Enjoying a Routine + WIAW

I crave a routine.

 

This is shocking news, even to me..

It’s not that I mind change.  I’m actually quite flexible!  #TWSS

What I like is some calm after a storm, however that rockin’ boat may have been.  I’m back in the office this week after more travels, back in my “home” gym, and back on a *gasp* meal plan.  It feels good.

Other things that feel good include a really nice vendor.  My boss has been working with these people for a while, but they sent me a little gift for joining the team.  How sweet is this?!

Starbucks gift

Other awesome things: boss-man told me yesterday “I’m glad you’re here.”  *grin*

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This WIAW is back to normal.  For real this time.  No more travels ’til this girl’s show mid-July!

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Read on for my normal (for me) eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

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Cinco de Strange But Good

I’m stranging-up Mayo!

 

(That’s May, not mayonnaise.)

It occurred to me that many of my Mexican-inspired creations are a bit strange.  Mexican is one of my favorite cuisines, and I’m always looking for a good way to shake it up!

No matter what time of day you celebrate, I have an appropriately themed dish!

 

Breakfast

Cocoa-Cayenne Sweet Potato Oatmeal

Sweet Potato CCC Oatmeal

Mex-Fast Tortilla Stack

Mexi-fast Tortilla

 

Small Plates

Tofu Jalapeño Poppers

Tofu Stuffed Jalapenos

Avocado-Mango Soup

Avocado-Mango Soup

Mexican Pineapple and Beet Salad

Pineapple Beet Salad

Mexican Cauliflower “Rice” Bowl

Mexican cauliflower rice bowl

 

 

Entrees

Mexican Socca Pizza

Mexican Socca Pizza

Seitan Chorizo

chorizo

Tequila-Lime Tilapia

Tequila Lime Tilapia

Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

Sweet Potato Mexican Pie

 

Libations

Piña Mezcalita

Piña Mezcalita

 

Dessert

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mexican Chocolate Cake

Mexican Black Bean Fudgy Brownies

Mexican Black Bean Brownies

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

 

 

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)



***

Check out the FitFluential Cinco de Mayo Round Up for more ideas!

What’s your favorite cuisine to add a #strangebutgood twist to?

Do you have Cino de Mayo plans?  Any special meals?

 

(Mostly) Raw Vegan Taco Salad

Have you ever met a raw foodist?

 

I don’t get it… 

I do get that it can be fun sometimes though!  Like veganism.  It forces creativity, which I love.  Also, I love bacon.

A raw vegan taco seems strange, but this was so good it even surprised me.  You could go all raw if you took the time to marinate the mushrooms and omitted the lentils.  I’m not that patient.

Raw Vegan Taco Salad

 

While it didn’t include bacon, I barely missed the meat in this vegan taco salad creation.  Sautéing the mushrooms with aminos gave it a delicious saltiness the was reminiscent of meat.  Plus, anything you top with guac is a win.

I also love having a texture contrast with the crunchy raw bell peppers.  A bite of that with the creamy guacamole and juicy tomatoes was a fiesta in my mouth.  #twss

Vegan Taco Salad

On the side I had some dehydrated kale chips, courtesy of Whole foods.  Gotta have chips with my guac!

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(Mostly) Raw Vegan Taco Salad

(Mostly) Raw Vegan Taco Salad

Taco “Meat”

  • 1 portobello mushroom, diced
  • 1/4 C cooked lentils
  • Juice of 1/2 orange
  • 1 garlic clove, minded
  • 1 green onion, chopped
  • 2-3 sprays Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (~1/8 tsp)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon

 

Guacamole

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • Juice of 1/2 lime
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced
  • 1 T onion, diced

 

Toppers

  • Bell pepper
  • Tomato
  • Mango
  • Cilantro
  • Freshly ground pepper

 

Cauliflower “Rice”

  • 1 C cauliflower florets, plused in food processor to a rice-like state

 

Sauté taco “meat” ingredients until tender.

Meanwhile, mash together guacamole ingredients.  Prep desired toppings and cauliflower rice.

Plate rice and stack remaining components on top.

Take a picture (because it’s pretty) and enjoy!

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

 

 

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)



***

I just realize I should have saved this recipe for Cino de Drinko Mayo! 

Do you like raw food?

Will you celebrate Cinco de Mayo?

 

Super Clean Eating is Fun

People turn their noses up at the word “cleanse.”

 

Yet they embrace the McDonald’s…

This cleanse is my favorite because you can eat.  Don’t get me wrong, I do miss peanut butter and meat.  However, judging from the way my body has responded, I needed the break.  I’ll refrain from the TMI, but let’s just say I’m definitely cleaner!

