Saturday, October 31, 2009

My Little (Uncooperative) Pumpkin

The toddler is not very excited about wearing his Halloween costume. Plus, he got scared at a Halloween party earlier in the week by some kids in costumes. After much complaining, he finally agreed to wear his very simple pumpkin outfit yesterday. But he couldn’t wait to take it off for his nap…



Halloween 01


Halloween 02


And I’m leaving you with some pictures of the cupcake that I just “had” to buy…


Halloween 03


Halloween 04


HAPPY HALLOWEEN!


Be well,

Andrea

Friday, October 30, 2009

Do You Love Your Workouts?

I have written this before, but I'm really fascinated by how effortlessly the toddler gets tons of exercise into his day. In fact, there is seldom a minute he sits still. He never thinks of it as exercise but as having fun. Here are some recent examples:


Climbing (there isn’t another photo of him actually climbing up as I got a bit nervous and came to his “rescue;” yes, maybe I am a bit overprotective…)


Exercise 01


Hanging and swinging – by far his favorite activity


Exercise 02


Exercise 05


Exercise 06


Exercise 07


Dancing – here he is jumping around because he was so excited about getting some rubber balls out of a ball machine. And then he we spent hours chasing after them…


Exercise 03


Observing the toddler made me think that there is really no reason for us not to enjoy our workouts just as much as the toddler enjoys his “workouts.”


I think the first step is to find activities we truly enjoy. There are so many forms of exercise: running, swimming, cycling, Pilates, yoga, kickboxing, hiking, rowing, weightlifting, rock climbing… The list is endless. So why do we so often get “stuck” doing something we don’t truly enjoy? I think it’s about time that we all enjoy our workouts. I for one will go hiking this weekend, no matter what!


Questions: Do you enjoy your workouts? If not, what can you do to make them more fun and less "work"? Do you have any exciting Halloween plans?


Have a fun, active weekend!


Be well,

Andrea

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Spinach Wrap with an Extra Kick

I said yesterday that I have been getting a bit bored with spinach lately. Don't get me wrong, I still love spinach, but I realized that I had to look for ways to spice it up a bit. I frequently make myself a wrap with lots of spinach for lunch. When I was at the store, I realized that I haven't had arugula in a long time. I thought arugula would be just what my wrap needed to make a bit more interesting.

I started with a sprouted wheat tortilla

to which I added olive hummus and some turkey

and lots of spinach and arugula.

Look at my beautiful wrap. It was delicious!

The arugula was just what it needed!

Question: What are some ways you spice up your food?

Be well,
Andrea

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Warm Spinach Salad with a Poached Egg

We go through a lot of spinach in our house. Almost all the juice I make has some spinach in it, and I also make a lot of spinach salads. But because I have been eating a lot of spinach salad lately, I had gotten a bit bored with it.

I remembered that I used to make a warm spinach salad. Basically, I saute some onions and add olive oil and balsamic vinegar to the still warm pan to make a warm dressing. Then I pour the warm dressing over the spinach, which slightly wilts the spinach leaves. I usually top the salad with a poached egg.


Ingredients
  • Spinach (however much you'd like to eat)
  • 1 small red onion, cut into half rings
  • olive oil (1 part)
  • balsamic vinegar (2 parts)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • eggs, poached
Saute the onions in a bit of oil until they are soft. Then add one part olive oil and two parts balsamic vinegar as well as salt and pepper to taste. Pour the warm mixture over the washed spinach. Toss with Parmesan cheese to taste. Top the salad with a poached egg.

A totally unrelated question: What is your favorite Halloween candy? I'm in the mood for something sweet right now...

Be well,
Andrea

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Easy But Delicious Repeats

This week is going to be quite hectic again, so I've decided to make easy dishes I have made numerous times before. I already have many of the ingredients in my pantry, and I can cook them without looking at the recipes. Also, I can substitute ingredients easily since I am familiar with the recipes and know what works and what doesn't. So here are this week's meals:

Tuesday: Portobello Mushroom Burgers


Wednesday: Pasta Salad with Lemon Rosemary Chicken and Oven Roasted Vegetables

Thursday: Lentil Soup with Spicy Yogurt Sauce


Friday: I hope to finally experiment with some warm cabbage salad. But I have been meaning to do this for weeks, so don't hold your breath...

Question: What are some of your "no think" meals?

Be well,
Andrea

Monday, October 26, 2009

What's Your Favorite Workout DVD?

I have been quite consistent with my gym workouts over the past couple months. I have also done The 30 Day Shred numerous times. I like Jillian's workout because the DVD consists of three twenty-minute, "back-to-basics" workouts: jumping jacks, push-ups, crunches, lunges.... Hubby actually calls it "old school;" he loves that word...

Anyway, I am realizing that we are surrounded by the flu, the weather is getting more and more unpredictable, and it's time to mix things up a bit. I want to be prepared for the days I won't be able to make it to the gym and don't want to do the same DVD over and over again. I don't do The 30 Day Shred two days in a row as I like to mix up my workouts.

Besides The 30 Day Shred, my only other workout DVDs are some old Winsor Pilates DVDs, which I need to dust off. So I'm thinking of purchasing a few more DVDs to have some variety (since I don't have Cable TV and working out to online workouts doesn't work out that well for me).

Questions: Do you work out to DVDs? What are your favorite workout DVDs? I would like to get a good yoga DVD as well as a total body workout DVD and possibly some other fun, new workouts. I plan to compile a list of everyone's favorites over the next few days and post an update later in the week.

I hope you are having a great Monday! Can you believe it's the last week of October...

Be well,
Andrea

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mini Apple Crisps

Several weeks ago, Jenn posted a recipe for mini apple crisps, and I knew I had to make them. Unfortunately, I didn’t have mini ramekins. Ramekins have been on my wish list for a very long time. Since my kitchen is pretty small, I always think very carefully before purchasing new kitchen items. But I thought ramekins would be a good, useful purchase. Plus, I had a $25 gift card from my birthday.


Here are my beautiful ramekins. The four of them cost only about $10, so I get to go shopping again with the money left on the gift card… :o)


Apple Crisp 01


I slightly altered Jenn’s recipe. Here is what I used to make four mini apple crisps:


Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 large apples
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 3 Tbsp oats
  • 4 Tbsp water
I started by cutting the peeled apples into small thin slices.


Apple Crisp 02


Then, I mixed the apples with the cinnamon.


Apple Crisp 03


Next, I put the apple mixture into the ramekins.


Apple Crisp 04


Apple Crisp 05


I mixed the sugar, flour, and oats. When the dry ingredients were mixed, I added the melted butter and mixed everything well.


Apple Crisp 06


I put the oat mixture on top of the apples.


Apple Crisp 07


Finally, I poured one tablespoon of water over each ramekin.


Apple Crisp 08


I baked the crisps in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes.


Apple Crisp 09


Everyone loved the crisps, and I have already made them several times. They are easy, quick, and pretty healthy.


Question: What’s your favorite apple recipe?


Be well,

Andrea

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spicy Korean Tofu Soup

I love soups, and one of my favorite soups, especially as it’s getting colder, is spicy Korean tofu soup. Nevertheless, I have never made it myself. I don’t really know why, but it's probably because to me it’s a special treat when we go out for tofu soup once in a while.


The other day it was raining a lot, so I suggested some tofu soup to warm us up…. I got the vegetable tofu soup (you can also get it with meat or seafood). It was delicious. I love the spiciness of the soup with the silkiness of the tofu. The soup is served sizzling hot. It can be a bit of a challenge to keep a very active, determined toddler safe from the pot and its contents…



Tofu Soup


It’s definitely time for me to make tofu soup at home…. It’s officially going on my “must make” list once things slow down a bit.


Questions: Have you ever had tofu soup? Did you like it? Do you like tofu? What’s your favorite way to eat it?


