Friday, September 26, 2014

Friday Favorites 9/25/14: Week 1

Happy Friday! TGIF!  It's my absolute favorite day of the week.  I'm writing this post in advance but I can still pretty much guarantee it's going to be the craziest day of work ever - two pagers, a meeting, lots of charting and a million patients - but who cares because it's Fridayyyyy!

Is it just me or has this week absolutely flown by?  Seriously, it just feels like it was Monday.  I'm so excited for a low key weekend.  My only big plans include a family birthday brunch on Sunday to celebrate my dad's birthday and mine and then an outlet trip with my two sisters. I can't wait!  Lazy weekends are the best.

This week, I'm participating in Housewife Glamour's Friday Favorites...here we go!

Housewife Glamour

Food



  • Pizza Friday. We always ordered pizza on Friday's when I was growing up and now I'm starting to think that nothing sounds better on a Friday night than cuddling up with my hubby, watching tv and eating a huge cheesy slice.  There's a good chance this Buffalo Chicken Pizza will be on the menu tonight. 


Finds


  • I have the worst cuticles ever and can seriously say that this stuff is amazing. First of all, the bottle is gigantic, meaning it will last for ever. Secondly, it smells like the beach.  It's only $6.99 at Sally's, making it a fall find!


Fitness


  • I love spinning, which means Cycle Bar is right up my alley.  I'm a little sad that it took the place of one of my favorite hot yoga studios, but can't wait to test out the ride!!  


Fashion

  • I was in desperate need of new ballet flats after my Tory Burch Reva's bit the dust.  I can say I'm all stocked for fall with these new editions.  I'm loving the little details on ballet flats - gold buckles, bows and chains. Bring. It. On. 


Fun

  • Pusheen!!! OH MY GOSH. I'm obsessed.  Is that completely nerdy?  It totally is, but who cares.  Once I discovered this was a "legit" thing and not just an emoticon on Facebook, I became even more in love.  If Pusheen was a real cat, I'd probably break my no cats rule to have him as a pet :)


What are your Friday favorites? 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Thursday Kind of Rice

Hi there.  It's almost the weekend and sometimes week nights require an easy dinner.  After a long work day and catching up on a few thank you notes, I managed to make it to the gym for my favorite workout class. It's a toning/sculpting class that incorporates a variety of weights and a variety of moves.  I love that no two classes are the same - today we even went outside for partner lunges, mountain climbers and warrior lunges - and I'm always sore afterwards.  Bronchitis has knocked out my ability for much cardio, but I was happy to be able to get back in the gym.

When I got home, I wasn't in the mood to cook a huge dinner for us.  After all, sometimes when it comes to dinner you want something quick and easy.  Now, this might mean cooking in your kitchen or sometimes it might mean ordering out - don't worry, I've been there.  I have absolutely no idea when fried rice was introduced into my diet, but one bite and I was hooked.  Granted it's not one of my staples for when I want to order out, but it totally is when I want to make something quick and easy in.


After all, here's the thing about fried rice at restaurants.  It's not very healthy, I'm sure you weren't shocked.  Loads of oil. White rice. Not very many veggies.  Last year, I wanted something quick for dinner.  We had a wok and some leftover brown rice, so I thought why not.  This recipe is pretty foolproof -  I've subbed out the green onion for an actual onion, I've left out the garlic.  Bonus: it's husband approved.  

I usually roll with frozen peas, carrots and corn, but if you're looking for lower starch options then try using broccoli and asparagus.  An added bonus? There are usually plenty of leftovers.  If you've never cooked with tamari, it's gluten-free soy sauce.  If you aren't gluten-free, feel free to use regular.

I've bumped up the nutritional value by cutting back on the oil, increasing the vegetable content, gained fiber from using brown rice and cut back on sodium.  All and all it's a classic and a keeper. Enjoy.



Thursday Night Fried Rice

Ingredients 

1 tbsp grapeseed oil
3 C mixed vegetables, frozen
1 C edamame, shelled
1/2 tbsp garlic, minced
1/2 C green onion
2 eggs
3 C brown rice, pre-cooked
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
2 tbsp low-sodium tamari

1. Heat grapeseed oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add frozen vegetables and edamame, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Fold in garlic.
2. Incorporate green onions into the mixture, stirring to combine.  Add eggs stirring quickly - they will set as soon as they hit the wok.  Stir eggs into vegetable mixture.
3. Add in rice, stir to combine. Fold sesame oil and tamari, continue to stir until heated through.


