Category Archives: New Years

Ring It In

Standard

Happy new year!  How did you spend the last night of 2011?  I kicked things off by doing a Jager shot with my mom:

The rest of the evening was spent with B and some friends, and I was home in bed by 1am.

We are ultra classy and adorned our plastic champagne glasses with masking tape name tags.  Don’t be jealous.  ;)

It was a great night!

For breakfast on New Year’s day I made vegan pumpkin spice donuts.  I prepped the wet and dry ingredients separately the afternoon before, and in the morning I was so glad I had planned ahead.

These donuts are really, REALLY easy to make and very, VERY tasty.  Highly recommended!!!  :D

I used all whole wheat pastry flour instead of unbleached white, and they still turned out amazing.  I was thrilled that the kids loved these as much as they do regular donuts from the bakery.  Homemade, whole wheat, baked donuts are now going to be a regular thang in our kitchen.

New Year’s day I also made this detox salad:

DEEEELISH!  It made a ton, so I have easy lunches throughout the week.  I’m loving the idea of switching it up from my usual salad monsters and prepping a big mixed salad like this every weekend for quick, healthy mid-day meals all week long.

I enjoyed my first bowl topped with homemade garlic hummus and some Mary’s Gone Crackers:

So, so good.  I love the addition of sunflower seeds, currants and raisins and the light, fresh lemon juice and herbs.

For New Year’s day dinner, my Mom had everyone over for a big meal that included PPK’s Hottie Black Eyed Peas with Ginger Mashed Sweet Potatoes & Apples

…plus smoky seitan roast from the Vegan Diner cookbook (gah, so good!).

Also: homemade vegan pull-apart rolls

And chocolate lava cake from this book for dessert:

I definitely did my fair share of eating and drinking over the holidays!  I know I gained a couple of pounds, and it’s time to get back to a more balanced way of eating.  I’m not focused on the number on the scale, but on feeling lighter, more energetic and better in my clothes.

To get back into the swing of things, last night I made one of my favorite one-bowl meals:

Oh She Glows Protein Power Goddess Bowl

Uh, with a side of red wine.  Hey, yesterday was spent wrangling a cranky 2-year-old who was suffering from his first ear infection, so an evening glass of vino was in order.  ;)

Dinners for the rest of the week will consist of leftovers from the above protein bowl as well as split pea soup (recipe here) and sweet potato & lentil chili (recipe here) that I froze a few weeks ago.  Warm and comforting yet healthy and balanced one-bowl meals should help bring my sexy back in no time.  :)

I’m off to do some cardio and then take E to the doctor.  Poor guy has a cough that just won’t quit.  :(  At least O’s ear infection seems to have cleared up!

Have a happy and productive Tuesday.  :)

xoxo,

S.

PS- In 2012 I want to be more of an advocate for a healthy and happy vegan lifestyle.  Spread the veggie love!  To start, I took a tip from the vegan.com blog and added a vegan-friendly signature to my email.

Keep animals from harm every time you sit down to eat. Watch “Farm to Fridge” and read The Ultimate Vegan Guide.

If it prompts even one person to pause and think about where their food comes from, I’ll be a very happy girl.  This year I also plan to host multiple vegan dinner parties (wowing meat eaters with delicious vegan fare is always awesome!), write more about veganism here on the blog, and frequent the veg-friendly restaurants in my area (I can’t wait to go here, here and here!).  I’m coming up on 6 months of being vegan, and I’ve never felt better about my health or enjoyed food more than I do now.  If I had known that living compassionately could be this tasty (or this tasty, or this, this, this, THIS!), I would have given up animal products a long time ago.  :)

Hello, 2011!

Standard

We spent last night with good friends and had a blast ringing in the New Year with lots of food, wine and some tripoly action.  It was me and B’s first New Year’s Eve together, which is kind of special.  ;)

I drank and ate quite a bit, but this morning I woke up in a fantastic, almost euphoric mood.  I could have used a little more sleep, but other than that I felt great.  I made the kids some pancakes and then got busy doing STS Total Body.  It was my second time doing the workout, and I rocked it!  The first time you do a new weight workout, there’s always that initial phase of figuring out your perfect weight for each exercise, but since I keep a lifting journal of sorts, I was much better prepared this time around.  I knew what to expect and what weights to have ready, so I was able to easily follow along and go from exercise to exercise.  You know you worked hard when you start to feel soreness in your muscles two hours after the workout!  I like STS Total Body so much that I just might buy the entire STS series as a 31st birthday gift to myself.  We shall see.  Anyway, it was an awesome way to kick off the first day of the new year.  :)

***

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I’d like to focus on for 2011.  Here are a few things in particular:

1.) Have more fun with my kids.  Single parenting can be tough, and I spend a lot of energy being my boys’ caretaker.  I’d like to spend more time being a fun Mom in 2011.  I think that will be doable, since O is a bit more independent now and we can enjoy the same activities together as a family.  I’m loving how B is finding his role in my kids’ lives, and I know that they are, too.  :D  I couldn’t ask for more well-adjusted kids, or a better boyfriend, for that matter.

