Posts Tagged ‘serious stuff

17
Feb
11

volume eating and new dietary rules

I have a problem..

(source)

I’d actually refer to it as an addiction.  Hello, my name is Heidi and I am addicted to nighttime snackage.

It’s a habit – every night at 9:30, I pop a HUGE (seriously.. we’re talking multiple quarts) bowl of air-popped popcorn.  I top it with a dash of nooch and some salt and for at least an hour, I eat.  I’m not quite sure why I am so obsessed with having my bowl o’ corn every night.  Could it be ..

A: The crunch?  B: The saltiness?  C: The fact that I can eat for an hour straight and not feel guilty?  I’m gonna go with D: All of the above.

I am a volume eater.  I LOVE to feel like I am getting a lot of food accompanied by as few calories as possible.  Anyone else in that boat with me?  For that reason, I switched up my breakfast today.  Every morning, I had been eating a bowl of oats with 4 egg whites, half an apple and cinnamon alongside a 1/4 C plain greek yogurt sprinkled with granola.  Every morning.  I consume about 325 calories every morning with this meal.  Religiously.

Today’s breakfast looked like this:

Egg whites + spinach & broccoli; 1/2 FlatOut with Chocolate PB2; Red pear + cinnamon

215 calories and incredibly filling!  I was excited to not only change things up, but to get more bang for my caloric buck. Check out that variety and the addition of greens.  Apparently, I never knew what amazing green things I was missing..

Frozen spinach + Dole Antioxidant Berry Medley + Ground Flax

So why the self-assessment on eating methods?  Not sure if you have heard the news, but the dietary guidelines have once again been amended.

I’m partial to the 2 major tenants related to calorie consumption seeing as they support my reasoning for eating more nutrient-dense foods (can you even fathom how much fiber is in a big bowl o’ corn?!) and, as someone recovering from an E.D., I often need to be told that balance is key and that a little piece of dark chocolate once in a while won’t kill me.  Anyhoo, here’s what USDA now has to say:

  1. Balance calories over time to reach and maintain a healthy weight –   I LOVE this idea, especially because I go way over my calorie budgets some days.  Who cares if I hit 1,800 calories yesterday.  I’ll balance it out with a lower calorie day today and try not to stress about it (which, I admit, is really difficult sometimes). 
  2. Get most daily calories from nutrient-rich foods – Spinach and broccoli for breakfast?  Berry smoothies for lunch?  I definitely ate more fruit than vegetables in the past, but I like incorporating those veggies into a sweet treat.  Did I mention I have a huge sweet tooth, thanks to my Italian roots?

Those Buonocore’s.. well, it used to be coffee and coffee cakes daily!  Hey, I’m all for a good coffee cake in moderation.  I’m just glad Uncle Sam agrees!

On a side note, if you love healthy eats, swing by Friends for Weight Loss and enter the giveaway for an awesome cookbook!

06
Jan
11

New Frontiers

I have not been to a (strictly) vegan or vegetarian restaurant since approximately 2002.  I had ventured up to northern VA to visit my dear Pamela and she introduced me to Sunflower restaurant.  I’m fairly certain that it was my first attempt at eating tofu in the form of their Sweet & Sour Sensation and I vividly remember savoring the leftovers for lunch the next day.  Without that experience, I would not have been nearly as eager to try Quenna’s Raw & Vegan restaurant when she suggested it last week.

We visited for lunch one afternoon and were welcomed into a small, yet warm and inviting space with an open view of the kitchen and a handful of cozy tables.  It was perfect for spending a few hours catching up with one another while enjoying lunch at a slower pace.  We split the seaweed appetizer, described as

“Marinated Kush (Bulgur Wheat), Crushed Dried Hot Peppers, Onions, Garlic, and Parsley wrapped in Nori Seaweed”

The filling was perfectly spicy and very hearty.  Even splitting this dish, it would have sufficed for a full meal!

