Sunday, May 23, 2010

I Don't Eat French Fries

I don't have too many food philosophies but I can summarize my eats in 3 rules:
1. I have to know what's in it (except tart fro yo.  I don't want to know, so don't tell me).
2. It has to taste good- this encompasses the 'worth it rule for extra fancy chocolate splurges'.
3. It has to be good for me.

For these reasons, I am not usually tempted by things like french fries.  Perhaps it is my cultural upbringing in which potatoes were a central theme, or maybe my recently acquired snobby tendencies, but I am never crazy about french fries.  Chocolate or cake is another story.  Chocolate and cake together and I'm sold.

However, when we went on a trip to the Asian grocery store, I needed to buy this obnoxious veggie- which I later found out was a yuca root:
(The long potato-looking thing right in front of the sriracha)
Here is what my dear friends at Wikipedia told me:
Yuca is also known as cassava and is native to West Africa and South America. Cassava is the third largest source of carbohydrates for human food in the world. The soft-boiled root has a delicate flavor and can replace boiled potatoes in many uses: as an accompaniment for meat dishes, or made into purées, dumplings, soups, stews, gravies, etc.  
Pretty cool, right?  As soon as I realized this was potato-like, I figured fries were the way to go.  I chopped up the sucker- which was a workout all in itself, and created Coconut Butter Yuca Fries:
-Cut up one yuca/cassava root into fry pieces
-Season with salt and pepper and 1 Tbsp coconut butter (I used my lonely Artisana jar)
-Place fries in a single layer on a sprayed cookie sheet
-Bake in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes or until crispy- flipping throughout

I loved the subtle coconut flavor on the fries and ate them for breakfast this morning. 
They were quite starchy but extremely filling and good!  I can't wait to experiment more with this root!  For those who care, the veggie is extremely dense at 330 calories per cup.  I can see why it's such a source of sustenance throughout the world!

On another note, I needed this carb replenishment after I took a class at 24 Hour Fitness on Saturday morning.  They had a spin class on the schedule called "Last Chance Workout"- the name that the contestants kindly call the crazy workout session before their weigh-in.  I thought it would be lame, but went anyways.  I loved that our instructor, a very burly dude had no idea what The Biggest Loser even was but managed to kick my smug butt so hard that I looked like a wreck when it was all over.  We spent 7 minutes on the bike and did plyometrics and various other obnoxious things that had me wanting to toss my cookies halfway through.  I didn't quit and loved pushing myself.  I was instantly sore and spent Sunday finding new muscles that ache.  Awesome. 
Since I don't find enough ways to embarass myself in a public forum, here was the 'After':
That shirt was a much lighter orange when we started.  Another point- my hair.  Let's just say I got a little roughed up:
Yep, straight out of the mental hospital.  If this is what the Loser contestants do, hats off to them.
Questions for you: Do you like group classes? What are your favorites?
Do you like french fries?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Defining the Relationship

Smells gooood!
Thank you for sharing all of your fabulous childhood memories with me.  I loved all your answers.  In case you missed them- here are some fabulous ones:

My lovely sister in law: The smells that remind me of my childhood are mangoes , my uncle had a mango ranch and every time they were in season we got huge boxes of that yellow goodness!
Good times :)

Jessica Comfort food scents remind me of my childhood, but I'd have to go more with perfumes my mom used to wear and other scents like that.
Anne Marie  My grandmom or mom's homemade spaghetti gravy reminds me of my childhood.
Ildie: DILL. Fresh dill. My mama used to make all of her own pickled vegetables and she loved adding dill. :)
Shannon : I have so many smells that trigger childhood memories. There is a certain flower smell that reminds me of summer in Woods Hole (Cape Cod). Always makes me smile.
Kalin: the smell of tomato plants (the plants themselves have a distinctive scent) makes me think of childhood. we grew a ton of 'em as a kid, and i was always roaming through our tomato patch stuffing my face with them.
Jolene: I agree with Kalin about the tomato plants - they totally remind me of my childhood. So does campfire smell, and chocolate chip cookies!
Mo  the smell of meatballs and baked ziti remind me of sitting in grannies kitchen testing her meatballs. we both knew they were ready for hte sauce but we both liked to "taste" them... for quality assurance...
Gabriela :The smell of my house after being away from it always reminds me of childhood...I love this place, and it holds so many memories!! Chlorine is another childhood smell, from spending way too many days in my pool as a kid!

So very awesome- as are all of you!  I love that you were able to share some fun memories mixed with delicious smells.