The other awesome thing about this cleanse is the creativity it inspires.  Check out of some the fun stuff I’ve made in the past few days!

Saucy Plate… 

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Cleaning Up My Act + WIAW

It is time I clean up my act.

 

Let’s be real – its beyond time.

It’s generally pretty easy for me to keep my diet in check during the week.  The weekends…. it’s another story.  Since I’m not competing this year I haven’t been following any real nutrition plan.  Of course I took that to the extreme.  

What I know about myself is that I love to indulge.  I also know that when that starts happening too much, I feel like crap.  It affects my physically and mentally.  I’ve been struggling lately, and I know it’s time to reign it in.

bulking

 

For a few years now I’ve been doing a version of the Standard Process Cleanse.  That’s the protocol I’m following for the next 21 days, except using my own supplements rather than buying their program.  Basically, it’s eating super clean and eliminating common allergens like eggs, dairy, nuts, and gluten.  The first 10 days is meatless.  The last 11 days includes chicken and deep sea fish.

I’m only through Day 1, but here’s my first reactions:

  • Not taking pre-workout is hard
  • I’m going to need to buy a lot more veggies
  • Some of the dishes I made when doing this previously are really good – I’m excited to bring them back
  • Fruit can make a fun ice cream dessert
  • Good lord, I miss meat

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This WIAW is my first on the 21 clean(se) train.  I’m still working out the best foods to bring and when to time protein and carbs to get the energy I need.

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Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations! … 

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5 Benefits of Drinking Water + WIAW

How much water are you drinking?

 

Some days I get half my steps in walking to the bathroom.

When I first met my trainer, he told me I needed to drink at least 124 ounces of water a day.  I’m not sure what I was drinking before, but it probably was barely half of that.

It was really hard at first, but after about a week my body adjusted.  I went from feeling like I was going to float away to finding myself craving more!

5 Benefits to Drinking Water

Original art by Allie Brosh

 

Why drink so much water?  We all know it can aid in weight loss and is good for the skin, but here are 5 benefits you may not have known:

  1. Helps you build muscle – Water carries oxygen to the cells of your body, including those of your muscles; it enables your muscles to work harder and longer before they feel tired
  2. Cushions joints – Joints need moisture in order to remain strong and flexible; this mean your movements are smooth and pain-free
  3. Increases cognitive function – It ensures that your brain gets all the oxygen it needs, and ensures that your body’s electrolyte levels remain high enough to allow your nerves to relay messages to the brain
  4. Prevents fluid retention – Your body won’t try to retain water if it’s getting enough
  5. Burns fat - When you drink enough water, your kidneys don’t need extra help detoxifying your body, so your liver will be better able to metabolize stored fat more efficiently (not to mention it prevents constipation)

 

Bonus:If you have a desk job like I do, it keeps you moving at work.  Between getting up for refills and going to the bathroom, I think I’ve worn a tread in the carpet.

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This WIAW I was catching up from shirking my responsibilities this weekend.  It’s food prep on the fly!

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Read on for my eats, and then check out Jenn’s blog for everyone else’s delicious creations!… 

Read More »

Strange But Good: Creamy Blue Cheese & Wasabi

I struggle with brevity in recipe-naming.

 

Funny, because I’m always telling my mom she uses too many words.

I really wanted to name this Wasabi-Avocado-Blue Cheese Massaged Kale and Broccoli Salad.  Despite my restraint, the title is still too long.  How does one communicate all of the delicious elements of a dish in 3-5 words?!  I feel so trapped.

In writing out my original title, you probably already have an understanding of what this salad is.  Wasabi and blue cheese dressing was a strange combo to me when I first had it in Portland, but it was so good that my sister and I couldn’t stop eating it.

Creamy Blue Cheese & Wasabi Kale Salad

Naturally, I had to recreate it at home.  I used Lighthouse Blue Cheese (a Greek yogurt-based dressing).  Maybe not the cleanest ingredient, but it’s good and not too bad for you as far as dressings go.  I amped up the cream-factor (I can’t re-read that without laughing) by mashing avocado into it.  The wasabi I used is a paste, but you could also use the powdered variety.  Adjust it to your liking… I like it really hot.

What you are left with is a delicious tangy, spicy coating for your kale salad.  You’ll also love the texture contrast between the sturdy kale and the creamy dressing.  I added some broccoli and grapes in mine, and topped it with fish (you know I need my protein).

Creamy Blue Cheese & Wasabi Kale Salad

The best part is that, because kale is so hearty, you can make it a day or two in advance and take it to work!

