Healthy Office Snacks + WIAW

My office is a bar.

A snack bar.  The brewery is next door.

Eating healthy on the job doesn’t have to be hard… or boring! I keep my office stocked with a few things that can accent any meal I bring (or buy, in an emergency).  

Healthy Eating on the Job
  • Flavor Shelf – red pepper flakes, cinnamon, NuNaturals cocoa syrup, nutritional yeast, coffee, and solo cups.  (The cups are my boss’ – I keep my Georgia Tech Tervis on hand.)
  • Water – I drink at least a gallon a day
  • Snack Basket – stuffed with Quest bars (got the boss hooked), roasted chickpeas, jerky, and EmergenC
  • Fridge – tupperware meals from home, mustard, more of the Oatmeal Cookie Protein Balls, and almond milk*
  • Other things I keep around: nut butter, hot sauce, rice cakes, and an “emergency” frozen meal.
*The coffee is a great pick-me-up treat when combined with the chocolate syrup, cinnamon, and almond milk!

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This WIAW is my version of fast food.  I meal prepped on Sunday.  Since I couldn’t stand very long on my blackened ankle, I knocked it out quick and easy. #twss

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

Read More »

Spirulina Cherry TVP Oats

Green is so easily considered strange.

 

So this recipe feels like a cop-out.

These green oats are legit strange though!  It’s not the green you’re expecting, and it’s not really even oats.  If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I have a thing for TVP oatmeal.  TVP (Texturized Vegetable Protein) is like chicken.  Or tofu.  It tastes like whatever flavor you apply to it.  A sweet bowl of TVP oats isn’t hard to make good!

Spirulina Cherry TVP Oats

 

Now for the green part.  It’s spirulina.  Heather repped Nutrex Hawaii at the Blend Retreat this year and generously shared a few samples with me.  To be honest, I wasn’t quite sure what I’d do with it.  I knew it’s healthy.  Spirulina is a microalgae that grows naturally in healthy bodies of water.  It’s good for energy, immunity, cellular health, and cardiovascular, eye and brain health.  It’s also high in protein and Vitamins A, K1, K2, and B12. 

Did I mention it’s super-green?  It begs for #strangebutgood applications.  You want a bite, I swear…

Eat Me

 

Also found at Blend was a shiny new bottle of Cherry-Vanilla NuNaturals Liquid Stevia.  I’d had it before and loved it, so I was excited for the refill.  Of course, I mixed in my Growing Naturals vanilla rice protein (don’t forget about the freebie code!).  Gotta keep fueling the muscle growth!

Protein powder adds stay-power AND a fantastic creaminess to your morning bowl of deliciousness.

Spirulina Cherry TVP Oats

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Spirulina Cherry TVP Oats

Spirulina Cherry TVP Oats

  • 1/3 C TVP
  • 1/4 C oats
  • 1/2 C water + 1/4 C
  • 15 grams vanilla protein powder (I used 1/2 scoop of Growing Naturals)
  • 1/4 C cherries, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract (optional – you can also use vanilla or almond)
  • 4-5 drops Cherry Vanilla Liquid Stevia (or preferred sweetener)

 

Add the TVP, oats, and 1/2 C water to a small pot, stir, and bring to a boil (you can also microwave it like oats).  

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook about 10 mins, until mix softens and thickens.  

Stir in protein, cherries, extract, and stevia.  Add more water as needed (~1/4 C).  Allow to cook for 2-3 more mins. The mixture should be silky smooth.  

Scoop into bowl and add your favorite toppings.

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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.

If you’re not a blogger, you can still share your recipes on Instagram with the #strangebutgood hashtag.

Sprint 2 the Table

 

 

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



***

I’m back from my NYC adventures (check out Instagram if you’re curious) and SO ready to get back in the kitchen!  More recipe are sure to come! :) 

Have you ever had spirulina?

 What is your favorite oats mix-in?

 

Pre-Vacation Food + WIAW

Wasting food is one of the 7 deadly sins in my house.

 

There are starving children in Africa!

Before leaving to go out of town I make it my personal mission to eat everything perishable in my house.  If it’s not eaten before I leave, it’s eaten on the road.  I’ve done a couple of travel food posts before; while I’m not in competition mode this trip I still would rather have my own food from home than eat nasty airport food.  I’d also rather not pay a ton of money for nasty airport food.  That money is better spent on chocolate and wine in Europe!

