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Creating the Perfect Trail Mix (Includes 3 Recipes!)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

I love the “Cook This Not That” and “Eat This Not That” books by Men’s Health.

Here are some ideas from Men’s Health for creating the perfect trail mix.

Followed by 3 Recipes. Enjoy!

(From Men's Health)
You may be among the vast number of Americans who approach a bowl of nuts with some degree of trepidation. Nuts are full of fat, after all, and the prevailing wisdom tells us to eat less fat. But remember when prevailing wisdom told us to take out big mortgages on beach homes, because real estate values could only go up? Yeah, turns out prevailing wisdom isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and in the case of nuts, it couldn’t be further off base.

So here’s the truth about the fat found in almonds, walnuts, pecans, and other nuts: It’s as healthy—or healthier—than anything else in your diet. It fills your belly better than any other snack on the planet while decreasing your risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes, smoothing your skin, pumping you full of antioxidants, and helping you stay thin. In fact, a study from Georgia Southern University found that eating a high-protein, high-fat snack like nuts can increase your calorie burn for more than 3 hours. Think about that. It means that next time you go to the theater, if you replace your Mike and Ikes with macadamia nuts and your Whoppers with walnuts, you’ll increase your calorie burn for the full duration of the movie. And that’s true even if you’re sitting through one of Cameron Crowe’s 180-minute marathon movies.

To that end, we’ve provided the blueprint for incorporating nuts into your diet—along with seeds and flavor enhancers that boost their nutritional impact and make the less-palatable nuts easy to handle. A quarter cup of trail mix makes a perfect snack on its own, but it’s also ideal for adding protein, fiber, and nutritional bang to any meal. Make it in big batches and scoop it into a sandwich bag before you head out for the day. Then you’ll be prepared to fight hunger whenever it strikes.

Create the Perfect Trail Mix

1. Choose a Nut:

Almonds are a good source of manganese and copper, minerals that help fight free radicals.

Brazil nuts were found to be more effective than supplements at providing selenium, an essential micro mineral.

Macadamias deliver about twice as many healthy monounsaturated fatty acids as almonds.

Peanuts have been proven effective in preventing colon cancer, which is likely due to the concentration of beta-sisterly.

Pecans, according to a USDA study, display four times the antioxidant activity of almonds and nearly six times that of peanuts.

Pistachios are often overlooked for other nuts, but if you find them shelled, they make a flavorful and nutritious addition to trail mix.

Walnuts contain an impressive 2.5 grams of omega-3 fats per ounce. Research shows these fats can help ward of depression and heart disease.

2. Choose a Seed:

Sunflower seeds contain about half your day’s vitamin E in each ounce. That helps slow the visible effects of aging.

Pumpkin seeds contain phytosterols that can lower cholesterol and bolster the immune system.

Hemp seeds are a good source of essential fatty acids.

Sesame and hemp seeds are nutritionally stacked, but they tend to slip through your fingers when you eat by the handful. As a general rule, limit them to mixes bound for spoon-worthy foods like yogurt and cereal.

Chia seeds deliver three times the fiber of sesame.

3. Choose an Extra Crunch:

General Mills Fiber One. Other cereals work just as well. Experiment at will with Grape-Nuts, Cheerios, and Kix.

Soy nuts are mature, roasted soybeans, so they bolster your mix with fiber, folate, and 11 grams of protein per ounce.

Wasabi peas are perfect for a spicy kick. The best varieties are those made without artificial coloring or dubious additives like monosodium glutamate.

Pretzels are a reliable source of salty crunch. They're nutritionally weak though, so sprinkle in sparingly.

Sesame sticks are like pretzels made with sesame seeds, which means they deliver an extra mineral package that includes copper and manganese.

4. Choose a Sweetener:

Raisins are a top source of boron, a trace mineral crucial for bone health.

Dried apricots are a great source of fiber and vitamin A, an antioxidant that also protects your vision.

Blueberries have been shown in promote healthy cognitive functions.

Cranberries help prevent breast, colon, lung, and prostate cancer.

Dried goji berries are a great addition for both their antioxidant potency and sweet-tart finish.

