Spinachfest

2 smoothies, 4 salads.

That is what it takes to finish off an entire bag of spinach around here evidently. I’m on one heck of a serious spinach kick.  They were buy one get one free so I did.  Easy peasy.  Getting down to the bottom of the 2nd bag.

So far the challenge of a salad a day is going awesome! one the first day, 2 the second,then a lunch one, another yesterday & then lunch while I blog.  I am loving them.

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Ok confession.

Maybe not loving them as much as I was the first couple of days.  In fact today;s, well it actually may not have been technically a salad.

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BUT I am counting it.  Think of it like a bread bowl only completely all around!

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Wrap, salad… either way it is lots of veggies.  Girl has to switch it up a little every now & then.

Slightly surprised how easy it has been to have it as my go to meal.  Much better than some drive thru dash.

Another confession….  The training for the 5K completely off track.

I could give a million excuses, but why both? Fact is I don’t feel ready.  Still backing out is NOT an option I am willing to consider so off to the Electric Run I go Friday.  Come what may it will certainly be an experience new to me.

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What you say? a Salad a Day?

Imagine how happy a body would be if it got what it wanted all of the time.  The good stuff, not the indulgences that end up leaving you feeling crashed and lethargic.  The fresh vibrant healthy stuff.

As while back I started making smoothies again and it has become a habit.  One I missed while away.  Thankfully when visiting my family usually I still get a smoothie thanks to Dad letting me have some space in the freezer to store stuff and a mini blender that is ready to pack & go where I need it.

Salads and Smoothies Daily

Salads however, I have really gotten out of the habit of eating.  Frankly many salads I see people eating just gross me out.  I’m not a fan of dressings or mayonnaise (I don’t even like the sound of that word) or an iceberg girl.  Wish I had a penny for every time I got a strange look when I ordered my salad dry.  I would be living at Disney World.  Yes THAT often.  I admit that it is odd to many but we all have our food quirks.

SALAD
1.  a. A dish of raw leafy green vegetables, often tossed with pieces of other raw or cooked vegetables, fruit, cheese, or other ingredients and served with a dressing.  b. The course of a meal consisting of this dish.
2. A cold dish of chopped vegetables, fruit, meat, fish, eggs, or other food, usually prepared with a dressing, such as mayonnaise.
3. A green vegetable or herb used in salad, especially lettuce.
4. A varied mixture:
I’m still lost as to what officially makes a salad exactly, but for me I will define it as something that is mostly fruits or vegetables and less cooked than a typical dish.  Fresh, healthy ingredients.  Another step in my attempt to live life in full vivid color  – even on my plates!
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Truth is I remember a time where I ate salads daily & loved it.  Was easier then working somewhere that had a fresh salad bar with various seasonal ingredients.  Also was easy to grab ingredients for home prep.  Why did I quit?  Because after I stopped that job, it was just easier to grab other stuff.
One thing I have learned in bringing back the smoothie addiction is preparation is everything.  If I don’t already have the ingredients in the house, it simply isn’t going to happen for me.  Same goes for salads.  Might take me a while to get back into the habit again, but organization and planning should be a little work at the go but come natural as I go.
Luckily we have several farmers markets in the area and some great retail options to get local, fresher than fresh good stuff.
As far as equipment, I already have a salad spinner, bowls, cutting boards and plenty of storage for ingredients.  Easy peasy.  Good to go there although I know I will come across gadgets and gizmos that I will want along the way.
With Pinterest, blogs & recipes galore all over the web and magazines there should be no shortage of inspiration.
The possibilities are endless.  I think you could have a salad for 3 meals a day every day for 10 years and there would still be combinations you didn’t think of or try.  Just so much goodness out there.
Promise I won’t become one of those chicks who only orders a small salad on dates and barely picks at it.  Nope.  I like to add the extras.  I have to think that piling on cheese, chicken or whatever on veggies is still going to be healthier and keep me feeling more energy than just having them on a sandwich without the vegetables.
So the idea is a salad a day.  Break the bad habits I have fallen into with comfort and quick on the go fast food.  Get back to what actually makes me fell good on a daily basis.  Sure there will be days I slip, but if the good out weights the bad, I’m all for it.
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Off to get groceries & get this plan in action.

Comfort Me

Sometimes you just crave comfort food.  Especially as the days feel so much shorter & the stress piles up.  So I searched for a casserole.  Something new yet full of familiar favorites.

I found my way to a recipe for Chicken Broccoli Casserole on Family Oven.  Still I ended up switching it up slightly.  Instead of the Cream of Mushroom soup, I used Cream of Celery.  In place of the french fried onions, I went for crushed crackers as a topping.

Seven ingredients that some people even already have without the trip to the store.  Not me! But here they are now ready to go.  Start by cooking the chicken.  I went for just simply boiling it up.  But I can see you fixing it most any way.  As long as it get cooked thoroughly & then chopped or shredded into bite sized chunks.

While the chicken was cooking, I start on the cheese sauce.  Over a low-medium heat I mixed together the butter (instead of margarine), the cream of celery, the cheese & the milk.  At first I had my doubts.  Its wasn’t looking so great.

Chopped up the 2 bunches of broccoli into bite sized pieces.  That is about the time it hit me, this is making a lot of food.  Looks like its going to be a share some or eat it til I’m sick of it type meals!

Layer the chicken in the bottom of the pan.

Next layer on the broccoli pieces.

The cheese sauce goes onto the broccoli layer.

Crushed up the crackers & added that layer to the pan.

Popped it all in a 350 degree oven for around 30 minutes.  The original recipe had it baking longer, but it was smelling REALLY good & the crackers were browning.  I figured everything had cooked that needed to cook by then.

I was right!  It was done.

Its delish!

I love the flavors of this.  The broccoli roast, which is not a way I typically have cooked or eaten broccoli but it is great.  Funny enough I just recently read another blog discussing roasted broccoli & didn’t even remember it til I tasked this.  I now get why she loves to roast hers!

The only thing I may change about this recipe is that I expected it to be creamier.  Turned out drier than I thought it would.  At first I thought – mental note double the sauce recipe or decrease everything else by half next time.  After I had dinner, I don’t know if I will change it after all.  Sure it wasn’t quite the consistency I was expecting, but in the end it wasn’t bad at all.  Actually maybe some home made applesauce would be a perfect side for this.

Guess even when things don’t end up the way we want them to, we shouldn’t just toss them away, but rather enjoy them for what they are.  We may indeed find a new favorite after all.

Supper. Simply.

Somethings just seem to come with the changing of season or the coming of holidays.  After Halloween / Samhain (repeat AFTER) has past, its time to start the holiday choas.  It starts with Veterans Day, which many forget completely, & seems to go non-stop right up to Valentine’s Day!  One thing that I tend to associate with this time of year is pie.

In November I am far from alone.  Some can’t imagine a holiday meal without the pecan or pumpkin pies.  Others go for chocolate or apple.  Either way with the bikinis tucked away for most of the country the indulgent season begins.  A slice is comforting.

One site I am watching lately is AllRecipes.com’s Pie Countdown! The pictures & descriptions make my mouth water with a new temptation daily.  I wish I had the time to make each & every one.  Then again I can’t imagine what I would do with a new pie each day.  I long for someone else to make them & let me try a slice!

I love the idea of pie… just not the abundance.

Which leads me to doing things like buying pumpkin pie flavored lip gloss, scented candles & even a fragrance to wear that smells like pumpkin pie!  Something I ordered my 2nd bottle of last week & it arrived today…

Along with a few others! ONE WAS EVEN A SURPRISE FREEBIE!  I adore Demeter Fragrances.  I miss being able to go to Ulta & other places & just spend a while smelling the various different scents.  I can still find popular ones, but it doesn’t seem like anywhere here has the library.  So I ordered a few online from them directly.  The Frozen Margarita one was a total surprise! I love the way they smell so close to the actual items.  Well the best parts of them anyway!  I never had a margarita that smelled that good.

But alas on to dinner….  something quick & simple.

A trusty favorite – Bell & Evans Coconut Chicken Breast!  Simple & better than any frozen chicken I have ever had in my life.

The directions for cooking always give me a giggle!  I go for the oven baked route, but I’m sure that pan frying is good too.  However no one should be using a microwave for anything this good! Even says so right there on the box.

Also was dying to try the lime pepper seasoning on some fresh asparagus! No disappointments there! Again simple as can be.  Just snapped off the woody ends off the asparagus, sprayed a little oil on the stalks & sprinkled the seasoning on.  The tossed them into the oven to bake along side the chicken tenders.

While they were roasting, I decided all this talk of pie had me craving something sweet & warm.  Also something that wouldn’t be around to haunt me for days & days…

So thanks to an apple, a bit of butter & some instant maple & brown sugar oatmeal – I ended up with something delish!  Simply sliced the apple thinly & layered the slices in a dish.  Topped the slices with the dry oatmeal mix (be sure that its mixed up – you know how the sugar tends to wander to the top of the packet at times….) then dab on a few slices of butter.  Next it was tossed into the party happening in the oven to bake away beside the asparagus & the chicken.

Oh my! Looks like a couple of mozzarella sticks got in there too.  Ooops. {guilty grin} This was a quick & VERY easy way to end the day in a healthy & delish way.

Without any pie!

😉

Anything Fresh Lo Mein

ahhhh chinese & no MSG!

Even better the next day!

It all started in the veggie aisle with a shopping cart & a ravenous stomach… 

Which lead me to snatching up ANYTHING FRESH!  I quickly nabbed some broccoli that was on sale & some snap peas, an orange pepper & some little yellow squash that just looked good.  Then I had to ask what in the world to do with them?  It hit me later in the store – STIR FRY!  The lo mein noodles were a new discounted item in the store as was the East West Sizzling Stir Fry Sauce.  The LIME pepper salt mixture by Jane’s Krazy Mixed Up Seasonings was new to me & sounded perfect for that chicken breast I had in my freezer.

So with just a slight bit of oil, I browned the seasoned chicken.  Then added some minced garlic & the bite sized chopped broccoli.

I just washed the snap peas & added those to the pan.  For the small squash I ended up washing & cutting off the top stem pieces & the bottoms, then chopping into thirds (or bite sized pieces).  The pepper also want chopped up into smaller pieces.   I don’t know why I hardly ever fix snap peas but I should a lot more often.  They are divine!

While the chicken & veggies cooked away, I cooked the lo mein noodles as directed on the package.  Mine took maybe 5 minutes in the boiling water.

The final step was adding in the sauce & noodles to the pan & letting it cook enough to get everything warm.  I added some sauce, tasted & loved it so much I ended up dumping in half the bottle!

I was really pleased by the lime, pepper, sugar & salt mixture.  Even with the sauce it accented the flavors perfectly.  Why haven’t I tried this stuff before?  Wasn’t expensive & just a simple idea.  I love that I can count the ingredients on my hand & pronouce all of them!

Next time I make this, I think that some crunchy fried tofu would be great.  I know it can be done… just not sure I can do it the way the local Thai place does.  But this would be a perfect dish for it.  Which honestly, I can’t say that often about tofu!  (But I am learning… lol)

Fall Beef Stew

The past couple of days have been HEAVEN at my desk – even if a tad hectic elsewhere in my life!

Why? Fall Beef Stew!

I simply thought about what sounded good, looked for a recipe & then said forget it, I’m winging it!

I used a big steak, 2 sweet potatoes, half an onion, 4 cloves of garlic (hey I’ve been sick. Couldn’t hurt!), 2 zucchinis, a small can of peas & carrots, a 16 oz can of cannelini beans, some kale, olive oil, garlic salt, black pepper, steak seasoning, curry powder and some paprika.

Side of roasted sweet potato, kale chips & olive oil rosemary bread are recommended but optional.

Start by heating the onions & olive oil in the pan.  When they are starting to brown, I added in the garlic.

While that was happening, I peeled the veggies & chopped them into small pieces (smaller they are the quicker the cooking time, but you still want nice bite sized pieces).  Break the kale into bite size pieces as well.

Chopped the beef into bite sized pieces & added to the onion & garlic til it was cooked thoroughly.

After that I added in the spices, some water, the fresh veggies & more water to get it to the consistency I wanted.  When the sweet potatoes are easy to cut through with the spoon (AKA done), I added the canned veggies.

Simply a superb supper, lunch, anytime!

Krazy About Kale

Tonight I was really craving kale.

Random I know but it may have been the fact that I have been wanting a good soup & have seen so many blog posts raving about kale chips lately! Its one of those recipes that I have been meaning to try, but a tad unsure about.  Looked easy, but would it actually taste good or just taste “healthy”? Gluten Hates Me’s post really got me thinking.  I know she has great tastes so if she liked it, I thought I might.

Thankfully it was easy as can be & just the thing to hit the spot!

Crunchy, little yummy bits of nutrition.

Just wash the kale & rip it into small pieces.

DRY DRY DRY!  Salad spinner, towels galore the drier the better.

Then I spread the pieces out on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.  Lightly sprayed the kale with some oil then shook on some garlic salt.  Any seasoning you are craving will work or so I have read, but I wanted to start simple.

Popped the pan into a preheated 350 degree oven & let them bake until crisp.  Around 15 minutes.  They are done when crispy but not burnt.

I adore them!  Know what else is awesome? So does my pug and 2 of the 4 birds!  They didn’t get very much since (well I wanted to eat them!) & they don’t need the oil or salt, but I went easy on both so they got to try the chips.  So I guess we give this 2 thumbs, paws & claws up! A treat for the whole house.

Oh & that pink liquid in the background…. Another new favorite thing!

Watermelon juice!

Not sure if this is new or what (couldn’t find any information on it at the Dole website), but I love it.  Light, refreshing taste & I may or may not have added a splash of vodka to the second glass of the night.  Of course its not all watermelon juice.  Its a mixture of juices, but importantly no caffiene!

So good I didn’t even miss my sweet tea with dinner tonight.  I adore water, but sometimes I need something more.  Flavor not the vodka! ha ha

& what did I have for dinner… well the same thing I will be having for lunch tomorrow! So more then, but I can say it was simple & tasted incredible.  I got more than my 5 servings of fruits & veggies today.