Plain Yogurt – It doesn’t have to be disgusting (Emily)

I hate plain yogurt. I mean, what’s to like? I will never forget the first time I bought plain Greek yogurt. I got home, put it in the fridge, and then took it out the next day to enjoy like all of the health magazines said I would.

Um, no. I smelled it, dared to take a bite, and then promptly trashed it because I thought that I must have picked up an expired container. No. Oh no, that’s just plain yogurt’s natural flavor. Sour, disgusting.

I used to love yogurt and eat it all the time, but stopped when I started to eat clean and learned about all of the unnecessary additives and Oh Goodness! the sugar. So much sugar in your store-bought flavored yogurt.

Wanting to get yogurt back in my life and in my husband’s since he, too, loves him some flavored yogurt (Boston Cream Pie anyone?), I started with baby steps. I bought a tub of  strawberry yogurt (whole milk, of course) from Chesapeake’s Bounty, brought to you by Nice Farms Creamery. It was delicious. My husband loved it. Of course, while it was significantly better than that store bought stuff, it still had one eensy weensy problem. Sugar. There were like five ingredients in the whole thing, and one of them was sugar, as I knew there would be.

So, over the weekend, on my trip to Chesapeake’s Bounty, I grabbed some of their plain yogurt, which, according to their website has no added sugar (their vanilla yogurt doesn’t have any either apparently).

I don’t remember how we got on the topic but my husband said something about if he had banana yogurt he’d eat it every day.

Challenge accepted, sir.

I did some Googling and found this website for ideas of what to add to plain yogurt to make it delicious. One of the recipes called for 1 mashed banana and 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract to 1 cup of yogurt. I took a bite to try it and wasn’t satisfied. That definitely didn’t cover up the sour yogurt taste. Out comes my Aunt Sue’s Raw-Wild Natural Honey (1 teaspoon of it). I thought it was okay, however, hubby wasn’t impressed with this recipe and said he could still taste the “grossness” of the yogurt. I added one more teaspoon each of vanilla extract and honey and BAM! we had a winner.

Banana-Vanilla-Honey Yogurt

1 cup plain yogurt

1 banana, mashed well

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons honey

1. Stir all of the ingredients into the yogurt until fully mixed.

2. Enjoy eating non-disgusting plain yogurt without all of the processed additives and sweeteners!

One thing I would like to note is that while pulling out the plain yogurt that I used, I checked the ingredient list. No added sugar as promised, but I did see three words I didn’t like: “modified food starch.” WTF is that?

Well, I’m glad you asked. According to modifiedfoodstarch.org, (yes, no joke, that’s a thing) this is the description for modified food starch:

When native starch is prepared by treating the same chemically, enzymatically or physically, its properties would be changed. The end product of such process is modified food starch, which is otherwise known as derivatives. Such product is used in almost all applications of starch like emulsifier, stabilizer or thickening agent. This is also used as a disintegrant in pharmaceuticals and as a binder in paper. The reason why the same is modified is so that its performance when applied will be enhanced. When the same happens, its stability against too much freezing, cooling, time, shear, acid or heat will be increased. More so, such process could assist in increasing or decreasing the starch’s viscosity and in shortening or lengthening the gelatinization time.

Whoa, whoa whoa! This does NOT jive with my (mostly) real food lifestyle! I mean, even if I DIDN’T try to follow the rules of clean eating, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to eat anything that is used “…as a disintegrant in pharmaceuticals and as a binder in paper.”

Alas, apparently even at Chesapeake’s Bounty I need to read my food labels. Shame on me. I should have known better.

However, I am NOT one to waste food, so this quart of yogurt is going to have to be finished off. In the future I’ll just make my way to the grocery store and buy Stoneyfield’s Organic Plain Whole Milk Yogurt. Ingredients: Cultured Pasteurized Organic Whole Milk, Pectin, Vitamin D3.

Or perhaps I’ll even go back to Organic Greek Yogurt now that I know how to make it not taste like it’s a month old.

Yoga – Lisa

Have I already mentioned here that I used to hate yoga?  I mean I HATED yoga.  H-A-T-E-D it.

Now, I’m completely smitten.  I can’t get enough of it.  I just finished a class and I feel like I’m on Valium or something.  It’s great.  My neck no longer hurts and my back feels awesome and stretched.  My arms are just sore enough to make me feel like it was more than just a stretch workout.

