Tag Archives: Veggies

An Excuse, an Accident, and a Great Listener

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I hate being away from le blogge for such an extended period of time (i.e. only writing once a week), mostly because I miss sharing my life with you guys! Every time I have a topic to write about and I don’t write, it feels like I held in a sneeze. It’s like I’m waiting to feel the sweet relief that is a published post, tied up neatly with the metaphorical bow of a catchy title and ten thousand tags. I can’t blame anyone but myself, though, for choosing alternative activities. C’est la vie sometimes.

In much more exciting, non sneeze-related news, Ian and I just spent an incredible weekend with two of our favorite people, Lauren and R.D. Lauren and I have been friends since we were freshmen at Longwood, and Ian and R.D. became friends when Ian pledged the same fraternity, Alpha Chi Sigma, at Hampden-Sydney. They live in Virginia Beach, and we finally had a free weekend to go and visit them in their beautiful new apartment!

I’ll start at the beginning.

I picked Ian up straight from work on Friday, hangry (the term he dubbed for hunger + anger, during which I morph quickly into a bear and then back again as soon as my blood sugar is stabilized) and ready to get on the road. It should have been less than 90 minutes between downtown Richmond and where Lauren and R.D. live in Virginia Beach, but we knew we’d hit horrendous beach-goer traffic on Interstate 64. And we were exactly right. Somewhere between Yorktown and Williamsburg, we got into a fender-bender. The other driver wasn’t paying attention and let her foot off the brake between bouts of stand-still traffic, so she only caused the tiniest of dents in my bumper. What should’ve been a 90-minute trip became a 3.5-hour journey between bumper-to-bumper, waiting for the police to come, and battling the Bay Bridge Tunnel.

Nevertheless, we arrived at our friends’ apartment just before 7:30, hungry and ready to get our Mexican on. They took us to a local favorite hotspot, El Tapatio. I didn’t waste any time drowning my sorrows (dramatic much? ;-)) in a jumbo marg!

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As soon as I was properly *hydrated*, I buried my face in some grub.

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I know that I need to lay off the processed carbs, but there’s just something about bottomless chips and salsa that does a weary soul good. (Okay, I’ve milked it enough. I guess we can move on now.)

As soon as we were back at the apartment, Lauren broke out the Angry Orchard, and Ian and R.D. dove headfirst into rum and Coke. Five hours and many ciders later, Lauren and I were still having one of our heart-to-hearts on her bed, while our significant others…

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…were down for the count.

[Bear with me, as I’ve noticed that one of the recurring themes of this weekend was covering the lens of my iPhone slightly with my finger…]

Thankfully, my OCD and my over-planning had led me to blow up Ian’s and my air mattresses before we went out to dinner, so our beds were waiting, and more than inviting. Lauren and R.D. graciously offered us their guest room/office and their second full bath for the weekend for our living and sleeping quarters. Within minutes, we were both sleeping like babies.

Saturday had much more of a lazy start. I awoke at 9:45 after about 5 hours of sleep, and after a short conversation with Ian, I fell asleep again until noon. Lauren had a strong cup of black coffee waiting for me when I finally emerged. We went to this quaint little diner for brunch, where I had the most excellent Eggs Benedict and fresh fruit. Lauren had a mimosa that smelled to die for, but I thought water would better suit my recovery 😉

After brunch, we spent an hour or so wandering around Harris Teeter. I’m a huge fan of Whole Foods, but I could easily see myself becoming HT-loyal if there was one near Ian or me. After all, I found my splurge drink: grape Synergy Kombucha with chia seeds!

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I took mine for a dip in the pool as soon as the groceries were unloaded. It wasn’t hot or humid, but the water was calling our names. We had planned to hit the beach, but the forecast of thunderstorms for the rest of the evening put a stop to that in a hurry. We all agreed we’d try the pool for as long as we could, and then begin dinner preparations.

