Star-Cut Watermelon

Don’t have enough skill time to whip up a gorgeous red, white, and blue cake to take to a 4th of July barbecue?

I don’t either.

Thank gawwwd summertime allows for fruit to be a more than acceptable potluck dish. I may not be a master baker, but I can cut up fruit.

This year I was feeling a little extra festive and came to the conclusion that plain old squares of watermelon were just not fancy enough.

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Too bad I forgot to look for a legit star cookie cutter at the store. But I wasn’t going to let that deter me from forcing this melon to be snazzy.

Luckily cookie cutters are only kind of hard to cut and re-bend. Sorry, no Christmas tree shaped cookies this year.

Instead, we will have fucked up stars.

star-cutwatermeloncutter

It’s the thought that counts, right?

star-cutwatermelon2

Old Fashioned Pecan Bread

This is an oldie redone into what I had left in the pantry.

Blueberries out, pecans in.

It’s crazy how the same batter can taste so different featuring just one extra ingredient.

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My family of beach-goers chowed down on this for breakfast. Heated, served with cream cheese? The best.

pecanbread1Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat germ
  • 1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 cup pecans
  • 1/3 cup splenda or sugar substitute
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 2/3 cups low fat vanilla yogurt
  • 3 eggs (use 2 eggs, 1 egg white)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350°F and grease a bread pan with cooking spray.

Mix dry ingredients in a medium bowl: oats, flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, sugar, and wheat germ.

Beat together eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Gently stir in the dry ingredients.

Fold pecans into the batter and pour into the bread pan. Bake for about 50 minutes.

Let the bread cool before serving.

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Cheesy Orzo

Yum.

Making this post is reminding me how utterly delicious this dish is.

Tuna and I both looked at each other when we took the first bite with wide eyes – because we didn’t expect it to be as seriously good as it was!

It rich and light at the same time, which is perfect for a summer din din.

This recipe was inspired by Quick Dish.

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Ingredients:

  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 1 large shallot, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 small zucchinis, diced
  • 1 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups uncooked orzo
  • 2 tsp tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/2 lb shrimp
  • 2 tbsp freshly chopped chives
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat 2 tbsp of butter in a large skillet. Add the minced shallots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the zucchini to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and sauté for 6 minutes.

Add half of the tomatoes and sauté another minute.

In a separate pot, cook the orzo.

Once the orzo is cooked, add it to the skillet with the sautéed veggies.

Lastly, add the cheese, the other half of the tomatoes and remaining 2 tbsp of butter. Toss everything to combine.

Add chopped chives as garnish and serve!

zuc2mozzorzo1 mozzorzo5mozzorzo7Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

 

Juice Cleanse, Day 3

After Day 2, I knew I was in the clear. I knew I was going to be able to finish the juice cleanse.

The other problem with Ginger-Gate was that I made the C.A.B. juice for night 2 and 3 at the same time, which means I needed to remake it. That wouldn’t have been an issue except I used my last apple! Ah!

Luckily I was able to improvise with some applesauce I already had in the fridge. I checked the ingredients and saw that the only ingredient was organic apples, and cheered! I think my juicer was happy that it had less work to do.

applesaucebeetjuiceDay 3 was probably the biggest mental challenge for me. I kept comparing the mental challenge of the juice cleanse to that of running the half marathon. In both cases, I went from doubting myself to gritting my teeth and just getting through it. The only difference is that the half marathon took me around 2 1/2 hours and the juice cleanse was for 72.

As I went on, I starting learning the tricks of the trade and testing out ideas. A new approach was needed for Juice 4, the Spicy Lemonade.

The Spicy Lemonade is:

  • 1-2 lemons
  • a few squirts of raw agave nectar
  • a dash of cayenne pepper

Day 1 I drank the Spicy Lemonade as is and it was pretty darn sour and hard to get down. I knew I would dread juice 4 of the day if I didn’t come up with some kind of solution.

My big idea: to freeze it!

frozenspicylemonadeAnd it worked!

I microwaved it for about 45 seconds to make it a little softer, and it was just like a lemon Italian Ice. It still tasted like sour-ass cayenne, but I was so happy to be using a spoon and chewing that it made the experience that much more pleasurable.

