Saturday, April 25, 2015

string beans...

i literally had dinner on the table in five minutes last night, with a little help from a store bought rotisserie chicken.  but i had fresh string beans and i steamed them in the microwave and then sauteed them in a pan for couple of minutes, and they came out soooooo good!

ingredients:

1 pound of fresh string beans
1.5 T unsalted butter
1/2 t season salt
1/4-1/3 cup slivered almonds

how to:

steam the string beans in the microwave on high for 3 minutes.  take them out and immediately into a fry pan with butter, almonds and season salt.


saute until the string beans are all coated with butter and salt and the almonds start to brown in the butter, this just takes a few minutes.  serve alongside the protein of your choice, these would be great with fish, chicken or meat loaf.


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

happy birthday jaime!

a day late, but i want to wish my sister in a law a very happy birthday!  may your day be as fun and special as you are!



Tuesday, April 21, 2015

scale...

in my efforts to eat well and work out more efficiently, i have noticed that i rely on the scale to tell me how successful i am.  but the truth is that i noticed changes in my body long before the numbers on the scale started to change.  i am very proud of my commitment and all the progress i have made.  sometimes it feels slow, but i know this is a lifestyle and not a fad diet.


it is important to be happy in your own skin and not compare yourself to others.  i am working towards a health goal and i have come a long way.  i have lost weight, gained muscle, become more toned and am overall feeling great.  i don't always make perfect food choices, but i don't let myself feel badly about it either.  i practice eating well most of the time and exercise a lot, so it's okay to splurge every once in a while.  if we always feel deprived and hungry that would be no fun.  i am having fun experimenting in the kitchen to find new ways to make healthier versions of the food we crave, which tends to not be so good for you.  and lately i have been addicted to a weekly fro yo date with jarad at yogurtland or penguins.  i realize that i can not be defined by a number on a scale, and that each day is a new opportunity to eat well, exercise and recommit to your health goals, so don't obsess about yesterday!


Monday, April 20, 2015

veggie pasta...

i've said it many times, but my all time fav comfort food is spaghetti and meatballs.  i have been on a big meatball kick lately, and i wanted to make them for dinner on sunday night.  my original intention was to make them with a big side of zucchini, but as i was cooking all i could think about is how good they would be with PASTA!!!  i had the meatballs cooking in the oven and i was chopping the zucchini and then i went to the fridge, grabbed some baby heirloom tomatoes and an onion and started chopping those too.  i had the idea to make a light pasta with tons of veggies in it. by the time i was done, i had a skillet full of zucchini, heirloom tomatoes and onions sauteing and i cooked 1 cup (exactly 2 portions) of penne pasta. 


there isn't much of a recipe here, because you can use any veggies you like, and i was cleaning out the fridge getting ready for vacay at the end of the week, so this was a good way to use some produce.  my idea was that the tomatoes would cook down and make a very light sauce.  i cooked the veggies in olive oil spray and then once the pasta was cooked al dente i mixed it in with the veggies and drizzled some really good olive oil on top with some parmesan shavings. 


maybe it has been far too long since i have had pasta, but this was exactly what i was craving and it was so good!  and jarad who does not enjoy pasta the way i do, also really enjoyed it.  by measuring my pasta i was able to see what a serving size is and it is quite generous, we even had a little bit leftover.  this was helpful so that i know i didn't go overboard.  i caved into my craving, but in the end i didn't feel too guilty about it.  next time i would substitute whole grain pasta or even corn pasta which is gluten free and always some more veggies, i was thinking mushrooms and asparagus and fresh basil!  like i said, my fridge was a little on the empty side as i am getting ready for vacation and didn't do my normal grocery shopping. 

