Monthly Archives: November 2012

Butternut Squash, Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Pizza

YAY for the weekend being here! I came home a bit ago to find the first Christmas gift that I’ve ordered this year sitting at my doorstep. I love the feeling of getting someone you care about a gift you know that they’ll love – ’tis the season right!

My Friday so far has consisted of work, hiking with Harley at a nearby park, physical therapy (my calf is feeling pretty good right now!), and last but certainly not least, making this pizza….

If you’re familiar at all with my blog, you know that Friday dinners are homemade pizza nights in my household more often than not. Though pizza is often thought of as a ”naughty” food, the ones that I make aren’t greasy, and are usually loaded with veggies and made with whole wheat dough. Because I make pizza pretty often, I like to switch it up and try out new healthy combos. Tonight’s pizza is adapted from a recipe I saw on Self magazine. You can find their original recipe here.

First, I preheated my oven to 375. Then I tossed the butternut squash in a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and let it cook in the oven until tender.

Next I rolled my dough out on a flour dusted surface…

I then chopped up the spinach, sliced the cherry tomatoes and red onion…

…and evenly spread them over the dough.

Next I added the butternut squash cubes,  evenly crumbled the goat cheese on top, and seasoned the pizza:

I baked that bad boy in the oven until lightly browned, then let it cool before cutting into slices.

It was definitely a unique pizza combo! Here is the exact recipe:

Butternut Squash, Spinach, Goat Cheese & Tomato Pizza
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 whole wheat pizza dough (I use the Trader Joe's brand)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • 2 cups cubed butternut squash
  • 1 TSP olive oil
  • ¼ red onion
  • 2 cups raw spinach
  • ½ cup cherry tomatoes
  • ½ TSP dried thyme
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ TSP pepper
  • About 2 TBSP of whole wheat flour for rolling dough out
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Toss butternut squash with olive oil, ¼ TSP salt and ¼ TSP pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Turn squash over, then bake for about another 10 minutes, or until tender. Set aside.
  3. Turn oven up to 400.
  4. Using a flour dusted rolling pin on a flour dusted surface, roll the dough out. Place onto your pizza or baking pan.
  5. Roughly chop spinach, slice cherry tomatoes, and thinly slice red onion. Evenly spread on top of the dough.
  6. Add the butternut squash and crumble the goat cheese evenly onto the pizza.
  7. Season with thyme and remaining ¼ TSP of salt and pepper.
  8. Bake in the oven until lightly browned, around 15 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into slices.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice, Calories: 190, Fat: 6 g, Saturated fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 31 g, Sugar: 2 g, Fiber: 6 g, Protein: 8 g

Infographic: The Importance of Sleep

We all know that getting sleep is crucial to healthy living. Although I know a few people who seem to get by well without much sleep, I am certainly not one of them. When I’m sleep deprived, I feel mentally slow, get distracted, have headaches, and generally just feel off. Sleep is critical to allowing your body to function properly. For instance, our immune systems are weakened when we don’t get enough shut eye, which explains why a lot of people get sick when they are lacking the proper amount of sleep. I hate feeling under the weather, so this is a big reason why I try to make sure to sleep enough (the key word here being try, as I’m not too great of a sleeper!). For me, the magic number of optimal sleep is between 7 1/2 – 8 1/2 hours, as it is for most people. Below is an infographic with some reasons why you should make efficient sleep time a priority in your life:

Speaking of which, I’m off to relax for the night and then get some (hopefully quality) sleep!

Gourmet Bread Crumb Giveaway

The biggest reason I love going to San Diego’s Little Italy Mercato is that I get to meet the people who are  creating the food — the farmers, owners, and bakers who are passionate about their businesses. The food sold at the market is local, and it’s real food with real ingredients you can pronounce and are familiar with. One business that sells their products at the market is Panache Pantry, a maker of all natural, gourmet bread crumbs that contain no fillers or preservatives. They caught my eye one day when samples were being given out of vanilla ice cream topped with Panache bread crumbs, which sounds a bit odd but tastes delicious. From salads and fruit to cookies and garlic bread, the bread crumbs can jazz up many dishes and foods.

