Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Remembering To Post

Sometimes I post my blog as my website on other people's blogs. And it's then that I remember just.how.long.it's.been... since I stopped in to say, "hello!"

So I'm stopping in. To say, "hello!"


I'm not Vegan anymore (boy was that rough!), but I am now back from Burning Man and meat-free. I wanted to be part of the meal groups at Burning Man in our camp, so I decided that in an effort to actually eat better than 3 servings of top ramen a day, I'd eat meat at dinner. But now? No more meat. Seafood, yes. Dairy, yes. But no chicken, beef, or pork. And that has really not been very hard, at all. I feel great, really. I've switched over from soy milk to almond milk, which I like better. I don't want to eat too much soy and the soy milk wasn't really necessary, so easy to let go of. Now my overnight oats are made with honey (the agave nectar was freaking me out, actually - too close to high fructose corn syrup and too many mixed reviews on the healthfulness of the product, even if I was only ingesting 1 tsp per day) and almond milk (and oats and chia seeds and fruit). I like all the veggies we're eating. I like that my boy eats all these veggies with me! He hasn't added meat to our dinner in a realllly long time! Not to say he doesn't miss it, but he's embraced my eating style. It helps to have fish and shrimp and scallops back in the mix, but he has OFFERED to make me vegetarian meals on a few occasions! He's made me this healthy baked eggplant parmesan (from Eating Well) twice (nomnom) and has requested the following recipe a few times, which I finally made him again last night (Real Simple's Chickpea-spinach curry with cucumber yogurt sauce, 277 Cal per serving? yes, please!). If it's indian food, he's all in for the win, no meat necessary.  Yay!  Now the question is what we're going to do now that our local Farmer's Market is over?!?  Safeway veggies just aren't the same and we're hardly ever close enough to home on the weekend to hit up one of our neighboring city's Farmer's Markets.  *sigh* We'll just have to try harder! That said, at least I get my tuesday evenings back for gym-time. It's too easy to slack off when I don't go on Tuesdays!  Back today, you better believe it!

On a side note, my friend has started a sci-fi/fantasy book club. First up for October is Neuromancer, by William Gibson. It was on NPR's Your Picks: Top 100 Science-Fiction, Fantasy Books and sounds pretty good. I'll post a review when I'm done!  Any recommendations for future books?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Vegan Challenge - Day Eight

  • Weight: N/A
  • Meals:
    • Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal (1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla soy milk, 1 tsp agave nectar, and 1 Tbsp chia seeds; 235 Cal)
    • Lunch: Seaweed Salad and 2 Thai style spring rolls (~250 Cal)
    • Dinner: Vegan Alfredo with Asparagus (see recipe below; ~475 Cal, depending on how much sauce you use, we ended up only using about 2/3 of the sauce)
  • Snacks:
    • Cherries (4 oz, yields, 65 Cal)
    • Peanut Butter (1 Tbsp, 95 Cal)
    • Vegan Oatmeal Cookie Dough with walnuts and craisins (165 Cal, assuming 20 cookies make the whole batch)
  • Drinks:
    • Coffee with Stevia and few Tbsp of unsweetened vanilla soy (~10 Cal)
    • 16 oz Tazo Zen Green Tea (0 Cal)
    • 1 can of Diet Dr. Pepper (0 Cal)
    • 24 oz water + Peach Mango Mio (0 Cal)
  • Multivitamin: Yes (bought more, finally)
  • Exercise(s):
    • Pilates (50 min)
    • Zumba (60 min)
  • Thoughts:
    • The weekend was harder than I anticipated, although I was able to keep to a vegetarian diet.  I just couldn't justify paying $25 for the buffet to only eat a salad... but I was at least still good about not eating any chicken, pork, or beef!  I also was good about only eating one meal with dairy, not all three meals.  Thank goodness I already prefer my Mexican food without meat!  I can easily go without cheese and/or sour cream on my burrito, especially when there's guacamole in there!  Anyhow, that's just a side note since I didn't post all weekend.  The Vegan Alfredo was good.  I didn't care for the smoked paprika in there, I would just do regular next time (it had an overwhelming hot dog flavor which I attribute to the smoked paprika but may have been the nutritional yeast, not sure yet).  For lunch, I had saved a nice can of Progresso Vegetarian Vegetable soup at work in case of an emergency, but on second inspection of the ingredients, the noodles had eggs in them!  So I ran to the store and got a few things from the sushi-deli.  The seaweed salad was yummy and so were the rolls.  I would have liked avocado in them, though!  They had lettuce, cellophane noodles, and tofu wrapped inside rice paper and were served with a peanut dipping sauce.  Pretty delish, for a last minute decision!  I'll be making my next lunch salad series after the farmer's market tomorrow.  I bought myself a can of (acceptable) soup for tomorrow.  When we got back from Reno, we wanted cookies, so made a batch of Vegan Oatmeal Cookies.  They were good baked, but better raw.  And since there's no eggs in the mix, we decided to just plop a cookie sized lump of batter on a tiny plate for dessert! Yum!
 Vegan Alfredo with Asparagus
Makes 2 Servings (560 Cal per serving)

  • 1 Cup Unsweetened Soymilk
  • 1/3 Cup Raw, Unsalted Cashews
  • 1/4 Cup Nutritional Yeast
  • 3 Tbsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 2 Tbsp Earth Balance Margarine
  • 1 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika (smoked is awesome)
  • 1 Pinch Nutmeg
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic, rough chopped or pressed
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • 10 Leaves Fresh Basil, torn
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 Bunch Asparagus, cut on a diagonal into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 3 oz Whole Wheat Pasta (Spaghetti or Fettuccine)
  1. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add the first 12 ingredients (up to the Basil) to a blender and blend until smooth.
  3. Sauté the onion in a large skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium heat for 3 minutes.  Add asparagus and sauté for another 7 minutes. Throw the garlic in for the last 30 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Drain the pasta and return it to the hot empty panalong with the asparagus mixture.  Pour the sauce over, place on medium heat, and stir until heated through. Serve with lots of fresh cracked black pepper and the torn basil.

    Vegan Challenge - Day Four

    • Weight: 148.0 lbs (-4.4 lbs total, probably still equalizing)
    • Meals:
      • Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal with blueberries (1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla soy milk, 1 tsp agave nectar, 1 Tbsp chia seeds, and 2.5 oz fresh blueberries; 275 Cal)
      • Instagram Brekkie
      • Lunch: Sushi Roll Edamame Salad (using 1/4 cup dry quinoa instead of brown rice again today, 400 Cal)
      No, there isn't any cookie butter in this salad... it just never has time to make it back to the cupboard
    Crusty potato topping

    Vegan Shepherd's Pie

    So good!  And now I have leftovers in the freezer!

    • Snacks:
      • Cherries (4.5 oz, yields, 75 Cal)
      • Peanut Butter (1 Tbsp, 95 Cal)
      • Mango Sorbet (1/2 cup; 120 Cal)
    • Drinks:
      • Coffee with Stevia and few Tbsp of unsweetened vanilla soy (~10 Cal)
      • 16 oz Tazo Zen Green Tea (0 Cal)
      • 24 oz water + fruit punch Mio (0 Cal)
      • 16 oz water (0 Cal)
    • Multivitamin: Yes (need to buy more! Last one today)
    • Exercise(s):
      • Walk around the block at lunch (25 min)
    • Thoughts:
      • Closer to 1200 Cal today, I'm surprised! I actually thought the Shepherd's Pie would account for more calories than it did - hooray!  The best part is that it was still super filling, for being the smallest caloric meal today.  I sort of like that it's a smaller meal, especially since I did not go to the gym today!  Exclamation points all over! It's an exclamation party!

    Thursday, June 21, 2012

    Vegan Challenge - Day Three

    • Weight: 148.6 lbs (-3.8 lbs total, probably still equalizing from weekend eating)
    • Meals:
      • Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal (1/2 cup oats, 1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla soy milk, 1 tsp agave nectar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, and 1 Tbsp chia seeds; 240 Cal-now, that's more like it!)
      • Lunch: Sushi Roll Edamame Salad (using 1/4 cup dry quinoa instead of brown rice today, 402 Cal)
      • Dinner: E2 Veggie Burger on Multi-Grain Sandwich Thin with Sweet Potato Fries (500 Cal)
    • Snacks:
      • Blueberries (2.5 oz, 40 Cal)
      • Cherries (4 oz, yields, 65 Cal)
      • 1 Tbsp Peanut Butter (95 Cal)
      • 1/2 cup Mango Sorbet (120 Cal)
    • Drinks:
      • Coffee with Stevia and few Tbsp of unsweetened vanilla soy (~10 Cal)
      • 16 oz Tazo Passion Tea (0 Cal)
      • 24 oz water + mango-peach Mio (0 Cal)
      • 16 oz water (0 Cal)
    • Multivitamin: Yes
    • Exercise(s):
      • Walk around the block at lunch (25 min)
      • Zumba (50 min)
      • Zumba cool-down (abs+stretching, 10 min)
    • Thoughts:
      • I feel great.  I'm liking the scale numbers, but I'm sure it was just some extra water weight I put on by not paying attention to my diet for a few weeks... ah, summer.  The oats this morning were just the right amount!  I might omit the cinnamon tomorrow and top it off with blueberries instead, more like my yogurt habit but with oats!  Made it to Zumba today, took it easy on my ankle, still pretty purple. Since that wasn't over until 7, dinner was late - too late for my liking. Next Wednesday will have to be planned better. Sweet potato fries were surprisingly delicious!  Especially for having nothing on them!  The veggie burger turned out HUGE, way bigger than that tiny sandwich thin I put it on. Smeared some avocado and some horseradish mustard on the toasted bun and was very satisfied.  Now I have 4 in the freezer ready to eat, so that's nice.  Maybe I'll have that next Wednesday, afterall.  I still need to work on getting my calorie count down to 1200 on this eating plan. As long as I'm going to the gym, I don't so much mind the 1500 Cal/day.  It's hard, with all the carbs... so it's less fat, for sure, but it's more carbs too.  So far, no weird cravings.  I'm expecting those to hit this weekend when I suddenly want CHEESE!  Gotta stay positive!  Until then...

