Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thursday Thoughts #2

I have totally been slacking on the blogging. This week has just been a weird week between moving home and running around to a million different places. With everything going on I have been totally drained and the lupus has not been helping things. A few weeks ago I did a Thursday Thoughts post and I liked doing it so I thought I'd do another one. Maybe it will be a regular thing?

1. Tomorrow is the first day of MAY! How in the world did that sneak up so quickly? Less than two weeks until Mother's Day (friendly reminder)! May is Lupus awareness month, which is something I am really passionate about and I have a special post for tomorrow that I am really excited about. Wear purple in May to support those with lupus and efforts for lupus research!

2. I made spicy falafel on Tuesday (I will get my recipe up soon). OH MY GOODNESS! It is the BOMB! There are endless ways to enjoy it and I can't get enough. My vegetarian friends may be pulling me over to the other side...

3. Everyone thinks I'm really weird because I genuinely enjoy grocery shopping (and nope there's no meat in that cart!). I hate clothes shopping. Working retail destroyed the fondness I had for shopping. Now I have zero patience to go and wander the mall for hours. No thank you. Grocery shopping it planned, organized, and I find picking out fruits and veggies far more enjoyable than picking out a shirt. Weird? Maybe, but I'll stick to picking out strawberries over clothes any day.

4. Speaking of shopping I had to go shopping to get a few pieces for my new job/internship. UGH. I had the stores I wanted to go to mapped out so I could get in and out as quickly as possible. Surprisingly it wasn't headache/give me a glass of wine now painful. I managed to find a few pieces in my size (a feat in itself) and I can pair them with things I already have. And I officially own a pencil skirt. Does that make me an adult? 

5. Ready for a good laugh? At school I have a gym at the place I live, so I don't have a membership anywhere. I'm not home a ton so I normally do a drop in someplace. Since I will be home for a number of months I wanted to join a gym. All of the places where $200-$300, which would be totally fine if I wasn't a broke college student and lived at home all year. One place was willing to give me a three month membership for $180. The regular price was $200. Such a deal. So I scummed to the place I loathe. Planet fitness. Don't get me wrong you can get a good workout there, but the trainers aren't qualified, there's a lunk alarm, some of the people are total creeps, and they serve pizza and bagels. It was cheap and I save a ton of money but holy cow serving pizza and bagels?! REALLY?! Can we sound the lunk alarm for that?

6. I found out Sam (of Love Live Balance) is in the same Katie Fit Script challenge group as me! I signed up with Katie at Sam's recommendation and have not regretted it for a moment. I am doing the relentless resolution challenge again and highly recommend it. I do the workouts in addition to my normal workouts and trust me you will work up a good sweat! Katie is really awesome and super supportive so go and check her out.

I'll stop there for now. I'm sure I will have plenty of Planet Fitness tales to tell over the summer- be prepared. Have a good Thursday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Taco Chicken Leftovers

Cleaning out the fridge and freezing can be a rather unpleasant task. However, in all of my moves to and from college I have learned a few things. 1. I never keep more food in the fridge than I will eat in a week- there are a few notable exceptions like eggs and almond milk. 2. I keep track of everything in my freezer. I didn't want to throw anything away or have anything go to waste so I developed meal plans that included leftovers I had frozen in so they wouldn't be tossed before I moved.

I had a small container of leftover crockpot taco chicken frozen in. I didn't have a head of lettuce that I could use for lettuce wraps (I prefer lettuce wraps to gluten free taco shells anyway), so I used kale, spinach, and other veggies I had on hand to make a taco salad. 

Leftover Taco Chicken Tacoless Salad
  • Leftover crockpot taco chicken
  • 2 cups kale and spinach mix
  • 1/2 on the vine tomato, diced
  • 1/8 cup avocado, diced
  • 2 mini sweet peppers, diced
  • 1 tablespoon taco cheese

I didn't have any beans on hand so I couldn't add beans to the salad. You could definitely add jalapeƱos to the salad too, I personally don't like jalapeƱos. 

