pumpkin

Foodie News: A PSA on the PSL and I put the “D” in Foodie

I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been waiting all week to spread the good news. No, not the Gospel (sorry for the joke, Mom). But this good news: Starbucks is giving its classic Pumpkin Spice Latte a makeover and using real pumpkin puree instead of caramel coloring and other nonsense.

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You know why this is particularly exciting for me? I’m as basic as it gets in every way. I live in my lululemon leggings, I wear scarves the minute the temperature dips below 70 degrees, I crave Diet Coke like a MOFO when I’m stressed out, and when September comes around I want ALL THINGS PUMPKIN. The one thing I haven’t gotten on board with? The PSL. It’s just never tasted good to me. So who knows — maybe this change will bring me to full-fledged basic status.

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How Much Do You Know About Food? I was really excited to rock the crap out of this test. And then I got 15/20…which, if I remember from high school, would be a D. So apparently I’m a fraud. You all can just close your browsers now. Damn you, Taramasalata!

I was recently coerced into buying $12 worth of chicken sausage at the store. Now, before you get all judgey, just hear me out. There were samples, it was a sweet old man selling them, we talked for a few minutes about all the dishes I could incorporate them into, AND he topped it all off with a coupon. SOLD.

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I have been alllllllllll about that chicken sausage life since buying these. My roommate Emma and I have been putting our two selections in all the food: I’ve been slicing the Pineapple and Bacon and throwing it into my omelets every morning, and adding the Sun Dried Tomato sausages to pasta dishes. It’s been a magical, meaty few days.

I recently discovered a Forever Yogurt that is a straight up club. It’s located underground and the inside is lit up by neon lights. It’s right by my work and is going to make things very difficult from now on. Not only does Forever Yogurt have all the toppings imaginable, this place is like The Mid at 2am on a Saturday night, so once you’re in it feels like a froyo rave (how are these not a thing yet?)

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Speaking of temptations near my work, a Goddess and Grocer opened up as well. Their sandwiches, baked goods, hot bar, etc. offer outstanding choices (remember the sandwich I got from there a few months ago?)

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Well now I’m on their coffee kick. 1) because it’s killer coffee 2) because their sleeves all have different sayings on them. The first cup I read said: “Raisin cookies that look like chocolate chip cookies are the main reason I have trust issues.” I’ve been back a few days a week ever since just to see what the sleeve will say. Well played, Goddess. Well played.

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Well that’s all I’ve got in the world of foodie news. Cutting edge journalism, as usual.

Questions:

  • Raisin cookies: delicious in their own right or manipulative?
  • PSL: can’t live with ’em or can’t live without ’em?
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Vegan Pumpkin Chili

I could further solidify my basic status by making another pumpkin dessert, but instead I decided it was time to highlight all the health benefits of pumpkin (imagine that!)

Did you know…

  • One cup of pure pumpkin has only 49 calories and has three grams of fiber (talk about bang for your buck)
  • A cup of pumpkin has more potassium than a banana (perfect for a post-workout snack!)
  • Pumpkin is full of vitamin C, so it can help ward of that winter cold we all know is coming for us
  • Pumpkins contain the antioxidant beta-carotene, which may play a role in cancer prevention. So, eat up!

I’ve made this chili twice already and I have to say, humbly, of course, that it’s pretty killer.

Not only is it vegan and gluten-free, it’s basically impossible to screw up, pretty darn cheap, and the perfect cozy dish to enjoy during these early days of fall.

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Vegan Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 28 oz can pumpkin
  • 15 oz can black beans
  • 15 oz can cannelini beans
  • 15 oz can kidney beans
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 medium white onion, chopped
  • 3/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 tblsp cumin

Combine all the ingredients in a slow cooker and leave on High for four hours. Season with salt to taste (important!)

Optional: serve over whole wheat pasta and top with cheddar cheese or Greek yogurt. It’ll win over even the meatiest of eaters in your home (see below for photographic evidence).

