Day 23 – Feeling So Efficient!

This morning, I woke up determined to make the quinoa kale sweet potato cakes before work:

I had thrown my sweet potato in the oven while I was in the kitchen making dinner last night, and I also chopped my kale while I was waiting for the water to boil. I’ve taught myself not to waste anytime in the kitchen. If I’m waiting for something, I’ll wash dishes of prep an ingredient for my next recipe. It’s become an indispensable part of my cooking. Since I had made the breakfast quinoa with amaranth, I thought I could use that to make the cakes. I threw all the ingredients into my food processor and…viola! Green paste! I made some patties and fried them up. While I was doing that, I enjoyed a bowl of my quinoa with maple syrup, cinnamon, coconut oil, apples, and pecans.

I was excited to be picked up for work this morning, it’s a real treat on Saturdays to get driven to work and picked up! I’ve been carpooling with my girlfriend, and it’s been lovely! Work started off great, busy and great sales! I made use of downtime by organizing my drawers and throwing away empty boxes that held the products that we sold. I made sure to drink lots of energizing water, and before I knew it, it was time for lunch! I was excited to eat my quinoa cakes!


They did not disappoint! So delicious with a squeeze of lime and some avocado! I packed some carrots, and ate the last of my store bought kale chips. I enjoyed some green tea, and stopped there, even though I had packed other snacks for emergencies. I wanted to keep my energy level up for a busy afternoon…

I made it through the day, and now it’s my weekend! Well, not quite yet! I’m babysitting tonight for my friends’ baby! We’re catching up on Sesame street at this moment! My friend’s omni husband made me a delicious plant based meal! I sampled it, and after I put Frankie down, I’ll heat it up! It’s brown rice with a coconut milk garbanzo stew. It’s got spinach and sundried tomatoes with lemon! What a treat! I’m looking forward to unwinding tomorrow and enjoying a special day off with my husband! We’ll see what kitchen sink recipes come about from the last of my ingredients in the fridge before grocery shopping on Monday! I definitely want to make the amaranth poppers, and maybe some kale chips!


Day 22 – What a DAY!

Well, I’m sorry to say this, but during a 30 day challenge, a woman is bound to experience her “cycle”…sorry to the two guys reading this. I don’t want to offend anybody by mentioning this, but at the same time feel compelled to mention how much this cycle affects thoughts, moods, appetites. Today started my cycle, and it hit at a chaotic day for me at work.

I started my morning by cooking up some comforting grains. I made YU’s “Cinnamon Toast Amaranth Cereal” for some comforting breakfast goodness:


I’m glad I had a good hearty breakfast, because I got a morning workout after chasing my bus this morning…which I should note, I missed. Yep…and I pretty much almost started crying…ran down the block to attempt a different route, and fortunately, succeeded. Whew. One hurdle out of the way; I was about to face many more at work.

So, as I mentioned, I started my cycle (sorry to keep putting it that way). I arrived at work, feeling a little sweaty and rushed, but I cleaned myself up, and prepared for a busy day. It was SO busy. All of my clients came in to see me…which is great, but I quickly became overwhelmed with the anxiety of not being able to help them at once! I didn’t get a chance to go to lunch until 3:00, and I was so wound up at that point. I had the last of my mustard greens and black eyed peas.


It kind of looks like a swamp bowl, but it was so delicious. I ate the rest of my cocoa almond kale crunchers and I had some flour less black bean brownie. I kind of wanted to keep eating, because I was so far past hungry at that point. But, I had eaten a lot already and felt pretty full, and didn’t want to be in a complete coma when I had a few hours left to work after that.

The rest of the day left me feeling achy and exhausted…but it was a successful day at work, so it felt worth it. I drank a ton of water, and that really seemed to balance me.

Kegan picked me up at work, and I quickly whipped up the portobello dairy free macaroni:


It was great over my peppery arugula which was starting to look a little sad in the fridge.

After that, Kegan and I enjoyed a beautiful evening walk to a close by restaurant for my friend’s birthday! It was lovely! I didn’t know about the menu options, so that’s why we opted to eat at home. I had two beers and some tostones (fried plantains), and was happy to squeeze in another walk back home. I LOVE walking, and it was pretty and peaceful with the fresh snow on the ground. Kegan and I spotted this randomness, so I had to snap a shot…


One more day until my weekend! I’ve got to rest up for another crazy day in retail!

