Taste Test: Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s vs. Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Everyone jokes about the pumpkin obsession. It’s okay. My love for pumpkin remains eternal.¬†ūüėõ I will try any and all pumpkin products¬†just for the heck of it. I’m that person. This includes the many, MANY Trader Joe’s offerings each season, like¬†Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s. I just tried them for the FIRST time! This led me to¬†two thoughts: (1) OMG. These are freaking¬†amazing! How have I not tried them sooner? (2) How do they compare to¬†Pumpkin Spice Oreos?

Pumpkin Joe-Joe's vs. Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Pumpkin Joe-Joe's vs. Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Only one way to resolve this… taste test! Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s vs. Pumpkin Spice Oreos…

Pumpkin Joe-Joe's vs. Pumpkin Spice Oreos

First up: Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s (pictured above, right). Really, these are everything you could dream for in a pumpkin sandwich cookie.¬†Just enough filling (they almost seem double-stuffed!), and packed with a sweet, well-balanced pumpkin-y flavor. Not just cinnamon, but notes of all the other delicious pumpkin pie spices you know and love — ginger, nutmeg and allspice. It reminded me of pumpkin cheesecake the first time I tried it. I told my mom and she disagreed, but I kind of like the idea of comparing these to cheesecake, so I’m going with it.

Next up: Pumpkin Spice Oreos (pictured above, left). I WANTED to love these, I really did. But they just paled in comparison. First off, the filling was almost half the amount. And they barely tasted like pumpkin! (Unsurprisingly, pumpkin is not on the ingredients list like it is for the Joe-Joe’s.) I did notice a faint essence of spice… cinnamon, perhaps? Aside from that though, these tasted almost identical to the “golden” or¬†vanilla Oreos. Seems¬†fitting, because these won a very “vanilla” rating from me. They also boast a variety of sketchy ingredients not found in the Joe-Joe’s — e.g. high fructose corn syrup, artificial¬†coloring, etc.

All in all… Pumpkin Joe-Joe’s were the CLEAR winner!

What’s your take? Have you tried either of them?

And in case you’re curious, here are the nutrition labels for each.

Pumpkin Joe-Joes:

Trader Joe's Pumpkin Joe-Joe's IMG_4097

Pumpkin Spice Oreos:

Pumpkin Spice Oreos

Pumpkin Spice Oreos

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Narrows Half Marathon Recap

Exciting *running* news…¬†I completed my¬†second-ever half marathon! (The¬†Narrows Half Marathon¬†— a few weekends ago.) Never thought I would say those words. I am even more excited to report that I PR’d.¬†2 hours, 15 minutes! I’m not a speedy runner by any means. But just beating my original time made me very happy! My journey with running has done a lot of great things for me. Most importantly, it has made me realize that when you set a goal, even a pretty lofty one (I used to hate running, so a half marathon to me is pretty dang lofty!), you really can achieve¬†it if you put the time and effort in.


I stuck to the same training plan that I used for my first half marathon. However, I did a couple things differently:

  • More outdoor runs vs. treadmill — I ran outside WAY more this time, which was great and I think really paid off. Plus, there’s just something meditative about doing a long run in the great outdoors! Sure, the treadmill is convenient and I like watching TV while I run, but it’s really not the same. Nothing compares to running along the Hudson, East River or Central Park in NYC!
  • More foam rolling, especially after long runs — this helped ease the soreness. I will also say that I rarely needed¬†ibuprofen after the long runs. (I always did during my marathon training last year!)
  • More weight lifting — they say this is important for preventing injury. I devoted a couple days a week to weight lifting and it was also a nice break from all the runs.

Best of all, I was WAY less sore after this race. I do really think that all of the above paid off. And I didn’t suffer any knee issues. Wahoo! Last time, I was sore for several days, probably a week. Another thing I wanted to mention: I skipped several long runs. This did not affect me at all. I think this is important to note. The first time I trained, I was paranoid about sticking to the schedule 100%, but honestly, it’s not always¬†realistic, especially between work, travel and personal commitments. Just stay on track as much as possible. If you miss one or two long runs, it’s¬†not the end of the world!

