Category Archives: Basketball

Curried Tahini Slaw & What I Ate Thursday

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Friday, Friday, FRIDAY!  :D  Woohoo!  And a long weekend, too.  Glorious.  My plans include a girl’s night out with one of my besties, taking O to see The Lorax, a lunch date and family gathering on Sunday, and being as lazy as humanly possible on Monday.  I dig it.

I wanted to do a “What I Ate” post from yesterday, because I love reading about what other people are grubbing on, but it’s flipping HARD to remember to take a picture of every single thing that crosses your lips.

(THAT didn’t sound right.  But probably only to me, because I am 12 years old.)

Anyway, I don’t know how other bloggers do it!  For better or worse, here is what I ate Thursday.

More or less.  ;)

I almost always eat breakfast.  Unless I’ve been out late the night before (which is very rare for me), I’m usually ready for a good meal first thing.  Yesterday’s breakfast was an old fave:

 Almond butter overnight oats in a jar!

I used to get sad at the end of a nut butter jar, but since discovering OOIAJ I get excited.  I know.  I’m weird.

Into a near-empty crunchy almond butter jar, I added:

  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • touch of stevia
  • few shakes of cinnamon
  • 1 T. of chia seeds
  • 1/2 a very ripe banana, mashed
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

Mix it all up in the jar, put the lid back on and stick it in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, grab a spoon and feast!

Lunch was the usual, a salad bigger than my head:

Spinach, a million different kinds of chopped fresh veggies (‘shrooms, cuke, zuke, red bell pepper, tomato, broccoli, carrot), parsley, leftover brown rice and lentils from Tuesday’s rice bowl, and Annie’s Goddess dressing.

I was busy all afternoon with kid wrangling, grocery shopping and taking E to basketball practice, but I did manage to slurp down a kombucha whilst unloading the groceries:

I was pretty horrified the first time I tasted one of these fizzy, vinegar-y, mystery mushroom-containing beverages, but now I am hooked.  I drink roughly 1-2 per week.  They’re a good source of B vitamins and probiotics (mmm, microorganism-y!), and somehow I have learned to love the taste.  Again- weirdo.

 

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand welcome to Dorkville.

(Population: ME.)

Dinner was spectacular!  I’d been excited about the recipe all week long:  Healthy Happy Life’s Tahini Curried Carrot Salad, maple-ginger tofu and roasted cauliflower.  YES!

Except that I am somewhat lazy when it comes to grating/chopping things, and I couldn’t find any pre-bagged matchstick carrots at the store.  So, I rolled with a package of broccoli slaw mix instead…

This recipe was a ‘dump and mix’ type thing (easy!) and I made it a few hours in advance so that the flavors could meld in the fridge.

(So-good-I-could-cry ultra creamy Curried Tahini Dressing- I added a big pinch of cayenne because I like things SPICY)

For the tofu I just marinated some pressed cubes of extra-firm in a mixture of lemon juice, Bragg aminos, powdered ginger, garlic powder, maple syrup and a pinch of sea salt.

Gave the container a good shake and then let it marinate in the fridge while the slaw chilled.  When it was almost dinner time, I seasoned some cauliflower florets with a touch of olive oil, cumin, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and sea salt and baked them alongside the ‘fu at 375 degrees until nicely browned:

(Pre-oven)

And then piled it all onto my plate with a couple big spoonfuls of the slaw:

Absolute dinner perfection!

That slaw was amazing- cool, crisp and creamy with a sweet touch from the raisins, a spicy kick from the cayenne and curry powder and a welcome crunch from the pumpkin seeds.

The tofu firmed up nicely in the oven and was full of sweet, spicy maple-ginger flave.  Actually, my friend M stopped by unexpectedly just before I was about to eat, and I told him to help himself.  He said he didn’t like tofu but then proceeded to eat half the block!  (In summary: IT WAS GOOD.)

Roasted cauliflower has always been a favorite of mine.  I just love it, and it’s so easy to make.

That is everything that I ate yesterday except for dessert, which is basically the most important meal of the day.  ;)  I usually have something sweet before bed, and last night I savored a homemade coconut chocolate truffle (from Chloe’s Kitchen!) with a glass of almond milk.  It was divine, but I forgot to snap a pic.  Ooops.

***

I finally got my hands on Let Them Eat Vegan! last week, and man… what an amazing cookbook!  I had a hard time deciding what to make first, but here’s what I picked for next week:

BBQ Sunflower Tofu (page 124)- extra-firm tofu is slathered in a delicious-sounding sauce that includes sunflower seed butter, ketchup, tamari, balsamic vinegar and garlic and then baked in the oven.  I’ll be eating this with a side of baked sweet potato rounds and roasted baby broccoli.  :D

Thai Chickpea Almond Curry (page 109)- chickpeas and veggies are mixed with a coconut milk-ginger-almond butter sauce and baked in the oven, then served over rice.  I can’t wait for this one!  The picture in the book is drool-worthy.

I also have plans to finally make Peanut Butter Frosted Banana Donuts (holy yum!) and Oh She Glows Banana Bread Batter Oatmeal (yes!), as well as a pasta dish from Chloe’s Kitchen for the family shindig on Sunday.  I’m almost to the end of my sweets stash in the freezer (had the last truffle last night, nooo!), so I’m trying to decide what to make next.  Let Them Eat Vegan! is filled with amazing-sounding dessert recipes, so I’ll probably give one a try next week.

I’m out!  Gonna go knock out some cardio and enjoy this wonderful day.  Happy weekend, friends!

XO,

Sara

Yay Mavs! + More Veggies

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Happy Monday to ya!  The Mavericks won last night, in case you hadn’t heard, and if that doesn’t make your Monday a happy one, I don’t know what will.  B is watching game highlights as we speak.  :)  He is thrilled- absolutely out of his mind ecstatic.  He said he re-watched the 4th quarter again last night after I fell asleep, and something tells me he has watched it a couple more times since then.  ;)  I told ya, he is the Dallas Mavericks’ biggest fan!

The pasta and salmon from last night’s dinner were absolutely insane.  If you make one thing from this blog, make this pasta.  Do it now!

***

Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes (adapted from a recipe on Whole Living.com)

Serves 4 as a main meal, 6-8 as a side dish

Ingredients

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 12 ounces whole-wheat or multi-grain spaghetti
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion , thinly sliced, lengthwise
  • 2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 can artichoke hearts, drained, rinsed, and quartered lengthwise
  • 1/3 cup mixed olives, any variety
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes , halved lengthwise
  • 1 4-ounce container crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
Directions

 

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente according to package directions. Drain, reserving 1 cup of pasta water. Return pasta to pot. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add onion and garlic, season with salt and pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until browned, 3 to 4 minutes.

 

 

Add wine and cook until evaporated, about 2 minutes.  Stir in artichokes and cook until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes.

 

 

 

Add the olives and half of the tomatoes.

 

 

Cook until tomatoes start to break down, 1 to 2 minutes.

 

 

 

Add pasta to skillet. Stir in remaining tomatoes, oil, cheese, and basil.

 

 

 

Thin with reserved pasta water if necessary to coat the spaghetti (I used a couple of ladles full). Serve with additional cheese.

 

With the blackened salmon that B grilled, it was absolutely perfect.

