Where to begin.

It’s hard to say. I’ve obviously gotten so out of the habit of writing on this thing. And now I’m just trying to figure out where to pick back up. I feel highly motivated to talk about how the past year has been eye-opening and older-feeling and how I’m loving it but I pretty much did that here already. At this moment as I sit at my kitchen tablette with a first attempt at homemade cranberry sauce on the stove, I have nothing to complain about. Nothing bogging me down. I am content in this moment. It feels awesome, what can I say?

Image

So I guess I’ll talk about all the things that have been going on in my kitchen lately.

(And thankfully no fruit flies were involved)

1. Homemade Nut Butters

(and other food processor awesomeness)
Finished Bliss AKA Coconut Butter

Finished Bliss AKA Coconut Butter

Shredded coconut + food processor = bliss-in-the-making

Shredded coconut + food processor = bliss-in-the-making

Chopped almonds, set aside for CRUNCHY almond butter

Chopped almonds, set aside for CRUNCHY almond butter

Almond butteroundandround

Almond butteroundandround

The finished goods

The finished goods

Asian Ginger Dressing

Asian Ginger Dressing

2. Raw & Roasted Salads

Curried Raw & Roasted Salad

Curried Raw & Roasted Salad

Raw & Roasted Salad

Raw & Roasted Salad

This has been my lunch for weeks now. It’s the perfect transition of lunch-salad into colder weather. Simply roast a large baking sheet worth of vegetables with desired flavoring

Favorites: coconut butter + curry powder, olive oil + chili powder&cumin, olive oil + zatar, coconut oil + cajun seasoning

Then combine a bunch of raw vegetables with a separate dressing

Favorites: lemon juice + olive oil + apple cider vinegar + dijon mustard (add additional seasoning to complement roasted flavorings)

Protein can be tofu roasted with the vegetables or beans/lentils added with the raw veggies.

3. Homemade No Sugar Added Cranberry Sauce

Before

Before

After

After

(As I finished the post, I finished the sauce. And let me tell you, it’s delicious. –> Recipe to follow)

Alright, I think I’ve covered it.

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Who más

Howmis?

Humm is

Him us

Hummus.

Seriously, who doesn’t love hummus?

I grew up eating homemade hummus, and I must say that it has spoiled me into viewing a lot of store-bought hummus with a fair helping of disdain.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some brands (one-that-I’ve-tried) that taste like homemade (Trader Joe’s for the win), but seriously

this just doesn’t taste real to me {Probably because of the ingredient list: Cooked Chickpeas [Chickpeas (Garbanzos), Water], Tahini (Ground Sesame), Soybean And/Or Canola Oil, Garlic, Salt, Citric Acid, Seasoning And Spices, Natural Flavors, Potassium Sorbate Added To Maintain Freshness.}

In my holier-than-thou humble opinion, hummus deserves to be made with extra virgin olive oil and without preservatives. And it’s so easy to make (and cheaper– just think of the cost comparison) that there’s no reason not to!

So without further adieu, I give you hummus. (With the extra-special-secret ingredient my Syrian Uncle told me about)

Hummus

Ingredients
– cooked (or canned) chickpeas/garbanzo beans (about 2 cups worth)
– tahini (sesame paste) (about 1-2tbsp)
– extra virgin olive oil (about 1-2 tbsp)
– juice of 1 lemon
– 1-4 cloves of garlic (depending on your preference)
– a couple splashes of white vinegar (<–secret ingredient)
– a couple grinds of sea salt
– a few good shakes of cumin
– a few good shakes of paprika
– water

Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in your food processor or blender (but seriously, it’s easier in your food processor unless you have a super-high-powered-expensive-blender) except the water. Process until it’s as smooth as it can get.

2. Add water (reserved water from your chickpeas would be really great) gradually until the mixture reaches the desired consistency.

