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Online “Clothing Sale” for Charity

April 20, 2012
Twice a year, I go through my closet and do a little sorting and purging. I get rid of old items I haven’t worn in the past year and bring them to my local consignment shop or Goodwill, depending on the condition they are in. This spring I wanted to do things a little differently. Most of the clothes I was thinking of getting rid of were in great shape, some had hardly been worn more than a few times (I have a bad habit of buying shoes I think I can squeeze my feet into but can’t), so it seemed a shame to just give them away. 
So this year, I thought it might be fun to host an online “clothing sale” where the proceeds of the sale go to a charity organization. Freedom From Hunger is a great organization that helps to keep women and children around the globe from going hungry. You can find out more about them by visiting their site, freedomfromhunger.org.  
Want to be a part of the clothing sale? Well here’s how you can be a part of it!
 1. Make a donation. I will be collecting photos of items from my own closet, as well as items from yours, and putting the items up for sale on Ebay where people will be able to bid on them. If you think you have something that might be a good fit for the sale, shoot me an e-mail (madisonjanemayberry@gmail.com) and let’s chat. The bidding will begin on Monday, May 14 and go through the week.
2. Buy something! As mentioned above, the items will be going up on Ebay on Monday, May 14 with 100% of the proceeds going to Freedom From Hunger. You get a great new item for your closet and you’ll help feed the hungry at the same time. A total win-win!
Have a great weekend, everyone!
Madison
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What do you eat?

April 19, 2012

When I was home in Idaho a couple weeks ago, my dad asked me (earnestly, not in a sarcastic manner), “What do you eat?” You see, my dad’s a very healthy eater, but the world of vegetarianism is an uncharted world to him. After returning home, his question stuck with me. What do I eat? Normal things, of course! It was so familiar to me, that I hardly knew how to answer the question.

So to answer the question, I made a habit of snapping a few photos before I sat down to breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dad, and everyone else reading, here is what I eat…

{Whole wheat bagel with peanut butter and sugar-free jam with coffee, of course}
{Cornmeal-crusted baked tofu, broccoli and slow-cooker black beans for lunch.}

{Steamed green beans with spray butter, whole wheat toast with 
Laughing Cow cheese wedges and grapes.}
{Whole wheat tortilla, roasted asparagus with caramelized onions, 
black beans and mashed avocado for dinner.}
{And, of course, the occasional mini cupcake for dessert. Aren’t these the cutest?}
Vegetarians or vegans out there: What do YOU eat? Anything crazy creative or out of the box?
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Tracking Food and Protein Consumption

April 18, 2012
Happy Wednesday, everyone! Nutmeg got a haircut last Friday, so we took a few beauty shots. She was also complaining about not being on the blog much lately, so before I get to talking about food tracking, here are a few snapshots.
Lately, I’ve been getting quite a few Tweets and e-mails about protein and nutrition, much of which is directly related to being a vegetarian. Many people wonder if you can get enough protein day-to-day without consuming meat, and the answer is, yes! I’ve done a few protein posts in the past (found here and here), but I thought that today I would show you a handy little tool that I’ve been using over the past couple of months that has transformed the way I track food intake. 

I discovered My Fitness Pal a few months ago after searching for an online tool that would allow me to enter my daily eats. Every now and again I found myself writing down what I ate during the day or running a mental tally of the number of fruits and vegetables I consumed, the calories taken in, protein eaten. Instead of jotting this information down on slips of paper (which ended up in the trash) and calculating the information by hand, I wanted the ability to search a database for ingredients and record my eats all in one place.
Here’s a look at what a typical entry looks like for me…
The site makes it incredibly easy to track everything you eat, with a huge database full of ingredients. You also have the option of adding in your own items if you can’t find them in the database or enter something by calories alone if that’s all the information you know about it. 
Once your information is all entered for the day, you are left with a little summary like this…
You probably noticed that I came out in the negative (meaning I had too much) for all the categories (daily calorie intake, protein, carbs, and fat), which is because I underestimated my daily exercise when setting up the program. I should probably adjust that sometime soon to be more reflective of what I actually need/expend. 
And the protein? As you can see, today I got a whopping 82 grams of protein! I love being able to see all the interesting places the protein comes from. Obviously there was a good deal of protein in the veggie burger I ate at lunch, which is expected. But it goes to show that other, smaller sources of protein really add up. A little Greek yogurt, some black beans, a whole wheat tortilla, and peanut butter, of course! 
I want to make it clear that I do not use this site as a weight loss tool (though if you have weight you want to lose, you certainly could), but rather a way to check in a couple times a week to make sure I’m consuming enough fat and protein and eating a variety of foods.

So that’s that! Protein, food tracking and all. How do you guys stay on track? Do you have a food journal or an online system that you use?

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Keep It Sweet Desserts Giveaway

April 12, 2012

Last fall when I was in NYC for The Rachael Ray Show, I had the pleasure of finally getting to meet my blog friend, Lauren, in real life. Lauren and I had been commenting on one another’s blogs and talking via Twitter for almost a year, and I was trilled to find out she is just as sweet and wonderful in person as she is on the web. Don’t you love it when that happens?