    Wednesday, June 20, 2012

    Vegan Challenge - Day Two

    • Weight: 149.6 lbs (-2.8 lbs, yesterday's weight was likely due to crazy weekend eating?)
    • Meals:
      • Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal (using mixed berry soy yogurt and unsweetened vanilla soy milk - not the same recipe as yesterday's, 530 Cal-hmmm, might need to change that for tomorrow, that's too many calories for one meal)
      • Lunch: Sushi Roll Edamame Salad (including the edamame this time, 375 Cal)
      • Dinner: Thai Basil Tofu Stir-fry (no oyster sauce) with Red Rice from the Farmer's Market (wild guess based on online search ~400 Cal, hopefully that's an overestimate)
    • Snacks:
      • Coconut Milk Cookies & Cream Ice Cream (140 Cal)
      • Popsicle (45 Cal)
    • Drinks:
      • Coffee with Stevia and few Tbsp of unsweetened vanilla soy (~10 Cal)
      • 24 oz water + black cherry Mio (0 Cal) 
      • Diet Dr. Pepper (0 Cal)
      • 16 oz water (0 Cal)
    • Multivitamin: Yes
    • Exercise(s):
      • Walk around the block at lunch (25 min)
      • Walk to/from Old Navy Project in SF (20 min)
    • Thoughts:
      •  Too much food today.  That breakfast might be better used before or after a weekend workout, but I'm still learning.  I really had my Greek Yogurt breakfast down pat!  Now that I've made it a few times, I can pretty much make my own conconction now, with a more appropriate amount of Calories.  We had an ice cream party at work.  I sat there with my salad while everyone made sundaes that looked nice and cool and refreshing.  Luckily, there were fruit popsicles - a healthier (and lactose free) alternative, so it was ok, really.  Probably saved myself 100 Cal, minimum!  Didn't make it to the gym, my ankle is still a little too purple for my liking.  Zumba is tomorrow, not going to miss that!  Farmer's Market today will also help load me up on some fruit to have as snacks... since we polished off that coconut milk ice cream (and I don't intend to replace it).  Had to go to SF for an Old Navy survey I did where I had to buy some t-shirts and wear and wash them a few times and then blog about any quality issues I found.  Today was the last part of the project, where we came and actually wore the shirts and talked about them with an outside company.  Kinda interesting.  I like Old Navy, so it was a fun project.  PLUS, they gave me $200 for finishing the project (plus an Old Navy gift card, not sure how much is on there).  Reno, here I come!  Anyhow, Ryan went to the Market, since I was in SF.  He brought me home the oyster-sauceless and bell-pepperless Thai food (which was still quite yummy, they doubled up on the green beans YAY!) for my dinner, which I scarfed immediately down over an episode of Game of Thrones (season one, from Netflix-no spoliers please!).  I'm feeling pretty good, overall, but I do feel like I am overloaded with carbs... but I guess that's all you can eat when you're vegan, eh?  I just need to keep track of my portions and it should be fine.  My upcoming Reno trip will be the true test!  I'm thinking veggie sushi and pho and corn on the cob galore!  I will make it work :)

    Monday, June 18, 2012

    Vegan Challenge - Day One

    • Weight: 152.4 lbs (yikes! when did that happen?!?)
    • Meals:
      • Breakfast: Overnight Oatmeal (agave nectar in place of honey, 345 Cal)
        Before putting it in the fridge

        The next day; all milk soaked up
      • Lunch: Sushi Roll Edamame Salad (edamame omitted for today only, forgot to buy it! 325 Cal)
        Salad Dressing,  Green Onion-Miso Vinaigrette ingredients

        Blend well and voila! Yummy dressing!

      • Dinner: E2 Rice & Beans (bell peppers omitted, 485 Cal)
    • Snacks:
      • Coconut Milk Cookies & Cream Ice Cream (140 Cal)
    • Water:
      • 32 oz tea (Green + Mint, unsweetened/plain)
      • 16 oz water
    • Multivitamin: Yes
    • Exercise(s):
      • Walk at lunch (25 min)
    • Thoughts:
      • I can't believe how filling the meals were, I was definitely not left wanting more!  In fact, the rice & beans were almost too hard to finish-even Ryan thought so (although he did add a gruyere cheese and garlic chicken sausage to his bowl).  The oatmeal was better than I thought it would be, I ate it cold and didn't need to add extra milk or anything.  Tonight, I think I will make it with some of the fruit-flavored soy yogurt I picked up instead of the soy milk.  I didn't make it to pilates tonight, I forgot to account for the fact that I was out of gas and had to stop on the way.  It's probably better, I think my ankle was sprained when I twisted it the other day in those crazy shoes.  Hopefully I can make it to the gym in the morning to make up for it.  The swelling has gone down a bit from yesterday and I made sure to wear an ankle brace for most of the day (until it eventually cut my circulation off too much to bear).  The prep time for the meals took longer than I expected, so I'm glad I made the full batch and now have lunch for the next three days.  The oatmeal is quick and painless, so that's easy.  Tomorrow is Farmer's Market day, so new fruits and veggies are on their way!  We'll likely eat there, I need to make sure to ask if what I want is vegan.  I liked the Thai Basil Tofu Stir-fry I had last week, but I am not sure whether it had fish sauce in it.  If not, I'll probably order that again. They also had some really tasty Thai Spring Rolls, if not.  I feel pretty good - full, but not weighted down.  It is going to be hard to not overdo it on the carbs, even though brown rice & beans are possibly the healthiest of carbs I could choose - better than bread, for example.  Got to make sure I keep the protein up, the chia seeds can help with that a little bit.  Beans are the next best thing.  Off to finish watching the Falling Skies premiere, so glad it came back!