Be well,

Andrea

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

“Orange” Juice

Well, a few weeks ago we had pink juice thanks to the toddler’s strawberries. Last week, we had a lot of “orange” juice. Not as in orange, the fruit, but as in orange the color. We made a lot of juice with carrots; therefore the orange color.


Our first “orange” juice included the following:

  • 2 heads of Romaine lettuce
  • 4 carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cucumber

Orange Juice 01


The toddler loved it. I was very worried about him drinking a whole glass by himself as he insisted on holding the glass by himself. But, he did fine that day…


Orange Juice 02

Orange Juice 03


And he did fine when we had our next “orange” juice. This time we juiced the following:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce
  • 5 carrots
  • 2 apples
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 cucumber
  • About 25 over-ripe grapes

Orange Juice 04


This was hubby’s favorite juice so far. The grapes gave it a nice sweetness…


And then we had the following to juice:

  • 1 head of Romaine lettuce
  • 5 red kale leaves
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 cucumber

Orange Juice 05


We juiced it, and the toddler had to have his glass right away. He loved his juice. He spilled some on his pj’s, which was fine. Then he spilled a bit on the floor. He drank about half of a big glass. Then he saw Daddy doing something in the kitchen, and he got all excited. The juice ended up EVERYWHERE…. No picture. Lesson learned: Supervise a toddler with his own glass of juice better….


Question: What’s your favorite juice (freshly made or bought)?


Be well,

Andrea

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Kabocha Soup & Easy Weekly Meals

Here is another recipe I made for the first time last week. I finally bought a kabocha squash (for the first time) and made some soup.


I loosely followed Jenn’s recipe. I tried to cut the kabocha into pieces before putting it into the microwave, but I couldn’t cut it. So I put the whole kabocha (which was quite big) into the microwave for 5 minutes. Then I cut it into pieces, scooped out the seeds, and took off the skin.


Next I sautéed an onion and four cloves of garlic and then added the kabocha. I sautéed everything for a few minutes. Then I added 7 cups of liquid (half Organic low sodium vegetable broth and half water) and simmered everything for about 20 minutes. Finally, I used my immersion blender to puree the soup. I seasoned the soup with a little salt and pepper.


It was delicious, and I loved the color!


I didn’t make dinner on Friday as we ate at my mother-in-law’s again. It was delicious. I have recently realized that I don’t really portray all the Korean meals we eat on the blog, so I’m going to feature some of our Korean dishes soon…


This week is going to be extremely busy, so I’m planning to have some leftovers. My family isn’t too excited about leftovers, but oh well…


Tuesday: Vegetarian chili with cornbread. We'll also have a salad.


Wednesday: Salmon, brown rice, & a salad.


Thursday: Leftover vegetarian chili with cornbread. And more salad... :o)


Friday: I’m inviting myself to my mother-in-law’s again… :o)


Yes, I’m making my life a bit easier this week when it comes to cooking...


Question: What are your “food strategies” when you have a busy week?


Be well,

Andrea

Excitement in the Kitchen: Veggie Burgers

Last week was exciting as I tried all new recipes. I tried to follow the recipes pretty closely, but (as always) I ended up changing a few things. However, all the meals turned out great!

First, I made veggie burgers. Hubby was not too excited when I announced that I’d make homemade veggie burgers. I think he remembered some horribly mushy “veggie burgers” I tried to make some time ago out of leftover rice and all sorts of other leftover veggies I had found in the fridge. Let’s just say they weren’t my finest creation.


However, Alison’s recipe was awesome, and I followed it pretty much. I didn’t have sunflower seeds, but I’ll make sure to add some next time. I also didn’t use a food processor as I only have a mini food processor. So I did what Alison suggested and got a nice arm workout! I think my right arm may forever be larger than my left… :o) Just kidding; it actually wasn’t that hard!


