Super Foods & Packing

13 days to go on Bikini Body Countdown!

One of my favorite views from Hawaii. I actually have a picture of my siblings and I in front of this lookout when I was 15.

Packing has commenced!  Yes, I don’t leave for 2 weeks, but I have a love-hate relationship with packing and thus it works best for me to start early.  I am an infamous under-packer and like to travel light, usually taking only a tiny duffel bag for weekend trips that I throw together the night before.  Our weekend trips are usually to visit family, and thus packing basic necessities such as toiletries and snacks is not necessary.  I usually don’t even pack a make-up bag for weekends, just make do with the few things I carry in my purse.  So long trips are a whole different animal.  I love travel, but for some reason, I always go into a packing funk a couple days before I leave and can’t seem to put a decent outfit together to save my life.  I think it’s probably a panic over running out of time and forgetting stuff, and also my obsessive organization.  So my guest room has been transformed into the Hawaii Packing Room, and over the next week, I’ll add things to the room.  Then the following week, I’ll go through everything, try on outfits and accessories to make sure they actually go together (haven’t we all made that mistake?), take inventory of toiletries, and add anything else that comes to mind.  Sound crazy?  It doesn’t take as much time as it sounds, it’s just my personal packing strategy and I’ll end up thinking of new things to add every day until I leave! 

OK, moving on.  I found this article in our AAA magazine, and thought it was worth posting.  It’s a list of the Top 10 Superfoods, and I’m happy to say that I incorporate most of these into my daily diet!  A couple that I don’t, but probably need to look into, is Garlic and Green Tea. 

Below is my meal plan for the day.  You’ll notice that I occasionally incorporate a little meat into my meals, but still eat a mostly vegetarian diet.  Although animal welfare is a major concern for me, I do not claim to be a committed vegetarian and think that simply cutting back on your meat consumption and getting protein from plant-based sources can offer a lot of health benefits, while also being more environmentally friendly (animals use more resources than plants).   The Cinch plan is very helpful in this regard – offering tons of vegetarian or vegan substitutes in the book and encouraging everyone to try eating vegetarian several days a week. 

Meal Plan Time
Grape Nuts cereal with berries, 1 cup carrot juice 7:30
Yogurt parfait, 5 crackers 11:30
1/2 ham & avocado sandwich on pumpernickel 2:30
Apple, pretzels (pre-bike snack) 6:00
 2 veggie soft tacos 8:00
   
Workout – Chest/Back, 30m cardio circuit yes
Vitamins yes

Ate a Cupcake… for my job!

My husband says I must report to the blogging community that I ate a cupcake.  Yes, it’s true, but it was not a secret splurge – it’s my job!!  I work in the Culinary department for a restaurant company and we are introducing cupcakes this month, just in time for Valentine’s Day.  Carrot Cake & Red Velvet… and they are surprisingly good.  At least once every couple of weeks (sometimes more), I’m requested to sample one of their latest concoctions, especially since I’m known as the department sugar-addict.  Oh, what’s a girl to do… 

I also got to try our new vegetarian cakes recently, which will probably replace our veggie burgers.  I actually like our veggie burgers, but the new ones are a-m-a-z-i-n-g!  They’re basically shredded zucchini that’s mixed with a proprietary blend of breading and spices and then lightly fried.  You can order them with 2 side dishes for a “petite plate” or on two mini-buns with a side and salad.  Despite the light frying, the petite plate will actually make a good diet-friendly option if you’re eating out.  (Here’s a restaurant diet hint – don’t ever get anything on a bun, or if you do, be sure and tell them to hold the butter.)

The Garden Experiment

I decided to try and grow my own food this year.  I’ve grown tomatoes before, but this year I’m expanding into squash, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, spinach, swiss chard, carrots, and a few herbs.

The first step was starting the seeds.  After a trip to my local Lowes, where I was completely overwhelmed by the seed selection, I chose some that were recommended by the Farmer’s Almanac for beginners like me:  http://www.almanac.com/content/beginners-vegetable-garden.  Next I purchased some inexpensive and biodegradable little pots that I will use to get my plants started, and then plant the pot directly in the ground in about 6 weeks.  Next I went home and filled each pot about 1/3 full with soil, sprinkled 2 to 3 seeds in each, or as the package directions indicated, then topped them off with more garden soil.  I placed each pot in a big plastic serving tray for easier watering and maintenance, then added lots of water!

My garden, February 20.

I will keep them safe in my kitchen near a big window for now and perhaps move them outdoors during the day if the temperatures warm up a little.  So far our East Tennessee March is more like January!!

Wonderful Weekend

What a glorious February weekend!  After a month of below-average temperatures, we are having 60’s and sun this weekend.  Bill and I went out to a lovely neighborhood that has a great running trail through the middle, plus a bike lane on the road.  He rode his bike and I attempted my first 5 mile jog since the marathon.  It was wonderful.

The rest of the day was pretty restful.  I found an awesome new recipe on the back of a Bush’s Black Beans can – Black Bean & Mango Salad – so I tried that for lunch.  YUM!!  I have posted the recipe on my Recipes link.  I changed it a little bit, omitting the jalepenos and olive oil.  I’m sure it would be great as a topper for chicken also, but I’m avoiding most meats these days.  Working in the food industry, you learn more about food processing than you ever wanted to know, and it’s really turned me off to meat… no need for details. 

Anyway, so then I tried my hand at homemade granola bars.  I’ve been trying to figure out ways to add more whole grains to my diet, but that has been surprising difficult without a lot of unwanted sugars and other added ingredients.  We used to buy lots of granola bars as a grab-and-go breakfast or snack, but the cheap ones are loaded with sugar and other stuff I don’t want in my body, and the good ones are expensive.  So making our own granola bars seemed like the ideal solution.  You can customize them to your tastes with different nuts, dried fruits and other extras, plus reduce or eliminate the sugar.  We ended up making ous with dried cherries, unsweetened coconut, and dark chocolate chips.  They turned out great and I look forward to trying more variations.  I have posted the recipe on my Recipe link.  Enjoy!