    What going vegan looked like after my (~$60) trip to Whole Foods

    Notes on Things (and Things of Note)

    • The new Metric album?  Rocking my world, just like their last album. Can't quite seem to listen to anything else, no matter how hard I try!
    • South Lake Tahoe in the summertime is kinda magical. Especially when you get to stay in a big, beautiful house on a small lake with a hot tub! I'm usually there in the winter, so it was a nice (and hot) change of pace.
    • I seriously can't believe how booked up my summer has become - and summer isn't even starting until Wed!  Phew! I'm certainly not complaining, but a little down time might be nice.  From Tahoe to Reno to Montana, oh my! Camping and gambling and volunteering and birthday-ing, when will I have time to Prepare for the Playa?
    • Speaking of Burning Man, Ryan and I went to Joann's on our way back from Tahoe to pick up some project-like things.  Needless to say, I have a few yards of toule and an elastic band just waiting for that non-existent down time I mentioned above.  Tutu, anyone?
    • My 30-day Vegan Challenge started today, it was sorta inspired by the E2 Diet I read about last week via Whole Foods.  I'm curious what changes will come from this - I'm hoping for clearer skin, a happier belly and digestive tract, a little bit of weight loss, a lot more energy, and a decrease in my insomnia-related ailments.  After 30 days, I'm not sure what will happen.  I have to make it to day 30 first, people!  I'm hoping to move to a pescatarian diet, if nothing else.  But honestly, we'll have to see.  A follow up blog on how my Day 1 went to come later.  Got a favorite vegan food or recipe? I'd love to hear about it!
    • Remember how I said I was in Tahoe this weekend? It was for a wedding and I wore these little devils:
    • As cute as they are, wearing them to an outdoorsy wedding got me a golfball sized ankle.  *Sigh*

    Thursday, June 14, 2012

    Workouts and Food Challenges

    Hello friends!  I have a few things to share with you, I know it's been awhile and I apologize! 

    I have decided to give a plant-based diet a go for 1 month.  I am hoping to keep it strictly vegan (it is only a month, afterall), but may opt for a pescatarian diet if need be (where I will incorporate dairy, eggs, and fish).  I've been pinning all sorts of yummy looking recipes and can't wait to give it a go, starting on Monday!  I'll be weening myself off of the Non-Fat Plain Greek Yogurt with fresh fruit for breakfast by trying an oatmeal dish I keep seeing on a new blog I've subscribed to, Peanut Butter Fingers.  The author has really been motivating me to amp up my strength training and try some new, simple recipes.  She rotates between a few breakfasts, and one of them is called Overnight Oats.  Instead of cooking them overnight in a slow cooker (as you may have already imagined it would be), she prepares old fashioned oats with a few other ingredients and lets it sit overnight in the fridge, eating it cold the next morning.  Sounds a bit different, but it's been WARM up here in NorCal and cold oatmeal actually sounds kind of good!  Most of the time, she adds a flavored greek yogurt to her overnight oats.  I've decided to try her Oatmeal Cookie Dough Overnight Oats for my first go at it.  It's already vegan, since it uses soy or almond milk as the liquid base.  Besides, it sounds delish!  Hopefully I'll have all sorts of veggie-dishes to share with you over the next month!  I think the experience will inspire me to blog more, too.

    Another thing I've started adding to my routine is Jamie Eason's LiveFit workouts.  I'm not really following her program, but am adding her strength training workouts to my normal cardio routine.  I like having something to follow instead of doing the same moves over and over again.  It helps to have it broken up by muscle groups, too. Yesterday, before my Zumba class, I tried out her Day 1 routine (I realized after I changed the cable flyes to bent over flyes that I was actually working my back instead of chest by doing so-oops! I couldn't move the bench to do the real exercise, maybe next time I'll ask for help!):

    Wide Pushup (standard or on knees): 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: x10
    Set #2: x9
    Set #3: x0

    Dumbbell or Barbell Bench Press: 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: 10 lbs per dumbbell x12
    Set #2: 10 lbs per dumbbell x12
    Set #3: 10 lbs per dumbbell x12

    Flat Bench Cable (Bent Over) Flyes: 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: 5 lbs per dumbbell x12
    Set #2: 5 lbs per dumbbell x12
    Set #3: 5 lbs per dumbbell x12