You could even cook a (gluten free) wrap in a oven safe bowl for a little bit to get the wrap crispy and then put the salad inside the wrap if you're looking for a taco salad in a taco shell- it would be a much healthier alternative to the deep fried taco shells that are served in restaurants.

Another way I used up the leftover taco chicken was by having it on a sandwich. All that it is is gluten free bread, a slice of avocado that has been mashed, 1 cooked egg white (3 tablespoons of egg white), and leftover taco chicken. It may sound like a strange combo, but it's actually really good! How do you enjoy leftovers? Any strange combinations that you adore?

Once I get unpacked and get groceries I will have new recipes up! Have a great Tuesday! 

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sunday Seven

Happy Sunday! This weekend has flown by! Yesterday was dedicated to cleaning the apartment. Every wall, corner, counter, tub, toilet, you name it it was bleached, washed, and vacuumed. The toilet was obviously not vacuumed because that would be weird, but you get the point right? My back and arms are sore from so much cleaning and packing. Due to the chaos I haven't prepared a recipe to post so I thought I'd share seven of my favorite things from this week. 

1. I can't even begin to tell you how many of these smoothies I have made this week because I was sick. This baby definitely worked its magic because I am definitely feeling better! And if you're skeptical about it being, well green don't be. The peanut butter snickerdoodle flavor totally disguises the greens that are packed in the smoothie!

2. The weather is supposed to get warmer (fingers crossed) and warm weather and sunshine always make me crave coconut. What better way to celebrate all things warm weather than with a coconut fruit bowl? All the fresh fruit that is back in the grocery store is already making me giddy for summer! 

3. Speaking of summer it seems like everyone is in the mad rush to get bikini ready. I've never really understood that because I think it's important to take care of yourself all year round not just so you can look good in a bathing suit. Regardless if you're looking for a bun burner than this workout is definitely for you. It will work your legs and arms, with a few total body moves thrown in for good measure.

4. If you are short on time and want a total body workout then this is the workout you've been looking for. It will work your arms, legs, abs, and everything in between. 

5. Recently I have been following a much more plant based diet because it makes me feel so much better. One of my favorite dishes I have been eating is a turkey burger with a portobello mushroom as a bun. Portobello mushrooms are my favorite and I cannot wait to grill instead of roast the mushroom for added flavor. YUM!

6. This is for all things adorable and delicious! Sam from Love Live Balance made a gluten free koala bear birthday cake for his sister Amanda's birthday! SO STINKING CUTE! Can I get one of these cakes for my birthday?! Sam was awesome enough to make a step-by-step tutorial on how she made the cake, so if anyone wants to make this cake for my birthday in June then feel free :)

7. This is totally unhealthy (and not gluten free) but I promised a friend I would include it because it's one of her favorites. S'mores brownies. Nothing says summer like bonfires and s'mores and this is the best of both worlds because you don't have to deal with lighting a marshmallow on fire or deal with pesky mosquitoes. And you can make them any time of the year. A win? I think so.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Saturday Morning Oatmeal and Glute and Arm Workout

Good Saturday morning! It's always so refreshing to wake up and know it's the weekend. I am definitely feeling better this morning, which is a good thing because I need to start packing to move home for the summer. I hate the whole packing/unpacking process. I've become more organized and now label every box so I know exactly what is in it and where it should go. OCD? Maybe, but it's way better than digging through ten boxes to find your straightener.

Anyway this morning I used a 98% empty Jif Whips maple brown sugar peanut butter container for oatmeal. Normally I use containers for overnight oats, but this morning I made 1/2 cup of hot oats and then transferred them into the peanut butter container. Why did I do this? Because when you put hot oats in the container any of the peanut butter that is stuck to the sides melts off and flavors the oats making them even more delicious! 