The Talk...
In the past few months I have been working through a bit of a workout "defining the relationship talk". I don't call it a break-up, but more of a pause to evaluate things. 
I am not a runner, I don't have any kind of a sport to build endurance or strength for (unless you count power chocolate eating or shopping), and I am not looking to lose a significant amount of weight.  To add to that, I also don't follow a strict diet (makes me rebel and go apes*it), nor am I vegetarian, vegan, high protein, or gluten-free. 
None of these things have meant that I have gone to the gym for less than 4 days a week or not enjoyed my time there, but I seem to always be looking for the next new thing when really, I have fun doing my own thing.  I love making up an obstacle course among the juiceheads at my gym, running on the treadmill for no particular length of time or distance while listening to music so embarrassing I sometimes take my headphones off to make sure I'm the only one who can hear it, or benching by myself with no spotter (doesn't matter that it's just the bar with the Cheerio size weights or that the person next to me smells like poop) only because I want to know that I can.
I know a bit of focus is good, but I like coming in with a general plan and then doing my own thing.  Maybe one day I'll have a hard core training plan, but for now, I hit all the muscles once a week and do my cardio thang.
The other day I ran 3 miles for fun and lifted shoulders like a maniac (shoulders are my favorite). 
I think I'm in the happy, butterflies in the tummy stage of the relationship.  I think there is still a little mystery left and the open door peeing policy is NOT welcome.

The Other Talk...

Another item that I have been defining lately is my relationship with meat.  I am not a huge fan, but eat organic chicken or wild fish maybe once a week.  I don't crave meat, but if I do, I want it to be from a reliable source.  I know there are a lot of fabulous veggie bloggers and I love them all, but I just can't commit either way and I ain't gonna.  Plus, I have an irrational fear of anything that is supposed to taste like meat but isn't.  No veggie hot dogs or chicken nuggets for this girl. 
I love tofu, but I'm not sold on its benefits or harm, so when I eat soy, I go for fermented soy in the form of tempeh.  I tried it again in my Tempeh Tacos, and I am pretty sure this one and I are in it for the long haul! Really, I want to marry tempeh.
Tempeh Tacos
  • Pan sear 1/4 block of Trader Joe's tempeh with taco seasoning and oil spray
  • Heat up 2 small tortillas of your choice- I prefer corn
  • When your tempeh is hot enough, build your taco with Mango Salsa an LOTS of guacamole or toppings of your choice
  • Devour along with the whole farmer's market tomato
While I'm at it, I have to gush about my real relationship.  My husband spent his evening helping me do my grad school finance homework for fun tonight because he is a math genius.  He also washed all the dishes and is patiently waiting for me to come to bed so we can have our Modern Family date.  If that isn't love, I don't know what is.  I'm off like a prom dress!

Tell me about your gym/workout relationship- is it true love?  I also want to hear about all the things you are training for!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Snacks- Enjoying Strawberry Season

I have very few memories of my early childhood growing up in Ukraine (the former Soviet Union, yo), but many of them involved going to the market with my mom and smelling, tasting, and experiencing truly fresh produce.  These were the years before we moved to the U.S. and A, before we knew anything except for fresh, pesticide-free Motherland produce. 
True story- this was our first apartment in California and my head WAS bigger than the rest of my body :)
When we moved to the States, we experienced the 'bigger is better' mentality, and although there was more, it was never as good as the natural fruits and veggies we picked up on the trips to the market where little old ladies let me sample their freshly pickled veggies (amazing, actually) or the fruits I ate at my grandparents' countryside home.  In each of these memories, there were always strawberries.  To this day, I still love them and I'm excited each time they come in season.
My grandma used to serve them covered in sour cream and sugar.  Evidently I had a much higher metabolism when I was 3.  These days, beggars can't be choosers.
One of my favorite snacks is fresh strawberries served with Greek yogurt:
There is nothing revolutionary and I'm certainly missing the sour cream and sugar, but it hits the spot and the sweet and tart flavors are perfect together.  Add some almond for a nice crunch, and it's a hearty snack.

Another recent fave is whole grain crackers topped with Laughing Cow and almond butter and more fresh strawberries:
Crazy mix, maybe, but it gets the job done!  The nut butter and cheese made a cheesecake-like taste and I'll take it.
I love the smell of fresh strawberries and it's amazing how some smells can bring me back to childhood memories.  Those memories always include sour cream and salted fish (and perhaps an early appreciation for beluga caviar) but I don't think I can get away with bringing those snacks to work.
What smells remind you of your childhood?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Weekend Drool Fest Debut

Welp, looks like my breakfast veggie post stirred things up, huh?  I like thinking outside the box- it's that MBA In Training part of my personality.  It has been fun taking a break from the usual and having asparagus for a record of 3 meals straight (true story), starting with breakfast.
I hope you guys had a lovely weekend.  Mine was fabulous.  While I spent a lot of time with my favorite family and husband I also got my cook and grub on. 
In an effort to build some structure around here, I'm introducing a few theme posts that I can do several times a week to keep me away from endless nonsense, and to hopefully give ya'll something quick and possibly fun to read!  I'll be covering the things I do best:
  • Weekend Droolfest- breakfasts, lunch, or other stand out meals
  • Snack Time- I like lots of snacks and would love to share some
  • Shakin' It- New workouts (or old workouts that I enjoy)
  • Random- I can do whatever I want, so expect nonsense
  • In my cart- My favorite grocery store purchases
How does this sound?   Let me know if there is anything else you would like to see.
Ready? Here comes my first weekend highlight- breakfast!

