Wild Rice & Butternut Squash

This was our first Thanksgiving in Richmond and it was wonderful! My lovely sister in law hosted us all of us at her house and there was enough food to feed an army! I volunteered to make butternut squash, but I wanted to make something that didn’t need to be served immediately out of the oven, since I knew oven space would be tight. I settled on a recipe that could be served at room temperature. I adapted this recipe from Bon Appetite and it turned out pretty well!

butternut squash salad

Wild Rice & Butternut Squash
Recipe type: Side Dish
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Gluten Free
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
This side dish is perfect served chilled or at room temperature. It easily serves 12 as a side dish so you can halve the recipe if you don’t need that much!
Ingredients
  • 2 cups uncooked wild rice
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 cup pistachios
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Bring the water to a boil and add the rice. Simmer for 45 minutes.
  3. Peel and cube the butternut squash into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and spread the squash into an even layer.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping once. (You may need to roast it a bit longer, depending on your oven. Make sure it’s a bit brown on the sides.)
  6. Once both are cooked, spread out the cooked rice and butternut squash onto foil and let cool.
  7. Remove the seeds from the pomegranate. (It’s easier if you do it while it’s submerged in water!)
  8. Mix together the olive oil, honey, and vinegar.
  9. Toss all the ingredients together in a bowl and serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

wild rice salad

We had a huge Thanksgiving dinner with my family and my sister in laws family so it was fun being together! The mashed potatoes and cornbread stuffing we’re ah-maze-ing. Who needs turkey when you have amazing side dishes?

I’m thinking about braving a bit of shopping today to try to knock out my Christmas shopping and pick up a few things for the house. But first, I need some more coffee.

coffee

Wish me luck. I’m hoping to show you some before & after pictures of the house on Monday, so hopefully we can get the house put together in some sort of order. Right now, there are boxes and tools everywhere, but things are coming together!

What was the best dish you ate yesterday?

What I Ate Between Coats of Paint

Phew. This homeowner stuff is exhausting. Alex and I spent the whole day working on the house, with the help of my parents. I have to say, I think we ended up with some pretty dramatic transformations! After 4 days in the house, we’ve replaced a lot of the plumbing, taken down a fence, painted the bedroom, living room, and dining room, cleaned the kitchen (and wow did it need to be cleaned) tackled a few Ikea projects, and fixed the leg on the piano. Thank goodness for the help of my parents. Linking up with Jen, here’s what I managed to eat between projects.

Breakfast

vegetarian breakfast with protein

After a trip to Sherwin Williams, I had some Greek yogurt with frozen berries and coffee. Coffee is clearly a must.

Lunch

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It actually took two attempts to cook a frozen pizza (no really, it did) since were still figuring out our new ovens. (Uh, how do you know when it’s preheated?!) but I was so hungry, it hit the spot.

Dinner

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There was no time for snacks, while we were painting but once we finished up, dinner ended up being a delicious combo from Panera. Still no cooking happening in the kitchen, but we will be tomorrow! I went with half a Greek salad and half a Mediterranean veggie sandwich, made classy by a glass of wine! Once we finished up dinner, Alex and I put together a second Ikea wardrobe while my parents finished up painting and cleaning downstairs. It was an exhausting day, but we’ve made tons of progress on the house! I can’t wait to show you some before and after pictures.

What are you eating today?

Welcome to the Thomson House!

We’ve moved! Officially. We closed on Friday morning and it’s been a weekend of labor every since. My feet hurt. My back hurts. My fingertips hurt. But we’ve loving every minute of this adventure! Apologies for the less-than-stellar photographs in this post… my camera was packed away so most of these came from my phone! I just could wait to share a few shots. To be honest though, most of the house looks like this:

photo 4 (5)

Boxes, boxes everywhere. Our wonderful friends helped us move on Saturday morning, so everything was in the house by the early afternoon. We unpacked dozens of boxes and got the bedrooms set up, since my parents came into town Saturday night. We woke up Sunday morning and immediately got to work. Here’s a little peek of the kitchen:

photo 2 (5)

I’m so excited about this kitchen! I wish I had a better picture of it. My mom and I spent the morning cleaning while Alex and my dad knocked down the fence in our backyard to create parking behind our house which will be awesome. No more driving around looking for parking spots! After they tackled that, they set to work on the plumbing. The water pressure in the house was pretty terrible when we moved in. (I mean, it’s a 90 year old house, but still.) Luckily, I have a very handy father and a very handy husband, so the two of them replaced a few pipes and things have been flowing much, much better!

Here’s a little peek of what we have going on in the bedrooms, although both are now full of furniture.

Here's the guest bedroom!

Here’s the guest bedroom! Yep, that’s me in the mirror.

