Monthly Archives: February 2012

My Little Pink Taser

Happy Leap Day!

Random thought: I don’t know anyone whose birthday is today. I’m curious if more people with this birthday celebrate the date before or the day after when it’s not a leap year? Hmmmm.

Yesterday I took Harley to the doctor for a check-up. I mentioned that we go hiking and the vet recommended doing shock collar rattlesnake training, so that she’ll be trained to stay away from snakes if she sees them. I obviously don’t want Harley to run up to a snake and get bit, but shock training?! Call me a softy, but I think that sounds a little harsh.

When we went for a lunchtime hike today, I noticed the above sign and started thinking not only of park safety from rattlesnakes, but my safety overall.

While my husband is deployed, I’m keenly aware of my surroundings, and being at the park is no different. These days when I go hiking, I bring my cellphone just as a precaution. I find it annoying, as I’d like to unwind and leave it in the car, but I feel like it’s necessary just in case anything should happen. I have Harley with me of course, which possibly adds a level of comfort (I say possibly because she isn’t exactly a guard dog!). And there’s one other thing that makes me feel safer hiking in a beautiful, but somewhat creepy area:

That’s right, I own a pink taser.

It’s kind of funny that I have a taser at all. But the fact that it’s bright pink makes it all the more awesome.

I’m not entirely sure how it would play out if I used my taser on a rattlesnake, though quite frankly, I’m more concerned with humans.. but it makes me feel safer, and that’s what it’s for right!

Eats of the Day

Today I made an easy smoothie that would be a great snack, or to start your day with for breakfast as I did today.

Banana Agave Smoothie

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 cup of almond milk (Almond Breeze unsweetened)
  • 1 TBSP agave nectar (C&H organic)
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (Designer Whey)
  • Ice

Facts: 200 calories, 5 g fat, 11 g protein, 34 g carbs

On the way home from boxing, I decided that I felt like eating chocolate. You’d think I’m a pregnant lady with the cravings I get (By the way, NO I’m not!). I made an excellent decision to make pancakes for dinner. I whipped up something very similar to my banana chocolate chip pancakes, but I amped up the protein since it was post-workout (I aim to eat at least 15 g of protein within an hour or so of working out).

Chocolate-y Banana Pancakes  

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour (Gold Medal)
  • 1/2 medium  banana, mashed
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, dry (Quaker)
  • 1 TSP brown sugar (Trader Joe’s organic)
  • 1 TBSP semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghiradelli)
  • 1/2 cup chocolate soy milk (Soy Slender)
  • 1/2 scoop chocolate protein powder (Designer Whey)

Combine all ingredients except chocolate chips in a bowl, then pour onto a skillet over medium heat. Add chips to each cake and cook until they’re browned on both sides, then enjoy with your favorite topping. I slathered my pancakes with 1/2 TBSP of light butter. You might feel the need to inhale them as I did!Stats: 400 calories, 11 g fat, 22g protein, 67 g carbs

Citrusy Fennel & Guava Salad

First thing this AM before I started working, I took Harley for a quick run/walk interval around our neighborhood trail. It took 20 minutes, I felt like I got a bit of exercise in, and the puppy was content all morning with just laying around. Why don’t I do that everyday?! I’m certainly going to try to start more of my weekdays off like that.

How to Beat Exercise Boredom

In lieu of boxing this evening, I volunteered at the Humane Society. In order to get a workout in today, I squeezed in a weight training + cycling session at my gym beforehand. As I was doing some strength training exercises, and sweating my butt off since I haven’t been doing that kind of workout much lately, I started thinking about how important it is to diversify your workouts.

True, there may be some people out there that can do the same workout over and over and not get bored. Avid runners come to mind when I say that, but I’ll bet that even those people experience burnout at some point. For me, I need to change up my routine to keep myself not only mentally focused and stimulated, but to also keep my body guessing. Your body adapts quickly to a workout, and if you just keep doing the same thing, you probably won’t see the results you’d like, and you’ll also get tired of the same old thing.

