Where did MOTIVATION go?

April 21, 2013

I am going to be honest and say, yet again, I’ve fallen off the wagon of Eat To Live.  When I have a bad day or don’t have time to cook and exercise, I feel like I just fall apart.  I try not to reward myself with foods anymore, but it’s so hard to break those habits.  I need to stop feeling sorry for myself and remember if I really want to help myself, I need to stay fit and healthy.

Being a first year teacher, I find that I am tired A LOT of the time.  Even on weeknights, I tend to go to bed before 10pm.  And because of my 40 minute commute (and my unchangeable knack for needing to be extra early), I do not have times to exercise in the mornings (that is my preferable time for it).  And then after being on my feet all day, by the time I hit the car for my 40 minute drive home, I become relaxed and realize my exhaustion.  I lose my motivation to workout.  I’ve since gone to my networking sites looking for a buddy.  I’ve had a couple responses, so we’ll see if we can get some kind of a schedule worked out.

As far as cooking goes, it’s hard to plan ahead and cook for a week in advance.  What if I don’t feel like eating the meal I planned for Tuesday?  I’ve got somewhat of an indecisive personality at times and don’t like feeling tied down to things which can make my lifestyle change possibly the most difficult thing I’ve had to do yet.  I know I just need to break through my stubbornness and push myself to succeed.

We recently had a staff meeting on personality types.  My personality type is “Perfect Melancholy.”  And oh man, was it spot on…

“They love order, schedules, charts and plan in great detail!  They avoid attention, dislike opposition.  The Perfect Melancholy seeks an ideal mate, is a deep thinker, and a faithful friend!  Often they are insecure socially and tend to live vicariously through others (friends or their children).  Because they like things perfect, they will procrastinate until they can complete a project perfectly.  They are known to control situations and people by their moodiness.” – Pamela Stephens

We also talked in our staff meeting about how it takes 5 positives to correct 1 negative.  I had a day this past week that started out rotten, expecially since I spilled my green smoothie all over the kitchen cabinets, floor, and my clothes.  I had a huge mess to clean up, no breakfast, and had to change out of the outfit that I was looking forward to wearing.  And not only that, but now I was going to be running late (not actually late because I always run way ahead, but I would be running late for my personal schedule).  I tried to not get upset over it and think positively.  You know that sensation of one thing going wrong and then everything else goes wrong?  Well, later that day at school, I started typing up a word document.  I left it up on my computer, but had not saved it.  After teaching two classes, I went back to it and Microsoft word had frozen.  I was not going to be able to save my document (and it didn’t have a recovery, either).  I was waiting for the next thing to go wrong, when a 3rd grader came into my room with a birthday treat.  She had just turned 9.  I smiled big and gave her a birthday hug…

Cupcake

…and then I ate this delicious cupcake.  I felt my day was turning around.  And it’s moments like these that I need to remember that I don’t need food to make me happy.

Enough about all of this negative, “I can’t do this” nonsense.  I do have a few positives to share.

Days till summer

 

I did cook a delicious spaghetti recipe this week:

SNEAKY SPAGHETTI – by Ashley Green

sneaky spaghetti

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked lentils (I used canned lentils to save time, but you can also cook your own lentils)

2 cups spinach

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1 cup of peas

1 package of spaghetti noodles

Directions:

Blend the lentils, spinach and spaghetti sauce in a blender until smooth.  Heat the sauce in a medium sized sauce pan on medium high heat until heated through.  Combine the sauce with cooked spaghetti and toss in the peas.  Eat and enjoy!

It’s as easy as that and you get some good greens and protein in your dinner!  I am not a big fan of spinach, so it’s a great way for me to get my dark greens in.  Tyler loved this recipe, too!  I don’t often eat peas anymore, as they are a starchy vegetable, but I absolutely loved them!  I highly recommend this recipe.  It’s a great new twist on pasta.

Last weekend, I went to the opening day at the Overland Park Farmer’s Market.  It was a beautiful, yet chilly, day for the market.  Afterwards, I went to Homer’s coffeehouse and got myself a Chai Tea Latte with almond milk.  I was so excited to find out they had almond milk!  A snack near the register caught my eye.

rawxies

I decided to try it, as it sounded tasty.  And it definitely was.  It’s locally made, too.

20130414_084040

I went back to the Farmer’s Market yesterday (still was too chilly for April 20th) and got some fresh lettuce, a peanut butter cookie made with fresh peanut butter, whole wheat flour, and flax, and some spinach fettuccine.  We usually grocery shop on Wednesdays, but we may have to move it to Saturdays so I can get my produce from the market.

