Posts tagged ‘recipes’

Mixed feelings on yoga + protein brownie

Oooohhhhhhhhhh, why hello there.

Yes, I know it’s been awhile. I’m sorry!

Forgive me?

——

I was in a bit of a rut for awhile, you see. With the increasing pain in my right knee, my runs were becoming more painful and less frequent. This was not only frustrating, but also disheartening. I was feeling my motivation starting to wane as the possibility of running slipped farther and farther away, and other things just sort of followed suit.

Bleh.

So I decided to do something about it, and took my sorry ass to the physical therapist’s office. She had me explain my symptoms (excruciating right knee pain during lunges, squats, and going up or down stairs), history of pain (patellofemoral pain diagnosed at 12, brief physical therapy followed, nothing since) and then watched as I walked, skipped, tip-toed and heel-walked (??) back and forth a few times.

The results? Apparently my right leg is functionally shorter than my left, causing me to favor it and tilt my hips to compensate for the height difference. This makes soooo much sense, as I have always had a feeling that something was a little “off” about my gait. She did some stretching, some pulling, some general moving body parts around, then had me do some exercises to strengthen both my hips and my gluteus medius muscles.

I am very, very excited to continue with this and hopefully get to a pain-free place soon!

——

I went to yoga tonight. To be honest…I’m just not sure I’m ever going to like yoga. I know it’s good for me. I know it relieves stress, improves flexibility and strengthens my body. But I can’t help but find myself thinking, during every damn downward dog, “This suuuuuuucckkkkksss.” Am I crazy? Amy I the only person whose wrists hurt after the third sun salutation? Who looks at the clock on the wall with dread after seeing that there are still 30 minutes left? Parts of the class feel good (I love Warrior 2), but other parts just make me want to curl into a ball.

Oh wait — isn’t that a yoga pose too?

source: Your Yoga Place

Anyway, I decided to go today since my knee is still hurting, but I was really craving some movement for my body. I’m glad I went. It felt great to challenge myself (my balance sucks) and even better to successfully finish the class with only a few minor adjustments from the instructor. I might go again, but for now, I still have pretty mixed feelings on yoga.

——

To combat the food rut, I hit up Trader Joe’s Monday night. Oh. My. Goodness. $111 later, let’s just say that opening up the fridge and pantry is a very exciting event right now. I’ll share some of the loot in a later post, but trust — it is good.

——

With the aforementioned loot, I decided I wanted to get creative for dinner tonight. And so I did — and then some. Y’all, I made homemade pesto. This stuff was so good that I nearly went weak in the knees. In fact, I’m getting a little tingly just thinking about it. But because I’m too lazy to upload the pictures right now I like keeping you in suspense, the recipe will have to go up in an upcoming post as well. It’s super easy, and super GREEN. Oh my goodness.

——

For now, you’re just going to have to settle with an ooey, gooey, high protein, single-serving brownie. I know — life is tough.

Start with a few simple ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup pureed pumpkin (can sub applesauce)
  • 2 T rolled oats
  • 1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 scoop protein of choice (this is optional; I used chocolate sun warrior)
  • 1 egg (can sub flax egg)
  • sweetener of choice (I use 1 packet stevia)
  • 5-10 dark chocolate chips.
Whisk egg in a bowl with a fork and add cocoa powder; mix again. Next add pumpkin and stir, then add in oats, protein powder and stevia. Spray a mug or a small bowl with a little bit of Pam spray, then pour in mixture. Stick chocolate chips into the batter, making sure to push them under the surface in different spots. Microwave for 4 1/2 to 5 minutes. Top with maple syrup and devour straight out of the bowl while still hot and gooey. Smile and revel in the deliciousness.
This isn’t super low-cal, but it’s simple, wholesome and packs a great dose of protein for either a mini-meal (for those of you that do that) or a post-run/gym snack. Make this. Right now. You will be hooked — I sure was :D
—–
I’m hitting the sack, and hopefully preparing for a short trip to the beach tomorrow afternoon for a mid-workday break! Goodnight!
Advertisements

August 2, 2011 at 11:11 pm 9 comments

Mini chocolate doughnuts – taste (and look) naughty, but they’re not

Oh, hey. Did ya see that I made some doughnuts the other night?

Sidenote: which spelling do you prefer — donuts or doughnuts? I switch back and forth…can’t make up my mind!

My friend Laura and I decided to stay in Friday night and watch movies/make doughnuts with the new mini doughnut pan I got last week! Don’t they look super neat??