I think the reason I started liking it is because I was working out about 4 times a week and I got all of my energy out in those workouts.  I needed something to balance that out, so I started doing a stretch class that is a mix of yoga and Pilates once a week after work.  I loved that.  I felt so good afterwards.  So I decided to try the yoga class mid-week.  It felt amazing.  I had never felt so relaxed after that class.

Before I don’t think I was strong enough to follow along and I would tense my neck so badly it would hurt for the rest of the week.  Yoga made me MAD.  I wasn’t relaxed at all; I was pissed off.  I’m so glad yoga and I have gotten past that.

I guess the moral is:  try something new.  Or try something you didn’t like one more time.  Tastes change.  I never used to like strawberries, now I eat them all the time.

Prep for tomorrow (Emily)

I love packing my breakfast and lunch when I’ve just gone grocery shopping :)

Breakfast:

1 Sweet Potato Biscuit (that I’ll probably top with the all natural peanut butter and jam I keep at work)

Mixed grapes and blueberries

1 hardboiled egg (not pictured because it’s still being hardboiled)

Snacks:

1 whole grain pretzel from Trader Joe’s

Some squares of raw milk organic white cheddar cheese

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Lunch:

Organic baby spinach topped with feta, cucumber, and carrots (the little baggy to the side is chopped tomato that I wanted to separate from the salad so it won’t get soggy)

Some whole grain pasta because I’m random like that

Not pictured: cooked and seasoned chicken breast strips that I made and kept in the fridge at work. They will go on the salad.

In the container with the red top is a dressing I whipped up with red wine vinegar, olive oil, and Italian seasoning.

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Woo hoo!! I’m ready to conquer Monday!! 

Making our own Big Creek Banana Boat sandwich (Emily)

It had to happen sooner or later. What, you ask? An attempt at making the delicious Big Creek Banana Boat sandwich that I gushed over here

 

So, last week, Lisa came over my house and that’s exactly what we did. Check out our pre-cooking display of ingredients.

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You’ll see that these are obviously not “clean” or “real food” items. Sorry. It was a weeknight and I just couldn’t bring myself to drive 15 minutes to the market when I’ve got a grocery store 5 minutes away.

 

From there we basically used the recipe card of my memory and some educated guessing.

 

We started out by popping some bacon in the oven to bake.

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While my kitchen filled with the delicious smells of bacon, we began cutting the baguette into thirds and then slicing the chunks of bread like a Subway sandwich, sliced open but not completely separated (butterflied, if you will?). We then buttered them generously and popped them in the broiler to toast a little so we’d have some crunch. I realize now that this was probably an unnecessary step and they’d probably adequate crunchiness when we put them in the oven for the official cooking of the sandwich.

 

While the baguette pieces were getting all buttery delicious, Lisa cooked some shrimp in butter on the stove top.

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Once the shrimp were done, we began assembling. First, little round slices of banana, then shrimp, then pieces of broken up bacon wherever we could fit it, and lastly, shaved pieces of white cheddar (this WAS organic, boo yah!) covering everything.

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 We popped those suckers in the oven at 350 or so until the cheese appeared adequately melty.

And then we feasted.

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SO. GOOD. Not EXACTLY the same level of amazingness that can be found at the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro, but pretty darn close! The real test was my husband. He LOVED the Big Creek Banana Boat when we had it on our honeymoon and that was a big deal because he doesn’t eat bananas and there’s definitely a banana flavor to this sandwich.

 

Well he loved our version too! Score!

 

Since our cooking extravaganza I’ve had the brilliant idea that this would be amazing served at a party bruschetta style on little pieces of baguettes. Now I’m going to have to have a party…

Peach Sorbet (Emily)

Hey there! It’s peach season! Over the weekend I grabbed some SOMD local peaches from Chesapeake’s Bounty and made a delicious peach sorbet using the recipe from one of my favorite real food blogs, 100 Days of Real Food.

Now, if you’re like me, you don’t have an ice cream maker (or the room to store one for that matter). So, although the recipe calls for one, it turned out GREAT with a few adjustments. Basically I sliced up 4 peaches, tossed them into a Ziploc freezer back and put them in the freezer until they were good and frozen. 

I then put them in my blender, along with the honey and water called for in the recipe and blended until smooth. That’s it!! Just put it in a container and pop it in the freezer and enjoy!

When you take it out to eat, you might want to let it sit on the counter for a bit to soften. I like my sorbet to be creamy-ish. This recipe is so simple, lacks gross artificial additives and is so refreshing!

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Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel – Dessert!

