*AMBER512   207,508
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*AMBER512's Recent Blog Entries

How Do You Handle Summer Parties?

Friday, August 27, 2010

It has been a long time since I last posted, but with the summer coming to an end there have been multiple functions to attend and many other obligations as well.

But I have a new recipe and my new favorite thing in the world to share with you! So you can’t be mad. emoticon

So I know I used to be obsessed with Amy’s brand spinach pizza. And I still love it. But I have been trying to really scale back on the amount of dairy I am eating. I think dairy has been one of the reasons why my stomach gets so upset sometimes.

So I broke down and bought this.

First thoughts – pizza with no cheese? NO cheese? Isn’t that like…wrong? And mushrooms? Why does EVERY vegetarian thing always have to have mushrooms. I hate mushrooms.

It is not a vegetable, it is a fungus. And I don’t eat fungi. I am NOT a “fun guy.”

Second thoughts – Wow, umm…that’s really good. *Another bite taken* no, like seriously, really, really good! (Even if a few mushrooms get chucked in the process).

I’m not sure what the sauce is, but if I ever described something as “succulent” this would be it. And that’s a big compliment, because I have absolutely no idea what succulent means! I think it’s supposed to be used to describe meat…but I don’t eat meat. So I now let myself off the hook.

Moving on to a new (yet not new) recipe. For a party this past week I updated my double broccoli quinoa recipe. For the original you can look here: www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo

I really only updated it in that I added a couple of other kinds of veggies and I added extra almonds and parmesan cheese to the top. But if you’re newer to my blog you haven’t seen this recipe anyway!

So first I made up a double batch of quinoa.

1.5 cups of quinoa becomes about 3 cups cooked.

Then I set that aside while I made the broccoli pesto.

My broccoli pesto: 2 cups of blanched broccoli, 4 cloves of garlic, ½ cup slivered almonds (which I was out of and replaced with sliced almonds, yeah…use slivered!), 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and an ounce of fresh parmesan cheese.

I mixed that into the cooked quinoa while I blanched the rest of the vegetables.

First new veggie I added was this:

Yes, that’s YELLOW cauliflower! Why has no one ever told me before that vegetables come in different colors like sweaters? I want a purple one please! Oh, but I did try a purple bell pepper awhile ago. Tasted pretty good! I was expecting it to be purple inside as well, but it was white. So weird!

But anyway, I blanched broccoli, carrots, and yellow cauliflower.

First I put it into one bowl, but then I realized I had more than that one little bowl could handle so I grabbed a second one.

I mixed them into the quinoa/pesto mixture and put into a serving pan topping it with the small amount of slivered almonds I finally found in the freezer and extra parmesan cheese.

I really wanted to try and make my own vegan parmesan cheese, but I slacked off on really looking into it and then I was in a major rush to get this done. So…another time!

I have actually been pretty good about keeping up my usual schedule of eating about every three hours even during a party. I don’t let myself get too hungry so I don’t completely overeat. Although I think I did eat a few too many cupcakes at that last party.

Wait…there were still cupcakes left over at the end of the night! See, so I’m good!

But tell me, how do you handle eating healthy at all of the summer BBQ's and parties?

Side note: Check out Angela's blog from yesterday, Notes To My Younger Self. A really good one! ohsheglows.com/2010/08/26/notes-to-m

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DNJEN471 9/2/2010 8:48PM

    I love Amy's pizza's!

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MDTWEETY 9/1/2010 11:31AM

    Yes, you are very creative with food! :) Will have to try your broccoli quinoa!
That pizza looks like the one I used to buy from Trader Joe's. It was really, really good but it's discontinued now. Boo! I did find something similar at Whole Foods, and it's good to see that Amy's makes one.

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*AMBER512 8/31/2010 10:43AM

    Thanks hon!

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AUBREYINGMAN 8/31/2010 9:06AM

    The pizza is really tasty but not as good as your double broccoli quinoa. Its the best.

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DENI_ZEN 8/28/2010 9:04PM

    Your wonderful food photography is always so captivating - even mesmerizing! What creativity you possess, too - with an uncanny talent for pairing some of the most appealing foods with each other! Well, eating during the summer months for me is a good deal less challenging than it is during the winter, when produce selection is so much more limited. It's during the holiday season that my mettle is really tested! - Sandi emoticon

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Almond Butter Stuffed French Toast

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


Whoops! Sorry, I was just thinking about the breakfast I had the other day. When you have Ezekiel bread, cinnamon, bananas and almond butter…life is good! Well, I guess egg whites are needed too… Ok, forget all this babbling, let’s look at some pictures!

