Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Update and Happy Holidays

Sorry for being MIA for so long. I hadn’t planned on stopping blogging completely, but as life got crazier and crazier, I had no energy left for blogging. Thank you for checking in with me, and sorry it took so long to get back to you.

The last few months were way beyond my “regular busy and stressful,” and for the first time in many years I really struggled with making health a priority. I am now back to regular workouts and after just a few days of daily exercise, things got so much better – something I knew all along but sometimes you get to a place where it’s unbelievably hard to do your regular routine.

Through all the upheaval, we continued to have fun with the kid however, which made things so much better and which I am very thankful for.

Over the past few months, I’ve kept our food pretty healthy (no pictures though), but it was also pretty boring as I just relied on staples. I also realized once again that I am less mindful when I am stressed, which can lead to mindless eating.

Over the weekend, we were invited to a party, and I made tomato/mozzarella skewers. I don’t usually buy tomatoes in the winter, but I found some really tasty mini tomatoes and just couldn’t resist. It was nice to have a little reminder of summer on the table.

I hope things have been well with all of you, and I look forward to catching up on blogs. Blogging and blog reading has been a regular part of my life for four years, and it felt very strange to be completely removed from it.

Happy Holidays!

Be well,

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Smashed Sweet Potatoes and Living Life

Life continues to be busy and at times just seems to fly by. This was especially apparent a few days ago when the kid turned 5! He’ll always be my “baby,” and it sometimes really seems like yesterday that he was born.


We had a great party at Pump It Up, and he has been telling anyone and everyone he sees (no matter if they care or not) that he is 5 and just had a birthday! Smile 

Food has been simple, but I have been prepping more on the weekends, which makes weekday meals much easier.

Last year, I made a very simple, almost no-cook, impromptu sweet potato dish when friends came over, and the dish has been a favorite of ours ever since.

That night, the dish was really an afterthought and experiment. I don’t remember what else we had for dinner, but I remember seeing some sweet potatoes on the counter and just playing with them. The funny thing is that our guests at first didn’t react too excited when I described the smashed sweet potatoes, but it ended up being the favorite dish of the night!


Smashed Sweet Potatoes

  • 5 – 6 sweet potatoes
  • Earth Balance spread, about 1 – 2 tablespoons
  • Cheddar cheese (or any cheese you like), about 2 tablespoons (more if you feel particularly “cheesy”)
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  1. Wash the sweet potatoes and poke them with a fork several times.
  2. Put the potatoes in the microwave and cook them until they are soft. (Three medium sized potatoes cook in the microwave in about 6 minutes.)
  3. Once the potatoes are cooled a bit, peel the skin and cut the potatoes into small pieces.
  4. Smash the warm potatoes with a potato smasher.
  5. Add the Earth Balance spread and the cheese and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Enjoy!
If you don’t like to use the microwave to cook the potatoes, you can of course bake them in the oven. I’ve made this easy version of smashed sweet potatoes several times in the last few weeks. I love that it’s quick and simple, and I can make just a little at a time in no time.

Questions: What’s a favorite simple, almost-no-cook meal of yours? What’s your favorite way to eat sweet potatoes?
Be well,

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend Fun & Weekly Meals

We made sure we had plenty of fun this weekend.


I also did prep work for the week in an attempt to feel less stressed. In fact, I precooked most of our weekly meals, boiled eggs, and washed and prepped lots of veggies and fruits. It’s still quite warm around here, but I’m really in the mood for soup, so there is plenty of soup on the menu this week. I made big pots of both soups, so there is also plenty for lunches.

Meal 1: Roasted butternut squash soup.
Meal 2: Leek and potato soup.
Meal 3: Chicken salad on top of a salad.
Meal 4: BLTs.I bought nitrate/nitrite free bacon at the Farmers’ Market. The “good” tomato plant is also still producing plenty of tomatoes. We hardly ever eat bacon, so we are really looking forward to this meal! Smile
Meal 5: Spaghetti squash bake.

Overall, I am happy with my workouts the past week. I did a few short, intense workouts (HIIT intervals consisting of lots of squats, kicks, etc.). I got in a great, sweaty, 20-minute workout right at home and was really sore the next several days! Unfortunately, my right foot bothered me again later in the week, and I had to cut an elliptical workout short. Maybe the HIIT workouts put a bit too much pressure on the foot. I’ll experiment. I also went for walks, took a barre class, lifted weights, and was able to do a longer elliptical workout (a few days after I had to cut one short). All in all I am very happy with my workouts this week.

