdale I was quite disappointed she was out of town and not here for the meetup!)

Good luck!

Crisis Averted

As usual, planning when eating out saves the day!

Last weekend we had a special Boy Scout event.  In our area, it is an annual rite of passage ceremony called Webelos Woods and is where the Cub Scouts leave the Cub Scout pack, cross a over a bridge, and are received by their new Boy Scout troop on the other end.  It is a weekend campout filled with fun activities, culminating in this ceremony.

For many years our troop has done active service for this event and usually FabHubs, a pioneering guru, builds the bridge that the boys cross over.  This year was a little extra special.  While FabHubs was building the bridge, FabTeen built the campfire…a four-foot tall structure (design courtesy of FabHubs) that was lit in the ceremony and burned in a spectacular towering inferno.   I am proud of him…he has learned well from FabHubs!

DSCF2403     DSCF2402


The bridge is built with no nails…all wood held together by rope…and goes up in about 8 hours…and down in less than one after the ceremony!

But back to the crisis…since FabHubs does the bridge, we recruit our troop to help him…and while the troop is out there we always have one of the troop cooks out there preparing lunch and dinner for us.

But this year I am vegetarian.

So I called Troop Cook in advance and asked about the menu.  I know this is something I always have to do now.  In the past Troop Cook, who proudly declares “I don’t eat anything green”  has always been extremely accommodating finding something for me to eat.

This time he seemed a little annoyed.

Lunch, he said, would be roast beef sandwiches, chips, and cookies.  But don’t worry, he told me, it will be very high quality roast beef.


I told him thanks, but I didn’t eat any meat.  But since I had an event with FabPreteen in the morning anyway, I just figured I would come after lunch.  Problem solved.

Now on to dinner.  Dinner would be chili and cornbread.  Now in the past when he has made chili for us it has also had a side of rice.  So in my mind I thought, okay, chili, cornbread, and rice. 

I knew the chili would be with meat…so I asked if he would be able to put aside some off the chili mixture for me before he added the meat and I would bring some Boca Crumbles to put in my batch.  I would even bring my own small Dutch Oven to make it in.  No, that wouldn’t be possible, but he could make it with chicken instead for me (and everybody else). 

No…that wouldn’t work, I don’t eat chicken either.  At this point he was really sounding annoyed, to the point where he told me he was about to lose service on his phone and would call me back in a few minutes, which he never did.

So as usual, I took matters into my own hands and decided  to throw together my own batch of chili, which I cooked the night before and brought with me to reheat at the event.  I figured I could have it with cornbread and rice that would be there.

Plus, I knew besides being meatless, I would bulk mine up with extra veggies…including “green things!”  So I quickly went to work and gathered my ingredients..

Tomato sauce, black beans, Boca crumbles, frozen mixed veggies, spices:DSCF2391

First I browned some garlic, baby bella mushrooms, and garlic in a little EVOO:DSCF2390

Then  I added everything else and let it cook!DSCF2392

DSCF2393     DSCF2394Easy chili!  Ready in 20 minutes!!

I put it in a baggie and stuck it in the fridge, and the next day I packed it in the cooler, along with some cheddar cheese and sour cream to top it off.

Good thing I did too…because when I got to the campout I brought my chili over to Troop Cook and asked about heating it up.  Nope…no extra equipment..I was on my own. about the rice and cornbread..well, no rice, but the cornbread would be cooked as a top layer right on their chili.  So was there a little extra cornbread mix we could put aside and use for my chili?  Sorry!

I was so glad I had brought some toppings and fruit for me!

And I was so happy that FabTeen opted to eat my healthy chili instead of the other too.  (Wish I could say the same for FabStepSon and my Fabulous Husband!)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Vegetarian and Green Just Go Together!

Happy St. Patty’s Day Bloggies! 

How many of you are celebrating are really Irish?

I am not but I still had fun with the day.   Once I got over some frustration of what to make for dinner!

But first let’s talk about lunch!

Since I work from home, lunch is pretty readily available to me and I usually end up with a nice salad, a sandwich and veggies, or some combo of leftovers.

Somehow along this health quest I have learned that almost anything  can be thrown together, put over a salad, and topped with goat cheese to make an excellent meal!

My family still isn’t quite getting how heated rice with green onions and feta, or roasted veggies and feta over salad goes together…but these are two of my favorite combos.

Today I rummaged through the leftovers and found:

  • A tiny amount (quarter-cup?) of veggie fried rice.
  • A leftover sauteed garlic/cauliflower/kale combo.
  • Goat  cheese.

