The Pre-Packaged Problem

“Eat real food.”

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How many times have you heard this slogan passed from person to person, blogger to blogger? Put real, whole foods in your body and reap the rewards. Heck, I say it all the time! It’s there because it’s true. I feel better, both physically and emotionally, when I’m fueling my body with honest-to-goodness, grown from the earth food. The thing is, even after you take out the fact that sometimes the fake, pre-packaged stuff can be kinda awesome (in the moment, at least), real life is not always conducive to eating real food.

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There isn’t always time to make your own crackers or bake your own bread from scratch. My experience making my own chicken stock taught me this well! So how do you balance out the cost and convenience of pre-packaged items with the knowledge that pumping your body full of preservatives and chemically-altered foodstuffs probably ain’t the best thing?

Because of my tendency to have an all-or-nothing mentality, I generally am either completely on or off the wagon when it comes to eating cleanly. I could be munching on nothing but tupperware containers filled with grapes, strawberries, and celery with natural peanut butter (like I may or may not be doing right now) on any given day, but the following week I might be heating up a Lean Cuisine, eating it with a side of Triscuits, and having a spoonfull of Nutella for dessert.

I think it’s all about balance (could I BE more cliche?), as with all things when it comes to diet and a well-rounded lifestyle. I’m still working on trying to find my own middle-ground. I think it’s safe to say that some brands of pre-packaged what-have-yous are better than others too (though again, cost issues may come into play here). I’m a big fan of Kashi, Cascadian Farms, and the Whole Foods 365 brand products, and try to pour those into my cart more often than Nabisco and Kraft (though obviously, I often fail, haha).

How do you balance eating clean with cost and convenience?

Whole Paycheck

In the event that perhaps you have been trapped in a cave with 30 other Chilean miners or suffered some other catastrophic loss of all communication with the outside world, you may be unaware that DC’s own LivingSocial offered up quite the tantalizing deal on Tuesday.

For $10 you could get a voucher worth $20 at our beloved Whole Foods, where it’s easy (or whatever’s easier than easy) to spend over $100 in a single trip. Bloggers o’er the entire blogosphere were rejoicing! People I barely talk to outside of Facebook were emailing me their deal referrals (sorry, friends, but I jumped on this ish like 5 seconds after it was released, hahaha) and my Twitter and Facebook feeds were blowing up. This deal set the record for the fastest sold-out LivingSocial deal EVER, hitting 1,000,000 (that’s a MILLION, folks) in less than 20 hours.

Whole Foods is the bomb diggity. But, of course, it might blow my mind with its awesomeness, but it also blows my wallet wide open, which is why I usually stick to the equally great but oh-so-much-cheaper Trader Joe’s on regular occasions. So, naturally, the minute I got my voucher, I was ready to spend it.

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I really did intend to only buy $20 worth… but as you can see, that didn’t really happen. It’s like you’re put under a magical, organic-buying haze when you step into that store! Oh well, I got over $50 worth of stuff for $30 (Well, $40, if you count the original $10 spend on the deal.) and that’s still 20% off so I’m a happy bear!

Behold:

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Kombucha, almond milk, soy milk, PB&Co.’s White Chocolate Wonderful peanut butter (!!)

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Cilantro, green beans, bananas, red grapes, grape tomatoes, and a lime.

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Daiya vegan cheddar cheese, sunflower seeds from the bulk bins, and some hot bar action.

Soooo, the first photo alone pretty much showcases where I would have had to stop if I had really only been spending $20. Worth it, hehe. And I know it seems SUPER random because I have things like cilantro and a single lime in there, but I really do have plans for those things, I promise.

Tomorrow Steve and I head over to his home state of Delaware for his friend’s wedding. We’re actually driving over tonight, and thus wedding #2 of 2011 begins. Just 3 more to go after this… oy. Not sure what posting is going to look like for tomorrow due to the festivities, but you can be sure to get a full recap when I’m back.

Did you take advantage of the Living Social deal? Spend it yet? What WOULD you spend it on if you had one?

PS: The 36th annual Taste of Falls Church Festival is happening this Saturday (9/17) from 10 – 4 in Falls Church! I desperately want to make it back in time to go to this, because it’s always so much fun. If you’re local, you should check it out! (I’m announcing this not because I was asked to, but just because I LOVE it!)

