Monthly Archives: December 2009

Back To Reality

Good Monday morning to you! I hope everyone enjoyed a long holiday weekend with family and friends. I sure did. And actually my weekend isn’t over yet because I don’t go back to work until tomorrow. Woohoo!! However it is time to get back to reality as far as my palate is concerned. Christmas brings good food and sweet treats, but my body has had enough. Don’t you just feel so much better when you’re eating clean? I do. I even run better. My schedule has been out of whack lately too. Let me tell you, for someone who prides herself in being organized, and always feeling the need to make to-do lists, I sure have been mastering the art of nothing. Yesterday I spent an hour in the morning writing emails to friends abroad. Then I went for a 10 mile run (the most productive thing I did all day, and lets face it, I needed that to recover from my food coma), followed by several hours of surfing the net. My intentions for being online were to start a new Elite Nutrition blog.. something around the topic of water versus sports drinks. As it turns out, I’m easily distracted. That’s right, possibly even A.D.D. So productive time quickly lead to reading food blogs. That is until my friend arrived to take me out to a movie. We saw the new Sherlock Holmes. It was really good. I liked it. Not the usual romantic comedy that I gravitate towards, but really good. Might I say Robert Downey Jr. makes a dashing detective? Oops, there I go again being easily distracted. 😉

Here are a couple photos from yesterday’s run.. taken from my new Blackberry! I was impressed with the quality. Never would have expected descent pictures from a camera phone. I ran through the Seattle neighborhood Ballard and out to Golden Gardens, which is a pretty beachfront park. There were tons of sailboats out today, lots of families, kids running around. It was really a nice day. Fisherman’s Terminal looks like a fishing boat graveyard to me. It separates Magnolia from Ballard and is just full of big boats, but again this IS Seattle and I’m thankful for the abundance of fresh seafood here. 🙂

Golden Gardens

Fisherman’s Terminal

This morning I’m sitting up at the kitchen bar enjoying a tall glass of water and a crisp Fuji apple lathered in almond butter. Nothing too heavy. I’m planning on a little yoga here shortly. Then oats to follow. Naturally. A day without oats is like a day without brushing my teeth. I just can’t do it. And who would want to?



I started reading French Women Don’t Get Fat. Such an entertaining book, and full of excellent lifestyle guidelines. I say guidelines because the author, Mireille Guiliano,  emphasizes a non-diet approach to weight management. This is an approach I adopted in my own life several years ago, and I can honestly say that I would never go back to dieting. Food is one of life’s most enjoyable treasures. Everything from the experience of sharing good food with friends, to the pleasures of indulging in a way that excites your senses. Food is not the enemy. It just takes relearning how to enjoy all things in moderation. I used to deprive myself of so many good foods for fear of the unknown. Would it make me fat? I gave up my love for cooking and ate only bland foods because I thought that’s what it took to maintain/lose weight. Since reading Intuitive Eating I’ve relearned how to enjoy food without feeling guilty. I love to cook again. So with that, I’m enjoying French Women Don’t Get Fat, and you’ll hear more about it later. 🙂 Also, its full of recipes, which I wasn’t expecting. Saturday night I made the Chicken au Champaign, mainly because I had left over Champaign from Christmas mimosas! It was very moist. I’ll have to find the recipe if anyone asks, but it’s basically chicken with shalots, thyme, salt, pepper and Champaign baked for 40 minutes.


Well I think it’s about time I get my cardio started! I hope you have a great day..

Questions:

What is your approach to healthy eating and lifestyle? Are you a dieter, non-dieter, or neither?
Is there a food that you eat every single day and never tire of?

