Bloggers of DC… Unite! (Giveaway!)

Sorry this post comes a little late this morning. I’m a little off. Let’s just say that my day has already included taking an hour to drive 4.5 miles (stupid downed power lines!) and spilling coffee down the front of my white t-shirt. Womp womp. ANYWAY!

When I first started blogging, solely for the means of keeping myself accountable for my weight loss, I had no idea how vast and expansive the healthy living blog community was. Sure, I read a few here and there, but I really had no idea how many amazing people I would meet through the blogosphere (haha, I really hate using that word — so nerdy! — but unfortunately it’s true.) And more than that, I had no idea how many of those awesome people would be so close by! I’ve officially decided that turning virtual buddies into real-life friends is awesome. And thanks to incredible organizer Amanda, last night I was able to continue the trend:

At the Nats vs. Cardinals game last night! Thanks to Stephanie for the above pic. I’m pimpin’ it from the middle of the back row!

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Running late as always, I met Amanda at The Bullpen, the beer garden just outside of the main gates at the stadium before heading in. My brother Ben’s band plays the 4th of July gig here every year, so it was fun to get to see what he was talking about, ahaha.

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I’d be lying if I said I paid a lick of attention to the actual baseball game (did we even win? Ahahahaha) but it was so much fun! My only regret is that I wish I didn’t have to work so stinkin’ early so I could have stayed later.

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Megan and Sana even trekked down from Columbia to share in the festivities! I heart these girls so hard. 🙂

It did start to rain pretty hard at one point, but thankfully our seats were covered! I guess that’s the bone they throw to people who have to sit up at the tippity top of the stadium, hahaha.

Rainy Games.

Sure that ain't snow?

And okay, okay, this is the last time. Just one more shout out to Amanda for taking the initiative to plan the whole thing. Lovelovelove:

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I so desperately wish I could remember everyone’s name (and blog!) from last night but unfortunately I am super terrible with remembering, um, anything. So! If you were at the game last night, please make sure you leave a comment letting me know!

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Also, and this may come as no surprise to you if you saw last night’s daily eats post (or if you just know me at all, haha), I had french fries for dinner. It was glorious.

All in all, a wonderful evening, which is why the debacle that has been this entire morning hasn’t gotten me down. I’m still in such a good mood! I hope there will be many more meet-ups like this to come.

Sunset Over Nationals Stadium

I know what you’re thinking: how does my good mood impact YOU on this Friday morning? Well my friends, the answer is: in a very chipper way.

Day 163 - Death by Pop Chips

Popchipper, that is! Bahahahahaha. GET IT?!

Remember how I was bragging about getting a post-Fitbloggin’ case of Popchips and then how you were like, “Aw man! I wish I had an entire case of Popchips to nom on, too!” Well, your wish = my command. One of you lucky readers is going to get a MONTH’s supply of Popchips!

What to do:

1. Like Popchips on Facebook and/or follow them on Twitter.

2. Leave a comment back here saying you’ve done so!

Easy as pie. You can also submit additional entries can be done by doing one (or all!) of the following:

1. Retweet this giveaway, including a link back to this post and the usernames @shrinkinggretch and @popchipsdc.

2. Link back to this giveaway post on your blog.

3. Just leave a comment talking about what you would do with a month’s supply of Popchips delivered to your door (hopefully you won’t follow my lead as depicted above and be killed by them, hahaha.)

Make sure you leave separate comments for each thing you do!

I’ll be randomly selecting a winner and announcing it in Tuesday’s post (the 21st.) Happy Friday!

Daily Eats – 6/16/11

Breakfast

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Healthy Almond Breakfast Cake! (~200 cal)
1 tbsp strawberry preserves (50 cal)

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Green Mountain’s Island Coconut coffee (uhhhmazing!) w/almond milk & stevia (~15 cal)

Breakfast Total: 265 calories

Snack

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Blueberry Bliss Luna bar — O.B.S.E.S.S.E.D. with this flavor! (180 cal)

Lunch

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Chicken wrap and po-tay-toe chips (oops, bought lunch again…)

Snack

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Mini whole wheat pita (80 cal)
Tzatziki sauce

Dinner

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Fries with a bacon aioli dipping sauce (!!!!)