Can I just say that Lauren and R.D. are so fortunate to be able to live in such a beautiful and lavish apartment complex? I don’t mean to expose their business to the world, but I am incredibly jealous of their new digs and all that their rent includes. I mean, look at this pool!

Lauren, please don't be mad at me... but you are so freaking cute!

Lauren, please don’t be mad at me… but you are so freaking cute!

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As can be seen behind R.D., there was also a spacious hot tub we tried out for about five minutes before we decided it was just too hot for hot tubbin’. Poor Ian tried to get in a few minutes of study time…

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…but the storm put a damper on our pool visit after about 30 minutes.

No matter! Lauren got right to work on dishes of chips and salsa, and we enjoyed watching the storm from the porch.

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Not many people would allow me to unload multiple times in one weekend, but Lauren is one incredible friend and one patient listener. She’s also a good advice-giver without being judgmental or condescending. In my opinion, not many people achieve that balance! Thanks again, girl! 🙂

As soon as we were all cleaned up, Ian got to work studying a bit, R.D. got to work on some video games,

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and Lauren got to work on dinner: shrimp, steak and veggie kabobs.

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She swore I could not do a thing to help her — and she was probably right, judging by the beauty of our dinner — and that I should relax and enjoy being her guest.

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I was pretty full between the kabobs and the couscous, but we decided that a trip to Coldstone was in order, anyway. I cannot thank Lauren enough times for driving all weekend and for truly treating Ian and me like guests.

My absolute favorite flavor: That's How I Roll

My absolute favorite flavor: That’s How I Roll

After we got back from Coldstone, there was a surprise waiting for us: Lauren and R.D. threw us a party! There were only seven of us total, but we rabble-roused enough for about 20 people. We even dug out ye olde HSC game table and played pong and flip cup.

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Not only did I rock at flip cup and help carry our three-man team to victory, I rocked this hilarious koozie of Lauren’s:

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We partied undergrad-style, complete with a rousing game of Kings, until the very late hour of 11:00, when everybody crashed in front of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Our party guests bid us adieu around midnight, and we called it a day. I was all too happy to crash on my double-sized air mattress again.

Ian and I got up at 9:30 this morning, got ready, packed up, and hit the road. I cringe when I think about our McDonald’s breakfast, because my eating habits have been pretty abysmal lately. Spruce it up however you like and title it whatever you want; an egg white sandwich from McDonald’s is still egg, cheese, meat, and bread. My iced coffee kept me going through a few small bouts of low blood sugar, but I was determined to make it to Richmond without stopping for lunch. Ian and I have become unabashed experts at being cheap-asses.

I dropped him off at his apartment shortly after 1:00, and I got gas quickly before heading home. Even though I was desperate for a nap and a shot (or five) of caffeine, I somehow managed to study for more than two hours for the CPCE I am taking August 24.

As of right now, I’m not long out of bed. I just couldn’t wait to share this magnificent weekend with my blends! Hopefully, I’ll be back before another week passes… Ta ta!

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Grocery Haul Line Item

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Hello and happy Sunday, blends! I’m back at my little apartment for a long, blissful, peaceful, relaxing week of… class. Whomp.

Anyhow, I haven’t written about my grocery shopping exploits in awhile, so I thought it would be fun to update you on what I’m eating these days, how much I buy to feed a household of one, and about how much I spend per week on food. Here goes, in no particular order!

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I was falling a little behind on my TP supply. Get it? 😉 ($7.99)

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My fridge is always stocked with Chobani. This week, all Chobani was 10/$10, so I even indulged in a few Flips.

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In the grains department, organic frosted flakes cereal ($2.50), store-brand whole wheat rotini ($0.99), spicy blue corn tortilla chips ($2.79), and 100-calorie whole wheat sandwich rounds ($3.19).

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My “shame buys”: basil pesto ($3.69) for chicken pesto pasta this week, and soups ($2.69 each). I try not to buy these types of items often, because pesto is so high in fat, and because brand-name soups have a tremendous amount of sodium (34% RDV in just one of these cans!).

