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Monthly Archives: September 2012

October goals:

I survived!

I completed all the days of the September 30 day health challenge!

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The last few were pretty easy – things I already do, like “eat vegan” and “exercise with a group”.

The final bullet point was to set three goals for October. Here’s what I came up with:

1. Stretch or foam roll every day. Every. Stinkin’. Day. I’m so bad at this. Somehow between Miss Rae’s timeouts for hitting her brother and trying to clean the nose blow off of our white beige couch, stretching has gone by the wayside. Oh, I exercise plenty, but I don’t have time for stretching. As soon as the hard part of spin class is over, I clean my bike and leave. This morning, when I got back from my run? I immediately hit the shower. I’m too busy to stretch. But someone, somewhere said that you’re supposed to do it, so I’m gonna give it a go…

2. 7 hours of sleep every night. I set my alarm for 5:20 pretty religiously. That means that I need to be asleep by 10:20. This rarely happens. I blame many factors, but Matty B is the biggest culprit. He totally peer pressures me to stay up later, sometimes even mocking me for wanting to go to sleep! Tsk, Tsk, Matty B! So the goal is “lights out” by 10, so I’m actually asleep by 10:20. Can I fall asleep in 20 minutes? Oh yes- I’m a champion sleeper.

3. Finally, I’m going to cut out all artificial sweeteners. In general, this shouldn’t be too big of a deal because I rarely (if ever) drink soda. Here’s where it’s gonna hurt: I have this little addiction to something called MiO liquid water enhancer. I squirt a few drops into my water bottle before I hit spin class and at 5:45 a.m. it’s the only joy I have. I like the blueberry lemonade flavor. Here’s the ingredient list: citric acid, propylene glycol, sodium citrate, sucralose, polysorbate 60, red 40, blue 1. It’s gotta go. Glenda (the lady with the turkey who gives me veggies) suggested that I use natural sweeteners instead, i.e. berries or citrus. I’ll try it.

What about you? What are your goals for October? I’ve been working on some family fun fall goals too (otherwise known as F3:). Are you figuring out just how “type A” I am? I’ll share the F3’s soon. For now, I’m off to stretch and drink some boring water. Happy October!

Lasts

We’re in the “lasts”:(

The last evening walks before bed (it’s getting dark and cold!)

The last iced coffees (which doesn’t concern me too much. I’m definitely a hot coffee kind of girl).

The last blackberries. This probably makes Miss Rae sadder than anyone else. On above mentioned walks, she pitifully asks, “back bees?” while pulling towards the dried out blackberry bushes. Never mind that she won’t touch them on her breakfast plate. The girl has standards…

And, much to my dismay, the last farmers market:(

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To be perfectly honest, our neighborhood farmers market is pretty sad. The number of booths is dwindling, and most evenings that we attend, the turnout is pretty sparse. I wish it were bigger and better and sometimes we don’t even go because it’s such a sorry little market, but it does afford me this:

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Baby girl loves smelling flowers! And when I say ‘smelling’, I really mean ‘blowing her nose breath onto flowers’. She hasn’t quite figured out the breathing in part.

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Samples are tasted. Sometimes we buy, mostly because we feel guilty for cleaning out her sample tray each week. There is a cookie dough brownie that Matty B adores, and he will purchase one under the guise of ‘supporting the local market’, but we all know the truth. He’s fooling no one.

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I take that back. Miss Rae might be fooled. She thinks her daddy walks on water. And he also gives her bites of said brownie, so that always helps…

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While daddy and daughter were enjoying their cookie dough, J Man and I were scouting. We ended up with the biggest cucumber I’ve ever seen in my life!

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Look at that beast! It’s huge! The gentleman we purchased it from said that’s how they grow them in ‘his country’. I don’t actually know where he’s from, but I loved his enormous cucumbers!

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When we got it home, we chopped it up. Meh. It looked better than it tasted. Pretty seedy, and somewhat sour. So, while that will probably be the last gigantic cucumber I purchase, it definitely won’t be the last shared cookie dough brownie, and with a little luck, there will be many more farmers markets to come:)

Good bye summer…

To count or not to count…

After my sweet babies were born, I went through what 95% of moms go through- “I lost the baby weight, but the late night ice cream the ‘baby’ wanted? Yeah, it’s still there…”

I started using an app called ‘Lose It’ which tracks your daily calories, exercise, etc. How’d it go? I’ll put it this way- if I had been on The Biggest Loser, Jillian would have loved me! I obsessively tracked my calories, to an almost unhealthy point. If I went even a few calories over my daily allotment, I would feel super guilty and usually find some sort of physical exercise (in addition to my usual high intensity daily workout) to ‘burn off’ the extra 47 calories I had consumed.

