Spring Lovin’

Oh sunny spring, how I love thee… :mrgreen:

I love your warm, “sweatshirt weather” temperatures…

Mon                          Tues                      Wed
 

Mostly Sunny                  Sunny                      Partly Cloudy
57°                             59                                61°

I love your bold beautiful colors…

I love the gentle heat of your sun on my face when I’m dining Al Fresco…

I love sipping on an iced soy misto with sugar free vanilla, while sitting outside of Target, wearing flip-flops and a sweatshirt and feeling perfectly, 100% content…

I even love a sharp spring wind…even when it involves wind-blown hair. :mrgreen:

I love this girl (but that’s not exclusive to

spring 😉 ).

Spring, Spring…spring is here and I am

L-O-V-I-N it! 😀

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This is my favorite homemade granola bar recipe ever!  I found it through Martha Stewart and lovingly tweaked it just a bit.  The original recipe called for spelt, but that’s not a kitchen staple in my house!  So I subbed oats for their chewy, delightful texture. 😀  This recipe is very, very personable in that you can add or take away whichever ingredients to make it your own.  Sometimes I’ll throw in dark chocolate chips or coconut for a special treat. 😀

  • 1 T. olive oil + pam for spraying pan
  • 1-1/4 c. old fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 c. raisins
  • 1/4 c. ground flaxseeds
  • 1/4 c. chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. natural, chunky, salted peanut butter
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Spray an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray (or a round cake pan if you need to improvise 😉 .) Line bottom and two sides with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on each side. Spray with cooking spray.

2. In a bowl, combine oats, raisins, flaxseeds and walnuts.  Set aside.

3. In a small saucepan, combine honey, peanut butter, oil, and vanilla. Cook over medium until melted.

3. Add to dry ingredients and stir to combine. Transfer mixture to prepared pan; smooth top.

4. Bake until golden and edges pull away from sides of pan, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Using paper overhang, lift bars out of pan. On a cutting board, cut into 8 pieces using a serrated knife. Store in an airtight container, separating pieces with wax or parchment paper, for one week.

I like to wrap them up individually in plasic saran wrap for a quick snack-to-go.  It hits the sweet tooth at the same time which is an extra bonus. 😀

Question: What do you *love* about spring?

Saturday Highlights

Breakfast

I’ve always loved the idea of making something special for breakfast on the weekends.  It’s a good time to experiment.  Try new things.   Not be afraid of a flop because you have the extra time to recreate breakfast anyways. 😉

I kind of played it safe this morning by going with an oldie-but-goodie that I haven’t made in ages: Pumpkin Oat Cakes! 😀  This could easily be put together during the weekdays too, because (and please keep this hush-hush) it’s really not that “special” at all.  It takes all the same ingredients that you already have and it comes together in a flash. 😀

  • 1/2 c. oatmeal
  • 1/4 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 c. canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves

Stir it all together in a bowl and let it sit while you heat up a pan.  Top with peanut butter & coconut.  I always, always heat up a mashed banana on the side for dunking.  You could just throw it on top of the cakes, but then things get soggy from that point on. 

Chatting With This Gal

Nicole was busily cooking up a storm at her house (stirfries and pies and soups…oh my!) and I went to help/watch.  Who needs Rachael Ray entertanment?  I’ve always said that Nicole could be the next Rachael Ray anyways.  The French-Canadian version. 😉

I spent some time with this guy too. 😉

Green (kind of) Monster

I had the urge to recombobulate my Green Monster mix.  Not that I haven’t been lovin’ it, but it needed an upgrade. 😀  I think these proportions were just right.

  • 1/2 banana
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 3 icecubes
  • 2 c. spinach
  • 1/4 c. pumpkin
  • 2 T. Natures Path Pumpkin Flax Granola

The pumpkin adds a whole new and unexpected level of smooth creaminess!  It was sooo frothy and whippy. 

