Sunday, February 27, 2011

27...That Means Late 20s

Last night I went out on the town after a week+ of being cooped up indoors fighting a nasty sinus infection.  With antibiotics and some limited energy running through my bloodstream, we had an early birthday celebration for yours truly at a sushi restaurant and then back at our home.  It was more than I could have hoped for and just the perfect way to officially bring in my late 20s (because I'm 27 now, which is officially late 20s for you math people).
Although I complained about the slow service (sorry husband for being a meanie-head- patience is not my best quality when it comes to waiting for food) the sushi was good and just what I wanted.  We also had time to take group pictures- my favorite.
Best Husband Ever and I

My lovely in-laws

My brother, favorite nephew, and sister-in-law

My lovely parents

Once we got back to our house, it was business time.  There has been some mention of chocolate around here, and my birthday was the deadline for said chocolate consumption.  Meet my lover- the flourless gluten-free chocolate cake.  It was mine. All mine.  I did share some with our guests though, with scoops of coconut milk ice cream. 
Puppy wanted some too- but none for him.  He's on a low-carb, high protein deal right now.
We also played and laughed together.  There were clearly two stars of the show tonight- the grandkids.

I went to bed a happy girl- with flowers, personalized cards, generous gifts, and dreams of lulu threads thanks to my new gift card.

Thank you, family for making my day.

Monday, February 21, 2011

So About That Eating Lifestyle

Thank you all so very much for the warm welcome for Chino!  He has seriously made our lives exponentially happier since we got him and I so appreciate your kind words.

Now onto more trivial issues....When we came back from our vacation I went all hippie with my eating.  I did food combining, blood type diet, kicked caffeine, chocolate, and gluten.  I even successfully went vegan for a week.  This weekend I caught a flu that knocked me on my behind and felt like I was dragged face down in the gravel for several miles.  I enjoyed my first latte in 6 weeks because I needed it and it knocked my socks off.  It was like angels came down from the heavens and I was surrounded by rainbows and unicorns.

I want to be honest with you guys, so here goes.  So why the sudden change of heart?  I don't think my lifestyle is sustainable and it's a little too limiting.  Husband certainly feels the same way.  I was having a hard time feeling satisfied with not being able to eat foods that I have eaten for years and it's honestly not very practical.  Chicken soup was off limits for my cold and I needed ginger ale so that I could calm my stomach, so that was that.  I haven't completely fallen off the track, but I'm going back to 80% on hippie crazy diet and 20% off hippie crazy diet.  I will continue to follow the following guidelines:
  • LOTS of fruits and veggies (duh)
  • Limit my processed foods and refined sugar intake
  • Drink lots of green tea and indulge in coffee on the weekends
  • Make dessert special- either homemade or OMG-I-just-died-and-went-to-Godiva-heaven-amazing
  • Explore different sources of protein (quinoa, millet, veggies, and some soy)
  • Eat organic dairy and goat's milk dairy when I want it
  • Limit gluten consumption to worth-it items
  • If I want it, I'll eat it
I am still holding out on chocolate until my birthday (1 more week!) and I haven't really indulged in anything ridiculous since I've been a little under the weather.  But come the 28th, all chocolate bets are off.

So that's all.  I don't feel guilty or bad, just normal and that's OK with me.

And since I can't fathom a single thought without thinking about my fluffy creature, here is my prince training me this weekend:


Sunday, February 20, 2011

I'm One of Those People

Hi Blog Friends.  I hope you are having a great long weekend if you are off on Monday.  We are keeping busy this weekend with our new family addition.  Don't worry, I haven't gestated a baby without telling you (although that's what both of our parents thought when we told them)- we adopted this baby boy.
Chino is 2.5 years old and a very well-behaved Shar Pei who was left by his owners at the Marin Human Society because they moved across the country.  He likes naps, long walks, sniffing poles of all kinds, staring down ducks and squirrels, and he might be starting to like us.  He doesn't like loud noises or toys.  He's far too serious for toys.
We are thrilled to have this little guy as our first family pet and it was nice to have him lay by my side as I spent all day sick in bed yesterday.  My new sous-chef says hello;)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Day in Numbers

I've seen a few numerically inclined blog ladies do a few fun numbers posts.  Here is my last 48 hours in numbers:

24: Roughly the number of hours I spent awake and working in the last 48 hours

6: The number of hotel food 'opportunities' I have had over the last 48 hours.  This halibut was really good.  The rest was alright.
21: The number of floors I had to ride to get to our meeting space over and over again in the high speed motion sickness machine (elevator). 
4: The number of hours of sleep I got last night
3: (but realistically 8) the number of pictures it took to try to get a decent shot of my work outfit to make sure it looked OK since I didn't plan it so well.  Apparently me and iPhone self-photos don't mesh.  And hello booty.

