Fancy Food Hidden Gems

I totally human nature to keep to what’s comfortable.  From clothes to fitness workouts and even the items we stock the pantry with.  The same peanut butter you grew up on, the same cereals from those good ‘ol camping trips, or even the same brand of milk or yogurt.   But once you’ve seen something new and fabulous, it really is difficult to go back.

It’s always nice to throw a couple of new goodies in the shopping cart when I’m at home, mostly because my mom will pay for it (if she doesn’t catch it before it slips through the conveyer belt) 🙂  But when I’m on my I don’t do it as much I like to pick up new samples when I’m shopping at home.

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Breakfast Time
~ Power O’s ~ Purely Elizabeth ~ Bob’s Red Mill ~

Love Grown Food Power O’s
~ www.lovegrownfoods.com ~

Purely Elizabeth Granola
~ www.purelyelizabeth.com ~

Bob’s Red Mill
We all know this brand for it’s wide selection of flours, oats, mixes, and more.  Their motto is “whole grains from the heart” and who could argue with that? Bob founded his company on the idea of taking care of one’s health and it certainly is a name you can trust.
~ Products ~ Recipes ~

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Grady’s Cold Brew
~ www.gradyscoldbrew.com ~

This New Orleans-style iced coffee is actually brewed and bottled here in New York (Brooklyn to be specific).  I’ve spotted it in quite a few stores, most notably Whole Foods, and boy do they have some great recipes – from the normal iced brew to a boozy sort and even smoothies (they are big on the chia seeds too 😉 )!  They’ve recently started selling coffee bean bags, which are perfect for brewing your own cold brew coffee at home.

What makes it so special? (source)
~ One 32oz bottle makes 8 cups of coffee (iced or hot)
~ Gourmet iced coffee straight from your fridge & fresh for a month!
~ All-natural ingredients: water, coffee, chicory, spices.  No preservatives!
~ Low-acidity (clutch)
~ Locally brewed and bottled by hand out of Brooklyn, NY

IMG_5296_Fotor_CollageAnd who could forget the delicious dairy aisle?
~ Siggi’s Yogurt ~ Arctic Zero ~ Fage + Fage Fruyo ~ Magnolia ~

Magnolia Iced Treats 
~ www.magnoliaplease.com ~
Premium tropical ice cream, made in the USA with real fruit.  Just grab a bowl and you are transported straight to the islands of Hawaii. Aloooooha!

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Nikki’s Coconut Butter
~ http://www.nikkiscoconutbutter.com/ ~
Paleo + Vegetarian
Gluten + Dairy Free
Made with organic coconut + natural organic sweeteners

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“Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Mrs. Field Meets the Valley

Cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Nature Valley bars.  What do all these glorious things have in common?  My quasi-experimented recipe – Chocolate Chip Granola Cookies.  Sure I love my regular chocolate chippers but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve graduated to the extra crunch with chocolate chip oatmeal.  Then, with my granola-parfait obsession, I figured why not break the cookie barriers?  I mean, I’ve already conquered the Junk in Da Trunk, so granola should be a seemingly easy addition.  I didn’t want to go into as much of analysis of the chocolate chip cookie as this writer did and pulled a typical Kaitlin – throw all the ingredients together and hope it works out.

The inspiration started awhile back when my mom sent me a torn out recipe of such cookies.  Then let’s add in the fact that I came home from the 2014 Blend Retreat with oodles of trail mix and granola swag, including Nature Valley Granola. SCORE!  I’ve been a loyal Nature Valley customer for over 8 years.

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The sweet and crunchy taste reminds me of high school days and pre-cross country snacks and helped aid many tedious college group projects.  The really helped me get through the group dynamics more than the projects but that’s a story for another day.

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Chocolate Chip-Granola Cookies
~36 cookies

Ingredients

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter (or coconut oil) softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1.5 cup chocolate (preferably dark chocolate chips/chunks)
1 cup granola
1/2 cup rolled oats

Directions

1. Stir together dry ingredients – flour, granola, salt, and baking soda and set aside. (Preheat oven to 350F while mixing the dough)

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2. In a different bowl mix the butter for about 30 seconds.

