Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Continuing on with my summer love affair with blueberries….here is another recipe I tried this week. These muffins turned out so delicious and moist, this recipe is a keeper!

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I found this recipe on my favorite food blog, www.skinnytaste.com and was thrilled that they were not only healthy but also pretty low in calories as far as baked goods go. 🙂

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:

    1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
    1 cup unsweetened almond milk
    1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
    2 tbsp honey
    1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
    2 egg whites
    1 tbsp vegetable oil
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 cup fresh blueberries

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400°. Line a muffin tin with liners and lightly spray with oil.

Place oats in a food processor or chopper and pulse a few times. Soak oats in milk for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine brown sugar, agave, apple sauce, vanilla, egg whites, oil and mix well.

In a third bowl combine whole wheat flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda and whisk to combine.

Combine oats and milk with sugar, applesauce mixture and mix well. Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Fold in blueberries.

Spoon into the muffin tin and bake for 22-24 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean from the center of a muffin.

Nutrition information for one blueberry oatmeal muffin

Nutrition information for one blueberry oatmeal muffin

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No Equipment? No Problem. (Bodyweight Exercises)

Loved this collection of exercises, wanted to share this on my blog so I have easy access to it and so my readers can use it too!

Forever Asleep

In a few weeks I’m travelling on vacation and i have been lost without to do with my new-found fitness motivation. I skip a few days of workout and completely lose all my motivation. Bringing a set of dumbbells does sound like a good idea so i have been researching body weight exercises and coming up with a travel routine to keep myself on track. I’m hoping we will do enough sightseeing that extra cardio will not be necessary.

Lunges:

No-Equipment lunges

Hip crossover:

No equipment hip-crossover V-up:

No equipment v-up abs Elbow Plank:

No Equipment Elbow Plank Mountain climbers:No Equipment Mountain Climber Reverse Crunch:No equipment reverse crunchWall sit:

No equipment wall squatDaily Workout:

Jumping jacks, squats, push ups, mountain climbers, cross crunches, high knees, knee pull ins, chair dips, leg raises.
the daily workout no equipment

Overall workout:

Side bridge, wraparound ankle touch, double step push up, push up bird day, windshield wiper, row.

no equipment workout

12 Move Exercise Routine:

Jumping jacks, wall sit, push up, crunch, step up, squat, triceps dips, plank, high knee running, lunge…

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Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

I don’t know about you, but one of the things I love most about summer is the abundance of fresh berries! I love to bake with them and try new and interesting recipes.

And I also have a passion for quick breads, in my house they’re called quick not because they are easy to make but because of how quickly they are gone!

I picked up several boxes of strawberries this week because they were on sale, and I love them! So I started searching for ideas on what to do with them besides just stuff my face with fresh strawberries for a couple of days before they spoil.

This is one of the things I came up with, from one of my favorite recipe blogs, Skinnytaste.com. I modified their recipe slightly by using gluten-free flour for half of the flour, I may try this again with all gluten-free flour as well to see how it turns out. The recipe as shown here turned out delicious!

I really liked the idea of roasting the strawberries first, so most of the juice bakes out of them and doesn’t make the bread too moist.

Roasted Strawberry Banana Bread

Ingredients:

    1-1/4 cup strawberries, quartered
    3 ripe medium bananas, mashed
    2 TBSP unsweetened apple sauce
    3/4 cup gluten-free baking flour
    1/2 cup whole wheat flour (or use 1-1/4 cup flour, any variety you prefer)
    3/4 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt
    2 TBSP butter, softened
    1/2 cup light brown sugar (not packed)
    2 large egg whites
    1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly spray loaf pan with baking spray.
You can use one standard sized loaf pans, or two min-loaf pans.

Place the cut up strawberries on a baking sheet (lined with foil, or paper), roast them for 20 minutes, remove and set aside.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the egg whites, mashed bananas, apple sauce and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick.

Add the flour mixture to the wet ingredients and blend at low speed until combined, do not over mix. Fold in the strawberries and pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan(s). Bake on the center rack in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let the pan cool at least 30 minutes before removing the loaves. Bread should be at room temperature before slicing.

