January Foodie Pen Pals

This month I participated in my first Foodie Pen Pal exchange – and it was so much fun! At first I was a tad hesitant to participate, after all I’d be giving my address to a complete stranger. But my fears were put at ease quickly as I was able to blog stalk the foodie who was paired up with me. And I’ll assure you, Lauren of Hugs, Kisses n’ Dishes is totally normal 🙂

Lauren and I quickly bonded over our shared love of Rubios – a delicious fast food Mexican chain in the San Diego area. While she couldn’t easily ship me my beloved fish tacos, she did send me many of the ingredients to whip up my own.

Additionally, she sent me some delicious dark chocolate, yummy fruit leathers, garlic gold nuggets, and my absolute favorite winter tea: Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride. I’ve been looking for this tea since October! My heart did a happy dance when I saw this tumble out of my box.

I sent my box of goodies off to Erin, a blog reader. Since she won’t be able to post about what I sent her, I took a quick picture before I boxed it up and sent it on its merry way. Her box contained my favorite peanut butter for Trader Joe’s, pickled figs from Boat Street and a sample candy pack from the local candy shoppe, Bruttles.

Are you interested in becoming a foodie pen pal during the month of February? Contact Lindsay of the Lean Green Bean at  theleangreenbean@gmail.com. Here is some information from Lindsay about the Foodie Pen Pal program:

-On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.
-You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal! 
-The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!
-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)
-Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month. 

*Breaking news! This month we’re going to do a trial run for our Canadian friends. I’m still not exactly sure how it will work with shipping costs and stuff for you guys up North, but if you’re willing to give it a try for a month and provide me with some feedback, that would be awesome! Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We’ve determined things might get too slow and backed up if we’re trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa. So, I’m going to keep two separate lists and match US w/ US and Canada w/ Canada!

If you’re interested in participating for February, please send  an email to Lindsay at theleangreenbean@gmail.com and include the following information:
-Your full name
-Your email address
-Your blog name/address
-Your twitter handle (if applicable)
WHETHER YOU ARE A US RESIDENT OR CANADIAN RESIDENT. – this is SUPER important so I can get you on the right list!

She needs to hear from you by February 4th, as pairings will be emailed on February 5th!

Did you know? Green onions can regrow!

A while back I pinned this photo,


and the description said I could regrow my green onions by simply submerging the white ends in water, in a place that gets sunlight, and the onions would start regrowing almost immediately.

I was a total skeptic, but I happened to have a batch of green onions that had only one use left. So about a week and a half ago I decided to try it out…

and what do you know? Look at them today!

Nifty, eh?

Now, who wants to invent something that re-washes my windows every day?


If you have recreated a pin lately, join the fun over at All Things Lovely!

Snow Day Smoothie

I love the blog world – it is chock full of support, encouragement, friendship and great ideas. Recently I stumbled upon Erica’s blog, For the Sake of Cake, and discovered that there is a Trader Joe’s cookbook! How did I not know this?

My fingers quickly traveled to amazon and within a few clicks the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook was en route to my house. Today I was blessed with a snow day, which meant I could snuggle up with my heated throw, a large mug of coffee and sift through my new cookbook without a care in the world. Cleaning and lesson plans can wait, thankyouverymuch.

After reading the acknowledgments and introduction (a sign that I really am a food blogger), I began planning my next shopping trip to my favorite destination. Hunger struck about halfway through the delicious looking recipes  and I decided to whip up my own Trader Joe’s creation.

When I visited my friend Veronika last spring I discovered the wonders of Trader Joe’s tart plain non-fat yogurt and how it turns an average smoothie into an epically delicious treat. When our Trader Joe’s finally opened this fall I immediately purchased a container.

Into my magic bullet went the tart yogurt and other Trader Joe’s finds: frozen wild blueberries, half a banana, and a splash of almond milk.

Added to the mix were a few frozen hand-picked strawberries from this summer, a dash of vanilla bean paste, and some spinach* for good measure.

*also from Trader Joe’s

Mmmm, ugly but delicious.

