Just Another Tuesday

In our house, we really don’t celebrate Valentine’s Day. We will get each other cards, or a little gift, but nothing over the top. It’s just another Tuesday to us!

This year, though we had reason to celebrate! We had company around our table and wanted to be able to share our love and happiness with those we care for. With me continuing my journey to health and happiness, it was a great opportunity for me to create a meal that I would be excited to put time into planning and share with those with me. Lucky for me I had two wonderful taste testers, my wonderful fiance, Ryan, and my wonderful friend, Sarah, who we were also celebrating her birthday! They are both foodies, too, so it helped to have people who would have an open mind, and regardless of how it actually tasted, they would tell me everything was wonderful. (Though I ate too…so I can say they weren’t lying. The food was legit!)

Sorry for the crummy pictures, I was more distracted by eating, than by getting optimum photographs. On the line-up of my four course menu:

Soup Course: Homemade Rustic Lobster Bisque with Ciabatta bread garlic toasts

Salad Course: Caprese Salad with homemade balsamic drizzle and fresh cracked pepper

Entree Course: Roasted Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Browned Butter Sage sauce and crispy prosciutto

Dessert Course: Chocolate Souffle with homemade Whipped Cream with a mini bruleed banana split

I’m taking credit of making everything homemade except for the ciabatta bread, the mozzarella cheese, gelato, and ravioli!

It was a lot of fun putting everything together and making sure the whole meal was timed correctly that the courses were served with timing in mind, and so I could eat with my guests as well. It was fun and gave me lots of ideas of how to put this talent to good use!

I think I may put together a journal/portfolio of items that I have perfected or enjoy making. Try them out in different combinations and then start offering to people to come over for a tasting night! Maybe eventually I could turn this into something and become a self-taught in-home chef? Maybe I’ll go to culinary school. Anything is really possible at this point. I need to do what’s best for me and my life and my happiness.

Know of anyone looking for someone to come in and create a meal for them and their family? Send them my way! 😉 13141516

Apologies for the turned pictures…my computer is being difficult and not letting me edit the images right now. I was more interested in just getting everything posted and working on it later!

Make it a great day!

Korean Adventures

I think what we’re finding important is variety. Variety with everything, really, not just food. But for the sake of time and not writing a book, we’re just going to focus on food variety tonight.

I did my grocery shopping yesterday and was pleased that my cart was mostly full with fruits and vegetables. Added some shrimp this week for our dinners, as well as buying quinoa in bulk because it was on sale. All in all, I think this newer way of shopping is going to be saving us a lot of money. I generally stick with the same types of vegetables, to be honest, peppers, onions, tomato, lettuce, spinach, cucumber, mushroom, and avocado. This week I added in cauliflower crumbles to try some cauliflower fried rice one day, and a blend the store had of shredded brussel sprouts, cabbage, kale, and chard. I’ll figure out where to plug that one in sometime. For today though, I’m sticking to my normal culprits. Spinach, peppers, avocado, oh, and a little green onion for garnish. There’s some garlic in there, too, but I think that’s a given with me at this point! (Sorry, Ryan!)

I was searching around for different international bowls on Pinterest and stumbled across Lauren, from Tastes Better from Scratch. She has the same sort of belief systems that I am forming, that REAL food is the way to go. She believes in making dinner every night from real, fresh products, with minimal use in artificial ingredients. A girl after my own heart. Anyways, Lauren loves bulgogi and decided she wanted to create her own bowl modeled after it. Fast forward to me and I am now adapting her recipe into my own to create my own pork bulgogi bowl. I don’t have a TON of experience with Korean food, namely kimchi, but I have had bulgogi a few times and I can’t rave enough about it!

