laurenlikestocook

Archive for 2015|Yearly archive page

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.

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Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.

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Homework…

It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner
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Porridge

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Lunch

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Whole Wheat Banana Bread

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Pasta.

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My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle
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Pancake with a hot sauce smile.

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Yogurt parfait.

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  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
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Finished smoothie.

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Sautéing veggies for the soup.

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Soups on!

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Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/cold-sesame-noodles-recipe2.html

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine
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Breakfast.

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Leftovers. Again.

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Slaw.

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BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water
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Another take on Breakfast.

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  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed
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More savory oats.

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VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?

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And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.

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Pure Barre-rrrrrrr

In Beans, Healthy Lifestyle, Quick Meal, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 2, 2015 at 10:28 pm

Like I’ve said before, healthy eating and regular exercise are the key to a hot bod.  Over the years, my dedication to this cause has changed and evolved.  From low-carb to lunges, I’m always looking for a lil something to spice up my regime.  My newest obsession: Pure Barre.  Before I ever took a class, I was really skeptical – was everything I’ve heard just hype, or was there something to this workout craze?  A combination of Pilates, Ballet, and conditioning exercises, it’s like no other class I’ve ever taken.  I don’t know about other people, but I can attest to my experience, and it’s definitely yielded some great results.  I am in no way writing this post to advertise or sponsor Pure Barre, I just really love what it’s done for my mind and body.  From slenderized hips and thighs, to a tightened core, I physically feel like I’m in the best shape of my life.  After only a month of taking classes, I noticed serious changes.  Now 75+ classes later, everybody else can, too.  I’m no VS model, but I’m proud of my results thus far.

Before

Before

4 month in.

4 month in.

Abs!

Abs!

More Abs!

More Abs!

I regularly attend classes 4-5 times a week.  Between the Monday, Wednesday, and Friday early 5:45 am time slot (aka: momma gets up at the ass crack of dawn to work out without inconveniencing her family after already spending an exorbitant amount of money on said workout)  and a few weekend options, I manage to find an abundant amount of opportunities to get my LTB in every week.  That is, until Old Man Winter showed up to the rodeo.  Now, my schedule is dictated by the meteorology report.  Even today, class was cancelled due to snowy/icy conditions.  However, I made sure to put my work in this past weekend in anticipation, so I didn’t have to feel guilty about missing my usual Monday session.  The same preparedness can be said for stocking up my kitchen with healthy staples.  This came in handy when I saw a post on my studio’s Facebook page for a weather-worthy white bean soup.  On a frigid day like today, I was glad to have a recipe for another comforting soup.  I made a few adjustments, but it was really simple and easy, even a toddler could [help you] make it.

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Tuscan White Bean and Garlic Soup

Adapted from Pure Barre Oceanside

Makes 7-8 cup

1 tbl olive oil
1 large onion
2 (15 oz) cans of Cannellini or Great Northern Beans
1 head of garlic, roasted
1 tsp sage
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano
4  cups vegetable broth
salt and pepper to taste

I had pre-roasted some garlic earlier in the day, knowing I wanted to use it for this soup.  The original recipe called for sautéing, but I really enjoy the flavor of roasted garlic.

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I did sauté the onions though, only using 1 tbsp of oil instead of the recommended 3.

Fitting in some thigh work while I sauté.  Nick tried to make me laugh, and it worked.

Fitting in some thigh work while I sauté. Nick tried to make me laugh, and it worked.

After a few minutes, I added the spices and sautéed another minute.  The original recipe called for basil instead of sage, but a) sage goes much better with white beans and b) I personally don’t like the taste of dried basil and I find it’s rather bitter.

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Instead of continuing to cook the soup in a pot, I opted to blend in my Vitamix for 6-7 minutes to combine with the rest of the ingredients and cook through.

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Before

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After

The soup came out really creamy.

Extreme close-up.

Extreme close-up.

Paired with some roasted broccoli, we had a yummy and nutritious meal to beat the brrrrrr.

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Being snowed in is no excuse to let your health slide.  With some planning, a repertoire of warm recipes and consistent workout routines, you’ll be sure feel the burn all winter long.

Mopping up Foods on a Snowy Evening

In Beans, CSA, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on January 29, 2015 at 5:03 pm

While writing about food is one of my passions, I haven’t always excelled in the literary arts.  I knew my multiplication tables at the age of 5, but reading comprehension, creative writing, and book reports turned me into a deer-in-headlights.  Even in college, I had to drop my extra minor the last semester of senior year because of one writing-intensive poetry class (which was also offered at a lower level with a smaller workload).  Had I kept registered in the upper level version of the class (which I needed for the minor), my grade would have prevented me from graduating summa cum laude.  Ain’t nobody got time for that!  This class was like no other class I’d ever taken.  Millions of ways to interpret and dissect sentences, lines, capitalization, you name it.  Perhaps because I was a business major, that’s how I saw poetry: examining the situation, finding the formula, and deriving a solution.  This approach was far different from the roots of my poetic knowledge, which all started in the sixth grade.

