The Winner of the 2nd RWWF Love and Gratitude Box is….

larabar, giveaway, justin's nut butter, better than bouillon, eden organic, alder's salt, just soap, melinda's hot sauce

Warm and toasty goodies for the lucky winner!

Mermont84!!

Here was her winning entry:

Congratulations, Mermont84!  Random.org picked number 35 and that was you!  Please send me your email and mailing info so I can get your package of WARM AND TOASTY goodies sent out to you :)  For all of you that entered (or didn’t enter), this dedicated woman entered 12 times.  In fact, her entries made up just over 1/4th of the total entries for  this contest.  Just this contest, though.  On her twitter account she states that her way of relaxing in her spare time is by entering blog giveaways and tweeting about them all the time.  Girl… it’s paying off!

That kind of stuff really DOES pay off, actually.  Remember Jenna Z who won the last RWWF L&G Box?  She’s won so much stuff from contests throughout the years that other people are benefitting… like me!  Jenna won four tickets to Medieval Times in Chicago and she invited me and Jess to go with her and her hubby.  We did that last night and it was so entertaining!  The food was pretty good (nothing special, though); Jess and I got one vegetarian meal and one regular meal and shared so we could get a more balanced meal.  We actually liked the veggie meal better – rice stuffed pepper, grilled veggie skewer, potato wedges and hummus and pita chips.  It was a good decision :)

medieval times, dorks, renaissance

Please excuse the utter dorkiness.

Jenna’s also won everything from breast pumps to coupons for almond milk to high end strollers worth $250!  And once you win a prize, it’s your decision on what to do with it, whether it gets sold at work, lives in your basement or gets used every day.  It pays off for Jenna and it’s paying off for Mermont84.. it could pay off for you too!  There will definitely be another giveaway in the next few months, so stayed tuned for that.  How could I NOT give away a RWWF L&G Box around THANKSGIVING?!?!?

One more note – until Jess and I get back from our honeymoon in late October, blog posts might be a bit sparse, but I’m still going to get at least one up a week!  Please be patient with me; planning a wedding and two receptions AND a honeymoon is time-consuming work!  Lamo, but still worth the stress :)  I love you all!

 

RWWF Love and Gratitude Box Giveaway #2! **CLOSED**

I’m BAAAAAACK! Oh lordy, people, life got a bit crazy there. I won’t go into the ridiculous details, but I WILL give you a quick breakdown of my life over the past three weeks.

– This blog reached over 100K views!! WOOT WOOT!

– 5K in Madison, WI and we rocked it! I power-walked my butt all the way to the end and kept a great pace. Even sprinted at the end, passed Jess, but then she ran passed me at THE LAST SECOND! It made for a great picture.

– Bridal Shower for me and Jess. It. was. awesome. I love our family and friends! Great food, great fun, great gifts! I GOT A KITCHEN AID. It has already made cinnamon chai caramels, pizza dough, peanut butter marshmallows and diary-free chocolate chip cookies.

– We get married in less than a month! The last little details are coming together, but still take up a lot of time. What to do… blog or wedding? Lately, it’s been wedding! But I’m making up for it with another awesome giveaway!

larabar, giveaway, justin's nut butter, better than bouillon, eden organic, alder's salt, just soap, melinda's hot sauce

A fantastic mix of goodies to keep you warm through and through!

Last time, the theme was “Life is Sweet”. Now that the seasons are starting to change and cooler weather mixed with the smell of campfires and falling leaves, the theme for this giveaway has me wanting to get out my hoodies and thicker socks.

Be Warm and Toasty

Autumn is the best season. Colors are changing, air is getting chillier with each passing day and hot tea and coffee replaces all those iced drinks. Co-workers bring in more and more homemade treats because the holidays are getting closer and they want an new excuse to make cookies need to test out their recipes :)

Now, WHAT’S IN THE BOX??!?!?! This time I’m enticing you with savory things! Things that will help keep you a bit warmer and a bit toastier (or even go perfect with warm toast.) Here’s what one lucky reader will be receiving:

– One bag of Eden Organic Spicy Dry Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. These puppies are low sodium and flavored with garlic, cayenne and tamari. These are bound to put a little heat in your mouth and belly, but don’t eat the whole bag in one sitting! Each 1/4 cup serving equals 5 PP. Maybe you can pair it with some fresh snap peas? Good flavor combo there!

– One bar of Cinnamon Clove Just Soap. This soap smells like pure holiday. Put it in your bathroom and experience the awesome every day! Just don’t try eating it… I didn’t calculate the points.