I modified an EatingWell recipe for healthier chocolate donuts, and it went down like this:

Laura’s Inappropriate-but-Healthy Mini-Chocolate Doughnuts

Modified from EatingWell Sept/Oct 1996

If you’re wondering why they’re named as such, see my prep video.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups flour: half oat, half whole wheat, or whatever mixture of whole grain flour of your choosing
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-process
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt + squeeze of fresh lemon juice (this makes a buttermilk-like taste!)
  • 1/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • pinch or two of coffee grounds — this will bring out the chocolate flavor

Glaze:

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2-3 teaspoons milk of choice — I used vanilla soy, but will use almond next time

Doughnut-makin’ time:

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. If you are using regular size and not mini doughnut pans, bump this up to 400. Thoroughly coat the molds of mini-doughnut pans (I only used one, but this made ~3 batches) with cooking spray. Sprinkle molds evenly with 2 tablespoons granulated sugar, shaking out excess.
  2. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a mixing bowl. Whisk egg and egg white in another bowl until frothy. Add brown sugar and the remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar; whisk until smooth. Add yogurt, oil and vanilla and whisk until blended. Add the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula just until moistened.
  3. Scoop batter into each prepared mold, smoothing the surfaces with a small spoon — you will want it to be about 1/3 of the way filled. Bake until the tops spring back when touched lightly, about 8 minutes. If you are using regular doughnut pans, you may need to cook slightly longer. Loosen edges and turn the doughnuts out onto a wire rack to cool.
  4. To make glaze: Whisk confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and enough of the milk to make a smooth, thick glaze. When the doughnuts are completely cool, pick them up with your lovely fingers and dip them into the glaze and let stand until glaze has set. For a thicker glaze, repeat .
These were tasty and not overly sweet. I think I might experiment with the recipe a bit, but this is a great base recipe and is quite easy to modify to fit your tastes and whatever you have on hand (e.g. buttermilk can be used in place of yogurt, applesauce can be used in lieu of oil, a flax egg to make them vegan, all-purpose flour can be used in place of whole grain, etc.). I’d really like to figure out how to ma these with stevia to cut down on the sugar content, and I think next time I might add some melted baking or bittersweet chocolate to make them taste a little richer. Different flavors for the glaze, shredded coconut or sprinkled toppings would also be good too!
I brought my camera to document the process, but forgot the CF card. D’oh! So the phone was the only thing around — sorry, peeps!

whaaa? all the ingredients together now!

we ran out of counter space, so...we used a footstool. shutup.

giving Vanna White a run for her money

still stirring....yogurt makes it thick!

scooping into a well-oiled pan...that long turd-like thing is a knife covered in batter, hah

tasty batter!

success!

These guys turn out pretty little, so I had more than my fair share of them. I ended up staying over at Laura’s that night so as not to get lost in the mega-storm of the century, and had a few alongside some coffee for breakfast in the morning. Delicious! :)

Yesterday I had a pretty decent day. I slept in, spent some time lounging around and reading in bed, went for a long and schwetty run (it’s sooo humid in Chicago!), then showered and met my friend Dan at Wicker Park Fest. I showed up kind of late because I didn’t want to deal with the crowds and the heat, but I did manage to see two great performances: Joe Pug (I love his name, hehe) and Blizten Trapper. Both bands were awesome — we had such a great time singing and dancing along. (I was standing directly to the right and behind the girl at the very front in the picture on Blitzen Trapper’s website…so bummed I didn’t make it into the shot!)

It was a neat evening.

Hope you’re all having a great Monday! I’m off to get some more work done. On the agenda tonight: finishing up my laundry (blegh), cleaning, making some Greek quinoa salad for lunches this week, and stopping by my friend’s open mic night to say hello. Catch ya later!

July 25, 2011 at 4:28 pm 4 comments

Candy + My Second 5k

I wanted some candy the other day, so I busted out my candy bowl.

My kind of candy doesn’t look like most candy, though.

There is just something about a big bowl of fruit that makes me smile :D

Oh, hey — you know what else makes me happy? Did I mention I ran my second 5k on Saturday?

It was H-O-T outside that morning, oh my. The race started at 7:30 and it was already at least a good 80 degrees out. I ran with Amy again this time around, which again was such a wonderful part of the experience. We seem to be able to push each other at just the right times and in the right ways — she likes to go faster than I do, and I tend to take fewer breaks, so with that push and pull, we do better together than I think we would apart.

We pushed through the first mile without stopping, but needed a break soon after that because it was so hot out and we were both needing a break. There was an air quality alert over the whole weekend, so the air felt very thick and smoggy — blegh, not the best weather for running.

Thankfully this time around, I had a new tool in my arsenal…

please excuse the scary post-gym look I have goin' on

That’s right — I got a Garmin!!! I feel like a total poseur wearing this behemoth around, but it really motivates me to see my pace while I’m running, and pushes me to kick it up a notch when I slow down. It also really surprised me to see how fast I run when I’m on the road and not on the treadmill!

After working my way up to faster and longer runs for months and months at the gym, I can actually keep a pretty decent pace — for me, that is (I am in no way fast, and probably never will be). I had always thought I was much, much slower out on the road though, so it really surprised me to see that my pace wasn’t that far off when I took the Garmin out on its first run the other night. It’s still not as fast as I am on the treadmill, of course, and I need to take more frequent jogging or walking intervals, but I don’t suck as much as I thought I did! Who knew!

