snacks i’m loving

Hello my loves.

I hope you all have had a wonderful weekend. It’s so hard for me to concept a weekend anymore since I work every Saturday, my weekends fly by a lot quicker when I only have one day to really relax.  And not that I don’t miss him, but Matt was at a design conference all weekend, so I actually had some quiet time to myself. But I’m not going to lie, it can get a little boring.

I probably should have worked on more wedding things, as I feel like it is quickly creeping up on me, and I still have so much to do, but I took the quiet time to actually just relax and chill out. I try to keep my stress levels low, but when you finish addressing all your save the dates only to notice at the very end that there was a typo on the date and the wrong year was printed… kind of hard not to freak out a bit.

It doesn’t help that on top of it all Matt and I have both been sick for the past few days, so I haven’t had much motivation or energy to do more than lay on the couch in my spare moments.

But I did of course want to check in with you lovelies and share a few goodies.

Since I’ve been sick, my appetite has of course been a bit off. I find myself snacking a lot more as I don’t have as big of a hunger for big meals.  But I’ve never had problems with being a snacker and thankfully I have had some tasty treats showing up at the house.

When I know I need to get some energy in me and don’t have the appetite for a huge meal, nuts are always a go to for me.

Have you guys heard of Living Nutz?

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They provide raw organic nuts and seeds and they come in some really interesting flavors.  Not only do I think the fact that their products are organic are great, but the fact that they are raw and unprocessed  I think is amazing.  They explain that this keeps more nutrients and enzymes in the nuts, making them better for you. And did I mention their amazing flavors?

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I was most blown away by the Tahitian Vanilla Coco Creme Walnuts, as I love walnuts to begin with, but the exotic vanilla flavor was amazing. I ate these straight from the bag, but also topped my yogurt and ice cream with them. Such a nice sweet crunch.

The Vegan Cheezy Almonds were another favorite and these were a great addition to my salads.  Again a nice added crunch.

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Have I mentioned I love crunch? I am such a texture eater.

Speaking of crunch.

I recently reviewed the new Quest Nutrition protein chips and I am still loving those.

Perfect little protein snack and I highly recommend if you have any left over guacamole from Chipotle like I did, they go amazing together.

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But really anything covered in guacamole, especially from Chipotle, is amazing.

And while we’re on the topic of amazing, you know what else is amazing?

Winning giveaways.

I was lucky enough to win a few giveaways recently and had my prizes delivered.

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I am so excited to try these new KIND granola bars. I am a huge fan of their other bars and granola, so I’m pretty sure I will be a fan of these as well!

I also received another surprise on my door step recently.  I have worked with Enjoy Life Foods in the past in reviewing some of their products and honestly I have never been disappointed in what they make. I recently made my very first chocolate chip pumpkin bread using their dairy free mini chips ( keep an eye out for a recipe), that when this surprise package arrived I was more than excited.

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I love their seed and fruit mixes and love that their products are nut free and gluten free. A perfect snack when I need a little something in between meals. I take this to work a lot to snack on through out the day. So thank you very much to all my friends at Enjoy Life for thinking of me and sending these my way!

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What snacks have you been enjoying lately?

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do you even quark?

I know. What a lame introduction to an awesome new to me product.

I love my greek yogurt. I will admit that the tangy taste of plain greek yogurt took some getting use to, but I just adore that thick texture.

So when I heard of Elli’s Quark I was intrigued. And after reading their description on their website, I knew I would love this product.

Elli Quark is a spoonable fresh cheese with a creamy texture similar to Greek yogurt,
but with a richer, less sour taste. It also has a better protein-to-carb ratio than
Greek yogurt, with high protein and no added sugars.”

Sound’s pretty delicious right?

And if that wasn’t tempting enough, check out all the amazing flavors they offer.

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I mean seriously. Red Velvet, Sea Salt Caramel, Mint Chocolate, just to name a few. And of course some delicious classics like Blueberry, Peach and Vanilla.  I honestly didn’t know what to try first.