 

 

 

 

 

Glorious!  Almost as glorious as watching the Mavs win.  ;)

 

***

 

This morning I had my first Medical Terminology test and did really well.  I am loving that class so far!  Beforehand I fueled up with an oatmeal breakfast:

 

 

Old-fashioned oatmeal with a chopped peach, small spoonful of natural peanut butter, blob of Greek yogurt, drizzle of agave nectar and chia seeds.  I really heart oatmeal.  :)

 

After the test I got my sweat on and then ran errands with B.  When my belly growled for lunch, I just had to have some of last night’s leftover pasta!  To lighten it up a little, I beefed up the pasta with veggies.  I added a couple handfuls of arugula and spinach, a chopped Roma tomato, and a chopped yellow bell pepper half before heating.  After warming through, I added a pouch o’ salmon for extra protein.  The result was a satisfying, flavorful, veggie-heavy, protein-packed lunch that took less than five minutes to prepare…

 

 

I am definitely having this again tomorrow.  Yay leftovers!   :)

 

Ah, and I finally pulled together this week’s menu!

 

Monday: Tonight my sis is coming over for steak, roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, and our favorite brussels sprouts.  I mentioned before that I haven’t been wanting to eat meat and poultry much lately, so I’m going to have a little bit of steak and add some grilled portobello mushroom slices to beef up the meal without overdoing it on the meat.  I’m really liking the idea of using meat/fish/poultry as more of a garnish in a meal rather than having a huge portion take center stage.  I’m betting that this meal is going to rock!

 

Tuesday: I can hardly wait to make Emily @ Daily Garnish‘s Mexican Quinoa with Black Beans and Avocado.  This will be my first time cooking (and eating) quinoa, and I’m very excited.  Quinoa is a complete protein, so it’s great to include in meatless meals, from what I understand.

 

Wednesday: B cooks  :D

 

Thursday: Emily @ Daily Garnish‘s Vegan and Gluten-free Broccoli Pasta Salad with a side of grilled corn on the cob.  This dish sounds so deliciously incredible to me… and I bet it’ll make great leftovers.

 

Friday: INDIAN FOOD!  I’ll be making Angela @ Oh She GlowsChanna Masala with some whole-wheat naan.  I am stupid excited about this one, because A) I LOVE spicy food, B) I LOVE Indian Food, and C) it’s another meat-free meal.  Also, naan might be my favorite bread of all time- it is so freakin’ good!  I dig it.  :)

 

Saturday: Dinner out!  B and I have talked about going to either Fadi’s or Fuzzy’s.  We’ll see how we feel when the weekend rolls around.

 

I find it interesting that where I get my recipes for the week’s meals continues to change.  I used to be a Giada devotee, then I was all about Rachael Ray mag and her Look + Cook cookbook, then I discovered Food Network magazine and fell in love, and now I’m finding renewed healthy eating inspiration from a handful of awesome vegan and vegetarian blogs.

 

Do you know of any great vegan or vegetarian cookbooks that I should check out?

 

In our quest to eat healthier, today we added two new ingredients to our pantry: quinoa and coconut oil (I need both for tomorrow’s dinner).  B and I really want to perfect a vegan cheese sauce (or cheast, as Emily calls it), because we could not get enough of the stuff when we ate at Spiral Diner, so I have nutritional yeast on my grocery list for Wednesday’s shopping trip.  I never in a million years thought that I’d be buying things like chia seeds and nutritional yeast!  Times, they are a’changin’.  Definitely in a good way.  :)

 

See ya tomorrow!

 

xo,

 

Sara

Good Thing Wine is Vegetarian

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Ello, friends.  I hope your weekend has been fan-freaking-tastic so far.  Mine has been pretty swell!  Last night we did the game night thang with two other couples, and it was a good ol’ time.  B and I made some amazing queso from this cookbook.  It involved Monterey jack cheese, beer, diced jalapeno and red bell pepper, and chopped fresh cilantro.  It was EPIC.

Man, it was good.   Perfectly gooey and strangely addicting…

B also grilled up some fajita meat (beef) and fajita veggies (onion, green bell pepper and Portobello ‘shroom caps), I heated some vegetarian refried beans, and we put out a make-your-own-nachos spread with chopped avocado, guacamole, two kinds of salsa, sour cream, chopped jalapeno, cilantro, shredded cheddar cheese and two kinds of tortilla chips (hint o’ lime and regular).  I think it was a hit!  We played Tripoly, drank red wine and munched into the wee hours.  My sister brought an incredible dessert once again: mini strawberry and chocolate ice cream cakes covered with vanilla ganache.  My gawd, they were divine.  There are three left and I’ll definitely be savoring one later tonight.  :)

I didn’t take pics after we made the queso, but I did snap one of my cute Mom polishing off her jug of Sangria:

:D

After some much-needed coffee this morning I sleepily pushed through Gym Style Back, Shoulders and Biceps and then did some corework on the stability ball.  I’m already feeling a good soreness setting in around my biceps and back.  I’ve been enjoying lifting weights more than ever lately, and I am really anxious to start STS!  I just need to set aside some time to preview the workouts and take my 1 rep max test for most of the exercises.  Soon, soon.  Lately I’m feeling like there just isn’t enough time in the day to do everything that I want to do.  There are books I want to read and shows I want to watch and stuff I’d love to do with my kids and B… hopefully once I get more into the summer school groove I’ll be able to carve out more time for these extracurricular to-dos.  To-dos that I actually want to do!

After my workout I made a giant salad using the leftovers from last night:

This baby had spinach, refried beans, fajita veggies, leftover roasted eggplant and zucchini from Thursday’s dinner, chopped avocado, diced japapeno, cilantro, a hefty blob of hot salsa and some buttermilk ranch.  It was glorious- truly delish!  I love when leftovers come together to make fast, easy, scrumptious meals the next day.  :)

We took the tots to a mall play land this afternoon.  It was a zoo as expected, but it was also a kid-proof, air-conditioned place where they could act crazy, burn off some energy, and interact with other kids.  They had a blast and B and I enjoyed people-watching.  Observing other people is actually one of my favorite things to do, as odd as that may sound.

Earlier this evening we enjoyed some Pinot Grigio, and I’m going to go ahead and say that it is by far my favorite white wine so far.  I really enjoyed the crispness of it and the mildly sweet flavors.  Wine WINNER!  Fave white: Pinot Grigio.  Fave red: It’s a tie between Malbec and Shiraz.

What’s your favorite wine, either brand, type or both?

Psh, speaking of Pinot Grigio (RAMONA!), I can’t stop watching The Real Housewives of New York City!  I was behind by a couple of episodes until tonight.  B and I half-watched the reruns while making dinner and getting the kids ready for bed.  (Something tells me that B might not want The Internets to know that he actually watches this nonsense with me.  Whooops!)  My gosh, what a train wreck!  I can’t get enough, natch.  :)  The Real Housewives of New Jersey is getting kind of lame and The Real Housewives of OC is ova, so New York better keep it comin’.  My favorite person from this series was always Bethenny, but since she left I have grown to love Jill, in case you were wondering.  B can’t stand Kelly, and I’m not really digging that Sonja chick.  And now all of you have stopped reading and gone on to do better things with your time.  Ah, I understand.  ;)

Dinner tonight was simple but surprisingly tasty- we made sandwiches!  Not paninis, but good old-fashioned cold turkey-and-cheese sandwiches.  B used a soft white deli roll and I went with an all-natural 9-grain bread.  We spread the inside with ripe avocado and horseradish mayo, then layered on some baby spinach, dill Havarti cheese (one of the best cheeses ever, if you ask me!), thin slices of smoked turkey breast, and I added some leftover zucchini rounds for good measure.  :)  It was glorious!