    Narrow Pushup (standard or on knees): 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: x10
    Set #2: x10
    Set #3: x0

    Overhead Triceps Dumbbell Extension: 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: 15 lbs x12
    Set #2: 15 lbs x12
    Set #3: 15 lbs x12

    Triceps Pushdowns: 3 sets of 12 reps
    Set #1: 30 lbs x12
    Set #2: 30 lbs x12
    Set #3: 30 lbs x12

    I can't wait to see how today's workout goes!  I should be able to do each of the exercises without modification at my gym, but I may only do 2 sets of each so it doesn't take as long.  1 min between sets makes for a long workout! I think she says it should take roughly an hour to complete, depending on gym traffic.  Doing only 2 sets of each of today's seven exercises should bring that down to 45 min or so, which is much more do-able if I plan on also including cardio before-hand.  Spin starts at 5, so I have to be on the road by 4:15 in order to make it in time!  If I don't make it in time, I'll likely do 10 min on the stair-master followed by 30 min on the elliptical.  Having a plan - and a new one, at that - makes me much ore excited and motivated to make it to the gym!  What motivates you to work out?  Do you have a routine? I'd love to hear about it!

    Wednesday, May 09, 2012

    Where I've Been For a Month

    I've had a busy spring!  I had 3 weekends of birthdays (can't complain about that, seriously!), my boyfriend and I celebrated our 4th Anniversary together (not pictured), and I've been sneaking in longer and longer hikes, trying to test my calf to see how far I can go without it complaining to me.  Made it 4 miles last weekend, and it was fine!  A little sore, but that was to be expected since I avoid exercising my calves at the gym to all extents.  I'm just so glad to be out and about in this glorious Cali weather!  I can't wait to sneak in more hikes, but that may have to wait a few weekends.  More busy-times for the next few weekends: Zumba Flash Mob this Saturday (see my instructor dance our routine here) followed by my best friend from elementary/middle school's daughter's 6th birthday, Mommy's Day Sunday (we'll be walking/hiking at Lake Chabot, so yay!), Night School: Prom at Chabot Space & Science Center (where I volunteer now - but I'll be attending this event, not working it!), volunteering for the Maker's Faire next Saturday followed by a friend's birthday bbq, a Bridal Shower on Sunday,... then the following weekend is Memorial Day (aka my boyfriend's b-day weekend-he has yet to make plans)!  Wowzers!  

    Birthday #1 (Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk with my friends):

    Easter Hike (Lime Kilns in Henry Cowell State Park):

    Birthday #2 (Angel Island with my family):

    Birthday #3 (Golden Gate Park with my Chico bestie):

    Hiking to the Novato Waterfall with my Mommy/Daddy friends:

    First Friday/Art Murmur funtimes in Oakland with my late night friends:

    Hiking at Mt. Tamalpais near Stinson Beach with my bestie, boyfriend, and new friend:

    Don't worry, I've still been cooking, recipes to come soon (for those without links):
    Spicy Basil Chicken - 248 Cal per serving (pictured with roasted broccoli) 
    Saag Tofu - 225 Cal per serving
    Scallops with Pea Pods and Corn - 296 Cal per serving
    Cauliflower Crust Pizza - Calories vary depending on sauce and toppings used 
    Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Brown Butter, and Basil - 331 Cal per serving
    Salt and Pepper Shrimp - 458 Cal per serving
    Fried Sesame Brown Rice with Edamame - 573 Cal per serving
    Stovetop Avocado Macaroni & Cheese - 555 Cal per serving
    Beer Battered Fish Tacos with Tomato-Avocado Salsa - 409 Cal per serving (cheese not included)

    Wednesday, April 11, 2012

    Notes on Things (and Things of Note)

    • 31 doesn't feel any different than 30, I'm not even sure that 30 was all that special to begin with!
    • The Giant Dipper is, hands down, my favorite roller coaster.  Always has been, always will be.
    • Roller coasters have a machine smell that nothing else smells like (and I love that smell)
    • Home-made carrot cake should ALWAYS follow hikes through redwoods.  They go together extremely well.
    • Carrot Cake should always be home made.  Never again will I buy a slice from Safeway.
    • I'm not as good at laser tag as I remember being... although I'm not sure I was ever good in an arena.  Puzzle Fighter is still one of my fortes.
    • Being able to drive 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean into a Redwood Forest is something that I take for granted too often.  This should be remedied (by more beach days followed by camping trips).  California is truly a magical place, I need to spend more time in her beauty.
    • California adventures I plan on doing this spring/summer:
      • Take the ferry to, and explore, Angel Island (this is actually happening next weekend)
      • Tour Alcatraz (I've only ever boated by, never stepped foot on)
      • Walk over the Golden Gate Bridge (it's free, so really? why not)
      • Watch the sun set from the top of Mt. Tamalpais
      • Hike through Muir Woods (I think the last time I was in there was 6th grade)
      • Eat clam chowder at Bodega Bay
      • Take Ryan to Panther Rock Beach
      • Attend an Art Murmur in Oakland
    • I should really knit more things.  Or at least finish something that I start.
    • I got a new iPod for my birfdae!  32 GB, bring it!  Also got this super cutesy owl case (which I lurve <3):
    • Got some awesome schwag for Burning Man from my friends as well... some home-made (yay for crocheted arm warm warmers and a bike seat cover!), some store bought (feather hair extenders and purple make up), all equally thoughtful <3
    • Hmmm... maybe it's time to start thinking more about Burning Man?  Meh, not yet.
    • It is time to start planning this year's river float!  Weeee!  Hopefully it doesn't randomly snow over Memorial Day making the water fuh-reezing this year!  Yikes! 