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I started with a classic though and tried the peach.

And as expected the texture was spot on, and I was really impressed with the chunks of peach that was in the quark.

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But really, look at that creaminess.

I will honestly say though that the flavors I thought I would enjoy the most…I didn’t. I of course was crazy excited for the red velvet and banana fosters, but found myself enjoying the peach and strawberry the best. Sometimes simplicity is better.

Overall though I was very impressed with Elli Quark and would gladly purchase it again.

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Have you heard of Quark?

What flavor would you be most excited to try?

quest nutrition chips review

So let’s start with a little honesty. I know Quest Nutrition bars are all the rave. And yes, I drool over all the Quest creations that are all over Pinterest and Instagram. But up until recently I never had the best Quest bar experience. Maybe I just had the bad luck of always getting duds, but it seemed all my Quest bars were always hard and not soft and doughy like I was seeing everyone else experience. So I won’t lie in saying that I kind of gave up on Quest bars. That was until the new Cookie’s and Cream flavor came out.

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This flavor completely changed my mind on Quest bars. I was hooked.

Proof?

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I got a whole box.

But note to self: the longer these sit the harder they get. Maybe that was my problem in the past? I was buying bars that had been sitting out awhile. I just didn’t seem to eat them quick enough and as time passed it seemed the bars got harder and harder.

So with my new found love for the Quest Bars you can imagine this snack girls excitement when she saw that Quest Nutrition was coming out with a new product.

Chips!!

I.Love.Chips.

We all know I am a huge dipper, so chips are by far one of my favorite snacks. And a chip with added protein?

Count me in.

Seriously, I got a got a bit too excited when my Quest chips showed up on my doorstep.

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And to my delight these did not disappoint.

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I broke into the cheddar & sour cream first because those are one of my favorite flavors of regular chips.

These chips basically reminded me of a baked chip, but it’s great knowing there was extra protein in these.

I wish I could say I made something fancy to dip them in, but I seriously just ate them straight out of the bag.

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My only complaint?

That the bags weren’t bigger. Seriously, this girl can demolish a bag of chips in a matter of seconds.

But with these, I didn’t have any guilt after.

So if you haven’t tried these new chips I highly recommend you do. And with my new found love for all things Quest I am anxious to try their pasta as well. Because let’s be real, who doesn’t love pasta, and if I can find a guilt free delicious pasta? Sign me up!

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Have you tried Quest’s new chips?

What’s your favorite Quest Bar flavor? Any fun recipes?

chickpea protein brownie bites

I am the master of simplicity.

Breakfast use to be my favorite time to get fancy and creative, but this was before having to be at work at 6:30am.  Now breakfast is anything that is quick and portable. Not as fancy. I do miss my beautiful oatmeal bowl creations.

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But long gone are those days.

More than likely even on my days off my breakfasts look like this.

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Peanut Butter Toast.

But I made a random genius addition of adding crumbled graham crackers on top. It was a nice added crunch and flavor.

And to be even more plain.

Bagel with Cream Cheese.

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However the fact that this was a P28 bagel and that I added Growing Naturals Vanilla Blast Pea Protein to the cream cheese took this up a notch as well. But still, pretty simple.

But then one day I got the baking bug. I don’t know why, but one night I decided to actually experiment with a recipe I had seen and prep some protein muffins for my breakfasts.

I will admit in taking them out of the oven and tasting them I wasn’t too impressed.  But after one night in the fridge, they got 100x better.

So my advice to you, if you make these, which you should, wait until the next day to eat them.

 Chickpea Protein Brownie Bites

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Ingredients

- 1/2 cup chickpeas

- 1 scoop chocolate protein (30g) (I used Designer Whey)

- 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce (could use pumpkin)

- 3 tablespoon liquid egg whites

- 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa

- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

- 2 tablespoon almond milk

- 1 teaspoon vanilla

- sweetener to taste (I used NuNaturals liquid vanilla and cocoa syrup)

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Directions

- Drain and rinse chickpeas.

