Saturday Waffle: Squash Waffle!

Yay! It’s Saturday! For today’s waffle I decided to go with something a little autumn-like, a little pumpkin spice-like: The Squash Waffle!

I started with some frozen winter squash that I got from Hannaford (my second favorite supermarket after Trader Joe’s)…

Frozen Squash

I defrosted the squash in the microwave. It took about 5 minutes. In the meantime, I got my dry ingredients together…

SW Dry

  • Scant 1/4 cup of garbanzo bean flour
  • 2 scoops of Bodylogix Natural Whey Protein Powder in Snickerdoodle
  • 1/4 Teaspoon of baking powder

I am crazy with the baking powder. You can always use a little less, but I’m always afraid that my protein pancakes/waffles wont rise, but they always do!

Then I add the wet stuff…

SW Wet

  • Stevia – 1 packet
  • 1 and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 flax egg (1 tablespoon of flax meal + 3 tablespoons of water – let sit in fridge for 30 minutes to gel up)
  • 2 tablespoons of plain greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup of the defrosted winter squash

I ended up adding a few more shakes of cinnamon and about a tablespoon more of squash as I was blending the batter. I wanted it to taste really spicy.

As I waited for the batter to become a waffle in the waffle iron (I’m sure there’s a better way to say that) – OH – While I waited for my waffle to cook, I made a small fig shake…

Fig Smoothie

I had some figs that were starting to get too-too soft so I wanted to use them up today. I had a vanilla fig smoothie yesterday morning and it was incredible. Today, I am leaving out the protein powder that I used yesterday and I’m making more of a shake.

  • 3 figs
  • 1 tablespoon hemp seed
  • 1 scoop of MSM powder (my MSM comes with a tiny scoop)
  • 1/4 cup of plain greek yogurt
  • A couple of drops of vanilla extract
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • Ice
  • Unsweetened almond milk (till you reach the fill line)

Here is breakfast!

Squash Waffle and Fig Smoothie

I added some Greek yogurt mixed with cinnamon on top, along with Walden Farms Pancake Syrup (that’s not quite clean, but it’s a syrup with no sugar and no calories!).

To be honest, I wish I had oats to make oat flour for this recipe because the garbanzo bean flour gave it a savory taste, so I should have added even more cinnamon and stevia. Live and learn! Now you’ll know if you try this recipe – use more sweeteners if you use garbanzo bean flour in a sweet dish!

Enjoy!

Eclipse Mode…

The eclipse has passed, but I still managed to complete a couple of “rituals” that are supported by the energy of the eclipse. The first thing that I did was break out my crystals

Crystals
I took them outside right before the eclipse, notice the shadows…

…Hematite and petrified wood to be exact. Both of these crystals bring forth a calming energy. I really need that right now. I am doing a lot right now and I need to chill out about it. It’ll be wonderful.

Hematite is great for grounding and stability and the petrified wood is great for easing worries and bringing about good fortune in business ventures (yay!). OKAY – so, about the crystals. Yes, I believe that if I believe that they are bringing the energy that they are supposed to bring then they will bring that energy. The Law of Attraction. Manifesting. I believe in all of that. ANYWAY. That brings me to meditation

Breathe Deep.PNG

I did manage to have a short meditation during the eclipse. It felt amazing! I was able to concentrate in a way that I haven’t been able to in a long time. I used a great mantra as well…

True Love
My mantra…

About love…

I WAS the type of person who was too busy for love. I WAS more concerned with myself and my goals (…the next one, and the next one, and the next one…), than I was with getting deeply involved with someone. I have been very self-involved for the past TEN YEARS! In 2007, I ended a not-so-good relationship (no deets here, sorry). After that, I threw myself into my studies, work and the endless pursuit of knowledge. So far I have received four degrees (AS, BS, MA, MPS…) and countless certifications (I’m an Offender Workforce Development Specialist and I’m certified to teach preschool through third grade in NJ – I’ve done work in prisons and preschools the whole spectrum!).

Of course, I have dated in these 10 years. I’ve had a couple of several monthers here and there, but nothing long-long-term. I realized that I usually approach dates like job interviews (occupational hazard). Not that I am cold and questioning, not at all, I’m a warm and excited person naturally, but I do have that mental checklist. We can have a great time, but I know by the end of the date if you are going to “get the job”. A lot of guys haven’t! When I realize they aren’t getting the job, that’s when I turn cold.

I thought, perhaps, I should be a little less judgey-wudgey (my mom doesn’t call me “Frasier Crane” for nothing). Nah. Having standards is necessary in today’s world. I think I need to be…MYSELF! My self is fine, always has been. I just need to be more open to possibilities…

Speaking of which, Sage Smudging (nice segue)!

Sage

Here is a great article on how to smudge and what materials you need! I didn’t smudge today. I am actually saving it for this Saturday at 7:32 am, my Venus Return. That’s so close to being a literal “total eclipse of the heart”. Speaking of which (better segue)…

Sunday Meal Prep: Feeling Productive…

As the title says, yes, today was a very productive day. I did everything that was on my to-do list and even a little more. One of the most important things I did today was prepare my dinners for the week. Yes – meal prepping is key to making life a little easier.

Seriously. One of my favorite meal preppers, WorkWeekLunch, mentioned a few weeks ago that we have so many decisions to make during the day, having our food already prepared eliminates the need to make even more decisions. It’s true. Think about it…I know that if I am at work, and I haven’t made my meals yet, I will wonder “What do I have? What can I make?”. Sometimes the answer is “go get pizza” – which is not good, because I can tend to overdo things (know yourself!)…

So, I have been meal prepping for a fairly long time. A couple of years, at least. When you see the pictures I post of older preps you’ll see that I haven’t always made the cleanest, healthiest choices. Oh well. That’s what I felt like eating at the time and those were times when I was in full-on maintenance mode, when I was comfortable making a little dip into the world of carbs and sugars after dieting for a while. Here are some of my preps, I added an Instagram link for the food listing. I actually have a lot more preps on Instagram, but you really have to scroll down and it was pre-iPhone…

Meal Prep 6
I had just gone to Trader Joe’s
Meal Prep 3
Not too bad
Meal Prep 2
Buffet Style! 
Meal Prep 4
I jacked all of the recipes from Mind Over Munch in this one
Meal Prep 5
A soup and overnight oats phase
Meal Prep
Another buffet style prep! This one looks really appealing right now! 

Below are some recent ones. Since I work from home most of the week, I don’t have to prep all of my meals, just dinner on the days that I actually do have to go into the office.

Meal Prep Recent
Those are not potatoes – it is pureed cauliflower with a little bit of ricotta!
Meal Prep Recent 2
I am in love with frozen meatballs, obviously…

Here is the prep from today. I have a busy week, filled with some exciting stuff! Yay!

Meal Prep Recent - Today
Vegetarian Meal Prep

I added a little something extra to it already. There is not enough red or orange for my taste, so I added some Tomato and Onion Salad

I started by cutting the farmers market tomatoes my grandma gave me today. Seriously, grandmas are the best with the food gifting! I also cut up a little red onion, for flavor…

Tomato & Onion
I decided to do this when it got dark out (bad lighting)…

I seasoned the sliced tomatoes with garlic powder and 21 Seasoning Salute from Trader Joe’s…

Tomatoes 3
Wax paper on my cutting board, I have been doing this forever. It really helps with clean up!

Then I added a little apple cider vinegar, olive oil and more 21 seasoning salute to the jar, then added the seasoned tomatoes and I shook it up!

Tomatoes 2
Extras for me! (Chef’s treat!)

I didn’t measure, I just wanted enough to coat the tomatoes when I shook the jar!

That should be great for Monday and Tuesday! I’ll have to think of another red or orange for Wednesday and Thursday…

Easy stuff. A little preparation on Sunday, helps you through the entire week!

Enjoy!

 

 

Happy #NationalRelaxationDay!

Honestly, I had no idea it was National Relaxation Day until I saw all the hashtags popping up on Instagram this morning. What a great day for it too…It’s raining where I live (Hudson Valley, NY)…I have to go into the office tomorrow…It’s Tuesday…

I don’t know! This holiday should be every single day. Or, every night at least.

Since I didn’t know about this, I was too late to make an appointment to get a massage (bwah haha!) so I’ll have to settle for the next best thing: A relaxing magnesium mocktail…

This is what you’ll need:

Ingredients

  • 1 packet of Natural Calm
  • 1 packet of stevia
  • 2 Limes
  • Your favorite unsweetened sparking water

Magnesium has so many benefits – and most of us are lacking in this particular mineral. It helps with…

  • Digestive motility (I told you I’d mention this a lot, it’s important)
  • Calming & Sleeping – a natural sleep aid
  • Beauty – helps maintain collagen
  • Heart health – it’s up there with potassium and sodium, assisting in heartbeat and blood pressure regulation
  • Muscle soreness relief 
  • Migraine prevention (I’ll have an entire blog about this, soon)

So, back to the drink…

Stirring
Action shot!

Juice those limes and add the stevia packet. Stir to combine…

Fizzy

Add about 3/4 of the can of sparkling water. It’ll bubble up a lot, and it’ll bubble up even more once…

Bubbles

…you add the packet of Natural Calm! Stir gently and then add the rest of the seltzer…

Finished Product

NOM! YUM! My choice of sparkling water (Simply Balanced Tropical Cherry from Target) made this taste like a Cherry Lime Rickey, or that cherry lime drink from Sonic…

Okay, so now that we’ve had a drink, we can look at some relaxing pictures. I just added some relaxing words to these pictures I took in various places. Enjoy!

Breathe 2

Relax

Breathe.PNG

Enjoy

These Moments...

Yay!

Hasselback Eggplant!

I guess it’s another “Meat Free Monday”! This is a tweaked version of the recipe I see all of the time for Hasselback Eggplant Parmesan. I didn’t want to add bread crumbs because I am low-carb, but I still wanted some bulk. Enter, greens! Spinach and kale to be exact…

Greens

I just wanted to get them slightly wilted, but more importantly, I wanted to load them up with flavor. I added garlic powder, pink Himalayan salt (PHS) and fresh cracked black pepper. After I cooked them to my liking, I added my other filling ingredients…

Filling

So there is a scant tablespoon of parmesan cheese and two tablespoons of ricotta cheese, which I will mix with my cooked and seasoned greens. Then I had to prepare my eggplant…

Hasselbeck Cutting Trick

In order to get those groovy Hasselback slices, we have to make sure that we don’t slice the eggplant all the way through. The best tip I saw was to tape down chopsticks around the eggplant so the knife will stop at the chopstick’s level…

Hasselbeck Cut

It worked! Now, to season the eggplant…

Flavor Layers

I always listen to Rachael Ray’s tip – you must season every layer of food. Eggplant is very bland – you must not skip this step! I seasoned mine with garlic powder, a little PHS and some Italian seasoning. Now I add my next layer…

Provolone

Yummy Provolone cheese! I did the math before I even cut the eggplant – I knew I wanted nine Hasselback slices in each eggplant half, so that would be 18 cheese strips. So, six cuts in three slices of provolone (see, this is where the dweeb comes in). Gotta stuff these…

Cheese Stuff

You can lift the eggplant a little in order to season and stuff each slice. Do it gently so that you don’t break a slice off (I almost did, those three on the end are hanging on by a thread)! Now I add the greens and cheese mixture…

Stuffed

Ooh, baby! This looks great already! But, it needs to be cooked and since I refuse to turn the oven on in the summer, I used the crock pot…

Sauced Crock

I sauced the crock pot with a tiny can of tomato sauce that I seasoned with, once again, garlic powder, PHS and Italian seasoning. Then I put the stuffed eggplants in…

Crock Pot

Aww, don’t they look cute? I put just a splash of the sauce on top of the stuffed eggplant. I wanted it to be about greens and cheese, not tomato.

After two hours on high…

Cooked

YUM! This is what you get! I added some fresh spinach on the side, because I only had that little bit left.

It’s pretty easy to make – you just have to have a little patience when seasoning and stuffing each layer because they are pretty delicate.

Very healthy and delish! Enjoy!

Sending Some Love…

We’re in need of positivity today. I took some of my brightest pics and added more happiness to them. Feel free to share…

Just Love
Very simply…
Blossom & Grow
ALWAYS!
Listen to Your Heart
Trust yourself…
Shine Bright
Even in darkness…
Keep It Simple
Don’t worry…
Friday!
Something that always makes me happy! This picture reminded me of a Friday night…
The Little Things
Have to appreciate…

Saturday Morning ~ Zucchini Pancakes

As you might have guessed, I’m a big fan of the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I haven’t watched it much recently, mainly because some of the personalities I enjoyed have either left, or are doing projects I’m not fond of now. WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH ZUCCHINI PANCAKES? Answer: Everything…

I happened to fall asleep with the tv on the Food Network (I am a HUGE Chopped fan, and I’ll watch that no matter what!) and when I turned it on in the morning “Brunch at Bobby’s” was on. Usually, I’ll turn the channel if Bobby Flay is on. Not because I don’t like him, I do, but because he’s usually grilling (I don’t do that) or on one of his competition shows (not a fan of those). This time though, I was intrigued. He was making something interesting, something with zucchini, uh, pancakes with zucchini? Now, I’ve seen and heard of zucchini pancakes before. But I had usually seen them done latke style, savory. But that morning, Bobby made them sweet and delicious looking. The way he described them too, “…they taste like banana bread, well zucchini bread”, that got me. I usually don’t bake (I hate being precise in the kitchen), but around the holidays I do bake bread from scratch and my two specialties are Date-No-Nut Bread and Zucchini Bread. So, duh, of course anything you can make into a bread you can make into a pancake! I had to try these pancakes out, especially if they taste like my bread (he-he)…

Since I’m not a chef and I am trying to keep this low(-ish) carb and high protein – I took many, many liberties with this and used many, many shortcuts. I didn’t even make the special syrup  he made his with (although I should have, but I just used my last apricot yesterday). Here’s what I used:

Whole Ingredients

That’s pretty much it. Here it is in the measuring bowl:

Dry Ingredients
1/3 Cup Kodiak Cakes Mix, 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder, a few shakes of cinnamon and a 1/4 teaspoon of orange zest

I used the smallest zucchini I could find and I added a scoop of protein powder, a few shakes of cinnamon (the mix already had cinnamon and it smelled very cinnamony) and a little orange zest (the part I listened to Bobby Flay about). I added some yogurt for even more protein, and used almond milk as the mixing liquid:

Wet Ingredients
I used about a tablespoon of the yogurt and enough milk to make a batter. You’ll know that batter look when you see it!

And, that’s it! Mix, griddle and serve!

Zucchini Pancakes
Pretty plate…

Pretty easy! I served it with orange slices because “Waste Not, Want Not”. C’mon now, did you think I’d use an entire orange just for a 1/4 teaspoon of zest? Eat that thing up! And that, I did…

Almost Done
See the zucchini?

Yum! Tastes like Christmas…

Lazy Friday (?)

More like lazy days in general…

I’m supposed to be happy today. It’s Friday! I just haven’t been up for much lately. I have been trying to figure out why and here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

1) I am working from home more…A few months ago I got the option to go back to consultant status and work from home whenever I wanted. Boy, have I taken advantage of that! I only have to go in the office for the occasional meeting. While it’s pretty great, it’s kinda turned me into a shut-in. That’s because even though I’m home, I’m still on the clock. The emails, phone conferences and reports have not stopped just because I am not in the office. I still have to respond and actively participate because if I don’t, then am I really working? Hmm…I don’t want to have to answer that question.

So, I’m still at home, near a computer from 9-5. Why would I venture far?

Lighthouse
Random pic from my travels: Do you see the face in this building? Saugerties Lighthouse – Saugerties, NY

2) I have changed my lifestyle by way of food consumption…That’s a clever way to say I have been on a weight loss journey. Dieting, okay!

I was very happy with the way that I looked up until late August/early September of last year. It was then that I noticed I had put on about 15, 16 pounds. Did I do anything to take care of it at that point? Nope. In fact, I went on to gain 20 more pounds by the end of the year! So when January rolled around, it was clear that I had to make some kind of weight loss related resolution.

How did I gain so much weight? Well, last year, I went on a lot of trips. Trips that included me eating at a lot of restaurants. Going to a lot of wine tastings. Ordering a lot of cocktails (never underestimate how many calories alcoholic beverages add!). I took a lot of lunches out of the office. I picked up snacks at 7-11 and Quick Chek a lot. At one point I thought my veins pumped Burger King Chicken Nuggets, Trader Joe’s Macarons and whatever was in the latest Taco Bell Big Box. It was BAD.

So, this year I decided to take control and get back on track. It was actually kinda decided for me, now that I think about it. The main issue that I had was that I spent so much time in the office, so much time commuting, so little time eating real meals. WELL! Now I don’t have that excuse! After the initial sugar and fat detox (seriously, it takes about a month to get off of those “drugs”), it was very easy for me to get back into living a healthy lifestyle because I really enjoy cooking and I like using clean, nutritious, and sometimes odd, ingredients.

I’ve just been having such fun making meals for myself. No need to stop at a fast food place for dinner, I am already home, whippin’ up a huge, healthy taco salad (taco salads are my life). I go to the gym, that’s going “somewhere”, right?

Oh, and I’ve already lost the weight I put on (yay)! I just want to be a little more “tight”, “tighten”…

Teal Me
Tealin’ Myself: Yup, this is what I do when I’m bored.

3) I haven’t seen anything that has struck my fancy…SERIOUSLY. I belong on every event and ticket related mailing list, I have several event/ticket apps and I keep up with events on Facebook. Nothing has been interesting enough for me to go. I had plans to visit somewhere in March, I had my Amtrak ticket and everything. But, the day before, there was a major snowstorm! Okay, so I rescheduled my ticket. Then I rescheduled it again. And again. And again. I have literally (not figuratively) rescheduled my trip over 10 times.

Here is part of the actual email:

Amtrak Receipt.jpg
Yup, I’m dweeby enough to do this. I am rescheduling again soon!

I don’t know. Maybe I’ll go in September…

I’m hoping things pick up in the fall! I’m sure they will, there are a couple of events I am looking at and want to attend. For now, I’m just being dweeby…

 

Smoothie Supplements!

Smoothies are one of my favorite things. Seriously, I have been drinking them fairly regularly for years. I have gone though several blenders (blown out motors) and shaker cups (mold – from leaving them out in my car) over the years. I have tried several “diets” in my life, but the one thing that has remained constant is The Smoothie.

My smoothie taste has evolved over the years too. I went from just your basic fruit, ice and yogurt (delicious, but not that healthy) to pure fiber shakes (icky, but effective) to what I do now, which is a little bit of a blend of the two styles (accidental pun in there!).

Today, I’m not really going to show how I make my smoothies, talk about the protein powder I use (that deserves its own post) or give recipes. I’m just going to show some of the supplements I use to make my blends even more healthy.

Starting with my favorite, Hemp Seeds

SS - Hemp Hearts

I really like hemp seeds in my smoothies, for the health reasons I’ve listed above, but especially because of the last little thing I added there: they add such a nice, thick texture to smoothies. Use hemp hearts and cashew milk and you’ll feel like you are drinking a milkshake, seriously.

Another favorite – Chia Seeds

SS - Chia Seeds

I like chia seed for everything! I make chia eggs, chia pudding and even chia cheesecake pots. They gel up so nicely and add bulk and help bind food (all of which are reasons why they are great for digestive health).

While I rotate the use of all of the others, MSM is in every smoothie I make…

SS - MSM

MSM has no flavor. In fact, I used to just put a half-teaspoon in some juice in the morning and go. Now, it is in every smoothie. So many beauty related benefits, especially for hair, as it is supposed to help strengthen cells during the growth phase.

Here is a new favorite, Maca Powder

SS - Maca

I first found out about it when I was researching foods that would help in treating Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), something I am managing with weight regulation. Maca is great for helping regulate the hormones (if you know about PCOS you know how important that is) so, I ordered it immediately. And I love it! It tastes great – I am a fan of earthy tastes though, think about my beet post. It mixes so well with cocoa powder too. One of my favorite things to have mid-morning is a Hot Maca-Cocoa!

Here is an old favorite, something I’ve been using for a while: Flax Seed

SS - Flax

Flax seeds were one of the first things I heard about when I got into the “healthy food, health living” lifestyle, about 13 years ago. OMEGA-3s! That was all the rage back then. Heart health is still supremely important, but I don’t see too much out there about flax seeds anymore. Actually, no, I see them used a lot as an egg substitute in plant based diets. I am determined to bring them to the forefront again!

Now, something good AND tasty: Matcha Powder

SS - Matcha

I must admit, I originally bought this with lattes in mind. I knew about the benefits, but I really just wanted it hot and milky. However, a couple of weeks ago, I added it to a basic vanilla smoothie and WOW! It’s so good! Plus, a metabolism booster…and a mood booster…and an energy boost. So many benefits!

Last, but certainly not least, Spirulina!

SS - Spirulina

Yay! My new favorite thing! Not only does it have the benefits I’ve listed above, it’s great to use topically. The morning after I used it in a mask I looked in the mirror and thought “Either I got a good night’s sleep last night, or that mask helped my dark circles…” I didn’t get a good night’s sleep. I like to use spirulina in a fruity-slushy type of smoothie, goes better with the flavor.

These are the supplements I’m using right now, and I rotate some of them out and put others in. There will be updates when I do!

 

Taco Tomato Tuesday (I Won!)

I think I might have won Taco Tuesday. I know, it’s not a contest. But, if it was, I’d be taking home a blue ribbon right now!

So, I was inspired to make this from one of those videos on Facebook. I wish I could remember which site, because I’d totally shout them out (ETA: I remember! It from Delish!). In the video, they used regular sized tomatoes. I took one look and thought “One GIANT tomato!!!” So, I went to the farmers market and set out to find the biggest most beautiful tomato I could find…And I found a one pounder…

Big Tomato
This pic doesn’t do it justice!

Hey – It is huge, yes. However, it’s a tomato. It’s not a deep fried taco shell or a (not carb friendly) flour tortilla. It’s a tomato. A big , beautiful, locally grown tomato. I feel very good about eating the entire thing in one sitting. So, anywho…

I start by slicing this huge tomato. I don’t want to slice all the way down and I kind want to fan it out, like this:

Slices
That slice on the end missed the memo…

Then, I season that bad boy! Yes. The tomato itself must be well seasoned. I learned that from Rachael Ray – you have to season every part of the dish to get maximum flavor. I used Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning, Trader Joe’s Pink Himalayan Salt, garlic powder and fresh cracked black pepper.

Seasoning
“Flavor every layer…” – Rachael Ray

Then, I fry my ground turkey (sorry no pics). I use the same seasonings I use for the tomato.

I top the tomato with the fried ground turkey and top that with a few slices of pepperjack cheese.

Cheese
I LOVE cheese!

I place the loaded tomato in my toaster oven, set on broil. Really just to melt the cheese and in the meantime, I get my guacamole ready…

Guac
These are the small avocados. One was perfect for this recipe…

I make the easiest guac in the world. I just use an avocado (duh), lime juice and Trader Joe’s Chile Lime seasoning (can you guess what my favorite store is?). That’s it.

So, I didn’t take a picture of my tomato just out of the toaster oven. I was so excited to get all of my taco topping on it. Take a look…

The Taco Tomato
WOW! Delish!

This is easily THE MOST DELICIOUS THING I’VE EVER MADE!

Wow! I think I owe it all to the hearty, delicious, juicy, incredible tomato I got at the farmers market on Saturday. That made all the difference!

MAKE THIS! It’s so easy (it’s a taco, in a tomato) and so delicious. YUM!!!