Using their pumpkin cajun flavored bread crumbs, I adapted Panache Pantry’s recipe for twice baked sweet potatoes  and made sweet & spicy sweet potato bowls:

I also used the pumpkin cajun breadcrumbs to spice up some roasted chickpeas:

Another way I love incorporating the bread crumbs into a dish is by adding Panache Pantry’s whole wheat vintage Sicilian bread crumbs to zucchini parmesan:

Panache makes the following kinds of bread crumbs:

  • Traditional Vintage Sicilian
  • Zucchini Rosemary
  • Pumpkin Cajun
  • Whole Wheat Vintage Sicilian

Would you like to try out Panache Pantry’s bread crumbs? Then I have a giveaway for you! One reader will win 2 bags of bread crumbs of their choice.

How to enter to win: If you have Facebook, visit Panache’s page and show them some love by hitting ”like” (If you’re not a Facebook user, skip this part). Then comment on this post telling me what recipe or food you’d like to try adding the bread crumbs to. The contest will be open for a week, and then the lovely owners of Panache will select the reader whose idea they like best. I’ll be announcing the winner next Tuesday.

Below are the recipes for the dishes I mention above:

4.0 from 1 reviews
Sweet & Spicy Sweet Potatoes
Author: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes
  • 2 TBSP [light] butter
  • ¼ cup Panache Pantry Pumpkin Cajun bread crumbs
  • 1 TBSP + 1 TSP brown sugar
  • ⅛ TSP nutmeg
  • ½ TSP cinnamon
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until tender, about an hour.
  3. Remove from oven and let cool.
  4. Split potatoes, remove the flesh, and place in a large bowl.
  5. Add butter, sugar, nutmeg, and cinnamon to the bowl, and mix together well.
  6. Evenly distribute the sweet potatoes into 4 bowls. Top each bowl with 1 TBSP of bread crumbs.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 bowl, Calories: 185, Fat: 5 g, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 5 g

4.0 from 1 reviews
Cajun Roasted Chickpeas
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans (about 1⅔ cups)
  • 1½ TBSP olive oil
  • 2 TBSP Panache Pantry Pumpkin Cajun bread crumbs
  • ½ TSP salt
  • ½ TSP paprika
  • ½ TSP garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then place in a bowl.
  3. Add the olive oil, salt, paprika and garlic powder. Toss well to coat.
  4. Spread the chickpeas on a baking sheet and cook for about 15 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven, stir the chickpeas, then sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. Return back to oven and bake until crispy, 10-15 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 330, Fat: 17 g, Carbohydrates: 35 g, Protein: 15 g

4.0 from 1 reviews
Zucchini Parmesan
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1½ medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • ½ TSBP olive oil
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ TSP salt
  • ⅛ TSP pepper
  • 2 TBSP Panache Pantry Whole Wheat Sicilian bread crumbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the zucchini to the pan. Season with salt and pepper, and let the zucchini cook for around 7 minutes, or until tender.
  5. Spread zucchini in an 8x11 baking pan. Pour marinara sauce over top, then add the shredded cheese. Top the dish off with the bread crumbs.
  6. Cook until cheese is bubbly and dish begins to brown, around 20 minutes.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 265, Fat: 15 g, Carbohydrates: 28 g, Protein: 16 g

Healthy Snack Alert: Strawberry Banana Chiller

Now that Thanksgiving is under wraps, I feel like it’s officially the holiday season. Yesterday I got into the spirit of things by decking out my apartment with Christmas decor, which always feels like an automatic mood enhancer to me.

Something about the holiday season in general puts me in such festive spirits. And how can you not enjoy your kitchen table being covered in sparkly red and silver place mats?

Speaking of the holiday season, we all know that December is packed with tempting food situations for us to constantly splurge on, from delicious looking Christmas cookies and eggnog at holiday parties, to fast food when we’re on the run. I think that everyone should enjoy treats, but it’s important to not completely give up on eating healthily just because ’tis the season to be jolly. Today’s healthy snack idea is an example of something you can easily make that will help keep food cravings in check amidst all of the holiday chaos. But before I get to talking about this yumminess…

…I have a blog update for you that I am kind of ecstatic about. Ever since I transitioned over to my self-hosted website, I’ve been having problems with my subscriber tools. It seems like I kept having issue after issue, and every time I switch what subscriber program I use, I lose those who have subscriptions to the blog. Such a bummer! After my current plugin kept spazzing out and was either sending multiple emails to people or none at all,  I went on the hunt for a new subscription service. After much research and staring at my computer screen in hopes of finding something that will easily work for me, I’m happy to report that I’ve finally figured out (what seems to be) a good way for people to subscribe. Hopefully this annoying blog issue is over with! If you look on the right sidebar on my blog, you’ll see the option to either subscribe through a reader or to receive new posts through email. Click on it if you’re interested in getting notifications of new blog posts!