Sunday, April 19, 2015

drought!!!!

if you live in so cal i am sure you are aware we have had very little rain in the last few years.  the winters are getting warmer and it seems as though we have one season now...always hot!  the drought is very real, and it's scary.  i am not the most "eco friendly person," there have been times i should have recycled and i didn't and i am not very aware of my "carbon footprint," BUT...i am not wasteful and i am very resourceful! 

here are a few things i have been doing lately to reduce water usage in my household:

~making sure the water isn't running excesively while doing dishes, brushing teeth or washing my face.
~making sure the dish washer is full before turning it on.  same goes with the washing machine and if i have a smaller load, i always make sure to adjust the "load size" dial.
~i don't take baths anymore.  we have a large jacuzzi tub and i love taking baths before bed, but now i just take a quick shower.
~my parents are even considering removing half of their lawn and replacing it with drought resistant plants.  many cities will even pay you per square foot to do this!
~and my most favorite...


Friday, April 17, 2015

podcasts...

my daily commute to work is at least an hour each way, so on average i spend at least 2 hours everyday in the car during the week.  i usually flip back and forth between a few morning shows on the radio, NPR and sometimes my spotify playlist. but recently i have become a big fan of a couple of podcasts.  jarad introduced me to one in particular and then set my phone up with an app called "beyond pod" where i can download episodes and search for other interesting podcasts.  

the podcast that jarad listens to and introduced me to, is called "weird medicine."  this podcast is basically health questions you would be too embarrassed to ask your doctor.  it is always interesting and entertaining and you may even learn a little.  you can also listen online, check out the website here


the second podcast that i am completely addicted to is called "serial."  this is the first season and can also be listened to online.  it is the true story of a murder case that is unresolved.  the 12 episodes walk you through the details of the case and interviews with everyone involved.  i have one more episode left and i have blown through this one.  i listen to it on my drives, evening walks and sometimes at work!  check out the website here


i love listening to a podcast because there are no commercials, you can pause them and pick them up later and you get lost in the conversation.  i am so excited for the second season of serial to come out, which should be sometime in 2015, and i have many many episodes of weird medicine to catch up on.  most of these are just under an hour which makes it a perfect length of time to make my commute much more enjoyable.  if you have any other suggestions for new podcasts to check out, let me know!?!?!?!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

junk food makeover...

a good burger and fries always sounds good to me, but this isn't really a weeknight approved low carb and low fat meal.  so i made a makeover on a classic fav.  i did turkey burgers with ortega chilies, a sprinkling of cheddar cheese and avocado wrapped in lettuce leaves.  for fries, i made my own potato chips with cooking spray.


by eliminating the bun and swapping turkey instead of beef, and using spray olive oil instead of coating the potatoes with oil, helped to save lots of calories and fat.  i got to enjoy a classic all american comfort meal with no guilt.  and it satisfied my craving for a burger and fries.  making little changes can add up to big results!!!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

room escape pics...

still thinking about how much fun we had at the room escape LA!  and i have been seeing a lot of groupons for them lately, can't wait to do it again!  here are a few pics they sent me after we solved the code and saved the world!  yay team!!!








Monday, April 13, 2015

who knew!?!?!

this is an interesting fun fact, i had no idea!


meal planning...

we always have plenty of frozen chicken, fresh veggies and lettuce in the house at all times to make low carb dinners during the week.  but lately i am feeling a bit uninspired when it comes to cooking weeknight dinners.  i am tired from work, driving and working out, and jarad has been working a bit later than normal.  so this week i made a meal plan to follow so i can take the "thinking" out of it and just get creative!

here is the meal plan for the week:

monday - turkey lettuce cups (find old blog post for recipe)
tuedsay - turkey burgers with avocado in lettuce wraps with a side of home made potato chips
wednesday - fajita chicken with avocado
thursday - chicken stir fry
friday - meatballs with zuchinni

trader joes shopping list:

1.5 lb fresh ground turkey
head of iceberg lettuce
1 lb fresh lean ground beef
2-3 avocados
package of zuchinni
package of broccoli slaw (for lettuce cups)

this is the majority of what you need, and depending on how stocked your fridge/pantry is, you may need a a few additional ingredients.  i rarely use a recipe, but just wing it.  so the stir fry will be whatever left over veggies we have and i often times i will also do a frittata to use up veggies and eggs.  i also always have lots of good quality salami, deli meats and ALWAYS cabot brand sharp white cheddar cheese, which make a great chopped salad. 

now that i have a plan in place and my shopping is done, i can enjoy the process and have fun in the kitchen.  after all i do find that one of the best stress relievers is to turn the music up and get your hands dirty in the kitchen!


