Monday: What I Ate

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I’ve actually been cooking quite a bit this week, which makes me happy. I love putting my kitchen to good use. I’ve made a few of my favorite go-to recipes for those dinners, since I’m not brave enough to try brand new recipes on my friends. Do you have a few favorite recipes that you pull out for dinner parties? Anyways, let’s jump into what I’ve been eating!

Breakfast

I have been trying some new breakfast options lately. Since I had part of an avocado leftover in the fridge, I decided to make avocado toast. Seriously, such an easy breakfast and it was so delicious.

healthy breakfast avocado

Looks weird, tastes awesome. 2 pieces of whole wheat toast topped with avocado, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes. Give me those healthy fats.

Lunch

We had some friends from church over for dinner on Sunday night and I made a baked ravioli dish. We had leftovers, so I packed them up for lunch. The ravioli recipe is like, embarrassingly easy. Normally I’d try to make something a little more fancy, but Sunday was a bit crunched for time, so you do what you gotta do. Besides, easy recipes still taste pretty delicious.

ravioli lunch

These leftovers were actually pretty awesome. I’ve gotten better and better at packing leftovers for lunch. (Here are my tips for packing your lunch!)

Dinner

Our friend Oliver was in town (the one who made us this awesome shelf) so I whipped up channa masala for dinner. I used this recipe from Eat Live Run, which I love. I also made some brown rice and naan for spicy a carb-filled dinner.

channa masala dinner

I tend to make this dish a bit on the spicy side (ok fine, you needed a box of tissues to eat it) but I managed to tone it down to a reasonable spice level. I’m learning.

After dinner, I grabbed a glass of wine with Christina, Brittany, and Alyssa at Barrel Thief. I’d never been there before but it was adorable so I’m hoping to go there for dinner sometime soon, & maybe I’ll actually remember to take some pictures! I had a glass of red wine which was on the sweeter side, so it was the perfect way to end the day.
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What have you been eating lately?

Head over to Jenn’s blog for more What I Ate Wednesday posts!

5 Recipes Under 300 Calories

Ok before you go off on a tirade about how calories aren’t the point and you don’t count them… I’m with you. I don’t really “count” my calories anymore but let’s be honest, it’s nice to have a general idea of what you’re eating. Isn’t it disappointing when you find out that some restaurant salad was actually way worse than the pizza? (Ugh. Why didn’t I get the pizza?) I’m not demanding (or even recommending) that you start tallying things up but I’m here to provide you with some ideas for relatively lower calorie recipe options. It could help you reach a weight loss goal or just give you the perfect excuse to get fro-yo after dinner. It’s up to you.

Ready? Here are 5 recipes under 300 calories! Mix and match these for a filling & delicious meal!

5 EASY Recipes Under 300 Calories!

Click the image above to pin these recipes for later!

baked goat cheese and mixed greens.jpg

By baking the goat cheese rather than frying it, this delicious baked goat cheese salad is only 300 calories! This was a favorite of mine over the summer, but there’s no reason you can’t make in the colder months! You can see the full nutritional info here.

Crispy Tempeh Strips

I won’t pretend like these are an exact swap for chicken nuggets, but these these crispy tempeh strips are delicious dunked in bbq sauce or ketchup! Add some sweet potato fries and you’ve got dinner on the table. Full nutritional info here.

Mexican Quinoa Bake.jpg

Who doesn’t love quinoa? Try this gluten-free Mexican bake and enjoy some cheesy goodness! Add a little avocado or chips and salsa on the side to round out your dinner! Nutritional details here.

spaghetti squash mac n cheese.jpg

If you’re craving macaroni and cheese, this spaghetti squash dish will satisfy a cheesy craving with a huge serving. Seriously. So much deliciousness for less than 300 calories. Nutritional details here.

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget dessert…

gluten free no bake cookies.jpg

You can have two of these gluten free cookies for less than 300 calories. (Here is the info per cookie.)

These are a few of my favorite lower calorie dishes. While I no longer count calories like I used to (that’s a post for another day!) I have a general idea of what my body needs, so it’s nice to get a sense of what a recipe contains.

Do you check the calorie count of a recipe?