Moving on, today’s food combo is a perfect healthy alternative to a popular nighttime treat we all know and love — ice cream. I think that this fruity concoction is especially great for those who work out in the evenings and want to nosh on something that will give them protein to help their muscles recover.

Strawberry Banana Chiller
Author: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup frozen strawberries
  • ½ banana, preferably frozen
  • ½ scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 TBSP cocoa powder
  • 1 TSP Stevia or other sweetener
  • ½ cup chocolate soy milk (or any other kind of milk will work)
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
Nutrition Information
Calories: 170, Fat: 2 g, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 13 g

You can even get a little crazy and put a dallop of whipped cream on top:

Quote of the day: ”Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.” -Hippocrates

Friendsgiving, Camping & Harley Turns 2

This long weekend has been so much fun thus far, and it’s only Saturday evening! Let’s rewind:

I knew I wanted to get some exercise in on Thursday before all of the holiday excitement, so Adam and I took Harley for a hike in the morning. I also did some strength training and yoga, then got ready for ”Friendsgiving” at our friends Tiffany and Jeff’s house. I brought these goodies to the party with me…

(recipe here)

Usually on Thanksgiving Adam and I do our own thing since we live so far away from our families. It was really nice to go to our friends’ house for a big celebration.

Once we got there, I was in a total relaxed holiday mode. I pretty much forgot to snap any pictures, except for the shots I got of the adorable table setup. Tiffany did a great job of putting together centerpieces, little menus, and name cards that I thought were perfect for Thanksgiving – not to mention their throwing a great party overall!

Thanksgiving weekend, Adam and I usually do a getaway or do something out of the ordinary. In the past we’ve visited New Orleans, wine country, and did a trip to a B&B in a town nearby. This year, we decided to be low-key and try to go camping again, as our first attempt was a wash. We chose a campsite in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, which is about an hour from where we live in San Diego. Once we arrived, I left it up to my Marine to set up the tent while I unpacked some of our stuff.

Naturally I brought us some good eats, including Greek pasta salad, fruit, veggies with dip, wine, pretzels and Clif bars:

We thought that Harley would be totally in her element and love camping. This was not the case. She was uptight and freaked out, and I don’t think the fire pit helped ease her concerns. Trying to console her did not help in the least bit. She was not a happy camper, literally!

Weirdly enough, Harley kept trying to make a run for it into the car, so eventually we just let her hang out in there. I though it was funny that as we camped outdoors, our American Dingo dog preferred to be within the safety of my car. Luckily once we got into the tent she relaxed and passed out for the night. She’s a nutty one!

We spent the night playing cards, enjoying the fire pit, drinking wine, listening to the Mariah Carey holiday Pandora channel and gazing at the stars. This morning we hiked around the park and got to check out how other people really get fancy with their camping trips (We literally saw full blown breakfast buffets, not to mention all of the tricked out RVs!) . My favorite photo from the trip is a toss-up between one where it appears that I’m on fire…

…or this goodie:

In my defense, it was super cold out so my primary concerned was being warm – I had 3 sweatshirts on! Plus the fact that we forgot to bring cups, so keeping it classy and drinking wine out of the bottle was our only option. Not pictured: my ridiculous fuzzy winter socks.

While I had a great time while we were up and about, sleeping in a tent is not my favorite thing in the world. Between laying on the hard ground, forgetting to bring pillows (major fail), and waking up to some sort of animal walking around from what felt like 2 feet away from my head, I think I’m more of a sleeping indoors kind of girl. But I’m glad I experienced it, and think it would be a lot of fun to go camping with a group of people sometime.

Coincidentally, the trip happened on Harley’s 2nd birthday — well, her approximate birthday since she was found as a stray puppy. I happened to pick her up this awesome looking cookie/donut at a pet boutique last weekend that she got to enjoy as her birthday treat:

Harley is officially no longer a puppy, but she still surprises me with her crazy antics. No joke, last week she jumped out of the car window while we were driving (for the second time in her life). I thought that the first time she jumped out of my moving vehicle awhile back was a fluke, but now I’m convinced that she just likes to keep me on my toes! 😉

The weekend is still young, so I’m off to figure out plans for the rest of my Saturday. Enjoy your night!

