CCCC’s: Colleen’s Cocoa Coconut Cookies

The challenge is going well so far, folks!

I’ve been eating a lot of salads, hard boiled eggs, chicken, avocados, fruit (particularly bananas with cinnamon, and clementines), Chex cereal, and gluten-free waffles. Those have been my staples thus far.

Here are a few gluten-free, dairy-free food highlights from the weekend:

Friday afternoon Maggie and I met Megan and the boys at Orange Leaf for some frozen yogurt. I thought I would be sh*t out of luck because I figured all frozen yogurt had dairy in it. But, no! Both the orange and pineapple flavors were dairy-free, so I went with pineapple. I added coconut shreds, walnuts, and strawberries on top. It was good, very refreshing.

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I made pizza on Friday night with gluten-free dough from Whole Foods, red sauce that we had in the freezer (shout out to my lovely mother in law Nancy for making it!), and Daiya mozzarella style shredded cheese (http://us.daiyafoods.com/products/dairy-free-cheese-shreds/mozzarella-style-shreds). It was delicious! Not as great as regular pizza to me (what is?), but quite good.

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Saturday, Megan and I went to look at two gyms in the area and found one we really liked and think we’re going to join. We brought Maggie and Brian along for the ride (pictured below). It was fun having everyone in the same car together! Usually we can’t do that because of the car seat situation, but Meg just put Brian’s seat in my car, and we were good to go.

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Later in the day, Colin, Maggie, and I took a trip to Home Depot. Maggie was not impressed…

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Before Home Depot, Colin and I went to Heavenly Donuts for a coffee. I thought they had almond milk at the location we went to, but they didn’t! I was disappointed, but chose their lactose-free milk option instead. I didn’t really think about it much at the moment that I ordered the coffee, but after I took a sip of it, I said to Colin, “lactose-free milk is still considered dairy isn’t it?” It is, unfortunately, which is not part of the plan. But, it was an honest mistake, so I went with it and enjoyed my coffee.

For dinner, we had steak and salad. Forgot a picture! Don’t worry, it was good. After dinner, I was in DESPERATE need of a sweet treat. I decided to throw together some ingredients and make cookies. Turns out, my gluten-free, dairy-free cookie experiment turned out great. I was pleasantly surprised. Colin (the gluten, dairy lover) even said they were good!

So, without further ado, here are the ingredients for the CCCC’s Colleen’s Cocoa Coconut Cookies (so creative):

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons brown sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1/2 cup coconut flour

1/2 cup white sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup shredded coconut

1 mashed banana

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (I thought I had vegetable but only had canola so just used that)

I mixed everything together and baked them for twenty minutes. Boom! Easy, delicious cookies.

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Today was so beautiful out! We took a ride to Newburyport for some walking and sunshine. We stopped into the Revitalive Cafe (http://www.revitalive.com/about-the-cafe/), and I got a green juice (cucumber, apple, spinach, romaine lettuce, kale, lemon, and ginger) and a dairy-free, gluten-free brownie. It was a nice afternoon snack. I ended up saving half of my brownie for dessert tonight (which was a good call).

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Dinner tonight was chicken on the grill, along with kale and broccoli.

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Thirty minute exercises for the weekend were:

Friday, two barre videos that I did in the kitchen.

Saturday, pushing Maggie up and down the aisles of Home Depot (this counts, people!!).

Today, walked around downtown Newburyport for about forty-five minutes.

I’m relaxing for the rest of the night, and then going to bed soon. Goodnight, y’all!

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Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value Products

I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people know what Whole Foods is these days. What I’m not sure about is, whether or not all of those people know about the different Whole Foods product lines that they offer; especially the very reasonably priced 365 Everyday Value line.

From the Whole Foods website:

Value priced plus high quality

Our 365 Everyday Value® products can fill your pantry without emptying your pocketbook. With value prices every day of the year, our products are formulated to meet all our quality standards, come in both natural and organic selections, and will change the way you shop at Whole Foods Market®. That’s because we have it all — from whole grain flours and shade-grown coffee to organic milk and frozen veggies. We make it easy to stock up on the best products for the best price.