Vegan Bacon Recipe

Bacon. I won’t eat it but I do love the smell of it. Let’s be honest, if there was a meat that would make you give up vegetarianism, it might be bacon. It’s seriously the best smell in the world, and this is coming from a vegetarian. I’ve tried a few of those “fake bacon” products (“fakon” as Alex calls it) but it’s not so great. Most of them are loaded with chemicals and who knows what else. Luckily, there is an alternative. Bring in the tempeh

For Christmas, Alex signed us up for a vegetarian cooking class at Mise En Place. I’d been there once before a few years ago and I loved it, but this class was even better because everything was vegetarian.

cooking tempeh bacon

Alex and I were in charge of the tempeh bacon, which turned out to be quite easy to make. If you haven’t had tempeh before, it’s made from fermented soybeans, and while it doesn’t have much flavor on it’s own, it’s fabulous at absorbing flavors. Also, you may remember that fermentation is good for you and soybeans have lots of protein. Look at this, we’re on a roll here.  Apologies for the lackluster lighting in the photos. Sometimes, you just have to work with what you’ve got.

tempeh bacon

5.0 from 1 reviews

Vegan Bacon Recipe
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegan
Cuisine: Breakfast
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 3
 
Sure, it’s not bacon, but it’s crispy, smokey, and delicious! Recipe via Mise En Place.
Ingredients
  • 1 package 8 oz. tempeh
  • ¼ cup tamari OR soy sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1-2 tablespoons liquid smoke
  • ¼ cup water
  • Olive oil for pan frying
Instructions
  1. Slice tempeh into thin strips.
  2. Steam the tempeh in a steamer basket for 10 minutes with some water up to the basket. (This will cut its bitter edge and will make it more tender and absorbable. The tempeh will get lighter and will expand slightly.)
  3. Put tempeh strips on a plate or bowl and add remaining ingredients.
  4. Marinade for at least an hour, or overnight.
  5. Heat oil in skillet and add tempeh strips in batches (do not crowd the pan).
  6. Fry until golden brown and crispy, turning as needed.

vegan tempeh bacon

I really liked the tempeh bacon and it would be fun to make a vegetarian version of a BLT. I also think this would be a good breakfast, which would be a nice way to use up leftover tempeh. All of the other dishes that were made in the class were quite delicious as well. There was an awesome spinach salad with avocado and oranges that I’ll have to share with you soon!  vegetarian cooking class A whole dinner full of vegetarian dishes! It was a dream come true ;) I left very full and very happy! Alex, this was an awesome Christmas present!

Have you ever tried “fake” bacon? Any success?

 

Monday’s Meals

Alex and I had Monday off because of MLK day, so it was a little easier to snap pictures and chronicle my day. Here’s what I was eating:

breakfast sandwich

This was an everything bagel with hummus, avocado, red onion, and mixed greens. It was a nice deviation from my typical yogurt bowl and it held me over through multiple hours of basement cleaning.

Once we finished, I started making lunch because our stomach were growling. Cleaning certainly has a way of working up my appetite. Or maybe I just don’t like cleaning and eating is an excuse to take a break…

mac and cheese parmesan I grabbed a bunch of veggies and tossed them on top of some spinach for a side salad and then I threw together some parmesan macaroni and cheese. The macaroni turned out pretty awesome, so if you want the recipe, I’ll make it again and actually measure it out. ;)

We spent the afternoon doing some furniture shopping and we actually ended up getting a lot of awesome stuff for the house. It’s kind of crazy how long it’s taken me to actually pick out a sofa and chair, but luckily I have a really patient husband, and I love the ones we got! I even snagged plate hangers so I could finally hang up the awesome veggie plates that my friend Christina got us!

Aren’t those plates just the cutest?

Once we finished running errands, we enjoyed the slightly warmer weather by walking to dinner. We go to Stuzzi almost every Monday and this week was no different!

dinner I could go on and on about how much I love this pizza, but let’s just say perfect crust, delicious sauce, and fresh mozzarella might by my favorite way to end a Monday.

I spent the rest of the evening watching YouTube videos and practicing make up techniques with my friend Conor. Seriously, winged eyeliner requires actual practice. So far, my attempts have been less than stellar. Does anyone have tips for me?

 

Linking up with Jenn!

