Friday, February 28, 2014

Roasted Veggies for the City Girl

I have had some heavy posts lately and I hate to stray too far from the original purpose of this blog.  Though I haven’t made many new recipes lately, I have perfected some tricks in the kitchen and I thought I would share one today.

I LOVE the taste of roasted veggies.  Baking is my number one way to cook anything.  I love the char, the sweetness that erupts from simple roasted Brussels sprouts, chopped broccoli, butternut squash…pleasant sigh, I could go on and on.

But getting to the store often enough to buy fresh veggies is a challenge for me.  I don’t have a car, and though my boyfriend has a truck, I loathe the thought of driving it down the tiny row-house lined streets and parking it in the parking garages built circa 1920 originally meant for little buggies and carriages (slight exaggeration).  So I usually do a Peapod order (grocery delivery service) every few weeks or make a Trader Joe’s run when I can convince the BF to drive me.

This means that I have to stock up on frozen veggies like, ugh...

BUT I have a trick that I use now. 

Check out my recipe for perfectly roasted, previously frozen veggies –
  1. Steam the veggies in the microwave until they are thawed, but still a little cold.  For Steamfresh veggies, about 2 ½-3 minutes should be perfect.
  2. Pat them dry.
  3. Place them on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
  4. Season with garlic salt and pepper.
  5. Bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.
  6. Toss with tongs about halfway through.

Anyone else have tips for making previously frozen foods stand up to their fresh versions?

Anyone look forward to living in the burbs just because it is easier to get to a grocery store without relying on public transit?

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Sunflower Greens

My favorite new superfood was a random Whole Foods discovery.  Fresh off a post-workout high, I found myself wandering the isles of my neighborhood Whole Foods where they were giving out samples of sunflower greens dressed with just a little olive oil and sea salt.  Oh Em Gee…you guys have to give them a try.  My lovely lady friends had to endure my new obsession at the recent girls dinner I hosted, and I think they would attest that these little guys won them over…

I have been buying them every chance I get.  I have tried them dressed with a little balsamic.  I have tried them with soy sauce.  And my favorite way to eat them is mixed with just a little tatziki, or even nonfat Greek yogurt.  
 They are the perfect alternative to a side salad with dinner.  Check out the amazing health benefits. 
1)      Sunflower greens are a perfect source of complete protein
2)      They activate every cell in the immune system.
3)      They boost your fertility as they contain high amounts of zinc.
4)      They are a nutritional powerhouse packed with vitamins A, B complex, D, and E; they also contain minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.
5)      Sunflower greens are a rich source of lecithin which helps break down fatty acids
6)      Sunflower sprouts contain high amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E works synergistically with vitamin C and selenium to reduce blood pressure, increase the elasticity of arteries and prevent heart disease.
Love ‘em.
Anyone else ever tried sunflower sprouts?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Flipping It

It is Sunday morning.  I am sitting at the kitchen table, reflecting on the weekend.  Sometimes my tendency is to focus on what was missing from my weekends, but I think it is important to appreciate all the good more often.  So here is my attempt to flip all the "negatives" into positives.

First, a trip to Whole Foods.  

The bad, feeling guilty about spending way more money then I planned.  Why did I need these tulips? The brie was totally unnecessary.  How is a 4oz piece of salmon $8!?

The good, my purchases amounted to a successful girls dinner with two of my close friends and former roommates.  The tulips were the perfect centerpiece, the salmon was insanely delicious.  And the brie made for the perfect late night snack when I got hungry again after they left :)

Staying out too late and sleeping in too late

The bad, feeling a little blah and dehydrated.

The good, a chance to cook my favorite breakfast of runny-eggs and toast rather than running straight to the gym.

Supposedly, it is nice out.  But I don't buy it.  50 degrees is still cold in my book.

The bad, wishing more and more that winter was over.

The good, getting closer each day to bringing my little herb garden back to life...

This is an old picture from last spring, this is what keeps me going.

Missing my family.

The bad, I need new pants but my mom is the only person I like to shop with.  I am unmotivated to go alone.  I miss her...

The good.  Living in DC, next door to beauties like this none the less.  This is the National Cathedral, just a few blocks from our apartment, for those of you who haven't seen it.

Double good - Not going shopping means that all of my pants are too tight, so my backside is very accentuated lately, which doesn't look that bad I must say ;)

And Lastly....


There is NOTHING bad about baking muffins! 

Happy end-of-the-weekend friends.

Anyone else figure out ways to put positive spins on some of the things you typically consider "negative"?

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cake for One

Ever have cravings for dessert but have nothing on hand.  Out of chocolate, no more icecream, even short on nut butter, which usually hits that sweet spot?  Ugh it is the worst!

