Walk it off

This past winter, I got a great deal on a watch. This was no ordinary watch, but one of those sporty heart rate monitor exercise watches. The only problem with these watches is that the battery doesn’t last nearly as long as a regular watch as they are working so much harder and tracking so much more. So, the battery died about 2 months ago. Last week, Brian was trying to change the battery and accidentally broke the LCD screen on it. He very kindly bought me a new watch, which might actually be an upgrade to my old watch. This one also had a pedometer, calculates the calories you burn throughout the day based on your heart rate and you can set daily goals on it. I really like. It’s also very motivating to move more.

I had a lot of errands to run this weekend and by run, I mean walk. Since we don’t have a car, I do a lot of walking, especially on the weekend. Motivated by my watch to walk a little more than usual, I logged about 20 miles this weekend. How did I fuel all of this walking?

Big breakfasts! And lots of coffee.

Saturday morning, I was very indecisive about what I wanted for breakfast, so I had a little bit of everything. Strawberries and watermelon, an egg with sriracha, and a piece of cinnamon toast. Half with pumpkin butter and the other half with mashed banana and a little cookie butter.

w1

After a morning trip to the store and an exciting sale on homemade guacamole, I had a lunch of lots of fruits, veggies and an open-faced chicken and guacamole sandwich.  I love homemade guac, but when they sell the good stuff for less than I can make it, I’ll take it!

w2

A dinner of more chicken and guac, veggies, hummus and chips. I’m really trying to take advantage of the last of the fresh veggies while I can.

w3

Saturday night, I made some falafel with an extra helping of greens.

w4

w5
Then I spent a night in with a glass of wine and my sewing machine doing some mending for Brian.

w6

Sunday’s breakfast was a helping of toast, guac, bacon and eggs with a pumpkin pie muffin.

w7

w8

That was a very finger-licking and runny yolk! Mmm!

w9

Brian had a banana and chocolate chip muffin reheated with a smear of cookie butter on top.

w13

After running errands, a long shoe shopping trip for Brian, lunch at Native Foods(salads for both of us), and buying fabric for me, I did some more sewing. I sewed a yoga mat bag for myself. I have lululemon’s big mat. It is no longer available on the website, but is wider and longer than the average yoga mat and great if you are taller than average and struggle to stay on your mat during classes. Hence it being bigger than average, it doesn’t fit in most yoga bags. So, I loosely followed Kick Stand Fitness’s directions to make a bag. It took me about and hour, start to finish. I even added an interior pocket. Super easy and functional. Definitely work the 1 yard of fabric and one hour of work.

w10 w12

Sunday’s dinner was fruit, salad and veggie lasagna. I bought the lasagna pre-made and thought it was great. Packed with flavor and protein, I’d definitely buy it again.

w11

With falafel and leftover veggie lasagna, it looks to be another veggie filled week! And what is great is that during this week’s heat wave, we can live on leftovers and I won’t have to heat up the kitchen!

Happy Friday!

I’ve been on a bad cycle for the past month to 6 weeks. A cycle of summer socialization. While the socializing is great, the food and booze that I chose to consume in conjunction with the socializing has taken a toll on me. I’ve been feeling non-stop bloated. Gross. The good news is that I’ve been eating well and exercising this week and things are quickly turning around.

One night this week I brought back a version of the good old macro bowl. This time I used a lentil and bean mixture with rice, chicken(seasoned with five spice powder and berbere), kale and sweet potato. Delicious!

fri2

On Wednesday we received a gift in the mail from our registry. A mortar and pestle! I was so excited. I have been dying to make dukkah ever since I saw More Cheese More Chocolate post about making it months ago.  That mortar and pestle made it happen last night. It’s AMAZING!

fri1

Well, I have a girls night tonight, yoga and water aerobics tomorrow morning then the rest of the weekend is all mine. See you later!

Easy teriyaki and pineapple chicken with rice

t4

This was a super simple recipe that I threw together in almost no time. I had bought a package of chicken breasts for another recipe and had one giant breast left over. Seeing that I also had some pineapple in the fridge, I knew exactly what I wanted to make. Teriyaki chicken.

I love teriyaki chicken. Or teriyaki pork. Or teriyaki turkey burgers. I think I like it because it’s sweet, tangy and a little salty.