YEP. I HAD FRENCH FRIES FOR DINNER. 😀

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Deets on the DC bloggers meetup that the amazing Amanda organized to come tomorrow!

Healthy Almond Breakfast Cake

You may have seen in Daily Eats posts of the past that I enjoy to partake in a little thing called almond cake from time to time. Essentially inspired by a bottle of almond extract purchased from Penzey’s Spices on a total whim one day, it is probably my favorite thing to bake (other than my secret ingredient chocolate chip cookies, but those haven’t made the blog yet as I can’t really claim any kind of healthiness for those babies.)

This, on the other hand, totally qualifies for a cheesy headline:

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Delicious AND nutritious! This is a cake that is perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast as it’s made with whole grains, is low in sugar and saturated fat, and is chock-full of fiber and protein! Huzzah!

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Healthy Almond Breakfast Cake
Print this recipe!

Ingredients:

– 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (if unavailable, you could substitute 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 all-purpose flour)
– 1/4 cup milled flaxseed
– 1 tsp baking powder
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 6 packets or 3 tsp stevia (or 1/4 cup sugar)
– 4 tbsp or 1/4 cup Earth Balance (or butter)
– 1 medium banana
– 1.5 tbsp almond extract
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 egg
– Almond milk (or milk of choice) as needed

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Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Measure out your dry ingredients (except the stevia) and mix together, then set aside.

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Peel your banana, break it into pieces and put in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 20-30 seconds, then mash with a fork. The banana should be soft and liquid-y.

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In a standing mixer or large bowl, combine Earth Balance, stevia, mashed banana, and egg. Mix well, then add almond and vanilla extracts.

Begin slowly adding dry ingredients to the wet, about a quarter of the mixture at a time, until fully combined. If the batter seems too dry, thin it out by adding a little bit of almond milk until you have a solid but sticky consistency that looks something like this:

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Transfer the batter into a sprayed 8×8 or 9×9 (just depends on if you want them thicker or not) baking dish. The batter should be thick, so you’ll want to spread it evenly in the pan with a spatula or knife. If you want, you can cover it with raw oats to make it look pretty and stuff.

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Bake for 15 – 18 minutes at 350 degrees. Once you can insert a toothpick or fork into the center and it comes out clean, the cake is done.

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Marvel at your baking prowess. Wasn’t that easy? Enjoy on its own, with a citrus glaze (lemon or orange juice + a crapton of powdered sugar), or with your favorite jam or preserves!

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When I baked up this particular cake, it was my first time baking with stevia and I think I overestimated how sweet it would make the batter. I only ended up using 4 packets (which equals 2 tsp) and it’s not very sweet on its own. So I upped the recipe to 6 packets (3 tsp) and I think that would probably make the cake taste more satisfying on its own. However, the sweetness level of the one I made is actually perfect to top with the strawberry preserves I picked up most recently at the Farmer’s Market and have it not be too sweet overall! So all’s well that end’s well, eh?

And look at how awesome I am, I even converted the nutrition facts for you all (love you, Sparkrecipes!) Not too shabby: 136 calories per serving if you cut it into 9 equal servings, or probably ~200 calories a serving the way I cut it, hehehehe.

9 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 136.2
Total Fat 7.1 g
Saturated Fat 1.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.7 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Cholesterol 20.6 mg
Sodium 68.8 mg
Potassium 65.4 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.5 g
Dietary Fiber 3.2 g
Sugars 1.9 g
Protein 2.8 g

For this recipe (and for all my recipes, really) I tried to pull out all the “healthy substitution” tricks I have in my bag: mashed banana instead of oil, stevia instead of sugar, whole wheat and flaxseed, etc. I think it turned out really well, but as we all know, substitutions can go horribly awry too (especially when it comes to baking!)