– Two Larabars, courtesy of the awesome Larabar people who sent me a free variety box to divvy up in these Love and Gratitude boxes! The flavors this time are Blueberry Muffin and Pecan Pie. One is an exit from summer and and the other is an entrance into autumn. And I’ve tried both of these flavors. They are wonderful! I’m a huge Larabar fan these days, especially since I’m dairy-free! The Blueberry Muffin is 5 PP and the Pecan Pie is 6 PP.

Frontier Natural Products Co-op Alder Smoked Salt grinder. Sometimes you just need a little smoky flavor to take your food to the next level! The back of the grinder suggests pairing it with any grilled foods including asparagus, pork, ribs, burgers and more. Yes please! I haven’t tried this myself, but I can imagine it’s awesome in any of the suggested foods.

– One single serving pack of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter. Maple + almond butter? Heaven! Almond butter is packed with healthy fats and protein. This serving gives you 5 PP to spread on celery, toast, a sandwich or an apple! Sounds like a delicious snack to me.

– One 8 oz jar of Better Than Bouillon Vegetarian No-Chicken Base. I had to make sure my vegan friends would be interested in this basket too, right?? I’ve been going through my Better Than Bouillon bases like it’s my job. This stuff will make all of your soups even better! It’ll put sodium in there, but you won’t need to add any extra salt to your soup! It stays well in the fridge and it’s 0 PP per serving (although if you add 2 tbsp, you should be counting 2 PP.)

– One jar Melinda’s Original Habanero XXXtra Hot Sauce. It’s the original habanero pepper sauce! If you follow this blog, you know that I looooove spicy food! I can’t get enough. I haven’t actually had this stuff yet, but I’m super excited to go through my bottle! This stuff is guaranteed to keep you warm and toasty.

Now you know what’s in the box, but HOW DO YOU WIN THE RWWF LOVE AND GRATITUDE BOX??!?!??!?!?!!

ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY

There are multiple ways you can enter! And since I’m not picking a winner until Saturday, September 22nd, you have about two weeks to get in as many entries at you can.  I’m waiting that long because Sept. 22nd is the first official day of fall!  Perfect timing, eh?

Ways to Enter (make sure to leave a separate comment for each one, otherwise they won’t be counted as multiple entries):
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what you’re grateful for – 3 entries max for this.

2. “Like” my Facebook page and leave me a comment on THIS POST that you did or already do – 1 entry.

3. Become an email subscriber for this blog and leave me a comment saying that you did or already do (if you follow in Google Reader or another reader, that’s fine too, just make a note of it in your comment) – 1 entry.

4. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do – 1 entry.

5. Tweet the following message “Win a RWWF Love and Gratitude Box of goodies from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-yF” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did – 3 entries max for this.

6. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a RWWF Love and Gratitude Box of goodies on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did – 3 entries max for this

7. Go to the FB pages of Better Than Bouillon, Larabar, Justin’s Nut Butters, Frontier Natural Products Co-op, Just SoapEden Foods  and “like” them AND leave a comment on their blog letting them know that you were sent there because you’re trying to win a giveaway from The Reluctant Weight Watchers Foodie that includes one of their products – (1 entry each, 6 entries max in total for this)

8. Get on KLOUT and give me some Klout for Blogging, Cooking, Weight Watchers, Food or Recipes and leave me a comment letting me know that you did – (1 entry each, 5 entries max in total for this).

There’s TWENTY-THREE entries possible for each of you.  That’s a lot!  Just make sure to have all your entries submitted as separate comments on THIS BLOG POST by MIDNIGHT on September 21st and the winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on September 22nd!  The winner will have two days to respond to my initial email letting them know they won, otherwise I’ll have to choose a new winner.  Enter them all at once or spread them out, just enter!  I can’t wait to see who’s going to win!

The Winner of the RWWF Love and Gratitude Box Is….

Jenna Z! 

Here was her winning entry:

Congratulations, Jenna!  And in case you don’t know already, Jenna is a blogger too!  Her blog is www.corgipants.blogspot.com (hence the name you see in the comment above).  She just got back from a fantastic vacation in Boston with her hubby and has been blogging about how she prepared food and snacks for the road and for meals at the apartment they were staying in.  Jenna is and has been a practicing vegetarian for many years, so she’s always trying new and different things to keep her palate satisfied.  Check her out!

The way that I chose the winning entry was through Random.org.  I put the number of entries (62!) into a random number generator and out popped number 27!  Here’s a screenshot of it.

Don’t be discouraged if you didn’t win this time. I already have stuff for the next one and you can bet there will be even more after that! If you forgot what is in the “Life is Sweet” box that Jenna won, here’s another picture of *most* of the stuff. I made a few other purchases at the local Farmer’s Market this weekend :)

Life is Sweet.

