Small Steps

Small Steps

It is the middle of January.  While I haven’t been perfect in checking off everything in my New Year’s to do list, I am on the right track.

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On getting enough sleep:  I have made it to bed at 10:30 only once in the past two weeks.  My bed times have been between 11 pm and 11:30 pm.

On managing my time:  I am doing better on this one.  I have been finishing about 90% off my daily to do list.  However, I haven’t started meditation yet.  I did download several apps to help me do this.

On getting back to my usual running pace and mileage:  This one is going well.  I have managed to get back to doing physical therapy.   I am back to my usual mileage and the physical therapy is going to get me back to my usual pace.

Trying to improve my habits is going to take time and won’t happen overnight.  Small steps will lead to my goals.  I have to remember that each day is a fresh start and a chance to improve.  It’s funny that I am so disciplined in certain areas of my life such as my Vegan diet, exercising and managing the household.  But I slack off with sleep, time management and physical therapy.

I am entering everything I need to do into my calendar.  This way, my schedule is on every device:  iPhone, iPad and Mac.  I have got reminders and alerts on items that involve others.  The calendar will help me become more mindful of what needs to get done.  Hope your New Year plans are going in the right direction also!

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A Brand New Year

A Brand New Year

The New Year is just days away.  Every year, I have friends and family who make resolutions.  Resolutions to change habits, lose weight, do more of something…the list goes on.  Many of them achieve success but many of them don’t make it past March.

I have never made New Year resolutions in the past.  But this year, I plan on improving myself.  The path to change is not easy right?  It is not enough to say “I want to change…”.  There needs to be a plan with details for change to happen.  Writing down the changes you want to make, may or may not help you.  This year, I am writing them down.

Change 1:  Get enough sleep.  Shut everything off and be in bed by 10:30 pm.

Change 2:  Manage my time better.  Write down a schedule for each day of the week because everyday is different.  I will use my calendar to help me from missing events and scramble last minute.

Change 3:  Get back to my usual running pace and mileage.  I have been plagued with injuries and simply need to do my physical therapy in order to improve certain muscles.  I have been blowing off my exercises and it has really affected the way I feel and how I run.

It is a brand new year and I want to make it count.  I want to make it an awesome year for me, my family and my friends.  Will keep you posted on how it is going!  (Pun intended…)

Are you planning on improving yourself this year?  How will you do it?

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Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, Sarasota Florida

 

 

 

Cauliflower Crush

Cauliflower Crush

 

I love cauliflower.  It tastes good, its satisfying and its low in calories.  This dish keeps me happy and keeps me from snacking after dinner.  I am always looking for new ways to make cauliflower.  Most of my recipes are unintentional.  Meaning, they come about because of what I have in my fridge or pantry!  This dish was accidental, but it is really good if you like spicy Buffalo sauce.  Other vegan buffalo cauliflower dishes have breading, but my version is tasty without the extra calories.  I may try a breaded version after I am back to running my usual mileage and injury free!

 

Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower, washed and cut into 2 inch florets

2 T olive oil

1/4 C Buffalo sauce (such as Frank’s Red Hot, mine is a grocery store brand)

4 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t garlic powder

2-3 T water

Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In a large bowl, coat cauliflower florets in the olive oil until all pieces are coated.

Roast cauliflower for about 20 minutes until they turn soft and have a little color on the tops. Turning them over once halfway, after 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them as oven temperatures vary.

In a small bowl, mix together buffalo sauce, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, water and salt.  If your sauce is too thick, add another tablespoon of water.

Pour the mixture on the hot cauliflower and serve with your favorite bread, grains or legumes.

This dish serves around 4 people.  And has approximately 130 calories per serving.

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Spicy Tangy Buffalo Cauliflower

 

 

Already November?

Already November?

Hello November!  I can’t believe the year is almost over.  I have finally gotten around to writing down recipes from my previous blog post “Cooking”.  For those of you asking for those recipes…so sorry for the delay.