We’ve talked about healthy tips & tricks like putting spinach underneath your pasta and adding chia seeds to your oatmeal before, What is your favorite healthy substitution to use in cooking or baking?

Daily Eats – 6/15/11

Breakfast

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1.5 servings healthy almond breakfast cake (~200 cal)
1 tbsp strawberry preserves (50 cal)

Snack

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1/2 cup low-fat cottage cheese (81 cal)
1 tbsp strawberry preserves (50 cal)

Lunch

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3 oz chicken breast (150 cal)
1/2 cup homemade potato salad (~150 calories)
1 cup beet and arugula salad (~100 calories)

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1 bag salt & vinegar popchips (100 cal)

Lunch Total: ~500 calories

Snack

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A kajillion red grapes (100 calories)

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Roll w/1 tbsp cream cheese (~125 cal)

Snack Total: 225 calories

Snack, Again… 🙂

Sweet.

Small frozen yogurt from Sweetgreen with strawberries, blueberries, and chocolate chips 🙂 (~120 calories)

Dinner

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Annie’s cheesy noodles w/peas and corn added (~400 cal)
Chinese broccoli (~50 cal?)

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1 cup almond milk (60 cal)

Dinner Total: ~520 calories

Total Total: 1,736 calories

Plus some exercising (walking and some intense stairwork – my gluuuuutes!) so pretty standard stuff! I did succumb to the chocolate chips on my froyo… ah well, totally worth it. 😉 Recipe for my awesome almond breakfast cake coming tomorrow!

Sorry, Donald

Donald, you would be ashamed of what I did last night.

Donald the Duck, Scared :(

I’m sorry, buddy, but it’s true.

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I had peking duck last night, and it was incredible. As it always is.

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As you may remember, the Powell clan attempted to go to the Peking Gourmet Inn on Sunday night to kick off our little mini-reunion week. Weeeell, that didn’t turn out so well, since the restaurant had lost power! Sad. But as you can see, thankfully we got to work it into our schedule after all! I wasn’t feeling well earlier in the day too, so I’m glad that by the time we went out to dinner things had settled and I could partake in the deliciousness.

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(In case you’re wondering, my Chinese zodiac sign is the Dragon. So pretty much the best one. Boo-yah. ;))

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Peking duck, it’s a style of cooking duck so that the meat is tender and moist, the skin is crispy, and it’s served with little pancakes, spring onions, hoisin sauce, and sometime cucumbers to make wraps with!

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The ducks are cooked whole, so they cut up and serve the meat right at the table!

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Dinner and a show!

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Deeeeelicious! I had three. Heeheehee. My mom ordered a few other dishes for dinner as well, but the duck was clearly the star, for both the Peking veterans…

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… and newbies alike!

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And to top off what was already an excellent evening, look what was waiting for me when I got home:

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My Fitbloggin’ Popchips arrived! You guys have seen me consume these 100-calorie-bags-of-deliciousness numerous times on the blog, and I am super excited to have received a GINORMOUS box of them (actually two, since Ben got one too!) from the very generous Popchips peeps that represented at the Fitbloggin’ conference.

I really believe they are a great way to satisfy those pesky chips cravings without going overboard with your calories (I used to be able to put away an entire bag (yep, full-sized) of Ruffles by myself! Yech.) And while yes, they are still a processed food, you have to admit that it’s nice to have a healthier (or at least, lighter!) substitute for when the craving hits. I think this pic that Ben took tonight pretty much sums it up:

Day 163 - Death by Pop Chips
Death by Popchips. At least Daxter looks sad to see me go! And as you can tell by my expression, I’m okay with it. 🙂

If you have tried Popchips, what’s your favorite flavor? Mine is a three-way tie between Salt & Vinegar, Barbeque, and Salt & Pepper. Do you have a favorite healthier/lighter substitute for your snackfood achilles heel? Have I asked this question before? Oh well, even if I have, I want to know again! Hahahaha. I hear a lot of talk about Arctic Zero as a low calorie substitute for ice cream, though I’ve never tried it. I do love my frozen desserts, so maybe I need to give it a go!