March 5th – Cooking Day!

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Today’s food! March 4th

Jolted out of bed at 6:45! Woah. Ran 2.5 miles today. Made Kegan’s batch of hemp milk, and cleaned up…all before my breakfast date!

Brunch with Carmelina at Handlebar!

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Yum!

Tonight’s dinner:

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And tonight’s labor of love…

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2013/03/04/dairy-free-immunity-boosting-turmeric-milk/

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I made the poppyseed milk from YU. It was kind of messy. I had to soak the seeds for a few hours first, then strain them. Then, I puréed them with water, sea salt, honey and a bit of vanilla. Then I heated it on the stove with the turmeric and other ingredients. I had to repuree, because I think I had the heat on too high and the solids started to curdle and separate from the water. Fortunately it didn’t burn! I added some cardamom jaggery to sweeten it up! I think this will be my new favorite sleepy time treat! Night!

Day 31?

So, my food challenge officially ended yesterday. But I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and this is just the beginning!

A few things:

I don’t drink enough water

My portion sizes are often bigger than my body needs.

I need to stay out of the kitchen at night, because I sneak food in, and eat unconsciously.

Sweets at night usually end in trouble for me.

That’s just a couple of things.

So, lately I’m drinking more water; putting smaller portions on my plate (just to see how I feel, I can always have seconds); and trying to stay out of the kitchen at night! I’m too weak at the end of the day to have any kind of self control, so that’s my plan.

I made the rest of the nuggets this morning that I had made a few days ago. And I also made these cookies:

http://www.enjoythisorganiclife.com/chocolate-banana-oat-cookies/

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The cookies were yummy! To rewind, I started drinking a huge bottle of water this morning while doing all this stuff in the kitchen to hydrate before eating anything. I drank a ton, and felt really energized. I also ate a grapefruit and two small cookies.

I drove partway to work, and parked and walked to get in some exercise. I had another cookie at work, because my friend made the same recipe last night! Yum! I had chickpea buckwheat nuggets with quick steamed kale and some quinoa. My energy levels were great today!

We made a Mexican feast tonight. I took the crema from YU’s black bean soup recipe and made that to serve over my pintos that I sautéed in some Mexican spices with red peppers and onion. Kegan made a pot of brown rice, and I whipped up some guacamole.

I made a smallish looking plate, and I savored each bite.

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It was all I needed! We chatted on the phone with Kegan’s parents and cleaned up. I made a cup of chamomile and will start a new book!

Day 30 – Out With A Bang!

Today was one of those days that reminded me why I strive to eat the way I do. I felt so balanced. Despite the chaos of a crazy day at work, I really handled things well.

The morning started out great. I had my basic Taffy Apple Smoothie (that I have not tired of yet), and Kegan drove me to work! It was one of those Saturdays where everything hit at once. Absolutely nothing happened for the first three hours…and then all of a sudden, it was a madhouse! I was about to go to lunch, and my dear friend Katherine (who I call my “muse”) texted and asked if she could come by in ten minutes to get her make up done. She used to work with me, and is now at a different retailer and I miss our make up sessions. She really helped build my confidence, because she always loved the way I did her make up and always put her complete trust in my hands. I gladly accommodated her, planning to go to lunch after that. Then an old client who I hadn’t seen in a long time walked up! I knew I had to work with her because she needed quite a few things, and I didn’t want to send her away. So, by 3:30 or so, I was finally able to go to lunch! I had been chugging my water all morning, and I think it kept my balance in check.

I brought a big bowl of rainbow quinoa and pintos, topped with avocado, lime juice, and salsa. It was the perfect fuel to keep me going. Reminding myself that I didn’t need to eat any of my other “emergency snacks”, that I wasn’t going to STARVE, I read some more of my book, and digested. The rest of the day went great, I kept myself busy, cleaning up, and preparing our work stations with supplies to be ready for a “smooth operation” with our make up appointments. We made our bonus, by the way! Hooray! And we went way over, with an extra day to spare!

I told Kegan not to pick me up, because I wanted the fresh air and a bit of a walk during my commute home. I knew he had been cleaning the apartment all day, and would appreciate a break from battling city traffic on a Saturday night to pick me up. I wasn’t tired, so why bother him?! Usually on Saturdays, I’m wiped out. But, I found the energy to whip up dinner when I came home!

Thankfully, most of the work had been done. I warmed the chickpea buckwheat nuggets on the stove, made the ranch dressing, heated up some wild rice, and steamed up some kale!

