A Spin on Mexican

Today was  a normal October Tuesday.  I began with a cold breakfast of cinnamon raisin granola.

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Plus some chai on the side.

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I had 2/3 cup granola, 6-8 Kashi Island Vanilla Wheat Puffs, a handful of frozen blueberries, 3/4 cup of lowfat milk, and a sprinkle of ground flaxseed.

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As I have been the past two Tuesdays, I attended a workshop away from my school campus.  Again lunch was provided.  I chose the roast beef on wheat.  It came with chips, a cookie, and an apple.

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I also had some milky way bite size chocolates.  The apple was saved for a snack when I got home.

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With some peanut butter in the middle for dipping.  I was having a bit too much fun practicing my photography skills using the corner of one of hub’s garden boxes for scenery.

After unloading the dishwasher, folding laundry, and a bit of Oprah I got started on dinner.  At the grocery on Sunday I picked up some chicken breasts since they were buy 1, get 1 free.  I also purchased a jar of Peach Salsa and Gouda cheese.  That is where the Mexican comes in.  I simply baked the chicken at 350* after topping it with salt, pepper, and the salsa.  After 35 minutes I added some thin strips of Gouda (some went in my tummy on spot) and stuck the chicken back in the oven for five more minutes. 

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For a side dish, I roasted some butternut squash by cutting it in half, scooping out the seeds and pulp, and baking at 400* for an hour.  In keeping with Mexican, I used a spice common of the culture for flavoring—cumin.  In addition to cumin, I seasoned the squash with salt, pepper, and cinnamon after basting it in olive oil.

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Dinner was delightfully flavorful although the salsa lacked in the peach department.  I couldn’t hardly taste any peach, just a slightly sweet flavored salsa.  The squash was tender and flavored well.

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The squash tasted much like a sweet potato.

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As for the chicken and being a cheese lover, it was cheesy and tasty, but it was somewhat overcooked.  I always worry about undercooking poultry so often tend to overcook it causing dryness.

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My belly is full after eating the majority of this (and sharing a few bites of chicken with the pups)!  It was simple to put this meal together, but it does take some time to cook so I got other chores done in the meantime. 

Now I’m relaxing watching Biggest Loser and about to get back to washing and folding the massive amounts of laundry I desperately need to catch up on.  I don’t get to watch too much TV lately, but have some shows I like including CSI, 48 Hours, Biggest Loser, So You Think You Can Dance, and Real Housewives, and of course all things Food Network. 🙂

What are your favorite television shows?

Peanut, Peanut Butter, & Jelly & Jelly

Yes, it is lame I know, but my brain can’t think right now.  Today has been a long day without fruits and vegetables until dinner so my eats are not very colorful; nonetheless, they did serve the purpose.

Breakfast was cold cinnamon raison granola and Kashi Island Vanilla Puffs with some cinnamon almonds and low fat milk.

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It does not look like that much, but I had 1/3 c granola, 10 puffs, and 10 almonds, plus 2/3 c milk, but that is plenty enough calories, fats, proteins, and carbs for a sustaining breakfast.

I had some chai on side.

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Lunch was just as plain—peanut butter and grape jelly on whole wheat with a side of Fage Greek yogurt with honey (my fave greek yogurt by the way).

DSC01888 Sometimes peanut butter and jelly just really hits the spot.  Again not much, but lots of protein, heart-healthy fats, and whole grains.

After work today, I made my way to the gym.  I did 30 minutes on the elliptical and 20 minutes on the bike.  My protein packed lunch kept me full until I was leaving the gym around 5:30.  So I texted the hub to see if he wanted Chinese or a homemade meal from Come Back Inn.  He chose Chinese of course. 

Beef and Broccoli for hub and mixed veggies for me.

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Thankful for veggies in my life.  I also had some egg drop soup (which was overly salty, but I managed to consume it all anyway).

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With crispy wontons that I ate the majority of on the way home and topped the rest on my soup. 

I also had two fortune cookies.  One had some meaning to it–“Good things come to those who wait.  Be patient!”

