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A walk and a recipe

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I love the walks across England that Chickchantal shares almost daily - the lush landscape and historic buildings make me swoon - and sigh "Oh to be in England ...." You can enjoy them yourself right here

And so, inspired by her I thought I would take you along on a walk I took yesterday. I have been incorporating some Other Things into my beloved exercise routine - outdoor things mainly and yesterday as I pondered going to the gym ... a visit that requires a 20 minute drive into town ... Himself suggested we take a walk. I asked him to take me up to Burkeville (which we never got to) and after lunch we piled into the truck.

Callie, the new baby puppy wanted to drive.

There are several ways to get to Burkeville and we chose the more round-about way that took us through large tree farms with big tracts of pines at different stages of growth. There is always something mysterious about stepping into a forest.

This year the reds came and went quickly. Most of the remaining color is in the low scrubby growth. Sumac and grape vines, honesuckle and broom.

Lots of broom, in fact and other pale grasses help hide the mighty hunters as they stalk the fields.

This is the origin of Occupacia Creek - where we swim in the summer. Today, only dogs wanted to swim.

I couldn't capture the magical light filtering through the yellow and green beech trees, alas. But stepping into this part of the woods was like stepping into a topaz world.

Here is a most unusual beech tree that was knocked over, sent up two suckers who joined together to form a bridge about 4 feet up their trunks

Where the plantings of trees are still new there are the most glorious views of the sky

Pools of water left after last week's rain reflect the sky as my dogs stop for a sip on the way back to the truck

Himself says it is a 4 mile hike but we walked for 2 hours so I suspect it is a little longer than that - and of course it was over rough tracks with plenty of up and down. After a while I while I was tired enough to want to go home, instead of taking the long way over a path-less forest floor, through Burkeville. Instead we retraced our steps and headed back to the truck. And how the wind blew blew blew. In the open spaces my jacket was too warm but in the shadows I was glad to have it.

We got home ravenous and I made the most delicious squash soup I thought I'd share the recipe - especially since it was so easy.

1 acorn squash
1 box of vegetable soup broth (or chicken if you prefer)
2 onions chopped
3 cloves of garlic minced
1 tbs oil
optional spices ... ginger and/or pumpkin pie spice

1 cut pumpkin in half and spray with cooking spray
2 place cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake 30 minutes in a 450 degree oven
3 flip over squash to cool while you saute onions and garlic in 1 tbs of oil till nicely brown (as brown as you like)
4 scoop out squash and place with onion/garlic mixture in a blender
5 pour in 1/2 box of broth and whir till smooth - adding more broth as needed
6 place contents of blender along with the rest of the broth in a sauce pan and reheat to desired temperature

Makes 6 cups

Nutritional info:Amount Per Serving

Calories 80.0
Total Fat 2.4 g
Saturated Fat 0.3 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.3 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.7 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Sodium 630.6 mg
Potassium 336.2 mg
Total Carbohydrate 14.4 g
Dietary Fiber 2.1 g
Sugars 1.3 g
Protein 1.3 g
Vitamin A 11.6 %
Vitamin B-12 0.0 %
Vitamin B-6 9.1 %
Vitamin C 19.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 1.7 %
Calcium 3.7 %
Copper 4.2 %
Folate 5.4 %
Iron 5.4 %
Magnesium 7.2 %
Manganese 11.2 %
Niacin 2.9 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.5 %
Phosphorus 4.5 %
Riboflavin 1.1 %
Selenium 1.2 %
Thiamin 8.3 %
Zinc 1.4 %

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FIFIFRIZZLE 6/26/2013 3:13PM

    I loved Chicchantal's blogs too, but now they are set to private I can't drop by any more. Great recipe and walk.

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KANSASROSE67 11/14/2012 3:49PM

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful photos...sounds like a wonderful day!

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IFDEEVARUNS2 11/9/2012 8:22AM

    Sounds delicious! And I loved accompanying you on your walk.

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ALIHIKES 11/4/2012 11:29AM

    Great photos, what a beautiful place to walk. Loved the way the dogs joy was captured in the photos, they really enhanced the enjoyment! I'll try the soup recipe, thanks for sharing. emoticon

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SHEILA1505 11/4/2012 10:55AM

    Lovely day out Bess

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JJAQUES41 11/4/2012 10:49AM

    Thanks for sharing your afternoon with us, it was lovely!

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CHICCHANTAL 11/4/2012 10:25AM

    Fabulous colours, I just love the one of the dogs drinking. It's very hard to get the camera to pick up the colours if there's a lot of light and shade - if you're in the shade, the light just gets bleached out. This drives me nuts in forests.