Tyler and I are definitely ready for the warm weather, as our new patio furniture was delivered this past week.

patio furniture

Tyler put together the table (MAN, it’s heavy!) and I pretty much unwrapped all the chairs.  We are excited to use it, however, it really needs to be warmer out.

Well, that’s all for now!  Hopefully I’ll have better news next time regarding my exercising and eating habits.

 

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It’s Farmer’s Market season!  I’m so happy!  My sister and I love going to the Farmer’s Market together.  We usually sacrifice a Saturday morning at the gym to hit the market.  🙂  Her favorite is the Lawrence Farmer’s Market, but we decided to check out something a little closer to home this time.  We went to the Farmer’s Market in downtown Overland Park.

It was definitely a chilly morning.  One of those mornings where you are ready for summer, but it’s not here yet…ugh.  None-the-less, we had a great time!  I was offered a cup of coffee from the Great Day Cafe tent.  Some of the best coffee, in my opinion.  And I got a huge cup for only $2!  We meandered around.  We first bought some fresh bread – I got Rosemary and Olive Oil.  Then we stopped by Pappardelle’s tent and bought some pasta.  I bought Garlic Chive shell pasta and Whole Wheat Fettuccine.  Is your mouth watering yet?  😉  My sister also picked up some very green lettuce, which she split with me.

We were thinking of going to First Watch for breakfast, but I suggested we try the Great Day Cafe, which was right by the Farmer’s Market.  I am SO glad we did that!  I have a new favorite breakfast place.  😀  This very artsy cafe is right up my alley.  I even noticed that they have a hummus plate on their lunch menu.  You place your order at the register, pay, and they bring you your food.  Instead of taking our name or giving us a number, they gave us a wind-up toy!  It was so cute!

I had to take a picture of their cute table settings.  The little drummer dog was our wind-up toy.  They had a live flower at each table and look at those salt and pepper shakers!  Are they not adorable?!

I ordered granola with strawberries, bananas, and soymilk.  I don’t usually eat granola, but this was just wonderful!

I also ordered a side of potatoes.  They were cooked with peppers and onions.  mmMMM!!

I took Tyler to Great Day Cafe the following weekend.  We went later in the morning and there was an amazing musician playing – Great Day Greg –  who also co-owns the restaurant.  I watched him play the clarinet, saxophone, flute, piccolo, harmonica, and the soprano saxophone all in the same song!

I couldn’t wait to cook what I bought at Farmer’s Market.  I made Tyler and I a great pasta dinner.  It was really nice because it wasn’t a lot of work, like most meals I make.  😉

I found some adorable dishes.  It wasn’t a special occasion, but I thought they were cute.  🙂

I used olive oil with garlic salt and basil as a dipping sauce for bread.  I also had Pandora playing on my computer – my Fiona Apple station.

For our pasta, we used a garlic olive oil for a sauce.  It was so wonderful.  🙂

I was happy that I could make it feel like an Italian restaurant in my kitchen.

Broccoli-Edamame Soup

May 9, 2011

I found this amazing recipe in Vegetarian Times Magazine, thank you to my wonderful friend, Amber Shea.  The original recipe is made with jumbo goad cheese croutons, so my plan was to leave that out.  However…I just HAPPENED to have frozen my leftover Rosemary Olive Oil bread from the Farmer’s Market.  The bread helped make the meal.  🙂  Great idea, on my part.

Ingredients:

2 tsp olive oil

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1 1/2 cups frozen shelled edamame

1/2 lb broccoli, trimmed, stems and florets chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

Bread of choice (not wheat)

Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat and add the onion and nutmeg.  You can season it with salt and pepper, if you like.

The original recipe says to saute for 10 minutes, but since this is only half of the original recipe, saute until onions are soft.  Stir in 1/2 cup broth, scrapping the bottom of the pot to lift off any brown bits.

Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of broth, edamame, broccoli, and garlic.

Bring mixture to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes.


Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and arrange bread of your choice on a baking sheet.  (I do not recommend wheat bread because it is too sweet for this meal.  A baguette, french bread, or a rosemary olive oil bread – which is really the best.)  Bake for 6 minutes, or until crunchy on both sides.  Remove from oven and set aside.

