Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Two Good Things—a Winner & Chocolate

Thanks to all who entered the Sam’s Club back-to-school giveaway. The winner via random integer is…

True Random Number Generator

Result: 4

**Winner is Christina from Hungry Meets Healthy**

Please send me your mailing address to apinchandadash@live.com and you’re gift card will be on the way!


Now onto the other word in the title that caught your eye I’m sure—chocolate! Now most women are stereotyped for being chocolate hounds and consider chocolate as one of the basic needs for survival. Me? Well don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate flavor, but to sit down and eat just a chocolate candy bar won’t cut it for me. I need something like chocolate cheesecake, chocolate chip cookies, or this new recipe I brainstormed awhile ago! I figured now that the zucchini crop is booming, it’d be a great time to share it because I am sure 8/10 people have zucchinis waiting to be used!

So a little about this cake and how it came to be..I wanted to first make zucchini bread, which then got me thinking how about chocolate zucchini bread would be good. But that might be a little blah without a drizzle over the top. But I like a lot of drizzle—so that’s when the idea of frosting came in. But frosting goes better on cake, so therefore Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting was born!

I knew when I bought this gem it’d come in handy for something…


“A premium cocoa that adds rich chocolate flavor to any recipe. Crafted using traditional dutch processing techniques, the smooth and sophisticated taste will intensify and enrich your desserts.”

Some dark chocolate facts:

How is dark chocolate different from milk chocolate?
Dark chocolate, also known as sweet or semi-sweet chocolate, typically has a higher percentage of cacao solids (cocoa, chocolate liquor and cocoa butter) than milk chocolate.

What are the healthy components of dark chocolate?
Like many other plant-based foods, cocoa and chocolate have many natural occurring "good for you" components. Much of the current research has focused on compounds called "flavanols" which occur naturally in cacao. Flavanols also act as antioxidants which can have beneficial effects on the body. Antioxidants are compounds that help neutralize free radicals and protect your body against their destructive effects.

Does HERSHEY'S dark chocolate contain flavanols?
Yes. According to a recent study sponsored by The Hershey Company, the levels of flavanol antioxidants in cocoa and chocolate products are almost perfectly correlated with the concentration of natural cocoa in products. In general, the higher the natural cocoa content, the greater the flavanol antioxidant levels.

So why not switch up your cocoa powder to the dark chocolate version ASAP!?


Dark Chocolate Zucchini Cake with Mocha Cream Cheese Frosting

Serves: 12



  • 1 3/4 c sugar—I used all Splenda
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 c grated zucchini
  • 1/3 c dark cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon


  • 8 oz cream cheese
  • 1/4 c butter—I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Fat Free Spread
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 drop Kahlua—or use 2 tsp dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c Splenda
  • 1/4 c powdered sugar


  • Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray a 9 x 13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Meanwhile, cream sugar and egg until fluffy. Add in applesauce and vanilla, stir. Add zucchini and incorporate well.
  • In another medium-sized bowl, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.
  • Pour the liquid mixture into the dry mixture and stir until combined.
  • Bake 30-40 min, or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.


  • For frosting: Cream the cream cheese, butter, Splenda, and powdered sugar until fluffy. Gradually add in Kahlua (or cocoa powder) and vanilla until a smooth frosting-like consistency is achieved.
  • Let the cake cool for 1 hour, then frost, and cut into 12 pieces (shown above).

A great way to eat your veggies if you ask me!!

What’s your favorite way to use zucchini?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Back to School Sam’s Club Giveaway

It’s not just college students that are back hitting the books, all kids from grade school and up are gearing up for back to school season.

I remember when school shopping rolled around, I needed everything under the sun, plus a new backpack even though mine from the previous year was perfectly fine. Glittery folders with notebooks to match (no I couldn’t just get the .10 plain colored ones), highlighters, pens, gel pens, pencils, note cards, pencil case, fun erasers—you name it, I wanted it. All just to learn of course =)

Obviously nowadays I am a bit more frugal, as most people are, and are always looking for ways to save on costs a bit. What if I told you that you can save money plus give back at the same time? And by the way, no, it’s not hard. In fact all you need to do it shop at Sam’s Club!

How can you save by shopping at Sam’s?

  • Warehouses such as Sam’s allows you to buy in bulk which cuts costs significantly.
  • Even if you don’t want 5 boxes of cereal at once, you can shop with your friends, divide the food up and split the costs. Everyone saves money and gets what they need in smaller amounts.
  • Shopping tip: To determine if product/merchandise is marked down below cost at Sam's Club--If a product's price is marked as $10.99 or $11.00 then it is not on sale, it is not priced below cost. If a product's price is marked as $52.31 (with one cent in the price sequence) then the product is marked down below cost and it is on sale.

How can you give back by shopping at Sam’s?

  • Through August 31st, you can get a head start on your collection and find 6 Box Tops on participating General Mills products. With your favorite Box Tops for Education brands at a great value, Sam´s Club can make giving back to schools a lot easier.
  • Even when the promotion is done, you can still get your favorite General Mills products—just make sure to clip your box tops!



I participated in the event as purchased these two General Mills favorites:



A giant box of Bisquick which you can use to make…



A double box of Chocolate Cheerios which you can eat plain or make these recipes:

This was my first time trying these—love them! Probably my 3rd favorite Cheerios cereal following the Original and the Banana Nut.


So do you want to win a $25 Sam’s Club gift card to buy your favorite school, office, or food finds. If you do, just leave a comment on this post stating what your favorite thing was/is to buy for school/college? Entries need to be received by Sunday, August 29th at midnight central time.

Mine would have to be gel pens—I love having colored notes!