Afternoon of Day 3: the stomach problems set in.

I can’t bring myself to discuss bodily functions in depth on here for fear of scarring you for life, so just warning you: you might want to do some research on what a cleanse does to your digestive system before you do it. Unlike me.

Let’s just say it like Tuna said it, I was, “supa’ blown.”

Somehow, I was able to muster the strength to:

1. Prep my food for Day 1 post cleanse.

2. Enter Whole Foods, purchase a few food items, and leave without breaking in to the hot bar and shoving cartons of crab dip into my purse.

wholefoodsday3wholefoodsday3..I passed the test.

It was finally time for my last “juice,” the Nut Milk.

The real BluePrint juice for this is some fancy cashew milk, but I was pretty content with the vanilla almond milk I bought for $1.99 and dumped some cinnamon into. I drank 1/3 of the carton each night. Day 1 I sipped it and thought it was kind of blah, but by Day 3 I was a whole new person with juice cleanse wisdom and remembering that I could use a microwave.

Microwave it for 2 minutes and you’ve got deliciousness.

vanillaalmondmilkGoing to bed the night of Day 3 was pretty much like going to bed on Christmas Eve.

But hey – I did it!

Juice Cleanse, Day 2

The night between Day 1 and Day 2 I had lots of really vivid dreams and I remembered them once I woke up! That’s definitely a surprising side effect from the cleanse.

Thank gawwwd I didn’t have a headache anymore, and I was not hungry. Both good things.

I hopped on the scale and was excited to see that I was down 3 lbs. This shit was actually working!

Weirdly enough, I had an easier time getting up in the morning than I usually do. I also felt like my mind was a bit sharper in the morning – even without coffee.

The day passed in two(ish) hour increments, spent waiting for the next time I could have my juice. Not because I was hungry, I just wanted to consume something.  Every hour and a half I would start to feel a little more drained, a little weaker. I could seriously tell that my body was soaking up the nutrients in the juice when I re-fueled, which is kind of a strange feeling and hard to describe!

Here’s the juice schedule I followed:

Juice 1: 9:30 am
Juice 2: 12:00 pm
Juice 3: 2:30 pm
Juice 4: 4:30 pm
Juice 5: 7:00 pm
Juice 6: 9:00 pm

I could not wait for Juice 2, my absolute favorite juice by far.

PAM1P.A.M. is a pretty simple juice: a ton of pineapple, and some apple and mint. It was extra cool because I got to use my mint from my mint plant that I harvested and have yet to kill (nbd, hell is freezing over).

PAM3

I haven’t really tried pineapple before, and I think the only time I’ve ever had pineapple juice was with a bunch of vodka in Hawaii. At least now I have one juice from the cleanse that I genuinely love and will keep making!

Everything continued smoothly the rest of the day until Ginger-Gate.

CAB4*Side note: I’m talking about ginger root – which I had to ask the grocery store worker for because I was wandering around looking for pink ginger like the kind that comes with sushi. Turns out that the pink ginger is made from artificial dye. Who knew.*

The first night I had C.A.B. I didn’t put any ginger in the jar because I ran out of room. Beets make a lot of juice.

CAB1It wasn’t the best thing in the world, but it was filling, and I liked the carrot juice in it.

CAB2The measurements I used were:

  • 1 apple
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 giant carrots
  • 3 beets (I did not juice the greens)

On Day 2, I prepped my C.A.B. juice to take to Tuna’s. Since I’ve never used ginger before, I didn’t know how much to put in the juice (and was apparently too lazy to google it for some reason).

So, I proceeded to juice about half of the amount shown in the picture above. *See evil.

The kitchen sure smelled like sushi, but I didn’t think much of it. I packed up my juice and headed on over to Tuna’s.

When I got to his place, I stuck a straw into my mason jar and took a huge gulp.

Omg.

Too. Much. Ginger.

That was the first time I considered stopping the juice cleanse. I needed to have something for dinner, and I was not about to drink that crap. I panicked.

Tuna suggested I water it down. Still foul. I tried to put some ice in it and stir it around. Nope.

All I could do was hold my nose, chug half of it, and try to keep it down. The latter was hard to do, but I did.