Feel free to add your favorite protein - I topped this off with a sliced chicken breast that I marinated in a little sesame oil.

What's your favorite quick and easy dinner? 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Quick Tips for a Healthy and Lazy Lunch

Hey there!  It's halfway to Friday.  Am I the only one that feels like this week has been flying by?  Tonight is the first night all week that I've actually been home for more than a brief few minutes - if at all - after work.

Yesterday, I had a committee meeting for the Junior League at a winery/restaurant.  It was really exciting to get to know the other women that I'll be working with this year.  We're in charge of our League's magazine and I think with our team and all of it's creative talent, we'll put out a lot of fantastic issues.  I ordered a wedge salad with goat cheese - it was divine.

It's gotten chillier and darker in the mornings, so I bundled up with a coat this morning.  While I've been sick this week, it's been hard to get in "lunch prep and packing mode".  Yesterday, instead of packing a lunch, I pre-planned what I was going to buy from the cafeteria.  I'm fortunate that my work has a few healthy options - if I want something healthy, I'm prone to picking a salad.

However, salads can be death traps when it comes to nutrition.  Your salad quickly loses it's benefits when you load on tons of cheese, fried chicken, bacon, croutons and dressing.  A salad can be a way to rake in your fruit and veggie choices or a way to derail your diet quickly.

So, what do I do?  First, I chose a healthy salad and then I pump it up.  The one I chose for this lunch was the Vegetarian Deluxe from Au Bon Pain.  Here's the description:

Vegetarian Deluxe 
Romaine, fire-roasted red & yellow bell peppers, Kalamata olives, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, chickpeas, red onion

Tips to Choosing a Healthy Salad

  • Choose darker greens as the base such as spinach, baby kale, romaine - try to avoid iceberg when possible
  • Choose grilled or vegetarian proteins - look for grilled chicken, chickpeas, black beans
  • Choose smaller amounts of cheese that pack a bigger flavor punch - opt for small amounts of feta, goat or sharp cheddar
  • Leave something off - skip the bacon, high fat salad dressing or breadstick
  • Add something that packs a flavor punch - sun dried tomatoes, olives, roasted red peppers


Going along with my tips - I left off the salad dressing, skipped the breadstick for obvious reasons and chose two high impact flavorings - olives and feta.  My next trick is that I pack a few things in my lunch box to pump up my salad....

Quick Tricks to Pump your Salad

  • Add nuts such as sunflower seeds or almonds for a healthy dose of fat and an easy protein boost
  • Bring extra veggies to amp up a skimpy salad - boost up those vitamins and minerals
  • Skip the dressing and roll with a few avocado slices instead for a quick boost of healthy fat, fiber, potassium, vitamin K and folate 
  • BYOP - bring your own protein - I 
How did I pump up this salad? I added sunflower seeds for crunch and healthy fats. I also boosted the protein factor by adding hard boiled eggs.  I included the yolks because they contain all of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K) and are a great source of choline!  I also had a veggie pack on the side aka. a ziplock bag full of sliced cucumbers,  red peppers and yellow peppers.



Now, you've got all the tricks up your sleeve for a healthy and lazy lunch.  As my friends would say, only 2 more wake-ups until Friday!  

What's on your agenda for the weekend? 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday and a Few Wedding Shots!

It's been quite the quiet Monday over here today!  I woke up early and was out the door before 6:45 am - totally not the norm - but I definitely beat almost all of the traffic in my commute.  The work day flew by and before I knew it, I was home.  I did some cleaning in the house and made black bean and chicken tacos for dinner, with a side of HGTV.

The relaxation started because I've been sick for awhile and took a trip to my doctor today after a pretty unhelpful appointment at the Healthcare Clinic at Walgreens yesterday.  Now, I'm fully stocked with antibiotics and an inhaler to get back on the mend :)  Thanks, but no thanks bronchitis.  I also made a quick trip to Target on the way home and picked up a new-to-me nail polish from Essie.

While it's nice to rest and relax minus the awful coughing, the downfall is that I've had to take a break from running!  I've been thinking about signing up for the Thanksgiving race after being encouraged by one of my very best friends, the Running Dietitian, and I found this 10k training plan online.  Granted, I did run 2.5 miles on Saturday, despite my hacking cough, so maybe it could still be a go once I'm all patched up...any runners out there have any advice?

