Monday, January 28, 2013

Quick & Easy Black Bean Burrito

Hi there! Hope your Monday is off to a great start :)  Even though I love to cook, sometimes life is too busy to spend all night (or even 30 minutes) in the kitchen.  There are emails to answer, laundry to do, cleaning to take care of and workouts to get to, just to name a few.  It's way to easy to pick up the phone and order something, which more often than not tends to be something unhealthy, especially if it's been a rather stressful day.  It's better on your waistline (and wallet!) to make something from home, but sometimes it's hard to come up with quick and healthy creations when you feel completely drained.  

So, let me help you out!  My newest creation combines a few of my favorite things - brown rice tortillas, brown rice, black beans and avocado.  It's full of fiber and healthy fats :)  Feel free to leave out the cheese to cut saturated fat or substitute with vegan cheese.  Serve with a simple salad on the side to round out your meal.  Now friends, run to your kitchen and make this so that you can feast away!

Black Bean Burrito


1 brown rice tortilla
1 slice low-fat cheese
1/4 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup cooked black beans
2 tbsp salsa
1-2 tbsp avocado, chopped

1. Heat tortilla between two wet paper towels for 35 seconds in a microwave on full power.
2. Layer ingredients into the bottom half of the tortilla, fold in both of the sides.
3. Working from the bottom, roll the tortilla up into a burrito.
4. Place back in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to melt the cheese.

What's your favorite quick & healthy meal?

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fashion Friday - Fabulous Finds

Happy Friday!  TGIF.  Winter is upon us and I'm anxiously waiting for spring.  While spending my time indoors, I've recently been browsing more fashion blogs.  I've become so inspired that I even recently purchased a bright turquoise bubble necklace from Etsy that I'm dying to wear.

One of my goals for 2013 is to create a more cultivated closed, meaning that I want to invest in pieces that go well with the rest of my clothes and further develop my sense of style.  I need to quit buying and liking things purely for the fact that they are on sale.  I've also been testing the new rule that if I buy something and I don't wear it within a week, then I return it to the store.  

I would say that my style is mostly classic, but that it could use a little updating.  I've recently been inspired by Pinterest - one of my favorite styles for winter is layering.  Recently, I've been seeing a lot of layering with gingham and chambray shirts - two things I've always been intimidated by....

Take a few spare hours in Hawaii, an Old Navy giftcard and Pinterest and here are my fabulous finds for Fashion Friday.  I love that Old Navy is so on point with trends now, it's a great way to test out lower priced pieces of modern trends.

First up, this white oxford.  It's pretty fitted and will be perfect for layering under warm sweaters, in fact, I'm planning on wearing it to work asap. A classic piece that was missing from my closet.

Second, this purple gingham button down.  I've been thinking about the gingham trend for awhile and almost purchased a pink gingham shirt from JCrew a few months back, but I just wasn't sure.. a pink gingham shirt could be in my future depending on how I do with this one!

Finally, last but not least, a chambray shirt.  I can't wait to wear this, I think it will be super cute dressed up with skinny jeans, heals and a black blazer.

*Disclaimer, this post was not sponsored or endorsed by Old Navy* 

Have a great weekend and I'll see you again soon!  There might or might not be a weekend favorites post this week... it depends how crazy my big move gets :)

What's your favorite fashion blog? I'd love to add a few more to my favorites.   

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mexican Fever

Hi there!  Today's post is about enchiladas.  Once upon a time, I despised Mexican food...and all of my best friends loved it.  I was dragged along to Cancun, Don Pablos, El Toro, Chipotle and numerous other places, while I whined about how I didn't like it.  Gradually, I started to come around - it started with quesadillas.... I moved on to burritos...discovered fajitas... began to eat avocados and fell hardcore in love with guacamole.... tried tacos and then finally one day I realized that I had become a convert.  Now, Mexican just might be one of my favorite cuisines, not to mention one of the easiest to find gluten-free options.