For my entree, I ordered the Mushroom Madness sandwich:

“Mushrooms, Marinated Tofu, Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Carrots, Beets, Spinach, Alfalfa Sprouts, Sesame Dressing and Tomato Sauce in a Pocketbook”

Holy moly! The veggies were deliciously crisp and fresh (the best beets I have ever had!) and the pita bread was perfectly soft with a great flavor.  I would LOVE to know exactly how she prepares the tofu as well.  It had a ton of flavor (I detected dill, but couldn’t pick out anything else) and was so filling!!  Pam ordered the Olamex burger

“Kush (Bulgur Wheat) marinated in Tomato Sauce, Marinated Tofu,Mushrooms, Onions, Romaine Lettuce, Tomatoes, Carrots, Beets, Spinach,Alfalfa Sprouts and Sesame Dressing in a Pocketbook”

This also had the kush that was in the seaweed appetizer, and a taste of the tofu that I had in my sandwich.  We were so impresssed with the combination of fresh veggies, the sauces and the bread.  I will certainly be back – I just wish there was way to successfully ship their food to Miami where Pam resides.  I know she would absolutely love it!

I’d say the full-on yumminess of those photos would be inspirational right?  It was for me, so I got my butt into the kitchen and whipped up some of my own marinated kush (bulgur wheat).

I started with this:

 

and ended up with this:

I literally giggled when I tried a bite and Belly-Laughing Bulgur was born.  It even took me only one container, one knife and one cutting board to make – so easy!

Belly-Laugh Bulgur

1 C dry bulgur wheat
2 cloves garlic, chopped or grated
1 tsp curry powder
2 Tbsps Bragg Aminos (or low-sodium soy sauce)
1 C warm water
1/2 C chopped fresh parsley
1/2 small white onion, finely diced
1/2 C shredded carrots
In large bowl (or container), pour in bulgur.  Sprinkle in garlic and seasonings and add Aminos (or soy sauce) and water.  Stir and allow to sit until water is absorbed, 15 to 20 minutes. 
Pre-soak

Post-soak

Meanhwile, chop parsley, dice onion and shred carrots. 
Stir into bulgur and refrigerate. 

The longer it sits in the fridge, the better it gets.  I’m on day #3 and it tastes amazing!  HEARTY belly-laugh amazing.  I can’t wait to use this method and change up the veggies and flavors, depending on the seasons.  I think a southwest version is on the agenda – with fresh cilantro, onion and tomatoes.  Those meat-free days are gonna be a piece of cake (or a piece of tasty tofu).

04
Jan
11

A new year. A new taste.

I feel like I just said that to 2010 and, suddenly, here we are again.  It really is a true kick-in-the-ass to see that 12 whole months has already flown by and here I am, forced to consider what I actually accomplished in those 12 months.  Did I actually meet or surpass the goals that I had established for myself last January.  Let’s discuss that, shall we?

1. Continue improving my health – I’d say this is partial pass and partial fail.  I definitely was lacking in backslides – in fact, there were several and they manifested themselves in different ways. I did find new ways to work on my physical well-being.  I delved into kettlebells, returned to spinning (although I’ve only been twice in the past several weeks.. it’s a start), regained my love of dark chocolate (1 square daily) and finally admitted to my husband that I can eat things with fat in them and be okay with myself.  It won’t kill me and I will not gain all of my weight back. 

2. Find the positive in all things – When I wrote this goal last year, I did not realize how all-encompassing and difficult it would be.  Remaining positive ALL THE TIME is terribly difficult if not impossible.  How silly was I to think I could do this consistently?!  Granted, there are plenty of occasions that I was content “being in the negative” and those were the times that I needed to stick with this goal most.  I definitely need to be able to dissect any situation or obstacle and see what good things can result.  Noted.

3. Strengthen my relationships – Done!  Many times over! I definitely formed stronger bonds with my husband’s family during our time in Hawaii.  Not only that, but I learned about some of my weaknesses while there and faced them with Steve.  We became closer through those moments and, even after nearly 10 years together, I think that he knows how to push me past those weaknesses.  I definitely had to rely on my own family this year through personal financial struggles.  Before that, I knew that they would always be there for me and they proved it.  I could not survive without my parents, my grandmother, and my aunt and uncle.  I love them more than I will ever be able to tell them – more than I will ever be able to show through actions.

With last years successes (and slip-ups) in mind, it took me a few days to decide what I wanted to accomplish this year – some very detailed goals and some broader goals. Without further ado..

2011 To-Do’s

1. Get the heck out of this condo – We’ve had innumerable issues (parking, toilets) with this place but the ac/heat issues were the icing on the cake.  Our landlord yanked us around and around before finally agreeing to completely replace our unit.  He wouldn’t even give us a rental discount  to offset our outrageous bills. Two years here will be more than enough!  I’d like to be in the position to buy a place this summer, but we’ll see..

2.   Complete a 10K – The longest distance I have run (without stopping) is just over a 5K.  Given my knee issues, that was a bit of a struggle, but I look forward to pushing myself outside of the gym as hard as I do when I am inside!

3.  Get out of credit card debt – Not including student loans, I have about $6,500 in credit card debt.  I paid that down in the past year, but I also spent a good deal of the year unemployed so the balance crept back up again.  I now have a steadier income and I think this is totally doable!  I can’t imagine how good it will feel to not have to pay this monthly nuisance on top of loans!

4. Take steps to finish my M.S. or a certificate program – I shortchanged myself in 2009 when I let student teaching keep me 7 credits shy of finishing my Master’s degree.  If I don’t complete it this year, rejoin the program or enter a medical certification program (to supplement my Biology degree), I will definitely be disappointed in myself.

5. Cook more vegetarian/vegan meals for the husband & I – I discovered a few days ago that I can make some killer vegan food (recipe to come).  I’d like to cook at least one meatless dinner each week (not necessarily on Mondays) and create meals that even my husband will love.  This could be hard.. he’s a straight-laced eater who could live off of Taco Bell and Subway and generally eats one of those options daily and would be perfectly happy with soup and sandwich every night.  Here’s to broadening our horizons!

I think these are perfectly attainable goals and I am very excited about working towards them this year.  It promises to be a good one – especially if my Omah’s New Year’s Day luck repeats.  We scratched about $25 worth of scratchers and ended up with $254!  We are 2 women who never win a thing, so it was pretty darn exhilarating! 

Welcome, 2011!  I sure hope you’re good to everyone this year.

11
Nov
10

Shoes & Burdens

I spend my days surrounded by shoes.  Lots and lots of shoes.

Manolo and Jimmy Choo fans need not be jealous.  Ugg devotees should have no worries.  Do those look like Manolo, Choo or Ugg boxes to you?

This shoe store caters to a different crowd.  While they might find an Ugg to be the most comfy thing they ever slipped a toe into, they might very well break a hip if they tried to wear a Manolo Blahnik. While not the most fashionable shoes –

they are so important for many, many people.  Like I said before, I take a great deal of pride in my job because of who I am able to help.. with a shoe!

Luckily, this isn’t the extent of the shoes that do keep me company.  We’ve got some gorgeous sandals.  Expensive?  Yes.  I love my employee discount and intend to take full advantage of it next summer.

(Cutest gladiators ever?)

We have some beneficial running and walking shoes.

And those toning shoes that actually work.  Yeah, we’ve got those too.

 

We even have them for professionals.

I love this place for more than just the shoes.  I have a grand total of 4 coworkers along with the 2 owners who are wholly devoted to this store and the guests that come to see us for help.  We function like a family and support one another which is something I have not experienced since my first job at Hallmark back in 1997.  Last week during my uber-meltdown, my bosses offered to do all that they could to help me obtain health insurance.  My coworkers signed a beautiful card for me and got me flowers.  They offered me a shoulder to cry on and a good hug.  I felt more secure about something than I had for a while and things are starting to take a turn.

