Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Rice, squared...

Tuesday Recap:

9:00am:  Breakfast- Brown Rice Chia Pudding
So since I had leftover cooked brown rice from our Monday night dinner, I thought I was SUPER clever whipping it up along with my spiced chia pudding to create a TRUE rice pudding taste...WITH RICE this timeJ

Night before:
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg & cloves
Morning Mix: 
Only "problem" was I had to heat up the 'pudding' since even the cooked rice was still too chewy to eat cold.  Still delicious, but didn't fit in my plan of "cold pudding made creamy from the chia seeds" thoughtsJ 
I will say, however, that the brown rice made this quite a bit more filling than the regular recipe.  I was able to fit in a 3 mile walk & a playground trip with Katie WITHOUT feeling like I was going to faint by the time I got home.


Not that I waited TOO long for lunch when I got homeJ

12:30pm:  Lunch- Goat cheese & grape salad 
Well, I knew it wouldn't be long before I whipped up this version of salad after mentioning it yesterday.  Here was a quick way to whip up one of my favorite salad recipes:

2:30pm:  Snack- 3 Ritz with Caramelized Garlic Cheese
Thankfully, I realized this cheese would make a perfect bagel topper....hence stopping my NEED to slowly keep nibbling from it and calling it an afternoon snack for the sake of it 'not going to waste'J  Bagels + caramelized garlic cheese coming this weekendJ

6:30pm:  Dinner- Rice & Beans with Guacamole while my breakfast of brown rice was planned from the night before, this dinner WAS NOT.  This dinner was MUCH more "warm weather friendly" than the one I was planning (which I'm making tonight since the weather is dropping from mid-70's to high-50's today), so in a twist of 'this would never normally happen,' I ended up with not one, but TWO meals with RICE as the main starJ

And while my breakfast included healthy brown rice, our 'dinner rice' was a little more on the decadent side in the form of...
I try to keep VERY FEW "pre-packaged flavored kits" around our house, but yellow rice still has a great 'once in awhile' fan base around here.  Not to mention it was the only 'non-Minute rice' we had laying around when I came up with the idea of cooking this up in the slow cooker.

In an attempt to recreate our Costa Rican BREAKFAST of rice & beans, I mixed:
  • 1 box yellow rice
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup of veggie broth
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 1 can of drained & rinsed red beans
In a slow cooker & let it cook on low for about 2 hours.
Truth be told, the slow cooker ended up being not really essential.  And even FURTHER truth be told, I had started a batch of this around noon with the aforementioned 'Minute rice,' that I went to check around 2pm and realized it was MUSH.  Sooooooo...out went the minute rice & in went the yellowJ  Round 2 was much more successful, but after about 2 hours on low, I just kept it on warm until it was time to eat.

I was having a GENIUS day yesterday, obviouslyJ

ANYWAY...I also put the small one to work helping me mash up the avocados for guacamole... 
And by guacamole I mean 1 mashed avocado, 1 minced clove of garlic, salt & pepperJ

She was proud of herselfJ 

As random the dinner, it was equally delicious.  I thought JUST RICE & BEANS wasn't going to be filling enough...but really it's just like a cup of pasta + TONS of protein from the beans... the fun of doctoring it up with the cool guacamole, a dollop of tangy sour cream and a sprinkle of multigrain tortilla chip crumbles for CRUNCH... 
We LOVED this dinner and in reality, it can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes, skipping that entire slow cooker step(we also realized it would be perfect on the menu for Cinco de Mayo coming soon!)

And YES...I know these are not really seasonal and DEF not local, but I just COULD NOT pass up my impulse purchase of fresh Florida corn when I was at the grocery store this weekend!
Katie obviously approvedJ

8:00pm:  Dessert- Chocolate Eggs 
So I really thought the $.52, flavored Russell Stover chocolate were going to be subpar at best, but MAN-was I wrong!  Scott & I split these up to sample and loved one flavor more than the next.

Although I think that SPICED CARROT CAKE reigned supreme...if not the most SURPRISINGLY good. 
And yes, once Easter week is over I'll go back to NORMAL life where one piece of chocolate in a sitting is MORE than enoughJ  Blame it on my excitement of trying lots o' flavorsJ

Oh and along with my afternoon walk, I've also been trying to remember to pick up my weight and do a set or 2 of arms (12 each: bicep curls, lateral raises, tricep kickbacks, overhead presses & rows) & legs (12 side & back lifts + 12 squats & repeat on opposite leg + 24 plies) every night.  I had been slacking for awhile, but am trying to remember to fit them in while just sitting around at night.  I keep my weights RIGHT next to the couch, so I really have NO EXCUSE.  As with MOST exercises, the toughest part is JUST getting off the couchJ

Have a great Wednesday!J

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Triple Green Day...