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Creamy Blue Cheese & Wasabi

Creamy Blue Cheese & Wasabi Kale Salad

  • 2 T blue cheese dressing
  • 1/4 fresh avocado, mashed
  • Wasabi paste, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • ~2 C Kale

 

In a small bowl, mix together blue cheese, avocado, wasabi, and pepper.  

Place kale in a large bowl and massage the dressing into the leaves.

Can be made 1-2 days in advance and stored in fridge.

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


***

Between the shock of being back in the office after the holidays and the insane weather, I couldn't be happier for this week to END.

What is your favorite salad dressing? 

Are you on a greens kick?  I can't get enough after Dessert December!

 

Strange But Good: Roasted Grape & Kabocha Kale Salad

Luck and wealth are good things to start 2014 with.

 

We certainly ate like lucky wealthy people on New Years Eve.

This salad would be good at any time, but it’s ingredients make it especially good for NYE.  Grapes for luck and greens for wealth.  We also had the black-eyed pea hummus.  This year should be extra lucky!

The part that may be strange is that I roasted the grapes in this salad.  You know how blueberries warmed from oatmeal burst in your mouth?  How decadent and sweet and juicy they are?  Roasted grapes are like that, but better because they’re bigger.  (Insert dirty joke here.)  

Roasted Grape & Kabocha Kale Salad

 

When roasted, grapes become even more delicious.  Their sugars caramelize a bit, the skin softens, and the native sweetness shines. The thick, savory balsamic and rosemary balances the sweetness perfectly.   Make this once and you’ll never be satisfied with dried fruit on a salad again.

The thick, jammy juice that forms during roasting is the perfect thing to use as a dressing.  Combined with olive oil, vinegar, and garlic, it makes a fabulous warm coat for the kale.

Roasted Grape & Kabocha Kale Salad

Salads are so easy to make larger or smaller, so below is hardly a recipe.  There are no measurements for anything besides the dressing.  Even that is just equal parts oil and vinegar, so you can adjust that up or down to suit your needs.

You don’t even have to bother with the salad if you aren’t feeling it.  Just pop some grapes in the oven and you’ll have a simple, decadent snack in 15 mins or less.

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Roasted Grape & Kabocha Kale Salad

Roasted Grape and Kabocha Kale Salad

  • Grapes
  • Fresh rosemary
  • Aged balsamic vinegar
  • Kabocha squash (or other winter squash)
  • Shallot, diced
  • Olive oil
  • Kale
  • 1/4 C olive oil
  • 1/4 C champagne vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Reserved juices from roasted grapes
  • Salt & pepper, to toast
  • Grated Parmesan (optional)

 

Preheat oven to 450.

Toss grapes on a foil lined pan with vinegar and rosemary.  On a second pan, toss kabocha with shallots and a bit of olive oil.  Roast each for 15 mins, stirring occasionally.  The skin of the grapes should be slightly crisp but the inside still soft.  Note: the kabocha may take longer.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Strain excess grape juice into a small bowl to reserve for dressing.

Add oil to small skillet and allow to warm over med heat.  Add minced garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 min).  Stir in grape juices and champagne vinegar, cooking 2-3 mins longer to allow dressing to thicken a bit.  

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.  Taste, adding salt and pepper to preference.

Place kale in large salad bowl.  Pour warm dressing over the kale and massage the greens to soften.  Add grapes, kabocha, and fresh parmesan (if using).

Enjoy!

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)


***

I'm thinking I need to do these for breakfast on a biscuit or coffee cake thing...

What is your favorite salad topping?

Have you ever had roasted grapes? 

 

Thanks for Bacon + Easy Cranberry Kale Salad

I spoke too soon.

 

I’ve often said I need a 5 second delay on my mouth.

This Thanksgiving I ate turkey, and I liked it.  My uncle brought the most deliciously moist (yeah, I said it) smoked turkey.  So partially I take back what I said about not liking Thanksgiving food.  I still passed on the green bean casserole and the stuffing.

First let’s back up.  I headed to my mom’s house on Thanksgiving morning to drive the family to my grandparents house in north GA for the festivities.  They said they were ready to go, but when I got there only the dog, Honey, was ready.

Honey

 

We finally did get on the road and made it the party without incident (I did have to swerve to miss a kitten in the middle of the road).

The good thing about being late everywhere is that everything is ready when you arrive.  We had quite the spread!  The turkey didn’t fit on the counter so it’s off to the side, along with a table this size filled with desserts.  I’m lucky my whole family likes food as much as I do!