I recently changed my car tuner to K-Love, a Christian radio station that I was introduced to when I was working at Hallmark.  I had not listened to it much recently, and can thank a passing bumper sticker for reminding me of its’ presence.  While listening today, the morning DJ’s spoke about one of the musical artists whose son suffers from a heart condition.  I clicked over to their website today and read the latest post.  They wrote an insert from a book called Wrestling with an Angel by Greg Lucas.  This excerpt was a huge wakeup call:

“I hear religious minded people say all the time with good intentions. ‘God will never place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it.’
Really?
My experience is that God will place a burden on you so heavy that you cannot possibly carry it alone. He will break your back and your will. He will buckle your legs until you fall flat beneath the crushing weight of your load. All the while He will walk beside you waiting for you to come to the point where you must depend on Him.
‘My power is made perfect in your weakness,’ He says, as we strain under our burden.
Whatever the burden, it might indeed get worse, but know this-God is faithful. And while we change and get old, He does not. When we get weaker, He remains strong. And in our weakness and humility, He offers us true, lasting, transforming, and undeserved grace.”

I am incredibly blessed.  I have a wonderful husband, family and network of friends and coworkers who constantly support me.  There will always be somebody nearby to turn to when things become hard.  I am now reminded that God is always close by and I need only call on Him for help.  I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten that. 

I will likely still bake away some of the stress, but I feel encouraged knowing that it isn’t my only option – even if they make other people’s bellies happy!  Don’t fret.. there are still plenty of recipes in that cookbook that are waiting to be tried.

So, what do you turn to when you need to de-stress?  What makes you feel better?

05
Nov
10

Just go with it

I’m just going with the stress and anxiety right now.  Inevitably, it will pass.  Things will improve.  It will get better.  I actually discontinued my current insurance coverage since they aren’t covering anything anyway.  I can save the premium money to put towards existing bills and I’m sure it’s not perfect.  But it’s a start.  And eventually it will be a bit closer to perfect.  Until then, I’m going with the flow.  Until then, I will bake and be proud of my kitchen accomplishments. 

Even Better Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 C unsalted butter, melted

3/4 C granulated sugar

1/2 C packed brown sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

1 egg

1 egg yolk

2 C all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

12 oz. bag of chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  In large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until fluffy.  Beat in vanilla, egg and yolk. 

Slowly add flour, baking soda and salt and continue mixing until combined.

Fold in the chocolate chips (or whatever sounds delicious – next time, I’m thinking white chocolate chips and dried cranberries for a festive cookie). 

Place by rounded teaspoons on an ungreased cookie sheet (thank goodness for my new cookie scooping gadget cuz this job is much easier now) and bake 13-15 minutes until edges are lightly golden. 

Prepare to be amazed by a mountain of cookies!

Steve actually told me that I had perfected the recipe and that they were akin to Max & Erma’s cookies.  That’s a pretty darn good compliment in my book seeing as those are his absolute favorites.  I think we’ll be relying on this recipe from now on!

That stress?  It’s becoming as melty as the chips in these cookies.  For that, I’m grateful.

On a side note, I am super jealous of all of awesome bloggers that are currently in San Fran for the 2nd Annual Foodbuzz Blogger Festival.  I know all of the eats, treats and new friends found there will rock some blogging socks.  I can’t wait to read everyone’s updates!  Hope that everyone has a great time and maybe I can get there someday!

09
Oct
10

Retail Therapy

I’m not talking shopping sprees.  I’m far too broke to take part in any such thing!  I’m talking working for a living in the fabulous world of retail.

I began working at the age of 15 in retail, specifically at one of the most well-known and beloved gift stores of all time:

(source)

I spent 8 years at a privately owned (nope, not one of those corporate stores) Hallmark and I adored almost every second of it.  My coworkers turned into life-long friends and I am forever grateful to the owner, my boss, for what he taught me about work ethic, responsibility and respect.  It was, by far, the best job experience I could have fallen into.

And while it was great to be surrounded by wonderful coworkers,  it was even more satisfying to help meet a need.  So my return to a retail environment this past July was a perfect fit.  I have, once again, found a store where I enjoy the company of my coworkers and the owners/managers truly care about their employees as opposed to the bottom line.  In this day and economic age, it seems that may be a trait that is hard to find. 

On top of that, our customers often have very crucial needs.  Many are diabetic and, from lack of proper care and treatment, have serious problems (I won’t go into detail, but it’s not pretty).  Some suffer from plantar fascitis and are doing their best to suffer through their daily lives.  When your feet hurt as soon as you put them on the ground in the  morning, it’s a HUGE problem.  My dad suffered through this – it was also not very pretty!

