“What I Ate” Wednesday – the Fitbloggin’ avocado edition!

While I was in Denver for Fitbloggin’, I had the opportunity to attend a lunch off-site hosted by the California Avocado Commission and Chef Jen Jasinski of Top Chef Masters fame.  I signed up AS SOON AS I got the email because spots were limited and I love me some avocado!!

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We only had a couple of blocks to go from the hotel to get to the restaurant. We dined at one of Chef Jen’s Denver restaurants – Euclid Hall. The restaurant itself was absolutely beautiful – industrial and modern.  We took up the entire second floor of the place! We were greeted with lovely centerpieces of fresh flowers and avocados, of course.

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There were menus at each place setting tucked into brilliantly folded white linen napkins.

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The only menu item that was able to be seen was the salad so taking the menu out of the napkin was a moment full of anticipation.

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I seriously thought I was going to burst with excitement!!!

Chef Jen came out a few times and talked to us about her restaurants and how she incorporates avocado into her dishes at all of the restaurants.

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There were also representatives from the California Avocado Commission who talked to us about avocados, their health benefits, etc while we were waiting between courses. Everything at her restaurants is prepared fresh to order. You’ll not find stuff sitting around waiting to be glopped onto a plate at one of Chef Jen’s joints!

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The Grilled California Avocado citrus salad was absolutely amazing! And, I even ate the mushroom! And I don’t do mushrooms! Like, EVER. But, mixed in with the citrus and the avocado and the goat cheese, it was pretty decent. Combining all those things allowed me to get over the textural oddity that is the mushroom. I’d happily eat that entire salad again. :)

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I opted for the Roasted Petaluma chicken breast as my entree and it certainly did not disappoint. The bacon-frisee salad was amaze balls -um, hello, BACON!, the corn fritters were out of this world, and the chicken was perfectly seasoned and cooked. The avocado mousse complimented all three of those things. I thought I died and went to heaven!

And then dessert came out.

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First off, let me say that I am not a huge coconut fan. I can tolerate it but I would rather choose not to, if you know what I mean. But that coconut-California Avocado sorbet is welcome in my mouth ANY day of the week! HOLY YUM! That sorbet seriously had zero dairy in it. It got its creaminess from the avocado! Who knew!?!

I thought the chocolate mille feuille, which the French translation obviously means melt in your mouth, heavenly, and decadent chocolate dessert, looked a little like the Arizona Memorial but that didn’t stop me from eating the whole thing. #dontjudgeme  I would have licked my plate but I was on my best behavior and I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of my new friends. Okay, who am I kidding? I just didn’t want to be the leader of the plate licking club but I totally would have been a follower if anybody had started!!

I seriously had THE. BEST. DAY. on Saturday and that lunch was a major highlight of the day. As I said, Chef Jen has 4 restaurants in Denver and we visited one of the others for dinner Saturday night. You’d think I wouldn’t have been hungry at all after that amazing lunch but, nope, true to form, I was hungry for dinner. Go figure. :)  We wandered up and down the 16th Street Mall (where Jesse almost got run over by the bus while we were watching a jazz band) and finally made our way to Rialto Cafe. Where I had a supreme bacon and blue cheese bison burger, sweet potato fries, and some fabulous wine.

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Hey, I said I was hungry, remember?

Talk to me: What is the most fabulous and interesting way you’ve had avocado prepared? Mushrooms – yay or nay? Sweet potato fries or regular?

 

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Guilt Free Blueberry Banana Muffins

So, if you’re new here, you don’t know about my relationship with blueberries. (PS. Welcome!)

I love them. <3

If they were a man, I would totally marry them. Just picture it – me in my white dress with purple blueberry stains on it like lovely lilac polka dots walking down the aisle surrounded by blooming blueberry bushes. Can you see it? Are you with me? If it ever becomes appropriate to marry a food, would you like an invitation? :)

Seriously, though. It’s a sad day in my world if I don’t have blueberries. I literally eat them errrr day!

And, I have no statistics to back me up on this but I think the blueberry muffin is quite possibly the most popular blueberry delivery system. I mean, who doesn’t love a good blueberry muffin?!

