Behold! Banana Bread

For as much as I love to bake, there has been one item that never seems to turn out the way I want, and it’s name…. Banana Bread.

I’ve tried tons of recipes, with minor tweaks to fit my lifestyle, and they have all been less than par.

Can’t a girl just get herself some banana bread where she tastes more banana than refined sugar?!

I took a leap and tried a recipe a bit outside of my comfort zone, making my adjustments, and I’m never going back.

Banana Love Boat

Adapted from FatGirlTrappedInASkinnyBody
Serves 16
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 2/3 cup granulated Splenda
  • 1/3 cup coconut sugar or white sugar
  • 2 Tbsp Splenda brown sugar (or ¼ light brown sugar)
  • 4 egg whites16522258_10158176838340228_2136179329_o
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp almond extract
  • 2 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed banana (about 3 medium bananas)
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (unless using another flavor profile)

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease, or non-stick cooking spray (I love Baker’s Joy), a 9 by 5-inch loaf pan* and set aside.

In a large bowl, mix the applesauce, Splenda and sugar. Add the egg whites, one at a time, beating after each addition, and then the vanilla and almond extract.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the sugar mixture, alternating with mashed banana and coconut milk.

Mix until just combined. Stir in the flaked coconut. Pour the batter to the prepared baking pan.

Bake for 45min to 1 hour and 15 minutes, when a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, depending on your oven, elevation, and type of pans used.

Let completely cool before slicing.

*OR 4 mini loaf pans (45min) OR bundt pan (45min) OR muffins (45min)

Nutrition (1/16): (does not include add-ins)

Calories: 129, Fat: 2.6g, Sat. Fat: 2.3g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 138.3mg, Carbs: 23.6g, Fiber: 1.5g, Sugars: 7.1g, Protein: 3g

The shredded coconut added this extra texture not typically found in banana bread (and I’m a texture girl). But I think its the coconut milk that really adds that extra umph of richness and flavor.

Since the first batch six months or so ago, I have continued to utilize this recipe to make tons of flavor profiles: peanut butter chocolate cinnamon chip, pumpkin spice butterscotch, Chinese 5 Spice, and even lavender. Yes, lavender! (You all know I need as much help in the “chill” department as I can get).

The photo above is a 50/50 bread of peanut butter chocolate cinnamon chip and pumpkin spice butterscotch, I omitted the original cinnamon in the recipe, above, and divided the batter in two.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cinnamon Chip20170205_152113

  • 1 1/2 Tbsp peanut butter baking chips
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon baking chips
  • 1 Tbsp mini semi-sweet chocolate morsels
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Add the following to the above nutritional facts: Calories: 47, Fat: 2.1g, Sat. Fat: 1.5g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 14.1mg, Carbs: 6g, Fiber: 0.3g, Sugars: 5.3g, Protein: 0.8g

Pumpkin Spice Butterscotch20170205_151222

  • 1 1/5 Tbsp pumpkin spice baking morsels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp butterscotch baking morsels
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp toffee bits (also in the baking section)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice

Add the following to the above nutritional facts: Calories: 51, Fat: 2.5g, Sat. Fat: 1.7g, Cholesterol: 0.9mg, Sodium: 12.3mg, Carbs: 6.9g, Fiber: 0g, Sugars: 4.9g, Protein: 0g

Using a chopping knife, chop through the baking chips/morsels (they start to look more like shavings).* Add them, along with the spice, to their appropriate bowls. Fold them into the batter, pour it into the prepared pan and bake.

*I like this method because I get flavor in every bite rather than just those with a whole morsel in it.

**Keep in mind these measurements are for half of the batter. If you choose to make the entire banana bread one flavor profile, please double the measurements.**

More recently, I made Strawberry Banana Muffins, and, yes, they taste as good as they sound.

I am ahead of my assignments at the moment, so I want to take what time I can to check in with everyone. This blog has been such a staple in my recovery process. There is no way I am forgetting about it or you.