PPS: OMGOMGOMGOMGOMG VAMPIRE DIARIES COMES BACK TONIIIIIIIGHT!!! Except… we got rid of TV so I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to watch it. SOB. (NO. SPOILERS.)

Yoga, Mountains, Food, & Deodorant

Yup. Most random blog post title ever. But believe me — all of these things are absolutely relevant, and it’s been less than 24-hours into the Fitness & Health Bloggers Conference! Things have already been a whirlwind of education, activity, and excitement! I’ll try to keep this succinct, but be forewarned that Colorado is kind of beautiful. So, you know. I’ve been taking a lot of pictures.

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You probably understand why. ๐Ÿ™‚

So after yesterday’s opening keynote speech, the sessions included talks on working with companies & PR firms as a blogger, as well as hearing from two bloggers that have successfully parlayed their blogs into books! Both very interesting, and very educational. In the true spirit of this being a fitness & health bloggers’ conference though, things were broken up with a sweet little fitness break:

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And after the sessions the whole group walked over to Whole Foods Boulder for a special dinner they prepared just for us!

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Heather, Anne, and Theodora were more than happy to pose for pics on the way. ๐Ÿ™‚

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And they served up quite the feast! Since so many of the conference attendees have special dietary needs and preferences, the meal was completely vegan — and totally delicious!

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Strawberry Gazpacho Shooters

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Tofu Spring Rolls wrapped in Bok Choi

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Cucumber-wrapped Salads

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Roasted sweet potatoes and cheese-less grilled pizzas

And for dessert…

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Some kind of cashew cream-lemon-mousse-something-DELICIOUSNESS.

After our meal we popped inside the Whole Foods building to pick up some libations…

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And showcase Theodora’s inappropriate love for kombucha.

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Don’t worry folks. Most of the time she looks much more like this:

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BAHAHAHA.

Then it was back to the hotel for the opening night cocktail party! I’ll give you one guess who the sponsor was.

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Yup! Degree Women deodorant — see? It all comes full-circle, hahaha. Don’t worry, I didn’t walk out of there with those deodorants. Not all of them anyway… kekeke.

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Guess they didn’t get the memo about what kind of conference this is, hahaha! Don’t worry, I stuck to the fruit plate:

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And about a quarter of this local beer (too hoppy for me!)

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Before I totally passed out at around 10 PM. In my defense, I’d been up since 6:30, and it was midnight on the east coast! Besides, my alarm was set super early for…

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7 AM yoga taught by Kia,

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Concierge lounge breakfast (thanks again, Papa!) with LOX! Mmmm.

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And an early morning photoshoot… I can’t help it! It’s just so beautiful here!

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I hope everyone else’s weekend is going as well! Now it’s time for me to sign off so I can actually pay attention to this next session on social media, which we already know is something I am super interested in!

Breakfast with a FT Job

I don’t know if you had a chance to see my daily eats post from yesterday yet, but let me tell you. I had the most EPIC at-work breakfast ever, and I wanted to tell you aaaaaall about it. I don’t know why I haven’t done a post on prepping breakfast at work yet! As I’ve mentioned before, eating breakfast every day has been so, so essential for my diet and weight loss. But with a fulltime job, especially one like mine that starts bright and early at 7 AM each day, getting in a nutritious first meal can be challenging. Pop-tarts just don’t cut it anymore, I’m afraid!

Behold!

Your Ingredients:

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Your Equipment:

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Your Instructions:

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Bring a tupperware container or microvewave-safe bowl with you, and crack your eggs into it (look, it’s smiling!) Season them with salt & pepper (or if you have an entire spice rack at work, feel free to go nuts! Haha) and whisk it all together with a super classy plastic fork.

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Pop your eggs into the microwave for 1 minute. If you peer into the microwave during this time, it will look like your eggs are ballooning up and you will fear they will explode. Do not worry. They will not explode. When the minute is over, they will look like this:

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Tip: if it’s possible to spray your egg container with nonstick spray, do it. It’s not a necessity, but just be aware that if you don’t then some egg is likely to stick to the sides of the bowl. Not a big deal, just soak the container right after you remove the patty from it. Also, it’s generally a good idea to get the patty out right away, as the colder it gets the more likely it is to stick.

