Taking a Leap

February has been a trying month for me!  The loss of our cat, Emmy, took the BOY and I by surprise and we were pretty upset for awhile.  Following that, I worked the longest week in my life (12 straight days), took a week off of working out because my body needed it, and spent most of the month in a bit of a haze.  All the while, the snow has been falling.

 

On the brighter side, the BOY and I have spent some quality time together, including this special dinner.  We have enjoyed telling stories and celebrating Emmy’s frisky life and adventures.  We booked a trip to Las Vegas with our close friends and had a fun birthday dinner with my parents and brother. Despite being insanely busy at work, I have made it to a few uplifting yoga classes.  Including tonight when I was able to attend an amazing evening class with my favorite teacher.  On the blog front, I found time to update some older posts with new and bigger pictures, including this one about last year’s snow storm.

 

Somehow, I made it through this extra long month (Happy Leap Year!) and have survived to tell the stories.  Now that the 29th of February is almost over, I am ready to leap into March.

 

 

February Goals

Add more greens (kale, collards, chard) into my and the BOY’s diet

     -I have been eating more greens, mostly kale, but had a delicious spinach smoothie!

     -Add some greens into your diet this month…

 

Sautéed Garlic Kale

Curried Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Kale

Lemon Garlic Kale

 

 

Get in the pool and swim!

     -YIKES!  Major failure here!  Must get in the pool SOON

 

Put together a training plan for a half marathon and triathlon

     -I have been running (even 11 miles on one day) and lifting, but don’t have an official plan.  As we say at work…Continue Goal.

 

Add weekly exercise post to blog

     -I’ve gotten started with this (check out this 20 minute at home workout!), but actually spent more time updating old recipe posts.

 

Continue to make delicious and healthy meat and dairy free meals each week

     -Having so much fun with this one.  I’ve been barely eating meat and at home, I’m on a big soup and chili kick!

 

 

March Goals

-Swim, get in the pool, do some swimming, and then swim some more!

-Put together a training plan for a half marathon and triathlon

-CHEW (explanation post to come)

-Go totally dairy free (not just fake dairy free…there is dairy in chocolate chips)

-Add more exercise posts to blog

 

 

What are you excited to LEAP INTO next month???

Chili and Sweet Cornbread Muffins

A year ago, I made cornbread and taco soup for a friend.  When she recently mentioned that her boyfriend loved the cornbread, I decided to make him another batch.  I like this recipe for Sweet Corn Bread from All Recipes.com.  I figured that I couldn’t just give him some cornbread, so I made a simple beef crockpot chili to go with it.  The BOY loves chili, but he isn’t great about eating leftovers after 2-3 days, so it was a double bonus.  Dinner for the BOY and a side for my cornbread.

 

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I haven’t found an easy crockpot beef chili recipe that I liked, so I just made up my own, with some input from the BOY of course.  The result was a HUGE success!

Into the Crockpot:

1 lb ground beef

1 can dark red beans

1 can black beans

1 can pinto beans in chili sauce

1 steam bag of corn

 

 

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Your chili seasonings:

Chili powder

Cumin

Garlic

Red pepper flakes

Salt and pepper

 

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Giving everything a stir when I remembered…

 

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Onion!!!

 

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Can you even make chili without it???

 

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Cook according to crockpot directions. 

Meanwhile, get started on your corn muffins.

 

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So that when your chili is ready…

 

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You’ll have something sweet to eat with it!

 

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With some leftovers and extras to share with your friends.

 

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Cutest ToGo box EVER!

 

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Basic Beef Crockpot Chili

Trust me, if I can figure out beef chili, it is pretty simple

Plus, this recipe has the BOY’s seal of approval on taste!

 

Ingredients

1 lb 85/15 ground beef

1 onion, diced

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes

1 bag steamed or 1 can corn

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 can pinto beans in chili sauce

1 cup water

Optional: chili or adobo peppers for heat.

Chili powder, cumin, red pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper

 

Directions

Cook beef on a heated skillet, sprayed with cooking spray until browned.  Drain and place beef in crockpot.  Stir in the remaining ingredients, adjusting seasonings to taste.  Set per crockpot instructions. 

Tastes even better Day 2.  Freezes well.