So back to the 5k — the Garmin helped keep us from taking off too quickly after our walking intervals, which was important because again — IT WAS HOT AS HELL OUTSIDE. There was a decent breeze, but the sun was really just beating down. The distance indicator was what really helped, because for whatever reason, there didn’t seem to be a 2 mile marker! When you’re new to doing races, that 2nd mile mark is a really important motivator.

Even though we stopped at the water station almost at the start of the second mile, Amy and I started to feel a little lightheaded and she even said she started to shiver by the end of the second mile, so we really had to step it down a notch which was somewhat disappointing to both of us. Before the race started we had both said we wanted to beat our last time, but would still be thrilled just to finish. At this point, we were both saying how glad we were that we hadn’t committed ourselves to beating the first time, haha.

A few walking breaks and lots of back-and-forth inspirational yelling, we got about halfway through the second mile and really started to slow down.

On a side note: Amy kept thinking I was saying, “You’re doing great” when I was actually saying “We’re doing great!” which cracked me up because had I said “you’re,” I think it would have sounded so condescending! If anything, she is a better runner than I am!

This was where the people started lining up along the course and were cheering us on, which as I explained after my last/first 5k, meant the world to me. I wanted to hop over and kiss them, I was so grateful!!

Unfortunately, there was also a huge soccer game or some sort of event going on, so at certain points around the course, we would pass a big tent of people grilling hot dogs and burgers. Seriously, guys — when you’re hauling your semi-out-of-shape ass through the last leg of your second ever race at 7:45 in the morning in 90 degree heat, the absolute last thing you want to smell is a friggin’ smoking piece of meat. I kind of wanted to vom.

I did, however, enjoy the smell of meat at SausageFest

When we finally got to 2.75 mi, we started to perk up again, and then — like magic, we passed a setup where a group of people were playing Johnny B. Goode by Chuck Berry, and as we were passing them, we heard, “Go, go go go Johnny, go!” Amy and I both got huge grins on our faces and got ready to finish strong. Even though we were huffing and puffing and feeling like we were going to absolutely die, we ran our fastest to the finish line.

And then, we immediately collapsed onto the ground.

They had medical personnel ready at the finish because it was so hot, and they also had fan/misting stations and tons of water and ice waiting. Amy and I both said we felt like we might puke or pass out (not really, but kinda….), so we grabbed some water and just sat immediately to catch our breath. We must have really looked like we were in bad shape, because some guy ran over and asked if we were okay. We half panted, half answered him yes, but apparently didn’t sound very convincing, because he asked us again! Haha. Had I had the energy, I would have laughed, but all I could do was chug water and, you know..not die.

He offered to grab us popsicles, which we gladly accepted, so after he bolted in the other direction and returned shortly after with the 911-popsicles, we hoisted ourselves up and found some shade to cool off. Amy’s temporary roommate (who is from Paris!!! How neat!) was nice enough to come out and cheer us on, so she joined us for a popsicle and some post-race treats as well. The poor girl had to sit there and watch us pant like overheated dogs though! Hah.

Estelle, Amy and me

Aren’t our pink race shirts fun?

I still can’t believe how sweaty we were! Holy unflattering picture.

sweaty beasts

I am so, so glad I bought that visor last week; it really helped to keep both the sun and sweat out of my eyes, and it’s from my favorite brand — Mizuno!

We walked around for a bit and took in the post-race sights and goodies. I stopped at the New Balance tent where the guy on staff told me I desperately need physical therapy because my glute meds are insanely weak. He was super attractive and was sitting there telling me that my butt muscles were inadequate. This was sooo awkward.

When I finally got home around 10, I immediately hopped into an ice cold shower and rinsed off, then climbed into my bed and positioned myself directly next to the air conditioner. After sleeping for a good hour and 45 minutes, I climbed out of bed and made myself the perfect post-race treat: a Fitnessista Green-a-colada!

Into the blender went Fage 0%, unsweetened original PureAlmond, a stevia packet, unsweetened organic shredded coconut, frozen pineapple chunks, frozen mango chunks, vanilla SunWarrior and a big ol’ handful of spinach. It was so insanely tasty I could barely contain my delight. I totally slurped this bad boy down. What do you think of that color? Gross or delectable?

After some putzing around the apartment, I cleaned up a bit then met up with my sister-in-law Lisa and my friend Allison for brunch around noon. We hit up Jack’s on Halsted and I feasted on 2 poached eggs, a piece of whole wheat toast, some fruit and some breakfast potatoes. I also snuck a few of Allison’s fries, and treated myself with a victory mimosa :) I earned it!

Allison and I wandered around DSW for a bit after to escape the intense midday heat, and I walked outta there with two pairs of shoes! One was a pair of sandals that were on clearance that I have already worn three times. The other was a pair of Saucony running shoes that I thought were great in the store, but I realized after testing them on the treadmill that they don’t provide the cushioning/shock absorption I need on my forefoot, so they will have to be returned. I’m not at the point in my running yet where I can run in a minimalist shoe, so the bouncier, the better!