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first RWWF Love and Gratitude Box Giveaway! Based on your comments, you all have a LOT to be grateful for, so kudos to you for recognizing it!  And I hope that you enter the next one, which will hopefully be within the next month.  Now, I just have to come up with another theme and get companies to donate more fun things to put in them :)  LOVE!

RWWF Love and Gratitude Box GIVEAWAY!! CLOSED

Life is Sweet.

Everyone… it’s here. It’s finally time! I’ve been looking forward to this and I hope you have been too. I went shopping at our local food co-op to find $20 worth of wonderful stuff to giveaway to one lucky reader and my mission was spectacularly successful.

Each one of these boxes is going to have a theme and a reason behind what went in the box. So, here’s the theme for this box….

LIFE IS SWEET

It’s true. Life IS sweet. Sometimes it’s sour, but most of the time it’s wonderful. At least it is when you choose to focus on the little things that make you smile; a gesture of kindness, a kiss on the cheek, a “thank you” from a co-worker, a delicious treat that you bought for yourself at the store. They all add up to making life sweeter.

Now, WHAT’S IN THE BOX??!?!?! Well, it’s mostly sweet things! I can admit it, I’m a sweetsaholic. How could I NOT fill my first RWWF Love and Gratitude Box with sweet things? But it’s not all sweet. Here’s what one lucky reader will be receiving (maybe a few surprises too….)

One bottle of Madhava Raw Agave Nectar. It’s natural, it’s sweeter than honey (so you don’t need as much) and it’s absolutely delicious. I haven’t actually bought a bottle of honey since I discovered how perfect of a substitute this is for anything that requires honey. I put it in my smoothies, I put it in my tea, I put it in my recipes (like the Agave-Lime Salmon), I mix it with goat cheese and spread it on french bread. It’s delicious and only 2 PP per tbsp.

Two Larabars! One is “peanut butter cookie” and the other is “chocolate chip cookie dough”. I have to admit, I haven’t actually eaten a larabar before, but I hear only good things about them and they were on a special “owner’s deal” at the coop. They look amazing and I can guarantee they are sweet, delicious and will make more appearances in future boxes. I calculated them at 6 PP each.

– Food Merchants Brand Original Polenta. Yep, a roll of polenta. It’s not exactly sweet in flavor, but what IS sweet about it is that it’s super easy to whip up a delicious meal with it. I’ve used it in breakfast dishes (like Bella’s Goetta Polenta Egg Sandwich) and even just sliced up, pan fried and topped with feta cheese. It can serve as a replacement for noodles or tortillas in casseroles or even rice. It’s also organic and low in points. It’s one of my favorite pre-packaged foods, so I just HAD to include it! It’s only 1 PP for a 1/2 inch slice or 9 PP for the whole package. SWEET!

– One bar of Clearly Natural Essentials Aloe Vera Pure and Natural Glycerine Soap. Obviously you won’t be eating this, but it smells so good that you’ll be glad to put it in your bathroom! I sniffed 5 different soaps before I settled on this wonderful summery scent. Sometimes you need to indulge in body care items and this stuff is a worthy indulgence.

– One 3-serving bag of PopChips Sweet Potato Chips. I’ve done a PopChips giveaway before, but this flavor is new! Its points are just like the other ones at 3 PP per serving, or if you want to eat the whole bag in one sitting, it’ll be 10 PP! PopChips are a fantastic snack for those looking for a healthy, low-calorie potato chip with great flavor. I’m a huge fan.

– One Bobo’s Oat Bar: Peanut Butter. I haven’t had these before yet, but they’re beautiful, chocked full of goodness and made with natural ingredients. The only drawback is that they are heavy in WWPP at 5 PP for half (since the serving size is 1/2 the bar… really?) or 10 PP for the whole thing. This is an indulgent treat, but we all need to indulge a little, right? That’s why we have 49 extra PP per week! So that you can eat a Bobo Bar :)

– One small jar of Fat Toad Farm Cinnamon Caramel. Holy goat farm, this stuff looks aaaaaahhhhmaaazzzziiiinnnngg. I’m a sucker for anything caramel and you can bet I use a lot of my points on things covered in caramel. This caramel is made from goats milk on a small goat farm in Vermont. I couldn’t find any nutrition fact for this specific brand, but in my searches for caramel nutrition facts, I decided to go with the nutrition facts for McDonald’s’ caramel sauce. Theirs is rich and creamy and so is this stuff. I’d say it’s safe to guess that 2 tbsp is equal to 5 PP. So, get yourself some low-fat ice cream or a brownie and drizzle one tbsp of this over it for a ridiculously tasty treat. How’s that for sweet?