If you have a Cuisinart Smart Stick, that is really the way to blend this meal.  The original recipe suggests transferring batches of soup to a blender.  But I suggest you just buy a Cuisinart Smart Stick because you will find is SO handy.  This one in particular is actually my mother’s, so if she doesn’t end up giving it to me, I’m definitely going to have to purchase my own.  🙂

Blend until creamy and smooth.  Return pot to stove and warm over low heat.

Soup is served!!  I really enjoyed using my bread to dip in the soup.  It was delicious.  I only made half of the original recipe for Tyler and I and we STILL had PLENTY of leftovers!  I knew I was going to be cooking other meals during the week, so I went ahead and froze what was left.

*Note:  I defrosted the soup this evening and ate it for dinner.  I can tell you it is JUST as good as when it was fresh!  But that was also how I found out that wheat bread does not mix well with the recipe.  😉  I hope you get a chance to try this meal!  It’s delicious.

Black bean and Rice Dinner

1 cup water

1 cup brown rice (instant)

1 can (15 oz.) black beans

1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp curry powder

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 pinches of cayenne pepper

3 pinches of sesame seeds

Bring the water to a boil, then add the rice.  Cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes, covered.  Meanwhile, pour the beans into a small pot (do not rinse the beans) and put on medium heat.  Add the spices to the beans and stir to combine.

Cook for about 10 minutes.  Scoop yourself some rice on a plate, top it with the beans (I spooned on a some of the liquid, as well, for extra flavor), then sprinkle on some sesame seeds.  It tasted great and it’s healthy!  Just the right amount of spice, but I did sprinkle a little more salt on top.

And I must not forget to talk about the wine I drank while cooking this dinner!  It is a Merlot from California called Leese-Fitch.

Leese-Fitch has the great, mild taste of a Merlot, but with almost a sweet after taste.  It was quite delectable!  I definitely recommend it!

I was in the mood to bake a few months ago (When am I NOT in the mood to bake?!), so I was searching through one of my cookbooks for a delicious recipe (“Dinner on a Dime”).  I came across several, but one that stuck out were these peanut butter cup brownies!

Ingredients:

1/2 cup peanut butter (I prefer crunchy.)

1/4 cup packed brown sugar

2 Tbsp plus 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

3 squares (1 oz. each) unsweetened chocolate

1/2 cup butter, cubed

3 Tbsp flaxseed, mixed with 9 Tbsp warm water (The original recipe calls for 3 eggs.)

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 Tbsp water

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, beat the peanut butter, brown sugar and 2 Tbsp of flour until blended.  Then set it aside.  In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the chocolate and butter and stir until smooth.  Cool slightly.  In a large bowl, beat the flaxseed, sugar and water and stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla.  Combine baking powder and remaining flour and gradually add it to the chocolate mixture.

Fill paper-lined muffin cups one-fourth full.  Top each with about 1 tsp of peanut butter mixture and spoon the remaining batter over the top.

Bake for 13-15 minutes or until centers are set (do not overbake).  Cool for 5 minutes before removing from pans to wire racks.  This recipe makes about 2 dozen cupcakes and they taste amazing!

A couple weeks ago for ACDA’s Conductors Cup I decided to bake Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins.  The more people I meet, the more people I find have Celiac Disease (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/celiac-disease/DS00319) and I want to bake goods that everyone can enjoy!

Gluten-free Blueberry Muffins

1 1/4 cup Pamela’s Mix (GF baking powder)

1/4 cup water

1/3 cup honey

1 Tbsp ground flaxseed mixed in 3 Tbsp warm water

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Mix together baking mix, water, honey, flaxseed, and vanilla.  Once well-blended, mix in the blueberries.  Spoon into a cupcake pan (either greased or with cupcake papers) until each are 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Look at those delicious muffins!

Mmmm….

…I had to eat one while they were hot because they smelled so fantastic!

I took them with me to school and sold them at ACDA Conductors Cup.

I like to make ingredient signs for those who are weary…and also because it’s fun.  🙂

The coffee we have served in the past was Mildred’s coffee.  If you have never had it before, you should check it out:  http://www.mildredscoffeehouse.com/  It’s one of my new favorites!

If you haven’t heard already, my good friend Amber (www.AlmostVeganBlog.com) won the “Hot Raw Chef” contest with her Raw Caramel-fudge brownies!  They looked so amazing that I just had to make them myself!

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts

1 cup pecans

3/4 cup dates

Pinch of salt

1/3 cup cacao powder

Frosting:

1/2 cup soaked cashews (Be sure to soak these overnight!  I made the mistake of only soaking them for about 5 minutes and it made my frosting lumpy – but still good!)

