Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day Wednesday

Hello there :)  Happy Wednesday to everyone!  Actually, more like Happy Leap Day!!!  Did you do anything exciting with your day to celebrate?

I woke up and made breakfast (which I forgot to photograph - sorrrryyy) because I was in a hurry to pull myself together so I would be nice and relaxed.... in time for a job interview that I had this morning :)  I won't talk about it too much, except to say that I feel like I would absolutely love working at this particular place.  So, we'll see how things unfold in the next steps....

When I got home, I felt like I was starving.  I threw together a salad with every kind of veggie that I could find.  I chopped brussels sprouts and put them in the oven on 450... because I needed them like.right.this.very.second.  If you are new to my blog, I'm madly in love with brussels sprouts. I know, kind of weird right?  Actually, no, because they are amazing - when roasted that is.  Anyway, then I ate them so fast I forgot to take a picture.  Whoops.

In the afternoon, I went to Pure Barre, where I got my booty totally kicked as usual.  Then, I met up with one of my best friends for dinner at a local restaurant that serves all locally grown organic food.  It's truly incredible and they even have a decent selection of gluten-free items!  Seriously, I wish I had never tried some of their other stuff when I did eat gluten because it was so amazing even I would be tempted to break the rules. For real. I ordered a brown rice bowl with a side of guac... :) Yum.

Now, it's time to settle in the the couch and catch up on tonight's episode of Revenge!

And now onto What I Ate Wednesday...




This is a recycled picture..sigh, unfortunately there weren't any grapes at breakfast this am :(

 salad beast of my dreams :)


Along with the brussels sprouts that I ate so fast I forgot to photograph :) And yes, I burnt it.

dark chocolate with sea salt & almonds
strawberries. standard :)
brown rice, black beans, corn, salsa, cheese, chips, guac + all local organic ingredients = dinner of my dreams

What was your favorite thing that you ate this Wednesday?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cupcake Love

 Hey there. I hope you're having a happy little Monday :)  Mine has been pretty relaxing (that's a total lie by the way) and low key.... I am anxiously awaiting The Bachelor tonight!  Anyway, I typed this recipe a ridiculously long time ago....but today was one of those days that goes along with the saying "Keep Calm and Eat a Cupcake" except in my case it was more like cry and eat a cupcake and I remembered I had one of these in the freezer.... which prompted me to remember that I never posted this, so here you go :)

Finding gluten-free cupcakes can be a challenge.  You could pick up Betty Crocker's boxed mix - which surprisingly has pretty clean ingredients compared to their gluten version.  A better option is to get a little daring in the kitchen and make your own.  Honestly, with all the baking I do, you would think cupcakes would be an easy trick up my sleeve.  Umm 100% no.  The first time I made cupcakes from scratch was for a friend's birthday party a few weeks ago.  I needed something to bring to my friend Nancy's Super Bowl party... decisions decisions.

I remembered seeing an awesome looking cupcake recipe at How Sweet It Is - I already knew it was amazing because all of Jessica's recipes are incredible.  Could I change some things to make it more my style and gluten free?  Would it even taste okay with gluten-free flour?  I could only hope, I made some tweaks, put it in the oven said lots of prayers and waited.  Success!!!  I wanted a cookie dough like icing so I could call these cookie dough cupcakes... and voila the rest is history.  Now, I'm sharing it with you, so you can go impress all of your friends with your culinary skills. No one will believe that this is gluten free :)  Now, make these and go enjoy a cookie dough cupcake for me please!

Be mine :)

Chocolate Chip Cupcakes, adapted from How Sweet It Is

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Ingredients

1 cup sugar
1 stick butter
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp vanilla extract
1.5 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten-free all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum
1/2 cup soy milk
1/2-1 cup chocolate chips 

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter in a stand mixer until smooth - add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla.
2. In a separate bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk, add to batter slowly.
3. Add milk, combine.  Fold in chocolate chips.  Batter will be very sticky.  Pour 2/3 way into cupcake tins lined with paper - about 15.
4. Bake for ~25 minutes until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.


Cookie Dough Icing, adapted from Kevin & Amanda

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Ingredients

1 stick butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons soy milk
1/2 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/8 tsp salt 

1. Combine together butter and brown sugar in a stand mixer, cream together until smooth.
2. Add powder sugar, until combined
3. Add soy milk, vanilla, chocolate chips and salt. Stir until combined.
4. This icing will be slightly runny, but will firm upon standing.

Can I swim in this icing? Please?



