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Rhode Island, United States

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A fishy Italian feast

I was pretty lazy today, I just did some organizing, and a little strength training in the afternoon; about 10 minutes of ab work and 10 minutes of arms. Afterwards I had a snack of 1/2 cup 0% greek yogurt with some pineapple and almond slivers.

Tonight for dinner I tried a few new things; some classic italian recipes and the fresh bluefish my sister caught a while ago! My mom had saved me some, and I marinated it earlier today with olive oil, lemon juice, salt, thyme and basil. We attempted to grill it, but the wind picked up and the charcoal grill wouldn't light; so I pan-seared it instead.
Since the fish took so long, we ate our sides first, italian primo piatto style. I made my favorite stuffed eggplants, recipe to follow! They're basically boiled eggplants mixed with breadcrumbs, olive oil, parsley, tomato, onion and fresh mozzarella, baked, stuffed back into the shell and topped with a marinara sauce. It was very good, but I made a bit extra filling so we each had extra little "eggplant stuffing balls" on the side as well!

I also made a little italian treat- I was out in my garden this morning picking fresh parsley for dinner, when I spotted zucchini flowers! I knew I had to have my family try the not-so-good-for-you, but oh so tasty fried zucchini flowers I helped make in italy! I didn't deep fry them, just a quick pan fry, but I did use the classic flour/egg/beer/s&p batter. (I had one to try)

Finally, the fish was ready, and it was fantastic if I do say so myself! My family loved it... little did they know this was my first time marinating and pan searing fresh fish! I love to experiment, and I'm glad this experiment worked out well. The fish was light and flaky, not too done and not too rare. I had a big piece along with my stuffing ball for my secondo piatto!

I am stuffed, but in a good way! This dinner was so good, I'll definately be making everything again!

Niente Ceci...

This morning I went on a short run; only just over 20 minutes because the heat was beginning to get to me. It is so much more humid here than when I was in Italy, so my lungs aren't quite used to it yet! I had a banana about 1/2 an hour before my run, and ate lunch after.

No more ceci, I finished the last of the chickpeas with the tagliatelle and pepe rosso sauce for lunch today, along with the leftover steamed squash/zucchini. It was just the right amount, and definately hit the spot!

I'm planning on doing some strength training this afternoon, and maybe some organizing. It's hard to believe I only have a month from tomorrow until I move into my house- I've still got a lot to buy and a whole lot to begin packing!

Tonight I'm making a couple italian recipes, and then I'm going to my cousin's basketball game- it's at a park about a mile away, so I think I might take advantage of the beautiful sunshine in the evening and walk to see her play!

Simple morning

After all my indulgences yesterday, I was ready for one of my staple simple, healthy breakfasts; Kashi Go Lean (1.25 cups) with a cup of nonfat soy milk, and just about a cup of bluberries. It was just enough to hit the spot!

Now, as I'm blogging I'm making myself some fresh espresso and deciding what I should do with my day... I have the whole day off, and really no real plans except some sort of exercise and dinner... my sister caught some fresh bluefish while I was away in Italy, and my mom froze some so we can have that along with another of my favorite italian recipes!

As for exercise... I definately need to do some cardio and strength since I took the day off yesterday, but the weather's looking pretty crappy so it will probably be what I can come up with inside today... I'll keep you updated!

Have a great Thursday everyone! I can't believe I've been back in the U.S. for just about a week...

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Un buono compleanno

I had such a perfect little birthday today! I had so much fun during the day with my best friends, and then into the night with my lovely family!

Tyler and I went out to Markos for lunch, and I had my usual; the healthy baked falafel wrap.

Afterwards, we met up with Danielle and played mini golf all afternoon! I'm a terrible putter, but it sure was a fun time, we laughed a lot! At least I didn't lose the ball this time ;)

Later in the afternoon, I met up with my family and we went to Crazy Burger for my birthday dinner! I had a fresh squeezed mango-grapefruit juice (they're known for their fresh juices!) and we had some appetizers- risotto corn fritters with a gorgonzola sauce-Not the healthiest, but they're so flavorful! I had two, they were so yummy!

For my entree, I ordered my favorite- the mushroom burger with bean salad and we got sweet potato fries to share. I ate my WHOLE burger (it was worth it!) half the beans and a few fries.

After dinner, we came home for vegan cake and ice cream! My mom and sister made me my favorite coconut cake recipe from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan, and bought me my favorite purely decadent soy ice creams to go with it! I had a big piece of cake along with a couple scoops of purely decadent pomegranate chip and cookie dough. I also had a couple tiny pieces of pineapple! Dessert was delicious, I was so happy everyone enjoyed the vegan cake!