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DAWN14163 11/4/2012 7:03AM

    What a fantastic place to walk! Beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

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MSLZZY 11/4/2012 6:55AM

    Great activity for both of you and the pups AND a
recipe sure to please my family.

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November's choice for my 12 in 12

Friday, November 02, 2012

And so the year slips into November, drawing the covers up around its shoulders as it prepares to go to sleep for the winter. It's also time to add the next to the last habit to my days and to look back a bit and asses how well those other habits have been integrated into my life.

There are only 2 habits left and for November I choose:

#11 Clean the kitchen every night.

This is an easy one for me to integrate because .... way last winter when I selected these 12 habits I started cleaning the kitchen every night. As I wrote back then,

I am a morning person and am often really tired at night. It's easy to get up at 5 and clean the kitchen - but seeing a dirty kitchen first thing in the morning starts my day off with a tiny bit of ugliness. How about starting it off with something pretty instead?

As soon as I'd written those words, though, I realized that it would be easy to just start doing this right away and now it's already a habit.And I was right. It's nice to walk into a spanking clean (at least as spanking clean as I can get it) kitchen and start making the morning coffee. There have been evenings when I've walked through the kitchen and thought "I'm too tired" but then the habit would pinch and I'd spend the few minutes to tidy things up. That is what a habit is for.

As I move into the holiday cooking time, it will be good to already be in the habit of cleaning up after myself. I expect it will make this stretch of time go much more smoothly.

As for the rest of my good habits - I must begin with a caveat. October has been a difficult month in spite of the many lovely events and pleasures that dotted the weeks. First off there is An Issue that needed to be dealt with - something I've dreaded - and, though I put on my big girl panties at last and peeled back the curtain, I was only able to let in some cleansing sunshine. It's better - but it's not done yet - and, alas, may never be done with - which is part of why this is such a difficult situation. Like humidity in the summer, this is something that will always have to be factored into the equation.

Also, we've been short staffed at work due to illness, making the work days feel sooooo long. In addition, I'm facing a huge staffing rearrangement - the consequence of time, as a senior staffer is retiring. I have been dreading and grieving over the shake-up because this particular team has worked so beautifully these past few years. Even though I can see wonderful developments arising from the staff alignment that's moving into place - I hate to see something old, successful and precious come to an end. Oh Yes. Then there was the storm. Yeah. Dread + Stress + Mild Grief = Difficult Month.

So I am cutting myself some serious slack on the habit forming stuff. Still, it is better to know how I've done before it all becomes a blur and I lose all the ground I've made this year

#1 Food Tracking

I have done so poorly at this I should give myself an F. Looking back at my track records I see I only tracked daily for one week. After that - once I had 'blown' it for the week ...usually by Saturday ... I just quit. Yes there was the 1200 calorie cheesecake (of which I ate only 1/2) and yes there was the wedding and the anniversary and the convention. Okay. So why am I so afraid to look at myself when I'm not being perfect? I think there is a serious SERIOUS issue here with self delusion. I want to see me as being a Good Girl and Not Making Mistakes and Knowing Better ... and a tracker that says I ate enough to feed a football team won't let me see that. But if I did eat that much, gosh - what's the point in saying "I did not write it down, so maybe I didn't really eat it" ... Like those jokes about Southern Virgins we told in the '60's. "I didn't get caught so I didn't do it..."


I think I need to come to peace with myself about what food and eating is all about and perhaps about why I am bothering to care about tracking and what I weigh and how I look and the entire body thing. I do care. I care because I want to be healthy. I care because I want to look good. But unfortunately I also care because I want to be a Good Girl but I want the food that makes me feel like a Bad Girl.

There's a focus on the wrong things and I am going to have to do some serious thinking, some deep soul searching, and realign the focus onto the positive issues. In fact - I need to get comfortable seeing me overeat - because I promise you, when I overeat I refuse to acknowledge it till later - in short - I won't look at me doing something I think I should not do ... even if I do it. I need to get comfortable looking at all of me if I ever want to get along with all of me - instead of getting blindsided by the chocolate-candy-eating me. It's time for the Left Brain School Marm to have a little chat with the Right Brain Wild Child and see if they can start working together again.