Thanksgiving spread

 

After pre-gaming with cheese crackers, I stacked round 1 with my kale salad, turkey, mac ‘n cheese, sweet potato souffle, pumpkin beer bread (recipe coming!), and had a side of my grandmother’s turnips and ham and a glass of rosé wine I brought back from Napa.

Round 2 looked about the same, but with a deviled egg someone had forgotten in the fridge. ;)

Thanksgiving dinner

 

There was PLENTY of dessert too… I brought 4 different desserts, so I’m going to be sharing some fun sweet recipes just in time for Christmas.  Yes, I use Thanksgiving to test desserts for Christmas parties.

Today’s sweet treat is from Gabby’s recipe for a gluten-free Apple-Bacon Crisp.  I followed her recipe, but added a twist… where she sautes the apples in the bacon pan, I also added 2 tablespoons of whiskey.

Whiskey Bacon Apple Crisp

 

The whiskey I used, Balcones Baby Blue, was a smooth addition.  The blue corn whiskey from Texas  is one of my favorites with its slightly sweet vanilla-caramel taste and notes of candied citrus and baking spices.  My other modification was to use hazelnuts in the topping.  The rich taste played well with the coconut flour.

It.  Was.  Awesome.  I am thankful for Gabby and her #strangebutgood bacon idea.  I scooped it on to my dessert plate with glee.

Bacon Whiskey Apple Crisp

The leftover whiskey was great to have on hand for the weekend, too.  I went to the Tech-UGA game with my cousin and friends Kathleen and Matt.  We were all smiles at the tailgate and the first half of the game.

Then the second half happened, and we realized Tech is as bad at football as we feared.  It’s a good thing they’re smart.

Kathleen and Me Tech

Kathleen and I, pre-loss

Whiskey is a good wound heal-er. ;)

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If you’re like me, you need a very short break from the heavy food, so today I’m also sharing the easiest kale salad you’ll ever have.  It’s simply dressed, and you can make it the night before.  It’s pretty marvelous.

This was my healthy contribution to Thanksgiving, but kale salads are also one of my favorite things to make during my weekly food prep.  Their hearty leaves only get more delicious as they soften in the dressing and the flavor soaks in.

Kale Cranberry Salad

This dressing is light, but doesn’t lack in flavor.  It is zesty and garlicky with a little heat on the end.  If you really like it hot, add red pepper flakes to the top.  I did. 

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Cranberry Kale Salad

Cranberry Kale Salad

  • 2 medium bunches destemmed kale, finely chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1-2 handfuls dried sweetened cranberries, for garnish
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, to taste (omit if dairy-free)

 

In a mini food processor, process the garlic, lemon, oil, marjoram, pepper, and cayenne until smooth.  Taste and adjust flavors, if needed.

Pour the dressing onto the kale and massage it into the kale with your hands.  Allow to soften in fridge at least 30 mins, or overnight.

Just before serving, top with cranberries and cheese.

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I’ve been craving greens after the brown fest that is Thanksgiving!

What was the best dish from your weekend?

Are you punctual, or are you the last to arrive?  I’m trying to get better… but it hasn’t taken yet.

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa is one of the easiest things I never make.

 

Maybe it’s not strange enough?

After complaining about the lack of fresh tabbouleh available in restaurants, it was brought to my attention that I could just make my own.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Traditional tabbouleh uses bulgur, but I’m not traditional.  I use quinoa for the added protein.  And because that’s what was in my pantry. ;)

I really loved the bright lemon in this.  It compliments the parsley perfectly and helps make this salad last several days in the fridge.  It also nicely complimented the sea bass I ate it with.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

 

One of the reasons I had not made tabbouleh before was the overwhelming thought of mincing that much parsley.  Then I remembered my kitchen shears.

Best short cut ever.  In fact, I even cut the onion with them!

parsley

 

This dish is a fantastic way to get more parsley in your diet.  Why should you eat more?  I’ll tell you…

Parsley Benefits:

  • Rich in many Vitamin C,  B 12, K and A (good for immune system, bones, and nervous system)
  • Acts as a diuretic, helping flush out excess fluid
  • Can help control your blood pressure due to the folic acid content
  • Rich in luteolin, which eradicates free radicals, promotes carbohydrate metabolism,  and is an anti-inflammatory
  • May impede growth of cancerous tumors.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

  • 1 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 C red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground garlic

 

In a large bowl, toss together parsley, chopped tomato, cucumber, onion, lemon juice, and seasonings.

Add chilled quinoa to bowl and mix together.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

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It’s also a great way to use those massive bunches they sell.  Who can eat all that so fast?! 

Do you eat much parsley?  Tabbouleh?

What’s your favorite herb?  Keep it legal (in most states ;) )…