Spring

This weekend’s weather made it feel as if spring has finally arrived. This made me extremely happy.

I spent as much of Saturday outside as possible. I was outside almost straight from 8-4 then 6-7. I couldn’t get enough of the weather! This led me to walking most of my errands and I walked a total of 9-10 miles. Unfortunately, I didn’t get much of a tan.

I started out the day by heading to Cafe Tola on Southport and Addison. I had walked by a week or two ago and they had some delicious looking donuts in the front window(they also make fresh empanadas daily). Getting there before 8 gave me the pick of the batch and I got a maple bacon and a red velvet cake donut for Brian and a big cup of strong coffee for myself.  The sun was so warm that the frosting melted a little on the way home.

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I tried a bite of each, both delicious, but too sweet for my taste. I recreated my restaurant leftovers of salmon with a bacon potato hash into breakfast. How? By adding and egg, of course. Savory. My preferred breakfast.

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With a protein packed breakfast, I was fueled for my walk to Home Depot to pick out some plants for my garden plot.

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Still not having enough of the fresh air, I stopped on my walk to Lincoln Square to have some tacos at La Amistad. Sitting outside to eat them, of course.

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I went on another walk to pick up a few things at Whole Foods to make food for the week. I threw together these “bowls” of quinoa cooked in vegetable broth, black beans, roasted sweet potato, steamed sesame kale and baked tofu. That made 5 of the 10 lunches for Brian and I to eat this week. These came together in less than one hour.

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Sunday, Brian and I got up and ran the Ravenswood 5k. I really loved the route this year and was happy with my time. We had a small miscommunication about breakfast, though. When registering for the race, you could buy a ticket for a pancake breakfast to support the local food pantry. Brian bought one. I didn’t. Wah wah. Fortunately, the pancakes were prepackaged, so he could take them to go. It was probably a good thing, as I was surprisingly not hungry after the race. I had coffee and a bite of a cinnamon roll, but didn’t eat the banana or mini bagel they were handing out.

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After coming home and relaxing for a few hours, I was hungry and made myself a mega lunch. I had a broccoli potato patty, two eggs, my mini bagel(toasted with butter), blueberries and an apple with mango ginger Stilton cheese. I put a little cheese on half the bagel and then a slice of apple on top of that. Heavenly. Absolutely delightful. I rarely eat cheese anymore. Or most diary for that matter. I try to make it a rule that if I am going to eat cheese, it has to be good cheese. This was GOOD cheese.

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I spent the rest of the afternoon going for walk, checking on my garden plot and making up food for the week. I started a batch of cold brew iced coffee on Saturday and was able to drain it off and jar it yesterday. Just the refreshing beverage I need to have on hand with temps in the 80s tomorrow!

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I have been trying to move to a more natural skin care routine. One of the hardest things from me to move away from is my inexpensive but very loved drugstore body lotion. I have tried straight coconut oil before and didn’t love it. I ran across a recipe for whipped coconut oil body butter last week and decided to whip(pun intended) up a batch this weekend. It is absolutely delightful. I can’t wait to share this recipe. A little goes a long way and it really lasts all day.

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Multitasking while I was making the body butter, I cooked up some more food to round out our lunches and some dinner for the week. Look at that well stocked fridge.

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I’ve had a few people inquire lately about meal plans. Hoping to get to a post soon about how I try to do meal plans. Have a great week everyone and get out and enjoy some fresh air!

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Takeout Fake-out Rama Chicken

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Brian wanted to go out for sushi for his birthday. I love, love, love sushi, but it can be a calorie bomb. Some rolls weigh in a more than 50 calories per piece! Yikes. Being that I didn’t feel like I could splurge that much, I looked over the menu for a healthier options. It looked like most everything else on the menu was stir fried. Again, not very healthy.

Then I spotted my little friend, Rama Chicken. Steamed!

Never having the little wonder that is Rama Chicken before, I was a little worried that it was going to be drowning in peanut sauce. Fortunately it wasn’t.

I’ve since attempted to recreate it at home with pretty good results.

Start by making your peanut sauce. I had some peanut dipping sauce in the fridge(too liquidy and tangy just to pour on the meal), so I used that as the base. Then I added a little sugar, PB2 and water to it. After messing with the amounts a little bit, I was happy with the taste. I made a second batch using real peanut butter, soy sauce, garlic, red pepper flakes, water and some sugar and that turned out really well, too. There are a million peanut sauce recipes on the internet. Find one you think tastes good and use it. Or just buy some pre-made at the store. I won’t judge.

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Set your sauce to the side. Steam some broccoli. I used pre-bagged steam in the microwave broccoli.  Place in a circle on your plate.

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Next, dice up some chicken(add a little salt and pepper) and cook in a scant amount of oil in the skillet until browned on all sides and no longer pink in the middle. Not meat eater? So easy to substitute tofu in this dish.

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While all of that is happening, dice and parboil some potato. I think I used one whole medium sided red potato between the two of us. I didn’t peel it, because I wanted the nutrients that were in the peel. You could probably use Yukon or russet with good results, I just happened to have red potatoes on hand. Drain potatoes and place on top of chicken.

