Out of the Routine

As you’d expect, the holiday weekend did shake up my routine a little, although it wasn’t anything crazy out of the ordinary. My Tuesday, however, was more unusual. It also allowed me to take better photographs of my food. Win-win.

My friend Oksana, a teacher at a local high school, asked if I would speak at “Career Day” and since I love my job, and I think high schoolers are cool, I willingly agreed! I had to wake up earlier than normal to get to the school on time, so I are breakfast at the school.

Breakfast

Before career day started, they served all of the volunteers coffee and breakfast, so I had a cup of black coffee, part of this bagel, and a bunch of grapes. So delicious.

Lunch

Since career day ended in the early afternoon, I ate a quick lunch at my kitchen table while answering e-mails, and getting work done.  I had a simple bowl of yogurt + fruit + granola.

Afternoon snacking

I decided carrots are more delicious when they’re shaped like chips… and since they were already shaped like chips… I decided to roast them, and dip them in ketchup. I know, I know, I’m turning everything into chips these days. What can I say? They’re more fun that way. I sprayed them with a tiny bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt & pepper, and roasted at 400 for about 10 minutes. Delish.

Dinner

I made this garlic lentil soup from a recipe in the Wall Street Journal. No offense Wall Street Journal, but it wasn’t very good. I gave up on the recipe and doctored it up, until it actually tasted good. I’ll share my version of the recipe sometime soon. It reminded me how much I love lentils, and they’re so filling!

I ended the day at Bakers Crust with some friends, but I didn’t actually get anything to eat. The company was enough for me :)

In the spirit of career day…

What did you want to be when you “grew up”…?

The Blog Facelift & Festive Cheesecakes

Happy Monday, everyone! Hopefully you’re enjoying a long weekend, filled with relaxation, friends, family, and fun!

In case you didn’t notice, my blog got a much-needed facelift. All the content should still be totally simple to find, but I think it looks a little prettier, don’t ya think?

This weekend has been full of relaxation and moderate productivity. Basically, the best kind of weekend.

Saturday was arguably the perfect day. Galen and I got coffee at Capital Coffee (I had a bite of his cinnamon roll, and it was quite delicious. Good thing I had a little yogurt before we left, or I would have eaten it all!) And then we walked around Chop Suey, the used bookstore across the street. I love bookstores, and used ones are the best.

I picked up these two gems:

Ever heard of them? I’ve already gotten halfway through Naked Conversations, which is all about why businesses should start blogging. (And not an official “company” blog, but encouraging employees to blog. Cool, no?)

Sunday I spent a good bit of the afternoon in the kitchen, whipping up some predictably festive cheesecakes.

I decided to make little mini ones, because everything is cuter when it’s mini, and I needed to justify why I bought a bunch of mini loaf pans from World Market…

Mini Blueberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:

  • 10 sheets of graham crackers
  • 2 tbsp powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp melted butter
  • 16 oz cream cheese (2 blocks)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups blueberries

Preheat the oven to 325. Start by blending your graham crackers, powdered sugar, and butter in a food processor or blender, until everything is crumbly. Grease 10 mini loaf pans (if you don’t have that many, you can do them in batches, or use a 9X9 pan and do it all at once. You’ll just have to play with the bake time. ) and press the crust into each pan. (About 2-3 tbsp per pan.) Bake for 6 minutes, then set aside to cool.

Clean out your blender or food processor, and then blend the cream cheese, eggs, powdered sugar, and vanilla. It should be smooth. Scoop out ~1/4 cup filling into each little pan, right on top of the crust. Top with blueberries, and use a knife to smooth out the filling across the pan. The blueberries don’t have to be totally covered, just lightly mixed in. Bake for 8 minutes, and then let cool, and set in the fridge for at least an hour.

Sure, it’s a little more time consuming to do individual pans… but they’re so adorable! Plus, they bake and cool faster!

Serve with some sliced strawberries, and enjoy!

What are you currently reading?