Dried cherries boost your polyphenols, a cancer-fighting antioxidant nutrient group.

Banana chips are tasty, but often they come packaged with a dose of trans fats. Avoid the problem by seeking those varieties that have been fried in canola or coconut oils instead of partially hydrogenated oil.

Dark chocolate chips are proven mood boosters, and the darker the chocolate, the better. We like Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips.

Mix It Up ~ The Recipes ~

The Ultimate ETNT Trail Mix

2 cups mixed nuts
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped dried apricots or other dried fruit
½ cup sunflower seeds
The bigger variety of nuts and fruits you include, the more expansive your nutritional arsenal will be. Mix these ingredients together in a large bowl and store in an airtight container.

1/4 Cup = A Serving
155 calories
10 g fat (1 g saturated)
5 mg sodium
16 g carbohydrates
4 g protein
2.5 g fiber

The Trail Blazer

1½ cups raisins
1 cup almonds
1 cup pretzel sticks
½ cup peanuts
½ cup dark chocolate chips
The relatively high ratio of fast-digesting carbs makes this the ideal mix to eat before a big hike, jog, or workout. The added bonus is that the salt from the pretzels will help replace the sodium you lose to sweat.

1/4 Cup = A Serving
150 calories
7 g fat (1 g saturated)
105 mg sodium
21 g carbohydrates
4 g protein
2 g fiber

The Brain Booster

1 cup pecans
1 cup chopped Brazil nuts
1 cup walnuts
1 cup dried blueberries
½ cup dried cherries
½ cup hemp or chia seeds (optional)
Every component of this mix champions at least one nutrient necessary for cognitive power. The collective impact is a head-healthy mix of fats, minerals, and antioxidants.

1/4 Cup = A Serving
170 calories
15 g fat (2 g saturated)
0 mg sodium
7 g carbohydrates
4 g protein
2 g fiber

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SUSANMOMOF6 4/16/2011 8:16PM

    Thanks, they all sound great! emoticon

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NURSNANA 4/12/2011 5:42PM

    Love your recipes! I have added you as a friend, and will be getting your blogs too! I love to try new recipes! It is wonderful you share your recipes on your blogs! Sounds like you are doing an awesome job losing weight! I bet it is fun to live out in the country! You and your daughter are so beautiful! Daughters are such a blessing!

Nancy>Central Virginia

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BOOKWORM27S 4/12/2011 12:30PM

    Great idea, thanks! My daughter would love this.

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GRACEISENUF 4/11/2011 9:18PM

    Hi I'm Judy and I am a nutaholic!

some serious yummies here, thanks

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1BEACHWALKER 4/8/2011 1:34AM

    I sure admire you and your cooking abilities, plus your love of the art of cooking! I love trail mixes! We eat cranberries and raisins everday-glad to know they are so much more healthier than I thought! Sounds yummy as usual! You made me hungry again! emoticon emoticonFor all the information!

Comment edited on: 4/8/2011 1:35:17 AM

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NPDSLEUTH 4/7/2011 9:21PM

    Wow lady -- this is super duper. Thank you SO MUCH for sharing -- as always.

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-CHERI- 4/7/2011 11:16AM

    I needed this info. There was tin of mixed nuts on the 'sharing table' at work last week. I took 1/2 cup and then looked at the calorie count. I quickly cut my amount down to 1/8 of a cup. Would have liked to have a bit more but knew better as those calories add up fast. Next time I will do some mixing for a more filling snack. Daughter, Shannon is always concocting some mix to take with her on the school bus. Of course, the female part of her always has to add that little bit of chocolate to it!

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RUFFESS47 4/7/2011 3:15AM

    I love them all and will just the thing in the car for those long car trips we do
Thank you

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MRSBENNETT2 4/7/2011 2:31AM

    Oh yum...that's all I'm gonna say. emoticon

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SHELLEY147 4/6/2011 10:11PM

    YUMMY for all 3! :) I love nuts and rasins in any and every possible combination. Thanks for sharing this with us Maria!!

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VHALKYRIE 4/6/2011 8:43PM

    No cashews on the list?? I must fix this!! I like cashews, granola, and dried cranberries for my trail mix!