- Blend chickpeas, applesauce, egg whites and vanilla.

- Mix in remaining ingredients until well blended.

- Pour into muffin tin or brownie molds.

- Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

- Let cool and eat plain or top with desired frosting. *

* As mentioned I highly recommend storing these in the fridge over night and eating the next day. Also these topped with Sweet Spreads white chocolate coconut butter was pretty much amazing. Regular peanut butter I’m sure would be equally delicious.

I love that I can just grab a few of these in the morning and be on my way. Portable breakfasts are definitely a must now. I’m also excited to play around with the flavor and use different flavor protein powders.

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What are you favorite portable meals?

Peas and Crayons

marvelous small things

Sometimes it’s the small things that can make a day marvelous.

It’s been awhile since I have linked up with Katie for her Marvelous In My Monday and with all the crazy that has been going on, I thought it might be nice to stop and recognize that sometimes it’s the small things that can make a day marvelous.

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Marvelous is when your go to pay for your Starbucks only to realize you didn’t have enough on your card for your purchase and didn’t bring any other form of payment and the man behind you so graciously offers to cover the rest of the amount. I will tell you, it made the coffee taste that much better knowing it was purchased with kindness. Will definitely have to pay it forward.

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Marvelous is when your doctor receives chocolates as a thank you gift from a client and shares it with her staff.

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Extra marvelous that they were fancy chocolates that were soooo delicious.

So delicious that I had two.

Marvelous is walking into your local Whole Foods bar to have dinner and having the bartender immediately hand you samples of the new beers they have on tap because she not only saw you walking towards the bar from down the aisle, but knows what type of beers you love and would be excited about.

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I would always continue going to Whole Foods for their delicious sushi and hot bar, but it is such an added bonus to have such great service.

Seriously. Love my bartender.

And speaking of Whole Foods…

Marvelous is wedding cake tasting!

Yes, at Whole Foods.  I love the high standards Whole Foods has on their food items and it’s no exception with their cakes. The baker kept informing us of the all natural ingredients that are used and the fact that the ingredient list is not only short, but you can recognize every ingredient used.

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He had randomly made us the spice cake because it was his seasonal favorite, but he mentioned since we were having an April wedding we may not want it… After tasting it we decided that it was going to be the top tier of the wedding cake just for the wedding party. It was one of the most delicious cakes I have ever tasted. For the other two tiers we chose chocolate cake with a chocolate butter cream frosting filling and then the bottom tier will be vanilla cake with a Chantilly frosting and raspberry compote filling.

It’s going to be amazing and delicious.

And the last small marvelous thing is actually baking and creating something delicious.

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I made a mini batch of protein chickpea brownie bites that even though the recipe may still need a little bit of tweaking, topped with Sweet Spreads coconut butter made them a kitchen success.

So my loves, sometimes its the small things that can make a day marvelous, so I hope you are able to recognize them in your life and embrace them.

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What would your dream wedding cake flavor be?

september foodie pen pal reveal

So other than my typical I can’t believe how fast time is going, but seriously this year is almost half over and the countdown to Christmas is already beginning, seriously where does time go?

Trust me I am super excited for the holiday season. And things are starting to slightly cool down here in Arizona. By slightly I mean it’s still in the 90′s, but I’ll take it.

Oh and it’s pumpkin season. I eat pumpkin pretty much all year long, but fall time delicacies like these are starting to pop up.

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I love Chobani as is, but this pumpkin flavor…

Spot On.

I actually have not been too impressed with a lot of the pumpkin flavors coming out. Yogurtland’s pumpkin frozen yogurt disappointed me, Baskin Robbins pumpkin cheesecake ice cream was a total flop, so I was a bit hesitant when trying this for the first time. But this one did not disappoint. (also the pumpkin spice cupcake I had at work was ah-mazing, but really…pumpkin spice cake…cream cheese frosting…enough said)

But with the coming of October and all things fall we have to cover one important thing first.

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Foodie Pen Pal Reveal.