The Little Changes I [Should Be] Making

Changing your life is a scary thing. And it’s hard. It takes a lot of work, replacing bad habits with good ones, pushing yourself every single day, avoiding temptation, and figuring out what your body needs.

So let’s just talk about little changes. The small things you know you should be doing, but aren’t.

1. Drink more water.

I feel stupid even writing this down. It’s basic. It’s cheap free. And it’s so good for you! But you already know that.So let’s talk about how to actually do it.

Less of that… more water.

How: sometimes drinking lukewarm (rather than really cold) water, is easier. This definitely works for me! I also spice it up with lemon or cucumber. Just a hint of flavor really can help. And honestly, just having a giant cup at my desk is probably the easiest way to drink more water without thinking. I’ve swapped my lunch time diet coke for water, and I’m feeling much more energized in the afternoon! Once you get in the habit, it gets easier to do it without thinking.

2. Cut down on night time snacking.

I know I’m not the only one who loves a nighttime snack, but mine can get a little out of control. Not that there is anything wrong with having a snack, but I realized it makes more sense for me to snack in the afternoon, when I need the energy, rather than “saving” those snacks for night time.

Ok ignore this specific type of tea… although I do like this one.

How: I tried to just cut out night time snacking, and it lasted for… maybe 2 days. Instead, I’ve started drinking a cup of decaf tea, and something indulgent, like a piece of dark chocolate. Having a bit of something really delicious is so much more satisfying than a giant bowl of rice cakes. The tea keeps me occupied while blogging and answering e-mails, without feeling like I’ve banned myself from the kitchen.

3. Stop eating the whole box of [cereal/cookies/crackers].

Let’s suppose I’m not the only person who has seen a box of cereal disappear after 2 days, and wondered “Wait… when did I eat all that?” It got to the point where I wouldn’t even buy Peanut Butter Puffins, because I literally wouldn’t know how the box could be gone so fast…

These crackers didn’t stand a chance…

How: Instead of banning yourself from the things you love (and buying things you only sort of like, just to restrain yourself) as soon as you get home from the grocery store, divide the box into individual servings. I know it sounds kind of crazy, but not only does it prevent the mindless “hand-in-the-box-everything-I-pass-it” syndrome, it also makes it’s super easy to grab a baggie when you’re running out the door, and you really do need a fast snack! Just be sure that you’re really portioning out accurate servings! (I use a food scale, which sounds kind of anal, but you’d be surprised at some of those cereal serving sizes!)

Now if only I could pretend like I’d totally conquered these…

What are some small goals you’ve accomplished?

What I Ate [Again] Wednesday

I’ve really been trying to use up what I have in the fridge, before making trips to the grocery store, in order to keep my grocery budget at an almost-reasonable level. It means I’ve been eating tons of fruits and veggies, to make sure they don’t go bad. It also means my meals have sort of been on repeat. The weekend was a little more exciting, with brunch, and a dinner at Burger Bach. But as for my eats during the week, they tend to be pretty monotonous. Does that make me a bad food blogger? Maybe.

Breakfast

Ahh the smoothie I referenced on Friday!

The Elvis Shake

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup soymilk/almond milk
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp peanut flour
  • Pinch of xanthan gum (optional)

Peanut flour is sort of like protein powder, so I used that instead of regular protein powder. It’s pretty awesome, and if you haven’t found some yet, check out this post for more info! If you don’t like the taste of protein powder, I highly recommend this! No chalky taste at all!

Lunch

I’m a huge snacker, so I like to spread out my lunch. I had the rest of my morning shake (what didn’t fit in the glass above, went into the blender bottle) around 11. Then I had the salad and the yogurt around 1, and the apple around 2:30. I’m basically eating all the time.

Dinner

I’ve been using up my veggies by making massive salads, but I get sick of those pretty quickly. I decided to switch things up, and use up my veggies with some noodles, and whip up some 5-ingredient peanut sauce.