Well, first get those pans heating up! You need one for the french toast and one for the banana. Or if you’re cool and have a giant one, I guess you can do it in one pan!

Then mix two egg whites with some cinnamon. Take your first piece of bread and place the bottom into the mixture. Slather almond butter on top, like so

Place the second piece of bread on top and turn over.

Slice the banana in half. When the pans are ready place the banana in one and the french toast in the other.

Cook the french toast for a couple of minutes on each side and cook the banana as much or as little as you want.

After it was done I put it on a plate and mashed the grilled banana on top.

Yeah, it tasted as good as it looks! I had a few almonds on the side for even more almond flavor.

I have also been making my green monsters differently now, and I don’t think I ever mentioned it.

Check out this blog: (scroll down to the bottom)
to see what I usually put in a green monster.

Now, I have also been adding a secret ingredient to get this texture:

“What is it?” you might ask. Well, this!

It really, really adds something! I love that it gives it an awesome thick and creamy texture without having to add any extra dairy to my day. My stomach is testy enough, so I’m really glad that this works!

I tried a new Amy’s pizza last night, but I’ll save that for another blog. But trust me when I say the flavor rocked my taste buds.

What new thing have you tried lately?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DOLLBABE56 9/4/2010 8:44PM

    Yum! emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 8/18/2010 10:13AM

    Mmmm! I always enjoying being invited into your kitchen and visually sampling all the creative goodies you concoct! So much fun...and so delicious! - Sandi emoticon

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AUBREYINGMAN 8/18/2010 9:48AM

    That looks really tasty. Where is mine?

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MDTWEETY 8/18/2010 7:34AM

    I love french toast. Yours looks very interesting. We had pancakes for dinner last night. ;)

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JUNETTA2002 8/17/2010 7:32PM

    That looks amazing I'm going to try it soon.

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NAMSMOMMY 8/17/2010 5:39PM

    That looks amazing!!

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Free Chips? Yes, please!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Thank you so much for all of your kind comments on my last blog. It was by far the hardest one I have ever written!

Putting yourself out there is a weird thing. On the one hand it can be embarrassing, but on the other it feels very…cathartic.

This is going to be a much shorter blog, but I wanted to share something with you all that I have been working on for quite awhile.

I hear you “Ok, Amber, that’s nice, but what IS that?”

Well, I have been slacking on my scrapbooking, but I finally finished an album chronicling my weight loss journey.

I wish I could share each page with you, but I think that would be a little overkill! So here is a sample of three pages.

My weight loss progression pictures.

Exercises and stuff to remember.


Sorry for the flashes! But, you get the gist.

I also wanted to share the package that arrived at my apartment yesterday.

I had entered a photo contest for Food Should Taste Good chips (if you’re new to my blogs you must know that they are the BEST ever!) and I won!

I got a HUGE tote bag, five bags of chips, a hat, and coupons for more chips!

I have now tried every single flavor of their chips and although there are a couple I wasn’t a big fan of (jalapeno is HOOOT, cheddar and lime weren't my favorites. And chocolate flavored tortilla chips...

are just not for me). But the rest are great!

You can find out where you can get some near you at

And although I wish I was being paid to profess my love for these chips, I’m not. They really are just good!

And lastly, I posted an Operation Beautiful note at the library the other day. As I continue to read through Caitlin’s book I kept getting a sense that I should leave another one.

You are beautiful!

So tell me, what have you been up to lately?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MDTWEETY 8/15/2010 7:54AM

    That is so awesome that you won the contest! How fun!! What did your photo look like?
I've tried those chips once, and have been meaning to try some of the other flavors. Which is your favorite?
I love your scrapbook. I'm so not artistic...LOL. What a wonderful memento of all your hard work and dedication. Awesome!

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DNJEN471 8/15/2010 12:22AM

    That is awesome that you won! Well deserved!

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DENI_ZEN 8/14/2010 9:26PM

    Amber, you've got all kinds of artistic talent - congratulations not only on winning the Food Should Taste Good contest, but on making a gorgeous, beautifully designed keepsake of your Spark transformation. I know it will inspire you always :) - Sandi emoticon

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GYMGURLIE 8/14/2010 4:35PM

    YUM! Those chips look delicious. I'm going to have to find some for myself. Your weightloss scrapbook looks awesome!

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MOM2ACAT 8/13/2010 9:17PM

    I love your scrapbook!
Congrats on your contest win, and I think that is great about the Operation Beautiful note. I must remember to stick some Post It Notes in my handbag so that I can write some too.