The look on some of our customer’s faces when they try out a new orthotic insert or pair of shoes brings me sheer joy! 

So where’s the downside?

Well, I spent 4 years obtaining a degree in Biology while working in malaria research, another year studying medical research in Alzheimer’s Disease and cancer and another 2 years working toward a M.S. in Secondary Education with a Science focus.  My student teaching experience was an epic fail and I never found a laboratory research job (blame the lack of government funding). 

I’ve spent so much time working toward a career in science and whenever I focus on this, I am disappointed in where I currently am in life.  At 28-years-old, I am in a job that will not allow me benefits or a retirement.  I would not worry so much about this as my husband is in a stable job.  And now, we are house-hunting with the intention of qualifying for a mortgage with a monthly payment less than our current rent price.  Why waste money on a rental when we can afford a mortgage payment, right?

Nothing would make me happier than to provide as much as my husband does – to do more than clean the house, purchase the groceries and cook the meals.  Since acquiring my new job, I have not spent as much time searching for a stable career, but I’d like to return to it.  Unfortunately, that would mean saying goodbye to a job I love, coworkers I adore and a very flexible schedule.

Have you ever been in this predicament?  Have you given up something you want to do for something you must do?

I am not sure I will ever find the perfect career, with the perfect benefits in the perfect environment, but I will continue to seek it out.  Hopefully it is somewhere out there waiting for my application.

07
Oct
10

A dose of pep

I love a good pick-me-up.  Especially after yesterday’s events had me feeling just a tad bit grumpy.  Despite having issues with a friend of my parents yesterday, I still wanted to join them for breakfast at my favorite joint, The Broken Egg.  I was quite happy when my usual arrived (strawberry pancakes sans butter and hard-boiled eggs for easy yolk removal) and the same woman who made some unsettling comments said that she “finally understood.”  I’m not quite sure what her understanding was and I wasn’t about to ask, but it certainly helped her return to my good graces.  But in all honesty, doesn’t this

  look far more appealing than this?

(source)

I’d say that’s a no brainer!

Janetha hit the nail on the head today for me and I completely agreed.  I don’t choose what food I eat because I feel that I have to.  I eat it because I crave it; because I WANT to.  I get out of bed craving custard oats.  During lulls in my day, I crave Flat Out wraps with Laughing Cow, spinach and grilled chicken.  I don’t often look at corndogs and cry out with the gusto of Fat Bastard, “Get in my belly!”  5 years ago, that may have been the case.  I could have slathered that thing with mustard or ooey gooey cheese sauce and been a happy girl, but my taste buds made a big change when I did.  

I’m grateful for that.  I’m equally as grateful to awesome bloggers like Janetha, Susan, Lori, Lily, Jenna, Tina, Sarah, Kath, and Heather for constantly giving those taste buds new entertainment, because even custard oats becomes old news after a while, no matter what type of fruit or toppings you add.  I am also grateful that I am surrounded by a community of bloggers that find it okay to indulge once in a while; to skip a workout or two; to either get upset or not give a rat’s patootie how other people live their lives.  We all have weaknesses.  There are days that I can’t turn down a chocolate chip cookie.  A butter-filled, sugar-packed, chip-loaded “full-throttle” (what my Daddy calls them) chocolate chip cookie. 

Some days one of those cookies is all I need to be happy, but those days don’t swing by often.  Like I said yesterday, I feel better eating those oats, egg whites and fresh fruit!

 I feel better spending an evening with a new book;

 a good cup of hot cocoa;

a warm, cuddly soul;

and some good baseball (especially when the Yankees and Braves win).

I’m feeling 4 times better than yesterday!




Hi Ya’ll!

Hiya! I'm Heidi, a 28-year-old "retired" student living in Virginia. I am a newlywed and currently on the hunt for a full-time job that will use either my Biology or Secondary Education degree. In the meantime, I work in retail and at an event venue part-time. When I'm not working, I love to kill hours at the gym, scrapbook, and act as a domesticated diva to keep my hubby happy!