The Lean Green Bean
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This month I was paired up with Trey and this is what he sent me.
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Ed’s Red hot sauce, home made strawberry fig jam and local honey.
You know me and my jam obsession and this stuff was delish.
He also sent a few items local to his area that I thought was very nice.
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Fresh sea salt, a sand dollar and a little star fish. Seriously how cute is that? I love when foodie pen pals include little things that are local to them. I haven’t been to the ocean in forever so it was really fun to get these items.
Thanks Trey!
And my fiance thanks you too, he loves the hot sauce. I made him a potato, ham, and cheese hash for breakfast one morning and took it up a notch with the new hot sauce.
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I didn’t hear any complaints.
 So again, another successful foodie pen pal experience.
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 Are you excited for fall?
What’s your favorite fall flavor? As much as I love pumpkin, I really think apple cider is my favorite seasonal item, but nothing in Arizona even compares to the fresh apple cider I got from the apple orchards back in Indiana…

i’ve come to realize…

That I may have a problem.

A sweets problem.

I was looking through my Instagram feed the other day and realized two things.

1. I eat a lot of desserts.

2. I drink a lot of beer.

Two things I really don’t have a problem with.  If anything this shows you that you can live and lead a healthy lifestyle and still indulge once in a while every night and not be obese or unhealthy. I eat healthy I would say 80% of the time and let myself enjoy all foods when the craving strikes. I will never say no to ice cream.

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Especially in the waffle bowl hot fudge sundae form.

I also will never say no to a beer.

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Especially when good company is involved.

The purpose of this post is really to show that you can live your life, honor your body, and still be healthy.

Need more proof?

Here is a snap shot into just a few days of last week.

We had a client drop of delicious little mini bundt cakes.

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I first sampled each flavor to see which was the best…

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Chocolate clearly won. I mean. It even have chocolate chips baked into it.

Later that same night Matt wanted to meet for a beer after work.

Our Whole Foods just tapped Dogfish Head’s Punkin and considering it’s my favorite pumpkin beer, who am I to say no.

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And the fact that it looked like there was a spider web in my beer made it that much more delicious.

A few days later a co-worker made her famous banana bread cake. Again, I wish I could say no but I couldn’t not have a piece of the deliciousness.

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 I’m glad I did because that day turned out to be a crazy one. It was so bad this time I requested Matt meet me for a drink. It was much needed.

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And for some reason when I get tipsy I want dessert. #sorryimnotsorry I wanted more ice cream.

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One thing I have come to learn that letting myself enjoy life and just live is so much easier and less stressful then worrying about every little thing that goes in my mouth, how it will affect my body, how I will look tomorrow, and just live in the moment and embrace the present and not worry about the future. Life is more about the experiences and memories that we make not a number on the scale or a pant size.

So with that being said I am going to continue to enjoy my ice cream and beer. And never feel guilty for it.

Cheers.

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What are your favorite indulgences?

How do you let yourself live life freely?

what i ate on vacation

Hello loves!

This post really serves a dual purpose.

1. I really want to gush and flood you with adorable pictures of my new niece. Because seriously, babies are the most amazing thing ever.

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2. I really wanted to focus on something that I feel is a very important topic. When you live a healthy eating lifestyle it is so easy to get sucked into the “I have to eat perfect and clean 100% of the time”.  I will admit I once lived in that world, but now a days, it’s just not how I live my life.  I can’t even say I believe in the 80/20 rule or everything in moderation view.  I really feel we should all just enjoy life, eat what we want when we want, and listen to our bodies.  Our bodies are so much smarter than we think and more than likely will not always crave or want junk.  I found this out in my weight gain journey when my nutritionist told me I needed to have desserts every night. My first fear was I would always crave a sweet treat, but trust me, after having ice cream every single night, you do in fact get sick of it.

But on to my more important point.  In visiting my niece I was a guest for 5 days at my parents and at my sisters.  This obviously meant I did not have my own kitchen with my own foods.  I was at their disposal on what they had and what they typically ate.  Of course the initial fear set in and the thoughts of “what if they eat foods I don’t deem “healthy” or “safe”. What is they want to go out every meal?  Well, then that’s what I would do. And it was a great challenge for me.