What's your favorite "Keep Calm" saying? Aside from the original, of course :)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Complete Saturday Randomness

Happy Saturday!!!  I haven't blogged in a week - yikes bikes.  I hope your week has been an absolutely fantastic one.... mine has been filled with grading assignments, proctoring exams, teaching a class on nutrition for distance runners, getting together with friends, crafting and lots of cooking.

This morning, I'm heading to Pure Barre :)  I recently purchased the new client special, which means I have 3 more weeks left of unlimited classes.  I'll admit, I was nervous that this would mean I would be going multiple days in a row.  However, I haven't noticed an increase in soreness - except for I had to knock down my planned 6 days into 5.  I've already seen major improvements in strength, I can go lower in pushups, hold the plank longer, get lower.  I've also seen subtle improvements in my body, as I've noticed recently that my posture is better and my thighs look thinner.  I don't believe that I've lost any weight, which is good, because that's not exactly my goal anyway, but I do believe that I've built muscle.  I do miss my classes at the gym, so I still need to figure out a manageable way to incorporate PB into my normal fitness routine once my new client special ends.

In other news, here are some cute pictures to show you what I've been up to - don't worry, there will be future posts with recipes and craft instructions for everything you see in the pictures :)

Polka dot jellies? Yes please.

Salad beast :)


Laughter with friends :)


DIY tinted mason jars :)


Gluten-free asiago bagels? Yes please




Dark chocolate raw macaroons :)



The coolest thing I've ever made :)



See you later with some pinterest inspired outfits :)  Enjoy your Saturday!





 
 

Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Swamp Monster

Hi there friends :)  Happy Saturday!!!  Doesn't everyone just love the weekend?  For some reason, the past few days have really started to feel like spring to me - probably because we've been having highs in the low 50's :)  There are definitely no complaints here... although, I would be lying if I said I didn't want at least one snow storm before spring officially begins.

I went to Pure Barre this morning - hooray let my 30 days of PB all the time begin - and obviously returned home a little sore.  Obviously, I needed a little lunch to refuel.  I was hoping to make these incredible quinoa lettuce wraps (recipe courtesy of my friend Carrie), but TJ's didn't have bibb or boston lettuce.. so I made this smoothie for lunch.  I took one sip and almost died.  I had another blog post planned and everything, but I just couldn't wait to share this.

Now, let's back up for a second, I am obsessed with Whole Foods frozen cherries, but they barely ever have them.  Fortunately for me, they've been back for a few weeks, so obviously there are now some in my freezer.  You would think I would have bought more than one pack, so I can be prepared for when they magically disappear again, but no.  So, I threw together some random things that I normally put in smoothies and this was born.

If the idea of putting spinach in a smoothie freaks you out, don't let it.  As long as you have a decent blender, you'll be fine, you can't taste it, I swear.  If your blender isn't a superstar at blending, layer the spinach on the bottom first.  I used to use spinach in my old blender and it worked and that blender ate itself (true story).  If you aren't quite ready to take the leap, leave it out and your smoothie will be way prettier than mine and probably bright pink!  The cacao nibs add a rich almost mocha like flavor... sigh.. can I drink one of these everyday?

Step into my blender!!

Cherry Spinach Smoothie

Ingredients 

1 cup cherries, frozen
1 cup bananas, frozen
1/2 cup - 1 cup baby spinach
1 heaping tbsp vanilla protein powder
2 tbsp ground flaxseed
8 oz soy milk
1 tbsp cacao nibs

1. Add ingredients to blender in order listed.  Blend until combined.

Yeah, instagram made the colors in this picture lie, it's way more green ;)

I wanted to call this the swamp monster ::sigh:: but I didn't want to freak people out!

Do you like spinach in your smoothies? Yay or nay?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Red Velvet Hearts for WIAW!

Happy Wednesday!!!  We're halfway through the week, can you believe it?  I'm so happy to have gotten so many positive responses on my Six Kinds of Friends You Need and One You Don't post, it's just a subject that no one talks about, but loving friends are important to your overall well being that I thought it would be a great topic for reflection.

So, if you're already a reader, you know that yesterday, I tried to make heart shaped eggs for Valentine's Day.  If you saw them...ummmm.. you know they didn't exactly turn out as well as I anticipated.  This morning, I took out my heart shapers (umm pretty sure I made that word up) and decided to try pancakes.  I adapted my blueberry protein waffle recipe by substituting sweet rice flour for cornmeal, using coconut oil instead of canola (which I forgot - it still worked, so you can always leave it out if you don't have it), leaving out the blueberries and adding in red food coloring.

