5 Tips for Better Sleep

I used to be bad at sleeping. Really bad. Like stay-up-all-night bad. And while I actually can function somewhat well of very little sleep, I’m much happier, more productive, and generally a nicer person when I’ve had a good night’s sleep.

Luckily, over the years I’ve become a much better sleeper. While there are tons of factors involved (let’s face it, when you’re stressed, you’re not going to sleep as well) there are a few things I’ve learned a long the way that have really helped.

sleep tips

I know it’s tempting to sleep in on the weekends but sticking to a relatively stable routine is fantastic for your sleep quality! Rather than wake up at 6am Monday-Friday and then sleep until noon on Saturday and Sunday, try waking up around 7 or 7:30 on the weekends and read in bed or have a cup of coffee on the porch. Waking up doesn’t mean your day has to start with productivity. Find a relaxing activity that you’ll look forward to when you climb out of bed. That makes waking up on the weekends much easier.

Tip # 1 (2)

This was definitely the most dramatic change I made. I used to wait until 7:30 or 8 to eat dinner and then I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep  until midnight. Now I typically eat around 6, so I’ve digested my food and used up that “energy” before I go to sleep. If I do eat a late night snack, I try not to eat a lot of sugar. I find for me, that makes it a lot harder for me to fall asleep.

Tip # 1 (4)

You don’t need to do an entire workout but try stretching a bit before bed. If that’s not your thing, a cup of tea, do a little knitting,  a hot bath, or any other relaxing activity will do the trick. The goal is to find something that relaxes your body and your mind.

Tip # 1 (6)

If you’re into tracking your steps with a pedometer or your activity with a FitBit then you’ll love the Sleep Cycle App. It’s only $1 in the app store and it’s pretty cool. You sleep with your phone next to you and it monitors your movement to track your sleep quality.  It wakes you up at the “optimal” time based on your sleep patterns, with a set time frame. I typically set mine to wake me up between 5:55 and 6:25. It’s pretty nifty.

sleeping tips

When Alex and I got married, we agreed on no TV in the bedroom. I’ve also kept my computer out of there. The bedroom is a space for sleeping and relaxing (well, and *ahem*) but not a place for electronics. It’s much easier to relax when I don’t have the flash of an e-mail notification or the temptation of “just one more” Netflix episode.

What are your tips for better sleep?

Life Lately- Travels, Hobbies, & Home

Phew. It’s been awhile since I gave you a life update. I know this because my mom sent me an e-mail asking about how things were going. (That means I also haven’t been good about calling. Oops.)

As much as I don’t want to say life is busy (because everyone claims to be busy!) life has been keeping me on my toes, with lots of traveling. Between Minnesota earlier this month, DC for a couple of days last week and NYC over the weekend, it’s a little hard to keep up. But it’s been fun getting to travel around a bit and meet new people.

I’m happy to be home this week, and we’ve already got something on the calendar every night. I’ll be spending lots of time catching up with friends (which is my mostfavoritethingever) since I’ve been out of town so much.

canon T2i

I signed up for a photography class with my friend Emily, which starts this evening. I’m so excited to learn the ins and outs of my camera, as well as some shooting techniques. I’ve never taken any formal photography training so I’m hoping this will motivate me to step out side of my comfort foodie  zone and take some different types of photos. As a results, you’ll probably see more photos of people on the blog. Crazy, I know.

I’ve been working on organizing our apartment, hanging photos, and just trying to make sense of things in general. All in all, the apartment is really coming together. I’ve hung a couple of prints from She Reads Truth that I absolutely love.

she reads truth print

We also hung this shelf that our friend Oliver made for us as a wedding present, which I love. I feel like it has such a cool rustic, modern vibe. He does all kinds of cool design stuff (lots with wood but also with things like concrete.) You can see more of his awesome stuff  on his blog, Op Shop.

Op Shop driftwood shelf

I’m also planning on trying some new recipes. Our small group from City Church has started again and we typically do a potluck style dinner each week, which is a great reason to try some new dishes! Here are a few I’ve pinned and plan on trying:

dinner ideas You can see all of the ideas on this Dinner Ideas Pinterest Board.

What’s filling up your time these days?

Frugal Fridays- Warm Quinoa Salad

Phew, how is it Friday? This week has flown by. I was in DC on Wednesday & Thursday and today I’m headed to New York for the weekend. It’s a little crazy trying to keep up with everything while traveling (not to mention trying to eat healthy on the road) but it’s fun to have a change of scenery!

I was also thankful for the delicious Greek yogurt offered by my hotel yesterday:

Give me all the Greek yogurt. And please make berry season stick around forever.

I started today off with a spin class at Boho Cycle Studio and now I’m exhausted and starving.