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They offer a variety of products — everything from herbal supplements, cleanses, essential oils, organic pizzas, ice cream, salmon, juice, crackers, soy milk, salad dressing, coffee, and SO MUCH MORE. Recently, the lovely folks at the Whole Foods Andover gave me an awesome basket of products to sample.

Here is a list of what was in the (fabulous) bag — keep in mind, the whole bag was less than $35:

1. Organic Blue Tortilla Chips — Non-GMO Project Verified (The Product Verification Program uses a process that combines on-site facility audits, document-based review and product testing to verify compliance with the standard at every level of the supply chain, from manufacturing facilities to ingredient suppliers. For a product to be verified and bear the seal, it must undergo a process through which any ingredient at high risk for GMO contamination—soy or corn, for example—has been proven to meet the standard through avoidance practices and testing.)

2. 365 Wild Albacore Tuna — 100% pole or troll-caught (Looking for some quick and simple meals to make with canned tuna? Find some here!):

3. Organic Fusilli Pasta

4. Canola Mayo

5. Organic Medium Salsa

6. Organic Green Tea (Colin and I are slightly obsessed with green tea. Are you too? Find some fun and creative ways to serve it here.)

7. Organic Italian Dressing

8. 365 Sparkling Water

9. 365 Water Crackers

10. Artichoke Hearts

11. 365 Citrus Dish Soap: No phosphates, no phthalates, no chlorine and no artificial fragrances. The scents of citrus, lavender and pine come from 100% natural essential oils and there are some unscented options too. Also, there is no animal testing on the products and the packaging is recyclable and made with post-consumer recycled materials.

All of these items adhere to Whole Foods strict quality standards; featuring foods that are free of artificial preservatives, colors, flavors, sweeteners, and hydrogenated fats.

Check it out!

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The afternoon I picked up my bag, I couldn’t help but use some of the products right away! I whipped up a quick pasta dish for dinner that Colin and I ended up loving. I used the organic fusilli pasta, added in the 365 artichoke hearts, and then some sauteed spinach, garlic, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan cheese that we had. Quick, and quite delicious (if I do say so myself).

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If you’re in the area, save the date for Whole Foods Andover’s Spring Tea Party. :)

When: Saturday, March 23rd from 11am–3pm

What: Enjoy a taste of spring with Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value products!

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Check out what’s on sale this week in Andover. And don’t forget to check out Whole Foods Andover on Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date on their sales and events.

I received these Whole Foods products free of charge, but my opinion (as always) is honest, and my own! Thank you to the Whole Foods team for providing me with some of the facts about their products, and for this opportunity.

Chocolate Fest at Whole Foods!

I love chocolate. I’m pretty sure you’ve heard many people say that before. Especially women; I mean, a prerequisite of being a woman is liking chocolate. It doesn’t even have to be every type of chocolate, but at least one of the varieties. I’ve only met one person (in the world) who doesn’t like chocolate — they shall remain nameless for their own protection.

Anyway, back to the point!

Chocolate is wonderful. So is Whole Foods. And so is tasting LOTS of different types/forms of chocolate. “So, what does all of this mean?”, you ask. It means that Chocolate Fest is coming to the Whole Foods Andover this Friday, February 8th from 5:00 — 7:00 p.m. and you should absolutely add it to your calendar. You can find your favorite chocolate, and pick up a few items or ideas for that nice dinner you plan on making your lovah on Valentine’s Day (feel free to take that as an aggressive hint, Colin).

The lovely folks at Whole Foods gave me a bunch of chocolate to try out. It was tough (not!), but somehow I got through it. Thanks again y’all!

Here’s what I got to taste:

1.Taza Chocolate — I tried their Coco Besos Coconut Kisses bar which is 70% stone ground dark chocolate with coconut. I liked all of the chocolate I tried, but this was my favorite! I am such a sucker for dark chocolate AND coconut, so if you put the two together, fuggedaboutit.  It’s organic, Direct Trade certified, gluten-free, dairy free, soy free, and locally made in Somerville MA. (Facebook, Twitter)

2. Cissé Trading Co. — I tried their Signature Semisweet Hot Cocoa which was awesome. Definitely not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill hot cocoa. It’s made with Fair Trade cocoa powder, and a mix of milk and dark chocolate chips. So worth it. (Facebook, Twitter)