Now you know what’s in the box, but HOW DO YOU WIN THE RWWF LOVE AND GRATITUDE BOX??!?!??!?!?!!

ENTERING THE GIVEAWAY

There are multiple ways you can enter! And since I’m not picking a winner until JULY 10TH, you have about a week and a half to get in as many entries at you can. And how appropriate is it that I choose my 28th birthday as the day to announce the winner of my first RWWF Love and Gratitude Box? SWEET DEAL! :)

Ways to Enter (make sure to leave a separate comment for each one, otherwise they won’t be counted as multiple entries):
1. Leave a comment on this post telling me what you’re grateful for – 3 entries max for this.

2. “Like” my Facebook page and leave me a comment on THIS POST that you did or already do – 1 entry.

3. Become an email subscriber for this blog and leave me a comment saying that you did or already do (if you follow in Google Reader or another reader, that’s fine too, just make a note of it in your comment) – 1 entry.

4. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do – 1 entry.

5. Tweet the following message “Win a RWWF Love and Gratitude Box of goodies from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-wK” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did – 3 entries max for this.

6. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a RWWF Love and Gratitude Box of goodies on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did – 3 entries max for this

7. Go to the FB pages of Madhava Sweeteners, PopChips, Larabar, Bobo’s Oat Bars, or Fat Toad Farms and “like” them AND leave a comment on their blog letting them know that you were sent there because you’re trying to win a giveaway from The Reluctant Weight Watchers Foodie that includes one of their products – (1 entry each, 5 entries max in total for this)

8. Get on KLOUT and give me some Klout for Blogging, Cooking, Weight Watchers, Food or Recipes and leave me a comment letting me know that you did – (1 entry each, 5 entries max in total for this).

There’s TWENTY-TWO entries possible for each of you.  That’s a lot!  Just make sure to have all your entries submitted as separate comments on THIS BLOG POST by MIDNIGHT on July 9th and the winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on July 1oth!  The winner will have two days to respond to my initial email letting them know they won, otherwise I’ll have to choose a new winner.  Enter them all at once or spread them out, just enter!  I can’t wait to see who’s going to win!

Chobani Winner and a Weekly Weigh-In!

Just sitting here with Frankie enjoying some of the new Blood Orange Chobani while I pick the winner!

Happy Monday, everyone!  It’s been one week since I started back on Weight Watchers and I’m happy to report a 2 lb loss!  I’m down to the lowest I’ve been since I started this whole journey and I’ve only got 8 more lbs until I reach my 50 lb loss milestone and get to FINALLY spend all my Christmas giftcards from the parentals on new clothes!  But enough of that, I know you all just want to know who won the giveaway!

There were 50 entries.  WOW.   That’s awesome!  So, I went over to random.org and it pulled up the number 38.  The 38th entry came from CAT!  She entered six times.  In fact, if you check out her twitter handle, she enters LOTS of contests, so obviously some of that determination is paying off!  Now she’ll be able to bake some muffins with the Cho just like she commented about!  Cat, you’ll need to send me all your information so I can get that case of Chobani sent out to you!  You can send it to the email address listed on my Contact Information page.

Can I just say how much I love doing giveaways?  I really need to do them more.  Well, the recipes with Chobani yogurt aren’t done yet, but you’ll just have to keep on reading and see what I post next!  I can tell you that a couple salad dressing recipes are coming up soon….

Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken and a Giveaway! CLOSED

What better way to start off a weekend than a giveaway?!?!?  My good friends over at Chobani have come out with a new product – 16 and 32 oz containers of their greek yogurt!  So, they sent me three of the 32 oz ones to test out – vanilla, plain 2% and plain 0%.  Let me tell you, I’ve been enjoying them since the middle of December and not a single dollop has gone to waste!

I ate all of the vanilla yogurt for breakfasts and snacks instead of cooking with it, but I definitely would have made more of the zucchini muffins or black and white cake cookies if I’d been in a baking mood.  It was right around the holidays, though, and I spent more time packing and unpacking for all our holiday travels than cooking up tasty foods.  Luckily, these containers stay fresh in the fridge for long periods of time, so I was able to use the plain yogurt for a bunch of new dishes once the holidays were over.

A lot of the plain yogurt was used as a topping for burritos and chili, but most of it was used in Indian dishes.  I’ve been on an Indian cuisine rampage!  I bought this wonderful book called the Best Ever Indian Cookbook and I’ve tried about seven different recipes from it so far.  A lot of the recipes call for “strained yogurt”, which essentially IS greek yogurt, so having two tubs of the stuff came in quite handy!