I’d like to start of by saying thanks to anyone who just so happens to be reading this blog. We magically had 92 views today which is crazy. Here’s to hoping those people stayed a while a read and didn’t just stumble on and leave!

Now, on to desserts, also my final chapter in the great saga that has been Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel in Placencia, Belize. This post is going to be kind of short since I’m only featuring three desserts. This is because out of the, oh I don’t know, six out of eight nights we had dessert, I had the same thing probably four times. There’s also not much to say because honestly the pictures speak for themselves :)

Tastes Like Home

Winner: Pumpkin Cheesecake. 

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Delicious. Cozy. Stopping at one slice is painful. My husband’s only life regret is that  he did not get this twice. No idea what that white sauce is. Seriously couldn’t figure it out but it was lip smackingly good.

A Peanut Butter Lover’s Dream

Winner: Peanut Brittle Ice Cream Pie

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A peanut brittle crust. Vanilla ice cream. Another layer of peanut brittle. Another layer of vanilla ice cream. A top layer of peanut brittle with peanut butter drizzled over.

Salty. Sweet. And perfectly cool on a warm Belezian night.

AND FINALLY…

The Dessert You’re Most Likely To Order Night After Night

Winner: Chocolate Soufflé

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This. This I ate about four times. I kept “forgetting” to take a picture of it so I mean…I HAD to keep ordering it right? Had to get that picture.

This is exactly what you think. Warm-Right-Out-Of-The-Oven-Chocolatey-Deliciousness in a quaint little ramekin, topped with vanilla ice cream. I have no words to describe the pure pleasure that was the experience of eating this. Multiple times.

And that, my friends, concludes our excursion into the fine dining of the highly recommended Maya Beach Hotel Bistro!

I don’t plan on doing nothing but restaurant reviews, but this week just so happened to be me and my husband’s one year wedding anniversary so I’ll be posting a short review of the quaint little local restaurant we celebrated at.

No Sugar Challenge Update – Lisa

I have been having major internet connectivity issues for the past week.  I’m sorry for this delay, hopefully things will be resolved soon.

For now, I’m writing you from work.  Shhh… It’s alright, it’s after 5:30.

Last week was Week 6 of the No Sugar Challenge.  In week 6, you can reintegrate some sugar to your diet.  And I know me, so I knew exactly what was going to happen.  I basically just ate whatever I wanted.  I paid attention to a few things here and there, but I didn’t really control myself.  I’m bad.  So, so bad.  I didn’t even eat that much fruit.  I ate other junk.  I can’t remember what all I ate, but I do know I ate a piece of cake last night.  It was delicious.  That I don’t regret.

But this behavior has made me rethink that maybe it was too soon for me to eat sugar again.  Mostly, it made me feel like I need to just be more disciplined and be mindful of what I’m eating.  I can’t just go all willy nilly again like I was before.

I haven’t weighed myself since the last time I told you I lost 4 pounds.  After that I noticed that I lost a few more inches on my thighs and butt.  I honestly don’t think I would have noticed the missing inches if I paid attention to the number that I weigh.  And I can guarantee that the number is still around the same from where I started.  That’s just the way my body is.  I’ve decided to ditch the scale and only pay attention to how my body feels and how my clothes fit.

After being all crazy last week, I decided that I’m going to cut sugar out for just a little while longer.  I’ll make a few exceptions, of course.  Emily wants to try out that shrimp and banana sandwich tomorrow, and I cannot wait to see what this concoction tastes like!

As for that oatmeal and egg recipe, I found one from Martha Stewart but I haven’t tried it yet. 

Here’s to hoping the internet is back up the rest of the week!  There might be a video in the near future, so check back from time to time :)

Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel – Dinner

Before I get into the wondrous dinners that we had at the Maya Beach Hotel in Placencia, Belize, a short shameful anectode:

I was having a great day. As evidenced by the fact that not once did I have any desire to dip my hand into the candy bowl at the front desk at work. 

Breakfast: 1/2 full fat cottage cheese, 7 large grapes with seeds, 1 hardboiled egg, 8oz English Breakfast tea

Snack: a few plain almonds

Lunch: 6 small homemade chicken nuggets, 1 string cheese

Snack: small baggie of dry Kashi cereal

My husband hurt his back at work, so for dinner, to make him feel better I made some homemade cheese fries and some more of the homemade chicken nuggets.

I felt great about everything. I knew where all my food came from, I ate just enough of it. I felt great.

And then it came. The craving. Why is it that I am so perfectly capable of saying NO to the donuts people bring into work, to the crap in the vending machine…to everything except ice cream. Why must this be my weakness??? My husband and I are my worst enemy. I suddenly get the craving and then he goes right along with it. 