I may have some type of sweet snack before the night ends; perhaps my last pumpkin chocolate chip muffin, but I haven’t decided yet.  Now I’m off to do laundry and watch Grey’s Anatomy—my husband got me hooked on this show, but I have not watched it in quite some time.  Are there any other Grey’s fans out there?

We’re Going Downtown

On Saturday, I started my day with a delicious breakfast of an egg, 2 slices turkey bacon, and laughing cow light cheese wedge on a sandwich thin.  On the  side I enjoyed a luscious plum.

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Yesterday afternoon Mom and I had plans to have lunch and to  take a ride downtown.  All I knew is that we were headed to a jewelry store, and I was not told why.  Because it was a SURPRISE from her and her boyfriend!

For lunch, we dined at one of our usual places near Mom’s work—La Madeleine.  I had a small spinach salad, a french onion soup with cheese, and two slices fresh wheat bread with butter and jam.  I also ate a couple bites of Mom’s pasta salad.

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I was a bit disappointed with my salad.  If you’ve never been to La Madeleine, you walk in and pick up a tray for your eats.  If you want a salad, you tell the salad chef right at the beginning of the counter and she makes it right before you in a large wooden bowl to  be plated and passed over the counter to be put on your tray just before placing any hot orders,  soup orders, and checking out at the cashier.   Well, as she began making my salad, two other women walked up and requested the same spinach salad.  So to my salad bowl, the cook added two more servings to mix the salad with the balsamic vinaigrette.  I received mine and headed to eat.

As I began eating I noticed I was only given one small slice of mushroom and one small slice of red bell pepper; obviously the other two women received all of my veggies that were supposed to be included in my salad.  I ate it, nonetheless, but I felt that I got gypped!

After lunch, Mom and I headed to downtown New Orleans.

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This is a streetcar, which is powered by the electric lines along its route.  The streetcars will bring you from uptown New Orleans on St. Charles Ave. to downtown New Orleans on Canal St. for a small fee.Slow Cooker Chicken and Veggies 006

Once downtown Mom led me to Jack Sutton’s Jewelry Store.  When we walked in, Mom pulled out a box and told the jeweler that we were there to get some watches sized.  To my surprise, I was given a very NICE (and expensive) watch with a mother of pearl dial and diamond bezel on a white gold band.  This watch is a timeless classic that I will have forever.  Unfortunately I won’t get it until Wednesday or Thursday because the watch was not functioning properly.  Once it is set it is supposed to be powered while being worn, but for some reason it would not work.  I am so thankful for my gift and it is something I would never have been able to purchase on my own.

To end our day together, Mom took me to Tutti Frutti for some dessert.  We bypassed the mini-lemon tarts earlier at La Madeleine and both agreed froyo would be worth the wait.

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My froyo flavors of choice were cake batter, coconut, and cafe au lait.  I added mochi, cheesecake, coconut, a few cookie dough pieces, mango, pineapple, and kiwi.  Honestly, I could have done without the cafe au lait; it didn’t go very well with my toppings.  But I did stick to three flavors this time—that’s a good thing.

Later on at home I heated up some black beans with a tad of water, cumin, chili powder, garlic salt, and onion powder.  I topped a whole wheat tortilla with the mashed beans, half avocado, salsa, and a dollop of sour cream.

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After this I still had the munchies, so I ate a bowl of granola with skim milk.

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This satisfied my hunger for the night.

Question of the night:  When you’ve already eaten dinner and you are still hungry, what is your go-to food?

Acts of Kindness

There are good people in this world!  That sounds a bit cliche’, but it is pure and simple truth.  A few weeks ago as I was listening to Lifesongs Christian music station on my way to work, I heard this touching story.

As I listened intently on the radio, my eyes began to well up with tears as I thought about what this one woman started by lending a helping hand to a stranger.  Now I am not saying we all need to lend out money to someone in need, but I think a small act of kindness can do wonders for both parties involved.  Additionally, there is a commercial that I love (I think it is an insurance commercial) where it shows one person do something kind for another, and that person displays kindness towards another, and the cycle continues.  It truly demonstrates  how a small act of kindness can turn a world filled with so much negativity into a much more positive place to live.