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Delicious! I feel like this way of eating has really helped me manage my stress levels. It’s an awesome feeling. I’m going to relax with my honey and a cup of tea, and retire early for another vibrant day! One more day of work until my “weekend”!

Day 29 – Date Night!

I woke up this morning and made my Taffy Apple smoothie with collards because I thought I’d try something different. I was worried that I had ruined the smoothie, because it tasted a tad bitter. But, I kind of got used to it, and I liked it just fine! I felt like my energy level was good throughout the day. I made myself really conscious of drinking water today, and it always amazes me what a great feeling it gives me to do that! I feel more balanced, and I feel like it staves off intense hunger pangs when I do get hungry. I had my leftover creamy kale millet, which I just realized tastes like cheesy grits and greens! So good!

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Business was slow but steady, and I was excitedly anticipating a date with Kegan tonight! I took the train to meet him at a pizza place called Dimo’s. We had heard that it had fun vegan pizza options, and were excited to try it for the first time. We were naughty, and ordered some drunk food without being drunk!

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We ordered a BBQ Steak & Fries – mozzarella teese, Italian sausage seitan, Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce, and crinkle cut French fries; and the “Dimo Florentine” – chopped tomatoes, sautéed spinach, and artichokes on a marinara base, topped with mozzarella teese. They were a delicious treat. I have to thank Kegan for helping me to stop before I hit the downward spiral. I had three generous slices, and could have easily had another or two. Something alerted me that I COULD stop, and I told Kegan. I always know that point with “pig out food” when I should stop, but I usually ignore it and keep going. He said, “Wait a minute and just see if you could stop there.”

It was just the push I needed. (He doesn’t care how much I eat, he just has to listen to me complain about how I “should’ve stopped sooner” and “I don’t feel well”; so he’s just looking out for me). We sat and enjoyed each other’s company and talked excitedly about future projects around the apartment and such. I felt like I was in a perfect place, and hopefully I can better remember to be conscious of that food voice next time it talks to me.

I finally got those buckwheat chickpea nuggets in the oven, so I’m looking forward to enjoying them tomorrow!

Day 28 – Plugging Along

Well, prepare yourself, this is what I woke up to in my kitchen this morning:

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Sorry to gross you out. At least you didn’t have to smell it! This is what once was the starter for my Injera. It has now become a mold colony. So sad. I definitely pushed it too long, because I didn’t make the time to cook it up. That had been soaking since Sunday night. Maybe if I would’ve popped it into the fridge, I could’ve prevented that. Oh well, these things happen. I’ll try again on my days off, perhaps. Today was another Taffy Apple smoothie breakfast. I love getting my greens in at breakfast.

Moving along, I cooked up my pintos in a pot of water with kombu, chopped onion, and a dried pepper. I also made a large pot of quinoa. My lunch was ready since I made the creamy kale millet last night, so these could be possible dinner components. What I’m learning during this challenge is how to make maximum use of cooking time when I am at home. I like to use my morning window to cook up grains and legumes. They don’t require much “hands on” time; so I can throw them on, and I’m close by to keep an eye on them while I’m eating breakfast and getting ready for work. I am much more productive in the morning than at night, anyhow.

We had a good day at work today, we’re getting closer to our goal! Hopefully we can get it in sooner than later, since we only have through Sunday. I’ve been squeezing in my book at lunchtime (Born To Run), and it’s so fascinating! I’m at the part where Christopher McDougall talks about studies of Bushmen…the only remaining hunter gatherers still in existence. He talks about their eating and drinking habits. How they would chase around for food and how they always had to be prepared to race for their meals, etcetera etcetera. I’m probably not going to explain this as well as the book did, but it made me think of myself as a modern day hunter gatherer. Sometimes I get busy at work, and I can’t eat for a while…then I am ravenous, and I gorge myself. I feel like I need to remember to eat small amounts of food to never get up to that point. These are some of the pitfalls that I am noticing in this month of self reflection.

I went to my yoga class tonight, and this teacher does a nice balance of challenging and restorative poses in her classes, so it was just right for me after a long day at work. I needed to find my own way home tonight, because Kegan went to a Bulls game. I took the train home, and started walking home, only to panic that I couldn’t find my keys! I must’ve left them at home…fortunately, Kegan wasn’t too far from home. I was proud of the way I handled it, I didn’t take my frustration out on Kegan (because it wasn’t his fault), and I didn’t have a complete breakdown over it. I only had to wait a few minutes for Kegan, and fortunately one of my neighbors was coming home and let me into the building!