The first time I had enchiladas?  Well, you can read all about that here.  I've had a few enchilada fails, but this recipe is pretty solid.  It's also simple, so now, get yourself to the kitchen and get your enchilada on.  Also, feel free to substitute a vegan cheese such as Daiya if dairy isn't your thing.  Don't skip the microwave step (or the paper towels!) with the tortillas - it helps them to be more pliable so that they don't rip when you're stuffing in your filling.

Gather your supplies...
Stir to combine... let's get filling!

Black Bean & Cheese Enchiladas 


28 oz can enchilada sauce
1 poblano pepper, diced
15 oz can black beans
2 cups mexican cheese, shredded
16 corn tortillas
avocado & shredded lettuce (optional)

1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a large nonstick pan with cooking spray, fill with 1/4 of the enchilada sauce. Set aside.
2. Chop poblano pepper removing membranes and seeds. Drain black beans and rinse with water.  Add both to a large mixing bowl, add 1.5 cups of the mexican cheese, stir to combine.
3. Lightly wet a large paper towel, wrap 4-5 tortillas inside, microwave for 35 seconds. Add about 1/4 cup filling to each, gently fold in the sides about 1/4 inch, roll from the bottom until the enchilada is like a small burrito, place in pan seam side down. Replace until all tortillas are used.
4. Pour remaining sauce over enchiladas, top with remaining shredded cheese.
5. Bake for 35-40 minutes until cheese is melted and lightly browned.


What's your favorite enchilada filling? 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

What I Ate Wednesday

Hi there!  I hope your day was wonderful.  If this is the first time that you're reading my blog, welcome!  I can't believe how quickly this week has been going by, it feels like only yesterday that I returned from Hawaii.  I was pleasantly surprised that I didn't experience that much jetlag on the way home - I would say that I've been a little tired the past few days, but nothing too crazy.  I will say that getting up for work at 5:40 am on Monday was a definite adventure.

Today, the workday flew - I spent the day rushing around for a meeting that I *thought* I had.. only to find out that it's for tomorrow.  I spent the rest of my afternoon making fact sheets to further educate our nutrition staff on the specialized diets that our hospital offers.  I stopped by my old apartment to pick up some of my belongings - I'm moving this weekend and it will be insanely wonderful to be settled in one place - having things in two places is stressful and makes you feel unsettled.  After carrying a few huge loads of food and baking supplies to my car, I rushed to the gym for a 5:45pm bootcamp class.  It was a great workout and I'm very happy to be getting back into the strength training routine... especially now that I'm expanding the time on my runs.

Now, enough chatter from me and onto What I Ate Wednesday!

Breakfast: Oatmeal with brown sugar & coconut peanut butter, chocolate milk & berries (and coffee!)

Lunch: Snap peas & carrots and leftovers! pad see ewe

Snack: Peanut butter think thin bar - I'm obsessed!

Snack: Part of a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie (gluten-free of course) from Island SOL bakery

Dinner: Black bean enchiladas over shredded lettuce & avocado 

Check back for a post tomorrow with my black bean enchilada recipe - super easy, not to mention incredible. PS: Did anyone else notice that I ate peanut butter at almost every meal? Crazy.

What did you eat this Wednesday? 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Favorites

Happy Saturday everyone!  Today is my last full day in beautiful Kauai :(  Back to reality soon.  While I'm spending my day at the beach, I thought I'd leave my weekend favorites with you.

Rose Gold Watches - Stacked with bracelets, I can't even handle it.  Has anyone else ever stacked bracelets with a watch before?  I found this image on pinterest and I'm completely obsessed.  I'm especially loving this one from Target... I have it in a different color and get compliments all the time... maybe it's time to spring for the rose gold one as well?

The Kissing Sailor - I found this article to be very thought provoking.  I'll never look at this picture the same way again and I guarantee after reading this article you won't either.  I always thought this image was so romantic and captured the beauty of being reunited with someone that you love... I had it hanging on my wall in college.  Now, that I've read this article and looked a little closer, I see how clearly what it really is.  It's scary to think that we aren't always observant to what is going on around us and how our perceptions can make us see something that is quite different than reality.  That being said, I'm not sure that I ever want to see this photograph again. 