HIS:

HERS:

So flippin’ good.

I haven’t put together the upcoming week’s menu yet, but I definitely have my eye on quite a few recipes, most of which are vegetarian.  I even have vegan mayonnaise listed at the top of my newly started grocery list!  We’re getting serious about cleaning up our diet and eating less animal products.  Tomorrow night we’re going to have that Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes plus some blackened salmon, and I’m definitely going to make this and this sometime later in the week.  Monday, however, we’re having my sister over for steak, brussels sprouts and roasted rosemary fingerling potatoes, so we haven’t gone completely mad.  ;)  Not yet, anyway.

I’m off to enjoy a mini ice cream cake, snuggle up with B and watch The Shield.  We get ca-RAZY on Saturday nights!

Have a good one.

xo,

S.

ARE YOU AS EXCITED ABOUT TOMORROW NIGHT’S GAME AS WE ARE?  There’s a buzz in the air ’round these parts, oh yes…  :)

(Squee!)

Go Mavs!, Fondue and Music

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Helloooooooooo!  Happy Friday!  And can I get a hell yeah for that sweet Mavs win last night!?  (So sweet, in fact, that I had a dream about Dirk last night and then immediately replayed the last few seconds of the game in my head the moment I woke up.)  Sunday’s game can’t come soon enough.  :D

Yesterday’s breakfast was noteworthy: Bear Naked granola mixed with a chopped peach…

…+ some Greek yogurt…

…+ a drizzle of agave nectar + a spoonful of chia seeds!  It was good.

Real good.  :)

I think I’m becoming obsessed with chia seeds.

Last night for the game we made roasted vegetable paninis.  I sliced up some eggplant, zucchini, and portobello mushroom caps, drizzled everything with extra-virgin olive oil plus a good dose of garlic sea salt and black pepper:

And broiled it all until fork-tender.

We toasted and garlic-rubbed some ciabatta bread, spread the inside with basil pesto, layered with basil leaves and fresh mozzarella cheese…

…and then piled on the roasted veggies, along with some sun-dried tomatoes.  A little butter on the outside and a quick press in the panini maker, and dinner was served!  I was so ready to dig into this bad boy and watch the game that I didn’t even snap a decent picture.

Oh well.  :)  It was really good, though.  Roasted eggplant is one of my favorite foods in the whole world, and this was definitely one of the best paninis to date.  While catching up on blogs earlier today I saw this recipe- I MUST MAKE IT SOON!  I haven’t had Indian food in forever.  Gah, it’s been way too long.

Dessert last night was EPIC: chocolate-hazelnut fondue!  We used a recipe from the booklet that came with my Cuisinart fondue maker: cream, half-and-half, semi-sweet chocolate, liqueur (we used Irish Cream), and chopped nuts (we used macadamias).

M brought strawberries, bananas, rice Krispy treats and pound cake for dippers.

I must have eaten my weight in chocolate- it was soooooooooo good, and I could not seem to get enough chocolate-drenched rice Krispy treats!  Those things are mighty tasty.

This morning I was in the mood for peanut butter- I love the all-natural, old-fashioned, creamy, nothing-but-salt-and-peanuts Smuckers kind.  Slathered on a warm, fresh-from-the-toaster sprouted grain English muffin, it was glorious.

HIT.THE.SPOT.

I usually prefer almond butter, but peanut butter definitely has its place, too.  ;)  After my breaky, some studying and flash-card making (there are about 1002159874 words that I have to memorize for medical terminology), I rocked some interval cardio (premix #3) and ate some leftovers from last night.  Right now B is in an ESPN game highlights coma.  It’s kinda cute.  :)  I don’t know anyone who is a bigger Mavs fan than B.

Tonight is game night!  We’ll be playing Tripoly again.  Instead of doing the snack thang like last time, we’re going to set up a fajita nacho bar for people to make their own nacho plate.  It should be a good time!  Hopefully I won’t get too drunk distracted and will be able to take some decent pics.  ;)

***

Back on the subject of evolving, my taste in music sure has changed over the last several years.  I’ve gone from Michael Jackson-loving kid to grungy, Nirvana-worshiping teen to hip-hop bumpin’ Master P na-nah na-nah-er to Radiohead and The Smashing Pumpkins alterna-snob.  Most recently I have fallen in love with The Head and The Heart and Mumford & Sons, both of which have a folk-y, instrumental sound that I wouldn’t have ever considered to be my style, but my gawd they are just so good that I don’t know how anyone couldn’t love ‘em.  I’ve also been listening to The Black Angels (M got me hooked!) and MGMT.

What have you been jamming to lately?

I guess you could say that I now appreciate almost all types of music, which is nice.  I’m not a big fan of country and I definitely do not enjoy gangsta rap, but other than that I can groove to most anything.

I’m off to pick up the tots, run some errands and prep for tonight.  What are your plans for the weekend?

See ya later!  :D

S.

Ever Evolving

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Top o’ the evening to ya!  How’s it going?

Last night after watching the Mavs win (WOOHOO!) I just wasn’t in the mood for ice cream anymore.  I’m really starting to think that eating it every single night for months has ruined me!  I craved something cold and chocolate-y, but not ice cream… and then I remembered that I had a box of Diana’s Bananas in the freezer that I had yet to try!

I spotted these at Market Street before our vacation to Sequim and kind of forgot about them.  Diana’s Bananas are apparently “The World’s Best Chocolate Dipped Frozen Banana“, and ya know what?  THEY SO ARE.  We had giant chocolate-and-peanut covered frozen bananas from the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Company last week, and they were really good- but Diana’s Bananas are better.  They’re much smaller (banana halves on a wide stick), the chocolate didn’t fall off all over the place, and the peanuts on the outside were chopped more finely than the Rocky Mountain ones (which I prefer) and had a slightly salty kick to them- I’ll be buying these again for sure.  :D

I also had half a white chocolate-macadamia cookie (not pictured) that was calling my name.  I’m not the biggest white chocolate fan, but combine it with macadamia nuts in a cookie and I’m all ova it.  :)

This morning I was starvin’ when I woke up, so I fixed some Peach & Maple Cream Oatmeal:D

So good.

LURVE the layers of peachy oatmeal, maple almond butter, and creamy Greek yogurt.  :D

I am now officially out of Justin’s Almond Butter, so I’ll be hitting up the store for more next week.  I think I like it better than MaraNatha, even if there is a girl on the homepage of their website singing a dreadful-yet-somehow-cute song that begins with the line, “Oh Justin, I love your nut butter…”.

(And now you know that I am really 12 years old.)

After breakfast I rocked some kickboxing.  I’m really getting into the kick-punch thing to work up a good sweat and get my cardio on.  I’d love to take a live kickboxing class in the future, fo’ sho’.  I find it to be a fantastic stress reliever!

