Breakfast, Onesies, and Technicolor Schnauzers

Well, it’s official: I am twenty-seven years old. Do you think that makes me an adult yet?

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Actually, don’t answer that.

As I mentioned in my last post, I celebrated this year’s birthday with a festive pajama jam breakfast party!

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Instead of my usual MO of putting together a themed excuse to get drunk birthday party, I opted to do someting more low-key and daytime-friendly. So, this year, friends donned their PJs and came over in the AM (well, late AM) for some scrumptious brunch treats!

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I put together a brunch table full of goodies, including a cereal bar, mimosa bar, little breakfast canapes, and even whipped up a batch of waffle iron hashbrowns.

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For the cereal bar, I put out four kinds of cereal (Cheerios, Cocoa Puffs, Lucky Charms, and Cinnamon Toast Crunch) and four kinds of milks (almond, 2%, chocolate, and skim). In retrospect, I probably should have put out one non-sugar cereal, and skipped the skim milk (which apparently nobody likes, hahaha.)

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The breakfast canapes were made from mini Eggo waffles topped either with whipped cream and a strawberry or brushed with maple syrup and a small piece of bacon. They were the hit of the party! Super delicious and fun to eat.

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The waffle iron hashbrowns were outta this world, too. All you do is pick up a bag of frozen tater tots from the grocery store and pop ’em into the waffle iron. Squish ’em down and let them cook! They get perfectly crisp on all sides and turned out way better than cooking tots in the oven. I am a waffle iron believer now!

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The mimosa bar was a lot of fun, too! I got four different kinds of juices — orange, orange mango, grapefruit, and guava — and had some additional fruit for folks to pop into their glass. I kept the champagne on ice and, voila!

Of course, the very best part of having a breakfast-themed birthday party is the fact that for your cake, well… see for yourself.

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Isn’t it beautiful? Donut cake > regular cake.

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Ta-da! Birthday pajama jam brunch success!

If you’re thinking about doing a breakfast bar for an upcoming event, I say definitely do it! It was really easy to set up (the biggest thing is just having enough pitchers/serving bowls), and of course picking up supplies at the grocery store is easy and relatively inexpensive.

Plus, Pikachu onesie aside, I think it’s a very elegant way to present breakfast/brunch. This sort of thing would be perfect for a bridal shower, baby shower, or mother’s day celebration in addition to birthdays. It would also be really fun to do brinner (breakfast for dinner) for a nighttime party!

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Oh, yeah, I forgot to mention that I dyed Daxter and Pixel for the occasion, heeeeeeeee. 😀

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Now they’re ready for Spring! (Don’t worry, I used completely animal-safe, vegetable-based dye.)

And so, alas, my twenty-seventh birthday has come and gone. But something tells me that 27 is going to be my very best year yet. I can’t wait to see what’s to come!

Great Eggspectations (Giveaway!)

As you guys already know from last week’s egg-cellent post (ha!), I’ve got a small obsession with, well, eggs right now. But I’ve started to realize that it really extends to more than just eggs. It’s a current obsession with breakfast food in general. And just like the period I went through when I watched Pride & Prejudice (the Keira Knightly version) four times in a single weekend once in college (including one time when the credits finished rolling, the start menu came back up, and I just picked up the remote and pressed “Play” again), I’ve been bitten by the obsession bug baaaad. Like, breakfast for dinner every other night for the past couple of weeks-bad.

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It really is a bit of a weird food streak right now, actually, because aside from always wanting bacon (who doesn’t?) and the occasional pancake craving, I’ve never really been THAT into breakfast food. Sure, the novelty of brinner was fun every once in a while, but it’s never been like this. Maybe it’s just all of the years spent not eating breakfast finally catching up with me?

Either way, when an opportunity came along from AllWhites® egg whites egging me on (double ha!) to dive even deeper into my crazy cat lady obsession exploration of these foods, I couldn’t exactly say no!

Here’s a run-down of facts about AllWhites from the good people who make it:

AllWhites is a great source of lean protein, with five grams of lean protein and just 25 calories per serving. AllWhites is a fat-free, cholesterol-free and low-calorie alternative to shell eggs.

And for those of you who participate in the program, AllWhites is endorsed by Weight Watchers® and has 0 PointsPlus value per serving.

