Low[er] Carb Vegetarian Foods

Let me start by saying that I’m not suddenly promoting some low carb/no carb diet thing. I love my carbohydrates and I’d never ever give them up, but a common pitfall of vegetarianism is eating nothing but carbs. It’s happens. I’m totally guilty of it because I think bread/pasta/granola/crackers are delicious and because sometimes that’s just the easy thing.

vegetarian carbs

So I started poking around the internet for some low carb vegetarian dishes but I couldn’t find much. As soon as you search for “low carb foods” you either get a link to the Atkins diet or a huge list of meat. Bummer.

After some extensive research (hah) and lots of cauliflower-substitute recipes, I put together a list of foods and recipes that can help you balance out a vegetarian diet with protein and fats. (I also found an “oatmeal” substitute that used chia, flax meal, and coconut instead of oats… which ended up being over 800 calories. What?!) The thing is, every food is made up of 3 things: Carbohydrates, Protein, or Fat. So if it’s high in carbs, then it’s lower in protein and fat. Make sense?

Here are some of my personal favorite low[er] carb vegetarian foods:

low carb vegetarian foods

My goal is to make some new recipes containing some of those ingredients, which means more (healthy) fats and lots more protein!

If you’re interested in these types of recipes, I actually have a few on the blog already:

avocado-egg-cups

Avocado Egg Cups- high in healthy fats, protein, and deliciousness.

spaghetti squash bake

Spaghetti Squash Bake- my very favorite spaghetti swap and an easy way to use up fresh veggies.

Parmesan Tomato Soup

 Parmesan Tomato Soup- A super easy recipe for grilled cheese’s best friend.

Stay tuned for some high protein, higher fat recipes coming soon!

Got any low[er] carb vegetarian recipes to share?

Productivity Tools

I spent this past weekend in Chicago, for a Hackathon event, and it was so much fun. Chicago is an amazing city and the weather was perfect while I was there.

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I had to spend most of my weekend inside but I did manage to get out for a stroll here and there and I also had my first taste of real Chicago deep dish pizza. I actually thought it was quite good, even though I’m more of a thin crust fan. Now I’m back in Richmond attempting to catch up on things while running a little short on sleep. So let’s talk about productivity.

I might I have a weird obsession with productivity. I just think efficiency is so crucial for getting everything done. It’s not that I want to be busy all the time, it’s just that I want to get everything done as efficiently as possible so that I do have down time to just relax. Ya know? 

So I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tools for making some of those everyday tasks a tiny bit easier.

Unroll.Me

Unroll.Me- If you’re not using this, stop what you’re doing and sign up. It aggregates all of your e-mail subscriptions into one daily e-mail. You can choose which one’s to add (so I still get the ones I really want in my inbox). It means that Loft, Gap, J Crew, and The Limited can tell me they’re having 50% off every single day… but I only get one e-mail about it. Seriously, it’s the best for cleaning up your inbox.

The Skimm

The Skimm- Speaking of e-mails, this is the one subscription that I send straight to my inbox. It’s basically a summary of all the news you really need to know. It’s just handy for knowing a little bit about current events without having to dig through a bunch of news sites.

Mint Budget

Mint- You probably already know that Mint is an online budgeting tool but I use it as a real-time monitor to make sure that my bills get paid, I know which checks have been cashed, and that I haven’t totally over-spent at Target this month. The mobile app works really well, so I rarely check it on my desktop. It’s easier, since I don’t have to log into each mobile app for each account.

Do you use any special tools to get things done?

 

3 Step Meal Planning

If you had asked me a couple of years ago how I plan meals, I would have said “I don’t” which wouldn’t have been very helpful. But over the past year or two, as I increasingly started cooking for Alex, I started planning things out a little bit better. When you’re single, you can get away with making smoothies and popcorn every day and calling it dinner. But when you’re cooking for someone else, it’s nice to switch things up a little bit.