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Oh wait, probably most people because they are usually LOADED with fat and sugar and they sit heavy in your gut and make you feel like you swallowed a ton of bricks and you hope your ties with the mob are in good standing because you certainly don’t want to get tossed into the drink after eating one of those!

*inhale*

So, that’s why I made you these!

Blueberry muffins that are packed with blueberries, lightly sweet, and definitely tasty and they don’t sit heavy in your tummy. Plus, they’re super easy to make. You’re welcome.

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I made a bunch and took them to work. It was madness! Those poor muffins didn’t stand a chance. I think someone even licked the container clean because there wasn’t even a crumb left.

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Talk to me: Are you good with the mob? What’s your favorite berry? Will you be a bridesmaid?

 

Guilt Free Blueberry Banana Muffins
Blueberry banana muffins that are lightly sweet and packed with blueberries!
Servings Prep Time
24 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Guilt Free Blueberry Banana Muffins
Blueberry banana muffins that are lightly sweet and packed with blueberries!
Servings Prep Time
24 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings Prep Time
24 muffins 10 minutes
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: muffins
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two 12-cup muffin pans with foil liners.
  2. In a small bowl, mash bananas. Whisk in eggs, yogurt, applesauce, vanilla, and lemon zest until combined.
  3. In a large bowl, sift together dry ingredients. NOTE: sifting is important so the whole wheat flour doesn't weight the muffins down!
  4. Add wet ingredients into dry, stirring to mix well. Fold in blueberries.
  5. Scoop into lined muffin cups (I used a 3 tbsp scooper) until full, adding additional batter as needed.
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick or cake tester inserted in center comes out clean.
  7. Remove from pan and allow to cool so the blueberries don't burn your mouth when you eat them!
Recipe Notes

Don't want to make 24 muffins? Halve the recipe! Seeing as 1 1/2 eggs is a difficult task, use 2 eggs for 12 muffins. :)

Do not use nonfat yogurt in this recipe. The fat is necessary since there is no butter or oil. I used Maple Hill Creamery's Organic Creamline Plain Yogurt but you can certainly use your favorite. Just make sure that it is not fat free or the muffins will not be as moist.

You've probably noticed there isn't any sugar added to these muffins. Don't worry! They don't need it. The bananas and the applesauce add just the perfect amount of sweetness and help prevent the muffins from becoming traditional sugar bombs.

Nutritional information per muffin per My Fitness Pal:

90 calories; 1.3g fat; 16.0g total carbs, 4.7g sugar; 3.2g protein; 24.6g cholesterol

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All the fun at Fitbloggin’!

OMG, people. I had the absolute BEST time at Fitbloggin’ in Denver!

The first awesome part was getting to hang out with Lena! We haven’t seen each other since Fitbloggin’ last year and we had tons to catch up on!

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We had a great view from our room. The hotel was right next to this big clock tower and there was even a putt-putt golf course right there!

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We went to a lot of sessions and learned quite a bit but I think the most important part for me was the networking. I definitely made a few new friends this year. We spent a lot of time just talking and sharing ideas and just being ourselves. You know those are the good ones!

I live-blogged one of the sessions and discovered that I can type really, really, really, REALLY fast when I need to. Which I needed to because Jamie from Sweat Pink can talk REALLY fast!! Holy smokes! That was pretty fun and challenging too because the whole point of a live blogger is to take good notes do that those unable to attend that session would be able to benefit from the information.

I was inspired by so many people at Fitbloggin’ this year! I met David and learned about his weight loss and fitness journey. That man climbs stairs like it’s his job! Like, seriously. You know I don’t take the elevators at work so I’m forever climbing up 5 flights but that’s nothing compared to David. He’s amazing!

I met Brooke who you may know as “that girl Shape magazine told to put a shirt on over her bikini” after success with weight loss. I mean, she lost 172 pounds! What did the editors of the magazine expect she was going to look like?! Anyway, she stood her ground and only worked with them again on her terms. Talk about promoting a body-positive image!!

There were so many more and I’m certainly not trying to leave anybody out!

Of course, I got in some good workouts, too!

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Photo by Carrie D photography

I did boot camp last year and I had to come back for more! Erin is quite possibly the happiest, most motivated and motivating person on the planet and she totally kicked my ass in that class. :)

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Don’t worry, don’t worry, I’m getting to the burning questions. Slow your roll, people; slow your roll. 😉

So, what did I learn and how is my blog going to change and/or grow now?

Well, first off, my blog is still growing and changing anyway so you can expect to see some format changes and things like that. I’m not going to go and change it all at once – I don’t want anyone to freak out and leave! But, I will be making some changes and would love feedback on them or on changes you think I should make or would like to see. Please and thank you! :)

I’m hoping to make some additional changes and become an ambassador for another organization or two and some products I strongly believe in so hopefully, I’ll be sharing more info about that soon. Baby steps. :)

And if you’re wondering if I had time to eat while I was in Denver, I did! I definitely did. I’ll be sharing all about it on Wednesday. You don’t want to miss it!

I can’t stop smiling thinking about my time in Denver and the friends I made and the stuff I learned and the fun I had! 😀 Even though Jesse almost got run over by a bus while we were listening to jazz out on the street. Phew, THAT would have been a real mood killer! (I tried to upload a video but it wouldn’t let me. Now THAT’S a mood killer. :/)

Oh! I almost forgot! I got some fresh ink while I was there.

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I <3 elephants! And, for those that don't know, this is probably the best time to share that I'm going to be a .... You know, writing the word is difficult! I haven't done it before!! ... grandma. Yep. For reals. Hence, the baby elephant with a heart balloon on his (yep, it's a boy!) tail. <3

Talk to me: Have you ever been to Denver? Do you like jazz? What’s your favorite animal (non-traditional – like you can’t actually have one as a pet)?

– jennifer

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What I Wore Wednesday – Stitch Fix #4

Okay, fine. Technically, it’s Stitch Fix #5 but I didn’t blog about last month’s. We had just gotten back from vacation (still really, really bummed that post went poof.) and the box came while we were gone and I was in a rush to go through it when we got home. I did keep 2 tops and I’ll show them to you in this post. So you can be all caught up. Cuz I’m cool like that. :)

Know what else is cool?

Liking EVERYTHING that came in this month’s fix!

Yep, I totally kept it ALL!

First up is this Ellee Basketweave Dress from Gilli ($64.00) in purple.

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I absolutely LOVE the way this dress fits. It’s got a great halter style top with an empire waist and is just perfect. I can dress it up with accessories and nice shoes or I can keep it casual. TOTALLY taking this to FitBloggin!!

Next up is this Zelli Split Back Tee in purple from Market & Spruce ($48.00) and the Adorra Skinny Jean from Just Black ($88.00).

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The skinny jeans are PERFECT and I love the blue and that there isn’t any distressing. That allows me to dress them up for work or a night out while staying casual in a t-shirt and Vans, if I choose.

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The purple is so deep that I thought it was black at first. The fact that it’s purple is cool because that’s my favorite color and it gives it a little more interest.

I LOVE the back on this top. I’ve never had a top like that and now I wonder what took me so long! Added bonus – it makes my squat booty look really good. 😉

Then, there was this Sam Hi-Lo Short Sleeve Tee in teal green from Market & Spruce ($48.00).

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When I first tried it on, I wasn’t sure. I can’t explain it. But, I started looking at it in the mirror and taking pictures and it suddenly started hanging the right way and I can definitely see me wearing this. Plus, the color is awesome!

Finally, there was the Huron Reversible Magnetic Closure Tote in Gold/White (on the inside) from Street Level ($48.00). I don’t know yet how I’m going to incorporate that tote but I’m going to figure it out! The shirt is from last month’s Fix. LOVE! It’s a super comfortable wrap style that’s super flattering. The stylist hit the jackpot with that one!

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And, this is the other top from the last Fix. I LOVE the lace detail and the fact that the top is lined. Lined is a big deal to me when it comes to white tops. I can definitely wear this to work with a jacket or as a “going out” top. :)

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So, since I’m keeping all 5 items, I get to take advantage of the “buy 5 discount.” The total for all 5 items is originally $292 but with the discount and my $20 styling fee credit, I only have to pay $199.  That’s pretty awesome! Especially since I can legitimately see me wearing each and every piece.

I should say that the last Fix, besides those two tops, was a little disappointing. I seem to have misplaced the little card that comes in each Fix (I wonder if it’s with my missing vacation post?) so I can’t share about what I sent back but I can’t even remember what was in there besides those two tops. I think there was a dress and the color was nice but the fit and style were not right for me. And, there must have been some bottoms and maybe a necklace, I think? Why am I telling you this? Because, feedback is part of the process and I gave good feedback about the pieces I wasn’t keeping and I updated my style profile a little and THE STYLIST PAID ATTENTION. Obviously. I mean, I just got 5 things that are perfect for me and at a great price point! Feedback is the key!

If you decide to finally try Stitch Fix (referral link), make sure you take your time and are honest when you do your style profile. Your stylist isn’t going to know what you like and what you don’t like if you don’t tell her. And, when you get your first Fix, be HONEST with the feedback! If you don’t like something, say why. You’re not going to make anybody feel bad, I promise. The stylist needs to know! You’re essentially developing a relationship and she needs to know what you think. And, don’t let the potential cost scare you away. You can also set your price points. Mine may be higher than yours in some areas and that’s okay. That’s why those price points are there! Oh, and you don’t have to get a Fix every month if that’s too much for you. See, Stitch Fix is customizable! It’s definitely worth a try. Just check it out. Who knows, you may end up with the piece of clothing you’ve been waiting for your whole life. 😉

Talk to me: Vans or Keds? 

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Spicy Honey Balsamic BBQ Sauce (TT #18)

 I. Love. Grilling.

Yes, I know you already know that but I just like to say it.

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I also love barbecue sauces. Good barbecue sauces. Sauces with depth and flavor and a little kick. Not overly sweet (looking at you, honey BBQ sauces in a jar!), or too ketchup-y, or too vinegar-y. A good combination of the two!

Kansas City style barbecue sauces are usually pretty red and acidic and Carolina style barbecue sauces are usually pretty vinegar heavy and tangy. And, when you find a good one, they are often off the chain delicious! But, you don’t usually find that in a jar or a bottle on your grocery store shelf. You might find something suitable that you like but, once you taste a homemade sauce, you’ll never go back to bottled. Unless it was the bottle/jar that you stored your own sauce in.

And this sauce is a great blend of Kansas City and Carolina styles – sweet from the honey, lightly spicy from the cayenne pepper, and tart from the vinegars and the lemon. It’s darn near perfect, in my opinion!

Many people are afraid to make their own sauce for whatever reason – it’s too hard, it takes too long, I don’t want to buy fancy extra ingredients that I’ll never use again, I don’t want to use up an entire bottle of ketchup in a barbecue sauce, etc – but I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to be afraid!

Barbecue sauce is actually really pretty simple to make. And this sauce uses ingredients you probably already have in your pantry!

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All you really have to do is put everything in a pot, bring it to a boil (um, don’t let it boil over otherwise you’ll be soaking your burner drip pan for a week. trust me.), and then simmer for 30 minutes.

And, when you’re done, you’ve got a sweet and tangy sauce just begging to be used on some barbecue chicken or ribs.

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Wondering what to store the sauce in after you make it? I personally use mason jars. I like those because I can also freeze them without worrying about plastic, and BPAs, and all that jazz.

So, what are you waiting for? Go make some barbecue sauce!

Talk to me: Kansas City, Memphis, or Carolina style?

And now, in Tasty Tuesday fashion, it’s your turn to share!

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Tell me what you’ve got cooking or what else food related is going on in your life. And make sure you head over to see what my partner in crime, Lena, has going on in her kitchen. It’s sure to be something delicious!

Link ’em up, my friends!

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Spicy Honey Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Sweet and lightly spicy with an edge of tartness, this sauce was meant for chicken, ribs, and pork!
Servings
2 cups
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings
2 cups
Cook Time
30 minutes
Spicy Honey Balsamic BBQ Sauce
Sweet and lightly spicy with an edge of tartness, this sauce was meant for chicken, ribs, and pork!
Servings
2 cups
Cook Time
30 minutes
Servings
2 cups
Cook Time
30 minutes
Ingredients
Servings: cups
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and gently simmer the sauce, uncovered, until thick and richly flavored, 30 minutes.
  3. Use right away or transfer to a large jar, cover, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate. Sauce will keep for several months.
Recipe Notes

Recipe adapted from the Barbecue! Bible Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades

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