Monday, January 9, 2017

Health & Wellness Vol. I

I sat down to meal plan today, and about 3 minutes in, I put everything down and went to Instagram to scroll because I was SUPER overwhelmed.  I'll explain.

I have decided in the last week, to ensure I eat a vegetarian, plant-based meal for lunch each day during the week, in a general effort to continue my health journey. I LOVED the documentary on Netflix Forks Over Knives, and bought their cookbook and inaugural magazine in the past week. When I started reading the magazine today, I was interested to see some amazing, yet terrifying statistics regarding cancer and heart disease and efforts to prevent certain types of cancers. Then it started getting overwhelming. I know we should be limiting our red meat intake, as well as processed meats such as sausage, ham, and of course bacon- ok, got it. 50g of that kind of meat increased colorectal cancer by 18%. Sweet Jesus.  OK, I'll limit bacon to Saturday morning breakfasts, eat Turkey sandwiches, and limit the Italian sausage to bi-monthly.

Next up? OILS. The magazine went on to say how olive oils, coconut oil, and other oils are so processed, everything of value has been stripped, leaving them a calorie dense food, pretty much guaranteeing you to gain weight. Hmm, ok. So at this time I am not attempting a plant-based diet, but that definitely is not good. I sautè my omelette vegetables for breakfast in olive oil. I roast my vegetables in olive oil. I cook EVERYTHING in olive oil. Now what?!?

This was really conflicting information- I have tried Weight Watchers in the past, as well as LA Weightloss, both of which claim oil as a healthy fat, reminding you to have a tsp a day outside of what is in foods naturally or from cooking. Now it's harmful and could be responsible for potential gains?

I'm so in over my head. Every where I look (read,) there is conflicting information and I'm so frustrated. I'm trying to do the right thing- eat as healthy as I can, yet what one nutritionist is telling you is ok, another is telling you is harmful. WTF. So, after eating a processed lemon biscotti bar and drinking a cup of Peach Cobbler tea, I thought rationally about this and decided to continue as I have been- just doing my best to ensure my health and wellbeing. Trying new recipes, trying to cut out all the bad and incorporate more of the good. Take it one day, one meal at a time.

I am taking a page from Franish and I will be sharing my weekly meal plan and workout plan with you each week- this will keep me accountable, and if you're like me, you like seeing what other people are eating and doing to stay healthy!

Meals-Plan

Breakfasts- rotate out 2 eggs over easy with Dave's Killer Bread, turkey bacon, and grape tomatoes, oatmeal with apples, raisins, and pecans, Siggy vanilla yogurt with fruit, or egg whites with sautéed veggies. I have decided 2 days a week to have a cup of English Breakfast tea, and 3 days a week to have coffee.  Coffee I only add half & half, tea I add a splash of whole milk.


Lunches- my favorite thing to make for lunches is hearty salads. It's a quick way to get vegetables in, and they are SO versatile! My absolute favorite is a Zoe's copy cat Greek Salad, but honestly most days I heat up leftovers from dinner the night before and throw it over a bed of mixed greens, peppers, onion, tomato, and assorted veggies.  I am interested in throwing in a few different vegetables that I don't always use- like beefing up the salads with purple cabbage, snow peas, and shredded carrots. 


Dinners- We did stop our boxed meals, so I am back to meal planning, hence my beginning rant. Meals planned for this week:

-Sheet Pan Chicken & Roasted Potatoes (Cooking Light Top Rated Recipes)
-Crock Pot Meat Sauce over Spaghetti Squash (my recipe)
-Remaining Plated Meal (Chicken and Roasted Tomato Caesar Salad)
-Leftovers
-Out

Fitness-  I started up playing tennis again, which is fitness that doesn't feel like fitness because it's fun.  I like to spice up my fitness routine for boredom sake as well as not becoming too complacent and doing the same workout over and over. Fitness plan this week:

-Tennis, 90 mins, 2 Days
-At home walking/HIIT DVD, 45 mins, 2 days
-Yoga 1-2 days, depending on class or doing it at home thru Cody



Wellness- I NEED to do better with getting my water in. It's literally all I drink during the day besides my cup of coffee in the morning and my cup of tea after lunch, but I am not getting enough it. This week I will start with 64oz, and go from there.