2: The number of buttons I broke on my keyboard at this meeting.  I'm a savage.
1: The number of recipes I will share with you tonight:

Vegan Wheat-Free Gluten-Free Carrot Cake Cupcakes
Ingredients (cupcake batter):
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder 
  • 1/4 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Flax eggs (~2 Tbsp ground flax to 6 Tbsp water)
  • 1 tsp pumpkin spice mix
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
Ingredients (frosting):
  • 1/2 - 3/4 cup Tofutti cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Meyer lemon zest and juice (I used half of a lemon)
  • Vanilla extract to taste
Instructions: I have to admit I winged this recipe and this makes a really dense muffin/cupcake.  This batch will make 20 mini cupcakes or about 8 regular cupcakes.  Instructions are very loose.

1. Combine all dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, shredded coconut, pumpkin spice)
2. Add in wet ingredients (flax egg, shredded carrots, vanilla extract, coconut milk, agave nectar) and mix until combined
3. Scoop batter into cupcake wrappers and bake at 350 degrees for about 25-30 minutes
4. Make frosting by combining all ingredients and mixing for 1 minute (I mixed by hand)- set in the refrigerator for 5-10 minutes
5. Frost cupcakes when cooled
6. Enjoy
Ciao Bellas ;)

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day- A List

-I couldn't post because I have a meeting the next few days at work
and had to blowdry and flat iron my hair. It takes a full evening.
Hope you understand.
-My computer would not open a browser window so you get an iPhone
-Work is getting busy again and I'm trying to breathe through it
-Vegan week is over and I had eggs for dinner with some vegan
cheese. This girl is confused
-Hubby and I are not doing V-day till Tuesday. Take that hallmark
-I almost forgot to take my vitamins but remembered because I like
my calcium gummy bears so much
-I tried to teach myself to run at the gym tonight and it was
moderately amusing
-I made vegan gluten free carrot cake cupcakes and they are now all
gone. Belly happy. Recipe coming soon.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

A Pound of Food

Happy Weekend!  Yesterday slipped away and I skipped reporting on the Vegan Challenge, as well as my own eating challenge so let's go!

The vegan challenge went well on day 5 and I'm still going strong.  A challenge that I imposed on myself due to laziness and not being able to keep up with my own produce consumption this week was burning out and not packing a lunch on Friday.  No worries- I stocked up on some food and came to the realization that I can pack away 1.31 pounds of food in a sitting. Impressive, no?  I went to the local hot bar/salad bar near my office and got this bucket of food.
This feed pail contains spinach, kale salad, sprouts salad, roasted squash, broccoli salad, kim chee, and 2 falafels.  I'm 99% sure this was all vegan and it was shiny just how I like it.  Topped with a little hot sauce and I was a happy girl.  I could have eaten another one after this, but at $8 per pound, I need to save my money on other shiny objects.  I think that overall, vegan eating can be really easy and delicious.  What I thought was an obstacle in buying lunch was not really an obstacle. I found a vegan, soy-free option and it was delicious. 

In other eating news, things have been going well on the self-imposed holistic approach to food.  I think that I need to start trying more new things because I have started getting bored with my current staples and sometimes I just want a cookie so I'm on the hunt for a recipe that I can enjoy.  The 'deadline' is the last day of February and I only really have 2 weeks to go, but the masochist in me will probably keep going.  I like that I have become less dependent on sugar, but I still want a cookie (see a theme here)?  The only thing that keeps me from jumping head first into one is that my husband is following the plan and I have to be a good example and all.  This accountability is definitely something that makes me more successful because when you have to confess to someone, it makes the alternative, or messing up not worth it.