Topped with "wine" bottles in honor of Italy:

My servings!

My family is so generous, I got a great new DVD I wanted, a pyrex set with a baking pan, a pie pan and a bread pan, and 8" cake pans so I can bake at my new house! Sadly my dad had to bring Tyler home before he could see our new kitchenware, but he's excited I love to bake so much, he has just as much of a sweet tooth as I! Speaking of sweet teeth I think I'm going to go and have another tiny cup of soy ice cream before I head off to bed... it is still my birthday after all!

Have a great night everyone, I'll be back to healthy tomorow but today was definately a delicious day of fun and indulgence!

Peanut Butter Cookie Crumble


So I had a bit of an embarassing baking mishap this morning... I was in the middle of blogging when I took my PB cookies out of the oven, and went back to the computer to answer some comments and accidentally left the cookies on the baking sheet too long! And we all know what that means... Crumbly, crumbly cookies!
I salvaged about 3 whole cookies, but the rest were pieces! This has never happened to me before, so it was quite the funny experience! They still taste fantastic, I had quite a few "cookie crumbles" myself so far, and I'm saving some to put on top of SOY ICE CREAM some time soon!
So that was my birthday baking adventure for the day... a bit off, but still tasty as vegan cookies can be!

Birthday Baking

You know you love baking when...

thats how you spend the morning of your 19th birthday!

Happy 30th of July everyone, personally my favorite day of the year, because at 3:18 a.m. this morning I was born into this world, I'm pretty sure with a whisk in hand, because ALL I wanted to do when I woke up this morning was bake away!

For breakfast, my mom went out and got myself, my sister, and Tyler bagels from our favorite bagel place, Bagelz (which I'm actually considering applying to for a school year job!)- I had my favorite, an everything bagel with garlic-herb light cream cheese. On the side I also had my fave fruit- a juicy nectarine!

While I was enjoying my delicious birthday breakfast, my sister brought me over some presents in my favorite color combo- blue and brown, with bright green accents =)
I got some awesome presents, one of which I have not been able to put down- Vegan with a Vengeance! I've wanted this for sooo long, and when I pulled it out I immediately began thumbing through the recipes, I haven't found a single one I DON'T want to try! I better start cooking away! I also got some houseware items from my mom- I'm getting a fusion blender/food processor for my house soon (it's been ordered!) which I am SO excited about, and I also got some pretty mixing bowls and nice bamboo cutting boards, as well as a big deep Italian skillet! I can't wait to start cooking in my new kitchen =)

As soon as I finished opening my presents and saying "Grazie Mille" to my generous family, I knew I had to get into the kitchen! I chose the simplest, yet incredibly indulgent cookie recipe I could find in vegan with a vengeance- Crispy Peanut Butter Cookies! These are in NO way low fat, or very healthy at all (except for the fact that they have no milk or eggs!) but boy do they look yummy... and gosh darnit it's my birthday, so I'm going to bake the cookies, lick the spoon and eat as many as I want!

It was definately a nice birthday morning =)
Today during the day I think I might be going out to play some mini golf if the rain holds off, and then this evening I have a bit of a party at Crazy Burger with my family and a few friends! Should be a nice day!

Tattoos and good ol' italian home cookin'

Sorry for the late post; yesterday was such a fun day with Tyler, I really had no time to blog!
I had a quick nectarine before I picked him up at the train station, and we spent the morning doing some of our favorite things- shopping and eating!
He's going to be my roommate next year, so we had a lot of fun at a nearby homegoods store looking at some house wares... I just picked up an olive oil cruet for the house, we'll pick up the rest soon! Then I took Tyler to lunch at my favorite asian restaurant around, I'm sure I've mentioned it plenty of times before- Seven Moons. We decided to both order off the sushi menu [this summer, Tyler discovered he loves both espresso and sushi, which he hated when I left school. I told him he's the perfect roommate now ;)], so ordered some appetizers to start- Chuka (seaweed) salad, and shrimp dumplings (I had half of each)

For my main roll, I chose the Las Vegas roll- pretty much a pumped- up California Roll... crab, cucumber, avocado and asparagus. It was very good, I'll definately try this one again! I was also "forced" to eat a HUGE piece of Tyler's gigantic shrimp tempura roll. I'm not a big tempura fan, but the crunch did give the roll a little extra somethin'!

