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A Day Well Spent

Good morning and happy Thursday! I can’t believe it’s September already. Of course, just as I was singing Fall’s praises, we get slammed with a heat wave!

Yesterday I had another, glorious day off. I slept in, then hit the gym with Ari for 30 minutes on the bike. When we got home, I made breakfast while Ari was in the shower, and used up the last of the canned pumpkin for myself. I’m a little selfish sometimes. :-X I needed my pumpkin cake fix! (For instructions on how to make one yourself, click here.)

Pumpkin Cake.JPG

I spent the rest of the morning doing laundry and computer work, and broke to eat the last Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bar.

Chocolate Pumpkin Protein Bar.JPG

We have some house guests staying with us, and they were kind enough to bring fresh produce from their garden and local orchard.

Tomatoes.JPG

For fun, just look at the difference between small farm-grown tomatoes and conventional tomatoes. Can you tell which is which?

Farm vs. Conventional Tomatoes.JPG

No comparison! The farm-grown tomatoes are ruby-red and flavorful, while the conventional tomatoes literally pale next to them.

Farm Grown Tomato.JPG

They also brought us fresh peaches! Every time I walk past the box I get a whiff of the most perfect perfume.

Peaches.JPG

For lunch, I made a big, bright salad.

Salad.JPG

  • mixed greens
  • 1 head of broccoli, steamed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 1 heirloom tomato
  • 1 Boca Spicy Chik’n burger <—- guilty pleasure… I love these guys!
  • lemon juice

Pretty much the entire rest of the day was spent cooking. I made four things! I’ll tell you about them in the upcoming posts, but here’s a preview:

Moroccan Carrot Soup.JPG Corn and Tomato Salad.JPG

I will share one with you, and it’s a good one! Ari and I have been going through these babies so fast… the Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Bars only lasted a few days. I almost feel guilty calling these “protein bars” because they taste just like oatmeal cookies! And they will make your kitchen smell just like heaven.

Sunflower Cranberry Protein Bars


Sunflower Cranberry Protein Bar.JPG

Makes 8 bars

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup protein powder
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 cup almond butter (I used honey flavored)
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • flax egg (1 T ground flax + 3 T water, combined and set aside 5 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 T sunflower seeds
  • 3 T dried cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a 12 x 9-inch baking dish. Combine first six ingredients in a large mixing bowl. In a smaller bowl, combine almond butter and agave until smooth. Mix in flax egg and sugar. Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well. Stir in sunflower seeds and dried cranberries. Press batter evenly into baking dish. Bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool, then cut into 8 bars and serve.

Like most of Mama Pea‘s recipes, I’d been looking forward to making her Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna ever since she posted it. There was a little confusion when we divided up the grocery list and instead of shredded cheese, we ended up with vegan mozzarella singles. No matter!
Veggie Slices .JPG

I find cutting even slices to be a bit of a challenge, but it wasn’t anything to cry about.

Zucchini.JPG

I spread out the cheese as best I could…

Pre-Bake.JPG

… and 30 minutes later, the zebra stripes remained. So much for the “melt”-ability the package boasts, but no matter! I actually really liked the taste of the “mozzarella,” and found it tasted quite a bit like the real thing.  

Cooked Lasagna.JPG

Unlike Mama’s, however, our lasagna didn’t hold at all! It turned into one big (tasty) mush. We both loved the flavor, though, and went back for seconds!

Zucchini Quinoa Lasagna.JPG

For dessert, I made myself a tasting plate with a peach, roasted almonds, and square of 85% dark chocolate. The darker, the better!

Dessert Plate.JPG

A week from today, I’ll be in France! I’m getting excited. My goal is to have most of the packing done before the morning of the flight, but I always end up stuffing things into my suitcase in a hurry just minutes before we leave for the airport.

Do you have any packing and travel tips? When you don’t have access to exercise equipment, what kinds of workouts do you do?

19 comments to A Day Well Spent

  • both the cranberry and pumpkin protein bars look ravenously delicious!! nice to know ur keeping up with the fall theme hehe <3

    hmm best packing tips is to take only what you KNOW for certain you will need. most people bring too much and theres nothing more frustrating than not having enough room to bring home things you buy because uve got too much stuff already.

    best thing to do without exercise equipment is get inventive and creative. use nature of course and even do standing squats or leg lifts with a chair or bench or anything.

    xoxo <3

  • Ahhh I want a protein bar, now!

    The darker the better is right! I just had a square of 88% at my desk (not that it’s a contest ;-) ) Perfect way to end lunch.

    As for travel tips. Packing: plan things that can be mixed and matched, and worn twice. Like you really don’t need 7 pairs of pants for a week. You just don’t.

    Most important for me is the state of my laundry and bed before I leave. (Oh here I go being high maintenance again–haha)
    The night before, get in your PJs and do all your laundry so your hamper is EMPTY. Wash your extra set of sheets and fold them neatly. Pack and put away everything except what you plan on wearing travelling. Then when you wake up-strip your bed and leave the clean folded set on the foot of your bed. You might as well let your mattress air out while you’re gone because, face it, you haven’t done it in a while. Coming home to clean clothes and a fresh set of sheets is so nice!

    I typically don’t “workout” on vacation (yeah, I know), but I do a couple minutes, self guided yoga when I wake up. Right in my PJ’s. I don’t need to pack anything extra then!

  • Go with the age old rule: lay out everything you want to bring, and then leave half at home. It’s better to travel light than to bring a whole wardobe (and I’ve learned this the hard way, lugging big bags and suitcases around).

    I like to bring clothes that can be mixed and matched and in neutral tones, and then bring some fun scarves or jewelry to change it up.