Because I am out of my mind, I went home, changed, and went to the gym! I had so much energy after the 5k and nap that I really wanted to hit the treadmill and do some body resistance exercises. Probably not the smartest choice, but oh well. I only did about two miles and kept it really leisurely on the recumbent bike while reading Redbook. The real magic happened when I did some glute med-isolating exercises, per Mr. Sexy New Balance Man’s instructions, and then some serious foam roller torture therapy. My IT band was obscenely tight, as were my hips, so I could tell it was desperately needed. I took my time and stretched after, and felt immensely better. I think that’s why I’m not really sore today.

Thankfully, this guy arrived in the mail while I was at work today:

That’s a Tiger Tail! I got one per Tina’s recommendation so I can foam roll in-between gym visits, and I’m so glad I did. It can’t quite match up to the giant foam rollers they have at the gym, but I just don’t have the space for one of those right now, so this works great. As a bonus, it works on my neck and shoulders, which feels like a great, deep-tissue massage!!

After the gym yesterday, I made a nourishing meal that my body was really craving.

Salmon! I defrosted a wild Alaskan salmon filet from Whole Foods while I was at the gym, then when I got back, I preheated the oven to 375 and heated up a skillet. After warming up some Pam spray, I seared both sides of the filet for about 30 seconds, then popped it into the oven on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Before putting it into the oven, though, I crushed some black pepper and sea salt on both sides, then topped it with a simple lemon butter sauce:

  • 1T butter, melted
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt + pepper
  • 1T honey
It was sooooo tasty. I used about half of the sauce before cooking, and put the rest on after. It made the salmon so flavorful and a little sweet, which really made it special.
The broccoli had some spritzed olive oil and a sprinkle of Pecorino cheese.

 

Well, this was a looong post and I need to get to bed and snuggle with a very impatient kitty. Keep your eyes peeled for a seriously sweet recipe on my next post…

Have a great night, and if you’re from Chicago, make sure to look at my Chicago Blogger Meetup post!

July 19, 2011 at 3:11 am 9 comments

Playing catch-up + “massaged” kale caprese salad

Hi guys.

Despite the fun package from Amazon that I received earlier, I’m having kind of a shitty day. But first we’ll start with the positives:

I stopped at the grocery store on the way home from work and saw some organic kale on sale, so I nabbed it up, thinking I would make kale chips alongside one of my FlatOut pizzas. But by the time I got home, I was feeling pretty icky from the 90-degree weather that the thought of turning on the oven seemed far from ideal.

FlatOut pizza, redux

this time I had some mozzarella

Soooo, I decided to make Gina’s massaged kale instead, with a little twist of my own.

Caprese Kale Salad

First, I trimmed my small bunch of kale (about 2.5-3 cups), removing the stems and cutting the kale into bite-size pieces, then rinsed and dried it off in the salad spinner.

(Spinning away!)

I sprinkled the kale with a few grinds of sea salt and about a tablespoon of olive oil, then came the fun part..

“Massaging” the kale! It’s not so much massaging, per se — it’s more squishing the kale around with your fingers. I used dinosaur kale, which is more tender, so you’ll have to do this a little longer if you use curly kale. I did it for about two minutes. Next, I added about a tablespoon (I didn’t measure, so use your best judgement!) of honey, the juice of half a lemon and a splash of white balsamic vinegar. Apple cider would work as well.

While letting the kale rest for a few minutes (it was tired after that long massage), I halved about 3/4 cup of grape tomatoes, crumbled up three or four walnut halves, and chopped up a big bunch of basil (do this to taste — as little or as much as you want!) and added these in with the kale.

After doing some more massaging, I transferred the mix to a salad bowl and topped it with a small sprinkle each of shredded mozzarella and crumbled goat cheese. I think fresh mozzarella would taste even better with this, but I used what I had on hand.

Presto! This made about two servings.

It was absolutely delicious and couldn’t get more than a few bites without stopped and remarking (to no one in particular) how shockingly good this was. I always thought people were crazy for eating raw kale salads, but now I can see why they gobbled them up. This is so tasty, so healthy, and smells amazing! I’m sure you could do this a million different ways/flavors, but I really loved the flavor of the fresh basil. Yum.

I had this alongside an organic turkey burger that I California-ized by topping with a slice of Jarlsberg lite, about 1/4 of an avocado sliced, some pea shoots and ate it between a sliced piece of toasted Trader Joe’s Tuscan whole grain bread. It was just what I wanted.

pre-burger

post-burger

I was going to head to the gym after work and do some incline walking or elliptical time while reading The Hunger Games (no running still…waiting to talk to my doctor about my knee/IT band pain and potential shin splits), but by the time I got home it was already pretty late. I decided to tidy up my kitchen a bit instead before making dinner.

I’m still struggling to…well, function normally at the moment because of the lobster-grade sunburn I got on Sunday. After sleeping off our hangovers, my friend Megan and I headed to North Ave. beach to meet Amy and lay in the sun for a bit. I didn’t think it was for long, but I sat out with my un-protected back to the sun reading for a little while before turning over onto my back.