Monday Recap:

10:00am:  Breakfast- Cinnamon Bun Smoothie (made GREEN with added spinach)
Not sure if it was 'Katie's portion' that had been removed from there (she now knows one she hears the blender that it's time for 'SMOOOOTH!,' as she calls itJ) or that there wasn't a ton of protein mixed into this recipe, but by lunch time I was S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G!

12:00pm (SHARP!):  Lunch- "Happy Salad" 

And I must confess, I'm not sure if I was actually STILL hungry after the salad because I was VERYHUNGRY before I ate lunch....or it was the fact that I spied my leftover "carrot appetizer" (made out of my favorite Caramelized Garlic dip) in the fridge...but being I FELT like I was still hungry, it was MUCH easier to justify a few Ritz with GARLIC CHEESE to finish off the mealJ 

1:30pm:  "Snack #1"- Hot Lemon Water 
So confession time:  The afternoons have been soooooooooooo tough to fight cravings lately.  Unless I'm constantly moving and NOT thinking, 1-3pm had become SO DIFFICULT not to give into those sweet & salty cravings (honestly, sometimes it's only having to post my snacks on this blog that keep me in check!).  So I went back to 'ground zero' and started drinking my lemon water again, but this time in the afternoons.  Not only does it help stop cravings, but it gives me 'something to do' to keep from reaching for anything else.  Plus, you get to sip it which means it's a LONGER time you are 'kept busy.'  Usually lemon water is recommended for first thing in the morning, but since the afternoon is a tougher time for me and it's working so far:  I'M CHANGIN 'THE RULES'J

 3:30pm:  Snack #2- 2 tablespoons hummus with multi-grain tortilla chips
But just because there's LEMON WATER doesn't mean there's NO SNACKS!  I already had crackers as part of lunch, so tortilla chips weren't IDEAL.  BUT once I spied the olive hummus in the fridge, there was no going backJ  And with 8 multigrain chips coming in at 150 calories (and I'm guessing by the time you pieced all those crumbs together, I had about 5 chips) you still can have 'chips & dip' as part of a healthy snack.  The protein from the hummus completely satisfied me until dinner time.  Which wassssss...........

6:00pm:  Dinner- Kale & Wild Rice salad
As soon as I saw this recipe on Kristen's website last week, I knew I HAD to try it ASAP!

Pre-mixed with chicken breast, kale, warm brown rice, craisins, goat cheese, almonds, grapes (swapped from the apple because it's what we had on hand) & honey-balsamic dressing... 

And POST mixed... 
I LOVEEEEEED the little bites of nutty, chewy brown rice mixed in with the hearty kale, crunchy almonds, tangy craisins and don't get me even started on my LOVE of grapes + goat cheese (that salad is SOOO making an appearance next week!).  This salad was def one quickly added to the 'make often' list since it was SOOOOOOO good and sooooo packed with healthy ingredients.

Even the small one liked it... 

Oh yeah...the kid who DID NOT want stir-fry??  HOUSED the KALE SALAD.  I can't explain it. 

6:30-7:45pm:  Beginners Power Yoga
Even though I took a class Friday morning, with all the running around from Easter, it felt like I hadn't been to a workout in 8 years for some reason.  And it wasn't even until the END of class that I felt my strength/power coming back.  Another thing I can't explainJ

8:00pm:  Dessert =
A handful of these....
(notice all the RED are already gone and my interest in BEANS will be just about over once all my beloved PURPLE are gone too!)

+ 2 of these...
I have eaten FAR, FARRRRRRRRRRRRRRR to many of these mini eggs over the holiday season!  I didn't even really WANT dessert, but found these SOHARD to resist once I spied em on the table.  So I did what I do when I don't need the temptation:  I popped the rest in a bag and tossed em in the freezer.  Out of sight/out of mind works about 90% of the time for me, so that's a pretty easy way for me to keep treats at bay until the next time a TRUE chocolate craving hits.

Alrighty, well I better get my day started and get Katie out in the sunshine so she can run off some energyJ

Have a good Tuesday!J

Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter Traditions...

Morning, everyone!  Hope you guys had a great weekend and a Happy Easter!J

Ours was spent enjoying all of our traditions...

...oh, and hugging Chocolate Cats for good measureJ

There was Pastia mixing... 

Cheese bread sampling...

...and pastia testing...
Photo: Pastia test tasting...����

Egg coloring...
Although don't let that happy face fool you.  She was excited to dye eggs for .2 seconds, until she realized she couldn't TOUCH the eggs & dye....and then she HATED it.  Can't you tell...

We also hated leaving a carrot for the bunny after we realized it wasn't our bedtime snack.... 

But we woke up to an egg hunt... 

 ...and to chocolate at 7am, which makes everything better.

There was also breakfast of pastia & sweet bread...

...with a side of jelly beans for good measure... 

As well as "carrot" appetizers... 