Storage:

Wrap in plastic or foil and store in refrigerator for 5-7 days (it will probably be eaten up before then anyway!) Or wrap well and place in a freezer safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 2-3 months.

Makes 16 servings

nutrition

Moving Forward

The finish line is just the beginning of a whole new race. -Unknown

Diagnosis

ortho docIn my last post I talked about the injury I was dealing with in my calf. A few weeks have passed and I haven’t had a chance to sit down and write for a while, so I guess it’s time to do some catching up!

I did go to see the orthopedic surgeon / sports medicine specialist that my doctor referred me to. In fact, I was seen by a team of young doctors. An intern, a resident and the surgeon all came in to see me and discussed their thoughts with me. The resident said he was also a runner, so I liked knowing that he understood where I was coming from.

They were able to rule out any serious injury. It didn’t appear there were any torn ligaments or pulled muscles or anything serious. The diagnosis was basically overuse / overexertion. Pretty much what I thought, but I was glad to have anything more serious officially ruled out by medical professionals. I’ve reached the age of being practical enough to not want to take unnecessary risks.

Basically what happened was that I pushed too much, too quickly in my training. And my body was patient and willing to work with me up to a point. Once I crossed that “red line” my body clearly let me know I had gone too far, that I needed to take a step back, and that it wasn’t negotiable.

What now?

running leg Even as I sat in the surgeon’s office, with my legs all swollen and sore, my first question was “how soon can I get back to my training?” The team of doctors all agreed I needed to take a little time off from running or walking (for exercise that is, normal every day walking around work or at home was fine), they told me to rest until the swelling was gone and there was no sign of pain anymore.

Moving forward, the doctor’s recommendation was to take things very slowly (he was actually impressed when I described the plan I was originally following and how careful I had been, prior to the race training, to taking things slow!) He said I need to focus more on stretching, both before and after my workouts. And he thought it may be a good idea for me to run with compression socks. I have looked around a bit and good running compression socks are pretty expensive, so while I think that may be a good idea for me since I seem to have this tendency toward swelling, I think that purchase will be put off for a while until I am back into running more. Doc was in favor of me continuing my pursuit of cross training like the swimming I’ve been doing, and the strength training, he thought that was perfect.

The Plan

quitting not in vocabulary So here is the thing. I am a pretty determined person (read: stubborn). So there is no way that I plan to allow my self to be side tracked too much from my fitness goals. But I will take the smart approach and do everything I can to avoid further injuries.

As I mentioned in my previous post , I decided to spend some time working on my upper body and core strength. I have begun the 30 Day Arms Challenge and am currently on Day 19. If you’d told me a year ago to do 38 push ups, 85 bicep curls, 70 dips and 90 seconds of punches, in one day, I’d have said there is NO way I could do it. But not only am I doing it now, but this challenge only gets tougher as I progress through the 30 days! My arms have been so sore! But, I am starting to see some real definition in my arm muscles which is pretty exciting, can’t wait to see the results at the end of the 30 days. I will probably work a few sets of these exercises into my ongoing rotation when this is done, just to make sure I keep what I’ve worked so hard for.

In case you’re interested in trying this 30 Day Arms Challenge, and some of my friends have asked me about it and I have told them they could find it on my blog – so I’m reposting it here for easy reference:

Looking ahead to the end, it looks kind of intimidating, but as you progress you get stronger so it actually isn't as hard as it seems like it will be!

Looking ahead to the end, it looks kind of intimidating, but as you progress you get stronger so it actually isn’t as hard as it seems like it will be!

I also had mentioned earlier that I found a decent core training plan on Runner’s World that I wanted to try. I have worked that in a couple of times so far this month when I had nothing else on my calendar but the Arms Challenge. It’s a pretty short workout and while I’m sure it is effective, I’m not getting a warm fuzzy feeling about it, so I’m probably going to keep looking for some other core strengthening plans that I can keep in my normal rotation.