We skipped dessert at lunch and spent the afternoon at the tattoo parlor, where I stayed wiith Tyler while he got his first tattoo! He ended up getting a beautiful celtic cross (he's an irish boy), that i'm jealous of it was so well done!

After getting a tattoo, Tyler was feeling a frappuccino. So we went to Starbucks, and I got my once-in-the-summer mocha frapp (light), before we headed to our last couple of errands. It was quite tasty, but very ice-cream like... definately a once-in-a-while treat.

Back at home, I made one of my favorite Italian entrees- tagliatelle (not home made, but still fresh!) con ceci (chickpeas), and steamed zucchini/squash fresh from the garden. Tyler wasn't sure if he'd like the ceci sauce, so I made him a side of fresh pomodoro... but he ended up preferring the pepe rosso dressing, and I took a couple spoonfuls of the pomodoro instead! (I love it fresh!)

For dessert, my mom brought me home one of my favorite vegan cookies for us to share; ABC Pumpkin Spice. Yum!

During the movie we watched, I snacked on some cherries... and then a couple small handfuls of peanut m&ms. I've been trying to keep away from too many treats because I'm trying to get back on the healthy track, but theres some things I just can't resist... and I know I should! I guess I'm still in the "eat all you want" mindset- it takes some time, but I know what's best for my body! I'm only human, we all have our slipups. Wednesday is my birthday, so calories don't count, as my grandma says, but Thursday I'll be back to my usual fruits/veggies/grains staples!

I'm off to have a nice birthday breakfast with the fam, I'll be posting later on tonight!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Buona Mattina!

Mornin' everyone! I'm feeling better and better everyday now that I'm getting used to the time difference.

I woke up this morning with an appetite for a big breakfast- so I made myself two of the new Lifestream Fig + Flax waffles I bought Sunday at the store- I was so excited about these waffles, I ate SO many figs in Italy and grew to love them so much, the slight taste in the waffles made my morning. =) I highly reccomend them!

I toasted my tasty waffles and topped them with fresh blueberries, real maple syrup, and had a new greek yogurt on the side- Chobani 0% Vanilla. It was very good- I liked the light vanilla taste with the creaminess of the greek yogurt! I'll definately be buying this again!

To finish off my breakfast, I used my new Italian espresso maker (just the little metal kind) to make myself some Illy espresso I bought in Italy... I had two tiny cups, and they were fantastic if I do say so myself! Coffee tastes like water to me now after having real Italian espresso!

This morning I'm planning on going for a jog (I'm calling it a jog because I haven't run in a month so I'll see how far I can go!) and then I'm off to the trainstation to pick up Tyler at 10. From there our day is open! I'm so excited to have Ty back in town, it's been months since I've seen him and we're moving in together in just over a month!

Have a great Martedi everyone!

Monday, July 28, 2008


So today was not the most eventful day, because of a few annoying mishaps...
We had no power in my house from 10 am until 5:30 pm, so I had no choice but to spend my time at the gym, and then unpacking to pass the time. I got a lot done, but it wasn't the most interesting day.

Before working out I had a nice preworkout snack of a banana and a tablespoon of peanut butter. I spent about 45 minutes doing cardio, 30 minutes walking, 15 running and 15 biking.

For lunch I made myself my own version of my favorite "Insalatono" from Dante's in San Demetrio- a big salad of mixed greens, raddichio, tomatoes, corn and tuna topped with some balls of fresh mozzarella, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and black pepper. On the side I also had 1/2 a wheat english muffin for some whole grains.

For a mid-afternoon snack I had a juicy white nectarine, which I had never tried but enjoyed very much! It was sweeter, less bitter than orange nectarines I thought. I also had a half a peanut butter cookie my sister brought home =)

Dinner was supposed to be another Italian recipe, but unfortunately we were forced to go out to eat because we had no power. I still had a nice dinner- we went to one of my favorite Middle Eastern Delis, Pick Pockets, and I had the Crazy Veggie- lettuce, tomato, peppers, cucumber, sprouts, feta, hummus and balsamic dressing. I ate my whole wrap, and a stuffed grape leaf as well! I was stuffed, but it was a filling, healthy meal on the go that was just satisfying enough.

After dinner, I went out for ice cream with my friend Eric and my sister. We had a lot of fun laughing about Italy and I tried to teach my sister a few Italian phrases... I want her to meet one of my Italian friends when she comes to Italy to visit me next year, who knows- maybe they'll hit it off! For a nice cool treat I chose a small Black Raspberry Chip frozen yogurt, which definately hit the spot!