So let’s dive in to a Frugal Friday recipe! This one is a lighter, healthier recipe that’s still packed with protein. Quinoa is a complete protein, which means it provides all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.

warm quinoa salad.jpg

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 bag of spinach- $2
  • 2 roma tomatoes- $0.75
  • 1 cup dry quinoa- $1.50
  • 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese- $2.00
  • 1 red onion- $1.00
  • 1 lemon- $0.50

This salad is versatile so you could add in some chickpeas if you wanted to make it even more filling!

Click here for the Warm Quinoa Salad recipe.

Are you a traveler or a homebody?

3 Ways to Eat More Vegetables

It’s no secret that I’m crazy for vegetables. I honestly do love them but if my only method for consuming vegetables was in a boring side salad, I probably wouldn’t get too excited about that. It makes me sad when the only vegetables people eat are the ones on their hamburger. Out of season tomatoes and iceburg lettuce don’t exactly get people excited to eat their vegetables.

So  I thought I’d share a few of my favorite ways for vegetable consumption.

eat more vegetables

Swap them in!

Zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, kale chips… try vegetables as a substitute for your standard higher calorie foods. Here are some of my favorite recipes for veggie swaps:

spaghetti squash mac n cheese.jpg

Blend them!

2-ingredient-cupcakes

Sure, green smoothies are becoming a fairly popular thing now, but there are other ways to sneak in vegetables! Hide a little zucchini in your pancakes. Puree some carrots into your marinara sauce. You can even hide them in desserts, like in those 2 ingredient cupcakes pictured above! You’d be surprised at how often you won’t even notice that there are extra vegetables in there!

Roast them!

parsnips

It may seem basic, but roasting can be one of the most delicious ways to eat more vegetables. Roasting brings out the natural flavors and it really couldn’t be easier. Think beyond sweet potatoes (although these Parmesan sweet potato chips are amazing) and try roasting things like parsnips, carrots or broccoli. You’ll be amazed what you can do with a little olive oil, salt & pepper.

Hopefully these ideas and recipes will spur you to consume a few extra vegetables! My goal of this blog to give people easy ways to incorporate healthy recipes into their lives, so I love hearing your thoughts! Leave me a comment and tell me:

What’s your favorite way to eat vegetables?

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan & Lemon

I tried to eat pretty “clean” last week, after all of our traveling and Labor Day festivities. As as a result, I stocked the fridge with tons of vegetables. I made quite a few batches of kale chips & zucchini pasta but yesterday I realized the Brussels sprouts were sitting in the crisper drawer, untouched. I wasn’t sure how long they would keep (apparently at least a week!) so I decided to use them up. I thought about roasting them, but since the weather has still been pretty warm, a cool salad sounded much more refreshing. While it did take a little while to “shave” them, you save some time in the end, since you’re eating them raw. So it sort of all works out.

Alex wasn’t exactly jumping with excitement when I told him what we were having for dinner (I know, a salad made of Brussels sprouts isn’t quite like saying we’re laving lasagna) but once he tasted it, he was on board.

shaved brussels sprout salad

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Parmesan & Lemon
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 1 pound of Brussels Sprouts
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp sunflower seed kernels
  • Salt & Pepper
Instructions
  1. Using a sharp knife, cut the ends off of each Brussels sprout. Discard the ends and the very outer peel.
  2. Using a mandoline slicer (or a sharp knife) cut into very thin slices. Basically, as thin as you can manage.
  3. In a small dish, combine the olive oil and juice from the lemon. (It should be about 2 tbsp of lemon juice.)
  4. Toss the shaved B-sprouts with the olive oil and lemon juice.
  5. Shred the parmesan cheese overtop with a microplane or very fine cheese grater. (Grated parmesan would be fine, but freshly grated tastes so much better!)
  6. Sprinkle with sunflower seed kernels, salt & pepper.

brussels sprouts salad

I love that this is a crunchy salad (no wilted greens here!) and real parmesan cheese is what makes this dish so good!

We ate this light dinner and then munched on a little popcorn at the Byrd Theater while we watched Maleficent. We hadn’t been to the movies in quite awhile so it was fun to see something on a big screen! I’m usually more of a couch-and-Netflix person, but the movie was good and you just can’t beat movie popcorn!

Now since I still have a pound of brussels sprouts in the fridge, tell me…

What’s your favorite way to eat brussels sprouts?

Frugal Fridays- Zucchini Pasta & Kale Salad

I’ve been cooking up a storm in the kitchen lately. Between food prepping on Monday and getting a new cookbook on Wednesday, I’ve been dirtying a whole lot of dishes. I mean it, I’m a messy cook. Does anyone else seem to get everything dirty when they’re just making something simple? It happens.

My friend Shannon got me this amazing cookbook, Let Them Eat Kale, and I’m already in love. Obviously I’m biased because I have a (slightly obnoxious) obsession with kale. But seriously, it’s fantastic. I loved gazing at all of the gorgeous pictures and as soon as I got it home, I started whipping up kale chips!

let them eat kale cookbook

I can’t share the exact recipe with you, since it’s from the cookbook, but here are a few similar one’s I found online.

These “cheesy” little chips are addictive. I made one batch on Wednesday and a second batch on Thursday!

Now let’s dive in to a new budget friendly meal idea for Frugal Friday! This one is super simple in terms of a recipe and it’s also really healthy! And like all these Frugal Friday recipes, you can serve 2 people for $10 or less. Since I’m on a kale kick, I combined my zucchini pasta with a kale salad! It was filling, delicious, and packed with veggies! If you want a little extra protein, you could add some cooked quinoa to the salad or chicken to the pasta.

kale salad and zucchini pasta

What you need:

For the kale salad:

  • 1 bunch kale- $2.00
  • 1 tbsp olive oil- $0.25
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese- $2.00
  • 1/2 lemon- $.50

Click here for the complete kale salad recipe and instructions!

For the “spaghetti” dish:

  • 2 zucchini- $1.50
  • 1 cup marinara sauce- $1.50
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan – $1.00
  • Bit of olive oil, salt, & pepper

For the zucchini, you can use a vegetable peeler, julienne slicer, spiralizer or mandoline slicer to slice it into very thin strips. I used a julienne blade that came with my mandoline slicer. Spray a large skillet with olive oil and cook the zucchini over medium heat for just a couple of minutes until it begins to soften but still holds it’s shape. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Don’t over cook it! Then just drain it and top it with marinara & shredded parmesan!

Have you tried zucchini noodles or kale chips?

Crispy Tempeh Strips

Monday was a lazy day. Normally I’m not a huge fan of lazy days but a head cold had knocked me out and it was a good excuse for watching episode after episode of our latest Netflix obsession. After a few hours  on the couch, I decided to play around in the kitchen. This recipe partly came out of desperation, since we came home to an almost-empty fridge, but I’m glad I tried it because I found a new way to enjoy tempeh.

If you’re not familiar with tempeh, it’s made from partially cooked fermented soybeans. I know that’s not the most appealing description, but think of it like tofu with a more “meaty” texture. I’ll admit that I don’t typically love the texture of tofu. Tempeh is a little it more chewy and less…springy. (If you eat a lot of tofu, you probably know what I’m talking about.) Plus, you don’t have to press it and drain it the way you do with tofu. But similar to tofu, it’s loaded with protein!

These little strips are crispy on the outside and “meaty” on the inside.

Crispy Tempeh Strips

Baked Tempeh Strips
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
These faux “chicken” strips are packed with protein! They’re nice and crispy without all the fat of frying.
Ingredients
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsps flour
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 package tempeh
  • ¼ tsp Salt
  • ¼ tsp Pepper
  • ⅛ tsp garlic powder
  • Crushed red pepper, Oregano, Basil (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
  2. Beat the egg in a small dish and set aside.
  3. Combine withe panko bread crumbs with the spices you decide to use. I used salt, pepper, garlic, crushed red pepper, oregano and basil but you could really use any number of things. I only added a dash of most things but if you like it extra spicy, add in a few extra shakes.
  4. Cut the tempeh into thin strips, about ½” thick.
  5. Lightly coat the tempeh with flour, then dip in the egg mixture until coated.
  6. Roll in the panko crumbs and set on the baking pan.
  7. Continue until all of the strips are coated and then pop them in the oven.
  8. Bake for 12-14 minutes, flipping once, until the strips begin to brown.
  9. Serve with ketchup, hot sauce, bbq sauce, or all three.
  10. It should make about 12 strips.

I’m not a fan of “fake meat” in general but tempeh has a better texture, in my opinion. I also used Ian’s gluten free panko crumbs and they worked just fine, but I’d probably just use regular panko crumbs next time since I think they have a bit more protein. Click here for the nutritional info for 1 serving of these strips. (The recipe makes about 3 servings, with 5-6 strips per serving.) I ate mine with plenty of ketchup!

IMG_4237

 

Not a bad way to get in a lot of protein, especially while watching Netflix.

Have you tried tempeh? What’s your favorite way to eat it?

Traveling & Bookmarking Recipes

We’re back in Richmond! We had quite a weekend, heading from Minnesota to Grand Forks, North Dakota for my cousins wedding. Things kicked off on Friday night with S’mores around the fire. Catching up with family is even better when toasted marshmallows are involved.

We had an absolutely wonderful time celebrating with them at the wedding on Saturday. It was a beautiful outdoor ceremony and the weather could not have been more gorgeous!

Unfortunately, despite my best efforts (and lots of Airborne, Zicam, and hand sanitizer) I caught whatever cold Alex had so I’m battling a pretty stuffy nose and a headache. No fun! Luckily today is a holiday so I’m going to attempt to sleep it off rest while watching Netflix marathons. 

In the mean time, here are a few recipes I recently bookmarked some drool worthy recipes on Pinterest so be sure to check these out if you need some meatless inspiration:

pinterest meal ideas

1. Healthy Mexican Casserole // 2. Crunchy Asian Ramen Noodle Salad // 3. Sweet Potato & Kale Pizza

Follow me on Pinterest for more meal ideas!

Any tips for how to kick a cold faster?

Frugal Fridays- Goat Cheese Pasta with Asparagus

It’s our last day in Minnesota! We’re heading to Grand Forks, North Dakota later today for my cousin’s wedding, so it’ll be fun to see more family! It’s been quite a week. On Wednesday, Alex and I went to the state fair and ate lots of cheese curds & cookies so on Thursday we decided to be a bit more active.

I went to a Zumba class with Alex’s mom which was so much fun. I hadn’t been to a Zumba class in awhile and I forgot that it’s basically a non-stop dance party. I need to hit up a Zumba class more often.  After getting our exercise, Jana, Nicole and I spent the evening canning pickles. It was so much fun!

Pickle Canning (1 of 3)

Pickle Canning (2 of 3)

 I can’t share the recipe because it’s a Thomson family secret. ;) but since it’s Friday, I do have another budget friendly recipe! This week, it’s goat cheese pasta with asparagus!

goat cheese pasta with asparagus

Not only is this one budget friendly, it’s also super easy.

Goat Cheese Pasta with Asparagus

  • 4oz goat cheese – $3.50
  • 12 oz whole wheat pasta- $2
  • 1/2 pound fresh or frozen asparagus- $3
  • 1 tbsp butter $0.25
  • Salt & pepper

goat cheese pasta

Click here for the goat cheese pasta recipe.

I love this recipe because it’s easy to make, it only takes about 15 minutes to get dinner on the table, and I usually have these things on hand. If you don’t have or can’t find asparagus, fresh or frozen peas would work well! I’m not normally a creamy pasta person but this sauce is still very light so you don’t feel weighed down after eating!

What’s  your favorite kind of pasta sauce?

Minnesota Meals

After a weekend of cupcakes and cheese curds we started Monday off on a healthier note. I wanted to eat all the veggies in sight. So this little What I Ate Wednesday recap is what I actually ate on Monday. I kicked off the day with 1/4 cinnamon raisin bagel and 1/4 Parmesan bagel from Einstein bagels. (Alex had the other halves.) I topped the cinnamon raisin one with a little crunchy peanut butter and left the Parmesan plain. Eaten with a few very ripe strawberries that were on their last leg.

breakfast

Alex and I are working remotely this week so we were pretty much parked at our computers all morning. I think I’m more productive when I’m not in the office because there are less distractions. By the time I looked up from my screen it was almost 11am.

lightly salted almonds

I had a handful of almonds for a little mid-morning snack. They were lightly salted and kept me full until around 1pm. We took a quick break from our computers around noon and went on a run for about 20 minutes. I hadn’t run for about… 5 months, so mine was a bit more of a run/walk, while Alex would just run ahead and run back for me so I didn’t get lost ;) I felt pretty good and I only whined about running like, 40% of the time.

lunch

Once my stomach was growling, Alex and I threw together some simple salads. Lots of greens, feta cheese, and a little balsamic vinaigrette. I also had some tortilla chips and extra veggies with hummus. Seriously, give me all the veggies. So crunchy and delicious.

IMG_4188

Of course, I had to have something sweet to end on so I snagged a mini chocolate cupcake. Chocolate frosting is my favorite.

Eventually we finished up work and headed to Uptown to meet Alex’s friend Andy and his girlfriend Laura. The weather was perfect so I was glad we got to walk around a little bit.

dinner

We ate dinner at Chino Latino which was an interesting fusion of Mexican food and Asian dishes. I was debating between tacos and vegetable Pad Thai (Seriously, how often do you have to make that decision at a restaurant?) and we decided to split Pad Thai and some sort of dish that was french fries topped with black beans, salsa, sour cream, and guacamole. Yes, really. I left the restaurant pretty stuffed, obviously. I mean, it’s a law that you can’t let guacamole go to waste.

What have you been eating?

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