Normally my oats are very basic, but this morning I was feeling festive so I added sprinkles. I always add fruit to my oats. This morning I had 4 small strawberries, 1/8 cup fresh blueberries, and about 5 raspberries. I love how fresh the fruit is and the combo of peanut butter oats and fruit is the bomb!

After having my oats I went and worked out. This morning was all about the weights. I'm sure I forgot a few exercises I did, I need to get better about remembering my workout so I can write it down after I do it. 

The SS indicates a superset, which means that there is no/minimal rest (no more than 30 seconds) between sets. With each set I increased my weights to get more of a burn. Normally I do a separate glute and arm day but because I was sick this week I missed a day so I sort of combined them. I always stretch before and after working out and always have a giant water bottle nearby. It's important to stay hydrated when working out. 

I'm off to bring a friend breakfast and then it's time to pack (or take a nap....). Have a great Saturday! 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Friday Workout

It's FRIDAY! I am feeling a bit better today- it's gotta be all those green smoothies and gallons of tea I've been drinking. I spent most of yesterday resting, which says a lot because I HATE sitting still. My parents used to say I had ants in my pants. I just enjoy being busy and moving around. But I knew my body needed rest so I took yesterday off from working out. 

This morning I was back in action, but I scaled back my workout. I rested between sets and drank my weight in water. I think I will post more workouts in addition to recipes in case anyone is interested. It definitely felt good to be back in the gym even if it was toned down. 

Have a great Friday night!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle Green Smoothie

It's one of those days. By those days I mean I woke up feeling like I got run over by a bus. Always a pleasure to wake up sick after finishing exams- NOT. I plan on resting, eating my weight in fruits and veggies, and getting a ridiculous amount of Vitamin C in my system to kick this bug ASAP.

I started this morning with a green smoothie and my blender decided to not completely blend my greens, hence the green specks. BUT this smoothie was delicious! Despite my blender not working properly I still couldn't taste the green. The banana makes the smoothie sweet and totally hides the spinach and avocado- yes there is avocado in this smoothie.The avocado gives the smoothie healthy fats and makes it thicker. Just trust me this smoothie is delicious!

Peanut Butter Snickerdoodle Smoothie
  • 1 frozen banana
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • 1 tablespoon PB2 (powdered peanut butter)
  • 1/2 very small avocado 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • cinnamon, to taste

Blend all ingredients until smoothie. Hopefully your blender doesn't poop out like mine did :( 

I plan on making this smoothie a lot these next few days and staying cuddled up by my window with a good book. I hate having to rest but I know my body needs to to kick this bug. At least this smoothie will make resting a little more flavorful!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Exam Cram

Exam week is stressful. I think it's crazy that exams are even a thing. Staying up way too late to cram a bunch of knowledge into your head so you can be tested on things that you've already been tested on just to demonstrate that you still know that one random fact from way back in January, yeah thats crazy. This is precisely why I'm not in charge though because I would get rid of exams.

I'll get off my soap box now though. I had two exams back to back Monday. Four solid hours of exams is not my idea of a fun time, but at least I got the two worst exams out of the way. My exams ran from 10:00am-2:00pm with a ten minute break between exams. Lunch time was of course in the middle and to be frank campus food sucks. I wasn't even going to bother so I packed some overnight oats that would hold me until I was done and able to make a real lunch. 

Of course all my glass jars were at home (I bake my mom apple chips when I go home and take them in glass jars). So I got creative and grabbed an almost empty peanut butter jar. The layers are:
  • 1/2 cup Dannon light and fit vanilla greek yogurt
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • 1/3 cup gluten free oats
  • 3 strawberries, sliced
  • 1/8 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 
  • and a dollop of peanut butter for good measure

Luckily I finished my first exam early so I had a decent amount of time between exams to review material and eat my oats. But let me tell you I got some really strange looks when I whipped out a peanut butter jar from my backpack- it was rather hilarious. I used a cold pack to keep the oats cold and packed a spoon (obviously I didn't want to eat it with my fingers). The oats gave me the energy boost I needed and held me over until I was done with my exams. 

