Monday, October 26, 2009

Better 'N Peanut Butter

Growing up, I hated peanut butter especially PB&J sandwhiches and my siblings' favorite: peanut butter and marshmallow cream sandwhiches...GROSS (I still find this gross today as I really don't like marshmallows except on s'mores).  However, my taste buds have developed to love the taste of peanut butter but I'm picky about peanut butters that I will actually eat.  While I was losing weight, I was terrified of peanut butter and its insane calorie count of 200 calories for two tablespoons.  So I desperately searched for a lower calorie peanut butter and found Better 'N Peanut butter ( with a lower calories and fat grams than regular peanut butter.  Two tablespoons only contain 100 calories and 2g fat which is perfect for the peanut butter lover whose trying to cut back on fat and calories.  There is also a lower sodium option with only 90mg of sodium per serving.  Now the important information: watch out because this peanut butter is addictively wonderful!  Because of the lack of preservatives, jars must be refrigerated after opening which makes it a bit thicker than most PBs.  To me it's creamy and smooth and kind of like peanut butter yogurt (Sometimes I even eat it out of the jar).  I haven't noticed a difference in taste between the regular and lower sodium version.  I've made sandwhiches, sauces, and even baked with Better 'N Peanut Butter with delicious and healthy results.  WARNING:  if you are pure PB fan, you might not enjoy refrigerated PB or the slightly more sticky texture or the less sweeter taste.  However, if you a dark chocolate fan, pick up a bottle of the chocolate Better 'N Peanut Butter which is equally fantastic.  I'm not a huge chocolate fan (no one ever believes me!) so this is the perfect combination of peanuts and chocolate without being overwhelming sweet with the same nutritional stats as the original flavor.  So now I average a jar each week depending on whether I have self control or not!  Just a little note: I've discovered that Better 'N Peanut Butter is cheaper at Trader Joe's than Whole Foods.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Parisian Dreaming in Washington DC

In my attempts to pretend I'm in Paris, I suggested brunch/lunch/shopping with some girl friends Sunday morning. After non stop rain on Friday and Saturday, Sunday's sunny morning with fall temperatures made me estatic to spend the morning outside with good food and friends. We had decided to dine at Le Pain Quotidien ( before exploring the flea/farmer market. Now I have eaten at several LPQs throughout the country. My first experience with LPQ was last year in Manhattan when some friends and I discovered one close to Central Park on the West side. And I had never realized it was a chain restaurant until I discovered one in Bethesda, then Eastern market, and now below my gym in Arlington. I have a love/hate relationship with LPQ mainly due to their prices and service and amazing of their food. This is NOT a cheap restaurant for the portion of food that is served (it's probably the correct portion size and I'm just Amercanized but we are in a recession aka I want the most bang for my buck) and the service is not horrible but it can take too long to get food/refills (I've experienced this at all the LPQs that I've eaten at). So why do I eat there? Because of the amazingness of the food and the European vibe that is evident in the attitude and decor of the restaurant. First, LPQ is considered a communal/open table restaurant with a bakery. There are individual tables for private groups but also long tables that singles and other groups can sit. The furniture is light wood accented with subtle light fixtures and huge windows (I love the sun). A bakery is avalaible to purchase LPQ original breads and spreads (jam, jelly, butter,etc) and treats. But it's their menu based food that wins my heart. First, LPQ focuses on organic, homemade food with numerous healthy benefits and specified vegan/vegetarian options. I typically order one of three tartines (an open faced sandwhich): black bean hummus tartine (vegan), scallion nori avacado tartine (vegan), and the salmon tartine. All three of these are a fantastic blend flavors not commmonly found in most food. On Sunday I was craving avacado so I decided to order the scallion nori avacado tartine. It comes served on LPQ whole grain bread with slices of avacado and scallions with nori sheets, radishes, lemon, and tomatoes on the side....delicious!
It's like a mexican sushi sans rice. I try to be ladylike and eat with my knife and fork but about half way through lunch, I grabbed it and starting chowing down. One of my friends (who is vegan) ordered their six vegetable quiche which is made with a buckwheat, gluten free shell. I had to try a little sample and was greatly rewarded with a beatiful combination of some of my favorite flavors. It was a blend of carrots and sweet potatoes accented by the buckwheat shell giving the quiche a more earthy/fall flavor than your typical egg based quiche. Unfortunately, I'm now semi obsessed and foresee myself stopping at LPQ on my way home from the gym to order the wonderful quiche. The rest of my friends ordered other tartines including a tuna salad tartine (which my friend adored and ate as quickly as I ate my own tartine) and the smoked turkey tartine which was described as "an adult version of a delicious turkey sandwhich). We also enjoyed pots of coffee, mint lemonade (which I personally do like drinking mint), and fresh fruit salad (I absolutely adore honey dew). After gorging ourselves (not really-LPQ is great for portion control since everything is expensive), we strolled the market enjoying the beautiful DC fall weather. Overall, I recommend LPQ as a treat when you are craving a simple, fresh, and beautiful breakfast/lunch and you do not mind paying the extra money for the deliciousness you will enjoy.