Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

How was your holiday weekend? Mine was good, not what I had planned but still good. Dan had to work all weekend which was a bummer, but we did find a little time to have fun in spite of work.

Saturday night we met our friend Louis for dinner on the patio at our favorite local restaurant. It is always great when Louis is in town from the Delaware shore and we can get together for dinner. Thankfully the weather was beautiful so we were able to relax, talk and just enjoy each other’s company.

Knowing that we would be meeting Louis for dinner I emailed Ian on Wednesday to give him plenty of notice that we would be coming in. I am not kidding when I said that Ian prefers a lot of notice that we are coming in since vegan food is out of the box for him.

Since I always get inspiration from seeing what Ian puts together I wanted to share his creations with you. I love to see how his mind works and truly believe that eating his food regularly is the reason that I my cooking has improved. Like usual we had no idea what he was doing and were happy to have whatever he created since it is always good and frequently outstanding. Here is what we had for dinner:

Our first course was a salad of artichokes, avocado and corn dressed with charred tomato vinaigrette on a bed on baby arugula topped with crispy tortilla strips. Needless to say we both loved this and I will be doing something similar and home. I love going out to dinner and getting new ideas. ;-)

The second course was roasted portabellas, sautéed cabbage and Bing cherries on top of roasted sweet potatoes. The dish was dusted with something spicy which I think was cayenne. This was another winner. Where does Ian come up with his ideas? I wish I knew. LOL

Our entrée was tagliatelle with Swiss chard, caramelized onions and garlic finished with fresh lemon. This was very Sicilian inspired which meant that I loved it since I have a preference for Southern Italian cuisine. Ian also made a concerted effort to reduce the sodium in our food which was very sweet. Apparently he does listen when I talk. ;-)

Michael (“Shorty”) decided that we should have a little dessert and brought us martini glasses filled with fresh fruit which was a perfect way to end the evening.

Ian took some time to chat with us before he headed out for the evening. It is always fun to have time to catch up with him.

Saturday was our first night without Corey at the restaurant and I missed him. Even though Corey and I are still chatting it isn’t the same as seeing him a few times a week. However it is good that Corey is enjoying his new job.  It is going to be tough to replace Corey, glad I don't have to fill those shoes.

Where Did My Nutrition Knowledge Come From?:

This is a question I get my email regularly. People want to know if my knowledge came from the eCornell program of somewhere else. The truth is that I am mostly self taught but I will explain so that you understand and can do the same thing if you would like.

Years ago, after the cancer, I decided that we needed to learn about nutrition since what Dan and I were taught in school was next to useless. I started by reading books on cancer and health and moved on to reading articles at PubMed. Six days out of seven I start my day reading health and nutritional articles for an hour or more in the morning. I am also always reading a book on nutrition to continually learn and/or reinforcement my knowledge.

I will be suggesting books that I particularly liked in another post. For those of you that are concerned about cancer I highly recommend a book by Keith Block MD “Life Over Cancer”. It is a little technical but even without a scientific background you will get the basics. That is my go to book for research in regard to cancer.

Happy Thoughts:

• We had a lovely meal on Saturday. Thank you Ian! Of course it was a great time with our buddy Louis. Thank you Louis for joining us for dinner. We love spending time with you.

• Having the weekend to myself meant that I had time to be productive at home which was great. I am slowly but surely chipping away at my out of control to-do list. Additionally since Dan worked all weekend he is going to take some time off soon to spend with me. We will need to do something fun with our time off during the week.

• Dan has been joining me in the morning for treks through the neighborhood. Even though we are experiencing a heat wave with temps in the upper 90’s we have been covering some good distance and doing a little jogging and walking which is good. I decided to add in a little jogging to see how my knee was doing and so far so good which makes me very happy. Also I love that Dan has been going with me since I really want him exercising everyday to stimulate his immune system.

• We had a great Sunday at the farmers’ market and came home with a crazy amount of produce including: kale, asparagus, zucchini (woo hoo for zucchini spaghetti pictured above), strawberries, tomatoes, basil, Swiss chard, shitakes, beets, radishes, sugar snaps, and lettuce. As you can guess both of our refrigerators are stuffed with fresh produce and that makes me very happy.

• Monday Dan did his work from home rather than in the office so we got to spend a little more time together. I wish my hubby didn’t have to work so much but it doesn’t seem to stress him out and I am thankful for that.

Signing Out:

It is getting late here and my hubby should be home from work soon. Tomorrow is a busy day but I hope to have time to get up a post late in the day. I will talk to you again soon, hopefully tomorrow.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Cooking Class May 25, 2010

I have had another very busy week which has not been conducive to blogging. I wanted to get you a quick idea of the recipes from class this Wednesday. Since I know that many that read are omni looking to transition to vegan and/or have omni families I am going to post pictures of both the original and vegan versions of the dishes. I hope this gives you an idea of how you can feed both omnis and vegans without a lot of effort. Additionally I hope this inspires you to “veganize” some of your favorite omni dishes.

The appetizer was a green gazpacho topped with Greek yogurt and a quick pickled beet garnish.