These pancakes were adorable and also delicious.  I had a little trouble with the shapers and the batter sticking to the edges, but other than that there weren't any major problems.  I topped mine with maple syrup, coconut flakes and cacao bits :)

After my feast of a breakfast, I went to the Gap to check out their workout line.  I had a killer coupon and ended up buying the gFast leggings...and now I can't wait to wear them to Pure Barre.  I came home for a quick sushi lunch and to watch the newest episode of New Girl. Then, I worked on blog posts, squeezed in a 30 minute Core Fusion workout and now I'm lounging around in my pj's getting ready for tonight's episode of Revenge.  Who do you think gets shot?!  The suspense is killing me and I certainly hope it isn't Daniel ::swoon::

And now... we have the recipe you've all been waiting for :)


Red Velvet Heart Protein Pancakes
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Ingredients 

2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose gluten-free flour
1 heaping tbsp vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp sweet rice flour
1 tbsp flax seed, ground

1/2 tsp stevia
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup milk + 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1tsp coconut oil (which I forgot to add...whoops)

1/8 tsp red food coloring gel

1. Combine dry ingredients in a small cup - then add add milk, vanilla and oil.  Stir to combine. Add red food coloring stirring until
equally distributed in the batter.
2. Set aside, about 10-15 minutes or go to Target like I did, until batter thickens slightly.

3. Lightly mist a small pan with nonstick spray.  Begin to heat over low.  Spray heart shapers with nonstick spray or oil spread onto a paper towel. 
4. Lightly spoon batter into heart shaper.  When bubbles begin to form and edges appear done, use a knife to separate the pancake from the shaper.  Flip and cook the remaining side for 20-40 seconds.
5. Repeat until no batter is remaining - makes about 3-4 pancakes.



And now onto What I Ate Wednesday...words can't express how excited I am that it's love your veggies month :)






red velvet protein pancakes :) 

the last of the kale chips :(





avocado rolls with tamari
blackberries with a side of dark chocolate
banana chips :)
minus a lot of asparagus that gotten eaten while waiting for pizza to finish!


Did you do anything special for Valentine's Day?

The Six Kinds of Friends You Need & One You Don't

Hi there blog friends.  I've been thinking about this post for along time and I thought it would be an interesting topic - with lots of confusing abbreviations.  Over the years, I've built many friendships, as I'm sure have many of you.  The majority have withstood the test of time and grown stronger through trials and tests.  These friends have become my family, my tribe, the friends that I know will be with me forever.  When they voice an opinion, I listen, because I know that if anyone knows me almost as well as I know myself, it's them.  Some other friendships though, sadly, have not and have simply disintegrated for unknown reasons... such as moving to a new city, dating a new boyfriend, the loss of a toxic friend... leaving us to wonder what was even there in the first place.  So many sources focus on being in good and bad romantic relationships, but what about good and bad friendships? What kind of happiness or losses do they bring?


I've always thought of my friendships in one simple way and it revolves around my spirit.  Think of your spirit like a light - now think of the people, experiences and events that cause it to shine brighter..... like laughing with friends, bonding over a new experience, concurring a fear, accomplishing something you've been working hard on, sharing secrets on a walk outside.  Those experiences make you happy right?  Well, those are the experiences you have with The Six Kinds of Friends You Need (TSKOFYN).  

Now think of the things that make it darker, things that make it want to go out...... like hearing hearing hurtful comments about someone else, having someone lie to you, listening to negative body talk, also referred to as fat talk, that in turn makes you upset about what you see in the mirror, feeling anxious about the date you don't want to go on, having a co-worker talk behind your back.  Those experiences make you sad right?  Well, those are the experiences you have with the One You Don't, also known as The Toxic Friend (TTF).

Have you ever had a toxic friend before?  I've had my fair share as I'm sure many of my readers have had as well.  I've even seen some of my friends get hurt by toxic friends.  It's something we never talk about though.  We can sit for hours sharing stories about the guys who have hurt us... but the friends?  Never.  