I started by marinating the chicken in some kikoman’s teriyaki sauce in the pantry. I’m not a big fan of this sauce and think it lacks flavor, so I added some honey, garlic, cilantro, and pineapple juice. If you find a teriyaki sauce that you like, you don’t need to do that.

Marinate the chicken for 30 minutes to a few hours.

Heat up a skillet to medium heat. Place chicken in skillet once heated and add a few pieces of pineapple around the edges. Feel free to sprinkle the chicken with some sesame seeds if you’d like, too.

t1

While you are doing this, either cook up some brown rice or reheat any left over brown rice you have(this is what I did). Mix the brown rice with pieces of pineapple, a little pineapple juice if you have it and some chopped cilantro.

t3

Turn chicken over and cook on the other side until cooked through. Turn pieces of pineapple as necessary so they don’t burn but brown nicely on most sides.

t2

Slice chicken and serve over rice.

t5

Simple, delicious and flavorful.

Tarragon chicken salad sandwiches

ct6

This is an easy and flavorful recipe that I lightened up. Perfect for a quick lunch for unexpected guests or as smaller sandwiches/roll-ups for a party.

I lightened up the recipe by substituting plain Greek yogurt for the mayonnaise and Brian didn’t even notice.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise(regular or low-fat)
  • 2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons tarragon
  • dash of salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries(I used strawberries)
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts of choice(I used almonds sunflower seeds and cashews)
  • 6 oz of shredded chicken

Mix everything except the nuts, dried fruit, and shredded chicken in a bowl.

ct1 ct2

Taste and adjust flavors as necessary.

Stir in nuts and dried fruit.

ct3 ct4

Toss with chicken. Let refrigerate for about an hour(if you have the time) to let the flavors mingle.

Serve on delicious bread or in pieces of lettuce for lighter fare.

ct5

Holiday weekend

Maybe it wasn’t technically a holiday weekend, but with the 4th falling so close to the weekend, it seemed like one. Thursday we had a few people over to grill out and enjoy the back yard. There was a ton of food and festivities(maybe a little too much for some of us).

We now have oodles of left overs that I have been trying to recreate into other dishes so that we aren’t eating burger after brat after burger.

Saturday I woke up at 5:15am and couldn’t go back to sleep. So, I headed up and did some work in the garden and headed to water aerobics, only to learn that it started at 11am, not 10am. I didn’t want to wait around so I headed home and started creating some calzone dough. I made two different fillings, one being ground taco meat, corn and black beans with cheddar cheese and the other of chicken, pesto, tomatoes and swiss. I thought they turned out pretty tasty.

w5

Saturday afternoon I spend relaxing and watching a Law and Order: SVU marathon. Delightful. It’s amazing how crimes can be wrapped up neatly in a one hour TV segment. Saturday night I headed to Michael’s craft store and browsed their clearance. I got some fun glitter paint and goods to make some bracelets. A wonderful little night at home.

I had recently heard in a podcast that if you want really fluffy eggs for omelettes to put them in the blender. It will also make your eggs go farther, needing you to use less. So, after making a batch of almond milk, I cleaned out the blender and threw in one egg and 3 egg whites. I also threw in a few handfuls of spinach(who not???). It made my eggs super fluffy and green! I had a 12 inch skillet full of eggs. I topped them with marinara. Delicious and colorful.

w1

Once my food settled, I headed to meet some friends for an aquatic exercise class. Get a tan and exercise? Yes, please! Lunch consisted of BBQ chicken salads and fruit. I topped the salad with grilled corn, black beans, carrots, cucumber and some crushed tortilla chips.

w2

After realizing that yesterday was National Chocolate Day and being a little tired of eating meat at every meal, I decided that we would have chocolate chunk waffles for dinner. Well, Brian would. I had half of a waffle, veggie patty and some fruit. I don’t care for sweet breakfast foods all that much and I would have been really cranky later if I didn’t eat some protein.

Brian:

w4

Me:

w3

I hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend as I did. So happy it finally felt like summer!

Fun and fantastic

This past weekend was awesome. The weather was great and Brian and I ended up doing some spontaneous things and really taking advantage of the city. Something I need to do more often. That’s why I live here, right?