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In the beverage department, my impromptu purchase of Metro Mint water (on sale 10/$10), practically sugar-free and low-cal cranberry-pomegranate juice ($2.74), and store-brand skim milk ($2.19).

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I thought I was in desperate need of Orbit gum (2/$3), but it turns out there were two packs of strawberry flavor waiting for me in the pantry. Oops!

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Not-quite-ripe bananas — just how I like ’em — ($0.59/pound = $1.20), organic strawberries ($2.28), and white grapes ($2.99/pound = $5.20).

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As far as veggies go, one green bell pepper ($0.78), two Roma tomatoes ($2.28/pound = $2.51), one cucumber (4/$3 = $0.75), one Vidalia onion ($0.99/pound = $0.64), whole carrots ($0.79), baby spinach ($2.99), and Steamfresh frozen peas ($1.39) and a veggie blend ($2.69).

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One-half dozen grade-A large store-brand eggs ($0.99) and feta crumbles ($1.89).

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And last but certainly not least, my protein department: antibiotic-free, hormone-free, 100% vegetarian-fed, cage-free-raised chicken breasts ($3.95), and farm-raised boneless and skinless tilapia fillets ($3.99).

Drum roll, please……

My total haul for the week cost $83.42, and I saved $12.35 using my store points card. Woohooo!

Some of these items will last me longer than a week, such as three chicken breasts and four pieces of tilapia, a carton of juice, the TP (I should hope!), pesto, pasta, and gum. I needed to make a large grocery shopping trip today since I haven’t been at my apartment for a month and the fridge was looking pretty bare. That explains my high bill, as a typical weekly trip ranges from $40-$60. However, my fruit and veggie haul for this week was pretty typical, with some items varying depending upon weekly sales (e.g. grapes instead of pears, baby spinach instead of a butter bibb blend).

That about wraps it up! I’d love to hear from YOU about grocery shopping! Maybe I’m a weirdo, but I love seeing what other foodies and health nuts buy each week.

Let’s Talk Baby Food

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Wow! Thanks for the support of Monday’s post! Turns out y’all really like your bars. Ironic…

Part of today’s post actually is about baby food, but not in the context of a baby eating it. Got your attention, didn’t it? 😉 I’m the one who eats the baby food around here!

Awhile back, I read posts on several of my favorite bloggers’ sites about the pouches their toddlers were eating. That got me to thinking… If these women, who value wholesome, nutritious foods, have sampled them and feel comfortable with their children eating these pouches… they must be good and good for you, right?

I decided to give ’em a whirl. (Not just because I love spending extra time in the Natural Foods section.) I picked up a few varieties at Kroger – blueberry banana, carrot apricot mango, beet-and-something-or-other (I do not recommend the beet flavor; both it and the carrot were very earthy-tasting), butternut squash and banana (I was afraid to try that flavor), so on and so forth. I had my misgivings after trying a few of the veggie-heavy ones. I made faces in class so contorted I was forced to reveal that I was sucking on organic baby food. Yep – I’m that girl. I wonder what Freud would have to say about my choice in snack foods…

All in all, though, they’re delicious. They have a good bit of sugar, but it’s natural. The ingredient list is short and entirely pronounceable and recognizable: organic beets, organic carrots, organic blueberries, organic pureed banana, etc. They’re about a hundred calories apiece, and they’re surprisingly satisfying.

If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to your same-old-same, I give these my stamp of approval.

Switching gears completely…

I want to discuss a commercial I’ve been seeing a lot recently that just bugs me. It’s for the Slimful bar. Have you seen these commercials?

You eat one 90-calorie bar, drink a glass of water, and (presumably) eat less at a meal. In my mind, if you’re going to be consuming approximately 270 calories in Slimful bars each day, why not apply those calories toward nature’s nutritional supplements? (Hippie much?) I mean, instead of a bar, why not toss back a banana and some whole-wheat toast with Nutella? Or an apple with a dab of PB?