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That’s my dad, born and raised in the UP of Michigan, eating vegan pumpkin chili. Never thought I’d see the day.

Questions:

  • Do you like using pumpkin in savory dishes?
  • Have you had a chance to break out the crockpot yet? If so, what for?

almost wordless week(end)

What’s new, crew! Sorry I disappeared for a few days – the rest of the week was a bit of a blur thanks to some unforeseen family stuff and I usually don’t have time to write on the weekends (too busy eating to write about eating, yaknowwhatimean?)

But while it’s been eventful to say the least, I did manage to have some great moments of fun out and about. If I took the time to explain each and every moment this post would be a decade long so let’s do an (almost) wordless weekend.

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Just a little pumpkin-crazy

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Early morning run in my favorite tech top from lululemon.

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…Followed by a heavy dose of veggie icing and the Today show

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Got some Skoop in the mail! So excited to review this next week for you guys!

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And just like that it’s fall in Chicago! On the walk to work

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Avocado-tomato grilled cheese + pumpkin beer.

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Slowly (but surely) building up the muscles again. Yoga Sculpt

Homeslice Wheelhouse patio - my new favorite happy hour spot. I didn't take my own pic because the travel channel was filming there!

Homeslice Wheelhouse patio – my new favorite happy hour spot. I didn’t take my own pic because the travel channel was filming there!

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Eating allll the pizza

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Moscow Mule + pizza with olive oil, garlic (so much!), basil, feta and tomatoes. I died.

Been listening to a lot of John Mayer lately. It's the perfect writing music! You either love him or you hate him...

Been listening to a lot of John Mayer lately. It’s the perfect writing music! You either love him or you hate him…

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BYOO – Bring Your Own Oatmeal to Starbucks. 9 out of 10 times the baristas will help a sister out 🙂

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Bad mood killer. Best snack in the history of snacks. Candy corn + super salty peanuts

I’m also trying to create a pumpkin chili recipe today so I’ll be sharing that as soon as I’m sure it tastes great 😉

Can’t wait to read all about your weekends! Have a fabulous Monday!

Questions:

  • What’s your favorite day of the week and why?
  • Love or hate John Mayer?
  • Best part of your weekend…go!

roasted pumpkin seeds (recipe)

Happy Halloween!!

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How talented is my dad? Such perfect pumpkins!

It’s officially the start of the busy holiday season! Thanksgiving is going to be here before we know it and then Christmas is right around the corner.  It’s the same thing craziness every year, but these next few months is my favorite time of the year.  I love the anticipation of the holiday season (and the fact that holidays are pretty much centered around great food)

Today I’m going to share with you one of my favorite ways to use those pesky pumpkin guts! It’s a messy job, but the finished product is a perfect crunchy snack.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds (adapted from Oh She Glows)

First, start out with a big ol’ pumpkin. The bigger the better. I used the seeds from both the pumpkins in the picture above and the smaller one actually had a bigger percentage of seeds, but I wasn’t in the mood to seed 10 small frys. Your best bet is to grab a huge pumpkin and hope for the best!

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Grab a very sharp knife and carefully cut off the top. After that it’s as simple as grabbing all the guts out and putting it all into a giant bowl.  Now comes the fun part…the sorting! Do your best to separate the seeds from the rest of the goop, and you’ll eventually be left with this:

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When you’re left with just the seeds, rinse them VERY well until they’re almost totally clean of any leftover pumpkin. Lay on a paper towel to dry.

Once you have the seeds all ready to go, fill a medium pot with water, add a few shakes of salt, and pour in the seeds.

ImageBring the water to a boil.  Once it’s bubbling, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes. Drain.

Lay the seeds once again on a paper towel and dab them until they’re dry.

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Once the seeds are dry, lay them on a cookie sheet so they are all spread out in one layer. A little overlapping is fine.