  • Packing & travel tips…. um, do it all 15 minutes before you leave :-D

  • I love days spent cooking in the kitchen, so fun!

    Best travel tip is to take as little as possible. Less stuff=less stress IMO!

  • breadandwithit

    Travel Tip: Start planning what you really really want to take NOW. Set aside enough underwear, socks included, NOW. Set aside your favorite tops/pants NOW, and fold them for the suitcase. Assuming they’re clean already. If not, do laundry necessities NOW. Check travel toiletry bag NOW. Hotels have shampoo and cream rinse, so don’t take them (they’re heavy anyway). If you forget something, remember that Nice has a Monoprix, and French shampoo and bar soap is nicer than what you get here.Wear sneakers and jeans and a couple of layers and a jacket or sweatshirt or heavy sweater on the plane to keep you warm and save space in your suitcase.

    Fresh fruit and tomatoes are awesome. Send those visitors over here.

    Leave half of everything (other than underwear) that you put out at home.

  • haha oh my god my “guilty pleasure” boca type burger is SO the morning star tomato basil one. it’s like frozen pizza in a box in a fake frozen burger form. i lurv it way to much. which reminds me how i need to purchase a new box pronto

    today’s weather is hot and gorrrrrgeous! i wish you had off! wait do you? haha :)

  • You are a baking MACHINE. Good gravy girl.

    France, bon bon bon! How fabulous. Roll your clothes and think about what you can wear twice.

  • those bars look so great! i have them bookmarked :) i have been wanting to make that quinoa lasagna of MPs, yum.

  • Whoa chica! You’re going to have so much fun!

    My only travel advice is to PACK LIGHT.

  • zucchini quinoa lasagna? that sounds (and looks) awesome! Packing tips – I always roll my clothes up instead of folding because you can fit more. I also tie my running shoes on the outside of a duffel bag to save space (and I allllways bring my running shoes!). My other travel tip, especially for long flights, is to hydrate and move around regularly :)

  • Looks like you cooked some delicious food! Can’t believe the difference in those two tomatoes. I’ve bought some chocolate chips today so looking forward to making your home spun larabars x

  • Wow– I LOVE looking at those tomatoes side by side!! It really drives the point home about how much better fresh produce is!

  • I hate the end of summer. Hate.
    I am really eying up that soup…what is it?! Can’t wait for that recipe – it looks beautiful. And my oh my, the difference between the farm fresh tomatoes. Sigh.
    As for exercise on holiday. Walking EVERYWHERE normally helps things, but I like to do yoga. I do it in my kitchen sometimes because it’s the only place I can escape the kittens jumping on me — so I strongly believe you can do it anywhere!

  • I am droooooling over that salad, looks so yummy! I do jumping squats when I don’t have exercise equipment because you can do them quickly, but then kick your BUTT!

  • I never would have thought to make my lasagna with quinoa. I actually don’t like pasta that much and often make a noodless lasagna but adding quinoa is BRILLIANT!

    Glad you liked it. ;)

  • I once tried that brand of “cheese” and it didn’t melt at all! Did you have any better luck?

  • Ooh, you’re so lucky to be going to France! Sounds absolutely wonderful. As for packing tips, I always lay out my outfits before packing them to make sure I am packing outfits I’ll need/want, and I always do mix & match outfits. I used to be a terrible overpacker, but planning outfits in advance instead of packing whatever I think I *might* feel like wearing helps so much!

    The difference in those tomatoes is crazy!!

  • Packing is my specialty :) I’m queen of light packing! Like everyone said, bring very basic things you can mix and match. I usually just accept that I’ll be wearing the same thing in almost all my photos (not like I don’t wear the same 5 t’s over and over at home too :X) but especially abroad where you don’t have to see the same people every day, there’s no shame in wearing things a few times over as I really doubt you’re that stinky of a person lol. You’ll be gone…a week, about? I like to do maybe 2 pairs of pants, like light colored jeans and dark, a skirt or dress for nights out. Skirt is probably better since you can pair it with different tops, but a light sundress won’t take up too much room anyways. Check weather before you go, you’ll probably need light sweaters in the evenings, especially if you’re near the water. Take comfortable shoes! a pair of walking shoes, and nice but comfy flats when you dress up more. Of course underwear, you can’t really skimp on, so just count out the days = pairs of underwear. For tops, I like neutral and mostly solid or simple things so that it goes with everything. You don’t want that awesome funky top that only goes with that one equally incredible skirt but nothing else. Vacation is not the place for that. Bring solids and then several choices of cool accessories like necklaces, headbands, light scarves, so you can switch things up even if it’s the same top.
    Toiletries, you can pack small containers of shampoo and conditioner, facewash, toothbrush/ paste. But honestly, if you forget something, it won’t be hard to get. I sometimes enjoy trying out new cosmetics we don’t have in the US!

    As for exercise, you walk so much more over there, and it’s not too long of a trip so it won’t be a big deal if you don’t get formal exercise. I find I’m usually too tired from touring around all day! but I do like to stretch out, or keep up with some yoga in the mornings every few days just to center my mind and stretch my leg muscles since they get sore with all the walking. I have a few 20 min free podcasts on my ipod from yogadownload.com for that. And if you get restless, there’s always the standard, crunches, squats, and pushups you can easily do in the hotel room. Just 10 min of that a day goes a LONG way!

    I know I have a post on travel tips way back on my blog so you can check that out since nothing else is coming to mind right now, but if you have questions just send me a message!

    ps. I’ve also been eyeing that quinoa lasagna! I have to try it next time I have company, it seems like a good dish to share.

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