Sunday, March 23, 2014

Spring Flowers

As most of you know, I am a cold weather girl, but even I miss the sun and appreciate a beautiful spring day.  We were so lucky all weekend because it was beautiful!  It was in the 60s and sunny, which is just about perfect for me.  On Friday I bought some beet plants, even though I swore to myself I wasn't going to fool with vegetables this year.  I couldn't help it though, I walked past them on my way into New Seasons and the golden beet plants in particular just looked so pretty, and I am one of those weirdos who actually likes beets so into my cart they went!  I figured that beets are pretty low maintenance, which is the garden I'm going for this year, so I bought a flat of them to flush out the rest of what's supposed to be an herb bed.  I have thyme, rosemary, parsley, sage, curry and oregano in there, so I figured there's not much else I need really.

Yesterday was a big day because we participated in a photo shoot for the Oregon Humane Society.  They are doing a coffee table book with families and their rescued pets, so we signed ourselves and Molly up for it.  It was kind of a hoot, we went to a professional studio to have the pictures taken, and had to get all dressed up.  I haven't done that type of thing since "back in the day" when my family would toddle off to Sears to get pictures taken.  Molly did pretty well considering she is an absolute mule about everything.  She was spazzed out when we first got going, and when she gets in that mode she goes completely deaf, but once she calmed down she was a little more cooperative.  I think the photographer got some good shots of her, but of course she is beautiful, so that's not difficult to do!  Hopefully Eric and I look decent in them, it would be nice to have a professional picture of our "family", and of course we want to look good for the book too!

Today we did some grocery shopping and I also got some more plants for my garden.  I usually do a big vegetable garden every year, but this year I am scaling back and creating a more permanent setup.  I just feel like every year it's a lot of work, I don't have the room to do what I really want to do, and we end up being on a trip right as something needs to be harvested.  I already have my blueberries and apples permanently planted and surrounded with lavender plants, but I had some planters to fill up.  I bought lots of different flowers in different colors, so that's what I worked on planting today.

It's probably not as impressive because 1) the sun isn't hitting everything and 2) you had no idea what my yard looked like before.  It just used to look very cluttered because I had all of these different plants in pots strung all over the yard.  I permanently planted some things in the ground like the blueberries in those boxes (there are also apple trees to the left that aren't in the pic) and got rid of a lot of the pots so that I could make the yard more tidy and zen.  I focused on getting flowers that were colorful and would also be attractive to bees and the hummingbirds.  All in all, I've really tried to cultivate a yard that will be a sanctuary for the birds, squirrels and bees...and maybe also for any humans who want to sit back there with a glass of wine.

I already forgot what this is.  Ranunculus?  It was so pretty that I had to get it though.  I've been very into yellow flowers for the backyard, probably because I subconsciously am missing the sun.

I lost another couple of pounds this week, which I was surprised and happy with.  I am still diligent with the tracking, but was definitely a little more snacky over the weekend.  Not horribly so, I went over my calories Friday and yesterday only by 100 or so, but it's not a habit I want to be in all the time.  I am pretty proud of myself for keeping up with the tracking, even when I know it's going to put me over my macros.  I know I need to throw exercise back into the mix at some point, though I have to admit that I've enjoyed just focusing on the food part for now.  Since I'm dropping weight I'm not overly worried about having to jam some sort of workout regime in just yet, if I was to be perfectly honest.

I did want to leave you with a picture of my smoothie from yesterday, which had a zillion different ingredients from beet to kale to berries to matcha tea...but my hands were freezing from holding the glass, so I improvised with one of Eric's Labat's koozies.

Nothing adds class to your smoothie like a beer can holder.  Nothing.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Peanut Butter Cookie Oatmeal

It's been awhile since I had a recipe focused post, but I created something I was a bit excited about today, so I wanted to share it with you.

I'm still doing pretty well on my eating cleaner/food tracking, and I even managed to put together a breakfast, lunch and snack to take with me to work today at 6 in the morning before I was remotely human or awake.  I felt like having warm breakfast, and although I usually don't automatically choose oatmeal as a go to breakfast, I decided to be wild and wooly today.  We don't actually own a microwave (they totally freak me out), but I figured I could throw oatmeal ingredients in a container and use the microwave at the office as an exception.  I threw oats and milk into a glass bowl, and at the last second decided to be really wild and throw in some peanut butter too.

I was pleasantly surprised at how good it turned out!  It really was like a warm, sloppy version of an peanut butter cookie, and it made the work kitchen smell like cookies.  I would have taken a picture of it to post, but it's not like it was a "pretty breakfast", so I didn't want to gross anyone out.  It was super rich and filling, so I definitely wouldn't eat this all the time, but it was a nice treat for today and super convenient.  I suspect it would be fantastic with a sprinkle of chocolate chips in it too, but I'm not EVEN going to go there with bringing a bag of those in the house!