Since the gazpacho was vegan mine omitted the yogurt and no other change was necessary. You could always top the soup with cashew crème fraiche if you like.

The next dish was a roasted vegetable and chickpea salad.

This was served with Stromboli which was made with a variety of Italian cured meats, cheeses and artichokes.

Mine was filled with vegetables.

The dessert course was macerated fruit and pignoli cookies.

The only change for me was to eliminate the cookies and I was good to go.

Other needing to make a separate Stromboli this meal was very simple to modify.

When you start to think in terms of “how I can I modify recipes” it becomes easy to make a vegan and omni version of the same dish. Ideally the entire family would eat vegan but I realize that isn’t going to work for a lot of people. However I hope you find it comforting to realize how easy it is to modify dishes without creating a lot of work for yourself.

Happy thoughts:

• I have had a good week though it has been another busy one. It seems like my life has been in overdrive for the last few months. I sure hope things slow down soon I need a break. ;-) Don’t believe people when they tell you retirement is boring. I read somewhere that “if you bored it is because you are boring” and there may be something to that saying. Boring doesn’t happen at our house.

• Today if our friend Walid’s birthday. Happy birthday buddy! Big hugs! I am very happy to have you in our lives. I hope you know how much you mean to us.

• Shopping this week I picked up a few great buys which I will tell you about in another post. I love a bargain and these were definitely that. *woo hoo*

• Summer is definitely here and that is a very good thing. I am looking forward to the holiday weekend. Now I just need to convince Dan that work can wait until Tuesday. Wish me luck; I am going to need it. ;-) He is such a hard worker. While I appreciate that he works so hard to provide for our family I also wish he would relax more than he does. There is always good and bad in everything. But the bottom line is that my husband is a great guy, who takes good care of us and I love him very much. I couldn’t ask for better husband for me.

• We are having dinner with our friend Louis this weekend which makes me very happy. We both enjoy spending time with Louis and appreciate it even more since he lives so far away. It is always great to spend time with good friends and Louis is one of the best! He has been there for me through the good times and the bad. I love you man! ;-)

• Wearing my running shoes has been fine this week! I am elated that I have been able to get out every morning and go for a nice walk before I start my day. There is nothing better than getting outside first thing in the morning. I snapped a few pictures this morning which I put up on Facebook. For those that don’t follow me there here are a few of them.

Signing out:

It is time for me to turn into a pumpkin so I can get moving early tomorrow morning. I hope you have some fun planned for the long weekend.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Mousse

I have no idea where my week has gone but I have been swamped running errands and going to cooking class last night. I will give you more details soon but for now I wanted to share a very quick recipe I whipped up this morning for breakfast. Here it is:

Pumpkin Pie Mousse
Serves 2


½ cup raw cashews soaked in water overnight in the refrigerator and well drained
15 ounce can organic pumpkin (nothing added just pumpkin)
2 tablespoons chia seeds
1 tablespoon raw organic maca powder
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
1 pinch stevia (or to taste)


Toss everything in your high speed blender (I used my Vitamix) and process until smooth. To serve top with a little sliced banana, sliced almonds and/or granola if desired.

Nutritional Information (does not include the banana, nuts or granola):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 273.5
Calories From Fat (41%) - 111.58

Total Fat - 13.43g
Saturated Fat - 2.41g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 5.87mg
Potassium - 611.69mg
Total Carbohydrates - 34.72g
Fiber - 11.6g
Sugar - 8.44g
Protein - 9.42g


This reminds me of pumpkin pie only without the guilt. I love that in included omega 3 fatty acids (from the chia seeds), and beta-carotene (from the pumpkin). This may be good for you but it tastes delicious.

Signing Out:

Talk to you again soon. I am off to catch up on things at home. I hope to get another post up very soon. Wish me luck.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Pickled Onions and a Great Trip to the Farmers’ Market

(pickled onions used to brighten the wilted greens under the stuffed pepper)

(pickled onions on my salad for extra flavor)

We actually managed to get to sleep at a somewhat reasonable time on Saturday which is amazing since Dan was at work until very, very late. Don’t ask how late because it is ridiculous and I don’t want to call him out on the blog.

We were at the farmer’s market bright and early and were ready to shop, and shop we did. Sunday’s haul: 2 bunches collard leaves (for collard wraps of course), 2 huge bunches kale, 2 heads read leaf lettuce, ½ pound shitakes, 3 quarts strawberries, 1 bunch beets (save the tops for juice), 1 bag mesclun mix, 1 enormous bunch Swiss chard, 1 bunch radishes (the greens are good in soup, juice or wilted), fresh basil (woo hoo), and a tray of wheat grass (for juice of course).

I made one of my usual foundation recipes that I like to keep on hand. This one is pickled onions and I used those on salad and in collard wraps to add a pop of flavor with no fat and few calories. Here is what I did:

Pickled Red Onions
Makes approximately 2 cups


1 large red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup water
½ cinnamon stick
rounded ¼ teaspoon whole cloves (this was approximately 20)
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 scoop (individual serving) stevia


Combine the vinegar, water, cinnamon, cloves, pepper flakes and heat until it comes to simmer. Now add the stevia and red onions and let them stand, covered to seal in the heat. Toss the onions periodically so that all the onions will wilt. When the mixture has cooled place it in a sealed two cup jar and refrigerate until you need it. The onions have a long shelf life in the refrigerator. However we eat them long before they have a chance to go bad.