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ONEGREATCAT 4/6/2011 7:53PM

    You know I love nuts...with the big mix I make all the time. But now this gives me added ideas. I do sometimes add flaxseed, slivered almonds and/or walnuts to my salads.

You are so sweet to share all these ideas!!!! emoticon

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ROSEWCI 4/6/2011 7:49PM

    It's ALL good! I have walnuts & pecans everyday! I sprinkle pumpkin or sunflower seeds, & cranberries on my salads..I eat blueberries almost everyday...& I eat peanuts often! I LOVE 'em!

Thanks for the recipes Maria! I'll try them! emoticon

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    the trail blazer sounds the best to me! Not to mention better nutritional info that works. Thank you for sharing!!

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Kid-Friendly Ranch Hummus Recipe

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Found this recipe in a flyer from a local grocery store today.
I haven't made it yet but it looks healthy, simple and tasty.

Kid Friendly Hummus

Quick Tip:
Got dairy? Make good use of that last little bit of cottage cheese and yogurt hanging around in your fridge to make this kid-friendly snack.

What you need:
1 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fat free cottage cheese
1/4 cup non-fat plain yogurt
1 (1oz) package dry ranch seasoning mix
1 Tablespoon fresh squeeze lemon juice
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped garlic

How to make it:
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or a blender.
Puree until mixture is smooth and slightly fluffy, scraping sides.
Transfer to storage container. Refrigerate, covered, several hours or overnight.
Serve with veggies, pita bread or pita chips.

Makes Approximately 12 - 1/4 cup Servings.

Nutritional Information:

Servings Per Recipe: 12

Amount Per Serving
Calories: 67.9
Total Fat: 1.6 g
Cholesterol: 1.7 mg
Sodium: 182.2 mg
Total Carbs: 9.3 g
Dietary Fiber: 1.5 g
Protein: 4.5 g

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BOOKWORM27S 4/12/2011 12:32PM

    WOW, we love hummus! I see there is no tahini in this recipe. I guess the creaminess comes from the yogurt and cottage cheese. What an excellent idea!

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COOKWITHME65 4/4/2011 5:23PM

    Sounds yummy!

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WINFIELD28 4/4/2011 3:27PM

    Calories and Nutrition Information is calculated on this recipe.
I also shared it in Spark Recipes.

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    hmm.. maybe this will bust my fear of hummus!

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WINFIELD28 4/4/2011 3:03PM

    KAYE4454 - I haven't calculated the calories or nutrition on this recipe yet.
I will try to do it today and then I will post it here.

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THINRONNA 4/4/2011 2:37PM

    This seems like a good dip and we do have all of those things here. Now I just have to get my food processor fixed! Thank you for the good idea!

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KAYE454 4/4/2011 12:57AM

  Do you know calories and fat numbers? Thanks

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SHELLEY147 4/3/2011 6:06PM

    That does sound good Becca would love it! :)

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Spicy Potato Skins ~ 310 Calories @ $1.28

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I have a couple of the "Cook This Not That" cookbooks and love them.
They contain many of my favorite recipes re-made into healthier versions.

Here's a recipe for Spicy Potato Skins (from Cook This Not That ~ Kitchen Survival Guide).

In 1974, T.G.I. Friday's gave birth to the potato skin. That timeworn combination of potato, Cheddar, and bacon has since made its rounds across the menus of America, infiltrating nearly every pocket of this country with hypercaloric, frighteningly fatty facsimiles. We'll take this version--true to the original but with a few delicious twists--any day.

You'll Need:
4 small russet potatoes Olive oil Salt and black pepper to taste
1 cup 2% milk
2 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
4 scallions, chopped, plus more for garnish
1/2 Tbsp minced chipotle pepper
1/4 cup sour cream
6 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
Pickled Jalapenos, optional

How to Make It:
* Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rub the potatoes with a bit of olive oil and lightly salt the skins. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until tender.

* Cut the potatoes in half and, when cool enough to handle, carefully scoop out the warm flesh into a bowl (leave a thin layer of potato intact around the skin to help prevent it from tearing). Add the milk, butter, cheese, and scallions and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

* Preheat the broiler. Carefully scoop the mashed potatoes into the hollowed-out potato halves. Top with a bit of extra cheese and place under the broiler until the tops are brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes.

