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Forget love...I'd rather fall in chocolate!

My blogger valentine came today!! It's from Sarah at Tales of Expansion. All edible treats contained dark chocolate...that's what I call a valentine!

Check out the cute wrapping and note :)

Dark chocolate cranberries and and 85% caoco dark chocolate bar!

This chocolate bar is super intense! I love it! But the dark chocolate cranberries are my favorite!! Think big plump cranberries (not crasin-like) coated in chocolatey goodness! They are like gourmet raisinets :)

A cute cupcake candle!! 

This is not edible. I thought it was a truffle at first before I noticed the wick, and I broke off a little piece and tried to eat it....whoops! Doesn't taste good, but smells like a mocha! Mmm..

I also got these adorable little notebooks! 

The one on the right says, "Je prends mon temps" (aka "I take my time" in English). Love it! I've never mentioned this on the blog before, but actually used to take French in high school and I really miss it!

Chocolate Flashback:

This is me next to a GIANT CHOCOLATE FOUNTAIN in Belgium a couple summers ago. 

The really good chocolate + the French message reminded me of this day. Also, my friend in the picture (who I met in Europe) was visiting me in America at this time last year :)

Thank you Sarah!!! What a fun valentine!

Savory Oats with Spinach and Gouda

Its a warm and beautiful day in Athens, GA! I stocked up on oatmeal supplies over the weekend, but when I woke up to 70 degree weather, cereal sounded more appealing than a warm bowl of oats. So I made this:

Kashi Go Lean with fresh strawberries 

My cereal bowl tasted wonderful, but by the time I got out of class, I was craving oatmeal! However, I also wanted some veggies. I found a delicious solution to these conflicting cravings: spinach and gouda oatmeal with sauteed green beans!

I am very proud of this creation! It turned out even better than I expected!

Spinach and Gouda Oats:
  • Cook 1/3 cup oats with 2/3 cup water
  • Mix in shredded gouda and fresh baby spinach while warm
  • Let cool and enjoy!
I sauteed my green beans in olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and I also added some black beans after I took the picture. So good!

I wonder what other mix-ins would make some good savory oats....pesto? Parmesan and black pepper? What if you cooked them with chicken broth then added a bunch of veggies?? Endless possibilities! I can't wait to do more experiments :)

What are the most creative oats you have ever made?

Hair of the dog that bit you

Drinking to help a hangover has never sounded like an appealing idea to me. But exercising to help muscle soreness? Sure!

Lunges and squats make me sore like nothing else!! The morning after my BodyPump class on Wednesday, my legs were killing me! I actually e-mailed Kelly from Every Gym's Nightmare Thursday night because I was dying to go to my spin class, but scared of perpetuating my leg soreness. She told me that spin was different enough from squats and lunges that I could go for it as long as I wasn't limping or having trouble sitting. Yay! With her permission, I went to spin class :) I had to go a little easy on the resistance, but I felt good to have my legs in motion.

Still sore on Friday, I was lured outside for a five mile run by beautiful weather! After being cold all week, how could I not go on a run when it is 60 degrees and sunny?! Although my legs had been hurting me all day while I was walking, after about a minute of running, the pain went away! I made sure to stretch out well afterwards. Today, my legs are still feeling the effects of the squats and lunges, but they are much much better!

Now onto a few yummy eats...

I bought some vanilla Greek yogurt at the grocery store that I used for a post-spin class snack:

This was very good! It was thick and creamy and had a mildly sweet vanilla flavor. 

This is how I dressed up my yogurt: blueberries, strawberries, almond butter, and cinnamon! Mmmm....

I often crave sweets when I first wake up, but this morning I was craving eggs! So I sort of tried to recreate the "Lovin' Bagel" I ate in Nashville last weekend:

My version has a scrambled egg on an Arnold sandwich thin with Sabra roasted pine nut hummus, pesto, spinach, and a generous amount of avocado. Exactly what I wanted!

New discovery: Larabar with almond butter spread on top = so decadent and wonderful!!! Try it :)

Guess what today is???

It is a very special day end of post to find out :)

But first here are some good eats of today! This morning, I tried my second ever Odwalla bar:

Yes, the bar was a greenish color!! Doesn't look very appetizing, but this was actually very tasty!! It had some raisins in it and a subtle banana flavor. I think I like it better than the Berries GoMega flavor I tried last week.

I was starving after class, so for lunch I went up to Big City Bread, one of my favorite restaurants in Athens. I ordered my usual: chicken salad sandwich with a Greek salad. Their chicken salad is made with free range chicken and danish blue cheese and served with spinach on their walnut wheat bread. This is my favorite chicken salad in the whole world!! Their Greek salad is made with spinach, feta cheese, artichokes, chickpeas, olives (which I always tell them to leave off), and a lemon tahini dressing! Mmmm....I was so excited when my food came out that I accidently ate it all before I took a picture. Sorry!

I did take a picture of the little dessert I ordered:

A chocolate raspberry truffle!!!

Dark chocolate and raspberry is a divine combination!! Another wonderful and decadent combination is chocolate and hazelnut, which brings me to today's special celebration....

Guess what today is???

It's World Nutella Day!!!

I just found out yesterday that February 5 is officially World Nutella Day. I so glad this wonderful product has its own holiday. Unfortunately, I am very unprepared. I actually don't have any Nutella right now, but it will still be in my thoughts today. My all time favorite way to enjoy Nutella is to dip strawberries in it! What is your favorite way to eat Nutella??

Also, Frugal Foodie is having a Valentine chocolate box giveaway! Check it out here!