Snow Day Smoothie


1/2 cup Trader Joe’s tart plain nonfat frozen yogurt

1/2 banana

1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (or vanilla extract)

1/2 cup frozen blueberries

1/2 cup frozen strawberries

1/3 cup almond milk (or other milk of your choice)

1 cup fresh spinach


In blender, food processor or magic bullet, add all ingredients and blend until you’ve reached the desired consistency. If you’re using a magic bullet, add everything but the spinach and blend, then add the spinach and blend again.

What is your favorite Trader Joe’s staple?

Egg Quinoa Bowl

I love how versatile quinoa is. Not sure what to do with black beans? Throw them together with salsa, veggies, cheese and quinoa and you’ve got a meal. An extra can of garbanzos  hanging out in your pantry? Mix em with some garlic, zucchini, avocado, nooch* and quinoa and you have another easy meal. The same goes for chicken, Italian sausage and tofu.

*Yeah, I went there. I’m not ashamed.

But one protein source I’ve never mixed with quinoa is the incredible, edible, egg.


Until Monday.

I woke up late, enjoyed a leisurely breakfast, pounded out an hour long elliptical run in my home gym while catching up on trashy t.v. and strolled upstairs to stare in my fridge for a solid 5 minutes. Ding, ding, ding went my alarm, alerting me to the fact that the door had been open too long. Then the light went out, forcing me to close the door and re-open. Nothing looked appealing. Nothing.

But then I spotted the eggs. All 22 of them. Clearly I needed to make something egg-centric, and Dutch Babies were sadly not an option.

Enter quinoa.


I whipped up a batch of this grainy goodness, and chilled 3/4ths for that night’s meatless Monday dish, and mixed it with the remnants of my veggie drawer. Topped with a drippy egg, goat cheese and hot sauce, this bowl was delicious enough for me to actually say “oh my God” out loud. To myself. Seriously.

Egg Quinoa Bowl


1/2 cup cooked quinoa, any color

1 egg, fried to preferred drippiness

3 sprigs cilantro, washed/chopped

1 cup arugula, washed/chopped

1/8th red bell pepper, diced (or yellow/orange, just not green – ick!)

1 small tomato, diced

2 tbs sweet onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 TBS crumbled goat cheese (feta or gorgonzola would be a great sub)

1/4 tsp cumin

hot sauce/salt/pepper to taste


Cook quinoa according to package directions. Meanwhile, chop your veggies and crumble your cheese. Mix veggies with quinoa. Fry egg and add to the top of your quinoa/veggie bowl.


What is your favorite “eat down the fridge” meal?

Teacher’s corner: Valentine’s Day

I don’t know about you, but the thought of class parties makes me want to curl up under the covers and call a sub. The sugar, the chaos, the sugar, the way it throws off the rest of the day, the sugar, the noise, and did I mention the sugar?


So instead of a big blow out on Valentine’s Day, I’m going for subtly sweet. When I was a student teacher my class had the most amazing parent volunteers. Our parties were low key and casual thanks to the calming spirit of one mother. For Valentine’s Day she had the brilliant idea of creating a book of nice notes for each student.

Each day, in the month leading up to Valentine’s Day, we select a student (or two) of the day. The rest of the class volunteers nice comments about the student of the day, and we write them down on chart paper. Then the student of the day calls on 3-4 students to ask questions, usually about favorites. After gathering our nice thoughts, the kiddos go back to their desks and write nice notes on half sheets of white paper (with two hole punches), and can decorate them if time allows. The person of the day creates a folder to house the notes, which they don’t get to read until Valentine’s Day.

On Valentine’s Day we bust out the folders and the students can create and decorate books out of construction paper, a class picture, decorative wire, stickers, etc. If your class needs a little community boost, or participates in “filling buckets,” this activity might be a great substitute* for your typical class party.

*I guess I still get a sub this way 😉

Whenever I’m having a tough day, I pull my book out for a little pick me up. Hopefully my kiddos enjoy their books as much as I enjoy mine!

I love this: “I love your outfits”

Do you do anything special for class parties?

I’m a January quitter

I’m sure you’ve seen the Weigh in Wednesday tab at the top of my blog…the one that hasn’t been updated in, oh, months. Once I started What I ate Wednesday-ing and Pinterest Recreating, I let my normal Weigh in Wednesday posting slide. I could re-name that tab something else non-alliteration-filled, or I could stop joining linky parties. As much as it pains my fourth-grade teacher heart, I think I’m going to have to re-name Weigh in Wednesday if I want that series to become prevalant again.