Saturday, April 11, 2015

bulletproof coffee!

i love my coffee in the morning, i wouldn't say i am addicted to the caffeine, but i am addicted to the routine.  i've heard a lot of hype about "bulletproof coffee" and jarad was brave enough to give it a try the other day, and he said it was awesome.  so over breakfast this morning, i made him make it so i could give it a try...delicious!

ingredients:

cup of black coffee
1 T coconut oil
1 t unsalted butter

how to:

in a blender, combine all ingredients and blend until well incorporated and the color of a latte.  the end product comes out creamy and frothy.  the coconut oil coats your mouth and it is rich and smooth.  i feel guilty putting that much fat in my coffee, but if i could i would (like everyday!)  give it a try, you won't be disappointed. 


Friday, April 10, 2015

happy birthday alix...

sometimes you meet someone and you know from the moment you met that this person will be important in your life.  that is the way it was with my dear friend alix.  i met her five years ago when jarad and i first started dating and immediately we became best friends.  she is beautiful on the inside and out and i want to wish her a very happy birthday! 


OJ OJ OJ

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

rules...

i am feeling sore from my recent workouts and it is a good reminder that my body is getting stronger and i am doing my exercises correctly.  while recently browsing "pinterest" i came across a pin that is for the bob harper book called "the skinny rules."  i am not sure who he is, but i like his rules and i tend to follow most of them.  i wanted to share a partial list of his "skinny rules" that i think are important ones to incorporate into your lifestyle.

~drink a large glass of water before each meal
~don't drink your calories
~eat protein at every meal
~reduce your intake of refined flours and grains
~eat 30-50 grams of fiber every day
~no carbs after lunch
~learn what is the appropriate portion size
~eliminate sweeteners (as well as artificial ones)
~avoid fast food and fried food
~eat lots of veggies
~get good sleep
~you can have one splurge meal a week


 although it is still early in the week i am proud of my commitment to eating well and exercising.  one thing i have been doing a lot of (mostly because it is so convenient and a quick exercise) is getting in planks wherever i can.  if you are unfamiliar with what a plank is or how to do them correctly, you can check it out here.  the plank is great full body exercise and has some great benefits for your core, building strength and flexibility.  this is what it looks like when your muscles are engaged in a plank exercise.  so stay inspired and find the eating and work out tips that work for you!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

accountability...

with under 3 weeks until our mexico vacation, i am highly motivated to lose a couple more pounds and get bikini ready!!! staying healthy is a combination of exercise and eating habits.  since i don't practice a "diet" but rather a healthy lifestyle i am keeping track and being accountable for my food choices and exercise by using an app on my phone called "my fitness pal."  it calculates your weight loss goals and tells you how many calories you should be eating.  then you enter the foods you eat throughout the day and when you exercise it gives you calories back.  often times we snack during the day, drink a soda, grab a piece of candy, or a few chips,  but all these empty calories add up.  so by doing a food journal i find that i am much more aware of what i am eating and portions as well.  the other app i use on my phone is "strava."  it is to track bike rides and running.  it gives you the distance, your average speed and shows you the route.  i know that "my fitness pal" and "strava" can link up and share info, but i haven't learned how to do that yet, so i use them independently.  


i stocked up on plenty of fresh veggies, fruits and meats, so i don't have to think too hard about dinner.  it helps when you also have a work out buddy and jarad really helps support me with my fitness goals.  lately i have been loving to get outside and go for a nice walk after work.  even though my energy level is getting low at that point, i know it is good for me (and wilfred) and it's an easy way to get in a 2nd workout and enjoy the fresh air while decompressing from a long day at work!


