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?!

Monday’s Meals

It’s been kind of weird getting back into my regular routine after being out of town all last week. I ordered groceries from Relay on Friday since the fridge was in desperate need of re-stocking and I got all the basics so I could start fresh on Monday. I obviously wasn’t doing a fantastic job of eating my veggies in vegas, so I wanted to make sure I had healthy options at home! Linking up with Jenn!

banana smoothie

I went with a banana smoothie + peanut butter to start the day off. After 4 years, My Vitamix still gets used on an almost-daily basis. Definitely a good kitchen investment. This one was a frozen banana, unsweetened almond milk, peanut flour, ice, and stevia. If you use a frozen banana, the smoothie is extra-thick!

vegetarian chili

For lunch, I had some leftover veggie chili that I had made in the crockpot on Sunday. Beans are such a great (and cheap!) source of vegetarian protein. I could eat this stuff everyday! I also had some Minnesota Wild Rice soup from the cafeteria since it’s my favorite soup on the menu. I need to figure out their recipe because it’s so good!

I haven’t really been snacking as much lately, maybe because I haven’t been keeping as many snacks in the house. After the oops-I-ate-a-whole-box-of-cereal-in-2-days incident, I’m trying not to keep temptation in the house. ;)

stuzzi pizza

I normally have a photography class on Mondays but it was cancelled so Alex and I decided to swing by Stuzzi for dinner. (They have a great deal on Monday nights that is hard to pass up!) Their Margherita pizza might be my favorite pizza in Richmond. I know, that’s a bold claim. But it is melt-in-your-mouth good.

Despite eating quite a bit of pizza for dinner, we managed to eat a scoop of ice cream after dinner. I know, we’re pretty amazing. This Breyer’s stuff is so good. It’s just as “light” as the light ice creams but doesn’t have weird artificial junk in it. Plus, Oreos in ice cream is the best.

Breyers Blast Oreo Ice Cream

It was a delicious way to begin the week!

What’s your favorite pizza? Thick crust, thin crust, deep dish?

5 Ingredient Baked Ziti Recipe

I’ve had a craving for baked ziti recently, but I have no idea why. It’s not something I eat often, but I just couldn’t kick the craving for ricotta. When Alex and I got home from work on Friday, I really wanted to make some but I also wanted to keep it super simple, knowing we’d need to eat quickly if we wanted to make Halloween costumes before going out. (We didn’t decide on our costumes until Friday night… which led to a lot of paper bags and tape to construct our costumes, but we finished up just in time for the festivities.)

I whipped up a baked ziti recipe that is super easy, but still delicious. I know, I know, baked ziti isn’t exactly healthy, but if you use whole wheat noodles and part skim ricotta, I promise it’s not so bad!

5 ingredient baked ziti recipe

5.0 from 2 reviews

5 Ingredient Baked Ziti Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Dinner
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
We actually halved this recipe originally, but next time I’d make the full recipe since the leftovers were delicious. If you make the full recipe, it would serve 6-8 people.
Ingredients
  • 8 oz whole wheat ziti noodles
  • 24 oz jar of marinara sauce
  • 15 oz part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 8 oz shredded part-skim mozarella
  • 2 oz parmesan cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and add the ziti. Cook according to package directions.
  3. In a large bowl. Mix the ricotta and marinara sauce.
  4. Drain the ziti, saving ⅓ cup pasta water.
  5. Add the pasta water to the ricotta mixture and stir in the ziti noodles.
  6. Spread in a lightly greased glass baking dish.
  7. Top with mozzarella and cover with foil.
  8. Bake for 20 minutes covered, and another 10 uncovered.
  9. Before serving, grate the parmesan cheese over each serving.
  10. Store leftovers in the fridge and simply reheat in the microwave!

It ends up being around 450 calories per serving, which isn’t exactly light but it’s also not so bad for cheesy baked pasta! Plus, you’ll get 27g of protein. You can see all the nutritional info here.

baked ziti recipe

We saved leftovers for Sunday and I was wishing we’d made an even larger batch so I could have more leftovers ;) While I know pasta has a reputation for being a “bad” food I like to think that there is a place for every food in moderation. Ziti noodles get bonus points for being super easy to eat- no noodle slurping required.

What’s your favorite pasta shape? Elbow? Shells? Angel Hair?

Virginia Wine Expo

I think Virginia has turned me into a wine lover. I’m not even sure I’d tried any before I moved here. (It’s not that crazy, I was only 21 when I moved here.) But over the past few years, I’ve grown to love a glass of wine. I just love the community that tends to surround a bottle of wine. Laughing with girlfriends, clinking glasses with Alex, or unwinding on the balcony after a long day.

Virginia Wine Expo

Of course, liking wine and knowing something about wine are two different things. I’ve learned a lot at various foodie events but I still have a long way to go. Knowledge or not, I’m super excited about the 8th annual Virginia Wine Expo, an annual event that brings a bunch of local Virginia wineries together under one roof. It will be my first time checking it out, but the Virginia Wine Expo is a pretty big deal, my friends.  And don’t worry about going hungry- there are over 30 local, up-and-coming and award-winning chefs serving up delicious fare at different parts of the Expo.  Your significant other doesn’t like wine? They can check out the Burger Blast event which not only has wine, but will also be serving up craft beer & burgers!

wine expo picture 1

If you’re in Richmond (or really, if you’re somewhere near Richmond) then you should pick up tickets sooner rather than later! The event is February 17th-22nd and tickets are on sale now! Don’t worry, it’s inside the Richmond Convention Center, so you don’t have to worry about the weather! You’ll be nice and cozy while sipping on a Cabernet. Get your tickets so we can hang out and drink wine together!

 *This post was sponsored by the Virginia Wine Expo. As with all posts, I only accept sponsorships for items and events that I actually like* ;)