Category Archives: Cooking

Day #1: How do I egg?

It’s my first day of Whole30 & P90X3! Wooohooo! Feeling motivated!

So this morning, I decided to try this delicious looking egg baked in portobello mushroom recipe. Only thing is, I forgot the step where you’re supposed to switch from broil to bake when you put the egg in, so I got this post-nuclear war era looking plastic film over the top of my egg.

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I also discovered in the process of prepping the mushroom that my spray olive oil contains soy, which pretty much made me sadfaec super hard – nothing some regular olive oil and a paper towel couldn’t solve though.

Anyway, once I removed the indestructible protective layer (I admit, I tried to chew it, and couldn’t), it both looked and tasted 100% more appetizing.

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Hey look, there is an egg under there after all!

Wasn’t super filling – in the future, I should definitely make two.

I give the recipe an overall A+ because usually I’m not really a fan of eggs, but I could definitely see myself eating this again. As for myself? A solid C in reading & following directions.

For lunch I made garlic mayo tuna salad, and I’m pretty sure I made the mayo wrong, because it sure did taste like I just poured a bunch of olive oil on my tuna. This was definitely my first “I could definitely season this and add _______, ________, & ________ to make it taste better” moment. IF ONLY I COULD USE THAT DIJON MUSTARD IN THE FRIDGE!!! Going to have to get some regular mustard the next time I go grocery shopping.

I don’t think I’ll be repeating the tuna salad recipe. Everything I ate this morning was delicious, so it stands to reason that I really shouldn’t be eating things that make me feel like upchucking. As it stands, I made myself eat about half, then nommed on a hard boiled egg and some grapes.

Anyway, here’s my overall breakdown for today:

___DAY #1: WHOLE30 & P90X3
___Breakfast: Baked Egg in Portobello Mushroom
___Morning Snacks: 1 Cup Green Grapes, 1/2 Cup Pistachios
___Lunch: Garlic Mayo Tuna Salad
___Afternoon Snacks: Hard Boiled Egg, 1 Cup Green Grapes
___Dinner: Turkey, Potatoes
___Water/Tea: 4 Cup
___Workout: Total Synergistics
___Previous Goal: N/A
___New Goal: More Reps of Releve-Plie
___Energy Level: 3/5*
___Headaches: N/A
___Stomach Aches: N/A

___Weight: 154.4 lbs
___Net Weight Loss: 0.0 lbs

*Believe it or not, that’s higher than my energy level has been in weeks.

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Gluten Free Gluten Day

One thing I was warned about when I decided to go gluten-free was that I had to be careful. Gluten-free does not automatically mean healthy – there’s a whole lot of processed food and junk food out there that is gluten free and not healthy.


Gluten-free. Obviously a key part of healthy, sustainable eating.

Another big concern of mine was my love not only for gluten, but of one particular thing made of gluten, that I’ve never been able to give up on any other nutrition plan. It’s always been my breaking point: Pasta.

Mmmm, delicious, carb filled, high calorie, cheese accompanied Pasta. You can tell just by the way I speak of it that it is one of my great loves in life, and there will never be another like it. Even on my most successful, two year long, CHOCOLATE FREE health food stint, I allowed myself pasta once a week. It’s how I survived.

So Saturday is my pasta day. And the moment of truth is upon us:


Dun dun DUUUUUN!

Gluten-free raviolis: Brown rice flour, tapioca flour, xanthan gum in replace of wheat flour. Filled with delicious stomach ache inducing ricotta cheese (actually, since I went gluten-free, I’ve noticed that lactose isn’t giving me stomach pains anymore). Cooked in a delicious creamy sun dried tomato sauce. Tell me that doesn’t sound like pasta heaven, and I’ll tell you that you don’t know what pasta heaven is.

It was really very delicious. The pasta itself had a slightly different texture to it. Overall, on the scale of pasta I’ve made at home, I give it an A- for flavor. Which is darn good for being wheat free. But still, I couldn’t help but feel that something was missing… of course! Cheesy garlic bread sticks!

A side of carbs to go with my carbs, please.

Woah woah woah. HOLD THE BUS! All that trouble to make gluten-free pasta, and I spoiled it by eating cheesy focaccia bread sticks with it?

Don’t be silly. That bread is made out of cauliflower.  It doesn’t look like it. And I assure you, it doesn’t taste like it. In fact, I might have a hard time believing it, if I hadn’t riced that stupid cauliflower myself. (Minor point of contention. I don’t have a food processor currently, so I had to do it by hand.)