For recipe purposes, here are the recommended conversion amounts when substituting AllWhites for shell eggs:

– 3 tbsp of AllWhites = Approx. 1 large egg
– 1/3 cup of AllWhites = Approx. 2 large eggs
– 3/4 cup of AllWhites = Approx. 4 large eggs

Now, as someone who most definitely appreciates a good runny yolk but recognizes that — especially when it comes to cooking — using multiple whole eggs can add up quickly on the caloric scale, I fully appreciate the convenience and calorie-cutting power of egg whites. Plus, as the self-proclaimed master of weirdo breakfast combinations (What? Pasta, guacamole, and leftover steak are a totally legit breakfast combo, right?) it helps to know that at least one of the ingredients that I might be using is actually breakfast appropriate. Plus, hello? I get that egg yolks have their own nutritional value, but at 70 calories per egg vs. 25 calories per serving of egg whites, who says you can’t have your low-fat cake and eat it too?

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Introducing the latest in what has now become a rather lengthy lineup of Gretchen’s Breakfast Food Creations: the smoked salmon crepe-uritto!

This delicious culinary confection combines so very many of my favorite things: crepes, smoked salmon, cream cheese, eating with my hands… it’s like a bagel and lox that you don’t have to feel guilty about! Or a breakfast burrito, only fancy. Delicious, filling, nutritious, and only 150 calories per crepe — WHAT! You could eat both servings and have a totally satisfying, full breakfast… or dinner… for only 300 calories. You are oh so very welcome.

Smoked Salmon Crepe-uritto
Makes 2 crepes

Ingredients:
For the crepe:

1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar (optional)
1 pinch salt
3 tbsp AllWhites® egg whites or 1 whole egg
2 tbsp almond milk, milk, soy milk, whatevs.
Very small pat butter or nonstick spray

For the filling:
3 oz smoked salmon
2 tbsp whipped cream cheese
1 tsp green onion, finely chopped

Instructions:

1. Combine flour, salt, and sugar (if using) in a bowl. Add egg whites and milk, and mix with a small whisk or fork.

2. Heat pan (preferably nonstick) to medium heat. Spray liberally with nonstick spray or melt butter in pan, then add half of the crepe batter. Swirl the batter quickly and evenly around the pan, then allow to cook for ~30 seconds (you have to work pretty fast!). Flip to the other side, cook for another 20 – 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Repeat for the second crepe.

3. Spread one tablespoon of cream cheese on each open crepe and add half of the smoked salmon and green onion. Roll up and enjoy!

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Nutritional info per crepe: 151 calories, 4.7 grams fat (healthy fat!), 13 grams carbs, 12.5 grams protein.

It’s the perfect grab-n-go breakfast if you still have to worry about that sort of thing (mwahaha), and it’s much better for you than an egg mcmuffin (and fancier, too!). I know crepes are kind of scary to think about making, but I promise, they are the easiest and quickest thing in the world! You could even add in some spinach or other greens into the wrap if you wanted to up the nutritional ante even further! Make it now, thank me later!

So not only do you now have this delicious new recipe in your arsenal, but you’re about to get your chance to win some monaaaay! AllWhites and BlogHer are generously offering you guys the opportunity to win a $100 Visa gift card (!!) as part of this campaign!

To enter, just comment on this blog answering the following question: How do you fuel the way to a healthier you?

Sweepstakes Rules:
No duplicate comments.
You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:

  1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post
  2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post
  3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post
  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.

This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the [email protected] email address. You will have 72 hours to respond, otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 3/3/2014-3/31/2014.
Be sure to visit the AllWhites® egg whites brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

This post was sponsored by AllWhites® egg whites and I received compensation for my content. But all words, photos, and opinions are my own!)

Ooey Gooey Chocolate Rice Pudding

I’m gonna keep this short and sweet, people, because the more time I spend here writing this post, the more time I spending with my fingers typing instead of shoveling spoonful after spoonful of ooey, gooey, creamy, dreamy chocolate rice pudding into my mouth. Yeah, it’s pretty good.

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This steaming bowl of deliciousness is so, so easy to make, with only four real ingredients, plus a few seasonings and whatnot. Plus, it’s dairy-free! (And maybe gluten-free? I’m not actually sure about that. But definitely gluten-lessened!) With no added sugar other than what’s in Almond Breeze’s Chocolate almond milk (and perhaps a drizzle of chocolate syrup at the end… if you’re a glutton like me, hehe), it’s still very rich, hearty, and makes you feel all warm in the tummy.

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Rice pudding in general is actually quite versatile. It’s a dessert that can also be a breakfast food (just think oatmeal, minus the oats), so whatever you’re in the mood for, you’re pretty much covered. I added dried plums (mmm, fiber!) and blueberries to this dish to make it a little more appropriate to eat before 11 AM, but if you’re looking for something even less desserty, you can always just sub in non-chocolate almond milk, too!