3. Get in your belly!

I’m telling you, the vinegar kicks this baby up a notch! Also- feel free to experiment and add spices/other foods (olives, pine nuts, etc) to make it your own.

What’s one homemade item that you can’t stand to buy from a store?

Have you ever made hummus?

One of those weeks.

You ever have one of those weeks where you feel like you can’t-quite-get-a-hold-on-what-you-have-to-do / what’s-going-on and then all-of-a-suddenit’s-the-weekend? That’s where I am this week. Switching to a job where I create my own hours is a big transition for me, but on top of that, there was a holiday at the beginning of the week and I had about half the caseload- so it left me a bit unsure of how my week should really be looking. I’m still unsure, but I’m just going to roll with it for the rest of the week and then hopefully be able to start fresh on Monday.

At this point you may be thinking: “what the heck is Megan talking about?” or “nice over-share, Megan.” But here’s a purple-green bell pepper:

crazy, right?

And here’s an old picture of an almost-empty peanut butter jar, perfect for OIAJ (oats-in-a-jar):

my motivation for eating more peanut butter.

And here’s me introducing the deliciousness that is Sunflower Seed Butter on Flourless Wheatberry Bread to my good (German) friend Xaver:

He loved it.

Alright, that’s it for now. No time to do my 5 Things Thur…Friday yet. But stay tuned, as I am planning on completing it once I complete my jobly duties.

 

TWIW + Peanutty Protein Goodness

So over the course of the past few months, I’ve come to realize that bloggers love acronyms.

So, in accordance with the blogger-laws-of-the-interwebs, I’ve turned This Week in Workouts to TWIW… it’s a vital difference, obviously. Here goes:
TWIW(This Week in Workouts)
Sa – off
Su – off (clearly my weekend was event-filled)
M – Circuit Strength Training
Tu – 30 min. Quick Cardio (high-intensity floor cardio) + 60 minute Power Yoga (this made me incredibly sore for two days)
W – 45 minute elliptical
Th – Circuit Strength Training
F – 60 minute KickIt Core (Kick Boxing w/extra core work… my back is soooore)

So you know how I told you guys that I always eat a late night snack? Well, I was perusing blogs the other day (while simultaneously debating what my late night snack would be) and I stumbled upon a fantastic find! So now, without further ado, the best-new-addition-to-the-foods-that-I-eat/love/am-addicted-to:
… brought to you by Clean Eating Chelsey
… because I didn’t change her recipe at all…
…. and it was so delicious…
Peanutty Protein Muffin (for 1) source
Ingredients
– 1 tbsp flaxseed meal + 3 tbsp water, beat with a fork until gelled
– 2 tbsp unsweetened apple sauce
– 1/2 tsp baking soda
– dash of cinnamon
– 1 tsp vanilla extract
– 1/4 cup peanut flour
Directions
1. Combine all ingredients in a mug, one at a time. Mix well.
2. Microwave on high for 2 minutes.
3. Top or stuff with something delicious.
4. Devour!

wet ingredients
mixed up and ready to microwave…

…2 minutes later…

Voila!
Slid easily out onto a plate…
With 1/2 tbsp crunchy (kroger natural) peanut butter
Ahhhhmazing!
other filling ideas:
– Cut in half and stuff with strawberry slices
– While warm, cut in half, stuff with chocolate, and eat like a sandwich
– Your favorite jam
– Ice cream(mmm)

Nutrition Facts:


Recent Pains + Recent Gains = Pretty Sweet Life.

Of the things that I hate in life, messing up something I’ve prepared for myself (or others…but mostly myself) to eat probably makes the top 5.

So imagine my level of saddness when these beautiful beans:
OK… maybe they’re not that beautiful
Turned into this:
after roasting. They look sort of alright at first glance, but some of them were sour (ewwww) and I ended up tossing the whole batch for fear of eating another sour green bean. This has never happened to me.
Have you ever eaten a sour green bean?