2.) Maintain my weight.  I reached my goal weight over a year ago- about 6 months after O’s birth- by working out hard, focusing on eating real, whole foods, and taking time to cook for myself each night, and continuing to do these things has allowed me to maintain my current weight with relative ease.  I’d like to continue to improve my overall fitness by changing up my workouts every 4-6 weeks, and I definitely want 2011 to be the year that I can finally knock out a couple of pull-ups.  I’d also like to do less recipe following in the new year and explore my inner chef.  Ya gotta keep things new and exciting in the gym and in the kitchen!  :)

3.) Strengthen the relationships that are most important to me.  2010 was such a crazy year, I wasn’t able to spend as much quality time with everyone that I would have liked to.  I’m going to try to organize a girl’s night with my besties at least two times per month, as well as make time to visit my Grandparents often and stay in close touch with my siblings.  I’d also like to get to know B’s family better.

4.) Spend lots of time on this blog to make it a success!  My vision for this website involves gaining like-minded readers who come here to share health and wellness tips, meal ideas and recipes, and motivation for living a balanced, healthy life.  I’m excited to see where this will go in 2011.

5.) Cut myself some slack.  I definitely want 2011 to be guided by the simple mantra stress less.  I’ll be taking some tough classes this year (hello, anatomy and chemistry!), and I need to remember that a less than perfect grade is not the end of the world.  I also need to be able to let the small things go, especially where my kids are concerned.  Life is never perfect, and I need to be ok with that.  My classic Type A personality is a stubborn one but I’m going to work hard to RELAX.

What are your goals, hopes, and dreams for 2011?

Meatball Paninis and A Happy New Year!

Standard

Yesterday, Six Flags was packed.  I don’t particularly like crowds, and I especially loathe trying to plow through one with a stroller, but we ended up having a really good time anyway.

When we got home, we were pretty tired.  I was glad that we’d planned for an easy yet hearty and tasty dinner: the EPIC Leftover Meatball Panini!  All you need is leftover meatballs, spaghetti sauce, a handful of greens (we like spinach), ciabatta bread or rolls, your cheese of choice (we used fresh mozzarella pearls), butter, a skillet, and a brick wrapped in foil. 

Heat some leftover meatballs and sauce:

Brush your ciabatta bread with the sauce (in this case, we used leftover tomato-pesto sauce), layer with cheese and greens:

Then pile on the balls:

Put your sandwich together and generously butter the top and bottom.  Place in a skillet over medium heat, and press a foil-wrapped brick on top to smush it down.  This is what transforms a plain old sandwich into a life-changing panini, folks:

Flip once during cooking and remove from the pan when the bread is golden to your liking and the cheese is melted.  Cut in half, then prepare yourself for at least fifteen foodgasms in a row:

Ahhhh yeahhhhhhhhhhh….. (insert food porn music)  I’ve never left the table so satisfied.  ;)

***

Lower Body Blast KICKED MY ASS yesterday: 59 fast-paced minutes of low-end squats and disc lunges and leg presses and hover squats, with occasional cardio bursts in between (ice breakers, plyo jacks, etc.).  My thighs were quivering and I was drenched with sweat when it was over, and you better believe I’m sore today!  I’ll write a review on it once I do it a few more times.  Another good one from Cathe.  :) 

I’m off to do some cardio for now, but I’m hoping that I’ll have time to blog about the sugar thing later and do a year end reflection.  I’m wishing everyone a safe and happy New Year’s eve!  Cheers!  :D

Pause

Standard

My oldest babe turned 5 yesterday.

It was definitely a reason to celebrate.

There were party hats involved.

And presents and cake*, of course.

I always try to give E a good party for his birthday, but having a birthday two days after Christmas is a little rough for everyone.  Just as we’re all coming down from the new toy and sugar overload, it comes right back for his birthday.  I am honestly a little relieved now, because my winter break from school can start being more of an actual break and less of an endless stream of nagging birthday and holiday to-dos.  It’s time to sit back, relax, enjoy the extra downtime, reflect on 2010 and look ahead to 2011. 

*Check out that cake in the picture.  Isn’t it awful looking?  It was almost as if it had been iced with super glue.  I’m not much of a baker, but you would think that something as simple as a Pillsbury boxed cake mix and tub o’ frosting would be easy peasy and turn out looking decent.  Meh.  Not so much… 

***

The rest of the week is going to be glorious!  Tomorrow is a girl’s dinner at M’s place, where we will make fish tacos for dinner, munch on chips and homemade guacamole, watch Sex and the City 2, and indulge in some of these treats and this hot chocolate for dessert.  I’m pretty excited.

Tonight I’ll be making Bocconcini-stuffed Meatballs with Tomato-pesto Sauce for dinner, from RR’s Look+Cook cookbook.  I have a feeling it is going to be EPIC.  ;)  I’ll have pics for you tomorrow.

***

Today I started a new weight workout rotation!  Last week wrapped up five weeks of Gym Style workouts, and today I started STS Total Body, which I’ll do on Tuesdays and Saturdays for the next five or six weeks, and Lower Body Blast, which I’ll do every Thursday.  I love STS so far, though I’ve only done it once.  I’ll be sure to write up a workout review once I’ve done it a few times, and one for LBB as well.  :D  I love keeping my workouts spicy and fresh, so I make it a point to change things up every five or six weeks.