Here are the main ingredients for the veggie burgers (minus the fake pumpkin). Also, not pictured are the 3 cloves of garlic I used:


Veggie Burgers 01


I started by cooking one cup of quinoa in 2 cups of water for about 15 minutes. I have to admit that I didn’t measure very well, so there may have been a bit too much water…


In the meantime, I smashed up the cannellini beans and worked in three-fourth of a cup of ground flaxseed. Once the quinoa was done, I added it and worked the mixture some more (and my right arm). I used a fork as well as my potato smasher… I don’t think my mixture got as smooth as Alison’s in the food processor, but it worked just fine…


Veggie Burgers 02


And here are the burgers right after I put them into the pan.


Veggie Burgers 03


After cooking them on each side for about 5-8 minutes, I put mine on top of some lettuce, tomatoes, & avocado.


Veggie Burgers 04


And I put hubby’s and the teenager’s on buns with avocado, tomato, & lettuce. They also added ketchup and mustard to their burgers.


Veggie Burgers 05


These are definitely going to be a staple in our house!


I have another meal from last week to share with you later. And I will also come up with a simple meal plan as our week is going to be very busy.


Question: What do you like to put on your (veggie) burger? I think I have asked this question before, but it's fun... I love to add good, crumbled blue cheese (on special occasions).


Be well,

Andrea

Monday, October 19, 2009

How to Make Changes to Make Your Life Better

The other day I did my first (and so far only) flashback post. I looked back on the day the toddler was born and the day he turned one. Both days were so very special to me. I also remembered the hopes, dreams, and fears I had on both days.

The day the toddler was born, I right away started to think about how difficult it would be to go back to work. I didn't want to be separated from my baby. Luckily, I was able to do a lot of my work from home, so I didn't have to be gone all day. However, I still had to get my work done. The first year of his life I got less than four hours of sleep per night as I got up at 3:30 or 4:00 a.m. to do work. I also taught night classes for part of the year. I was exhausted, run down, and stretched beyond my limits. I did not take care of myself the way I should have.

The day the toddler turned one, I knew I had to change things. While I had made every effort to spend as much time as possible with the toddler during his first year, I really regretted having worked so much. And I regretted not having taken better care of myself. I felt old and exhausted. I didn't have enough energy to get through the day and relied on way too much coffee. I also still had about 15 pounds of "baby fat" to lose.

While I knew that I had to change things, actually changing them was hard. For a while, I just wasn't able to see beyond the way my life was at the time. What I mean by that is that it took quite some time to allow myself to see possibilities. Here is what I have changed over the past year and what I have done to make it work:
  • I work less (outside the home). We planned for it by truly looking at our finances and cutting back on some non-essential expenses (canceled Cable T.V., took a 3-day local vacation - we had to forgo our previously planned trips to visit family, purchased fewer new clothes & shoes, began meal planning, and decided that we would drive our cars for a long time.).
  • I make time for exercise every day. I realized that I had to put exercise in my day planner and treat it as an appointment that I can't cancel. I can't cancel class when I get busy, so why did I think I could cancel exercise?!!?
  • I learned that I sometimes have to say "no." While I think volunteering and giving back to the community is very important, I can't do everything all the time. I learned to stop and think for a minute before giving my time to something.
  • I plan meals. Meal planning allows me to buy what I truly need. My mom never, ever throws anything away and always only buys what she needs. I am getting much better at this... Meal planning has also made my life much less stressful.
  • I let go of my "all or nothing" mentality. For example, I realized that I can get a great workout in 30 minutes if I push myself hard enough. In the past, I had told myself that if I didn't have at least an hour to work out it wasn't worth it. A more recent example involves my juicer. When I bought it, I had every intention to juice every day. When I realized that that wasn't realistic, I almost gave up on juicing all together. However, now I am very happy juicing three or four times per week.
  • Midway through the toddler's second year, I started this blog. It has truly helped me to focus on all the joys in my life and to document some of our happy times. I have also "met" so many amazing bloggers, and all of you have enriched my life!
Questions: Where do you want to be in one year? Two years? What do you need to do to get there?

Be well,
Andrea

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Do You Want to Get to Know Me Better?

Happy Sunday!