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IMG_5070Of course it’s normal to watch TV while baking.   Just don’t get distracted trying to translate the soccer matches from Spanish into English while you are mixing ingredients. 

3. Add in sugar and continue to beat. Beat in eggs and vanilla until combined.

IMG_50724. Slowly add in the flour mixture until fully incorporated.

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5. Lastly, add in the chocolate chips.

IMG_50776. Divide up the dough using tablespoons or your own hands.  Separate on a cookie sheet and place in the oven for about 9-10 minutes or until the bottoms of the cookies start to brown.

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7. Cool on a cookie sheet or serve up warm with a beverage of your choice.  I’m partial to a tall glass of milk – regular or almond 🙂
*Cookies can covered at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze up to three months

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I’m almost positive this came from a Rachel Ray recipe, but am not 100% sure as it wasn’t on the tear-out recipe that my mom sent.  Oops.

*Although we were gifted bags of Nature Valley granola, this post reflects my own thoughts on all products 

WIAW #55 – Welcome Fall

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Ladies and gentlemen, it’s officially time to kick off fall-eats as we bounce our way into October.  I wasn’t able to get around to Jenn’s weekly WIAW last week, but have included a medley of items that have tided me over during the past week.  I also was able to spend some time with a friend from Santa Clara this past weekend, but more on that later this week.

I’ve been trying to work out in the mornings, either at the 24 hour fitness by my work or run with my friends Leah and Laura.  From there I walk the remaining distance to work, turn on my computer, and put together something to start the day.

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Breakfasts of late have included the blogger obsession … PUMPKIN!!!  I’ve included the delectable squash in a variety of forms.  This includes I Quit Sugar Pumpkin Granola atop pumpkin parfaits with Chobani yogurt to pumpkin oatmeal with a dab of peanut butter and blueberries.  All alongside a cup of cold brewed coffee from Pushcart Coffee.  Yesterday I found out that I can purchase a bottle of cold brew and then use it to purchase refills in the future.  This is an excellent way to buy decent cold coffee and then spread it throughout the week.
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On another note, I’m still looking forward to visiting the Chobani Store in SOHO.   Last week I found it for the first time and now I’m just waiting for the perfect time to go.  Maybe after a free yoga class at Lululemon?  Sounds like the perfect morning to me. 

IMG_0569Lunches have been semi-boring in the office. Here we have leftover chicken with pesto from the night before, brussels sprouts, grilled vegetables, and a side salad.  I try to stick to some basics at lunch, hold off from snacking on too much but then again, with the spread we get in the office, it’s pretty tough to avoid.  That being said, I find a handful of nuts here or some carrots and grapes there.

IMG_0570_Fotor_CollageI’m still in the habit of having something sweet at the end of the day, so I’ve been taking a slice of the Green Street zucchini bread I stuck in the freezer and a glass of almond milk. The bread was actually sent to me by my grandparents in a recent care package.  How do you like the classy presentation of almond milk in the wine glass?  I try 🙂

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Ah dinner.  Now I’m someone who LOVES to sit down and eat.  I could pick up a slice of pizza and eat it as I make my way home, but I’d rather use the half hour walk to decompress and brainstorm about the possibilities.  Since I didn’t have a chance to grab groceries this past weekend, I needed to stop somewhere and pick up some veggies.  This was what I created last night – roasted acorn squash with sauteed asparagus, kale, and chicken sausage.

Ok, there are WAY too many articles out there about pumpkin, but I do have to include a couple here.  First, if you are a die-hard Trader Joe’s fan, you’ll love Run Eat Repeat’s post.  Then, here’s a whole slew of pumpkin and October related Buzzfeed articles.  Really, can I provide any other ways for you to procrastinate at work?

What’s your favorite item to make or eat for fall?  Do you like working out in the morning or evening?

