Sunday, April 29, 2012

Gettin' Sloppy

Friday night I took a break from studying and made a real dinner - it had been awhile!  I was excited to try out a new recipe:  Snobby Joe's.

In keeping with my effort to be thrifty, this recipe calls for fairly inexpensive ingredients, many of which I already had on hand.

You'll need dry lentils, water, olive, oil, an onion (the recipe calls for a medium yellow onion, but I used 1/2 a white onion because I already had one), a green bell pepper, garlic cloves, chili powder, oregano, salt, tomato sauce, tomato paste, maple syrup, and prepared yellow mustard (which I omitted).

First, you cook the lentils.

While the lentils were cooking, I prepped some of the other ingredients by dicing the onion and green pepper, and mincing the garlic.

Then it was time to saute the onion, pepper, and garlic in some olive oil.

Once those have softened, you just add the rest of the ingredients.

Let that cook for a few minutes, and you're done!  Pretty simple, and it looks a lot like real Sloppy Joe's.

I was definitely a big fan of this recipe.  While it doesn't taste exactly like traditional Sloppy Joe's, the texture is spot-on.  The lentils are a perfect substitute for ground meat - it was a hearty and comforting meal.

And the best part (in my opinion):

Lots o' leftovers!!  This should get me through finals.

It was nice to take some time away from studying and relax in the kitchen.  I listened to a podcast of This American Life while I made my dinner.  I am really loving podcasts these days.  I've had the NPR app on my phone for awhile, and I absolutely love listening to Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me (this actually makes me laugh out loud to myself), Car Talk (also elicits a few chuckles), and Weekends on All Things Considered.  I usually bribe myself to wash dishes or do other chores with the promise of being able to listen to a podcast <-- nerd alert :)

I enjoyed my Snobby Joe's with a bowl of amazing fruit - strawberries and a perfect peach.

Yesterday morning I went to the gym and did my circuit workout, followed by some speed and incline intervals on the treadmill.  And then it was time for a protein smooooothie.

Into the blender went:  1 cup almond milk, 1 T ground flax seeds, 1 T natural peanut butter, 1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior protein powder, lots of spinach, 1 frozen banana, and 1/2 cup frozen blueberries.

I might have been thinking about this smoothie while pushing myself through my workout.  I'm all about the self-incentives, can ya tell?

I've got my first final tomorrow - it'll be my first completely closed book, handwritten exam in law school.  Wish me luck!

Song of the day:

"Janglin" by Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros.  I got to see them perform at a music festival a couple of years ago, and they were really fun to see.  I imagine this is what the 1970s were like, free love and all.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Oops I Did It Again

I've been trying to really watch my spending lately, but I gave into temptation when I saw an amazing deal on Rue La La.  I have quite a weakness for good deals.  And online shopping.  And pretty things.  And bright colors.  You get the picture.

This huge box came for me the other day.  It was unnecessarily large, though - it contained these beauties:

Ah, my beloved Le Creuset bakeware.  A couple pieces closer to my dream of having a kitchen full of their gorgeous pieces.

The thing is, I definitely had buyer's remorse.  Even though it was a great deal and I had free shipping, I felt really guilty about buying them.

But then, something amazing happened.  Rue La La emailed me saying that the dimensions they had listed in the description were much larger than the dimensions of the actual dishes (which I had noticed and was disappointed about) and because of that, they were refunding all purchasers IN FULL.  What?!  So I got those dishes for free!  It was definitely my lucky day.

Part of the reason I had buyer's remorse was because I also bought something else that arrived the same day as my new dishes.

This one was actually a necessity, though.

Not quite as fun as my Le Creuset package, but I had been meaning to get a fire extinguisher since I moved into my apartment almost 2 years ago.  It only took seeing the building across from my apartment catch on fire recently to spur me to finally get one.

Usual happenings over here today - gym (cardio), studying, review session, more studying.  I did start out with an exceptionally good breakfast this morning.

I heated up some baked oatmeal with some almond milk, and then added fresh strawberries.  So, so good. The oatmeal is good on its own, but it was really delicious with milk and berries.

I think I could eat fruit all day long.  Last night I had an amazing bowl of strawberries and kiwis - so summery!  The warmer temperatures can come anytime now.

Tonight I'm going to take the time to make a real dinner!  Finally.  Enjoy the start of your weekend!

Song of the day:

"Sea of Love" by Cat Power.  It took me awhile to get into Cat Power, but this is one of my go-to quiet songs now.  (I've got soft, quiet songs on my mind due to all of the studying lately.)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Up and At 'Em

Hey everyone!  How's your day going?  I keep thinking today is Wednesday... not good!  I lose track of my days when I don't have classes or a set schedule.