Walk to run plan What I also found on Runner’s World is a 7-week walking plan that I decided to follow. This plan is designed for absolute beginners, like someone who just started to exercise. Since I don’t know exactly at what point in my transitioning from walking to running I hit that “red line”, I’ve decided it will be a good idea to just begin at the beginning. There’s no harm in taking a step back to try to do this a better way.

The 7 week walking plan includes 4 walks per week. A really short, easy walk on Monday, a little bit longer walk on Tuesday and Thursday and a long walk on Saturday. You get Wednesday, Friday and Sunday off. I like that because on 2 of those off days I can combine my Arms Challenge with core strength training to still burn some calories, work on my strength and fitness, but let my legs rest. And the third rest day I take a break from just about everything and really rest. There’s no specific speed or mileage requirement, so I’m picking back up with where I left off on my speed progression before I went all crazy prepping for the Kona Run. The duration of the walks slowly increases each week, very slowly, which I like. By the end of the 7 weeks I’ll be back up to my 55 minute walks. This week I started “week one” and the long walk on Saturday was only 35 minutes, and the short walk on Monday was only 15 minutes so this felt like a nice easy way to get back into the swing of things after taking 2 weeks off.

At this point, all the swelling is gone from my legs and I feel so much better. It felt good to rest for a bit but it also is feeling good to get going again. Part of me just likes to keep doing something so I can keep eating, lol! I had just decided to increase my daily calories from 1350 to 1500 right before the injury, so during my rest time my weight has creeped up a pound or two, but nothing too serious that won’t be taken care of easily as I get going again.

If you’re interested in finding out more about these walk-to-run plans, visit The Starting Line from Runner’s World.

What’s Next?

Runner’s World also has other plans to follow and I think I will go right through their progression from basic walking, to walking with some running, to adding more running, to all running.

My husband and I are planning on running another 5K race for Halloween, so I’ve got 4 months to get back to a place where I can safely run the race. We are going to do the Wicked Halloween Run in Plymouth, MI.

Not only is my birthday just a few days before Halloween, but also our wedding anniversary is in October and so is the anniversary of 2 other couples we are close friends with. One of them, Brian and Stacy, we actually ran into (no pun intended) at the Kona Run – Stacy was running the 5K and her mom was running the 10K. Stacy had mentioned this 5K race in October and we thought it would be cool to all do it as a celebration of our wedding anniversaries. So when Chad and Dawn heard about this, now they want to do it too, they are the other couple with the October anniversary. I am really excited to see all our friends getting fit and healthy, it is a really wonderful thing! 🙂

WHR 2013

Change of pace

So, it is 7:42 a.m. on a Saturday morning. I should be outside running right now. Why, then, am I sitting here in my pajamas, sipping coffee, writing this blog post? I’m glad you asked!

It has been brought to my attention (by my body) that I am injured and need a rest from running.
I am quite disheartened by this news, but am trying hard to stay positive and be creative about other ways I can stay fit and keep burning calories.

Time for one leg squats?

better one leg squatA few weeks ago I remember teasing with the girls in my office that I must really have one dominant leg when I run because it seemed like I had built up the muscle in one leg significantly larger than the other.

I was frequently noticing while wearing capri-length pants that they would be very tight around my left calf, to the point of discomfort. But they fit just fine around my right calf.

One gal suggested it wouldn’t be that unusual to have one foot that I always lead with and that I could actually build up more muscle in that leg than the other. She thought maybe I should consider doing some exercises specifically with the other leg to try to even them out. It sounded somewhat logical, and I didn’t do any further research on the subject.

Over the last few weeks I’ve frequently found this situation to be very noticeable and sometimes uncomfortable, but then other times I didn’t notice it at all and it would just slip from my mind. I would occasionally notice tightness in my calves, that one side in particular, and a little tingling and a lot of muscle twitching. I assumed this was just the results of working the muscles hard when I run.

Not your ordinary soreness

This past week on Monday, my left calf was really bothering me while I was at work. It seemed like as I sat at my desk, with my legs dangling down to the floor, my calf was swollen. I kept trying to prop it up on something under my desk, looking for some relief from the discomfort caused by swelling. On my lunch break I even sat out in my car, with my foot propped up on the dashboard for elevation, just trying to get some relief.