I'm at home now, relaxing and getting ready for bed. It felt like such a long day with no power! Makes you realize how much we rely on electricity for basics like cooking, washing, internet...

Time for bed! Tomorrow I'll be picking one of my best friends and future roommate, Tyler, up from the trainstation and we'll be out and about all day so expect a bit of a late post!

Buona Notte!

Rested at last

Last night I had planned on doing some night time exercise before heading to bed, but I was so exhausted I went to bed instead, and boy was I glad! I slept almost 10 hours... the jet lag finally caught up with me I guess. But I feel alive, awake, alert enthusiastic today! (Anyone remember that camp song? I'm so cheesy)

This morning I woke up and had a classic cereal breakfast, Kashi Go Lean (1.25 cups) with a cup of nonfat soy milk, and 3/4 cup blueberries. I'm glad Italy helped me get used to smaller portions during the day so it's pretty easy to get back to my pre-gain portion sizes.

Speaking of gains...I know you all want to know, and here it is- I gained a whopping 6.4 pounds in Italy. I know this is a LOT, and 3 pounds more than I had intended to gain, but I can definately pinpoint why. My days were usually quite balanced, and then once dinnertime came, the overeating every night along with quite a few extra glasses of wine and birra definately sent my calories far over what they should have been. Even with all the walking I was doing, I still gained the extra weight.

Next year when I'm back in Italy it will be different for sure, because I'll have more choice as to what I eat for dinner while I'm there, I'll be busier and definately not eating as much! But thats in the future.
For now, I'm working on getting back to the way I ate before I gained the original 10 pounds, and hopefully even out those last few pounds into muscle. I'm accepting the last three pounds, but not too comfortable with them because I'm so small, you can definately see it in my stomach. So for the next couple of months, I'll be trying to eat more regular portion sizes, fresh ingredients and do a lot more exercise- exercise that I want to do, exercise that makes me happy. Italy made me realize this as well; I'd rather not stress myself out by running every day. I LOVE to walk, and I love to be moving, and I love yoga. I'd rather spend most of my days doing walking, strength and yoga, and a few of my days running than stressing my body and my mind to be forced to run every day. I love running, don't get me wrong, but I felt so much healthier in Italy, I know continuing that lifestyle can only be the best for me.

So those are my Italy musings for the day...

Ci Vediamo Dopo!

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Rainy Relaxing...

What a first day back in RI. It has been raining and pouring all day long, not a nice day at all!
I didn't get a whole lot of sleep last night, and I still feel a bit jet lagged... so I took it pretty easy all day.
The fridge of my house was practically bare today when I opened it, but luckily I found a stray hemp bagel in my freezer that I toasted with a tablespoon of peanut butter and a drizzle of agave with a nectarine for breakfast.

For lunch, I heated a simple sunshine burger on a Rudi's bun with some honey dijon and organic ketchup, with a whole bunch of cherries on the side. I missed fresh cherries!

I didn't need a snack in the afternoon because my sunshine burger held me so well, but we had a bit of a light antipasto before I began cooking dinner- some fresh cheese, olives, and carrots.

I'll apologize in advance for not taking a photo of my plate- I was so anxious to taste my italian culinary attempt I ran to my plate as soon as it was filled! I made patate pepperoni, and zucchini salad:

They were both delicious, I had a big serving of each, and for dessert my mom and I split the little red velvet babycakes cupcake we got yesterday in NYC but were too stuffed to try... it was just as fantastic as the cookie!

Tonight I was planning on a long treadmill walk, but the way I'm feeling now it might be cut a bit short. I'm exhausted; I'll be back to my regular routine soon enough. I guess it all takes some adjusting!

When home doesn't feel like home...

So I'm officially back "home" again, and I can definately say it has been a very odd adjustment. Living in Italy for a month was the most incredible, life-changing experiance of my life, and I can not wait to return there.
Not to say I'm not happy to see my family, show them pictures and tell them all about my adventures, but I'm definately Calabria-sick.

The last few days were not the most health conscious, but in my defense they were days of travel and celebration, so give me some slack! ;) I'll be back to my healthy habits in no time!

Wednesday, July 24, 2008 was my last day in San Demetrio Corone.
It was a fantastic one, I woke up in the morning only an hour after going to bed- my friends (Italian and American) had a great night out, but it was quite the late one!
I had a breakfast of some cereal, granola and yogurt with a nectarine.
In the morning, I snacked on some cheese, a pretzel and some watermelon while we were making fresh pasta for our final cooking project! It took three whole hours and it was a wonderful experiance, but quite tiring!