Marc by Marc Jacobs Classic Q Groove - I am obsessed with this bag.  It comes in a multitude of colors - mine is a slate gray.  I bought it for my birthday at Saks Off 5th - meaning that I definitely did not pay $498 for it.   It's perfect for carrying my wallet, iphone, keys, lip balm and the myriad of other things you can find in my purse at any one particular time

Trader Joe's Guide to Cooking Fish - I need this since the only fish that I seem to be able to cook successfully is tilapia.  Don't let this picture of blackened salmon fool you - while it might have tasted acceptable, when cayenne pepper fill the air in your kitchen and you breathe it into your lungs - well, it's not pretty, let me tell you that.  Maybe I can finally break through the seafood barrier and cook something else successfully with this guide.  Next stop... scallops!

What are you loving this weekend? 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fashion Friday - Leather Bag Love

Happy Friday friends!  This week's fashion friday is going to focus on how to take care of your leather bags - something that has plagued me for years.  Keeping your leather handbags clean and moisturized helps prevent cracking and splitting, extending the life of your bag. 

*I completely understand if you're against carrying leather or owning belongings made out of leather and I respect your opinion and ask that you please respect mine, if so feel free to skip this post and visit on another day*

I've accumulated quite the collection of leather bags over the years, but what's kept them alive and kicking is the fact that they've been well cared for over time.  Well, maybe not all of them, since there are some bags that got carried around to college parties back in the day and didn't make it out of college alive.  However, there are other bags that I've loved and taken care of.  This post today will help you to care for your leather bags, so that they can last a lifetime.

Step One: Assemble your leather bags in a clean and well lit area.  You can sort them by color or size, whichever method makes you feel more organized.  Gather a few clean cloths - I ripped up a few t-shirts for this - to use to make the application easier. 

For this project, you have two options.  You can do a two-step cleaning, like I did, or you can do a one-step cleaning.  I use these two products from Coach - a leather cleaner and a leather moisturizer - but I have also heard that using a plain, unscented baby lotion can be used for the moisturizing step.  If you don't have a cleaner available or if the particular bag you're using says not to use a cleaner, feel free to skip this step.   

Step Two:  If you're doing a two-step application process - apply a dime size amount of cleaner to one of your clean cloths, apply it to the bag in small circular motions.  Wipe of excess and allow to dry.  Repeat these same instructions using a clean cloth and the leather moisturizer. 

Step Two: If you're doing a one-step application process - apply a dime size amount of moisturizer to one of your clean cloths and apply to the bag in small circular motions, wipe off excess and allow to dry.

And there you have it, now your bags are moisturized, well cared for and ready to last a lifetime.  See you tomorrow with weekend favorites! 

How do you take care of your leather bags?  Any tips or tricks that I've missed?

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Cure for the Mean Reds

Hi friends :)  This is a post that I created months ago, right before I found out that I had pneumonia - which I did have at the time of this post, hence the complaints of the stuffy nose, sore throat, oh sigh.  I apologize in advance that this post is very whiny, but hey that's life right?  It's amusing to me to look back on now.. and the recipe is incredible... so I decided to go ahead and hit publish.

And now... the post.

This recipe is incredible and now let me explain to you how you know you need it in your life.  If you've never had truffle oil, it's incredible.  You can find it at your grocery store but I prefer to purchase it at Home Goods where you can find higher quality brands for less.  If you don't like truffle oil, feel free to leave it out.  Have you ever seen Breakfast at Tiffany's?  If so, then you would know that Holly Golightly refers to horrible, awful, terrible days as having a case of the mean reds.

In other words, this is how you know you need to make this pasta.