Peanut Butter Cookie Oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats (I used Bob's Red Mill)
  • 1 cup almond milk (oatmeal made with water is anarchy)
  • 2 TB peanut butter (I used Jiff Natural Creamy PB)
  • 2 TSP honey
  • tiniest dash of salt

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe container and microwave in 45 second increments, stopping to stir the oatmeal between increments, until milk is mostly absorbed into the oats.   It took mine about 2 and a half minutes total.  Let it sit for about a minute after you pull it out of the microwave, since the oats will continue to absorb milk, and since you don't want a 3rd degree burn on your tongue.  You can also do this on the stove top, just cook it on lowish/medium until the oatmeal is cooked and has absorbed most of the milk.

My Fitness Pal put this at 440 calories, 22 grams of fat, 15 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber.  Obviously that's a lot of fat, so you could reduce the peanut butter if you're inclined to cut it a little.  I have a long day today and of course a dumb call when my normal lunch is, so I wanted to have a breakfast that would hold me over until I was able to leave for lunch!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I hope everyone either had or is having a wonderful St. Patrick's Day celebration, depending on what time zone you're in or what stage of partying you're in.  ;)  We opted for a quiet evening at home, since I am getting old and crotchety, and I worry about things like a million drunks being out on the roads!

Every time St. Pat's rolls around, I can't help but think of mine and Eric's first St. Pat's together.  We had only been dating for a few months, were even more freshly engaged, and he had just moved up here and was living with me.  I just remember we spent part of the day at an Irish bar, went to a natural store and bought a million different fancy berries and fruit, then came home that night and I used my Jack LaLanne juicer to make about a million fresh juice martinis while we binge watched Season 9 of South Park and laughed our tails off.  I'm sure that's exactly what Jack LaLanne wanted people to use his juicer for by the way, was to make a buttload of vodka soaked cocktails, but they were so delicious!  I just fondly remember that day what I can remember of it, and it comes to mind even 8 years later, just because we were still so newly in love and giggly about everything.  Such good times.

Last year of course I did the Shamrock Run in Portland, but opted to not do it again this year.  I am kind of being choosy this year about the races I do, and the Shamrock was just a little too big for me. 

I am entering week two of food tracking and things are still going great.  I shed about 5 pounds last week (!!), which I think mostly was due to getting more water and less salt, and obviously less calories.  Either way, I'll take it.  I still have not experienced any awful cravings or hunger, so I'm continuing with the 3 meals and 2 healthy-ish snacks approach since it seems to be effective.  I've really tried to focus on making meals and snacks from "real" foods instead of processed options.  Obviously it's easy to grab something like a Clif bar for a snack, but I find that I enjoy the snack a lot more if it's something I physically make (such as the oat patties) or something that's fresh like an orange with Greek yogurt.  The healthy snack vs treat part seems to have been key.  In the past I've used a night time snack as a "dessert", and I don't know, it just seems to make things worse as far as having cravings go.  I've tried my hardest to keep variety going too, which I feel has kept my interest and makes me have to think about things a little more.  Amazingly enough I've been pretty good about packing my food either the night before or early in the morning, which obviously helps.  I'm saying all of this shit like it's some rocket science no one else knows that I finally figured out, but obviously these are common sense approaches!!

I did have a few little mini splurges this weekend in the way of some wine tasting, and a cocktail party that one of my friends threw.  Even so, I tracked everything I ate and still managed to stay within my targets.  The key was planning ahead and having a more modest breakfast and lunch to allow for the splurging.  I am sort of doing the same thing today.  We are having corned beef, cabbage and potatoes (and one...ok TWO...Harps!) tonight, and since the beef is so salty and not great for you, I've had pretty low salt, high fiber meals so far today!   Although my Irish dinner is pretty high on fiber too, will ya look at this cabbage?

I used the recipe from Pioneer Woman where she keeps the cabbage in wedges, pan sears them, then throws them in the oven to steam.  There is also this balsamic syrup she makes with it that I also made, but wasn't quite as successful with.  It wasn't very syrupy at all, and I was scared if I reduced it any more that it was going to burn!  At least it tasted good.  And of course the corned beef was good, as well as the herbed potatoes, which are always my jam.

And for the record, Eric and I are still in love and giggly.  We just get giggly about annoying Molly by trying to take selfies with her.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Food, Glorious Food!