Often people are surprised by the food I bring through security.  You CAN bring food!  Just avoid the liquid.

Pro Tip #1: Protein powder will not be mistaken for cocaine.

Legit powder

Pro Tip #2: If you freeze yogurt, it’s a solid!  

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This WIAW is a crazy mix of leftovers.  I’m not even going to try to separate it into meals!

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

Read More »

Red Velvet Protein Mugcake + WIAW

Here comes the rooster.

 

Bonus points if you can name that song..

sriracha

 

Many of us have fallen in love with the spicy sauce, but did you know it has an interesting back story?  Yesterday I came across this article explaining  the history of “the world’s coolest hot sauce.”

It’s inventor and CEO, David Tran, came to the US from Vietnam in 1980 homeless.  Unable to find a hot sauce to satisfy him in the States, he simply made his own with hybrid red jalapeño peppers, vinegar, sugar, salt, and garlic.  He only hoped to make a sauce worthy of a traditional Vietnamese pho.  He just discovered that sushi chefs have been using it for years to make spicy rolls!  His use of a specific fresh chili is what sets him apart – and manufacturing is dictated by their 10 week, 100 million pound harvest.

Even more mind-blowing is that he has never hired a single salesman, spent any money on advertising, or used social media.  “It’s all been word of mouth,” Tran says.  As a marketing professional, this blows my mind!

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I don’t know where my brain was last week when I said 3 weeks.  THIS WIAW I am 3 weeks from my next competition!  Just a couple of diet tweaks so far, and we added 15 mins of HIIT cardio.  Anticipation of asparagus is high…

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

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Breakfast:

As usual, I started the day I with my Aminos and ACV morning cocktail.  I swear it’s more energizing than coffee.

My breakfast was warm and comforting one on a chilly, rainy morning.  Pumpkin pie-esque oatmeal, with a serious protein punch.  I really like adding eggs and TVP for texture as well as protein; it makes this into a custard-like bowl of oatmeal.

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Oatmeal

Pumpkin Pie Spiced Oatmeal

  • 1/4 C TVP
  • 1/4 C rolled oats
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1/2 C egg whites
  • 1/4 c pumpkin purée
  • 1.2 tsp cinnamon,
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • Pinch of ground cloves
  • Stevia or other sweetener, to taste

 

In a small pot prepare oatmeal and TVP as normal.  

When just done, add remaining  ingredients, stirring rapidly to incorporate eggs before they scramble.

Pour into a bowl (or coffee mug) and enjoy!

 

Mid-Morning Snack:

Leftovers from this Sheepshead fish I prepared over the weekend, along with some roasted veggies.  And a few unpictured rice cakes.

Sheepshead fish

 

Lunch:

Cod, hummus, red pepper slices, cucumber, and sweet potato doused in cinnamon.  Standard fare for Gantt chart reviewing.

 

Mid-Afternoon Snack:

I love that I can get salmon sashimi from the massive international market here.  It’s fresh and it’s cheap.  Often I eat it plain, but I saw Jenn’s cucumber rolls and had to give it a go.

I only had 4 survivors (I need more practice), but they are so much fun to eat!  I rolled them up with red peppers and asparagus, and dipped it all (including that sweet potato) in wasabi.

salmon cucumber rolls

As delicious as it was, the best part was that my pancake-on-stick-eating coworker said it was so “pretty” that he wanted one.  I handed it over and he loved it!  Our food comparisons have become a running office joke… I love these guys.

 

Dinner:

Dinner was a super-quick saute of bok choy, green onions, sugar peas, and garlic in lime juice, coconut oil, and an Indian spice blend.  It turned out so well that the rest was just details – chicken (made during Sunday food prep) and injera (Ethiopian teff bread).

 

Dessert:

I’ve been on a giant Greek yogurt bowl kick lately.  That has to stop.  3 weeks out from my competition my trainer sad no more.  The idea is to eliminate foods that could bloat.  Dairy is one of them.  No worries.  I’ll just have Red Velvet Cake.

The deliciousness below is basically my 150 Calorie Chocolate Protein Cake, but I used Cocoa Cardio* instead of cocoa powder.  Topped with popcorn, cacao nibs, and Nuttzo.