So today I bring you what I ate while on vacation and how my body reacted.

Another concern I know a lot of people have is the fear of gaining weight when on vacation.  My views on this are even if you do gain a little bit of weight due to eating different foods, once you get back your body will more than likely balance out.  You don’t lose 10 pounds overnight so it’s silly to think you would gain 10 pounds in that short amount of time. And as mentioned, even if you did gain a few pounds, I can almost guarantee they aren’t permanent and again it will balance out.

I will say probably 80% of my meals were eaten out on this trip. Starting with breakfast the day of travel.  Our flight was at 7:30am so needless to say breakfast was eaten at the airport.

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Yup. Mimosa’s at 7:00am. No shame.  Matt and I also shared a side of fresh fruit and then also grabbed some Chobani’s to eat later on the plane. I also had a banana. Not quite the breakfast of champions, but that early…at an airport…our options were limited.

Needless to say when we landed we were starving.  My parents picked us up from the airport and we stopped for lunch at a place they really wanted to take us. Why? Because it had 30 beers on tap.  My parents know me too well.

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I am so thankful that I have such a better relationship now with my parents. We all go through our hard times and I really feel our relationship is stronger now that we’ve moved past most of our issues. It’s good to have fun with them again, because let’s be real, they are where I get my quirky personality from.

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For lunch I ordered the chicken avocado salad, which I was so happy to see came with tons of avocado.

The chicken was a little sub-par, but the lime vinaigrette it came with made up for the lack of flavor in the chicken.

After lunch we all actually took a nap and after we rested for a bit my mom and I ran to the store to get some last minute items for dinner.

And I was so excited about dinner.

Mom’s home made taco’s (that were made by Dad!)

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This was one of my favorite meals growing up.  My mom always told me I didn’t want to know what she put into her famous tacos as I probably wouldn’t want to eat them if I knew, but whatever she puts in them…they were just as amazing as I remember.

Another small thing that really brought back some nostalgia was cooking the tortillas over the gas stove.  I don’t know what it is, but it just makes them taste better.

After dinner my mom had bought oatmeal raisin cookies that she swore were better than her homemade. Which to me seemed impossible because I love her home made cookies. But let me tell you, these cookies were ah-mazing.

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So good I took about half the container home with me. So good that half of those didn’t make the trip home. I couldn’t stop eating them!

The next day we packed up and headed to my sisters. We got on the road a bit later than anticipated and didn’t make it to her house until around dinner time. We stopped by the store to pick up a quick dinner. With two little ones, quick easy dinners are needed so we picked up a few frozen pizza’s and called it good.

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Source

I forgot to snap a picture, but we had the margherita pizza from California Kitchen.

Frozen pizza’s are something I don’t typically eat at home, but I sometimes forget how good they can be.

After dinner we all just lounged around spent time with my new niece Kaylee.

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Babies are precious as is, but when it’s your niece, they are extra precious.

I also got some sister love in right away.

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While visiting my sister had two requests for me.

I make them biscuits and gravy and we go to Dairy Queen. ( I guess all my Dairy Queen posts on Instagram had her jealous and craving it )

Well that next morning I was able to fill one of those requests.

Biscuits and Gravy

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I forgot the sausage when I had gone to the store, but she had some left over chorizo so we used that instead. I loved the added spice.

Even though my sister and her husband eat in turns, they both really enjoyed the breakfast and I loved cooking for them.  I know cooking meals is hard for them with two little ones, so I really loved that I could help them out.

My new niece Kaylee was having some acid reflux problems so needless to say things were a bit stressful for my sister. A 2 year old and a baby that basically is in pain every time she eats. I knew my sister was stressed, so when Harper went down for her nap we put the boys on baby duty and I took my sister out to get her very first pedicure. I think she deserved it.