3. Raaka Chocolate —  I tried three of these quirky, delicious virgin chocolate bars; the Bourbon Cask Aged bar, the Vanilla Rooibos bar, and the Black Coffee bar. The Black Coffee bar was my favorite, because I am a coffee addict and cannot help myself. All three were bursting with flavors, and that’s what I really liked about these in particular. The bourbon had some caramel going on in there, the vanilla included a delightful hint of cherry and marshmallow, and then the coffee bar offered a toffee/cinnamon kick. Raaka chocolate is vegan, organic, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, and are also wrapped up like little gifts, which really works for me. (Facebook, Twitter)

4. Bixby and Co. — I tried their Heart’s Delight Chocolate Bar which consists of dark chocolate with almonds, strawberries, and Ceylon cinnamon, as well as their Mulligan Chocolate Bar which consists of organic milk chocolate with walnuts, dried currants, and Vietnamese cinnamon. They are different — I personally liked the addition of the nuts in these two. These bars are vegan, organic, gluten-free, and Rainforest Alliance Certified. (Facebook, Twitter)

5. Vosges Haut-Chocolat — Ok, hold on to your hats for these two. I tried Vosges’ Mo’s Milk Bar first. AMAZING. This one consists of 45% deep milk chocolate, hickory smoked uncured bacon, and Alderwood smoked salt. I meant, are you kidding? The salty, sweet combo does not (!) disappoint here. I also tried their Smoke and Stout Caramel Bar which consists of 70% dark chocolate, Rogue Ale’s Chocolate Stout beer, Alderwood smoked salt, and burnt sugar caramel. This was great. Katrina (Vosges founder) must have a really good idea about what makes men happy (you go girl). Chocolate + bacon = a happy man. Chocolate + beer = a very happy man. I could add another component into these equations that would = an elated man, but I will leave that to your imagination. Anyway, these might be a good choice for Valentine’s Day this year, ladies. (Facebook, Twitter)

6. Divine Chocolate — I tried their White Chocolate and Strawberry Hearts. They were, quite literally, divine. Not only were these pretty little hearts really tasty, they are also made with cocoa beans from Kuapa Kokoo — a co-operative of farmers in Ghana. When you buy this chocolate, these farmers get both a fair deal as well as a chance for a better future. A cause that’s definitely worth those chocolate calories, if you ask me. (Facebook, Twitter)

Don’t forget to check out the Andover Whole Foods on Facebook and Twitter as well!

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Happy Chocolate Fest, and happy early Valentine’s Day! :)

Blogoddesses in the square

Healthworks has gone and done it again. They so graciously invited me to their Blogger Picnic this past Tuesday, so of course I obliged (those ladies know how to treat their bloggers!) They started the evening with a walk through the Copley Square Farmers Market (which unfortunately I didn’t get there in time for) and then they moved on to a Bosu class with Kate (which I was tid bit late for but made it to most of.) Kate was a great instructor – really cheerful and motivating and not in an annoying way at all (which I always appreciate in an instructor.)

The Bosu class was WAY more difficult than I thought it was going to be! I should have known after the intense spin class from last time (and I was only there for like 20 minutes! I need to step it up.) I honestly thought I was someone with relatively good balance until I stood on the Bosu. It was hard, but there was definitely an element of fun in the class as well – good music, good company (and I liked jumping and bouncing all over the place to be quite honest.)

After class we all showered (not together, you sicko!), grabbed our bags of food (courtesy of Whole Foods) and headed out to sit and chat in Copley Square. It was a gorgeous night for some maxin’ and relaxin’. I’ve never just sat and hung out in Copley Square. It was awesome and I’m glad the Healthworks mamacitas chose that as our spot.

Farmer's market

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Bloggers everywhere

First we heard from the ladies from Whole Foods (they provided us with our delicious food, either a Turkey sandwich or Avocado – I had avocado – and also orange, cashew and quinoa salad as well as some fruit. So good.) Melissa and Lynay talked to us about their new healthy living revolution. Whole Foods is committed to making it as easy as possible for customers to choose healthy options in order to live a more balanced life. They’ve partnered with Eat Right America to personalize a program for each individual. Basically we have to eat right in order to reach our ideal weight, to feel our best, to have more energy, to overall lead a better life.

Whole Fooders

Outside shot

Yum!