I’m still not much of a planner, likely because I’m not much of a recipe follower, but I do have a bit of a process so I thought I’d share it with you.

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1. Plan out the week

Alex and I usually run through our schedule for the week to make sure I know which nights I’m cooking and which nights we have something else going on. I’d say we typically cook dinner 4-5 times a week. I have a few staple meals that we eat regularly so I always make sure I have ingredients for those on hand. (Typical dinners for us are things like quinoa bowls, vegetarian chili, and veggie burgers + sweet potato fries.)

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2. Pick a recipe or two

I’m admittedly not great at following recipes but I usually have a couple of ideas in my head of what I want to make. If I know I want to come up with a new flatbread recipe, then I’ll buy all of the ingredients I might want to add. Then I try to think of what other things I  could do with those ingredients. For example: If I’m in the mood for a goat cheese pizza, I’ll try to think of something else to make with the leftover goat cheese. (Maybe a baked goat cheese salad? Better get some greens.) This way you don’t end up with a bunch of leftover ingredients that you have nothing to do with.

I’ve always got a Pinterest board full of inspiration!

meal planning pinterest

3. Make a list

I do all my grocery shopping online (through Relay Foods, for those of you in Virginia) so it makes it really easy to make lists and add things to my cart, but even if you’re doing it in the store, a list is so important! I would always forget that one critical ingredient and end up having to go back to the store. That’s no fun. There are also some handy apps like Food on the Table that make it super easy to pick out a recipe and then add all of the ingredients to a list.

And if you’re curious about what goes in my cart, here’s a post about my grocery staples!

grocery-essentials

Do you try meal planning each week?

Baked Goat Cheese + Mixed Greens

Salads for dinner used to be a fairly frequent occurrence until Alex and I started dating. Many nights I wouldn’t really cook dinner. I’d eat some yogurt or a smoothie or a salad. (Or maybe all three.) But once Alex and I started dating, I got in the habit of cooking “real” dinners and salads don’t always feel like a “real” dinner. Am I right?

I guess tearing open a bag of Dole and topping it with a bottled dressing just doesn’t feel special. But it doesn’t have to be that way. I ordered some mixed greens from Relay Foods (save $30 on your first order!) and I wanted to use them up before they started to wilt, so salad was on the menu for dinner. I’d had some goat cheese in the fridge for a bit and while I’d normally use it something like pasta or pizza, we’re trying to eat a little lighter this week.

That’s where the baked goat cheese comes in.

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I had seen similar recipes for fried goat cheese but I wanted to keep things healthy, so I decided to bake it instead. This came together pretty quickly and easily. The only tricky part was slicing the goat cheese. A few of my slices broke apart a little bit but I just turned those into little goat cheese bites.

5.0 from 1 reviews

Baked Goat Cheese Salads
Author: 
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Ingredients
  • 3 oz goat cheese
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cups mixed greens
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • ¼ cup shredded cabbage
  • 4 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette
Instructions
  1. Place the log of goat cheese in the freezer for about 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375.
  3. Remove from freezer and slice into ½ inch rounds.
  4. Coat each round with flour.
  5. Lightly beat the egg white.
  6. Dip the flour-coated cheese into the egg white.
  7. Coat the cheese with breadcrumbs and lay on a greased cookie sheet.
  8. After you’ve coated them all, pop them in the oven and bake for 15 minutes, flipping once, until golden brown.
  9. Mix up your lettuce, carrots, cabbage, and salad dressing.
  10. Top with goat cheese and serve warm.

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I loved the baked goat cheese on top of the chilled salad. Such a good combination. We just topped our greens with a little bit of Whole Food’s Balsamic Vinaigrette. Nothing fancy. We also cooked up some zucchini chips to eat with it, which turned out pretty well.

We’re heading to Chicago this weekend, so my goal is to eat up all the produce before we leave. Let me know if you have any Chicago restaurant recommendations for me!

Have you ever baked goat cheese?

