365 Project: Recipes 16-30

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A couple weeks ago I wrote about my goal of making 365 new (to me) dishes. I’ll be posting every fifteen recipes I complete here along with my notes and ratings.

16. Smoked Eggplant Tahini

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Source: Plenty 

Notes: The recipe suggested adding tomatoes and/or cucumbers if you wanted to. I found the cucumbers gave a nice crunch to the dish and the pomegranates the recipe calls for, give a hint of sweetness to cut the smokey taste of the eggplant.

Rating: Liked

17. Radish Salad and Lemon Pasta

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Source: Blue Apron

Notes: My sister Esther and I made this together one weeknight. She’s a Blue Apron member. It’s a subscription service that sends you the ingredients and instructions to prepare three dinners for two every week. This was a very simple recipe of pasta seasoned with lemon juice and parmesan. The salad was bibb lettuce, radishes, and shallots. If you are a new cook or someone looking to try new recipes Blue Apron and similar services are great. I decided I’m too bossy for this kind of service, I don’t like being told what I’m having for dinner each week. 😉

Rating: LOVED

18. Pineapple Almond Coconut Protein Shake

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Source: Passionately Raw

Notes: I’m a little obsessed with my Nutribullet. Protein shakes are great breakfasts when you’re on the go. Making them yourself only takes a couple of minutes and it takes so much better than prepared drinks. Spirulina is something I discovered this summer and I love it. It is an easy way to add a serving of greens to your protein beverage but it doesn’t overpower the taste of the rest of the ingredients like kale and spinach can.  I made some substitutions for this recipe. I used filtered water instead of coconut water and since I wanted this to be a protein shake vs a smoothie I also added a scoop of Vega One Coconut Almond Protein Powder. I didn’t add stevia because it is sweet enough with the pineapple. I did add some chia seeds which are a great source of fiber.

Rating: LOVED

19. Maple Poached Pears with Mascarpone 

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Source: My Recipe Magic 

I love fruit desserts much more than chocolate. This was fantastic and simple to make. I didn’t add the caramel sauce because I found the maple syrup made this dish sweet enough.

Rating: LOVED

20. Mexican Rice Stuffed Peppers 

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Source: Everyday Jenny

Notes: This dish takes a little bit of time but despite the multiple steps it was easy. If I wanted to make a vegetarian version I’d either omit the chicken for extra beans or substitute it with ground soy.

Rating: LOVED

21. Mushroom Parcels

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Source: Plenty 

Notes: This was easy and made a great presentation. I found the dish to be very rich, though.

Rating: Okay

22. Black Pepper Tofu

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Source: Plenty 

Notes: This dish called for green onions which I’m not a huge fan of. Most onions and green bell peppers don’t agree with me so when possible I substitute them with another vegetable. In this instance, I steamed baby broccoli and it was delicious. I served this dish on top of zucchini noodles.

Rating: LOVED

23. White Chocolate Sauce 

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Source: The Grant Life 

Notes: My sister Sarah gave me a Nespresso maker for Christmas which has really helped me to cut down on my Starbucks habit. I usually make straight up espresso or a cappuccino but I was craving something a little sweeter so I made this sauce and poured some in the bottom of my cup and topped it off with espresso, foamed milk, and cinnamon.

Rating: Liked

24. Spinach Egg Muffins 

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Source: An Original 🙂

Notes: While I did throw this one together on my own I want to give a shout out to 21 Day Sugar Detox because this is where I first tried my hand at Egg Muffins. They have amazing recipes for low carb apple strudel muffins and broccoli muffins. I was craving some spinach so I sauteed a bag full in a pan with some oil. I blended it in the Nutribullet with eight eggs, half a cup of sweet red peppers, and some salt and pepper to taste. I lined a 12 cup muffin tin with paper liners and spread the batter evenly among the cups and baked at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Make sure if you try this that you use not stick spray both on the tin and a little inside the liners too. Otherwise, the eggs will stick to the paper.

Rating: LOVED

25. Pumpkin Spice Protein Shake

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Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This recipe calls for coconut milk but I used almond milk instead. When I make protein shakes I tend to use filtered water or almond milk for additional liquid over coconut water, coconut milk, soy milk, or cows milk. This is a taste preference more than anything else. My choice of protein powder is also a taste preference. There are various whey and soy protein powders on the market but I prefer plant based protein powders. For this particular shake, I used Plant Fusion Natural Flavor.

Rating: LOVED

26. Pumpkin Hummus 

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Source: Vegetarian Ventures 

Notes: This is a nice twist to your everyday hummus. Next time I’d probably add a little more salt and pepper. It could have used just a little bit more of a kick.

Rating: Liked

27. Braised Balsamic Cabbage 

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Source: 21 Day Sugar Detox Cookbook

Notes: This was very satisfying as a side dish but also as a snack on its own.

Rating: LOVED

28. Buffalo Cauliflower

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Source: Miss Frugal Mommy 

Notes: This was a lite alternative to traditional buffalo wings. I served this with carrot and celery sticks.

Rating: Liked

29. Beet Pizza with Veggies and Dip

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Source: Runnin Srilankan 

Notes: This is a great low carb snack that spices up serving a plain crudite plate. Instead of green onion dip, I made my own ranch dip. I topped this off with purple cabbage, sweet corn, celery, and bell peppers.

Rating: LOVED

30. Strawberry Grapefruit Ginger Smoothie 

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Source: Aggie’s Kitchen

Notes: I subbed out the apple for a banana. I’m starting to warm up to bananas in protein shakes. I was never a huge fan, but I’m trying to get more magnesium in my diet and they’re a great source. I also added a scoop of Vanilla Vega Protein Power.

Rating: Liked

 

 

 

 

Bonus Recipe

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Earlier this week I posted some new recipes I’ve tried. I’ve been posting these recipes on Instagram and I’ve got a lot of requests for the recipe to broccoli crust pizza. This isn’t one of my 365 recipes in a year since I first made it in 2016, but I’m including it in the blog since so many people have asked me for it.

Source: Gimme Delicious Food

Notes: Make sure you squeeze as much water from the broccoli as you can otherwise the crust won’t get crispy.

Rating: LOVED

 

 

Mindful Monday: Sparkpeople

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Given last week’s setback, I want to focus my posts this week around what I’m doing to hit the ground running and let this change of plans become a challenge to help me prove to myself that I’m stronger than I ever imagined vs a defeat that I have no control over.

 I’ve mentioned both lap band surgery and running in previous as tools that have helped me loose and maintain my weight. Another tool that has helped me is SparkPeople. When I initially got my lap band SparkPeople was a place I’d turn to almost daily. In the past couple of years, it has been more of a resource that I occasionally visit for a reminder. Last week I got back in the habit of using it daily.

SparkPeople is a website and app that allows you to track calories, fitness goals, and water intake. In the past beyond nutrition and exercise journaling what I found really useful about SparkPeople is the community aspect.  The platform allows you to join teams made up of people with similar backgrounds, interests, or goals.  For example, I belong to teams for people who have lap bands, fans of The Ohio State Buckeyes, and writers.  You can join team goals, chat with each other in the forums, but most importantly cheer one another on.  The mini goals set by the teams and the camaraderie of supporting one another in victories and setbacks is what kept me coming back.  

I have to say since I was last regularly using the site the activity in the teams has died down a bit. My day job is in Community Managment so I know that this is pretty typical. I’m finding new teams with more active members to help me with the support aspect of this journey.

What is really helping me right now is the trackers for nutrition.  I do plug in my exercise too, but since I use a Fitbit for that, food is really what I focus on with SparkPeople. I love being able to easily pull up foods and enter them for each meal. The site automatically pulls up all the nutrients for me. You can set nutrition goals and trackers. Aside from calories I also track protein, fat, carbs, and fiber. I wish I could track sugar since that is something I’m really reducing, but unfortunately, that isn’t a current tracking feature on SparkPeople.  

Do you have other nutrition or fitness trackers that you swear by?

 

Intro to Essential Oils


Among the various types of yoga classes I’ve been taking over the past 18 months one of my favorites has been aromatherapy yoga. This is a restorative class where one focuses less on flow and sequences and more on the connection between the mind and the body. Poses are often held for longer periods of time, minutes as apposed to seconds. Essential oils are applied to different pressure points on the body depending on the oil and the intention of the practice.

This had led to using essential oils around the house and during meditation practices as well. Here are some of my favorite fragrances and what I use them for.

Clary Sage:  This is one of the first fragrances I was exposed in aromatherapy yoga. It’s supposed to be good for helping gain focus and clarity so I use it in a defuser when I meditate.

Geranium: A friend recommended Geranium oil as a natural repellent for bugs and tics. After a few outdoor excursions this summer I can say that it seemed to work well.