Whew! I’m so glad that this race went as well as it did.¬†Now it’s time to plan the next one!¬†I’m leaning towards a 5K in¬†October and / or December, just based on the races I could find in and around NYC. Definitely want to gear up for another half marathon or marathon in the new year! ūüėÄ I’ll be sure to¬†share more of my race plans / training schedules¬†soon!

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

It is OFFICIALLY fall, and¬†I am beyond excited to kick off the season of all things pumpkin.¬†Who’s with me?! ūüėÄ First on the agenda: vegan chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! I was craving a sweet pumpkin treat, and muffins seemed like the right answer.¬†I am very happy with how these¬†turned out. Bonus points: there is no butter, dairy or eggs. They came out¬†nice and soft without being raw or gooey in the middle, and stayed fresh-tasting for days after I baked them! I also opted to bake them straight in the pan without muffin liners because sometimes I have issues with the muffins sticking to the liners and falling apart. See below for the full recipe! And stay tuned for more pumpkin goodness this season. :-)

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins   Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins   Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Vegan Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins (Adapted from Jessica in the Kitchen): 

  • 1/2 +¬†1/8 cups of white flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp almond milk
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips + small handful (for sprinkling on top of the raw dough before putting into the oven for visible chocolate chips on top)


  1. Preheat oven to 350¬į F.¬†Grease muffin pan with coconut oil, set aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine all dry ingredients and whisk together.
  3. In a standing mixer, mix the pumpkin puree, coconut oil and almond milk until combined for about 2 minutes. Add in vanilla extract.
  4. Add in dry ingredients. Mix one cup at a time into dry ingredients, on a medium to low speed until it’s all combined. Don’t overmix. (Up to 2 minutes is sufficient.) The mixture won’t be thin, but a tad thick.
  5. Stir in chocolate chips with spatula.
  6. Scoop batter into each muffin cavity, about 3/4 full.
  7. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Muffins are done when inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Store in airtight container. Enjoy!!

Labor Day Fun in NYC

Happy Monday! Can you believe summer is already over? Oh man! This one zoomed by fast. “Short but sweet” is an understatement. I ended it on a high note though, with my dad in town over Labor Day weekend in NYC. We kicked things off at the US Open on Saturday. This is now my fourth year in a row going! I think that makes it an official tradition now. ūüėÄ

US Open in New York 2015

We watched the Federer match, which did not disappoint. He won, of course. ūüėÄ

Federer Match at US Open 2015
One of my favorite parts about the US Open: the FOOD! (This is NOT your average hot dog and popcorn kind of sporting event.) I researched beforehand to scope out anything new. I saw avocado toast mentioned in an article, and knew¬†right away that I needed to try that! So glad that I did! This was some of the best I’ve ever had. Next¬†level! The toast was very, very crispy, and the toppings did not disappoint… especially the pistachios! Wow! How did I never think of using them with avocado? Such an amazing flavor combo!
Avocado Toast at the US Open

On Sunday, we headed to the Bronx for the Yankees game. (What can I say? It was quite the sporty weekend! None of my friends are super¬†into sports. So when my dad or brother are around, I have to take advantage and do lots of sporty things.) Since I’m not really eating meat these days, I knew I didn’t want a burger or hot dog. I Googled¬†vegetarian options, and when I saw sushi, was initially a little skeptical. But at the same time, it sounded too good to pass up! I ended up ordering the avocado and cucumber roll. It didn’t disappoint!

Veggie Sushi at Yankee Stadium

That night, we ate dinner at Santina. (On my restaurant bucket list for a while!)¬†It’s become a new habit of mine to research restaurants on Instagram before I go. I’ll search the location tag, and look at¬†what food pictures people are posting to decide what I want to order. After some Insta-browsing, the one dish I knew I NEEDED to try¬†was the squash carpaccio! Ooohh, and it did NOT disappoint! I love that so many restaurants in NYC are becoming¬†more veggie-focused and creative. Even the non-vegetarian restaurants. Whether you’re a vegetarian or a meat-eater, you should still be eating lots of vegetables, so why not make them delicious and extra-special?!
Squash Carpaccio at Santina

Ironically, Santina is a seafood/Mediterranean restaurant… meanwhile I don’t eat meat, and my dad doesn’t eat seafood (just a personal preference of his, nothing allergy-related). But we both still found plenty of dishes to order! He opted for the spaghetti pomodoro. It was legitimately some of the best spaghetti I’ve ever had!
Spaghetti Pomodoro at Santina