Fortunately, the dish that I made with it turned out great! (Still enjoying it as leftovers)
Looks plain, but tastes great! And it’s quick and easy! (Recipe soon)
The other recent pain happened yesterday during an awesome Quick Cardio class at my Y. Yesterday I was so excited to be able to go to my favorite combo of Quick Cardio + Power Yoga with this really awesome instructor. Quick Cardio is basically 30 minutes of high intensity cardio – running, jumping, shuffling, leaps, etc. It’s quite fun but also quite intense. (And I’m sure you all know what Power Yoga is)
Well, in Quick Cardio, I’m working hard and feeling pretty awesome (we had these run-across-the-floor things and I beat my group a couple times) when all of a sudden I get the most-killer-cramp-I-have-ever-gotten-in-my-life. The right side of my insides seized up into the worst-pain-I-have-ever-felt-from-an-exercise-cramp.
this was in my side
Normally, I’m the type to just run through cramps until they go away, but I felt completely incapacitated by this cramp. I’m pretty sure I made a face of excruciating pain as I grabbed my side and stopped because another lady in the class instructed me to go get water haha So after guzzling down the full 20oz of my water, the cramp subsided but the class was over : (
Have you ever gotten a cramp from hell such as this one?

Luckily the awesomeness soon followed this cramp set-back. Two nights ago, I made my usual plain yogurt. As I had told you all before, I have started to use pectin (the no-sugar-needed kind) to thicken my yogurt and upped the milk fat to 2% in an effort to make a more creamy yogurt that won’t turn into liquid. And finally (FINALLY!!!) I was successful. So, if you want to make your own thick-and-creamy yogurt that tastes just like Stonyfield Farms follow these steps:
Homemade Yogurt Recipe (Makes 6 cups)
1. Heat 6 cups of 2% milk on the stove over medium heat until it reaches 180˚F, or until it’s hot and bubbling but not boiling.
2. Meanwhile, place 1 tablespoon of no-sugar-necessary pectin in your blender.
3. Once the milk is at the necessary temperature, pour about 1 cup of it into the blender with the pectin and pour the rest into your storage container. Blend on low until mixed and pour into the container with the rest of your milk, scraping the sides into the milk.
4. Cover and allow the milk temperature to drop between 110˚F and 120˚F, or until it’s still hot but you could leave your (very clean) finger in it without burning you.
5. With a bowl, scoop out about a cup of the milk. Add 3/4 cup of your favorite brand of Whole Milk Plain Yogurt (I used Stonyfield Farm). The end product will taste most-similar to whatever yogurt you use. Stir well and pour back into your container.
6. Cover with 2 dish cloths and allow to sit for 7 hours on the warmest part of your counter without disturbing it.
7. Refrigerate after 7 hours and serve when cold!
You will get this:
Blurry picture, but can you see how globular and non-liquid it is?!?!
I used it in my cocoa-peanut flour-cereal-stevia-yogurt concoction:
It tasted just like Stonyfield Farm Low Fat Yogurt!
OK so real quick (gotta make it to the gym before work!) the other awesome gain in my life is this:
Fresh, home-grown Romaine Lettuce!

My mom made a garden this year, and this is its first yield! I’ve been using it in my salads mixed with other stuff so that it lasts longer. I’m looking forward to enjoying (and posting about) all sorts of goodies from her garden this Summer! 😀

The End.

No-bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls

As you all may have read in an earlier blog post of mine, some studies have found that ingesting protein before a workout can increase your metabolism for hours after your workout. (Source:RealAge) So I’ve been trying to make sure that if I’m headed to the gym a good while after a meal (or before a meal, in the case of AM workouts), I eat something that’s rich in protein.