I always forget how easy this meal is. And it’s 10 times better than take out, so I really have no excuse. Broccoli might be my most favorite thing ever. (Ok, second to peanut butter. So broccoli covered in peanut sauce is heaven.) Recycled picture from the original recipe. Even if you don’t have fresh veggies on hand, this works great with frozen!

What I Wore

I don’t generally post outfits, because I’m not, and will never be, a fashion blogger. But I got these red shoes at Target yesterday. Sure, they’re my 4th pair of red shoes, but aren’t they cute? A random woman at work told me I looked like Audrey Hepburn. I’ll take it.

What I Want to Make

I’m obviously obsessed with Pinterest, because who isn’t? But this is definitely on my list of things to make.

(original source)

I mean, how clever is that?! It’s a silverware-drawer-sorter-thing-turned-jewelry-holder. Since I’m the worst at organizing my jewelry, I think I’m going to mount this on the inside of my closet. (And if you’re not already following me, what are you waiting for?)

What are you doing this Wednesday?

Birthday Brunch & Burger Bach

Sunday was G-love’s birthday, so we had a big brunch at my apartment to celebrate.

I made a huge fruit salad, Galen made waffles, and we also had bacon, eggs, and mimosas. You know, typical brunch fare. Galen claims that the “just add water” pancake mix is the best (which might have something to do with the additional butter he mixed into the batter…) and we poured it right into the waffle iron. It’s not a recipe I can really share (other than, “hey, add water and butter to the mix”) but I have to admit, they did turn out pretty fluffy and delicious.

Later in the day, Lindsay and I decided to go check out the Food Truck Derby. The weather started out awesome, but after about 20 minutes of walking around, it started raining, and we high-tailed it out of there before we got to really try any of the food trucks. I’m sure there will be plenty of recaps from some other Virginia Bloggers, but I don’t have much for you!

Since we were still determined to get some food, we decided to try Burger Bach, a new-ish burger place in Carytown. They had a veggie burger (thank goodness) but they also serve grass fed beef and free range chicken, and some delicious looking fries, with various homemade sauces.

Their burgers are served with greens + herb vinaigrette which is awesome. My veggie burger was packed lentils and veggies, which made it tasty and filling, and all the toppings were organic, and the sauces are made in-house. For $8, this burger rivals Carytown Burgers and Fries, although that place will always have a special place in my heart.

So now the important question…

Pancakes or waffles?

Salsa for #winners

Wednesday night was what you’d call… a salsa extravaganza. Eric and I decided to try to create a bunch of different salsa recipes, for no particular reason, other than it sounded like fun.

We played with tomatillos, tomatoes, various peppers, corn, black beans, onions, and spices.

The recipes still need some perfecting, but we had fun trying them all.

Obviously, we had to make chips too. Which were soaked in oil. Eric responded with “It’s olive oil! It’s healthy!” Sure Eric, sure.

Sprinkled with salt, pepper, & chili powder, they were hard to resist. I would tell you the recipe, but it really just consists of frying corn tortillas in olive oil, and sprinkling with spices. Some say you can’t fry with olive oil. I say, taste one of those chips.

Maybe a little oregano, garlic, and basil? Those were pretty good too…

I’ll definitely need to find a baking strategy soon.

Thankfully, the chips and salsa powered me through Brand Olympics the next day, a fierce competition at the office, which could best be described as field day for grown ups.

Our team: Winstagram. (#winning)

What you see here, is Eric and I holding our 1st place trophies… quite proudly.

And to kick off the weekend, I hit up Gold’s Gym with Brittany. Since she’s having some ankle pain, we traded in our Friday morning run, for a Friday morning gym session. I did a circuit workout, with 1 minute of each move:

Friday Morning Circuit

  • Plank
  • Mountain climbers
  • Reverse fly
  • Bicep curls
  • Shoulder press
  • Lunges + bicep curl
  • Sit ups
  • “Heels to the heavens” (as Tony Horton calls them)
  • Burpees
  • Squats

I did that little circuit twice, and then finished with a jog on the treadmill. Not a bad way to start the day!

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go enjoy a delicious shake that would make Elvis proud…

Recipe to come!