Lavender: This is a calming oil. Sometimes I put it in the defuser if I’m having trouble sleeping. I also use it on pressure points like my forehead, outer ears, and heels to help relieve headaches.

Lemon: What is it about lemon that is so refreshing? I use it with coconut oil and vitamin E as a homemade lotion.

Peppermint: Like lavender this is good for relaxing. It’s perfect to add to a homemade foot lotion and to help relax sore muscles.

What’s your favorite essential oil?

 

Mother’s Day and Other Updates

  
In March, I was focused on making, going meatless, and motivation. I did very well in those areas. It’s a good thing that writing and posting to this site wasn’t a concentration for the past couple of months because I would have failed miserably. This break was a good thing, though. I needed to focus on some minor health issues (everything is fine now) and some other areas in my life.
I also took some time to assess what I wanted to focus on right now with this blog and setting up a schedule for future posts. I’m happy with what I’ve come up with. Those of you who were following my old site know that I used to post seven days a week. I don’t have the time to do that at present, at least not at the quality I would want so I’ll be trying to post three times a week. Look for updates starting next week on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.  
Changing gears, I just want to say a bit about Mother’s Day. This is a challenging holiday for many, myself including. When you’ve lost your mother it is hard to be on Facebook and see all the photos of friends enjoying brunch with their moms. I find myself dreading checking my email this time of year because of all the promotional “Don’t forget to buy mom a gift” emails from various retailers. 
I lost my mom a few years ago, just five days before my 30th birthday. My dad had passed away when I was 11. My thirties in many ways has been the decade of exploring what it is like to be parentless. No matter if you were incredibly close with your parent(s) or had some frictions, it’s odd to know that you can’t call your mom or dad up for advice, to share your victories, or look for comfort when you’re having a rough time. 
I’ve been thinking about the term motherhood. I don’t consider myself a traditionally maternal person. Having children isn’t something I feel strongly about and unless I have a dramatic change of desires in the future, being a mom isn’t something I envision for myself. Yet, without that title or want we all have people in our lives that serve that role of nurturer and we find ourselves supporting others in that way at one point or another.  
When you’ve lost your parents holidays can be rough. I still struggle with finding where I belong during these times. I’m very lucky in that I have an incredible family including two amazing sisters. My sisters always invite me to join them for holidays and I sometimes do. One of my sisters is married and the other is engaged so holidays often are spent with their in-laws or in-laws to be. I feel accepted by both of my sisters’ new families, but they aren’t my family and it is a much different connection I have to them than my sisters’ do. 
Aside from my remaining relatives I consider my close friends my family. This works out most of the year, with the exception of holidays, because the majority of my friends have parents and/or in-laws they are celebrating with. Finding home and family is something I struggle with even though to an extent I have both in my life. I have a feeling discovering and shaping those areas is going to be the other major definition of this decade for me.  

Making March Count

  
Sorry, I haven’t posted in a while. February was rough. I felt sluggish and minor health issues including migraines, acid reflux, and insomnia were becoming major stressors. I found these symptoms were impacting my life. I felt drained of energy and enthusiasm. My doctor determined that there isn’t any other medical issue causing these symptoms so we’re trying different ways to treat them till we find what works.

One thing I was advised to do that would hopefully help with all three problems is making some lifestyle changes. I was told to workout more (I admit that I work out less in the winter) and de-stress by finding a better life balance. I decided to make March about doing just that by following three Ms that I’m setting for myself:

Make: I need to allow myself time to create and it goes beyond writing. I’m setting aside time each week to work on projects like making stationary, cooking and baking, and redecorating. These little bursts of creativity I’m hoping will jumpstart getting out of an artistic rut.

Meatless: Aside from the other health issues plaguing me last month I felt very sluggish. I’ve been toying with the idea of adapting a pescetarian and maybe eventually adopting a vegetarian lifestyle. I decided to make this March the time to try by avoiding meat. I’m still allowing myself to eat seafood. After this month is over I’ll judge how I feel and if this is something I’d like to stick with or now.

Motivation: Being tired is demotivating. I found myself struggling to get myself moving or participating in activities outside of work last month. This month I’m not letting myself make excuses. I’m writing daily quotes on my mirror that I’m posting in Instagram and not letting myself talk myself out of doing things that are really important to me.

We’ll see how this goes. What are you focusing on this month?