By Tuesday I started to realize some thing was really wrong here. This was not just muscle soreness from vigorous exercise. My left calf was swollen to nearly twice the size of the right leg! And it just felt so tight, and uncomfortable and constant twitching of the muscles. I decided it may be time to see my doctor. To be honest, my mind was zeroing in on ‘worst case scenario’ and I feared it may be a blood clot. I just wanted to hear my doctor say that it wasn’t that.

As it turned out, my doctor, upon seeing my swelling and hearing my symptoms, immediately became concerned about the same thing. She told me it was most likely that I had a sports injury, but that the symptoms and risk factors also pointed strongly towards deep vein thrombosis (blood clot) and she wanted to rule that out before pursuing any other options.

She ordered me over to the hospital for an ultrasound “stat”! It always worries me when the doctor actually seems anxious and in a hurry for a test. Her staff called the hospital and explained they needed this test done right now, and they sat on hold while the hospital admin made calls to rearrange their appointments to fit me in. Then I went straight over there for the ultrasound.

The ultrasound was an interesting process and I have to tell you, it looks a little bit like the moon – inside my leg. 🙂 At the end of it, the technician told me that she cannot give me any results of the test, that the doctor would have to review it and go over the results with me. However, she could tell me that if she had found a blood clot she would not be allowed to let me leave the hospital. Then she smiled and said “And you are going home now”. Enough said, I finally exhaled with relief.

Time for a change of pace

A few hours later my doctor called with the official test results saying that the ultrasound was normal and there was no blood clot. That leaves us with the most likely culprit being some sort of tear, strain or other type of sports injury. She referred me to an orthopedic sports-medicine specialist. That was Wednesday afternoon, and with Thursday being the July 4th holiday, I had to wait until Friday to even call them for an appointment. Now I’ll be going in there on Monday to see what they have to say about the situation.

At least now that I know I am not dealing with anything life-threatening, I could start treating this like a soft tissue injury even though I don’t know exactly which muscle it is or the extent of the injury. I started immediately on Wednesday afternoon with R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression and elevation), coupled with a few doses of Tylenol to help bring down the swelling.
RICE

Being the fitness addict that I now am, my mind is already reeling with thoughts like:

    How bad is this injury?
    How long will it take to heal?
    When will I be able to run again?
    How much more damage did I do by continuing to run long after being injured without realizing at the time that I was injured?
    What sort of rehab will I need to do to heal and rebuild my strength?
    How will I continue my quest for fitness and burn the calories I need so I can keep eating a decent amount without regaining the weight I’ve lost?
    What kind of exercise can I do that won’t continue to make matters worse in my leg muscles?

My biggest fear is that I’ll get lazy and completely fall off the wagon of exercising and end up gaining back the weight and losing the strength and fitness level I’ve worked all these months to gain.

My biggest sadness is that I’ve begun to genuinely enjoy my running and I’m already missing it. My husband is getting ready right now to head out for “our” early Saturday run and I am sad that I will be sitting here while he is out in the fresh air pounding the pavement.

The next step

I guess I will know more after I see the ortho-specialist. But for now I’ve begun formulating a plan and it goes sort of like this:

I know for the time being I need to drastically limit the exertion I put on that leg. I finally have the swelling down a bit and don’t want to aggravate it again.

There is a fitness-minded motivation group I am part of on Facebook, and one of the gals had recently posted a 30 Day Arms Challenge. I decided I’m going to give this a try, now is a good time to focus on my upper body strength and I should be able to do this without much impact to my legs. This is the challenge, I am only on day 3 and I am already feeling challenged, lol!
armchallenge

In addition to this, I’ve been doing some research on Runners World and found what looks like a pretty good plan for a core strengthening routine which I’ve now begun to follow. Core Strength Training

For more of a cardio type burn, I think that swimming will be my go-to for a while. However, until I see the doctor and know exactly what type of injury I’m working with, I’m reluctant to even work those legs in the water. Thursday morning I went for a swim and put a floaty-noodle under my chest and another smaller one under my ankles and did my laps with just my arms.