Drizzle the seeds with olive oil.  Rub the oil into the seeds and stir them around so it gets evenly distributed.  Finally, sprinkle with sea salt (or table salt, which I think actually works better for this.  The sea salt didn’t stick very well for my batch). Remember, don’t add too much salt–just a few shakes at first.  You can always add more as you taste test, but nothing’s worse than realizing your snack is waaay too salty and you can’t turn back.

ImagePut the seeds in a 325 degree oven for 20 minutes, taking out halfway through to stir.  You’ll probably hear some popping while it’s in the oven–that’s nothing to worry about. When you take them out taste test a few and see if you need to add more salt.

ImageI’ve heard of people adding lots of different spices to their pumpkin seeds: garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, cinnamon and sugar, etc. The best part of pumpkin seeds is they are so versatile so you can make them into whatever kind of tasty snack you choose!

Pour into a cute little dish and serve alongside some candy corn for a treat. This is a great snack to have on hand while you’re handing out candy to all the little ghouls and goblins coming by.  It’s also a really healthy alternative to constantly reaching into the candy bowl.  Even if you alternate candy-seeds-candy-seeds you’re still upping your omega-3 fats, antioxidants and vitamin E and lowering your intake of high fructose corn syrup, Red 3, and Yellow 5. Definitely not a bad thing!

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Question:

  • Anyone dressing up today for Halloween?

girls night in

I spent yesterday applying for some more full-time jobs in the city, so by the time late afternoon rolled around I was definitely in need of a sweat session.  Luckily my bootcamp has a night class, so  I headed there to get a good workout in.

ImageNot fun.  (But such a blast). yaknowwhatimean?

This workout kicked my but.  Knee raises (reverse crunches hanging from a pull up bar) AND burpees?  Cray cray.

((Sidenote, since I started doing Crossfit-like workouts I’ve noticed that my core is becoming incredibly strong. I love it!))

I ran home and showered really quickly because I had a girls night to get to.

Since we all graduated from college four months ago, my group of girlfriends has worked really hard to still stay close. One of my friends Monica put together a video montage of pictures from freshman-senior year and invited us all over to have dinner and watch it! How sweet!

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We all brought over some food (my contribution was the cake batter rice krispie treats in the right corner) and snacked until everyone arrived.

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My plate (plus more chips and carrots)

After we all got to Monica’s we settled in and watched the video. It was so sweet and well put-together. Seeing all those pictures was crazy because I can’t believe I was ever that young (but at the same time it feels like I was JUST that young–definitely one of the most bizarre parts about growing up.

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After the movie we sat around a reminisced for awhile. It was so nice just to spend a night with my best girlfriends!

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The gang minus a few!

This morning I hit the snooze button and missed BOTH workout classes that I was considering going to. Oh well 🙂 I need sleep!  The best part about this morning was that my family was unanimous in wanting bagels for breakfast, so another pumpkin season craving has been satisfied!

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Pumpkin bagel with pumpkin cream cheese and coffee with pumpkin coffeemate (not pictured). A little overboard? Not possible.

Now I’m planning on watching college football all day, maybe doing some yoga, and going to work at the restaurant tonight. It’s a beautiful September weekend–fall is finally here!

Question: what’s your favorite kind of bagel? Do you have an Einstein’s Bagel near you or is another place your favorite?

bootcamp is no joke

Man. All my prior beliefs about what “makes” a workout are being shattered.

I woke up this morning and had a quick bowl of breakfast before heading over to bootcamp.

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a delicious combination of Kashi go lean and honey nut cheerios. Sliced banana on top and almond milk. Pretty food 🙂

I was planning on running to bootcamp (it’s a little over 2 miles each way) but I ended up deciding to sleep in instead. Thank goodness I did that because I definitely go my running in during the WOD.

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Sweeeeet lawd. Doing jump squats directly after running is not a treat.  It ended up being 8 rounds, so a mile total, of 200m sprints. Phew!