Nutritional information (for the entire recipe not that you would ever eat that much):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 76.94
Calories From Fat (4%) - 2.96

Total Fat - 0.42g
Saturated Fat - 0.07g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 11.54mg
Potassium - 62.25mg
Total Carbohydrates - 16.81g
Fiber - 5.72g
Sugar - 0.32g
Protein - 1.55g


If you liked pickled food these are a must have to keep on hand. I like to use these as often as I can because they add so much flavor. The acidity adds brightness to dishes and helps me to avoid salt.

The stuffed peppers pictured above were what we had for lunch with my parents on Sunday. I am going to post that recipe separately, most likely tomorrow.

Dan did take the day off on Sunday which was nice. We spend the day enjoying each other which is why you didn’t see anything from me on the blog though I did manage a few Facebook comments. ;-)

We went for a nice before dinner walk through the neighborhood before the rain. We stopped to take a few pictures while we were out.

I love this house which is probably why it never goes on the market. ;-)

Don’t you just love the beautiful spring green and the blooming plants? I love this time of year. :-)

Happy thoughts:

• It was great to have my hubby home on Sunday. We had a good day together that started with the farmers’ market and fresh local produce and ended with a nice neighborhood walk. It was an excellent day.

• The lunch I made on Sunday (bell peppers stuffed with millet and maitake mushrooms on agro dolce wilted greens and topped with gremolata) was well received. It was fun to make something that was a little more complex. I may be getting my cooking groove back. Only time will tell right?

• I am love having two refrigerators full of local produce. There really isn’t much that makes me happier. I am such a food and nutrition geek, but I would have it no other way.

• I am still contemplating what I am going to do when I grow up (assuming that ever happens). When I have more of an idea I will fill you in. Thanks for all the ideas regarding what you want to see on the blog. Keep those ideas coming!

• This may sound silly but I have had the windows open for days and that is a wonderful feeling. After being closed up all winter I love having fresh air blowing through the house all day long. It may just be me but I worry about VOC’s and offgassing when the house is closed up.

Signing off:

Monday was a good day for me but I wasn’t a productive as I would like to be. Oh well, tomorrow is another day. At least I got a few things accomplished I am going to concentrate on that instead of what I didn’t do.

I did manage to get into the kitchen to make a pot of red lentil and tomato soup to have on hand this week for lunches and that is a good thing.  I didn't use this recipe specifically but this version was close.

Talk to you all again tomorrow. I hope you had a great Monday!

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Tandoori Tofu and Corey's Last Day

Here is the preview of the Tandoori tofu that I will be detailing below. It turned out extremely well so I think hope you will like it as much as we did.

Friday was a beautiful day weather wise. We had a gentle breeze and temperatures in the upper 70’s. I really enjoyed that we also got a break from the rain that we have had so much of this spring. There has been so much rain that it also feels like you can see the grass growing now. ;-)

Breakfast for me was a simple bowl of local strawberries with a little soy yogurt (organic soy and no soy protein isolates) a touch of granola and a few sliced almonds. When we have local berries I love to have this for breakfast. It is a bit of splurge for me since I don’t typically buy soy yogurt and I really enjoyed it.

After breakfast I took time to enjoy the garden and went for a quick walk to see how my toe was going to do in my running shoes. My broken toe still isn’t 100% but it held up nicely so happy to say that I am back in business. *woo hoo*

For some reason (and I have no idea why) I was thinking of lobster tandoori today. Given that tofu has a very mild character I decided to use that as a stand in for the lobster. The biggest problem wasn’t the meat substitute but the sauce. The omni sauce that I have used in the past contained cream, egg and butter which meant I knew it was going to be a challenge to veganize. I had no idea how my healthy vegan version would turn out but since I had nothing to lose I decided to give it a go and here is what I did:

Tandoori Tofu
Enough for 2 – 14 ounce packages of tofu


2 tablespoons freshly ground golden flaxseeds
2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled (mince if you aren’t using a high powdered blender)
½ teaspoon sweet paprika (not smoked)
1 pinch stevia
½ cup raw cashews
1/8 teaspoon ajowan seeds (you can substitute thyme)
4 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons dry oatmeal (ground into flour)
2 teaspoon garam masala
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
¼ teaspoon cardamom powder (optional but recommended)
1 cup water
2 – 14 ounce packages of organic extra firm tofu (be sure to read the ingredient label to make certain that it doesn’t contain soy protein isolates)


Combine everything but the tofu in your blender (I used my Vitamix) and process until smooth and well blended. If you aren’t using a high powered blender you may want to soak the cashews a few hours first.