When it comes to dating, women often say "look at how a guy talks about his ex-girlfriends, because one of these days that's how he might be talking about you," what they don't say is sometimes that happens with friends.  So, often times, when I hear people being talked about in a negative way - former friends, former lovers or even oneself, I'll begin to pay attention.  In my mind, I'll start to document whether these things are warranted and if they contain documented evidence - if your boyfriend cheated on you with your best friend and you want to talk about it or a friend has been ditching you to hang out with her boyfriend and you need to vent that's totally understandable.  It's the things that aren't warranted or don't make sense that end up being red flags - the friend you had that was "jealous" of you so she just disappeared, your boyfriend's ex-girlfriend and how ugly you think she is, or the friend you gossip about all the time but never fight with.  Think of red flags the way you would think of slowing down when you it's icy and you're driving - you slow down or distance yourself so you can pay attention to what happens next.   It can occur so subtly that you wouldn't even notice that it's occurring until you've decided whether or not you want to stop your car completely.  

All friendships go through rough patches, so this gives you time to discover whether you're going through one with the TSKOFYN or whether you're dealing with TTF.  As a whole, TSKOFYN's tend to be open to hashing things out and listening to you're feelings while TTF just wants to shut you down and tell you that only they matter. If you're in a toxic friendship, how do you get out without losing friends that you love?  So, how do you tell who is who?  And what kind of friends do you need?  Well, here are my thoughts....

The Six Kinds of Friends You Need (TSKOFYN)

The One You've Known Forever (TOYKN) - This is a friend you've had since you were young.  They know your family, your romantic history, the other TOYKF's - actually, they could probably blackmail you with everything they know about you. You trust the opinions of this friend, because let's face it, they've known you forever - meaning they know how you think, how you react, who you are.  You've probably gone through some rough patches with this friend at some point - whether it was when you were younger or even recently - but it's only solidified your friendship and taught you that real friendships grow and blossom through struggles. 

The One That Tells It Like It Is (TOTTILII) - The is a friend that will call you out when you're being ridiculous.  This is also the friend that will tell you gently, but firmly, their thoughts on how other people are treating you.  You won't be able to embellish the truth or make things seem sunnier than they are with TOTTILII, but that's a good thing.  This friend keeps you grounded and helps you to focus on what's really important today and what isn't going to matter five minute from now.  TOTTILII is one of the best friends you can have, as this friend is fiercely loyal and forgiving.

The One That Simply Listens (TOTSL) - This friend will let you hash it out, cry it out, rant and listen to your own voice in the midst of a major crisis.  They won't try to push you in a certain direction but will simply let you breath and figure it out on your own.  TOTSL never tries to force their opinions on you but is simply there to help you and hold your hand.  That being said, when there isn't a crisis, TOTSL will love to hear all about your latest stories when the rest of your friends are rolling their eyes saying "ughhh....we've heard this story three times already"

The One That Has Your Back (TOTHYB) - This is the friend that would get in a legitimate fight for you, no questions asked, because this friend is protective about the people they care about. TOTHYB doesn't want to see you get hurt, so they'll stand in the way of anything that's coming down your path.  This friend can be feisty, but you'll find that more often then not they have almost supernatural skills when it comes to judging someones true character.  This is a friend whose actions always speak louder than their words. 

The One You Pick Right Up With (TOYPRUW) - This is the friend that you can go weeks, months or years without talking to - but within 30 seconds you've completely picked up where you left off with absolutely no awkwardness.  If you haven't seen the TOYPRUW and randomly run into each other, you'll both be excited and if you're ladies, you'll totally hug.  TOYPRUW isn't easily angered and is a pretty even keel go with the flow kind of person. This usually starts out as almost an instantaneous friendship, with lulls where you become super close and lulls where you become distant.  It can be for all sorts of reasons - they might have a different circle of friends, might be part of TFF (more on that later) or might live farther away.  It doesn't matter though, because you know that just like the tides come and go before you know it you'll be telling secrets to TOYPRUW all over again.   

The One That's Just Like You (TOTJLY) - Who are you as a person?  Are you quiet or loud? Are you a type A personality or not? Are you sensitive or strong?  TOTJLY is so important, because better than anyone TOTJLY gets what it's like to be you.  If you're nervous about something, this is the friend that can relate because they would feel the same way.   You probably met this friend in college and if your career field draws similar personality types, I wouldn't be surprised if they work in the same area.  This is the friend that can understand emergencies that no one else can understand and is the on you call when you feel as though you're standing on a ledge and need to be talked down.


