Sweet Sips

As a Tastemaker for Daily Buzz Food I get to opt-in for different products and cross my fingers I get chosen. So, when we were offered the chance to sample some Sweet’N Low, I signed right up. I’m not one to use “fake” ingredients which is probably your immediate thoughts when thinking about sweeteners, but I grew up with the pink (Sweet’N Low) and blue (Equal) packets littered in my parent’s coffee cabinet. Due to my dad’s health, he can’t have caffeine and also has to lay low on sugar, so I grew up knowing all about the boy and girl colored packets.

Typically, I abide by the “all in moderation” mantra, believing that if you use real ingredients (no matter how ‘bad’ they are for you), as long as you don’t gorge yourself, it’s okay. While this holds true for the most part, there are those instances where you either don’t want the real stuff or you can’t have it. That being said, I think it’s important to have options like Sweet’N Low available. The sugar substitute is made with saccharin, which they describe on their website is “the oldest of the approved low-calorie sweeteners available in the U.S. today.”

In their quest to make the world a little sweeter (something I can absolutely get behind), they have a slew of recipes where Sweet’N Low can be substituted in for regular sugar. So, I figured the logical place to start would be with drinks. While I don’t usually add sugar to my regular morning coffee (I drink it as-is because I’m hardcore, obviously), I’m more than okay with other sweet treats in liquid form. I’ve been all about tart cherry juice lately (thanks to winning a Cheribundi giveaway), so I wanted to somehow incorporate the juice into my concoction. Couple that with a bunch of mint laying around from my CSA box and we have ourselves a Cherry Mojito!

Now I’m far from a cocktail connoisseur, but this combination had just the right amount of sweet, tart, and of course alcohol flavors. It may rub some mojito purists the wrong way (do those exist?), but I think it’s a light and refreshing cocktail that’s perfect for the summer.

Cherry Mojito
– Serves 2 –

4 oz. rum (I used Bacardi Superior)
6 oz. tart cherry juice (I used Cheribundi “skinny cherry”)
3 Sweet’N Low packets
10-15 mint leaves
Splash of seltzer water

1. In martini or margarita glasses, place half of the mint in each glass.
2. In a shaker, combine the cherry juice, rum, and Sweet’N Low with some ice, and shake until mixed.
3. Pour the liquid over the mint, and top with a splash of seltzer. 

Disclaimer: The Sweet’N Low packets were sent to me as a member of the Daily Buzz Food Tastemaker Program. All opinions are my own. 

Love the run

Since I’ve been in a lull in terms of my racing schedule, I’ve had the opportunity to really enjoy running for what it is. While it can be a struggle some days, once I finally drag myself outside I always end the run happy. I haven’t been running tons of miles each week (topping at about 30), but I’ve definitely been speeding up, and enjoying myself more. I tend to go through phases where I am absolutely in love with running one minute, and then the next I question my ability to continue training for races. Right now I’m embracing the love moment!

I picked up a pair of Brooks Green Silence early this week, and took them out for a test run. They’re more on the minimalist side, but aren’t as minimal as the Vibram Five Fingers I have. I actually took those out for a 1.25 mile jaunt last weekend, and am excited to slowly incorporate them back into my running as it’s been 2 years since the last time I ran in them. I’m really happy with the Green Silence, and plan to rotate them in with my Ghosts for shorter runs until my legs get stronger, since I definitely felt my calves screaming by the end of my 3.5 miles on Wednesday. Brooks’ “Run Happy” mantra certainly applies to me.

Look at those laces!
Look at those laces!

In terms of my near-future running plans, I’m looking forward to a 10 mile race on March 25th (an automatic PR since I’ve never raced that distance!), and then a half marathon April 22nd. From there, I’m not really sure what my plans are (maybe another half or two?), aside from the annual summer 5k’s, and then the Chicago Marathon in October!

My running has been fueled by some good eats, of course. On Wednesday I decided to give Healthy Happy Life’s Easy Sweet Potato Burgers a try, and they were awesome. The only change I made to the recipe was subbing tahini for almond butter (just because I didn’t have any tahini), and I also threw in a teaspoon of chili powder. The recipe made six decent sized burgers, so I’ve been enjoying the leftovers!

Waffle Fries
Waffle Fries

Even though there was a mashed sweet potato in the burger, I couldn’t help but have some fries. Conveniently, the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program sent me a coupon to sample an Alexia Foods product. I’ve had a few of the different french fries they offer, and was immediately drawn to their waffle fries (my favorite). I find that oftentimes the heating instructions on frozen potato products aren’t sufficient – I wind up having to babysit the fries because when the timer goes off, they are still mush, but after that they can go from mush to burnt in a matter of seconds. These fries were easy, though. I popped them in for the suggested 25-30 minutes, and they were good enough at 25 for my liking, and perfect at 30 minutes for my husband (he likes them on the crunchier side). Paired with the veggie burger, we had ourselves a simple but delicious meal. I absolutely plan on trying some of their other flavors, because I wanted to grab multiple bags while I was in the frozen aisle!