And while I don’t think I ever had an eating disorder, my way of life was obsessive enough that I really made a conscious effort to stop counting and just start…living.

My eating feels pretty intuitive right now, mostly because I fill up on whole grains, fruits, veggies, you know the list. So, when I saw #4 on the 30 day health challenge, record everything you eat and track your calories, I was a little…wary? I’ve been pretty balanced (I feel) in my eating approach these days, and I didn’t want to trigger any setbacks.

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Breakfast was rolled oats, chia seeds, banana, blueberries, a scoop of pb and a dollop of blackberry jam. Pretty standard for me, definitely a favorite. Oh, plus unpictured decaf. Snore.

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Lunch was brown rice, lentils, yellow pepper, asparagus and a tablespoon of guacamole. Kind of a random combination, but really satisfying! Don’t you love all the Tupperware? The joys of eating at school…

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I had to work late, so by 4:30 I was starving! I’m usually not a fan of bars because in 3 bites I’ve consumed 250+ calories, but these pb cookie Larabars are so good!

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Dinner was a giant taco salad- romaine, tomatoes, red beans, lentils, salsa, tofutti sour cream, and guacamole. I added a handful of tortilla chips after the picture was taken for some crunch.

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And because life isn’t worth living without dessert, some Trader Joe’s dark chocolate with caramel and sea salt. I’ve been loving everything with sea salt these days. It adds a little something…

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So here’s the calorie count, and honestly, it’s a little low, but that’s not intentional. I’m not trying to lose weight, it was just a super busy day and I didn’t snack as much as I normally do.

While I would never want to go back to my old days of obsessive counting, I think it’s good to keep track every once in awhile to make sure you’re still being mindful.

What do you think? Do you track calories? Daily? Weekly? Not at all?

Salad dressing

Matty B doesn’t eat dressing on his salad. He wants just plain lettuce with some croutons. And to be fair, he wants croutons with some lettuce. My Grandma V didn’t eat salad dressing either. She said it was too tart…

I have vast amounts of love and respect for both of the above mentioned parties, but they are missing out!

I have a slight salad dressing addiction, in that I have 5+ bottles open in the fridge, another 5 or so sealed in the pantry and yet, if I were to see a new flavor, I would surely need to try it. (I just discovered Trader Joe’s hummus salad dressing…so good! Surprised? I didn’t think so…)

So, when the 30 day challenge task of the day (#28) was to make a homemade salad dressing to use for the week, I was excited! But unless you’re going all oil and vinegar, how do you make a vegan salad dressing?

Cashews! It’s true! I found this recipe at Cadry’s Kitchen and I knew I had to try it!

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Apologies for the lack of picture variety. While I was making this dressing, J Man was requesting a “snack plate” (remember when I was so proud of my snack plates? What was I thinking?) and Miss Rae’s happiness depended on wrapping herself around my legs while uttering her catchphrase, “up, peas?”

Basically, all you do is dump your cashews, lemon juice, garlic, parsley, tamari (I used Bragg’s) and water into the vitamix and blend away!

It’s supposed to taste like ranch, but it doesn’t. It does, however, taste good! If Matty B would try it, I’m sure he’d like it on his croutons, er, salad…:)

The 30 day challenge is almost over! Just a few more days! On Sunday I accomplished #22: work on flexibility. Take a yoga class or stretch.

I foam rolled.

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Please enjoy this very unflattering picture of my demo. The foam roller and I have a love/hate relationship. It hurts so good. This might be one of my goals for October. We’ll see…

Monday was #1: eat vegetables with every meal. I had a kale shake for breakfast, a broccoli/squash stir fry for lunch and a giant salad for dinner. Other snacks were involved, but my main meals followed the rules!

Finally, today I tackled #27: go a day without sweets or any added sugar. Honestly, the hardest part for me on this was no sweetener in my coffee. I don’t want a lot, but plain, black coffee (even with a little soy milk) just doesn’t do it for me.

Let’s have some real talk. As much as the 30 day health challenge has been good for me, I’m really glad it’s only 30 days- mostly because I’m tired of keeping track! 5 more days! Stick with me!