Evening – Day 21

This morning started out with a great smoothie. I feel like I have been slacking on my greens, so I thought a smoothie would be the perfect way to squeeze them in.

Today was the first official day of our store event. (Yesterday, I had to ring up all of the preorders). There was a lot of pressure, and I felt bad because two people were sent in to help out at my counter and we had no customers! I’m not sure if everyone was anticipating the big storm that’s supposed to come out tonight. Actually, it seemed like other counters were busy, just not mine. It made me anxious, and I was comparing myself to others and feeling like a loser. Never a good thing. It was more emotionally exhausting than physically exhausting. I felt really moody today. I was really happy when lunchtime came. I had my yummy black eyed peas and mustard greens with wild rice. Hit the spot! I snacked on some cocoa almond kale crunchers. I’ll definitely be making those again.

The rest of the day went fine. Business never really picked up, but we did some little by little. I snacked because I was planning on going to my yoga class. I kept going back and forth about it, and ultimately decided I was going to take tonight off. Tomorrow I’m working a longer day, and meeting up with a friend for her birthday, so I don’t want to feel burnt out. I came home, ate a big bowl of the cauliflower chowder, and nibbled on some various sweets. I caught up on some Portlandia with Kegan and took a long shower.

In reflection, I think I put too much pressure on myself today. I was stressed about work, and it was fine. I stressed about not doing yoga, and it’s fine. I think it’s the winter doldrums getting to me…

No pics today, but I pretty much had repeats of stuff from earlier in the week! Looking forward to making the portobello mac & cheese and maybe the quinoa and sweet potato kale cakes next!

Day 20 – Busy Day At Work

This morning, I woke up to another chilly Chicago day. Those oatcakes have been the perfect morning comfort food slathered with coconut oil and honey. I warmed a cup of herbal tea, chopped up a Granny Smith apple, and enjoyed a lovely breakfast! For lunch, I packed the last of the peppered lentils with kale and buttercup squash.

Today, I knew I was going to be walking into a hectic environment at work, so I tried to enjoy some calming thoughts over breakfast and during my commute to work in the swirl of public transportation chaos. I’m getting better at it! It’s definitely a great skill to work on, a meditation of sorts.

When I arrived at work, I did feel a little scattered and overwhelmed, though. It was the first day of a big event that we’re having at the store. It’s sort of our spring make-up kick off. It’s like a gift-with-purchase event on crack, and it lasts for close to two weeks! It’s a marathon of sorts, and can be very grueling. I’ve obviously gotten better at handling it, but there’s always that worry, “Will we make our ever-growing sales goals?”

In the day and age of the Internet (and thus shopping) at one’s fingertips, it often worries us that our jobs are eventually becoming obsolete. Obviously, the skill of make-up artistry can go in many directions, and the Internet can not replace artistry nor the joy of human interaction…but…well, who knows. I’m happy to have had success with what I do for a living, especially through the dips in the economy. And I feel like things are on the upswing, so I shall embrace that for now.

I quickly got a system together for completing the orders that my clients had placed, and remained focused. All in all, it was kind of exhausting, but not overwhelming. I could’ve easily decided not to go to yoga, because I had a busy day at work, but I went and I enjoyed it a lot.

(On a side note, I shared some cocoa almond crunchers with my omnivore friend who has a similar appreciation for kale, and she LOVED them! She wants to pay me to make them for her! I refused, and instead told her I’ll bring more tomorrow 🙂 )

I came home to a hearty bowl of cauliflower chowder with half a baked potato. I dropped a scoop of chipotle hummus in it to make it creamy and spicy, and a bit of avocado. Perfect end to my day. I showered, brushed my teeth, and quickly jumped into bed before the chocolate could tempt me! Sometimes I have to play these little tricks on myself to avoid late night sweets takeovers when I am too vulnerable to back down. Now, I’m glued to the bed and it would not be worth it to even MOVE at this point! Good night!


Evening – Day 19 A Chilly Day In Chicago

This morning I was looking forward to sleeping in, because I had the day off…but I woke up at 7:30, my body was anxious to start the day! (Now mind you, I realize this IS probably “sleeping in” for most of the normal population, but I work in retail). I have noticed this pattern of waking up feeling completely rested at least 30 minutes before my alarm goes off. It’s been an awesome feeling, and I definitely attribute it to my cleaner eating!

Kegan mentioned that it was pretty cold outside, but I was thinking about running. I opted out when I saw that it was 16 degrees with a bad wind chill. Plus, I knew Kegan needed the car today for work, and I’d be forced to rely on my bike to run my errands. I didn’t want to overdo it with the exercise. Making efficient use of my time before my yoga class, I threw the black eyed peas that I had presoaked on the stove to cook while I enjoyed my breakfast of a grapefruit and oatcakes. I had a recipe in mind of using the mustard greens and black eyed peas to make a southern stew of sorts from one of my Bryant Terry cookbooks.

I left for my yoga class and was running late, so I didn’t put my gloves on as I rode my bike since it’s only a mile or so away. BAD idea. It WAS really cold. My poor fingers. I made it to my class just in time. It was an awesome class, challenging, but fun to see how my strength and endurance has been building. When it was time to leave, I was dreading getting back on my bike. It felt like I was pedaling through sand as the wind blew me backwards. It was great to come home to the leftovers from last night’s peppered lentils with buttercup squash and kale. I had baked up a few potatoes earlier along with the peas, so I threw half of a potato in to stretch out the stew. What a comforting meal after that chilly ride home! For dessert, I had some tea, a few bites of the delicious fig dark chocolate that Kegan’s mom sent us for Valentine’s day, and a cocoa almond kale cruncher! Those are so good, by the way! Filling, and satisfy a sweet tooth!

I got cracking on my recipes. I wanted to get a few meals prepared, because this will be a busy week at work. We have a big event in our store, and I’ll be super tired after work. I made my black eyed peas with mustard greens, a pot of wild rice to serve them over, and the cauliflower chowder from YU!



Before I knew it, it was time to leave for my haircut. Again, not THAT far, but far enough that I couldn’t walk, and no direct line of public transportation that didn’t involve a transfer. So, I got EXTRA bundled up and dragged my bike out. Oh, it was torture. The wind seemed to have gotten worse when I was riding home.

I had to quickly shower and get ready for a special dinner out by the make up company that I work for! I actually chose the location, because I had heard there were options for all types of diets. One of my bosses is vegan friendly, so we were able to order and share lots of small plates! I love nibbles of lots of different flavors! It was great. Here are some highlights…




Among other things, we enjoyed a salad with ribbons of green papaya, chayote, zucchini, and jicama; shiitake edamame dumplings, and pear sorbet for dessert!

It was a special evening. It feels great to go out for dinner when you eat plant-based and not feel stuffed! I ate so many delicious veggies and fruits!

Must rest up for a big day at work tomorrow!

Day 18 – A Lovely Day Off

Today was the beginning of my “weekend”, and I wanted to squeeze in a lot, while striking a balance of not doing TOO much.

This morning started with a continuation of yesterday’s food items! I decided to finish “baking” my oatcakes in the dehydrator; it made perfect sense since I was already using it to dehydrate my cocoa almond kale crunchers. It makes me happy to use my gadgets! (Especially since my dehydrator has definitely gone through phases of dormancy). I’m happy to say that YU has definitely inspired me to use it more, and it doesn’t feel like such a chore! Both items turned out beautifully!

I left the apartment for my run and decided to crank it up just a tad, and run a bit longer with shorter breaks. It felt great! It was a pretty morning in Chicago, before it clouded up in the afternoon and started misting…I love the feeling of accomplishment when I start my day out that way!

I came home to a well deserved breakfast of oatcakes with some coconut butter and raw honey a la Heather! Kegan had also requested I whip up some hemp milk for him to have with his cereal, so I poured myself a glass. I threw in an orange for good measure…



I dropped Kegan off at work and ran to the grocery store. I picked up some delicious new finds this week! The co-op had some beautiful mustard greens, arugula, and these beautiful little nuggets of caramel delight, “barhi dates”. I did a little research on them, and they are described as tasting like butterscotch candy, and being the sweetest, softest dates. Apparently, they have a short harvest window, so I think I’m going to try to stock up on more next week if they’re still around. They’re so cute and yummy!