I had a band-aid on my back from my recent dermatologist visit and didn’t take it off so it would protect the scabbed spot.

This was the result:

Yeah, not cool, right? It’s still excruciating, and I’m having trouble laying on my back (TWSS) and wearing anything too binding — especially a sports bra. Here’s to hoping it fades from a horribly awkward sunburn into a horribly awkward tan soon. I don’t think I’m ever gonna get rid of that BandAid mark….haha.

After finishing dinner and settling onto the couch for some work, I received an upsetting text message that really made me feel awful. The issue ended up being resolved, but I feel like it flipped some sort of switch inside my head that changed my mood. My anxiety has been sneaking in for brief periods lately, and I know now that some of the thoughts I’m having are related to it, but it doesn’t make it any easier.

Do you ever get into a funk, where you feel like you don’t really have anything to look forward to in the immediate future? Logically, I know that the summer is full of fun things and nights with friends, but somehow this black cloud starts to creep in. I’m worried about paying off my credit card, and because I’m working on that, I can’t buy a plane ticket to visit one of my good friends who lives far away like I wanted to…or take a vacation like I had planned…etc. etc. etc. Owing money is exhausting, and although my debt isn’t anywhere near as bad as that of many other people I know, it’s still really daunting and scary. Once I get this paid off, I’m never putting myself in this position again.

In the meantime, my credit card stays at home, tucked neatly into my desk so I can’t use it. Helps a lot!

Anyway though, I’m sure I’m just tired and having an off day. I’m hoping my sunburn will ease up enough by tomorrow so I can get a good run in and bring back some of those feel-good endorphins.

Thankfully, my sunburn isn’t as bad as that of some of Amy’s friends that I spent the day with on Monday. After bumming around the apartment for a few hours, I headed over to meet Amy at her boyfriend’s house and join them and his two friends on the rooftop deck. All the guys are Scottish, so I had a blast chatting with them and making a really poor attempt to understand their accents.

They neglected to put sunscreen right away, so after spending several hours on a hot rooftop, they were sporting some seriously deadly farmer’s burns. Before they had a chance to realize how bad they were, we headed down to Millenium Park for the free Monday night concert. It was enjoyable, but we got a bit antsy after awhile because the band that week wasn’t that good.

We decided to grab dinner at Sweetwater, then head to Navy Pier to watch the fireworks. Most of us ordered “normal” food (I got their salmon salad , which is really tasty), but one of them decided to order chicken fingers and the other ordered mac & cheese bites (thinking it was just a smaller portion of the noodle dish) and a brownie ice cream sundae. Needless to say, he was completely shocked when they brought out triangles of deep-fried and battered mac & cheese — his face was priceless. I couldn’t stop cracking up as he was lecturing us about this “disgusting American creation.” Hilarious!

(not the actual mac & cheese bites from that night)

Unfortunately, we took a little too long at dinner and ended up missing the fireworks! As we were walking over toward the pier, we saw huge crowds of people walking away. I asked one of them and they confirmed that the fireworks had already happened! Haha, I felt so silly.

Fortunately, I was able to enjoy my own little private fireworks show Sunday night. It was a close friend’s birthday, so my friend Laura invited a bunch of us to her apartment and we threw him a non-surprise surprise party.

After everyone got there, we were hanging out on the back porch while a few people smoked cigarettes and the rest of us chatted. All of a sudden, we saw all these fireworks! There must have been a nearby show at a park, because we could see them perfectly. It was so peaceful and sweet, and our super talented friend Lisa accompanied the show with some ukelele music in the background. It made me a little nostalgic, and surprisingly a little sad for some reason, but overall it was a really nice start to the night.

I ended up spending a lot more money than I had planned to, buying a big assortment of gourmet cupcakes to bring over so we would have a cake to sing happy birthday with — they had malted milk ball! And moon pie! I brought over 7 or so, and got to enjoy a few bites of a couple of the flavors. I think Boston Cream pie was my favorite :)

Since my sunburn was just starting to settle in, I was really feeling the pain, as well as some wicked congestion from being hungover (Sidenote: does this happen to anyone else? I am always super congested the day after I’m drinking, even if it’s not a lot!). I tried to tough it out as long as I could, but ended up taking a Benadryl to feel better.

Bad idea. I spent half the party asleep on the couch! I eventually felt a a lot better (because it also brought down some of the sunburn’s inflammation), but I’m not sure it was worth it to miss out on some quality time with friends. Oh well — lesson learned.

Sorry this post has been so long…I felt like if I didn’t update my weekend shenanigans now, it would never happen! I’m off to finish up a little work then crawl into bed for some reading. It feels good to be able to go to bed with a clean kitchen — it’s been WAY too long!

July 5, 2011 at 11:28 pm 5 comments

Grocery woes + Greek quinoa salad

Hi friends — happy Thursday!

pretty, huh?