I know I say this every time I go through a round of this cleaner eating, but I can't believe what a difference food makes when it comes to how I feel physically.  I've only been back at it for 2 days, and I already have so much more energy and my stomach doesn't hurt.  I've been eating about 1700 calories a day and tracking everything.  I decided to not even give a rip about carbs, because I think it's kind of silly, so I am instead tracking calories, sodium, fat, fiber and calcium.  With my family's history of heart stuff and awful blood pressure, I figured sodium was a good thing to keep an eye on.

I don't want to bore you every single day with a food post (we all have that annoying friend on Facebook already right?), but I thought I'd give you an example of my logs from the last couple of days:

Yesterday's Menu

Kale Smoothie (kale, celery, ginger, banana, green apple)
Cottage Cheese

Baked Salmon
Large Salad with Italian Dressing

Salsa Turkey (turkey breast tenderloins or chicken, jar of salsa, black beans, corn...throw it in the crockpot)
brown rice

Oat Patty (Runs For Cookies recipe) with cookie butter/cocoa swirl from Trader Joe's (best shit EVER)
Fresh strawberries with vanilla yogurt

My favorite part about yesterday is that 1) I really enjoyed everything I ate and 2) I wasn't hungry until it was time to eat.  I felt I did a good job of spacing out meals and snacks to where just as I was getting hungry it was time for a meal or a snack.  The thing about this that's super hard for me is that it takes planning and organization, and I suck at both of those things!  In the mornings I would rather sit in silence binge watching Golden Girls with a cup of coffee, while trying to pretend that I am independently wealthy and don't really have to go to a job.  It's hard for me to immediately get up and plan out a menu for myself for the whole day and begin packing things.  I try to do some of it the night before, which has helped.

Today's Menu

Beet smoothie (mixed berries, beat, kale, banana, almond milk)

Leftover Salsa Turkey
Brown Rice

Stuffed cabbage rolls with ground turkey breast and chicken sausage
Side salad

10 almonds and a cup of grapes
Pomelo segments with Greek yogurt and tablespoon of cookie butter swirl (I just gotta try it)

I am trying my very best to keep things varied and to not eat the same old things every day, with the exception of utilizing leftovers of course.  I can't tell you how nice it is to actually eat a decent lunch.  My job actually provides free lunch, but the food is horrid.  Anything that tastes remotely decent is fried and unhealthy, and everything else is drowned in curry powder or oil.  I tried eating salads from the salad bar for a bit, until one day I chewed a mouthful of straight up MUD from lettuce that hadn't been washed.  There is no way to really eat healthy there, and with the BS I put up with on a daily basis, I would at least like to enjoy my lunch.  I would rather eat a tasty lunch on my dime than piece together some lame half assed thing that leaves me starving an hour later.

On that note, I've actually got to finish up my stuffed cabbage rolls.  They are in the oven right now and smell SO GOOD!  I can't wait!

Sunday, March 9, 2014


I realized it's been a couple of weeks since I wrote a post, and I really don't like letting that much time go by because it's just a slippery slope!

I've been depressed because this past week was my first week back to work after a sabbatical that lasted a little over two months.  It was wonderful in every way, it went far too fast, and it gave me time to really think about my life.  A lot of things became clear to me about myself and things I need to do in my professional life to have a happier, healthier personal life.  I know I'm always quite vague when talking about my job, but it is the internet after all, I can't exactly blast that shiz to the world.  Someday I will be able to be a little more detailed when I talk about it, but for now let's just say that it's going to be a year of change.  It will be change that is wonderful and exciting, and not scary.  Well, a little scary, but good scary.  Anyway, I wasn't exactly in the mode to really write since I was dealing with the psychological shift of being back in the office.

One thing I have definitely neglected (and my pants/waistline are proof) is nutrition, and I want to start really start making an effort to change that.  Since Christmas we have been in perpetual party mode, lasting right up to our Oscar party that we had last weekend.  There's a point where all of that is wonderful, but Eric and I were both commenting that we feel gross, bloated and just not well overall.  I have a touch of heartburn a lot of the time, which is always my body's way of telling me that I suck as a human.  Plus I've gained a few pounds, so I definitely want to head that off at the pass and start moving the needle the other way.

Today we went shopping and got lean meats, fresh produce, tea and all the typical things we need to be successful and get back into healthier habits.  We're starting tonight with salmon, roasted potatoes and salad!  I haven't had salmon in forever, so I am looking forward to it.

I have other mini goals to try to incorporate into my daily life such as eating small salads with lunch and dinner, and just trying to get more fresh vegetables and fruits in general.  I am going to start tracking my food again, which is super annoying but really does help keep me in line!  I am cutting way back on the desserts and making them occasional treats, and not part of meal time!  I need to get back into drinking more water and tea.  I'm just starting out with being mindful about those things.  I want to try to write posts a little more and start posting recipes again, as well as pictures of meals that I find interesting.

Anyway, that's all the news that's fit to print!