 *Cocoa Cardio from iHerb. Use discount code USO924 for $5-10 off your order!

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Red Velvet Protein Mugcake

Red Velvet Protein Mugcake

  • 22g chocolate protein powder (I used 2/3 scoop Growing Naturals)
  • 1 scoop (7.5 g) Cocoa Cardio*
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp no sodium baking powder
  • 3 T unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 1 egg white (or flax egg)
  • 2 T pumpkin puree (can also use applesauce)
  • ~8 drops NuNaturals orange pure liquid stevia
  • Optional toppings: popcorn, cacao nibs, nut butter

 

Place dry ingredients in a small bowl and stir to combine.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix until smooth.

Transfer to a large, greased (I use coconut oil) coffee mug and microwave for 1:30 mins.

Tip the cake out onto a plate and top as desired.  My cake was topped with nut butter, cacao nibs, and popcorn.

Makes 1 cake.

 *Cocoa Cardio from iHerb. Use discount code USO924 for $5-10 off your order!  You can also leave it out or use cocoa powder and 1/8 C beet puree to keep it red. 

***

Thank you all of all of the kind comment on yesterday’s post.  It’s sometimes hard for me to tap into the more emotional side – I use humor more often than not. So thank you for being empathetic and kind.

Are you a sriracha fan?  What’s your favorite thing to add it to?

Have you ever attempted a homemade Asian roll?  Oddly, I found the cucumber easier than dealing with rice paper or seaweed.

 

Zucchini TVP Lasagna

Taking risks is one of life’s great joys.

 

It can also be a fail require patience.

My favorite risks involve something food-related.  Hence all the #strangebutgood.

A couple of years ago I decided to adopt a vegan diet.  That risk didn’t pan out, but it did result in a TON of recipe risks that did.  One of my favorite discoveries from that time was Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP).  It’s super-high in protein, low in carbs, and low in fat.  It’s like a body builder’s dream food.

Texturally, TVP is reminiscent of ground beef.  This lead to the obvious first recipe – “Beefy” TVP Chili.  Taste-wise, TVP is like chicken.  It will take on the flavor of anything you add to it… so the “Chick-less” Nuggets were born.  Beef, chicken… why not bacon?!  Kat made hers and then I followed with a smokey version.

TVP Collage

 

All of that was good… but was it really that strange?  Chicken and TVP take on any flavor…  hold up.  So does… OATMEAL!

I went TVP oatmeal crazy: Mango-Coconut, Maple, Pumpkin Pie, Spiced TVP Breakfast Squash, and even Greek Yogurt Overnight Oats!

TVP Oatmeal Collage

 

This was a really, really long-winded way to say that I am ridiculously excited to share Kat’s guest post today.  Her brilliant move is to use it in lasagna!  Well played, my friend.

Here’s Kat….

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Zucchini TVP Lasagna

This blog has to be short and sweet because I am in study mode.  The Georgia Bar exam is less than a week away, and I’m still trying to absorb as much as I can!  (Editor’s note: How’s that osmosis working for ya? ;) )

choose to see the good stuff

 

Mostly through the emotional, mentally exhausting roller coaster, I have realized it is SO important to stay positive through this time.

Choose to see the good stuff (because it IS a choice), and I have to trust that I have it in me to achieve this goal!  (Editor’s note: YES YOU DO!  I’m so proud to call you a friend.)

Talk About Blessings

 

I would not be able to make it through this time with out running, lots of running… and thinking about what I will do after.  When I get done, I am going to the beach!  I am getting a haircut, and I am going to NOT study, and maybe never take a test again!

 

Anyway, let’s get to the fun stuff!  Every now and again a more intensive kitchen project is relaxing to me.  Remember that ricotta I made?  (Editor’s note: you mean the one you haven’t made me yet?)  I decided to use it to make a vegetarian, gluten-free lasagna…. with zucchini and TVP!

Note: You can also use this quick, vegan tofu ricotta.