Look for follow-up posts with the recipes to make more of those flavor combos I mentioned above.

God Bless and thank you for always welcoming me back!

 

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Tofutti!

My week began with a food mishaps. I woke up and the only thing on my mind was mac n cheese. I had an Easy-Mac-style bowl bowl of low-carb mac n cheese I ordered offline. One bite and Beauty got the bowl. Unfortunately, Beauty wouldn’t even eat it. Ha! I began to think, and a light bulb went off! I have instant grits! Oh and I have apple butter!

So, I originally tried grits for the first time when I was about 10 years old and my mom’s boyfriend at the time took us out for breakfast. Grits were totally new to me. I really wasn’t a fan until my mom asked for apple butter for her biscuit. I tried the apple butter the Cracker Barrel that the waitress brought and it was sweet and even better on the warm biscuit. With this in mind, I placed a bit on my spoon and then tried  the grits once more, and ever since then grits and apple butter go hand and mouth in my mind. Get it? Like hand and hand? 

Okay, after that drawn out story… you can guess what was for breakfast:

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I debated having a can of soup for lunch. Once I heated up this soup that I’ve never had before by a brand that I’ve never tried and it, too, went right into Beauty’s bowl. This, too, Beauty turned her nose up to. I grabbed some crackers and PB to hold me over and the went to Zumba, as I usually do on Monday evenings. I came home with a growling stomach, with every intention of making a shake. After experiencing this first evening of the Fall chill, a shake was the furthest from my mind. I rushed home to warm up and steamed up a Green Giant box of green beans and almonds (one of my absolute favorites), followed by some more steamed vegetables. My food plans didn’t work out the way I planned, but it makes me happy that I made things work.

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I changed the sheets on my bed to flannel ones, took a hot shower, and snuggled up under the fresh covers in my toasty pajamas and crashed. I sent this picture to my parents because it reminded me of my childhood anthem:

Tuesday was a relatively early morning of giving. I headed off to the Blood Bank to donate blood. I try to do so as often as I can.

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After running a bunch of errands, I was super hungry when I got home. I was so tempted  to pick up a donut for National Donut Day, but all I could think about was a Boston Cream Pie protein bowl! Bring it! I topped it with some crumble Gnu Espresso Chip! Then some fresh raspberries! Delicious!

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I went off the work around 3pm and , like I’ve said before, being clerk for the evening is hit or miss. Wow!  I don’t think that in the two and a half years I have been at the hospital, I have EVER been as busy on the desk as we were Tuesday! It was nuts!

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Luckily, I had some savory pumpkin quiche and roasted veggies to power me through the shift, and a chips ahoy cookie for a treat. I headed to Barry’s after work, having a heck of a time kicking a headache and belly ache. I even woke up Wednesday still feeling a bit out of sorts.

WP_004507To get out of a funk, Barry and I headed off to the mall, again. We have been to the mall so much, lately. Last week, we got hooked on a store called Teavana! Barry has been dying to go back since last week. We went back and grabbed a few flavors to take home and a brew to walk around the mall with. I never thought that I would drink hot tea without sweetener, but Teavana proved me wrong.  Last week, I had one that smelled like hot oatmeal, and this trip I combined Zingiber Ginger Coconut and CocoCaramel Sea Salt to make a tea that smelled like an almond cookie fresh out of the oven! Last week, we picked up White Chocolate Peppermint Tea! It smells fantastic and tastes like holiday! Ahh! Its magical!

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WP_004509Before heading home to make lunch (steamed veggies for me and mac n cheese topped with steak-umms for Barry), I came across a few awesome and intriguing coffees. Hot Buttered Rum? Mhmm… Tiramisu? Duh! Candy Corn? Uhhh…….

Has anyone had that??? Fill a sista in!

WP_004511I took a nap at Barry’s to try to rid of my headache, only to be woken up by a car alarm 3 hours later. On my way home, I stopped by the local Payless store to pick up an order. I had a birthday coupon and ordered a Christmas present my parents will be giving me (some new work shoes), along with a new pair of kicks. With the coupon and BOGO special, I would up paying a little over 10 bucks for these cross trainers! Sweet! I couldn’t wait to break them in!