What are your plans for the rest of the week?  Do you have any special traditions or reflections that you do during the week between Christmas and New Years?

I’ll be working on my Vision Board for 2011, as well as writing my weight loss/health story to add as a page to this blog.  I’m very excited about both! 

I can’t stop thinking about those meatballs…

A Green(er) New Year

Standard

The more I experience the holidays as an actual grown-up, the more I notice that getting stressed out just seems to be in the nature of the season.  I think that’s a shame!  More and more people seem to be saying, “Meh, I’m not ready for the holidays.  I have so much to do!  So little time! I HATE CHRISTMAS!”  It is kind of sad that baby Jesus and the true reason for the Christmas celebration gets lost in all the hustle and bustle of unrealistic to-dos and money spending, and I say this as someone who is not very religious.  I tend to take a more generic seasons greetings approach to the month of December, and try to focus on being thankful for what I have, the lessons I’ve learned in the last year, helping other people, spending quality time with family and friends, and on what I’d like to change and accomplish in the new year.  Are you a new year’s resolution setter?  I gave up setting traditional new year’s resolutions a few years ago (probably around the same time that I gave up dieting for good), and last year I created a Vision Board instead.

I got the idea from the Fitnessista’s blog and I think it is truly brilliant!  One thing I’d like to focus on in 2011 is the gradual transition from chemical-laden home, kid and beauty products to ones that jive with a more environmentally responsible lifestyle- everything from toothpaste and deodorant to eco-friendly baby wipes and local, organic foods.  I found a farmers market that I love (and it fits within my budget, which is important), so I plan on shopping there more often instead of at Super Wal-Mart or Target like I have for years.  I’m a big fan of Seventh Generation and Norwex household cleaners and laundry detergents, am slowly trading my old hair care products for more natural ones, and I’d like to find a natural, eco-friendly brand of beauty products, deodorant and toothpaste that actually work without leaving me broke.  Last week I gave Tom’s of Maine  deodorant a try, and it left my ‘pits red and itchy (which really bummed me out because it smelled amazing and actually seemed to work!).  I think I’m going to give Kiss My Face products a try next- I will definitely write about any killer finds.

What are your goals and dreams for 2011?  Do you have a favorite brand of eco-friendly products that I should know about?

***

Here is some food porn from dinner the last two nights…

THURSDAY NIGHT:

 Lundberg Wild Porcini Mushroom Risotto, yellow squash sautéed with olive oil, garlic and onion, and grilled basil chicken sausage from Sprouts.  I can’t BELIEVE how amazing the risotto was- we can’t wait to try the other flavors.  I topped mine with a healthy shaving of pecorino-romano cheese… ’twas glorious!  This was a really good, hearty, satisfying (and EASY!) cold weather meal.

 LAST NIGHT:

We enjoyed dinner with some awesome friends last night and had such a good time!  We picked up some ready-to-grill Polynesian chicken and beef kebabs from Sprouts, marinated red bell pepper halves in olive oil, garlic salt and pepper, marinated asparagus in olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar* and had a grillfest.  B served as Grill Master and cooked everything to total and absolute perfection- check out the char on those veggies!  Accompanied by some vegetarian baked beans, this meal was especially tasty.  Sprouts’ Polynesian marinade was EPIC!  We have enough leftovers to make paninis with tomorrow night- I can’t wait.  Kebabs are definitely one of my favorite things to eat because there are endless combinations of meat, veggies, and marinades to choose from.  We always grill extra and save the leftovers for other meals.  Leftover kebab meat and veggies make a great panini filling- just get some ciabatta bread and a cheese that compliments the kebab marinade (my faves are muenster, gouda and havarti) and you’ve got an easy 10-minute dinner.  I also love throwing kebab veggies into omelets.  Kebabs are healthy, tasty, inexpensive and versatile- SCORE!

I got a hardcore back, biceps and shoulders workout in this morning.  I’m really loving this particular 3-day split (back, biceps and shoulders one day, chest and triceps another day, and legs the third day).  The rest of today’s plan:

  • Nativity hayride with the kids
  • Christmas movie-watching
  • Wine drinking
  • Dinner: Sausage-stuffed portobello ‘shroom caps, baked potatoes and mixed greens with feta cheese and dried cranberries (!!!)
  • Ice cream eating and tv watching

It’s gonna be a good weekend!

*If you’ve never grilled asparagus, you MUST try it.  Choose stalks that are green and firm and similar in size (for even cooking).  Snap the ends off while cleaning, then put the asparagus in a tupperware container or large bowl and add extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and minced garlic to taste, along with a generous splash or two of good-quality balsamic vinegar (I like Newman’s Own Organics balsamic vinegar).  Toss together, cover and let sit for a while in the fridge.  Grill until the stalks are bright green, tendercrisp and charred to your liking- this usually takes about 10 minutes for us.  The vinegar kind of caramelizes as it cooks and adds a slight sweetness to the asparagus.  This is definitely my favorite way to cook it!