I was pretty hungry for dinner at this point, so I ate a few of my amaranth poppers, and heated up my beans and quinoa with some avocado and salsa. It was a very late dinner for me, but I didn’t stuff myself.

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Anticipating that things may not always be under my control is definitely helping with my stress management and thus helping me from my overeating situations. Everyday is a new battle, but I’m getting better at handling it!

Day 27 – Pulling It Together

Well, I have seen the effects of depriving myself of a few hours of sleep. Clearly, my body does not like it. I felt like I was getting ahead of the game by staying up late Sunday night, and it just made me crash by late Monday afternoon. I felt like I was behind on my week right off the bat! I’m working a six day stretch, and I need to be prepared with my meals!

Last night, I made myself get into bed at a decent hour to get a really good night’s rest. I woke up feeling better, still a bit overwhelmed, though. I wanted to make a smoothie to get some hydrating greens in me right off the bat. I went for my “Taffy Apple Smoothie”.

I made the mix for the buckwheat chickpea nuggets, but realized I wouldn’t have time to completely finish making them. I packed it into the fridge and got ready for work.

Today at work was slow, we’re at the “hump” of our event, and I don’t want to lose momentum. (We get a bonus for making our goal, so I don’t want to miss out)! I got a big return and was at a $0 day…ugh…things slowly but surely turned around.

I had my delicious coconut curry leftovers at lunch with some carrots. I also packed two amaranth poppers with some of my leftover berry compote to dip them in!

The rest of the day went by fine, and I was looking forward to making it to my second yoga class of the week since I had fallen behind. On Wednesdays, I have to sneak out ten minutes early to ensure I will get there on time…that didn’t happen. Someone came to the counter a little after 6:30 (I need to leave the store by 6:50), and I couldn’t deny her help just because I wanted to leave early. I was frustrated in the back of my mind, because I couldn’t go yesterday because of staying late at work. I finished with her right at 7:00, and then flew like a bat out of hell to my locker, ran out for the bus, saw that it wasn’t coming for six minutes, and rerouted to the train to head south and transfer to a different line north. It was a gamble, but the only way I could still make it. Phew!!! I got there with only moments to spare. Threw down a mat, and then quickly got changed. My teacher was so sweet, he started the class with the door open to wait for me to come in. He saw what I went through to get there as quickly as possible. I enjoyed a great class, and Kegan was waiting for me when I got out! I couldn’t accomplish these things without his support. I am so grateful.

Kegan also put together a pot of wild rice for us to have something to eat with some frozen portobello burgers we had for an emergency meal. I quickly steamed up some collards (I chopped them practicing my new knife skills from the YU video):

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2013/02/26/how-tosday-knife-skills-part-1-of-2/

Super helpful! And sharp knives definitely make a world of difference!!!

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I felt energized from my class, so as we had been heating up the burgers, I threw a pot of millet on the stove to make a double batch of the creamy millet kale salad.

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2010/07/07/creamy-millet-and-kale-salad/

This has been by far one of my favorite meals from the YU site! I want to make this for my omni friends and family, as I know this will make them converts! Now I’ve got lunch ready for tomorrow! Phew! I’m happy to feel back on track!

Day 26 Trying To Find Balance

Today I woke up excited to eat the rest of my pancakes! Yum! Kegan said, “Those look picture worthy!”

I thought it was cute that he said that, so here’s a pic:

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I sprinkled some popped amaranth on them, because I had a cup or so left from when I made the amaranth hemp protein poppers. I realized that I couldn’t eat all that I had made for myself, so I threw the leftovers in a container with a few amaranth poppers to have for emergency snacks at work. I made the rest of the quinoa cakes and packed those with some fresh spinach, carrots, some avocado, and a lime. I also brought some of my fresh made kale chips!

I got to work and the snow had started. They were talking about a lot of snow and unsafe conditions, so the store was a ghost town. I kept busy with projects and prepared for an event that we were scheduled to have in the cosmetic department that evening. I kept worrying that people were going to cancel, and it made me anxious. Also, I came in at ten, expecting to leave at six, but they scheduled an appointment for me at 6:30…ugh. I technically could’ve had someone else do it; but we had no business all day, and I felt guilty about doing that. So, I worked open until close. I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but when I stand all day, I’m really exhausted. The silver lining was a surprise call from Kegan telling me that he was waiting outside for me! What a treat!