Treadmill Workouts (No Running Required)

Alex and I spent the weekend in southern Ohio for a family reunion on my mom’s side. It’s always fun getting together with the extended family and we had a great time playing Euchre and eating too much ice cream.

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Matching shirts for the win!

The lodge that we stayed in technically had a fitness center (although it was a bit bare bones) so I managed to make some time for the treadmill while we were there, attempting to balance out the multiple ice cream trips we made.

I decided I don’t mind treadmills so much when I don’t actually run on them. Funny how that works.

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Does that sound lazy? Maybe. But as it turns out, treadmill workouts can give you a pretty good heart-pumping sweat session if you walk very quickly on a steep incline. Adding in a few lunges, squats , and burpees (OFF the treadmill) or a few toning exercises keeps things interesting and gives you a little more of a burn. This is how I entertained myself on the treadmill.

Treadmill Interval Workout

If you also want to tone a bit of your upper body, grab some light free weights and get in a few reps (ok, a lot of reps) during while you’re on the treadmill.

treadmill workout

Once the weather gets back to cooler temperatures I may try running outside again but right now it’s just too hot. Kudos to all you runners battling out the heat and humidity!

Do you like running on the treadmill?

 

Now We Dance [Wedding Photos Part 2]

Sure, everyone loves a good wedding ceremony, but let’s be honest- the real fun is at the reception. That’s where we really got to play with decorations and let our imaginations run wild. Besides, who doesn’t dream of a donut cake?

We held our wedding reception at the Lewis Ginter Recreation Center, which was basically a giant historical house that just felt right. It had had a few cracks in the wall (some literal, some metaphorical) but it was also filled to the brim with character. It’s just so charming.

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We made most of the decorations for the reception. My maid of honor, Alexa, drew all of the chalkboard signs for us and we used tons of old photographs.

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We displayed our parent’s wedding photos (Alex’s parents are on the left, mine are on the right) and lots of photos from us as children. (These decorations are a great excuse to dig through baby pictures of your significant other. Look at that hair.)

escort cards wedding For place cards, we made each guest a mix cd with some of our favorite songs.

Lewis Ginter Recreation Center Wedding

wedding cake made of donuts

We opted for a donut cake rather than a traditional wedding cake. Dixie Donuts is a local donut shop near where we live, and we had gone there many times for donuts when we were dating. We each picked out a favorite (Alex chose Oreo, I chose Old Fashioned) and our wedding coordinator turned them into a lovely display!

pinwheel centerpieces

For the centerpieces, we made little pinwheels and put them in mason jars with some confetti. I love how these turned out! (Non-floral centerpieces made things much less stressful. So worth it.) Dad, thank you for painting all of those wooden table numbers a couple days before the wedding.

first dances.jpg

We danced and danced and then danced some more. In fact, I don’t think there was ever a quiet moment on the dance floor. I’m not surprised, because we have awesome friends. (Hello, that’s why we’re friends with these people! They’re so much FUN!)

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Thank you to all the folks that made the night such a success:

team photo.jpg Susan & the 29:11 Celebrations team (I would recommend them to everyone!), Acme DJs (Matthew was such a great MC of the night!) and of course our photographer Kaytee who was running around all night snapping these shots.

end of the wedding photo

And of course, thank you to all of our friends and family who traveled near and far to celebrate with us!

That Time We Got Married [Wedding Photos Part 1]

I understand why people get nervous on their wedding day. It’s kind of a big deal, committing your life to another person on what is probably the most logistically complicated day of your life. But on May 31st, I wasn’t nervous- I was excited. I couldn’t wait to walk down that aisle, kiss the man of my dreams, and become Mrs. Thomson. I’m sure it helped that I had a wonderful team of wedding coordinators, a very chill family, and friends willing to pitch in whenever needed. But I think the reason I wasn’t nervous was because I knew I was marrying the man God was calling me to be with.