I’ve got some big plans for the weekend in terms of running and food – I mean, what else is there?! I’m looking forward to some running, eating, and of course, lesson planning. It’s hard to believe I’m already half way through my student teaching.

Master Marinade

As a member of Foodbuzz and an eager Tastemaker, I was excited to receive a bottle of KC Masterpiece’s Hot Buffalo Marinade. Having just made buffalo tofu tacos, I wasn’t sure exactly what to whip up with the delicious sauce. I remembered back to my buffalo chicken pizza fail, and wanted to do something more than just grill up some marinated chicken. Enter the buffalo chicken calzone!

One of my very first posts here on the blog was about buffalo chicken pizza, so it’s clear I really enjoy it. I was hoping that by putting it in calzone form, I would have more success than my attempt at recreating the pizza. There are a few reasons for my thinking, mostly dealing with the fact that I could add copious amounts of cheese. My husband loathes blue cheese, though, so it’s always tricky when a recipe calls for that or Gorgonzola (since they taste somewhat similar). Instead of trying to add just a bit and hide the flavor, I omitted it completely this time, and replaced it with feta. I realize the tastes are different, but the consistency is somewhat the same, and feta is creamy when melted.

This was definitely a win. As I was putting it together, my husband insisted that it was more of a stromboli than a calzone, but it looked delicious regardless. I’m not one for technicalities, so I’ll stick to calling it a calzone. But either way, it was delicious. A perfect reward for making it through a Monday.

Buffalo Chicken Calzone
– Serves 2 –

1 package pre-made pizza dough (I used Wegmans whole wheat)
1 can diced chicken
3 Tbsp KC Masterpiece Buffalo Marinade
2 Tbsp ranch dressing
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1/4 cup cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup feta, crumbled

1. Marinade chicken with buffalo sauce for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
3. Roll out dough, and layer one half first with cheese, then onion and celery, and finally chicken.
4. Spread the ranch on the other half and around the edges. Fold that half over the first, and curl the edges to keep it closed.
5. Bake for 25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Serve with additional buffalo and ranch for dipping! 

Product Love

I don’t really do product reviews unless I’m given a product to try for that sole purpose. However, sometimes I find something really yummy, fun, useful, or just worth sharing. In this case, I really just feel the need to share some of the new things I’ve tried in the past few weeks that I’ve really enjoyed.

First, I had the opportunity to try Nature’s Pride Hearty Wheat with Flax bread, courtesy of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker program. By opting in I was sent a loaf and a few kaiser rolls to enjoy. It just so happened that I was planning to make sandwiches that week, so it wound up being very convenient! My fiancé has been requesting his sandwiches on this bread recently, so he’s definitely a fan! Since the slices are on the bigger side, I’ve made quite a few open-faced “grilled cheese” sandwiches of sorts. A perfect afternoon snack!

I also made a trip to Trader Joe’s where I picked up my first loaf of Ezekiel Bread. Yes, it’s been a carb heavy few weeks! So many blogs that I read seem to all enjoy some Ezekiel bread with a form of nut butter on top of it pre-run, and also just through the course of other meals. Since I had never heard of the bread until recently, I decided to check it out. I grabbed the Ezekiel 4:9 bread, and eagerly made a peanut butter, almond butter, and jelly sandwich with it. YUM! I’m a big fan of super grainy breads, so this was right up my alley. I know it’s an acquired texture/taste for some, but I really enjoy it; I remember back in the day when my mom would get fresh bread and make sandwiches from it as a treat, I always requested the uber-grained breads. Even though the slices are smaller than typical sandwich bread, it’s still really filling because of all the grains. I’ve been savoring this loaf – I don’t want it to end!

Look at that grainy goodness!

Finally, after seeing so many tweets and blog posts about the Chobani lemon flavor, I just had to pick some up for myself! I was unsure as to just how lemon flavored the yogurt would be, as I enjoy lemon to an extent, but find that it can easily be overpowering. I mixed in some golden flaxseed for a little texture, and it was absolutely delicious! I absolutely love Greek yogurt, and Chobani is definitely my favorite brand (as I’ve read is also the favorite of quite a few other people!). I was always a big vanilla fan, and also the plain to replace sour cream, but I think I might have found a new favorite flavor! I can’t wait to get back to the grocery store for more.

I have a ton of other favorite foods / products that I find myself buying each week, but these three are the newest additions to my rotation. I think I’m going to start a weekly post of some favorites of mine, and since I’m always discovering new things, I doubt I’ll run out!

Question: What are some of your favorite foodie products?