I had another impossible time waking up this morning. I stayed up late talking to the guy I just ended things with for a couple grueling hours. He informed me yesterday afternoon that he may be moving to Portland in a month and I was completely flabbergasted. He is still intent on becoming friends, and while I really do care about him, I’m just not sure I can do it. We’ve been doing this awkward back and forth for awhile now, and it’s getting exhausting, so I’m really not sure what to do. I think I still see him as someone I dated, and don’t know if I could maintain the distance to be okay with being just friends. You know, not kissing or holding hands…etc. :(

Have you ever decided to become friends with someone you dated longer than a quick fling, but not long enough for a full-fledged relationship?

Anywho, I’m totally exhausted. We finally got off the phone at 1:30 in the morning, and after that I proceeded to tackle the horrific mound of (stinky) dishes in my sink. I don’t like this living alone thing — I’m turning into a freaking slob! I’m rarely home these days because who wants to sit home by themselves in the summertime when you could be out having fun? But that means I’m dashing in and out, and never spend any time cleaning up. Who wants to come over and help? :)

After getting the news about the guy’s potential move, I was totally bummed out, so naturally, I went grocery shopping.

You guys, I am a food hoarder. Some people stockpile shoes (although I do tend to do this too…) — I stockpile groceries. I have enough food to feed 50 people for a week. It doesn’t help that it’s nearly impossible to leave Trader Joe’s without spending at least $50. I left with lots of tasty produce, some quinoa (theirs is always cheaper), some frozen fruit for smoothies (ditto — you won’t find cheaper pineapple and mango anywhere else), their amazing chicken meatballs, some Kona coffee (!!) and a few other random things that I can’t remember. I think the bill was something like $83….ugh. But I can’t help myself!!!!!

I also picked up this nifty reusable insulated bag, even though I already have like 38492340239450 reusable grocery bags. Again, friends — hoarder, I tells ya. HELP ME STOP.

After feeling crappy about everything all day (despite being able to work from home – aka Starbucks), I headed home, noshed on a small banana, cleaned up a bit, and tossed on my gym gear after winning an internal battle of whether to go or not. It was absolutely insanely gorgeous out last night, so it would have been the perfect time for a run, but I’m starting to think that I overtrained and gave myself shin splits.

I’m not exactly sure how one can overtrain for a freaking 5K, but I guess these legs are not ideally suited for running on hard surfaces. This totally bums me out, because for the first time in my life, I’m actually enjoying running outside. I’m considering asking my GP to refer me to a physical therapist so we can take a look at what is causing my knee pain, as well as this shin-splint-y feeling. Have any of you guys ever had shin splints?

I got on the scale this morning for the first time in ages. I’d been avoiding it because, due to my total (okay, not total, but certainly not up to par) lack of exercise commitment, I was almost certain that I had gained some weight. I’ve also been feeling pretty down on myself, self-image-wise, and my clothes have been feeling a little snug, so I really haven’t wanted to stare those numbers in the face. But I think it’s important that I know so I can get myself back on track.

Bad news: I had gained some weight, as I thought.

NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Good news: It wasn’t that much. If I can hop back on the exercise train and get my freaking act together, I think I should be okay. Right now, I just want my goals to be about eating and feeling better (e.g. getting more protein so my hair stops clogging up the drain in the tub — ugh, gross) and fitting comfortably (and feeling fabulous) in my clothes. Eventually I think I do need to set a general poundage goal, but I’m still unsure of how I feel about that. We’ll have to wait and see.

So, um, I’m kind of thinking I need to get myself out on some dates again. But I’m tired of meeting morons and jerkface buttheads (I’m so mature). Chicago ladies — where should I go to find some eligible bachelors that aren’t of the John Barleycorn persuasion? I live in the ultimate no-man’s-land, straddling Wrigleyville and Boystown. To the east, there are gay — albeit gorgeous — men as far as the eye can see. To the west, it’s the land of the Bro-skis, a class of men so undesirable that I’d rather spoon my cats for the rest of my life. Waaaaah.

I’m crazily excited for my lunch today. I packed a salad consisting of butter lettuce + radicchio, a Greek quinoa salad I threw together, tomatoes, leftover avocado and some organic pea shoots. I grabbed a banana to have on the side. Here’s how you make the Greek quinoa salad (makes about 4 servings):

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, cooked
  • a bunch of full-fat feta (as much or little as you want)
  • 1 cucumber, sliced/diced
  • 1/2 can cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 can artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained and chopped
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of red wine vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper, to taste

Mix everything together in a large bowl and keep in the fridge, covered. It should stay good about 4-5 days. This stuff is great because it makes packing a lunch SO easy. I topped my salad with it today and can’t wait to try it out with some olive oil vinaigrette as a dressing. Lots of fiber and protein, too — yum! Feel free to tweak the recipe as desired — you can add onions, olives, whatever floats your boat. I recommend using the full-fat feta for two reasons: 1) I think low-fat cheese is disgusting, and 2) low-fat cheese doesn’t have enough flavor, so you end up using more anyway. If you really like the low-fat stuff though, go for it.