For the past few months, I start my day with a cup of warm lemon water- there are a plethora of benefits to this, but mainly I like that it cuts down on bloat, gets a cup of water in, and kind of eases me into the day.

I will also be concentrating on getting to bed earlier- I stay up WAY too late and then pay for it the next day.

That's my plan this week- what about you? Any new recipes or workouts I need to try?

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

BoxyCharm: October (I Think)


Father's Day and Christmas are our busy season, and I pretty much lose myself for a few weeks. So when I say I think this is October's box, I honestly don't know. I may go do some research on the Google to rectify this, but do you care if it's the wrong month?

BoxyCharm has quickly become my favorite makeup subscription. Whereas ipsy is sample sizes, BoxyCharm are full size products. Coming in at $21, it's twice the price of ipsy, but by far a better value. This box's retail value was $127!

Now don't get me wrong- I don't use all the products all the time, so it's never really retail value, but it is definitely worth the $21. I have added a few regular products to my daily use and my makeup routine that I have only found thru BoxyCharm. First and foremost, Luxie Brushes.


I received my first Luxie brush about a year ago in a subscription box, and it's literally my favorite brush of every kind of brush. My first brush was the Luxie 205 Tapered Blending Eye Brush, which has revolutionized my eye makeup game. It's that great of a brush. Now maybe I love it so much because I equate it with upping my skills, or maybe I just love it because it's pearly pink, rose gold, and extremely soft. Add the fact that it's synthetic and thus vegan and cruelty-free, I'm addicted to their brushes. Real Techniques and Morphe are also super popular brushes- I've used Real Techniques, but not long enough to form an opinion (maybe at a later time.)

I bought this set at Ulta purely for the highlighter fan brush and was very much disappointed. Then again, give me some more time to form a more informed opinion.



All that to say, I was pleasantly surprised to see a 3 pack of blending brushes in October's box. (I have since confirmed this really is October's box FYI.) This set of 3 brushes retails for $36, $12/brush, which is pretty low for eyeshadow brushes of quality. There's a pop up on their site when you leave the window open for a bit for 20% off your first order which is a great deal if you'd like to try them out.

Back to the matter at hand...the brush set. I have not used the bottom, longer, thinner brush as much as the other two due to lack of control. The shorter, stubbier brushes allow you to completely control the shadow you're blending or applying, whereas the longer, thin brush is a bit more loosey goosey, for lack of better comparison.

Enough about the brushes.



Up next, hair care: Briogeo Rosarco, blow dry perfection and heat protectant. Ignore the large tub in the top left, that came September in my PopSugar box. I had planned on doing a true review of the product after seeing it posted about quite frequently around beauty blogs recently. I still may, even if it's just to contradict all the "omg, I LOVE it," "this is amazinggggg" and "so goooood"'s out there.



I digress... the heat protectant creme. I would rate is a 3 out of 5 stars. It has a pleasant smell, a runny formula, but is formulated without paragons, sulfates, and phthalates. Briogeo claims it protects your hair up to temperature of 425, smooths hair, tames frizz, and enhances shine and softness.  Ehh, that's a stretch. I will say it cuts blow dry time by HALF. So those of you with super thick hair who are tired of the time it takes to dry your tresses, use this. Honestly, other than that, I wasn't impressed. I'll finish it, but I won't purchase it again.

Lipstick. I love lipsticks, and this is a gorgeous hue. It's ultra matte, and promises to last 12 hours and not transfer to drinking glass or significant others. Um, sign me up. I wore it this past weekend to a family event- I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to try it out- eating, drinking, smooching, and it would be a few hours.


First off, I LOVE the color. Other than that, it wasn't great. It was sticky the entire time and I detest sticky lip products. I did use a BareMinerals lip liner first, and may have had some lingering chapstick, maybe this is why? It transferred to my water bottle too, even hours after applying. I will give this another go without lip liner and chapstick though because I just love the color. It is definitely more cranberry in color than it appears in the tube, shown here Essie Sable Collar:


On to the palette. Full disclosure- I cannot find it. I must have given it away, because I searched everywhere and cannot locate it! If I gave it to you, let me know how it is? I hope I did, because honestly with the number of palettes I have, I did not want to open it just to try.

So that's it for October's box- what did you think?

If you'd like to sign up for BoxyCharm, you can do that here.




Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Butternut and Brussels Sprout Risotto



We've been running our Etsy store now for over a year, and have determined our busy seasons to be Father's Day and of course, Christmas. During those times, it is sheer insanity around here- 16 hour days, 7 days a week, and very limited time or energy for meals. 

When we were first hit with volume Christmas 2015, we were not expecting it, and did what we had to do to survive. This meant eating out. A LOT. We both put on about 15-20 pounds due to the stress and the horrible habits we were adapting. Some days I am absolutely embarrassed to say we were eating out multiple meals- and we definitely felt the effects of it. It was actually counterproductive- what we were eating for convenience was actually slowing us down. You are what you eat, right? Well, we felt like garbage. 

Father's Day 2016 we were slightly more prepared. We signed up for Blue Apron and Hello Fresh, selecting 3 meals a week for 2 people. Blue Apron is $60/week and Hello Fresh is $70/week. Now I admit, this is a little steep in price, but compared to the alternatives, within reason for us. It averages $20-23/meal for the 2 of us, which is WAY better than what we usually spend on meals, and healthier than what we would be purchasing out at that price point.  So when we combined convenience and health concerns, we decided it works for us during the busy seasons.  

I will be sharing some of my favorite recipes going forward from my box subscriptions, and do my best to convert some of the ingredients so you can try them as well.  



INGREDIENTS (for 2 People:)

8 oz. Brussels Sprouts
8 oz. Butternut Squash
1 Veggie Stock Concentrate (Buy here)
1 Yellow Onion (medium to large)
2 Cloves Garlic
1 Lemon
2 oz. Pancetta
3/4 cup Arborio Rice
1 oz. Pepitas
1 Tbsp Honey
1/4 cup Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Butter

DIRECTIONS

1.) Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

2.) Halve and trim Brussels sprouts through stem. Toss squash and sprouts on a baking sheet with 1 TBSP olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper. Roast until browned and tender, about 25 minutes. Toss halfway through. 

3.) Bring stock concentrate and 4 cups water to a boil in a small pot, then reduce heat to low. 

4.) Halve, peel, and finely dice onion. Mince garlic. Zest then halve lemon



5.) Add half the pancetta (more for snacking!) to a medium pot over medium-high heat. Cook until crisp, about 4 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add onion to same pot and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Cook until softened, 2-3 minutes. Add rice and cook until translucent, 1-2 minutes. 



6.) Add garlic to pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat under pot to medium and add stock to pot 1⁄4 cup at a time. Stir after each addition and allow rice to absorb stock before adding more. 

7.) While risotto cooks, add pepitas to a small pan over medium-high heat. Toast until fragrant, 2-3 minutes (be careful—they might pop). Add honey, 4 TBSP water, and a pinch of salt to pan. Stir to dissolve honey. Cook until liquid evaporates and pepitas are coated and sticky, 3-4 minutes. Remove to parchment-lined plate and let cool. 

8.) When rice is al dente, squeeze in juice of half the lemon. Stir in the squash, Brussels sprouts, half the Parmesan cheese, and 1⁄2 TBSP butter. Season with salt and pepper. Plate risotto and sprinkle with honey pepitas, lemon zest, pancetta, and remaining cheese

---

This was the first time I've made risotto the real way, gradually adding the stock to the rice- it is quite labor intensive! It's needy, and definitely something you want to put the effort in to. It is worth it, but you can't say I didn't warn you. This was unusual for a Hello Fresh meal, they are usually a 20-30 minute easy sheet pan dinner- this was quite out of character, but I enjoyed it!

Finish off with a cup of hot tea on the side and you have the perfect winter meal!

*Note: I am in the process of finding a Recipe Card widget for Blogger to make it easier to print out recipes-- anyone have any advice, please let me know!*

I paid full price for this box and all opinions are my own. 

If you'd like to try Hello Fresh, click here for $40 off your first box!


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Crockpot Tex-Mex Quinoa


Most people hear quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) and are terrified. I once was too, so no fear! Quinoa is a seed, not to be considered a whole grain, even though it is usually prepared as a whole grain. Quinoa is a magical and powerful little seed, providing 9 essential amino acids, making it a complete protein. Quinoa is gluten-free, cholesterol free, kosher for Passover, and almost always organic. It's similar to other whole grains such as rice, in that it is definitely very versatile. You can eat it plain with some olive oil, sea salt, and lemon juice, jazz it up with cheddar and broccoli, or add lots of colorful veggies like in this recipe!

I found this recipe on Pinterest while looking for 21 Day Fix recipes, and could not wait to make it. I am nearing the end of the 21 Day Fix- CANNOT WAIT FOR IT TO BE OVER- but will continue to make this. It makes an excellent vegetarian main course, a tasty side dish, or the perfect filling for burritos!


Crockpot Tex-Mex Quinoa
Source: Chelsea's Messy Apron

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
1 can (15 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 can corn (or 1 1/2 cup frozen)
1 cup sweet peppers, diced or chopped
1 poblano pepper, diced
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups chicken stock (or vegetable stock or water)
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Optional Toppings: cilantro, cheddar cheese, sour cream (or 21 DF-friendly Greek yogurt,) parsley, hot sauce, etc.

Directions:

  1. Rinse the quinoa well- this is VERY important!
  2. Place the rinsed quinoa, black beans, diced tomatoes and corn into the crockpot
  3. Chop the sweet peppers and the poblano pepper, removing the seeds if desired and add to the crockpot with the chopped onion and minced garlic.
  4. Add spices and chicken stock, stirring together.
  5. Cover and cook on high 3-4 hours. The liquid will begin evaporating.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, stir in fresh lime juice and serve with your choice of toppings

 


Is that not the most colorful food you've ever seen? And SO full of flavor from all those beautiful veggies!

I did use chicken stock as I had it on hand and sitting unused in the fridge, but feel free to keep it vegetarian with vegetable stock or water.

I grilled some chicken breast and made a bowl out of dinner, topping it with cheddar cheese, Greek yogurt, parsley, and sriracha- all 21 Day Fix Approved! I measured this out in the yellow container (1/2 cup) and counted it only as a yellow.


This makes a MASSIVE amount. It's just my husband and I, and we've had this for 3 meals now plus lunches, and there's still two glass Pyrex containers left. Have any of you frozen quinoa before? I may need to try it, because as delicious as it is, I'm quinoa-ed out.

What are some of your favorite quinoa recipes?

Friday, February 27, 2015

Banana Crumb Muffins


I always buy too many bananas, Am I alone? I should say, I can't eat the bananas fast enough before the dreaded brown spot(s) appear and they're ruined. I like my bananas yellow, even slightly green, with NO SPOTS. I have been craving banana muffins for awhile now, and was waiting for the opportunity to arise in the form of multiple bad bananas. I had 2. 

Unfortunately the recipe called for 3. But here's the cool thing...I found the recipe on allrecipes.com, which lets you adjust your serving size! So, I manipulated the serving size until the ingredients called for 2 bananas.

Growing up my mom made banana muffins with a glaze, and no offense to her, but these are better. These muffins are absolutely delicious. I cannot believe I only ate 2 for breakfast. Pinky swear.


Banana Crumb Muffins
Adapted from here
Servings: 10 Muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup butter, melted
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter

Directions

1.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease 10 muffin cups, or line with muffin papers.
2.
In a large bowl, mix together 1 1/2 cups flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, beat together bananas, sugar, vanilla, egg and melted butter. Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups.
3.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and cinnamon. Cut in 1 tablespoon butter until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Sprinkle topping over muffins.
4.
Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of a muffin comes out clean.






The recipe made 7 muffins with 2 bananas, I plan on freezing a few for quick breakfasts. Are you a banana muffin fan?


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Winterizing Your Hands and Nails


I feel bad complaining about cold weather and what it does to my hands and nails, living in Virginia, where bitter cold is 30 degrees. I apologize for any complaining I do of cold to my good friends in Wisconsin and Canada, where it gets double digits below zero. Cray. Cray.

Now that I have my apology out of the way, let's talk about taking care of your hands and nails during the winter months.

I don't know about you, but my hands turn into sand paper when it's cold out, and left unattended can split and bleed. The last few years I've become more diligent in my hand care, and would like to share some of my tips with you to keep your hands and nails healthy and moisturized, as well as a few products I swear by.
  1. Apply lotion after every time you wash your hands. Keep a bottle of lotion at the sink so you won't forget. Soap can strip essential oils from your hands, severely drying them out. You could use this as a great excuse to get a cute matching soap/lotion set in a basket- I did see some pretty and very nicely smelling ones at TJMaxx this weekend. This is a favorite of mine, J.R.Watkins and is available at grocery stores and Target:


  2. Wear rubber gloves while doing dishes. Another tip would be to apply lotion right before putting the gloves on- the heat from the warm water will help your skin absorb the moisturizer and give your skin a salon-like treatment. Oh, and it'll protect your manicure from chipping.
  3. Be careful using nail polish remover. Try to use an acetone free one like Julep's Clean Slate Remover  or Zoya's Remove+ , neither of which will dry out your nails or cuticles. There are times you need acetone remover for glitters or gels, but be careful to keep it away from your cuticles and skin.

  4. When going outside, be sure to apply spf lotion on your hands. Remember, your hands show age very quickly, even as early as your mid-20s.  UV Rays can be the biggest and baddest reason for aging of your skin and brown spots.  And DEFINITELY apply spf lotion every time you go for a gel mani under a UV lamp!


  5. Wear gloves. You can pick up cheap gloves under $5 at Target, Five Below, Walmart, etc. But everytime you go out in cold temperatures throw gloves on. Hey, in the very least you could prevent some germs!
  6. Establish a hand regiment before going to bed. Apply a thick cream, cuticle treatment and a pair of cotton gloves. Wear the gloves overnight, or as long as you can stand it- the heat from your hands will act like a hot oil treatment. Trust me, you'll be amazed how your hands feel in the morning. I picked these gloves up at TJMaxx for about $3-4.


  7. Nail splitting can be a sign of dehydration. Be sure to drink more fluids and use a nail oil designed to penetrate the nail plate, containing Vitamin E oil and Jojoba. Apply a good cuticle cream regularly, I recommend Lemony Flutter by lush. Stay strong my friends, it can take up to 6 months for healthier nails to grow in. Don't be fooled by certain products promising results in days.


  8. An at-home treatment which is highly effective is mixing sweet almond oil with coarse sea salt, and rubbing into nails and cuticles. This will help strengthen weak/broken nails as well as nourish dry and flaky cuticles.
I had this post completed when I received my PopSugar Must Have Box for January, but I had to add on this wonder product I received in the box. 


This stuff is amazing. Like run to Sephora or online shop NOW. First Aid Beauty offers some other products I want to look into, but I've been using this daily since I opened my box this weekend. It has a slight Vick's smell to it, but it's not offensive, but rather a clean smell. The consistency is a soft, but thick cream and I highly recommend it for at least #6 above, your night hand/nail regiment. It's a little steep at $30 for a 6oz jar, but that just means you need to join PopSugar- cause the box is $40/month and this was $30 of it. I WILL be replacing this when it runs out. THAT GOOD.

Do you have any tips that you recommend for winterizing your hands and nails?

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta


I shared this picture on instagram this past summer, and never followed thru with the recipe. Shame on me. But will you forgive me? Make this and get back to me.



It does require quite a lot of basil, I had a huge table top pot of it on my deck this summer. Til it died some weird death, after turning grey.



One Pot Cheesy Sausage Pasta
Source: Slow Roasted Italian

Ingredients:

3 cups halved grape tomatoes, divided
1 large onion, sliced
1 pound smoked Italian sausage links, precooked (sliced into coins)
20-30 basil leaves, divided
4 garlic cloves, sliced
1 pound dry linguine
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
4 1/2 cups water
1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Reserve (set aside) 1 cup halved tomatoes, 10 basil leaves and cheese.

Combine remaining ingredients in a large (12") braising pan or dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Once water is boiling, remove cover and cook 7-9 minutes until pasta is al dente (with a bite to it).  Toss pasta with tongs occasionally to keep the pasta from sticking.  Liquid will be mostly absorbed when pasta is cooked.

Add cheese and toss to combine.  Cheese may clump but will melt into the sauce after a few minutes.  Toss in remaining tomatoes and basil before serving.





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