I love these little treasures at my co-op, trying a different type of apple (like the “piñata” that I bought last week) and learning the subtle difference in flavors that these gems hold!

Speaking of gems, I had to quickly put away my groceries, and heat up last night’s leftovers, so that I could head down to my brother’s house to see my nephews! I can’t believe how much time I’ve let pass since I’ve seen them. At the ages of one and almost five, they are changing so quickly! I was also able to squeeze in some time with my mom, brother, and sister-in-law, so it was a lovely afternoon!



It’s hard to get a still photo of these energetic little fellas! I have to throw this one in, too. It was so cute! Lou was LOVING his clementines so much, he devoured two in mere moments!!! Good boy! 🙂


I packed some YU treats for my mom to sample, and they were a hit! My brother enjoyed a bite of the flour less black bean brownies, and was intrigued to know the ingredients!

I scooted out before it got too late, because I wanted to squeeze in one of my favorite yoga classes, and then pick up Kegan from work. Oh boy, my legs are going to feel something tomorrow. (I’m sure the run this morning added to that feeling). Our teacher had us do this seemingly simple exercise at the beginning of class that had my quad muscles shaking the entire rest of the class! I picked up Kegan from work, and he dropped me off at home so he could squeeze in some exercise at the gym before dinner. I was feeling hungry, but didn’t want to ruin my appetite. So, I chugged a bunch of water, and enjoyed a pink lady apple. I love how delicious fresh fruit tastes when you’re feeling hungry. It did the trick.

I made the peppered lentil recipe from YU with some modifications:

I had no red pepper, and I was using up the other half of my buttercup squash soup, and I had to use up that millet which was on the brink of needing to be tossed. I rinsed the cooked millet well, and it tasted fine, so I served everything on top of that with some red pepper stuffed green olives for a briny effect. The lemon juice tied everything together beautifully.


I ate a a few “butterscotch” dates and a small portion of the black bean brownies, while Kegan and I sat on speaker phone with his mom, (my second mom). I’m so lucky to have two great moms. After that, I cleaned up the kitchen. Then, I drew a bath with some Epsom salts and let my muscles soak. Aaahhh. It was a perfect day!

Evening – Day 17 I’m On the Upswing!

This morning, I woke up and decided to take a day of rest from running. I felt pretty starved, (which sometimes happens I theorize when eating sweets the night before). I didn’t feel like a smoothie, and I’ve pretty much run out of my favorite smoothie ingredients, so I took the last hunk of popped amaranth bread out of the fridge and warmed it up, and topped it with some coconut oil and maple syrup. It was like a pseudo pancake! It hit the spot.


I knew the kitchen was getting to be a total disaster, and I didn’t have to be at work until noon, so I got a jump start. I swept the floor, and boy, there was a lot of food down there! I organized a cabinet with my pots and pans, we’ll see how long that lasts…


I mopped the floor, and by that time, I needed to head out the door to work. I picked up my friend that I’ve been carpooling with, and we drove. I never park downtown for work, because it is so expensive, but my trick when I work on Sundays is to park about a mile away where there is free street parking and I walk! It was brisk, but we both agreed it was nice to walk, and save some cash!

Work was fun, I enjoy the people that I work with on Sundays. It’s usually more of a skeleton crew, and the store’s got a different vibe. Plus we’re only open for six hours, so it’s a shorter work day for me! The only bad thing is that I’m usually exhausted from the busiest day of the week (Saturday) just ending. But, otherwise, my day was lovely. I felt like my mood was much better than yesterday. I’m not sure if this had something to do with it, but instead of packing a sweet with my lunch (I’ve kind of been making them my crutch this week to “get me through the day”), I packed some crunchy carrots and hummus to snack on while I heated up my leftover delicious pad thai. I got a little busy after lunch, but I had that great jolt of energy while helping my clients instead of feeling a little weighed down. I felt good. I drank some peppermint tea, which really hit the spot. I LOVE peppermint tea, and it kept me warm because it was really cold in the store today! Before I knew it, my short work day was over! Yay!

We enjoyed a brisk walk back to the car and I dropped my friend off. Before I had left for work, I soaked a half cup of cashews, because I had the “sour cream” from the YU black bean soup recipe in mind to jazz up our dinner. I had also pulled out a container of frozen black beans from the big batch I made earlier this week. I had the rest of the batch of quinoa, so I had a Mexican bowl of some sort in mind. (I love how effortless it has become to do a few quick things to plan ahead for dinner).