* Mix the chipotle with the sour cream and place a dollop on top of each cooked potato. Finish each with a bit of crumbled bacon and jalapenos.

310 calories
11 g fat (5 g saturated)
490 mg sodium

Makes 4 servings / Cost per serving: $1.28

Truth be told, while these potato skins are a vast improvement on the kind offered by Friday's and their ilk, you could make some improvements by folding any of dozens of different vegetables and healthy flavor additions into the formula outlined here. Simply replace the bacon, Cheddar, and sour cream with the following:
* Steamed broccoli and Parmesan
* Sundried tomatoes, chopped olives, artichoke hearts, and pesto
* Caramelized onions and goat cheese
* Chicken, asparagus, and roasted red peppers

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

1BEACHWALKER 4/3/2011 1:52AM

    One of my fave things to eat! There is no way I could eat just one! I love your enthusiasm about cooking/baking and for sharing your recipes! Still haven't tried the corn beef one I got from you, but will soon. emoticon emoticon

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GRACEISENUF 3/31/2011 1:42PM

    Sounds sooo good. I make a twice baked potato that is similar and I use sourcream/a tad bit of butter, green onions, cheese and diced good. They are even better the next day.

Comment edited on: 3/31/2011 1:43:24 PM

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COOKWITHME65 3/26/2011 10:16AM

    These sound yummy Maria. May try them tommorrow as I have a few potatoes laying around. Thanks for the recipe. Hope your having a nice weekend.

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DARBOYMOM 3/25/2011 10:04AM

    Making my mouth water, and it's only 9:00 am here! I love finding healthier options to high fat and sodium restaurant "treats."

Did you put this recipe on Spark Recipes, by any chance?

Comment edited on: 3/25/2011 10:04:57 AM

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NPDSLEUTH 3/25/2011 8:19AM

    I love things like this! Thank you.

I bet we can even lower those calories more, like with fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese and other things such as that.

I LOVE this. Thanks so much for posting girlfriend!


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NPDSLEUTH 3/25/2011 8:18AM

    I love things like this and I bet we can even lower those calories more, like with fat-free sour cream, low-fat cheese and other things such as that. I LOVE this. Thanks so much for posting girlfriend!


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CARRENK 3/24/2011 10:18PM

    Yum, yum! emoticon

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ROSEWCI 3/24/2011 7:57PM

    OMG! These sound AWESOME! I can't wait to try them! Thanks for the post Maria!

You have the BEST recipes! emoticon

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TURBOADDICT444 3/24/2011 6:17PM

  These sound delicious! I don't eat cheese though so I guess I could add the veggies you suggested and save some calories due to my dislike of cheese. I know, everybody tells me it's weird not to like cheese but I just don't. Unless of course it is a cheesecake covered with strawberries lol

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THINRONNA 3/24/2011 5:51PM

    Ahhhh...russets and cheddar! Two things I miss! That recipe looks wonderful! I love the caramelized onion and goat cheese idea!

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    yummy potato skins! Glad to see they can be made healthy!

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ONEGREATCAT 3/24/2011 5:22PM

    I'm packing my knife, fork and spoon right now. Keep those potato skins warm...I'm on my way!!!! Ummm, ummm, good I'm sure! Love your recipes.
emoticon Gwen

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Drinking Water Can Help You Burn More Calories!

Monday, March 21, 2011

I read this in Prevention's Weight Loss Guide:

Drinking the right amount of water can help you burn more calories.

All of your body's chemical reactions, including your metabolism, depend on water. If you are dehydrated, you may be burning up to 2% fewer calories, according to researchers at the University of Utah. In their study, adults who drank either eight or twelve 8-ounce glasses of water a day had higher metabolic rates than those who had four.

Tip: Try sipping one glass of water before each meal and snack.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REBELBLITZ 5/22/2011 11:19PM

    slurping my water through a straw at the moment....

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GRACEISENUF 3/31/2011 1:44PM

    One more reason to get my eight in!