Cut each block of tofu into six slabs and cover it with the sauce and refrigerate for a few hours. Now place the tofu (excess sauce removed) in your oven to bake. I used my convection/infra red/halogen oven set on 350 degrees but it would also work in a regular oven though I would use a parchment or silpat covered baking sheet. Turn the tofu when the sauce begins to brown. Smear a little more sauce on top and bake until the second side is brown. I am guessing that this will take 20 minutes on the first side and 15 on the second side.

Nutritional Information:

Sorry I ran out of time to run the numbers again. Are you starting to see a pattern here?


I just love this recipe! It is definitely one of my better experiments in a while. If you like Indian food and tofu please give this a try.

It was a gorgeous evening for dinner outside.

Friday was Corey’s last day managing the restaurant so you know we had to go out to dinner? There was no way we were going to miss his last day. I have to say I am still shocked that he is leaving after 14 years but I also understand. However it is really going to take a while before I get used to him not being there when we walk in but I am determined not to cry. Yes, I am that girl. ;-)

Both Ian and Will were working on Friday so I didn’t need to walk into the kitchen to see if I was making stuff up or if they had things planned. Since Will was working he was taking care of us today. Given the beautiful weather and a full patio I was expected the kitchen to be swamped and it was. I have no idea how they make food as fast as they do. That will always amaze me I must say. While I love to cook there is no way I could do it as quickly as they do.

We started with a pot of green and hibiscus tea and chatted with Corey, David, Mike, Jonathan, Jennifer, Emily, Janine, Stephanie and Ahmed. Everyone was a little bummed to see Corey leave but they hid it well while they were working which is better than I think I could have done.

Our first course was a very nice but simple salad of port soaked dried cherries, cucumber, radish, spinach, red onion, sliced almonds and semolina flat bread shards. The salad was dressed with tarragon vinegar. This salad was clean and delicious. I am fairly sure the port soaked cherries were what made this pop.

Next we had our favorite, Ian’s version of a samosa. Both Dan and I love this dish. The filling is potatoes, lentils, golden raisins and Indian seasonings. Like much of Ian’s food the dipping sauce is fabulous. I know it contains cilantro, citrus (which I think is lime) as well as heat (probably serrano). Sorry that I haven’t asked about the details on the sauce. I will try to remember to ask the next time we see Ian.

Dan loves to eat bread or pizza when we go out since I don’t keep any in the house. With that in mind the last course was bruschetta with tomatoes and basil. You know that Dan really liked this right?

For some crazy reason I decided to take some of this with me to the restaurant to get Ian’s take on it. Who takes their home cooking to a classically trained chef? *shakes head* Ian thought the spice blend was well balanced and he liked the texture of the coating and the tofu. His only suggest was that it needed more salt which makes sense since I don’t use any salt. That was something that Ian didn’t realize and he appeared completely confused by the concept. ;-) I do like to keep people guessing LOL. If you still use salt I would suggest that you add some. I took enough for others to try and everyone seemed to like it. Needless to say once Ian gave this his blessing I felt like my experiment was a complete success.

When everyone else left the restaurant everyone started getting ready for the first part of the send out. First there was a shirt that everyone who worked at the restaurant signed (and us) which I thought was adorable. I haven’t seen this tradition before but I really liked the idea of it.

Next there were balloons which I think I blew up most of. That isn’t as easy as it was when I was younger. LOL

I said goodbye to Corey (who they had sequestered in the office during preparations) and left before the first part of the party got started. Dan and I are just a little too old to hang with “the kids” all night. Not to mention I didn’t want to intrude on their time to say good bye to Corey. However they clearly had a good time Friday night. Here are a few pictures:

(Corey (L), Elly (C) and Taylor (R) earlier in the day)
(Corey (L) and Ian (C) toasting with Jenn, Will and Mike in the background) 

(Emily (L) and Steph (R) having a good time)  ;-) 

(Jenn (front) and Mike aka shorty (back) yes he is 6'7" and Jenn is not) 

(Janine (front), Elly (back left) and Jenn (back right) - what is Janine doning?)  LOL

Clearly they were having a good time before heading out for round two of the send off.  :-)

Blog Direction:

I still have no idea what I am going to do with the blog, but I appreciate the suggestions. The “greatest hits” idea is very appealing and I will try to do that soon. I think I will separate that into a number of posts with categories like: basics, soups, entrees, smoothies, that sort of thing.

The idea about “so I have cancer now what” I will also write about soon. The crazy thing about that comment is that was what I had originally wanted to write about but my friends weren’t sure that there was a market for it.

If you are an Facebook check out my fan page here. I am using this to share the interesting health and food related articles as I come across them. Additionally I am posting pictures here and some random stuff.  Be sure to use the link above as there are two vegan epicurean pages and one has no activity.  Long story, but to make it simple I set it up and then couldn't get log in again.  Only me right?  LOL

Other than that I have no idea what I will be doing. I hate being without direction like this. There is no doubt that I am more focused when I have a “mission statement” in mind. If you have any additional thoughts or ideas please feel free to share. I am open to any ideas.