 

 

Sweet Corn Bread (or Muffins)

From All Recipes.com

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup all-purpose flour

    • 1 cup cornmeal

    • 1/4 cup sugar

    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda

    • 1/2 teaspoon salt

    • 1 egg, lightly beaten

    • 1 cup sour cream

    • 1/3 cup milk

    • 1/4 cup butter, melted

            Directions

          • In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Combine the egg, sour cream, milk and butter; stir into dry ingredients just until moistened.

          • Pour into a greased 8-in. square baking dish. Bake at 400 degrees F for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Serve warm.

          NOTE: When making muffins, bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins!

          Mathematical Meals

          The alarm woke me up bright and early again this morning.  After 9 hours of sleep, I could have used some more time in my bed.  When I was young and fun, I used to spend my weeks recovering from a wild weekend.  These days, I seem to spend my weekend resting up from a busy work week, and after this last week, two days off was not enough!  But I had a full day planned, starting with a training session and then a few hours at the office, so I dragged myself out of bed to begin my day.  Math has always been my favorite subject, so I thought it would be fun to share today’s meals in mathematical form. 

          No Calculators Needed! Happy Adding!

           

           

          Breakfast

           

          Last week, I introduced Oats On-the-Run.  This morning’s breakfast could be considered Eggs On-the-Run.  Baked eggs take a little bit longer, but are super easy and allow you to walk away from the stove.  You can use any veggies you want.  In the summer time, my favorites are leftover grilled veggies.  This morning, it was steamed broccoli with one of the BEST seasonings around!

           

          I think my pie pan gets more use with eggs than pies. 

          New Cooking Spray + Amazing Eggs + Veggies = perfect start to the morning!

           

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          Mix eggs, broccoli, and seasoning together.  You can add cheese or nutritional yeast too!

           

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          I snacked on some millet puffs with flax and blueberries while I waited.

           

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          30 minutes later, I was all packed up for my day and (the second half of ) breakfast was ready!

           

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          A pre-training breakfast for me!

           

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          And premade eggs for the rest of the week.

           

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          Lunch

           

          Turning soup into a meal…

          Curried Butternut Squash Soup with Kale + Leftover Brown Rice = Stew

           

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          Paired with a salad and grapefruit, last night’s soup becomes a filling meal.

           

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          Commute Home + Gorgeous Sunset = Smile + Happiness

           

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          Dinner

           

          Starting with a salad…

          Strawberries +  Walnuts = Beautiful Starter Salad

           

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          Trader Joe’s frozen Mahi Mahi + Lemon Juice+ Greek Seasoning = Quick and Easy Dinner

           

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          Served over garlic spinach (see recipe below).

           

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          3 Healthy Homemade Meals = A Good Day of Eating!!!

           

           

          Baked Eggs with Broccoli

           

          Whisk together the following ingredients in a bowl:

          4 eggs + 2 egg whites

          1 bag Steamfresh broccoli

          1-2 Tbsp Lake Shore Drive seasoning

          Salt and Pepper to taste

          Optional: cheese or nutritional yeast

           

          Pour into oven safe dish, sprayed with cooking spray.

          Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until middle is set.

          Cool before serving.  Refrigerate in airtight container for 3-4 days.

           

           

          Garlic Spinach

           

          Heat 1-2 tsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium/low heat.

          Add chopped garlic and stir in raw spinach. 

          Stir to coat until wilted, about 4 minutes.

          Serve warm with chicken, pork, or seafood.

          Serve warm

          All of the Ingredients

          Finally…

          I have collected all of the ingredients to make THIS SOUP.

           

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          A few months ago, I made Jenna’s Curried Butternut and Red Lentil Soup.  This soup was outrageously good, and when I saw that Lauren made a modified version, adding kale, I was excited to try it!  Except…I have been unsuccessful at getting all of the ingredients together in my kitchen at the same time.  Until today, that is!

           

          The first step involves roasting the butternut squash.  I didn’t read Lauren’s post carefully before roasting the squash and didn’t have the oven high enough to really roast them good.

           

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          Lesson learned for next time, but my lightly roasted squash was still absolutely delicious!

           

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          It was hard to keep my fingers away…

           

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          I kept them busy by tearing up the kale into tiny pieces.