Step One: Have a bad day - wake up with a stuffy nose and a sore throat at 5 am (that's right, one hour before your alarm goes off), have trouble falling asleep again so sleep for about 15 more minutes, wake up get ready for work, then look in the mirror and find a gray hair, pull it out to find that it is, indeed, gray and at least 3 inches long.
Step Two: Drink too much coffee, eat lunch in a flash, feel overwhelmed and stressed at work, realize that tomorrow will be even more stressful at work since you'll be alone. 
Step Three: Go for a 2.5 mile walk with one of your friends, feel a little less stressed.  Go to Target, buy Gone Girl (finally!  I couldn't handle the wait and only going from 1,000th to 300th on the library list after waiting for 2 months), come home, wail to your boyfriend about your horrible day. 
Step Four: Make this macaroni and cheese using a new-to-me gluten-free pasta that I ordered from Amazon, place it in the oven to bake. 
Step Five: Follow your boyfriend's suggestion and take a bubble bath. Read the first two chapters of Gone Girl.  Put on pajamas. 
Step Six: Enjoy this decadent mac & cheese (with veggies on the side of course)

Truffle Macaroni & Cheese


8 oz package gluten-free pasta
3 tbsp light vegetable oil based margarine
1/4 c brown rice flour
2 c skim milk
2 C mixed cheddar cheese
1/4 tsp mustard powder
Black pepper & salt (to taste)
3 tbsp truffle oil
1-2 tsp parmesan cheese

1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Bring water to a boil, add pasta, cook until al dente.
2. Melt margarine in a saucepan over medium low heat, then sprinkle the brown rice flour on top. Fold margarine and flour together with a spatula, continue to cook 1-2 minutes.
3.  Pour skim milk into saucepan.  Continue to stir, occasionally scraping the bottom with your spatula.  Turn heat up to medium,  mixture should begin to thicken and should begin to start to bubble.  Keep scraping the bottom of the saucepan until mixture is thickened.
4.  Turn the heat down to low, add the mustard powder, black pepper and salt.  Add in cheddar, stir until melted.  Add truffle oil, stir until combined.
5. Drain pasta, pour into a ceramic baking dish such as Corningware or Le Creuset. Sprinkle top with parmesan cheese.
6. Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until golden brown. 

What's your favorite comfort food? 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Island of Kauai

Hi there!  I'm currently vacationing in Kauai, HI - which I think I failed to mention yesterday.  So today, I'm going to share a couple of photos from my trip so far and some of my thoughts on the island.  The original plan was to participate in What I Ate Wednesday but I'm on island time - as the locals would say - and forgot to photograph my breakfast.  First of all, if you're considering Kauai as a vacation spot, I highly recommend it.  The flight is a little long, but as you can see it's totally worth it... it's beautiful beyond words here.   

I've had an incredible time here with my family - the weather is beautiful, the beach is right outside my bedroom door and the food is incredible beyond words.  The family that I'm vacationing with lives in Chicago, so I don't get to see them very often.  This trip has been the perfect time to spend quality time together - just like last year

One thing I love about Kauai is the focus on sustainable living - there are farmers markets galore and there is a push towards organic farming.  This is something that I wish there was a bigger emphasis on at home.  We've been discussing on our trip how people afford to live on the island - where do they work? what do they do?  The cost of groceries here is outrageous - it's about $6.00 for a half gallon of soy milk - how could you ever survive comfortably here without being wealthy?  The general consensus through people that we've talked to has been that they live paycheck to paycheck. 

We've done a lot of relaxing on this vacation and have spent plenty of time at our backyard beach and getting tacos at the Pat's Taqueria and Red Hot Mama's.  Yesterday, we adventured to this light house and then went to a special beach for little people.  The rocks were enclosed to form a shallow pool and the very special 3 year old that is with us had the time of her life.