And it needs to.


I gave up the scale a while back, and I’m glad I did. It took hold over my worth and self respect for too many years. Once stepping off the scale I discovered a love of running and finally felt enjoyment from exercising for the sake of exercising. Getting out and moving your body. Being one with nature. You know, all that good stuff. And the added bonus? The weight melted off and I found myself craving naturally sweetened and good for me foods.


But then I pushed too hard and too fast, as many newbie runners do, and I injured myself. I started to notice knee pain after long runs during half-marathon training, but I pushed the pain aside, took Epsom salt baths and downed magnesium pills, thinking I was just experiencing the same twinges of pain all new runners felt, and the pain would eventually subside.

yes, this is a recycled photo, and no, I still don’t know where I found it

I was wrong. So very wrong. Around mile 7 of my half-marathon I was hit with intense pain in my left knee. I was coming down a very steep hill, and had to do a shuffle/hobble the rest of the way down. I’m still not sure how I managed the rest of the half-marathon. But I did, and then I promptly called my doc to set up a physical therapy appointment. After six weeks I was only feeling worse.


This, coupled with some additional health issues, led to my doctor ordering me to cut way back on running. The pain in my left leg helped me listen, but, unfortunately, I didn’t replace the running with enough cardio to compensate.

I’m sure you can guess where this is going.

I’m starting January 2012 around the same place I started January 2011. I’ve gained back most of the weight I lost (at least I assume, I still don’t weigh myself), and my energy levels are really, really low. At first I blamed my lack of exercise on my new job and subsequent jam packed schedule. But the heart of the matter lied in the fact that I got lazy and fell into the path of least resistance. That path included a lot of treats.

So that is why I became a January quitter. A January quitter is pretty much the opposite of a January joiner. Instead of hitting the gym with full gusto every day, I quit. I’m over the 15/20 minute drive there, the 5/10 minute locker room shuffle, and 15/20 minute drive back. In that time my work out could be complete. So I quit.

And purchased an elliptical.

Horizon EX-59

With the hubs help (ok, lets be honest, he did everything), my 3rd bedroom went from a makeshift office/guest room to an exercise room. Since set up, I’ve bounced out of bed each morning and caught up on trashy reality t.v., courtesy of E! My alarm was very motivating.

My alarm to get off the elliptical and hit the shower is equally motivating.

I’m happy to be a quitter this month.

Do you belong to a gym? Or do you prefer to get your exercise outside or in the comfort of your own home?

Get real [WIAW]

I love January – every other week has a 3-day weekend. This coming weekend promises three mornings of uninterrupted sleep. And I need it, as I’ve been waking up at 5:20 each morning to work out and not going to bed early enough to compensate. Part of my New Year’s Resolutions that I never got around to posting. The rest include taking my vitamins every day (I totally suck at this), drinking 72 oz of water (3 Contigos) and clean up my eating.

For the eating part I’m going to join the Get Real Challenge on Once a Month Mom. January focuses on pantry and freezer cleaning…something I haven’t done since last January!

I haven’t taken the first week challenge yet (purging the pantry of overly processed foods), but plan to on my upcoming long weekend. But my meals are already looking better than my Winter Break eats! Those were allll over the place and included way too much junk.

Thanks to Jenn for hosting another What I ate Wednesday!


PB&J (Dave’s Killer Bread – 9 grain, Trader Joe’s sea salt valencia peanut butter & my MIL’s elderberry jam)


A super gross yogurt (I just can’t handle artificial sweeteners anymore)- but it was free, so I snagged it anyway


Butternut squash soup and spinach topped with cottage cheese, avocado, red bell pepper and tomatoes.


Apple & candy cane green tea


Leftover potato leak soup, topped with bacon, and a spinach salad with Trader Joe’s cilantro dressing

And a few after dinner Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups will be enjoyed 🙂

Have you joined the Get Real Challenge?

My eating is leaps and bounds away from where it used to be, but it still isn’t where I’d like it to be (think Kath). So I think this challenge is great because it is so organized and I won’t have to spend the energy figuring out what I need to do (which is what always overwhelms me)!