Happy thoughts:

• Friday was a gorgeous day and I was very happy that we were there to say good bye to Corey. As often as we go out to eat I spend more time with Corey than most anyone I know other than Dan. It just won’t be the same going out to dinner without Corey at the restaurant. If you are reading this Corey I hope you know how much we will both miss you. Don’t forget to let me know when you want to get together. Hugs!

• I was very happy about how my tandoori tofu turned out. Sometimes it is very easy to make me happy.

• Being able to wearing my running shoes was a huge accomplishment. You have no idea how happy this made me. I have really missed my daily walks.

• I love that winter is far behind us now. Spring is my favorite season. It is fantastic to go outside and have the foliage be that lovely spring green. It is also great to not have seasonal allergies any longer. If I had known eating this was would eliminate my allergies I might had done it long ago. Just imagine all the sinus medication I could have skipped. :-/

Signing out:

I need to clean up the kitchen and start to wind down. The farmers’ market will be starting before I know it. Talk to you all again tomorrow.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Middle Eastern Flavored Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Spinach

Thursday was another rainy, grey and dreary day in the mid-Atlantic. It was another day best spent inside which is exactly what I choose to do. Being inside gave me another opportunity to get caught up on my out of control to-do list. I never seem to get as much accomplished as I would like to but at least I made progress.

Due to the dreary weather I decided that soup was a good idea for dinner and here is what I made:

Middle Eastern Flavored Chickpea and Tomato Soup with Spinach
Serves 6-8 depending on your appetite


2 cups dried garbanzo beans
9 cups water
2 bay leaves
4 cloves garlic, peeled
32 ounces diced tomatoes
16 ounces tomato sauce
1 large red onion, peeled and finely minced
4 additional cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
10 ounces of frozen chopped spinach

Spices to taste: (in other words I didn’t measure…sorry)

zatar (thyme and sesame seeds)
freshly ground black pepper

Ingredients to finish:

1 lemon, zested and juiced
parsley, minced
cilantro, minced


Combine the garbanzos, water, bay leaves and first 4 garlic cloves and cook until the beans are tender. I pressure cooked my beans.

Add the remaining ingredients except the toppings and cook until the onions are tender. Add the spices according to your taste. Be sure to cook the soup at least 15 minutes after you add the spices so that the flavors have time to marry.

Finish the soup with lemon zest, lemon juice, parsley and cilantro and serve. If you want to make this more substantial than you can add some cooked bulgur to the bottom of the bowl before serving. You could also top this with cashew crème fraiche to mimic yogurt which is often used in Middle Eastern food.

Nutritional Information:

Sorry I didn’t have time to run the numbers on the soup. However like all my food this recipe is healthy.

Blog direction:

You may have noticed that I haven’t been cooking very much lately and that is because I am too busy. My meals have been very simple, lots of salad, soup and fruit which is why I haven’t been focusing on them. I don’t feel as though there is much value in discussing fairly simple food. I know other bloggers post the same foods over and over again that doesn’t appeal to me.

Until I have more time to get back into the kitchen regularly I am not sure what I am going to be posting. So I wanted to toss the question out to all of you. What would you like me to write about? Is there any topic or question you had it mind? Alternately would you like me to take a hiatus from writing until I am back in the kitchen?

I have some book reviews that I can write, and I have a few questions that I received by email or comments. Other than that I am not sure what to write about currently. I suppose that I could get myself back into the kitchen but that isn’t possible due to time constraints at the moment. If you have any ideas I would love to hear them.

Happy thoughts:

• It is good to be able to cross a few more things off my to-do list. Being extremely behind schedule makes me nervous so I am feeling a little better today after my two productive days this week.

• On Friday I veganized a lobster tandoori which turned out extremely well. I really love this recipe and can’t wait to share it with you and to hear what Dan thinks about it. If you enjoy Indian food I am fairly sure you will enjoy this and it is made from easy to find ingredients. I may run some by Ian to see if he has any suggestions … but it is really good as is. *woo hoo*

• Friday the weather has started to change and we actually had a little sunshine today. I was able to open the windows and let some fresh air which was wonderful. The felines have been enjoying relaxing in the windows all day. I love to watch them smell the fresh air and have their fur blow in the breeze.

• I am sorry to say that Dan needs to go into the office this weekend to work. If you have been reading my blog for a while you know that I am not happy that Dan is working. However I am going to view this as an opportunity to get more things done and home so that I am feeling less stressed out about my growing to-do list. The weather is supposed to be gorgeous, in the 80’s in fact. I plan to start my morning with a nice walk through the neighborhood before I start working on my to-do list. I am determined to make the most of Saturday.