Coconut Millet French Toast
After much blog excitement, I grabbed millet bread when I went to Whole Foods last weekend.  I was expecting it to sing to me, or at least bring me a unicorn.  It was good- the texture was interesting, and the taste was mild and slightly sweet. 
When my husband asked what was up for breakfast this morning (don't worry women's lib movement ladies- he only gets to eat after he makes me a latte) I decided to test this wonder bread out on him.  I came up with Coconut Millet French Toast:
- 3 slices Food for Life bread
- 1/4 cup light coconut milk
- 1 egg
- dash of bourbon vanilla
- cooking spray of choice
- strawberries
- toasted slivered almonds
- maple agave syrup

-Combine coconut milk, egg, and vanilla and soak your rainbow unicorn bread in the mixture for a little bit, then throw toast on hot skillet for about 2-3 minutes per side.
-Top with your toppings of choice

My husband really enjoyed this.  It wasn't too sweet and the toppings made up for any sweetness lost in the french toast mix.  I served it with extra eggs and conversation- all in exchange for my morning latte.
Breakfast is my favorite meal on weekends because we get to enjoy it outside in the nice weather.  And it involves coffee.

I hope your week is off to a great start!  Tell me your favorite french toast or breakfast toppings!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Veggies For Breakfast

For the last six months or so, I have regularly eaten a sweet breakfast.  My absolute favorite- almond butter on toast with banana was the reason I even woke up all Winter long!
However, the warmer months are coming and I have taken on a challenge to eat veggies for breakfast.  It's not on a real blog style challenge (the kind that I tell you all about and count my offenses because that would drive me nuts) but I am on a 'try harder' mission to get some delicious veggies into my day.  I love them as is, so if anything, this will mix up my routine.
This past weekend my parents gave us some asparagus.  I love my parents- they give me food whenever I come over.  Life is good. 
After I roasted up a whole boatload of them, I saved some for my morning wrap.
Asparagus Wrap: Flat out wheat wrap, asparagus spears, Trader Joe's spicy hummus, and 2 slices of Swiss cheese
All wrapped up and microwaved for optimal cheese melting capabilities:
This wrap is pretty promiscuous.  I can see that asparagus showing some leg.
I enjoyed this wrap so much that I put together another one for this morning- this time a Spinach Roasted Red Pepper Wrap.
Spinach Roasted Red Pepper Wrap: Flat out wrap, hummus, roasted bell peppers, and spinach

This wrap held itself together a little bit better.  I can see myself eating this every day for the next six months.
So now it's your turn- what are you adding to your daily food party lately?  (I don't use 'diet' because diets suck).  
What kind of veggies do you eat for breakfast? I eat them all now!  Until I get bored of them.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

It Takes a Lot to Fuel Me

One of the things I have noticed about eating healthy is that it takes a lot of planning, preparation, and grub.  I'm not talking about carrying a dainty little brown bag to the office.  I haul a truckload of food to keep myself satisfied and properly fueled to handle any water cooler talk and my post-work workouts.  Below are my snacks and the lunch I brought in for Monday:
  • Brown rice puffs, whole wheat crackers, 2 apples (gotta meet my apple quota somehow), laughing cow cheese, Greek yogurt, and my salad
Of course I didn't eat all of the food yet but once I set everything out it was kinda funny how much food I carry around!  What can I say- I'm a volume eater and when I don't plan, I get in trouble.
Today's lunch was also massive- this bowl is maybe 2-3 cups worth of my random veggie soup.  I don't have a recipe because I call veggie stock+random veggies simmered for 15 minutes soup:
In other greedy, massive food supply news, I made out like a bandit at our year round farmer's market.  I feel like a goofball when I don't go for weeks of months because of all the gorgeous produce they have.  Here is my share:
It's Wednesday and the food is almost gone.  Most of it went in my tummy, but I shared because I do that sometimes. 
I better go pack my lunch and I need to take our large suitcase out of storage to accommodate it.  This girl is hungry. Don't judge.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Leggo my Organic Whole Grain Waffle

I guess my title doesn't have the same ring as 'leggo my eggo' but I have to say that my tastes have become a bit more refined since the last time I was stuffing down Eggo waffles while listening to Madonna, wearing scrunchie socks and keds- (like early 90s Madonna before I discovered hair product).

My husband gets hooked on a single breakfast and will eat it for months, if not years at a time.  We have successfully made it past the chocolate chip cookie breakfast and have been going strong with waffles.  While the store bought waffles are fine, we decided that a waffle maker would be a great investment and I snatched one up on Friday night.
Since I'm a waffle novice, I used a Hodgson Mill mix that I purchased as a starter before I start tweaking and messing up the recipe.  My only additions were Bourbon vanilla, an egg, canola oil, and some water and a waffle was born.
After a few more ladles and magical lights, I had enough waffles for the week to freeze.  The only time I can truly say I'm stacked:
I cut these guys in half and froze them for my hubby to grab each morning while I'm busy doing my hair or pretending to be awake:
Do you have any good waffle recipes?  What were your favorite breakfasts as a kid?
I obviously loved waffles and also rolled with ginormous bagels.  Mmmmm...carbs!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Getting Down to Business

Welp, I'm back- only a week later.  No worries- I missed all of you immensely but was busy being terribly important (at least that's what I tell myself) at work.  Along with this little lapse in posting, I have been trying to keep up with eating well and exercise, but of course life gets in the way, so I'll show you what happens when I get real.

I always eat my veggies first:
Veggie wrap with cucumbers, hummus, spinach, shredded carrots, and cheese with another pound of cucumbers on the side.
Veggie-palooza 2010:
Roasted sweet potatoes and brussels sprouts, yellow tomato, mushrooms, and cucumbers.
Once I get that out of the way, I get down to business- Exhibit A and B, respectively:
Fro yo love
I plead temporary insanity while cramming for my Finance test.  Plus, my spicy tuna sushi and massive amounts of wasabi were burning my face off.
Both were necessary.
Also necessary was getting some quick exercise in- I did one of my favorite strength/cardio workouts as a cool down the other day:
Can you see me back there?  Yep- I bring my iPhone and take pictures at the gym. Don't judge.  I love pushups and taking breaks so I bike hard for 1 minute then get down and do 20 pushups on the bosu ball.  Repeat, repeat, repeat till you get to 100.  It's fun and I love that I can tone while I do cardio.  Give it a try if you have workout ADD like I do.

I'll be back tomorrow (I promise) with some actual cooking but I've gotta give it up to the fabulous moms in my life!
Happy Mothers Day to both Tanias and Elena!
Hope you celebrate with the special mom in your life and if you are a mom- hope you enjoy some extra love and sanity on Sunday!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Fitness Bread

Hey Guys!
I've been running around all weekend enjoying my time in the sunshine- (a big shout to madre nature for giving California some sun this weekend) but I'm back to talk about stuff other than this weekend!
I think that a great deal of my activities this weekend were accomplished thanks to the new product I tried last week- Mestemacher Fitness Bread:
Disclaimer: I bought this bread all on my own and I'm not being paid to talk about it.
Anyhoo, I loved the ingredients list (see website here):  
Rye Kernels, Water, Whole Rye Flour, Oat Kernels, Whole Wheat Flour, Wheat Germ, Sea Salt, Yeast.

Pretty simple huh? 
I tried it in a fabulous veggie sandwich one day:
As well as a lovely snack plate another day:

Working on My Fitness:
I like to think that the fitness bread got me through a 4-hour hike on Saturday and A 4-hour bike ride on Sunday, but in reality I think it had something to do with the training in the gym and the release I get from being active.  My lovely, naturally thin friend recently asked me what I'm training for.  I don't think of myself as an athlete and there is nothing that I am really training for, but I love the feeling of endorphins, lifting a little heavier, and hitting a new distance or speed on the treadmill.  I often ask myself what my motivation is now that I'm not trying to fit into a silly white dress or a bathing suit.  I think I train for my weekends (I was the only girl and kept up with all the boys!) and to be able to be active and feel good about myself.
Why do you train?

A Note About My Recent Absence
Without saying too much, the recession has hit my workplace and I'm streeeetttttcccchhhhheeeeed (stretched) to my limits these days.  Don't worry, I still read and care and get excited for your fabulous ladies, but my long hours and all that good stuff only allow a little bit of commenting and posting time, mostly after hours when I get home from school/work!  I've never been a 'here's what I eat' blogger, but my posts may become a little more sporadic but I hope you'll stick around.
Here's hoping for a productive and positive day (my new mantra)!

Just Enjoy the View

After quite the rough week at work, sometimes you just need to walk until you see the ocean.

5 tablespoons of almond butter if you can spot my companion in this view

Walk through redwood trees that are much bigger and older than we will ever be

Just enjoy the view sometimes when the other stuff is kicking your bootay- my wise words!
I'm off on another adventure. Be back soon!