Monday, February 27, 2012

Gardening, Weekly Meals & Workouts

I did some container planting over the weekend, and it really put me in a good mood. My mom’s favorite flowers are pansies, and I plant some every year.

I also planted some herbs:

I can’t wait for everything to (hopefully) grow and thrive. Of course, there are never any guarantees, and I have had my fair share of disappointments when it comes to growing herbs, flowers, and vegetables. Keeping my fingers crossed…

On to this week’s meals. I am trying to really watch our grocery budget, and I’ll be using quite a few things from the freezer and pantry this week. It’s not the most exciting menu, but I was able to spend a lot less at the grocery store…

Meal 1: Roasted veggies & baked chicken (using some organic chicken that I froze a while ago when it was on sale).
Meal 2: Bok choy/tofu stir fry & brown rice.
Meal 3: Pizza – shortcut with TJ’s whole wheat pizza dough. Toppings: sautéed onions & mushrooms and a little cheese. We’ll also have a salad.
Meal 4: Potstickers – I froze a bunch when I made them last time. I’ll cook them in some vegetable broth with veggies.
Meal 5: Big salad with “refrigerator finds.”

And now on to this week’s workouts.
  • 2 barre classes
  • 1 long(er) cardio session
  • 1 HIIT session
  • 2 weight workouts – I’ve been working on mixing things up, but I’ll be looking at a more formal plan sometime soon.
Questions: How do you keep your grocery budget “under control?” What budget-friendly meals are on your menu this week? What’s your favorite flower? 

Be well,

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Favorite Breakfasts

When I was young(er), I could never eat breakfast. Honestly, I just couldn’t get any food down until at least 10:00 a.m. But for the past fifteen years or so, I have to eat breakfast!

One of my favorite breakfasts for a long time was oatmeal with Greek yogurt and walnuts. I ate this pretty much every day for two years! Yes, that’s a lot of oatmeal. At the time, I really loved it, but a few weeks ago, I grew somewhat tired of it. I still have it maybe once a week, but certainly not every day anymore.

With less oatmeal in my life, I had to find some new breakfast foods, and here are my current favorites:

Egg Scrambles
My favorite egg scramble combo at the moment is with mushrooms and spinach. I usually use one egg and one egg white per person and tons of veggies. I love adding some blueberries on the side. The scramble isn’t really the prettiest color, but it tastes great, and I love that I start my day with a lot of veggies and some fruit! Costco sells big containers of organic spinach and organic blueberries, and I always buy them…

Egg scramble
Kefir Smoothies

Tami recently posted about kefir. I used to drink a lot of kefir but had totally “forgotten” about it. It literally had been years since I bought and drank kefir. I love it plain, but Tami uses it in smoothies, and so I decided to use it in a smoothie, too. I love using fresh blueberries, a couple handfuls of spinach, and kefir. If I feel like making it more “dessert-like,” I also add a few drops of vanilla stevia. My friend Lara recently posted a link to Ellie Krieger’s thoughts on stevia on Facebook, and I think Ellie’s viewpoint makes a lot of sense. One of the things Ellie points out in the article is that stevia products are highly processed. In her Facebook update, Lara pointed out that stevia isn’t all that well researched and that some studies have shown some potentially quite negative side effects, which I think is an important reminder! I actually love the taste of my vanilla stevia drops, but I don’t use them very often. I try not to use any sweetener too much. I think sweetness is really a matter of what one is used to, and if you eat little sugar or other sweeteners, you will want less and less, and you’ll be able to taste the natural sweetness in foods again. Clearly, neither sugar nor other sweeteners are all that healthy, especially in larger quantities. But a little is nice once in a while… Smile

Kefir smoothie
Getting A Bit Stranger: Lettuce, Leftover Roasted Veggies & Over-Easy Eggs

I really think you can eat any food any time of the day, and I don’t think of certain foods as breakfast foods. Lately, I have been eating more greens, leftover veggies (I roasted a lot of veggies at least twice a week), and eggs for breakfast.

Poached eggs on salad
I don’t really eat sweet breakfasts very often, but I am thinking about making some banana pancakes with strawberry sauce some time soon as they have been on my mind A LOT lately… And, yes, that’s really more of a dessert than breakfast!Winking smile

Questions: What’s your favorite breakfast at the moment? Do you prefer savory or sweet breakfasts? What are your thoughts on sugar and sweeteners? 

Be well,

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Weekly Meals and Exercise

My weekend was filled with lots of work but also lots of playtime. There was a beer walk as well as time at Happy Hollow.