I’m off to finish the day. Have a good one!

June 30, 2011 at 1:37 pm 5 comments

Rainy day + sugary sweets

Sometimes I have to laugh at the ridiculousness of my life. I was in the middle of my lunch and realized that I needed to go downstairs to switch my laundry out. Since my cats are fatty vultures, they will immediately jump up and sniff/lick/consume any food or drink that I leave out, regardless of what it is. For this reason, I am always balancing or hiding my food in weird places when I walk away. Today, my lunch was perched on top of the fridge for ten minutes.

I had a delicious open-faced turkey sandwich with TJ’s sliced goat cheese and 1/3 of an avocado, and a salad with chopped romaine, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, yellow bell pepper and TJ’s champagne pear vinaigrette. I just picked up some sliced turkey from the deli yesterday after finishing off the gross pre-packaged turkey I bought last time when the deli was closed. It was the natural, no preservatives kind, but still — that stuff is so slimy and just not tasty. I prefer Boar’s Head ovengold much more :)

See the little flecks of Gorgonzola in the dressing? Mmmm! It’s pretty low-cal too, I think only 45 calories in a serving. I always keep this stuff in the fridge because it makes any salad taste like it came from a restaurant.

Half a banana was also enjoyed on the side.

I was able to sleep in and work from home today (yayyy work-from-home Wendesdays!) and it’s a good thing too, because it’s bleary and rainy out! It seemed like it was actually pretty nice out up until about 1 o’clock, but I was a good little worker bee and stayed inside near the computer, so I can’t be sure. Now it’s raining pretty steadily though, and it’s nice to have the sound in the background while I’m working away.

Yesterday after leaving work, I hopped on the bus to find that it was uber-crowded, so I had to stand up at the very front next to the driver, and it felt like I was playing a video game or something. I was RIGHT up against the windshield. Traffic was bad, so I downloaded a new phone app that is similar to the Hipstamatic for the iPhone and played around with it. Here is an overly-Hipsteresque shot of my ridiculously treacherous-looking spot on the bus.

Crazy, no? That happens from time to time on the bus because it’s the very last stop before it runs express up Lake Shore Drive. It was a beautiful day with tons of people running and biking along the lake shore path, with lots of sailboats out on the water too, but I couldn’t snap a decent enough shot. Sorry! Here’s another.

This app is so neat, I can’t wait to play around with it more. Expect many more hipster-y, vintage-looking pictures in the future!

When I got home, I made a quick run (hah!) to the grocery store to pick up some supplies for the evening’s activities. I seriously don’t think I can leave a grocery store with a bill under $50. Honestly. I think it’s impossible. Thankfully it was still lower than it would have been normally, because strawberries were $1.50 a pack!!! Talk about a kid in a candy store — I went nuts, and left with four packages :D

My friend Laura met me in front of my apartment soon after, and after dropping off the groceries, we walked over to a new restaurant that just opened in the neighborhood called Taverna 750. Immediately after seeing the signs and menu go up a few weeks ago, I knew I had to try this place. It had lots of small plates, homemade cellos (limoncello, orangecello, etc) and a fantastic drink list, all with an Italian twist.

I started off with their signature 750 cocktail, which was very similar to a cosmopolitan, but was made with homemade limoncello and came with a sidecar!

It was STRONG, but very delicious. And how cute is the little sidecar in a bucket of ice? The drink was $10, but I felt like I really got my money’s worth with the extra little carafe. Of course I shared with Laura, and she got a shooter of homemade pistachio-cello. It was sweet and very smooth!

Next we each received our own antipastos. She got a chilled carrot soup, and I got a mozzarella dish wrapped in phyllo dough…they were both amazing.

That’s truffle honey drizzled over the top!

We shared two small plates after that: a slow-roasted pork shoulder in a tomato sauce with creamy polenta and a pesto drizzle (OMG), and a “pizzette” with brie, figs, pepperoni and poppy seeds (OMG!). This is my kind of restaurant.

The polenta was SO creamy and amazing, and paired with the savory meat and sauce, I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I will never turn down slow-roasted pork shoulder, it’s one of my favorite dishes. The pizza was amazing too, and I thought the poppy seeds (typo alert – I wrote “poopy seeds” at first…heh) were such a neat and unexpected addition. I can’t wait to come back and try everything on their menu!

For dessert, Laura and I planned on making strawberry rhubarb pie (!) after I texted her earlier in the day saying that it sounded really good (drawback of looking at food all day for work). When we looked at some of the recipes, though, it seemed like the combination of a few tired girls and my very small kitchen might mean we should pick something a little easier. We decided (after a stiff cocktail, of course) that Emeril’s Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumble with Irish Whiskey Butter sounded perfect to these two lushes.

makin' whiskey butter

pre-cooking

ready for the oven! see all that berry goodness at the bottom?

the finished product

I have to admit, this dessert was very good, but it was far too sweet for my tastes. I have never been a big dessert or sugar person, and hardly eat much of it from day to day, so when I try something really sweet, it usually turns me off. While the taste was fantastic, I had a hard time adjusting to the sweetness with that first bite. The sauce was also very sweet, so I needed to gulp down a gigantic glass of water after a few tastes.