           

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          I doubled my recipe since I had more than enough red lentils and could use the entire container of low-sodium vegetable broth.  Plus, I always like to have extra soup to freeze or share.

           

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          This soup was worth the wait.  I love the combination of lentils, squash, and the kale was a fantastic addition.

           

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          As soon as the soup was finished, I dug in for a pre-dinner snack.

           

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          Despite adding handfuls of kale to my soup, I had some leftover pieces. 

           

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          I drizzled them with olive oil, garlic, and chili powder.

           

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          I baked the kale at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes turning them into these crispy kale chips.

           

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          My kale chips made the perfect side for my real dinner…leftover maple plank salmon!

           

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          Make this thick and healthy stew tonight!  I’ll be taking leftovers for lunch this week.

          Here is the full recipe!

          Snow Looks Better with Sunglasses On

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          Doesn’t the snow just look more beautiful under a radiating sun.  My alarm woke me this morning, which was okay, because the sun was shining and I was meeting my mom for a much needed hot yoga class this morning.  For 2 weeks, I have been looking forward to my favorite weekend workout class.

           

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          This morning’s intention was to decrease stress and feel more relaxed.  Although I wasn’t totally relaxed as I was balancing on one foot between high lunge and warrior III, by the end of class, I felt calm, peaceful and a little bit tired.  My mom and I both agreed, this class was a tough one!!!  I was starving by the time I got to my car and happy to have packed a post-yoga snack.

           

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          Although it looks a little messy, this almond butter and apple pita totally hit the spot!

           

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          I headed out to pick up some groceries for the week.  There’s nothing like a crowded Costco on Sunday to kill your Yoga Buzz!

           

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          However, after a green smoothie, the Yoga Buzz was RESTORED!

           

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          In the blender:

          A handful of spinach

          1/2 frozen banana

          1/3 cup frozen mango

          1 cup almond milk

          1/4 cup oats

           

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          This green smoothie is soo refreshing.  I love the mango…between that and the banana, no added sugar or sweetener needed!

           

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          Now that I have a stocked kitchen and a full tummy, it’s time to chill out a bit and play in the kitchen!  With a window cracked and the sun streaming in, I am digging this SUNday!  Now, what’s for dinner???

           

          How did you spend your Sunny Sunday???

          Recipe Flashback: Butternut Squash Bread

          So, I’m sure you could have guessed from the last few posts that I have been WAY TOO TIRED to make anything new this week.  But, my mom had this beautiful butternut squash that she gave me this week.  And although butternut squash cutting can be time consuming, I know a recipe that is totally worth the effort.

           

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          This Butternut Squash Bread, based off of a recipe form My Baking Addiction, is incredible!  It was one of the first recipes that I posted on LWYD and is still one of the BEST QUICK BREADS that I have ever made.

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          It uses some unique ingredients to keep the bread healthy and clean!

           

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          And one of my favorite spices!

           

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          This is a simple recipe…

           

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          That creates a phenomenal bread that will have your friends asking…what’s in here??? 

          It’s up to you if you tell them the secret ingredient is SQUASH!

           

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          Butternut Squash Bread

          Adapted from My Baking Addiction

           

          Ingredients
          1 cup butternut squash puree* (I use fresh, but Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods sell it canned)
          2 eggs
          1/2 cup safflower oil
          1/4 cup water
          ½ cup turbinado sugar
          1 cups whole wheat flour

          ¾ spelt flour
          1 teaspoons baking soda
          ½ teaspoon kosher salt
          2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
          ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
          ½ teaspoon ground cardamom

          Directions
          1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour one 8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 inch loaf pan.
          2. In a large bowl, mix together the butternut squash puree, eggs, oil, water and sugars until thoroughly combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom.
          3. Stir the dry ingredients into the butternut squash mixture. Combine just until incorporated; do not over mix. Pour into the prepared pan.
          4. Bake at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

          Not in the mood for bread? Although I’m not sure how that is even possible, there are plenty of other butternut squash friendly recipes on my RECIPE PAGE!

          New…

          Cereal

          Have you Tried it Yet???

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          Wine of the Month

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          Cookbooks (arriving SOON from Amazon)

          The 150 Healthiest Slow Cooker Recipes on Earth: The Surprising Unbiased Truth About How to Make Nutritious and Delicious Meals that are Ready When You Are

           

          Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way

           

          The Eat-Clean Diet Vegetarian Cookbook: Lose Weight and Get Healthy - One Mouthwatering, Meal a a Time!