wedding getting ready I wore my sister in law’s jewelry for my “something borrowed”. The dress was the 6th one I tried on.

wedding something old.jpg For my something old, my mother in law gave me a garter that had a piece of her wedding dress and my mom’s graduation cap number sewn onto it, with a lucky penny sewn inside. It was such a sweet gift!

wedding make up.jpg Christina, one of my bridesmaids, did my make up. That girls make up bag is basically the size of Sephora.

chalkboard sign We tied the knot at Battery Park Christian Church on the North side of Richmond. My amazingly talented maid of honor drew the chalkboard sign up there!

wedding photo 3 grandma and jack.jpg Two of our very good friends flew up from Dallas to be the ushers for our wedding. Eric walked my grandmother down the aisle and she found him absolutely charming! My little nephew Jack was the most adorable ring bearer. His 1st birthday was the week after the wedding and we weren’t entirely sure he would make it down the aisle, but he eventually did! (And let’s be honest, it doesn’t get any cuter than a baby in a tie.)

father and bride walking down the aisle

No tears yet. I thought for sure we’d both be crying, but somehow we held things together.

wedding song how beautiful twila paris My sister in law sang “How Beautiful” by Twila Paris which was perfect. She’s so talented and we were honored to have her sing on our special day!

Thomson-4265 I had assumed the ceremony would feel like a blur but I remember a surprising amount of details. Erik, (the pastor of our church) had done our pre-marital counseling and the message he gave was very specific to the things we had discussed there. I loved how personal the ceremony felt. The biggest distraction during the ceremony was my bouquet. It weighed about 10 lbs and since it was one of those “cascading” bouquets, I had to keep it upright. Lesson learned ladies: pump a lot of iron if you’re planning on having a bouquet like that. *Phew* I was happy when I got to hand it over to my maid of honor.

bride and groom after ceremony I couldn’t stop smiling the whole day. My cheeks probably got quite the workout.

richmond va wedding photos We were blessed with a gorgeous day that wasn’t too hot, which was awesome. It made outdoor pictures much easier!

outdoor picture bridesmaids I know it sounds cheesy but I’m so thankful for these wonderful ladies that were standing up there with me. Friends from Ohio, friends from Virginia, and of course my two sister-in-laws. These girls filled the day with laughter!

Groomsmen

5 of Alex’s 6 groomsmen had to come from out of state to celebrate with us, which goes to show you how awesome these guys are.

wedding ushers I was thrilled to have these two guys be a part of our special day,  just weeks before opening their pop up shop in Dallas! Eric and I became fast friends when we started our jobs in Richmond together and even though he’s moved to Dallas, we still stay in touch. He and Justin were the perfect ushers and everyone at the wedding loved them!

Thomson-4392 I’d say this photo sums up our group of friends quite well.

family wedding picture

I’m sure there are lots of cheesy quotes about families coming together for a wedding but none of them would do this group justice. Our parents hadn’t met until the week of the wedding, which probably sounds kind of stressful but it honestly wasn’t. Alex and I  blessed to come from amazing families that are so full of love, there is always plenty to go around. I’m absolutely thrilled to be a part of the Thomson family and I’m excited to have Alex join my family as well.

This post is long enough so I’ll save the reception pictures for Friday’s post!

Quinoa and Avocado Bowl (with lime + feta)

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Ours was full of relaxation, patriotic activities, and lots of delicious food.

4th of July at Hardywood

We went to a historical reenactment of Patrick Henry’s “Give me liberty, or give me death” speech at St. John’s church (where it all actually happened) and then we went to Hardywood to hit up some food trucks and enjoy the amazing weather. Linking up with Katie for all things marvelous!

After a weekend of veggie burgers, wine, and tacos… I decided to kick off this week with a healthier recipe. I didn’t really have anything in particular planned but sometimes recipes are just a matter of taking a whole bunch of delicious things you love and figuring out how to make them work together. That’s what happened here. Inspired by the quinoa bowls of Goatacado, (see delicious photos above) I took an inventory of what I had in the fridge & pantry, and set to work.