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Unwrapping The Holidays

I hope everyone had a very merry Christmas! Mine was unusually quiet this year, but after a whirlwind of pre-holiday celebrations and get togethers it was so nice to relax. As with putting the tree up, me and the girls were super early opening gifts this year. 🙂 Beth was going to be traveling and so we wanted to have our ‘family’ gift exchange before then, but I didn’t exactly know when. So when I came home from the gym on Christmas-Eve-Eve (aka December 23rd), and the girls were seated up on the kitchen counters, I knew exactly what that meant. Anytime were sitting on the kitchen counters means it’s a girl’s night. No questions asked, just uncork a bottle of sweet vino and plan on dishing some serious girl talk! This night was no exception. We shared some wine (2007 Kennedy Shah Merlot), caught up on some much needed BFF time, and opened Christmas gifts. I love my girls. 🙂 




Sara and I had planned on hosting Christmas Even dinner for any of our friends who couldn’t make it home to be with their families for the holidays. Plans continued to change, as they always do, and it turned out to be a nice, quiet Christmas Eve dinner with her cousin, his wife, and their little boy. We had a great time. Sara and I spent all afternoon cooking and baking. 

On the menu was: 

Baked Brie with Boysenberry Jam 

Caesar Salad
Prime Rib au Poivre
Sherried Green Beans & Mushrooms

Apple Crisp with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

Dinner was served with a 2000 Seth Ryan red wine. A blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot, and Malbec. It was delicious. Thank you grandma and grandpa. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 Christmas day way even more relaxed. Sara and I had made cinnamon rolls from scratch the day before, so we woke up to homemade cinnamon rolls, mimosas, and planted ourselves on the couch for a full day of nothing. And by nothing I do mean n-o-t-h-i-n-g. We watched Sleepless in Seattle. I read a little more in the book I’m working on, Suite Francaise. After while we worked up the energy to do a 45-minute yoga session, and then I went for a 4 mile run. But those dinner reservations we had for 8:00 at a quaint little French restaurant… yeah we passed on that  because we didn’t feel like getting out of our sweats! 😀

 


 

Just because it was the most beautiful Christmas day EVER I have to share some photos from my Christmas Eve sunset run. Every time I go running I ask myself why I would ever leave Seattle. I love it here!!

 


Well that’s the scoop! I hope you all had a fabulous holiday. More to come as life gets back to usual. Ciao!!

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Christmas Biscotti

Well like they say, “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em”. With only a few days left I’m indulging in some of the best sweets of the season. I unfortunately missed Andrea’s annual cookie exchange party because of my surprise family weekend, but I have to admit it was a great tradeoff! I still had the urge to bake though, and wanted to send my family homemade cookies for Christmas. So last night I came home and made my chocolate cranberry and almond biscotti. I started making holiday biscotti three Christmases ago and I love it. It’s so much fun to bake, and its something a little different. So I’m calling it my holiday tradition. Something of my own. 🙂

Chocolate Cranberry & Almond Biscotti (Bon Appétit recipe @ Epicurious)

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • white chocolate

Mix dry ingredients, then add melted butter. Separately, whisk eggs and vanilla. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients folding until dough is smooth. Lastly, add dried cranberries and almonds. On floured surface, separate the dough into about 5 balls and roll into logs. Placing the “logs” onto cookie sheets I use my hand to flatten them out a bit. Then bake at 350F degrees for 12 minutes on top rack, and another 12 minutes on the bottom rack.

Remove from baking sheet, and with a serrated knife, cut diagonally into 1/2″  slices. Return sliced biscotti bake to baking sheet laying each slice on its side. Bake at 325F degrees for another 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be firm and dry.

Move to baking rack to cool. Once cooled you can dip the cookies in melted white chocolate. I love the look of dipped biscotti. Set out of wax paper to cool for atleast 2 hours. Then wrap, pack, and ship! 🙂

That’s all I’ve got for tonight. I applaud everyone who has been keeping up on their blog through this busy time. I’m struggling just to find time to cook this week, let alone blog. I hope you’re all enjoying family, food, and good times. Cheers!

What are your holiday traditions?

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Food, Fun, and More Food

What a wild weekend. I got a really nice surprise on Friday when my mom and brother came to visit.  Mom had been talking about driving over from Boise, but it was back and forth due to the weather conditions on the mountain pass between us. Miraculously the pass cleared up by Friday morning so she came. I was really happy to have her here. Since I’m not going home for Christmas we had a pre-Christmas weekend. Me, mom, and my brother from eastern Washington surprised my other brother who lives on the Washington coast.. I had invited him over for some brother-sister fun, but he had no idea mom and Ryan would be here too. The look on his face was priceless.