I killed time before work by sending out more resumes and experimenting with SF syrups. I added white chocolate and creme de menthe to my hot chocolate/coffee mocha, and it was awesome! I attempted to catch a few Zzzs before my night shift, but not even this cuddle buddy could shut my brain down for a nap!

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WP_004516I headed off to work a little anxious about food and finding a job, but like always, work put me in a better mind set. I finished off the very last bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. I must make this, again! Soon! The caf surprised me, also, when they switched up the veggie options. Last night, there were radishes and asparagus! I was a happy camper. Two dum-dum suckers and a coffee also helped power me through my shift.

I must say that the highlight of my shift was at 0500, when one of the nurses asked me if I would mind drawing her labs. One stick and I was in! Sweet! I’m always asking if they have labs they want me to do so I was stoked when she asked me! I was even more excited when I kicked butt on the lab draw!

I came home from work knowing I was hungry and actually eating like a normal person! Yay! While I whipped up a 2 egg white omelet with hot salsa, I snacked on a handful of waffle pretzels and a tsp of the best peanut butter, Peter Pan’s Crunchy peanut butter. Never, ever, have a found another PB with soooo many peanuts! Ahh, its delicious! Once dad woke up, I brewed us some coffee and whipped him up a Higgins breakfast classic.

My grandmother, my mom’s mom, makes stuffing loaves every Thanksgiving, and give everyone in the family one to take home. The next morning, Black Friday, we slice up the stuffing, fry it, put a slice of cheese on it and top it with an egg over-easy. I took out two slices from the freezer, and fried one up for dad, and topped it with scrambled egg whites, fat free cheese, and hot sauce.

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WP_004524After dad left for work, Barry came over, and I whipped him up a similar dish with two eggs, over-easy. I spent the rest of the day waiting at my dads place for a package from DaVinci (you know I love my SF syrups). After a can of green beans and onions, I headed back to moms, battling the rain.

I spent the remainder of my afternoon sending out resumes. I’ll tell you… job hunting is a job in and of itself. Its really a bummer, too, because I’m fully in love with my job and the company I work for, but I need to use this license that I’ve worked so hard to obtain.

I started not to feel so great so I grabbed a shower and dad picked me up to run to the store. Ginger ale to the rescue! When we got back, I found out dad had not eaten since the breakfast I had made him. With the remaining tofu, left in the fridge from the Hot and Sour Soup, I whipped up the following based off a recipe I saw on Everyday Health.

Spicy Peanut Tofu Stir-fry

based off Tofu With Peanut-Ginger SauceWP_004527

serves 2

  • 2 1/2 Tbsp water
  • 2 Tbsp Better n’ Butter, low sodium
  • 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp soy sauce, low sodium
  • 1 tsp sugar free pancake syrup
  • 1/4 tsp ground, dry ginger
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp sriracha, more if desired
  • 7 oz  firm tofu
  • 1 12oz bag frozen stir-fry vegetable blend
  • 2-3 cups spinach
  • 1 cup mushrooms, largely chopped
  • 1/4 in slice onion, chopped

Whisk together the water, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, syrup, ginger, garlic, and sriracha. Set aside.

Drain the tofu, and slice into 8 slices. Place on paper towels and pat dry. Continue to change out paper towels to remove moisture, about 4 paper towels.

On medium-high heat, spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray. Break the slices of tofu into about 6 pieces each and lay in the pan in a single layer. Allow the pieces to turn golden brown on the bottom, then toss and brown the other side. Meanwhile, microwave the frozen veggie blend for 4 minutes.

Once both sides have turned golden brown, add spinach, onion, and mushrooms. Carefully transfer the microwaved vegetables into the skillet, and toss with previous veggie and tofu mix. Pour the previously-made peanut sauce over top, toss the contents of the skillet, and lower the heat to medium low.