I had an all-day study session planned with a couple of my friends, so I wanted to squeeze in a quick workout before I went to school.  I did the following 20-minute routine, which really got my heart rate up and left me sweaty:

I loved that it was short but intense, it didn't require any equipment, and I didn't need much space at all.  Plus I could do it barefoot!  I don't know why, but I just love that.  (Sidenote - to me, one of the signs of a great vacation is rarely having to wear shoes!)

I followed my workout with a protein smoothie for breakfast.

It had 1 cup almond milk (I replenished my supply yesterday, yay!), 1 T ground flax seed, 1 T natural peanut butter, 1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior protein powder, lots of spinach, 1/2 frozen banana, 4 frozen strawberries, 1/2 cup frozen pineapple, and 2 ice cubes.

It tasted great and filled me up until lunch!  (I also had a small handful of mixed raw nuts before working out.)

Today I wanted to talk a little about eating healthy while juggling a busy schedule.  There are many reasons why it's tempting for me to let my eating habits slip when I'm stressed and busy - lack of time to go grocery shopping and prepare meals, stress, anxiety, etc.  I find that keeping quick and healthy food around (and not keeping junk food around) helps, as well as planning ahead.  Even though planning does take some extra time, it's really worth it to me.

When I get hungry and need a snack, it's so tempting to grab a box or bag of something and munch - but that inevitably leads to mindless eating and overeating for me.  So I try to portion out some healthy foods that don't take much time to prepare, and really enjoy them.

For example, I recently had an iced tea, grape tomatoes with hummus, an apple with almond butter, and a bowl of plain yogurt with a spoonful of cherry jam, walnuts, and old-fashioned oats mixed in.  (This was kind of a late lunch/ tide-me-over-until-dinner snack.)

Another healthy snack that I've been loving is air-popped popcorn.

My grandma got me this popcorn popper for Christmas, and I love that you don't need to use any oil to pop the kernels.  I've also heard that you can pop dry kernels in a paper bag in the microwave, but I've never tried this because I'm afraid of the bag catching on fire...  Yikes.

Action shot!  I have to face the machine towards the wall because kernels tend to fly everywhere!

You can see one of the rogue kernels in this picture.
The best part is that you can choose whatever toppings you want.  This time I chose to spray the popcorn with olive oil and sprinkle on some nutritional yeast.  Sometimes I also like to sprinkle on some cinnamon and add chocolate chips, or you could also add in some nuts, or if you like spicy things some cayenne pepper would be good.

You can make a ton for very few calories- there are 31 calories in 1 cup of air-popped popcorn!  (Just watch your toppings.)  And popcorn is a whole grain, too.

I've mentioned before that I've been trying to drink more water lately, but plain water can get boring.  I like adding lemon, drinking iced tea, or adding one of these Zoe Life powdered drink mixes to my water bottle.  It's made from 20 fruits and vegetables, is sweetened with stevia, and doesn't have any artificial chemicals.  I don't think I really need this, but my mom has a ton and it tastes good, and it helps me to get in some extra water.

Well after a day spent in the library, I'm ready for dinner and maybe a TV show.  See ya later!

Interesting Articles:

Popcorn Contains High Levels of Antioxidants (See, it's really a healthy snack food!)
5 Tips to Stop Stress Eating
Sugar in Food:  8 Eats with More than a Twinkie (Yikes!)

Song of the day:

"Slow Life" by Grizzly Bear.  This is a soft and slow-paced song which is on one of my studying playlists.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Personal Oasis

I made my basic oatmeal every morning of last week (oatmeal, water, banana, chia seeds, nut butter) and I was getting a little tired of it.  I've said before how much I like to have breakfast already prepared when I wake up (via breakfast cookies, overnight oats, or slow-cooker oatmeal) and this past Sunday I tried out a different variation:  baked oatmeal.  I followed a recipe from Julie at Peanut Butter Fingers for Banana Pecan Coconut Baked Oatmeal.

It's got an awesome ingredient list:  rolled oats, steel cut oats, baking powder, salt, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla almond milk (I added 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to regular almond milk), 1 egg, applesauce (I used unsweetened), plain yogurt, 2 ripe bananas, pecans, and coconut.  I love that there's no added sugar or sweetener - the sweetness comes entirely from the applesauce and bananas.

Even though I'm not a huge fan of coconut, I really love this baked oatmeal - so yummy.

I couldn't resist trying a bite (or two) Sunday night after it came out of the oven.  It also made my apartment smell amazing!

In the morning I just scoop out some oatmeal and heat it up in the microwave to take the chill off.  I'm currently out of almond milk (tragic!) but I think it would be good heated up with some milk.  Julie also recommends serving it with maple syrup, yogurt, and/or fresh fruit, which all sound delicious to me.

I've been meaning to put together a tentative menu for a Mother's Day brunch, and the baked oatmeal inspired me to finally sit down and pick out some recipes.  I get recipe ideas from so many different sources - blogs, magazines, cookbooks, and a file folder of recipes I've collected over the years - so it can be a little overwhelming to narrow down the options, but a lot of fun.