We had salad as well (we always have salad!) but I changed my mind once I started putting it together.

I put the veggies on top of the rice, and sprinkled goat cheese on top, heated it up, and came up with this masterpiece:


Looks  kind of gross but tasted fantastic and was really filling.  Plus the GREEN KALE fit the day perfectly!

After I was almost but not quite satisfied and had a sweet craving!  I remembered my friend had given me a blueberry living food bar to try.  She had shown me three flavors and I had chosen blueberry.


This bar is from a place called Hallelujah Acres which promotes a vegan, mostly raw lifestyle. 

This bar was one of the best bars I have ever tasted!  (These and Glo bars of course!!)  I was in LOVE!  I definitely have to get some more of these!  I love Larabars but these put them to shame!!!


These filled me up perfectly and kept me satisfied through dinner!

Now on to dinner…..

In past years I have always made GREEN dinners for fun!   We have gone usually the traditional route…corned beef (I LOOOOOVVVEE corned beef!), green mashed potatoes, and a green veggie such as broccoli.  I would also color our drinks green!  Yes me…who normally runs away as fast as she can from artificially colored stuff.

It is actually the only time I have ever used food coloring…other than in science experiments!

Anyway…after almost six months of not eating meat, corned beef was not an option…but I knew I wanted to find something green and satisfying for my family for dinner (somehow green and satisfying don’t fit in the same sentence together).

I knew I had a few green things from our produce box on Monday and planned on using the asparagus, rapini, and collard greens.  I was going to make  a dish with the rapini and white beans!  Green enough?

But somewhere along the way I ended up changing my mind and making spinach/white bean burgers…green and white…which came out fantastic!

For hurry up sake I used canned navy beans.  I opened two cans, rinsed them well, and put them in a big bowl and then the fun started.

I added one cup oatmeal, two eggs for binding, a bunch of cumin (I poured and didn’t measure), Adobo seasoning, chopped onion, lots of garlic, and for green value I steamed some organic baby spinach, squeezed it dry, chopped it up, and threw it into the mix.


Almost forgot…I also grated a bunch of parmesan cheese and put that in there too!

Then we mashed and mixed…leaving lots  of chunks in it.DSCF2374

Then I stuck it in the fridge to chill for a few minutes while I prepped the rest of the green dinner.

First the asparagus…DSCF2371That was tossed with a little EVOO, syrupy balsamic,  and Adobo…and into the oven in a single layer at 450 degrees.

Next came  the rapini!DSCF2376

Rapini (or broccoli rabe) looks kind of like greens with little broccolis on them…but is actually related to turnip greens!  It is very healthy, easy to prepare, and delicious.  I treated it like I do all of my greens…to quick dip in heated EVOO along with rough cut garlic and onions…and then when brilliant green I top with some grated parmesan.

Once the two veggies were underway…it was time to get the burgers going!

They look just like my black bean burgers….only green and white!  The taste was different too, but just as good!  I think I might even like these a tad more!


I did end up pan frying them which didn’t thrill me…but it was so fast whereas baking them would have taken longer..but next time I do want to bake these.  I was a little irritated with myself for using olive oil in a third recipe!

FabPreteen was being difficult with the greens…so I made a small burger for her, see it in the middle  of the other four above?  I don’t force her to eat full meals of what we eat…but she does have to try everything.

She has come a very long way with her pickiness and I am thrilled at some of the things she eats willingly now whereas before it was a major argument and turned the meal totally unpleasant!

I also put out a green salad because she had to eat a good helping of veggies and she loves salad!  They added red bell peppers and tomatoes on their own!DSCF2382

I made her Ramen noodles (another thing that drives me crazy that I hope I can wean her off of in the future) and she  went ahead and added green to it so her meal would fit right in!  Yes…along with her green drink.


Yes…here is my guilty green beer! DSCF2378

Final meal…which was really great……and green!


And for dessert, this delicious organic sweet pineapple.…well it is green on the outside!                 DSCF2383


I really thought  I was going to blow it this year and other than a green veggie didn’t think we would have our green fun!

Overall it worked out very well…and other than the green beer, was all vegetarian, natural, organic and not processed!

How was your St. Patrick’s Day?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Eating On The Road

Whew!  What a weekend!

Saturday was spent at Girl Scout Day at the Kennedy Space Center.  We woke up at 3:30 a.m. in order to be at the chartered bus by 4:45 a.m.