    Lemon Bars - B-Day Girl Request

    Ok, I know I promised these a few weeks ago... and I have no excuses as to why it took so long for me to get back in here to post the recipe!  I didn't make any changes, so don't expect these to be healthy in any way.   Some birthdays are just meant to be celebrated without having to think about calories!  And anyways, we were dancing - so they sort of just cancel each other out (right?).  That said, I went right ahead and decided on Paula Deen's version of Lemon Bars because honestly?  It's Paula Deen.  They had to come out delicious.  And delicous, they certainly were!  Yum!

    Lemon Bars (makes 16 bars)
    316 Cal; 13g fat (7.7g sat, 0.7g poly, 3.5g mono); 48g Carbs (0.5g fiber); 3.7g protein; 83.4mg Cholesterol

    • Crust:
    • 2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 cup confectioners' sugar (powdered sugar), plus more for dusting
    • Pinch salt
    • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing
    • Filling:
    • 4 eggs
    • 2 cups granulated sugar
    • 6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    • 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9 by 13 by 2-inch pan with a small pad of butter.
    2. Make the crust by combining the flour, confectioners' sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter to make a crumbly mixture. Press the mixture into the prepared pan. You may need to dip your fingers into a little flour or confectioners' sugar to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers. Bake for 20 minutes.
    3. Meanwhile, to make the filling, mix the eggs, granulated sugar, flour, and lemon juice. Pour this over the baked crust and bake for 25 minutes longer. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar, if desired, when the bars are done.  

     Happy Birthday, Jessa!

    Thursday, March 29, 2012

    Notes On Things (and things of note)

    • Listening to my iPod in alphabetical order by song has proven to be a better song shuffler than the "shuffle" option itself.
    • Upon listening to my iPod in this way has also proven to me that many artists have blocks of songs starting with the same letter.... here's me: "Hm, I haven't heard any Muse in awhile."  Here's my iPod, on the letter "S": 8 Muse songs (I'm only up to "G", *sigh*)
    • For some reason, 8GB of music is not enough and I struggle every time I want to put new music onto my iPod with the decision of what songs to leave behind, as if I will never hear them again.
    • Discovering Pinterest has made my days at work far less boring.  Follow me here
    • With my current obsession with Cookie Butter (and the unfortunate discovery of it being sold at my local Whole Foods store), it's a terrible thing to have found this (don't worry, I'll  make it soon.):
    • I have a friend crush on my Zumba instructor.  We should totally be bffs, if only because we live in the same town (and all my other friends live 25-50 minutes away).  Found out that her b-day is the day before mine!  We should hang out.  All.The.Time.
    • I have too many places I want to go before the world ends end of the year, how to decide?!?
    • One of those places is North Carolina.  I miss my old bestie.
    • Another place is Montana.  I miss my physics friend.
    • Neither of those states were ever on my bucket list until I had friends move there (p.s. please come "home").
    • For some strange reason, I like planning things.  Camping trips, Costa Rica vacations, birthday parties, dinner... Am I a closet control freak?  Maybe.
    • Currently planning my birthday (which happens to be the day before Easter this year, blah) here:Pinned Image
    • When did volunteering become so tiring?  When my telescope operator training last night lasted until 11 pm, when it was scheduled to end at 9:30 pm.  And really?  How is learning the History of Telescopes (again) going to help me operate one?!?  Ok, I may just be super tired.  I was probably the only schmuck there who decided to start volunteering somewhere that takes 45 minutes to get to from their house.  But who's counting?  (That's actually less than my commute time to work, believe it or not)
    • Thinking about buying a house-soonishly.  Any idea how much I need at contract signing?  20% isn't looking very feesible in Marin County, even with house prices on the low side.  Also, any idea how much additional monthly costs can range (for insurance, etc... anything that isn't the mortgage payment)?  Trying to create a budget is hard.

