My first Foodie Pen Pals post!

I have some questions for you,

  • Do you like food?
  • Do you enjoy receiving packages in the mail?
  • Do you enjoy sharing things with others?

If you answered “yes” to these questions, then you should consider participating in FOODIE PEN PALS.

So far, I have participated in the March and April foodie pen pals cycles. The way it works is this: you put your name on the list. Someone else gets your name, and they mail you a package of food. You get someone else’s name (not the same person who is sending you food) and mail them a package of food.

The name matches are released on the 5th of the month. You mail your package by the 15th of the month. You write about the package you receive on the last day of the month.

That’s the program in a nutshell. A more detailed explanation can be found here.

MARCH

Unfortunately, I did not write about the package I received in March. I was dealing with some dumb crap at the time and posting about Foodie Pen Pals kind of slipped through the cracks. The package Kris sent me was great… I’ve already eaten much of what was in the package so I can’t write an all-too detailed account of the goodies. But since they’re gone, that’s a good sign!

Treats I remember are some dried bananas from Trader Joe’s (so good!), dried seaweed, almonds, trail mix, gltuen-free cookies, and…

…Snapea crisps! I’ll admit, I was skeptical of these when I first saw them. But they are actually tasty! I would recommend them.

Thanks Kris! And sorry for the super late post.

APRIL

I was very excited to receive my package from Colette!

I had told her that I have a bit of a weakness for peanut butter…

The package contained some oatmeal, almonds, Trader Joe’s dried strawberry strips, peanut butter-covered pretzels, PB2 (POWDERED peanut butter! Seriously, you need to check this out!), …

…Some Dark Chocolate Tahitian Vanilla Caramels (they tasted as divine as they sound),

…and some organic peanut butter cups. I may or may not have eaten these as part of breakfast one day.

Both months, I have been very pleased to receive items from Trader Joe’s. I have never been to a Trader Joe’s, but I hear they have a bit of a cult following for their low prices and good food. From the Trader Joe’s-brand food I have tasted through Foodie Pen Pals, I can see why people like the store so much. Believe it or not, there are currently no Trader Joe’s stores in Texas (I think…). However several are under construction.

Hopefully, soon, I will be able to visit my local Trader Joe’s to eat some of their yummy food rather than wait for it in the mail.

What did I send MY Foodie Pen Pals? My March pen pal, Carrie, blogged about the package I sent her here. Check out her blog, “Lift Eat Repeat,” too. It’s a good read.

My April pen pal, Martha, does not have a blog (yet). But she said she enjoyed what I sent her 🙂

Think you would enjoy participating in Foodie Pen Pals? …DO IT.

(Click on the pic below to go to the Foodie Pen Pals page. And check out Lindsay’s blog, the Lean Green Bean, while you’re at it!)

The Lean Green Bean

Peace, Love and Liberty (and yummy eating),

Ann

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From the Weekend

Sometimes the words for my blog posts come easily; sometimes they don’t. I want to show my neglected blog some love, but I’m at a loss for words. Luckily I have some pictures.

^Me channelling Conway Twitty at Recycled Books. I bought this record. It was only $5.00.

^ Went to Mr. Frosty Drive-N (no longer a drive in). There are times in my life when I feel like a human anachronism, and being in this restaurant was one of them. This place opened in 1954 and very little has changed.

^A Coke float at Mr. Frosty Drive-N. It was good, however I hear the best things about their shakes. It’s on my to-do list to try one.

^An acai bowl from Seven Mile Cafe. Description from the menu, “Granola topped with organic Brazilian Acai berry puree blended with strawberries, bananas, almond milk and and apple juice topped with more granola, sliced fruit and agave syrup.” It was just as delicious as it sounds.

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^I wish I had thought to snap a pic of the courthouse this weekend. I spent quite a bit of time on the square.

I’m looking forward to this week (no, really!).

Peace, Love and Liberty,

Ann

Oats & De-stressing

Yesterday, I tried “oats in a jar” for the first time. I got the idea from the awesome health blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.

I had tried soy nut butter, and the jar was nearly empty. The day before, I put 1/2 cup of rolled oats, 1 cup of soy milk and some cinnamon into the jar. I let it sit in the fridge overnight, and what I got in the morning was delicious!