And so, even if my actual tracking activity earned such a low grade - the fact that I have explored what was going on before November got into full swing earns me a low, but passing grade this month - a D+

#2 Exercising - All the traveling I did this month interrupted my beloved weekly schedule and I missed weight training several times - but I got in lots of other activity - frequently deliberately substituted for the tried and true. I will give myself a B+

#3 Drink 6-8 cups of water every day - Eh. sometimes yes, too often not - but enough to earn a C

#4 The Charles Schwab list at work - I couldn't have made it through the month without that. There were a few days when I forgot and it just made things SO bad that I could not really function. It earns a B+

#5 Read my 5-year play every morning week - Which I did till last week and this - and I will blame that on travel and hurricanes and give myself a C

#6 Compliment someone on my staff every day - Every Day? hmmm. Perhaps 3 times a week. I wonder if every day is impractical and yet I fear if I don't hold on to the daily intention I will drift into forgetfulness. I will have to ponder this question. But ... I grade myself with another C

#7 Draw 20 minutes a day. - Surprisingly - I've kept up with this fairly well. I am not drawing every day because I am painting some too - and working on a 'project' that has kept my art supplies spread out on the dining room table all month. This has earned me an A-

#8 Select a big life goal and take one step towards it every day. - Okay - this is a tricky bit. If I want to be fit and slim and healthy and to develop my artistic skills ... all specific Previously Mentioned Habits and I do something towards even one of those Previously Mentioned Habits, then ... have I also fulfilled This Habit? Uh. The operative word is Select because if it's a habit did I select it? Well. My intention when I wrote these habits was to be conscious of my efforts and deliberate, not just lucky. In light of the Other Challenges of this month I will give myself a C

#9 Ditto at work - Same issue - same grade C

#10 Pray. - You can be sure I have done one heck-uva-lotta praying this month - praying for courage, praying for wisdom, praying for the storm to miss us - but not the daily thing I should have done and again - not the deliberate and scheduled way I intended when I first plotted out this scheme of habit forming behavior. But though I did not pray at scheduled times, my prayers were not just the plea for pleasure selfish ones. There was enough of the true prayer this month to justify a grade of B+

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FORBANDE 11/4/2012 6:03AM

    What a great blog! The time you have taken to list and then evaluate is very powerful. You are really "putting yourself out there".

As I read through this, I saw the word habit repeated. This has really gotten me to think about the importance of making things habits versus "goals". Sometimes goals gives you a sense of completion. And while it is important, those things that we need to do forever should become habits. :) I really like this way of thinking.

Thanks so much for sharing! Good luck on your habits! I hope the changes at work turn out to be productive and a blessing.

Happy November!!

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MSLZZY 11/2/2012 10:02AM

    I think I'd find much the same thing if I put all my
habits under the microscope like you do. Let's
just call this being human. A new month is here.
Go exploring for a way to make it a success. HUGS!

Comment edited on: 11/2/2012 10:03:04 AM

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MAHGRET 11/2/2012 9:38AM

    Nice list of habits, this gives me something to really think about.

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Snacking my way through Sandy

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sandy spent way too long getting here and when she came she didn't do as much damage as we'd feared. I'm on the southern fringe of the storm impact area - a place I like to call Upper Tidewater Virginia and I live on the water - but our farm is on a bluff over the river with a 25 foot bank down to a marsh so there was never any danger that the flooding would do much more than cover the pier.

The worst part of the whole thing was the waiting. I began to hear news that Frankenstorm was on the way to Virginia way last Thursday while at the library conference in Williamsburg. Usually I ignore hurricane news because ... what can I do to stop it. And Prepare Prepare Prepare was shrieked across the news but since I live on a farm in the country I am always a little prepared for having to go it alone. Still - I picked up on the tension and I waited - mostly for the power to go out. Which it never did.

The only really bad thing about power going out is that it's dim in the house during the day and it's a bit more of a chore to keep clean. I am always surprised at how much I wash my hands - which I never notice unless I can't just turn on a spigot and wash them. A summer power outage is not so bad because the daylight lasts so long but in the darker time of autumn and early winter it's a little gloomy in my house.

But as I say - power never went out - never even blinked. Still, I felt the tension. And in response - I found myself strolling through the kitchen in search of ease - nibbling on this and that - mostly healthy fruits and whole grains but now and then a cookie or brownie thing. I deliberately did not buy any ice cream at all when I went to town on Saturday because I know how it is with me and Mr. Ice Cream Box. We can get down and dirty in a flash. He stayed in the grocery store throughout the storm.

Although we got about 6 inches of rain, there were very seldom any downpours - it was just a steady slanting stream of water coming out of the sky. I took the dogs out a couple of times and so did Himself, to look at the marsh, to check out the fields and to burn off excess energy

There were some vivid autumn colors that seemed to be enhanced by the grey storm.

I had lots of help from Callie, the little dog, who has strong opinions about what makes a good knitting project.