I recently discovered the most amazing quick treat for one.  The infamous Mug Cake.  If you haven't tried it, you MUST give it a shot.  A quick cake for one that is ready in minutes.


Okay, so that isn't my version, I took it from another blog.  Forgive me for stealing.  And also for the crappy picture below - I scooped mine out of the mug and into a bowl to cool.  I know it looks gross, but please believe me that it was insanely delish.  This is a pumpkin mug cake with chocolate chips.

Pumpkin Chocolate Mug Cake:
2-3 tablespoons flour
2-3 tablespoons pumpkin puree
sweatener of choice (I used 2 packs of vanilla stevia)
chocolate chips
1 egg white
1/4 cup of almond milk
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
dash of nutmeg

Stir it together in a mug and microwave for 2 1/2 minutes.

To. Die. For. 

This recipe was adapted from Running with Spoons' Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Mug Cake

I topped my mug cake with a scoop of vanilla coconut Greek yogurt.  Definitely hit the spot. 

Check out these other mug cake recipes, and get creative with ingredients of your own!

Here is another reminder of how they are supposed to look in case you were scarred and disgusted by my version.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Ravioli and a Reuben

Does anyone else experience the Sunday blues?  Maybe you get stressed about going back to work on Monday.  Perhaps you are slightly hungover.  Maybe you feel like you didn't get as much accomplished as you had hoped.  Or you feel like you spend too much money.  For me, the Sunday blues stems from guilt about all of the indulgences of the weekend. 

It all started with a romantic Valentine's Day meal.  

We made ravioli from scratch!

For tips on how to make the dough, check out this post.  For the filling:

Combine 1/2 cup of ricotta
with 1/4 cup parmesean
in a pan, saute fresh spinach, garlic and copped mushrooms
take half of the sauted veggies, let them cool, then mix with the cheeses
To the pan with the other half of the veggies, add 2 tablespoons of butter and a 1/2 cup of chicken stock.  Simmer to reduce.  This will be the lovely sauce for the ravioli.

Be sure to top with lots of Parmesan!

We also cooked lobster tail cause "we fancy."

The next night was another rich meal.  Steak and frites at a restaurant in our neighborhood called Medium Rare with a few of our close friends.  They are known for their one set menu which consists of fresh bread, salad, steak with gravy, and crispy french fries.  And when you finish your steak and fries, they come around with second helping!  I paired my steak with a refreshing lemon vodka cocktail, which was just sour enough to cut the richness of the steak. It was a great meal and the service was phenomenal.  You can't beat the combination of good friends and a good steak.

Usually Friday and Saturday night splurges are plenty for one weekend.  But this was a three-day weekend.  My boyfriend and I both have Monday off for President's day so we felt like we had to keep the fun going.  We decided to go to happy hour at DGS Deli in Dupont circle on (gasp) a Sunday night!  DGS is a gourmet spin on the classic Jewish deli that I had been dying to try for over a year now.  It definitely didn't disappoint - the bartender was friendly, the happy hour specials were awesome, and the food was beyond delicious.  Between the pastrami chili cheese fries, the latkes with apple marmalade and sour cream, the matzo ball soup, the juicy Reuben, and three old-fashioneds, I felt like I may have overdone it.  I was completely stuffed.

A year ago, when my Jewish grandmother passed away, we talked about going to this deli in her honor.  Though my boyfriend tried to take me several times, and despite really wanting to go, my anxiety around food kept me away.  That greasy Reuben and those meaty fries plus multiple heavy cocktails...very scary.

Almost exactly a year to the day my grandmother passed away, we finally went.  And I ate those fried latkes.  And they were oh-so-good.  My grandma was definitely smiling down on me. 

I am not going to pretend it was all rainbows and butterflies, I definitely had some anxiety before going and guilt afterward.

But when I woke of this morning, with the morning sun peaking though the curtains, I pulled back the covers and looked down at my stomach.  Travis, my boyfriend, turned over and saw me.  He said, "See babe, nothing bad happened."  He is right.  Nothing bad happened and nothing bad will ever come of a greasy Reuben and some cocktails on a Sunday night. 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Snack Time!

Thank you so much to all of you who reached out to support me after my last post. I felt like it was time to be more open and honest about myself and I am very thankful to have friends who care.

As I mentioned, I have been making an effort to add more healthy calories into my diet, so I thought I would share some new nutritious foods I have been experimenting with recently.

Chia Seeds.  These things are packed with nutrients like healthy omega-3 fatty acids, carbohydrates, protein, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium.  I learned that if you soak them in water for about an hour, they get gummy and become a perfectly textured topping for a yogurt mess treat like this one...

That is vanilla Greek yogurt with peanut butter, a mashed up homemade blueberry muffin and a teaspoon of chia seeds.