This recipe for Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken is our favorite one so far.  Bella isn’t a huge fan of onions, which is difficult when you’re cooking Indian cuisine because it’s FULL of onions, but this one doesn’t have any onion at all.  She was ecstatic.  I loved it because it was sweet, sour AND I was able to make it spicier by adding in extra chiles.  We put it over brown rice and topped it off with a little extra Chobani and finished off our bowls in mere minutes.  I tweaked the recipe a bit to make it more WWF and it doesn’t ruin the integrity of the dish.  In fact, I think it makes it more appealing because it’s less oily.  So, here it is!  (Don’t forget to go to the bottom on details on how to win all that Cho!)

Sweet and Sour Balti Chicken
Servings: 4
PointsPlus Per Serving: 5 (10 if you put it over 1 cup of brown rice)

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp organic tomato paste, 1 PP
  • 4 tbsp Chobani 0% plain greek yogurt, divided, 1 PP
  • 1 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 tbsp mango chutney, 1 PP
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canola oil, 5 PP
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed, 12 PP
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 2-4 hot green chiles
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Directions
1. Mix the tomato paste, 2 tbsp yogurt, garam masala, chili powder, garlic, mango chutney, salt and sugar in a medium mixing bowl. Stir well.

2. Heat the oil in a wok or deep pan (or if you have it, a karahi!). Lower the heat slightly and pour in the spice mixture. Bring to a boil and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the chicken pieces and stir until they are well coated.

4. Stir in the water to thin the sauce slightly. Continue cooking for 5-7 minutes, or until the chicken is fully cooked and tender.

5. Finally, add the fresh chiles, cilantro and the other 2 tbsp of the yogurt, cook for another two minutes over a low heat, then serve!

Now, for the giveaway….

Chobani is letting me give away the same three tubs that they sent to me!  You’ll get your own pack of vanilla, plain 2% and plain 0%.  How can you win, you ask? Why, there are multiple ways to enter. Just make sure to leave a separate comment for each one! The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, January 24th using www.random.org, so all entries MUST be recieved by Monday, January 23rd at MIDNIGHT!

1. “Like” Chobani on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them how you found their page and what product you’re trying to win and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you did.  (if you already like them, pop on over and say hi on their wall again!)

2. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do.

3. Subscribe to my blog through RSS feed or through email and leave a comment telling me that you did or already do.

4. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a free case of flavored Chobani ‘gurt on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

5. Tweet the following message “Win three 32-oz tubs of Chobani ‘gurt from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-qs” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

6. Go to Klout.com (sign up if you haven’t!) and give me some “klout” in whatever category you choose and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did (you can do this multiple times!)

7. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what new dish you’d like to try with the ‘gurt!

Popchips Giveaway Winners!

We have a handful of winners today!  So let’s get started.  The first winner of the Popchips Sampler Pack is….

Congratulations, Elle!  It’ll be nice to have food sent to your doorstep for once rather than you having to walk through the city of Chicago to find a grocery store, eh?  I know you’ll enjoy them.  I’m hoping to see some tweeting/tumblring about this!  =D

The second winner of the Popchips sampler pack is….

Melissa!!  This woman is on a winning streak (and proves the randomness of random.org).  She was the lucky winner of the case of Chobani in my most recent giveaway!  Girl, you aren’t going to need to buy snacks for a whole freaking month with all this winning!  Congratulations to you!  You will LOVE the salt and vinegar.

AAAANNNNNDDDDD…. because I lurve you all so much and I looooove to give out free stuff, I also random.org-ed two more winners for some awesome coupons!  Both of these winners will get THREE coupons.

1. One FREE 3oz bag of popchips (no purchase necessary) from a local store where they sell these awesome chips. I found mine at County Market, but I know they sell them at Target too!
2. Buy one, get one free! That one explains itself.
3. $1 off on your next bag! So if you still love them after you’ve used up the first two coupons, you can save another dollar if you go back for more.

First winner is….

Congratulations, Brittany!  Aren’t ya glad you started following my blog on Pulse??  I don’t even know what that is, but I know it’s paying off already!

Second winner is….

Congratulations to Tif!  Good luck on your WW journey and I hope these chips help during snack time!  The salt and pepper is SO GOOD.  I’m excited for you to try them!

So!  For all my lucky winners; please go to the Contact Page and email me your contact information.  Full addresses (no PO Boxes).  I’ll get all that sent out the minute I receive all your information.  Remember, each 1-0z serving of Popchips is 3 PP.  And keep on reading my blog, you never know when the next giveaway will happen!  I’ve gotta start poking at some companies so they’ll give me more stuff to giveaway :)

Weekly Weigh-In and a Popchips Giveaway! CLOSED

Thumbs up for another loss!