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BANKER-CHUCK 8/13/2010 6:34PM

    Great job with the scrapbook idea. My wife is a scrapbooker and she will be putting one together for me. I will definitely look into those chips you are talking about. As a general rule when I go on a diet I cut out all snack foods, at least until I can feel I am in control. I love Tuna sandwich's with chips. I really miss them.
Thanks again for your Blog.

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SHYTOWN7 8/13/2010 5:13PM

  Great Job!! I was seconds away from purchasing this brand of chips last weekend, but told myself don't do it. I might give them a try now that you have "endorsed" them! I found them at World Market, you may want to try that place if you have one Mrskittkitt.

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    Yay! I won a contest last year, from a sparkpeople link! It was a photo contest also! I am a whole grains fanatic, and it was for the whole grains council. I still go around telling everyone why whole grains are awesome :) Its cool to get all the free food! I still have free whole grains in my cupboard! I ate most of the stuff, but there are some straglers. I got to try stuff I still havent ever seen around!

I like your scrap book! Neat!
Take care, and God bless ya :)

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JOHNBABJR 8/13/2010 4:01PM

    I love your weight loss scrapbook, Amber. I think it's a great idea.

Have a great weekend!

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BCMOMTO5 8/13/2010 3:36PM

    Awesome emoticon

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Operation: Am I Beautiful?

Friday, August 06, 2010

If you happened to read any food blogs lately, if you happened to watch the Today show yesterday, or if you happened to check out the book giveaway on the Daily Spark www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=ope
then you know that Caitlin’s book Operation Beautiful is in stores now! If you didn’t know that, then…seriously, where have you been?

Many bloggers are posting blogs this week to celebrate!

Caitlin has done an amazing thing starting with just a little Post-It. In her efforts to banish negative self talk and raise the self esteem of womankind, she has really inspired me!

I just got an e-mail that my copy of the book is ready and waiting for me out at my PO Box and I’m heading out there as soon as I post this blog!

I fell in love with Operation Beautiful operationbeautiful.com/ and her other blog Healthy Tipping Point www.healthytippingpoint.com/ awhile ago. I don’t remember exactly when it was, but I do know that hers was the first food and fitness blog that I started to read. If you want to know more about her story, check out the post she did today www.healthytippingpoint.com/2010/08/

Whether she is creating and sharing new recipes or running races (she has participated in 28 of them!) she is living her life to the fullest. And that got me thinking…what am I doing with my life? Do I live it to the fullest? Or does negative self talk stop me from reaching my dreams?

Growing up, I was always one of the bigger kids in class.

While I wasn’t obese, I certainly was above average.

While I do remember getting teased in elementary school it wasn’t really bad until middle school. Let me just say this: middle…school…girls…are…MEAN! I had horrible rumors spread about me, was picked on, and then I was called out in gym class by one particularly awful girl and a whole group started in on me. I would be thankful that it never turned physical, but the emotional/psychological warfare was, in my mind, way worse.

I hated my body, myself, and my life at the time. I remember a few moments when I would grab my side and ask it to kindly, please, go away.

Even though things weren’t great at school, they were worse at home. Negative body talk was all I heard. I was picked on by certain members of my own family (with their own body issues). Their comments would torment me and that would usually lead to emotional eating.

I literally had no clue why I was overweight. I knew that I didn’t eat the best foods, and that my favorite pastime was watching television, but I didn’t know what I could do about it!

When I moved out on my own, my food choices got worse. I had free range to eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted without anyone making any comments. My weight continued to grow.

Fast forward to my wedding, (okay I know that is skipping a LOT, but I’m trying to make some creative edits or this blog will never end!) I was at my heaviest weight then, around 250 pounds.

I knew I wanted to have a baby and I knew that I wanted to be healthy for that baby. I told my friends online that I was going to try to lose weight and one recommended this amazing website you all know as SparkPeople. I joined and started just by keeping track of what I ate.

I. WAS. SHOCKED. Seriously. I had absolutely no idea that I was eating three and sometimes four times the amount of calories I should have been. Over the next 18 months I was able to get rid of ninety pounds of excess guilt, shame, and emotional stress.

It wasn’t easy, but it was possible and I had no idea I had it in me. Maintaining the weight loss has also been harder than I thought it would be, and I’m realizing it is because I am still plagued by the negative self talk that I have known since I was a child.