    Tuesday, March 27, 2012

    Cream Puffs - B-Day Girl Request #1

    Ok, so I've never even considered making a cream puff before.  Although, admittedly, I find them absolutely delicious!  So, when one of my besties requested them as her special birthday dessert last weekend, I decided to take on the challenge (with a back-up plan, of course... Lemon Bar recipe to come).  I was a little hesitant, mostly because we were going out salsa dancing and I was nervous they would completely melt before anyone could have a chance to try one! 
    I waited as long as I could to assemble them and once assembled, I threw them in the freezer (while my boyfriend and I went out for dinner). As we were heading out the door to make it to the salsa lesson before the party, I put them in a carrier with an ice pack, topped a few with toothpicks so the foil wasn't smooshing the chocolate glaze too terribly, and hoped for the best! The chocolate got a little smooshed, but not too bad and no one seemed to mind anyhow!
    I didn't have a recipe on hand (I don't have many dessert or baking recipes in my big binder of recipes at home), so I took to the internet. I found the basic recipe on Joy of Baking's website and used the chocolate glaze from a different recipe I found on Cooks.com.  Yummy in the tummy!
    Cream Puffs with Whipped Cream and Chocolate Glaze
    Makes 12 small puffs
    194 Cal, 14 g fat, 16 g carbs, 2.4 g protein, 68 mg sodium, 77 mg chol, 19% Vit A, 2% Calcium, 4% Iron

    Choux Pastry:
    1/2 cup all purpose flour
    1/2 teaspoon granulated white sugar
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
    1/2 cup water
    2 large eggs, lightly beaten

    1 large egg, lightly beaten

    Whipped Cream:
    1 cup heavy whipping cream
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 1/2 tablespoons granulated white sugar, or to taste

    Chocolate Glaze:
    1/2 cup granulated white sugar
    4 teaspoons cornstarch
    1/2 cup water
    1 (1 oz) square unsweetened chocolate
    Dash salt
    1 tablespoon butter
    1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

    Choux Pastry:
    1. Preheat oven to 400° F and place rack in center of oven. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly butter or spray the pan with a non-stick vegetable spray.
    2. In a small bowl, sift (or whisk) together the flour, sugar and salt.
    3. Place the butter and water in a heavy saucepan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. (Make sure that the butter melts before the water boils to reduce the amount of evaporation.) Remove from heat and add the flour mixture, all at once, and stir with a wooden spoon until combined. Return saucepan to the heat and stir constantly until the dough comes away from the sides of the pan and forms a thick smooth ball (about 1-2 minutes).
    4. Transfer the dough to your electric mixer (or hand mixer) and beat on low speed to release the steam from the dough (about a minute). Once the dough is lukewarm start adding the lightly beaten eggs (dough will separate and then come together) and continue to mix until you have a smooth thick paste (dough will fall from a spoon in a thick ribbon, this will take several minutes).
    5. Spoon or pipe 12 small mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, spacing about 2 inches apart.
    6. With a pastry brush, gently brush the tops of the dough with a lightly beaten egg (you can probably skip this step if you're planning on using the chocolate glaze, the glaze will cover up the nice shiny shell top anyhow - but it made for nice pictures).
    7. Bake for 15 minutes and then reduce the oven temperature to 350° F. Continue to bake for an additional 30 to 35 minutes or until the shells are a nice amber color.
    8. Turn the oven off, poke a couple of holes in each puff and, with the oven door slightly ajar, let the shells completely cool (and dry out).

    Whipped Cream:
    1. In a large mixing bowl place the whipping cream, vanilla extract, and sugar and stir to combine.
    2. Cover and chill the bowl and whisk in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes.
    3. When chilled, whip the cream just until stiff peaks form (this took several minutes).

    Chocolate Glaze:
    1. In a saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add water, chocolate, and a dash of salt. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly, several minutes.
    2. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to warm.

    To Assemble:
    1. Split the pastry shells in half with a sharp knife (should be completely dry inside).
    2. Place the tops of the shells on a rack and spoon chocolate glaze over the top (I did this as a separate step to avoid melting the whipped cream by spooning over the top of the assembled shells).
    3. Fill (or pipe) the shell bottoms with the prepared whipped cream.
    4. Place the top half of the pastry shell on the whipped cream and refrigerate to keep cool. Enjoy cream puffs the same day you assemble (they become soggy on standing).


    Monday, March 26, 2012

    A Day In The Life... (Monday)

    Hi, friends!  I decided to give you a little sneak peek into what a day in the life of me looks like on a Monday!  Don't worry, there will be plenty of food posts to come, I promise! 