Minus 1 pound. Yay!  I’ll totally take it.  the pattern is usually that I lose a big amount and then I gain some the following week, but not this time!  I’ve been very careful to make sure to drink lots of water, exercise and not go over my daily points for at least two days leading up to my weigh-in.  Granted, I’m also doing those things, plus tracking on a regular basis, but the water consumption especially is monitored more during those two days.  Helps to cleanse my system, ya know?

So that makes me only 1.4 lbs away from 30 lbs lost and 4 lbs away from my 10% goal!  Slow and steady wins the race, right?  A few weeks ago, I had this “moment” where I was really thinking about just how impossible it seems to get to where I want to be.  I have to lose HALF of the weight that I started with.  HALF OF MY BODY WEIGHT.  And in that moment, it felt almost impossible.  It wasn’t that I had gained weight that week and was feeling bad about it.  It was just one of those moments like when you’re sitting at work and you think to yourself that is feels like the day will NEVER END.  But, of course, it does end and you feel better when you’re back at home in your pjs.  I know I’ll get there, it just felt overwhelming for a minute. I mean, shoot, I’m almost 1/5th of the way there!  That’s waaaay better than where I was eight months ago, but I know that it’ll be more than just a couple of years before I reach my goal.  Probably more like 4.  But I’m okay with that.  Every day I get closer and every day I feel better.

So!  Enough with that.  Now for something fun!  Recently I tweeted to Popchips about how I was interested in a “taste and tell” about their product and whaddaya know… they sent me samples!  Actually, they sent me TWO sampler boxes, both with invites to “pop it forward” so that my lucky readers could share in the poppin!

I have to say, I’m a fan of the Popchips!!  Each serving is only 3 PP, although it’s a good idea to count them out (you get 20 chips per serving compared to the average 10-13 you get for another chip) because you’ll just keep on eating them.  My favorites were Salt and Vinegar (of course.  i’m obsessed with that flavor), Barbeque and surprisingly, Salt and Pepper!  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about Salt and Pepper, but I was pleasantly surprised!  And for those of you that are watching your sodium, the flavors with the lowest sodium content is actually Salt and Vinegar and Barbeque with only 210mg of sodium per serving.  The others were like 240mg and 260mg.  You’d think that SALT and Vinegar would contain more sodium…. I’m glad to see that it’s not the case!  I definitely recommend these for anyone who’s trying to eat healthier but doesn’t want to give up their chips.  Not the same texture as a potato chip, but the flavor is still the same.  The texture is more like… cereal puffs, only shaped like a larger circle rather than a small ball.

Photo Courtesy of: http://www.lovelypackage.com

TWO winners will receive a sampler pack in the mail. Each sampler pack includes one snack sized bag of each of the flavors shown in the picture above, along with some coupons and a chip clip! (At least that’s what I believe….)  There are a bunch of different ways to enter, but make sure to leave a separate comment for each entry!  The winner will be chosen on Friday, July 29th using www.random.org, so all entries MUST be received by THURSDAY, July 28th at MIDNIGHT!

1. “Like” Popchips on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them how you found their page and what product you’re trying to win and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you did.

2. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do.

3. Subscribe to my blog through RSS feed or through email and leave a comment telling me that you did or already do.

4. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a free sampler pack of Popchips on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

5. Tweet the following message “Win a sampler pack of @Popchips from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-ns” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.

6. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what flavor you are super excited to try!

And who knows, maybe a few of you will win some coupons for a free bag or buy one/get one free!  The only way to find out is to enter!!  Each person may only win one prize per giveaway (ie. if you win the sampler pack, you can’t win the coupons too).  GOOD LUCK!

Chobani Giveaway Winner and a Delicious New Recipe!

WOW! I received 45 entries for the Chobani giveaway and the lucky winner was…

Congratulation, Melissa!  She had six entries, so she was bound and determined!  Melissa, please send me an email with your contact information so that I can get that case of Chobani to you!

In true Random.org fashion, it chose the number 13, which was actually pretty perfect since I became the Featured Blogger on the 13th day of the month!  Kewl.  Thank you to everyone else for participating and don’t be disheartened!  I’m having a Popchips giveaway soon!

Now, I was going to post a recipe for the tzatziki sauce that I made, but it still needs a little perfecting, so that will be done later this week.  But I’m not leaving you with NOTHING!