It seems like I have a little voice in my head that likes to talk badly about me, no matter what it is that I am doing. As I have read more food and fitness blogs, I realize that it is not necessarily an uncommon thing. However, the difference between me and the bloggers I read is that they don’t allow themselves to dwell in it. They have quieted that voice and sometimes have even shouted it down! They know they are worth it! (Read Angela’s post today on Oh She Glows for a great blog on happy weights: ohsheglows.com/2010/08/06/operation-

Am I there yet? I don’t know if I am quite to that point. Especially since my little voice isn’t just in my head. I have someone in my life who puts me down, makes snide remarks, and also has been known for infuriating eye rolls and disgusted faces. I am stronger than I used to be, as I don’t let them get me as down as I used to.

But building myself back up after spending time with them is still hard. And that’s exactly why I LOVE the Operation Beautiful website so much, as it really helps me remember to love myself. I got some great feelings after I left my own notes, and I love to read the stories of those who have found them. If a stranger can realize that I am worth a dose of self esteem, why can’t I?

While I have to admit that my journey with a positive self image is ongoing, I know that one day I will arrive at a much more comfortable place. It’s not that I will be perfect or that I will never have doubts again. I’m sure they will creep their way back in sometimes, but I will be able to shoot them down more easily.

Because the truth is, we are all worth self esteem. No matter your size or shape, you are worth a kind word, a loving hug, and the knowledge that someone out there loves you.

Have you ever heard of Operation Beautiful? Have you ever left or found a note?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KRISKECK 8/18/2010 11:43AM

    Your story is so moving...it makes me want to cry, first with sadness and then with joy that you've been able to make these huge changes in your life! I am inspired. I so totally understand about the negative self-talk...I've always been truthfully a fairly positive person and yet this voice pops up telling me I am stupid, I can't do this or that..I have no idea where it comes from...I want to say it comes from fear...but I am working to quiet that voice, and I am happy to say I hear it less and less. I've laternately ignored it, reasoned with it, stared it down, told it I feel sorry for it...and whatever it is, it seems to be working. I highly recommened yoga, not just the physical practice but the philosophy too. It teaches love for all beings, including yourself. Carry on, sister! You are beautiful!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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    This is the first time Ive heard of operation beautful, at your blogs today. I have made a personal commitment to stop even thinking about beauty as a visual concept. The bible brought me to this! I purposely avoid looking in the mirror, and refuse make-up. Beauty comes from within :) AnYWAY! I STILL thought you were an ADORBALE little girl! Aw. It just warmend my heart to see those pics. I guess its just some weird thing, after you become a mom. But, you just looked so cute! Aw. I think you are defiantly a beautful person, and its even better that I am telling you this NOT based on how you look, sister :)

God bless :)

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*AMBER512 8/11/2010 4:07PM

    Sometimes I totally think I am bigger than I am. I'm not really sure when that'll go away or if it ever will!

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KNMMOMMY 8/11/2010 1:33PM

    Your blog rings true in my life too. Thanks for putting yourself out there. One day I hope to have the bravery of posting a similar blog. Do you see yourself as you look now? Or do you have the same issue I have, which is seeing myself as I was at my heaviest? I often think the mirror plays tricks on me.

Keep up the hard work Amber!! You are doing amazing things for your body, brain, and people around you!

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SIMPLYTHAT 8/7/2010 11:06PM

    I love Operation Beautiful too. I'm reading the book and enjoying it so much.

I remember growing up and grabbing my side too...but not kindly asking it to go away....instead, thinking of how I wish I could just cut it all away. Just looking in the mirror and hating myself. Even now, I still struggle with it.

Nice post. :)

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AUBREYINGMAN 8/7/2010 7:50AM

    I am so proud of you and all that you have accomplished. It makes me very happy to know that you are learning to love yourself in spite of everything people have said over the years. I love you and I am always here for you.

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DNJEN471 8/7/2010 2:15AM

    You are amazing! I love that you are willing to share all you have gone through to get to where you are now. We are all beautiful! We are all worth it! P.S I agree 100% middle school girls are awful!

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BANKER-CHUCK 8/7/2010 1:23AM

    Thank you so much for the information. I read slow so it will take me a while to wade through all the information you have provided.

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DENI_ZEN 8/6/2010 8:09PM

    You possess that beauty inside and out, Amber! I'm another one who was teased 'til college, and Shari is right; it's quite scarring. Let's hope this new book will help to bring a new healthiness and acceptance for us at any weight! Beautiful blog! - Sandi emoticon

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MOM2ACAT 8/6/2010 4:35PM

    I was teased as a child too, from kindergarten through high school. I know how much those words can hurt, and the scars they leave. I can relate to your blog; to this day, even though I am at my goal weight, sometimes I still struggle with my confidence and self esteem.