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Lasagna Plated

Zucchini Noodle TVP Lasagna

  • 1 giant zucchini (or 1.5 lbs of regular zucchini)
  • 4 C pasta sauce (from the Farmer’s Market, if available)
  • ½ C TVP
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 1 ½ C mushrooms, sliced
  • Oregano, cayenne, and garlic, to taste
  • 3 C fresh Mozzarella, grated
  • 1 C ricotta, homemade
  • 2 T coconut oil

 

Zucchini

For the Zucchini:

Slice the zucchini length wise to about ¼ inch slices.  A mandolin would be a great tool for this, but I just used my knife-skills, since I don’t have one. 

Lay them out on a pan and broil for 6-7 minutes to dry them out a little.  Drain off water, then broil again for another 5 min.  Drain.

Zucchini Broiled

 

For the Filling:

Mix the TVP with water, season with garlic salt and your favorite spices. 

Sautee the onion on medium high heat for about 5 minutes in a medium-large sized pot, then add the mushrooms and TVP.  Sautee for another 8-10 minutes or so, then add about 3 ¼ cups of the pasta sauce to make it a thick filling (reserve ¾ cup for the assembly). 

Turn the temperature to Low, and let it continue to cook.

Filling

 

For the Assembly:

Grease 9 x 13 pan with coconut oil. 

Coat the bottom of the pan with ½-  ¾ cup the remaining pasta sauce, then lay zucchini gently over the sauce, letting it overlap slightly. 

Then spread ½ of the filling evenly over the zucchini.  Next, take 1/2 the ricotta, and crumble it around evenly over the filling.  Cover with 1 ½ cup of grated mozzarella.  Repeat again… Zucchini, the other ½ of the filling, ricotta, the other 1 ½ cup mozzarella. 

Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes.  (I then like to broil mine for 5ish mins to get the cheese a little browner).

Zucchini Lasagna assembly

 

The homemade ricotta made a huge difference in this dish!  It really comes through.  This is cheesy, surprisingly light, and really delish!

And for the leftovers…  I refrigerated the pan over night.  The next day, I cut it into individual sized portions, wrapped them in plastic wrap and then foil, and froze them.  The lasagna is even better leftover!  (Editor’s note: I’m convinced that all Italian food is better on day 2… and I love it on day 1.)

CloseUp

 

Now back to Bar Review!  Hope you all are having a great week, seeing the good everywhere, and not getting TOO jealous of Laura’s trip! ;)

***

Good luck to Kat taking the Bar Exam in a week!!!!  If we all send her good, focused study-vibes it must help a little, no?

What kinds of kitchen projects are relaxing to you?

What goal are you trying to achieve in your professional/personal life?

 

Strange But Good: Orange Cardamom TVP Overnight Oats

The strange breakfasts have continued.

 

This week was necessity.

Without air conditioning, I became and overnight oat junkie.  Hot food made me nauseous.  “Regular” overnight oats seem too boring… and I was getting sick of oatmeal… so I brought back an old favorite.  TVP!

I also got to try a strange new nut milk (no, I couldn’t type that with a straight face): Almond-Cashew-Hazelnut Milk.

almond cashew hazelnut milk

 

It received mixed reviews when I posted the pic on Instagram, but I really liked it!  Almond milk is still my favorite, but this milk from Dream Blends is a good way to change it up.  I’ve tried coconut, hemp, rice, soy, and sunflower milks, not of which I like as well.

Back to the “oats.”

 

This concoction was a TVP overnight bowl.  Cardamom and orange is one of the best flavor combos… in fact, I remembered after I made this dish that I’d actually done a similar hot version here.

Be careful with the cardamom - a little goes a long way – but a pinch adds an sweet-ish spiciness to dishes.  Perfect with the citrus and the meaty, rich coconut. #thatswhatshesaid

orange cardamom overnight oats

I also used some cacao nibs to top it… because what’s not better with chocolate?!

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 Orange Cardamom TVP Overnight Oats

Orange Cardamom TVP Overnight Oats

  • 1/4 C TVP
  • 1/2 scoop (1T) vanilla protein powder
  • 1 tsp chia seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/8 tsp cardamom
  • 1/2-3/4 C milk or water
  • 1/2 orange, sectioned
  • 1/2 tsp coconut extract
  • Stevia, to taste
  • Optional toppings: coconut shreds, cacao nibs, more orange

 

In a small bowl, mix together dry ingredients.  Add wet ingredients, stirring to combine.  Fold in orange sections.

