Smiles in the Mail

Typically, the mail I get consists of the following:

  • credit card advertisements
  • politicians soliciting donations
  • Rainbow Grocery’s latest sales catalog

Yeah, not too exciting. So imagine my delight when I got one two three exciting deliveries in the mail this week! The first, was a beautiful Valentine’s Day card from my family.

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My mom wrote that she thought it would be perfect for me. It was. 🙂 Thanks, family! The second surprise arrival came from Penguin Publishing, which gave me a clue that it was probably from my dear and talented friend who works for them. Little did I know that the package contained pure girl power with a super hero punch.

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Yep, that’s an advance reader copy of The Ultra Violets by Sophie Bell (published by Razorbill, shout out!) With the book came a delightful letter from the Razorbill team, telling me that they knew I would like this book given my affinity for purple guns, glittery girls, smarties – the nerdy kind – and fun. How do they know me so well?! The letter also pinky promised me that it’s a viomazing read. I am holding them to that.

The third and final smile to arrive in the mail this week was the February Bestowed package.

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For anyone who missed by January Bestowed package post, Bestowed is a monthly delivery program created by author and nutritionist Heather Bauer. The monthly packages include food and healthy living products selected for their nutritional strengths and general deliciousness. The February package was full of exciting goodies.

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A look inside…

Nature Made VitaMelts Zinc – Described as a smooth-dissolving option for those who have difficulty swallowing vitamins (ahem, ME!), these tablets provide 100% of your daily value of zinc. I had a few already, and they taste really good!
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22 Days Nutrition Bar – This bar is gluten, dairy, and soy free, packed with protein, and made of organic ingredients. That’s enough to sell me! The flavor I received was pb chocolate chip:
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Simply Snackin Jerky – I will admit, I’m not really a jerky girl. Something about the texture, smell, and general idea of it (meat in a bag that’s not refrigerated?!) doesn’t really appeal to me. Needless to say, the jerky sticks were the item in the package that made me the least excited. Still, this particular jerky is all natural with no MSG, fillers, or trans fats. The flavors – teriyaki chicken with mango and papaya and beef sirloin with apples and cherries – were interesting. I don’t know if I’ll work myself up to actually trying them, but for now I am content to let them sit in my cupboard.
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Nuttzo – Given how I feel about peanut butter, this was definitely the package’s highlight! Nuttzo is made with seven different 100% organic nuts and seeds and has no added sugars or oils. Also, a portion of Nuttzo’s profits go to Project Left Behind, a nonprofit that provides for orphans around the world.
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Green and Black’s Dark Chocolate (70%) – The final item in February’s Bestowed package was another can’t-go-wrong food: chocolate. Green and Black’s is an organic chocolate company that vows to bring consumers environmentally-conscious and responsibly manufactured products. In addition to a small bar of 70% dark chocolate, I also received a coupon for $1.50 off a bar at the store.
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There you have it – February’s Bestowed package!

Make sure to check out previous Bestowed package posts:January 2013

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Breakfast in Jars and a Public Declaration

For the last two days, I’ve been experimenting with oats in a jar variations to make – more simply – breakfast in a jar.

Yesterday: Last bits of Hell’s Kitchen peanut butter plus granola, ricotta, and almond milk, soaked overnight. Sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning.

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Today’s breakfast: last bits of raspberry jam plus granola, ricotta, cashew butter, and almond milk, soaked overnight and sprinkled with cinnamon in the morning. Apple on the side.

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Obviously, I am the type of person who – after liking something – wants it again! ‘Breakfast in jars’ is a winner for me right now, and you should do it too! Benefits of breakfast in jars include:

1. You don’t waste any of the last bits of jam/nut butter/(fill in the contents of your favorite jar).
2. Granola, oats, nuts, and dried fruit all taste amazing after being soaked in milky deliciousness overnight.
3. It is beautiful! I love seeing the yummy swirls through the jar’s glass in the morning.
4. It’s something to look forward to when you finish a jar off – besides scraping the insides in an attempt to get it in recyclable condition, that is.

Moral of the story – if you make breakfast in a jar, you will be happy.