    • 5:00 am: Wake up, find clean gym clothes and get dressed (brr!), brush teeth, pull up hair and fasten bangs out of the face, locate book/ipod/gym towel/water bottle, wonder why this takes so long...
    • 5:25 am: Warm up the car and drive to the gym
    • 5:35-6:10 am: Read Clash of Kings while doing intervals on the elliptical, level 7 (-388 Cal)
    • 6:10 am: Stretch and head back home
    • 6:20 am: Hop in shower and quick rinse (washed hair last night), find something nice-ish to wear to work, pack breakfast/lunch/snacks, make coffee (thank you, Keurig!), pack gym bag and walking shoes, and head out
    • 6:48 am: Walk down to the mailbox to throw in the Netflix we watched yesterday (Apollo 18, only 2 stars for that bad-boy) while the car re-warms up (yeah, it's that cold in the mornings still)
    • 6:50-7:30 am: Commute to work, finish coffee (+5 Cal)
    • 7:30 am: Catch up on work emails; fill up on mint tea
    • 9:00-9:30 am: Morning meeting
    • 9:30 am: Breakfast - 1 large organic banana (+105 Cal) and 1 hard-boiled egg (+78 Cal); I know I'm supposed to eat within an hour of waking up, I just never really have been a breakfast person
    • 10:00 am: Workie workie; refill mint tea (sneak in a fun sized Twix bar, shh +80 Cal)
    • 12:30 pm: Take a brisk walk around the block (-90 Cal)
    • 1:00 pm: Read Tao of Physics while eating lunch - 3.5 oz chicken breast leftovers (+194 Cal), 3.5 oz sliced cucumber (+12 Cal), 2 oz sliced organic carrot (+26 Cal), 1 green onion (+5 Cal), 1/3 small organic avocado (+91 Cal), 1 tsp olive oil (+40 Cal), 1 Tbsp chopped dillweed (+0 Cal), juice of 1/2 lemon (+3 Cal)
    • 3:00 pm: Snack - 6 oz cantaloupe (+58 Cal), 1 low-fat string cheese (+65 Cal)
    • 4:00-4:15 pm: Tidy up desk, change into gym clothes
    • 4:15-5:00 pm: Commute back to the gym
    • 5:00-5:55 pm: Pilates (-200 Cal)
    • 6:00 pm: Drive home, drink lots of water, shower
    • 6:30-7:30 pm: Prepare and eat dinner - 1/2 large chicken breast (+147 Cal) marinated and grilled in 2 Tbsp Chaka's Zesty Sauce (+17 Cal) with a side of 1/2 head cauliflower (+72 Cal) smashed with 1/4 cup lactose free 2% milk (+30 Cal), 2 Tbsp romano cheese (+27 Cal), and 1/2 head of roasted garlic (+60 Cal)
    • 7:30 pm: Take muscle relaxer for twitchy calf so I can sleep later, catch up on DVR'd shows (tonight it's the new show, Missing), enjoy dessert - Tofutti Cutie (+130 Cal)
    • 8:30 pm: Take other pills for cramping calf so I can sleep later, do 15 minute hand weight routine (-43 Cal), wash dishes/clean kitchen from dinner, get lunch ready for tomorrow, catch up on Frozen Planet (Summer episode)
    • 9:30 pm: Brush teeth, floss, face primping routine, crawl under the covers
    • 9:45-10:00 pm: Try and fall asleep!
    Total calories in:                                      +1,241 Cal
    Total calories out (exercise):                        -724 Cal
    Total calories out (mostly seated lifestyle): -1,782 Cal
    Difference (Cal in-Cal out):                       -1,265 Cal

    I wish I could say every day was this successful!  But I don't usually hit the gym 2x in one day... so there is that.  But today was pretty much a success, which is all I can count on!  Only 11 more lbs to meet my ultimate weight loss goal, then I get to start in on maintenance mode... we'll see how that goes!

    Wednesday, March 14, 2012

    Herbed Scallops with Couscous and Steamed Carrots

    Hey, look at me!  I added a Print Friendly button to my posts so you can print out recipes with ease!  I also added an email widget so you can sign up to receive emails when I post.  If any of you like that sort of thing (as much as I do).

    Now on to more important matters... food!  We made this gorgeous scallop dish a few Fridays ago with much success!  Look at that crazy nice sear down there - yum!  The secret was, of course, butter.  So from this point forth, I will most certainly be adding a smidge of butter to the oil I sear my scallops in.  In my house, we eat scallops about once a week.  We buy them in a huge bag from Costco (wild caught, of course).  A serving is really probably 3 scallops, but we up it to 4 per person since they don't have that many calories anyhow.  The recipe below is for the scallops alone, I have them pictured over a bed of Whole Wheat Couscous (cooked in chicken stock instead of water) topped with 10 steamed baby carrots (steamed in our rice cooker which came with a steam rack) and a sprinkle of the parsley that I've somehow kept alive in a pot on my patio all year round!

    Herbed Scallops with Couscous (adapted from Family Circle's recipe)

    4 servings
    338 Calories, 14 g Fat (5 g sat, 2 g poly, 7 g mono), 78 mg Cholesterol, 311 mg Sodium, 17 g Carbs, 3 g Fiber, 35 g Protein

    • 1/4 cup wheat flour
    • 1-1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
    • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
    • ½ teaspoon paprika
    • ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
    • 8 large sea scallops (approximately 13 oz.)
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 1 tablespoons chopped parsley
    • ½ lemon, cut into wedges

    1. In a shallow dish or pie plate, mix flour, lemon pepper, oregano, paprika and thyme. Coat both sides of scallops in the flour mixture, shake off excess and set aside.

    2. In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil and the butter over medium-high heat. Saute the scallops for about 3 minutes per side or until nicely browned and cooked through. Set scallops aside on a plate and keep warm. (when doubling this recipe, cook your scallops in 2 batches so as not to overcrowd the pan)

    3. Garnish with parsley. Serve with lemon wedges, couscous, and cooked baby carrots on the side, if desired.