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BTW, soy nut butter is really good and tastes very similar to peanut butter. I would recommend it to people with peanut allergies, or people looking to try something other than peanut butter.

I currently have a jar of almond butter, and I can’t wait until it’s nearly empty so that I can do oats in a jar again.

Now for an update…

I’m about one month into the semester, and whenever people ask me how my semester has been, I always say it’s been pretty “meh.” It really has been. I let my stress and anxiety progress and take a stranglehold of my sanity.

The stress piqued when I was sick on and off for about 3 weeks. I would get really stressed/anxious, and then I would start throwing up (sorry if that was TMI). Then for several hours, I wouldn’t be able to keep any food down. It was terrible. I went to a doctor, who said that I had a virus that I probably would have recovered from sooner if it weren’t for all the stress.

THANKFULLY, I’m doing better now.

Sadly, I haven’t worked out regularly in…a few months. I’ve been able to fit in a workout here and there, but as far as going to the gym regularly every week, I have been a total failure. So when I went to the doctor, it added to my stress to find that I had gained…*drumroll* ELEVEN pounds since the last time I weighed myself! (which was probably last November) So even though I had been throwing up every other night (not by choice, mind you) I still managed to pack on some stress pounds.

This is news that NO woman wants to hear, trust me!

I realized that I know what I need to do to make my life easier; it was just a matter of DOING it. So, I’ve been trying to de-stress my life as much as I can.

I went to a boot camp class at the gym today. It was really hard. Definitely harder for me than it would have been this time a year ago. But I’m so glad I went…nothing helps me to de-stress quite like working out does. My plan is to keep going back to the gym, at least 3 times during the week and at least once on the weekend. I set a goal to lose 15 pounds, but I don’t have a “by when” date. I guess just as soon as I can get there the healthy way.

I’ve been trying to cut down on how much sugar I eat/drink. I have a sweet tooth, and I know sugar can be responsible for a multitude of health problems. Plus, my recently-deceased grandma was diabetic, which I guess makes me more susceptible. Eating less sugar won’t hurt with losing weight, either!

And while browsing Kroger the other week, I saw this tea:

I thought, “Stress relief? Hell yes!” and bought some. And I think it really works! (Even if it’s just a placebo effect, as long as it has any effect at all, I’m happy).

OT, I also saw this:

I guess this is how Yoda describes “I Can’t Believe it’s Not Butter!”

Another thing I think could help bring down my stress would be trying minimalism! Which is, quite simply, living with less stuff!! I think it would be so freeing to not place such a high emphasis on material possessions, and learn to appreciate what I already have. Last week I stumbled onto the blog, The Everyday Minimalist and I’ve been reading it every day since. I plan on trying to take on minimalism slowly, and blogging about it.

That’s it. I hope everyone else’s lives are stress-free as can be!

Peace, Love and Liberty,

Ann

Song of the Day:

Alright by Supergrass

College Cooking: Turkey & Veggie Spaghetti

Last night, I was hungry for dinner, and I decided that I had had enough of fast food and Easy Mac. So I decided to channel my inner June Cleaver and cook myself a meal.

I chose a recipe that I found on another blog: Turkey and Veggie spaghetti from Just A Titch. Thanks Amy!!

In my opinion, spaghetti is a pretty good staple food to make in college. It’s not easy to mess up. It doesn’t take very long. You can make a lot at once to put in the fridge and eat for a couple days. And, you can make it as healthy (or unhealthy) as you want it.

I used whole wheat spaghetti noodles – the thinner kind. I also used the same veggies as Amy did: asparagus, bell peppers, and broccoli. I used spaghetti sauce from a jar, and ground turkey that had Italian seasoning.

I live in a dorm that’s about 60 years old, give or take a couple years. It actually comes with a little kitchenette! Nothing fancy and a little dinky, but still a step up from the kitchen-less dorm rooms I have lived in before.

Kitchen view one – note the cell block walls and the 70’s-style groovy yellow counters. Don’t mind how it’s semi-messy :3

Kitchen view two- the stove. This was my set up while I was cooking the noodles. I have Teen Mom (yes, the MTV reality show, one of my guilty pleasures) on my laptop. The FiberOne is on the counter because of lack of cabinet space…

I followed the recipe pretty much verbatim as Amy described it.

