Queensland Blue

Can you picture it?  An elaborate vacation spot with blue waters and blue skies fit for a queen.  It would be nice ; however, I am actually referring to one of the hundreds of varieties of squash or gourds.  Seriously, who knew they all existed?  Butternut, spaghetti, acorn okay; but little gem, sweet meat, and big max are quite the surprise. 

As I stated last night, I planned on making a squash soup using the vegetable stock I cooked up last night. 

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After an hour of simmering on the stove, I had about 1.5 quarts of sienna colored vegetable stock.  Using my stock and simply yellow summer squash  along with carrots I made some savory soup.  The whole time it was cooking I was not feeling like soup at all due to standing around in the heated kitchen from having the oven on, but once it was finished it turned out nicely and I enjoyed the flavor.

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Squash and Carrot Soup

Ingredients:

5 yellow squash, peeled if desired

2 carrots, peeled

1 tbsp. olive oil

3 slices bacon

1 small onion, diced

1.5 quarts vegetable stock

1 tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. dried basil

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/8 tsp. ground ginger

Salt and white pepper to taste

3 tbsp. butter, divided

1 tbsp. flour

Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 400*.  Chop squash and carrots into large chunks.  Pour olive oil over vegetables to coat and place on baking sheet.  Roast in oven for 30 minutes tossing half way through.  Meanwhile, cook 3 slices of bacon and drain on paper towel.  Crumble once cooled for soup topping if desired.  Using bacon grease sauté onion.  Once onion is tender, remove from grease and add to soup pot.  Add roasted vegetables and stock with honey and all seasonings through salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.    In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp. of softened butter and flour to form paste.  Add 1 cup of vegetable stock to paste and mix.  Return mixture to pot and stir to combine.  Remove from heat and let sit for ten minutes.  In batches, puree soup in blender or food processor making sure to leave liquid cover off to allow steam to escape.  Cover opening partially with a towel to prevent splatter.  Return to soup pot once pureed.  Add 2 tbsp. of butter and stir.  Simmer on the stovetop for 30 minutes.  To serve, top with crumbled bacon and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

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This was my first cup, but I did get about 3/4 cup more.  I have never had any other squash or carrot soup to compare it to, but it turned out tasty for my first try.  There isn’t anything I would say for sure I would change if I made this again.  Perhaps I might use Brummel & Brown instead of real butter to save some calories, but I do not think it is necessary depending on what it is being served with.  I just had the soup for dinner, but I might have a cold treat before the nights over with.

As for the rest of my eats, my morning started off with overnight oats for me and hub.  He wanted to try it, but he normally bypasses breakfast altogether.

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His and Hers

I doubled my mix to make his.  In my bowl:

  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 1/4 c low fat milk
  • 1/4 cup fat free plain yogurt
  • half banana
  • maple syrup
  • small handful of granola
  • peanut butter and grape jelly (added in the a.m.)

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  Cold Oats + Hot Chai

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Lunch included a leftover stuffed bell and the other half of my nanner from breakfast with some berries.

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I also stole some chocolate from a coworker—chocolate peanut butter shaped pumpkin.  After work I headed to the gym for a cardio session.  It included 15/15/15 of elliptical, arc trainer, and treadmill.  The treadmill was killer today because my legs are sore from Sunday’s strength training.

When I arrived home, I found some goodies on my kitchen counter.

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There is no Trader’s Joe’s here in LA, but Mom went out of town this weekend to Chicago.  I watched her dog, Prissy, and in return I got some neat eats (plus some money).  I got Mom reading some blogs as well, so we talk about the different things we see and Trader Joe’s topped our list.  It was right across the street from the condo she stayed in.  No fair!  Just kidding I got all this without even being there.

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Sesame Honey Almonds (ate 10  and they are GOOD possibly of an addictive quality good), trail mix, green bean chips (tried a few and thumbs up), apple clusters, pumpernickel pretzel sticks +

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Snapea Crisps, mini peanut butter cups, dried figs (had 3 and well, it’s figs).

THANK YOU MOM!  I will enjoy!! 🙂

Question of the Night:  What is the most outlandish squash you have consumed?