My girlfriend and I have made a few big purchases in the last month, so we’ve been budgeting like crazy, thanks to You Need a Budget.  It’s this awesome software that’s keeping us in line and on track.  Needless to say, buying meat isn’t a priority right now, lol.  We have so many vegetables from our awesome CSA that vegetarian dishes are working their way into our weekly menus.  I’ve actually enjoyed the challenge.  I’m definitely one of those people who could never be a full-time vegetarian.  I like my meat!  I like the texture and the protein and the flavor… so, I’ve had to be creative.

This recipe was inspired by Budget Bytes.  She made zucchini pizza boats and they looked so appealing that I took it and ran with it!  I wanted to do it with more of an Italian style, so that’s what I did.  What happened next… was pure deliciousness.  I didn’t miss the meat and my girlfriend said she didn’t even miss the noodles; if you know ANYTHING about my girlfriend, it’s that she loooooooves her noodles!  Noodles are a weekly occurrence in our home, so that statement is a true testament to how exquisite this dish was!  Plus, it’s made with stuff that you probably have in your kitchen right now.

OHMYGOODNESSGETINMAHBELLYNOWPLEASETHANKSNOMNOMNOM

Italian Stuffed Zucchini
Servings: 2 (or 4 if you are serving sides)
PointsPlus Per Serving: 8 (or 4 if you have 4 portions)

Ingredients

  • 1 ginormous zucchini (a 3-5 lb one will do!)
  • 1 cup reduced fat spaghetti sauce, 3 PP
  • 1 oz parmesan cheese (fresh if you have it), 3 PP
  • 1 oz feta cheese (i used full fat cheeses), 2 PP
  • 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs (any kind will do), 5 PP
  • 1/4 cup diced sweet/yellow onion
  • 1 tsp olive oil, 1 PP
  • 1 tbsp italian seasoning (parsley, basil, oregano)
  • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tbsp minced garlic
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 425.

2. Slice zucchini in half and scoop out the insides, leaving about 1 cm – 1/2 inch all the way round. Put insides in a bowl and set aside.

3. Lightly spray the bottom of a roasting pan with Pam and place 2 zucchini halves in, insides up.

4. Heat up tsp oil in a small non-stick pan and saute onion. Once sauteed, put into bowl and set aside.

5. Get out a chopping board and roughly chop up insides of zucchini and then place back in the bowl. Add spaghetti sauce, onions, garlic, crushed red pepper flakes, italian seasoning, bread crumbs, cheese and a little salt and pepper if you’d like. Mix together.

6. Spoon mixture into zucchini halves until evenly distributed. Sprinkle grated parmesan cheese over top and place in oven.

7. Cook for 35-50 minutes depending on how firm you want your zucchini to be. Serve and enjoy!

Now, make sure not to cut off the ends of the zucchini. In my picture, I have one side cut off because I used part of it for a different recipe a few days before. The zucchini was that big.  You can use smaller zucchinis if you want.  Maybe two normal-large ones.  The wider the better, too!  You want your zucchini to be like a little boat so that none of the insides drip out. Seriously, this dish is AMAZING. You won’t want any little bits dripping out!

Cho Cho! Giveaway and Deeeelicious Muffins CLOSED

Out of the shadows comes a glimmer of lemony light (muffins)!

PEOPLE!!!  I’ve earned one of my baking stripes!  I’m not sure how many there, but I definitely earned one of them Monday night when I perfected these zucchini muffins.

But before I got any further, I need to give a HUGE shout out to the folks over at Chobani for being so kind as to choose me as their featured blogger of the week!  Little did they know that when they sent me a case of different flavored Chobani ‘gurt that I’d go so far as to perfect healthy gourmet muffins using their product!  Well, I did tell them on twitter that I’d go crazy with recipes and I can safely say I lived up to my word.  AND…. they have a whole case of it for me to give away to one lucky reader!!  More about that towards the bottom….

Did you know that oil and butter isn’t always necessary in order to make a tasty muffin?  When I was looking through pages and pages of different zucchini muffin recipes, I was shocked at the amounts of sugar and oil that people put in their muffins.  One could easily amount to 9 PP and that’s just RIDIC.  Who wants to waste 9 of their daily points for a freaking muffin??  Not me.  Not unless it’s a gourmet muffin made by a world renowned chef using pure ingredients and it comes slathered in freshly churned butter (like the Amish person who churned it is just now sitting down in their porch rocker to wipe the sweat from their brow).  Even then, I might have to pass.

Black and White Cake Cookies using Chobani Honey ‘gurt! Click for the recipe.

You may need to pass on the copious amounts of butter and oil, but you do NOT need to sacrifice flavor when you are dieting.  That’s one of the reasons why, although I’m the “reluctant weight watchers foodie”, I ultimately flipped the switch when a joined Weight Watchers; I can eat whatever I want!  It’s just about making better choices and being conscious of your portions.  I haven’t had to sacrifice flavor at all.  I’m a spice junkie anyway, so I ain’t giving it up!