And…how do I put this? I had never…um…browned meat before. (Surely I’m not the ONLY one, right?) But I found this AWESOME how-to on StartCooking.com. I’m going to check the rest of that website out because it looks pretty straightforward and useful.

This was the end result:

I mixed it all together in this bowl. I was talking to my boyfriend on speakerphone and said “Uhhh…can I call you back while I scarf down some of this pasta? It looks delicious…”

Scarf it down,  I did.

YUM!

It was delicious. Such a good break from the crappy, stereotypical college kid meals that I usually eat. And, I have enough left over for me to eat tomorrow, and probably the next day; and probably enough for my roommate, Bonnie, to have some as well.

This was my dessert:

I’m a fan of FiberOne products (you probably noticed the cereal on my counter earlier in the post). When I found out that FiberOne was coming out with brownies, I thought, HELLZ YEAH! And the brownie did not disappoint.

It was just the right size and had the right amount of sweetness to taste dessert-y. It had chocolate chips in it, which earns kudos from me, because my favorite brownies have chocolate chips in them.

And not only was it chocolate-y and peanutbutter-y (the perfect combination) it contained 90 calories and 20% of my daily value of fiber!

When I finish the spaghetti leftovers, I would really like to cook another college-living-friendly meal and blog about it on here. So I’m on the lookout for recipes now!

Have a delicious week, everyone.

Peace and Love,

Song of the Day: Awake and Alive by Skillet

What the Health?: Intro

I’ve been blogging for a while now (since I got a Xanga when I was 13), but only recently have I started reading other blogs on a regular basis. I love it! There is a blog out there for just about anything you could imagine, fashion, politics, travel, food, …I could go on. One of my favorite types of blogs to read is health blogs! Health blogs, like Healthy Tipping Point and the “Does a Body Good” section of Rachel Wilkerson’s blog, provide me with a plethora of new information, ideas for exercising/eating, inspiration, and motivation.

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If there’s one thing I’ve learned about health, it’s this: that health is a journey, not necessarily a destination. I have always known that health is important, but I haven’t always known what the best way is to go about pursuing a healthy lifestyle.

When I first realized my junior year of high school that: my metabolism was slowing down, that I needed to stop living off of Dr. Pepper and waffles, and that I had to get up from my seat at the computer and break a sweat for once, I found myself thinking…

“WHAT the health?”

Calories? Carbohydrates? Resting heart rate? Target heart rate? Body Mass Index? I heard all the fitness and nutrition jargon, but wasn’t really sure what to make of all of it. I knew that I was supposed to exercise, but wasn’t sure where to start. I wanted to eat right, but my diet consisted of mostly CARBS with the occasional fruit or vegetable (and sweets; lots and lots of sweets…).

Needless to say, changes were made. I learned the strange terms. I tried different forms of physical activity until I found something that worked for me; something that I enjoyed, even. I learned to incorporate plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and other good things into my diet as well as carbs. I learned, but it didn’t happen all at once.

It’s overwhelming at first. I know, because I’ve been there. I figured it out eventually through trial and error, and I’m still learning more every day. I remember how much I valued hearing good, sound advice. I take in as much as I can!

“What the health” (WTHealth?) is going to be a “column” that I write on this blog about my experiences about pursuing a healthy lifestyle; such as: how I am working out,  what I am eating, new things I’m trying, and how I’m managing (or not managing…) to do it all while living the life of a college student.

If you’re like me, you don’t want complicated jargon thrown at you. You don’t want a product or diet system to be pitched to you (hello, shake weights!). AND you don’t want erroneous details that are just going to confuse you even more. You want real, up-front advice. As in, this is what I’ve tried and here’s what you should know about it.

I’m thinking about doing the column every Wednesday, but I’m not sure yet. I want to do WTHealth? on a weekly basis, for sure.

Topics are going to include: healthy eating, exercise, sleep, cooking, healthy college lifestyle, motivation, and…

NOT HATING YOUR BODY!! 🙂

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Trying to be more healthy can be a daunting task. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re doing it alone. Put on your sneakers and join me!

Peace and Love,

Ann