I cut up an onion and sautéed it with some coconut oil and puréed chipotle chili in adobo for about ten minutes. I finely chopped a huge bunch of collards and dumped them in the pan along with the thawed black beans. I threw in some cumin and salt and threw on the lid to let the collards steam a bit. Then I dumped in the rest of the quinoa. I couldn’t resist a photo or two!



I fished out the last of the cilantro from the fridge and found the last two green onions. I made the cashew cream, and drizzled that over everything and topped it with some hot salsa and avocado!


I love how inspiring fridge clean outs can be! It’s pretty to see how bright the fridge looks with so little in it at this point in the week!


This is from the beginning of the week:


Wait, I have to rewind. I came home today to find an IMMACULATE kitchen! I wish I had a before photo, but alas, no. I had started this morning with cleaning and took care of some stuff, but my awesome husband organized the kitchen so beautifully! He carefully and thoughtfully made my working space not only more organized, but it actually seemed bigger! I guess those two go hand in hand. He’s so amazing when it comes to making the most out of a space. He sees things that I don’t see. It’s like he solves a puzzle that I didn’t even know was there!!!



Thank you, my love. What better way to thank him than by dirtying up the kitchen making more YU deliciousness! So, with this abundant energy I have had today, I decided to squeeze in two more recipes!

I was inspired when Naomi posted that she was making the oatcakes. I had bought the quinoa flakes on my last shopping trip, so I got to work on those. I think I may have used too much water, because they weren’t as dry when rolling out as they appeared to be in the recipe photos. But, I’m sure they’ll be just as delicious. They just might take longer. Of course, I just realized they’re supposed to take 3-4 hours to bake. Oops! Well, well see how long I can keep them in the oven before I pass out for the night. It’s already pretty late..

Also, I’m making the chocolate almond kale crunchers! I wanted to use up the last of my kale, and I’ve never made kale chips before (and these seem like a sweet version of a kale chip); so, I thought this might satisfy the itch to use my dehydrator for these little nuggets. I’m going to leave them in overnight and see how that goes…



Well, that’s all folks! I’m beat! Have a good night! I’ll let you know how these two turn out tomorrow!

Evening – Day 16

Today started out with day 3 of running! I’m trying to take it slowly to get my muscles into gear. In the past when I’ve tried running, I enjoy it so much that I overdo it and then my calves are jacked up for days! So, I’m trying to patiently and consistently build up my stamina. I may up my time a few minutes tomorrow. I brought my bandana with me today so I could blow my nose and breath clearly. It was probably around 20 degrees, so it was definitely a challenge for my breathing. But, it was okay. I’m used to biking when it’s pretty cold, so it wasn’t a complete shock to my body.

I came home and made a kitchen sink smoothie. It wasn’t my best work, but I was just wanting to use up some greens and throw some fruit and nuts in there. I did the last of my Swiss chard, two smallish collard leaves, a frozen banana, some frozen mixed berries, hemp seeds, cacao nibs, and some tahini, with water. It tasted “healthy”, as Kegan stated. It fueled me up just fine. Since Kegan was off of work today, he drove me to work. What a treat!

I ate a repeat of last night’s dinner for lunch. I was so looking forward to it. It was the creamy millet and kale salad, and I ate it over half a potato with some hot sauce on it! Yummy! I had a cocoa beet kale cupcake for dessert. I’m glad I fueled up, because I had a busy day ahead of me! I work in retail as a make up artist, and Saturdays can test my patience. It was one person after another today that wanted make up done, and I just didn’t have the mental stamina to do it. Part of my frustration lately has to do with the fact that we’re remodeling our store right now. There is a massive wall that has been put up just a few feet away from our counter and things are squeezed really tightly together. I have no room to work and it stresses me out! Some days it’s harder to handle. Our department won’t be done until August, so I had better get used to it! I felt used and abused by the end of the day, so I was happy that Kegan also offered to pick me up. I think my mood swings can be related to hormones because…ahem, well, I’m getting close to that special time of the month…sorry. I also feel like my appetite has been a little out of control as a result of the aforementioned situation.