I brushed my teeth but was still hurtin’. It was time to resort to Tuna’s mint gum.

mintgum You’re not supposed to chew gum on a juice cleanse because it supposedly tricks your stomach into thinking it needs to digest something, but that’s okay. Funny how ginger is supposed to be soothing for your stomach, but it upset mine for the rest of the night.

Day 2 lesson learned: try the juice before you take it to go.

I have now sworn off ginger. For life.

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Drank Ate Wednesday!

Juice Cleanse, Day 1

I woke up the morning of Day 1 with a slight headache from the few glasses of red wine I had the night before (dumb idea, I know).

At least I took some initiative of what I ate and drank pre-cleanse. I did some research that recommended cutting back on coffee, chocolate, and avoiding grains in order to prep your body for the juice cleanse. I drank a smaller cup of coffee than usual on Friday, and didn’t have an coffee on Saturday. Saturday I ate healthily – a smoothie, eggs for dinner, etc.

The BluePrint cleanse I’m following consists of 6 juices a day that you drink about every two hours.

  • Green Juice
  • P.A.M.
  • Green Juice
  • Spicy Lemonade
  • C.A.B.
  • Nut Milk

I’ll outline the recipes for all of juices as the days progress!

I’m so glad I got to do the first day on a weekend day (Sunday) because I totally would not have survived through work

Even though I was excited to start the juice cleanse, I really wanted some FOOD. But once I drank my first Green Juice, my stomach did feel full.

greenjuice1Here’s what’s in the Green Juice:

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Since I was jacking the ingredients from BluePrint, I didn’t have the exact recipe, but the juice I ended up with was pretty good! Those measurements are:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 2-4 celery stalks
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 handful parsley
  • 1-2 small heads of romaine
  • 1-2 small heads of spinach
  • 6 large kale leaves
  • top off with filtered water

That makes approximately 16 oz. of juice, which is suggested amount for each of the juices in the cleanse. It’s perfect – regular sized mason jars are exactly 16 ounces!

I found it helpful to drink the juices slowwwwly [think 30-40 minutes], which made me feel less deprived and kept my stomach feeling okay. I also drank A LOT of herbal tea – about 1 in between each of the juices. After drinking so many cold juices, all I wanted was something warm!

greentea1By far, the worst thing about Day 1 was the bad headache I had all day. I’m pretty sure this was due to caffeine withdrawal, but I’m not positive. There was a lot of massaging my temples going on. I even refrained from watching Real Housewives because I absolutely could not deal with any raised voices or yelling. #juicecleanseproblems

In addition to the headache, I felt tired, had low energy, and kept sweating. It almost felt like I was sick! I was pretty miserable, but wasn’t hungry – even though I missed eating…and chewing.

Despite all of this, I was pleasantly surprised that I didn’t feel dizzy and did not feel the need to eat any solid food add-ins. I’ve been carrying around an avocado, banana, and some pecans just in case of emergency.

I literally googled: “What to do if lightheaded during juice cleanse?” before I started, because I was anemic in high school and fear fainting. THIS article warned me, “Light headedness to the point of fainting puts you at serious risk for injury.” Point taken. I’m taking a slow-releasing iron pill and am doing just fine so far.

Plus, during the juice cleanse, I’ve been listening to my body like whoa. I’m hyper-aware of everything I’m feeling because I want to make sure I stay safe!

As the afternoon continued, I started to feel a lot of doubt, wondering if this was the right thing to put my body through. I was poking around my bookshelf, and saw I had a book on juicing that I’ve never even looked at! It came at just the right time, because it helped me validate why I’m doing this.

2013-06-02 14.37.15I fell asleep thinking of pizza and Mexican food (legit images of the cheesy goodness in my head) and crossing my fingers that Day 2 would be easier.

Thai Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

This is one of those recipes that I could definitely see myself being scared of a year or two ago.

It involves making your own dressing! Omg. Scary.

I promise it isn’t that hard to make though: the secret ingredient is – peanut butter. And paired with quinoa? Gotta love that protein.

thaiquinoaslettucewraps1This recipe was inspired by Ambitious Kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • fresh lime juice, to taste
  • handful of green onion, chopped
  • garnish with chives, chopped
  • head of romaine lettuce

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp honey (sub with agave if vegan)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp water

Directions:

Cook quinoa and let cool.