Disclaimer: Sam´s Club and General Mills provided  the Sam´s Club Plus Membership, gift card, information, and giveaway through MyBlogSpark.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Winding Down

I can’t believe I went back to school as of yesterday! This summer went by faster than any other summer I recall. Now starting my Junior year in college, I realized I’ve made it 2 years, and 2 to go!



The last hurrah at the Healthy Living Summit. We met these two glorious ladies the first night at the cocktail party. Lisa, myself, my mom, and Lindsey!

Coming back from Chicago last Sunday, the 15th, was a long ride. I think just knowing that I had to come home and all the Chicago fun had to end made me sad. But at least my mom and I got to make one last stop at Wisconsin Dells to extend our vacation into Monday.

The trip from Chicago to the Dells is actually quite beautiful. Wisconsin has a lot of beautiful landscapes, and it was definitely worth the extra hours of driving to see it all. I spent the majority of the time digging through my swag bag from the Healthy Living Summit, and of course had to try a few snackaroos.


If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, you’ll know that I am not a huge chip fan, but give me some Popchips and I can easily down the bag—they are by far the best chips. Light, airy, flavorful, crunchy, and best of all they are baked vs fried which means they’re healthy!


We also got a miniature N’Oatmeal Raisin Cookie made by Mary’s Gone Crackers, which is basically an oatmeal cookie made without the oats. I am still not 100% sure of how I feel about the folks at Mary’s taking the oatmeal out of the typical oatmeal cookie, but they were chewy and still had the “oatmeal cookie taste”. Would I buy em in a store? Probably not.


We made it to the Dells around 5-ish and wanted to find somewhere to eat—I always jump at the chance to try new buffets, so we made are way to the Chula Vista resort and ate at their Market Fresh Buffet, which prides themselves on having 90 feet of buffet to choose from!


Beautiful salad bar

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Flank steak, buffalo shrimp, mahi mahi, salmon with wasabi, mashed potatoes, and peas.

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Then I got to work cracking crab legs—yum!

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We stayed at the Black Hawk Motel downtown Dells, which I highly recommend by the way, and it was conveniently located by all the little shops—and this place that caught my eye right away!

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Good thing I went inside—my head started spinning when I saw this sign!!

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Take a guess what flavor I chose!

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Wow, I wish our town had 24 flavors of soft-serve somewhere..actually I take that back—if we did, I’d be broke!


After get a good nights rest, we headed out bright and early Monday morning, but first relied on Denny’s to fuel our day.


I started with this lovely fruit parfait…


Then I got a glorious all veggie omelet with no cheese, and a side of red-skinned potatoes!


So picture more driving—6 hours to be exact—a few stops to shop and stretch, and finally making it back into Minnesota by five o’clock, which was perfect timing to stop at The Outback Steakhouse. This was my first time eating here, and definitely won’t be my last!



The brown bread was really good and hearty!


I ordered the Outback Special which is a 9 oz sirloin steak seasoned with bold spices, and seared just right. I also got a baked potato on the side to round of a great meal—sometimes I just want a big, juicy steak to call it a day!



So overall, I loved Chicago—the city, the lights, the sights, and the smells. The Healthy Living Summit was definitely worth the drive and I will be attending next year for sure! Spending all that time with my mom and being able to go on a vacation before summer was over will be a memory that lasts far beyond the lazy days of 2010 summer!

However, I am so glad to be home to the slow-paced northern Minnesota lifestyle, family, friends, school, and a HOME COOKED MEAL!!


What was your best memory of summer this year??

Friday, August 20, 2010

I Should Have Been Born a City Girl

My mom and I finally made it home to Minnesota safe and sound! We both agreed this was the best trip we’ve taken together, just the two of us—it was some much needed girl time!

Saturday Re-cap


Saturday morning rolled around fast and it was finally time for the highly anticipated Healthy Living Summit 2010! Everyone filed down early to the banquet rooms in the Congress Plaza Hotel and picked up the swag bags (watch for all the goodies in upcoming posts) , checked out the booths from the companies, and found seats to listen to the speakers. There was so many different topics to choose from..we chose the Ethical Eating presented by Evan from Food Makes Fun Fuel. Here’s the notes I took:

  • Look for eggs that are from veg-fed chickens.
  • Store bought dairy is comparable to brand name. Just look for hormone-free.
  • For poultry, buy it free of hormones and antibiotics.
  • Swap tuna with salmon occasionally.
  • Avoid the “choice” cuts.
  • Ethical eating is happy eating!

Then Quaker put on a morning snack break.


Mom liked their new Chocolate Swirl bars.


Check out these swag bags—filled with everything from assorted healthy bars to laundry detergent!


The second conference we attended was Healthy Entertaining put on by RhodeyGirl Tests…you can get the full recap here.

Lunch was sponsored by Arnold and Orowheat—it was amazingly good..check out the menu!






My plate…so fresh & delicious!


The Sandwich Thins are delish—I can’t wait to buy some with my coupons I got!


We didn’t stick around for all of the afternoon sessions because it was my mom’s birthday and we figured Chicago was the perfect place to celebrate! Shopping and more food anyone?





We ate at the popular pizza place called Pizano’s Pizza and Pasta in downtown Chicago. I was a little skeptical of the half hour seating time and the 45 minute wait for the pizza..I had my fingers crossed that it’d be worth the wait…and boy, was it!




I loved the Italian decor—right up my alley :-)


We ordered the vegetarian pizza with the addition of pineapple, spinach, and fresh tomatoes. The sauce was outrageously good, the veggies were fresh, and there was a perfect amount of blended cheeses to top it off.



And more walking just added to my appetite..

Thank God for Park Cafe in Millennium park having the only place around open past six that has frozen yogurt!




Stay tuned for the last of my Healthy Living Summit trip recap!

What is the best pizza you’ve ever eaten?