How are you starting your weekend?

What I [am excited about] Wednesday

So far… this week has been pretty excellent!

Monday, I got an e-mail back from FitFluential, and I’m officially a FitFluential Ambassador! I’m excited, because it’s such an amazing community of bloggers!

I also ran a new PR on the treadmill, did some Jillian Michaels, had a BFF Date with Eric, and found out I’m influential about Unicorns. What? Yes. I don’t make this stuff up.

Yep, that’s my PR! A mile in 8:29 (See above.). I know that’s not fast for most of you, but I was excited aboutit! (And that’s what PRs are all about, right?) I think my weekend off really helped, because I felt so energized at the gym. Seriously, from now on, force me to take rest days, ok? Ok, good.

Anyways, on to my daily eats! This is What I Ate Wednesday Monday.

Breakfast

This breakfast is still keeping me quite satisfied. It’s unbelievably tasty. Same breakfast, same picture. Don’t judge.

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tbsp cacao bliss coconut butter
  • 1/2 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • Whole lotta ice

Lunch

A rushed lunch at work (photographed and packed at home, eaten at my desk while answering e-mails.):

  • 1 cup chobani 0%
  • 1 scoop protein powder
  • Blueberries + Strawberries

It’s so weird how I don’t generally like dairy products, but I could eat greek yogurt every single day.

Afternoon snack:

I have some fruit almost every single afternoon. That whole no-fruit-after-2pm thing would not work for me. Monday, it was an apple. I also had a light string cheese for a little protein. I feel like an idiot when I eat string cheese at work. It’s like eating fun dip. And you just can’t look like a grown up when eating fun dip.

Dinner

For dinner, I consumed a (few) glass(es) of vino from Secco, because it was flight night, and Eric and I hadn’t had a BFF-Date night in forever, so it was long over due. We also do our  best business brainstorming when we’ve had a glass or two of wine. It’s a fact. Don’t mess with the facts. We also had some pizza. It’s all about balance, right?

What are you excited about today?

Let’s Call it a Rest Weekend

I had good intentions. I packed my running shoes. I remembered a sports bra. But no running happened. None. Does walking to the ice cream place count?

I wasn’t actually surprised by my lack of exercise. Since my left leg had been bothering me a little bit last week, I figured taking 3 days off wouldn’t kill me.

But that wasn’t all I rested from. I didn’t open my laptop for a solid 48 hours. Not once. (And I didn’t even check my e-mail on my phone.) I also (accidentally) left my phone at home for most of the day on Saturday.

Disconnected. And you know what?

It was fine.

I think my brain needed the digital detox as much as my body needed a rest from working out.

I’m really bad at focusing on one task, and one task only. My phone is always buzzing next to me. I practically begin twitching when I see this:

And obviously, the same reaction is true for e-mails, texts, facebook, wordpress…

Putting my phone down, and keeping my laptop closed allowed me to really spend time with my friends and family, without constantly asking “sorry, what?” as I glance up from my phone, mid-text.

And while I might have been disconnected form the world… I was snapping pictures!

Visiting Alexa’s school (CCAD) for an art show! She’s amazing :)

Eating the worlds best veggie burger.

And found some words of inspiration. (Kelly, I stole this :) )

My trip went by way too fast, as it always does, but I’m glad I got to go home and see my family, Alexa, Kelly, and Christine! (Christine, I will definitely be trying that quinoa recipe!!!) Lindsay, we really will meet up one of these days!

Do you ever need a digital detox? Do you miss out on things because you’re too absorbed in your phone or computer?

Wine, Blogger-friends, & Healthy Shakes

Wednesday night, we had completely random twitter-planned happy hour, and Ipanema Cafe handled our blogger-flock quite well :) (Bonus points for them, since they tweeted back to us.) Clearly, if you’re not following me on twitter, you should be. How else will you hear about these impromptu events? ;)

They have a pretty fantastic happy hour from 3-7, which includes $3 glasses of wine. Yes. $3.