Brian took me out to dinner on Friday night because our fridge was bare! We hadn’t really gone grocery shopping in 2 weeks and we had been squeaking by on pantry staples and freezer meals all week. The upside to this was that, our fridge was bare. How is that an upside? It was the perfect opportunity to pull everything out and wipe down the shelves. A task that was long over due! Look at its glowing beauty afterwards:

friday10

After my speed cleaning fridge session, I headed out the door to walk to meet Brian for dinner. The weather was perfect for eating dinner outside and this place had a patio(no coincidence). We started off our meal with the bone marrow appetizer which came with a great arugula salad and pickled cherry. It was the perfect flavor combination.

friday1

I had a delicious and dark beer made with 3 different types of coffee beans:

friday2

And was only able to eat half of my Legend’s of the Daal wrap(very tasty):

friday3

The place is mostly known for their burgers. Brian got Elvis’ Last Supper with house made peanut butter and bacon. Surprisingly delicious.

friday4

On the way home, we decided to walk through Ribfest, which was happening right down the block. There was this sign:

Friday6

To which, Brian reacted like this to the thought of a deep fried Snickers:

friday5

We continued walking, until we saw this sign:

friday7

To which the possibility of deep-fried Oreos was too much for Brian to resist. We headed over to the ticket line and within 10 minutes had a tub of fried Oreos. To which, the man next to us in line got a deep-fried Snickers and insisted I take his picture.

friday8

Because deep-frying candy and cookies isn’t enough, they top them off with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar:

friday9

I tried one of the Oreos. It was actually pretty tasty. Like a funnel cake married and Oreo and made tiny funnel cake Oreo babies. Brian was in heaven.

A Friday night of indulgence meant a healthy breakfast and exercise Saturday morning.

saturday1

Followed by a trip to the garden. A very exciting trip where I would learn that all of my radishes had matured and were ready to be picked. I also got a few handfuls of kale and spinach and a lone strawberry. I think I’ve gotten more produce from my community garden plot in one month this year than I did all last summer!

saturday9 saturday10

After lots of errand running we grabbed lunch and then hit up Margie’s for a scoop of ice cream. They were switching out containers on Brian’s chocolate peanut butter and he got a mega scoop. That got all over his beard and mustache, but loos at those abundant ribbons of peanut butter. I had some serious ice cream envy and Brian happily shared with me.

saturday2 saturday3

Saturday we ate mostly vegetable for dinner. I grilled a ton of them for us to devour and a little chicken. I also made a delicious salad with the kale and spinach from the garden with a vinaigrette, hemp and sunflower seeds and blueberries.

saturday11 saturday12 saturday13

Sunday was to be filled with rain, but we were surprised by a sunny day instead.

I had a breakfast taco to start the day. The eggs ended up overwhelming the tortilla, but it was delicious!

saturday6 saturday7 saturday8

I slow cooked brisket in a marinade all day to make some delicious barbacoa for our tostadas for dinner.

sunday1 sunday4

While that was cooking and making the house smell wonderful, I got to work on a big batch of pumpkin and chocolate chip waffles to use as breakfasts in the upcoming days:

sunday5

Made a tasty batch of tarragon chicken salad(can’t wait to share the recipe) that was the perfect meal of protein to sustain us on our 12 mile bike ride by the lake.

sunday6 sunday7

I don’t think we could have packed much more into our weekend. It was a great one! Hope everyone had as much fun as I did.

Fests, food, fun and crafts

This was one jam-packed weekend full of pure goodness.

After work on Friday, I headed straight to Maifest(my favorite summer fest) where Brian and I were able to meet up with several friends from different circles. It was one big fun time filled with German food and beer.

weekend1

I spent some time at the garden on Saturday. We are continuing to get strawberries and kale. Everything else is growing nicely with all the recent rain. This picture makes it look like my garden is full of weeds, but those are just onions growing in the spaces between the other plants. I really tried to maximize my space this year.

weekend3 weekend2

I made a big pitcher of iced tea to sip on all of Saturday afternoon and evening. Brian and worked hard on finishing up some details for the wedding and getting the Save the Dates ready to send out.

weekend4 weekend5

Our hard work was rewarded with some teriyaki chicken with pineapple and cilantro rice(so good!) and a batch of flourless almond butter cookies. They looked a little wonky when I took them out of the oven, but they still tasted pretty good.