Monday, April 6, 2015

meatballs...

i've never posted my meatball recipe because i feel like everyone has their own version of it.  but i made them for dinner on sunday night and they came out so good that i wanted to share.  this is a basic recipe that is similar to my mom's, and it can be adjusted to taste and like meatloaf it never comes out exactly the same twice.  i don't measure when i make these, so all the measurements are approximate.  they are fantastic on top of a big bowl of spaghetti (my favorite comfort meal), with a big side of zucchini or just by themselves. 

ingredients:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 egg
1 cup italian style bread crumbs
1/2 cup parmessain cheese
1 T crushed garlic
1/4 onion finely minced
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
3 t italian seasoning
1 t season salt & pepper to taste
2-3 dashes worcestershire sauce

how to:

thow all ingredients into a large bowl and mix with your hands until well combined.   roll into 1.5 inch balls and place on baking sheet.  bake at 375 degrees for approximately 25-30 minutes, turning the meatballs so each side can get brown and crispy.  they freeze very well, so you can double up on the recipe if you want guaranteed leftovers.  just reheat in the microwave when you want to serve them again.



of course my favorite way to eat these would be over a big bowl of spaghetti, but for a low carb alternative, i did a salad instead.  this is sort of a caprese salad but with some other veggies in there.  it has heirloom tomatoes, celery, lightly steamed asparagus, buffalo mozzerela and basil with a italian dressing on top.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

room escape LA...

jarad's birthday wouldn't be complete without a dinner at buffalo wild wings (which we did earlier in the week with friends) and another family celebration.  i wanted to get him something and when we exchange gifts they are usually some sort of activity or travel adventure.  i saw this place called "escape room LA" come through on my daily groupon email and i thought that sounded interesting.  it is a themed room that you have to find clues to solve a mystery and make your way out.  it can be done in group of 2-6 people and it is a great team building activity.  i thought this would make the perfect gift for jarad and a fun activity for the family to do.

after i bought it, i also saw the same thing on an episode of "big bang theory."  so we kept it a secret from him and the night of the event we had dinner prior to (a big mexican feast!) and we told him what we were doing afterwards, and he was really excited.

we drove to west hollywood and got the instructions on how the game is played and then we were let into a cold war bunker and had to make our way out and save the world.  we had to work together to find clues, solve mysteries and escape from the room within an hour.  we all contributed and we all had our strengths and we made our way out of the room with 12 minutes to spare!  they take your picture and email them (haven't received it yet).  it was a fun night and a such a fun experience.  there are many different places that do this and they all have different themed rooms, such as asylum, zombies, bank robbery, etc.  it's fun to be a tourist in your own town sometimes, can't wait to do it again!


for more information or to book your room escape, check it out here

Saturday, April 4, 2015

birthday weekend in seattle!

a week late (but with good reason, we were traveling) BUT...happy birthday to my amazingly loving, handsome, funny and brilliant husband!  34 going on 15 and i love you sunshine!

we visited friends in lacey, washington (about 45 minutes outside of seattle) for a weekend full of bikes, hikes, good food and great company.  jarad left a day before me to get some good riding in, and when i got there i enjoyed getting to spend some quality time with my friend kate.  i packed plenty of layers and lots of rain gear, but to my surprise it only rained once and at night time.  the chilly weather was a nice break from the heat wave so cal is having right now and it was nice to be outdoors and enjoy the woods.

on our last day before we headed to the airport we did some popular tourist attractions in downtown seattle, here are some pics from pikes place market.  we had a great weekend and i can't wait to go back!  and tonight i have a family birthday celebration planned for jarad with a surprise activity, will let you know how it goes!?!?!?