Cover and place in fridge overnight.  Remove from fridge in the morning, stir, and add additional liquid if needed.

Top as desired 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. :)


***

A/C Update: it's FIXEDDDDDDD!!! Thank the sweet baby Jesus.  Best birthday present ever.

Have you tried TVP oats yet?

What is your favorite way to make oatmeal?

 

Mango-Coconut TVP Oatmeal + WIAW

Can there be too much of a good thing?

 

I’m not sure I could tire of dark chocolate.

How about Nutella?  Can you imagine having 5.5 tons of it?  Thieves in Bad Hersfeld, Germany have made away with a trailer loaded up with just that much of the hazelnut-chocolate-y crack spread.  According to this report, that’s about $20,700 of Nutella.

nutella stolen

Seriously.  What would you do with all that nutella?  What are they going to do with it?!  More importantly… will this cause a shortage? ;)

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On to healthier, less-alaming things.  It’s WIAW time!  This is probably the last day of normal (for me) eats pre-competition.  Cheat days are gone and I’m back to being super-strict.  How do people do this for 16+ weeks?!

WIAWbutton

Check out my 7 low-sodium, protein-filled meals below, and then click here to head over to Jenn Peas and Crayons to get to see how more normal people are eating!

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Meal 1:

This morning I woke up SORE.  After getting my workout mojo back, I’ve been hitting the gym hard.  After my morning cocktail (apple cider vinegar, water, Glutamine, and Fitmixer AminosI talked myself  into an include treadmill walk.  I promised myself I’d only go for 20 mins to work out the soreness.  Well, once I got started I realized I was feeling MUCH better and did 40 mins!

That’s not to say that I didn’t spend the entire walk thinking about breakfast.  I was dreaming up something tropical and full of flavor.  Mango-Coconut TVP Oats.  I added coconut and butter extracts, then imagined I was on an island.

Mango-Coconut TVP Oatmeal

I can’t remember who suggested it, but adding a little baking powder to the original recipe made these nearly double in size.  I’m a volume eater, so I was in heaven.  Recipe at the bottom.

 

Meal 2:

This was so awkwardly timed.  I had posing practice so I didn’t wan to do that on a full tummy, but I was doing a leg day after which I refuse to do on an empty tummy.  So I scarfed this down between the two.  I’d recommend a little more time for digestion before 4 sets of 25 ass-to-the-grass barbell squats.

Shredded chicken with raspberries and pepitas.  And black pepper.  It’s good.  Really.

Chicken and raspberry salad

Meal 3:

I’ve seen Sarena do this for so long, I finally had to try it.  Cinnamon-roasted kabocha squash topped with vanilla protein powder “sauce.”  OF course, I had to #strangebutgood-ify mine up by making the protein green.  I blended it with spinach and maple extract.

You can’t taste the spinach… I don’t think my trainer believed me.  Whatever.  It was just the thing to take for a quick protein + carb shot after a killer leg day.

Kabocha squash and green protein sauce

 

Meal 4:

Is it weird to crave chicken?  I did.  Shredded chicken with green onion and diced cucumber.  I tossed it in a quick nutritional yeast dressing (nooch + apple cider vinegar + cumin + red pepper flakes).

Chicken + Cucumber Salad with nutritional yeast dressing

 

Meal 5:

I have “tested” this dish more than any recipe I’ve posted on this blog.  I think I finally got it right tonight!!!  And I took pics.  Recipe will come verrrry soon (read: as soon as I can motivate to edit said pics).

It’s an Indian curry.  I shared it with a friend, who gave it her stamp of approval. :)

Indian Curry

 

Meal 6:

I missed my salmon today!  Normally I like it with fruit for meal 2, but I definitely couldn’t do seafood right before squats (trust me – that is less-than-pleasent if it burps back up… TMI?).  Anyway, I decided to have evening salmon.

Sautéed portabello mushroom, red pepper, nutritional yeast, and salmon (pre-cooked during the Sunday food-prep with lemon and dill).

Salmon with mushrooms and red pepper

 

Meal 7:

I was conflicted tonight.  I needed more carbs, so it was a good night to try the baked chocolate chip Quest bar I’ve been seeing everywhere.  But I also wanted cottage cheese.  So I went half and half.  Turns out that was brilliant because I still have the other half of that bar to eat – it was AMAZING!