Flavor was definitely not sacrificed with these muffins.  In fact, these are some of the most delicious muffins I’ve ever had (especially when heated up)!  Seriously, I never considered myself a baker.  I’ve never created my own baked-good recipe before.  I just followed directions from other ones.  But this was an experiment, a challenge and ultimately, a HUGE success!  And because I lurve you all so very much, I’m sharing with you not one, but TWO muffin recipes!!

There’s no butter, no oil and no applesauce in these puppies.  The secret to the moistness and the ultimate flavor comes from one 6-oz container of Chobani Greek Yogurt in each batch.  These are just two of my creations.  I have no doubt that I am well on my way to becoming a muffin queen… and I have no doubt I’ll be using Chobani in every single batch.  It’s chocked full of protein, it’s rich and creamy and each different flavor holds it’s own.  So take a look at these recipes and make sure to proceed to the bottom so that you can find out how to win a free case of flavored Chobani ‘gurts!

Nuked and buttered… oh. so. delish.

Black Cherry Zucchini Muffins OR Lemon Walnut Zucchini Muffins
Servings: 12
PointsPlus Per Serving: 3!

Dry Ingredients (same for both muffins)

  • 1 cup all-purpose unbleached flour, 11 PP
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, 5 PP
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda

Berry Banana ‘Gurt Smoothie made with Chobani Pineapple ‘Gurt. Click for the recipe!

Wet Ingredients for Black Cherry Zucchini

  • 1 6-oz container of black cherry chobani, 4 PP
  • 1/2 cup sugar, 11 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini, drained
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 PP
  • 1/4 tsp almond extract

Wet Ingredients for Lemon Walnut Zucchini

  • 1 6-oz container of lemon chobani, 4 PP
  • 1/2 cup sugar, 11 PP
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (I didn’t have enough zucchini so I threw in some grated carrot too!), drained
  • 1 egg, 2 PP
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract, 1 PP
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts, 6 PP

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

2. Grate zucchini (and carrot if you’re using it) and drain. I used my awesome food processor for quick grating and squeezed it all by hand to get out as much liquid as possible. You don’t want the extra juices, believe me!

3. Put all the dry ingredients in one bowl and mix with a wooden spoon. Then put all the wet ingredients for your muffin of choice in another bowl and mix with the same wooden spoon. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients just until fully blended. No need to over-mix!

Greek Style Burger with Tzatziki Sauce using Chobani Plain ‘Gurt! Recipe coming soon!

4. Spray your muffin pan with some Pam and scoop the batter evenly into the pan. Cook for 40 minutes. They should be perfectly done once the timer goes off, so take em out and enjoy! I highly recommend heating them up if they’ve cooled down before you got a chance to eat one, then slice apart and put a little bit of butter on each side. It just brings it all together!

I also have to give a shout out to Brackett Farms, my local CSA, for providing me with a BEAUTIFUL Romanesco zucchini that I used for both of these muffins.  Romanescoes are the “original” zucchini.  They have a milder taste and a slightly nutty flavor.  You can use any kind of zucchini, or even yellow squash for these muffins so don’t worry about having exactly the right one.

Think these sound tasty? How about winning your own case of Chobani?? That sounds even tastier!! How can you win, you ask? Why, there are multiple ways to enter. Just make sure to leave a separate comment for each one! The winner will be chosen on Tuesday, July 19th using www.random.org, so all entries MUST be recieved by Monday, July 18th at MIDNIGHT!

Perfect Parfaits made with Chobani Peach and Pomegranate ‘Gurts! Click for the recipe.

1. “Like” Chobani on Facebook and leave a comment on their wall telling them how you found their page and what product you’re trying to win and then leave a comment on this blog post telling me that you did.
2. Follow @ReluctantFoodie on Twitter and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did or already do.
3. Subscribe to my blog through RSS feed or through email and leave a comment telling me that you did or already do.
4. Share my blog post link on Facebook with the following in the comment box, “Win a free case of flavored Chobani ‘gurt on The Reluctant WW Foodie blog!” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.
5. Tweet the following message “Win a case of flavored Chobani ‘gurt from @ReluctantFoodie! Enter here – http://wp.me/p1cn3Q-mh” and leave a comment on this blog telling me that you did.
6. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what flavor you are super excited to try!
7. Leave a comment on this blog telling me what combination of flavors you’d like to try in a muffin using their product (ie. lemon walnut zucchini, pineapple banana coconut, strawberry pecan, etc)!