The news and internet coverage ws simply awful. It gave us almost no information about where the storm actually was as it slowly tracked north, then west. It was all about the news broadcaster, standing on the shore, watching sand flow out to sea - which, anyone but a fool would have known was going to happen. I finally found a little bar chart on the weather dot com site that gave longitude and latitude but only for a few hours. Their maps were absolutely useless - like pop-art advertisements. What is with this stupid tilted angle display? Do they think I am playing a video game? Do they think life is a video game? I guess so.

ah well. It seems I'm still pretty cranky about it all - though at last I am back to my routine and eating better. Yesterday the storm was pretty much gone. Lots of schools and businesses were closed but I put up this sign:

My WW meeting was canceled yesterday so I don't have any idea how much damage I did snacking my way through Sandy. My home scale says I didn't gain any weight - but I have also not been exercising as regularly as I like - especially I have not been lifting weights - so I feel flabby.

Well. Let us hope for good weather and smooth sailing from now on. I am ready to get back into the swing of things.

I hope you all made it through this storm with as little damage as I did. I know my friends further north took a much bigger hit. May you bypass the snackmonster if you're still at home and may the Men with Tools show up on your block and get your power back on.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASROSE67 11/1/2012 11:58AM

    Glad you came through ok. I was thinking, while watching coverage of New York City, that I'm very grateful to live in the country because I think we are better prepared and more able to cope with nature's offerings.

I love the library sign!

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JLITT62 11/1/2012 5:34AM

    We've actually had more rain from just a regular ole rainstorm -- and that was good, because the dogs are tiny & HATE getting even their paws wet. Thank God my dad's surgery wasn't yesterday, which was one of the options, because that would've been a total disaster.

The biggest worry here was also power outages / it's been known to go out before a big storm hits - but not even a blip here either.

And I am very grateful because just a few hrs south of us is a very different story.

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MSLZZY 10/31/2012 6:42PM

    No damage here but wasn't expecting any in the
middle of drought country. I feel sad for all those
affected. It will take so long to get back to normal.

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MAHGRET 10/31/2012 9:56AM

    Glad you came through the storm ok.

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BIGDOG18 10/31/2012 7:58AM


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Slacker Mode

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Oh my! I didn't realize I hadn't posted since the cheesecake thing. I am going to blame it on Other Things - and being short staffed at work and oh - hmm - the fact that I was in slacker mode.

Slacker mode - you know it - when you go off your plan for a little while, even though you're not at your goal because you're close to it and you're tired of it and there's some big event happening and you're a little curious about what life is like without all that focus.

Slacker mode isn't just for weight loss, either. It can be for anything you've been trying to do - work, school, finances, house building ... any big thing can be nudged aside by slacker mode. Yesterday I was walking in the beautiful October evening and thinking about autumn and how packed it is with events. Things that may or may not have food involved ... like birthdays and anniversaries and all those foodie holidays. I remember how mad I was for candy corn when I was a girl and how I would wait all September and October for the little dime store up the street from us to fill its bin with this seasonal treat. This store sold candy by the pound, not bagged or pre-packed in cellophane, so you could go in and get a nickle's worth of candy if that's all you had. Sigh.

And my mother - a complete candy freak - would start buying Christmas candy about now and storing it in the freezer in the garage. One year I discovered the most amazing candy, like a mellocreme only mint flavored and Christmas shaped ... little stockings and trees and blurry angels. Every night my job was to empty the kitchen trash can, also out by the garage, and I'd slip inside, open the freezer, and sample a few. Way long before Christmas there were only empty boxes, their ends gaping like so many open mouths - evidence of my perfidy and sugar addiction. Mama, who understood, merely shook her head and, thank goodness, never told Daddy, who may have understood but would have punished as well. I don't think I was punished but perhaps she made me pay her back for the candy - though - perhaps not, that close to Christmas. After all, she would then have had to stand surety for my present shopping.

Funny the things you remember when walking in the clear October air.

But this is supposed to be about Slacker Mode ... which I am glad to have indulged in but am ready to step out of. It began with the Cheesecake I believe - or perhaps the 41st anniversary of First Date with Himself - a celebration that we cherish more than the wedding anniversary - because that was the start of it all and also, more ... hmmm ... exciting. More full of possibilities. The wedding, which was just the two of us in front of a judge in the Rockville County Courthouse, is precious because of what it admitted to, but there was not nearly as much adventure - as much excitement - as the First Date.

And we celebrated it with steak and baked potatoes and ice cream and wine and about 18 hours of conversation - which was pretty much how we spent that first date too - only, of course, then we didn't have the money to eat steak. We had fried chicken.