When I was done with my exams I went back and made one of my new favorite lunches. It's really simple, but really yummy. It's a portobello mushroom veggie burger. The bottom is a roasted portobello mushroom stacked with a mix of kale, spinach, and spring lettuce, a gluten free veggie burger (not the ones I made), and topped with sliced on the vine tomato. 

To roast the mushroom heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet or pan with tinfoil- the mushroom will drip a LOT so you most definitely want to line the pan.

Roast the mushroom at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. 

I used a gluten free veggie patty that I found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Again, I'm trying to use up all the remaining food in my fridge/freezer so nothing goes to waste. I microwaved it according to the directions then placed it on the portobello mushroom that I topped with lettuce and put the tomato on top. 

It may sound/look weird but I promise it's so good! Not to mentions there are a ton of veggies in this one meal- gotta get those 5 daily servings in! 

Thankfully I only have one exam left! My one professor gave us a take home exam and I don't have an exam for my internship. So I just gotta push through one exam and then I'm officially free! Have a great day and good luck on exams to everyone taking them!

Meal Prep: Roasted Green Beans and Beets

Prior to making this dish I had never had beets before. Now that I've tried them and found out I really like them I can't wait to incorporate them into all sorts of dishes this summer. Beets are a great source of folate, which help protect the body from stroke and helps reduce blood pressure. So beets are healthy, they're beneficial to the body, and they're delicious so eat up! 

Originally I was just going to roast green beans and beets, but I had extra vegetables in the fridge so I threw those in as well. I'm trying to use up all the food in my refrigerator and freezer so nothing goes to waste when I move home for the summer. Throw in as many vegetables as you'd like- I bet asparagus would be delicious in this dish!

Roasted Green Beans and Beets
  • 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 2 beets, previously roasted and cut into slices*
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • handful baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons walnuts, broken into pieces
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • ground black pepper to taste
  • garlic salt to taste
  • basil to taste

Line a baking sheet with tin foil or spray with nonstick cook spray. 

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. 

Spread all sliced vegetables on baking sheet. Try to spread them out as evenly as possible so everything cooks evenly.

Drizzle olive oil over top of the vegetables. 

Roast for 20-25 minutes then add in broken walnut pieces. Continue roasting for an additional 7-10 minutes. The time will vary because every oven is different. Keep an eye on the vegetables. The green beans should be tender but not burnt. 

Serve with quinoa veggie burgers. These veggies are also delicious with a little feta cheese sprinkled on top. 

Allow the vegetables to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for the week.

*I used previously roasted beets to really bring out the flavor in the beets. 

To roast a beet:
  • First wash it, if it has the leafs still attached trim those off.
  • Line a baking sheet with tin foil or wrap the beets individually in tin foil. It is important to wrap the beets in tin foil or line a baking sheet because the beets will drip and it's a mess to clean up.
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Place beets on foiled covered pan and drizzle a little olive oil over them. 
  • Take an additional piece of tin foil and cover the pan with the beets. You do not want to completely cover the pan, leave a few inches on either side of the pan uncovered. If you're wrapping the beets in tinfoil ignore this step. 
  • Roast at 400 degrees F for 60 minutes. 
  • Pull the beets out to check them. To check if they are done poke the beets with a fork. If the fork easily slides in the beets are done, if it takes a bit of effort to get the fork in place the beets back in the oven for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Check the beets again using the same fork test. Medium beets take anywhere from 1.5-2 hours to roast.
  • Once the beets are done allow them to cool before removing the skin.
  • Removing the skin is a messy process. The red of the beet will stain anything it comes in contact with, clothing, counter tops, and skin included (it took a few hand washings but the red did come out of my hands).
  • I found it was easiest to use a knife to peel off the skin, but you can also run the beet under cold water and scrub the skin off with a scrubby sponge. 
  • When the skin is removed cut the beets into pieces of desired thickness. 