weekend12

weekend6 weekend7

Sunday was another fun-filled day. My friend, Katie had a trunk show at her condo showing off some of her crafting talents. She makes adorable hand-made cards and invitations at a great price. Check out some of her great designs:

dolter dolter2 dolter3 dolter4 dolter5 dolter6

Are you dying to get your hands on some of these? Thowing a party and need top-notch invites? Check out more designs on her Pinterest page: Katie*did Cards. Or email her at katiedidcards@hotmail.com

Afterwards a few of us fun-loving girls headed over to Falafill to get our fill(so delicious):

weekend10

With a full belly and good night’s sleep, the Save the Dates went out in the mail this morning! Yay!

weekend11

Meal Planning 101

I’ve had a few people ask me lately about meal plans. I’ll give you a run down about how I plan our meals.

Brian and I pack and take our lunches to work most days of the week. It’s way cheaper and healthier. Even if you are getting an inexpensive meal out, just keep in mind that restaurants charge you at least 3x or more what it costs them to make it. Meaning: You can make it sooo much cheaper at home. Let’s do the math. If you spend $5 on lunch everyday eating out(which if you live in Chicago you spend more), that means that it’s costs that restaurant at most $1.66 to make your meal.

So $5 x 5 days per week is $25 per week on lunches.

If you made that same thing at home for $1.66 x 5 days a week, you would have spent $8.33.

$25-$8.33= a savings of $16.67 per week. Times 52 weeks per year = A savings of…

$866.84 per year

Wow. It really adds up, doesn’t it? Save almost $1000 per year just by packing your lunch instead of eating out. I bet you’d like an extra $1000 per year.

And really, it’s not that hard. It just takes a little planning.

I really like using paper and pen. Notice there is hardly any processed food on the list.

meal plan

First, break it down. How many meals do you need for the week? Check your fridge and pantry. What do you already have that you can use?

We both eat our breakfasts at work. So those need to be packed, too. Do you stop and buy donuts and coffee everyday? Don’t even get me started on how money wasteful that is. Make your own donuts/breakfast sandwiches/oatmeal and coffee for PENNIES. Seriously people. I bet it would take less time to make your coffee at home in a Keurig(yes, you can afford a Keurig if you stop buying your coffee everyday) than to stop, stand in line, order and buy it. So what do we eat for breakfasts? Cold oats, oatmeal bakes, tofu scrambles, egg bakes, donuts, muffins and waffles. Yep, make extra donuts, waffles, pancakes ahead of time and reheat. Just as good as the first time.

donut

Brian and I combined need 12 lunches. I only put 10 because I don’t usually plan the weekend out as strictly as the weekdays. The weekend is when we will eat 1 to 2 meals out. And if we are out running errands or have other obligations, we sometimes eat separately or we just have the leftovers from the week. I try to do one crock pot meal on the weekends. It saves time and makes a lot all at once. I don’t care if you are cooking for one or four, most recipes freeze well. Utilize your freezer, people. So, what are some of my favorite crock pot meals to make? Buffalo chicken, chicken curry, pulled pork, pork tinga, soups…or anything on pinterest. Start it in the morning. When it is done cooking, eat it for dinner. Then portion the rest out. Put a few containers in the fridge and the rest in the freezer.

bust a gut

I have also made a very conscious effort for us to eat meat less. A lot less. I make veggie burgers often. They are simple, fast and incredibly inexpensive to make. They are also filling, low in fat, high in fiber and protein. Win, win, win, win.

Another thing that Brian and I love are macro bowls. I steam kale, cook black beans, roast sweet potatoes, cook quinoa and bake tofu. Then I divide it out evenly between bowls. These bowls pack a punch in the flavor department, are super healthy and filling. They are really easy to customize, too. You don’t like tofu, substitute meat of your choice. You hate black beans? Throw in any other bean or lentil. Don’t have quinoa, use rice. Kale grosses you out? Use broccoli. You get protein, fiber, veg, and antioxidants. Yes these take a little while to make since you cooking everything separately, but they come in at less than $2 per bowl, using all organic ingredients.

