Green juice

juice

I have the constant struggle to justify making green juice when I could be making  a glowing green smoothie instead. Well, sometimes I just want something smooth to drink. Last night I made a pitcher of my favorite green juice.

Green juice:

  • 1 bunch kale(stems and all)
  • 1 head romaine lettuce
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach
  • 3 stalks celery
  • 1 apple
  • 1 pear

I love this juice because it has so many nutrients but still tastes delicious. The apple and pear make it slightly sweet and easy to drink. A pitcher of juice make about 3 glasses. I don’t drink the juice all day long, but like to have one glass a day, usually first thing in the morning.

If you are thinking about getting into juicing, now is the perfect time of year. There are sales on juicers everywhere. I personally got mine at Aldi for $34.99 at this time last year and have used it several times with great results. It works as well as other models that cost $200. It’s the perfect machine for people that want to try juicing without the commitment of a really expensive machine. Starting this Wednesday Aldi will be carrying the juicer again for about 1 week or until supplies last.

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Ch-ch-changes

Here we are again on the eve of a new year. Time for reflections on the past year and looking forward to what will come.

Last year, I made a lot of changes at the start of the year to my diet. I followed Whole Living 28 day action plan and felt awesome afterwards. I had cut out most processed foods. I had also decided to eliminate Diet Coke and more importantly fake sweeteners from my diet. Wow. What a change. But I’m so happy that I did it. They taste so awful and chemically to me now.  I can’t believe I ever drank and ate them. However, as the year progressed, I started to incorporate more and more processed foods back into my diet. I’m not disappointed in myself, because I think moderation is key. I would like to focus on eating as few processed foods as I can in the coming year.

The other big change is that I am going to mostly cut out added sugar to my diet.

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Why mostly? I am going to allow myself to have added sugar once a week. This is a two-fold issue. It is going to help me limit my treats and splurges to things that I really want. No more eating cookies at work just because a co-worker brought them in. I think the hardest part of this is going to be my daily coffee. I know, you are thinking that coffee doesn’t have any sugar. I know it doesn’t, but I really love to add a little cream and sugar to my coffee in the morning. Not much, just a little. I did without it(the cream and sugar) during the detox last year and was fine, but I prefer it. It needs to stop. There is no reason for it. The other part is that it will help to eliminate processed foods from my diet. 99% of processed foods contain added sugar! Yikes, that is an alarming fact. Here’s another: The average American eats between 1/4 to 1/2 pound of sugar a day. That is how much is snuck into processed foods. No wonder there is obesity in America.

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The other part of my new year, new me plan is the work out portion. My knee does not love me running on it anymore. Short distances are ok, but long are not. I’ve tried everything. It’s frustrating. So, I need to find something else to supplement my running to help myself stay fit and in shape. Or actually to get into better shape. One thing that I like doing and that has worked for me in the past is Jillian Michael’s videos. So, for January I am going to work out 5 days a week. 3 of those days are to be the Jillian video. For Christmas I asked for Jillian’s 90 Day Body Revolution which is on its way in the mail to me. I am going to start that Feb 1. Also Feb 1, I am going to redo the Whole Living action plan from last year. I’m waiting until Feb 1st to tackle the big things because I will be gone 10 days in Jan and don’t want to set myself up for failure.

What is everyone else planning to do to make 2013 their best year ever?

Merry merry

A very belated Merry Christmas! I spent 5 days in Florida for Christmas visiting Brian’s family. The time went way too fast. We could have easily used another few days to see everyone we wanted and to get in enough quality time with people. But with we did the best we could with the time constraints that we had.

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As soon as we got to Florida we had a very nice lunch with his mom.
For Christmas Eve dinner we had a wonderful meal prepared by Cheryl. I loved the texture of our dinner napkins.

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After dinner we lit candles in their annual Christmas Eve candle lighting and connected with family through several forms of technology.

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On the way back from visiting his sister and awesome nieces and nephew, Tomtom took us on a scenic tour of south Florida.

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Brian and I took a cruise along A1A for some mansion and ocean viewing.

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There were so many bikers, I thought we were in the Tour de France. The yellow jersey was even in the lead!

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And we saw a lot of big boats. I like big boats and I can not lie!

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Right before we headed back to the airport, Brian got one of his beloved Russo’s subs that I have been hearing about for years. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as he had remembered.

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Overall, it was a great trip and I enjoyed spending time with his family. I have to admit, it was a little bit weird to not be cold at Christmas though.

Edible Christmas gifts

Earlier this week I was in Texas visiting my adorable and goofy 6 month old niece.
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While flying home on Wednesday, I learned that my good friend Aaron was stuck in Chicago and unable to get to Iowa due to the blizzard. So we met up at the airport and he headed home with me. Since there were no flights headed out for him until Friday at the earliest we made a plan to spend the day making lots of Christmas goodies(with a full guest post to be coming from Aaron soon).
We started off by making a double batch of Ina Garten’s mulled wine to keep us warm while we worked.
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Then we got to work on Alton Brown’s ginger snaps:
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A batch of really amazing apple cider caramels:
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Then we got busy and made 4 dozen red velvet cake balls:
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We also made a batch of Christmas salty toffee and peanut butter Nutella fudge.
Perfect little boxes of treats for my coworkers, Brian’s coworkers and Aaron’s family.

We finished up the evening by having a plate of cheese and crackers as an app and a big pot of spicy curry. Perfect for a cold night. Post coming soon!

Happy Holidays!

Winter Holiday Travel Tips

flights

I know I usually just blog about food, but after traveling this week and traveling again next week I thought I’d throw out some of my personal travel tips. Which I find even more important to stick to during the holidays when travel gets a little crazier than usual and I need to keep my sanity.