In the meantime and totally unrelated, here are some wedding photos that my sister-in-law happened to find online!  Our photographer was Blue Martini Photography (totally amazing if you live in Cincinnati by the way), but she had two assistant photographers who posted some of the pictures they took on their Facebook page.  To make a long story short, my SIL ran into one of them and they gave her the deets of where they were posted, as they have their own photography company Sixteen-Fourteen Photography.  They're beautiful and I can't wait to get them all back - our photography team was amazing and I can't wait to have all of these pictures forever.  Here are a few shots - I'm off to bed!






Any big plans for the week?

Sunday, September 21, 2014

A Gluten-Free Sandals Honeymoon

Hi there!  For those of you that don't know, I got married in August.  Wedding planning was a huge blur and led to me putting a lot of things on the backseat - including my blog.  They aren't kidding when they say planning a wedding is like having a second job.  While planning our wedding, we also planned a honeymoon.  Needless to say, we were both excited for a relaxing week away together after 12 months of crazy wedding planning.

We met with a few travel agents and narrowed down our list.  We wanted someplace warm, safe, beachy with lots of opportunities for excursions.  We finally settled on St. Lucia!  We decided to stay at an all-inclusive, something we'd never done before.  I was a little nervous about how my gluten-free diet would go over - Would there be options for me to eat?  Would I feel like I was bothering the staff?  Would anyone even know what gluten was? Most importantly, would the food be good?

Little did I know, the answer to all those questions was yes!  We stayed at the Sandals Regency La Toc in a butler suite- it was truly breathtaking and we had an amazing experience.  Prior to arriving at the resort, we checked in online and filled out a questionnaire regarding food preferences/allergies.  Once we actually arrived at Sandals, our butler coordinated a meeting between the chef and I - the chef informed me of all the gluten-free options that they had - pasta, pancakes, bread etc. and promised that everyone would be accommodating.

The first thing I noticed about our dining experiences were that the server would immediately ask if anyone in our party had a food allergy.  This took away a lot of the awkwardness of having to say that I'm gluten free.

Breakfasts were easy choices - I rolled with the omelets and home fries.

Our favorite lunch spot was Neptune's - a Mediterranean spot on the water.  Some of my favorites from the week included gluten-free pizza, gluten-free onion rings, stuffed grape leaves and an amazing feta salad. OH and how could I forget the gluten-free mozzarella sticks?! I'm still dreaming of them.




For dinner, we hopped around the resort.  On the night that we dined at Kimono's, the hibachi steakhouse, and I was brought a selection of gluten-free sauces to enjoy with my meal.  My fried rice was prepared separately from everyone else's using tamari instead of soy sauce.


Later in the week, we took the shuttle to one of the other Sandals resorts on the island to try out their Italian restaurant.  I ordered the pasta carbonara with gluten-free pasta - it was delicious :) 


There you have it - it's possible to still enjoy fantastic food on your honeymoon at Sandals!

What's your favorite vacation spot?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Birthday Nonpareils

About three years ago, my grandmother gave me one of the best birthday gifts of all time. A pink Kitchenaid mixer.  Growing up, I had so many memories with her of baking cookies, pies, cakes.  I was only a few feet tall, but I remembered that white - and later green - Kitchenaid spinning around delicious desserts.  Each item was handcrafted with love.


Now, if you're a longt-time reader, you'll remember that I selected the color of the Kitchenaid on my 26th birthday and went with pale pink.  I knew I would have few opportunities in life to score a pink Kitchenaid.  Eventually, I would probably fall in love and get married.  I figured a pink Kitchenaid would not be on my future husband's wish list.

Here I am, about to turn 29.  I'm now married to my very best friend and so many things in life have changed.  Not only since those young years when I stood in the kitchen baking with my grandma, but also since the day I was given that Kitchenaid mixer.  My love of cupcakes hasn't :)



Nonpareils Cupcakes, adapted from How Sweet It Is 

Ingredients

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

1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together sugar and butter in a stand mixer until smooth using paddle attachment - 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 nonpareilles. Batter will be very sticky. Pour 2/3 way into cupcake tins lined with paper - about 15.
4. Bake for ~25 minutes or until a toothpick in the center comes out clean.

Buttercream Icing, adapted from Williams Sonoma

Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter
2 tbsp soy milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

1. Allow ingredients to come to room temperature.  Lightly cream together powdered sugar and butter in stand mixer using whisk attachment.  Add soy milk and vanilla extract.
2.  Continue to cream together icing mixture until light and fluffy.



What's your favorite cupcake flavor?