I felt pretty ravenous when I got in the car, and I had my trusty apple to bite into! Yum! I needed something to tide me over until we could get dinner on the table. I also ate that last pancake and two poppers. That calmed me down. The quickest thing I could think to make was a coconut red curry soup from my Heidi Swanson cookbook:

http://sparrowsandspatulas.blogspot.com/2011/07/summer-squash-soup-with-thai-red-curry.html?m=1

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I threw in a big handful of spinach and some cubed nigari tofu. Delicious. I ate some chocolate and fell into a comatose state. I felt disappointed because I ate so much food in the last two hours. I was going to make the chickpea nuggets, but I just turned off the oven and crashed on the couch. My feet were killing me, and I was wiped out.

Everyday is a learning day, and I’m realizing that I need to find balance. I’m so passionate about food, but I need to simplify. I also have noticed that when I get a good night’s sleep, I wake up early and get a lot done in the morning. I’m going to try to hit the hay early tonight so that I can feel ready for a productive day tomorrow, and have some meals ready. I’ve let my injera dough sit a few extra days, I think that should be okay. I like it sour…

Day 25 – Pancakes: A Lesson In Humility

Confession…last night I ate the rest of that chocolate bar and felt tired and wired at the same time! This is what transpired…

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I had started researching my recipes for the week, and the excitement came over me. So, I ground up some oats for oat flour in the vitamix; made almond butter in my cuisinart (I used my previously soaked and dehydrated almonds and added some pink Himalayan sea salt and coconut oil) started fermenting teff for injera; and soaked buckwheat, cashews, and sunflower seeds for various other recipes. These were a few of my must tries from Yumuniverse for this week:

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2012/06/25/oat-almond-crunch-gluten-free-pancake/

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2013/02/18/buckwheat-chickpea-nuggets/

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2013/02/18/buckwheat-chickpea-nuggets/

So, I had a head start! I went to bed, excited to make the pancakes and some sort of berry compote. I woke up early enough to make breakfast for Kegan before he headed out the door on his bike for work! (He thought he’d squeeze in a day on the bike while the weather was cooperating). I had my ingredients ready and got busy! The batter tasted yummy! I decided to use one of my larger pans that wasn’t a nonstick, and this is what happened…ugh!

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I didn’t want Kegan to eat yucky pancakes so I switched to my trusty nonstick skillet. Much better!

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I love berry sauces with my pancakes, so I took some frozen mixed berries and puréed them, and then heated them on the stove with lemon juice. I turned off the heat, and stirred in some chia seeds to help it thicken up a bit. Pretty! What a treat for breakfast!

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I cooked up the rest to have tomorrow morning, and cleaned up the mess I had made.

I was excited to ride my bike today for errands, because the weather seemed somewhat mild. I met with my friend Erica for lunch at Native Foods with her cute little girl (the one I babysat on Saturday)! What a treat to see them again so soon!

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Erica surprised me by treating to lunch for babysitting, which was so not necessary! We had a buffet of sorts; native nachos, sweet potato fries, soul bowl, and the OC chopper salad. I didn’t even get to the salad, and we had a bunch of leftovers! I had promised to pick Kegan up something for lunch, since he was jealous I was going to Native Foods. But I had so many leftovers, I just brought him those! I was feeling vibrant and enjoying the fresh air, and I felt it silly to stop home and get my car to pick up groceries only a mile away from my apartment; so I continued on my fun bike trek, and at least hoped it would help me stay on budget to only buy what I could carry in my backpack and side basket!

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Phew! I made it. It felt good to ride a few miles about town today! I sat down when I got home and checked some e-mails…then…I. HIT. A. WALL. I had only gotten six or so hours of sleep, and maybe the same the night before, and it caught up to me at that moment. (I am adamant about 8-9 hours of sleep; I know it’s not something that I prioritized for most of my life, and now I appreciate the increased energy from it). I quickly put the frozen/refrigerated items away and left the other items to be dealt with later. I sat on the couch under my heated blanket and read a bit. I passed out, and awoke in a crabby/groggy state. I sat there for a while too tired to read, but didn’t want to sleep anymore either. Yoga was definitely not going to happen today. Kegan came home from work at that point, amused by the fact that I had left my biking mask on while laying on the couch. He said I looked like an astronaut. (It felt cozy)!

Fortunately, I had my untouched salad from lunch and Kegan had other leftovers to heat up for dinner. No prep needed. I enjoyed the huge colorful salad.