I was skinny for my age, (I didn't start putting on pounds until after high school), had straight, stringy hair, and bad skin. It's just been in the past few years that I have stopped labeling myself as "ugly". Being on Spark has really helped me a lot to regain my self esteem about how I look.

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REDHATLADY9 8/6/2010 3:50PM


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MDTWEETY 8/6/2010 2:02PM

    Yes, I know that blog! I keep meaning to post a note somewhere! Thank you for sharing your story - I know you inspire so many people on this site! Way to go, girl! :)

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TERRYT55 8/6/2010 2:01PM

    Great post.....you are beautiful! I have heard of Operation Beautiful but I've never left a note but I intend to today. Have a wonderful weekend and thanks again for the post, Terry

Oops....almost forgot, you have a wonderful smile.......looking at your pictures I found myself smiling more and more.

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Fudgsicle Soft Serve and Kale Chips

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Two new recipes to share! Fudgsicle soft serve and kale chips. Although, don’t eat them together! Well you can, I mean, hey to each their own. I only liked one of the recipes though.

We’ll start with what I didn’t like. I have seen kale chips all over the blogging world, but I’m sorry, I am NOT a fan! I had high hopes as I kept seeing words like “addicting” and “sooo good.” Aubrey’s and my words were more like “bitter” and “well-seasoned, but ewwwwwww.”

It started out with me smelling the kale. Very…earthy!

I had never actually tried kale before to my knowledge. It didn’t taste that bad raw, I could totally see it working well in a green monster.

First off, I rinsed it and gave it a spin in my salad spinner.

Then I seasoned it with extra virgin olive oil, a bit of kosher salt, and a seasoning mix (a combination of garlic, onion, black pepper, parsley, fennel, basil, marjoram, oregano, thyme, cayenne pepper, coriander, cumin, mustard, rosemary and celery seed). Say all of that five times fast!

I mixed it all up on a baking sheet, massaged the oil and spices into the leaves, and added a bit more of the seasoning mixture.

Then I placed in a preheated 375 degree oven, for about 12 minutes.

When they came out they actually tasted really good at first. The mixture of spices was amazing on my tongue, but then when it came to crunching into the kale it just wasn’t any good! It actually tasted MUCH better raw! We really wanted to like them, too!

Although it does inspire me to try roasting veggies more often. I am huge fan of steamed vegetables, and I don't usually season them at all. But roasting, was a fun change of pace. I just wish it had turned out better. Oh and that it doesn't take so much longer than steaming!

But on to a much tastier recipe. Remember the banana soft serve I love?

Inspired by Angela at Oh She Glows, ohsheglows.com/2010/03/13/a-salad-co
I added some cocoa powder and a splash of milk and made Fudgsicle soft serve. Although I accidentally used twice as much cocoa powder as she said to and not enough milk. So mine doesn’t exactly look as appetizing as hers. But trust me, it does taste exactly like a melted Fudgsicle and that is AMAZING!

Again, this doesn’t look appetizing, but…trust me!

Okay, I apologize for that picture again! lol Adding the right amount of cocoa and a bit more milk would really have helped! Whatever, no matter how it looks, once you take that first bite, you won’t care! It’s such a great fix for a sweet, chocolate craving.

Tried anything new lately?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

*AMBER512 8/7/2010 11:17AM

    LOL sorry about the kale chips honey, and I'll make you some fudgsicle soft serve soon!

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AUBREYINGMAN 8/7/2010 8:52AM

    Why is it you make the good stuff when I'm not home? emoticon

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DENI_ZEN 8/3/2010 9:53PM

    That fudgsicle suggestion sounds magically delicious! I probably would've liked the kale chips, too; will have to give making them a try soon :) I love your sense of adventure in the kitchen! It's something we could all use more to make our food as tasty and healthy as possible! - Sandi emoticon

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DNJEN471 8/3/2010 7:04PM

    Looks amazing. We did try the banana soft serve and Xavier loved it! So I'll have to try this version as well. Thanks for sharing!

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MDTWEETY 8/3/2010 3:31PM

    OMG! Thanks for the fudgsicle idea... I have bananas!! And cocoa powder! I have made the soft serve before but never realized this combination could exist. Can't wait to try. emoticon
ETA: OK, just went to that blog and the dressing recipe looks awesome too. Double thanks!

Comment edited on: 8/3/2010 3:35:06 PM

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