There was an organized day for Girl Scouts with all sorts of activities and we had to be there by 9:45 a.m.

The night before I made a list of things to pack, and put into the cooker whatever didn’t need refrigeration.  I also put some water bottles into the freezer as well as some O.N.E. coconut water.

I definitely wanted to be prepared for the long bus ride and for the day at KSC.  I knew we had veggie burgers available for us in our included lunch…but I also knew the other stops on the road would probably include fast food of some description and I wanted a healthier alternative for FabPreteen and myself (only of us was excited about that preplanning…the other was really hoping for a rare fast food indulgence!)

Once again I was lousy with the photos!  But I packed:

  • Two organic pears
  • A thermos of coffee
  • Waters
  • Coconut water
  • Two organic apples
  • Organic sweet mini bell peppers
  • Organic carrots
  • Laughing Cow cheese
  • Stacey’s Pita chips
  • Larabars:  Two minis and one regular
  • Cliff bars, for FabPreteen
  • almond butter packets
  • Peanut butter and jelly sammies for the FabPreteen
  • An incredibly awesome wrap for me which consisted of an organic avocado, some of my amazingly delicious homegrown (by me!!) sprouts,  organic tomatoes, organic scallions, organic cucumber slices, and some S&P on a multigrain Flatout wrap. 
  • A gigantic salad…with all sorts of veggies, feta crumbles, and chickpeas
  • A square of Ghirardelli dark chocolate for yours truly

Before we left in the morning I filled the thermos with coffee and made us some Mom McMuffins!  (scrambled eggs and cheddar slices on an Arnold Sandwich thin).

By 8:30 I was starting to get pretty hungry.  I thought it was kind of early to be eating…but as I started to think about it I had eaten breakfast at 4:30 a.m.!  We weren’t scheduled to be there until 9:45 and I knew lunch would not be served until noonish of course…so I broke out the snacks!

Over the next hour I had a pear, some Stacey’s, and a miniLarabar!  This was enough to get me by.

When the bus stopped for the rest of the troops to get coffee and snacks, I loaded up a mini backpack cooler I brought to tote around inside NASA.

I brought with me one of the coco waters, regular waters, pears and apples, carrots, Cliff bar, and Larabar.

FabPreteen and I arrived looking quite haggard after only a few hours of crazy blowing in the wind!  My hat went on right after I saw this!DSCF2311

While there we got to talk to an astronaut…..


….stand underneath the actual Saturn V rocket that was flown as part of the Apollo program.  We looked and felt really insignificant under this….it is 36 stories tall and lying on its side here…it goes down the length of this very very very long building!!!DSCF2340

…and see the Discovery shuttle already out at the launch pad ready to go up on April 5!  The picture doesn’t do it justice with my little point and shoot!DSCF2333

Lunch was a little eventful…I had called to find out about vegetarian options and was told lunch would be a choice of hot dogs, hamburgers, or veggie burgers. 

But we were the last group to get lunch and by the time we got there, they only had hamburgers and ONE veggie burger.  NOT COOL!

I was just not going to eat and give the veggie burger to FabPreteen…but she ended up eating a burger (which she has not had in at least six months) and gave me the veggie burger. 

I was not happy at all and found that to be quite unreasonable!!!

In addition to the burger, they included a drink (we chose bottles of water…although FabPreteen did beg for the soda!); a bag of chips (which I ate); and a bag of cookies (which I ate).

No fresh veggies.  So I broke out my carrots and munched away on those!  I try to make it a goal to have some fresh fruit or veggie at every single meal!

Otherwise…the day went well and we were back on the bus by 6 p.m. to head home.

At dinnertime, sure enough they made a rest stop/fast food run.  I broke out the PB&J for dear daughter and I had my wonderful wrap!  Which I even remembered to photograph!

With flash and without…lighting on the bus was awful!!!!      DSCF2343 DSCF2346We finally arrived a little after 11 pm.  totally exhausted!!

Foodwise the day ended up working quite well for me (other than the veggie burger incident) because I packed and planned…but I have to say that quite a few people commented (with wry humor) on my packed cooker and the backpack I brought in…as if I had packed for a longer trip.

I am not sure why I am expected to settle…at the rest stop many of the places were closed and someone mentioned to me that there was very little available for someone who didn’t eat meat…I was content because I had brought healthy food that I really I saved a whole bunch of money by packing my own.

On trips do you usually take your own foods or do you get whatever is available?  What are some of your favorite easy to pack meals and snacks?

Friday, March 12, 2010

I’ve Sprouted!