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But then something took over after dinner and I had a sweet tooth that couldn’t be satisfied. I ate a huge hunk of the black bean brownies from last week. I dug up a chocolate bar from the pantry. I ate a few nougats. I kept trying to think myself out of eating all that, but I couldn’t fight it. I think the lack of sleep definitely contributed. I made myself hop in the shower just to get out of the kitchen, and was able to stop. I threw on my pj’s, but wanted to make some healthy snacks for the work week, so I threw both of these into the dehydrator:

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2011/10/13/almond-crunch-kale-chips-and-glamping-yumuniverse-style/

http://www.yumuniverse.com/2009/12/31/amaranth-hemp-protein-poppers/

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Now, for that all important SLEEP!

Day 24 – A Sunny Day Off

I really am *savoring* my days off. I have been trying to recharge my batteries as best as I can to help me power through my work week. It’s been an important lesson for me, because I used to feel overwhelmed and guilty about needing to accomplish lots on my days off. Now, I realize that a long walk with my husband, or “FaceTime” with my family IS an important accomplishment.

After easing into our morning, Kegan and I decided to walk to Chicago Diner for an awesome vegan brunch. We love our neighborhood walks, they are so special to us. I opted for the quinoa bean chili which is on the gluten-free menu, but said yes to adding mac and cheese; I’m not sure if the noodles were gluten-free. I ordered a side of arame slaw for some veggie crunch. Everything was delicious!

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It was a treat to have my dish with “sour cream” and “cheese”, because I’ve been trying to stay away from pseudo meats and dairy products on this challenge. I find myself desiring them less and craving more whole, or close to whole foods. That’s been a positive benefit of this challenge, among many others.

After lunch, we walked around the neighborhood; and, despite the chilly weather, we enjoyed the feeling of sun on our bodies (through layers of clothing, of course)! I stubbornly wore my Five Fingers shoes, even though it was wet and slushy on parts of the sidewalk. Inspired by reading Born To Run by Christopher McDougall, I’ve been learning more on the topic of modern day cushioned shoes being the cause of many foot problems. I had bought a pair of the aqua sock-lookalikes a few years ago, because I’m always a sucker for new styles of shoes. Standing for most of my work day, I’m always searching for comfort for my feet. I wear the shoes every so often, but feel self-conscious about how goofy looking they are (additional to the fact that they look like finger gloves, my pair is bright blue and yellow). Today, I decided to let my “freak-flag fly” and sport them around my hipster neighborhood. I’ll let you know how achy my feet and legs may feel tomorrow. (They activate dormant muscles that aren’t really used when wearing a more structured shoe).

We did a little window shopping, and with all of our walking, we felt we’d earned a treat. My friend Kelly told me that a local chocolate shop that serves drinking chocolates had recently added a dairy-free almond milk-based hot chocolate! The inside of the shop was so adorable, and they were kind enough to split our chocolate into two large mugs since we were sharing! I thought that was very *sweet* of them! It was decadent!

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I was feeling pretty tired, so we headed home. We stopped at a food mart to restock on my growing addiction to Frank’s Hot Sauce. Is that bad?!?! I really do put that sh*t on everything (as the famous ad states). I suppose my addictions could be worse. I made an impulse buy at the checkout on some raw chocolate (speaking of addictions). I am such a sucker…

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Home we went after that, and I felt a lovely Sunday nap brewing. As I was dozing off, my sister attempted to FaceTime me from her I-pad for the first time, but we were having some technical difficulties. After about ten minutes, we had it. She was visiting my nephews and my mom, and it was so cool to be able to stick my tongue out at my nephew! That little rascal…

At this point, it had been a few hours since brunch, and I was a tad hungry. We had been given some cookies from Chicago Diner, so we decided to nibble on one. Since I didn’t really eat lunch, it didn’t sit so great in my stomach, especially after the hot chocolate…I ate the leftovers from brunch to put something more substantial in my tummy, and then it was time to head out to yoga. I had a great class. I’m really glad I renewed my commitment to yoga for the year. Just like this blog, it’s making me more aware of myself, and allowing me to learn about ME!

I came home and my body wanted greens. One of my favorite things about this challenge has been my increased use of greens. I try to make them the focus of my meals. The YU recipes make it seem less like a chore, and more like a regular habit to squeeze them into my meals. For dinner, I heated up a veggie burger from yesterday’s batch of sweet potato quinoa kale cakes. I had a bunch of collards, so I made a quick simple preparation of them steamed with garlic granules and smoked sea salt. I served them aside my veggie cake with a bit of avocado, some lime, and ahem, some Frank’s Hot Sauce. I ate a few bites of raw chocolate, and I’m happy to just lay on the couch and watch the rest of the Oscars! Tomorrow will be shopping day!

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