I opted for the broccoli and pecorino, which was mixed together with a tender risotto and caramelized garlic. Wow! This was a winner as well, although I couldn’t finish the whole thing. Just look at all that cheese! Wowza. Broccoli and Pecorino at Santina

With my major sweet tooth, I always save room for dessert. Especially when trying a new restaurant (and when I know I can split it with someone!). I don’t exactly remember what this was called, but it was some sort of chocolate pear cake. It was pretty underwhelming, especially compared to the rest of the food. But I will say that the coffee was fantastic! Always love ending a special meal out with something sweet and a good cup of joe (usually decaf for me, unless I’m going to be out all night!).¬† Chocolate Cake at Santina

Speaking of coffee, I started the next day (Labor Day) off with the most amazing iced almond milk latte from Untitled at the Whitney. I love the look of the milk swirling into the espresso. There’s just something so whimsical about it! My dad and I split a ton¬†of different dishes for brunch, and believe me, I was darn hungry after just having finished a 9-mile run (half marathon training).¬† Iced Almond Milk Latte at Untitled

First up: cherry tomatoes and chickpeas. This was essentially hummus with fresh pita chips and gorgeous heirloom tomatoes. We probably could’ve eaten three more of these. It was THAT good.¬† Cherry tomatoes and chickpeas at Untitled

Next up: kale salad with shaved fennel and carrot dressing. Are you seeing a theme here? Everything was SO fresh, farm-to-table and very veggie-focused. Right up my alley. This salad was a unique and very delicious combo, with nuts, delicate slivers of carrot, fennel, kale and cherries, complimented by the tastiest carrot dressing.

Kale salad with shaved fennel and carrot dressing at Untitled

Next up: the smashed cucumber salad! This was a truly interesting dish… as soon as it came out my dad agreed, “Whoa. That is not what I was expecting.” However it was another big hit — bursting with summer flavors.
Smashed cucumbers salad with soba noodles and sesame at Untitled

Last but not least! After peeking at the¬†dessert menu, I decided not to order anything (although I was SERIOUSLY eyeing the triple chocolate chunk cookie). Low and behold, the waiter came out of the kitchen at the end of our meal with a giant cookie and milk. He said it was on the house. Somehow, he could just read my mind and knew that I wanted¬†dessert. Well, he was right! This¬†was pretty darn amazing, too! The cookie packed three different types of chocolate — milk, dark and white. What’s not to love?!¬† Triple chocolate chunk cookie at Untitled

Just look at those chunks! This cookie is going into my top 10 list in NYC, right up there with the greats like Levain.  Triple chocolate chunk cookie at Untitled

And let me not forget the avocado toast! After walking around The Whitney all day, my dad and I were in need of a snack. We stopped at the Studio Cafe. My dad demanded we split the avocado toast. According to him, “I had no idea this was such a big thing!” To which I responded “are you kidding me?!” LOL! Needless to say, my dad is not a foodie. Luckily for me though, he certainly appreciates good food and always trusts my opinion. ūüėĬ† Avocado toast at the Studio Cafe at The Whitney

Now it’s back to work, and time for fall!! I always have a weird time encompassing all the fall things when it’s still 80 degrees out in NYC. Lol. Admittedly though, I’m super excited for pumpkin things and have already been stocking up!! Anyone else?

Trader Joe’s Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

Move over, lemonade… there’s a new summer drink in town!¬†As soon as I saw cold pressed watermelon juice at Trader Joe’s, my eyes opened¬†up like saucers. Watermelon is my all-time favorite summer fruit. Soooo finding it in liquid form was pretty exciting! ūüėÄ

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

This juice is cold pressed and consists of exactly what you’d expect: watermelon. Plus lemon juice. And… it really DOES taste like watermelon! ūüėÄ Think of the juiciest piece of watermelon you’ve ever eaten, but in concentrated form. This is it! I will say it is quite high in sugar (29 grams). While none of it is added sugar, I did find it to be too sweet to drink the whole bottle in one sitting. I enjoyed about half of it as a post-run treat. Next time, I’m going to mix¬†it with sparkling water. I think that would reduce the sweetness a little bit and make for a nice, refreshing pick-me-up! All in all, this is worth a buy for a fun summer treat! ūüėÄ

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Watermelon Juice

Beat the Afternoon Slump! 9 Healthy Snack Ideas

Happy Monday, everyone! Time to get¬†back to work¬†after a relaxing weekend. I am nearing the end of my half marathon training! Yesterday¬†I ran 8 miles. I can’t believe how quickly the training has flown by!¬†Admittedly, I skipped more than one of my long¬†weekend runs (oops!) due to travel plans and visitors. But I’m feeling on track and am SO excited for the¬†race in September!¬†I lend much of my success to a SLEEP (+ no alarms on the weekend!), hydration,¬†plenty of rest days, stretching and proper nutrition. Which is the perfect segue-way into today’s post… healthy snacks!

I received an email from a reader a few weeks ago asking for healthy meal and snack suggestions.¬†I figured this would make a good post, so I’m starting with snacks! Here goes!

1. Larabars¬†— I am a huge fan of snack bars due to their portability.¬†Perfect for the office, travel or just on-the-go eating, I am particularly fond of Larabars. Each bar contains only a few ingredients — usually some combination of¬†nuts and dates. Plus, they taste like dessert! I buy them individually at Trader Joe’s — they’re pretty reasonably priced, and then you can mix and match the flavors! The “Peanut Butter” cookie is one of my favorites.

Peanut Butter Cookie Larabar

2. Nourish Snacks — I recently tried the Coco’nilla Crunch for the first time. Thank goodness these come in individual servings… because I definitely could’ve eaten a few more handfuls! This stuff is delicious, super flavorful and packed with healthy ingredients. I’ve started to see it offered at Starbucks and juice shops around NYC. It’s perfect to stash in your purse or tote bag for when hunger strikes!

Nourish Snacks Coconilla Crunch

3. 3-Ingredient Cookies —¬†if you’re up for a DIY (easy!) snack, these cookies can’t be beat! Just three ingredients… need I say more?

Three-Ingredient Cookies

4. Popcorn — Ohhh, how I love popcorn! I have been obsessed with this snack for about as long as I can remember. Lately I’ve been buying Trader Joe’s olive oil or guilt-free popcorn, but nothing beats homemade popcorn on the stove. Mmmm!

Healthy snack idea: popcorn

5. Pumpkin seeds — I love, love, love pumpkin seeds. If you have a “salt” tooth like me, you will appreciate them, too. I’m a big fan of these mini packs from Duane Reade. Sometimes when I forget to bring a snack to work, I’ll run over and pick one up — they’re only $1! Otherwise I always keep the full-size bags from Trader Joe’s stocked in my pantry, which are only about $4.

Pumpkin Seeds

6. Cold pressed green juice — another great Trader Joe’s find — green juice! This is one of my favorite travel snacks because it packs a portable punch of nutrients, which can often be hard to¬†find at airport food courts.

Trader Joe's Cold Pressed Green Juice

7. Pretzels and hummus or pretzels and nuts — I am 100% addicted to flat pretzels. One of my favorites is the Trader Joe’s “everything” pretzel slims. They are SO flavorful, it actually forces you to slow down a bit when you’re eating them. For a snack, pair with hummus (red pepper is my favorite!) or nuts/pumpkin seeds.

Trader Joe's Everything Pretzel Slims

8. Healthy muffins or bread — try a recipe that packs in protein/fiber and fruit. That way it’s more than just empty calories, and you’re actually getting some nutrients that will keep you fuller for longer! Pictured below is a recent lemon blueberry bread I whipped up (recipe here).

Healthy Lemon Blueberry Bread

9. Apple or banana and nut butter — another easy go-to. I love pairing fresh fruit with a dollop of nut butter. Here I opted for apples and Trader Joe’s flax and chia peanut butter (crunchily addictive!).

Healthy snack idea: apples and peanut butter

Other ideas:

  • DIY trail mix with cereal, nuts and freeze dried fruit (try Trader Joe’s freeze dried mango, strawberries or raspberries)
  • Handful of nuts or pumpkin seeds
  • Rice cakes with nut butter
  • Avocado toast

What are your favorite healthy snacks?