           

           

          Favorite Sweet Snack

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          Sandwich Shop in Town

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          Toy (electric wine opener…on sale at Target…so fun!)

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          Matching Lulu Gear

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          Hat

          Made by my mom, it’s a baby gift!

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          Movie (Actually an old movie, but new on DVD)

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          Trader Joe’s Chips

          They go great with hummus, guacamole, or salsa

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          Flowers

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          (And Improved) 2010 Blog Posts

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          Favorite Tween Trilogy Turned Movie

          What are you doing the last weekend in March?  I know where I’ll be!

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          What’s new and exciting in your life???

          From a Snowy Start to a Sweet Surprise

          With all of the excitement about the big storm heading our way, I was upset not to have a snow day today.  I had never thought snow days were possible once you were out of elementary school, but after last year’s Snowpocolypse and getting snowed in for almost 2 days, I am a big fan of ‘Adult’ Snow Days!  Sadly, today was not one of them.  I knew last night driving to my parent’s that it was too good to be true.  Our office was too prepared, with a phone tree and everything.  Plus, I’m just not lucky enough to spend the day lounging around on my couch as opposed to powering through my 12th STRAIGHT DAY at work.  I woke up absolutely exhausted, and not quite sure I’d make it through the day!  The snow was beautiful, and I did enjoy the view of my parent’s backyard as I ate breakfast (my wonderful mom made me veggie eggs).

           

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          Although this view is never quite as beautiful!

           

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          I did enjoy the quick commute to work and the gorgeous iced tree branches.

           

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          10 hours later, my work day was over.  I was as sore as if I’ve been tri training, yet I haven’t worked out all week and I don’t feel like the best version of myself.  On the BRIGHT side…it was a successful weekend of class and I was able to apply all my new knowledge with my patients this week.  The BRIGHTER note…we have a mostly quiet weekend ahead.  I drove home with no traffic (I guess some people DID get a snow day), and I was happy to finally be moving out of my car.

           

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          I walked into a super clean house (thank you cleaning service) and a BIG SURPRISE

           

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          A beautifully set dinner table and stunning flowers!

           

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          And guess who made a vegetarian dinner???

           

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          Spinach and garlic stuffed Portobello mushrooms,

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          With potatoes, broccoli, and onions,

           

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          And some extra cheese for the BOY.

           

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          He even treated us to a fancy desert.

           

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          It is soooo good to be home!

           

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          One Bowl Banana Walnut Bread

          After the chaos that has been my life, I decided to take this morning off from working out and enjoy a quiet, slow start to my day before heading off to work.  The weather seemed to support my decision for a warm tea and computer kind of morning!

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          Since every meal I had yesterday was eaten on the run, quickly shoveling food into my mouth, I loved the idea of sitting down and enjoying my breakfast (eggs and toast) this morning.  And not feeling rushed before heading out the door.  Yesterday, you may have noticed some nasty looking bananas in the background of my pictures.  I was WAY TOO tired to stage anything.

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          They were leftover from the course this weekend, and so I snatched them up for banana bread.  I decided to make mini loaves for my five coworkers who were in the class with me as a little happy to get us through the week.

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          I have numerous banana bread recipes, but one of them is super easy and comes together in just ONE BOWL.  I’m not exactly sure how it works as many quick bread recipes have multiple steps and many bowls, but this is one of the best recipes out there, I promise!  It is actually a muffin recipe given to me by a friend and I don’t know the original source.

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          I always have the ingredients in the house, so you just need some old bananas, a big bowl and a hand mixer!

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          Starting with the bananas, all of the ingredients (wet and dry) go into the bowl.

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          I only own 4 mini loaf pans, but I wanted to make 5 loaves, so I pulled out my fall pumpkin mold.

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          The benefit of mini pans is that it decreases the baking time.  After 30 minuets, I pulled 4 beautiful loaves and one festive pumpkin out of the oven.

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          It kind of reminds me of that old Sesame Street song…’One of these things is not like the other…one of these things just doesn’t belong!”