Side note, I may have discovered my favorite healthy fat of them all.  Justin's Maple Almond Butter.  I have been grabbing spoonfuls all day (I am home today - snow day!).

Next I am straying from the snack topic and want to mention my new way of adding calories to my morning oats that I eat when I get to the office.  I did an "Ass and Abs" class at the gym, so it was necessary to add some extra protein into my morning post-workout meal.  Slivered almonds really did the trick. I mixed them in before I could get a pic - sigh.

Oh so tasty.

Here is another fun one.  I have noticed that artificial sweeteners make me bloated, which I translate into my tummy saying "please give me real sugar." So I translate that into one thing...

Dark chocolate.  A friend bought me this bag as a birthday treat and I need to publicly thank her immensely.  Dark chocolate contains cocoa and cocoa contains flavenoids, which may help to lower blood pressure, decrease low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, lower blood clot risk, improve cognitive performance and improve mood.  I can definitely attest to the mood boost after popping one (or two) of these bad boys :)

Six months ago, these additions to my snacks and meals would have caused me a lot of anxiety.  Because I was so focused on consuming as few calories as possible and would often agonize over small nutritious additions to my set meals.

But I think my body has been mad at me for depriving it of the nutrients it needs...sorry body!  Please forgive me! I know these are baby steps, but they are steps none-the-less.

Now back to the snow day...

Anyone else have ideas for adding healthy fats and nutrient-rich calories to your everyday go-to snacks and meals?  I need more ideas!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

I Think I am Ready

A friend pointed out that my posts lately have become more reflective.  It is true, my blog has made a slight veer in a new direction, from just recipes to deeper thoughts and noteworthy experiences.  There are two reasons behind this.  1) I am running out of new recipes to try (you can only cook salmon so many ways), and 2) I am making an effort to change the way I think about food.

I have been contemplating writing this post for a really long time but I have honestly just been afraid.  Mostly of what others will think.  And also about categorizing myself as someone who has a problem.

About four years ago, I made a concerted effort to change my diet and fitness routine.  Food and nutrition became important to me.  Races and spin classes became my passion.  Until about six months ago when I realized that it had gone too far.

Our society praises "self control" and dietary restriction.

#motivation stay focused Kitchen Art Kitchen sign Diet motivational FUNNY by AndTheSignSays, $22.00
It rewards intense workouts.
 Here's some #Fitspiration for you this. This is my inspiration! I've never had this kind of body, and possibly never will, but I will be close one day!!!
A little Fitspiration for YOUR Fitness - p.s. - Don’t forget to check out - #fitspiration #fitness
It is hard to think that you have a problem when the whole world seems to be dieting and obsessing over calories.

But something just felt off.  I was moody and irritable, I would avoid weeknight happy hours and dinner-related events with friends.  I would get anxious over which menu items would be the healthiest choice, and I would get stressed when my lunch strayed from my safe turkey sandwich with an apple.  I increased my workouts to seven days a week, for at least an hour a day, sometimes two.  I thought about food a lot and I felt good when I was hungry and able to "hold off."  I felt bad when I strayed from my routine and "treated myself."  I measured my success and self-worth by a number on a scale.  I was hungry...all the time.  I liked the way I looked, but I was sad, I was angry, I was tired of counting calories.

I was thin, but few people noticed anything drastic, or at least few said anything.  My boyfriend was the first to notice how food was affecting me and he missed the Lindsay that would skip a workout every now and then to cuddle in bed some mornings.  That girl was gone. 

I am happy to say that I have made some big changes over the last six months.  I am eating more and feeling stronger.  I am doing less cardio.  I have ditched the scale.  I eat a small dessert every day.  I have incorporated fear foods back into my regular diet - like almond butters, pizza, and pasta.  I will have wine on weeknights.  I will snack late if I am hungry.  All things that gave me anxiety just months ago.

I will stuff my face at dimsum...

But I still struggle....

When it comes to listening to all of my hunger queues.  Like lately, I am hungry ALL the time.  I think its because my metabolism is starting to bounce back from the restriction.

Since I am unsure of what normal eating is (I over-thought it for too long), I worry that I may not be doing it right - "are you sure it's OK to eat that much?!"  Luckly, I have found support from a lot of other bloggers like Carly, Sam, Cait, and Amanda.

With guilt.  I worry that I overate, I feel bad after big or unhealthy meals, and especially late night jumbo slice.
But I am trying to trust my body.  I am trying to believe that after it rebuilds from the damage I have done, it will level out to my healthy weight.  I am trying to tune out the stupid media and stop comparing myself to others.

I refuse to live like that ever again because there are a lot of things that taste better than skinny feels and your body needs days to lounge around like a sloth without guilt.

Life is too short and cookie dough is too delicious ;)

Anyone else sick of working so hard to "be healthy"?