From their pamphlet –

“Whole Foods market was founded in 1980 out of our desire to be a resource for people looking to eat a healthful diet, free from artificial ingredients. Over the years, our Quality Standards have become the benchmark for natural and organic foods.

Our goal remains to help you understand the value of eating natural, fresh, whole foods that are minimally processed. By choosing nutrient-rich foods, and eliminating foods with artificial ingredients , you can improve your health and vitality.”

We also heard from Lauri Meizler, the founder of Joos. All juices are made from 100% organic fruits and vegetables. We got to try the greens based juice, the carrot based juice and the beet based juice. They definitely had a bit of a zing! to them; I think I liked the carrot based juice best.

I mean, if she has arms like this, maybe I should drink a lot of Joos...

Last, but certainly not least, we heard from Kelly the owner of Mix Bakery. The only thing I can say is that I think I’ve become obsessed with these cupcakes. I dream about them, think about them often and wish that everything I eat could be a Mix Bakery cupcake. They are beyond words amazing. I’m not just saying this because Kelly seems like a really fun, nice person, I am saying this because these are 150% the best cupcakes I’ve ever tasted in my entire life. My whole idea of heaven has changed. It’s not clouds and spirits and all of that. Instead, it’s a world filled with Kelly’s cupcakes. Beautiful, fluffy, delicious cupcakes all over the place. And not only are you surrounded by a sea of cupcakes, you can also eat as many as you want, whenever you want to.

Okay, honestly these are the best cupcakes in town so check out her site and place some orders people! You need to try them. We were lucky enough to try Carrot Cake cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as well as Peanut Butter cupcakes. (Thank you Kelly!)

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Delicious!

I had such a lovely time. It was so good to see Elizabeth, Chelsee and Susie, Bridget, Meghan, Elina, Jean, and to meet Sharon and the rest of the bloggers! I wish I got a chance to chat more with everyone, but hopefully we’ll have many more fun blogging events to catch up at. :)

Thanks Judith and Hannah for a fabulous event!! You two are thebomb.com.

And for the daily craic-ers, if you’d like to give Healthworks a try, by all means, please do so with this three-day pass! They weren’t named the Best Women Only Club in America (2010) by Fitness Magazine for nothin’. They are the best. I hope you like it as much as I do!

Is it possible to make potato chips in the microwave?

They stand there, tense. Nobody moves a muscle. Most are crouched in the ‘ready to run’ position as if they were at a track meet, ready to win. Some stare up at the board so intensely their eyes might bulge out of their heads. Everybody stands around, waiting and waiting to make their move. They wait for the man in charge to tell them where to go. Then, ding! The bell goes off and the announcement has been made – there’s no turning back now. The heard of people make a run for it. People are elbowing, pushing, some are even boxing out. Hearts race, anxiety levels rise, sweat pours down their faces.

All to get a good seat on the 5:15 commuter rail.

First let’s start off with this -

I was watching American Idol tonight and Crystal did an amazing version of Janis Joplin’s ‘Me and Bobby McGee.’ Simon mentioned that Pink also did a great cover of this song, so I had to look it up. Pretty impressive.

I heard that the Boloco in Harvard Square is giving away free burritos tomorrow! I work in Kendall, so if this is true you better believe I will be there. I’ll try to update as soon as I get confirmation…

Red Sky Boston has a Tuesday night special – every Tuesday is Ladies 80’s Night from 5pm-9pm. With a $10 drink purchase you get a complimentary three course dinner. Not too shabby. 16-18 North Street, Boston (617) 742-3333 * They also have half price appetizers every day!

http://www.redskyboston.com/events.html

The South End Martini Shopping Crawl is tomorrow from 6pm-9pm at 652 Tremont Street, Boston. Join with the South End Athletic Company, Motley, and South End Eye for *free* cocktails!

For more information, go to their Facebook page here – http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=102503149784782&ref=mf

Tomorrow is the Boston Flower and Garden Show at the Seaport World Trade Center – 1 Seaport Lane, Boston (800) 440-3318, 10am.

Go here to purchase tickets – http://calendar.boston.com/boston-ma/events/show/103678405-boston-flower-garden-show?camp=localsearch:on:twit:ttd

Whole Foods (Symphony) have some *free* cooking demos coming up, this Friday March 26th from 4pm-7pm and Sunday March 28th from 11am-3pm – 15 Westland Ave, Boston (617) 375-1010.