Signing Out:

You will not be too surprised to hear that we are going out to dinner tonight. That seems to have become a Friday tradition with us. The weather is gorgeous and we love to hang out on the patio when that happens. Tonight is Corey’s last night at the restaurant and both Dan and I are very sad to see him leave. However we realize 14 years is a long time to be anywhere so we also understand. You know we had to be there tonight to say good bye, and hopefully it will be more of a see you soon.  Corey is such a great guy I am really going to miss him.  :-(

It is time for me to clean up the kitchen, figure out what I am going to wear tonight, and make myself presentable. Talk to you again tomorrow when I will be back with the tandoori tofu recipe. Happy Friday! I hope you have some fun planned for the weekend.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rainy Wednesday and NEAT

Thankfully the particularly rainy weather held off until Wednesday meaning that I was able to enjoy my birthday. Wasn’t it nice of Mother Nature to be good to me this year? I guess she was feeling sorry for me since I was turning 49. As you probably guessed I was not looking forward to this birthday because it means the big 50 is the next one up. I know that it is a little ridiculous to be worried about a birthday a year out but one year is a relatively short period in time. What can I say, I like to plan. LOL

Thank you for all the birthday wishes. It was very nice of you to take the time to wish me a happy birthday and I appreciate your taking the time to do that.

The weather on Wednesday was a little less than stellar shall we say. It rained off and on most of the day and there was a lot of rain. Being the weather wimp that I am the rain meant that today was an indoor day for me. However having my day inside meant that I did get quite a bit done at home and that is a very good thing since I have been behind on every one of my to-do items. By the end of the day I was feeling a little less out of control. Progress is good right? ;-)

There was nothing special to talk about the food on Wednesday. I had a green smoothie, green salad with berries and almonds, an orange and Brazil nuts, roasted red pepper salad, and split pea soup. With my schedule lately I have been sticking to very simple healthy food that can be quickly prepared.

Non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT):

I wanted to discuss this briefly for those that are new to the concept of NEAT. If I were going to put this into my own words I would say that it is the calories you burn when you aren’t trying to exercise. In essence what studies have shown is that thinner people burn more calories all day long. The reason for this is that they are more active and that is probably because activity is easier for them so they don’t avoid it. For those of you that have sedentary jobs/lives but want to burn more calories I have some ideas to share of things that either currently work or have worked in the past for me. If you aren’t active now don’t try to add all of these at once and overwhelming yourself:

At work:

• Instead of sending email walk to a coworkers office when you need to share something. The same thing goes for when your first urge is to pick up the phone and call a coworker.

• Take the stairs instead of the elevator. If you are only going up a few flights take the stairs. I am always amazed by the number of people that will take the elevator up one of two floors. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator is a great habit to get into.

• Use an out of the way bathroom at work. I used to pick one that was at least one flight up or even further away. This is one of those actions that become second nature after a while.

• Have a walking meeting instead of sitting around a conference room table. You will be surprised by how much most people like this one. I never had a coworker say no to this idea. Everyone likes to get some fresh air and loves the idea of burning a few calories during work.

• Go for a walk before lunch. Decide to go for a quick walk every day before lunch. By doing this you are developing a healthy habit and increasing your overall daily activity. If the weather isn’t conducive to walking use the hallway at work. If you really want to commit to this activity get people at work to go with you. Many people are more likely to keep a commit that they have made to someone one. If you are that person get a walking buddy.

• Instead of coffee break have a walking break. Even a quick 5 minute walk increases your calorie burn and boosts your immune system.

• If you have to talk on the phone use the opportunity to burn more calories. You can do this by standing up, walking around your office our using a dumbbell or exercise band you have stashed in your desk. I also liked to do seated V-crunches by pulling my knees to my chest while sitting in my chair. It helps to close your door otherwise your co-workers will wonder what you are up to. ;-)

• Park your car as far away from your office door as feasible, ride your bike to work or get off the bus a few stops early. While I can almost hear the collective groans on this but it won’t add much time to your travel time but it will increase your daily activity. When you add enough of these habits to your day it will have a noticeable impact. Try to think of it this way. When you burn just 100 calories more each day that is equivalent to 10.4 pounds lost in a year. We can all burn at least an additional 100 calories everyday without a Herculean effort.

At home:

• Do simple exercises during commercials when you are watching TV. I keep my exercise step in the family room and use it when I feel like I need more movement. Planks, crunches and push-ups are also simple to do during commercials. If you exercise during every commercial before you know it you have gotten much more movement in than you realize. Every opportunity to burn calories adds up. Remember the 100 calorie per day calculation.

• Store things in out of the way places where you have to go get them. The overflow pantry is on the third floor of my house and that means extra trips up and down the steps. To get more exercise I also only grab one thing at a time so that I need to make more trips up the steps. It is one of those little things I do to increase my daily activity.

• Walk around while you are on the phone. If you weigh 125 pounds and stand for 15 minutes versus sitting you will burn an additional 5 calories. The more you weigh the bigger the calorie difference. While it may look silly but I have also been known to do squats while on the phone. Though most of us sit to talk on the phone that isn’t the only option.

• While you are in the kitchen stirring pots and pans or waiting for things to evaporate/cook sneak in a little exercise. I like to do squats, rear leg lifts and dips. You can sneak in any number of exercises during the day this same way.