There was a lot of eating, drinking, and laughing these past few days. We grabbed happy hour on Friday night at the Tap House while catching up. We shared several small plates. Ryan had a beer sampler. Mom and I shared a fabulous bottle of wine. It was a Cabernet Sauvignon from Sonoma, Sebastiani. Afterwards we walked around downtown and enjoyed the Christmas lights and festivities.

IPA Sampler


California Roll

 

Pork Sliders

Satay Chicken Skewers and Lentils

Hummus Plate


Saturday after a good eight mile run I introduced my family to the green monster. They had seen my post about green monsters and thought I’d lost my mind if I enjoyed spinach smoothies. Well I wish I had photos! They LOVED it. I was happy to make believers out of them. 🙂 Mom plans to make them when she gets back home. I, however, was craving my bowl of oats. Today I tried pumpkin butter. Delish!


1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup water
1 spoonful of pumpkin butter
apple slices
sprinkled cinnamon

By the time we picked Rob from the ferry it was time to eat again. 🙂 We went to Sazarac’s for some brick-oven pizza. More catching up, more laughs, and more drinks.




Oooh and then we sat on Santa’s lap! It has been looong time since I’ve done that. Hopefully Santa has me on the nice list.. my wish list is definitely long. But if all I get is Bradley Cooper that’ll be okay. 😉


Since my youngest brother recently turned 21 we thought it would be fun to tour Red Hook Brewery, aaand sample a bit of their fine product. The tour was a great time, very entertaining, and their beer is excellent.


For dinner we came back to my house and threw something together. A couple bottles of wine, a game of Scrabble, and the fun just never stopped. I had about half a pound of shrimp in the fridge so I cooked that up in wine, added it to a roasted garlic marinara sauce. Mom threw in artichoke hearts, mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, a touch more oregano and voila! They had it over whole wheat spaghetti with steamed broccoli. I felt like I might need to change into stretchy pants if I consumed any more carbs (thanks to the beer), so I had mine over arugula with a bit of quinoa. I bought a bottle of Hudson Shaw cab sauv at QFC. This is my second time having it. Love it. Great value for a $12 bottle, and I got to demonstrate the Rabbit wine opener for mom! This handy-dandy opener is a must have for any wine snob wanna-be.
 




We spent the evening at a nearby karaoke bar. Fun times were had by all. Mom has never heard us sing (not that I’m exactly talented, but I am gutsy). Both of my brothers were blessed with vocals though so they compensated for my lack their of. 🙂 I sang some fun country with “I Will.. But”, Ryan sang “Santaria”, Rob sang something Jason Mraz I believe, and then the three of us rapped the “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” song.


Somehow I managed to break my Blackberry while we were out. I also left my purse in the front yard overnight. Not my brightest moment I admit. We were locked out of my house at 1am so I set it down to work the screen off my window. Well when we finally got in the house I had forgotten about my purse and just went to bed. Yikes!! Thankfully my purse was still in the yard this morning, everything there but everything soaked. It rained. 😦 My camera was safe though. I think the case saved it from any damage. This little fiasco did make for an expensive Sunday as far as the phone though. As soon as we were up I made french toast, went for a quickie run, and headed to AT&T for a new phone.


2 slices whole-wheat bread
2 T skim ricotta cheese
1/2 T almond slivers
honey
1 egg
1 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp cinnamon
mixed fruit

Spread ricotta cheese on one slice of bread, drizzle honey, and sprinkle with almond slivers. Wisk the milk, egg, and cinnamon and dip ricotta ‘sandwich’. Cook in a skillet until both sides are golden brown.  Top with powdered sugar and fruit.

Back to the phone. It was more than I wanted to spend right now, but I just reminded myself that I really have been wanting an up upgrade so if it weren’t today it would have been soon. With my new BB I’m supposed to be able to take better photos. That’s exciting for this ammature blogger. I also finally got a plan that includes the internet. Yayy!! 