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Chocolate Rice Pudding
Makes 2 heaping servings

Ingredients:

3 cups Almond Breeze chocolate almond milk
3/4 cup rice of choice (I used jasmine)
1/4 cup dried plums (or dried fruit of your choice)
2/3 cup fresh blueberries
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
Pinch of salt
Drizzle of chocolate syrup (optional)

Instructions:

1. In a medium saucepan, heat rice and almond milk until it reaches a soft boil.
2. Add seasonings and dried plums, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. As the milk gets absorbed and the rice thickens, being stirring more frequently. When the desired consistency is reached, remove from heat. Stir in blueberries and serve.
4. Drizzle on a squeeze of chocolate syrup, if desired, and enjoy!

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Nutritional info: Per giant heaping serving (1/2): 345 caloris, 4.6 g fat, 4 g protein. Per normal person’s serving (1/3): 230 calories, 3.1 g fat, 2.6 g protein.

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

Chocolate Crepes

Mon dieu, mes amis! I am so humbled and flattered by all your support and camaraderie in response to my big job announcement post! You guys really know how to make a girl feel loved, you know that? Well, I’m tossing the love right back your way with an extra special (and extra delicious) new recipe!

You may have seen, from my previous post on crepes, that I have some serious love for these hoity-toity cousins to the good ol’ pancake. I’ve always loved how incredibly easy they are to make something so seemingly impressive. I mean, flour, eggs, milk, sugar… and a little water to thin out the batter. It really doesn’t get much easier than that!

So when Almond Breeze challenged me to come up with another delectable brunch recipe, I knew exactly what direction I would be headed in. Only these fluffy little dreams have one serious new twist to them: CHOCOLATE!

Yes, these sweet-but-not-too-sweet chocolatey crepes will have you singing aloud (probably in French). Eat them plain (they’re delicious on their own!) or stuff ’em full of whatever your heart desires! I went with a raspberry cream filling this time around, but you could honestly do anything! Jam, fruit, more chocolate (you know you wanna)… the possibilities are endless!

Chocolate Crepes

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tbsp sugar (or equivalent of sweetener of your choice)
1/2 cup Chocolate Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Almondmilk
1/2 cup water
2 eggs (or vegan substitute)
Pinch of salt

Instructions:

1. In a bowl, mix together dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, sugar, salt) with a whisk or fork, making sure to break up any clumps in the cocoa powder.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs until yolks and whites are fully combined and are fluffy. Mix in almond milk.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry, and mix together until thoroughly combined. Add water, using additional if you need to thin out the batter even more. You are aiming for a rather thin, drippy consistency.

4. Heat a pan over medium-high heat and grease with butter or nonstick spray. In 1/2 cup increments, drop batter into hot pan and swirl around until the entire bottom area is coated. Cook ~45 seconds, flip, and cook an additional 20 – 30 seconds.

5. Roll your crepes with whatever filling you choose! This time, I whipped up a very quick filling with cream cheese, raspberries, and a dash more of almond milk to thin it out.

6. Bon appetit!

This recipe makes 5 – 6 large crepes (only 5 if you mess the first one up, like I did, haha). And each crepe has only 115 calories and 2.5 grams of fat. Enjoy!

almondbreezelogoThe above post was sponsored by Blue Diamond Almond Breeze, but all content is 100% my own.

What I’m Eating These Days

First off, thanks for all your awesome comments and suggestions on yesterday’s, er, mildly uncomfortable post. I really appreciate how helpful you all are, and will definitely be implementing some of these strategies!

So with all my proclamations about how I’m changing up my diet and whatnot for my renewed weight loss, I imagine there be at least one or two of you out there who are curious as to what kind of stuff I’ve been eating lately. No? Well, I’m going to tell you anyway, so tough cookies. (Spoiler alert: cookies are, sadly, not something I’ve been eating.)

As a refresher, I’m embracing more protein and fats in my diet, and trying to actively reduce the number of refined carbs and excess sugar I consume. I’m certainly not carb-free or any such nonsense, and I allow myself the lenience to follow my cravings/not deprive myself (within reason). So when my future sister-in-law baked up a batch of awesome blueberry breakfast muffins, OBVIOUSLY I partook. I just slathered some coconut oil on it first. Thus far, I’m finding that aside from the issue I discussed (a little too openly) yesterday, I’m actually feeling pretty good. My periods of satiety are longer, so I’m actually not eating as frequently, and, as you guys know, I’ve lost over four pounds in the past month (which, granted, isn’t a rocketship pace, but considering how badly things were going for my weight loss before, I am pretty ecstatic).