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Drizzle as much peanut sauce as you would like on top.

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Eat hot.

See how easy it would be to assemble this to pack in your lunches? The whole meal came together in less than 30 minutes. It really takes the same amount of time to double or triple the batch, so you can make some for dinner and have plenty of meals left over. So easy. It’s definitely the kind of bagged lunch that will have your co-workers jealous!

Plans, plans, plans

I have been planning on updating my blog since last weekend. But those plans got blown out of the water by plans to spend more time at the gym. I am currently planning on throwing at least 2 new posts your way in the next 24 hours. One for takeout fakeout Rama Chicken. Seriously, go buy a potato, broccoli, chicken(or tofu) and peanut butter right now so you can make it this weekend. I’ve made it twice for us in the past two weeks, with extra for leftovers to pack in our lunches. It’s so good. And what goes well with peanut butter? Chocolate. Yep, the other is a recipe for vegan chocolate brownies that are super fudgey. And since they are vegan, there is no guilt in licking the batter off the spatula. Mmm mmm mm.

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Today, I am planning out this next week’s meal plan. Last week I made a big catch of  grilled veggies, Rama Chicken, BBQ chicken pizza, and a tofu curry that we have been eating off of all week. I proportioned it out for the week and it has made packing lunches this week so much easier, just add fresh fruit and veg and it’s ready to go! I want to continue the trend. The planning makes my week much less stressful. I have also been trying to cut down on our grocery shopping. Outside of some fresh fruits and veg, I am trying to have us grocery shop 3 times a month. We had been doing it weekly, but I think eliminating one grocery shopping trip a week will help. And it should help me be more creative with my meal planning and use some of the stockpile of dried beans and lentils in our pantry. After wracking my brain about what we already have and what we need, there are only SIX things on the grocery list that should get us through to next weekend! Pretty good!

Sunday: the rest of the story

All last summer I had wanted a grill. So, with my upcoming birthday, Brian asked me what I wanted. He happened to ask me on our walk home from brunch last Saturday. I told him I was thinking about asking my parents for a small grill. He immediately looked a little uncomfortable and told me not to do that. I immediately became suspicious and started firing off questions. He had already ordered one for me! And it was to be delivered that day! In my excitement, I insisted that we stop and buy steaks to grill that night. Steaks bought. Lo and behold, we get home, check the tracking and it wasn’t going to be delivered until Tuesday. With rain and cold all week, I finally got to grill tonight. I love my new grill.

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Look at all that healthy food for the week.

Something a little less healthy happened in my kitchen thus afternoon. Momofuku’s compost cookies. Their tastiness is setting up in the fridge right now to be baked tomorrow night for Tuesday’s work potluck.

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So how do I do all this cooking and baking and not weigh 600 pounds? I exercise, usually 5-6 days a week. And most days of the week I eat 1200-1500 calories a day. The weekends are usually higher, but I also get more exercise on the weekend, so I let myself splurge a little more. I spent my Friday night at the gym, walked 6 miles yesterday and 7 miles today. All these treats are not without sacrifice.

Sunday, so far

It’s not even 10am and I have been on a roll today. My two real goals of the day are to make Momofuku’s compost cookies and to grill out dinner tonight. Neither have happened.

I have been busy in the kitchen, though. I made Minimalist Baker’s 5 minute espresso brownies earlier this week for me. Brian asked to try one and didn’t like it(I love them). But he ever so casually mentioned that he likes when I make black bean brownies. Well, what did Minimalist Baker have up? A new recipe for black bean brownies. And they are good! So fudgy. Or is it fudgey?

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In yesterday’s mail my copy of More peas, please arrived. I immediately earmarked several recipes that I wanted to make. Since I still have a load if mangos to use from last weeks sale, I converted the peach cornmeal muffins to mango cornmeal donuts. They’re ok, but nothing to write home about. I feel like my cornmeal may have been too coarse of a ground. Oh well. On to the next recipe.

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I also sliced and got some veg marinating to throw on the grill tonight. A big dinner of zucchini, eggplant and portabella will be exactly what I need after some baked good sampling this morning. Along with a nice run once the weather warms up this afternoon.

Splurge Saturday

Today started off with a breakfast of banana, almond butter and flax waffles with some 5 minute espresso brownie crumbled on top. With two mugs of coffee.

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So I had a healthy lunch of yellow squash, spinach, chicken breast and marinara on low calorie yam flour noodles. It looked nice and summery with the green and yellow. See previous post about being cranky due to crappy weather and wanting sunshine.

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Then there was another afternoon splurge of Dairy Queen. The blizzard of the month is a chocolate covered pretzel with peanut butter blizzard. Could there be a better combination in the world? Especially when you have a buy one get one free coupon? So, we indulged in a blizzard in honor of Brian’s birthday this week.

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After our treat, we took a long walk to Target. There, I saw this month’s Food Network magazine where they gave cover space and two pages on 50 things to put a fried egg on top of. Brian makes fun of me all the time because he claims my motto is that any food becomes breakfast food if you just “put an egg on it.” Has the Food Network been stalking me?

