Snow Days

December 10, 2013

Oh last Friday…Also known as:

soup and bread

That random day where I had the genius idea to throw every leftover veggie and container of cooked rice into the crock pot as a surprise, leave for work in the drizzle and come home in a cold wet down pour to  an “extra two points” from the Hubs because our house smelled like a delicious warm bowl of soup that was ready to eat.   And when I say that, I mean, with huge hunks of fresh baguette smeared in earth balance, duh.

That, my friends – is the magic of a crock pot.

This soup was seriously delicious, it absolutely hit the spot.  We had been craving a veggie soup since the explosion of food that is otherwise known as Thanksgiving week.   I normally use two big cans of diced tomatoes, but this time around I switched out one of those cans for a can of crushed tomatoes.  The switch added a little more tomatoey depth (technical term folks, use it) to the soup and with that change plus the leftover rice from the night before, the soup really thickened up into almost a stew, especially with the meaty cremini mushrooms thrown in.   More magic?  I was feeling pretty lazy when I threw the soup together in morning, so the mushrooms only got cut in half, the celery, squash and zucc were chopped REALLY thick, tore up the green beans with an “eh…that looks about even” form of measurement and didn’t even bother to take knife to the baby carrots – in they go!.  A can of corn with its liquid and a few bay leaves, a healthy dose of cumin, garlic powder and black pepper and I was done.   Honestly – no recipe.  Just went with what I had and it turned out perfect.   We froze a bunch for another cold night and had the leftovers for our snow day on Sunday and it tasted just as good. There’s just something about soup that makes you want to curl up in thick cozy socks and be warm and comfortable, especially after a cold wintry day.

the front

We have another snow day today and so I’m hanging out at home.  While the adult in me is really frustrated that I can’t get into work and get some things done (when did THAT happen?), I’m trying really hard to embrace the extra day I’ve been given to get some other things done too.  I have a few things I can do to work from home, so I am grateful for that – and I now have a few more hours in the day to get some presents wrapped, the rest of the decorations up, an early workout in and some more cookies baked.  I’ve got my best gal friends on speed dial (text?) to keep me company and a mug with my name on it.  Plus, it really is hard to waste so much energy being frustrated, when something is so beautiful and we are safe and warm enough to enjoy it. 

winter wonderland

And another perfect day for another perfect bowl of soup.  I’m thinking this recipe:

http://www.dailygarnish.com/recipes?recipe_id=6000059

Wherever you are, I hope you are warm and safe and dry!

coz

And happy 🙂

xo

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Holiday Hangover

December 4, 2013

Woof.  Holidays.

How I can fly half way across the country and still manage to stick to a relatively healthy eating schedule and maintain all workouts, yet make it home to my mom’s house for a week and feel like a slug is beyond me.

Not really.  But sort’ve.

Last week I spent the week enjoying the comforts of home.  This week, I’m looking back on how I spent it.  My eating habits and lifestyle habits are relatively healthy compared to most, so I can’t say that I was “bad” for the whole week – but if I were to sit back and compare my extremely clean diet and workout schedule of the past few months to just a week of going back to how I used to be, I learned a few things.  So, instead of wallowing in the “I wish I had”s, I’ll share.

Happily, a week of not being on a high intensity workout schedule and super clean diet (we’re talking, minimal sugar, carb cycling, loads of protein and whole food style eating) didn’t have an “immediate” change on my outward appearance.  I may have felt a little softer, a big jigglier, but in actuality, my weight didn’t fluctuate at all.    What it DID have an effect on however, was my mentality and emotions.  I THOUGHT I was all of those things, I was down on myself and felt lazy.  And not the good kind of lazy where you think “I deserve this break”.  I felt sluggish and frustrated from a lack of workouts, dehydrated from not drinking enough water and most interestingly to me, I couldn’t for the life of me get a handle on my eating schedule and my body did NOT react well.