If you aren’t familiar with bulgogi, it is traditionally made from grilled, marinated beef. As with any food though, you can adapt it and tonight I’m going with pork loin chops cut thiiiin! It is a widely popular Korean dish, mainly from it’s flavor profile and ease of creating on your own. Looking for a place to try the real deal though? Check out Panda Korean and Chinese Food in Ann Arbor, MI. (https://www.yelp.com/biz/panda-korean-and-chinese-foods-ann-arbor) Their rendition is sweet, salty, spicy, savory, ughh..can’t rave enough about it!

Back to tonight’s menu. I’m using whole grain rice instead of long grain white, pork loin chops, instead of pork tenderloin, baby spinach, instead of a spring mix, and coconut oil instead of veggie oil. Pretty much the same concept, with my minor switch-outs. If this is a success tonight, I will definitely be planning in advance and will hit up Galleria Asian Market in Ann Arbor for fresh kimchi, instead of what I’m sure will be a long shelf-life version at Kroger when I run out. The amount used in the kimchi fried rice is fairly small though, so I’m hoping it won’t be too big of a deal if it isn’t that good! We shall see!

 

Turned out pretty tasty! Ryan even liked it, though he’s yet to complain about anything I’ve ever cooked in our 4 years together…Anyways, it had a nice spice to it, from the crushed red pepper in the marinade, as well as from the spicy kimchi. Oh, and kimchi fried rice? The bomb. Try it. You’re welcome. As for the avocado? I know it doesn’t really go along with the whole Korean meal I’ve got going, but as this recipe called for a sunny side up egg, which I’m not a fan of, I wanted to add something to give it that same creamy texture of a broken yolk. Not complaints here about that substitute! (Ryan did mention wanting to have the egg there next time, so OK!) Here’s the recipe I loosely followed, with the few substitutions I mentioned above!  http://tastesbetterfromscratch.com/2016/06/korean-bulgogi-bowls.html Check it out if you’re feeling adventurous! You won’t be sorry!

Have a great night, guys!

Muffins!!

For those of you who haven’t seen the “Muffins” video on Youtube, I strongly encourage you to check it out. The humor is definitely dry (and this find was from my college day), but it’s stupid enough to make you laugh.

Anywho…Today’s venture was making more protein muffins using Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes Waffle and Flapjack mix! This time I tried out their Dark Chocolate variety and WOW! They already have the chocolate chips in the mix for you…or you can add more. You do you. I doubled the recipe to yield 2 dozen muffins. They smell phenomenal. I’m ready to dig in, but waiting for them to cool down a bit so I’m not noshing on molten hot lava dark chocolate. Did I mention there’s 12 grams of protein in a 2 muffin serving? Oh, and this mix tastes great and not gritty whatsoever.

I found this great website, Canva.com, that I can generate recipe cards, so it’ll be much easier to organize recipes on here. As for the good part…

The pictures just don’t do it justice. Plus, I need to get a camera to start photographing all of this! After now tasting them I’m definitely happy with the final result. I think I may adjust the amount of honey added to make them a touch sweeter, but when you get a little chunk of banana or chocolate chip it’s divine! (The Kodiak Cakes Recipe calls for 1 cup of brown sugar for the doubled recipe, but I decided to try honey instead. I also opted to leave the cinnamon out.)

Give em’ a try and see what you think! The boxed mix is a little expensive for the amount of mix you get, but I would totally recommend these to everybody just for the protein content without tasting like a protein mix muffin! stories

Mix all ingredients together, fill greased muffin tins 3/4 full, bake for 14-18 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (I’d recommend avoiding muffin papers, as the moisture content of these causes them to stick to the paper! Whoops!)

Enjoy! and have a great day, all!

I’m Back!

Hey guys!

Sorry for disappearing! I needed to take a little break from here to really think about where I want to go with this and I’m starting to figure out what I’m wanting to do! For now though, it’ll just be the ramblings of my mind and photos of our dinners! One thing I’m going to start doing is posting recipes for the meals I’m making. Whether it be sharing from the blog I’ve found it on, or my own. Tonight’s menu is brought to you by my brain! I need to go back and figure out the proportions of everything I used, so stay tuned for the recipe! I think you’ll like it!