• Walk or ride your bike to run errands whenever possible. I am sure many of you have realized that I do this all the time. I love to walk to the grocery store and to the library. Carrying things home adds to the calorie burn of this activity. Not only is this better for you but it is also better for the environment too. *woo hoo*

• Fire your gardener and/or cleaning person and do those things yourself. Otherwise your gardener and cleaning person are going to be fit and healthy and you are going to be a lump. When you look at gardening and cleaning as another opportunity to get in some activity it takes on a different feel … it works for me. ;-) Though I will admit I do have my days when I consider a cleaning person and then I snap out of it. However if having help gets you to the gym more often than disregard this suggestion. Most of my friends with help aren’t using the extra time to work out more, though a few of them seem to be.

I hope this gives you some ideas for how to work in a little activity throughout your day. I think that most of us tend to do exactly the opposite and look for ways to decrease our activity (like carrying multiple items upstairs in a single trip or parking closer to our destination), but when you look for ways to get more activity into your day I think you will find that there are opportunities everywhere.

If you want to calculate the calorie benefit of these activities there is an activity calculator here that you might want to play around with.

Happy thoughts:

• It was good to get a few items crossed off my to-do list on Wednesday. I was starting to feel like I was doing nothing but treading water and that is never a good feeling. Standing still is not my style at all in case you hadn’t noticed.

• I am still glowing from my birthday. It was a really great day and I love that Dan took the day off to spend with me. In the past I would always try to take my birthday off and it was a nice treat to have my hubby with me all day.

• We are slowing moving our sleep schedule up and have shifted it by a couple hours. By Monday we will be back to the gym at 6am. While I will never be a morning person I like knowing that Dan will get a workout in before work. I don’t mind working out at home after he leaves for work but I want him to work exercise into his day and that is my goal now. BTW I still like my TRX if you are curious. ;-) I can’t wait for the rain to stop so that I can take it to the park and get some strength training in outside. Doesn’t that sound like fun? :-)

• My broken toe is vastly improved and I can now wear my running shoes again. It is nice to have the ability to get back to my long morning walks. I really missed those when I couldn’t wear supportive shoes.

Signing out:

Writing my post the next day is working out very well. It has been helpful to have extra time to contemplate what I am going to write. For those of you that also have a daily blog I recommend giving yourself more time to write.

I have a pot of Middle Eastern seasoned chickpea, tomato and spinach soup on the stove tonight for dinner. There is nothing like soup and salad for dinner. When the weather starts to get warmer I tend to naturally eat a lighter diet.

Tomorrow (Friday) I need to run my usual errands but I have already started the next post so that means you should expect to see something from me later in the day. I hope you are having a great week and have something fun planned for the weekend. We are expecting temperatures in the 80’s starting Saturday so I am hoping for a little outdoor fun. Let’s hope that my hubby doesn’t have to work again. If the weather holds up Saturday looks dry so that might be a good day for a picnic or a bike ride on the rail trail providing the Preakness traffic isn’t crazy.

Talk to you again tomorrow. I hope you have a happy and healthy evening.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Birthday Fun

I had a great birthday on Tuesday and enjoyed spending it with my sweetie. We had a fantastic day together running around and goofing off.

We slept in a little and took our time getting ready to leave the house. To hold us over until lunch we started with a small green smoothie (kale, frozen banana, walnuts, wheat germ, freshly ground flaxseeds, cinnamon, powdered ginger, water and a little stevia for Dan’s sweet tooth).

Before we headed out for some fun Dan gave me a few presents from him (not from the felines). Dan bought me some jewelry for my birthday and other things which included: 2 pair of earrings (period and citrine), a sapphire and blue topaz pendant, a necklace and my 7” Android tablet that he gave me last week. My friend Louis bought the latest generation of the Kindle because I don’t have enough electronic devices in my life. I made out like a bandit this year in case you didn't notice.

For lunch we headed downtown to the Milk and Honey Market for lunch. Doesn’t sound the least bit vegan does it? Don’t let the name fool you they had vegan options. We had no difficultly ordering vegan sandwiches. Steph had suggested the spicy tofu sandwich so we knew they had a least one vegan item on the menu and decided to give it a try.

Here is the interior of the place. The website shows the exterior if you are interested it is on Maryland Avenue at Read Street across from Kyro.

We had a couple of bottles of Pellegrino. Like usual we were splitting our food and ordered two sandwiches to try.

The first one had black bean hummus, guacamole, roasted peppers, and arugula on multigrain bread.

The second sandwich was spicy tofu, with arugula. I liked the flavor on the Mexican sandwich but preferred the texture on the tofu one. I think I would probably choose the tofu sandwich the next time but they were both good.

After we finished our quick bite we headed to pick up my birthday present from the fur children who bought me a Penguin. *happy dance* I have been giving hints about this left and right and thought for sure I wasn’t getting one because that Dan is quite the trickster. He kept telling me that I didn’t need one and I was convinced that I would have to buy it myself. However since I now have one you should expect to be seeing a lot of healthy fizzy drinks on the blog for a while, they will all be handmade, natural and low or no sugar of course. I am sure you know me well enough to realize that I am not buying sugary or artificially flavored syrups. ;-)

Next we stopped at our restaurant to find out who was working the dinner shift. Since Ian was there I headed into the kitchen to warn him that we were coming in because he likes advance notice. He didn’t seem to think that 3 hours was enough notice but he did forgive me.  Whew, dodged that bullet.  ;-)   However Ian didn’t have any tofu on hand so I offered to marinate some and bring it in to him to use in our dinner. When I got home I cut the tofu into 6 slabs and made a simple marinade of: juice from ½ lemon, 1 clove grated garlic, a little nutrition yeast, some oregano, black pepper, cayenne and powdered ginger plus a little water. Ian asked me to use a reasonably neutral marinade since he hadn’t decided what he was going to make. Give the short time the tofu was soaking I knew this combination will be fine.