I may have to put running on hold for a few weeks but I’m going to have some tremendous upper body strength when this is done! 🙂

The key I am trying to remember is that I made a decision to change my life, to become healthier, fitter, stronger and happier. I am NOT going to let a road block stop my progress, it will just send me down a different path for a while where there is still plenty of room for growth.

small changes

June 2013 – Monthly Fitness Stats

Review Time

June ended up being a whole different kind of month in regards to my fitness activities.
In previous months, I had been mostly walking on my treadmill and was tracking and tweaking each month details like my starting speed, max speed, duration, and adding in small amounts of jogging intervals – each month slowly increasing the duration of those intervals and slowly increasing the speed as well.

Over the last nine months this has been a slow and steady transformation of my workouts from very basic, slow walks for short durations to longer walks, more speed, more incline, more calorie burn, etc. But the overall goal was to keep the progression very slow for the purpose of avoiding injury. (Because I have proven to myself over and over in the past that I am very prone to injury if I just jump full force into a running program.)

So how was June different?

Crossing the finish line - Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

Crossing the finish line – Kona Run 5K (time 38:14)

June was kicked off by running the Kona Run 5K Race. This was a big goal for me. I had completed a 5K once before, in 2012, and I mostly walked it, finishing in just over 47 minutes. This time, I ran just about the whole 3.1 miles. I did take a few short walk breaks but for the most part I ran the whole thing. (Well, maybe jogged would be a better description.) My finish time was 38:14 which to me, is amazing!

This was a real eye opener to me, that I was ABLE to run over 3 miles. And this changed the dynamics of my workouts in the month of June. My scheduled walk/run days turned into more running than walking, and further distances than I did in the past.

With the recent acquisition of my Garmin Forerunner 10 GPS watch, I also did a lot more of my workouts outdoors. What I found that was really different about this was my pacing. On my treadmill, I have full control of my pace. I set the speed on the treadmill and go, and my speed only changes if I adjust the speed of the treadmill. But on the street, I go…well…however fast my feet take me.

Granted, I can use some tools on my Garmin to set a pace and be alerted if I am going above or below it, but for the most part it is much more difficult to control my speed. Consequently, I ended up walking and running much faster on my outdoor runs in June than I had been doing previously on the treadmill. Being outdoors often pushed me to also increase my distance/duration. The further you get from home, you still have to go that distance to get back. It’s not like being on the treadmill where you can just press the stop button and step off.

The Mix

In previous months, I pretty much just walked on the treadmill. With the tiny intervals of jogging. But for the most part treadmill was what I would do, and I would do it 3 or 4 days a week.

This month I was actually trying to follow both a walking/running training program and also a strength training program. These were guides that were included in that book I had been reading, The Salt Solution.

The walking/running portion of the plan was a 6 days per week plan and was broke down like this:

    35 minute Interval Walk
    40 minute Steady-State Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    30 minute Power Walk
    35 minute Interval Walk
    50 minute Recuperative Walk
    Rest Day

The interesting part was that each week the duration times were increased, to the point where it was 45 minute intervals, 50 minute steady-states, 40 minute power walk, and an hour and a half recuperative. I had a hard time keeping up with the duration increases and found myself modifying this as the month went on.

The strength training was a 3 days per week program. It was a routine of 7 exercises and the program called for a certain number of reps and sets. For example, week 1 was one set of 10 reps of everything. By week 5 the first day you’d do 3 sets of 15 of all the exercises, day 2 was 3 sets of 12 reps, then 3 sets of 10 reps. The exercises were things like squats, chest press/fly with small hand weights, lunges, bent-over rows with the hand weights, dead lift curl presses, bicycle crunches and planks.

I followed this plan pretty closely all month so I was working out an average of 6 days per week, some days were both running and strength training. And I got in a good swim also about 2 days per week.
Pretty intense this month!!

With the addition of the Garmin to my fitness toolbox, I am now able to more closely track and report on my fitness activities. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize until close to the end of the month that I could manually log activities that I didn’t use the Garmin for. So here is a glance at how this tracking looks, minus some activities like the strength training and early month treadmill runs.