Make the dressing: add peanut butter and honey to a medium microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Stir in soy sauce, vinegar, water, sesame oil, and olive oil. Stir until smooth.

Add the dressing to quinoa.

Mix red pepper, cabbage, onions, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice and garnish with chives. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

thaiquinoasalad1thaiquinoasalad2It looks good…but I didn’t feel like eatin’ it straight up.

Luckily, I remembered I had a bag of romaine lettuce in the fridge!

thaiquinoasalad6thaiquinoasalad4The best part? Lots of leftovers!

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Guac Deviled Eggs

Um. So. Delicious.

guac eggsmain1Tuna and I agree that these are going in the regular rotation.

The texture of the guac/yolks is perfect and the contrast with the cool eggs is super refreshing. The only thing I think I’ll add next time is a little bit of lime juice and a teensy bit of cilantro.

guaceggs4Another pro – they’re filling! And don’t forget: a good source of healthy fats and protein.

Ingredients:

  • 6 hard boiled eggs
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • pepper to season

Makes 12 deviled eggs. 

Recipe adapted from HERE. (The name – ha).

guac eggsThey were surprisingly great as an added filling to a bed of lettuce and a side of sweet corn.

I need to have a summer dinner party to go to soon so I can bring these.

Thanks as always to Jenn @ Peas and Crayons for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

Homemade Hummus

Here’s another money saver for ya. Once you buy the ingredients to make hummus the first time, most of them last for awhile.

It’s def a little more work, but I’m on the homemade trend now!

The past few weeks I’ve been scrutinizing my diet to make sure I’m getting everything I need, especially since I’ve been trying to work out on a more regular basis. I’m not a big fan of cooking meat, so I like bringing hummus with me to work for some extra protein to get me through the day.

Tuna helped me make this first batch, and we were quite proud of ourselves. 🙂

hummusblender

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This recipe is adapted from one found on the Whole Foods website.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (15 ounce) can no-salt-added garbanzo beans
  • 1 tbsp tahini (sesame paste)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp reduced-sodium tamari (soy sauce)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • a pinch of red pepper flakes

DIRECTIONS:

Rinse and drain garbanzo beans.

Put garlic in a blender and pulse to roughly chop.

Add garbanzo beans, tahini, water, lemon juice, tamari, cumin, a pinch of cayenne, and blend until smooth.

Scoop into a bowl, cover and chill for an hour or so.

Mix in parsley before serving.

2013-04-27 18.54.05Thanks as always to Jenn for hosting What I Ate Wednesday!

My First Attempt at Juicing

I bought a bunch of produce on Sunday so I would be all set to experiment with my new juicer. Weirdly enough, buying a ridiculous amount of produce turned out to be cheaper than my usual trip to the grocery store ( when I buy Clif bars, Puffins, etc).

There’s a lot of research out there about the benefits of juicing. This article explains some of the basics. I also learned some tips – like to only drink juice that’s made fresh (if it’s not pasteurized) because otherwise gross bacteria can grow in it. You know OCD me is making my juice for lunch in the morning then, not the night before.

Hungry For Change suggests juicing as a method of cleansing our bodies, and a good way to get the nutrients that we don’t get from everyday meals.

I’m not going to do a cleanse, nor do I think I ever will. I like to chew, so I think a cleanse would turn me evil. I’m currently juicing as a supplement to my diet. It will be interesting to see if I feel a lot better and/or have more energy when I start to juice more and more!

My first attempt at juicing last night:

2013-05-05 20.44.22I based my juice on one of the recipes from Bess Be Fit’s cleanse and it was pretty darn good! The green apple seems to cancel out the kale-ness a bit. I think this juice tastes fresher than the Naked’s Green Machine.

greenjuice

It is surprising how much produce it takes to make about a cup of juice. I don’t mind it though, because that means my body gets that much more nutrients in comparison to eating them! I don’t think I could down that many veggies in one sitting in non-juice form.

Tell me everything you know about juicing!

Have you tried it? What are your favorite juicing recipes?