Anyway, instead of radiating your eyeballs by peering into the microwave while your egg patty cooked, you should have been toasting your sandwich thin, english muffin, bagel, or whatever and slicing up your tomato with an equally classy plastic knife.

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BREAKFASTWICH, ASSEMBLE!

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I used 1 tbsp of smoked salmon spread, but you could use anything. A laughing cow cheese wedge, cream cheese, butter – it’s your choice! Seriously, creating this very filling, highly satisfying breakfast takes 5 minutes. Of course, if you don’t have a microwave in your office, you’re probably hating me right now, but you could also prepare your egg patty at home and just assemble your sandwich at work instead. I’ve definitely done that a few times before realizing I could do it all without running (quite as) late. Hahaha.

So quick recap of the rest of my day yesterday:

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I hit up Whole Foods to pick up a few things. Proving yet again that I really need to get into couponing, I walked out with the following:

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Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt (the medium tubs of Fage are on sale for $2.99!)
Pineapple
Tzatziki Sauce (I have plans for this…!)
Pesto

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2 organic avocados
2 bags frozen fruit (tropical medley! Ole!)
Pre-cut veggies for grillin’
Organic red grapes
Mushrooms

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Yellow mustard
Almond Breeze (original flavor)
2 cans tuna
1 can salmon

While there, I also blew $4 on my very first Kombucha.

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Have you heard of this? It’s a “living foods” drink that is made with some kind of like fermented mushroom thing. It sounds super weird, and it is, but it’s supposed to have all kinds of health bennies (that’s “benefits” for the abbreviation-resistant of you) like aiding digestion (which I need!), and… you know, other stuff. I’m still learning all about it, obviously, considering this was my first one! Verdict? It was… interesting. It smells kind of like wine. Which makes sense, since it’s fermented. And while it doesn’t taste bad, per se, it’s definitely something I’ll have to get used to. I liked that it effervesces though (and does it naturally!) Drinks are so much more fun when they’re bubbly.

Since Whole Foods is located in the same shopping center as the pet store I go to, Wylie Wagg, I also stopped in for some necessities for these tykes:

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Namely, dog food, since I literally fed them the last piece of kibble from the container that morning. Cutting it a little close!

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Not that anybody cares to know this, but I feed the dogs California Natural Herring & Sweet Potato dog food, and sometimes I mix in some Merrick wet dog food as well. I did a lot of research on dog food nutrition when I got Daxter, since managing Harry’s nailbed condition means really upping the ante in terms of his diet, and I heartily recommend both of these brands.

Clearly, they’re fans too:

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Speaking of Harry’s condition, actually… remember last week when I had the joyous experience of rushing Daxter to the emergency vet when he had a bad reaction to his vaccinations? Well, the fun just never stops in this household. Harry has what is called symmetrical lupoid onychodystrophy (try saying that ten times fast!), and it seems to have reared his ugly head again. See how in the background of the first picture of them above, he is holding his foot up? Here’s a better look:

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My poor babyyyyy! He’s my adorable little cripple right now, refusing to put any weight on his little tootsie. Harry’s rare condition, when it flares up, causes his nails to crack down the underside and literally separate from his nailbeds. It’s like his body is rejecting his own nails. Needless to say it’s very painful, and it took 4 separate vet visits (2 regular, 2 emergency) and a crapton of money before it was even diagnosed. There isn’t really a cure, but it’s usually manageable with a diet that is high in Omega fatty acids, through food or supplements, or both. Hence the herring-flavored dog food, haha.

Okie dokie. I think I’ve taken up enough of your Friday morning. Let’s end this on, if not a happy note, at least an interesting question. Have you ever tried Kombucha? What health benefits have you experienced? I think this is going to be one of those things that I desperately want to like, so we’ll have to see if that actually ends up happening, haha.

PS – Crammed my 20 minutes o’ exercise in at the last minute last night: a hail mary set of crunches, lady-pushups (on knees), yoga poses, stretching, and a few pathetic plank attempts. All set to the beautiful beep of my stopwatch. ๐Ÿ˜‰