Questions: What’s on your menu this week? Are you enjoying fall? What’s your favorite part of this season?

Be well,

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Workouts, Food, & Emotions

The last few months have been busy and emotional.

It’s increasingly getting more difficult for me to be so far away from my aging parents who both have serious health conditions. I finally understand the gravity of my decision to move across the globe more than 20 years ago. While I love where I live and feel at home in California in many ways, it’s hard to be so far away from those I love and who need me more now than ever before.

As I mentioned before, the kid is also getting much more of his own life and is involved in sports and afterschool activities most afternoons/evenings. While I love his enthusiasm for sports, especially soccer, our new schedule makes getting my own workouts in very difficult as we used to go to the gym as a family most late afternoons.

Working on numerous freelance projects at once and teaching in more than one place also leave me often a bit frazzled these days. To get all my work done before I have to pick up the kid from school, I get up at 4 a.m., which leaves me exhausted by dinner time.

I wrote before about the fact that I am an emotional eater, and while I have made huge progress from where I was a couple years ago, I still have to monitor myself very carefully when things get stressful. Over the years, I have talked to many people about emotional eating, and many have said that they do fine when life is going well, but they run into trouble when things get tough. That’s certainly true for me.

It’s just all too easy to grab a (healthy) snack and eat way too much of it. It’s also easy to eat to calm myself down and not because I am truly hungry. When I’m overwhelmed, I notice that I don’t appreciate and notice the food like I do when I am calm.

So here is my plan to get things back to where I want them to be in terms of food & exercise:
  • Continue to plan & prep meals – Last week I planned our meals and grocery shopped, but I didn’t prep anything on Sunday, and it threw me off all week.
  • Only eat at the table – Unfortunately, I have been grabbing more and more food while working on my laptop lately. This has to stop.
  • Always notice & appreciate the food before eating it – This includes putting more effort into presentation again. Making things look pretty doesn’t have to be time consuming (just add some herbs, use nicer plates, fun napkins…), but it can help me slow down.
  • Be creative when it comes to workout times and types – get back to short, intense workouts. I’ve been also trying out lunch time workouts, which will work once in a while.
  • Take walking breaks whenever possible – my mind will thank me because I always feel a lot calmer after a walk. I think I’ll make it a goal to go for a walk every day. It can be short, but I need to give my body and mind a break ever day.
Questions: How is your eating & exercising going? What’s your favorite meal at the moment? What’s your favorite exercise at the moment?
Be well,

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Forgotten Recipes, Soccer, & A Party

I said last weekend that most of our time these days is spent playing soccer, swimming, and going to parties. Well, and then there is school and work of course.

Like a typical weekend, there was soccer and a party. I realized that I much prefer a daytime game/practice on the weekend compared to the evening practices. While it’s nice and warm here during the day, it gets quite chilly in the evenings. Last week, I wasn’t prepared and couldn’t wait to have some warm tea as soon as we got home.

Soccer fun
Birthday party

In an effort to mix our meals up a bit, I went through my recipe page and selected recipes I haven’t made in a while for this week’s menu:

Meal 1: Stuffed Zucchini with Mushrooms, Brown Rice & Tomatoes
Meal 2: Tomato, lentil, cilantro salad & grilled cheese sandwiches
Meal 3: Barley soup
Meal 4: Mini burgers with Mushroom Pepper Cheese sauce
Meal 5: Refrigerator finds/leftovers

Workouts have been a challenge lately. With the kid involved in sports a lot, it’s hard to find time for my own workouts. Plus, early morning workouts don’t fit into my schedule anymore, and they used to be my “insurance” to get my workouts in. But I’m determined to make my workouts a priority as I feel so much better when I work out. I have found that it works best if I get two longer workouts in on the weekend (sometimes I even do two workouts on one day on the weekends; for example a barre class and a hike, or an upper body weights workout and a hike). Here are my goals for this week:
  • 1 heavier weights workout
  • 1 HIIT workout
  • 2 barre classes
  • 1 long hike
We’ll see how it’ll go.

Questions: What’s on your menu this week? How do you make time for workouts when life gets busier than usual? 

