Sunday’s Meals

Before we dive into a bunch of food pictures, can we talk about how awesome Sundays are? I don’t know how they are in your house, but they’re one of my favorite days. This week’s beginning was no exception.

Alex and I usually sleep in a bit on Sunday (we still get up around 7:30am) and then one of us will walk to 7-11 to get the paper. You can’t wait too long or they run out of the New York Times. (I’ve had it happen. It’s so sad.) Alex got it this week- he’s such a good husband. While one person gets the paper, the other makes coffee. I was on coffee duty. I only spilled a some of the beans while pouring them into the coffee grinder. This is an improvement.

Then we leisurely read the paper while drinking cup after cup of coffee. Alex picked up a donut (See? The perks of being the go-getter of the paper) and I had my typical breakfast. I’ve been loving Greek yogurt in the mornings, topping it with blueberries and Hudson Henry Granola. Their granola made locally and it is so good.

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Right before lunch, I attempted a new recipe that did not work out. Jicama fries… they’re not a thing. Pinterest lied. They tasted… awful. I won’t even show you a picture because I don’t want someone to accidentally pin them and trick another poor soul into making them.

Usually around noon I head to gymnastics, but on this particular day most of my friends in the class were out of town (plus Christina and I were feeling kind of lazy) so we met at Stella’s for lunch. This Greek place is probably one of my favorite lunch spots in Richmond. Their menu is pretty extensive and they have tons of vegetarian options. Normally I’d go for one of their giant sandwiches but I opted for a salad instead.

Salad from Stellas

This was a giant bowl full of cucumbers, tomatoes, yellow + red bell peppers, feta cheese, homemade croutons, and an olive oil vinaigrette. I couldn’t quite finish the bowl but trust me, I made a good effort.

Normally I’d have some sort of snack but I ate such a late lunch that by the time I got home I had to get ready for church. I was volunteering for Children’s Worship and nothing makes me happier than explaining bible stories to a bunch of rowdy 5 year olds! (But really.)

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Once we got home from church I brainstormed in the kitchen. Since I’d already had one recipe failure I was a little nervous to try something new but luckily, the spaghetti squash mac n cheese turned out quite well.

spaghetti squash mac n cheese- Gluten Free!.jpg If you missed this Spaghetti Squash recipe, I just posted it on Monday! Go check it out.

Alex and I watched Usual Suspects and I had a piece of dark chocolate dipped in almond butter. (Yes, I dipped the chocolate into a jar of almond butter and it was delicious. Do it.) For more What I Ate Wednesday posts, head over to Peas & Crayons!

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What do your Sundays look like?

 

Spaghetti Squash Mac n Cheese

I love macaroni and cheese. Love. It. I’ve posted a range of recipes on the blog already but I’d never tried it with spaghetti squash. Is it still mac n cheese if there is no macaroni? I’m not sure. But I think you get the point.

The bonus? This Spaghetti Squash Mac n Cheese only has 150 calories per serving. Yep. And a serving isn’t just a few bites, it’s  a cup. (Here’s the nutritional info, without bread crumbs. It’s slightly higher if you decide to use them.) Ohh yeah and it’s gluten free so if that’s your thing, you’re in luck.

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5.0 from 2 reviews

Spaghetti Squash Mac n Cheese
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • 1 medium spaghetti squash (About 5 cups of shredded squash)
  • 1 cup almond milk (or skim milk)
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup breadcrumbs (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Slice the spaghetti squash in half and discard the seeds.
  3. Turn it upside down (so the peel is facing up and the inside is facing down) and place it on a large plate. Add a bit of water to the plate and cover with a paper towel.
  4. Microwave for 10-15 minutes, or until the inside is soft. (Basically, you’re steaming it.) Once it slightly softened, scoop out the strands with a fork.
  5. While your squash is cooking, cook the almond milk + cheddar cheese over medium heat until the cheese begins to melt. Whisk until combined.
  6. Remove from heat and whisk in the flour. Let cool.
  7. Once the cheese mixture is cool, add in the yogurt.
  8. Combine the cheese mixture with the spaghetti squash “noodles” and spread in an oven safe dish.
  9. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs (if using)
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs begin to brown.

spaghetti squash mac n cheese- Gluten Free!.jpg Honestly, I was slightly worried about how it was going to turn out. I’d already had one failure previously in the day. (Do NOT believe all those pins about how Jicama fries are so awesome and taste delicious. They didn’t. They tasted like a salty, chewy piece of cardboard.)  But I guess I got my bad luck out of the way, because this turned out great! I’ll definitely be packing the leftovers with me today. It was about 6 servings for us since we had a small salad with it but if you’re super hungry it might be more like 4. Either way, this will definitely make it into our regular rotation of dinners!

For some other macaroni and cheese recipes, see below:

broccoli mac n cheese vegan-macaroni-and-cheese high protein vegan macaroni and cheese

What’s your favorite mac n cheese recipe?

What Really Matters

I read a lot of blog posts. (Maybe you do too?) But sometimes there is that one blog post that changes your entire perspective on the day. Do you know what I’m talking about? When I stumble across that post that makes me stop in my tracks, I’m once again reminded that there are some truly amazing people out there and it makes the world seem like a much better place.

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This blog post from Mary Beth, of Annapolis & Company, put a few things back into perspective for me. I had never read the girl’s blog before (I found it thanks to a link from Heather!) but I fell in love with this post. For context, she has an amazing style/lifestyle blog, and I want all of her clothes ;)

We are all in different stages of our journey…some of us are growing babies in our bellies, nursing, working a lot of hours, trying to have children, dating, or stuck in a rut, but you know how I know that you are beautiful? Because God created you. He created round faces, long faces, tall bodies, short bodies, wider hips, narrower hips, blessed booties and not-so-blessed booties, flat chests, full chests, asymmetrical ears and pointed ears, crooked teeth, straight teeth, curly hair, straight hair, skin prone to breakouts, skin that is flawless, large hands, petite hands…

And He looks at you and says, “You are my perfect creation.”

I believe this is so important to grasp before talking about anything external, like getting dressed every day. We have to understand that clothes are just the cherry on top to a kind of beauty that is everlasting. And clothes, well, they come and go.”

In my little foodie head, that translated to “quit worrying about every little bite, every fancy recipe, every gram of protein, and every workout you did or didn’t finish“…All of that just sort of pales in comparison to the real point of all this.

girls at the beach

I like how Mary Beth isn’t saying that clothes and fashion are some sort of “evil thing” that we should throw out all together. Her point is that it’s a good thing on top of a marvelous thing.

So whatever your closet is full of, whatever your kitchen looks like, whatever your fitbit is telling you, I hope you feel beautiful today. 

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 2 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.

goat cheese medallions on salad.jpg

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.

family reunion.jpg

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.

wedding chalkboard sign instagram guestbook table

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!