I cook by the seat of my pants.  Whatever is in the vegetable drawer or is close to expiring, dictates the meal!  When I was a Food Service Director, we operated very differently.  The menu drove inventory purchases.  We had a 4 week menu and usually didn’t deviate unless something was going bad.  Then of course, we had a daily special!  Why don’t I do the same thing at home?  Well, I guess I like the spontaneity and I may be a little lazy.  I hope these recipes help you.

I am always looking for ways to cut calories.  Feel free to substitute your favorite option.  You can get creative from one little idea which can turn into something quite delicious!

 

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This is my go to easy option for lunch.

2 slices of Nature’s Own 40 calorie Bread

3 slices of Field Roast Wild Mushroom Deli slices

1 medium Tomato sliced

Handfull of washed Spinach leaves

2 T House of Tsang Korean BBQ sauce

1 oz Kettle Black Pepper Potato chips

Spread BBQ sauce on both slices of bread, one tablespoon each.  Assemble seitan slices, tomato slices and spinach.  Devour with chips.  I like to stick the chips in my sandwich.  It doesn’t always look so pretty when I am eating the sandwich, but I really love the chips in the sammie!

 

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2 C cooked rice (I use Basmati, but any cooked white rice will do)

1 can Black Beans wash and drained

4 Medium Tomatoes chopped

1/4 C Green onions sliced thin

1/2 Mango cut into long slices

1/2 Avocado cut into long slices

1/2 large Lime juiced

1 t Garlic powder (adjust to your taste)

1 t Cayenne Pepper (adjust to your taste)

Salt to taste

In a large saute or frying pan, add rice, beans, garlic powder and cayenne pepper.  Mix well and heat for 3-4 minutes.  Add tomato and green onions, heat an additional two minutes.  Add salt, serve with mango and avocado slices.  I like to sprinkle the fruit with a dash of garlic, cayenne pepper, lime juice and salt also.  This recipe serves 1-2 people depending on their appetite.

 

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1 C Chickpea flour

4 C Baby Spinach leaves

1/2 Red Pepper diced

1 1/2 C Water

2 T Roasted garlic chunks or 1 t garlic powder

2 T Nutritional yeast

1/2 t cayenne pepper

Salt to taste

Oil spray

Spray a medium frying pan with cooking spray.  On medium flame, add diced red pepper to the heated pan.  Cook peppers until soft.  Add spinach and let wilt.

While spinach is wilting, in a small bowl, add chickpea flour, water, cayenne pepper, garlic, nutritional yeast and salt.  Mix well, the batter should resemble thin pancake batter, however this batter will be gritty, not smooth.

Once the spinach has wilted, add flour mixture into pan, pouring evenly and let the mixture cook until solid.  Spray the top with oil spray.  The veggie fry will need to be turned over for both sides to cook.  With your spatula, quarter the fry and turn all four pieces over and spray with oil spray again.  Chickpea flour cooks quickly, I like to let mine form a slight crust.  This veggie fry is a nice alternative to scrambled eggs because chickpea flour is high in protein.  This recipe serves 2-3 people.

 

Fashion Plates

Fashion Plates

Do you have a uniform?  My sister the fashionista, tells me that my uniform is always jeans or shorts,  T-shirt and flip flops.  “Its always some boring top and and some boring jeans with you, you need to wear more skirts and dresses…do something different…”

My mom had a uniform, in the 70’s, she wore kaftans at home, yes, like Mrs. Roper from Three’s Company.  When she went out, she wore polyester pants and and some type of hippie-ish top like many of the other moms.  Oh those bell bottoms.

Our neighbor had a uniform, in the 80’s, it was a matching mauve or hot pink leisure jacket with teal and white stripes and matching pants with elastic cuffs.  Her shoes of choice were white Reeboks.