weekend12

Two other dishes that we love are rama chicken and orange chicken. Healthier versions of take out food, made at home. Both pack great for lunches, too. Substitute tofu for the chicken and they are vegetarian. Most things you order at restaurant can be made fairly simply at home.

rama5

orange

Are these too healthy of options? Make a pizza. Make your own crust. That’s an option that takes less than 10 minutes to make. Spread on some sauce, cheese and toppings. This makes a very large pizza or two, so you will have a few days of left over pizza, too. Another fast option. Kraft whole grain macaroni and cheese… add a source of protein and vegetables(a lot) to it when it’s done cooking. It saves you from eating the whole box, makes it much more nutritious and gives you 1-2 meals worth of leftovers. Win, win.

pizza3

Need a fast weeknight meal? Well, that pizza and mac and cheese come together in about a half an hour. Do you know what else cooks really fast? Fish! Seriously, it takes less than 10 minutes to cook most fish. While that is cooking, saute or steam some of your favorite vegetable(s). Tired of your same old, same old tuna sandwich? Make a tuna melt. Leave the sandwich open-faced, throw on a slice of cheese and broil it for a few minutes.

grouper

Another thing I do that saves me a ton of time during the week is to prepare a lot of vegetables a head of time. It’s easy to cut root vegetables, potatoes, or brussies up and roast them while doing other things around the house. Then I have a quick side to go with any meal throughout the week. Or put some potatoes or sweet potatoes in your crock pot. I also peel and cut up the entire bag of carrots at one time to snack on throughout the week.

I also take full advantage of my weekends and get most of my cooking done then. Take 4 hours one day and see what all you can get accomplished. I bet you will be eating well for days. This weekend, I am going to try to make about 10 days worth of food so there are things in the house through next weekend.

What’s on the list? Crockpot buffalo chicken(some will go in the freezer), a batch of veggie burgers, macrobiotic bowls, pizza, grilled burgers, tilapia and asparagus packets and some sort of breakfast(donuts or waffles) to pack for Brian. There you go. Six recipes that will feed 2 people for 10 days, plus some fresh fruit and vegetables. Getting some done ahead of time sure beats scrambling to make dinner every night.

I can make all of that with less than $70 worth of groceries for about one week of food. That’s $10 per day for 3 meals for 2 people. That makes each meal average out to $1.66. Way cheaper than eating out. And much healthier.

You’ve asked. I’ve answered. A weekly meal plan to save your waistline and pocket-book!

Pumpkin pizza dough and bbq chicken pizza

I love the blog {Never} homemaker. She is constantly being creative with what she has. Which, I try to do, but she seems to do it much better.

I recently planned to make a hybrid of her Pumpkin Garlic Knots and Pesto Garlic Knots by making Pesto Pumpkin Garlic Knots.

So, I made the dough.

pizza5 pizza6pizza7And then I let it rise. I put half of the batch in the freezer to use later(genius to have spare bread/pizza dough on hand) and went to grab my pesto out of the fridge. Uh oh. There wasn’t near enough left to make the pesto garlic knots. But there was enough left for me to make a delicious flat bread(you know, less surface area to cover than multiple knots).

So, that’s what I did. I pressed the dough out real thin, spread some pesto on it, topped with slices of tomato and a nice blend of Italian cheeses.

pizza4

About a week later, I pulled the other half of the dough out of the freezer and made some of Brian’s favorite pizza with it. BBQ chicken. Our favorite BBQ sauce to use is Sweet Baby Ray’s honey chipotle. It has a little heat and smokiness that perfectly compliments the sweet. Top with lots of cooked chicken. Then load on the cheese. Bake until bubbling and has a crispy crust.

pizza1 pizza2

I pulled off a little ball of dough to make an individual pizza for myself, too. I rolled mine out extra thin, cooked it until slightly crisp in a dry skillet, topped it and finished it off on a pizza stone in the oven to melt the cheese.

pizza3

This is a super easy pizza dough recipe and I like that it has the added nutrients of the pumpkin. I have also made neverhomemaker’s beet pizza dough with good success. I love that it makes enough for 2 huge pizzas, so I have leftovers to use when I’m short on time.

Takeout Fake-out Rama Chicken

rama6

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.

rama1

 

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.

rama2

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.

rama3

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.

rama4

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

rama5

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!