Nutrition per serving (based on 5 servings- they weren't measured but eyeballed to be about equal):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 5.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 75
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 5 g8 %
Saturated Fat 1 g3 %
Monounsaturated Fat 2 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg0 %
Sodium 34 mg1 %
Potassium 183 mg5 %
Total Carbohydrate 7 g2 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g9 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 2 g4 %
Vitamin A40 %
Vitamin C10 %
Calcium2 %
Iron4 %

Monday, April 20, 2015

Monday Meal Prep: Quinoa Veggie Burgers

Happy Monday! What an absolutely gorgeous weekend! It was in the mid/upper 70's- that's right I'm talking 70! Even though exams are this week it was too nice to not be outside so I grabbed a friend and we went for a long walk Saturday afternoon. Too bad the warm weather wasn't here to stay.

Full disclosure I made these veggie burgers yesterday. I have two exams back to back today and did not want to have come back and worry about making dinner. So I guess it's technically it's Sunday meal prep, but that just doesn't have the same ring to it...I hope you can forgive me.

Anyway these "burgers" totally rock! I have been focusing on eat a lot more plant based protein. I haven't totally given up meat, but since I have recently switched to much more plant based diet my body has felt amazing! I feel full much longer and I haven't had the energy crashes, which is especially amazing considering my lupus. But these burgers are really good and I'm super excited to use the leftovers in multiple different ways. I paired the burger with roasted green beans and beet blend of vegetables- I will get that recipe up this week as well. 

Quinoa Veggie Burger
  • 1/2 cup dry, uncooked quinoa- I used Trader Joe's tricolored quinoa
  • 1 cup grated baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 cup grated carrot 
  • 1 cup grated zucchini
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon vegetable oil
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch 
  • pinch of pepper
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Combine grated mushrooms, carrot, zucchini, minced garlic, pepper, and red pepper flakes in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Cook quinoa according to package directions and set aside. I cooked the quinoa in organic low sodium chicken broth to give it a bit more flavor. 

Spray a large skillet with nonstick cook spray and heat to medium.

When skillet is warm add in one teaspoon vegetable oil and allow it to heat for a minute. 

Then add in the mixed vegetables. Allow the vegetables to cook until the are tender, between 5-10 minutes. Stir and flip every so often so vegetables don't burn on one side.

When the vegetables are tender remove from heat and combine them in a large mixing bowl with the quinoa. 

Once the quinoa and vegetables have been combined add in the cornstarch and egg, then mix well.

Once again spray the same skillet used to cook the vegetables with nonstick cook spray and heat to medium. 

When the skillet is warmed scoop 1/2 cup of vegetable/quinoa mixed into the pan. Use a fork to firmly press the vegetables/quinoa into the measuring cup so the ingredients hold together. You should be able to cook two quinoa-veggie patties at a time. 

Allow the patties to cook for 3-4 minutes per side, but check to ensure they don't burn. Use a spatula to carefully flip the patty. 

Repeat with the remaining ingredients. Watch the patties more closely after the first 3 or 4 are done. The rest may need less time as the pan is fully heated up (and no one wants torched veggie burgers).

I was able to make eight 1/2 cup veggie patties. 

Serve on a bun like a burger, use it in a salad, or eat it alone! I topped my burger with a dab of organic no sugar added ketchup- these burgers are making me hungry for some summer BBQ!

Nutrition per serving (based on eight 1/2 cup servings):
Nutrition Facts
Servings 8.0
Amount Per Serving
calories 117
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 2 g4 %
Saturated Fat 0 g1 %
Monounsaturated Fat 0 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0 g
Trans Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 23 mg8 %
Sodium 20 mg1 %
Potassium 280 mg8 %
Total Carbohydrate 21 g7 %
Dietary Fiber 2 g9 %
Sugars 3 g
Protein 4 g9 %
Vitamin A34 %
Vitamin C7 %
Calcium2 %
Iron7 %