My grandfather in India had a uniform.  He wore a white cotton kurtha top and matching panchi everyday, (a panchi is a South Indian sarong worn by mostly older men).   His clothes and mere presence were the stuff of legend.  His clothes always looked clean, crisp and regal.

I saw a guy the other day sporting a tank top and crazy print weight lifter balloon pants.  Wonder if that uniform is new or actually from 1989?

All the other stay at home moms I know have a uniform too.  Yoga pants or capri pants, some type of Dri-fit top and athletic shoes.  I think this getup is the modern day leisure suit.  Some of my friends admit to wearing the same clothes they slept in and not showering daily.  I know, I expressed the same mouth open outrage when I heard also.  I guess they’re saving water and leaving a smaller carbon foot print?

I like my uniform.  It is comfortable, transitions from morning carpool to Trader Joe’s to volunteering at school to coming back home to create art.

I would love to wear more dresses and dressy clothes in general.  However, as a free lance illustrator and stay at home mom, dressing  up daily doesn’t fit my schedule.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I do dress up for special occasions, parties and going out with the ladies.  I am working on moving away from my comfort zone for fun and giggles.  I may have to sport an off the shoulder top on my next girls night out!

 

 

A quick and easy recipe that never goes out of style.

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Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

1 Bag of shaved Brussels Sprouts (mine is a 10 oz. bag)

2 t Garlic powder (I like a lot of garlic, you can cut back of course)

1/2 t Black Pepper

Salt to taste

Olive oil spray

 

Pre-heat oven to 375 F.

Wash and drain Brussels sprouts.

Spray olive oil spray evenly to coat a metal sheet pan.

Arrange the sprouts flat on the sheet pan.

Spray with oil spray to coat all the pieces.

Bake for 10 minutes and check them to make sure the smaller pieces aren’t burning.

With a flat spatula, turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes.  Ovens vary, so if the sprouts don’t look fully cooked, leave them in for another 3-5 minutes.

Once they are out of the oven, sprinkle garlic powder, black pepper and salt.  These come out really tasty.  Some pieces are crispier than others.

Mellow

Mellow

I am not sure when it happened to me or when it happens to others.  As I mark another birthday and shake my head at yet another mole or spot on my face, I realize that I am now mellow.   Mellow can mean:  aged, cured, developed, rounded, seasoned, cultured or smooth.  To me, it means that I am much more easy going than I was in my younger days.

As a kid, there is so much pressure on perfection and learning things properly.  Aaah, the exuberance of youth!  I see my kids always wanting things to be perfect or to be the best at something.  My 12 yr old son has to have all his electronics devices in a certain way.  My 9 yr old daughter has to have her stuffed animals in a particular order when she goes to sleep.  And both of them love organizing their backpacks in their own way.  Heaven forbid, mom puts a water bottle in the wrong place.  Their motivation makes me smile.

As teenagers, we still have all that energy, only we pretend we are too cool to care.  My room was my sanctuary during my teens.  My two younger sisters and parents were not allowed to loiter.  All my favorite bands and actors were on my wall in the coolest arrangement of course.  A mean comment from one of my friends would send me into a sad brooding spiral.  “How could she?!!”

In my twenties, it was all about eloping (that’s another post), career paths, promotions and graduate degrees. No pressure or need for perfection there…right?  What I remember about my twenties is that B and I worked really hard and played hard too.  Everything just mattered so much more.

My kids came along in my thirties.  I had to make the agonizing decision to quit working and be a stay at home mom.  Being first time parents is really hard.  I remember torturing my family when they came to see the kids as babies.

“Did you wash your hands?”

“Is this one of the sterilized bottles?”

“That is a choking hazard…!”

I went from that to “You can still eat that…we have acids in our tummies that kill germs.”