***

I’ve been thinking a bit about how we evolve as eaters over time.  I have the bad habit of thinking that the way things are now- with my kids, the weather, my food preferences, exercise habits, and pretty much life in general- are the way they’ll always be, and I need to remember that things are bound to change eventually.  That’s what life is all about, right?  Growing and changing and learning and experiencing.  Over the last several years I have gone from miserable dieter to intuitive eater, which led me to discover that I look and feel my very best when I consume (mostly) whole foods, and now I’m more health conscious than ever, with my recent desire to eat less animal products and incorporate more super foods and vegetarian recipes into my diet.

The awesome (and perhaps surprising) part is that I don’t think I’ve ever eaten a more varied and delicious diet in my entire life!  I find myself getting extra excited about trying new recipes and experimenting with new foods lately, and I’m floored that B is so stoked about making healthy changes to his diet, too.  Limiting our red meat intake was actually his idea.  Cooking with my significant other is still pretty new to me (past relationships had me standing over a stove cooking for 1 while my veggie-hating mate would happily eat the same old Totino’s pizza every night), and I just love it.  B and I make an awesome team in the kitchen, and we are getting better and more efficient at bringing complete, delicious, wholesome meals together every night.  It’s definitely a bonding thing and it brings us closer, I think.  We’re also spending more time each week looking at recipes together, which is pretty much like looking at porn for us Food Cuckoos;)

How have your eating habits evolved in the last few years?  Have your preferences changed much? 

Exercise-wise, I’ve also come a long way.  I used to exercise just to burn calories, then I took a break from the hardcore stuff when I gave up dieting, later I began using exercise as a way to feel stronger, relieve stress and boost energy, and now I’m hooked for life.  I remember when I couldn’t do one single military-style push-up, and it wasn’t too long ago that I couldn’t run for more than 5 minutes at a time.  I think it’s important to take time to reflect on things like this.  It’s easy to get overwhelmed with what you think you should be doing, especially where making healthy lifestyle changes are concerned.  Habits that stick are going to be small ones that happen over time, so keep that in mind!  I try to compare THEN vs. NOW often to remind myself just how far I’ve come with healthy living.

Another change I’ve made recently is that I stopped weighing myself every day.  The scale can be a great tool for weight maintenance, but if it starts to determine what kind of day you’re going to have (ie, you’re down a few pounds so you’re in a crazy-good mood, or it reads two pounds higher than yesterday and suddenly you’ve got a permanent dark cloud looming over you), it’s probably time to tuck the scale away for a little while.  That is exactly what happened to me.  Since going on vacation mid-May I have only weighed myself once.  I made a huge deal over gaining three pounds over the course of our week-long trip, and that negative, irrational, disordered voice of the past began to resurface.  I think it’s really important for me to write about this, because no matter how healthy and happy and together I seem on this blog, I definitely don’t always feel that way.  It has taken a lot of hard work to sort through my body image issues from the past, and I think that I have finally realized that they may never go away completely.  I’m okay with that, because what matters most is how I handle those feelings when they arise.

Instead of beating myself up and letting that negative self-talk take over, I examine how I can change my habits to improve things.  In this case, weighing myself daily wasn’t doing a lick of good, so I stopped doing it.  And you know what?  It was a glorious, freeing feeling.  I have used the scale as a tool to help me maintain my goal weight for the last couple of years, and it worked well for a while.  Now I’ve evolved into someone who prefers to monitor things based on how I feel and how my clothes are fitting.  Sometimes, if we scrutinize every ounce, we tend to let it dictate what we eat for the day (or at least I have the tendency to do that).  Because I truly believe in listening to your body and eating intuitively, letting the scale get to you like that doesn’t make sense.  It was time for me to get back to basics- eating what I want when I am hungry and letting how I feel and look be my guide.  So far it is working nicely, and I feel better than ever.  :)  I really believe that what makes you feel your very best- light, healthy, glowing, and full of energy- is also going to make you look your best.  Be good to yourself- take care of yourself- and the rest will follow.

Do you weigh yourself daily?  Do you have a food and/or weight maintenance philosophy?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Here’s a little blurb from Whole Living Daily about negative self-talk:)

***

B and I went to see The Hangover Part II this afternoon.  We love the first one, and the second one was pretty funny.  Obviously not nearly as good as the first one (what sequel is ever as good as the first, I ask you?  Does such a flick exist?), but it was still a good time.  Zach Galifianakis seriously cracks me up.  We totally broke the law and snuck frozen candy bars and bottled water into the theater- a Snickers for B and a Milky Way for me.  Please don’t tell anyone.

Before the movie I feasted on some of that Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad from last night.  Today I mixed it was a spoonful of black beans, some grape tomatoes, and a good dollop of guacamole- it hit the spot!

The jungle-themed kiddie bowl made it even better.  ;)

Speaking of B, he made dinner tonight!  He pulled together an amazing menu that knocked my flip-flops off (uh, no sock-wearing for me in this 125801 degree heat!  We’re pushing 100 already here in good ol’ T to the X): Salmon with Herbed Mustard Sauce, dutch baby yellow potatoes tossed with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt and garlic pepper and roasted to perfection, plus a spinach side salad (I topped mine with chopped red bell pepper, cucumber, baby carrots, and honey mustard dressing).  I was absolutely ravenous by the time it was ready, and I could not have asked for a better meal!  :D

The whole meal was redonk- I love fresh dill!  That sauce was EPIC!  Tomorrow night is another Mavs game, and we’re doing the grilled veggie, basil pesto and fresh mozzarella panini thang plus chocolate-hazelnut fondue for dessert- I can’t wait.  It’s gonna be a good night (M is coming over!) as long as we freakin’ WIN.  Did you guys see Dirk last night?  He was sick with a fever and awful-sounding sinus infection, yet he played his heart out.  The entire time I just wanted to make him some chicken noodle soup and put his exhausted ass to bed- poor guy!  I hope he’s feeling better for tomorrow’s game.

G’night, friends!  :D

S.

Keep it Simple

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What up, what up!  Tuesday in the hizzy.  I’m in a pretty sweet mood!  Got a lot done today- lots of studying, finished a looming assignment, rocked Gym Style Chest & Triceps (I forgot how exhausting heavy lifting can be!  I’m looking forward to some good muscle soreness tomorrow), took E to karate, and knocked out the grocery shopping in under and hour.  First thing’s first- here is that epic mini chocolate-cappuccino cheesecake I’ve been raving about .  B and I polished off the last two last night…

I definitely need to ask my sis for the recipe for these.  It has the perfect chocolate-to-coffee ratio, with a thick, sweet cookie-like crust and creamy, dreamy coffee-chocolate cheesecake layer.  SO FLIPPIN’ GOOD.  I savored mine with a glass of almond milk!  ALMOND MILKHave you tried this stuff?  I’ve had my fair share of soy milk in the past 10 years, but almond milk is something else entirely… I’m going to go ahead and say that I quite prefer it over regular cow’s milk.  It has a slightly nutty, almond-y hint to it and is incredibly smooth and creamy.  Up until now I’ve been using it in my Vegan Overnight Oats, but last night I had a glass with dessert.  WIN.  I’m sold on almond milk.  :)

Speaking of Vegan Overnight Oats, that’s precisely what I had for breakfast this morning.

Carob Banana Chia Vegan Overnight Oats, to be exact.  This time I added a tad less almond milk, and the mixture thickened up perfectly overnight.  This is my new breakfast love, oh yes!