Lastly, is it really possible to make potato chips in the microwave?? I need to try this out…

http://www.parenting.com/recipes-gallery/Recipes/10-White-Foods-for-Picky-Eaters/9/

Have a good night :)

Actually, we’ve got a nice little Saturday planned

Today is Colin and my two-year anniversary – I woke up with a migraine and a pain in my neck – pretty much sums up the two years we’ve been together.

I’m only kidding of course – Colin has been amazing since the day I met him. But I did really wake up with a migraine and a bad pain in my neck so i wasn’t lying about that.

My anniversary treat made me feel much better! Colin got me a beautiful set of pearls and I got him a watch (they don’t call us the A team for nothin’! .. Actually no one has ever called us the A team, except us maybe. And only because we’re lame.) Due to the pearls, my family is now worried for us. Apparently one of the many Irish folk tales says something about the fact that you aren’t supposed to buy pearls for someone else. How is Colin supposed to know that? He’s a Guido (yes, even with the name Colin!) So, you’re only supposed to buy them for yourself. My Nana used to say that ‘if you buy pearls for someone else, there will be tears.’ So now my brother thinks we’re gonna break up. My sister told me I had to give Colin $1 so that I ‘bought’ the pearls for myself. If we break up I’ll give him back the damn pearls so he can take them to a pawn shop and get some money back, how’s that?

We’re making  a nice anniversary dinner tonight – steak  au poivre, sweet potatoe fries, baked mac and cheese and some red wine. For dessert we have a slice of vanilla bean cheesecake and a slice of cookie dough cheesecake (Colin stopped at the Cheesecake Factory on the way over today – he’s pretty good, I’m not gonna lie.)

              

For our anniversary we went and did some really fun and romantic things such as going to Costco to get new contacts and Whole Foods for some grocery shopping. Our trip to Costco was interesting; we had to drive out-of-the-way to get there so I just wanted to run in and out. When you’re hoping for something to go smooth and quick, does it ever? I told the woman I didn’t have my prescription but that I got my exam there with the Costco eye doctor. She looked for it and found it. She asked me how many boxes of contacts I wanted, they had them in stock, she rang me up, I paid, I was all set. I was pumped cause it didn’t take long at all!

But not so fast…

While I was making sure I had everything, I saw that the name on the prescription I was holding was my sister Megan’s, not mine. Excellent. I went back to the lady at the counter to tell her, and thus the craziness began. She went in the doctor’s office to get my prescription cause she couldn’t find mine at the counter. She came back with the prescription, I said I’d like five boxes please, she returned the wrong contacts, she rang me up for the right ones, they only had four boxes in stock, I said I’d just take four then, she gave me the stink eye, and then her two co-workers came over. I thought I was going to get kicked out of Costco for causing such a ruckus. Three people were trying to figure out how to void the coupon, how much money I was supposed to get back, ect. etc. They were arguing and giving each other ‘tude right there for everyone to see. I was getting anxious and it seemed as though my migraine was sneaking back in. I finally escaped Costco with my contacts (and two bottles of wine – after that experience I was ready to pop one open before we got to the card/receipt checker person!)

Next was Whole Foods. We had to get our ingredients for our anniversary dinner and I decided to do my grocery shopping for the week. I’ve never done a big shopping trip at Whole Foods but I was pleasantly surprised with how much everything cost; I got everything I needed and it wasn’t bad at all! Some granola, banana chips, walnuts, strawberries, blueberries, cantaloupe, green grapes, bananas, humus, english muffins, spinach, onion, cucumber, red pepper, carrots, chicken breasts, ground beef, yogurt, peanut butter… Lots of good, healthy groceries. When I got home I made a fruit salad for the week, sampling some fruit as I chopped and let me tell you – the fruit from Whole Foods is delicious. Highly recommend it.

On a more random note… I think I want a pet lamb. Dogs are soo last year.

I take back my dog comment. Look at this little bugger – my niece Lady. How could you not love her?

     

It’s 8:14 and we haven’t eaten yet. Colin’s cooking and I better get in there to see if he needs any help…….