The One Friend That You Don't (TOFTYD)

The Toxic Friend (TTF) - In the beginning, this friend masquerades as one of the other types. It starts subtly at first, TTF makes comments that make you uncomfortable - usually about past friends, exs or friends exs - you'll blow it off because TTF is such a great friend, they're just being protective.  Other people - usually roommates or friends - will start commenting about how they feel wary about TTF. In turn, you'll notice yourself making tons of excuses for TTF - she isn't giving mean looks-she's just painfully shy, he's not slutty-he's just overly friendly, I'm sorry they made you so upset-I'm sure it was a misunderstanding. Then, a funny thing happens - you'll start listening more to what is going on around you. You'll notice that TTF basically hates everyone except for you and a few other people - a classic move of TTF is to flat out tell you they're the only friend you need.  TTF will start to criticize you in subtle ways that will make you start to feel badly about yourself, but you won't know why....All you'll know is that other people make you happier than TTF does, so you'll try to drift away.  TTF will realize they're losing control, so TTF will pick fights and may even say you've been a bad friend but won't have any examples.  If you've never had TTF, you'll probably feel horrible and start thinking of all the ways you can pacify TTF, especially if you can't handle confrontation.  If you've experienced TTF before and realize you are again, at this point you know it's time to pack your bags in the most non-dramatic way possible.  After all, if there's one thing TTF loves, it's drama.  I'm really sorry to tell you this, but remember all those people TTF used to talk about?  You're about to be one of them :( TTF will talk about you in whatever way you exit, whether it's a big knockdown fight with tears or whether you slowly disappear off the map, using whatever kind of fodder they can come up with.  It will be really hard to hear that TTF is talking about you, especially because nothing TTF says will be true or will fit with your character.  Just remember that people who truly know you will be able to see that. You might even experience TFF (see below) Eventually though, you'll be old news and you'll have The Six Kinds of Friends You Need (TSKOFYN) to help you through it.

Toxic Friend Fallout (TFF) - The most devastating loss of the friends that you might lose because of it. I, like many of my friends, have experienced TFF and have lost people I've truly cared about.  It's truly awful. On the same token,  remember in the beginning when I said friendships have trials and tests?  This is one of them.  So, keep forging on with your other friendships and try not to let this experience hurt them - most often times the friends in these scenarios tend to be The One You Pick Right Up With (TOYPRUW), which as you know are The Six Kinds of Friends You Need (TSKOFYN) :)





So to all of my friends, I thank you for always being there.  I thank you for listening to my rambling stories, to treating me kindly, for laughing and for memories that will last a lifetime both now and in the future - I truly love all of you.  To the friends I've lost, both because life got in the way and both for toxic reasons, I will always wish you the best.

See you later with a WIAW post!!!  Which is totally fun and not totally serious :)

L

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love. Love. Love.

Happy Valentine's Day loves!!!  I hope you had a simply fantastic day filled with love - whether you're single or attached :)  I've always loved Valentine's Day - actually, it's my favorite holiday after Christmas.  I just love that it's a day all about love - oh and a day devoted to pink, hearts and chocolate.  Honestly, I haven't had a "valentine" in forever, but I've never been bitter on Valentine's Day.  It's just so magical and if you're unattached, spend it with the people you care about!  I spent my Valentine's Day evening with some of my best girl friends enjoying unhealthy Mexican food, good gossip and margs well, the enjoyed margs cause I've been fighting a headache all day and I wouldn't have it any other way :)

So, check out my Valentine's Day masterpiece.  I started my day off with an attempt at heart shaped eggs.... errr you can see that I got the first one to work, the second one went in the trash and by the third I just gave up and flipped it.  You win some, you lose some.  Maybe those metal shapers would be better for pancakes?  Hmmm... perhaps that will be an experiment for tomorrow's WIAW :)


After a little grading, I went to my first spinning class at LA Fitness.  I've taken spinning before, but it's been awhile since I've gone - I was super nervous since their bikes are kind of weird.  It ended up being a great workout and I'll definitely be back!  I'm taking a week off of Pure Barre since my Groupon ran out :(  I purchased the 30 day new student special - which is unlimited for 30 days from the first use - but I'm trying to delay starting it since I'm still a little up in the air with jobs and I want to be able to continue to afford my Pure Barre classes so I can fuel my addiction.  I spent the afternoon prepping for my class at the rec, sent a sorry I'm not that into you text (yeah, yeah I know it was Valentine's Day, but honesty is the best policy, my text didn't get a reply and Valentine's Day is all about following your heart) and enjoyed a fabulous dinner with the girls.

So friends, I want to share some of my favorite pinterest images about love in honor of this fabulous day :)  Love you all and thank you so much for reading!