Here's the master bedroom, leading into the sunroom

Here’s the master bedroom, leading into the sunroom

 

sunroom

I think the sunroom is my favorite room. Give me all the natural light.

We also sanded the walls of the living room and dining room to prep them for painting. Here’s a shot of the dining room right now, with the current white walls:

photo 3 (4)

I think I’ve finally settled on paint colors, after lots of deliberation, so hopefully I’ll have painted walls later this week! I’ll be back with some actual food related content on Wednesday.

Got any homeowner tips for us?

Currently: November

It’s closing day! We have our final walk through later this morning and then we’re signing papers! This whole house buying thing is a little overwhelming but defintely exciting.  Since life is a little crazy over here so I thought I’d share what we are doing:

Eating: Chipotle. And frozen pizza. And anything that doesn’t require dishes… since I’ve already packed them all up.

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Finishing: Packing up the last minute things at the apartment! We officially move tomorrow!

Wanting: Another handful of this granola. Yes it takes like a samoa girl scout cookie.

granola

Feeling: Like I need coffee. And coconut oil. (My skin has gotten super dry now that the temperature dropped!)

Playing: The song “Ghost” by Ella Henderson. I think I’ll listen to it on repeat until Alex makes me change it.

Going: To and from Lowes. Over and over again.

lowes boxes

Pinning: These dining table ideas. I can’t get enough of these.

Wishing: That I was a CrossFitter. Now would be a really good time to be able to lift heavy things.

Taking: Pictures of the new house! I can’t wait to show you all on Monday.

house picture

Reading: This holiday eating post from Gabby, This style post from Gracie, This fried cauliflower rice recipe from Sonja.

Your turn: What are you doing today?

I Heart Vegetables Turns 4

It’s hard to believe, but this little blog turned 4 yesterday! I originally started blogging in 2010 as I tried out veganism for 6 months. I started a (different) blog because I figured it would be a good way to capture recipes ideas and track my experience. I ended up falling in love with the blog world, so after the 6 months were up, I created this little vegetable-loving blog. It’s funny how SO many things in my life have changed.

Even this photo, which was part of a campaign for Baggio, stemmed from meeting fellow bloggers Sydney & Kaytee!

When I first started blogging, I had just moved to Richmond. I was single. I was living all by myself. I was still figuring out this city and spending all my free time meeting strangers. This city now feels like home and the people here feel like people I’ve known my whole life. I wouldn’t have met one of my bridesmaids had it not been for blogging!

Thomson-3791

Come to think of it, blogging is also how I found my wedding photographer and wedding planner.

When I first started blogging, I used to be so calorie conscious. So “health” focused. But as I’ve tracked my healthy living journey, I’ve realized that the definition of “healthy” is a confusing one. I’m not the calorie-counting-diet-trying girl I used to be. I’ve started settling into my own skin and getting a little more comfortable being me. Granted, a supportive husband and wonderful friends have certainly helped that, but it’s interesting to go back and read old posts and see how much my relationship with food has changed.

dark chocolate cake

No more guilty feelings after a delicious piece of cake. I’ve gotten to a wonderful state of balance.

Blogging has also connected me with so many people across the state! I started Virginia Bloggers in 2012 with my friend Sarah (who has since moved to Alabama!) and met dozens of bloggers in person. These are real relationships with real people, formed through the world of blogging.

Virginia Bloggers

So I guess what it all comes down to is that I’m so thankful for this little space on the internet. I’m thankful for a place where I can go on and on about kale and you all keep coming back! I’m forever grateful for this little sounding board.

Cheers to the next year of adventures!

Easy Lacinato Kale Salad

Ok, let’s talk about kale. There are lots of different types: curly kale, baby kale… but today, I want to talk about lacinato kale, sometimes called dinosaur kale. Lacinato kale has large, flat, textured leaves. It’s my favorite, because it’s easy to wash and easy to de-stem. (Any time I make kale, I remove the stems. That’s the really bitter part, and it’s really hard to chew.)

While I certainly won’t pass on a curly kale salad, I’ve been making more lactino kale salads because the speedier cleaning/de-stemming process means and easier salad. And I’m all about easy. So after a few kale salad combinations and some inspiration from this fall salad recipe by Sarah, I think I’ve settled into my new kale combination. I like it because it’s super crunchy, even the leftovers!

lactino kale salad

Easy Lacinato Kale Salad
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
This easy Lacinato kale salad is crunchy and delicious!
Ingredients
  • For the salad:
  • 1 bunch of Lacinato kale (about 10 large leaves)
  • ½ head of purple cabbage
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • For the dressing:
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • OR
  • Your favorite Caesar dressing
Instructions
  1. Start by washing and de-stemming the kale. Discard the stems.
  2. Slice the cabbage into long thin strips. You can do this with a knife or mandoline slicer.
  3. Toss with almonds and parmesan cheese.
  4. Top with dressing before serving. (You can put it on a few hours ahead of time, or top it right before eating.)
  5. For the dressing, simply whisk together and drizzle over the salad.

Sometimes I do an olive oil + lemon juice dressing. Sometimes I use my current favorite Caesar dressing. (Which, at the moment, is Drew’s.) I try to make this salad in big batches so I have lots of leftovers. This serves 4 as a small main dish or a large side dish.

parmesan kale salad

I made this salad on Saturday afternoon, in between packing up boxes, but I made sure to have leftover to pack for lunch today! Seriously, I can’t get enough kale.

I’ll be making lots of easy recipes this week, since it’s only a few more days until the move! I’m trying to clean out the fridge so that we have a little less to pack. We’ll see how that goes.

 Have you tried lacinato kale?

5 Easy Ways to Save Money

We close on the house one week from today, so Alex and I have been packing things up and preparing for the move. We are so excited to get settled in the house; it’s hard to believe it’s almost here! Needless to say with all of the house costs (down payment, closing costs, moving costs, furniture, paint, tools… phew.) we’ve been trying to save a little extra money. To be honest, we’re both pretty frugal already, but we’re doing everything we can to save a few more bucks!

So in the spirit of Frugal Friday, I thought I’d share some money-saving tips.

5 easy ways to save money

Know what you’re making & know what you’re spending. That sounds basic, but do you really know? If you haven’t tracked your spending over a few months, you probably don’t realize just how much you’re saving spending. Alex and I had both been tracking things individually, but it’s been confusing with all of our separate accounts, so now we’ve made more of an effort to combine everything so we know exactly where our money is going. That might sound like a crazy-control-thing but it’s really just good to know.

grocery-essentials

Go grocery shopping & cook your own food. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but cooking at home can be much cheaper than takeout. That said, picking up 20 new ingredients for one recipe isn’t the best for your budget, plan out recipes for the week to make sure you can use up the rest of the ingredients or make enough leftovers to pack your lunch. (Need some budget friendly recipes?)

Only save the coupons you’ll actually use. I’m not a huge coupon clipper, but I do use them occasionally. The trick is to only save the “good” ones. Don’t cut out coupons for things you wouldn’t normally buy. (That’ll just encourage you to buy things you don’t need.) If you have a huge stack of half-expired coupons and you’re not sure what’s in there, you’ll never actually use any of them.

Avoid shopping temptation. Let me tell you something. If I go into Target to buy shampoo, I will most definitely come out with 4 other things that I didn’t plan on buying.  I absolutely love Target. So much so, that I can’t let myself go in there if I’m trying to save money. There are just too many other “great deals” along the way. I can breeze through the mall without a second glance but for me, Target is my weakness. You know where your weakness is. Don’t go there.

Unroll.Me

Use Unroll.Me for online coupons. I’ve written about how much I love Unroll.Me before (it’s so awesome for cleaning up your inbox) but I also love it because all of the sale coupons (you know, Banana Republic, Gap, J Crew) go to my daily “roll up” of e-mails. That means, if there is something I really want from Banana Republic, I can open the Unroll.Me message and get it, but it also means I don’t see all of those e-mails unless I open my daily subscription. The coupon is there if I need it, but I don’t end up with temptation peeking through my inbox. (Besides, isn’t Loft always having a 30% off sale?)

These are just a few ways to spend less money… so you can save it for the things you really want. (For me, that’s this dining room table.) For more ways to save money, check out my tips for budget friendly grocery shopping!

What are your tips for saving money?

My New Recipe Page & Yesterday’s Meals

I had the day off of work yesterday, thanks to Veteran’s Day! It’s always nice to have a random day off in the middle of the week, since it’s a good time to get things done. I don’t always feel like being super productive over the weekend (I mean, you gotta have some down time. Netflix isn’t going to watch itself.) But a random Tuesday? That’s a prime day for tackling a to-do list.

First things first, I’m so excited to share my re-vamped Recipe Page! I finally have a searchable index (with pictures!) of all of my recipes here on the blog, so take a look around! This has been quite a project so I’m glad it’s finally complete!

Recipe Page

Anyways, I thought I’d share all my meals from yesterday for a little What I Ate Wednesday recap.

I woke up pretty early and had some devotional/quiet time while sipping on coffee. I ended up having another cup with Alex while talking about house stuff before I finally settled down with my breakfast.

vegetarian breakfast with protein

This was some 2% Fage plain greek yogurt with some berries and granola. I could eat this breakfast every single day. After breakfast (and more coffee) we took a trip to Home Depot to price out some stuff that we’ll need for the house and ending up walking around there for awhile. Apparently we’ve hit that place in our lives when Home Depot becomes a fun shopping trip.

Once we got back, I decided to make some kale salad. I got lactino kale from Relay Foods, which might be my favorite kind of kale simply because it’s so much easier to wash than curly kale.

kale salad

I added a bit of shredded cabbage, almonds, and parmesan cheese and topped it with Drew’s Caesar dressing. Most Caesar dressings contain anchovies but this one is vegetarian (and egg free and gluten free)! This salad was so crunchy and delicious. I could have eaten another bowl but I decided to snack on some apples and peanut butter instead.

Crunch time peanut butter and apples

We ate a slightly early dinner (who am I kidding, we always eat early dinners) which ended up being veggie burgers & spicy sweet potato fries.

veggie burger and sweet potato fries

We were hosting our small group at 7:30 so I had to make sure things were cleaned up in time. A freezer dinner isn’t super glamorous but I love these veggie burgers and the sweet potato fries are perfectly spicy. We added some salsa and avocado on top of the burgers and just ate them with a fork. We’re not really bun people over here. As much as I love cooking, frozen foods definitely come in handy on busy days.

What are your favorite freezer foods?

 

 

[Skinny] Spinach Dip with Greek Yogurt

When I was a vegan, the two things I missed were Greek yogurt and cheese. I could do without milk and eggs, but those 6 months without dairy left me loving cheese even more than before. Still, I’d never been a big spinach dip person. I typically avoided those creamy dips knowing they could run you hundreds of calories for a few spoonfuls. Luckily, Greek yogurt is a game changer and makes a creamy dip not so bad. They even make a Greek yogurt cream cheese, which you can use instead of low fat cream cheese. It’s up to you.

I made this for my sister in law’s baby shower on Saturday and every bit got eaten, so I think that’s a good sign.

spinach dip with greek yogurt

5.0 from 1 reviews

[Skinny] Spinach Dip with Greek Yogurt
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 8 oz low fat cream cheese or greek yogurt cream cheese
  • 2 tbsp greek yogurt
  • ¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add in the fresh spinach.
  2. Turn down to medium heat, cover, and cook for 1 minute.
  3. Drain the spinach in a colander, and press out the excess water, and chop into pieces.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese and greek yogurt until combined.
  5. Stir in the cheddar, parmesan, garlic powder, & salt, and mix well.
  6. Stir in the spinach.
  7. Just before serving, microwave on medium heat for 30 seconds and stir. Repeat until heated all the way through.

1/4 cup of this dip is around around 120 calories. You can see the full nutritional info here. Not bad for a creamy, cheesy, dip! Serve with baked tortilla chips or green pepper strips.

skinny greek yogurt spinach dip

I actually spent quite a bit of the weekend enjoying delicious snacks (and wine) between getting drinks at the VMFA with my old roommates on Friday,  celebrating at Aricka’s baby shower on Saturday, and spending the rest of the weekend at a women’s retreat for church. It was lovely getting so much girl time and Alex pretty much got a break from me all weekend ;) Now I have the perfect excuse to plan a date night for just the two of us! Hmm, maybe it’s time to check Mama Zu off my bucket list…

What’s your favorite type of dip?

 Linking up with Katie, Susan & Tina!

Life Update: Paint, Lentils & Brunch

Life seems to be going faster and faster these days so I thought I’d give you a quick life update!

Things with the house are moving along! We moved our closing date up so we’ll be moving in the week of Thanksgiving. I can’t believe we’ll be moved in before the holidays! It’s going to be so much fun. I already started picking out paint colors.

paint colors at home depot

Now if I could just tell the difference between those 14 shades of beige…

Here’s my current wish-list of house items.

Follow Liz’s board New House Wishlist on Pinterest.

Clearly an Ikea trip needs to be in my future.

Alex and I had dinner with our pastor & his wife last night and the food was delicious. Sarah made a yummy lentil dish and we were lucky enough to get to take home some leftovers! This is what my lunch will be today:

spiced lentils

They also gave us a scoby, so kombucha brewing will be happening tonight. Wish me luck.

Speaking of food ,(I’m always speaking of food) I tried a new-to-me restaurant last Saturday. A handful of Richmond bloggers met up for brunch (lunch?) at Blue Goat. I had the quinoa burger which was pretty good. It couldn’t quite beat my favorite veggie burger at Carytown Burger’s & Fries, but it definitely hit the spot. Plus, the tater tots were delicious. It was fun getting to catch up with some local bloggers.

Blue Goat Veggie Burger

Virginia Bloggers

It took quite a few attempts to squeeze all of us into a this photo. You should see the outtakes.

In other news, this whole daylight savings time things is definitely going to make food photos more challenging. Time to set up my lightbox! I think the lack of daylight is contributing to my feeling that there aren’t enough hours in the day.

Do you feel like time is going by faster?!