Did You Take a You Day?

This week I have been trying to wake up a few minutes early to ensure I am to work on time.  We’ve started a new program at school called “Breakfast in the Classroom” where all students and teachers get a breakfast meal that is consumed together in class.  I actually do not have a homeroom class so I’ve just been monitoring in the hallway to make sure things are running smoothly.  I have chosen to forego the breakfast offerings after seeing the cherry pastries and granola bars and yogurt cups that the students have been given.  Today it was a pancake wrapped sausage on a stick.  Luckily, I ate prior to “Breakfast in the Classroom.”

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I topped a cup of plain greek yogurt with a 1/2 c. blueberries, a drizzle of maple syrup, a spoonful of almond butter, and an oatmeal chocolate chip muffin was mixed in.

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Instead of the usual Chai, I went with Celestial Seasonings Tension Tamer Tea.   I don’t care for the flavor that much, but was hoping for some stress relief (which hot tea usually has that effect on me anyway).  The past couple of days I have been feeling some tension or stress pains in my chest.  It feels like tightening or pressure near my heart.  I think it could be due to my students’ standardized testing coming up and I am overly-anxious to get it done with.

On my way to lunch just before noon, I was stopped by two coworkers who wanted to know if I had begun to plan for a parent event we have yearly at school.  I went on to explain that my heart is feeling tightness and stressed and I just had not gotten to it yet.  One of the ladies asked, “Did you take a you day?”  My response was no as I don’t generally take off just because I need a break.  But I do like the sound of a “you day” or “me day” for that matter!

I then proceeded to the lounge to eat my scrumptious salad composed of spring mix, romas, pecans, reduced fat feta, blueberries, a few chicken chunks left from Sunday’s grilled chicken, topped with a tbsp. of olive oil, and 2 tbsp. balsamic vinegar.  I enjoyed a banana on side.

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Today I made it to the gym to get in some strength training and cardio.  I started with 10 minutes on the stair climber, followed by 30  minutes of weights, and finished up with 20 minutes on the elliptical.

After my workout I followed my Mom to her house to pick up some roast that she cooked in the slow-cooker last night.  It was a great help because I wasn’t left struggling with “what’s for dinner” tonight. I ate the roast on a sandwich thin with lowfat mayo, a reduced fat slice of swiss, and tomato slices.  I added some steamed snap beans for some greenery and veggies.

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I decided I would try a few sips of a white wine I was given for Christmas to try and take the edge off.  I rarely drink alcohol and just can’t seem to acquire a taste for it.

Do you have any tips to relieve tension/stress?

My First Attempt at Gumbo, Sha!

Hi Sha!  My grandpa always called my granny that when they were with us, most often when he was annoyed with her and didn’t want to call her some other slip of the tongue.  Sha is a cajun french expression for referring to one’s spouse or as a term of endearment meaning dear/darling.  Just in case you want to call your better half “sha,” the a is pronounced like the a in apple. 😉

Well, last night I did end up making some gumbo.  I attempted to use this recipe, but some things went awry so I had to make some alterations.

gumbo recipe

My first roux (flour and oil mixture to create gravy) got burnt in the microwave. 

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So if attempting it in the microwave, stir every minute after the first three not after six as the recipe says.  Now it says get to a chocolate bar color; I have always been told a dark peanut butter color.

So roux attempt # 2 was more successful.  I did it stovetop using a cup of flour and a cup of olive oil since I was now out of canola oil.

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I did continue whisking for a couple more minutes as the flour and oil mixture darkened even more.  If making this stovetop do NOT leave it.  Continue stirring the entire time and have veggies precut to add immediately when desired color is reached. 

Normally, gumbo includes the vegetable trinity—onion, bell pepper, and celery.  I used two onions and 1 celery rib chopped plus a tbsp. of garlic since I did not have a bell pepper.  Once the roux was a dark, dark peanut butter color I added the veggies and sauteed them in the roux with continuous stirring until tender.  Next I added the seasoned chicken cubes (I cut up chicken tenderloins into cubes) and sliced turkey smoked sausage.  Continue stirring and cooking on medium low until chicken is cooked on the outside.  Then I added about 8-10 cups of water.  Next, I seasoned with more hot sauce than recommended, cayenne pepper, salt, a tsp. of dried thyme, 3 bay leaves, and a tbsp. of Worcestershire sauce.  This simmered for about an hour.  Any oil that floated to the top was skimmed off at this point.

At this point the husband came home and I told him my gumbo was too light.  He added about 2 tablespoons of the unburnt microwaved roux which gave a much nicer color.  Mom recommends adding a teaspoon of Kitchen Bouquet liquid if darkening is needed; however, I did not have that ingredient.

The gumbo cooked an hour longer after adding the additional roux.  Today it was reheated on the stove; after heating I added some chopped green onions and cooked 15 minutes longer.  Lastly, after turning the fire off, I stirred in half a teaspoon of ground file’ (fee-lay) powder, which is ground sassafras.  Additionally, file’ can be added at serving time to suit personal tastes.

The gumbo was served with a scoop of brown rice and cornbread muffins.

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Her plate above and his plate below.

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As I was snapping my pictures, Chris felt the need to decorate. 🙂

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I impressed myself.  This was divine, sha!

Niko waited patiently for a taste. Pardon the Hub’s finger at the top.

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Looking back on my other meals they weren’t as delicious, but still tasty.Breakfast included 1/2 c vanilla greek yogurt, 1/2 c cottage cheese, frozen blueberries, and a crumbled muffin, and a tiny bit of peanut butter.

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And I sipped hot green tea with mango flavoring.

Lunch was a turkey sandwich with honey mustard, lettuce, and tomato + some carrots for crunch.

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I brought the fuji apple, but with three minutes left of my lunch break I decided I did not have time to eat it.  I may eat it in a second. 

On my car ride over to the gym I had a Kind Bar that has been sitting in my purse pocket for a couple weeks now.

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Today’s workout started with 10 minutes on the elliptical.  I then did 30 minutes of weight training as some manly man grunted loud enough for the entire gym to hear.  Several people made comments.  One guy passed me and commented something along the lines of “He’ll be okay, it is just labor and delivery taking place.”  What!?! Lol.  But seriously, if that guy needs to make all that noise then lower the friggin weight already.  I ended my session with 15 minutes on the stair stepper.  And that thing is killer!!  I was a huffing and a puffing as though it were 2 years ago and I never worked out a day in my life.  I’m definitely going to pick that up more for cardio days.  I could feel the sweat and the burn, which is a good thing.  It feels good to be back! 🙂

Bananas Cause Cellulite

Truth or Myth—Revealed!

Someone recently told my mother “bananas cause cellulite” as she sat at work eating her banana.  In my quest to find any truth in this statement, I found the opposite to be true.  In fact, bananas can help in detoxifying the body by increasing blood circulation and ridding the body of unwanted toxins.  Perhaps the woman got bananas confused with something else, but it has not been found to to cause cellulite.  Myth–revealed!

I know bananas are a staple in my diet; I eat them on a daily basis unless I run out, but I certainly do not plan on giving them up any time soon.  They provide the body with ample amounts of potassium, which aids the body in regulating blood circulation.  Additionally, the fiber content in bananas can help with normalizing digestion.  There are so many more advantages including preventing stomach ulcers, reducing kidney cancer in women, boosting moods, and promoting bone health.  

Although bananas get some criticism  about containing too much sugar, the benefits far outweigh the bad.  So eat your bananas, people! 😉

Unfortunately, I was all out of bananas this morning, so I ate a sliced peach in a parfait of sorts.

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I layered greek yogurt, cinnamon and oats granola, peach, raspberry preserves, a drizzle of honey, and a few cinnamon almonds.  Sweet, cold, satisfying!

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With Hot Chai Tea

Today’s lunch included sister’s white beans with sausage, pita chips for dipping, and an apple.

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After work, I headed to the grocery to pick up some staples + ingredients for tonight’s dinner.  Bananas and milk were needed desperately.  Okay, maybe the Talenti Coconut Gelato was not needed, but it looked so good.

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I immediately had to try out this new yogurt.

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It had cherry chunk pieces in it; I wished it had cake chunks instead, but it was tasty.

For dinner tonight, I made pasta with roasted vegetables, feta, and Italian Turkey Sausage.

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Feta Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Sausage

Ingredients:

12 oz. vegetable radiatore (tri-colored pasta)

5 links of Italian Turkey Sausage

Handful of Fresh Spinach

5 Basil Leaves, fresh

Approx. 2 tablespoons of olive oil, divided

1 zucchini, sliced

20 grape tomatoes

4 oz. reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled

1/2 cup reserved pasta water

salt and pepper

Directions:  Preheat oven to 400*.  Drizzle tomatoes and zucchini slices with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat and put in single layer on baking sheet.  Roast for 20 minutes in oven.  Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook pasta according to package directions.  While pasta is boiling, add a teaspoon of oil to sauté pan.  Heat to medium high.  Cook sausage links for five minutes on medium turning periodically.  Cover and reduce heat; cook 5-6 minutes longer or until 170* inner temperature is reached and sausage is cooked through.  Let sit 5 minutes longer and slice into 1/2 inch pieces.  Before draining pasta, reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water for later.  Place spinach and basil in colander; drain pasta in colander to allow spinach and basil to wilt from steamed pasta and water.   Return pasta to pot and add spinach, basil, sausage to pot.  Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1/2 cup of reserve water to sauté pan used for cooking sausage; scrape any brown bits from pan and stir.  Pour water mixture over the pasta.  Add feta cheese and mix until combined.  Carefully stir in roasted vegetables.  Heat on low fire until warmed through.  Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired.

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Collecting spinach and basil from garden

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My final opinion—I did not like the bites of whole leaves of basil.  I should have chopped that up into smaller pieces, but the dish was still yummy and not too complicated to cook.

Do you fear any foods that are thought to be healthy by most?

She Made Me Over and I Made Her Oatmeal

I’ve been going to the same hair stylist my entire life since birth and actually did not step foot in a salon to get my hair done by someone else until my wedding day.  Thankfully, Mom has been in the industry for over 29 years.  Yesterday I went to Mom’s house to get my hair colored and cut because I had so many grays peering through at the front of my hair line.  What can I say?  It runs in the family (on dad’s side).  Take ‘em or leave color ‘em, right.  ;)  She also cut it a little bit, but I’m still not sure if I want to go short like the picture to the right.  That was summer of 2009 and it has grown out a bit since then.  No pictures of the new hair cut yet because I honestly haven’t really fixed it.  Maybe I’ll get to that at some point this week. 

In exchange for the hair cut, well not really an exchange, more so because neither one of us had eaten breakfast I whipped up a batch of oatmeal.  Turns out that old fashioned oats are so.much.better.cooked.on.the.stovetop.  They get much thicker and creamier.  I did it that way last Friday and man oh man was I missing out by cooking them in the microwave.  Not to mention I lost half of the serving in the microwave anyway.  DSC02206 Sunday Oats for Mom and I

DSC02219 In the mixture for two:

  • 1 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 banana mashed
  • 1 tbsp. maple syrup
  • cinnamon

All of that was heated on the stovetop simmering for about 5 minutes while stirring.  Then I added the following to each serving:

  • 1 tsp. cinnamon raison peanut butter
  • 1 tsp. seedless black raspberry preserves (got Mom to buy this from the other day’s post)
  • sprinkle of oat and honey granola

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Plus some coffee on the side.

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Onto this morning….

For breakfast this morning I attempted to make a layered parfait layering Fage Honey Greek Yogurt and some of the Pumpkin Bread I made yesterday because I had canned pumpkin opened in my fridge (Hub gave some to the dogs mixed into their dog food) and wanted to use it up.

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Those dark brown spots are where I failed to mix in the dark brown sugar because it was so hard and chunky, but it turned out just fine.  My hub ate two huge chunks right off the cooling rack.

Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 cup all purpose flour

1 cup dark brown sugar packed

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. nutmeg

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 cup canola oil

1 tbsp. butter, melted

1 egg

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/4 cup cinnamon almonds or other nuts, crushed (I used Trader Joe’s cinnamon almonds)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350*.  Spray bread pan with cooking spray.  Mix all ingredients through salt in mixing bowl.  Mix canola oil through pumpkin in separate bowl.  Combine the two mixtures and stir until evenly distributed.  Fold in crushed almonds.  Pour into pan and bake for 55 minutes to an hour until toothpick inserted comes out clean.

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I continuously opened the oven from 30 minutes up to 60 minutes, so it may have taken longer than it needed to.  By the end of the hour, it was done.

For lunch today I ran to the grocery to pick up a bite to eat since I rushed out the door this a.m. without a lunch.  I really went to the store to get some of the pre packaged sushi rice rolls, but they were all out.  So I opted for a chef salad, fruit, light blue cheese dressing to replace the ranch it came with ( nowhere near as good as Ruth’s Chris dressing), and a Diet Dr. Pepper (just one of those quick check-out decisions which I only drank half of and stuck the rest in the fridge in my classroom).

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DSC02245 I had to pick through the lettuce because it was brown and old.

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No joke, I lost half my grapes on the floor trying to get into this packaging—sheesh!  I did leave some of the melon in the fridge, but ate most of the other stuff.

Okay, so lunch wasn’t all that great, more of a fail actually.

After work I made my way to the gym without a snack, but I wasn’t all that hungry.  I completed 15 minutes on the bike to start, 25 minutes of weights with very little rest time between sets, and 15 minutes more on the bike.  My quads and hamstrings are still sore from the race on Saturday so cardio was very light on intensity.

Once home I heated up some of my Round II Recipe concocted on Saturday with leftover chicken from my Spin on Mexican.

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Saturday Photo Shoot of Lunch

On Saturday for lunch, I gave the chicken a little makeover of my own turning it into a quesadilla of sorts.  I took the leftover breast, chopped it up, threw it along with half a can of reduced sodium black beans, cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder plus a tiny bit of water.  I then layered the heated mixture between two fat free tortillas with some salsa verde.  I topped it with peach salsa and two crumbled reduced fat colby jack cheese sticks (one used on the inside and one used for the top).

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I then baked it for ten minutes or so.

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I had 1/4 on Saturday and 1/4 tonight along side a scrumptious salad.

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Salad included:

  • spring mix
  • roasted butternut squash (also from last week)
  • sliced baby portabella mushroom cap
  • tbsp. feta (reduced fat)
  • cinnamon almonds
  • honey drizzle

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Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm, tasty!

I think I’m going to have some more pumpkin bread before the night end.  Perhaps with a schmear of peanut butter since I haven’t had any yet today!?!

Question of the Night: What do you tend to do with leftovers?  Eat them? Toss them? Remake them into something new?

My vote is for Round II Recipes all the way.  I watch Sandra do that all the time on Food Network’s Semi-Homemade and Money Saving Meals.  Good idea for sure!

Busy Baker & Beurre Noisette

Tomorrow the faculty and staff at my school is hosting a bake sale to raise money for our positive behavior store where our students can earn money and buy gizmos and gadgets of their choice.

I saw this cookie recipe on Julie’s blog at PBFingers; she found it on Jenna’s blog at Eat Live Run.  I am not one to bake, but when I heard that the chocolate chip cookies included browned butter, also known in French as “beurre noisette” (literally translated as butter hazelnut or “hazelnut butter” in English), I knew this was something I must try.  So in preparation for my school’s bake sale fundraiser, I thought I’d give it a go.  I only made one batch, so there aren’t that many to go round.

The first time I had beurre noisette it was in a more savory black drum with sweet potatoes that had been sauteed in beurre noisette at a local New Orleans restaurant called Grand Isle Restaurant.  The butter is heated in a saute pan until the milk solids separate from the fat, then sinking to the bottom and becoming a toasty, brown, hazelnut color.  It gives off the most amazing smell and nutty or caramel-like taste.This was one of the most amazing meals I have ever eaten.  Yet it was quite simple and reasonably priced.  An A+ in my book!  My hub and I have tried to recreate the dish, but we can never get it quite right.

Back to the chocolate chip cookies.  The butter is browned prior to adding sugar and the flour giving the cookies that same amazing flavor I remember.  View Jenna’s blog above for the specific recipe.  In addition to the cookies, I fixed up a batch of rice crispy treats with a sprinkling of chocolate chips.  I figured that would be a hit among the students.

Goodies for Bake Sale Fundraiser

For a recap of my eats today, take a look at the pictures below.  (Lol, that sounds like directions on a test or something.  Sorry, you are not my students!) I also had a banana which went unpictured prior to baking.  And of course I tried one of the cookies plus some chocolate chips!

Tea + Yogurt Bowl

Nectarine, Oats, Dark Chocolate Dream Peanut Butter, Cinnamon, Cottage Cheese, Plain Yogurt

Wrap + Carrots + Honey Greek Yogurt

Deli Chicken, Laughing Cow Light Swiss, Romaine, Tomatoes

Meatless Taco Salad

Black Beans for Protein