Life Updates + Weekend Adventures

It’s been a while since I’ve given you a life update (well, other than what I’ve been eating) so I thought I’d catch you up with lots of pictures. This weekend was jam packed with activity, so I’m glad that we have today off work! It’s nice to have some time to catch up on some of the house stuff. Basement painting here we come. Anyways.

Friday night and Saturday morning, Alex and I took a class at our church to learn more about their doctrine and beliefs, and to take a step towards becoming members. It was an awesome class and I really love our church.

If you’re in Richmond and you ever want to check it out- let me know! It’s 4pm on Sundays, so you don’t even have to wake up early ;)

After the class, we headed to our first Upward basketball game. Alex is coaching basketball and I’m coaching the cheerleaders! These kids have so much energy, it’s awesome getting to spend an afternoon with them. I probably should have tried to get in a nap, but instead I met Shannon and Adrienne for coffee and then rushed home to get ready for the symphony!

Dressed up for the symphony tonight! #rva

A photo posted by Liz Thomson (@iheartveggies) on

The Richmond Symphony Orchestra was playing Rachmaninoff (one of my favorites!) so I was pretty excited. Before the show, we got dinner at Graffiato, the second location of Mike Isabella’s amazing restaurant. (His other one is in DC.) Alex and I split a few different dishes and every single one was awesome.

graffiato

We had the Smoked Buratta salad, Cauliflower Ravioli, and the White Pizza with Black Pepper Honey. Lots of cheese! Seriously, each dish was awesome and the service was stellar! We tried to grab a drink at Rappahannock before the show, but it was too busy so we just headed to the Carpenter Theater. The symphony itself was wonderful! (We were a million rows back- hence the blurry picture. But it was still really cool being there!)

r On Sunday morning, Alex and I made breakfast sandwiches while we read the morning paper. I attempted to recreate my favorite breakfast sandwich from Lamplighter and I got pretty close!

Homemade #breakfast sandwich! #vegan #GimmeAllTheAvocado

A photo posted by Liz Thomson (@iheartveggies) on

After breakfast, I headed to gymnastics. I hadn’t been in a little while so I’m very sore today but it was a fun time. Christina and I had fun playing around on the tumble track, shooting videos.

The rest of the day was spent on house projects, church, and cooking a few new recipes. (So excited to share a new recipe with you later this week!)

What have you been up to?

5 Things I Always Have in My Pantry

I’m pretty consistent in my grocery purchases. It’s become a pretty good routine (especially since I order all of our groceries online!) and if I get some “special” ingredient, it’s because I have a specific recipe in mind. Generally though, I purchase versatile ingredients that can be used in a lot of different recipes. So here are 5 things that I always have in my pantry (or fridge) to make meals easier.

1. Black Beans

black bean dip, vegan & gluten free

As a vegetarian, beans are a staple! They’re a low-cost source of protein, loaded with fiber and B vitamins. I always have a couple of cans on hand because they can easily be turned into black bean enchiladas, tortilla soup, or the black bean dip pictured above.

2. Almond Milk

almond-milk-682x1024

Not only does Alex use it on his cereal,  but I use it in smoothies and in baking. I can almost always swap in almond milk when a recipe calls for dairy milk. It also lasts longer than regular milk, so it’s perfect for Alex and I since we don’t really drink milk. Here’s a round up of my favorite non-dairy milk alternatives. 

3. Canned Tomatoes

Parmesan Tomato Soup

From soups to sauces, canned tomatoes make a great base for tons of recipes. This Parmesan tomato soup recipe is super easy, and perfect for a quick weeknight meal. I always have pasta on hand, so canned tomatoes can help me whip up a quick sauce if I don’t have any in the pantry. I also love making a quick vegetarian chili for a hearty dinner or easy packed lunch!

4. Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa Bake.jpg

Not only is quinoa a complete source of protein (it contains all the essential amino acids!) it’s also gluten free, so it’s great for those with food allergies. It works in soups, stir fries, and salads, so it’s truly versatile! I keep mine stored in a mason jar in the pantry and I find myself reaching for it often. Try it in the Mexican Quinoa Bake  above or this Greek quinoa salad.