1/4 cup raw agave

1/4 cup lucuma powder

1 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 tsp lemon juice

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 Tbsp cacao butter

Grease a 9X9 baking dish with coconut oil.  In a food processor, combine the walnuts, pecans, dates and salt (You may want to add the dates one at a time so that they can become fully incorporated).

Next, add the cacao powder and pulse the processor until fully combined.

Press the mix into the grease 9X9 baking dish.  I just used my fingers to make sure it was firmly pressed into the dish.

It will be pretty thin (You can use a smaller dish for thicker brownies)…

Put the brownies in the fridge to chill while you prepare the frosting.

Blend together in a blender, the soaked cashews, agave, lucuma powder, vanilla, lemon juice and salt.  Melt together the coconut oil and cacao butter.  While the blender is running, stream in the melted ingredients.  If you have difficulties blending it, you can add some water.  (I added about 1/4 cup of water to get my ingredients to mix.  You should not need that much water as long as you remember to soak your cashews overnight.)

Take your brownies out of the fridge and pour the icing on top.  Use a spatula to spread the frosting on.  Place brownies back in the fridge to firm up a little.  When you are ready to serve your brownies, you can choose to put a piece of fresh fruit on top.  I did not have any fresh fruit when I made these brownies, and I can tell you they were fabulous!  I even served leftovers at ACDA’s Conductors Cup one Friday and they were a hit.

Snowed-in!!

February 2, 2011

Well, I’m pretty sure you have all heard about the blizzard that has taken over the Midwest and Northern states!

It didn’t get bad until late morning on Tuesday, which caused them to cancel classes on Tuesday and Wednesday.

I have really enjoyed the opportunity to get ahead with my school work, however, a woman needs a break from a study-packed day!!  🙂  I have been given the great opportunity to cook and bake!  I chose to make on of my absolute favorite meals last night.  I found it from AlmostVeganBlog.com, and have made it several times.  ALWAYS a win.  🙂

White Bean and Broccoli Pasta Toss

8 oz. whole wheat shells

1 bunch of broccoli, cut into small pieces

1 1/2 cups of vegetable broth

1 Tbsp all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can of navy beans, rinsed and drained

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

Breadcrums:

2 slices whole wheat bread, crusts trimmed

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/8 tsp salt

1/8 tsp garlic powder

 

Tear the bread into pieces and pulse in a food processor until you have small crumbs.  In a small bowl, toss the crumbs with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder.  Place the crumbs in a skillet over medium heat and stir until browned to your liking.  (I like them dark and crispy, so I usually cook them for 5-8 minutes.)  Remove from heat and set breadcrumbs aside.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil.  Add the whole wheat shells and cook as directed, adding the broccoli in the last 2 minutes.  Drain the pasta and broccoli.

Whisk the broth and flour in a small bowl until smooth.  I did not have any vegetable broth, so instead I dissolved a vegetable bouillon cube in 2 cups of water, as directed, and just added a little more flour, about 1/3 Tbsp.  Heat the oil in the pot over medium-high heat.  Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the broth and flour mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Stir in the beans, vinegar, salt, and pepper, followed by the pasta and broccoli.  Cook and stir until the pasta is thoroughly coated, about 1 minute.

Remove from heat, serve yourself a bowl and top with breadcrumbs.

My mouth was watering at the smell of garlic at this point.  It was so delicious and I actually had it for lunch today as well!  It is great re-heated!

 

Today, day 2 of being snowed-in, I decided that some baking should be taking place in my kitchen.  🙂

Chewy Peanut Butter Bars

1/2 cup Earth Balance butter, sliced

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1-1/2 cups sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 Tbsp milled flaxseed, whisked with 6 Tbsp of warm water

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 13 in. x 9 in. x 2 in. baking pan.

Melt the butter and peanut butter in a medium-sized pot over medium-low heat and stir until smooth.  Remove the pot from the head and gradually stir in the sugar and flour.  Mix ell.  Stir in the flaxseed mix and vanilla.  I am using flaxseed in this recipe in place of 2 eggs.  Spread into your greased pan and bake for 28 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool on a wire wrack before cutting into bars.

(It was still bubbling when I took this picture!)

Mmmm…amazingly delicious.  Just the right consistency of creamy vs. chewy.  🙂

Stay tuned for more delightful “snowy day” treats!