Pear Ginger Pie

Better With Veggies

Pears are the poor man’s apple. To all you pear lovers out there, I mean no offense. Maybe I just haven’t had a good pear. Maybe I’m speaking out in total ignorance. Maybe pears are a hidden treasure, reserved only for those who are wise enough to appreciate them.

Meh. The pears I’ve had are mushy, mealy and lacking in flavor. Pear jelly bellies? Now those are good! Regular pears? Not so much.

So when we went apple picking last weekend, we picked apples. Juicy, crisp, bursting with flavor apples. As we were heading out with our overflowing bucket of apples, I noticed a pear tree. They were sort of pretty. I picked one and added it to our bucket.

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When we got home, inspiration hit. I had just purchased some candied ginger and that seemed like a good thing to pair with pear. Pair with pear:) ha!

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Have I mentioned that Grandma V was the queen of all pies? As you can see from the recipe, it’s well loved:)

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Whole wheat pastry flour and salt are mixed with butter. Crumbly is good. Grandma V always used one of those pastry blenders. I’m somewhat partial to a food processor, but in honor of Grandma, I went old school:)

Here’s where old school meets crazy hippie school. I ignored Grandma V’s instructions to raid the chicken coop and I used a flax egg. That, mixed with some hot water (every other pie recipe I’ve ever made demands cold water. Not Grandma. I obey Grandma.) is added to the butter/flour mixture. Pie crust!

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The pear is sliced and peeled. We have one of those handy apple corer thingy’s. That’s a real word, you know- thingy.

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Ginger is chopped and mixed with the pears, flour, sugar and my favorite combo of fall spices: cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and cloves. Matty B started eating this combo raw until I slapped his hand and made him his own personal bowl. I also threw in some craisins because it seemed like a good idea. I started to reach for the pecans but repeated to myself, “less is more”. What do you think? Did I miss a golden opportunity?

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The crust is rolled out. As I was just doing two mini pies (portion control, people) I only used half of the crust recipe. Hmmmm…what to do with the extra pie crust?:)

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Pies are filled. Top crusts are crimped. Feelings of accomplishment ensue.

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While the pies were baking, we went outside and drew with sidewalk chalk. This is the weird time of year we’re living in. Is it fall? Is it summer? No one knows…

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Here’s what I DO know:

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Pears with ginger in buttery crust? So good.

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Add a scoop of coconut bliss ice cream? That, my friends, is the best. You might say that apple pie is the poor man’s pear pie…

Pear Ginger Pie

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan butter (I used Earth Balance)
1/2 TBS ground flax mixed with 1 1/2 TBS warm water
1/4 cup hot water (cause Grandma says so)

1 large pear
1 TBS flour
1/4 cup sugar (scant)
Cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger (to taste, anywhere from 1/4-1/2 tsp each)
2 TBS craisins
2 TBS chopped candied ginger

Instructions

Combine flour and salt in a large bowl. Cut in butter until sandy in texture. Combine flax egg with 1/4 cup water. Mix into flour/butter combo. Roll out either two large or four small circles (depending on size of pie tins).

Peel and slice pear. Combine with remaining ingredients. Fill prepared tins, cover with top crust and crimp. Use a knife to create a few air slits. Bake for 15 minutes at 400. Lower temperature to 350 and bake an additional 35-40 minutes, covering with foil if crust browns too quickly.

Let cool. Slice and serve!

10 Apples Up on Top

 

You’ll catch the title reference if you have children under 3, I promise…otherwise, brush up on your Dr. Seuss…

 

It’s a close race between summer and fall for my favorite seasons.  Summer is grand because it’s warm (sometimes…depending on our Portland weather…), you can pick fresh berries and my work schedule is so much easier!

But fall?  Oh, fall brings sweaters and pumpkin spice lattes and colorful leaves and…Apples!

But more specifically, apple picking!  Saturday was the first day of fall, and it was necessary that we commemorate the occasion.  We headed out to Hood River and ended up at Draper Girls Farm, about 90 minutes from Portland.  J Man was wearing his flannel shirt.  Miss Rae had her red sweater.  Matty B and I were drinking coffee.  It was a good day already.

We picked!  We picked Macintosh, Gala, Tokyo Rose, and more!  It was cool and shaded among the the trees and not too crowded at all.