While I love it here, for me there always comes a time in every vacation where I start to feel a tiny bit homesick - it's so silly, but it always happens - even though I've talked to the majority of my friends everyday it's not the same as being there.  I miss going to the gym, meeting up for dinner and hearing all the good news and drama that's going on in everyone's life.  So, to my friends back home, I miss you! Sorry I'm not sorry about the freezing rain you've had today.  That's all for the day, I think it's time for a run on the beach and some time in the sun :)

Have you ever been to Hawaii?  Which island?  Tell me about some of your adventures!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

My Love Affair with Running

Hi readers!  I thought it would be beneficial for me to share the story of how I started running, worked through an injury and ran my first of hopefully many 5k's.  If you're here for the food or the fashion posts, feel free to skip this one, I won't mind a bit :)

Let me start this post by saying, I never thought that I would be a runner.   I've always had persistent problems with my left knee on and off for years that caused me to avoid most cardio in general other than walking like the plague.  I'd been to physical therapy, had an MRI, had seen an orthopedist, etc. No one seemed to know specifically what it was, just that it wasn't serious based on my MRI.

In May, my boyfriend was running 5K's and I will openly admit that I was jealous.  I had a sporadic love affair with running in the past, but had never completed a 5K - I trained for one in the past, but when the day came it was cold and rainy so my friend Nancy and I decided to bail.  I just didn't think that I could do it.  He encouraged me and so one Sunday afternoon, we went to a little park and ran a mile together.  I never though that I could actually do it, I pushed myself, he cheered me on and from that day on I never looked at running the same.  I started running alone and using the Map My Run app on my iphone to track my progress.

Running was going well, until I started having knee pain in July and ended up in physical therapy. My physical therapist checked out how I walked, my legs, my flexibility and how my shoes fit.  She then concluded that my problem was IT band syndrome.  She taught me the stretches I'd need to do at home and then I finished my session with ultrasound and electrotherapy.  She recommended that I be fitted for running shoes at a local running store - my experience was amazing and they even let me test shoes out by running in them outside!!  After much decision making, I settled on the Brooks Ravenna 3.

In August,  I ran the Fox & the Hound 5K with a time of 32:30 and no knee pain in my left knee.  In September, I completed my 2nd 5K...Race for the Cure.  My knee was bothering me so much the week before that I sat in my bed and cried for more than an hour the night before the race.  Then, I ranted all my feelings out in this post.  We made it to the finish line and I ended up being able to run about half of it - the race was definitely not a 5K!  Map My Run hit 3.1 miles way before the finish line and once we hit it my app said 4 miles.  I was happy to have completed it... and even happier that there were physical therapists giving massages at the finish line. 

At the end of October, I completed the Run like Hell 5K.  It was an awful day for a race - rainy, cold, dreary - but I was pretty excited for the race and even more excited to dress up in my makeshift cat costume - black leggings, a black compression jacket, ears & a tail - and a little freaked out that the majority of the race was through a graveyard. 

We ran the majority of the race in the rain and then walked the last mile - my knee started bothering me and my friend's knee was bothering her after injuring it in an aerobics class.  Wouldn't you know that this turned out to be my favorite race ever?  It was also my best race ever - we ran the majority of it but both stopped since our knees started hurting at the last mile.  My boyfriend, dressed in a bee keeper costume, surprised me at the finish line. 

After the Run like Hell, I took two full months off from running.  When I was in physical therapy, my PT revealed to me that what cured her IT band syndrome was having a baby and not being able to run the majority of her pregnancy - she told me that rest was the best thing, but that she wasn't going to tell me to stop running.  My running hiatus started off intentionally - I planned on taking only a few weeks off - until I found out that I had pneumonia (yep, that fever I blogged about last time? Ha. Just the tip of the iceberg) and ended up taking another month off.

So, where am I now?  Well, it's on my 2013 wish list to be able to complete a full 5K without walking and without any IT band pain.  I decided that I needed to re-vamp the way I train and recently downloaded the Couch to 5K app.  I'll admit that sometimes it's frustrating for me - because I want to run more than it lets me - but I haven't had any knee pain and I know that if I follow this gradual program, along with stretching, foam rolling and the like, hopefully I won't have any.  I'm about to start the third week, so hopefully I'll be back to running 5K's in no time.

What fitness related injuries have you experienced?  How did you bounce back?