After my workout and more studying (IT NEVER ENDS), I was suddenly starving.  For lunch I grabbed a sprouted grain pita, spread it with guacamole, and topped it with a handful of baby spinach, a few spoonfuls of black beans, a chopped Roma tomato, and a hefty blob of hot salsa (I LIKE IT SPICY!)…

B and I dominated the grocery shopping- we came in way under our budget, which was a wicked-awesome surprise!  In a perfect world I’d shop at Market Street for every grocery trip, but the fact that I have to drive 20+ minutes each way to the nearest one makes that impossible.  Lately, our Super Wal(hate)Mart has really stepped it up- it seems like every time I shop there they have new organic items to choose from and a whole lot more variety in general.  Plus, it’s much less expensive.  My bill is always substantially less when I shop at Wal-Mart, so if the quality doesn’t go downhill like it did early last year, I can definitely see myself grocery shopping there more often.

Which brings me to dinner.  :)  A glorious, easy, healthy dinner that was almost too good to be true!  We made Oh She Glows Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad and sautéed some shrimp in extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper and then tossed it with a couple of spoonfuls of store-bought basil pesto.  The result was an amazingly tasty, light, flavorful, summery meal that made my bellah smile.  :D

Oh She Glows (Angela’s) Cilantro Lime Chickpea Salad

Adapted from Heather

Yield: 1-2 servings (I doubled the recipe so that I could enjoy leftovers for lunch the next few days!)

INGREDIENTS

  • One 15-oz can chickpeas (2 cups cooked), drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1/4 cup sweet onion, chopped finely
  • Juice from 1.5 limes
  • 3/4 cup fresh Cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt + ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:

In a food processor, add the spinach and pulse a few times until chopped very small.  Add the processed spinach, drained chickpeas, and chopped onion into a large bowl.

In the food processor (no need to rinse the bowl!), add the lime juice, cilantro, mustard, sugar, garlic, cumin, and oil.

Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Pour the dressing on top of the spinach chickpea mixture and stir well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let stand for about 10 minutes to let the flavors develop.  (Note: I found that the addition of 1 extra tsp. sugar and a few extra shakes of garlic salt were necessary- I think we used too much lime juice!  By the time the flavors melded, though, it was perfect.  Just be sure to taste the dressing and adjust seasonings to your liking.)

El shrimpies…

Seriously, I never would have thought that these two simple dishes would make for such an enjoyable meal.  B raved the entire time (he mixed his shrimp and chickpea salad together and ate it in record time!), and I was also pretty impressed.  We cooked and dined while enjoying a new (to us) white wine: Sauvignon Blanc (we opted for Yellowtail, as usual.  It never lets us down and is affordable- we’re on a budget, people!).  It was much less dry and a lot more fruity than the Chardonnay we’ve been drinking, and I really liked it!  It was definitely a good match for this meal.  :D

This salad was sooo good!  The tang of the lime worked well with the cumin, dijon mustard and cilantro.  Plus, chickpeas are nutritional powerhouses- loaded with fiber, protein, and blood-sugar stabilizing carbs.

Six ingredients (shrimp, olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, jarred basil-pesto and minced fresh garlic cloves) and less than 15 minutes later, dinner was SERVED.  :D

(That’s my kind of dinner.)

I’m off to watch the last 10 minutes of the Mavericks game (and consequently gnaw my fingernails down to nubs).  I also think some ice cream is in my near future… it’s been a few weeks and I have a serious craving. :)

Have a good evening!  See ya tomorrow, peeps.

xo,

Sara

More Lard, Less Meat

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It’s… Monday, right?  Yes, right.  I started one of my two summer classes today, Medical Terminology.  So far the class looks like it’s going to be really interesting and… fun?  Maybe fun isn’t the word, but I’m excited to get back into the school swing of things.  The textbook for this course looks rad, and I know that it’ll come in handy when I take Anatomy & Physiology in the fall.  My other class is an elective and doesn’t start until July.  I’ll be taking Stress Management, and I am going to take it very seriously.  I’m your classic high-strung Type A perfectionist personality, so I’m always looking for ways to chill the heck out that don’t include the use of illegal drugs and/or shots of absinthe. ;)

After going through the first day of class thang this morning, I fixed a non-traditional breakfast that was pretty freakin’ tasty.  For some reason I was craving guacamole and black beans, so I puttered around the kitchen for a few minutes and whipped up a black bean & guac pita:

A sprouted grain pita spread with guacamole and stuffed with a slice of cheddar cheese, Roma tomato, organic black beans and jalapeno rings.  It was really good and definitely satisfied my weird bean craving.

(Who craves beans?)

After my pita baby digested I rocked Intensity (premix #6).  I seriously love that workout!  It’s hardcore but actually fun, without the dread factor that comes with many of the other HiiT workouts I’ve tried.  For the last few weeks I’ve been doing higher rep total body weight workouts, so for the next two weeks I’m going to do Cathe’s Gym Style workouts. My workout schedule looks like this:

Monday: CARDIO
Tuesday: Gym Style Chest & Triceps
Wednesday: CARDIO
Thursday: Gym Style Legs
Friday: CARDIO
Saturday: Gym Style Back, Shoulders & Biceps
Sunday: Yoga

I really enjoyed the Gym Style rotation when I did it several months ago, and I’m stoked to be bringing it back for a couple of weeks.  :D

***

Last night my mom had everyone over for dinner.  She made a Rachael Ray chicken sandwich recipe that involved pepper jack cheese and guacamole plus a side of pasta salad.  I don’t know why, but riding in a car (in other words: sitting on my ass) for 8 hours makes me hungry.  I don’t understand it, but I was ravenous when we got home, so I helped myself to some appetizers, wine, a guacamole-and-cheese smothered chicken sandwich, and a hefty serving of pasta salad.

It definitely hit the spot.  Mom also made blackberry cake (not pictured), which everyone enjoyed with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.  My sis and her guy took a trip down to San Antonio this weekend, and they brought us back the Lulu’s Bakery & Cafe 3-pound Cinnamon Roll.

B and I had to try some before bed, of course.  :)

Also: LARD, anyone?  Blech.

What a BEAST!

I tend to think that anything made on a ginormous scale is probably going to be lacking taste-wise (I’m a quality over quantity kind of girl, which is why I’m not a huge fan of buffets), but this cinnamon roll was incredible!  The roll part of it was light, airy and fluffy (must be the LARD), with a not-too-sweet cinnamon swirl throughout, and the thick icing was perfect.  I really enjoyed it!  With an ice-cold glass of milk, it was crazy-good.

***

How about this week’s menu?  I finally managed to pull it together.  Now that I’m back in school, things are definitely more crazy than usual.  I kind of got used to that month-long break.  ;)

Monday: Since we didn’t have the reserved Spanakopita Burgers last night (and instead opted for my mom’s delicious cooking), we had them tonight!  This time I had mine on a sprouted grain English muffin with dijon mustard and horseradish mayo…

…plus a spinach side salad topped with cucumber moons, sun dried tomatoes, toasted pine nuts, and balsamic vinaigrette.

Glorious I say!  :D

Tuesday: Oh She Glow’s Cilantro-lime Chickpea Salad with basil pesto-topped baked fish (just top a whitefish filet with store-bought pesto and bake until flaky- so easy, so good!).

