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cheesy noodle dish + blog reading tips

2 Dec

Hi!

This morning Jon and I hit the gym a little late, so I did a really quick interval run.  Sometimes it’s hard for me to get the motivation to kill it on the treadmill, but when I do it’s nice because I get done so much faster and I feel so good!  Unfortunately I didn’t have time for weights or ab work, but later I did spend some time running through my PiYo class for this week.

I also spent some time catching up on some of my favorite blogs over breakfast!

1/3 cup oats, handful of frozen blackberries, 1 tbsp chia seeds cooked in 3/4 cup water for 2 minutes.  Add a couple spoonfuls of soy yogurt and another sprinkle of chias (just for fun:) = best oatmeal ever. creamy. thick. delish.

I hate when I get behind and I feel like I don’t know what’s going on with everyone.  This morning was like catching up with friends…I love all my blog friends:)

One thing I’ve been having a hard time with lately, though, is time.  No matter how bad I want to catch up and comment on everybody’s blogs, I just don’t have enough time.  I can sit for an hour at some point in the day, reading and commenting, and still feel like I’ve only gotten through about half, which for me is about 15 or so. I just feel like I don’t have much more time than that to give to it, especially by the time I post on my own.

I feel like I see so many bloggers who comment on tons of blogs, and I just don’t see how they have time to do it.  Is there a secret that I don’t know about? I use google reader, but by the time I click out of it to comment, I’m not sure how much time it really saves.  What gives?

I’m hoping I’ll get some tips from some of you on how to read and comment on more blogs in less time!

Moving on.

For lunch today I made one of my favorite meals, but in about 1/4 of the time it took me to make it last time!

Cheesy “noodles” and brussel sprouts

Instead of cooking the spaghetti squash in the oven, I poked holes in it with a fork and put it in the microwave for about 12 minutes.  When I took it out, it was just the right amount of softness and I sliced it open with ease. In less than 2 minutes, I had cleaned out the seeds and then scraped out the “spaghetti” strands into a bowl.

this is what it looks like after being cooked and cut in half

and after separating out the strands

While preparing the squash, I placed a bowl of halved brussel sprouts in the microwave with just a little bit of water for about 1 minute and 30 seconds.

Next, I mixed together 1 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tbsp hummus and about 1.5 tbsp water.  I whisked it until it had a smooth consistency.  Last, I combined about a cup of spaghetti squash and 1/2 cup of brussel spouts before pouring the sauce over top and mixing it all up.

I added a dash of black pepper and ground red pepper for some kick!

Delicious!  This is one of my favorite meals.  The credit does not go to me though – I think I originally saw this idea on Heather’s blog, and I think Gena actually came up with the sauce idea.  I know some of you may think it sounds like a crazy idea for a recipe…when I took this to work for lunch last year, my coworkers thought I had lost my mind.  Try it before you knock it though.  It honestly tastes like a big bowl of creamy, cheesy pasta!  Added bonus: it took me less than 15 minutes to make, and it heats up well too if you’re looking for lunch to take to work.

I know some people have a problem with using microwaves.  Honestly, I haven’t done enough research to voice an opinion, but I try to choose my battles.  And right now, that’s one I’m going to choose not to worry about.  If I had more time, I would just cook the squash in the oven, but on days like today I’d rather have microwaved spaghetti squash than none at all!

I’m off to meet a new tutoring student.  This is my first student who is not an adult – he’s a fourth grader!  I’m not used to this, so I’m crossing my fingers it’ll go well.  Hope you all are having a great day!

i did it!

2 Nov

I have done something I had never done before.

I made bread.

The idea had been dancing around in my mind for weeks, and I kept encountering signs all around me that told me to face my fears.  Fears of flat, lifeless bread that you’d rather use as a footstool than eat.  Or dense, chewy, tasteless bread like this.

But on Sunday night I finally gave in.  I rooted around for a vegan whole wheat recipe and finally found one that spoke to me. It called to me really. Begging me to just jump right in.

All I needed was just a few basic ingredients.

And one cute little helper.

“Just Like Grandma’s” Whole Wheat Bread
recipe found here

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups hot water
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup raw sugar
  • 2 tbsp molasses
  • 1 tbsp sea salt, or whatever kind you have on hand
  • 6 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, divided
  • 2 tbsp dry active yeast

Directions

  • Combine the first five ingredients in your mixer bowl and whisk together. Mix in 2 cups flour using hand or standing mixer (I used standing – I already got my workout in today).  Next, add dry active yeast and then 4 more cups of flour. Mix thoroughly until the consistency is somewhat even.
  • Next,  slowly add another 1/2 cup of flour until the dough no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl. The dough should feel sticky when you touch it.  Add another 1/2 cup of flour if this sticky consistency has not been reached. Make certain not to overmix the dough, as it will make the bread hard.
  • Next, cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a towel, say a quick prayer and let it rise for 30-45 minutes.

It should go from this:

To this:

  • Use a napkin to coat all surfaces of 2 bread pans with Earth Balance.  Toss a small bit of flour around the pan to cover all sides.  Mix the dough again to get it back as close to it’s original size as possible.
  • Now it’s time to really get messy.  Sprinkle some flour all over your counter-top and spread it around before plopping the dough onto it.  Knead the dough for just a couple of minutes or just until your hands begin to get weak, making sure to keep it somewhat covered with flour to prevent sticking.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Shape dough into a nice oblong loaf. Now destroy all your hard work by ripping the loaf in two and doing the same exact thing to each smaller loaf. When you’re done, it should basically look like it does in the movies, but maybe with a little more character.
  • Place each happy little loaf into a pan and make yourself busy while it rises for about 30-45 minutes.
  • Place loaves in the oven and bake for 36 minutes.

  • After removing it from the oven, immediately turn it out onto a cooling rack.  When you simply cannot resist one second longer, slice off a nice, thick, hot piece.  Slather it with Earth Balance and enjoy!!


*Store wrapped in foil in room temperature.  Do not refrigerate.

My first experience at bread-making was…enchanting. I honestly didn’t know I had it in me and about fell over in shock when it came out resembling an actual loaf of bread.  My favorite part of the process (besides eating it of course) was kneading and shaping the dough.

There is just something about working a floury ball of dough into that comforting and familiar shape that makes a girl feel like she’s been transported back to her grandma’s day.  I loved it!

Now I’m just itching to experiment with more variations…Christmas presents anyone?

Now tell me about a recipe you’ve made before that took you out of your comfort zone and made you face your fears! How did it go?

brrrrrr!

20 Oct

No one told me how cold it was going to be here in DC!

Something you may not know about me – I have a small obsession with watching the weather.  Outside real time and through my Weather Channel iPhone app.  I love looking at the hour by hour forecast.  Oh, and the 7 day is almost more than my little heart can handle!  I get so excited.

So, needless to say I was watching DC weather like a Natzi over the last week or so.  According to my calculations, it was supposed to be in the low 70’s this week.

Well, apparently those calculations were wro-ong!

It is downright cold here…so cold that most of the locals are in coats, hats, boots…you name it. If it’s a cold weather accessory, it’s walkin’ the streets of the District (I can totally call it that now that I’ve actually been here, right?!).

Unfortunately, this unsuspecting tourist did not pack for frigid temps.  Luckily I did bring a couple pairs of jeans and threw in my light trench coat, but I am kicking myself for not bringing my boots and some long sleeve shirts.  Oh, and I almost bought some gloves at Urban Outfitters today.  I’m kicking myself for leaving those behind too.

I digress.

Despite the cold, I am loving DC!  Something else you may not know about me is that I am so in love with the east coast I could marry it.  Seriously.  Jon and I drove up the east coast on our honeymoon, and I’ve pined away for it ever since.  I knew I would love it here (in DC) too…and I couldn’t have been more right.

Now, here’s my list so far of things that have surprised me about DC:

One.  how cold it is.
Two.  how friendly the people are.  there are some seriously friendly people here – and so helpful!
Three.  the number of runners out and about throughout the day.
Four.  how much the area around Capitol Hill reminds us of Paris.  Anybody else?

Okay, so now that my lovefest has commenced, let’s go forth with the story of our trip here yesterday.

Jon and I left our house around 7:45am (right on time, thankyouverymuch) and hit up Starbucks on our way out of town for some coffee and a bite to eat.  I gotta say, Starbuck’s Oatmeal is the way to go if you’re out and about in the early morning hours.

Okay, I am aware that this picture does not look that appetizing.  But I promise you, they don’t call it “perfect” for nothing.  Have I ever lied to you before?

After an hour and a half of driving in torrential rains, getting lost and making a circle around the entire perimeter of the airport, we finally got parked.  This is not the first time that using directions from our iPhone has failed us.  It literally led us on a wild goose chase down all kinds of windy back roads and plopped us down right at the entrance people use to fly private jets.  Riiiiiight.

So, after nearly having a nervous breakdown and then a panic attack, we made it into the airport looking like a couple of wet dogs as we raced to check in.  At that point I split off from the husband because unfortunately we were booked on different flights (his was booked through his work).

Luckily we both made it to our gates in time.  After the hour-ish flight, I landed at O’Hare in Chicago for an hour and a half layover.  First things first.  Find some healthy food, stat!

I have to say – in my humble opinion, airports have really improved in the way of healthy eats.  At least larger airports.  Unfortunately it does cost half your life savings to obtain said eats, but they’re there.  Per the usual, I had planned ahead and packed rice cakes, larabars, dried apricots, apples and bananas in my bag for this trip.  But I always end up eating my packed stuff for breakfast and snacks when I go on vacation…and by day 2 or 3 I’m usually getting serious fresh veggie withdrawals.  So, I had decided that if there were any good veggies to be had at the airport, I was going to splurge on invest in them.  Enter – the best airport lunch ever:

Mixed greens salad with grilled veggies and pita wedges on top.  With a balsamic vinegar dressing.

and a green juice

I used to think these Naked juices had added sugar – not sure why I thought that.  This was 100% juice – including several fruits and broccoli, spirulina etc.  It was delicious!  And I felt on  top of the world when I finished this lunch.  Full of veggies:)

After I landed in DC a few hours later, I snacked on some spelt pretzels while I waited for Jon and his coworkers to land.  Then it was off to the hotel to drop our bags and on to dinner!

Jon and I were desperate to get into the heart of the action and see the sights, but being in a new city we weren’t quite sure where to get some food first.  So, we walked around the area where we’re staying for a little while and spotted this cute little Thai restaurant.  It had us at Sawat-dee (hello in Thai).

If the traditional Thai greeting when we walked in the door didn’t charm us, then the egg rolls, cashew tofu, and sweet little Thai waitresses picked up the slack.  We were enamored.

Highlight of the night: Jon and I ordered the same dish, but I substituted tofu for chicken.  In the end we realized that Jon had been served tofu as well, and he didn’t even realize it until 75% of his food was gone!  We couldn’t tell my looking at it because it was fried, and apparently he couldn’t taste the difference. ha!

After dinner, we took the bus and metro down to Capitol Hill.  We strolled around, taking in the beauty of everything all lit up and taking pictures like we actually thought they would be good without at tripod.

freezing my tail off while waiting for the train

a fuzzy Washington Monument

hello there Abe

hello there Mister Obama

We were exhausted by the time we were ready to head back to the hotel, so we decided to hitch a ride in a cab.  We had a crazy funny cab driver from India with an awesome accent who we found to be rather entertaining.  That is until he drove off without giving us correct change, leaving us $10 short!  What was that I was saying about friendly people…

I kid, I kid.

Anyway, that’s the long and short of day 1 in DC!  Day 2 was a bit more eventful and definitely better for photo opps.  I’ll be back tomorrow with the details:)

Jon will be in meetings all day tomorrow, so I’m thinking I’ll head over to Alexandria (Old Town) to explore a little bit.  I was quite taken with it’s quaintness when we passed through on our way from the airport.  Actually, it might be better if I didn’t go there – I don’t think I’m ever gonna want to leave!

See ya tomorrow!

keepin' it real-what does "healthy" mean?

12 Aug

So there has been something on my heart lately that I have been wanting to share with you all, and I think today is the day!

I get a lot of questions about my lifestyle, and the most common are usually something along the lines of “how do you eat so healthy,” “isn’t it hard to be vegetarian,” or the statement “I could never be vegetarian/as healthy as you are, I just can’t give up X.”

Let me begin by saying that I started this blog for a number of reasons.

1.   I love to write
2.  I love food and healthy living
3.  I love to write about food and healthy living:)
4.  I dream of helping people to realize their potential for health and happiness

Now, the trick is to define what “health and happiness” means.

Guess what?  It’s different for every single person!

I think the key to finding what health and happiness means to you is finding a balance.

For me, being vegetarianism is my way of making a difference for myself, animals and the environment.

  • By switching to a vegetarian diet, you can save more than 100 animals a year from the miseries of factory farms
  • Research has shown that vegetarians are 50 percent less likely to develop heart disease, and they have 40 percent of the cancer rate of meat-eaters.
  • The meat industry is one of the top two or three most significant contributors to the most serious environmental problems, such as land degradation, climate change and air pollution, water shortage and water pollution

[source]

Veganism is a way to amplify that by cutting even more animal products out of my diet.  I try to eat vegan about 60-70% of the time.

However, this post is NOT about getting you to become vegan vegetarian.  You DO NOT have to become a vegan or a vegetarian to be healthy.  You also don’t have to eat healthy all the time to be healthy.  Healthy is all about balance.

I eat healthy foods the majority of the time…but I also eat fried mushrooms, pizza and ice cream occasionally.  And I try not to get bent out of shape when I do indulge in these foods.

Think of it like this: every single thing you do, even down to the tiniest choice you make, makes a difference!  Isn’t that exciting?

There is no distinct line distinguishing how much really makes a difference.  We are human and therefore we are not perfect.  We weren’t even created to be perfect.  We each have to find what works for us.  What can you do, personally, to be healthy and happy?

Being vegetarian makes me happy.  But it doesn’t make me healthy.  Eating real food most of the time is what makes me healthy. Keeping chemicals and diet food out of my body most of the time makes me healthy.

It is not a black and white, all or nothing issue.  It is a be proud of every choice you make that contributes to your health and the health of the environment and let the rest go issue.

Food was made to be enjoyed, not to feel guilty or stressed over.  Each of us has our own theory of how we can enjoy food while still being kind to our bodies and our earth.  Remember, it is these differences that make us unique and exciting.

One thing that makes me happy is to eat all different kinds of foods.  I love to try new health foods, such as Amazing Grass, tempeh, chia seeds etc.  But you don’t have to eat those things to be healthy.  I don’t ever want to give off that impression on this blog.  I eat these foods because it’s fun to be to mix it up and try new things.  But, you may find me eating chia seeds one minute and a peanut butter sandwich the next. And someday in the future, I may have a much harder time having the time or money to indulge in these kinds of foods, but I’ll never stop focusing on filling my body with foods that are grown from the earth, such as fresh fruits and veggies!

The overall point is that there is absolutely no way any one of us is going to make the best decision all of the time.  If you do, please tell me your secret!

Let’s just work on making the best decision sometimes, the better decision most of the time, and not stress about the rest!

Are ya with me??

knowledge is power

20 Jul

It seems that the Candwich got quite a rise out of you guys this morning!  Can you even believe it?  What will they come up with next?  It really just made me sad when I first saw it.  It seems that there is sometimes no concept of understanding in our country about how to eat healthy food that is medicine to the body rather than poison.

After I posted this morning, I was on the Candwich website, and there is a video of an Australian morning show interviewing the CEO of Candwich.  One particular question they asked him was what the nutrition profile was of this new product.  My ears perked up!  He replied “well, it has about 450 calories once you put it all together.”

Doh.

That’s it.  That’s the only nutritional info he felt was important to provide.


What about the ingredients?
Or how much protein?
Or what about how much sodium??

Nada.  Just 450 calories.  What a deal, right?

One thing I just learned in the past couple of years is how to read ingredient lists.  In the past I would never even look at the ingredient list on products…I just went by whatever the product said on the front.  Scary!  Now I always check out the ingredient list on any product before I even think about buying it.  You’d be amazed at what’s in some of the stuff we are so accustomed to eating! Even things as simple as peanut butter have sugar and oils that you don’t even think about.  Btw…Smucker’s Natural Peanut Butter is my favorite!  And I’m not getting paid to say that 😉

Basically, if you can’t pronounce it…you don’t want to put it in your body! Always go for ingredients that are whole foods…as close to the ground as possible.  And really…it’s always best to just skip the middle aisles in the store as much as possible and stick to the perimeter for fresh produce and whole foods.

Rant over.

As I’ve mentioned, Jon and I are really trying to cut down on our budget.  You know, since I quit my job and all;)

Anyway, we’re trying not to go to the grocery store until the end of the month, even though we are out of almost everything!  So I decided to challenge myself tonight by creating a dish using only the random ingredients we had in the cabinets.

The result?

The thing that comes to mind as I post this pic is a song I often attach to certain things I love…and sing it loud…all around the house.  Drives Jon crazy. muahahaha 🙂

I’d sing it for you if I could.  Actually I could post a video…but I’d like to have you guys hang around for awhile.  So, I won’t.

But this meal was simple.  Simply EPIC that is!

Ingredients

8 – 10 red potatoes
1/2 large onion
1 cup frozen edamame
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 can diced tomatoes, drained (or fresh if you aren’t lazy like me:)
3 tbsp evoo (extra virgin olive oil)
1/2 tbsp seasoned salt
1/2 tbsp basil
1 tsp rosemary

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3.  Cut potatoes into small, bite-sized pieces and place in large casserole dish
4.  In a small bowl, mix olive oil, seasoned salt, basil and rosemary
5.  Pour oil mixture over potatoes and stir until potatoes are coated
6.  Chop onion into medium sized pieces and add to dish.  Stir well.
7.  Add tomatoes, frozen edamame and chia seeds.  Stir well.
8.  Roast for approximately 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes until potatoes are soft.

Serve alongside your favorite steamed veggie!  Makes about 4 – 6 servings.

The one problem is that I can’t seem to come up with a name for this dish.  I’m stumped!  Any ideas??

I also snacked on a slice of Ezekiel bread with natural peanut butter about an hour befor din.

Well, I’ve gotta hit the mat and get some PiYo practice in before bed tonight.  I hope you all are having a lovely week so far!

What do you think I should name my potato dish?

Do you pay a lot of attention to ingredient lists?  What caused you to start thinking about what was in your food rather than just trusting the slogan on the front of the box?

On that note, have you read In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan?  I love this book, and I really think it is crucial for everyone to read.  It made me really understand how twisted the food system in our country is.  Not to be a negative Nancy, but we have to watch out for and take care of ourselves! Ya know?

what does "food with integrity" mean to you?

7 Jul

Hellllooooo!

You guys had some fun comments on this morning’s post about kickboxing and yoga classes.  It seems that most of you have tried kickboxing at some point or another and LOVED it.  So exciting to hear the changes you’ve seen through kickboxing!

I was a busy busy bee today.  I keep wondering…how did I ever work a full-time job?  Haha.  only kidding.  I guess I just never met up with friends over lunch, worked out 3x over the course of one day or talked to my sis-in-law on the phone for an hour and a half. doh.

I met my friend, Grace, at Chipotle for lunch today; we had so much to catch up on!  And we caught up over some dang good food, I tell ya.  Chipotle is where’s it’s at!

vegetarian salad with black beans, grilled veggies, 3 kinds of salsa and guacamole! nice.

Chipotle is one of my favorite restaurants because I feel good about eating their food.  The following is a quote from their website regarding what “food with integrity” means to them:

It means serving the very best sustainably raised food possible with an eye to great taste, great nutrition and great value.
It means that we support and sustain family farmers who respect the land and the animals in their care.
It means that whenever possible we use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones.
And it means that we source organic and local produce when practical.
And that we use dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones.

I love that:)  It makes me really think about what “food with integrity” means to me.  Honestly, I feel like I’m still working toward my own definition of the phrase. I’ve been a vegetarian for over a year and a half now and mostly vegan for about 6 months; one huge reason why I eat the way I do is because I can’t feel good about eating food that has been produced by unethical means.  Food Inc. is one movie that set me on this path, and I’m in the middle of a couple of books that are continuing to help shape my ideas and beliefs about having integrity with my daily diet.

The more I learn and discover, the more passionate I feel about making a difference.  Even if it means that I give up one new food item each month, to me that is an accomplishment that I can feel proud of.  Many people often say to me “I can’t be a vegetarian/vegan because I can’t give up X” or “it’s just too hard, I’m afraid I would fail” or “I can’t buy organic because I can’t afford it.”

I want people to understand that it’s not about being perfect. It’s not about never having ice cream again or never eating real cheese again…or even never eating steak again (if that’s what floats your boat:).  It is about doing even one small thing to make a difference.  Such as eating vegetarian one day each week.  Buying organic, free range chicken fifty percent of the time.  Or eating one vegan meal each day.  Or just giving up red meat except on weekends.  Those are just some ideas.

My husband has said before that he can’t be vegetarian because he can’t give up Chick-fil-a sandwiches.  Eat that Chick-fil-a sandwich if it’s what is holding you back!  In no other area of our life do we say “if I can’t be perfect then I’m not even going to try.” Why would we say that about our diet?

I will be honest…I have eaten real ice cream in the past few weeks.  I’ve had real cheese in the past month.  But those have become the exceptions in my life.  I feel good about that, and I don’t beat myself up for the imperfections. Perfection is boring anyway;)

Let’s take steps together to throw out labels and do the best we can each day to improve our health and make our world a better place for our children and our children’s children. That’s what it’s all about!

This afternoon was by far the busiest part of my day!  I met Mohammad for a tutoring session before rushing off to power yoga.  Yoga made up my 3rd, yes 3rd trip, to the gym today.  I think it put me over the edge a bit.  My arms were still feeling weak from my class this morning, and I just didn’t have much left in me.  I pushed through, though, and by the end was super glad I went.  Always am with yoga:)

For dinner I decided to whip up a quick spaghetti dish

with tempeh, my love:)

veggies…

whole wheat pasta…

and my new favorite Bove’s Organic mushroom and wine pasta sauce.  yippee!

And a wonderful dinner such as this wouldn’t be complete with out some veggies

green beans – straight from my mom and step-dad’s garden.  Sauteed in olive oil with chopped onions, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper.  To die for.  I’m not even kidding.  Thank you mom and Clark:)

I just kept picking at these green beans all night, finally resorting to moving them to the fridge so I’ll have some left for later!  I might dream about green beans tonight.  I need help.

First thing tomorrow morning I WILL have up the 100th post giveaway contest. You must stop by because you don’t wanna miss it!

What does “food with intergrity” mean to you? Do you think the meaning should be universal?  Or do you think it can be different for every person?

What small thing could you do to make a difference without feeling the pressure of perfection?

Can’t wait to hear your responses!

***just FYI – I have now moved my blogroll from my sidebar to a tab at the top.  Check it out for some of my favorite reads!