...beautifully decorated tables... 

...and lots of running to burn off the calories... 

Oh church & dessert with my Mother-in-law and family and we had a FULLLLLLLLL DAY.  By the time we got home, I told Scott it felt like we lived 76 days in oneJ  But they were all good daysJ  I never loved Easter as much as Christmas (how could I ever??J), but Katie certainly makes it creep up VERYHIGH on my "things to look forward to" listJ   ...and hopefully next year's egg coloring will be a little more successfulJ

Hope you guys had a great one....and are now ready to get as 'back on the wagon' as me!  The dessert factor yesterday was OUT. OF. CONTROL (even WITHOUT dipping into any Easter baskets), so this week is going to be back to PORTIONS.   Ya 1 piece of cake, not 5.  (I'm kidding...sort of...J)  I foresee lots of GREENERY TODAYJ

Have a good (and green!) oneJ

Friday, April 18, 2014

Plan: Backfired...

*Here are some Easter-inspired recipes you may want to try this weekend!

Thursday Recap:

9:30am:  Breakfast- Spiced Chia Seed pudding
Would you believe I found myself CRAVING THIS FOR BREAKFAST???  It's sorta refreshing in that 'how is THAT refreshing' kinda wayJ  I can't explain itJ  Anyway, blend all of these ingredients and let them sit overnight in the fridge:
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Dash of nutmeg, cloves & cardamom
Remember I told you that chia seed pudding didn't EXACTLY taste like tapioca??  Well, this recipe was my attempt to make it taste more like RICE PUDDING (one of my favs), with the blend of all the spices.  I LOVEEEDDD this mix.  Thought the flavors & spices were spot on.
And I'm def gonna start experimenting with the amount of milk/almond milk to use.  I started this with 1/4 of milk, only to add an extra 1/4 cup in the morning once I stirred it up.  After another hour or so, the chia seeds absorbed the extra milk and created an even larger dish of pudding.  And at 45 calories a cup, I'm DEF gonna try using a full cup of almond milk to 1 tablespoon of chia seeds next time to see how it grows.  Cause, let's be honest, who doesn't want the LARGEST dish to eat with only a few extra calories???

12:00pm:  Lunch- "Happy salad" 
My norm salad with a swap  of low-fat Thousand Island dressing in place of my usual drizzle of olive oil.  I try not to use too many pre-bottled/low-fat dressings, but I've been LOVING my grocery store's generic version of thousand island lately.  It just made the happy salad even HAPPIERJ

2:30pm:  Snack #1- Apple with peanut butter

4:00pm:  Snack #2- Handful of fritos (not pictured)
Both a headache and the fact that I knew I was going to cross over into REALLYHUNGRY before dinner were the cause of this 'not the norm' snack #2.  But I did manage to keep it to ONE handful and they hit the spot, so I can't be mad at THAT.

6:00pm:  Dinner- Scott's stir-fry
I always LOVE when stir-fry is on the weekly menu, because it means I get a night off from cooking (despite what you might think, I highly enjoy thisJ)  Scott's the 'stir fry master' of the house and I will GLADLY let him have that honorJ

He uses our 'house favorite' stir-fry sauce...
And mixes it with as many vegetables as we have one hand.  In this batch, along with sauteed pork, went:
  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Red pepper
  • Onion
  • Baby corns
  • Bean sprouts
  • Water chestnuts
All served over brown rice...yum!  Stir fry is a great way to eat a 85% veggie-filled dinner without even realizing itJ

Only person who wasn't a fan??
Well, here I thought I was doing a GREAT thing by letting her sample all the veggies I was chopping on the cutting board.  "SURE KID!  You can have bites of raw broccoli & diced peppers!  You're eating them happily???  OK!"

Only problem was by the time we sat down to eat, she was having NONE of it!  NONE. OF. IT.  Screaming & crying fest for NO apparent reason.  I guess spoiling her appetite backfired a bitJ  I think I just OVERestimated how much that little stomach could hold, cause she seemed NONE too interested in eating ANYTHING at that pointJ

But NEVER FEAR, her appetite was BACK this morning when Scott came home with a Good Friday traditional breakfast of HOT CROSS BUNS... 

And while Scott & I ate ours like we were being led to the electric chair, Katie ate like a normal human being (well, one on vacationJ) and has been savoring hers for the last hourJ 

I think she's digging the fact that she got to eat breakfast on one of our 'normal chairs' (NOT her high chair) and isn't really interested on getting down from the 'seat of honor.'  Seriously...this is what she's doing RIGHT NOW as I type this: 
Hey, maybe I shoulda tried feedin her that stir-fry from the 'normal chair.'  Maybe that woulda done the trickJ

Alrighty, well I better clean up some icing-covered hands & get in my yoga gear for class this morning.

Have a wonderful HOLIDAY WEEKEND!!!!J  
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