And then we make up an excuse (It’s anniversary ice cream…)

Why is it that I cringe at the thought of buying eggs and meat at the grocery store because I don’t know where it’s been, but I am perfectly capable of looking past the horrendous ingredients listed on that delectable pint of Ben & Jerry’s?

The guilt is the worst. I know I’m not supposed to feel guilty. You’re supposed to accept what you did and make the next meal great. But it always consumes me. I haven’t gotten control of that  yet. 

Oh but enough about that. Let’s talk about dinner at the Maya Beach Hotel:

Most Likely To Make Me Choke Because I Can’t Stop Shoveling It In My Mouth

Winner: Okay, every meal I ate there, but most definitely…Grilled Shrimp with Couscous

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Seasoned locally-caught shrimp cut in half on top of a bed of couscous that I would give anything to know the recipe for. I ate that meal in maybe 10 seconds. I don’t know if you can see in the picture but check out the peanuts. Interestingly awesome addition, both in texture and taste.

Most Likely To Injure Me While Eating It

Winner: Five Onion Cioppino

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Oh come on. You KNOW this was delicious. Yes, my observant friends, that is a giant crab claw emerging from the soup as if to say: “I dare you. I dare you to take a sip of my delicious treasures.”

Out of curiosity of how to even pronounce Cioppino (I ended up being correct in my guess: Cha-pee-no or something like that), I discovered a little somethin’ somethin’ about this dish. Turns out it’s a fish stew that originated in San Francisco and is considered an Italian-American dish (Thanks Wikipedia!). This clearly leaves SO MUCH open as to what can go into one’s cioppino. Basically, any seafood you can think of. Mine had shrimp, fish, a giant scary crab claw, and probably others stuff I didn’t even realize. The broth was spicy and made me think of what it’d taste like to drink a liquid form of Old Bay. So in a word it was amazing.

Just imagine all of the different things you could do with this dish! Squid! Mussels! Clams! Scallops! So many things could go in there!!

Although I must note…while the giant crab claw was certainly impressive, let’s be serious. Nothing beats the taste of a Maryland Blue Crab :)

I Wish This Was On The Menu Every Night

Winner: Snook Special

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That’s Snook, as in the fish. Not Snookie, as in the Oompa Loompa.

My husband got this special one night and I most certainly got my share of bites. The meal looked really pretty when it was brought to the table, but per usual we started digging in before we remembered to take a picture. 

Allow me to deconstruct that image for you. From top to bottom we’ve got:

  1. Roasted, shredded carrots
  2. Grilled snook. FRESH. As my Dad says, “It slept in the ocean last night”
  3. Potatoes and Zucchini 
  4. I can’t remember exactly what they called this sauce but it tasted like some form of a tzatziki sauce

Just a second ago I checked with my husband to make sure I was right and it was snook and not snapper. He replied “Yes it was snook and OOMMGGG that was good.”

Most Likely To Make Me Want To Start Encrusting Things In Peanuts

Winner: Peanut-encrusted snapper with mashed potatoes, black beans, and a watermelon reduction

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I’m telling you guys. Peanuts and fish. It’s no joke. Hubby and I both had this dish on different nights and our tastebuds loved it.

Most Likely To Make A Meat Loving Man’s Mouth Water (That’s what she said?)

Winner: Cacao Pork

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I haven’t the slightest idea what that sauce was but it was amazing. I can’t speak for the meat because I don’t like pork but my husband got this dish twice because he felt like he “didn’t have time to enjoy and savor it the first time.” Must have been amazing.

Most Likely To Make Me Question The Chef’s Sanity

Winner: Snapper with Spicy Jerk Seasoning in a Vanilla Bean Sauce with Sliced Potatoes

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I love trying new, crazy food and the Maya Beach Hotel was the perfect place to do so. Almost every night, either my husband or I tried the dinner special. How could we not? Everything sounded so unique and amazing!

This was no exception. Jerk seasoning and vanilla bean sauce? They pair beautifully, with the vanilla bean sauce complementing the spice of the jerk seasoning perfectly.

Most Likely To Disappear Before I Take A Picture

Winner: Grilled snapper over roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon roasted tomatoes and a mango beurre blanc

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Oops. I swear this looked awesome when it was set in front of me. I was in the middle of my last few bites when my husband asked, “Did you take a picture of that?”

Um…no. Did you not see me start inhaling it as soon as it was put in front of me?

