Showing posts from November, 2011

Try This: Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad

My friend Rachel at Little Chef Big Appetitedaredme to bring this recipe to life.  She must know about my obsession with roasted vegetables.  Challenge accepted, I told her.  Well, Rachel, here it is!

The recipe was pretty simple, and also easy to make look beautiful.  What's more--it tasted great.  The mustard vinaigrette really did it for me; I had plenty left over, so I was able to use it on salads all week long.  Delish!  I'll definitely keep that on hand as a sweeter alternative to my bottle of balsamic vinegar.  The recipe (along with photos far more beautiful than mine) can be found at The Luna Cafe.  Here's my re-creation, following their instructions but with slight changes in vegetables.

Roasted Fall Vegetable Salad with Warm Goat Cheese & Honey Mustard Vinaigrette
Serves 2 dinner-size salads

Beware the Dirty Dozen: Go Organic

This weekend, after an afternoon shopping the Black F discounts, my mom, sister, and I did some food shopping together.  Unloading the bags at home, I noticed my mother bought organic bananas.  This was likely an effort to make me happy (thanks, Mom!), but I was quick to inform her that her "organic budget" would be better spent elsewhere.

Who else is confused about why and what to buy organic?  Let's discuss.

Write Down A Goal

I hereby dare myself to run three miles continuously.
There: I wrote it. You read it. It's done.

One week ago, I ran in my first 5k race and felt so proud to accomplish my goal.  However, I confess that after a mile and a half or two, when the slight inclines got to me or my breath felt too short, I allowed myself to slow to a brisk walk for five to ten seconds, so I could recharge and then pick up running again.  Maybe this wouldn't have happened if I knew how to pace myself better (I kind of took off at full speed in the beginning), but that's all part of the learning process.

(Do any seasoned runners out there have tips for learning to pace yourself?)

My NEXT goal is to run 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) continuously, without those little walking breaks.  If it takes 30 minutes, fine. 35? Also fine.  I'd like to learn to control my speed so that I can stay at a jog or run for the full distance and improve from there.  So, here, I announce it to the world: My next challenge…

Declare a "Happy Accident": Pumpkin Spice Muffins

Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving, thanked their bodies, and remembered to fit their workouts in around the food-focused holiday!

Since October began, I dreamed of making the perfect pumpkin sweet.  Although I’d be happy with any baked good, muffins were on my mind.  I scoured cookbooks, my recipe apps, and the internet for what would like the perfect recipe.  Did I succeed?  Well, if you change the challenge just described, then yes, I did.

I had so much trouble choosing the right recipe that I put off the project for quite some time.  Plus, October kind of flew by, right?  So busy!  In the end, I just picked one that was very highly rated in my All Recipes app and went for it. 

They weren’t the gooey, pumpkin, sweet treats I’d been craving, but rather like a spice cake flavor.  So although I didn’t make what I really wanted, I re-defined the dessert as “pumpkin spice muffins” for more accurate advertising to those I shared with.  In spite of my initial disappointment, they went …

Be Thankful For Your Body

The yoga instructor at my gym always ends class with a series of mantras, my favorite of which is "Thank your body for being well enough to bring you here today."

I could end this post right there, because she says it clearly and concisely.  But, since I've got the space, I'll reiterate it for you.  THANK YOUR BODY.  Whether you're in perfect health or have an injury or condition, your body still deserves your appreciation.  Nobody's perfect, but instead of focusing on its flaws, appreciate those parts that function effortlessly.

Further, remember to treat it well.  Your body is your vehicle in life.  It allows you to speak your mind, hug your friends, and dance to your favorite song.  It transports you from place to place, brings food to your mouth, and bears the children you (will) love so much.  As the means for your physical interaction in the world, your body should be treated with the utmost respect.  Feed it with natural, nutritious foods that will fue…

Get in the Spirit: Pumpkin Smoothie

I make smoothies pretty regularly, but I tend to stick with what I know.  I never would have thought to put PUMPKIN in, even though this now seems like such a no-brainer.  When Jess at Blonde Ponytail shared her own pumpkin smoothie, I immediately knew I had to try it out myself.

After spin class this morning, I came home and needed a quick fix that I could take on the road to run some errands.  The solution?  As always, a smoothie. But this time, the pumpkin flavor would help get me in the Thanksgiving mood.  In spite of the rain outside, the holiday is upon us!  Here's how it went:

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"Fall" for Butternut Squash

Everyone I know who has tried butternut squash absolutely loves it, in any shape or form.  Do you fall into that category?  If you don't, now's your chance.

For me, "butternut squash" is one of the buzzwords on a menu that make me SO excited (right up there with "goat cheese," "truffle," and "roasted red pepper").  Now, butternut squash and pumpkin are in season--two great reasons to love fall!  Here, I'm just going to share the fail-proof way to cook up some butternut squash in your own kitchen to enjoy in any meal.

You can buy the squash whole, or you can save LOTS of time and effort by buying it already cubed. In my opinion, it's worth it.  I first began cooking butternut squash a la Ina Garten's How Easy is That,so I'll share this method below.  Read on!

Go to Beauty & Essex

If you live in the New York area, you've GOT to visit Beauty & Essex.

Happy 11/22/11!!  Today is my amazing-loving-supportive-awesome-bestever sister's birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY, JESSICA!), so last night went went with friends to this Lower East Side hot spot for a celebratory dinner and were blown away.  Guests enter into a old-fashioned pawn shop, selling jewelry, boxes, shoes, all sorts of doo-dads.  Then you pass through to the bustling bar area where the hostess is waiting to assist you.  A winding staircase to the right leads to an upstairs lounge where you can enjoy drinks, appetizers, and company, and a stairwell to the left descends toward the restrooms, where ladies can primp at a beautiful perfume-lined vanity and indulge in a rose sparkling wine before heading back to their party.  (Or, you can do what we did, and take the party downstairs for a pre-dinner toast!)

As we were led to our table, the restaurant seemed to grow much larger than it could have appeared. …

Learn to love Greek Yogurt

One of my top three or so go-to breakfasts is Greek yogurt.  Love it.  Quick, easy, taste, and a hefty dose of protein to start the day. Now, I didn't always like Greek yogurt. I don't think that anyone is born just liking the tangier flavor of Greek yogurt. If you've never had it, go taste it, and you'll understand why.  However, I switched from regular to Greek yogurt after learning of its nutritional superiority (in my humble opinion). With less whey, lactose, and sugar, it's much thicker than the milky traditional yogurt we all grew up with. In the end, you get about twice the protein and half the sugar for the same amount of calories.  As a vegetarian, Greek yogurt is one of my most trusted sources of protein; I can get 15 grams in just a tiny 6-ounce container!  Plus, the thick consistency makes it feel richer, almost like dessert.

Now, remember, Greek yogurt might take some getting used to, but once you start, you'll get hooked.  Although I now adore it…

Become a Runner! Part 3: I DID IT! My first 5k race

Click to read Become a Runner!  Part 1 and Part 2.

I ran my very first 5k race this morning! Check me out!

Woke up at 7:30, thirty minutes before my alarm. Pre-race jitters?  Took my time getting up, had tea, got dressed, stepped out into the PERFECT fall weather: sunny, a nice chill but not too cold, light breeze.  Beautiful day for a run!  Banana in hand, my four-person cheering squad and I headed over to the race registration and festivities.  It's the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, and all runners received jingle bells to tie into our laces, fun!  Registered, put on my bib--#230--and got ready.  The closer it got to 9:30, the more my heart began to race all on its own.  Outside, in the crowd, on your mark, get set, go!  The horn blared and I took off.

As an amateur, I definitely didn't pace myself properly, but tried to get a feel for it.  At the starting line, I was surrounded by excitement and real competitive runners, so I went much more quickly than I should have.  …

Just go already!

We've all been there.  The "I'd planned to the gym earlier, but I waited, and now I'm too exhausted / don't have the time to go" situation.  I confess, that's what happened to me today.  Instead of going to the morning spin class on my calendar, I made up excuses for why I shouldn't: the pain in my knee from last spin class might act up again, I'm feeling tired and won't focus, I'm hungry and need to eat a full breakfast and digest before going, I should really get a step ahead on my work and errands for the day... you get it.

In my gym clothes, I proceeded to go about my day but not at the gym.  To my credit, I did some light weight work while watching TV, but then just went about my business.  Before I knew it, it was 3:00, and I still had a lot to do before my 5:45 train. Eek.  But knowing that tomorrow I would not work out at all, I'd regret not getting my heart rate up today.  So, I laced up and went.  In 30 minutes, I worked up a …

Become a Runner! Part 2: Did I just do that?

In my last running post, I described my childhood aversion to running and my triumph over the mile, and also explained some of the reasons why running is great for you.
So I could run a mile.  Still… why stop there?  Can I go further?  Run longer?  Inspired by several long-distance runners in my life, I set a goal for myself to increase my endurance: I would run a 5k in one year—by the summer of 2012.  That gave me plenty of time to train for it and get comfortable enough to go through with it.  Then, in October, I saw an advertisement for a 5k in town, just one month away.  Should I do it?  Should I just sign up and commit? Even if I stop and walk, and it takes me longer than everyone else, it would be a starting point to inspire me and to learn from, right? 
To see if I was ready, I did a treadmill test.  Running at an average of 6 mph, sometimes faster and occasionally slowing to 4 mph, I reached my goal in 30 minutes and 4 seconds.  That’s a ten-minute mile each.  It’s not a fast o…

Cook With a New Food: Quinoa

Cook with a New Food -- one you've never tried, or one you never even heard of...