A few days ago, Coco from Balance, Joy and Delicias gave me this wonderful award.


Thank you, Coco! I am supposed to answer 35 questions using only one word. Here we go:
  1. Where is your cell phone? Purse
  2. Your hair? Blonde
  3. Your mother? Hard-working
  4. Your father? Wise
  5. Your favorite food? Tomatoes
  6. Your dream last night? None
  7. Your favorite drink? Water
  8. Your dream/goal? Happiness
  9. What room are you in? Bedroom
  10. Your hobby? Gardening
  11. Your fear? Loss
  12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Happy
  13. Where were you last night? Home
  14. Something you aren’t? Selfish
  15. Muffins? No
  16. Wish list item? Books
  17. Where did you grow up? Europe
  18. Last thing you did? Ate breakfast
  19. What are you wearing? Sweats
  20. Your TV? Cable-less
  21. Your pets? None
  22. Your friends? Wonderful
  23. Your life? Happy
  24. Your mood? Content
  25. Missing someone? Family
  26. No question
  27. Something you’re not wearing? Socks
  28. Your favorite store? TJ’s
  29. Your favorite color? Pink
  30. When was the last time you laughed? Yesterday
  31. Last time you cried? Last month
  32. Best Friend? Hubby
  33. One place that I go over and over again? Work
  34. One person who emails me regularly? Hubby
  35. Favorite place to eat? Home
Again, thank you Coco! If you haven’t checked out Coco’s blog yet, head over there. She posts the most beautiful food every day, and I very much enjoy reading her blog. Instead of giving this award to just a few of you, why don't you all answer at least some of the above questions in the comments.

Also, if you want to learn even more about me, check out my guest post on Angie’s blog where I answer more questions about myself. Angie is currently on her one year wedding anniversary vacation in the Dominican Republic and had several bloggers answer questions about themselves, including me. It's fun to learn more about other bloggers... :o)

Don't forget to answer some or all of the above questions in the comments!

Be well,
Andrea

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Easy Saturday Breakfast & Lunch

Happy Saturday!


All three boys started the day with egg/cheese/avocado sandwiches. A very simple breakfast, but they loved it. Hubby decided to take his apart and make it into an open-faced sandwich. He likes to eat things separately… :o) The teenager added lots of ketchup to his sandwich (he is my child after all…).


Easy Breakfast Sandwich


Lunch was simple too! My mother-in-law had given me lots of veggies, so I decided to make an easy veggie & sausage pasta.

I started by sautéing some onions, garlic, carrots, & celery. Then I added two cut up spicy, organic sausages.


Veggie Pasta


I seasoned the pasta with a bit of salt and pepper. Then I added half a jar of organic pasta sauce and one cup of water and simmered everything for about 20 minutes.


Veggie Pasta


In the meantime, I boiled two kinds of pasta that were left over from previous meals. I tossed the sauce with the cooked pasta and sprinkled it with some Parmesan cheese and some basil. So simple, yet so good…


Veggie Pasta


Veggie Pasta


Question: What did you have for breakfast and/or lunch today?


Be well,

Andrea

Friday, October 16, 2009

Another Date Night

Last weekend we got to go out to celebrate hubby's birthday.

Hubby got a glass of Octoberfest Beer, and I got a glass of Prosecco.

We sat in the bar area again and ordered from the small plates menu. We ordered Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with arugula salad and melon balls. The saltiness of the prosciutto went very nicely with the sweetness of the figs. The melon balls sat on a balsamic vinegar reduction, which was a very nice combination. And I loved the bitterness of the arugula.

We also had to have some Ahi Tuna Poke - fabulous as always... :o)

And an order of calamari...

We also got the French Onion Chicken Flatbread with caramelized onions, bacon, chicken, Gruyere, & scallions. It was a tasty dish but a bit too salty for me.

And we treated ourselves to a slice of the most amazing carrot cake for dessert...

We had a great time! :o)

Question: What are your weekend plans? We don't really have any plans, which I actually love... :o)

Be well,
Andrea