In the past week, I’ve boxed, hiked, done yoga and running intervals, weight trained and cycled. I love to do a variety of exercises like this, not to mention that each of these workouts train different muscles in different ways. Let’s just say that I’m constantly sore (especially since I’ve started boxing!), which is a good thing!

My point is that sometimes we get into a rut of doing the same, boring routine and find ourselves lacking motivation to exercise at all. Switching up your workouts and incorporating new forms of exercise into your life can be nothing but beneficial, plus you might even find something new that you love to do. Moral of the story is to not bore yourself, and to be bold and try out new workouts! 🙂

Onto Food…

I got creative with lunch today, and I’m officially in love with what I came up with.

I bought fennel for the first time at the farmer’s market last weekend – what an interesting looking veggie. I know I’ve had salads with shaved fennel before, but have never made something with it myself. I was really surprised with how much it smelled like black licorice as I was slicing it. How odd but neat! This salad is so yummy and I will definitely be making it again (more likely sooner than later!).

 

Citrusy Fennel Salad

Serves 1

  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced + a few leaves thrown in for good measure
  • 1 medium guava, sliced
  • 1 large slice of red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 TBSP chopped toasted hazelnuts (Diamond)
  • 1 oz. crumbled Feta cheese (President)
  • Juice from 1/2 lemon
  • 1 TSP olive oil
  • Mixed up pepper

Combine first 5 ingredients in a bowl. Mix lemon juice, olive oil, and pepper in a small dish, then pour onto salad.

Nutrition stats: 300 calories, 19 g fat, 9 g protein, 28 g carbs

Off to enjoy my pictured dessert of granola + Cheerios + craisins and finish up on some work!

 

Mixed Up Meals Monday

Whew, what a busy day! It always seems like I have a lot to get done at the beginning of the week. I was pretty productive but feel like I can never get everything checked off my to-do list. Such is life I suppose. We do all we can, right?

So ever since cooking with tofu the other day, I’ve had making an tofu “omelette” in the back of my head. I’ve always been intrigued by omelets – not because I actually want to eat eggs (if that were the case, I just would eat em), but because it seems fun to throw a bunch of things into it to whip up a healthy breakfast.

Let’s face it, tofu doesn’t take like anything really. It basically just takes on whatever flavors you pair with it. Instead of trying it out for breakfast, I decided to make my first egg-like tofu dish for lunch by throwing in a few yummy ingredients, and I loved it!

Mexican Tofu Scramble  

Serves 1

  • 3 oz firm tofu (Azumaya) chopped into small pieces 
  • 1 oz avocado, cut into chunks
  • 2 TBSP salsa
  • 1 serving Mexican shredded cheese (Sargento)
  • 1/2 medium heirloom tomato, chopped into chunks

I didn’t have the time or patience to press the tofu, so I skipped it and just threw the tofu into a saucepan over medium heat. It wound up being a good move, because it didn’t turn out too watery at all.

I threw all the ingredients together, adding the cheese in at the end just until melted. This meal was ready in 5 minutes flat, and I ate it with a slice of wheat toast on the side.

Stats: 225 calories, 18 g fat, 18 g protein, 11 g carbs

After doing about a gazillion burpees and push ups at boxing this evening, I wasn’t in the mood for a real dinner. Sometimes when I have a hard workout I’m just not that hungry afterwards. So instead, I made a smoothie for dinner, which is something I usually will make for lunch. As the title implies, my meals were a little mixed up today! It was my first time trying this particular smoothie out, and though it wasn’t as peachy as I thought it’d be, I approve! I especially like how protein-packed it is.

Peach Protein Smoothie

  • 1 cup frozen sliced peaches
  • 1 cup milk (Almond Breeze unsweetened almond milk)
  • 6 oz container of Chobani Greek non-fat plain yogurt
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder (Designer Whey)
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 1 TSP Stevia sweetener
  • Ice

Nutrition facts: 330 calories, 6 g fat, 29 g protein, 42 g carbs

Food for thought: “Tell me what you eat, I’ll tell you who you are.” – Jean Anthelme Brillat- Savarin

Heirloom Tomato Salad

“Shipping is a terrible thing to do to vegetables. They probably get jet-lagged, just like people.” -Elizabeth Berry

When I walked into my apartment this evening after being out to run some errands, the first thing I noticed was that it smells like fresh produce in here. I think the guavas in my fruit basket are giving off quite a fragrance and I love it!

Tonight for dinner I used the lovely locally grown veggies (I refuse to acknowledge tomato as a fruit!) pictured above to make quite a salad.

Heirloom Tomato Salad

Makes 1 meal portion, or 2 appetizer servings

  • 2 heirloom tomatoes, chopped into chunks 
  • A couple cups of arugula to use as a bed of greens
  • A slice of red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 oz fresh mozzarella, cut into chunks
  • A couple sprigs of basil, chopped
  • Mixed up salt & pepper to taste
  • 1/2 TBSP oil (I used basil infused olive oil)
  • 1/2 TBSP balsamic vinegar (used blackberry flavored)

Throw everything together, drizzle the dressing on top, and eat away! I ate my salad with a TJ’s baby baguette.

Nutrition stats: 310 calories, 18 g fat, 14 g protein, 19 g carbs

I’ll leave you with a photo I snapped with my phone at the top of the mountain that Harley and I trekked up this afternoon. Our hike was 8 hours ago and the puppy is still exhausted from it, plus I made it back down without completely busting my ass – so mission accomplished!

Tofu Scramble Wrap

I’ve been having some really awesome Saturdays lately.

My day consisted of a long morning walk with Harley around our neighborhood trail, going to the Little Italy Mercato with Jackie, yoga, and laying by the pool to read for awhile. What’s not to love?

At the farmer’s market I picked up a lot of fruits and veggies, granola and avocado oil:

Do you see those heirloom tomatoes? Can’t wait to eat that deliciousness.

Jackie is doing a juice cleanse next week so she bought an insane amount of produce today. Looking at her lugging her stuffed shopping bags around that were overflowing with greens was cracking me up.

Holy Swiss chard!

Buying a bunch of veggies and hearing about Jackie’s juice cleanse prompted me to try throwing spinach into my afternoon smoothie. Green Monster shakes are all the rage and I hear about them everywhere, but the thought always kinds of icks me out. I prefer my smoothies sweet, fruity and a bright color. Even so, I tried it out today to see how gross  good it could be.

I blended together a cup of fresh strawberries, a cup of almond milk, 1/2 scoop of vanilla protein powder and a handful of spinach. I was prepared for the greenish color instead of my usual pretty pink strawberry smoothie hue, but it still freaked me out a teeny bit. I could taste the spinach a little, but it wasn’t so bad. Who knows, maybe I will try to incorporate leafy greens into my smoothies from time to time to build my green smoothie tolerance up.

Not the most appealing smoothie you'll ever see...

Dinner 

The other day I was checking out the vegan blog OhSheGlows.com  and a tofu breakfast burrito recipe was posted. It made me think about how I don’t cook with tofu enough, and inspired me to buy some at the store yesterday. Tonight I used some of it and threw together a meal that’s low in calories and high in protein.

Tofu Scramble Wrap

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 3 oz block of extra firm tofu (Azymaya)
  • 1 multigrain wrap (La Tortilla Factory Smart & Delicious)
  • 1 serving of shredded Mexican cheese (1/3 cup Weight Watchers)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 TBSP pico de gallo (Trader Joe’s)
  • A few sprigs of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 stalk of green onion, sliced
  • Salt & pepper (I love Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up seasonings)
  • 1 TBSP of white cooking wine (water will work too)

First, you need to drain and press the tofu. To press it, simply wrap the amount of tofu you’re planning to use in a kitchen towel, then put some heavy books on top of it. This will draw the water out of the tofu. Leave it for at least 10 minutes.

In a medium sauce pan, heat the cooking wine over medium heat. Add pepper and let it cook for just a couple of minutes until softened a bit. While the pepper is starting to cook, chop up the tofu into small pieces.

 

Add tofu, pico de gallo, cilantro, green onion, salt, and pepper to the pan. Mix everything together with a spoon, then remove from heat.

Put the wrap in a large pan over the burner. Pour tofu mixture onto the wrap, then add cheese. Let it cook until the cheese is melted.