I eat about 5-6 smaller healthy meals a day, am a water weekdays warrior (alcohol on the weekends only) and I try to drink 1-2 liters of water each day too.  But that schedule is pretty hard to maintain when you’re home away from home and out with friends and family that you haven’t seen every night.   You have a beer to be social, you eat out almost every night.   I tried to stick with healthier options, salads for lunch and dinners out, fresh fruit at breakfast (love a crisp cold apple fresh from the farmers market), but even a salad can start to feel heavy when you’re eating out.  And I missed my clean protein sources.  That was my biggest issue – I made some protein bars to bring along, but even they started to feel heavy after awhile.  Sugar was EVERYWHERE and I ended up with more than a few sugar headaches.  And the absolute worst I felt, was after my Thanksgiving meal.

First off – let me just say that anyone who thinks Vegans have to go hungry at Thanksgiving, you are officially invited to our house next year – SO much food on my plate.  I think my plate was piled higher than most of the table.  I made a vegan lentil loaf and a mushroom and leek seitan roulade that was to DIE for.   There were also brussel sprouts, green beans and some of my mom’s stuffing that she very sweetly has veganized for me, sloooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooow cooked sweet little onions (we’re talking 18 hrs here kids)  cooked in some red wine, crazy number of homemade cranberry sauces. So. Much. Food.  The problem though, was that being used to eating the number of smaller meals in a day, having a small breakfast and then one LARGE meal in the afternoon that basically covered all of my caloric intake for the week had me feeling awful.  I ended up in bed early with a migraine and what felt like impending doom of sickness.  Luckily (and far less dramatically), I was fine the next morning.

I can say that although I wasn’t “working out” persay, I was fairly active for the majority of the week and even made it out to peruse some of the stores on Friday.   Which leads me to another post for another day – but is anyone else starting to be a little tired of the extreme consumerism these days?  Buying gifts because they flash the brightest and honk the loudest instead of finding a special gift and embracing the spirit, etc etc.

But for now – I’m back home.  Sleep deprived (why is it that my first few nights back on a real and deliciously comfortable bed I sleep AWFULLY), but slowly getting back into the swing of workouts and healthy eating.  I’m back to my small meals and got myself moving last night with some circuit style lifting and moderate cardio.    Just in time for the Christmas festivities to start!  We have our Christmas lights up on the house and are planning out our Christmas tree strategy/decorating.  I’m determined to enjoy each holiday this year as much as I can.  Because we should.

Hope everyone else has recovered from the holidays and maybe even had a healthier go of it than I did!

xo

The Pinnacle

November 20, 2013

Ya’ll,  I have reach the pinnacle of vegan cooking.

pizza 2

Homemade Vegan Pizza.  Worth eating.  I know.

pizza 1

Forgive the awful cell phone pictures, but this was just too good not to share.  Honest to goodness Mom & Pop pizza  feel and taste to it.  I’ve made this pizza twice now.  I followed the recipe for this pizza dough both times.  The first I did a nice over night dough rise (and made my own sauce, per her instructions).  The second time, I threw it together on a Sunday afternoon and used up the last of some store bought pizza sauce we had in the fridge.   I added some slices of Follow Your Heart Vegan Cheese and kept my fingers crossed that the cheese would melt a bit (a common Vegan cheese problem).

The words “wait…which one is mine” and “aw man, yours looks better” were heard in my kitchen that night.  Glorious glorious words.    I think the secret was putting the cheese in the oven when it was 500 degrees 🙂  But seriously, that dough?  Magical.  I’ve already turned a few people onto it, while becoming a total addict myself.   There is literally nothing I have made and/or adapted from Smitten Kitchen that has not tasted amazing.  I forsee many.many.MANY nights of pizza in my future.

xo

Sickie Dinner for 1

November 13, 2013

Soup1

Sick = soup, always – right?

While I’m definitely not full blown sick, I have been feeling pretty drained and under the weather lately.  I’ve been trying to keep up my workouts  at a lower intensity and keep my body fueled with good healthy foods to fight off whatever it is that’s wrong with me (my money is on a Sinus Infection/Tooth Infection – yuck).

Yesterday was a particularly rough one and by the time I was home and had finished my workout, I had ZERO appetite.  Not eating wasn’t an option, so instead I threw together this easy soup that reminded me of my “mom, can I have a bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup?” days.   Salty, comforting and with a few extra healthy bits and pieces to satisfy my lifestyle.

I started with half a cube of Veggie broth bouillon into 2 cups of water and added some diced carrots and celery I had already cut up in the fridge.  Next went half a package of pre-cubed tofu cubes, some freshly grated ginger, cayenne pepper and garlic powder, a trifecta of sick blasters!  Once the veggies were nice and tender and the soup was ready to eat, I threw in a handful of torn up kale and let it steam a bit, to up the greens factor.

Soup2

The result was cozy and comforting, salty and nourishing.  Not too heavy, but still nutritious enough to satisfy.   A big bowl of this would fill me up on a regular (feeling good) day, especially with the addition of some grains or noodles.  But for now, it was perfect as was.    Tonight, I’m feeling like a hungry beast, so I’m hoping a nice solid biceps/back workout will put me in the mood for some roasted acorn squash….get in mah bellay!

I’m off to the dentist tomorrow (I really hate the dentist…) to try and figure out if the tooth is the problem, or the sinuses are the problem.  Chicken or the egg?

See also – go give my friend Dom some serious love over at his page.  He just got back from running the NYC marathon.  Major inspiration right there.

Homemade Ramen Bowls

October 13, 2013

Its a point of pride for me that I can come up with tasty and fun meals that are vegetarian or vegan and keep the masses happy.  But there are definitely times when we look at our weekly menu and 1.  NOTHING sounds appealing and 2.  We notice “sandwiches” make it on the list 3 different times.  Chances are, when we get to this point, we wind up with more frozen pizzas and less money in our pockets.  Not to mention a significant dip in that “healthy”  aspect.  Oops.

This weekend in an attempt to fix that – I decided to try my hand at something fun and pretty easy to do.  Homemade ramen bowls!

Complete with Sake (which was...not our thing)

Complete with Sake (which was…not our thing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since it was Saturday and I had some time, I decided to go all out on these, I took a cue from Post Punk Kitchen and made my own broth by simmering some chopped onion, ginger, garlic and carrots in water.   To finish it off, I strained the liquid out and whisked in some Miso, Mirin and Liquid Aminos before cooking up the noodles in the broth.   I found packages of ramen Noodles (I think my package called them Chinese Noodles) in my grocery store that weren’t the 99 cent instant ramen lunches, but I imagine in a pinch just buying the instant ramen noodle packs would work and you could leave out the spice packet (Bonus to making your own broth?  Saying goodbye to that unbelievably salty seasoning…).

I topped our ramen bowls with marinated and grilled sliced Portobellas and baby Bok Choy, bean sprouts, green onions and cubed tofu for me.  I didn’t bother heating up my tofu, just cubed it up and let it warm up a bit in my bowl of soup.  I’m one of those weirdos who doesn’t mind the taste of tofu, cooked or uncooked and have been known to eat it straight out of the container… 🙂

Ramen 2

We topped off the meal with a glass of sake, which as I mentioned in the above image, really not our thing.  Maybe it was the bottle I picked up, but we both ended up switching out for a beer about halfway through the meal.   There was also a side of vegan spring rolls that I picked up from the frozen section, although most of my appetite was dedicated to the bowl in front of me.

A tasty way to break out of a dining rut and pretty easy to boot! It could be made even easier on a weeknight, since the noodles cook so quickly to just whip up some veggie broth (I use the bouillon cubes to control sodium) and quick cook up the veggies.  I also read that the  broth freezes pretty well, so there’s that option too.

Now…something else new to try?

Hope everyone is having a lovely weekend!

xo

When at home

August 13, 2013

This weekend the family was together for a sad goodbye to our cousin, who passed away the week before.  Although its never easy to go through, our entire family is taking a lot of comfort in kmowing that he isnt in any pain anymore, and he had his fair share.

Even though it was a sad reason to be home, I am always grateful for the chance to be in the same spot with my brothers.

image

image

We clearly are never to be left without parental supervision when in public. 

Despite being away from home, I managed to whip up some healthy eats (we will ignore the wine and chinese food binge that may or may not have happened Sunday night) for lunch, based on what was fresh in the house.

image

Just another simple summer salad of cukes, tomatoes, onion and white beans with red wine vinegar, s&p.  Im not sure what it is about the cucumber and vinegar combo, but I cannot get enough! A nectarine and fruit&nut bar finished off the lite meal to hold me over through the funeral.

And…despite 2 out of the 3 for our family gym date bailing on the early am wakeup call, I didnt let my morning go to waste.  I got in a decent workout, combo-ing some yoga with a total body workout, consisting of jumping jacks, tricep dips, modified burpies, jumping lunges and butt lifts (there has got to be a classier way to say that….) on repeat for 3 times.   Not a traditional Cardio and lifting routine, but I pushed myself to finish three rounds fast enough that I was tired for each round. 

And now, im back home and hoping to get the last coat of paint on the walls in the master bedroom and maybe squeeze in a workout.   Its been an interesting experiment juggling the commute, house projects, getting dinner on the table, a workout and some qt in with B all before between 5 and 10:30 ( yes, I am lame).  Im learning to be a little better with accepting alternative workouts and healthy eating as being good enough for the day if thata all I can realistically accomplish on any given night. 

Progress, not perfection, yes?
Xo

This weekend

August 6, 2013

I’ve been feeling pretty bummy lately, so this weekend I made a concentrated effort to let myself enjoy things and to do things that I know make me happy to help move that along.   It was a low key weekend, as far as weekends go – but it was a productive one and a fun one.   We ran errands, did some projects around the house, went for a Chinese food dinner date, had some simple summertime good eats and…

drill

played with power tools.

On Sunday we hosted my in laws for an impromptu afternoon hangout.  They brought steamed shrimp, corn on the cob and greek salad fixings, so B and I supplied the pre dinner munchies:

veggie tray

dip tray

Since it was going to be a relatively lite dinner, I opted for some sliced baguette with homemade bruschetta and herbed olive oil, with some cut veggies and homemade hummus (for us) and veggie dip (for them).  Served alongside some grapes, crackers and olives, it was delish.    Its been a recent goal of ours to rely less and less on prepackaged foods, so I love making our own dips and spreads like this when we’re able to, its nice to know what goes into our food and usually ends up being cheaper and tastes better too!

tempeh

I also did a simple marinated tempeh with olive oil, lemon juice and cracked pepper to grill up for dinner while everyone else enjoyed the shrimp!  Simple and delicious, the epitome of summer time meals for us.  A ton of food, but we never really felt like we had eaten too much.

rice salad

This weekend I also whipped together this easy rice salad when we couldn’t figure out what to eat on Friday night.  Neither of us were feeling anything too heavy and I had veggies to use up, but neither of us wanted to snack the whole night either.  So I threw together some brown rice, chopped up the last of the red onion and cucumber, tossed it with some leftover chickpeas, fresh mint from our planter, LOTS of lemon juice and pepper.  It was simple, refreshing and lite.  Another perfect summer time meal.  The great thing about this salad, is that it made enough for leftovers and keeps pretty well in the fridge, so I’ve been throwing it on my salads for lunches too.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their summer time flavors as much as we are! Clearly, I have a thing for fresh veggies and lemon juice this year…

xo