Quinoa and avocado are two of my favorite things because they’re filling, delicious, versatile, and healthy!

quinoa and avocado bowl.jpg

5.0 from 2 reviews

Quinoa and Avocado Bowl
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
All of my favorite ingredients in one place!
Ingredients
  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 ripe tomato
  • ½ cup fresh (or frozen) sweet corn
  • ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 can black beans (rinsed & drained)
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup shredded cabbage
  • ¼ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ lime
  • ¼ tsp dried cilantro
  • Salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Bring the quinoa, water, and vegetable broth to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
  2. Leave covered for 10 minutes, then fluff with a fork.
  3. Add your quinoa to the bottom of the bowls.
  4. Dice the avocado and tomato into chunk and add to the bowl.
  5. If your corn is frozen (mine was), add it to a small sauce pan and warm over over medium heat until it just begins to brown a bit. Add that to the bowl.
  6. Top with beans, red onion, cabbage, and carrots.
  7. Squeeze lime over top. Sprinkle with cilantro, salt & pepper.
  8. Serve room temperature.

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The good news is, even if you’re missing a couple ingredients, it should still taste pretty amazing. You sort of have to have either the avocado or feta, since that’s where a lot of the flavor is coming from, but most of the other ingredients could be subbed out. This whole pile of awesomeness is gluten free.

What did you do this weekend?

Happy 4th of July

I hope all of you are having a wonderful 4th of July! (For those of you not in the states… happy Friday?)

sparklers

We kicked things off with dinner at Weezie’s Kitchen and then a little wine on the balcony. We’re going to be traveling the next couple of weekends, so we’re planning a relaxing couple of days.

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We’re  doing some cheesy-patriotic things today, because that’s what you’re supposed to do on the 4th of July, right?

Since I’m not planning on spending much time in the kitchen, and I assume you aren’t either, I’ll leave you with the easiest fancy corn on the cob recipe. And by recipe, I mean feta cheese + corn on the cob. It’s delicious. Seriously, you don’t even need butter.

How are you celebrating today?

Things I’m Loving Lately

I’m usually telling you about the latest thing I ate, but there are a few other favorites I’ve discovered over the past month or two, so I thought I’d switch things up and share those.

Moroccan Hair Oil

Morroccan Oil. My friend Christina gave me this (she wasn’t using it, so I figured I’d give it a shot) and I’m obsessed. I have thick, coarse hair with a lot of curl to it. This stuff totally tames it. Normally I can’t let my hair air dry without it turning into a puff ball of frizz but this stuff makes it easy to straighten or curl into submission. A bit of this worked in while my hair is still wet has been a lifesaver in the Richmond humidity! If you have thin hair, it might weigh your hair down too much, but if you have unruly locks, give this a shot.

homeward bound book

Alex and I have been reading a lot lately. We’re limiting ourselves on the Netflix binging… and it’s nice to not stare at a screen for at least a few hours a day. I found this book, Homeward Bound, at a used bookstore (even though it was just written last year) and I’m loving it. It’s all about the homemaking culture and how it’s shifted over the past decades. The chapter I read last night, about blogging, certainly struck a chord with me!

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Julep Nail Polish. I’m not usually the monthly-subscription-box type but this one has me hooked. Price wise, it’s about the same as Essie or OPI. But I love this stuff because it goes on well with one coat. Yes, one. Even this pale lavender color. This is the nail polish I wore for my wedding and I keep on wearing it because I can’t believe the light color goes on so well! I’ve tried a few other colors from them and I’ve been really happy. (You can sign up here through my Julep affiliate link!)

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I purchased the Sermon on the Mount study guide from She Reads Truth and I love the gorgeous design (and of course, the great content). You can follow along each day without the study guide, but I’m a sucker for a pen and paper. It’s a nice way to start off the day.

 What things are you loving this summer?