Now because I’ve been absolutely heinous about taking pictures of my food lately as well (WHAT KIND OF BLOGGER AM I!?!), so you might be seeing a few repeat pictures here. But they illustrate the right kind of things, and primarily I’ll be painting you a picture with my words anyway. So, it’s cool. ‘Cause I’m, like, a writer. Kinda.

Anyway! A typical day of eats in my life these days, subject to frequent changes and falling-off-the-wagon… but it’s all about the effort, right? Heh.

Okay, breakfasts. This has really been the biggest overhaul, since most of my experience with breakfasts come in the form of cereal and/or bagels, neither of which fit into the new parameters of my diet. So typically, I’m having something like smoked salmon & cream cheese roll ups, or high-protein toast with half a mashed avocado and an egg patty on top. Both of these are delicious, fairly portable, and really (REALLY) satiating. I usually have some fruit, too–a pear, apple, or some grapes. f I’ve premade breakfasts earlier in the week, like my smoked salmon eggs cups, I can just heat those up and get going. If I have the time to actually sit down and eat breakfast instead of being in the car and cramming bites into my mouth between stoplights, I might do up some eggs and bacon.

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I’ve been finding these breakfasts keep me seriously full until lunchtime, so I’ve eliminated my need for mid-morning snacks. Which is good, because these breakfasts are higher in calories than, say, a bowl of Special K Red Berries with almond milk. But obviously it all works out!

Okay, so lunch–if I’ve been good about packing my lunch–generally is either dinner leftovers from the night before (which is the best when I’ve had STEAK FOR DINNER AHAHAHA), or strange little ensemble tasting plates. I’ve gotten REALLY into just like, a ton of different snacks, combined into lunch, lately. So, things like baby carrots and celery with hummus or sunbutter, a few slices of aged cheddar, grapes, lunch meat roll-ups, any leftover chicken/steak I might have, a Babybel cheese wheel, a hardboiled egg… etc, etc, etc. It’s fun, because it allows me a lot of variety in my lunches, and easy, because you can just store everything separately in the fridge, and grab whatevery you’re vibing on that morning.

Of course, I fall victim to the laziness of not packing/forgetting my lunch more often than is probably good, at which point I really have to steel myself against all the awesomeness that the food trucks bring to the area where I work on a daily basis. I mean, yes, there is a mac and cheese truck… and a grilled cheese truck… and lots of pho trucks… and an empanada truck… okay, I need to stop. Anyway, I often talk about how I don’t feel you have to give up going out for dinner or trying new restaurants (two of my favorite things) in order to lose weight, and buying lunch is no different. It’s just about finding something that fits. There are places nearby that offer great salad options, there’s a sushi truck, and tons of halal trucks that offer awesome meats served over salad, with chickpeas or spinach on the side. Om nom nom. Can you blame me for occasionally forgetting my lunch at home?

Aaaand, dinner. This is really the wildest card. I have dinner at my parents’ house once a week, and still tend to eat out quite a bit. But when it comes to cooking (if I’ve been good about grocery shopping) a lot of the time it’ll be something like marinated baked chicken or grilled steak with veggies (green beans, aparagus, brussels sprouts cooked in olive or coconut oil) and probably a salad on the side. If I’m feeling fancy, there might be shrimp or scallops involved, hehe. And there might also be some rice if I’m having dinner with Sean (he’s a rice man through and through, and I don’t say that because he’s half-Asian, I say it because I literally think if rice were the only food left on the planet, he would still be a very happy guy).


Half of this gorgeous filet would go on to become part of my lunch the next day.

Of course, as mentioned above, we still eat out kind a lot. I’m trying to be better about only eating out on the weekends, though it really is something I enjoy, so it’s tough. But from both a health- and monetary-standpoint, I know it’s something I need to work on. All that said, I just want to reemphasize the part about how it is still possible to eat healthy/in line with your current dietary preferences even at a restaurant. It’s just all about making certain choices, and not being afraid to ask about possible substitutions and whatnot.

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Scallops, brussels sprouts, and cauliflower from Clyde’s

Okay! So there we go! This ended up being a much wordier post than I was anticipating, so I’ll cut myself off here. Feel free to weigh in with any comments you may have about my current eats–I really value the insight that I glean from you guys. Plus, I know that someone out there has to have an opinion of some kind. 😉

What do your daily eats look like these days?