Last month, I was browsing several food and fitness blogs when I stumbled onto the foodie pen pals page from Lindsay at The Lean Green Bean. It looked like so much fun that I decided to throw my name into the hat and give it a try! In only my first month, I am so glad that I chose to do this.
My first foodie pen pal sender is Bridget from Santa Monica, California. I found it sort of funny that I was paired with a local girl for my first exchange, but I was lucky enough to get a Wisconsin friend for my first foodie pen pal recipient.
Bridget and her friend Kadi run a blog called Running Crumbs which is all about running, healthy food, yoga and training. Just a quick stop at their blog and you'll see that these two ladies are really fun! The first thing that caught my eye was their outfit choice for the Tinkerbell half marathon at Disneyland, and let me tell you it was a fabulous choice.
Bridget and I emailed back and forth a bit before it was time to mail off the packages, and she was an absolute joy. I thought it would be harder for her to shop for me because I told her that I was a Weight Watcher, but in all honesty I realize now that she had no problems. In fact, her package was Perfect with a capital P!
She sent the package on a Friday, and it was in my mailbox the very next day. I couldn't have been more impressed with the post office. Here's my first peek:
Right off the bat I can see two of my favorite things on the right hand side of the photo: a dark chocolate bar and reduced fat brownie mix from Trader Joe's. For those of you that don't live near a Trader Joe's, find someone that does and beg them to start sending you treats! I happen to work next door to Trader Joe's headquarters and I run into several of the employees at the gym and local food spots around town. They are always polite and friendly, and my experience in the stores and with the products is fantastic.
Here's a close up of the smaller items, in the front row are single servings of peanut butter, cashew butter, and honey almond butter as well as two fruit and veggie strips that are loaded with fiber.
I have a confession: I've never tried anything but peanut butter and even though I've seen those fiberful strips at Trader Joe's, I've never tried them either!
Next up I spied Pumpkin Flax Granola (I love granola!) and in the rear was a bag of treats for my little girl, Maddie.
I have to stop here and point out that Bridget was so kind to have included my dog in this package and it really goes to show you that there are still genuinely interested people in this world. This little treat made my day (and Maddie's day, too!).
Front and center here is something that I've never even heard of before: Seasoned and Roasted Seaweed.
I love trying new things, so I can't wait to dig in to this stuff!
And I know I already mentioned the chocolate and brownie mix, but also included was a box of Italian style Quinoa.
Okay, another confession: I stare at quinoa in the grocery store all the time, but I'm too chicken to buy it! I am so glad Bridget included a box in my package so that I have no excuse any more. I am going to try quinoa!
Funny story about the brownie mix: I was at Trader Joe's just last week buying supplies and treats for my Wisconsin foodie pen pal. I have a couple of "must have" items every time I stop in to Trader Joe's and I have them pictured below.
The white bag on the right are sun dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), cookie butter, Better than Peanut Butter, ginger thins, and (drum roll please) reduced fat brownie mix! Not in this picture is my favorite yogurt in the world: Trader Joe's fat free Greek style vanilla yogurt. Of course it isn't in the picture, it is in the fridge!
And for those of you Weight Watchers out there, I did the first thing you should always do when you bring home new groceries: I got out my calculator and my permanent marker and I wrote all the points values on the packages. In case you were wondering, here is the break down:
Pumpkin Flax Granola
3/4 cup = 7 Points Plus
1/4 cup = 2 Points Plus
entire package = 1 Point Plus
1 bar = 1 Point Plus
entire package = 6 Points Plus
Cashew Butter and Honey Almond Butter
entire package = 5 Points Plus
Swiss 72% Dark Chocolate
4 squares = 6 Points Plus
2 squares = 3 Points Plus
Italian style Quinoa
1/4 pacakge = 7 Points Plus
But I saved the best for last. You see, I make the Trader Joe's Brownies enough to know a couple of tricks. First of all, you only need a small container of yogurt in order to make these bad boys. I happen to prefer the nonfat Greek style vanilla yogurt from Trader Joe's because it boosts the protein without losing any flavor or moisture in the brownie. Next up, I don't make them in a bar pan or Pyrex, I make them in a mini muffin tin. One box of mix plus 2/3 cup of nonfat vanilla yogurt is enough for 24 mini muffin sized brownies. That is plenty for me!
Once you've got them baked and cooled, store them in an airtight container for about a week or freeze them for up to about six months. One brownie bite is 2 Points Plus, but you can eat two brownie bites for 3 Points Plus. They are a great treat!
So there you have it folks, my first experience as a foodie pen pal. I can't wait to do it again!