When we got to the restaurant everyone seemed to know it was birthday. I usually get a lot of hugs but on Tuesday there were more than usual. It is nice to be so warmly received each time we come in especially since they see us so often.   I think they like having us around.  LOL

Fortunately Emily was working since I had my copy of “The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse” in my purse for her. Emily and I are similar so I know she will enjoy the book. I can’t wait to chat with her about it after she gets a chance to read it. Do you like to talk to friends about books that you read? Maybe we should do an on-line book club? Does anyone know if that sort of thing has been done and if it has did it work? If you have any suggestions on that I would love to hear them. BTW, I know I still owe you my review of that book and hope to have it up in a few days.

Since it is only one birthday once a year I thought I would start my dinner with little cocktail and asked Steph to surprise me with something. Are you starting to see the trend? ;-) She made me a prosecco cocktail that was infused with sage, had a splash of vodka and a touch of simple syrup. The aroma on that drink was excellent. I really liked the sage in this. You know that means there will be some sage showing up in things that I make with the Penguin right?

Ian made a nice vegan soup that was curried carrot with coconut milk. It was topped with cilantro and green onion and was very rich. I had a small cup and Dan had a bowl.

Our next dish was salad of grilled veggies that included the following: corn, tomato, asparagus, green onion, zucchini and baby arugula topped with crispy tortilla strips for crunch. Delicious! Honestly once I had the salad and soup I was pretty full but there was yet another dish.

The tofu was dressed with a ginger soy sauce and also contained snow peas, shitakes, onions and garlic. This was delicious but we were got full before we could finish it since Ian made us two plates. He always thinks we can eat more than we can. Dan was happy to have the leftovers for lunch on Wednesday. The tofu dish had the best flavor and the table next to us was ogling our tofu so we had to say we got the end of it since I knew Ian wouldn’t want everyone to BYOT (bringing their own tofu) to the restaurant.

Steph had made me a “special” dessert since it was my birthday. She marinated oranges in a tiny bit of simple syrup with cayenne and added a dash of HUM (a floral liquor). It isn’t in the picture but she brought us some apple bits and chocolate biscotti crumbs for texture. Slice almonds would have also been good but there weren’t any.

Since I was still in celebration mode I decided to end the meal with a double shot of decaf espresso with soy foam. Man did that taste good. I love the taste and smell of coffee but one of two a year is enough to satisfy my craving.  Can you tell I was in indulgence mode on Tuesday?

Overall it was a great birthday. We never got more than 4 miles from home, probably less, but that didn’t matter. I really can’t think of anything else I would have added to my day. Dan had a good time too and that always makes me happy.

Happy thoughts:

• What a good day I had! I am a very spoiled lady but I am not complaining. ;-) Dan and Louis both always go overboard for holidays and this one was no exception. I can’t decide what I am going to use the Penguin for first…maybe a healthy version of Orangina. So many options to choose from I don’t know where to start.

• I have been enjoying my 7” tablet (think small IPad) which Dan bought me to make it easier for me to stay connected around the house. It is in essence a big smart phone without the calling capability. It will be very useful when I get in the habit of carrying it around.

• It was fun to try out a new restaurant. We are lucky that everyone at the restaurant looks out for us and gives us suggestions for other places we might want to try for lunch. I would have never gone into that restaurant because the name wasn’t vegan friendly. The best part is that Dan can walk there from his office for lunch when he has time for a leisurely mid-day meal.

• Ian made us a delicious dinner on very short notice. We are very lucky to have him just around the corner. There are many days that having Ian has saved me when I haven’t planned. I guess this is another example of how spoiled I am…again I am not complaining. ;-)

• The day was predicted to rain all day and we only had a little intermittent rain which was a very nice surprise. Since the weather was mostly okay we took the opportunity to get in a little walk before and after lunch. We took some time to check out Mt. Vernon to see what other new businesses had cropped up. While we were there we also were looking at the architecture which both of us enjoy.

Signing Out:

It was much easier to have all day to write this post rather than to be rushing at the end of the day. I am definitely going to stay a day behind writing my blog posts. My intention is that having more time will result in better content at least that is my hope.

Do any of you have any experience with webinars? I want to look into what is involved in holding them and if you have any suggestions regarding which vendors to use (or to avoid) I would love to hear your thoughts.

I am very behind on everything in my life at the moment. If you have sent an email that I haven’t yet answered I apologize. I am hoping to have time tomorrow morning to respond to all my email. Please wish me luck as I am going to need it.

Talk to you again tomorrow. I hope you are having a fantastic week.
Related Posts with Thumbnails