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I needed a helping hand to get myself out of bed this morning in the form of my alarm clock.  After yesterday’s late night at work, I was and still am feeling somewhat lackadaisical.  Following my awakening I made a bowl of rolled oats to enjoy for breakfast.

After heating a half cup of oats with a half cup of water, and a half cup of almond milk, I threw in half of a sliced banana (other half went in the freezer), a few raspberries, a teaspoon of peanut butter, a drizzle of honey, and a small handful of granola.

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Later on for lunch, I finished up the eggplant and shrimp casserole.  For some added nutrients, I ate sliced cucumbers and a baby orange bell from the garden, and a plum.

Lunch in the Lounge

A coworker walked in the lounge and said something smelled good after I had just finished heating my lunch; I presume it was my casserole because it sure tasted goooood! 😉

Even though I felt like I could use a nap after work, I decided to head straight to the gym for an energy boost.  Prior to my arrival, I ate a Think Thin Lemon Cream Pie Bar.  Mom bought me a couple at the gym’s cafe the other day because the nutritionist, Molly, who works there recommended them.

As I was eating it, I couldn’t help but wonder about my two King Bars I still have in my fridge.  I most definitely prefer those over the Think Thin.  The white chocolate, lemony flavored bar reminded me greatly of a protein bar with it’s chalky-like texture.  I finished it, but wasn’t satisfied with the flavor or the texture, but it is under 200 calories which I *heart* in a bar if I’m going to eat one.

Once I arrived at the gym, I overheard two ladies’ discussion about having mints or gum.  I could have minded my own business and pretended not to hear.  But I reached in my purse for my mints and my gum, peaked my head around the corner of the lockers, and said, “Gum or mints,” as I held up both.  They graciously accepted, and one of the woman said she was indebted to me.  Really, it was just two mints;  I certainly did not expect anything in return from my sharing two mints.  Just a small, simple act of kindness.

I carried on with my warm up of 15 minutes on the elliptical, approx. 30 minutes of strength training, and a final 15 minutes on the treadmill.

As I watched Oprah while doing the elliptical machine, I was listening to the generous and humble Will.I.Am, from Black Eye Peas, speak about his charity where he, out of his own pocket, pays off mortgages of families in need here in America.  On the show, Oprah announced Will would be paying off two houses of guests who were on the show.  My eyes soon began to fill with tears and the hairs on my arms stood just hearing about all the good this one man is doing.  Gosh, I must have looked silly working out wiping away tears from my face.  Or maybe it was just sweat that I was wiping away. 😉

Before leaving the gym I texted my hubby to ask him what he wanted for dinner.  Earlier in the day I mentioned picking up Chinese food so I could take the night off from my cooking duties.  So I stopped at the Little Chinese Kitchen on my way home.  It is a fairly new take-out Chinese restaurant.  I placed my order of Beef & Broccoli for the hub, and veggie dish with a small wonton soup for me.  I requested brown rice with my veggies, but they only offer white.

White Rice, Veggies, and Wonton Soup

I portioned out some of the order to enjoy!

I had 2 wontons out of the 5 that came in my soup with half of the broth and a few crispy fried wontons.  My veggie bowl included a packed half cup of rice with about 1 cup of the veggie mixture.

Daily Dose of Greens

Salty Comfort in a Mug

*Warning* Be aware of portion size when dining on Chinese.

FYI:  I am about to eat my fortune cookie once I hit publish.

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I could add more stories that exemplify kindness, but there are just so many stories that hit my heart in its soft spot.  It goes without saying, the main point is that true kindness comes from within.  Kindness is displayed when the person sharing it wants or asks for nothing in return, nor do they boast about it.  Kindness is the unspoken that comes from the heart!

Question of the Night:  Do you have any stories that exemplify true kindness in your eyes?  Please share.

The Toiled Life

I reckon a great story of a trip out of town for the weekend to visit family or the beach is what most people will be sharing as they return to work tomorrow; however, that is not the case in my life.  All of my family lives here and with my hubby and I trying to save up to remodel our house, we don’t do much traveling these days.  It doesn’t help that we have two dogs either; so it is not like we can just pack up and get away for a few days.  I indubitably look forward to a time when we will be able to do just that.  All pity aside, I did enjoy my three day weekend spent with the hub  accomplishing much in our backyard.