I'm off to take a yoga class, grocery shop, and to maybe do some damage at a couple of clothing stores.  I need to see the pretty spring clothes and pretend it's getting warm outside ;)

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Potatoes Are a Snack Food

Side note: I'm watching Man vs. Food and it's making me gag a little big. This guy is eating 5 pounds of nachos.  Who does that?!

This afternoon on Day 3 of the Vegan Challenge, after a particularly stressful situation at work in which I worked through 'lunch', I realized that I had only eaten the first part of my lunch (a salad with a black bean burger if you care) and was hungry about 2 hours later. 

Luckily I had more food with me in my enormous bag of food but my typical poor planning left me with a sweet potato.  I'm sure my Eastern European ancestors were proud of me for eating a potato for a snack, but I just went for it and it was really good, unconventional but good.  It was sweet, salty, filling, and warm.  Kind of like a chocolate chip cookie, but in potato form ;)

Onto other things- I wanted to share another grain with you- buckwheat.  Does anyone else think of The Little Rascals when they hear 'buckwheat'? (picture source)
Buckwheat (the grain) is a great source of manganese, fiber (~5 grams per cup), and flavanoids, making it really good for the heart.  It also helps to prevent diabetes and gallstones, and is great for those avoiding wheat or gluten.  It's also a fruit seed, rather than a grain and is eaten throughout the world.  (picture source)

I've been cooking up the fruit seed (?) for the last 3 weeks for hubby's breakfast.  He heats it up and drowns it in almond milk- a twist on the traditional serving of buckwheat in Russia minus the full fat milk.  It can also be eaten as a savory food in place of rice or quinoa.

Do you ever have unconventional snacks?  I think a sweet potato tops my list.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Black Bean Burgers

I really enjoyed reading your comments to my last post.  There were a lot of thoughtful responses (which I love) and a lot of great food rules.  I encourage you to read the comments here.  While the jury is still out on the mystery cheese (vegan cheddar) I am still enjoying my vegan eats.  I can't really say that I have felt limited since I live in my own bubble. I bring my lunch to work daily and most of our friends and family already know that we have made some modifications in our foods, and the others just know that the food I eat is 'weird and healthy' and I'm perfectly fine with that.

Given my fear of mystery meat, I still wanted to make something that incorporated some protein that I could eat.  This week I cooked up a ton of black beans and I made my first attempt at Black Bean and Millet Burgers.
Serving suggestion ;)
Here is the recipe- it can use a few tweaks like more spice, but it worked for me and is a great base recipe.

Black Bean and Millet Burgers:
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup cooked millet
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 Tbsp coconut milk
  • Cumin
  • Salt
  • Pepper
*Place all ingredients in food processor and whirl until ingredients are combined
*Scoop the 'burgers' onto sprayed cookie sheet (my recipe made 5 large burgers)and bake at 370 degrees for 20 minutes
*Enjoy with your choice of sides

I baked these while I made my husband some baked chicken and some other sides.  I also popped in my Shape Pilates DVD and did a quick workout while my food baked- multi-tasking at its best!  While I was doing my DVD I was thinking about Melissa's post today about blog comparisons and how long people generally work out.  I used to work out for hours but now I keep my workouts to 60-90 minutes for yoga classes, or 30-40 minutes for cardio.  I know some bloggers spend a lot more time than this and a lot of 'real life' people spend a lot less than this and either extreme can create a triggering reaction.  It took a while, but when I read people's routines I think 'well that's nice' and love to read the variety and people's goals, but I don't internalize it.  Most of the time workout posts motivate me to try harder but I know my bad knees won't let me run a marathon, so I move on to the next delicious cookie post.

Question for you: Do you ever make your own burgers?  What kinds?

Monday, February 7, 2011

I Like A Challenge

If you missed yesterday's guest post from my hubby, please check it out here
What I'm here to blabber about today is the Vegan Challenge that is going on right now in the little ole blog world.  While I have never wanted to label my eating style, I think it's safe to say I don't usually eat a lot of animal products.  I'm not sure why, but I have never been overly carnivorous and I tend to not eat some animals because I think they are cute.  My perception of dairy is usually pretty passive, unless ice cream is involved- then we're talking.  So when the challenge came up, I decided that one of the richest and most powerful women in the world could do it, this challenge was my next step to ruling the world. 

Challenge accepted. But I would have my own rules:
1. I would eat whole foods including fruits, veggies, and grains
2. I would be soy free
3. I would still maintain my gluten free and food combining as much as I could
4. No fake meat
5. Limit of 2 substitute products (described below)

The reason behind all my rules is that I wanted to see how normal people did it, without relying on Whole Foods and other specialty markets or frankenfoods that don't make any sense in my head.

I did choose to experiment with a couple of items that I have been wanting to try and had fairly recognizable ingredient lists.  I purchased both of these items with my own money and these opinions are my own.
SO Delicious Coconut Milk Yogurt
Loved it!  With 12 grams of sugar and 90 calories per serving, this was a perfect afternoon snack.  It was a lot thinner than regular yogurt and I bet it would be delicious in a smoothie. 

The other product I tried was Daiya Vegan cheese.  The ingredients in it are below:
Filtered water, tapioca and/or arrowroot flours, non-GMO expeller pressed canola and /or non-GMO expeller pressed safflower oil, coconut oil, pea protein, salt, inactive yeast, vegan natural flavours, vegetable glycerin, xanthan gum, citric acid (for flavor), annatto.

I was honestly freaked out by this 'cheese', but it melted.  Not that I didn't believe other people, or the package, but I had my doubts. 


I gave my husband a bite and he said it was good, but didn't taste like cheese.  I agreed.  It was OK and I'll finish it, but it tasted like some other substance that I couldn't describe.

I think that by trying these two substances early in my challenge, it will be much easier to just eat real food.  I honestly enjoyed the roasted veggies I made today much more than the specialty products I tried.
Roasted butternut squash and zucchini

I think the rest of my week will be filled with some of my favorite real foods and that's just how I like it.

Question for you: Are you doing the vegan challenge?  If not, what are your personal food rules?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Guest Post: Hubby's Crash Course-Photography Lesson 101

I hope you guys enjoyed your weekend!  I sure have- I had the whole weekend off, even from blogging.  The post below is another guest post from the hubby.  I am incredibly biased, but I love when he steps in and shows things from his own perspective.  This post is another recap from our recent trip and I love his new skill of photography and am so happy to share it with you.  I hope you enjoy this post.
Hello Friends! While One Healthy Apple has already done a great job recapping our recent vacation to Australia and New Zealand, there is one other dimension to the trip that is worth sharing. This dimension is our (well, mostly mine) evolution in photography skills. The trip provided a great opportunity to familiarize myself with the new and relatively advanced camera, the Canon Rebel we recently purchased (after standing out at the recent Foodbuzz conference as what seemed like the only couple not taking food photos with a professional camera).  In addition to breaking in the camera, I also brought several photography books with us that I tried to draw upon throughout our trip.  After taking more than 800 photos on the trip, it is still unclear whether I have learned anything and whether I have any artistic ability when it comes to photography.  However, given the beauty of some of the places I was able to capture (please don't judge HOW they are captured - I'm still a beginner), good photographs were not difficult to take (or at least trying to take). I started with these in Sydney.

These photos made me question if I am better at capturing certain elements more than others. Am I a nature photographer? Do I have an eye for an urban theme? In New Zealand I tested my skills with nature shots.  I was especially impressed by sky and water.  New Zealand sky had a lot of character - dynamic, with clouds reflecting sun light and colors constantly changing, mirroring the diverse landscape of the island. Clouds were very low hanging and provided a dramatic look, covering the peaks of various mountains and hill tops. The sunsets sparking the New Zealand sky were even more beautiful. The views were so stunning that the photos (at least my photos) do not tell half the story, but here are a few anyway.

Water impressed us the most in New Zealand.  Whether in the ocean, inner lakes, or glaciers, its color was striking turquoise, one of the brightest colors on the island.  Its clarity allowed great reflections of the landscape around it, which I tried to capture.

I also tried taking artistic photos of One Healthy Apple or photos of us together.

On our trip, I learned as much about using light, exposure, and aperture, as I did about the two countries' history, culture, and culinary landscape.  But even after taking 800+ photos, the one lesson I learned, is that I have some stiff competition with One Healthy Apple's artistic photography level, and have admired her photos the most. Here are some of my favorites.

It's me again- see you later this week for some more regular posts.  I am participating in the Vegan For A Week Challenge, hosted by Morgan of Life After Bagels.  I'm excited to see how living the vegan lifestyle will work!