Wednesday: B cooks!  :)  I think he’s going to do a chicken dish of some sort.

Thursday: M is coming over for dinner, and we will make Grilled Vegetable Paninis (using grilled portobello caps, zucchini and eggplant) with basil pesto and fresh mozzarella cheese.  For dessert, I’m making a chocolate-hazelnut fondue and M is bringing over the dippers (banana chunks, berries, pound cake bites, etc.).  I can’t wait!  There’s a Mavs game on that night, so I thought this would be something we could enjoy while watching that.  (MAN I hope we win!  There’s one on tomorrow night, too. *crosses fingers*)

Friday: Whole Living’s Mediterranean Pasta with Artichokes, Olives and Tomatoes (topped with plenty o’ Parmesan cheese, of course!).  I think this looks so good!  Plus it’s easy and requires few ingredients.

Saturday: Game night here!  Same crowd as last time, though I’m not sure what kind of snacks I want to make.  Stay tuned for that.  :D

Sunday: ??? ‘TIS A MYSTERY

B and I have both decided that we want to cut our meat intake substantially.  We both just feel better not eating it so frequently, and after pursuing some vegetarian and vegan websites for recipes, I’m really excited to start experimenting with meat-free (and often animal product-free) cooking.  I don’t think I could ever go vegan, because I adore cheese and chocolate and… steak.  I feel like I eat quite healthfully already, but it’s good to be reminded that meat/poultry/seafood doesn’t always have to take center stage in a meal.  Sometimes it’s best to use meat as more of a garnish and focus on veggies and grains, and I know from growing up with a vegetarian mom that meat-free doesn’t have to be boring and bland!  You’ll notice that our menu this week doesn’t include any red meat.  Next week I’d like to try even less poultry and maybe swap in more seafood.

Do you have a favorite vegetarian recipe that I should know about?  Do you try to limit your consumption of animal products?

We both really want to see Forks Over Knives.  I’d love to hear your thoughts on it if you’ve seen it!

Yeah, this was the perfect way to wrap up a post that started off with me talking about how delicious a giant lard-laden cinnamon roll was.  ;)

Oooh!  I also plan on making these amazing little muffins sometime this week.  The kids love them, and so do I.  I first found this recipe when I checked out Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook from the library a few years ago, and they quickly became one of my all-time favorite muffins.  Healthy, easy, and freakin’ delicious.  (Really, they are ridiculously good- try ‘em!  You will be surprised!)

I’m off to do a little more studying and then catch the latest episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey!  I am SHAMELESS:)

Have a good night.

S.

Double Post Thursday!

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(Note: I have no idea why that wanker WordPress is cramming all my pics together like that.  Also, I really like the word WANKER.  That is all.)

What up, what up.  I got my haircut.  I can just FEEL the sigh of relief from all of you.  I know, I know.  It was a definite hairmergency.  Not only did I get it cut, I got it straightened for a day, just for fun.  Tomorrow when a single spec of moisture comes into contact with my strands, I’ll be back to crazy-curly business as usual.

Man, we’re watching The Mavs game right now and I can hardly stand it.  We’re ahead, but I know better than to get all excited about a lead in a basketball game until at least the beginning of the last quarter, unless I particularly feel like getting my heart ripped out of my chest that day, in which case I’ll get emotionally involved from the start.

Anyway!  Since I’m watching the game through one eye and the mo’, I thought I’d post the pics from tonight’s dinner.  It’s Double Post Thursday!  We made Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers, which turned out to be so damn easy and so freakin’ delish that they’ve already won themselves a spot in our Easy Dinner Hall of Fame.  Technically we don’t actually have an Easy Dinner Hall of Fame, but if we did?  These would be in the top 5.  :)

Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers

Serves 4-5 (4 large burgers or 5 medium-size ones)

Prep: 10 mins

Total time: 30 mins

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus some for drizzling
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 (10 ounce) box frozen spinach, defrosted
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano (I used 1 tsp. dried)
  • 1/4 lb feta, crumbles
  • 1 1/3 lbs ground chicken or 1 1/3 lbs ground turkey breast, 1 package
  • 1 tablespoon grill seasoning (recommended: Montreal Steak Seasoning by McCormick)
DIRECTIONS
Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add a little extra-virgin olive oil and a tablespoon of butter. When butter melts, add the chopped garlic and chopped red onion and cook 5 minutes.
Transfer the onions and garlic to a bowl to cool.
Return pan to heat.  Squeeze all the water out of the thawed spinach.
Separate the spinach as you add it to the bowl of onions and garlic and season with the oregano.
Add in feta crumbles, chicken/turkey, grill seasoning and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.
Mix and form into 4 (or 5) patties, 1-inch thick.
Raise heat on pan to medium-high.  Add patties and cook 6 minutes on each side.
***
These turned out to be fan-freaking-tastic.  :D  We made 4 large burgers, so we wrapped up two of them before cooking and stuck ‘em in the freezer to enjoy on Sunday night after our long drive home from Kansas City!  We’ll just throw them on the grill, sip some wine, and relax.  Forward-thinking FTW!  ;)
For tonight’s meal I nixed the bun*, topped my burger with horseradish mayo and dijon mustard, and went with a side of leftover Vegetable and Edamame Pasta with Basil Cream Sauce plus some chopped cucumber and grape tomatoes instead.
I already can’t wait to eat this again on Sunday!  There was a LOT of spinach and feta cheese in each burger, and the sautéed red onion and garlic really came through- I just loved it.  :)
B had his burger on a multi-grain ciabatta bun with bacon ranch dressing and horseradish mayo, also with a side of the veggie pasta:
*I often talk about balancing food choices in an effort to stay trim and not get too much of any one thing.  While this doesn’t always work out perfectly for me (see last night’s FIVE mini Banoffee Pies!), I practice it often enough that I do believe it makes a difference.  Tonight, for example, I could have had both a bun on my burger and the pasta salad, but did I really need all those carbs?  Intuitively I felt like that would be a whole lotta food, so I asked myself which I would enjoy the most: the soft, chewy, thick bun wrapped around my burger or the firm-to-the-bite, avocado and basil infused, vegetable-studded pasta salad.  My gut yelled PASTA, and so I rolled with it.  Honestly, I didn’t miss the bun at all!  There are a thousand ways to work this balancing thing- I could have had an open-face burger with only one half of a bun on the bottom plus a smaller portion of the pasta, for example.  In any case, I just wanted to point out that going without the bun wasn’t some kind of deprivation thing, but more of a balancing act that I incorporate into my health-conscious diet.  :)  Just an example!
I haven’t gotten the urge for dessert yet so I have no cheesecake pictures to share.  We are now approaching the end of the Mavs game, so it’s time to pay attention!  Have a wonderful Thursday night, a glorious Friday, and a Happy Weekend.  I’ll see ya Sunday night!  :D
Tell me: what are your plans for the weekend?
WISH US LUCK IN THE CAR WITH THE KIDS FOR 251567891232314567861302 hours.
(HALP!)
xoxo,
S.

Road Trippin’ & ch-ch-ch-CHIA!

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Hello, friends!  How’s it going?  We’re gearing up for our road trip to Kansas City tomorrow morning.  Both tots got haircuts this week, but my tresses are in bad, bad shape…

So bad, in fact, that I haven’t been able to wear my hair down for a few days now- I look like some kind of dreadlocked Brillo pad .  I put on a smile and pretend that everything is ok…

But deep down, I know it’s awful.