All credit, honor, and glory goes to the man of The Iron You for his amazing cauliflower crust garlic breadstick recipe.

Those breadsticks, sadly, were probably the only healthy part of today. But pasta day isn’t about being healthy. It’s about being delicious. And, now, also about being-gluten free. Which means I definitely won today.

How to Be Awesome Tip #10: Feel free to indulge, but never compromise yourself.

When Life Gives You Lemons… Cook Them.

My best friend (29 years old) has stage 4 colon cancer. Shhh, she doesn’t want anyone feeling sorry for her. But anyway, that’s the (month) old news. The new news is, she can never have babies. That’s right. Because of the location of her cancer, the radiation is, with little wiggle room, certain to kill off all the eggs in her ovaries. The cost of the procedure to remove them and store them for later? $15,000. Not covered by insurance. Only about a third of their annual income.

I know she’s heartbroken. I can hear it in her voice. What I can’t do is hug her or look her in the eyes while I promise that everything is going to be okay, because she’s in California, and I live in New York now.

So the more in my face concern: My puppy ripped out her stitches. You see, when she’s really excited (aka always), she does this thing where she doesn’t just wag her tail, but literally her entire hindquarters waggle with it. Adorable, but non-conducive to surgery recovery, so after stitching her back up, the vet prescribed her a low dose sedative to help calm her down. The downside? Now she’s super woozy, and needs help to eat, drink water, and pretty much everything else.

Leaves me stuck at home, absolutely happy to give my puppy the care she needs, but with not much else to do in the in between. And I certainly don’t want to spend my time mulling over how my best friend’s life is un. fucking. fair. (Sorry for the colorful language, but I feel it’s necessary to describe the extent of the unfairness in this particular situation.)

So I cooked today. Boy did I cook.

lunchAnd I played with my food. What can I say? Five years old at heart.

Ignore the boring old turkey burger, and let’s focus on these delicious, amazing, sweet little orange peppers I picked up at the farmer’s market last weekend. Oh, how I hope they have them again tomorrow! I will buy them all. All. The ones pictured above are filled with black beans, corn, avocado, salsa, and mozzarella, topped with green onions. Broiled for about 4 minutes until the cheese melted. But I also filled some with bacon, garlic, artichoke hearts, and mozzarella (didn’t have any spinach, or I would’ve tossed that in too), and they were absolutely delicious, too.

So that was lunch, and my puppy made pleading puppy yelps all the way through my cooking it, so I thought I better whip her up something too (see previous entries about her being S.P.O.I.L.E.D.).

Hello Puppy Pumpkin Cookies:

They smelled so good, I literally ate one.

So from a human perspective, I can tell tell you that these taste a little bland. But boy did my puppy gobble them up and then try every trick she knows (which is a lot!) to try to earn more.

Now, like my puppy, I am also on a gluten-free diet. And I have to tell you, I had MY  FIRST MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH TODAY. I mean, my first moment where I actually thought I could really stick with this long term.

If this doesn’t look delicious to you, it’s because you’re distracted by the
Tomorrowland plate it’s sitting on. I get it. I love Disney, too.

Meet spaghetti squash. I’d never had it before, but I heard it was a “pasta replacement.” Being a pasta connoisseur, I was highly skeptical. But… the flavor is pretty close. Kind of like a buttery angel hair. It’s the slight crunch that’s a little off putting, but I eventually got over that. You see, pasta is my weak point. But this… I could live with this. (Pictured above with chicken sausage, kale, onions, and garlic.)

I also made peanut butter chicken jerk for my puppy, and Halloween bark to mail to my boyfriend. I wasn’t joking about cooking all day. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t make my best friend’s cancer go away. It didn’t raise money to pay to have her eggs removed. And it didn’t heal my puppy. But surprisingly, it did make things better. Life continues, and that’s a good thing.

How  to Be Awesome Tip #9: Shit happens. Don’t stop living because of it.

Southwestern Chicken Salad

swsaladYes, I shamelessly staged my salad for a photograph before tossing it into a bowl with the dressing and mixing it up. I’d post a picture of what it looks like tossed, but it’s in my tummy now, sorry.

So, I woke up this morning exhausted. And I use the term woke up loosely, because I didn’t really sleep at all.

My puppy came home from being spayed and having her rear dewclaws removed yesterday afternoon. Here’s a video of her being adorable, and what I spent most of my evening doing:

It was the only thing that stopped her from crying and chewing at her poor ankles. And because of the Elizabethan collar, she couldn’t even hold the bone for herself. (Don’t mind the noise in the background, that’s just Dexter, Season 8 – no spoilers except that Deb eats.)