So very true
love & care for you.
someday :)
simply beautiful

everyone should be holding out for this - such a beautiful song

Happy Valentine's Day.

xoxoxoxoxox,

L

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Saturday Love List

Hi there!  Did you miss me?  I went a little MIA this week, even though I had posts planned.  I'm not really sure why, but life kind of got in the way this week.  Sorry friends :(  So!  I'm back to tell you about my adventures.... which basically have included the usual - teaching my nutrition makeover class, grading for the class I'm helping with and job searching.  Oh and showing up for an interview for a job my heart was saying no to but forcing myself to go, only to find out that they had told me the wrong day to come.  That my friends is what happens when you don't follow your heart.  Lesson learned.

Next up, something related to beauty.  I have been dying for basically forever to learn how to do the messy bun... despite my super long hair, I just couldn't pull it off.  Then, I learned of this...!!!!  Put your hair in a ponytail, slid the mesh donut over it and tuck your hair around.  Voila!  You have a beautiful messy bun.  Pop on a headband like I did and you're good to go.

Totally love this hairstyle!!!!
Next, this part of this post is for everyone that claims to hate fruit.  I never said I understand where you're coming from... but I do get that sometimes I just get sick of raw strawberries.  So, why not have your fruit in a fun bubbly drink?  Take 1 cup frozen strawberries + 1 can La Croix + your food processor = what you see below :)  Serve in a wine glass for extra fun!

Hi, one cup of fruit :)
What are your weekend plans?  I'm going to see The Vow with some of my girl friends and I cannot wait.  Tissues and chocolate will be in my handbag, don't you worry.  I'm such a crier for romantic movies!! I can't wait :)

See you again soon!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Green Goddess Lasagna

Hi there!  Happy Wednesday.... we're halfway through the week!  Last week, I made one of the best things I've ever created - basically ever.  This post is all about lasagna, but seeing as I don't eat ground beef, I never had lasagna until I bought Chef Amy's version.

Then, about a year ago, I decided to attempt to make lasagna. This recipe from Bethanny Frankel to be exact.  It was horrible and I'm thinking horrible needs to be in bigger font and in caps.  It was flavorless and I ended up dousing it in red pepper flakes just to get myself to eat it.  Sigh.

However, on vacation in Hawaii, I saw the same recipe I had originally used advertised in Health magazine and it got me thinking.  I liked the idea of using pesto in a lasagna recipe, but I wanted more veggies, another protein source and I wanted it to taste phenomenal instead of tasting like it needed to go in the trash.  What could I do?

I started thinking about what I wanted in my lasagna.  I knew I wanted to use pesto, brown rice noodles and low-fat ricotta.  I know from cooking experience that I can't taste a different between part-skim and low-fat, so why wouldn't I choose the choice with the lower calories to make up for the ones I'm adding with pesto?  I wanted a flavorful filling - so I decided to add spinach, garlic and skim mozzarella to it.  When I got home, I realized that I might not have enough ricotta.... but I had tofu in my press so into the food processor it went.

I was nervous, this was the first time I had ever gone completely rogue in the kitchen with cooking, I've done it with baking plenty of times, but never with cooking.  I was really nervous about putting tofu in the filling... but it was incredible!  I was so surprised, the pesto flavor resonated throughout and the filling was delicious. Dare I say this is the best thing that I've ever created in the kitchen?  Yes, I do.

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Green Goddess Lasagna

Ingredients

16 brown rice lasagna noodles
15 oz low-fat ricotta cheese
1/2 block firm tofu, pressed
3-4 C baby spinach
2 C part-skim mozzarella
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3/4 C basil pesto (I used the refrigerated one from TJ's and used about 75% of the container

1. Pre-heat oven to 375. Heat water to boiling - add noodles and cook for 12-14 minutes following package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a food processor combine ricotta, tofu and spinach until combined.
3. Add 1 C mozzarella, egg, garlic, black pepper, salt and red pepper flakes to spinach mixture.  Stir to combine.
4. Begin by spraying baking dish with non-stick spray.  Layer 3 tbsp pesto mixture, top with 3-4 noodles, 1 cup of spinach mixture - repeat until spinach mixture and noodles have been used.  Finish top layer with remaining pesto and top with last C of mozzarella.
5. Bake in a 375 degree oven until top is golden brown, about 30 minutes. 





What's your favorite veggie lasagna recipe?