Garmin Activity list June 2013

Garmin Activity list June 2013

BASIC STATS:

My treadmill stats were:
2.8 mph starting speed (up from 2.4 in May)
3.4 mph walking speed (up from 3.2)
4.2 mph run speed (up from 4.1)

However, my street running was more like an overall average of about 4.5 mph and this included my walking. I was typically walking at just over 4 mph and my running was a little over 5 mph.

I logged a total of 42.47 miles in the month of June, averaging 10.5 miles per week.

Average calorie burn: 220 per workout
Ending Weight: 121.6 lbs (down 2 lbs from the end of May)
Garmin June 2013

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio - the purple entries are mine (green is Jim's).  June was a very FULL month of training!

My whiteboard calendar in my workout studio – the purple entries are mine (green is Jim’s). June was a very FULL month of training!

Was kind of surprised to see my weight keep going down this month. I was actively working to adjust my calorie intake to a higher level for “maintenance”. But it really wasn’t until the end of the month that I started taking in much more calories than normal, so with all that activity it’s no wonder I kept losing weight. Technically I did want to get down to 120 lbs, but had been thinking I’d save those last few pounds until after I stand up in Terri’s wedding in July. I don’t have much room to work with to maintain the perfect fit on that bridesmaid dress. But I guess a pound or two one way or the other won’t make much difference.

Weight Log June 2013

CC Weight Log June 2013

Preparation is key to healthy eating

Eating healthy can be easy if you are prepared.   That means having healthy food on hand, and having it ready to eat.

Let’s face it, the reason we so often turn to prepared, packaged junk food is because it is convenient.  It is ready to eat right when we are hungry.  Tear open a package and eat.  Or grab it and go and eat it on the run.

Using even a small amount of preparation time can turn healthy food options into fast-food, convenient food, but best of all HEALTHY FOOD!

Here are my secrets to the very basics of eating healthy foods.

First of all you have to keep fresh fruits and vegetables on hand.  I used to struggle with this because it required a trip to the grocery store, and I would find myself out of fresh food, hungry and not having the time or motivation to go to the store and re-stock my fridge.  I’ve overcome that obstacle by using a produce home-delivery service.  My husband and I use Door to Door Organics and we absolutely love it!  Every week our box arrives with fresh, local, organic produce and it stays fresh all week long.

The second part is spending some time in preparation ONCE each week, so that this delicious, nutritious fresh produce is ready to eat right when you are ready to eat it!   I have a Sunday afternoon routine where I spend between one hour to maybe an hour and a half cleaning, chopping and packaging my veggies and fruits for the week.  I make up a box of mixed vegetables for both myself and my husband to take to work with us each day for the coming week.  Along with that I package measured servings of some sort of dip for the veggies (I prefer to use Hommus because it is nutritious and low-calorie).  Lastly, I will usually prepare my lunch options for the week as well, like hard-boiling eggs, making up sandwiches, cutting up and measuring out half cup servings of fruit and/or other snacks like crackers.  When I am done, my entire work week is on auto-pilot as far as food is concerned.  I just grab and go every morning on the way out the door.

Today I’m going to give you a visual peek into my kitchen as this process unfolds.  Remember, this does not take more than an hour and a half at the most and saves me from having to do ANYTHING all week long besides grab a container to go in my lunch bag.

The “Veggie Box” as I call it, is a great thing to take to work and snack on all morning.  It keeps me going between breakfast and lunch and fills me with lots of vitamins and minerals that my body needs to stay healthy and well nourished.  And it is very low-calorie!  I usually end up with about 2 cups of vegetables and 3 TBSP of Hommus.  It takes a long time to eat that many veggies so I get that feeling like I am snacking ALL morning!  (Which keeps me from reaching for other things that would not be so good for me!).

This is the nutrition stats for this weeks veggie box, as displayed after I logged the contents of it into caloriecount.about.com

This is the nutrition stats for this weeks veggie box, as displayed after I logged the contents of it into caloriecount.about.com