Being the classy girl that I am, that’s pretty much all I need to be convinced. But they also have a great menu, as well as a little patio. Bonus, and bonus. You won’t find much menu info from their website, but that’s because they change it up based on fresh ingredients. You can check the chalkboard when you walk in.

Blogger friends turned real-life friends. Isn’t it fun when that happens?

Although the owner couldn’t be there, she did send us this appetizer on the house, which isn’t on the menu (yet) but we all really enjoyed! It was little tiny bananas, on a bed of greens, with lots of seeds (pumpkin, pepita, and sunflower I think?) and some sort of dressing that was light and lovely. I totally think this deserves to be on the menu!

After I got home, I didn’t feel like making anything fancy, but I still needed a little something before going to bed. I decided to whip up another one of these…

German Chocolate Shake

  • 1 scoop chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1 tbsp coconut butter
  • 1 tbsp caramel syrup (I use the Torani kind, but you could swap it for honey)
  • 2 tbsp unsweetend coconut flakes (plus more for sprinkling on top!)
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1-2 handfuls of ice

Toss it all in a blender, and top with a bit more coconut and caramel sauce. It tastes like a milkshake, but is healthy enough to be enjoyed guilt-free.  Click here for the full nutritional info.

I’m heading back home to visit my family in Ohio, so the weekend shall be filled with festivities!

What are you doing this weekend?

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

Remember my grocery budget goal? Well I’m happy to say that I’ve been doing a much better job at working with what’s already in my kitchen, and eating out less. (That said, I’m pretty sure the $$$ just floated over into my shopping budget… but I did finally find a maxi dress two maxi dresses that don’t make me look 3 feet tall.)

Anyways, since I’m going out of town on Friday, I’m really trying to use up all the fresh produce and things that won’t stay good for long. I did a pretty good job, but it meant I ate a lot of really random small meals throughout the day!

Breakfast

Nothing new here folks. o% Chobani, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and a sprinkle of cookie dough granola.

Lunch

I needed to use up some egg whites, so I microwave-scrambled them with a wedge of laughing cow cheese, and topped them with a black bean cake and a little salsa. I know you can’t see the eggs, but I promise they’re at the bottom! I’m not a big fan of eggs in general, but mixed together, this was delicious and packed with 25g of protein! I also had an unpictured and unexciting salad, which was just romaine, a little bit of Brianne’s Caesar dressing, balsamic vinegar, and a few croutons.

Dinner #1

Tuesdays are a little strange, because I have a young professionals group from 6-8, so I took a german chocolate smoothie with me, since I knew I’d be ravenous by the time I got home if I didn’t have something to tide me over. I’ll share the recipe with you sometime soon. This was delicious!

Dinner #2

I went out for drinks and didn’t get home until 9:30, and when I got back, I was craving some “bad for me” food, so I decided to make a light version of an unhealthy snack. I’d done it with zucchini, so why not with cheese? I’m actually not even a huge fan of cheese in general, but for some reason, I was craving mozzarella sticks. I literally have no idea why.

Healthy Mozzarella Sticks

  • 2 sticks of light string cheese (I used the Weight Watchers brand)
  • 2 tbsp bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp fiber one, blended into a powder (or just substitute more bread crumbs)
  • 2 tbsp egg whites
  • Oregano, chili powder, basil, garlic
  • 1/4 cup marinara or pizza sauce (for dipping)

Cut the string cheese in half, and then length wise (or you can keep it long, I just wanted mini ones!) and pop them in the freezer for a couple of minutes. This will keep the cheese from melting all over the pan. Once it’s cold, dip into the egg white, and coat with bread crumbs. Sprinkle with seasoning and pop into the oven on a greased cookie sheet at 400 for about 8-10 minutes, turning half way through.

These were SO good. I think I have a new favorite healthy-pretending-to-be-unhealthy snack. (Above is half the recipe.) The whole recipe is less than 200 calories and so freaking delicious! Not to mention 13g of protein!

What’s your favorite unhealthy snack? Do you have a healthy alternative?