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NPDSLEUTH 3/23/2011 9:05PM

    It's funny how the water drinking gets to be a habit too :) Thanks for another helpful blog, my friend xxxx

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THINRONNA 3/23/2011 3:51PM

    Love it! Another good reason to get all those glasses in!

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DARBOYMOM 3/23/2011 12:58PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
11 8-oz glasses per day. That's how many I aim for. I forget the exact formula, but it's base on your current body weight.

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KJDOESLIFE 3/23/2011 8:34AM

    Good tip! Thanks!

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COOKWITHME65 3/23/2011 6:51AM

    I'm trying.

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ROSEWCI 3/21/2011 10:34PM

    emoticon drink up!

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KAREN32862 3/21/2011 8:18PM

    Then there are the extra trips to the bathroom to eliminate all that extra water. Extra steps added to the day!!!

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Easy & Healthy Dessert Recipes

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Easy & Healthy Dessert Recipes

This is from Women’s Health Magazine.

“Decadent, easy desserts that will rock your taste buds without wrecking your diet.”

Easy Affogato

1/2 Tbsp Kahlua coffee liqueur
2 Tbsp hot espresso
1/2 cup vanilla frozen yogurt

Scoop frozen yogurt into a serving dish. Stir liqueur into espresso, then pour over frozen yogurt. Serve immediately.

Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: 131 cal, 1 g fat (0.9 g sat), 64 mg sodium, 22 g carbs, 0 g fiber, 4 g protein

Blueberry-Almond Turtles

7 Tbsp (2.5 oz) 60% cocoa bittersweet chocolate chips (such as Ghirardelli)
1/4 cup dried wild blueberries (sold in produce section)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Microwave chocolate in a glass bowl for 60 to 75 seconds or until melted. Stir in blueberries and nuts, then drop 5 rounded tablespoons onto parchment paper. Cool in refrigerator for 2 to 4 minutes or until firm.

Makes 5 turtles.

Per turtle: 104 cal, 8 g fat (3.5 g sat), 0 mg sodium, 9 g carbs, 1 g fiber, 2 g protein

Moroccan Pomegranate Mint Yogurt

1/2 cup nonfat Greek yogurt (such as Fage)
1/3 cup pomegranate arils (the pulpy seeds)
2 tsp thinly sliced fresh mint (about 5 leaves)

Fold mint into yogurt. Layer yogurt mixture and pomegranate arils in a clear dessert dish.

Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: 145 cal, 0 g fat (0 g sat), 69 mg sodium, 19 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 16 g protein

Honey-Lime Fruit Cup

1 cup fresh fruit (such as pineapple, kiwi, and assorted berries
1/2 Tbsp honey
1 small lime

Place fruit in a medium serving bowl. Zest and juice the lime. In a small bowl, whisk 1/2 teaspoon lime zest and 1/2 tablespoon lime juice into honey until well blended; drizzle over fruit salad and toss gently to mix.

Makes 1 serving.

Per serving: 109 cal, 1 g fat (0 g sat), 3 mg sodium, 28 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 2 g protein

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SNARDEESNIFF 3/23/2011 3:48PM

    Really good suggestions, Maria. I like the sound of the Blueberry-Almond Turtles. And I keep dried cherries around most of the time. I might try to make them with the cherries, as well. Thanks for sharing, my friend. emoticon

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1BEACHWALKER 3/18/2011 2:55AM

    You should have your own cooking show! Yummy! emoticon

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ROSEWCI 3/16/2011 3:12PM

    emoticon Yum! Thanks for the post Maria!

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THINRONNA 3/14/2011 4:29AM

    These sound wonderful! I especially like the Easy Affogato idea! Thanks!

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LILLYPILLY24 3/14/2011 3:03AM

    Oh, these do sound good! Have you made them all? Which is your favourite?

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SMARGED 3/13/2011 9:14PM

    Thanks, María! These sound delicious. I especially want to try the turtles!! I'll have to see if I can find dried blueberries and bittersweet chocolate here.... I've never seen them, do if I can't get them here, I'll have to bring some back when I go to the States to visit my brother!

Thanks for sharing!

emoticon Marge

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KALYN89 3/13/2011 9:09PM

    Yum! These sound awesome :) thanks for sharing!!

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