With the exception of “Roses are Red…”, the first poem I learned to memorize was “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost.  My sixth grade teacher made each of us in the class stand up at the front of the room and recite the poem.  Til this day, almost 20 years later, I still remember every line (with the exception of one that I JUST looked up a few minutes ago).  Each time I recall the lines in my mind, I get a sudden twinge of emotions: a mixture of nostalgia, sadness, and happiness.  At the time, I had a very shallow understanding of Mr. Frost’s work.  However, as I’ve grown older – and as my college poetry professor had taught me – there are layers upon layers of meaning one can peel away from this story.  I won’t delve too much into this piece, because that’s not really the point of this post.  For me, this poem symbolizes my journey in life, which is why I have such a great connection to it.  Going through the motions of the day-to-day, even when I think there really isn’t time to stop, sometimes it’s those precise pauses that invigorate me to continue.  And this week was no exception.

After returning from a wonderful week-long vacation in Cancun, I was back to my ever-growing to-do lists.  However, unlike a “typical” week, I had the added bonus of fever/congestion for Rocco, which quickly infected me.  Not only was I dealing with the shock of after-vacation bliss and all of the unpacking/laundry that accompanies the return home, I was taking care of a whiny, inconsolable toddler while feeling weak and miserable.  Oh, and an impending snow storm to boot.  I did what I had to do to prepare – stocked the kitchen, did the laundry, etc. and napped when I could.  Even though the naps took away from doing more work, I had to take care of myself.  Then came Wednesday.

On Wednesday, I kind of felt like that man with the little horse.  I was still congested, but feeling well enough to not allow myself to stop.  In the early afternoon, I was mostly caught up, so I got a jump start on dinner.  While I really didn’t want to cook, I didn’t have much of a choice.  After being inside for almost 3 days, it was one of those clean out the fridge kind of endeavors.  I was really in the mood for some soup, so I decided to try roasting whatever veggies I had, then finishing them off in the Vitamix for a few minutes with some broth. It came out much better than I anticipated.  Plus, the time it took to prepare the veggies allowed me the opportunity to quietly reflect on my progress in the smaller and larger scheme of the day/week/month/year/life.  That may sound a little far fetched, but it truly was how I felt at the time.  I think it’s just what soup does to me.

I’m sure you could swap in/out for whatever you have, but I’d recommend trying this anytime you want a bowl of existentialism.

Roasted Root Vegetable “Refrigerator” Soup

Makes 8 cups (4-6 Servings)

Appx. 6-7 cups chopped root veggies.  I used:
1.5 large carrots
2 small parsnips
3 small turnips
1 small daikon
3 medium red potatoes
2 celery centers
1 medium Kohlrabi
4 whole cloves garlic
3-4 tbsp EVOO
2 leeks
1 quart low-sodium vegetable broth
Salt and Pepper to tastes
Extra EVOO, butter, or margarine for garnish (optional)

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I preheated the oven to 425, lined two baking sheets with aluminum foil, and washed/peeled/chopped all the veggies.  With the exception of the leeks, I added all the veggies into a large bowl, and then mixed in the EVOO, S&P.

Freaky Leeky.

Freaky Leeky.

After 20 minutes of roasting, I took the sheets out, and then mixed in the leeks.

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Another 20 minutes of roasting, the veggies were cooked enough for the next step.

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I transfered all the veggies to the Vitamix, then added the quart of broth.  With the lid on nice and tight, I blended on high for about 7 minutes.

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Then tada! The soup was done!  No simmering in the pot, followed my emersion blending.  The cleanup is really simple – just rinse out, add water, and blend with dish soap for 30 seconds.  Plus, it came out so smooth, you’d think it was a jar of Gerber.

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To really guild the lily, I stirred in a tiny slab of butter.  To keep the recipe completely vegan, you could also use earth balance or another fat of choice (EVOO, coconut oil, etc).  I served the soup with a simple salad of mixed greens, walnuts, avocado, pinto beans, and lime juice (sorry, no picture).  There was just enough left for some lunch today.  Rocco enjoyed his in a sippy cup!

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The next time it snows, I might just whip up a comforting bowl of this soup to slow me down and rejuvenate my psyche for the long road ahead.  There may be “miles to go before I sleep”, but stopping to fuel my body and mind is what I really need if those promises I’ve made are to be kept.