My cottage cheese was mixed with cocoa powder, vanilla, a little stevia, and cinnamon.  Topped with strawberries.

Cocoa cottage cheese and baked Quest bar

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Mango-Coconut TVP Oatmeal

Mango-Coconut TVP Oatmeal

  • 1/3 C TVP
  • 3/4 C water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp coconut extract
  • 1/4 tsp butter extract
  • Stevia (or other sweetener), to taste
  • 1/4 C egg whites
  • 1/8 tsp no-sodium baking powder
  • 1/2 mango
  • Unsweetened coconut, toasted

 

Add TVP, water, cinnamon, extracts, and stevia to a small pot.  Stir, and bring to a boil over med-high heat.  Cook about 5-6 mins, or until liquid is mostly absorbed.

Reduce heat to medium.  Pour in egg whites and baking powder.  Allow to cook for 2-3 more mins, stirring frequently so that the egg doesn’t form chunks.  The mixture will become voluminous.

Scoop into bowl and add mango and toasted coconut (I toasted mine in a pan with a bit of coconut oil).

Note: For a vegan option, add a flax egg or simply leave the egg out.

***

Diet changes come tomorrow.  No more cheat days.  Reality has set in… I will be walking across a stage in stripper heels and a bikini in a month.  Ack!

What would you like to have 5.5 TONS of?

What have you learned not to eat before a workout?

 

Gettin’ Grounded & TVP Bacon Bits

I can admit when I’m wrong.

 

Sometimes.  If I’m in the right mood.

Wednesday I ranted about declining service in restaurants.  I still stand by my theory, but I have to call out the fact that I had absolutely amazing service at dinner last night.

I met a friend at Metro Fresh, one of my favorite local spots.  They serve fresh, clean food.  The menu changes daily and the prices are reasonable.  It’s my go-to.

After enjoying a fantastic piece of salmon and a leafy green salad, I was craving dark chocolate.   I asked if they had squares, but they didn’t.  Much to my surprise, one of the employees brought over the most delicious (housemade!) cinnamon roll.  For.  Free.  

MetroFresh salmon

 

When I got home, I wrote an email to the owner bragging on his staff and thanking him for another great experience.  Have you ever done this?  I try to be as quick to compliment as I am to complain. 

This morning when he emailed out the daily menu, he included my note saying it was especially nice to get after a long, busy day.  How cool is this?!

MetroFresh

Awesome.  There is hope.  There are still restaurant owners and staff that care about the experience customers have in their establishments.

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It feels so good to be APRIL!  I’ve been waiting for this month all year!

It’s my last month of law school, and I am so so so so excited to be almost done!  I could not have done this without my friends and family and their constant support.  (Editor’s note: SO PROUD of you!!!)

I went to my cousin’s amazing wedding, and got to spend time with my mom and brother and dad.  Being with my family reminded me of how important they are because they make me feel so grounded.  This is probably because your family are your roots, and even though they might sometimes drive you batty, they are where you come from.

See, I get it from my momma (and I know the quality of this picture SUCKS – but you can see where I get my quirky qualities)

See, I get it from my momma (and I know the quality of this picture SUCKS – but you can see where I get my quirky qualities)

Me and my handsome brother

Me and my handsome brother

 

It was also a blessing to go to my cousin’s wedding and spend time with my extended family.  WOW.

It was so cool to see how in love they are and to know how much they’ve been through before they ever got married.  Their love is the kind of love I aspire to, and they truly have a fairy tale.  (Editor’s note: I flippin’ loved seeing all their wedding pics – cowboy fairy tale!)

SEE?!?!? So stinkin' cute!

SEE?!?!? So stinkin’ cute!

 

When I came home, I also had a beautiful necklace in the mail – a tree that represents the earth and feeling grounded… this is symbolic for me because I think I realized that this is my theme of the year/month/right now/whatever.

My groundedness is coming from my family, my ability to connect with nature, to be with the earth.  I love what I get from the earth and feel incredibly lucky every day.

earth

I also got to connect with Laura over a wonderful dinner at Bacchanalia!  I can’t believe she treated me to such an awesome birthday dinner!  (Editors’ note: Thank god the company was good! ;) )  

At the dinner, she asked me to share what I have been doing with TVP, so I had to oblige.  TVP Bacon Bits!!!