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          I wrapped them up for my friends at work figuring that whoever ends up with the pumpkin will definitely get a laugh out of it.  Plus, if they are like me and haven’t had much time to get to the grocery store, they’ll be happy to have a homemade treat!

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          One Bowl Banana Walnut Bread

           

          Ingredients

          3-4 medium very ripe bananas

          1 1/4 cups (6 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour (I have also supped in whole wheat and spelt in the past which was a huge success)

          1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

          2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

          1 teaspoon baking soda

          1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

          1/2 teaspoon salt

          2/3 cup sugar

          1/3 cup safflower oil

          1 large egg

           

          Directions

          -Preheat oven to 375 degrees and place rack in center of oven.

          -With Metal Blade (a hand mixer works just fine), process bananas until smooth, with a few bumps remaining.  Add the rest of the ingredients and process for 3 seconds.  Scrape the work bowl and process just until mixed, 1-2 seconds more.  If there mixture is still not fully mixed, gently stir with a spatula to combine.  DO NOT OVER MIX!!!

          -For Muffins: divide batter amount 10-12 prepared muffin cups and make until brown, about 25 minutes.

          -For Bread: pour into a greased loaf pan and bake until brown, about 50 minutes.  Decrease time to 30 minutes for mini loaves.

          Still Going Back and Forth

          I’m back…no maybe this is forth.

           

          Let’s just call it back since I’m currently in my own home, but just for the night as I am heading back to my parents’ tomorrow night.  I’m slightly disoriented and had to have the woman at Trader Joe’s tell me what day it is.

           

          It was a crazy busy weekend (and Monday) in class.  The past four days were both physically and mentally exhausting as I learned a lot of new theories and skills and bounced back and forth between home and work all of the while reminding myself that another weekend would come.  I crashed hard last night and gave up my morning run to enjoy a blissful 10 hours of sleep.  I knew before coming home tonight that I would have to make an emergency grocery store run.  The BOY went out for the ‘essentials’ while I was gone, which included chocolate milk and bacon…not enough to get me through my week even with a few nights back at my parents!

           

          Thanks to the holiday, there was no traffic.  I made it home before the BOY and threw together a quick and easy dinner (thank goodness for frozen veggie burgers).  Someone in the class this weekend told me about a kale recipe and I found a few leftover leaves in the fridge that were still fresh and crisp.  I can’t believe the BOY didn’t eat them…ha ha! 

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          In this recipe, you start by cutting the leaves off of the stem.

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          Drizzle with lemon juice and olive oil.

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          Then sprinkle on garlic powder and my secret ingredient…Trinidad Lemon Garlic from The Spice House!

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          The worst thing about kale is that it doesn’t photo well.

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          The good news…it makes a fresh and healthy side dish for dinner.  The lemon and garlic make the perfect combination on this crispy green. 

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          BTW, not pictured on my dinner plate is the HUGE bowl of air-popped popcorn (also covered in Trinidad Lemon Garlic) that I had after dinner when I finally sunk my bottom into my couch to zone out and watch some TV. I can’t believe tomorrow is Tuesday and my workweek begins. I’m not sure if I will be able to drag myself off of the couch ever again!!!

           

           

          A few other fantastic kale recipes to try this winter…

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          Green Smoothie (can use spinach, chard or kale)

           

          Kale Chips

           

          Sausage, White Bean, and Kale Soup

           

          Spanish Chickpea, Tomato, and Kale Soup

           

          Two Bean Soup with Kale

           

          Curried Red Lentil Soup

           

           

          Lemon Garlic Kale

           

          Ingredients

          1 batch of kale, rinsed and dried well

          Olive oil (about 2 teaspoons)

          Juice of 1/2 of a lemon, squeezed

          Garlic powder

          Lemon garlic seasoning

           

          Directions

          -Cut the kale off of the stem, leaving the leaves long.  Spread them out onto a cookie sheet, covered in foil, and sprayed with cooking spray.

          -Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over kale.  Do not soak or it will not cook evenly.

          -Sprinkle garlic powder and lemon garlic seasoning over kale.

          -Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 12 minutes or until edges just begin to brown and kale becomes crispy.  Keep a close eye on the kale and DO NOT OVER BAKE!

          -This makes the perfect side paired with fresh fish or can be eaten as a snack with nuts and dried fruit.