Sometimes I like having major plans for the weekend and other times I simply enjoy having nothing–absolutely nothing–to do.  It felt nice to not wear makeup today, spend my morning in pj’s and finish up on some homework.  Feeling refreshed! 😀

Question: Favorite way to use canned pumpkin?  I love it in overnight oats.  I think it makes such a creamy breakfast that resembles pumpkin pie. 😀

Green Eggs (no ham)

Don’t ask me why I had the urge to post each meal on a separate post today, but I’m kind of just rollin’ with it. 😉

This afternoon was a bit insane.  My dad and I had a communication gap when we both left in separate cars to go drop my brother’s old car off at the garage.  I was supposed to be following my dad since I didn’t know how to get there, but I ended up losing him along the way.  I found myself driving out and back home after searching for him, because I forgot my cell phone and wasn’t able to get in touch with him.  Then I drove back out again to pick him up.  It was kind of a silly case of scenarios, and I couldn’t help but find myself laughing after it was all over. :mrgreen:

Home and hungry = afternoon snack!  I mixed some crushed flax into my plain yogurt and topped it with the Trader Joe’s High Fiber Crunch cereal.  I’m not normally a fan of high-fiber cereals, but I love this one.

The phone meeting with the internship coordinator (aka, my counseling professor) was too exciting!  I can’t wait to see where I end up.  Right now, the whole process involves trying to get in touch with different preceptors to see if they’re able and willing to allow me to be a dietetic intern there.  There are a couple of hospitals, schools, etc in the area that might work out, and it would be such a great commute (ie, 20 minutes max!)  They all sound so interesting and fascinating too…I’m going to learn so much! 😀

Dinner involved green eggs (?!?). 

  • 1 whole egg + 1 egg white
  • 1/4 avocado
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper

mash, mash, mash

+ 2 toasted slices of homemade whole wheat bread with a pat of butter

In addition to being topped with green eggs (totally delicious and creamy by the way!), the rest of my salad was piled high with:

  • sauteed asparagus with salt, pepper and fresh lemon
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • carrot
  • black olives
  • 1/4 c. feta cheese
  • drizzle of balsamic vinegar

So much flavor!

Happy FRIDAY!

going..going…gone.

This morning’s Green Monster engulfed my granola! <—- say that 10x fast. :mrgreen:

Going, going, gone. 

Until it settled on the bottom, making a nice and crunchy surprise at the end.  It reminded me of  when I was small and enjoyed eating raw oats with milk and sugar. :mrgreen:

It was nice being able to eat lunch at home today!  I made a mix of some of my favorite foods, which started with 1/2 a sweet potato topped with about a tablespoon of chunky peanut butter (if you’ve  never tried this combination, you simply must…it sounds strange but totally works.)

I included some greens in my lunch, via salad.

  • mesculin
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/2 carrot
  • cauliflower
  • celery

I wanted something light and zingy on top of my salad and went with some Red Wine Vinegar.  Trader Joe’s makes a pretty nice one, and it’s also super cheap.  I like how fresh and “tart” it is.

There was also some sweetness in my midday meal!  In addition to adding the sweet factor, oranges are great for helping you absorb vegatarian sources of iron (aka, nonheme iron) since they’re packed with vitamin C (vitamin C=better iron absorption.)

I fancied up my water with a slice of lemon. :mrgreen:

Off to work on my paper for Nutrition Problems in the US before my phone meeting with one of my professors! 

Later!

Refreshed!

I woke up sooo thirsty this morning.  I’ve been drinking water non-stop and nothing seems to satisfy.  Every have mornings like this?

It felt very refreshing to not set my alarm clock for 5:30 this a.m.  I simply let my body wake up naturally, which happened to be around 7’ish.  It’s amazing how much one good night of sleep can make such a world of difference.  Feelin’ good! 😀

It also felt very refreshing to take my time making (and eating) breakfast:

  • 1/4 c. oatbran
  • 1 c. milk + 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 banana
  • cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves
  • toppings:  1 T. crushed flaxseed, 2 T. Galaxy Granola, 1/2 banana, scoop of Teddy peanut butter

I am on such an oatbran kick lately!