It’s one of those foods that makes you wonder if somebody recently invented it.  Where’s it been hiding all these years?  Why was it lurking in the shadows until its recent popularity?  Whatever the answers, I’m glad these little grains of light have caught my attention now!

Pronounced “Keen-wah”, quinoa is a grain-like seed that you can do just about anything with.  Its flavor is light enough, with just a hint nuttyness, that you can serve it under any vegetable, protein, sauce, you name it, similarly to how rice can pair well with whatever.  I only started eating quinoa over the past year, but never made it myself.  My friend Alyssa cooks it often, so she inspired my use of it for my first attempt at cooking it.  I’ve got to admit I was a little embarrassed by how easy it was.  It’s funny how a silly little unfamiliar word can intimidate you.
But don’t let it!  This newly popular food is choc…

Become a Runner! Part 1: The mile and the benefits

Gym class, fourth grade.  The year we began physical fitness testing.  The mile.
The mile was the bane of my existence from age ten to eighteen. Why did gym teachers need to time us, to compare our abilities, and make it painfully public how slow some of us were?  Maybe if I hadn’t been forced to run in front of my speedier peers all those years, I wouldn’t have hated running so much.  And I did—I hated running.
When I was twenty, I found myself without a gym and thus without access to my go-to exercise routine.  Instead of plugging away at the elliptical, I began circling an outdoor track two-to-three mornings a week.  Having built up endurance in other forms of cardio, I was finally able to run around the field four times—a mile—without stopping.  It wasn’t easy, I couldn’t do it every time, and I would be huffingand puffing at the end.  Still, I started to actually enjoy it!  It was kind of nice to be outdoors in the sun, a great way to wake up and start the day.
When I returned to my…

Step Outside

Last weekend was amazing. Ask me why
Was it because I spent it visiting with old friends?  Eating delicious meals?  Dancing the night away?  Those all helped, for sure, but what made this weekend so different from others was that I spent it outdoors. 
Of course, we all lounge on the beach in the summer season, but how often do we spend time outside after Labor Day?  The temperature dips below 75, and suddenly we confine ourselves to our warm homes and offices.  The sun still shines throughout the fall, people; let’s take advantage!  Frolic on the grass, sit on the porch, eat on the café’s sidewalk.  All you have to do is dress warmly and you’ll be alright.  Just because it's getting chilly is no excuse to stay inside.  It’s surprising how much you warm up while basking in the sunlight; you’ll be peeling off those layers in no time! 
Scientific reasons to love the sun: All the benefits of Vitamin D, from bone formation to increased immunity and disease prevention.Better sleep due …

Eat Your Vegetables!

Growing up, I was a picky, picky eater.  The closest things to vegetables I ate were jarred pickles and French fries.  It wasn’t until high school that I started eating salad, and even then, it was always just a basic Caesar salad, which is really just lettuce and croutons.  Oh, and I also ate broccoli when it came in Chinese food.  That counts, right?
In college, my horizons were broadened as I started trying all kinds of foods with my new friends who had all different tastes.  It was suddenly exciting to try new foods and “make-your-own” salad.  I learned to cook a bit and experiment with stir-frying, roasting, and boiling veggies to have with any meal.  Later, my sister—also an anti-veggie girl from birth—came to me asking advice about getting more vegetables into her diet.  She was ready to eat these nutrient-powerhouses, but didn’t know how to cook.

Enter: Roasted Vegetables.  The easiest cure for vegetophobia.  (It's really called lachanophobia, but my word makes more sens…

...Start a Blog!

When we were kids, any time a seemingly absurd idea came up, a challenge was extended.  "I dare you" was right up there with "I know you are but what am I?” and “If you love it so much, why don’t you marry it?”  Further, once that dare was out in the open, the recipient had no choice but to comply.  (Well, unless he “double-dared” them back, of course.)  When and why did this bold behavior stop?  Now, we just stick to our routine, in our comfort zone.  As adults, we don’t challenge each other—or challenge ourselves—enough.  My new goal is to change that.

It’s time to try new things!  To get healthy, to get fit, to get happy.  Is there a food you’ve wanted to cook with but didn’t know how?  Maybe a fitness goal you want to achieve but have been afraid to try?  Want to pick up a new hobby, or maybe return to an old hobby you used to love but lost time for?  Maybe you’re like me, and have been encouraged by others to start a blog for a long time, but were too afraid to do s…