Fortunately, I have a haircut scheduled for this afternoon.  I don’t want to meet B’s extended family for the first time with that mess on my head.  I am the WORST about getting haircuts- it’s really very ungirly of me.  I’m fanatical about everything else, like having my toes nicely painted at all times (chipped nail polish reminds me of Britney Spears walking barefoot into a gas station bathroom- remember those pics?  I know that sounds horrible, but it’s true), shaving my legs daily and staying moisturized, but I always manage to go about 18 years between haircuts.

Ah well.  Maybe someday I’ll learn.  :)

***

Last night I had dinner with M, and it was crazy-fun, as usual.  :D  We made Oh She Glows 15-Minute Creamy Avocado Pasta, sautéed some Market Street-made lemon pepper shrimp, and served it all with a green side salad topped with crispy onions and a Tuscan Italian vinaigrette.

The shrimp

The pasta

My plate

I’ve made that pasta probably 5 times now, and it never disappoints.  The shrimp was really good, too.  Market Street’s prepared seafood and meat dishes have always been really tasty, in my experience!

For dessert, M made Mini Banoffee Pies

They were so good I wanted to cry, but instead I ate 15 5.

It’s like having eaten a regular-sized slice of pie, right?

(RIGHT.)  ;)

We sipped Cabernet Sauvignon all night, listened to music, and just caught up on life.  A lifelong best friend + wine + mini pies = a very happy me.  :)

When I got home I prepped a bowl of Carob Banana Chia Vegan Overnight Oats!  I purchased the ingredients that I didn’t already have on hand yesterday afternoon (carob powder, chia seeds and almond milk), and luckily Market Street had everything!  I hate when I have to go to 15 different stores for grocery items, and so far Market Street has always had everything I’ve ever needed.  I followed the overnight oats recipe exactly, only I left out the walnuts and drizzled the mixture with agave nectar instead of maple syrup just before eating.

The concoction came together in about three minutes and smelled really good when I put it in the fridge before bed.  It just looked like a chocolate-y soup with banana chunks.

This is my first time cooking with chia seeds, and I’m betting that the majority of you don’t have any in your pantry.  Read up on the benefits of this wonder food here, here, and here!  I’m excited to be incorporating ch-ch-ch-CHIA seeds into my life.  :)

This morning I pulled the bowl from the fridge with slight nervousness, but when I pulled back the plastic wrap I was greeted with a thick, creamy bowl of chocolate-banana oatmeal goodness.

The chia seeds turn gelatinous when mixed with liquid, so they gave the oats an almost pudding-like consistency.  The ripe banana added a nice textural component and slight sweetness, and a drizzle of agave nectar on top was the perfect touch.  Next time I might add some walnuts for a little crunch, but otherwise I wouldn’t change a thing!  I will definitely add Vegan Overnight Oats to my regular breakfast rotation.  I also have stuff to make Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Vegan Overnight Oats, so stay tuned for that!

I’m becoming more and more interested in working superfoods into my diet.  Now that I’ve added chia seeds, I want to learn more about goji berries and cacao nibs.  B and I have also been talking about making vegan cheese sauce and experimenting with things like nutritional yeast in our cooking adventures.  We’re definitely going to hit up the Spiral Diner again before the summer is over!  Remember that “Meat”ball Sub that B had the last time we went?

Mmm, cheesy…

***

Can you believe it’s already June?  June is…

National Home Safety Month

June 1-7 is National Headache Awareness Month

Yesterday was Stand for Children Day

June 4 is National Trails Day

June 5 is World Environment Day and National Cancer Survivors Day

June 12 is National Children’s Day

June 13-19 is National Men’s Health Week

June 14 is World Blood Donor Day

and June 27 is National HIV Testing Day

Am I forgetting anything?  :)

I’m off to pump some iron, do some more packing, and get that mop on my head snipped into shape.  I’m betting that I won’t have access to a computer until Sunday night, but I’ll be back then with a wedding and road trip recap.   :)  Tonight we’re making Rachael Ray’s Spanakopita Burgers, and I’m very excited.  If I have time later I will post up the pics, along with some shots of the leftover mini chocolate-cappuccino cheesecake my sister made that I plan on devouring.

Also?

GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO Mavericks!

(Really.  Come on, guys!)

Have a good Thursday!

xo,

Sara

Saying NO to Dieting and My Healthy Living Blogger Round-up!

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Hello and happy pre-Friday to YOU!  :D

First of all, goooooooooooooooooooooooooooo Dallas Mavericks!

(Can I GET a hell yeah?!)

***

I wanted to talk a bit about finding what works for you eating and exercise-wise.  I think that one of the biggest mistakes people make when trying to get healthy or lose weight or get in shape is that they want someone to tell them what to eat and what to do.  The diet industry is a monster, and consumers are constantly searching for that magic pill/meal plan/piece of exercise equipment that will change everything and answer their prayers.  The truth it that it just doesn’t exist.  Obviously if it were as easy as taking a pill or following someone else’s meal plan or using the shake weight twice a day (heh, good grief), everyone would probably be in great shape.  Back in my dieting days, I was a miserable, deprived, pudgy, out of shape girl who was endlessly searching for the next diet plan that was going to be it, the one that would change my life.  I didn’t trust myself around food, didn’t think I knew “how” to eat, so I thought I needed a book or a person to spell it out for me.  Unfortunately, this can easily become (as it did for me) a vicious cycle of yo-yo dieting where you end up even heavier and more miserable than you were before you ever picked up that diet book in the first place.

You can’t live someone else’s life, eat what someone else eats, do exactly what someone else does and expect it to be a perfect fit for you.  Diet books and meal plans do not take into account your personal preferences, tastes, lifestyle and interests.  Even those “custom-made” meal plans will do you in, because most of them include a long list of foods that you can’t have or recipes that you have no interest in preparing.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve signed up for a “tailored” meal plan in the past only to find that my allowed dessert for the night was something like 1/2 cup pineapple chunks topped with a tablespoon of fat-free cool whip.  Boy, what a treat!  NO THANK YOU.  If you adore chocolate as much as I do and you try to satisfy that craving with fruit, what do you think is eventually going to happen, no matter how badly you want to slim down?  After a week or so, I’d always end up eating half a gallon of rocky road ice cream or a whole bag of Hershey’s kisses, feel incredibly guilty, and then eat even more to make myself feel better.  I’d end up gaining all the weight back plus some, and so the search for a new diet would begin.

It took me years to see the logical reasoning behind this maddening cycle, but now it just makes plain old-fashioned good sense.  It wasn’t me that was the problem, it was whatever diet I was following.  The saddest part was that each time I went through this cycle, I’d feel even more lost and out of control than before.  I felt like a failure, like I’d never be a “normal” eater, like I’d never be happy and healthy and confident and in shape.  The diet industry is designed this way, and man, it is a bitch.  My one initial piece of advice for people wanting to lose weight and get healthy FOR LIFE would be first and foremost to STOP DIETING.  Give it up for good.  Vow to never diet again!  It can be scary, because if you’ve been doing it for long enough, it becomes a way of life.  I know a ton of people who count Weight Watcher points or calories half the time, and then we’ll meet for lunch another day and they’ll order the biggest, most greasy and fattening meal in the whole restaurant and eat it all, simply because they were “off the wagon” that day.  To get to a healthy weight and stay there for the rest of your life, you have got to escape this black-and-white way of thinking.

Have you ever felt trapped in that yo-yo dieting cycle?  Are their people in your life who are constantly going on and off of diets?

All of the blogs that I read (and there are MANY!) that have authors who have gone through some kind of health transformation- gotten into shape and stayed there, lost weight and kept it off- have one thing in common: they ALL do their own thing.  No one follows any kind of diet plan from a book or orders their meals from Jenny Craig or takes a magic pill.  Reaching a healthy weight and staying in shape does take effort, but it’s really pretty simple: eat well and move your ass.  That’s really it!  It’s up to you to discover how much food your body needs, which foods help you to feel and look your best, and which forms of exercise you truly enjoy.  You also have to go at it with an open mind and an adventurous, fun attitude.  You have to get creative with food to keep it interesting, satisfying, fun and tasty, and you have to make sure that you find ways to exercise that won’t burn you out or make you want to strangle yourself with a shoelace.  Everyone gets into food and workout ruts from time to time, but I credit much of my long-term weight loss success to making it a point to find new workouts that I enjoy, experimenting regularly with new foods and recipes, always being good to myself, and never, EVER depriving myself.  It takes some trial and error, but if you approach it with an open mind, lots of self-love, and with optimal health and overall wellness as your main, overarching goal, you will succeed in finding the right healthy lifestyle for you- one that works.  You will!

I have found a handful of healthy living blogs that I read regularly because I just love them.  I find these people to be real, honest, motivating, and full of creative ideas that inspire me both in the kitchen and in my workouts.  Here are some of my faves:

Linda at All & Sundry is a 30-something married mama and writer who discovered her passion for good health and fitness around five years ago.  I love her honesty about not always wanting to work out and her tendency to eat nothing but processed carbs for weekends at a time, but she always gets back on track and writes beautifully about the non-vanity related benefits of living a healthy lifestyle (confidence that carries over into other areas of life, setting a good example for her kids, etc.).

Tina at Carrots ‘n’ Cake is a writer and runner who takes pictures of almost all of her meals.  She works out regularly and eats well, and I find that I can relate to many of her posts.  You can read about her weight loss journey here.

Emily at Daily Garnish is a vegetarian chef, marathon runner, heavy weight lifter and brilliant writer, and I really enjoy her posts.  I love her honesty, and her beautiful spirit shines through in her blog posts.  She has a ton of awesome posts about fitness, health and food- definitely check out her site if you haven’t before!  You can read about her lifestyle transformation here.

Kek at Day 85 to Infinity is a married 40-something mother of three with a full-time job and an online personal training business.  Her fitness addiction began in 2004 when she lost quite a bit of weight through healthy eating and regular workouts (and has kept it off ever since!), and I love her suck-it-up, JUST DO IT attitude where committing to living a healthy lifestyle is concerned.

Jenna at Eat, Live, Run is a recipe writer, chef and fitness enthusiast.  My favorite thing about her blog (besides the incredible food pics!) is her food philosophy, which is very much like my own.  Brilliant.

Kath and Kath Eats Real Food is a registered dietitian whose tribute to oatmeal immediately made her blog one of my absolute favorites.  She is also a runner who has maintained a 30-pound weight loss for five years and likes to take food pics.  Read about her weight loss journey here.  I especially love that she makes healthy eating and staying active FUN and finds joy in living a healthy, balanced lifestyle.

Meghan at Meals and Miles is another healthy living blogger and runner that takes pictures of most of her meals (which you know I love!).  She has maintained a 20-pound weight loss for a few years now with regular workouts and a focus on lifestyle changes- no dieting here!  Her blog has lots of pep, which I appreciate.  :)

Angela at Oh She Glows is probably the healthy living blogger that has had the biggest, most positive impact on me.  She writes with incredible honesty about her struggle with an eating disorder over the years (both restricting food intake and binge eating), about learning to love and accept yourself, and honoring your body with food that tastes amazing and makes you feel and look your very best.  She owns a vegan bakery and her blog is full of amazing recipes!  Her positive attitude is truly contagious.  I can relate to Angela in so many ways- she is living proof that it is possible to beat an eating disorder, reach and maintain a healthy weight, and achieve a happy, healthy balance with food and exercise.  Anytime I’m feeling down on myself or if those old, nasty, negative disordered eating voices start to resurface (as they tend to do from time to time), if I click over to Angela’s blog my spirits are instantly lifted, and I’m reminded of just how far I’ve come in my own health and weight loss journey.

Sara at Sanaworld is an intuitive eating advocate and regular exerciser who has also overcome an eating disorder.  She also owns her own supplement company!  I’ve read her blog for years and enjoy her real, honest, often times funny posts about her journey toward finding balance with all things food and fitness and discovering what works for her.  Not only is her name also Sara, she just happens to love red wine.  We were meant to be friends, obviously.  ;)

Skwigg is another one of my all-time favorite healthy living bloggers.  She, too, has overcome an eating disorder and maintained a significant weight loss for several years through lifestyle changes and regular workouts.  More recently, she let all the rules go and adapted an intuitive eating way of life, which she refers to as Intuitive Eating 2.0Her blog is smart, funny, and honest.  She’s all about looking great without deprivation and staying active, and I find her posts to be truly enjoyable and motivating.  She also started the website Happy Eaters, which is a great place for people who want to stop dieting in favor of finding a more balanced, sane way to get to and stay at a healthy weight.

Gina at The Fitnessista is a spin and Zumba instructor, personal trainer, food lover (and picture taker!), and military wife who has maintained a significant weight loss over the years by finding what works for her.  You can read about her journey here.  Her posts are funny and energetic, and I always leave her blog feeling inspired.  :)

I hope you will find inspiration from some or all of these amazing bloggers!  They have certainly helped me on my path to balanced living.  It really helps to find like-minded people that you can relate to.  We health nuts, exercise addicts and foodies must stick together!  ;)

***

After screwing around on the internet for about a million hours this morning, I rocked Muscle Max with some kind of renewed post-vacation vigor.  Afterward, I had something new today for lunch: a sprouted grain pita spread with hummus and stuffed with pepper jack cheese, tomato, cucumber and avocado slices, alfalfa sprouts, and sprinkled with garlic salt and pepper, plus a side of artichoke hearts (which I meant to stuff into the pita but things started to fall apart).

It was so good!  :D  Dinner was even more amazing…

Food Network’s Turkey-Vegetable Parmesan

Pan-fried turkey cutlets topped with grilled eggplant and zucchini slices, fresh basil, fresh mozzarella cheese, and chopped plum tomatoes simmered in white wine.

(!!!)

A spinach side salad with red bell pepper chunks, zucchini strips, baby carrots, pine nuts, crispy jalapenos and balsamic vinaigrette completed this amazing meal.  It was so flippin’ delicious!!!  Another winner from Food Network mag!!!

We’re gonna panini up the leftover cutlets on Monday… I CAN’T FREAKIN’ WAIT.  :)

It’s ice cream time and then I’m drifting off to dreamland.  I hope your Thursday night is an amazing one!  See ya later, alligator.  :)

xo,

S.