Well it's pretty much the same ol' same ol' around here.  Got some cardio in at the gym this morning, and had a huge salad beast for lunch (along with an apple and almond butter):

That beauty had spinach, grape tomatoes, a hard-boiled egg, edamame, an artichoke heart, chickpeas, kalamata olives, raw sunflower seeds, hummus, balsamic vinegar, and bulgur.  So good.

This afternoon I stole away to my personal oasis to do some studying.

Okay, actually I just went to the mall to do some errands, and decided to grab a fresh juice (carrots, cucumber, beets) and do some studying there.  I should have thrown some change into that fountain and wished for good grades while I was at it.  I did see a little girl stumble into the fountain, which was a cute distraction.  (She was fine - she just got her feet wet, and luckily her mom had just bought her a new pair of shoes.)

Also, I would like this, please.  Thank you.  (But not that weird spatula.)

Now I'm off to make some dinner.  I'll leave you with these words of wisdom courtesy of my tea.

Song of the day:

"Silver Lining" by Rilo Kiley.  I absolutely love Rilo Kiley and Jenny Lewis (lead singer).

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Playing Doctor

Hey guys, how's your day going?  The wind has been cuh-razy here lately.  My apartment has been chilly these past couple of days, but I need to stop dressing for the weather based on the temperature of my apartment.  In the winter it would be so hot (because I live on the 3rd floor and can't control my heat) that I would accidentally leave with just a t-shirt on, and then today I was so cold that I put my winter coat on... only to realize it was around 60 out.  Oops.

I hit up the gym and did my circuit workout followed by some incline and speed intervals on the treadmill, plus stretching.  Since classes are over, I don't have much structure to my days.  For me, it's helpful to plan out a schedule for myself ahead of time (via my extensive to-do lists), and getting up and going to the gym really helps me to get moving and be productive, rather than just wasting time.

Post workout smoothie:  1/2 cup plain yogurt, 1/2 cup water, 1 T ground flax seeds, 1 T natural peanut butter, 1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior protein powder, lots of spinach, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 2 ice cubes.


Since I haven't done a big grocery shopping trip for awhile, I've been looking through my cupboards to see what I have on hand for meals.  I was in the mood for pasta the other night, but I wanted to doctor it up a little to make it more exciting.

While I cooked some whole wheat penne pasta, I heated up some jarred pasta sauce and mixed in a few veggies I had on hand - grated carrots, grape tomatoes, and frozen broccoli.  I also added in some fresh basil.

It was a great way to pack in some extra veggies and to add more flavors to the pasta sauce (which already contained mushrooms).  I wanted to add some spinach, too, and tried out a trick I saw on Peanut Butter Fingers recently:

In order to wilt the spinach, you just put it in a colander,

and then go ahead and drain your pasta over the spinach.

And you get perfectly wilted spinach!

I added about 1/3 of the cooked pasta and all of the wilted spinach to my plate and saved the rest of the pasta for future meals.

Then I topped the pasta and spinach with 1/2 of the doctored pasta sauce, some nutritional yeast, and some more fresh basil ('cause I'm fancy like that).

For dessert, I tried a new spin on banana "ice cream":

I added 1.5 bananas and 2/3 cup frozen mixed berries to my food processor to make berry "sorbet."

I think I should have stuck to 1 banana and 1/2 cup berries, because it made a TON!!  But it was very delicious :)

Random sidenote - has anyone seen the movie In Time?  I don't remember hearing much about it when it came out, but I recently got it from the library and watched it this past weekend.  I thought the premise was really interesting - basically, commerce is in the form of time (instead of money), so everything you need to buy (food, transportation, etc.), you pay for in time.  And if your "watch" ever goes down to 0, you die.  Everyone's watch starts counting down at the age of 25, and you also never look any older than 25, which means that grandparents/ parents/ children, etc. can all look the same age.  It had a lot of social policy undertones (i.e. there were very expensive tolls to cross into wealthy zones, which kept the poor people who lived day-to-day in the slums).  I'm still kind of undecided as to what I thought of the movie, though - I don't think it had a very satisfying ending.  I'm curious if anyone saw it, and if so, what you thought.

That's all for now, folks - back to studying.  Have a good night!

I thought the clouds kind of looked like a curtain lifting up as the sun went down.
Interesting Articles:

How to Prevent Iliotibial Band Syndrome When Running (I'm still having some issues with my IT band)
25 Amazing Yoga Poses (um WHOA, these are so crazy and impressive!)
How To Do the Splits (I think I have a better chance of working towards doing the splits than those intense yoga poses!)

Song of the Day:

"Shadowboxer" by Fiona Apple.  One of her songs popped up when I had my iTunes on random today, and  I remembered how much I loved her first album, Tidal.  It's incredible.