Bliss of the Sierras

There’s just something about being in the high sierras.  I don’t know if it’s the clean and crisp air, the fresh pines that surround every turn, or the authenticity of the people walking through town or hiking the surrounding trails.  It’s one of my favorite places to escape to in the summer.  Even when we were little and were bouncing between soccer tournaments and cross-country practices, we made time for this altitude getaway.

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Bodie always enjoys a walk through the village where the locals and tourists are enjoying one another’s company alongside a Mammoth Brewery ale.
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If we’re lucky, our trip is accompanied by a tart caramel apple or maybe sample of the famous Ben & Jerry’s shop.  No Vermonster for us, but maybe a scoop of our favorite – Coconut Seven Layer Bar.

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Most trips are packed between running, hiking, biking, and then collapsing on the porch with a good book.  We usually pack in most of our groceries, relying on Trader Joes from home, but often have to pick up some last minute essentials from the only grocery store in town. Sure the restaurants in town are one of a kind, but we prefer to make some of our Fuelling favorites – tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, fajitas…get the picture?  We are certainly a Tex-Mex kind of family, especially with our close connection to the Lawry’s brand.  But that’s a story for another day.

Speaking of favorites, who says you can’t have two favorites?  I mean, would your parents say they favor one sibling over another?  If they do, that’s just not fair, but it’s a whole different issue in itself.  I think it comes down to the fact that just like people, products have their special qualities that make them unique.  It’s how Meghan and I are quite opposites but have learned to create a balance in our household.  (Note: this took YEARS to achieve)

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I’m talking about yogurt here.  For example, you’ve seen how much I love Chobani products.  I’ve used them in countless recipes (great substitution for butter, sour cream, mayo), eat it for breakfast topped with granola or fresh fruit, eat it as a snack in the afternoon, or topped upon my favorite dinner – sweet potato.  Goodness knows the rest of the blogging world is hooked as well.  How they blend flavors seamlessly together, emphasizing the richness and creaminess of Greek yogurt, I have no idea.

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However, I’ve also cultivated my love for another yogurt – Noosa.  This Australian yogurt found a new home in Colorado and countless grocery stores across the states. My mom, who has a great eye for finding the tastiest products, first introduced it to me.  When I first dipped into the tub (because eating out of the container tastes better), a new world was opened.  Noosa reaches a new level of creamy, adding fruit and flavors to the bottom of the containers without all the extra sugars of some yogurts.

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So, when we made our first trip to Vons, it was a no-brainer to throw both Chobani and Noosa in the cart.  How perfect would a bit of tart Chobani + blueberry Noosa go with Shea Schats granola. For those who are not familiar with Mammoth, Schats is THE bakery to go to for a loaf of Shepherder or sourdough bread, or a doughnut (a treat from our childhood).

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Let’s just say I had this planned from the moment we left the store.  I even dreamt of the layers of sweet maple granola amidst creamy and protein dense yogurts.  When I shared my enthusiasm with Meghan, she just looked and me and said, “you’re such a geek.”  Aw thanks for the love Meghan.

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While putting my breakfast together, I had an epiphany.  Apparently photographing food in the daylight presents a much better, if not delicious image, compared to my usual fluorescent pictures.  Also, while I usually rely on my iPhone because it happens to be on my person at all times, using an actual camera, like my Canon, makes a world of difference. Feel free to roll your eyes and utter a loud “duh” because I think that was my reaction.

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What are some of your favorite products?

*Neither Chobani nor Noosa have endorsed me for the review, so the thoughts found above are those of my own. 

A Little Taste of Summer

I certainly hope y’all enjoyed a slice of pie yesterday to celebrate Pi(e) day.  It was March 14, thus 3.14 representing the math number pi.  Anyways, who thought to put Lent smack dab in the middle of pi day, March/St. Patty’s Shamrock Shakes and Girl Scout Cookies?  Just kidding, I probably shouldn’t be indulging in any of that right now anyway.  There are plans in the making to experiment with recipes recreate these indulgent goodies in the near future.  Also, I should probably focus on my java habits which certainly keep me wired and going through dead week and finals. Continue reading