  • If you wear contacts, travel in your glasses. My eyes get so dry on the airplane when I travel in my contacts it’s almost unbearable. And if I happen to doze off on the plane, then I’m not sleeping in my contacts. Trust me, your eyes will thank you.
  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Always accept a drink from the airline attendant…or two. I always get a water. And usually a hot tea or coffee. Another great way to hydrate is to take an empty water bottle with you. There are water fountains all over the airport where you can refill it as many times as you need to after you are through security. It saves money too, as you aren’t paying $2 to $5 per bottle of water.
  • Pack food and snacks. Nuts, fruit and granola bars are great. You can even pack yourself a little sandwich to take with you. It will give you healthy options and again save money. This can also be a huge save for when you get delayed, rerouted or suffer a hunger attack mid-flight. I like to make a zip lock of Puffins multi-grain cereal, dried fruit, nuts and a little chocolate. You can eat it all together or pick out whatever you are having a craving for(sweet or salty). It’s light enough that it won’t weigh you down.
  • Wear layers. Planes can be freezing cold or blazing hot. It’s never fun to be uncomfortable for hours on end. I like to wear a few light layers and adjust accordingly. I almost always wear a pashmina when traveling too. Big enough to be a thin, small blanket, converts to a scarf or shawl and can easily be tucked in your bag.
  • Pack light. No one likes lugging around heavy luggage. One of the easiest ways to do this is to pack outfits when you travel instead of random clothes that you think will work together. I like to pack a pair of very versatile pants and a versatile cardigan that I can rewear, dress up and dress down. Saves on a lot of extra clothes!
  • Oh, and be patient! I hate waiting. The security line is the worst for me. It’s crowded and slow. Yuck! I think I am going to try listening to a podcast when I wait in the security line next week. It will help to distract me and get less irritable.
  • BE NICE. Traveling isn’t always easy. There are delays and cancellations and it’s not the people’s fault who are working the counter. There is only so much they can do and they will be less likely to be helpful if you are rude and demanding. So if you are getting stressed about the situation, step back, calm down and don’t be a jerk.

I’m sure I forgot a few things and they are in no particular order. Happy Holidays and happy travels to all!

Good bread

Honestly, I can’t think of another title for this post. But this is good bread. Really good bread. Nice and crusty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.

Oh, and really easy to make. No fancy ingredients. No fancy tools.

Do you want to make it too? It’s Jim Lahey’s bread. The recipe(which you can find all over the internet) or in his amazing book. This is book that you should definitely own if you plan on making bread. It teaches the importance of weighing ingredients and how keeping it simple can yield and amazing product.

Here’s a look at my recent bread making adventure:

Weighing:

bread1Getting it going:

bread9bread8bread7bread2bread3bread4bread5 bread6And the final product with some sheep’s milk basil and olive oil cheese. To die for!

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Put it on your Christmas list, people!

Portabella mushroom pizza

The other day I was wanting pizza. I had also regained strength in avoiding gluten products. I’ve made a few attempts at the cauliflower crust pizza and didn’t want to buy a standard gluten-free crust at the store.

So I came up with what I thought was a brilliant idea. That was to use a portabella mushroom cap as the base for the pizza. A healthier alternative that the other two. And I love mushrooms on my pizza.

Start by scraping the gills out of the cap of a cleaned portabella. I also cut out the stem. They were a little woody.

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Then I chopped up some spinach and mixed it with pizza sauce and put it in the mushroom caps.

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I topped it with a little more sauce. I like sauce.

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For one of the mushrooms I topped with 2 pieces of pepperoni and some mozzarella cheese. The other one got some blue cheese then mozzarella.

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It would be very easy to make these vegan by omitting the pepperoni and using a vegan cheese.

I baked them at 400 for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese was melted.

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They were absolutely delightful! Satisfied my craving for pizza without falling off the health wagon.

Spice up your life

With Sriracha salt!

Super easy to make. And a perfect gift for the Sriracha lover in your life.

Mix 5 teaspoons of Sriracha with 1/2 cup of salt.

salt

Make sure to mix well and get all the salt moistened.

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Spread out on wax paper and let dry 1-2 days.

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As it dries, it will harden and clump. Break it up and spread it out periodically.

Once dry, put in a salt shaker and use it on EVERYTHING! Just think of the possibilities, shrimp, chicken, steak, baked potatoes, fries, popcorn, eggs….

Ban holiday bloat!

Ugh! It’s the sixth of December and I haven’t blogged once this month! Shame on me.

It seems like the holiday season has already started to take its toll on me. I haven’t been getting to the gym nearly as much and instead have been going out  for fun social events that involve drinking and eating foods I don’t typically eat. While they are always a good time, I can always feel it the next day.

I would say, when did I become so old? But I think  it’s more that I started taking better care of myself(less booze, less processed foods, more exercise,  more organic food and tons of fruits and veggies) and now I can really feel it when I veer from that lifestyle. I literally crave salads and water.

To help counteract the junk I have been taking in, I have tried to throw some more green smoothies in my diet. Yes, they often taste like salads in a glass, but it makes me feel so much better that something good is going into my body. It also helps with all the bloat I get from deviating from a less processed diet.

Here is one I have been making:

A few hand fulls of romaine and spinach. 3 stems of kale with leaves on. 1 apple. 2 stalks of celery. 1/4 of an avocado. Squeeze of lemon. 3-4 cubes of ice. 1/2 to 1 cup of water.

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Blend really well.

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If you aren’t a fan of the glowing green smoothie, you probably won’t like this. To make it taste more like a smoothie than a salad, add in banana or a pear. Parsley is really good thrown in there too.

I thought it was good enough to drink down and made me feel a ton better, too!

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Here’s to finishing the year as healthy as I started it! Bottoms up!