No silly…I am done growing myself…but look what I grew this week!DSCF2304 Lousy picture I know…but these things are truly amazing!

I do love sprouts.  I never buy them but I enjoy them when they come on sandwiches…and I have been looking into growing my own.  I just hadn’t gotten around to it.

I had talked about it with a girlfriend and Monday night she surprised me with some seeds, a jar, and two lids of hers to try!


So I put a TBS of seeds in the wide-mouth mason jar she brought me, put a bunch of water in them, put the finer-meshed lid on top, and soaked the seeds overnight.

Tuesday morning I drained the water and set the jar in a sunny spot.

Tuesday night when I went to rinse my seeds (I am supposed to do this twice a day) this is what I found…

DSCF2297 - Copy

Can you see that?  (sorry…I only have a little point and shoot)…they were already sprouting!  I was really excited…and I couldn’t believe how excited I was over sprouting seeds.

By Wednesday morning they were shoots already!  HOLY COW!  I was so excited that I noticed that my empty Maranatha jar was the perfect size to set up another sprout garden!

I swapped lids, putting the lid with the larger holes on the already sprouted jar, and the finer meshed lid on the Maranatha jar and got some more sprouts going!  The lid won’t screw onto the Maranatha jar…only set on top so I have to hold it down when draining…but it still works!


These were my two little gardens Wednesday night!


Tonight (Friday night already) my first batch is just about ready to harvest!  DSCF2309I have a Girl Scout all day trip tomorrow and am packing my own dinner rather than suffer through the McDonalds I know they are going to be stopping for…so I will make a sandwich using my first crop of sprouts!

Pretty exciting wouldn’t you say?????

Sprouts are serious Superfoods!  They are powerful cancer fighters, extremely high in antioxidants and immune boosters, as well as being high in fiber, and vitamins C, E, and E.  They help the body absorb glucose, are high in protein, and even help slow down the aging process!

All that and more in something that is so cheap and so simple to grow!  And incredibly fast too!  I went from seed on Monday to plate on Saturday!

I am addicted!  I am ready to try all sorts of seeds now and need a few more jars and lids to get a good supply growing at all times.

I also thought I would share this beautiful RED pear I got in my organic produce box this week.  We only got two of them and there are five of us…so we all shared! 

 DSCF2298      DSCF2299 I had my half smothered drizzled in a TBS of almond butter!


Tomorrow I am off with the Girl Scouts to the Kennedy Space Center for Girl Scout day!  They have a great program prepared for us…but we have a five-hour bus ride each way and I have to be at the bus by (UGH) 4:45!!!  A.M.!!!

I am looking forward to the sites of course…but also walking around all day…and I have packed a cooker with frozen water and coconut water to drink…and packed plenty of healthy snacks…fruit, carrots, mini-peppers, Laughing Cow Cheese (FabPreTeen), Larabars (for me), Cliff bars (for FabPreteen), Stacy’s pita chips, as well as PB&J sandwiches for the FabPreteen for her dinner and an avocado wrap (with my fabulous homegrown sprouts) and organic salad for my dinner!  I am well prepared I think!

It is now 10:30 and I am off to bed for my 3:30 a.m. wakeup call!!!!

Have a wonderful weekend my bloggy friends!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Proud To Be A Loser

Yesterday  marked the second weigh-in for Losing To Win,  the weight loss competition I joined on January 5!  I didn’t place in one of the top 4 money slots…but I am still so proud to be a loser! 

From February 5 to March 5 I lost a total of 6 lbs, bringing me to a Losing To Win total of 15 pounds since January 5, and a grand total of 33 pounds since I joined Weight Watchers (which at this point I am not following at all) on July 20, 2009!

Did you say I deserved a reward?  Of course you did!  So as not to disappoint, I went and really splurged and treated myself to these!DSCF2289 An actual pair of good quality walking/running shoes as opposed to the whatever brand I would by myself before.  I went to a running store and had my foot fitted for a shoe that will take me the mile…or at least the 300 miles I plan to walk this year!

Now what I really really want is this:

imageNot because I am a major runner…but I do want to start tracking my heart rate to make sure I am getting it at the target level…and because I am tracking my miles and that will free me up some to get off the measured parks I am going to.

Maybe I will make that a 100 mile reward….unless someone who loves me gets it for my birthday next month!

This is actually very first time I have rewarded myself for reaching a milestone and treated myself to some fitness gear.

How do you reward yourself when you have reached weight loss or fitness goals?