Be well,

Monday, September 17, 2012

Meal Prep Work and Weekly Meals

Swimming, soccer, & parties – that seems to be our life these days. Well, and then there is work and school of course. Not that I am complaining, but life is busy, like for many.

Oh, and we met Batman, but as you can see, the kid wasn’t all that impressed…

To remain calm (most of the time), I am still planning our weekly meals and do as much prep work as possible on the weekend.

Here is what I usually prep on Sundays:
  • Boil eggs: Hubby and I only eat the egg whites of the eggs I boil. Hubby takes two eggs to work almost every day and eats the whites in addition to his sandwich. He says the egg whites really keep him full until dinner time. I often make an egg white open-faced sandwich when I am home for lunch. I like spreading a Laughing Cow cheese wedge on a slice of European bread from TJ’s and top it with two sliced egg whites. Then, I drizzle a little Sciracha sauce on top. These days I usually eat a couple freshly picked tomatoes with the open-faced sandwich.
  • Wash and cut veggies and fruits: Yesterday, I cut up a watermelon and a cantaloupe. I also washed grapes, pears, apples, mini tomatoes, regular tomatoes, carrots, and cucumbers. I cut up a few carrots and a small cucumbers for today’s dinner. I also washed (and dried very well) some lettuce.
  • Cook meat for the week: We don’t eat a lot of meat, but I usually cook one meat dish per week. Yesterday, I marinated some thinly sliced beef in my bulgogi marinade
  • Cook rice: I usually cook some rice/mixed grains on the weekend. If we don't have the grains for dinner during the week, I often have some for lunch. I also like to top some rice with an over-easy egg once in a while for breakfast.
  • Cook pasta: It doesn't take long to boil pasta, but on busy nights, it really pays off if everything is ready to go. I have found that it's best if there are absolutely no excuses to get take-out...
Here is this week’s menu:

Meal 1: Bulgogi, mixed grains, & a salad.
Meal 2: Lots of veggies, a few Asian noodles, & a little bulgogi meat.
Meal 3: Mushroom, onion, egg sandwiches. I’ll toast some bread. In the meantime, I’ll sauté lots of mushrooms & onions. Once the onions and mushrooms are sautéed, I’ll set them aside. I’ll mix a few eggs with a little milk and salt and pepper and make an “egg pancake.” I’ll cut the egg pancake into pieces and assemble the egg pancake, sautéed mushrooms & onions, lettuce, and tomato slices on the toasted bread, on which I spread just a bit of hummus.
Meal 4: Salad topped with spicy tuna salad. I’ll mix some canned tuna with plenty of lemon juice, spicy mustard, and just a little wasabi mayo. I’ll assemble the tuna salad on mixed greens, lightly dressed with olive oil, rice vinegar, salt, & pepper.
Meal 5: Leftovers/refrigerator finds.

Questions: What’s on your menu this week? Do you do meal prep work on the weekend? Any tips & tricks you’d like to share?

Be well,

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Cheesy Appetizer & Family Fun

My sister, brother-in-law, and nephew visited us for a week. Since we had to work, things were a bit hectic, but we had lots of fun. They don’t eat meat, so I made some of our favorite vegetarian dishes. Since we usually don’t eat a lot of meat, it wasn’t really too much of a change from our normal meals. Interestingly, the dish that got the most praise was also the easiest. In fact, it’s just a very easy, no-cook appetizer. I didn’t take pictures of this cheesy appetizer, but I found some pics of when I last made it a few years ago. The pictures are not very good, but you get the idea…

Cheesy Appetizer

  • Goat cheese
  • Chives, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Crackers
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
  1. Take the goat cheese out of the fridge and let it sit for about 10 minutes so that it’ll be easier to mix.
  2. Mix the goat cheese with the chives and a little salt and pepper.
  3. Spread the goat cheese mixture on the crackers.
  4. Top the crackers with the Parmesan cheese.
We love chives and I have lots of them in my herb pot, so I used a lot. But you can use a lot or a little, depending on taste. I also used less Parmesan cheese than in the pics above. Everyone was really surprised how tasty these cheesy crackers were and how easy they are to make. One day we ate them with homemade tomato soup and another day with a salad.

Here are a few pictures from their visit.

And since things are busy, I planned our meals for the week and pre-cooked some of them today.