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She really enjoyed it and it was great to get out with her alone, relax and be able to catch up. I don’t see her enough so I really loved spending some one on one time with her. After the pedicures request number two was filled.

Dairy Queen

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I wasn’t impressed with their swirls, but it still was a tasty treat! And my sister got her Dairy Queen fix!

That night for dinner we decided to do take out. My sister is an extremely picky eater, so we just let them decide where they wanted to go.

I like going to places that I don’t have in Arizona, but my sister suggested Buffalo Wild Wings and really, I love that place so I wasn’t too disappointed.

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I use to be strictly a spicy garlic girl, but as of late I am an asian zing convert. Never thought the day would come…

I know what you’re thinking by now. Pizza. Wings. And of course some of this…

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Not the most healthy of foods. And from a girl with a past history of an eating disorder, you would think by now I would be freaking out.

Well, this really shows how far I’ve come, because I totally went with the flow. I think I was so happy to be around my family, food was not the focus. I will also note that I did not work out once this whole trip either. ( And maybe a bit TMI but my bowels were completely normal as well during and after the trip.  )

We decided to head back a little early to my parents since my sister seemed to be getting a bit overwhelmed with the new baby and having that many guests in her house.

I can’t believe I forgot to take pictures, but we cooked up a great dinner that night at my parents. We all kind of contributed to a dish and it was just a wonderful home cooked meal. We had rotisserie chicken, oven roasted potatoes, fresh green beans and salad with veggies from their garden.  It was all delicious.

Our last day in town before we had to fly out we met for breakfast with one of my best friends who is also going to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.

She suggested this cute little cafe that I had never been to.

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I ordered a veggie omelet with a side of fruit and whole wheat toast.

It’s weird because I don’t typically eat eggs at home, maybe because Matt hates them and we never have them in the house, but whenever I go to cute cafe’s I always want to order omelets.

Kim’s husband and daughter had joined us for breakfast, so it was great to get to spend time with all of them.

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We went back to her house for a bit after breakfast just to catch up and of course talk about wedding stuff!

It was soon time to head back to my parents as they wanted to have lunch with us before they took us back to the airport.

Again, failed to snap a picture, but we to Applebee’s to watch some of the football games and have lunch.  We ordered the pub pretzels and beer cheese dip as an appetizer (which actually the show stealer was the spicy mustard it was served with) and I got the strawberry and avocado chicken salad.  So I haven’t been to an Applebee’s in a long time, but honestly I think the avocado that came on this salad was by far the best I have had served on a salad in a while. It was perfectly ripe and creamy and they did not skimp on the amount. I’m pretty sure I had a whole avocado on my salad and I was perfectly OK with that. The chicken was also cooked and seasoned great. Way to go Applebee’s!

We then headed off to the airport and surprisingly there was no line for security so we had some time to kill.  As per usual most the of the airport bars were packed, especially with the games on, but a very nice man offered us his table since he was alone and he saw we were looking. To repay his kindness we bought him a round and he was very appreciative.  Pay it forward people, there needs to be more random acts of kindness in today’s world.

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With the time change by time we landed I was starving. We decided to just eat at the airport because I honestly did not even think I could wait for the drive home with out chewing my arm off.

Most of the restaurants were actually closing, but we found one place that was still offering salads and appetizers.

And beer of course.

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Yup more avocado. I think I ate the equivalent of about 5 avocados in 5 days. Again, not complaining.

We finally made it home and I passed out in probably 10 minutes flat.

So loves. That is what I ate while on vacation and let me tell you I did not regret a single meal.  Let me also tell you that I not only did not feel like I gained weight, I actually felt like I lost weight. I contribute it to listening to my body, not restricting, and in reality gave it what it wanted. More food.

So I am really living proof that eating pizza, wings, and drinking a lot of beer for a short period of time will not make you gain weight over night. I had a great time, I didn’t let food control me and my choices and I went with the flow and did what normal people do. Adjust.

And I can’t tell you how I great I feel for that.

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What’s your view on eating on vacation?

Peas and Crayons