In my forties, I really just don’t care about all the things I used to obsess about.   I tell my kids that they need to relax, that other people have it much harder and to stop complaining.  By now, all my family members know each other really well.  We used to push each others buttons in our younger days.  Nowadays, we still push buttons but less frequently and then say something nice afterwards…

And my friends, many of them are still neurotic about things.  They stress about aging, botox, kids and keeping up with the neighbors.  But many of them have also mellowed just like me.  It’s funny that words of wisdom from the past can help us throughout life.  My karate teacher told me “stand tall and be proud”.  One of my uncles told me “health is wealth”. And a teacher once told me “be thankful for what you have.”  And I tell my kids “do your best, if it doesn’t work out, try again, if it still doesn’t work out, move on to something else .”

 

Mellow Drinks

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Bourbon Hot Chocolate

 

Bourbon Hot Chocolate

3 T Cadbury’s Drinking Chocolate or any sweetened chocolate

6 oz Water

1 oz Bourbon

Heat water in a pan until boiling or microwave in a mug for two minutes.   Add chocolate and make sure it dissolves completely.  Add Bourbon.  Viola!

 

 

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Rum & Coconut Cooler

 

Rum & Coconut Cooler

1 C Orgain High Protein Almond Milk or nut milk of your choice.

1 T Coconut Sugar

1 t Coconut Flakes Unsweetened

1 oz Rum

This is a cold drink.  Combine all of the ingredients together, paper umbrella optional.

 

 

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Unbearable Lightness of Being

Rain is sprinkling lightly.  I am gearing up to run.  A little rain is not going to spoil my workout.  I try to run at least three days a week, usually 25+ miles a week. There are two days that I bike with my workout buddy, M.  Running has been a must for me since I was 14 years old.  It helped me lose weight as a teenager and has become a necessity like air or water.  Most people who don’t run always ask me how I run by myself and why I run so many miles.  The simple answer is “I feel like a million bucks.”  I have this “lightness” after my runs.  I like to call it an “Unbearable Lightness of Being”.  Yes, it is a runner’s high, endorphins…There is a Daniel Day Lewis movie by the same name, but that lightness is not from running!

I wish I could bottle that feeling so my friends, who always shake their heads at me, can feel it too.  If they did, I bet they too would take up running or biking.  This feeling lasts all day.  On the days that I don’t run or bike, I don’t feel light.  Unfortunately, I can’t run everyday because I have a metal plate and six screws in my left leg, (that’s another post!).

M and I have both suffered from overuse injuries this spring and summer.  These injuries are fixable through physical therapy.  Both of us are working through them and injuries are not a reason to stop moving.  When one of us could not run or bike, we walked.  Walking is a great exercise.  It certainly takes longer to walk than run, but it still moves major muscle groups and burns calories.  And the best part, it gets the heart rate up and results in that “unbearable lightness of being”.  Now, I can’t tell you at what mileage or how long it will take for you to feel “lightness”.  Each person is different and therefore, it will be a pleasant discovery for you.

According to most health experts, a sedentary lifestyle is unhealthy.  In my suburbia, we don’t walk very much.  Most people drive to their gym and drive elsewhere.  Compared to the rest of the world, Americans are very sedentary.  My mom and dad were really surprised to see how many steps they got in a day.  Their inexpensive Fibit clips have motivated them to get 10,000+ steps a day.  My mom is now understanding how good it feels to walk.  She has lost a few pounds, but isn’t feeling the “lightness” yet.  It takes time and patience.  I like to encourage her everyday because it will happen and she will feel it!  I have included one of my easy post workout snacks below.

 

CHOCOLATE PEANUT BUTTER SMOOTHIE

2 T Jif Peanut Butter Powder

2 T Trader Joe’s Chocolate Hemp Powder

1 T Nesquick or Cadbury’s sweetened Chocolate Powder

1.5  C So Delicious Xtra Protein Vanilla Almond Milk or your milk of choice

Based on the nutrition label on each product, I calculated about 235 calories and 16 g protein.

Combine all ingredients in an immersion blender or regular blender and enjoy!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie