Monday, October 31, 2011

weekend review: double the sauce, double the pleasure

So what if I always prepare double the sauce when cooking? In my world, extra sauce is a must - especially when it involves mushrooms, wine, and butter, like it did this past Saturday night.

Figure 1. Saturday night's dinner: chicken with mushroom sauce, caramelized onion mashed potatoes, and roasted green beans with toasted almonds.

For the green beans: Toss 1 lb. of trimmed green beans in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven for about 10 minutes. While beans are roasting, toast 2 T slivered almonds on the stove-top over medium heat. Sprinkle almonds on roasted beans and serve.

Figure 2. Saturday afternoon baked good: homemade pumpkin pie made from scratch. Although my boyfriend should get most of the credit for this. And by scratch I mean crust from scratch and pumpkin puree made by baking pumpkins. Much more flavorful (and a bit more soggy) than pumpkin pie from a canned puree.

Figure 3. Sunday night's dinner: sausage, tomato, and arugula fettuccine and steamed broccoli. This is a super tasty and quick recipe that will satisfy any sausage craving.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

my less serious day: 1st place breakfast

Most every day, dinner is my favorite meal. Not today. Today, breakfast took the prize. Here's hoping that dinner isn't a sore loser... 


Skirt: LOFT; top: J Crew outlet; belt: Banana outlet; necklace: gifted; shoes: Urban Outfitters


This morning I gladly stayed inside my house for a 35-minute stationary bike ride (ramp interval) followed by a 15-minute walk with L. I also took two more 10-minute walks during my day, one after lunch and one when I returned home from work. My afternoon workout was a 60-minue Body Pump class.


Breakfast (1st place) was the prize-winning yogurt bowl containing ~1 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, cinnamon, 1/2 sliced banana, 1/2 slice leftover oatmeal pumpkin bread crumbled and warmed, and a drizzle of almond butter. Heaven in a bowl.

Lunch (last place, as usual) was a Lean Cuisine, a disappointingly-mealy Gala apple, and almonds.

Dinner (second place) was baked chicken (quick-marinated in lime, salt, and pepper) topped with avocado, wild mushroom couscous (Near East), and roasted eggplant on top of steamed spinach.

Dessert (third place) was a small bowl of Cascadian Farms dark chocolate almond granola drowned in almond milk.

Note: these are the actual events that took place on Wednesday, October 26.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

what i ate wednesday: issue 7

Figure 1. Breakfast: a bowl of Kashi GoLean Original and Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereals with 1/2 sliced banana and almond milk.

Figure 2. Lunch: spinach salad with tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, and asparagus topped with hummus, salt, and pepper. A slice of leftover oatmeal pumpkin bread on the side.

Figure 3. Dinner: roasted Brussels sprouts, a Morningstar chicken patty with ketchup and a slice of whole wheat bread topped with Benecol. 

Figure 4. Dessert, Part 1: pumpkin pie yogurt (Greek yogurt + pumpkin puree + shredded coconut + pumpkin pie spice + cinnamon + honey).

Figure 5. Dessert, Part 2: a handful of Annie's Homegrown SnickerDoodle Bunny Cookies.

And that concludes another What I Ate Wednesday (featuring what I ate Monday, October 24).

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the skinny belt experiment: with cardigan

Not only does Fall mean my pantry is filled with canned pumpkin, but it also means my outfits are littered with cardigans. And, a belted cardigan makes a perfect pairing for my latest update for the skinny belt experiment.

Results. Oftentimes I wear a cardigan open and don't worry about waist accentuation. When the weather starts to turn a bit cooler, however, I tend to keep my cardigans buttoned-up and then they scream for some type of belting at the waist - less I get lost in fabric. The solution? A skinny belt. This simple addition adds waist accentuation and can add texture and/or color to any outfit.

Figure. Outfit combination for the skinny belt experiment: jeans+ cardigan + skinny belt at waist.

This combination can also be done with an open cardigan. The best way to make this work for you is to first button the cardigan, belt, and then un-button. This ensures good cardigan-belt placement without spending your precious morning minutes arranging and re-arranging your clothes.

The only notable issue with this combination is that belting at the higher-waist was slightly less comfortable than other belting in other areas. Breathe too deeply or eat too much and you will wish you never discovered the skinny belt.

Belting so high can leave a trailing belt end. My trick is to use the 'loop and tuck' method as seen in the above picture. You look trendy and effortless even if this loop takes you 15 minutes to perfect in the morning. 

And there you have it. A new skinny belt combination from me to you. Now who's brave enough to try and share?

Monday, October 24, 2011

weekend review: working weekend

I had to work all weekend long. Thankfully I had the energy to make and enjoy two delicious weekend meals despite my busy days. Not to mention a Sunday-morning baked good for good measure.

Figure 1. In preparation: baked vegetable ziti.

Figure 2. Saturday night's dinner: baked vegetable ziti with mixed spinach and mushroom salad with slivered almonds and lemon-olive oil dressing.

 Figure 3. Sunday morning baking: oatmeal pumpkin bread.

Figure 4. Sunday night's dinner: chicken with lemon and olives, green pea rice, and steamed broccoli. This new comfort favorite, which warms the house with its citricy-sweet fragrance, is one of our go-to favorites.

Friday, October 21, 2011

my less serious day: secret jeggings

Jegging trend? Turns out I'm in. But, don't tell anyone...


Patterned blouse and tee: LOFT; legging jeans: Gap; boots: Steve Madden; necklace: J Crew outlet


This morning, L and I went on a cold and windy 65-minute run at conversation pace. I also took three short walks throughout my day. After work I took a 60-minute R.I.P.P.E.D. class.


Breakfast was a cereal mix bowl with a heaping cup of Kashi GoLean Original and 1/4 cup Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereals with a sliced banana and almond milk.

My lunchbox was quick and easy to pack: a Smart Ones entree, apple, almonds, and a Quaker Chewy granola bar.

Dinner was pasta with chicken, mushrooms, onions, and red bell peppers based loosely off my recipe for last minute sausage and pepper ziti with roasted zucchini. Dessert was a Reese's peanut butter pumpkin.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

the cereal experiment: Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans

I already knew that my love was strong for Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans cereal when I hopefully checked its nutritional content last week in the grocery aisle. You can only imagine my excitement when I saw its contents fit my criteria for the cereal experiment.

This is a perfect cereal. I love its hearty flavor with crunchy clusters, crispy flakes, and divine pecans. Despite its low sugar content, I am completely satisfied with all its other offerings. Perfect flavor and almost perfect texture. I, simply, love this cereal.

I must say, however, that this 'cereal' has caused me to question the very meaning of cereal itself. I knew that Great Grains was high density (you only get 3/4 cup for 210 calories), but when a little voice told me to compare it to my granola I was shocked. My granola is 3/4 cup for 210 calories. And, in my world granola is defined as a more caloric-dense treat to combine in small amounts with cereal or add to yogurt. Not to fill and be eaten in a cereal-sized bowl. No wonder I love Great Grains so much. 

Is Great Grains granola? Or is my granola cereal? What, my friends, is cereal?

Once I made this revelation, I couldn't help but treat Great Grains like granola. Having a granola-sized (i.e., smaller) bowl of cereal/granola just isn't what I want in the morning. I want substance. On the other hand, adding Great Grains in for a burst of flavor with my otherwise bland cereal is perfection.

Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans is a high density treat with 6 grams of fat per serving. Despite these higher numbers, its sugar content is low with only 15% of calories of sugar per serving. It also deals out a minimum criteria-filling amount of fiber and protein at 5 grams each.

Despite my high ratings for taste and texture, Post Great Grains Crunchy Pecans falls to 6th place after ranking. A leader of the mainstream cereals, but not competitive with Kashi's warrior creations. A ranking, perhaps, for which Great Grains was always destined.

I will always love Post Great Grains Cereals, and the Crunchy Pecans variety holds a special place in my heart and pantry. But, its closer examination has caused me to question cereal on a deeper level, and its place in my life as an every morning cereal is now questionable. But, its place in my life as a granola-like addition is and likely always will be definite.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

what i ate wednesday: issue 6

Wednesdays have quickly become my favorite day in the blog world thanks to Jen at Peas and Crayons. Here is what I ate Tuesday, October 18.

Figure 1. Breakfast: a bowl of Nature's Path Optimum Slim cereal with almond milk and 1/2 banana on the side.

Figure 2. Lunch: a sandwich on toasted whole wheat bread filled with hummus, spinach, mushrooms, and red bell peppers.

 Figure 3. A peek inside. 

Figure 4. Afternoon Snack: a Gala apple and almonds.

Figure 5. Dinner, Part 1: an unreasonably large spinach salad complete with broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, onions, tomatoes, asparagus, and golden raisins.

Figure 6. Dinner, Part 2: a sweet potato topped with almond butter, Greek yogurt, and cinnamon.

Figure 7. Dessert: 1/2 grilled banana and chocolate pudding.

Monday, October 17, 2011

weekend review: cook less, eat more

This weekend was spent out of town going out to eat and attending a fall-themed food festival. While there I indulged in delicacies like fried green tomatoes, chicken tiki masala, ribs, vegetable samosas, and chocolate velvet gelato. 

When Sunday night came around, all I could think of was eating as many vegetables as possible and turned to a previously-made favorite. Veggie pizza with a side of veggies? Yes, please.

Figure 1. Veggie topping for tonight's 'summer veggie pizza'. It isn't summer, but I don't care. Onion and red bell pepper sauteed in olive oil along with corn and asparagus to be roasted on the pizza.

Figure 2. Side salad with creamy Greek yogurt dressing a la Running with Spoons. For one serving: 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1 tsp dijon mustard, and Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb topping. Spinach salad includes broccoli, mushrooms, pickled beets, green onions, and tomatoes.
Figure 3. This pizza deserves a close-up.
Figure 4. Sunday night's dinner: summer veggie pizza and creamy spinach salad (I went back for second's on both).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

commentary: my fashion discovery

Imagine this: I used to be a tomboy subsisting on jeans and tank tops. Every single day. 

When I was younger I fought with my mom about wearing anything feminine - tights, skirts, and dresses. In college I was known for repetitively wearing the same jeans with tank tops. In graduate school I meagerly attempted to incorporate a bit of 'grown up-ness' into my wardrobe, but only enough to make me presentable. I hated shopping. I didn't care. And then one day, I discovered fashion.

After graduation and in preparation for my first real job, I knew that what I wore could directly affect my success. But, I had no idea what I was doing or where to start. One day I was feeling particularly uncomfortable with the length of a pair of hand-me-down khakis. I didn't even know how long my pants should be with my tiny, tiny heels. So, what else would a good academic do but research it? I came across this blog post by Already Pretty. I was intrigued and quickly began to link off her page to others.

Kendi of Kendi Everyday.

One blog roll led to another and soon I stumbled on Kendi Everyday. Kendi is the root of my fashion inspiration. It may sound strange and a bit obsessive, but this is what she has become to me. So I watched (ahem, stalked) her - I watched others. Every day eagerly anticipating the next outfit. And then, one day I braved the stores and tried it myself.

Kristine of Kristine. Or Polly.

The transformation was nothing less than drastic. Now, I am happy, confident, and eager to learn more about how I can make fashion work for me. I had discovered my fashion self.

Kendi of Kendi Everyday.

And, in case you find yourself in a similar place in your fashion evolution, here are a few tips for finding and fostering your own fashion self.
  • Try. You have no idea if something looks good if you don't try it on. Even if it is just in your bedroom or in the dressing room by yourself. Just try.
  • Read fashion blogs. Get inspiration from others. Check out my 'Seriously Great Reads' page for my favorites.
  • Get out of your comfort zone. Push yourself to choose things that make you a little nervous. They may be exactly what you want, but didn't know it.
  • Look around. (Depending on where you live), there is a world of fashion inspiration right outside your door. Pay attention. 
  • Constantly re-invent yourself. After college I was anxious to wear skirts because I was the girl who always wore jeans. I thought such a drastic change in my wardrobe would cause some kind of uproar. The reality? Most people didn't even notice. Be brave and try something new - you can be a jean person one day and a skirt person another day. No one (except you) really cares that much.
  • Shop online. Even if you aren't buying anything, checking out the websites of your favorite stores (many of which often have seasonal lookbooks) can be inspring.
  • Keep track of your feelings. Note how certain outfits, styles, and combinations make you feel. Do you feel confident? Do you feel beautiful? If you do, wear it agian. If not, loose it.
  • Note others' reactions. Do certain outfits make others' notice you in a positive light? That is good feedback, but certainly don't put too much weight on this. Some of my favorite outfits (e.g., outfits with colored tights) still get me nothing but strange stares from co-workers.
  • You can be anything you want to be. Fashion allows you express any part of you that you want. Have you always wanted to dress a certain way? Do it. Nothing is holding you back except a little money and courage. This is your chance.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

what i ate wednesday: issue 5

Figure 1. What I ate Tuesday, October 11.   

A) Breakfast
. My *first ever* overnight oats in a jar. In the mix: a nearly empty peanut butter jar + rolled oats + plain Greek yogurt + original almond milk + 1/2 mashed banana + chia seeds. Topped with a drizzle of agave nectar in the morning;   

B) Lunch. Amy's Butternut Squash soup and a cinnamon raisin bran muffin;

C) Afternoon Snack. A Gala apple and a handful of almonds;  

Dinner. Toasted whole wheat bread covered in leftover pot roast and steamed broccoli.

Figure 2. Today's eating highlight. Dessert. Two mini Reese's peanut butter cups from the Halloween pumpkin.