So, my little Madelyn puppy usually sleeps in bed with me, but my bed is really high, and she’s not supposed to be jumping, so instead I set her up in the bathroom, then blocked the door off with the couch so she could sleep next to Mommy. Just as I was falling asleep, I got a huge punch in the gut, opened my eyes and saw this:

puppy“Please don’t make me sleep alone on the floor, Mommy.”

So that’s how we slept. Or rather, how she slept. It’s difficult to sleep with a 57 lb puppy tossing and turning in discomfort on your tummy all night.

Anyway, all that is to say, man I’m tired today. And there’s a lot to do that I didn’t get done yesterday. And boy did I just feel not at all like doing any of it, especially making lunch. Couldn’t I just order take out, or even better, delivery? Oh it sounded innocent, but there was that monster of mine sneaking in again! And what it was actually saying, under the guise of “giving me a break,” was Just give up on the clean eating, gluten-free challenge. You’re not worth the effort when you’re tired.

Oh but I am worth the effort. Even when I’m tired. In fact, especially  when I’m tired, I deserve extra TLC, even if I’m the one who has to give it to myself. (After all, if I don’t think I’m worth some extra effort, why should anyone else?)

So I whipped up this delicious southwestern chicken salad – very little effort to chop things while the chicken cooked – and my own homemade dressing. I originally got the dressing recipe from greens & chocolate, but the link no longer works, so I’m going to post it here:

  SOUTHWESTERN RANCH DRESSING
  Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup light mayo
  • 2/3 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp ranch dressing mix
  • 1 tbsp taco seasoning

  Directions: Mix ingredients. Easy peasy.

And I feel good about myself. No take out binge followed by guilt trip today.

How to Be Awesome Tip #8: Remember you’re worth the effort.

Clean Living

cleaneatingThis is what 600 calories of clean eating looks like. Good grief, how am I ever going to eat that much???

You see, I may have made a mistake. I’ve been working on a prayer shawl for my friend, Angel. And the thing about praying for someone every day, is that they’re always on your mind.

I met Angel three years ago, when she worked as an aide in my classroom. There’s nothing to say about her except that she’s a truly amazing person. She has gone through hell and back, multiple times. And she stays strong, optimistic, and crazy energetic.

She got on a serious health kick about two months after we met. Actually, she blames me for it, believe it or not (I sure don’t – have you seen the way I can scarf down an entire loaf of sourdough bread with butter???). You see, we were in the middle of the school Halloween parade, when one of my students needed to go to the bathroom. I asked her to take him back to the school, and he took off sprinting. She couldn’t keep up with him. And it made her think: What if there were a real emergency? What if my son were hurt, and I had to get help, and I couldn’t?

She told me that she realized that day that if she wanted to be around to take care of the people she loves, she had to take care of herself. So she joined the gym, she got a personal trainer, she started eating healthy – she went from sedentary to running a half marathon in about a year. If this woman isn’t someone to look up to, I don’t know who is!

So she eats paleo. She’s convinced that gluten is the root of all nutritional evil. She’s told me about how most of the stuff it’s in is processed, and contains preservatives, so that’s no good to begin with. She talks about how it’s been genetically altered, and no longer contains the nutrients and benefits that once made it essential to our diet. She’s shown me the research indicating that it may have addictive qualities (well duh, have you seen me when I haven’t had a piece of bread/bagel/cupcake/brownie in over a day?).

I try to eat healthy, I really do. But I’ve always been unwilling to give up my bread and pasta in the past. Staunchly against it. (Geez, if that isn’t addiction, I don’t know what is.) All this praying for Angel lately has rubbed off on me though, I guess, because suddenly… I’ve found the resolve to give it a try.

I’m not going paleo, sorry. Things like wild rice and quinoa are packed with healthy nutrients and, more importantly carbs that, as a runner, I simply can’t live without. And nb4 paleo runners start posting in comments that I’m wrong – I just meant that I can’t live without them.

But I’ve decided to do a two week clean eating challenge. No gluten. No processed foods. No added preservatives. And… /grimace… I’m going to cut out most dairy, too. Simply because I’m lactose intolerant and shouldn’t be consuming it anyway. >.>

So here’s my first real meal since starting: Naked turkey burgers and spicy sweet potato wedges. And the first thing I notice right off the bat is that it’s a lot more food than I usually eat. When you cut out all the empty calories, you sure do have to fill up the plate with real calories. I’m an hour into lunch and still picking at the sweet potato wedges… but there’s no way that second burger is going into my stomach anytime soon.

How I would love to save it for dinner, wrap it in a bun, and melt some cheese on it… but I’m going to pass. Because I’m stronger than my carb addition. And because I hear that I’ve got to take care of myself if I want to be around to take care of those I love.

How to Be Awesome Tip #7: Take care of yourself.

The Pampered Puppy: Homemade Beef Cakes

madelynThis is my beautiful, sweet, (kind of derpy), loving six month old puppy, Madelyn. This picture is from a few days ago, because as I type, she’s at the veterinarian, sleeping off the anesthesia from surgery. Nothing serious – just getting spayed, having her dewclaws removed, and getting the all important microchip.

Still, it’s surgery. And it’s my baby. And she’s going to be gone from home two whole days. If you’re not getting the idea yet, I’m having separation anxiety. It’s not like it’s the first time I’ve been without her… I spent practically the entire last month traveling back and forth between New York and California. But it’s the first time I’ve been home without her in the entire 3 months since we got her. Also, did I mention that it’s surgery?

I know it’s gonna be rough on her, barely being able to walk for a few days, and then going over a week with no running, playing, or swimming. And it’s going to be especially hard for it spend all day lying down, not being able to follow me everywhere and do everything with me. She (like most labs) is a very social puppy.

So as a treat, to help add some low key excitement to the otherwise boring week she has ahead of her, I decided I would cook her dinners for her while she’s recovering. Being a good puppy mommy, I already knew what kinds of foods a healthy puppy diet included (important for picking the right puppy food and treats), but I didn’t really know in what proportions. So… to Google, of course. The Whole Dog Journal has a fantastic article about how much of what to feed your dog. Time to get busy in the kitchen!

meatloafYes, it’s Mickey Mouse shaped puppy meatloaf (don’t hate, it’s the only muffin pan I have that’s not still in California – also, Mickey is awesome). I got the recipe from Dog Training Central – thought this was a great one to start with because it’s FREEZABLE. Will prevent me from having to spend extra time away from my puppy cooking on the first couple days when she can’t really walk.

Definitely going to try their tuna roll too when she’s up and walking again, except with canned salmon instead, because man does she love her salmon puppy treats.

Yes, my puppy is spoiled. Very spoiled. Very very spoiled. It’s what happens when you have an unemployed puppy mommy with too much time and money on her hands. But I’m not going to apologizing for loving her too much.

How to Be Awesome Tip #6: Never apologize for loving too much.

Copycat: Panera Autumn Squash Soup

autumnsquash

Last night I tried a new pasta salad recipe at dinner. It was one of those replace everything bad with healthy alternatives kind of deals. It was horrible. I couldn’t even swallow the first bite. Good thing I cut the recipe in half, because I felt terrible dumping it out.

Old Me would’ve been like, “Yup, this is why we don’t get creative in the kitchen. You’re just not a good cook.”

But Awesome Me was ready and rearing to try again today!

Ever since I had my first serving of acorn squash about two weeks ago, I’ve been on a major squash kick… my way of getting into the season, I suppose. I went to Panera and had their delicious Autumn Squash Soup last week, and I thought (completely surprising Old Me), “I bet I can make this.”

So I took to Pinterest, because… why recreate the wheel?  …and I found this copycat recipe. And I decided today was the day.

There were many challenges to overcome. First, I had never skinned, seeded, and chopped an entire squash before. Nor did I have the proper kitchen utensils to do so. I made do with a rather small knife better suited to chopping onions than skinning a butternut squash. But I prevailed! (And my puppy enjoyed chewing on a few pieces of flying squash skin.)

And then, there was this…

exploding

In my defense, the recipe says, “heat over medium to a gentle boil.” It doesn’t say, “stir.” It doesn’t say, “will bypass gentle boil and start exploding all over your kitchen.” So there I was, being a good little cook, washing my dishes at the sink, when I turn around and see pureed butternut squash and pumpkin everywhere. And if you think that looks bad, know that most of it went up onto my microwave, cabinets, and, of course, ceiling.

So enter the whisk. Stir while heating, no problems! Until… I had to add the spices.  More coordinated people might have prevailed, but I could not manage to measure spices and stir at the same time. It’s okay though! Because I’m a problem solver. Got a lid and held it on with my elbow (because gentle boil my butt, those bubbles were tough!) while measuring out spices.

End product: Sure tastes like Panera’s autumn squash soup to me. Delicious. Good thing I didn’t quit after last night’s disaster.

How to Be Awesome Tip #2: Don’t quit. Keep trying.