The last surprise was when I got into my car tonight (first time I’ve driven it since Friday). There was a horrible grinding metal noise coming from what seemed to be the front driver side wheel. Uughh, one more unexpected expense right before Christmas. So I left it parked where it was and tomorrow I’ll either drive it or have it towed to the dealership. Say a prayer that it’s a cheap fix. I’m stressing myself out about what it could cost.

I hope everyone had a really nice weekend. Just a few more days before Christmas!! Good night.

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Homecookin’ on Hump Day

It’s finally come and gone, that day when the whole week turns around and we begin to coast into the weekend. TGIHD! Today was another crude 5:45 awakening when my alarm went off. All I could think about was getting upstairs to flip the coffee pot on. Must. Have. Coffee. Then miraculously I became a morning person. 🙂 All in all its been a good week. Along with the recent return of rain showers we’ve gotten a fabulous warm-spell.. it was 56F degrees today. How about that? A week ago it was 16F degrees here and I was bundling up as if to face a deadly coldfront in Siberia. Glad that’s over, or atleast I hope it is.

So at the crack of dawn it was coffee, shower, breakfast and out the door. In that exact order. On the menu was of course: oatmeal.



1/2 cup oats
3/4 cup water
1/2 banana
1T honey
1T almond butter

MMm.. Mmm.. good! At the office sweets are still looming in the break room, but everyone seems to be getting over it. A box of cinnamon rolls has been there for over a week untouched. Yet today when I put out a bowl of raw green beans and hummus they were gone before lunch. Isn’t it funny how we craving the nutrition our body needs? Totally biological. Besides that, I think we’ve all had enough sweets to last us the rest of the year (that’s only 2 weeks!) When lunch came I was too hungry to stop and photograph. It happens sometimes. But you can take my word for it.. I had a whole-wheat wrap with arugula, proscutto, red bell pepper and mozerella. It’s one of my favorite home concoctions. Then I finished munching on my secret stash of green beans. How many of you have to hide green beans from your co-workers?

Tonight I gave myself the day off…from the gym that is. 🙂 Since I got home around 6pm I cooked up a good, hot meal that I’ve been craving for about a week now, chicken caccitaore.

Chicken Cacciatore
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/2 pound mushrooms
1/2 14oz can of stewed tomatoes (no-salt added)
2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp oregano


In sprayed skillet brown chicken for about 4 minutes on each side until golden. Lightly salt and pepper. Remove and set aside.


Add mushrooms to skillet and cook until soft.


Then add stewed tomatoes, oregano, and minced garlic. Cook on medium-low for 15 minutes while covered. Add chicken back to skillet, cover, and cook for another 6-8 minutes. The chicken should fall apart when you lift it with a fork. That’s when you know its done.  

I like mine over toasted quinoa. To toast it pour quinoa in dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat for 7-8 minutes. It will start to turn golden brown, and pop like popcorn kernels. Then cook on low for 20 minutes 1:2 ratio (1 part quinoa, 2 parts water).


Dinner is served..



There’s nothing quite as satisfying as a healthy, homecooked meal. I feel inspired to cook more Italian style meals right now as I start counting down until my European adventure in March. This rustic, Tuscan dish was modified to serve 2 due to the fact that I’m usually cooking for one 🙂 and without exact number crunching I’d say between 280-300 calories per serving. That includes the fiber-ful quinoa. Speaking of quinoa, did you know that its considered a “superfood”? And it’s a green, not a grain. Quinoa is actually in the spinach family. It has, seriously, amazing health benefits. I would encourage anyone to incorporate it into weekly meal planning, and I’ll be doing the same!

Why quinoa is a superfood:

1) It’s a complete complete protein, containing all 9 essecial amino acids.

2) High in magnesium. Good for managing blood pressure.

3) Good source of fiber.

4) Rich in manganese and copper, which act as antioxidants.

5) Higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc than ALL GRAINS.

What’s cookin’ in your kitchen tonight?

Well the night is young. I’m headed out for a glass of wine with a good friend. Hope your hump day was fabulous!

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For the Love of Shrimp

Tonight I cooked up some of that shrimp I had cleaned on Sunday and holy moly is it good. Living near the sea I’m used to good, fresh seafood, but I must say these shrimp were scrumptious. After googling “Cooking Light: shrimp” and coming up with (a) recipes that required me to make another trip to the  grocery store, or  (b) recipes I just wouldn’t consider cooking light ..I decided to wing it. Simplicity is my motto today, and I have everything I need to make seafood tacos. To start I heated a splash of Chardonnay in a skillet and added about 5 oz shrimp. Let it cook for 4 minutes then removed from hot surface, added chopped cilantro and a squeeze of lime. The taco ensemble (in a whole-wheat tortilla) consisted of arugula, pico de gallo, avocado, and succulent shrimp. I just may have it again for lunch tomorrow. 🙂




Now my best argument for why you should love shrimp too.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids. That’s reason enough right there. Omega-3’s lower cholesterol, which prevents a multitude of heart diseases, lowers risk for Alzheimer’s disease and arthritis, improves brain function, reduces inflammation.

2. Excellent source of selenium, which help neutralize cancer-causing free radicals.

3. It’s packed with protein, and still low-fat and low-cal. One four-ounce serving contains 112 calories, less than 1 gram of fat, and 23.7 grams of protein. How’s that for a lean meat?

4. Shrimp is also a good source of Vitamin D and Vitamin B12.

Have you eaten shrimp lately?

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Monday Morning Sugar Cookies

Good morning!!  I woke up with an itch to bake. With only two more weeks until Christmas I decided to make the most of it. Holiday spirit and justifies sugar cookies before breakfast. 🙂 So I climbed into my pantry and pulled down one of my favorite cook books: Betty Crockers’ Cooky Book (1963 print). I’ve had this book forever. Actually it belonged to my grandmother, and then my mother, and now me. The pages are well-loved with tattered corners. As a kid I used to flip through it often.




I’ve loved baking for as long as I can remember. I must have been about 8 or 9 years old when I started baking cookies with mom. I remember when I was 9 I baked my dad cookies all by myself. I was so proud. I couldn’t wait to show him what I’d done. Unfortunately I used lemon extract instead of vanilla extract, and they were chocolate chip cookies. When you’re 9 the bottles look the same. Anyhow, they had to be awful, but he ate them anyways and praised me for my good work.

Before long I was cooking dinner. Most junior high girls woke up on Saturdays to watch Saved By The Bell. I woke up, and with a stack of cook books in my lap, started putting together a grocery list for me and mom. Not only did I love baking. I loved cooking and grocery shopping too. Did anyone else love grocery shopping as a kid? Maybe it’s because it was something mom and I always did together. It was a girl thing. 🙂 I still love grocery shopping with her when I go to visit. I love you mama.

So my cookies turned out so pretty! Just your basic sugar cookie recipe with store bought frosting (whipped vanilla). I tried to make icing but it turned out really bitter and I didn’t feel like putting any more time into it so I just pulled down a tub from the pantry.

Sugar Cookies
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Cream above ingredients until smooth.

2 1/2 cups flour, sifted
1 tsp salt
1tsp baking powder

Add dry ingredients gradually to sugar mixture while beating until smooth. Chill in refrigerator for one hour. Then place ball of dough out on floured surface, with rolling-pin roll flat (1/8″ thickness.. thicker if you like fluffy cookies). Bake @ 400F degrees on greased cookie sheet for 6-8minutes.




So that’s that. I’ve been baking, blogging, and watched While You Were Sleeping. It’s a holiday movie, light-hearted romantic comedy. Just my thing! Now I’m headed out for a run. It looked dry earlier but I’m afraid its raining now. Darn! I should have jumped on that first thing this morning, but what can I say, cookies were calling my name. Besides, now I can enjoy a nice long run with no further agenda. The day is mine. Happy Monday to everyone..

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