Let Us Be Thankful: Thanksgiving Quotes

I hope that you all have kicked off your (hopefully long) Thanksgiving weekend well and are looking forward to the next couple of days — I know I have & I am! Thanksgiving really kicks off the holiday season, propelling me into a December delirium of happiness and busyness. Amidst all of the parties, presents, tree lightings, endless sounds of Christmas music and holiday shopping commercials, and everything that comes along with the holiday season, I think it’s important to remember the true meaning of it all. Thanksgiving typically centers around lots of food, football, drinks, and fun with loved ones, but celebrating the holiday is really about acknowledging all of the things in your life that you’re thankful for. I have a laundry list of wonderful people and things to be grateful for, and I like to take the time to recognize them. I aim to carry that feeling of gratitude with me tomorrow, throughout the holiday season and always. In honor of the holiday, here are some Thanksgiving themed quotes that I’m loving:

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My Monday By Numbers

Today was no doubt a busy day – one where I had every task and activity timed out in order to fit everything in that I wanted to do. This doesn’t always work out perfectly, like today when my physical therapy session went later than usual and I didn’t make it to volunteer at the Humane Society, but I still like to crunch my timing on most days to be as productive as I can. For some reason I started thinking about random numbers that coincide with things in my day, so here goes some of my Monday by numbers:

Minutes spent at the gym: 45

Number of times I took Harley for a walk: 2 (1 long, 1 short)

Minutes it took me to complete a writing assignment this AM: 160

Number of steps taken: 10, 044 so far (via my FitBit)

…Which equates to this many miles walked: 4.33

Servings of produce eaten: 7

Loads of laundry done: 1

Number of phone calls: 9

Amount of time I just spent researching blogging tools: 45

Amount of blogging tools I was actually able to implement: 0

Number of salads eaten: 1…. this fanciness:

Adapted from a recipe I spotted on the Vegetarian Times website (you can view their version here), this salad centers around fennel and sweetened pecans.

Fennel, Candied Pecans & Mandarin Orange Salad
Author: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 2 bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup pecan pieces
  • 2 TSP maple syrup
  • 1 TSP brown sugar
  • 1 cup mandarin oranges
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 TBSP red wine vinegar
  • ¼ red onion, thinly sliced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Toss pecan pieces in a bowl with maple syrup and sugar. Roast the nuts in toaster or oven until aromatic and crispy.
  2. Meanwhile, toss fennel with red onion and mandarin oranges.
  3. Whisk olive oil and red wine vinegar in a bowl. Add a touch of salt and pepper to the mix, then drizzle over the salad. Sprinkle with the candied pecans.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ½ of salad, Calories: 360, Fat: 24 g, Carbohydrates: 34 g, Protein: 3 g

I’m exhausted, so off to bed I go!

Happy Birthday USMC

November 10, 2012 marked the 237th birthday of the United States Marine Corps. Each year, Marines all over the world recognize and celebrate the occasion. Last night, my Marine and I celebrated the birthday by attending his ball in downtown San Diego.

Hair

I usually just wear my  hair down, so I decided to get an up-do done at the salon for a change. My hair style wound up being somewhat messy buns pinned back with braids on the side. It was nice to be able to just get my hair done and then not have to worry it!

Dress

Since the ball is a pretty formal event, women typically wear long gowns. I (as usual) had a hard time finding a long dress, so after coming up empty-handed after a few shopping trips, I decided to take a risk and rent a designer dress from Rent the Runway. I’m totally not a girl who can just buy clothes without trying them on and have them fit, so I was a little nervous about ordering a dress I’d never seen in person (and getting it just a day before the event at that). It certainly didn’t wind up being perfect – it was too tight in the chest and smushed my girls,  plus it was too long on me, even though the website specified that anyone over 5’4″ should get a long size. I’m 5’6″ and wore 3-inch heels, yet had to pick up the fabric every time I walked to prevent myself from tripping over my dress. But, I made it work for the night, and that’s all I needed it for so I’ll call it a success!

I really enjoyed the ceremony at this ball. They put on a great show summarizing the history of the USMC, from the Revolutionary War up to 9/11 and now:

The Marine Corps is so rich in traditions and customs. One of the things that they do at every single ball that takes place is have an empty table to commemorate those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. It’s a symbolic way of honoring fallen Marines. Another tradition is to have the oldest and youngest Marine each take a bite from the ball cake. At last night’s ball, the oldest Marine has been active duty for 30 years and was 48 years old, and the youngest was 19 years old.

 Side note: This was the biggest ball I’ve been to, and the cake was HUGE. This is what it looked like towards the end of the night…

What a waste huh?