Anyone else feel like they may have fallen off balance?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Why I Love Birthdays

So I have been doing a lot of thinking lately.  About who I am, why I am the way I am, what I want to change, and what I cannot change.  My birthday helped open my eyes to something...I love being loved.  I know we all do...but I felt extra extra special, as I do every year on my birthday.  I love being the center of everyone's affections, it makes me feel beautiful, unique, confident.  But it made me think, why can't I feel this beautiful, unique and confident every day?  It made me realize that I put too much emphasis on how I am perceived and loved by others.  What if I was able to give that love and affection to myself rather than relying on it from others just one day a year? 

But wait, before I get deep, a no particular order, of some of the best birthdays of my 20s.

I have realized lately that I look for reassurance from outside of myself and if people don't tell me that I am beautiful, special, smart, I assume that they think I am not. 

I am not self-loathing by any means, I am not depressed, and I don't want to be anyone else.  I just think I could benefit from some self-love.  It sounds easy, but how do you actually "love" yourself?  Is it positive self talk, is it treating yourself to a massage, what does that look like?  Here is what I think it could look like for me...

Define my "shoulds" and my "needs" - what do I do because I think I "should" versus what I really want and need?  Once I figure that out, I want to focus on the wants and needs.

Accept my body as it is right now - fitness magazines are the worst, I am tired of listening to others tell me how I should look and what I should do to achieve that "goal."

Waste time doing the things I love more often, even if they are inefficient uses of my time - I love listening to music, painting my nails, baking, stretching, walking instead of running.  But I often assume I need to be doing something more productive with my time.

Get excited about the future, but don't try to plan every aspect of it - it is great to get excited about upcoming events.  But it is also ok to roll with the punches when plans stray.  Relax and slow down, things will happen as they should.

Trust myself and relinquish some control - stop with the self doubt and the fear that my body doesn't know what its doing.  Taking some rest days and going to happy hour will not derail my schedule or my life.  My body is smarter than I give it credit for.

Stop dwelling on regrets and succumbing to guilt - live in the moment and be OK with the mistakes I make.  Realize that what I feel like are my failures, are not really even failures anyway.

So maybe I can work toward finding love inside of myself.  Although I am sure I will still love the extra attention on my birthday :)

Do you feel like your self-worth is often defined by others or society?

How do you remind yourself that confidence can come from within?

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Three Holidays in One Day?!

Today is Groundhog Day, the Super Bowl, and....wait for it....

My Birthday!

I have to admit that I absolutely love my birthday.  Even as I get "older" I don't think I will ever dread a birthday.  I think I am just a really big attention whore. 

And every birthday gets better year after year.  This year has already blown all of the others away and it is only Noon!  I will break it down so far...

Travis took me out for a birthday dinner last night because today is the Super Bowl.  Check out the birthday outfit selfie I sent my mom:

We went to one of the very best restaurants in DC, Little Serrow.  It was insanely good.  A seven course Thai meal, in an quaint candle lit basement row house in Dupont Circle.  The meal was extremely spicy and extremely flavorful.  The highlight for me was the finale of pork ribs which were so tenderly grilled, the meat melted off the bone.  I also loved the fried tofu with cilantro root, among practically every other dish I tasted.  We paired our meal with a smooth elegant red wine that was slightly chilled - a perfect offset to the heat.  The waitress also brought a complimentary glass of a sweet and crisp gewurztraminer when she noticed our mouths were on fire after course four, which was a chopped chicken with fried shallots and offal.  It was absolutely mouthwatering.  Although I just looked up what "offal" is and it is actually pretty awful...ignorance is bliss when it comes to fine dining sometimes.

Next stop was a great little bar called Baby Wale to meet up with friends to celebrate with cocktails.  Friends old and new came and we had such a fantastic night!  I sipped my favorite cocktail there, which is made with tequila, lime and chili.  Yum!  I felt so loved and grateful for all of them.  Being surrounded by so many amazing people made me glow with happiness the entire night.  I can't put into words how happy and lucky I felt. Unfortunately, I didn't get many pictures.  I was having too much fun to think about taking any!

And when I got home.  A nightcap -

Which I felt slightly guilty about this morning.  But I refuse to let myself go to that dark place on my actual birthday. 

The birthday morning began with a run, a power-packed smoothie made with Greek yogurt, banana, peanut butter, almond milk, kale, blueberries and agave.

Just what the doctor ordered.

The rest of the day is going to be spent mostly in the kitchen and then in front of the TV.  Here is how it is looking so far...

I will do a recap of the great gifts from my boyfriend and family later this week!  


How do you feel about your birthdays?

Do you get guilty feelings the morning after drinking a lot?  

If so, what is your go-to post-party happiness booster?