We spent some time toiling in the yard–cleaning it up, setting up veggie gardens, and putting together a compost pile.  The hubby has become big into gardening and we are still getting bell peppers, cayene peppers, and eggplant from our summer harvest.  Additionally, we have sweet potatoes, squash, brussel sprouts, and sweet basil cultivating.

Home Grown

Local

Early this morning I woke up and wanted the other half of my smoothie that was made last night after dinner using frozen bananas, strawberries, and milk (intended to be a “milkshake”).  But when I took it out of the fridge this A.M. it was more like a fruity soup.  So I topped it with about 1/3 cup of granola and chowed down.

Original from Last Night

Cold Strawberry-Banana Soup Topped with Crunchy Granola Anyone?

Shortly after breakfast I made a stop to pick up a heating pad since my left hip has been causing me some pain for over a month now and seems to be getting worse.  It all started when I decided to take a short, but fast (@ 9.0 mph) run on the treadmill in the middle of my walking routine.  Perhaps, I should have gradually worked up to that, but figured the occasional jog was preparation enough.  Now I can hardly walk without the pain on my side, but have still been going strong during my workouts.  I also picked up a Clif Bar for some pre-workout fuel.

I ate 3/4 of the bar and gave the rest to Mom.  Mom and I headed to the gym for some light cardio today.  I did 25 minutes on the elliptical, 10 minutes on the stationary bike, and about 10 minutes of stretching and abdominal work.

Once home from the gym, I felt a need for some food in my belly.  So I made a large Cobb Salad of sorts using lettuce, corn, a sliced boiled egg, 1/4 of an avocado, grape tomatoes, cucumber, squash, and 1 tbs. light ranch dressing and 1 tbsp. light italian dressing.

BIG COBB SALAD

Oh yeah, I also threw on some chopped Sargento Reduced Fat Colby Jack, but it completely got lost with all of the other flavors.  Hence, my reasoning for leaving it out up above.

❤ Colorful Salads

After lunch, the hubby and I headed out for an afternoon treat–Tutti Frutti Frozen Yogurt. My froyo cup included cake batter, coconut, and strawberry field with a few cheesecake pieces, shredded coconut, pineapple, kiwi, and mango.  It is just soooo gooood!

After my froyo craving was conquered (hub did not even want a bite!), we headed to Whole Foods to pick up something to grill for dinner.  Hubby decided on pork loin chops.  So when we got home I seasoned them with salt and pepper to marinate in the fridge until grill time.  For the side dish, I wanted to use up some of the eggplant from the garden.  So I made an eggplant and shrimp casserole.

Often eggplant casseroles include eggs, butter, and heavy cream.  However, my healthified version came out just as tasty and includes the hubby stamp of approval.

Eggplat and Shrimp Casserole

Ingredients:

3 cups peeled, chopped eggplant

2 tbsp. olive oil (divided)

1 small onion, diced

1 small bell pepper chopped

1 tbsp. garlic, minced

1/2 cup italian bread crumbs (divided)

15 shrimp (cooked)

1/4 cup parmesan cheese, shredded

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray casserole dish with nonstick spray and set aside.  Heat a pot of water to a boil.  After peeling and chopping eggplant, put in colander and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Allow to sit 15 minutes and then rinse eggplant thoroughly.  (This removes some of the bitter tasting moisture from the eggplant.)  Next, boil the eggplant in water for 15-20 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile, saute onion, bell pepper, and garlic in 1 tbsp. of olive oil.  Once eggplant is drained, add tender eggplant, sautéed veggies, and pre-cooked shrimp to casserole dish.  Add 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and salt and pepper to taste.  Mix well.  Sprinkle remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs and parmesan over the top of mixture.  Drizzle the top with 1 tbsp. of the olive oil.  Cover and bake for 30 minutes.