120212 SRPark SJBeerwalk 083

Now on to this week’s meals:

Meal 1: Roasted cabbage with lemon (I saw this on Tami’s blog and it looks delicious; I roast so many veggies, but I have never roasted cabbage for some reason) & salmon salad with lots of lemon juice, a little wasabi mayo and capers on a bed of lettuce
Meal 2: Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce, a salad, & pasta for the boys
Meal 3: Veggie stir fry with tofu & lots of cucumbers and peppers to dip in homemade (by my mother-in-law) doenjang (Korean fermented bean paste)
Meal 4: Salad with roasted veggies and poached eggs
Meal 5: Leftovers and other refrigerator finds

Exercise Thoughts

I’m pretty happy with my workouts overall, and planning helps me to stay focused. During the week, I recently find myself often very short on time, and all I can fit in is a short yoga session or a short DVD (like the 30 Day Shred) at home. I truly believe doing something is better than doing nothing, and I have been able to “make up” for any shortened workouts on the weekends. Looking ahead, I know that I need a more structured plan (to avoid getting stuck in a rut, especially when it comes to lifting weights), and I’ll be looking at various exercise plans over the next few weeks. For now, here is what I have planned for this week:
  • 1 barre class
  • 2 heavy(er) weight sessions
  • 1 long(er) cardio workout
  • 2 HIIT sessions
Questions: What’s on your menu this week? How do you plan your workouts? Do you follow a structured plan (put together by a trainer, from a book, online, etc.), or do you put it together yourself? How do you prevent getting stuck in an “exercise rut?” 

Be well,

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Chicken Cilantro Dumplings

Hubby convinced me that we should make some chicken cilantro dumplings for the Super Bowl. So we did. And we made a family affair out of it and had a lot of fun. The funny part is that we didn’t even end up watching very much of the Super Bowl… But the dumplings were very tasty nonetheless.

Chicken Cilantro Dumplings 

  • 1 pound ground organic chicken (I bought organic chicken breasts and ground them myself in my food processor.)
  • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onion stalks, sliced
  • Cilantro (I used one bunch; use less or none if you are not very fond of cilantro), finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 inch round slice of ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • Approximately 5 ounces tofu
  • About 50-60 dumpling/potsticker skins (we got thick and thin ones; we much preferred the thinner ones)
  • [Note: I chopped all the vegetables in my food processor and then ground the chicken breasts in it as well. It was quick and easy.]
  • Combine and mix all ingredients, except the dumpling skins,  in a bowl for the filling. Don’t overwork the filling.
  • Spoon a small amount of filling into the middle of the dumpling skins. Don’t use too much, or it will be hard to close the dumplings.
  • Wet one half of the outside of the skins with water and fold the skins in half.
  • Firmly press down on the seams and fold them over 2 to 3 times.
  • Makes approximately 50 - 60 dumplings.

The dumplings can be pan-fried or cooked in a soup.
  • To panfry: Spray a hot frying pan with oil. Lower the heat to medium high. Add the dumplings and cook on one side for about 3 minutes. Then add a few tablespoons of water to the pan and put a lid on the pan. Let the dumplings cook/steam for about 2-3 minutes. Then take the lid off and continue to cook until both sides are browned.
  • To cook in soup: Add the dumplings to some gently boiling broth. Make sure the broth doesn’t boil too hard, or the dumplings may open up. Cook for about 5 – 7 minutes.
Note: It’s practically impossible for me to figure out exactly how much filling I need for a certain number of skins, and I rather make a bit more. If you have leftovers (like I always do), you can form little “chicken balls” and cook them in some broth. By adding some vegetables (great to “clean out the fridge!”), they make a very tasty vegetable/chicken ball soup. Alternatively, you can make little “hamburgers,” which I love to add on top of salads. Tip: Make sure the chicken mixture is very cold before forming the “balls/hamburgers,” or they fall easily apart. Finally, I always freeze some uncooked dumplings for later use. When I want to use them, I add them to some broth and cook them a minute longer than fresh ones.

Questions: Did you watch the Super Bowl? Since the 49ers came so close but didn’t make it after all, hubby was still a bit heartbroken, and it was easy to convince him to spend the beautiful afternoon outside instead! Smile If you watched the Super Bowl, what did you eat while watching? If you didn’t watch the Super Bowl, what was the favorite thing you ate over the weekend? What’s on your menu this week? 

Be well,