Nutrition stats: 280 calories, 13 g fat, 26 g protein, 27 g carbs

Well, I’m off to watch a movie and relax. Have a great rest of your weekend!

‘Am I Ugly?’ YouTube Trend

Behold, my new favorite fruit:

Guava.  I found them at the Little Italy Mercato last weekend and was so surprised by how awesomely sweet they are. They’re yet another thing on my list to buy again when I make another trip to the market tomorrow. Here are some health benefits of eating this super fruit:

  • It’s a very rich source of fiber & antioxidants
  • They’re high in Vitamin-C & iron, making it a great preventative against colds and viral infections. In fact, I read that just one guava has 3x the recommended daily intake of Vitamin-C!
  • Due to the astringents found in the fruit and its abundance of vitamin-A, B, C, and potassium, it can help improve skin texture (supposedly has the power to tone & tighten – yes, please!)
  • Guavas are a good source of flavonoids like lycopene, which studies suggest help to prevent skin damage from UV rays and protect against cancer.
  • It’s also very good to eat if you, um, have problems with your #2’s. The fruit’s astringents help bind loose bowels; on the flip side, the seeds apparently act as a natural laxative.

‘Am I Ugly’ YouTube Videos

Yesterday I got sidetracked from work for a bit when my news screen popped up and I saw a story about a current YouTube trend. Apparently, young girls are posting videos asking the world to judge them and determine if they’re ugly or not. Some of the videos have thousands of comments – some nice, some mean. Really mean.

There are so many elements to this that bug me. Frankly, I find it to be a little heartbreaking that girls are putting themselves out there like this for complete strangers to ridicule their looks.

In the video I watched, it’s ask if these girls are posing the question just to get attention. Well, duh. They’re young teenage girls, unsure of themselves and looking for validation that they’re pretty, or worse, are seeking confirmation that they’re unattractive.

But to me, what’s worse about this is that there are people, some probably grown adults, making such hateful comments in response. It always annoys me to see people making nasty remarks on any article or video I see online. I feel that people only say such negative things because they aren’t happy with themselves. I also think that the Internet allows people to say whatever ridiculous statements they want while hiding behind a screen name. Ick.

All of this begs the question, why are young girls finding it necessary to post ‘Am I Ugly?’ videos? It probably has a lot to do with the prevalence of beautiful people everywhere in the media. This undoubtably has a huge impact on the standards we hold people to, especially young impressionable girls who want to look like the girl on the magazine cover (who is definitely photoshopped to appear flawless, might I add).

I think that us adults have got to do a better job at instilling the importance of other attributes into children – ones that are deeper than physical appearance. We need to find a way to ingrain more confidence  and self-worth into our young kids so they believe that they are not just attractive, but smart, talented, athletic, funny, artistic, and whatever else, so that they don’t feel the need to ask, “Am I ugly or pretty?” on YouTube.

As human beings, we care about how others perceive us. Anyone who says that it doesn’t matter at all what anyone else thinks of them is probably lying. But I don’t believe it’s healthy to put such an emphasis on the opinions of others, let alone total strangers. This makes me think of  a picture & saying I have on my office desk:

What are your thoughts on the ‘Am I Ugly’ YouTube video trend? 

Lemon Chickpea Couscous

I certainly got my feel-good workout endorphins going today! I took a break from work at lunchtime to do a walk/run interval sess around my neighborhood trail with Harley, and then this evening I boxed. I was a sweaty beast by the end of the class, and it felt great to get some hardcore exercise in. While my friend was in town I favored laying by the pool and drinking wine to working out and guzzling water like usual, so it was good to get back into my routine today (though it’s fun to take a break from the typical regimen, especially when it involves time with a good friend!).

Dinner

When I got home from the gym, I was in the mood to eat a lot of veggies. I had the last of my leftover couscous from last week’s dinner recipes to use (you can see those recipes here and here), and this is what I came up with:

Lemon Chickpea Couscous

Serves 1

  • 1 cup of couscous (Near East wheat couscous with roasted garlic and olive oil)
  •  1/2 cup garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed (Libby’s organic) 
  • 1/2 red  bell pepper
  • 1/2 vine ripe tomato
  • 1/2 small zucchini
  • slice of red onion
  • white cooking wine (about 2 TBSP)
  • juice from 1/2 lemon
  • a few sprigs of parsley
  • salt & pepper

Heat cooking wine in a saucepan over medium heat. Chop up pepper, tomato, zucchini, parsley and onion.

Add onion to sauce pan and cook for just a minute or so. Next add pepper, parsley and zucchini, and let cook for a few minutes until the veggies start to get tender.

Add beans and tomato to the pan, then pour lemon juice into the mix. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let it cook for a few minutes until heated through. In the meantime, warm up couscous in the microwave.

Combine veggie mixture with couscous and enjoy.

Nutrition stats: 375 calories, 4 g fat, 16 g protein, 68 g carbs

Off to get some work done before I get too tired, good night!

My mother was right.

The other day I spotted a Chobani lemon Greek yogurt at the food store. I thought it looked really yummy, so I bought one to try.

I ate that yogurt today with blueberries mixed in and really liked it.

This is kind of scary… and here’s why.

I never liked lemon flavoring. I like actual lemons, but not lemon flavored cakes, cookies, pies, yogurts, candy, and whatever else.

My mom and grandma love those kinds of lemon foods. When I used to say that I couldn’t stand lemon, my mother would tell me that my taste buds will change as I get older and I’ll probably develop a taste for it one day.

She was right.

This isn’t the first food I used to not care for but like these days. I never was a fan of pumpkin until recently, and now I love it.

My grandma buys this wheat pie from a place in my hometown. I have no idea why/how, but she thinks it’s amazing. She likes it so much that she’ll buy it as a dessert for a family get together, and when we take the dessert spread out, this pie is already half eaten from her munching on it beforehand.

What’s next? I’m a little freaked out that next time I’m back on the East coast I’m going to try this pie and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted. Yikes!

The 5 Healthiest Cheeses

I was just reading an article about the healthiest cheeses to eat. As you might have noticed from my recipes, I love cheese. But I also believe in moderation and limit my cheese intake since it’s high in fat and calories. On the flip side, I like to include it in my recipes to amp up my protein, plus I think cheese can give a dish so much flavor. According to the article, here are the best options out there:

  • Feta
  • String cheese
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss
  • Cottage cheese

Yum, I love all of those except for Swiss. Who knows though, maybe sometime in the future I’ll suddenly enjoy a hunk of Swiss. 😉

Weekend Recap + Homemade Pizza

Wow, what an awesome Presidents’ Day weekend I had! It has been so great to have my best friend in town.

I had my first dueling piano bar experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s safe to say it’s going to be my new favorite way to spend a night out! We had a blast belting out all the tunes they played.

We played with Harley at the beach.

There was quite a bit of wine tasting…

Yep, no idea who these people are.

And we thoroughly enjoyed my homemade sangria.

Today, I got some work done during the day while Meg laid by the pool and hung out. Then this evening we made my FAVORITE dinner. In fact, when Adam’s home I usually make it every Friday night. Everyone that knows me knows I love homemade pizza!

Ok, it’s not entirely homemade. I typically buy jarred pizza sauce and Trader Joe’s dough. I’m all about homemade but convenient!

Veggie & Mozzarella Pizza  

Makes 8 servings.

What we used tonight:

  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (TJ’s) 
  • Fresh mozzarella balls (Also TJ’s. I use 2 medium sized balls = 8 servings = 28 g)
  • About 1/2 cup marinara sauce (Newman’s Own)
  • About 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Large handful of spinach
  • Several stalks of broccoli rabe
  • Chopped basil
  • Whole wheat flour to help roll dough out
  • Salt & pepper
After rolling out the dough with a rolling pin, placing it on the pizza pan, and spreading the sauce on, we went ahead and loaded it up with chopped veggies and cheese.  Then we placed that bad boy in the oven at 400 degrees until bubbly, around 15 minutes.

Per slice: About 200 calories, 7 g fat, 10 g protein, 27 g carbs

Off to enjoy Meaghan’s company & watch Grey’s Anatomy and chick flicks for the last night she’s in San Diego!