I’ll admit that I have no idea what’s in the Slimful bar, but honestly, I don’t want to know. It’s a rapid weight-loss strategy, which in my (observational) experience, is a recipe for unhealthy weight loss and almost immediate weight-gain following the “strategy.” I’m much more pro clean-eating and whole, natural foods. It can’t be that great, or CVS and Walgreen’s would be marketing fresh fruits and veggies and whole grains. Sigh.

What really irks me about the Slimful commercials is the slogan: “Eating less is a beautiful thing.” Of course, of course, everything in moderation. Five small meals a day. Drink an 8-ounce glass of water before a meal. Recognize that sometimes thirst is mistaken for hunger. Keep snacks on-hand to avoid overeating/binges when hunger strikes unexpectedly.

We’ve all heard it all, right?

So maybe gorging yourself isn’t the way to go, especially if you’re trying to lose weight. But it just really burns my toast that a bar is being pushed as a substitute for adequate, legitimate nutrition. The commercial even depicts the “meal” consumed after the bar as being a few meager pieces of broccoli and some lame, undoubtedly flavorless meat. Let’s be real – who eats like that? Rabbits? My mouth doesn’t water thinking about some bar prior to a less-than-satisfactory meal; it waters when I think about all the ways there are to fill a plate with naturally delicious, naturally nutritious foods that keep me fuller longer, satisfy my sweet tooth, and give me more energy than some crummy bar.

Please excuse me while I readjust my attitude.

Alright, my apologies. Rant complete. I hope you are having a thrilling Thursday, blends!

P.S. My shipment of Chobani Bite is expected to arrive March 6 – much “oohing” and “ahhing” plus reviews to come!

Drawing Conclusions

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My week-long nutrition calculating culminated yesterday!

(Geez, what is with this woman?! She won’t stop talking about protein and carbs! Enough already!)

I know, right? 😉

First, let me just say that writing down every morsel I put into my mouth was tedious and at times, difficult. I found that without actually altering the amount of food I was planning to eat to suit this task, I did measure a number of foods I normally wouldn’t (e.g. number of Wheat Thins, tablespoons of salsa, teaspoons of salad dressing). Without knowing the amount I was eating, nutrition labels would have been all but useless. Also, it was eye-opening to see how many so-called servings of food I actually consume when I bypass measuring and just eat. That said, here are the last few stats*:

Monday — 262.5g carbohydrates, 65g protein (woohoo!), 48g fat, 26g fiber

Tuesday — 231.5g carbohydrates, 76g protein (score!), 56g fat, 28.5g fiber (win!)

Conclusions
To be honest, I can’t draw too many conclusions other than that I’m not consuming enough in any category every single day. I hit my protein intake mark three days out of five, so that’s nothing to scoff at! I only hit my fiber mark twice, so I’ll be looking into how to up my fiber intake per diem. I never hit my carbohydrates or fat marks.

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I am one hundred percent surprised that I never once hit my RDV fat or carbs intake marks. Before I began tabulating everything, I thought surely I consumed enough fat and carbs to satisfy the RDV requirements (and probably several other people’s, as well). Perhaps this is where the answer to my personal hunger games lies; carbohydrates fuel the body through strenuous exercise as well as daily living, while saturated fats satiate the body and make it feel artificially full. Perhaps if I am not eating enough of either, my body is going into conservation mode because it never detects fullness and therefore feels that it needs to hold on to fat reserves and sources of energy. In a circular effect, my body needs ample fat and carbohydrate intake to signal it to allow me to lose weight through diet and exercise without feeling the need to hold on to those nutrients. This could be the answer to my weight-loss plateau, as well. Many people told me that at the beginning of my weight-loss journey, I would shed pounds like they were nothin’. Further down the road, they said, I would hit a plateau and it would seem as if I’d never lose another pound (for most people, I assume that’s how those “last ten pounds” feel). I’ve been hovering around the same weight for a few months now with little noticeable progress. I think I may have finally found my answer! Now, uncovering the solution to my intake woes is another story… Looks like more research is next on my to-do list!