At each ball I’ve attended, I always feel this great sense of pride. Proud to be an American, proud to be a military wife, proud that my husband went down this path to serve his country. Being in a ballroom filled with people who are all involved in the Marine Corps, there’s a very palpable feeling of strength and camaraderie. These are people who have endured deployments and are devoting their lives to serving America. Being a military wife has changed me, and I’m definitely glad I’ve gotten to be a part of the USMC family!

Pomegranate Superfood Smoothie

Recently I blogged about eating my first pomegranate. Right now the fruit is in season and I’ve been seeing them everywhere, so I nabbed a few more to play around with in different ways – this time, in a smoothie:

Between the pomegranate, chia seeds, and yogurt, this smoothie really packs a nutritional punch.

The health benefits of chia seeds include fiber (11 g per ounce!), omega fatty acids (it’s one of the top concentrated sources of it) , calcium (anywhere from 3-6x more calcium than milk per serving!) and antioxidants. This ancient superfood is also one of nature’s highest plant-based sources of complete protein.

As I mentioned last week,  pomegranates are full of antioxidants and rich in nutrients, especially Vitamin C, B5 and Potassium. Eating pomegranates regularly can increase oxygen levels to the heart, help improve digestion, and promote healthy circulation of the blood. It’s also believed that pomegranates are great for your skin, offering anti aging effects and helping to reduce blemishes.

Greek yogurt is one of the staples in my diet. It’s high in protein, and provides a lot of nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin B-2, vitamin B-12, potassium and magnesium. Yogurt has live cultures and probiotics that help regulate your digestive system and boost your immune system.

In other words, this smoothie has a whole lot of goodness in it!

Pomegranate Superfood Smoothie
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1
 
Ingredients
  • Seeds from ½ pomegranate
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • 4 oz plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup vanilla soy milk
  • Ice
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Blend until well combined.
Notes
*Make sure to blend together as much as possible to minimize the amount of seediness. You'll probably wind up with some pomegranate seeds at the bottom of your smoothie (which I didn't mind crunching on!).*
Nutrition Information
Calories: 313, Fat: 6 g, Carbohydrates: 44 g, Protein: 22 g

I’m off to get ready for my hubby’s Marine Corps ball. Have a fabulous rest of your Friday!

My First Blog Survey

Recently I’ve been seeing surveys popping up all over the blogosphere. I think they’re fun and have never done one before, so I’m jumping on the blog survey bandwagon! Here it goes:

1. Last food you ate?

I’m drinking a chocolate peanut butter protein shake for lunch at the moment. I’ve mentioned this smoothie many times on here, and it never gets old!

2. Last beverage you drank?

Plain old water. I’m always thirsty and constantly have a water bottle with me or glass of water on my desk!

3. Last workout?

First thing this AM I did some yoga and strengthening exercises, then took this crazy girl for a 30 minute walk around our neighborhood trail..

4. Last thing you pinned?

Hmmm, probably either a photo of a gorgeous kitchen for my ”dream space” board or a cute dress. I like Pinterest but find it to be a huge time zapper. I haven’t gone on too much, but when I do, I get sucked in and find myself mindlessly pinning things for an hour!

5. Last text message you sent?

I texted my hubby a few hours ago to see if he wanted to do a 5K on Thanksgiving to benefit local food banks as we did last year. This is the usual sarcasm from my man!

6. Last blog you visited?

I read a post on Sarah Fit this AM that made me want to try piloxing, a class that combines Pilates with boxing. Sounds fun right?

7. Last tweet you sent?

This Marilyn Monroe quote: ”Imperfection is beauty, madness is genius, and it’s better to be absolutely ridiculous than absolutely boring.”

8. Last place you visited?

My physical therapy office yesterday, which I will be back at later today to work on my calf, glute, and hip strength.

9. Last time you did ab work?

This morning I held a plank for 3:15 and did 70 old-school crunches in 2 minutes as part of my workout challenge this week.

10. Last show you watched?

Seinfeld with my hubby last night.

11. Last thing you baked?

Sweet potatoes for dinner yesterday. So yummy!

12. What is the last thing you Instagrammed?

A photo of my Monday night pizza creation – spinach, cherry tomato, shiitake mushroom, & mozzarella whole wheat pie:

13. Last item on your to-do list today?

I have a few more work tasks to get done this afternoon, which I will be getting to now that I’m done with this survey and my lunch! Have a great rest of your day. 🙂