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After all those rich indulgences today I had a light supper of zucchini and egg whites. But man, I’ll be dreaming about that blizzard tonight.

A case of the cranks

I’ve been cranky all week. Cranky and tired and dragging. I couldn’t figure out what was causing my unrelenting crankiness until I was sitting at the table eating breakfast this morning and noticed drizzle and flurries outside. It was the weather. Rain and gloom has blanketed the city and my mood this week. I decided at this point I needed to turn my attitude around.
After finishing my breakfast, I took a long hot shower, did a little meditation, and slathered my self with some self tanner. If my skin can’t glow from the natural sun, I might as well fake it. I returned to the living room to make my plans for the day and noticed the sun was shining bright outside. Rejoice!
I got my short grocery list ready and headed outside to be greeted by cloud cover and more flurries. The sunshine was short lived. I spent my walk to the store trying to keep a positive attitude by thinking about the things in my life that I am grateful for.
I came home in a slightly better mood. The potential for 70 degree weather tomorrow helps. I’m trying not to think of 4 straight days of rain after that.
Summer, I’m so looking forward to you.

Weekend madness-Saturday

Saturday started off great with a 3 mile walk and breakfast at Orange. I got fresh squeezed grapefruit-orange-carrot-lemon-ginger juice. Brian got watermelon-strawberry-lime juice. Both were tasty, but I liked mine best. We enjoyed an order of frushi(fruit sushi). I got the vegetarian breakfast burrito with a side of mixed greens. Brian got the honey themed pancake flight(honey banana Cheerios, honey quince, honey blueberry and honey rosemary pancakes).

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On the way home, we stopped at Bed Bath and Beyond and I got a milk frother. I had been wanting one for quite some time. We had to have lattes as soon as we got home.

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One of the most exciting things of the year happened when our new mixer(also our first wedding present) was delivered this week. I wouldn’t let myself open the box until I had cleaned out our pantry, so after a thorough cleaning, I got to play. Her name is Mo. Mo Mixer. I immediately made a batch of pizza dough and some rolls.

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I used the pizza dough to make a pesto flat bread and put the other half in the freezer.

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After moving nonstop all day, I treated myself to a little non-alcoholic cocktail that tastes almost exactly like the coconut Italian sodas I loved getting from the Java House in college. Lots of ice, 1 tablespoon coconut coffee creamer and lime La Croix.

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Shah, refreshing.

Weekend madness-Sunday

Ugh. I can only get Sunday’s pictures to transfer right now, so this weekend’s post will be split into two with Saturday coming as soon as I can get things to work!

Sunday started out with a morning walk to Target. I needed to pick up a few things, including some corn. Brian did the grocery shopping a few days ago when I had put corn on the list. He accidentally picked up cans of cream style corn, which had me gagging at the sight. On my walk to Target, I saw this car. In fact, I see it every time I walk to Target. It has a flat tire and hasn’t moved in months and totally reminds me of the car in Harry Potter than Ron and Harry flew into the Whomping Willow.

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After meeting my friend Katie at the track and going for a run(for the 3rd time this week), I was hungry! I made myself a giant lunch of a veggie patty, a broccoli potato pancake, some fruit and tortilla chips and jalapeno greek yogurt dip.

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I took advantage of the Whole Foods one day special on Friday and picked up 10 mangoes. I like mangoes so much that I don’t even mind that I’m allergic. It’s not a severe allergy, but if I’m not careful, my lips swell up.

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Knowing that they were going on sale, I started looking up recipes while I was at work last Friday. I decided on a whole wheat mango ginger scone. DE-licious!

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Later in the afternoon I began assembling a healthier version of Shepard’s pie. Since I was combining 3 separate recipes, I did not properly scale back the portions and had this before the potatoes were added to the top. Ooops. Looks like we will be having a lot of leftovers!

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I was so busy(in a good way) this weekend that the weekend seemed like it lasted for a whole week. Can’t wait to update you on Saturday and post some of these recipes!

Greek tuna salad

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When I was traveling in December and dreading the unhealthy airport food, I ran across a really cute fresh and healthy restaurant/stand in the Houston airport called Camden Food Co. Right across from an organic pizza place. What? Two decent options right by each other in the airport? I love that it’s not impossible to get good food while traveling anymore.

Well, they had a Greek tuna that was so delicious. It was fresh flaked tuna with kalamata, cucumber, diced tomato, feta, herbs and a Greek vinaigrette. I bought a container of that and put in on a bed of fresh mixed greens from their salad bar and topped with a few chickpeas. So delicious.

I’ve been thinking about that tuna ever since. So, I had to attempt to recreate it as I don’t know when will be the next time that I am in the George Bush International airport to get more. It’s so good, it’s almost worth the trip just to get some.

Here’s my attempt at the remake. I also threw in some diced yellow and orange bell pepper. A great way to jazz up plain old tuna. It would also be great as a dip on crackers or in a pita. Mmm. Ican’t wait to make it again.

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