Typically
A typical day in meals looks like this — Breakfast: coffee + Splenda + a splash of skim milk, Greek yogurt, Kashi cereal + fresh fruit; Lunch: spinach salad with cucumber, tomato, broccoli, baby carrots, and Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (or) quinoa bowl with shredded lettuce, quinoa, sour cream, fresh salsa, black beans (or) hearty soup (Italian Wedding-Style, Mexican Tortilla, French Onion, Homestyle Chicken Noodle); Snacks: almonds, Asian pears, Wheat Thins, KIND bars, bananas, blue corn tortilla chips + fresh salsa; Dinner: pasta + sauce (or) hearty soup [if not for lunch], fresh tomato + cucumber slices in apple cider vinegar + black pepper; Late snacks: frozen fruit, sugar-free Jell-O, decaf coffee + flavored creamer

*Just as a refresher, I based my “stats” on the recommended daily value for a 2,000-calorie diet; I currently have no precise way to measure how many calories I burn or need to take in per day. Also, I did not include my weekend meals, as they were atypical of my diet, eaten at a restaurant, or homemade sans nutrition info.

HELP! I’d love any suggestions you have for how to increase my intake in any of these nutritional categories! I like to eat as many “whole” foods as possible, without a lot of the processed stuff and without calorie-counting.

My Personal “Hunger Games”

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Maybe I live an insanely blah life, or maybe I tend to enjoy things that other people loathe, but perhaps the only thing I like one of my favorite things about starting a new semester is renewing myself from the inside out.

Last semester, I wrote about my near-constant hunger. I consulted my doctor and had bloodwork done, but I only experienced relief for about two months. Of all of the factors we discussed that could have been contributing to my hunger, my doctor and I never discussed whether I was eating enough of the right stuff. For example, I know my diet is full of leafy green veggies, water, fresh fruit, and a variety of bright colors… but I don’t know whether I’m consuming enough healthy carbs or sufficient protein.

At the beginning of this semester, in order to combat my baffling hunger, I’ve decided to keep a log of the (measurable) carbohydrates, total fat, and protein I’m consuming during the week. Being that I’m not a registered dietician, nor am I in the habit of driving myself insane, by “measurable” I mean that raw, fresh, and whole foods will not be included (unless they are supplied with a label) — because I don’t want to measure the number of raspberries on my cereal or Google the nutrition info for one-third of a cucumber. This also means that I won’t count meals eaten out (which are typically on the weekend, anyway).

I am NOT counting calories. I hate the idea of a restrictive diet; I prefer to make an attempt at eating as many whole, fresh foods as possible to strive for balance. Sometimes, I eat what I want when I want to eat it. C’est la vie. I’m not going to get my panties in a wad over a cookie or a Diet Coke.

I am also NOT turning this exercise into one of my myriad “challenges.” I do not intend to alter the foods I normally eat to fool myself into believing my carb/fat/protein consumption is sufficient or over-and-above. I’m simply making a record so I can ascertain whether my consumption is compatible with my RDV and my level of exercise.

Not because I think you’re on the edge of your seat biting your nails with anticipation, but because blogging is an easy way to hold myself accountable, I’ll be reporting back with stats!

Here’s to (hopefully) solving my hunger woes, and to being one step closer to a fitter, more nutrition-oriented me! 😉

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Could there be a cuter way to take notes?!

[Edited to add: Today I consumed 164g carbohydrates, 39g protein, and 8g fat. Low on all counts.]

What Does That Even Mean?!