Packers Vs. Bears

January 23, 2011

The time has come!  This play-off game determines who goes to the Superbowl!  I’m very excited.  My parents and I have decided to have people over to watch the game.  We’ve prepared an array of snacks!

Starting from the left you should see crackers with cheese and summer sausage, cookies (chocolate chip pecan and heath), Doritos, Tostitos and salsa, pretzel crackers, The Laughing Cow Light Creamy Swiss and Light French Onion, Indian Spice hummus with pita chips, and in the center is a bowl of sesame sticks and in the small heart shaped bowl are cherry heart gummies and candy hearts.

Did you notice the hummus?  🙂  That is one of my favorite kinds of hummus that I like to make.  I got the recipe from my friend Amber (www.AlmostVeganBlog.com).

Indian Spice hummus

1 can of chickpeas, drained

4 cloves of garlic

1 1/2 tbsp of lemon juice

3 tbsp of tahini

1 tbsp of curry powder

1 tsp of ground cumin

1/4 tsp of ground coriander

1/8 tsp of cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Put the chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice in the food processor and pulse to combine.  Then turn on the processor and stream in 1/4 cup of cold water while running, until semi-smooth.  Scrape down the sides and add all of the spices except for the salt.  Pulse together, then turn on the processor and stream in another 1/4 cup of cold water.  Stop and scrape down the sides, then turn the processor back on and puree for about 3 minutes.  Then give it a taste and add salt to your liking (I usually use Amber’s recommendation and add 1 tsp of salt).  Puree for 30 more seconds.

Transfer the hummus to a container and refrigerate for at least an hour (longer is more preferable – it brings out the flavors).

I really like to eat the hummus with pita chips, but pita bread is delicious with this hummus also!

Well, the game has started and the Packers are already ahead by 7 points!  Whoo!  Gotta go!

 

Whole Foods Pot Roast

January 17, 2011

This post is a continuation from Chicken and Veggie Casserole.  As I stated in the other post, I was cooking two meals so that I would have one that I could eat for the week.  I almost forgot to mention what I was drinking while I was cooking!  If I haven’t said so yet, I always have a glass of wine while I’m cooking or baking.  🙂  We did not have any open wine while I was cooking the other night, but we did have a dessert wine in the refrigerator leftover from the holidays.

This ChocoVine is very rich.  The first glass I had of it over the holidays was almost too much for me.  So I poured myself about a half a glass and it was just perfect.  The next time I have it, I plan to try it with coffee.  I think it is perfect for that.

On to the pot roast!  The recipe I used is from Whole Foods website.  It’s a slow cooker meal, so it was pretty easy to cook while I was cooking the chicken veggie casserole.

Whole Foods Pot Roast

2 Tbsp of all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp of salt

1/4 tsp of pepper

t tsp dried thyme

1 1/2 lbs boneless beef chuck roast, trimmed of access fat

3 Tbsp canola oil

3 carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 potatoes peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 small onions (or 1 large onion), cut into wedges

4 cloves of garlic, minced

2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth

1 (6 oz) can of tomato paste

On a plate, combine flour, salt, pepper and thyme.  Dredge meat in four mixture, coating all sides.  Heat oil in a large saucepan and brown both sides, turning once.  Meanwhile, place, carrots, onions, potatoes and garlic in a 5 or 6-quart slow cooker (I used 1 large onion, and I would recommend 1/2 of a large onion, or 1 small onion – 1 large onion was too much).  Top with browned roast.  Pour 2 tablespoons of water into the pan your browned the roast in, scrape up any browned bits and add that rich liquid to the slow cooker along with the beef broth and tomato paste.  Cover and cook until beef and vegetables are very tender, 8 to 10 hours on the low-heat setting or 4 to 5 hours on the high-heat setting.

The meat wasn’t as tender as I had expect it to be, so cut it up a bit before I put everything into one big bowl (it was hard to find a bowl big enough to hold it all!).  I poured myself a bowl…

…and as you can see (or perhaps you cannot see, but believe me…) there were a LOT of onions.  I’m not a big onion person.  I love using onions to flavor meals, but I do not care for the texture of them.  Tyler and I both agreed that this meal was not as tasty as the Chicken Veggie Casserole.  It was a little sweet for my liking (I prefer my “hot” meals to be more on the salty side) and Tyler thought it could have less tomato paste.  If I were to cook this again, I would make sure I had a GOOD piece of roast and I would probably use less onions and perhaps add more salt.  All-in-all, this meal wasn’t bad, just not one of my favorites.