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Serve as is or over brown rice, like dad did.

“I’d eat that, again.” Can I quote you on that? That you want to eat tofu, again? “Oh yeah!”

Ladies and gentleman, dad wants to eat more tofu!

I loved this dish! It had the mild saltiness from the peanut butter and soy sauce, and the slightest kick from the siracha! MMM! I actually grabbed some bell pepper slices and lapped up the sauce left at the bottom of the dish. It was just that yummy!

After my mom had her gastric bypass surgery, she has had a  hard time digesting meats. Throughout my cooking, I’ve found that soy products, like tofu, are the only things that don’t upset her stomach. She was eating her meal chanting, “Tofutti!!!! Tofutti!!!”

I guess that means she likes it!

This Thursday evening is ending with a mug of hot decaf mocha, with SF pumpkin spice syrup, and a ginger snap.

Brunch and Dinssert

Kicking It With Christ:

What a nice Sunday! It began with 8am mass with my mom! Whenever we go to mass together, we are peachy for the rest of the day and we are both in great moods. My dad told her she needs to go every Sunday! Hahah

I was a bit puzzled by today’s Gospel, but Father’s homily cleared it up. It was entertaining, amusing, and kept my attention all the way through, and it really made me examine my life. I knew from the time he started I wanted to share it with you. Even if you’re not Catholic or Christian, its a universal message we can all apply to our lives.

He made me laugh as he began to discuss the criteria for a good husband, wife, sister, etc. “I can’t just say I’m a good priest because I show up to mass on time.” What’s the universal criteria that makes us do good? Father is an ex-cop and he mentioned the rewards that are offered for information about a crime. As helpful as the tips are, why should we have to pay or bribe someone to do the right thing? The Gospel, in short, was not just about doing good or the right thing. These are simple and innate obligations that Christ, as well as the community, expects from you. Christ is constantly challenging us to take it a step further. Not to remain stagnant in our lives and morals. I loved the analogy Father used… “Don’t just be please with yourself because you refrained from punching that guy in the head. Take it a step further and remove that hatred from your heart.” Not only did this make me chuckle, but it really made me think about my everyday actions, the roles of daughter, sister, nurse, friend, etc. that I play in life.

Am I really taking things a step further? Or am I simply fulfilling my obligation? 

Following mass, I talked to Father, who was an absolute outlet and source of strength during my recovery. Our conversation was followed by a proud hug and congratulations when I told him that my 1 year anniversary of beginning recovery was quickly approaching!

Great Homily, Father Hurley! And thanks for everything!

Brunch, Baby:

I have been loving brunch on the weekends I do not work. I would love to start making a tradition of it! This morning was the perfect brunch food: a frittata. I mention in my last frittata post the beauty of these things: the ability to throw anything you want in them. Like, when you have left overs, and either don’t know what to do with them or don’t have enough for another meal… throw it in a frittata!

The broccoli rabe that I used in my Sicilian-Inspired Rabe was grown by my uncle’s neighbor and was already blanched for me. I had so much left over that I could only remember how delicious the last frittata was! Oh, and then theres that eggplant from the fish wraps from the other night. I got this!!!!

Eggplant Parm Frittata

serves 8

  • 11.75 oz eggplant, 1/4 in slicedWP_004142s
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli rabe
  • 1/3 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup flax milk, or milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-fat grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp dried chopped or minced garlic

Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and lay the eggplant slices over high heat and brown. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. After you flip the eggplant and both sides have been browned, transfer the slices into a sprayed 9 in x 13 in pyrex. Layer the eggplant slices along the bottom, cutting and fitting the slices to fit the bottom of the pan. Respray the skillet, and add the cooked broccoli rabe, onions, and minced garlic. Cover with a lid, and heat on low.