Needless to say, my mindset of “a workout has to be an hour in order to count” is quickly being wiped away. This workout was only about 20 minutes, plus a 5 minute warmup, and I was wiped out. These crossfit workouts are mentally and physically challenging in no way I’ve ever experienced (except back in high school when my basketball team did plyometrics with the boys football team during the offseason).

The best part about today’s workout?

ImageI finally got to use kettlebells!  I’ve been hearing about how effective kettlebell workouts are for awhile now but I always just stare at them at the gym, too nervous to do it alone. Being in a group environment where everyone is learning as they go along makes it so much easier to try new things.

I came home and snacked on some super ripe honeydew melon before running out the door to meet up with some friends from college for lunch.

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I am lucky in that I made a big group of girlfriends my freshman year of college and we’ve been close ever since. Now that we’re all graduated and moving in a million different directions, it’s nice when some of us can find a random afternoon to grab lunch or coffee, or to even just catch up over the phone.

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Love these girls so much!

Four of us met up at Portillo’s for lunch (a Chicago favorite)

Chopped salad FTW!

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This salad has everything. Little bits of pasta, blue cheese, chicken, and chopped up lettuce. It normally has bacon on it as well but I always ask to skip that.  It’s a huge portion (which you know I lurv) and a treat every time I get it.

I just picked up Zman from a work retreat and we went to get his oil changed. I grabbed Starbucks while we waited for the car to be ready.

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Grande coffee with pumpkin spice and topped with soy milk.  (Did you know they put FOUR pumps of syrup in a grande?! It was delicious but man is that excessive. I’m going to try two next time. I hate drinking my calories and want to make an exception for pumpkin since it’s my favorite, but four pumps of syrup is a recipe for disaster and sugar cravings allll day).

Now Zman and I are packing for a quick trip to Dallas for the weekend.  I told you I have a serious case of wanderlust, didn’t I? 😉

Have a GREAT weekend!

guess what day it is?

It’s pump day! (as in, Pumpkin!)

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Yeah, sure, it is hump day too.  But more importantly, today I busted out the cans of pumpkin! Day of of cramming pumpkin into as many of my meals as possible has commenced!

(In case you haven’t seen the commercial I’m referencing, it’s too funny)

So happy hump day AND pump day!

Today was my first day of Crossfit!  I woke up pretty nervous and did my usual “lay in bed and think of one million excuses for why i can skip bootcamp” deal before peeling myself out of bed and into the car for the quick drive to my workout.

Primal Fitness Bootcamp is located in the heart of my town so it’s a quick and easy drive there.  It’s inside of a warehouse-like building, with giant doors open to the outside.  I love workout spaces like this! Music pounding, equipment everywhere, teamwork, and intensity.  It was so much fun!

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The owners Chris and Barb were so welcoming.  Even though I could tell people knew each other from a previous box, I was thrown right in the group setting and it was a blast!

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After a warmup of jogging, sprints, high knees, skips, etc., we turned to the board and learned all about our WOD.

9/4 WOD

  • Pull-ups
  • Wall Balls
  • Butterfly Sit-ups
  • Burpees

4 rounds of each exercise

1 minute at each station, 1 minute rest between rounds.

It was intense to say the least. I’ve never had much upper body strength, so the pull-ups were definitely the hardest for me.  Luckily there were plenty of modifications for every skill level so I used a band as assistance.  It’s exciting because I know that if I keep working hard at it, I’ll eventually be able to do pull-ups on my own. I’ll officially feel like a badass the day that happens haha.

I came home from the workout and immediately pulled out a can of pumpkin.  I whipped up a quick batch of pumpkin oats for breakfast.

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1/2 cup rolled oats, 1 cup almond milk, pure pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, walnuts, and a drizzle of maple syrup.  Autumn is in the air 🙂

Today and tonight are cooking days! I have some recipes to cook up and share with you, so keep an eye out for those in the next few days.  Until then, have a great hump day!

Question: what’s one exercise you’ve always struggled with? Push-ups and pull-ups are impossible for me!