I made this awesome version of pad thai for dinner:


It was intended to be prepared to debut my mung bean sprouts that I grew, and I hope I didn’t wait too long to eat them. They had little green flowers coming out of the bean part. I tasted them and they seemed fine. I sure hope I don’t die. I’m still weirded out by eating something I grew myself anyhow. I don’t exactly have a green thumb. I haven’t felt sick or anything, so we’ll see…

Back to the out of control appetite. I ate five heart cookies and another cupcake. Oh boy. I’ve got to break this post meal pattern. I’m going to try to stay out of the kitchen after dinner. It’s crazy how I can eat a whole delicious meal, but then I start foraging for sweets!

Well, this is all about self awareness, so hopefully I can learn something from it. Until tomorrow!

Evening – Day 15

Well, today was an emotional roller coaster…I’m not really sure where to start.

I did my short run to ease myself into the routine of building up my stamina. It was chilly! Note to self, bring a handkerchief on next run! My nose was runny and I was trying to really focus on my breathing. I’m glad I did it, and it felt good to have it under my belt.

I was a little snippy with Kegan when I got home from my run and was getting ready for work. I didn’t really feel control over my emotions, and I’m sorry, but I think it was hormonal. I apologized to Kegan, and made my way out the door for work.

I was happy to get to work early, so my morning was less stressful. I’ve really enjoyed that. I received a text from Kegan that we got a parking ticket this morning. That was frustrating to me, but I put it in perspective. It wasn’t that big of a deal. But then things really snowballed. Out of respect for my husband’s privacy, I won’t go into details. But, now that I’ve brought this situation up it will be hard to tiptoe around. Part of being in a relationship is working things out. And today, that is what we spent a lot of the day working on. We will be strong together and work through this challenge we’ve been presented with.

I really needed yoga tonight. I only had two nights of yoga for the week, so I especially wanted to squeeze in another class. Plus, this was a restoration class. It was really perfect. I needed to ease my anxiety.

Kegan, my partner, was outside waiting for me after class. We drove home, and I was able to put together the creamy millet and kale salad in no time.


Since I had cooked the millet earlier in the week and had presoaked cashews, it really helped. I can see why it’s a weekly staple for Heather at Yum Universe! I have to say, the cashew based sauces have been a real favorite for me. I think other YU pals have expressed this, and I wholeheartedly agree…who needs cheese when you have these delicious nut-based sauces!!!

I had a few heart cookies and pulled myself away before I went overboard. I am wiped out and looking forward to starting over tomorrow. It’s been a challenging day, but I tried to avoid letting food be my crutch.

Evening – Day 14 Happy Valentine’s Day!

Today was a day filled with love!!!! As I got ready for work, I decided to pack a little YumUniverse treat box to surprise my sister with! Since I have a key to her place, I thought if would be fun to sneak it into her house for her to discover when she got home! It was nice, because it also allowed me to squeeze in a visit with my babies!!!



Toula, pictured top, is almost nine, and my sister and I bought her when she was only three months old!!! Sadly, when Kegan and I moved in together about six years ago, she stayed with her other mommy. Then, a short while ago, my sister rescued another dog of the same breed (a Chinese crested hairless), and named him Tasso! I love them to bits, and fortunately, both they and my sister are only about a mile away!

So, the morning started out great! Also, before going to my sister’s, I took beginner running advice from my YU pal Mary, and I did a short run! I’m excited to build up a routine! Reading all these inspirational books about runners has really given me the itch.

I had a great lunch of leftovers packed today, including my awesome black bean collard soup, popped amaranth bread, and the last precious slice of my broccoli quiche. Oh, and a black bean brownie!

Kegan picked me up from work to celebrate a special Valentine dinner, and he gave me a cool little ring that looks like leaves wrapping around my finger! It’s so cool! We ate at Green Zebra for dinner. We had been excitedly waiting to use the gift card Kegan’s aunt and grandmother from the other side of the country thoughtfully researched and sent to us! It’s an amazing vegetarian special occasion restaurant, with an increasingly growing vegan menu. They had a prefix menu including vegan options and we had some great bites!






It was nice not to feel gorged after dinner, although I was kind of fantasizing about coming home and eating some more sweets. I stopped myself, though. I made a cup of chamomile and crawled under the covers.

Hope you had a special day, too! Have a good night!