I had been mixing 1/2 scoop protein powder with cold coffee before my morning workouts, but then my changing work schedule had me going to the gym after work for a couple days last week. So I was faced with a dilemma: what to pack with me to get my pre-workout protein?
SOLUTION:
No-Bake Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Balls
(adapted from a recipe by Chalene Johnson… which I found on about 10 different pages but can’t find the original)
Ingredients (makes 10-12)
– 1/2 cup peanut flour
– 3 scoops chocolate protein powder (I used Designer whey)
– 1/2 cup oat bran
– 3 tbsp peanut butter (I used crunchy), melted slightly
– water
Directions
1. Combine all dry ingredients and mix well.
2. Add the peanut butter and mix as well as you can.
3. Add enough water to make the mixture sticky and moist.
4. Roll into 10-12 balls and place on a plate covered with wax paper. Pop in the freezer for a 10 minutes or so.
5. To store, I wrapped each individually in wax paper and plastic-baggied 8 for the freezer and 2 for the fridge. Move the frozen ones the fridge the day before you want to eat them.
ingredients.
dry ingredient blend.
finished product.

Obviously,  I forgot to snap a picture of the mixture pre-ball-formation haha. This balls turned out to be pretty good! The taste reminds me of those really good chocolate-peanut butter no bake cookies only healthier-tasting.

Nutrition Stats:

I’ve Made a Commitment.

So this past week I’ve committed myself to a new way of life.

Only kidding! Not vegan. Not that there’s anything wrong with being vegan… I just don’t want to be vegan.

My actual new way of life is being a pre-work worker outer. I’ve been waking up between 5 and 5:05am and ambling off the the gym for an awesome sweat session before work, and I think I’ve gotten the routine down to a science.
5:00-5:05am – wake up
5:10am

cold coffee (brewed the night before) with 1/2 a scoop of protein powder
+
The rest of the coffee
5:15-5:25 – prepare for the day (put lunch items in lunch box, brush teeth, get dressed, etc.)
5:45am – Arrive at the gym.
M- Cycle class (45 minutes)
T- Circuit Strength Training (40 minutes)
W- Elliptical (45 minutes) alternating forwards and backwards (w/my Women’s Health Magazine)
TR- Circuit Strength Training (40 minutes)
F- Cycle class (45 minutes)
6:30isham– Enter locker room, shower, get dressed, and get ready for work!
7:15am – Get some free coffee from the gym, get in car for breakfast.
Breakfast: Overnight Oats. The perfect, portable meal!
1/4 c. oats, 2 1/2 tbsp oat bran w/1/4 c. greek yogurt, 1/2 c. milk, 1 1/2 tbsp flaxseed meal,  1/2 tbsp almond butter, mango & frozen berries, spices
1/8c quick steel cut oats, 2 1/2 tbsp oat bran, 2 tbsp peanut flour, 1/4 c greek yog, 1/2 coconut milk beverage, mango, blueberries, spices
1/4 c oats, 2 1/2 tbsp oat bran, 1/4 c greek yog, 1/2 c coconut milk beverage, 1 tbsp flaxseed meal, 1/2 tbsp peanut butter, 1/2 diced apple, spices 

7:30am – Leave parking lot for work
7:52-7:57am – Arrive at work. (I’m hourly, so I know the exact time range.)

Let me tell you- my day is sooo much better when I don’t have a workout looming over my head. Workouts feel awesome and fun again rather than an item on my to-do list when I’m exhausted after work. 

In other news, since I’ve been working 8 hour days, I get to pack way less for lunch!
om nom nom
Work-eating-schedule
10:00am – 1/2 grapefruit
12:00pm – (moving counter-clockwise from the grapefruit) (1) roasted green beans, (2) turkey (leftover roasted) and swiss sandwich with yellow mustard on my favorite bread, & (3) cooked cabbage/broccoli/onion/mushroom w/turmeric, salt, pepper, & apple cider vinegar
3:00pm – 1 tbsp raw mixed nuts, 1 tbsp unsalted dry roasted peanuts, & 2 prunes

Of course the meal changes but the schedule stays about the same. And that’s my workweek for you. Topped off with a Friday-evening glass of wine: