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quinoa is the new turkey

At our first Christmas with my family, I made an amazing quinoa dish per my mom’s suggestion.  Believe it or not it was the recipe straight off the back of the box with maybe a couple of tweaks.  I was a bit hesitant at first because it just seemed too simple, but it ended up being so delicious and I’ve still been enjoying the leftovers ever since.  The simplicity is what makes this dish.

Quinoa Pilaf

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance
  • 1 small onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa according to package directions
  • Melt Earth Balance in a frying pan over medium high heat.
  • Add garlic, peppers and onion and saute until tender.
  • Combine cooked quinoa and sauteed veggies and mix well.
  • Add sliced almonds and mix thoroughly.
  • Season with sea salt and pepper and serve hot or chilled.

This is one example of how I try to stay healthy throughout the holidays.  I simply cannot depend solely on the food provided at family gatherings, even considering my grandma always provides several healthy options.  It has nothing to do with being overly paranoid about my food as some people may think; it has everything to do with feeling the best I can throughout the entire holiday season.  I still sampled a little bit of my mom’s mashed potatoes and my grandma’s vegetarian dressing, and I didn’t feel deprived at all.  But I filled my plate mostly with healthy foods that were still delicious!

Another reason this was a great dish for me is because quinoa is one of the few vegetarian complete proteins.  Quinoa is the new turkey:)  I’ve definitely learned that the only way to make sure I have plenty of food options that taste great but also make me feel great is to take my own.  The added bonus is that everyone in the family usually (key word:) ends up liking them too!  win win.

I’m off to enjoy the evening with my two favorite people.  “People” being used very loosely of course.

The husband and I are both off work tomorrow, so it’s like a double Friday night.  Love it when that happens!

See you this weekend for more recipes from the holidays and more talk about enjoying the holidays and still coming out of them feeling great!

Did you try any new dishes this holiday season?  What were the big hits with your family?

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silence is golden

Good morning!

As soon as our alarms started buzzing this morning, Jon and I headed out for an early morning 3 mile run.  It was a beautiful morning, and I was kicking myself for not having my camera.  Please let me know if you’ve mastered the art of carrying your DSLR while running ’cause it seems the best moments happen while out on the road:)

It was the perfect time of morning as the sunlight was just barely peeking up over the horizon and glinting off the tops of the fields.  Has anybody ever told you that Oklahoma has the prettiest sunrises and sunsets?  Well, we do.

Second only to this maybe.

Sunset during our time in Halong Bay, Vietnam

This morning was just one of those moments when I could hardly believe the beauty.  The perfect way to start the day.

There was a biting chill in the air this morning as well, and despite my hands going numb it felt quite refreshing.  Three cheers for fall!  Have I mentioned that it’s my favorite season?

After I got back and showered, I blended up a green smoothie.  Anytime I go more than a couple of days without one, I start to have withdrawals :)

2 handfuls of spinach, 1/2 banana, 1.25 cups almond milk, 1 tbsp chia seeds, 2 heaping tbsp Vega powder

I changed it up a bit this morning by swapping chocolate Vega powder in for Amazing Grass.  I was a little nervous adding 2 heaping tablespoons of powder because I have yet to use a protein powder that didn’t make my smoothie chalky tasting.  I can honestly say that this one did not!  It added 12 grams of protein, 2 servings of veggies (like it needed more veggies:), 2500 mg of omega 3, 6, 9, 1 billion probiotic cultures, only 100 calories, and a hint of chocolaty goodness! And by the way, Vega did not ask me to review their product; I’m raving out of pure love of the product:)

Technically, this powder is supposed to be added with just water for a quick and healthy shake on the go – I’ve been a little hesitant to try it, but I think I just might have to now!

On a different note, now that I’m working from home, I’m finding out some things about myself that I didn’t know before.

  • I really do like working at my desk better than on the couch
  • I have a lot more discipline than I ever realized
  • a good cup of iced coffee goes a long way with my mood and productivity
  • I really can control the urge to snack even though I’m 4 seconds away from chips and salsa at any point during the day
  • If/when I begin to feel lonely or isolated, I must book it to the coffee shop asap to avoid the downward spiral
  • I don’t feel lonely or isolated most of the time
  • I like to work in silence

I often feel the need to have music on in the house – especially when I’m there alone.  It really does motivate me, and it’s nice to have some noise going on because unfortunately Olive doesn’t provide much good conversation.

At least she’s cute.

But I’m realizing more and more how nice it is to just work in silence.  With the windows open and the sun shining in, it’s rather inspiring to just have quiet all around.  I think it also helps me to focus better, and my thoughts have the freedom to take me wherever they want:)  You should try it!  You just might be surprised how nice it is to just be quiet.

Do you find that you work better with music or in silence?  What about working out?  That’s a whole different topic, but do you prefer to workout with music or enjoy the silence?

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lots of veggies, overcoming fear and more exciting news!!

Exciting things going on here at the CSM house!  But before I get to that, let’s see some eats, shall we?

The last two days have actually been almost identical up until lunch.  If it’s not broken, don’t fix it, right?!

Green monsters for breakfast, of course.  For the last two days, I have actually managed to get up and get a workout in before work – shocking, I know.  I’m not going to lie, it hasn’t been pleasant or easy getting up at 4:45 am, but it has been so worth it.  To make it quick, I’ve been doing Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred.  I started off with level two, and it totally kicked my butt!  If you have never tried her workouts, you should definitely give them a go – they’re the only workout I’ve ever found that really pushes me with minimal equipment (just hand weights) and minimal time.  Sometimes I really want to punch her in the face, though.  If you’ve done it, you know what I’m sayin’.

Jon and I have also added in a 3 mile run the past two days after work as well.  I miss having really great workouts so much.  Ever since starting my new job last August and my hour commute, my workouts have really suffered.  But with the end of school fast approaching, I’m starting to get antsy to get back into it, and I figure I can push myself to do anything for four weeks.  So, double workouts it is!

Anyway, back to the point.  After a tough workout, I’ve been wanting nothing but green smoothies for breakfast…so refreshing and energizing!  You guys have all seen my smoothies a million times, though, so no pics today.

Lunch for the past two days has been salads!

salad numero uno = spring mix, corn, black beans, chick peas, chia seeds, chopped carrots, avocado and balsamic vinegar

salad numero dos = spring mix, corn, black beans, avocado, chia seeds, balsamic vinegar and…….egg.  Yes, egg.

I’ve made a tentative decision to start incorporating an occasional egg into my diet.  I’m honestly not sure how it’s going to go.  In my salad it was just fine, but when I tried to eat a plain boiled on yesterday for a snack, I got a little queasy.  Honestly, I’ve just been looking for new ways to incorporate protein into my diet.  I don’t believe I need a lot of protein, but I do try to have a protein source at most of my mini meals throughout the day.  Since switching to a mostly vegan diet, my complete protein sources for on-the-go meals and snacks (I pack most of my food everyday) have been based on nuts, nut butter and beans.  I just have been wishing for another option, and I feel like organic, free range eggs are a decent choice. Don’t worry, I’m not going to start eating many animal products anytime soon, but as long as the chickens are raised appropriately, I don’t have an ethical problem with eating eggs.

So, anyway, you may see the occasional egg on here in the future.  Just FYI:)  Even though it was a bit challenging to down the boiled egg on Tuesday, the healthy fat and protein sure held me over for a looong time. shrug.  But if they don’t become a bit more appetizing soon, I’ll def. be nixing them.

Onto dinner from last night.  As you will probably notice, I have been craving veggies.  So, I roasted some parsnips, brussels, sweet potatoes and tempeh.  With a side of natural ketchup for dipping:)

And tonight – same story.  Except I switched it up by having roasted kale chips, roasted squash and a slice of Ezekiel toast with Sabra spinach and artichoke hummus.  I sprinkled nutritional yeast, ground red pepper and garlic powder over the veggies.  Perfect.  It totally hit the spot.

I’m currently finishing off half a soy yogurt with a sprinkle of granola and frozen cherries for dessert!

Okay, now onto the exciting news.  I have officially ordered my materials through ACE to become a certified personal trainer!

I’m am stoked.  I’ve been considering it for months now, but fear has been holding me back.  Well, I’m not going to let fear rule my life anymore, so I’m going for it.  I felt so empowered last night as I clicked “submit order.”  I was watching a video of Kris Carr the other day.  She was being interviewed by Oprah, and she said “many people wait around for someone to give them permission to live.  Well, no one is going to give you that, you just have to go for it.”  I’ve been struggling with overcoming fear all my life, and especially lately I’ve been praying that God would give me the strength to overcome fear and not let it hold me back from doing what I’m passionate about.  I’ve decided I’m going to stop waiting around for that “permission” and just go after what I want.

So, I’ll definitely be spending a lot of time studying in the coming months, but I’m so excited about all that I’m going to learn and I’m looking forward to sharing some of it through CSM as well.

Do you find that fear sometimes holds you back from taking risks or trying something new?
If you’re vegan, what kinds of things do you eat for a quick protein fix?

Well, I’m off to bed, so I can meet back up with Jillian bright and early!  Hope you all are having a great week so far!

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creamy, coconutty goodness + a good reminder

Wow, guys.  I have been so MIA the past couple of days.  I have been swamped with work…essays seeming to multiply like bunnies.  I wake up thinking about work.  I go to bed thinking about work.  Eek.  I need to get a grip.

I do have to say I am stoked about some coming announcements that I’ll be making – I know it’s kind of mean to say that and not provide more info…I hope you’ll forgive me.  Sorry!  I just can’t contain myself!

Anyhow!  I’ve totally slacked on snapping food shots the last couple of days, but I have some weekend eats lined up, just waiting to get their chance in the spotlight.

Friday lunch was leftover vegan basic pasta sauce over whole wheat spaghetti.  Also added a special touch of chopped avocado on top!  I used to would have never thought of putting avocado on top of spaghetti sauce, but these days I more often ask myself “why not??” rather than “why?”

Snack on Friday:) Yogurt with sliced almonds and dried crans

Breakfast on Saturday.  The return of the Pumpkin Protein Waffles.  Round two = better than eva’

Next up: easy prep for mystery recipe – to be featured in a coming post, so stay tuned!

more prep…

simmerin’ away – Can we say “fix it and forget it?”  I think we can:)

On Saturday, Jon and I strolled downtown to check out the arts festival.  While the festival wasn’t exactly as festive as we had hoped, we dined at our most beloved downtown restaurant – Cafe Bella.  The atmosphere is quaint and cozy and the menu has a plethora of veggie/vegan options.  Here was my menu item of choice:

sub in hummus for cream cheese.  Obbbviously.  I die.

Next on the Saturday afternoon agenda was a trip to the health food store – Nature’s Supply.  They were hosting a customer appreciation sale, and I’ll tell ya what…I was feelin’ the love.  I picked up some Pirate’s Booty (obsessed), blue corn chips, organic whole wheat tortillas, tempeh, some dark chocolate and…wait for it…Artisana Cacao Bliss Raw Chocolate Coconut butter – whew!  That’s a mouthful!  And it was.

I had never tried coconut butter before, but of course had seen it all over the blog world.  I just couldn’t bring myself to fork over the big bucks for it; however, who could pass it up as part of the customer appreciate sale?  I mean, c’mon!  Of course, the second I was in the car and out of public view I had to pop it open and get a good taste.  The verdict?  Delish!  I can’t say I will be buying it again because it set us back a good $10 (on sale!), but that is no reflection on how tasty it was.  I’m lucky to splurge on a $5 jar of almond butter though, so I best not get ahead of myself.

Perfection on an Ezekiel Cinnamon Raisin english muffin.

and the following morning on a leftover Pumpkin Protein waffle.  Can’t. get. enough.

The rest of the weekend was spent working on projects, hugging and cuddling, and soaking up every last moment of the weekend.  Monday morning swept in much too soon.

We also watched a movie called Beyond Borders.  Have you guys seen it?  It was riveting.  It was also very thought provoking and impactful.  I adore movies that make me think outside the bubble that I live in.  When we lived in Thailand, I was confronted every day with the reality that many people don’t have everything, such as materials possessions, food, shelter etc.,  that I’ve been blessed with.  Since we moved back to the States, however, I’ve found it’s easy to forget.  I like watching movies that deliver prespective right to my front door. This movie really made me think about all that I have to be thankful for.  It also made me really evaluate the things that I really don’t need.  More on that to come in the future.

What is your favorite thing you did and your favorite thing you ate over the weekend?

Do you find it hard sometimes to keep perspective in this material driven world that we live in? What kinds of things do you do to keep yourself in check?

I hope you have had a great start to the week.  Here we go again, ya’ll!

G’night.

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Pumpkin Protein Waffles

Happy Saturday blog friends! How is the weekend going so far?  Mine is going way too fast.  Today, Jon and I went to OKC so I could go to a baby shower for my friend.  He dropped me off and went to hang out at Barnes and Noble, and I got to hang out with my girlfriends from college!  It was so nice to see them…it had been way too long.

Since I didn’t get a post up yesterday, I want to catch up by highlighting a couple of meals from the last 2 days.

First up is this:

I finally got my Jay Robb!  I’ve been wanting to try this protein powder for so long, and it finally came in the mail.  The morning after I got it, I decided to try it in my green monster.  That was one of the main reasons why I wanted to order it.  So, into the blender went:

1 cup soymilk
2 big handfuls of spinach
1/2 a banana
chia seeds
2 tbsp Jay Robb

Okay, I have to admit that I didn’t love Jay Robb.  I know, I know. It sounds crazy, but I really didn’t like it much.

Pros
24 grams of protein
short ingredient list- whole grain sprouted brown rice protein, natural flavor, stevia
eco-friendly packaging

Cons
a bit chalky
expensive if you have to order it online
flavor seems off

I just did not like the way this protein powder tasted.  I very rarely sweeten things these days, so I think that may have something to do with it.  If you are a person who really likes stevia or uses it a lot, you may like the taste of Jay Robb much better.  I’m not much of a fan, though.  I was a very sad girl, missing my usual green monster all the way to work.

Now, let’s move on from to the more positive side of things.  I vowed to never use this protein powder in my morning smoothie again, BUT that doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to use it in other things.  And with that I present to you my crazy good breakfast from this morning…

Check out the thickness!

Pumpkin Protein Waffles

1 cup oats
1/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
1 cup soy milk
1 tsp baking powder
1 heaping tablespoon of Jay Robb

adapted from original recipe from onefitfoodie.com

I threw all the ingredients into the blender and switched it on for about a minute.  Then,  I poured it into the waffle maker and let it cook for the normal amount of time (until the light went off). The batter was so thick I had to scrape it out of the blender with a spatula.  I wondered how the thickness would affect the final product, but it just made it thick and hearty!  The pumpkin flavor was subtle and it mixed so well with the almond butter and banana.  Also, I didn’t miss syrup at all!  The texture of the banana was enough to counter any dryness.  Basically, this was just a warm, thick, soft plate of heaven!   I topped mine with almond butter and sliced banana, but there are endless possibilities!  It was so, so good!  And it held me over for a good four hours or so.  You’ve got to try this recipe.  It will definitely be a good way to still use the Jay Robb because I couldn’t even taste it in the waffles, but it added some much needed protein.

And I’ll leave you with a picture of dinner tonight from Pei Wei.  Pei Wei is one of my favorite restaurants to eat out at.  It’s pretty clean if you choose the right thing, and it’s so delicious!  I ordered the Spicy Korean with vegetables and tofu and brown rice.

I ate about half of this and brought the rest home for leftovers.  The only negative about this meal is the high sodium content, but it’s certainly worth it on occasion!!  Otherwise, the nutrition stats are pretty good.

I hope everyone has a wonderful night!  Until tomorrow…

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