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In the meantime, whisk the egg, egg substitute, milk, water, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Flip the broccoli rabe. Pour 1/4 cup of water over vegetables and cover, steaming over low heat. Measure out 1/4 cup mozzarella and finely chop, and add to the egg mix. Remove the broccoli rabe, onions, and garlic and transfer to cutting board. Roughly chop the vegetables into 1/2 in pieces or so. Add to egg bowl.

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Ensure the pyrex side are well sprayed with non-stick spray, and pour the contents of the egg bowl in the dish. Finely chop the remaining 2 Tbsp mozzarella, and sprinkle over top casserole. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  While baking, combine the pizza sauce with Splenda.

After the 30 minutes, turn the casserole 180 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, evenly spread the frittata with the sweetened sauce, then Parmesan. Lastly, sprinkle the top with garlic spice according to your taste. (We love garlic!) Return to the oven for a final 15 minutes.

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Slice the frittata into 8 slices and serve!

Nutrition: per 1/8 of dish

Calories: 126, Fat: 1.2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 25.9mg, Sodium: 430.5mg, Carbs: 8.6g, Fiber: 2.6g, Sugar: 4.6g, Protein: 18.3g

WP_004138Scrapple, by far, is in no way a healthy choice, even if one DOES eat the leaner cuts of beef scrapple. It is, however, a Bundo favorite! I sliced up a loaf of bacon scrapple (not impressive, by the way) for the crew, and we said Grace and dug into a delicious brunch! Argument free!

We were all stuffed until dinner! My dad raved about the frittata and couldn’t believe the creation and the taste, and how full he was even at dinner time. But I’m not surprised with almost 20g of protein per serving! Mom, dad, and I watched the Eagles/ Giants game, as we did some laundry (and blogging).

A quickie trip to the tanning salon (I have a wedding coming up and I’m a bit pastey), and I was inspired. I had “Brunch,” but pumpkin spice froyo is out… Dinner? Dessert? Dessert for dinner? Dinssert, it is!

Hey, Boo! Froyo at 5? “It’s a date!”

A quick text later, and we met up with one of my nursing school girlfriends! Yummy in our tummies! She text us awhile back asking for a froyo dinner dinner date and we had to decline since Barry and I were both working. I loved that I was able to return the favor, and that she, Aaron, and her kids could join us! My main agenda for the spur-of-the-moment dinner date was to attack the pumpkin spice soft serve! I repeated my mode of attack as I did at the Flyers game and grabbed a splash of each. And an extra splash of pumpkin. Next, come my favorite part! Topping! Mango, raspberries, strawberries, almond slices, toasted coconut, and an oreo all found their way to my bowl! Barry enjoyed his double-size PB and chocolate fix ,as usual.WP_004148WP_004149

So we had dinner. Whats next? Oh yeah! Ice cream for dessert! a scoop of Edy’s Slow Churned Salted Caramel and a decaf french vanilla coffee went down the hatch as we watch the FLyers pull out another loss. But guess what? My eating was controlled, I felt when I was full, and I felt no guilt!

I must say… good weekend!

Roasted Vegetables: Crock Pot Recipe #7

Wednesday:

I went to class this morning and while waiting, enjoyed a Muller Mousse Parfait. A girl I’m in clinical with loves these, so I gave it a try.

WP_001225I tried the peach passion fruit, figuring if I was going to try something, I might as well try the most exotic sounding. I topped it with both ground flax and chia, and it was delicious and filling! I only have one complaint: way too much sugar! Seriously, it had a whole days worth of sugar in it!

After this cardiac cram session, I hit the gym. I had a full workout planned but as I was doing it, I realized I was not going to be able to complete it, if I needed to get some sleep for night shift. I only worked out for an hour or so. I was so bummed when that I had to leave. Have you ever been so into your routine, you just didn’t want to stop. Seriously, even the shuffle on my iPod just kept giving me great songs to power up to!

I hit the sheets when I got home, unfortunately  only getting about 2 hours of sleep for my 12 hour shift. I made something that was LONG overdue: a shake. Iv’e been checking up on this blog I found and she made a shake that sounded delicious, so I gave it a go. The following was whipped up:

handful of kaleWP_001227

handful of frozen, pitted dark cherries

1 scoop Herbalife Vanilla Formula 1

1 scoop Herbalife Vanilla PDM

half a frozen banana

1 Tbsp sugar free cheesecake pudding mix

and lots of ice!

Pretty darn tasty… Actually, dad asked me to make him one for Thursday morning!

WP_001228Thursday:

Over the course of the long night, I did some pretty wise snacking choices, suck as graham crackers, sugar free pudding, and 94% fat free popcorn. I have to same, though, my favorite meal of the night, was the Raisin and Spice Oatmeal. I stirred in a little PB, and mmmmmm good!WP_001231

After I got home, I started preparing the crock pot. Tonight’s recipe is in preparation for tomorrow’s dinner (I can’t wait!)

Once all the ingredients were in the crock, I sat down to finish some homework and enjoyed a nice bowl of Banana Nut and Peanut Butter Cheerios, a cup of Pumpkin Spice coffee with some sugar free french vanilla powdered creamer and a few dark chocolate covered espresso beans to keep me going for the day!

Katie loves crock pots too and I remembered a while back she posted about roasting vegetables in a crock pot. Being the sucker for veggies that I am, I starting thinking up ways to use these veggies. Over rice? with sausage? In a pita? The possibilities are endless! Needless to say, I hit up the discount produce shelf…

Roasted Crock Pot Veggies

2 bell pepper (I like using colors)WP_001233

3 cloves garlic, slivered

half an onion, sliced in rings

a few baby portabellos

1 large carrot stick, sliced into very thin coins

handful of sun-dried tomatoes, sliced thin

1 small eggplant, sliced to 1/4 in thick

spices, to taste

Prepare all the vegetables, adding or subtracting vegetable that you enjoy, and toss them in the crock pot. Season, cover, and cook.

The original recipe calls for oil, but instead, I just gave the top of the veggies a quick spray with some non-stick pray and few shot a liquid aminos. I couldn’t find my Italian seasoning in the cupboard, so I used some granulated garlic, black pepper, parsley, oregano, and basil, and gave it all a nice toss.

WP_001235Cover the pot and look on low, stirring occasionally.

During class, I was starting to sense some hunger creeping up on me. I looked around the room, and wouldn’t you know like four people were chopping on protein bars! AHHHH! I knew this would be tough!

When I got home from class, the house smelled like a warm garden… fresh veggies in the air! I hustled into the kitchen to give them a stir and a try. I was so happy with how they turned out! The carrots were just the right consistency  the onions became translucent  the peppers and mushrooms cooked down, the tomatoes got soft and sweet, the eggplant absorbing all the flavors…

I had some leftover turkey sausage to I put a little in a tortilla with some veggies and I was in heaven! This most definitely will be a meal another night.WP_001237

As for tonight’s dinner, I was jonesing for a Wendy’s Jr. Hamburger, and mom was really eyeing up the chili. My creation was a chili dipped burger! YUM! I snacked on some mixed fruit for dessert!

Over all, the last 24 hours was pretty decent with food… only a few minor binges.

After meeting up with Mike to finish our assignment, I tried to squeeze in a workout before being detained in nursing labs for 3 hours. I was able to squeeze in the following workout, based off of Julie’s Beat Boredom Interval Workout:

Weights:

Sitting Crunches 15reps 4 set 53 lbs
Tricep Extensions 15reps 4 sets 20 lbs
Sitting Crunches 15reps 4 sets 53 lbs

Elliptical:

0-10 min 11 resistance
10-1230 13
1230-15 14
15-20 11

Repeat Weights

Treadmill:

1-5 minutes 4.2 speed 8 incline
5-630 7 1
630-8 5 1
8-10 4.2 1

Now, I ready to crash, wake up refreshed, workout, watch some lectures, and cook you all a wonderful Friday Lenten dinner!Even though, I was totally sleep deprived, I did not want to leave. These last two days I’ve really been in the workout zone!