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TVP Bacon Bits

In my opinion, what gives these a better flavor (and meatier than most) is the combo of the BBQ sauce, cumin, and nutritional yeast. I have never seen a recipe that used this combination, and I don’t know why!  It’s amazing.

I put these bits on EVERYTHING!  Make your friends jealous.  Try it on a salad, on your guacamole (or on half of an avocado), on your baked potato, eat them plain, top your chili.  Endless possibilities!Avocado

 

Also, another great reason to try this recipe, besides that it’s super easier and way healthier than bacon, (Editor’s note: mmm… bacon), is that you can taste as you go!  You can tell by the flavor of the un-crisped mixture what the final product will taste like, so you can adjust.  Need a pinch of salt?  Want a little more barbecue flavor?  No problem!

Now, what else can we do with these bits? I’m glad you asked. Bacon PANCAKES.  That’s right.  Add a handful of these bad boys to your pancake mixture.  You will NOT regret it.

Pancake batter

Pancake batter

 

I really like Karina’s recipe, but mine do not come out nearly as beautiful.  I used her recipe and added a bit of cinnamon and a tablespoon of nutritional yeast.  Once I made the mixture, I ladled some into the pan, and added the TVP Bacon Bits.

I suck at flipping pancakes.  They’re never consistent in color but they’re delicious.  (Editor’s note: that’s all that matters!)

Bacon Bit Pancakes

I like these so much, I eat them plain – no butter, no syrup, etc.

Also, I now get why it’s impossible to take pretty pictures of brown food.  Editor’s note: told you so!!!)  So, you will have to take my word for it.

Enjoy!

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TVP Bacon Bits

Vegan TVP Bacon Bits

  • 3./4 C TVP
  • 3 T nutritional yeast
  • 3/4 C boiling water
  • 1-1.5 T smokey barbecue sauce (or Laura’s sodium and sugar free recipe)
  • 2.5 T tamari (of soy if you’re not gluten-free)
  • 1/2 T maple agave (maple syrup would also work, or you can eliminate for a sugar-free version – I just like maple bacon flavors)
  • 2 T sunflower oil
  • 1 T cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne

 

Preheat the oven to 265 degrees (yes, 265 – that is not a typo. I just couldn’t decide between 250 and 275).

Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl together, whisk with a fork. Spread mixture across a baking sheet.  Place in oven.

I set my timer for 24 minutes. But they really needed like 31.3 minutes…. until I got really impatient.  When they still weren’t crispy, because it takes forever and you have to keep moving them around, you start to get really annoyed.  The next step was to heat that bad-boy of and oven up to 425.  After that, they were done in 10 more minutes.  Crispy and delicious.  This was a trial and error… but came out AWESOME!

Editor’s Note: I think the moral of the story might be to make them at a higher temp. ;)

***

I have to admit… I’m a little sad that Kat beat me to this idea.  Haha.  Really… I’m gong to be making these STAT.

Does your family keep you grounded, even when you feel insane?  No comment.

What’s exciting about your April?

 

Strange But Good Breakfast

If left to my own devices, my natural “awake” time is 10am to 2am.

 

I blame my mother.  It’s hereditary.

The only reason I get excited for morning to come is breakfast.  It’s the most delicious important meal of the day, you know.  With very little effort, it can also be the strangest meal of the day.

This weekend was the beginning of softball season.  I received a 6:30am wake up text from our team captain Sunday morning.  We had a tournament starting at 8.  It’s a good thing I had breakfast planned, because I am pretty sure I was still asleep on the drive to the field.

TVP OIAJ

 

You’ve all heard of overnight oats in a jar, I’m sure.  I had an almost empty jar, but no oats!  No matter – I remembered my TVP “Oatmeal” and made Overnight TVP in a Jar!  Made just like a traditional recipe, but using TVP rather than oats.  Strange… but good!

I was going to eat this in the car, but was too tired so I ate it at the field… and earned a couple of strange but good stares.  That coffee was GONE by the time I got to the park though.  ;)

 

Overnight TVP in a Jar

Overnight TVP in a Jar

  • 1/2 C TVP
  • 3/4 C unsweetened almond milk (or other liquid)
  • 2 T peanut flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • Almost empty nut butter jar

 

Mix everything together in your jar and place in refrigerator overnight.

In the morning, remove from fridge and devour!  

Note: If you like your oats warm, you can pop it in the microwave for a minute.  You may need to add more liquid though.

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Enough of my strangeness… one of my favorite Instragrammers and new blogger, Alina,  took my Oatmeal Cookie Shake and turned up the strangeness.  She made Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes… with the nutritional yeast from my original recipe!

Alina was kind enough to send her recipe to me so I could share it with you all.  Check this deliciousness out, and make sure to go to her blog – it’s full of creative, delicious dishes!

Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes

Fluffy Chocolate Chip Cookie Pancakes

  • 2 T coconut flour
  • 2 T pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 1/3 C egg whites
  • 1 T vanilla whey protein
  • 2 T mashed banana
  • 2 T almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp butter flavor/extract
  • 2 stevia packets
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • Dash salt
  • 1 T mini Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips (optional)


Mix all ingredients into a thick batter.

Scoop onto griddle or heated pan sprayed with some coconut oil. Yes, the batter is super thick but just spread pancakes to desired thickness and be patient while they cook up!

Flip once until cooked through.

Optional toppings: 2 Tbsp cottage cheese + 1 Tbsp chocolate pb2 , and Walden Farms chocolate syrup.

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 What’s strange but good in your kitchen 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. :)



***

Another strange but good – going to have a gluttonous dinner with your trainer post-leg workout.  That happened last night.  #strangebutgoodshamelessness

When do you tend to make your strangest creations?

What is your favorite overnight oats combo?

 

Strange But Good Blues

Blues aren’t always bad.

 

Unlike pink;)

I’ve been going through a blueberry phase.  One that has resulted in some Strange But Good creations throughout the day.

 

Breakfast:

This was a new take on my Maple TVP Oatmeal.  I have been craving more savory foods for breakfast lately, and had just purchased fresh rosemary.  Why not with blueberries and a lemon twist?

 

Blueberry Rosemary TVP

Rosemary-Lemon TVP Oats

  • 1/3 C TVP
  • 3/4 C water (or milk)
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 5-6 drops lemon liquid Stevia
  • Juice from 1/4 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 C egg whites (optional)
  • Blueberries

 

Add first 6 ingredients (everything before the egg), stir, and bring to a boil.  

Reduce heat to a simmer and cover.  Cook about 10 mins, until mix thickens.  

Pour in egg whites.  Allow to cook for 2-3 more mins, stirring frequently so that the egg doesn’t form chunks.  The mixture should be silky smooth.  Swirl in blueberries.

Scoop into bowl and add additional berries to top.

Note: For a vegan option, add a flax egg, protein powder, or simply leave the egg out.

 

Lunch:

Again, I was feeling the sweet + savory.  I had made a bison burger as part of my Sunday food prep.  I  crumbled it up, mixed in some BBQ sauce and red pepper flakes, and warmed it in the microwave.  Then I stirred in the blueberries.

These 3 “Bs” sound strange.  The pic isn’t pretty.  But I SWEAR its delicious.  My BBQ sauce is a sweet & spicy, and the sweet hint complemented the berries perfectly.

Blueberres, Bison, and BBQ

 

Dessert:

I have a thing for sweet potatoes, even at midnight.  This midnight snack had me sleeping like a baby.  Until I had to get up to pee at 3am because I drink a TON of water.  I digress.

Sweet potatoes are also part of my Sunday prep.  I roast them in the oven to have on hand for a quick, healthy carb.  I heated this one up and topped it with no-salt cottage cheese, cinnamon, bacon “sprinkles” (thank you, Heather for my new favorite term), and blueberries.  Sweet, creamy, and a teensy bit of salty bacon goodness.

Sweet Potato, Cottage Cheese, Bacon, and Blueberries

Strange doesn’t get any more delicious than this!

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So what’s strange but good in YOUR ‘hood?

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. :)



***

All these berries... I just bought strawberries yesterday (on sale for $3 at Whole Foods!).  I must be craving spring...

Do you like fruit with traditionally savory foods?  I love it with salmon!

Are you a savory or a sweet breakfast person?