I knew Lauren loved to bake, so when she told me that she was quitting her job in finance to open up Keep It Sweet Desserts, an online bakery and catering company, I can’t say I was surprised. In fact, I was trilled for Lauren and her big step! But, as someone who loves to bake myself, I wasn’t sure about the notion of purchasing baked goods online; couldn’t I just make something myself and save the money?

Lauren offered to send me a mixed dozen of some of her desserts to coincide with the launch of Keep It Sweet Desserts to taste and review. I was a little nervous, reviewing desserts by someone I know and adore.

Well, the package arrived last week, and here’s the deal: Lauren’s desserts blew me away. Honestly, they are some of the best cookies and bars I’ve ever had. I can’t tell you how trilled I am to share them with you, and offer one of you the chance to win some yourself (keep reading). Here’s a look at what I tasted…

Peppermint Patty Stuffed Triple Chocolate Cookies: Mint and chocolate is one of my favorite combinations in a dessert, so it’s no surprise that I fell head over heels for this cookie. Lauren totally nailed it on the texture – crispy around the edges and filled with a soft minty center.

Black and White Blondies: These were the by far the biggest hit in our house! When I gave Joe one for dessert, he went crazy over them. In Joe’s words: “These are seriously the best dessert I’ve ever had.” He continued to study the blondies as he ate them, saying, “I’m trying to figure out what makes them so delicious.” Joe is absolutely right. These blondies are gooey in the center with a slightly caramel-like flavor and chewy and crispy around the edges. Perfection. 

Cinnamon Chocolate Rugelach: This was the only dessert I wasn’t crazy about. That said, I think it has much more to do with the fact that I don’t really care for the texture and taste of rugelach rather than Lauren’s execution of the dessert. If you like rugelach, I would recommend trying it and seeing for yourself.

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies: If you’re a fan of chewy cookies (which I seriously am) these are your dessert. While I could be satisfied eating just one rich blondie, I could easily eat a couple of these pleasantly sweet oatmeal cookies. The edges are just a little bit crispy and the centers are soft and peppered with white chocolate pieces and dried cranberries. I had to freeze the rest so I didn’t eat them all at once!

Now to the giveaway…Lauren has offered to send a dozen of her cookies, bars or cookie sandwiches to one lucky Espresso and Cream reader!

To Enter: Visit Keep It Sweet Desserts and check out their selection. Then leave a comment letting me know which dessert you would like to try.

More ways to win (leave a separate comment for each):
*Like Keep It Sweet Desserts on Facebook (click here)
*Tweet about the giveaway (leave your Twitter handle for verification)

Oh, and if you don’t win? Lauren is offering Espresso and Cream readers a 10% discount on purchases from her site. Just use the code EspressoandCream at checkout!

Madison

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Baked Chicken Parmesan

April 11, 2012
Last weekend when Joe and I were in Idaho visiting my family, we stopped by Great Harvest to pick up some bread for the weekend. Like Joe and me, my family loves Great Harvest bread because it tastes, well, like bread is supposed to taste. I could go on and on about their bread, but I’ll spare you the details and tell you to get yourself to a location near you. 
Up until six months ago, Des Moines had two Great Harvest locations. Sadly, they both closed within a couple of months, leaving Joe and I devastated. Naturally, when we were in Idaho, we picked up three loaves of bread to take home with us and store in the freezer, two loaves of Dakota and one loaf of their Garlic Cheddar Bread. Joe loves that bread so much that he asked me to create a meal on Monday night that revolved around the bread. 
Initially, I suggested pork tenderloin and broccoli. Evidently, that’s not what Joe had in mind, because when I suggested that, his face dropped a little and he said, “I was thinking something more like Italian. Specifically, Chicken Parmesan.” 
It’s not often that Joe actually makes a specific meal request, so when he does, I try to accommodate. Chicken Parm has been made in our house in the past (my fried gluten-free version here) but for this version, I wanted something more. A crispier, lighter Chicken Parmesan was what I had in mind, and the results of this panko-Parmesan baked version didn’t disappoint. I loved that I didn’t have to mess-up the stove top with grease and oil from frying and the fact that it was ultra-easy to prepare in the oven. And Joe? Well he just loved the way it tasted. 
Family cooks: Do you allow your family members/significant others to make meal requests? Or do they just take what you make? 

Baked Chicken Parmesan
Ingredients
*1 tablespoon olive oil 
*1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
*1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
*1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
*1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
*2 large eggs, lightly beaten
*2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
*1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese or mozzarella cheese 
*2 cups purchased marinara sauce
*4 servings angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions

Instructions
*Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a 13×9-inch baking pan with the 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside.
*In a shallow bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan, salt, pepper, garlic powder and Italian seasoning. Mix to combine.
*Place the beaten eggs in a second bowl.
*Slice the chicken breasts each in half widthwise to form four thin chicken breasts. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture to coat, followed by the panko mixture. Transfer coated chicken breasts to the prepared baking pan. Bake chicken in the oven for 25 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is crispy. Top the chicken with the shredded cheese. Switch oven to broil and continue to cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until cheese is melted and bubbly.
*Toss the prepared pasta with some of the marinara sauce in a large saucepan and heat over medium heat on the stove top. Divide the pasta among four plates or bowls and top each portion with one of the chicken breasts. Finish with additional marinara sauce, if desired, and grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings

Happy Cooking!
Madison

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