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Superbowl Sunday & Blueberry Protein Waffles

Hi there :)  Happy Superbowl Sunday!!!  I'm just dropping by to give you a quick little post about breakfast, before I head out to brunch with the ladies at my fave brunch restaurant ever.  So, as you know, I started making protein waffles lately and I promised there would be lots of combos on the blog.  Well, let me just say I am in serious love with protein waffles for breakfast.  Not only are they easy, but they also require minimal cleanup.  Besides, who wouldn't love a gigantic waffle for one?  Especially one that's less than 300 calories, provides 8 grams of fiber, 20 grams of protein and one serving of fruit :)

This is my favorite so far - I want this for every meal, pretty much every day.  I topped mine with a combo of 1 tbsp agave mixed with 1 tsp coconut oil.  

Enjoy your Superbowl Sunday!  I'm making chocolate chip cookie cupcakes to take to a party :)  YUM!

Blueberry Protein Waffle
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Ingredients

2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose gluten-free flour
1 heaping tbsp vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp cornmeal
1 tbsp flax seed, ground
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup blueberries, frozen
1/4 cup milk + 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tsp canola oil

1. Combine dry ingredients in a small cup, add wet ingredients.  Stir to combine.
2. Set aside, about 10-15 minutes, until batter thickens slightly - add blueberries.
3. Cook in a pre-heated waffle iron, about 4 minutes, until edges are crispy and waffle removes easily from the pan. 



What are your plans for Superbowl Sunday?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ask the RD: How To Start Cooking...When You Don't Know How

Hi friends!  So, I thought this would be a popular topic for the blog.  One of the easiest ways to maintain a healthy diet is to prepare your own meals at home - sounds pretty simple right?  Unfortunately, it's not always that easy.  If you see an RD, they'll tell you to incorporate whole grains, lean proteins, lots of veggies, fruit and healthy fat.  I tell my clients how many servings they need and give them easy recipe ideas.  However, if you barely know how to pickup a knife, you might go home wondering how in the world you're going to do this - soon you'll be cooking chicken, eating steamed frozen veggies and brown rice and thinking that following a healthy diet is impossible and wonder how in the world you are going to eat this way forever.  

Unless you were fortunate enough to have a mother that forced you to learn how to cook, you might finish high school with no idea how to.  For me, when I went to college I knew how to bake cookies and that was about it.  I had dabbled in other kinds of things -  I took a food science class in high school that slightly broadened my skills, but not quite.  I ate a lot of frozen meals (blech!) and prepacked snacks with sides of fruits and veggies.  I lived in a dorm my freshman year, then a sorority house and it was awhile before I needed to cook meals on my own.  At that time, I stuck to the basics.  I never looked up recipes online and I never broadened my skills.  Eventually, I fell in love with cooking and now I even have a blog about it!  You can learn how too cook - want to know why? I'm going to teach you.

First things first, tools for the kitchen.  You'll need these for success and you'll need to know how to use them.


Tools Required:

Spatula
  • An absolute must have!!!  Also, super inexpensive, my favorite spatulas come from the $1 bin at Target.
Dry Measuring Cups
  • Your new best friend.  Use them to portion out fruits and veggies!  Also, use them for recipes that use flour.  When you use these, make sure you use a spoon and scoop flour/sugar/protein powder into the cup and then level off the top with the back of a knife. 
Liquid Measuring Cups
  • Pour in your ingredient and read the line at eye level, not sitting on the counter.
Tablespoon/Teaspoon Measuring Set
  • I use these for pretty much everything - once again, make sure you level off the top with the back of a knife. 
Good Quality Knife & Cutting Board
  • You want it to be sharp enough to go through whatever your cutting without having to apply a lot of pressure. This makes it safer to use in the kitchen - the more pressure your putting on the knife the more pressure that's going to hit your finger if whatever your using slips!  The cutting board means you don't have to worry about messing up any of your plates :)
Baking Sheet
  • I always line mine with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean up. 
Small Pan
  • Use a non-stick pan or spray with cooking spray.  You can find these for under $15 at Bed, Bath & Beyond.  This pan is your best friend for eggs, toasted sandwiches, making meats, crisping tofu, sauteing vegetables etc. 
Microwave Safe Bowl & Plate
  • A must for any kind of cooking you're doing that requires the microwave!

Secondly, you'll need to learn a couple of additional things.  One is to get familiar your kitchen appliances.  Make sure you know how to turn your oven on - anytime that you use it for a recipe, you'll want to let it pre-heat to the desired temperature before you start sticking stuff into it.  Learn if your oven has a timer and how to use it - if the oven doesn't, your microwave probably does.  The timer is so important because it's going to keep you from burning the things you make.

Consider adding a couple of other user friendly appliances to your kitchen - a high speed blender (it doesn't have to be expensive, just look for one with good reviews), a mini food processor and a rice cooker are all good starting points.