Hmm. Well. It looks like I'm slacking even about talking about Slacker Mode - but that's not true. It only seems that way. I'm having a hard time talking about Slacker Mode because I'm out of it. I had a great time eating that baklava, the Philly Cheese Steak sandwich and the Oysters Fricassee and yes, Mr. Ice Cream Box and I spent some intimate quality time together in front of the television. But that was then and yesterday I went back to my WW meeting and stepped on the scale and saw, with relief, that I had done only .4 lbs of damage in my 2 weeks in Slacker Mode.

And in looking back at these 2 weeks of foodulgences I'm rather delighted to see that I tracked almost every day, I ate a good number of fruits and vegetables, and I exercised because I love it, not because I need to to burn off the sins of the dining room. And last night, when Himself suggested we celebrate his homecoming with a seafood platter at the local restaurant I was untempted and convinced him that an evening of my vegan cooking and our two little dogs would be much more fun.

And it was.

Yep. I'm really not in Slacker Mode any more. Hope the next time you find yourself there - it lasts only a brief time and does little damage.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 10/24/2012 3:44PM

    You handled Slacker Mode pretty well and since it
is over and done, I'd say you learned more about
yourself that you know. So glad you and DH could
have that time to reminisce. Sounds like the perfect
way to celebrate those special memories. HUGS!

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MAHGRET 10/24/2012 9:41AM

    I think as we progress in our journeys, even slacker mode evolves. I know that I used to say to myself "you already blew it, just eat" but now I am more likely to eat mostly healthy and have one indulgence.

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JLITT62 10/24/2012 8:22AM

    I'm in semi-slacker mode myself. I just don't want to cook. At all. And I used to raid the freezer for baked goods as a kid ALL the time.

Which is kind of humorous considering I don't lime to eat stuff frozen.

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What you get for your 1220 calories

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Because that's what's in a slice of Cheesecake Factory White Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. Just in case you wanted to know, you know? Just in case.

If you are doing weight watchers too... as I am ... that is 24 points per slice. Of course you can always have only half a slice and let your sister eat the other half. Especially if you've already indulged in lunch. A careful lunch, of course, but still restaurant lavish. It is the time between her birthday and mine and we have been planing to celebrate both milestones with new underwear. Good quality underwear is important for everyone but for the mature figure it is essential and ... though we may not like thinking of ourselves as mature figured ladies ... that's what we are. Such things don't come cheaply. We had been saving for this splurge shopping trip for a couple of months. It was natural to save for the calories as well and thankfully, I'm at a stage these days where if I do not want to eat dinner I don't feel so compelled to do so. I was still way over the daily limits by 6:30 so Himself had to dine alone.

Anyway - back to the 1220 calorie cheesecake. Was it worth it? Hmmm. Well. It was ... you know. It wasn't. The best part was the caramel and I would rather have just eaten straight caramel, or maybe caramel covered in a good quality chocolate. I realize now that I'm only modestly fond of macadamia nuts. I would rather have had cashews if I were going to blitz out the calories. And the caramel was so intense it sort of hid the white chocolate. what do you know. The name of that cake was the part that gave the most pleasure.

I think next time I will order just the original cheesecake. At 710 calories it logs in as 14 points instead of 24 and if I can remember to share it with a sister or a girlfriend I would only eat half of those!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KANSASROSE67 10/25/2012 12:15AM

    I once shared an Applebees's Chocolate Chip Cookie Sundae with my 2 kids and it was DELICOUS! Then I went home and learned that if I had eaten it by myself it would have contained 1500 entire day's worth for ONE dessert!!!

Still, there are times when it would be worth it....

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IGSBETH 10/17/2012 1:24PM


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MAHGRET 10/13/2012 9:34AM

    Wow. I had no idea,thanks for sharing the information.

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HELLENACKERMAN 10/13/2012 8:44AM

    That's crazy!! I can't believe there are that many calories!!

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MSLZZY 10/13/2012 8:24AM

    Call it a treat and go for original cheesecake next time.
My DD's MIL make pumkin cheesecake and rhubarb
cheesecake that are worth the eating experience. But
that is only during the holidays. All things in moderation.

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SHEILA1505 10/13/2012 8:18AM

    OMW - just one slice???!!!!!
And if you didn't eat the base??
And I'll bet their slice isn't the same size as the portion-controlled 1220 cal slice :)
It had better be worth it
Hmmm seems that it wasn't!

Oh I'm so glad that this doesn't factor in my choices - always a risk that they've cheated and put some gluten in the cheesey part to make it set ...


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YOGAWITCH 10/13/2012 7:51AM

    I am always amazed at the calories in restaurant food.

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