Blog Worthy Oatmeal and New Workout

I have recently rediscovered my love for oatmeal thanks to reading food blogs. I've been in a cereal rut for a while, but after seeing all of your mouthwatering pictures of oats, I am convinced that oatmeal is the easiest delicious, filling, healthy, and versatile breakfast, and I should be eating it all the time! After a little trial and error, I have now created my own perfect bowl of oatmeal based on Kath's recipe for whipped banana oatmeal. 

My Favorite Oats:
  • 1/3 cup rolled oats
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 whole banana (sliced)
  • cinnamon!
  • dried fruit and nuts
1. Put oats, milk, water, and banana in a microwavable bowl. Cook for 2 minutes.
2. Whip up the softened bananas in the oatmeal with a fork until smooth consistency.
3. Cook for 1:30 minutes and let cool a little.
4. Pour on some extra milk, a generous sprinkle of cinnamon, and add dried fruit and nuts!

Today's oats were topped with dried cranberries and cherries, toasted almond slices, and pecans. Perfect breakfast! I like to use the whole banana in my oats because I love the flavor and the sweetness it adds! My oatmeal has the perfect amount of sweetness for me without tasting like one of those overly sweet instant oatmeal packets...

My favorite part of making this oatmeal is that it makes my kitchen smell like banana bread!! What a great way to wake up on a cold morning! I'm also having fun experimenting with different toppings. One morning I put fresh blueberries in my bowl...reminded me of a blueberry muffin!

Today, I did a workout that is very different from my normal routine... I went to a BodyPump class at my school's gym. They were having a special today were you could drop in on a class for $5 to check it out. You basically lift weights for an hour while listening to techno music. Lots of weighted squats, lunges, chest presses, bicep arms feel like jello! Maybe if I did this consistently, I would look like the BodyPump ad girl :)

We did a million a couple sets of those squats she is doing. It was a challenge, and I will most definitely be sore tomorrow! Although I had fun, I don't plan on going back enough to get those ripped abs and awesome biceps.... I know that weight bearing exercises are so good for you, but I feel more satisfied if a go for a long run, swim, or bike ride. I guess I am a cardio girl at heart. Hopefully, my legs won't be too sore for spin class tomorrow!

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming...

Title inspired by Dori from Finding Nemo. Does anyone else love that movie?

Dori's mantra often passes through my head during swim practice. Swimming is probably the most challenging leg of the triathlon for me, and I feel like no matter how much I practice, I just don't improve that much.  Sometimes I just feel like I'm flailing around in the water...forget concentrating on my form or trying to go fast...I just don't want to drown! Last night was different though. I'm not exactly sure what I did differently, but something just kind of *clicked* and I suddenly felt so much more efficient! I felt like I got a great workout :) 
For anyone curious, this was the workout last night:
Warm Up: 300 meters
Main Set: 4 x 100 meters (faster every 100)
2 x 200 swim + 50 kick
400 meters (concentrate on distance per stroke)
4 x 100 meters (triathlon pace)
Cool Down: 200 meters EZ

This morning I went in for an appointment at the health center to get my resting metabolic rate measured. This is the amount of energy your body expends at rest...not including any calories you burn walking around, cleaning the house, exercising, etc.  There are formulas that we learn in class that can estimate resting metabolic rate, but I always question how accurate they really are. The formula that is considered most accurate is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation. This is the Mifflin-St Jeor equation for women in case you want to try it out:
  • [10 x wt (kg)] + [6.25 x ht (cm)] - [5 x age (yr)] -161 = RMR (calories per day)
  • Then multiply by a physical activity factor to determine your total calories expended (1.3 for sedentary, 1.5 for active...etc)
I found out that the dietitian at the health center at school can use a device to measure you metabolic rate using indirect calorimetry. I won't get into all the science behind it, but basically you breathe into this machine and it tells you what your resting metabolic rate is after a couple of minutes! This is much more accurate than the equations. I was really curious to know exactly how many calories I need, so I made an appointment.

The dietitian told me that normally women expend about 8-10 calories per pound of body weight. This is often on the higher end if you have more lean body mass. Mine was actually a little more than is expected for my body weight, so I was very pleased! (It was actually only 30 calories under what the Mifflin-St Jeor equation estimated. The dietitian said the formula tends to overestimate for women.) 

To determine the total amount of calories I need, we added on an extra 800 calories per day to my RMR to account for my exercising (about 45 minutes, 5 days a week) and daily activities (walking around, riding my bike to class). Most people who get their metabolism measured are having trouble losing or gaining weight and want to see if their metabolism is unusually high or low. I was just really curious, and it was pretty cheap to get this done as a student, so why not? 

The only appointment time I could get was at 8 AM, which was cutting it close to go back home and eat breakfast before my 9 AM class (you can't eat before you get your RMR measured). I almost grabbed a Carrot Cake Clif bar to take for breakfast, but I tasted it before I ran out the door, and BLEH! Did not taste like carrot cake!! All I tasted was soy nuggets! So I made myself a quick bowl of cereal:

Some Trader Joe's High Fiber cereal mixed with sweetened bran flakes, fresh strawberries, toasted almonds, milk, and lots of cinnamon!! This made me 5 minutes late to class, but it was totally worth it!

Close up on the wrap I had for lunch.

This wrap was amazing! Whole wheat wrap with Sabra Lemon Hummus, pesto, avocado, turkey, spinach, and cherry tomatoes. This was a great flavor combo!

Another close up :) Mid-afternoon snack = banana with almond butter!

Dinner: Salmon with lemon and rosemary, sauteed spinach, and cherry tomatoes! After I started eating it added some avocado and toasted a piece Publix bakery bread. Mmmm...

Something to ponder: What was the best thing before sliced bread??