I think next time (if there is a next time), I’d make this with 1/3 of the sugar or even less, since the strawberries were so naturally sweet. I would also try to figure out a way to make the sauce with less sugar, because once that melted into the crumble, it was just that much more sugar. If you’re a big sweets fan though, this would definitely be for you!

I decided to have dessert after my lunch today, and mixed a small portion of leftover SR crumble into a big blob of Fage 0% and sprinkled a little cinnamon on top — I think this was the key here. The yogurt’s tang really set off some of the sweetness of the dessert, and the insanely indulgent creaminess of the Fage (seriously, this stuff is worth the splurge — it is leaps and bounds beyond every other Greek yogurt out there) contrasted nicely with the crunch of the crumble.

You better believe I licked the bowl clean! Yum.

I have a bit more work to do today, and I’m multitasking by doing some long-overdue laundry that has been staring at me for weeks. There are about nineteen piles of clean clothes on my bed, and every hanging surface available is covered in clothes hanging dry. I’d like to get to the gym at some point before it gets too late, but I have a feeling this is going to take a looooong time tonight…wish me luck.

Catch ya later!

June 15, 2011 at 5:13 pm 6 comments

Ch-ch-ch-chia!

Hi friends! Hope you’re having a great day.

If you haven’t already heard, it has been SWELTERING in Chicago these past few days. Seriously, walking outside in the morning is like walking directly into an oven. It has not been fun!

One of the things I really love about my work is that we have the option to work from home every Wednesday as long as we get our work done (obviously). I planned on sleeping in this morning since I was pretty tired from the concert last night, not to mention that it was already like, 800 degrees already by 9am (okay, more like 90 degrees, but still!).

Unfortunately, we got an email from our tech guy saying that the VPN connection was down since our company is still working out some server changes, and everyone who was working from home had to come in. What a bummer, dude. I lost some time commuting since I planned on starting a little late anyway, so I think I’ll have to be at work late tonight. Oh well, it’s too freakin’ hot to do anything outside today anyway…

Millennium Park Crown Fountain...wishing I could be cooling off here!

source: ChicagoNow

Even though it was a BAGILLION degrees when I met up with my brother to head over to the park yesterday, I was super excited for Mr. LaMontagne. After work, I changed into some sweat-wicking workout clothes and couldn’t have been happier that I did.

Of course there were all these girls looking super cute in their colorful sundresses and maxis, but I was perfectly happy in my ratty t-shirt and Nike shorts :) I could have been mistaken for someone who clearly didn’t belong there, but thankfully my brother held up his end of that whole, looking stylish thing.

what a neat venue, huh?

source: PlaybillArts

The show was a blast and I had such a good time hanging out with my big bro. I’m so glad we don’t hate each other anymore like we used to :) He TORTURED me when we were kids…Farting in my face regularly, doing the “I’m not touching you!” game, and just about anything else he knew was guaranteed to drive me insane. Ahhh, siblings…

This morning, I took my time getting ready since I thought I would be working from home, so I decided to brew a fancy cup of Joe with the French press. The AC has been on non-stop (I don’t turn it off when I leave the house on super hot days, because I worry the kitties might overheat — my electricity bill most likely thanks me for this…), so hot coffee wasn’t a dealbreaker, even in Hades Chicago today.

Unfortunately when I got the word that I had to go into the office, I needed to hustle my undressed and unkempt self, so I decided to have Julie’s famous chocolate chia pudding for breakfast. I had prepped it for a post-work snack s. Not my typical yogurt, granola + fruit or cereal + almond milk for breakfast, but at least I started off the day with some protein, fiber and omegas.

I didn’t take a picture because honestly, this stuff looks SUPER nasty, but I swear it tastes amazing and the texture is really neat! As Julie said, it’s sort of like tapioca, but a little crunchier. I love it. In my mix:

  • 3-4 tbsp chia seeds (didn’t measure)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup original almond milk (didn’t measure either)
  • 1 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tbsp sunflower butter
  • packet stevia
  • pinch cacao nibs

All you do is mix everything together in a bowl the night before, and the next day, you’ll have a gooey, gelatinous mess to tantalize your taste buds. Oooh yes you will.

I just tried sunflower butter for the first time and this stuff is INCREDIBLE! I can’t believe I waited so long after seeing Tina and Kath having it to try it out. It’s savory and salty and just has this delicious flavor that is really unique. Yum :)

Off to finish some more work. Stay cool, kiddos!

June 8, 2011 at 2:00 pm 2 comments

Older Posts


Hi, I’m Laura!

Pretty Little Tweets

Recent Posts

Want a few more words?

You can contact me at prettylittlewordsblog at gmail dot com :)

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 17 other followers

Archives