In other news…I have a public declaration to make.

I will be taking a one week hiatus from running.

I needed to put that out on the blogosphere to keep myself accountable. If you’ve been reading my blog, you know that I have been having some knee/IT band/hamstring/weak butt issues for the last several months. I’ve gone to the doc, been doing physical therapy, tried new shoes, and more new shoes.

Unfortunately, the issues still persist, and every time I try to add mileage back in things start to flare up again. I’ve decided that what I might need is some actual rest from running, rather than just ‘taking it easy.‘ I know it will be hard to stick to my guns on this one, but I’m committing to doing only low-impact activities for the next week. Give me your support!

Do you have any suggestions on good stress-relieving but still low-impact cardio? If you do, please share in the comments section!

Oats in a Jar

I was first introduced to the idea of oats in a jar by Tina at Carrots n’ Cake. Tina’s version of OIAJ uses cooked oatmeal combined with the last bits of a peanut butter container. The concept of using the peanut butter container as a bowl for breakfast was something that – although I had not previously considered – filled me with great excitement. Primarily because 1) I love peanut butter and 2) I hate wasting the last little bits of deliciousness that are impossible to scrape from the jar. The ‘oats in a jar’ practice solves the problem!

Still, I have never actually followed the cooked oats method. Instead, I’ve made a combo of Tina’s OIAJ along with the basic version of overnight oats that I learned from Ashley at Edible Perspective. Process as follows:

Makes 1 serving of 'overnight oats in a jar' (OOIAJ)
- one nearly empty peanut (or other nut) butter jar
- 1/4 cup oatmeal
- small handful of dried fruit
- a few spoonfuls of yogurt
- milk to nearly fill jar
Combine all ingredients in the jar and refrigerate overnight. In the morning, stir, 
top with a couple tablespoons of granola, and enjoy!

Last night, I made OOIAJ in a White Chocolate Wonderful PB & Co jar. As an aside, if you haven’t tried any of the PB & Co. varieties, GO TO WHOLE FOODS NOW AND BUY ONE! They are unbelievably delicious. But with flavors like chocolate dream, cinnamon raisin, and white chocolate wonderful, what else can you really expect?!

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OOIAJ for breakfast!

Extra perk of this breakfast: it’s fun trying to get all the pb out of crevices with your spoon. (why is ‘crevice’ such a weird word?)

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Ta-Dahh!!

Crunchy or Smooth

Any Google search for delicious brunch locations in Minneapolis will quickly lead you to Hell’s Kitchen in downtown. Damn Good Food. Sorry, couldn’t resist that.

Known for an eclectic menu with unusual items – white russian pancakes and sausage bread, for example – Hell’s is also unique because it makes its own condiments. Yes, condiments. I’m talking ketchup, mustard, blackberry-ginger jam, blood-orange marmalade, and peanut butter. Oh my gosh, PEANUT BUTTER.
This stuff will seriously change your life. It is big-time chunky, sweet in an indescribable way – but not too sweet! – and tastes so good you will have to eat at least one bite straight from the spoon.

Given the popularity of both their food and their ‘vibe’ (best described as a cheeky version of grunge, perhaps?), Hell’s has an in-restaurant store. A gift shop, if you will. They sell cookbooks, t-shirts, and mixes for some of their more popular menu items. And, of course, they sell peanut butter. Oh my gosh, PEANUT BUTTER. Although obviously a fan, I have never ventured to the Hell’s store to buy anything to bring home. Most likely because every time I leave there it is in some sort of a food coma stupor. But, lucky me, I have a roommate who semi-recently started working at Hell’s, and her holiday gift to me was….yep, you guessed it.

there she is

there she is

Holy cow, look at that chunk.

seriously chunky

seriously chunky

Not only is this a delicious gift, but it is also enlightening. Secret ingredient: revealed!

sugar...of the brown variety

sugar…of the brown variety

Although the jar didn’t have nutritional stats, I would suspect it is fairly similar to regular peanut butter but with a higher sugar content. If you are a pb person, you’ve gotta get your hands on this stuff!