My grandpa used to grow cucuzza, which is an Italian squash.  It can grow up to 3 feet long.  Wowza, that’s a lot of squash.

Friday Recap & Healthified Pizza

I apologize for skipping yesterday’s post.  I just wasn’t feeling it and after running a couple errands after work I came home and crashed for a couple hours.  Then I spent some time with my hub.  Here is a recap of yesterday’s eats.

Breakfast:  Sandwich Thin topped with Dark Chocolate Dreams PB, Sliced Nanner, and Cinnamon Sprinkling

Lunch: Salad with Sliced Pear, Sliced Squash, Sliced Cucumbers, Grape Tomatoes, Reduced Fat Feta, Light Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Pita Chips

Snackage:  Tortilla Chips + Spinach and Artichoke Hummus, Half Pear, + more (was feeling very snacky today so I also had a Reduced Fat Colby Jack Cheese Square and some cookies from frozen cookie dough; probably could have went a more healthy route, but I was tired and hungry which is not a good combo)

Dinner:  Healthified Tortilla Pizza–I used a whole wheat tortilla as the dough.  (A pita or english muffin split open could also be used.)  I topped the tortilla with a tablespoon of store-bought tomato basil sauce, a light babybel cheese round, sliced squash, broccoli, a spritz of cooking spray, red pepper flakes, salt, and parmesan cheese sprinkles.  It was baked at 400* for 12 minutes or so.  I had one whole tortilla to myself and split a second with the hub.  I’ve made these before for myself, but it was his first tortilla pizza.  His response after eating it, “I’ll have to make these for myself more often!”  So it definitely gets the hubby-stamp-of-approval!

This is a really simple, healthy way to get your pizza fix rather than ordering delivery or take-out.  And did I mention how good it tastes!  Not to mention it is fun and easy to make because the topping combinations are endless based on individual likes and differences.  I think this would be fun for kids to make their own personal pizzas as well, but I’m not there yet!

I confess–I also ate a handful of pistachios and a dark chocolate square before bedtime.

P.S. I think it might have been the artificial sweetener in the coffee at work that I had earlier in the day causing me to be so hungry.  I don’ drink it often at work, but when I do I get cravings in the evening after work.  That must have been it.  Does that happen to you all?

Question of the Day:  What are your favorite pizza topping combinations?

Dazed and Confused

It was definitely difficult to wake up this morning due to my Sudafed Nighttime Cold Medicine.  Needless to say, I overslept by about thirty minutes, but still had time to get in some breakfast.  I had a satisfying peanut butter and grape preserve sandwich on a deli flat and a sliced orange (hoping some vitamins will help my immune system in kicking this cold).

Orange + Hot Green Mango Tea A.K.A. Foods to Fight the Cold

I took a Daytime Sudafed for Severe Cold before heading to work, and I do not recommend them when operating a vehicle.  My whole drive to work was dazed and confused and to be honest I wasn’t quite sure how I got there.  I almost felt like I had a bit too much to drink and only hoped I wasn’t swerving in and out of lanes.  Luckily, I made it to work safely and on time.  After I got moving around the classroom, my daze seemed to fade away.  A couple hours later I felt some hunger pangs chirping in my stomach.  Thankfully, lunch time was near.

Scrumptious Salad--Pork Pieces Heated and Topped Just Before Consumption

My salad was just the right lunch to quench my hunger.  It contained romaine, carrots, squash, dried cranberries, sliced almonds, pork tenderloins that the hub cooked up to add to his veggie soup last night (he’s certainly a meat eater), and 2 tbsp. of light raspberry vinaigrette.  I also ate a 1/4 cup of Kashi Mountain Medley Granola for some “dessert.”

On my way to a meeting after work I ate some satiating peanuts.  A handful of peanuts truly gives me that energy boost and leaves me with a feeling of fullness from the healthy fats, so a handful of nuts is a great snack.  Be advised that peanuts or any nuts should be eaten in moderation because they do have a high caloric value.  So purchase portioned bags or portion them out from the larger containers if your hand has trouble sealing the lid once you have had a fair portion–generally an ounce for nuts.

The original title of this post was intended to be “Sick of the Cold–Exercise or Don’t.”  But when I got home from my meeting tonight, I happened to look at the blog of fellow blogger, Julie, at PBFingers.  What a coincidence!  She completely stole my idea! [Kidding] 😉  I even looked up some information earlier today on the computer just before lunch regarding whether or not one should work out when sick. I found the same information about “above the neck, below the neck” symptoms that she stated.  Ultimately I decided to forego my original post idea, since you can easily take a look at hers.  Regarding my own decision on working out tonight, I feel I need to get some rest and let my body take a break.  1.) My hip is agitated and I am taking some time off.  2.) My head feels congested like it may explode at any second.  And from what I gathered, one cannot sweat out his or her cold.  The key is rest, hydrate, and eat.  So that’s it!  I’m off to hydrate, figure out what I can take out of the freezer for dinner, and catch up on some much needed rest and maybe watch some t.v. (since I started the blog I hardly ever watch t.v. anymore).  Good night!

Question of the Night: What is your favorite on-the-go snack?

Back to Life, Back to Reality

Back to work today!  All during the night that song was playing in my head, so I couldn’t sleep. Ugh!  Here’s the song in case you’re not aware of the 80’s hit by Soul II Soul.

So this morning I was not a happy camper when I arose at 5:45 to get ready for my first day back to school from the summer vacation.  I started with an almond butter and peach sammie with a sprinkle of cinnamon atop and Oroweat whole wheat sandwich thin.

Almond butter + Sweet Peach Half

Next I got ready and headed out on my 40 minute drive for my Back to School Staff Development Day.  By 12:00 my stomach was doing some serious talking.  Thank goodness lunch had arrived! 🙂

For lunch I enjoyed a spinach salad with celery, carrot, 1/4 fuji apple, yellow cherry tomatoes, feta, and 2 tbsp. of light raspberry vinaigrette dressing.  Mmmm, it was so refreshing and satisfied my hunger pangs.

Pretty Salad

And on the side–the other half of my peach from breakfast and a handful of blackberries.

Fresh Fruit

Late afternoon it was time for a snacky-snack, the second of my three Larabars I picked up at Whole Foods last Thursday.

PB & J

Whew!!! Today was a rough adjustment back into the swing of things.  I got home after work and began a little tidying of the house and needed another snack.  I must have been a bit hungry because it did not cross my mind to get a picture of my two slices of Hormel nitrate free turkey and Sargento light string cheese.  <Input image here> Two round slices of turkey wrapped around a tubular stick of string cheese<Embed image> 😉

Now onto dinner–a southern [stated in my most stereotypical southern voice as heard on TV] classic.  Shrimp and Grits.

I used Quaker 5 Minute Grits on the stovetop and added some Laughing Cow Light Swiss Cheese and garlic powder along with salt and pepper.  For the shrimp, I started by sauteing them on the stove in canola oil with salt, red pepper flakes, and dried rosemary.  Just before putting the pan in the oven I added a few splashes of worcestershire sauce.  The shrimp were baked until done.  Also, for some veggie action I roasted some squash with salt, pepper, and dried rosemary.

Lovin My Plating ❤

Up Close and Personal

The shrimp and grits came together quite quickly.  The longest part was the roasting of the veggies, which I didn’t mind getting a couple of other chores done while they roasted.  And roasting lately is my fave way to cook vegetables.  I wonder if it alters the nutritional value much!?!  Any nutritionists out there reading?  Please let me know.

I was thoroughly satisfied with my meal tonight, but I know in days, weeks, months to come I will be unable to answer that all too elusive question–what’s for dinner?  Now that I am back into the reality of my life I need to get back into a comfortable groove and figure out how to balance everything–socializing, working, cleaning, cooking and eating healthy, exercising.  And I don’t even have kids yet!  I’m scared!

Question of the Day:  How do you balance heading a household, working, and managing your healthy lifestyle?  Do you have any tips or ideas on how to accomplish all that needs to be done on a daily basis when it feels that there is just not enough time in the day?