 

There was a sign that specifically said, “No tasting until you’ve purchased”.  Explain that to a 1 year old.  We’re rebels, we are…

 

In addition to the apple picking, we wandered the other produce in their cute little market.

 

 

Bought some yummy corn – so much better than the grocery store!  It was crisp and crunchy and sweet!

 

And we fed some goats!

 

Miss Rae wasn’t too sure.  I take that back.  She was totally sure she wanted nothing to do with feeding the goats.

 

It was a beautiful day with my sweet family!  (This picture is catching the ending of Miss Rae playing peek a boo with herself…love her:)

 

 

 

I’m already imagining all the fabulous things I’ll be making from these apples:  Pies, apple cider, apple cider donuts, apple pancakes?  The list is endless!

It’s settled.  Fall is officially my favorite season:)

Tomato Tomahto

It’s Healthy Vegan Friday!

Everyday Vegan Girl

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As a kid I hated tomatoes. And for the record, yes, I like ketchup, spaghetti sauce and tomato soup. These things taste absolutely nothing like raw tomatoes.

And in reality, my MOM hated tomatoes, therefore, I took her word as gospel truth and also shunned tomatoes. Slimy seeds? Eww. Pithy, spongy flesh? Gross.

Additionally, how would I ever learn to like tomatoes? If the majority of my family members abhorred them, certainly my mom wasn’t buying them at the store. My dad was the only one who liked them, but you couldn’t trust his judgment regarding food. One of his favorite snacks is saltine crackers in milk, like cereal. I love you dad, but no one wants soggy saltines…

However, while there are many things that my mom was exactly right about (always shop the clearance racks first, piano lessons really did pay off ) she missed the boat on tomatoes. Seriously, they are like candy right now!

A sweet kindergartner grandpa came in today and brought me a big ziploc bag full of tomatoes. I sliced one up and threw it on my lunch, but still had about 17 more. This may or may not surprise you, but Matty B and the kids don’t eat tomatoes. What’s a girl to do with 17 tomatoes?

Roast them!

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Tomatoes are cubed, tossed with a drizzle of olive oil, a handful of chopped basil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Roast at a high heat (I did 400) for about 30 minutes.

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Like candy, but better! Remember, however, the fam is not partaking with me. It’s a dilemma. A travesty, if you will. It’s like they’re being robbed of summer’s finest. Is it not my job, as the matriarch of this family to inaugurate them in roasted tomato goodness?

And roasted tomato pesto was born!

To be 100% honest, this is not a brand new concept. I was inspired by this recipe at Oh She Glows. I knew I had to take a stab at my own version! Magic bullet to the rescue!

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This is a terrible picture. I must work on my photography skills…nonetheless, roasted tomatoes, basil, garlic, salt, olive oil and macadamia nuts are whirred up. Macadamia nuts? Yeah, they’re what I had on hand. Matty B is freaking out right now. He didn’t realize that the recipe he loved had macadamia nuts…the secret is out. Pine nuts are the more traditional ingredient, but I’ve made pesto with almonds also. You’re the boss. Do what you want.

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Pretty, no? Once you taste this, you won’t care that it looks like…gross. Not only is it delicious, but the tomatoes really give it some body. Many times when I make pesto I think, “that’s it? I just dumped a pound of basil into the blender and that’s all I get?”. Not with this recipe. We had leftovers that I spread onto grilled pizza last night. So. Very. Good.

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Pasta joins the party and…

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Dinner is served! You could shred some Parmesan on top if the vegan song isn’t in your key. You don’t miss it though. Roasting the tomatoes makes this pesto so sweet!

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Miss Rae agrees! And as a true ketchup connoisseur, this girl knows her tomatoes…

Roasted Tomato Pesto

Ingredients

Tomatoes (at least 3, or as many as your tray will hold!), cubed
4 TBS olive oil, divided
2 cups basil (packed)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 TBS macadamia (or other) nuts
2 TBS Parmesan cheese (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400. Toss cubed tomatoes with 1 TBS olive oil, and a sprinkle salt and pepper. Roast for 30-35 minutes or until caramelized. Let cool.

In a magic bullet, food processor or blender, combine basil, 1/2 cup roasted tomatoes, garlic, nuts and cheese (if using) with 2 TBS olive oil. Blend until combined. Add additional TBS olive oil if necessary to form a smooth paste. Season to taste.

Mix with warm pasta or spread on pizza crust.