 Now that you've got your tools and appliances.... let's get cooking.


Step 1
Make a list of everything that you can cook. 
  • Sample list: scrambled eggs, peanut butter & jelly sandwich, grilled cheese, baked potatoes, boxed macaroni and cheese (think Kraft), pasta
Step 1a: I don't know how to cook ANYTHING
  • Think of some simple things you would like to learn how to cook (see above for ideas) and make a list of those - google the internet to find basic tutorials
  • After you've accomplished those steps, move back up to step 1 and continue through the list
Step 2
Think about things you could add to those foods to make easy variations.
  • Scrambled eggs: add spinach and cheese to the eggs prior to scrambling = egg scramble
  • PB&J: substitute banana for the jelly = PB & Banana
  • Grilled Cheese: use a different kind of cheese & add veggies = grilled veggie sandwich
  • Baked Potatoes: slice in half, scoop out the middles, add a few tablespoons of milk and cheese, restuff and baked for an additional 10 minutes = twice baked potatoes
  • Kraft Mac & Cheese: add edamame or broccoli = veggie mac & cheese
  • Pasta: buy frozen cheese ravioli and top with marinara sauce = ravioli with pasta sauce
Step 3
Think of similar foods that you could tackle and look for recipes and step-by-step tutorials of how to make them.
  • I can now make scrambled eggs and an egg scramble.. so let's learn omelets
  • I can now make PB&J and PB&B.... so let's try soaking my sandwich in an egg mixed with cinnamon, vanilla and milk to make.... stuffed french toast
  • I can now make grilled cheese and a grilled veggie sandwich.... so now let's put them on a grill pan or George Foreman and make... paninis
  • I can now make baked potatoes and twice baked potatoes... so now let's learn how to boil the potatoes and how to make mashed potatoes
  • I can now make boxed mac and cheese and add veggies too it... so why don't I find an easy recipe for homemade mac and cheese
  • I can now make pasta and ravioli with pasta sauce... so let's learn how to saute veggies so I can make pasta primavera 
There you have it~ you'll be on your way to cooking in no time!  

Did anyone teach you how to cook or did you teach yourself?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Road Tripping

Hellllllooooo there loves!  Happy Wednesday :)  Today was a little crazy for me, because I went on a mini-road trip.  In short, I drove to Indianapolis today to attend a presentation on the culture of healthcare for IU Health - which means I spent over 4 hours of today in the car.  I applied for a position at their children's hospital - I've always wanted to work in pediatrics eventually and earn the Certified Specialist in Pediatric Nutrition (CSP) certification for RD's.  I loved the atmosphere at the presentation and their stance on changing the face of healthcare.  I'm definitely feeling optimistic about all of the positions I've applied for... and I believe that the right thing will work out for me at the right time.  I just can't wait to see what that is!

I started today with another protein waffle - I am totally obsessed with my waffle iron and adding protein powder to the batter!  I'm a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast, so I can guarantee I'll be making waffles probably everyday for the next week.  This means lots of new waffle recipes for you to look forward to!  After that, I squeezed in a Core Fusion Pilates Plus workout, made a quick trip to Kroger and started getting ready for my big drive!  When I returned home, I was so hungry - so I re-heated soup from the freezer and made a big salad...and a mini chocolate cake :)  The perfect Wednesday, which could have included more fruits and veggies ::sigh:: but I'm a realist and I know it happens :)  Okay, okay, time for the glorious waffle recipe... and for WIAW!!!

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Cinnamon Sugar Protein Waffle

Ingredients

2 tbsp Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose gluten-free flour
1 tbsp vanilla protein powder
1 tbsp almond flour
1 tbsp flax seed, ground
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 packet stevia
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup milk + 2 tbsp
1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 tsp canola oil


1. Combine dry ingredients in small bowl.  Set aside.
2. Add 1/4 cup milk, vanilla and canola oil to dry mixture.  Set aside ~15 minutes.
3. Stir mixture - it will have thickened - add remaining 2 tbsp of oil.
4. Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray, pour in batter, cook for ~3 minutes or according to your waffle maker directions.

And now onto my favorite part of the week.... What I Ate Wednesday :)  




Cinnamon Protein Waffle with Grapes :)



Veggie Sandwich-Hummus, Tomatoes, 2% Cheese, Avocado, Lettuce & A Few Sweet Potato Fries!
Standard
Huge Salad :) LOVE!
Broccoli Soup (See last weeks WIAW for recipe!)
Recipe Here: I Left Out the PB and Doubled the Chips:)