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Steel-cut oats.
Quinoa.
Chia.
“Whole.”
Roasted vegetables.
Kale chips.
“Clean eating.”
Gluten-free.
“Natural.”
Superfood.
Sea salt.
“Raw.”
Coconut water.
Grass-fed beef.
And of course, the catch-all, the big O: organic.

Raise your hand if you know what all of these words pertain to. Well, okay, so I can’t exactly see your hand raised. (Or not raised.)

These are all buzzwords I’ve heard floating around the wellness and healthy-living spheres during the past year. Quite frankly, I didn’t know what the hell most of them meant until I did extensive research and label-reading. I am not ashamed to admit now that until I tried most of these things for myself, I didn’t at all fully understand their nutritional value or their merit as part of my diet. Okay, let’s be honest — I didn’t know most of these things existed until I ran across them in someone’s blog or the newspaper or on Twitter.

I know I’m not alone in this. We hear something (e.g. steel-cut oats) and we pretend that we know exactly what that is (a different way of cutting oats? a different type of oats altogether?) until we can look it up on Wikipedia or secretly Google it on our cells under the table. I’m not a Registered Dietician or a physician, so I don’t know the biochemical breakdown of every single food I stuff into my gob (i.e. why all of a sudden everyone is gluten-free). Honestly, I don’t see the benefit in pretending to like something just because it’s popular in some social circles or in defying ignorance for the sake of dietary sophistication.

Should I be using fat-free plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream atop my vegan chili? The operative word here is “should.” I should be eating whatever it is that I’m comfortable eating.

What exactly are the benefits of drinking coconut water as opposed to good ol’ H2O? Besides my wallet losing weight…

I’m all for research and experimenting with different foods. That has been the name of my game over the past 11 months. But I’m over feigning understanding about why peanut butter is out and almond butter is in. I’m done nodding and smiling and saying, “Yep, mmhmm,” when someone raves about a particular brand of herbal tea. My eyes are probably glazing… but don’t worry — it’s not you, it’s me. I surrender to the almighty foodie powers that be: I don’t know everything! I don’t think heaven has reserved seating for vegans, while those ignorant to the existence of granola are banished to the smokers’ lounge. Just sayin’ 😉

P.S. Your comments are always welcome and appreciated!

Veggie Delight Dinner

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This morning, Mom and I were trying to decide what we should have for dinner tonight before she and Dad headed out to VCU’s winter concert. Oh, what am I up to, you ask? Well, I stayed home tonight to complete my very last assignment of the semester — a take-home exam. It enthralls me to no end to miss family events in order to complete schoolwork. Please note my sarcasm here. Truth be told, the exam will be available today through next Friday; I’m just that type-A nerd who can’t wait to get it over with!

Anywho…

We decided on roasted brussels sprouts, baked sweet potato “chips,” and popcorn shrimp! The shrimp required zero effort, but I’m excited to tell you about the special way we prepared the sprouts and the sweet potatoes.

Parmesan Roasted Brussels Sprouts
1. Rinse brussels sprouts and remove tough stems.
2. Slice “thinly.”
3. Toss sprouts with 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1/8 tsp. thyme, 1 clove minced garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Spread the sprouts evenly throughout a large glass baking dish.
5. Roast for 20 minutes on 450°.
6. Toss with 2 tsp. red wine vinegar and coarsely grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Serve!
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Baked Sweet Potato Chips
1. Rinse and peel two large sweet potatoes.
2. Slice thinly.
3. Melt margarine and whisk thoroughly with brown sugar to form a thin sauce.
4. Drizzle potatoes with sauce.
5. Bake on 425° for 20 minutes.
6. Serve!
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As my mom and I were meandering through Ukrop’s today, I said to her, “You know, I think I’m more interested in vegetables now than when I was a vegetarian.” Thankfully, my immediate family is very into eating well. One of my cardinal meal rules is to try to fill my plate with fifty percent veggies. I’d say tonight’s dinner fit the bill 🙂 Man, am I stuffed!

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