Ryan and I are big comfort food eaters. Not necessarily fried chicken and greens kind of comfort food, but good food that remind us of our childhood and being at home. (ie-Burgers, spaghetti, fried rice, stir-fry, steak, chicken parm, etc etc etc) Tonight I was craving a big, fat, greasy burger with all the fixing and a side of fries with thousand island for dipping. YUM. I cheated yesterday and brought in more calories through junk and not the nutritious things I’ve been focusing on eating lately. I can definitely say that I am SO much happier and more energetic when I’m eating healthy, versus junk. It’s pretty noticeable already. Anyways, back to my burger. I wanted it, but wanted to figure out how I could taper it to our goals. Man, oh MAN did I hit it on the money! I can’t wait to crank out the recipe for you all! Highlight? There are leftovers!

So the basic breakdown of this Hamburger Bowl: lean sirloin sauteed with baby spinach and a dollop of garlic paste (the stuff you can get to dip your pita in at Mediterranean restaurants! Yum!), roasted sweet potatoes with sweet onion, heirloom cherry tomatoes, romaine, homemade dill pickles, avocado, and a spicy greek yogurt thousand island that I whipped up! I mean, can you say YUM?? You can really use whatever portion size you would like for everything, depending on your tastes. I’ll make an official recipe card though for you to use…and will attempt, again, to get Pinterest working on here! I hope you’ll venture out to try it…I think my favorite bite was the sweet potato/onion mixture with a bite of the pickle. Hit all the right senses in all the right places!

I hope you’re enjoying following along with me, as much as I’m enjoying writing these. With a little time I can assure you that I’ll be much more interesting when writing these and you’ll hopefully WANT to come check it out with new postings! For now, I’m out of here to accompany Ryan to Home Depot! Yay projects!

Have a great night, guys!

Obsessed.

I think I’m almost to the point where I can say it officially. I am obsessed with the idea of creating Bowl Meals. The concept is just stupidly easy; 1 starch (whole wheat, of choice), a protein (lean as possible and utilize your beans and legumes here), a sauce of some sort (in my opinion, a great way to use fresh veggies to create something to use for flavor), and 2 veggies of varying colors (try and get your dark leafy greens in here…and if you’re like me, get as many veggies in as possible). I mean, how much simpler can it get?

Right now I’m trying to prep things that I can just reheat to throw together for simple meals and lunch throw-togethers. I’m enjoying making dinners at the moment, so I don’t mind making things fresh. It’s been cathartic working with food again. I forgot how much I loved the process of creating a meal. Tasting things as you go, adding a little of this or that, smelling the compilation of ingredients coming together,and having a beautiful meal to serve at the end. I’m also getting back into food styling, too. Not professionally or anything, at this point. I just like putting everything together and displaying it in a way that is attractive to the eye. I even bought a couple new bowls today to more properly display my Buddha bowl meals and each ingredient utilized. I’m hoping Ryan won’t think it’s silly. I doubt he will, though. He’s just happy to see me having some sort of passion return, whatever it may be.

I’ve been struggling for the past year with some mental health issues(I know, you already know this). That being said, I’ve lost all love of anything. My passion for food and cooking faded away, knitting stopped completely, walking the dog was gone, spending time with family has even lessened. The things that made me, me were just gone. I sleep. That’s where the passion has been. Sleeping. All.THE.TIME. I’ve been functioning at a lower level the last couple of months, after having 6 really good months. It’s frustrating. Like unbelievably frustrating. I needed to stop, take a step back, and reevaluate where I am.

First of all, I decided to slow down with work. When I’m at my 100% best, I LOVE what I do. I’m passionate about the care and insight I’m able to provide, and more importantly feel like I help make a difference. I crave being at work when I’m at my best. I talk about my work a lot when I’m away from it…all the time. Enter in the problem. Work consumed my every being. I was working all the time, taking things home with me, letting them affect me, overtaking my life. It’s not a healthy work-life balance to maintain and I got mixed up in it…leading to falling backwards to about 50% functioning.

So that’s where I am now. Trying to stop the backwards motion and nip it in the bud before it gets bad…dark and scary. I’ve been making major efforts to make changes in my life to be more mindful of my every day. I created a bullet journal to track things throughout the day, to keep me and my emotions in check. It gives me something to look at everyday and make goals, set challenges, appreciate the little things, and how to be more mindful throughout the day. I’d really recommend having this type of journal to those interested in starting to journal. It helps make you accountable to something, without the pressure of figuring out what to say. (Yea, it’s kind of the latest Pinterest obsession…but I’m all on board that train.) Check out today’s entry below!

I’ve changed (or making changes to) my diet. I’ve been pretty diligent since Sunday to make these things happen for Ryan and I and I’ve been working at hard to make sure we are supplied with nutrient-dense foods. I’m hoping that maybe with the supplements I’m on, plus the improved diet, plus the mood tracking, plus the added in exercise (at some point soon, I hope), will offer me positive results that I can maintain. That’s the hard part, though. Maintaining everything once I’m working full-time and having a life. Everything is on pause right now for me to regain my self control. I really hope it stays this way when everything is back to normal. Normal. What is that?

As for dinner tonight, I decided to do a beef and bean burrito bowl. Included is peppers and onions, homemade cucumber pico de gallo, brown rice, greek yogurt, avocado, and a little spicy muenster cheese we picked up from Eastern Market.(Check it out below!) I can send along the recipe I created if anyone is interested, but it’s pretty straight forward! Ryan just got home from work, so I’m signing off to go eat and spend some quality time with him.

Have a happy night, y’all!

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Continuing to Play

Hey folks!

So we had a little slip-up yesterday and grabbed some fast food while we were out. No harm, no foul, though, it happens. We’re back at it again tonight though! I took a little inspiration from Whitney Bond (of Whitneybond.com) (http://whitneybond.stfi.re/2016/05/11/bruschetta-grilled-chicken-zoodle-bowls/?sf=rgnnjkx#aa)  and am trying my hand at making garlicky bruschetta chicken with noodles. Ours included some fresh mozzarella crumbles, marinated with garlic and herbs (YUM) and sauteed spinach! I wouldn’t necessary classify this as another Buddha Bowl, but it’s along the same idea! I don’t think Ryan is in for how much garlic there’s going to be, ie-we will be sweating it out of our pores. It’s smelling amazing, so hopefully it will taste that way, too!

I’m still trying to figure out what direction I’m going to be taking this blog in. Do I want to just post food pictures, links, and recipes? Do I want to share my inner most thoughts and secrets? What I DO know is that this is going to be used as an outlet for me. I need a place to go where I can write down and sort out my thoughts in a useful and productive way. What better way to be mindful, then by writing things down a re-reading them to sort out the things I actually do and do not want to say. It’s almost cathartic. I’m thinking I may do some research tomorrow on nutrition and the healthy brain. Something to give me reason to push through any difficulties I may encounter with making some major changes to my diet. With reason, I can convince myself to keep going, you know?

I’ll probably put up another post tonight on what’s going on with me, to a degree. I want to be as transparent as I can on here, within reason, so that I can fully utilize this skill as means of coping.

Hope you all are having a fantastic evening! If you’re around where I live, don’t blow away!!

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*yummmmmm

New Nutrition

Hi! Welcome to my blog on my new adventure with health, wellness, and nutrition! I decided to create this site as a way to share my journey in improving my life and creating a healthier way of living to last through my life. I decided to make these changes now as a result of struggling with mental health issues for most of my life. I finally decided that I need to be fueling my brain with the most nutritious ingredients possible to improve it’s functioning and my overall sense of well being. I decided to create a blog to follow me along this journey as a way to keep myself accountable, but also in hopes that it may inspire others to choose a healthier life! I hope you check in every once in a while to see what’s new, what recipes I’m trying, and what I’m doing to continue this journey. Thanks for checking me out and Happy 2017!

How I got Started

I’ve always been a lover of food. All things food. I began cooking with my parents and grandparents at a young age and haven’t really gotten over my fascination and obsession with food. I love everything about it, to be honest. You’ll also be hard-pressed to find a food I don’t like or haven’t at least tried.

As I’ve gotten older my love turned into a passion. I love creating meals for my family and friends and sharing a table with my dishes. I love their reactions, their feedback, and hopefully their approval! It gives me great joy to be able to feed others with something that I’ve created. My biggest problem? I’m a butter, cream, salt kinda girl. In the 4 years Ryan and I have been together, we have both benefited (and expanded) from my rich cooking. I love shortcuts when it comes to meals and I like to make delicious, but easy to make recipes. With both of us having health issues affecting our lives, we made the decision that it was time for a change, and we turned to my good friend Courtney, owner of Savor Life Nutrition and Registered Dietitian, for help.

Courtney was a miracle worker, in our opinion. Her presentation on the importance of having a healthy lifestyle, creating obtainable goals, and how we can support one another through this journey was eye-opening. She helped us figure out where we were falling short, how to create quick but nutritious meals, and how to make these new practices last and become habits. She promised to help us in our journey and will be there to support us along the way. I can’t wait to continue on with this journey with her help and support, to see where I end up even 1 month from now! If you are looking for someone qualified to help you make healthier choices in your life, nutrition or otherwise, I encourage you to look to Courtney. Her experience, along with her passion is apparent and it becomes a part of her work and makes her who she is. Please, check her out for all of your health and nutrition counseling needs!

http://www.savorlifenutrition.com/

Recipe #1, the Buddha Bowl

Alright, so after extensive planning (hours) and creating a grocery list of a newly designed pantry, I finally went to the grocery store. Gotta say, I was pretty nauseous watching the price creep up, but had to remind myself that I was buying a lot of staple, healthy pantry items. Those things are going to last me a long time! Once I got home and organized everything, I realized how easy I made things for myself to make nutritious, but still affordable, meals. My goal now is to have the items purchased last me the rest of January and all of February, aside from my fresh foods.

We were going to have one of my newly decided upon “family dinners” tonight, but alas, plans change! I still wanted to go with the recommended recipe from my very good friend and try it out for Ryan and I. I was skeptical because we’ve tried quinoa in the past and it was NOT a great experience. Tasteless, mushy, flavorless, yuck.

This time was different. I did a little research and read on a few sites that if you first toast the quinoa before boiling it, it will give a nuttier flavor. BOY did this make all the difference. The flavor was there, I (probably) cooked it correctly this time, used chicken stock and BAM, delicious quinoa.

Now the idea behind the Buddha bowl is to create a vegetarian (not for us everytime, we’re meat eaters!) bowl with sustainable, nutritious items to make a quick and easy meal. It was fantastic. I couldn’t recommend this recipe more!

Krista, from Joyful Health Eats with a Side of Sweet, truly created a recipe with comfort food in mind. I don’t know about you, but Ryan and I love our buffalo wings. Buffalo Wild Wings was a place we frequented while living in Ann Arbor, because it was so close and it was a late night option for us night owls. I couldn’t praise this recipe more, though. It has spice, flavor, crunch, everything! Man, oh man, was it good. I’m kind of sad it’s all gone already! In making the recipe, I followed it, only paired it down to make two servings, instead of four. We also skipped the ranch drizzle and just added a little extra hot sauce to the top.

I hope you find the time to try this and more importantly, I hope you love it as much as we do! As always, have a happy day!

http://www.joyfulhealthyeats.com/buffalo-chicken-quinoa-bowls/