This casserole is traditionally served as a side dish, but I think it would also be great served over a grilled fish, or as a meal on its own with a side salad.  We ate it along with the grilled pork loin chops and grilled peaches.  The peaches were brushed with extra virgin olive oil, salt, and pepper prior to grilling.  This meal was restaurant quality made at home.  The toiled life isn’t so bad after all! 😉

My Plate

Check Those Grill Marks

I’m apparently having some techno difficulties, but hopefully it will be fixed soon!  I’m off to prop a heating pad on my hip and get some rest before a long day of work tomorrow.  I’ll be at work late for Open House, so I’ll see ya’ when I see ya’.  🙂

Question:  Does anyone have advice on healing hip pain related to running or exercise overuse?  How do I overcome this?  What do you recommend for beginning runners?

I would like to get into running and perhaps complete a 5K by the end of the year, but don’t know if that will happen with this hip injury.  Please help!

Mel

It’s My Party and I’ll Cry If I Want To

Today is the day I was born back in 1982.  Gosh, I feel like I’m so old being so close to thirty, but when I see kids in high school and college I don’t feel that there is that much of a difference.  Woke up for work and had some b-fast before heading out–greek honey yogurt, handful of blackberries, handful of blueberries, and a handful of peanut butter granola.  Cold and refreshing!

Berries + Yogurt + Granola = :0)

Before the start of our faculty meeting, the entire faculty sang Happy Birthday to me.  As a kid that is the best thing ever, but as an adult a little bit embarrassing.  But it definitely brightened up my day!

After of a mornings of meetings (Umm, have I been drinking? No! Just got done exercising; I should be more clear-headed!), it was time for lunch.  I enjoyed turkey, laughing cow light swiss, and dijonaisse on a bagel thin.  On side I ate some celery and carrot sticks dipped in jalapeno hummus and a dark chocolate square.

Bagel Sammie Made by the Hubby--Thanks Chris!

Picture Snapped Before Anyone Else Entered Lounge

Since it was my birthday, another teacher bought me a cake, which I didn’t think to snap a picture; and that is something I should be snapping without being all secretive about it.  It was a marbled cake with fluffy white and purple icing.  I did bring a couple pieces (smashed) home, so took a picture of them so you could get a sneak peek.

Sorry Cake, I didn't mean to treat you so poorly!

I probably ate a piece about the size of the smaller one.  But might have more in a few.

Sweet Marbled Goodness

Ate a handful of these chips with salsa while I heated up dinner.

10 or so Chips with Don Pablo's Hot Salsa

After Dad visited for a while, I heated up some red beans I had in the freezer to enjoy over brown rice.  (The hubby is working late so we will celebrate with the family another day.)  I had a cup of the beans over a cup of rice with bits of pickled meat and one piece of smoked sausage.

Always Fresh...Never Frozen...Not!

Next, I decided to hit up the gym for some cardio.  I did 30/5/20 on the elliptical, stairmaster, and bike.  Then decided it was 10 minutes to 9 and I needed to get home.

So that’s how I rolled on this fine day of the year!  Not exactly a party, but I don’t really see a need to cry about anything.  I did get some fab things out of the deal:

1. A Happy Birthday Song

2. A Delish Cake

3. People Being Extra Nice

4. Over 30 Messages on My Facebook Page

5. A Check From Dad (and visit from Dad)

6. A Call From MawMaw Stating She Had My Bond

7. Several Texts From Hubby

8. Coupon For a Free Smoothie When I Checked In At the Gym

9. A Bunch of “Thank You’s” For Sharing the Cake

10. A Comment on Yesterday’s Blog Post

11. Goodies For My Classroom from the Account Clerk

12. A Sony Cybershot Camera from Hubby (got it Saturday though; he can’t ever wait for the actual day)

13. A Shopping Trip and Lunch with Mom (took place Sunday)

14. A Call From Sister (we’ll be meeting up tomorrow evening and Sunday)

15. Several Compliments throughout the Day

Thank you to everyone for making my day special!  I would say it’s been a good day! 🙂 And in the words of Martha Stewart, “it’s a good thing.”

Question of the Day:  What is one thing that brightened up your day today?