It’s raining outside and doesn’t appear to be clearing up any time soon.  I have the option of either heading to the gym for a morning workout or staying home and practicing some yoga mixed with some strength training.  Decisions, decisions…

Question: Favorite way to work out on rainy days?  When I’m running regularly, a run in the rain can be so fun! :mrgreen:  But I can’t bike in the rain and sometimes even driving to the gym doesn’t seem appealing.  Usually I conserve yoga and strength for rainy days, along with an exercsie DVD occasionally (love the Biggest Loser or Jillian Michaels ones!)  Course if there happens to be a string of rainy days, a good sweaty workout at the gym is usually a must! 😀

Finally Slowing Down

Today marks the end of a very. long. week. for me.

And nothing beats coming home to a warm bowl of homemade Vegetarian Gypsy Soup (click for recipe) with a melty grilled cheese on the side.  Can I just say how much leftovers saved me this past week?  Prepping soups and such on the weekend or at a time when life is a little less busy, makes such a world of difference for the upcoming week.  I’d hate to resort to cereal every night for dinner (not that I’m above having cereal for dinner occasionally, when life gets crazy 😉 ) and it’s a great way to get some veggies in without too much prep work.

Soups are super easy to freeze and reheat in single serving tupperware dishes too.  This Gypsy soup is one of my personal faves! 

And I  actually had the time to slow. down. and eat like normal human being. 😉  Followed by a gloriously sunny walk to stretch out my legs after a long day of classes.  It was–in a word–blissful.

Can’t wait to unwind tonight with a bubble bath, my journal and a few magazines that I have yet to look through.  Tomorrow I promise to return to a level of normalcy.  I think a good night sleep will do the trick. 😀

Tomorrow afternoon, I have a phone-meeting with the internship director to figure out where I’ll be spending my three rotations for the upcoming internship in August.  There will be a separate rotation site for clinical, food service and community work.  So excited to see where I end up! :mrgreen:

Question: Do you ever pre-plan meals on the weekend to make life easier during the week?  Any tips on getting a healthy meal together in a flash?  I love making meals and snacks on the weekend when I know that there’s an especially busy week coming up.  I used to also make batches of granola bars as a quick grab-and-go snack for the school week. 😀

coo coo for coconuts

So the coconut presentation went pretty well…

I wish I would have had a bit more time to prepare for it (one or two days would have been nice!) but at least it came together enough to make some sense (rehearsing really does help!)  Presenting has always been nerve-racking for me, but this past semester has left me feeling ten times more confident about speaking in front of a group of people.  Practice, practice, practice.  The more I do it, the more I feel comfortable with it.  And—gasp—I think I might even kind of enjoy it! :mrgreen:

Enough of that though…onto the coconut research. 

Unfortunately, there aren’t a whole lot of studies out there on the long term effects of eating coconut meats and oils (which are high in saturated fats.)  I looked at three specific studies that were small (30 participants maximum) and short.  One study showed that women’s good cholesterol (aka, the HDL) went up when eating coconut oil compared to sunflower oil.  Another study showed the exact opposite! 

I found myself a little frustrated over the outcomes of both studies, especially since I had to conclude the presentation with the cliche statement: “more research is needed.”  Boo!  I wanted a clear cut answer!

However, currently it looks as if there’s no hardcore evidence in favor or against coconuts.  In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the stuff in moderation (I love sprinkling a small amount on to my morning bowl of oats! 😀 ) while focusing mostly on healthy fats such as olive oils, avocados, etc. which do have the research to back up their many health benefits. 😀

***As an aside, BEWARE of a lot of false misinformation out there regarding coconuts.  I found stuff on everything and anything in favor of coconut (some were downright sillly!)***

Do you eat coconuts/coconut oil/coconut milk/coconut meat, etc.?  What do you think about the coconut and its relation to your health? 