The lunch that came together was amazing! Each group was assigned a different course. We started with bruschetta, then had the pasta con ceci (chickpeas) my group made, potatoes and peppers as well as a cheese/potato casserole, stuffed eggplant, marinated cucumbers, I was SO.STUFFED... and then they brought us out mini cannolis (I had one creme and one cicocollato) AND tiny cups of gelato. Phew. I have never eaten so much at lunch... but it was an incredible time. We said our goodbyes, got our certificates, and got our presents from Professor Laluna- home made olive oil! I'm so excited to use it =)

For dinner, we ate at Fusion for the last time. I had my favorite indulgent dish, tagliatelle con porcini- pasta in a creamy mushroom sauce. Mmm... it was definately worth every last bite!

We spent the night celebrating, drinking wine(and lots of beer!)and saying our last goodbyes to the incredible friends we made our month in Italia. We even celebrated the end of the night with two cakes from Stilla- the patisserie we had grown to love. I had a piece of each!

Waking up the next morning was hard because it was so early, but I grabbed a quick chocolate croissant and a nectarine for the road. Along the way we also grabbed some snacks to hold us until lunch. I grabbed olive oil crackers and peach tea.

For a mini lunch I had a caprese sandwich in the airport, and on the plane I spent the time snacking, I had an apple, some peanuts, plus the lunch they provided... and Danielle and I shared a couple pieces of chocolate!
Not the healthiest food, but it kept me feeling good during the trip.

Later that evening after arriving in the city and dropping off our bags we had some sushi and miso soup for a quick dinner.

The next two days in New York were exciting as always!
We grabbed breakfast at starbucks; a soy latte, some fresh fruit and an oat berry stella for me-

And then we had a treat stop mid-morning... the doughnut plant! These were sooo good-I had a couple bites of Danielle's coconut, and for myself I chose the vanilla bean/blackberry jam filled. These have no preservatives, are trans fat free and fresh made... it was a fun treat in the city!

During the day we walked around, and had a late lunch because of our big morning snack. We just grabbed an assortment of salads from the whole foods prep food bar... this was just what I wanted! Fresh, healthy and easy to grab!

That evening, after doing some MAJOR shopping at all the chef and restaurant supply stores on Bleeker (I got a new spatula, whisk, knives and an apron!) we stopped at my favorite restaurant in NYC for dinner- the drag queen capital of the world, Lucky Chengs! We had such a fun time relaxing, eating yummy food and watching the drag show! We even got dirty balloon animals made for us by John the balloon guy. I'm glad my mom and my sister find it so amusing, they were pretty raunchy! But all in good fun.
We all shared appetizers, and I had scallops for my entree-

And for dessert...

The famous birthday chocolate shoe! We DUG In... and ate more than half! I felt like a pig afterwards, but it's only once a year!

Sunday morning we slept in, had some fruit and 1/2 a muffin for breakfast at Starbucks, and for lunch we went to Blossom Cafe for a delicious vegan meal. To start, we all shared the cashew sauce covered ravioli (we each had one) and Danielle and I split a glass of fresh pomegranate juice. I was craving a big "burger" so I had to try their "bacon cheeseburger". WOW was it good! By far the best vegan burger I've ever tasted! With a spicy sauce, mushrooms, "bacon", and cheese on a soy burger, with a light refreshing salad... I couldn't have asked for a more perfect lunch in the city.

Ok, we just couldn't pass up dessert- so we all shared! We chose the lavendar berry custard pie and oh my oh my was it to die for! Fresh berries, creamy custard... I could have eaten another whole one myself!

During the afternoon we snacked some more- we stopped for smoothies at Booster Juice, I had a small banana one, and we each had a truffle from godiva!

I was SO excited about dinner and it did not disappoint! We stopped at Candle Cafe, which I have heard about from a bunch of bloggers, and was so eager to try! Everyone loved it. We started with the mezze platter, I had a little of everything, and then for my dinner I had the Seitan Timbale- seitan, couscous, avocado,kale, and a black bean sauce. Honestly one of the BEST meals I have ever eaten. Sooo good!

I feel a bit guilty admitting this, but I was SO into the vegan desserts yesterday I had 2 after dinner! I know, bad nutrition major... but sooo good! We started with dessert at candle, the special- chocolate chip bundt cake with chocolate soy ice cream. (Remember all my desserts this day were shared by 4 people!)
And then we stopped at babycakes for cookies... (I ate 1/2).

It was a great trip, and a nice refresher after being in Italy, a fun time with the family for sure.