Meal 1: Egg white salad sandwiches with lettuce and tomatoes (I boiled the eggs this afternoon)
Meal 2: Beef pot roast and roasted veggies (I cooked the beef and the veggies this afternoon)
Meal 3: Pasta with veggies, herbs, & Parmesan cheese & a salad
Meal 4: Bok choy & mushroom stir fry with over-easy eggs
Meal 5: Salmon & a salad

I’m back to more regular workouts, and my cardio endurance is improving. I’ve also taken at least two barre classes per week over the past few weeks. The plan for this week is two barre classes, a couple of cardio sessions (hopefully at least one outdoors), and a weights workout.

Questions: What’s your favorite simple appetizer? Feel free to link in the comments. How is your meal and exercise routine at the moment? I finally feel somewhat back “in control.” I certainly could plan some more exciting meals and vary my workouts a bit more. However, our food and my exercise routine works with our busy life at the moment. Once things slow down a bit, I’ll get more creative again, but for now I’m glad that things are going smoothly…

Be well,

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Back to Planning

My schedule frequently changes, and often things get quite hectic. Now is one of those times. And when things get busy, planning is what keeps things going smoothly. If you have read my blog for a while, you’ll know that I used to plan our meals and my exercise on a weekly basis. In the summer, when I had more time, I managed without it. But now is certainly time to get back to it. So here are our meals for this week and my exercise plans. I have found that I do best if I do not plan meals for a particular day.

We are still enjoying daily homegrown tomatoes, and most of our meals include tomatoes as an ingredient or on the side. Interestingly, one tomato plant hardly produces any tomatoes, but the other more than makes up for it.

Tomato love

Weekly meals:

Meal 1: Kimchi stew
Meal 2: Tomato soup, bread, & cheese
Meal 3: Salmon & a salad
Meal 4: Healthy ramen with lots of veggies & eggs
Meal 5: Homemade pizza – I’ll “cheat” a bit and use Trader Joe’s pizza dough

Weekly exercise: After quite a break from exercise, it’s been tough getting back into a regular routine. I had to remind myself several times that I can’t expect to just continue where I was before I got injured. It’s been frustrating that I can’t lift very much weight, have trouble with intense cardio sessions, and have lost some flexibility. But I know that it’ll all come back. I just have to be patient. So here is what I have planned for this week:

Monday: Barre class – this will be my first barre class in a loooong time – I am sure it’ll be “interesting”…
Tuesday: Cardio – I’ll do a modified HIIT workout
Wednesday: Weights
Thursday: Rest
Friday: Barre class

Questions: Are you a planner? Why or why not? If you are a planner, what meals and exercise do you have planned for this week? Any meal planning tips? 

Be well,

Monday, August 13, 2012

Simple, Rustic Tomato Soup and Summer Update

Summer is coming to an end around here. Well, at least the lazy, no-school part of summer. The kid is starting kindergarten this week. It seems unbelievable to me that my “baby” is going to be five in two months!

We have spent the last few weeks traveling with him, soaking in every minute, as we know that he won’t want to spend every minute of the day with us forever… We were also fortunate to get to spend lots of quality time with family. 

My summer exercise routine has been sporadic at best. I was rear ended in June and had to refrain from exercising for a while. When I was better, I went on a hike with a friend and managed to fall and twist my left ankle, injure my right knee, and bruise my left thumb. The injuries took weeks to heal. In the meantime, we went on vacation and walked a lot, but that was pretty much it for exercise. I’m really looking forward to getting back into an exercise routine. 

Tomato Soup 01

Once we got back from vacation, we were greeted by lots and lots of tomatoes. Thanks brother-in-law for taking such great care of our flowers & veggies!!! I have been enjoying tomatoes every day. I love eating them like an apple, in a caprese salad, in tomato soup… 

Tomato Soup 10

Simple, Rustic Tomato Soup

  • 8-10 large tomatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 cups of basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  1. Heat oil in a pot and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes, and then add the tomatoes and sauté for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic and basil leaves, lower the heat, and simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Puree the soup (I used a handheld food processor).
  5. Add the Greek yogurt and puree until mixed in evenly.
  6. Enjoy!
Questions: What has been the highlight of your summer so far? What’s your favorite summer food? Have you been getting enough exercise? What’s your favorite form of exercise at the moment? 

Be well,