5. Avocado

This ingredient can take a dinner from “meh” to amazing. It’s so rich and delicious, I swear you can add it on top of anything. With a couple of ingredients, you can make avocado egg cups or avocado chocolate pudding. (Yes, pudding.) Or you can make this avocado cream sauce and put it on everything.

Looking back at these ingredients, I realize that my vegan phase is what really got me into cooking. I definitely use cheese quite a bit now (and it’s so good in that Mexican quinoa bake!) but my staples tend to be vegan. It’s what I started cooking with and it’s what I’m used to. While I love trying new recipes, these basics will always be in my pantry!

What are your must-have ingredients?

Meals in the New Year

It’s sort of hard to believe that we’re only a couple weeks into the New Year, because it feels like January has been running on for a while. Maybe it’s just because we all seem to hit the ground running! We’ve tackled a few more house projects recently. We finally got blinds hung in the living room (seriously, I’m embarrassed at how difficult it was to get these blinds sized correctly) and I ordered a new sofa which should arrive next week! I can’t wait to show you pictures when it’s here!

Anyways, the weather has been pretty chilly, but I’m still enjoying yogurt, blueberries, and granola in the morning.

greek yogurt blueberries and granola

My parents got us a subscription to the New York Times so Sunday was spent reading the paper under the blankets, drinking coffee. It’s seriously the best way to spend a chilly morning!

I spent the later part of the morning playing around in the kitchen and prepping a batch of garlic lentil soup to pack in my lunch. Maybe it was the lack of protein in my breakfast, but my stomach was grumbling by 11:30. I decided to use up the leftover pesto in the fridge and make some fancy grilled cheese sandwiches.

pesto grilled cheese

Mozzarella + Pesto grilled cheese with tomato soup. Such a classic comfort food combination!

Alex had to do some work in the afternoon so I made a run to Target (I know, such a sacrifice) and picked up a few (more) things for the house. Then we went to church in the afternoon and  headed straight to my brother’s house afterwards. We picked up Chinese food on the way and I had some vegetable fried rice for dinner.

veggie fried rice

I’m normally not a huge fan of Chinese food, but I actually really enjoyed this. It’s also not very photogenic, but it tasted better than it looks! Even though I ate quite a bit of rice, my sweet tooth got the better of me when we got home, so I did have one of these healthy cookie dough bites for dessert!

healthy cookie dough bites

It certainly wasn’t the healthiest day of meals (lots of carbs and not exactly a lot of protein) but everything was delicious! Sometimes you just have to eat what you’re craving!

What are you craving today?

Linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday!
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Tracy Anderson’s Dance Cadio Review

Is anyone else struggling to get back into an exercise routine? After a few weeks of scattered workouts, I’m still trying to get myself back in the grove. Maybe that’s why I impulse purchased a new workout DVD from Target. (I mean, it was on sale for $5.99. And I had a gift card.) I grabbed Tracy Anderson’s Dance + Cardio because I have her Perfect Design workouts and I really like them. If you haven’t done a Tracy Anderson workout before, think of it sort of like barre class: Lots of repetitive, small movements that make you ask yourself how in the world such a small movement can burn so much. I love her workouts for days when I’m just not feeling like jumping around with a lot of cardio. Naturally I was intrigued since the purpose of this one was cardio. And dancing. Who doesn’t love to dance?

There are a few other things to keep in mind with Tracy Anderson’s workouts. She doesn’t talk during the entire thing, so you never really know what’s coming. This is fine if you’re the free-spirited workout type and you don’t really care if you do 7 or 9 reps or you might be kicking your right leg when she’s punching her left arm. Needless to say, it’s a little difficult to follow exactly but you don’t necessarily need to follow it exactly.

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Try this workout if you:

  •   Enjoy lower impact workouts. There is still a bit of jumping, but there aren’t any burpees, lunges, or that kind of thing.
  •   Want a quick 30 minute cardio session. I like that this workout is a lot shorter than her other DVDs but it still got my heart rate up.
  •   Like flexible workouts without a lot of direction. You have to do a bit of guessing on where she’s going next, but it also means you won’t get sick of the same old phrases when you watch it for the 45th time.

I don’t think this will be my go-to workout, but it’s nice to have it in the rotation. I do like when I can mute a workout and blast my own tunes, without worrying that I’m going to miss the directions.

It was a pretty busy weekend, so I was pretty glad I was able to fit in a workout. The past couple of days were packed with lots of fun social stuff, including pedicures and lunch with my best friend from Ohio who was visiting Virginia.

There’s nothing better than catching up with a great friend! The weekend also included frozen margaritas (under a heated blanket… I don’t know what we were thinking) a game night with lots of Taboo, and Chinese take out with my brother, sister in law, and nephews. Not a bad weekend, right? I can’t wait for the next one!

Interested in other workout videos? Read other workout video reviews!

What’s your current favorite workout?

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Healthy Cookie Dough Bites

If a cookie recipe says it makes 24 cookies then it really only makes 20… because I’ll eat at least 4 cookies worth of dough. I mean, the cookie dough is the best part. (It’s also a great reason why vegan cookie recipes are awesome. No raw egg to worry about!) So when my sweet tooth was calling last night, I decided to skip the whole preheating-the-oven thing and just make some little cookie dough balls that could be enjoyed straight from the fridge!

And the bonus? They’re made with whole grains and healthy fats!

healthy cookie dough bites

5.0 from 2 reviews

Healthy Cookie Dough Bites
Author: 
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup of whole grain oats (or gluten free oats)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or agave if you’re vegan)
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • ¼ cup crunchy peanut butter
  • ½ tsp vanilla
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 tbsp mini chocolate chips (optional)
Instructions
  1. If you’re using whole grain oats, pulse them in a food processor for a bit to make them into smaller bits. If you’re using quick cooking oats, then you can just leave them as-is.
  2. In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the honey, coconut oil, and peanut butter for 15 seconds at a time, stirring each time until just melted.
  3. Stir in the oats, vanilla, salt, and chocolate chips.
  4. Pop the dough in the fridge for a few minutes, then roll into individual balls.
  5. Let them set for at least 15 minutes before eating.
  6. Store in an air-tight container in the fridge.

The dough might seem a little crumbly, but once you put it into the fridge for a bit, the coconut oil and peanut butter firm up. It’s best to store them in the fridge, but you can pick them up without them crumbling everywhere.   cookie dough vegan

I might have to make these a Thursday tradition, for the extra burst of energy. We had our first Upward Basketball practice of the season yesterday, and it reminded me that kids seem to have endless amounts of energy. (Seriously, how do you keep up with them?!) Alex is coaching 4th grade basketball, and I’m coaching the cheerleaders so I might need one or two of these in the afternoon in order to keep up with them.

For now, I’m sipping on some coffee and trying to stay warm. I hope you all have a great weekend!

Do you eat the cookie dough when you bake?

 

Yesterday’s Eats

Thank goodness for groceries. After a weekend with an empty fridge, I was so happy to pick up groceries from Relay Foods on Monday night! I ordered tons of veggies, so Alex and I spent a bit of the evening meal prepping for the week. Kale salad for me, tuna salad for him. So here’s what yesterday’s plates looked like!

Breakfast

vegetarian breakfast with protein

Plain 2% Greek Yogurt with stevia, berries, and Apple Walnut Love Grown Granola. I could eat it by the handful.

My morning at work was pretty busy so there was no time for a snack. By the time lunch rolled around, I was ready to dive in head first into my kale salad.

Lunch

kale salad I could eat this every day. (In fact, I will be eating this every day… since I made a big batch of it!) This is kale, cabbage, parmesan cheese, and sliced almonds. Tossed in a little bit of Drew’s Caesar Dressing. (Drew’s Caesar dressing is vegetarian!) I also had a few pieces of pita with a bit of hummus. Ok, and I also had a piece of chocolate. Yep, we’ve still got chocolate around the office.

Alex and I had to run some errands after work, so by the time we got home, I had to make something quickly.

Dinner

We ended up having black bean burgers and some tortilla chips. Nothing like a quick and easy dinner! I was meeting some girls from church for drinks so I ate quickly and headed out the door. We met up for drinks at The Betty on Davis, one of my new favorite local spots! The staff there is so nice and they’ve got a great menu.

the betty on davis richmond

It was a nice way to end the day!

What are you eating today?

Linking up with What I Ate Wednesday!