It was so good. This was another dinner special that I hope anyone else who ventures to the Maya Beach Hotel Bistro is lucky enough to eat.

And on the serious tip? Cinnamon roasted tomatoes are something everyone needs to be doing. I know I’ll fo’ sho’ be trying it when my tomatoes are ready in the garden. According to hotel/bistro Owner John, it’s a simple recipe of putting tomatoes in a casserole dish with cinnamon sticks and baking for an hour at 350. I may be missing something in that recipe (olive oil?) but I guess I’ll just have to play around with it!

And that, my friends, concludes our dinner date. Only one more post in this series – DESSERT!

Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel – Small Plates and Appetizers

If you’re just joining us, I’m on my 3rd post of a five-part series of posts detailing the delicious meals my husband and I ate at the Maya Beach Hotel in Placencia, Belize.

And now…Small Plates and Appetizers

Most Likely To Make Me Do A Double Take At The Menu Name

Winner: Shrimp French Toast

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Yes, that’s right. Delicious little shellfish and a cozy breakfast favorite. Cooked to perfection and doused in Worcestershire sauce, among other things. Simple. Brilliant. You wish you thought of it.

Most Likely To Make Me Stare In Awe At The Chef’s Brilliance

Winner: Chips and Salsa

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Yep. Simple, no fuss chips and salsa. What was so amazing you might ask? The Salsa? Why yes, that was spectacularly fresh-tasting and delicious but no, not that. The corn chips? Why yes, those were homemade and salted perfectly, but no, not those either.

Wait…what are those long thin things?

Oh…well…those would be plantains. Sliced thin and baked into chip-py crispness. OH MY GOSH. Brilliant idea. My husband, Mr. Most-Of-The-Time-Picky-Eater was amazed. He probably never thought he’d ever put a plantain in his mouth, and there he was, loving every bit of them.

Most Likely To Make Me Search High And Low For A Recipe To Try At Home

Winner: Roasted Pumpkin and Green Chili Soup

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I had no idea that I’d like this. And again, Picky Hubby took more than one spoonful from my bowl. It was that amazing. I could literally eat this every day. And yes, yes I did start Googling for a recipe before I was even out of the country. This one looks so simple and I can’t wait to try it out and of course I’ll let you know how it goes!

It’s Dinnertime tomorrow!

Dining at the Maya Beach Hotel – Lunch

In case you missed my post yesterday (was it yesterday?) I’m doing  a series of posts about the amazing food my husband and I ate on our belated honeymoon to Belize.  

Let’s cut to the chase and talk about lunch shall we?

Most Interesting Pizza

Winner: Shrimp and Goat Cheese with a Tomato Chutney

Do I even need to comment on this? AMAZING! Unique! It was my first meal at the Bistro and it was the perfect choice!

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Most Likely To Make Me Unable To Order This At Any Other Restaurant From Now On

Winner: Fish Tacos

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Delicious little tortillas with spicy grilled fish served with rice, black beans, and a delicious mango salsa.  I started shoveling it in my mouth before I took the picture.

Fish tacos will never taste the same again.

Best Sandwich And Salad Combo

Winner: Spicy Chicken Sandwich with a Caesar Salad

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This chicken sandwich was so flavorful and filling, tossed in an amazing aioli sauce with a serious kick, and the Caesar salad was amazing (we actually ate a lot of Caesar salads there). Their homemade Caesar dressing is light and refreshing.

Most Crazy Unique Never-Woulda-Thought-Of-It Combination Of Flavors

A.K.A The Meal That Blew Us Away

Winner: Big Creek Banana Boat

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Oh who am I kidding? It needs two pictures. 

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Question: Which of these things doesn’t belong?

Shrimp. Bacon. Banana. Cheddar.

You said banana didn’t you?

Wrong. That was a trick question. They all belong. 

Together. 

On a lavishly buttered and toasted baguette. Sandwich Style.

When my husband and I first tried the Big Creek Banana Boat, we split it during a late lunch. Later in the week each of us had it for lunch ourselves. It was THAT GOOD. You wouldn’t think it, and we definitely went out on a limb ordering it (I’m sorry…banana? With my shrimp?????) 

Most amazing sandwich I’ve every had and something we’re definitely going to try to make at home. 

It appeared to be relatively simple:

A chunk of baguette sliced lengthwise, buttered generously and toasted. A layer of sliced banana, cooked shrimp, cooked bacon, and delicious melted cheddar cheese.

My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

Tune in tomorrow for Small Plates and Appetizers!