“““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““““`

When I came home from classes tonight, I had a sudden urge to test out the waters with my injured knee.  I haven’t felt any pain in walking for the past week or so and it was time to give running a shot!  So I laced up my sneaks and headed out with shorts and a t-shirt into the 80 degree temps!

Wait…rewind.  First, I foam rolled.  This is a great way to warm up the muscles, which is especially important for those of us rebounding from injuries. 😉  I followed this with a quick quad stretch + walking.

I went out for a 4-mile walk which was infused with the occasional run.  I certainly don’t feel that I’ve lost too much fitness (YAY!) but I was definitely slower (that’s a good thing!)  It was hard to fight the urge to not burst out with speed at some points when my knees were feeling fine. 😉  Thankfully I resisted though, and came home to finish off with some more foam rolling and icing.  My knees are feeling a little tired, but they’re not in pain.  Gotta keep this process moving s-l-o-w-l-y.

Leftovers for dinner!

  • leftover Cooks Illustrated Light recipe for the Turkey Meatloaf
  • leftover mashed garlic potatoes from Easter
  • leftover cranberry sauce

…noticing a pattern?  

  • stir-fried zucchini and summer squash (throw a diced zucchini and summer squash in a pan with cooking spray on medium heat, add garlic powder + salt + pepper, cook until tender…add a good dousing of balsamic vinegar towards end and let it sizzle to perfection! 😀 Quick and easy and delicious! )

Love Leftovers!

I finished the meal with a scoop of Coconut Bliss Mint Galactica.  I thought it was ironically appropriate to eat coconut icecream for dessert. :mrgreen:

Off to study for tomorrow’s exams!!

Busy, Busy, Busy Bee

Thank you so much for all the well wishes and the congratulations!!   You guys & gals are incredibly awesome. 😀

So life has been super busy this past week (hence my not being able to comment on your blogs—but I’m still reading! :D)  I found myself up, fed, dressed and showered by 6:00 this morning…

And then I got to thinking: “Sarah, what are some ways to handle the stress and business of life so that things stay semi-close to normal?”

Everyone has their “secrets” and we all get over-stressed now and again. But there are some strategic ways to deal, and I want to hear what you have to say about this too. 😀

My secret #1: Spend an extra 10-15 minutes in the morning to either slowly enjoy breakfast (or journal, read blogs, read in the Bible, stretch out with some morning flow yoga, etc….basically, whatever is relaxing and gets your mind off of the busy day ahead!)

 My secret #2: Get in a good night sleep.  I was out by 10 last night, which left me with 7-1/2 hrs of sleep.  FYI, ideally I prefer 8 hrs—but when life gets crazy, I’ll take the 7. 😉

My secret #3: Don’t shrug off working out!  I tend to look at my schedule and see what I can cut out for the time being so that I can fit in other important areas of my life.  Exercise never gets cut!  While the intensity of workouts goes way down, even a slow walk is enough to melt away stress and keep you feeling healthy and strong! 😀

What are your secrets for staying ‘normal’ when times get busy?

I’m off to give a presentation on Coconuts. :mrgreen:  See ya when I get back!

Why?

Why are Green Monsters so incredibly delicious and addicting? 

  • 1/2 banana
  • 4 icecubes
  • 1 c. milk
  • 3 c. spinach
  • 2 T. Galaxy Granola

I love that the granola didn’t get soggy at all throughout the entire smoothie.  Some of the oat clusters settled to the bottom, which made for a fun crunch during the last couple of bites. :mrgreen:

Why do sweet potatoes taste so yummy no matter what you top them with?

  • sweet potato
  • 1/2 c. black beans
  • spoonful of Newmans Own Fresh Garden Salsa
  • 1/4 avocado

Why is it more tiring to sit down and work, than it is to go out for a long bike ride?

At least I was uber productive this afternoon and this morning.  I was up super early to drive my mom to work, and I got crackin’ on homework right away.  It gave me the extra time I needed to fit in a sweaty bike ride which was totally invigorating! 😀

Why is Greek Yogurt so delicious and so packed with filling protein (and calcium!)?

Why is Greek Yogurt so delicious with whole wheat pumpkin muffins?

Silly question.  Moving on.

Why does food taste so much more flavorful when eaten outdoors?

I think I know the answer to this question.  It’s the atmosphere.  The gentle, warm breeze.  The quaint little cafe table.  The spa-like sounds from cardinals and robins.  The relaxed mood that everyone seems to envelop as the unwind from a busy, hectic day. 

One of the very best parts of summer. 😀

Why am I smiling from EAR to EAR?

Many reasons.  But mostly because I was accepted to a Dietetic Internship for this coming Fall!!!!!!!

My mom and I danced up and down for a few moments while I let it slowly sink in.  It still hasn’t hit me, and I’m prepared to wake up and realize it was all a dream. :mrgreen:  I can not wait for the internship to start.  I’m going to learn so, so much!  Tomorrow I’ll be calling to confirm that yes (yes, y-e-s, YES!) I am excited and honored to accept the position as Dietetic Intern. :mrgreen:

Excited?  Just a little. 😉

Busy, busy day planned for tomorrow.  It’s going to start with either a bike ride or a stop at the gym before heading to classes.

Off to see if I can fit in another hour of studying for Thursday’s exams and quizzes! :

Easter Sunday

Happy, HAPPY Easter!  I am officially full to the brim with spring. :mrgreen:

Nicole and I had a pre-church photo-shoot out on the deck…

Nicole from Loving Simple Moments. 😀

Best Salad of the Week Goes to…

This big bowl of greens, eaten on the deck in the s-u-n-s-h-i-n-e. 😀

  • mesculin greens
  • 1 carrot,sliced
  • 1/2 tomato
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • red onions
  • gaucamole (1/4 avocado, lemon juice, salt, pepper and heebs of garlic!)
  • Newmans Own Fresh Garden Salsa (dad picked this up the other week and I love it!  The bell peppers add a nice touch of sweetness to balance the hot.)
  • 1/2 c. white beans

I also had some kashis and some kalamata olives, along with making a pom spritzer on the side.  It’s about time I used up some of my pom juice, and this is such a fun way to hydrate! 😀  I simply used a 1:3 ratio for pom to tonic water.  This is going to make a great summer drink. 😀

Best Dinner of the Week…

I adore Easter dinners.  Especially when they involve being surrounded by family, outdoor sunshine and yummy food!  Here are some snaps from the evening:

Nicole made this awesome broccoli casserole (bottom left.)  I could have gone back for seconds if I wasn’t full by the end of my plate. :mrgreen:

I contributed to the meal with some honey glazed carrots.  I didn’t really follow a recipe this time.  I just steamed some carrots (probably about 2 pounds,) added in 2 T. honey and sprinkled on some sea salt, pepper and parsley.  The green beans, turnips and mashed garlic potatoes were delicious.  And even though I’m not really a “ham kind of person,” this one was really good.  Especially when topped with a bit of homemade cranberry sauce. 😀

Finale!

Favorite.  Dessert.  Ever.  My mom makes a cheesecake at least once a year and I look forward to it every time.  This one was light and lemony with a graham cracker crust and cherries on top.  I savored each and every delicious bite. 😀

Sorry for such a quickie post!  I am feeling the effects of getting up early each morning of this past week, along with some late nights.  Tomorrow I need to really crack down on some homework, plus I’m driving my mom to work.  In other words, I could use an early night to bed. 😉

Hope you all had a lovely Easter Sunday! 😀

Question: Best part of today?  Chatting with the family and going for a walk with Nicole in the afternoon! 😀