Spring is coming!

Spring is almost here!  Tis’ the season of renewal and rebirth!

It also means baseball, my birthday, some vacay, bathing suit shopping and the return of flip-flops which also make spring one of my favorite times of year.

I decided to welcome in springtime by chopping off all my hair. ShortHairLongHair

I feel like a new girl and I was definitely overdue for a change.  🙂

Spring is a GREAT time to make a change – try a new hair color or cut, a new item of clothing, a new workout or new food.

Here are some of my favorite springtime foods:

– Asparagus – roast them, grill them, use them in salads. Whichever way you cook them, asparagus (is asparagi the plural??) is a great springtime food and one I’ll definitely be taking advantage of this year.  Sure they make your pee stink, but they’re also packed with folic acid, B vitamins and potassium.

– Strawberries – oh how I’ve missed this fruit! Although summer is the official strawberry season, sometimes in springtime you can get your hands on a delicious basket that tastes just like summer.

– Artichokes – Yesssss! I freaking LOVE artichokes and let’s face it, this is just not one of those veggies that is OK to eat if they’re not in season. They don’t taste so bueno. Spring is the time to get your hands on some artichokes. Steam them, sprinkle with sea salt and serve with a little aioli of mayonnaise, lemon juice salt and pepper. Bomb!

– All things greens – Greens of all varieties taste great in the spring. During springtime we start eating a little lighter as the weather starts to warm.  Arugula is especially a great springtime green. Toss it in a little olive oil, squeeze some lemon over the top and sprinkle with Himalayan salt for a simple but flavorful salad.

Sure these thing are available year-round at the grocery store but they taste SO much better if you buy them when they’re in season.

Welcome spring and don’t forget to change your clocks Saturday night!

Birthday week

Tux

Last week,  I celebrated this man ————————>

My wonderfully amazing and loving hubs!

J.D. never wants to make a big deal of his birthday and usually, because it’s the week before V-day, he tries to lump his birthday together with Valentine’s Day for the two of us. Usually I let him do it, but not this year!

It was a great birthday week that kicked off with a family party at our place. We stuffed our faces with tacos (Mexican food is his favorite) and I made a homemade cheesecake and fudge brownies. The cheesecake was his request but I just cannot celebrate a B-day without some sort of chocolate present.

I got really great feedback from the cheesecake and even took the leftovers to our Superbowl party the next day.

On his actual birthday, I surprised him with a deep tissue massage at TBC after work while I went to yoga class (I promise that decision was really not selfish, it just kind of worked out) followed by dinner at True Foods Kitchen.  Stuffed our faces again, but we were kinder to our bodies this time, then headed home.

Then we topped the week off with a cooking class/demo at Barbecues Galore in Irvine with our best friends. Ahhhhhh-mazing! It was so fun and the food was ridiculous. I actually thought it was a hands-on cooking class but looking back I really am glad it wasn’t because there is no way in HELL I could’ve cooked lamb to come out so perfectly pink. Highly recommend!

Lamb

Anyway, with all that said I have to share at least one of these recipes from this amazing week right?

Cheesecake it is.MeCheesecak

This was just traditional New York cheesecake and it was so creamy. I topped it with blackberries, raspberries and strawberries. Yum!

Courtesy of Martha Stewart:

  • For Crust

    • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus room-temperature butter for pan
    • 12 graham crackers (3-by-5 inch)
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • For Filling

    • 2 1/2 pounds bar cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest, plus 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make crust: Butter a 9-by-3-inch springform pan. In a food processor, pulse graham crackers until fine crumbs form; add melted butter, sugar, and salt, and pulse to combine. Press crumb mixture into bottom and about 1 inch up side of pan. Bake until set, 12 to 15 minutes; let cool on a wire rack. Reduce oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Set a kettle of water to boil. Make filling: Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese on medium until fluffy, scraping down side of bowl. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy. Beat in lemon zest and juice, and salt. Beat in eggs, one at a time, scraping down side of bowl after each addition. Beat in sour cream.
  3. Wrap bottom half of pan in foil. Pour in filling; place in a roasting pan. Pour in boiling water to come halfway up side of springform. Bake until just set in center, about 1 3/4 hours. Remove pan from water; let cool 20 minutes. Run a paring knife around edge; let cool completely. Cover; chill overnight before serving.

Poor (wo)man’s lunch

When groceries are running low, finding a meal can be a challenge.

It’s easy to give up and hit a takeout restaurant but I challenge you to resist that urge!

They actually make an iPhone app that will take note of all the ingredients and come up with a great meal idea. I’m just not that fancy.

I’m more keen on the philosophy of grabbing what’s leftover in the fridge, throwing it together and hoping that it’s edible. FotoFlexer_Tostada

Well luckily with fresh veggies, you really can’t go wrong.

You can mix and match them pretty much any way you want and it will taste good. Added bonus: you use up all your produce and won’t be wasting food! (Which your wallet also is stoked on).

On a recent work day, I was working at home and it seemed there was “nothing for lunch”.

I just grabbed every scrap of vegetable left in my fridge, threw it in a pan with some coconut oil and sauteed it until slightly tender.  (I used mushroom, onion, cauliflower, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes). I didn’t have a ton of each vegetable but when combined, it was definitely enough for a full meal.

I grabbed a small corn tortilla and threw that in the pan in the leftover coconut oil (if you’re not cooking with this, you should give it a try. Bomb!)

I added half an avocado, a good dollop of salsa and because I didn’t have any lettuce, I topped with broccoli sprouts.

Bam! Lunch is served. A healthy take on a tostada that was cash-friendly, super fast to make and tasted great.

Craving spicy

ChiliThere was a time I thought black pepper was spicy.

Forget red pepper on pizza or pasta and if there were jalepenos in my guacamole I usually couldn’t eat much.   I hated chili and would only eat salsa if it tasted like bland tomatoes.

I just couldn’t do spicy.

Over the years my tolerance for spicy foods had definitely changed, which is common. Over the last few months all of a sudden, I want my food to be spicier than normal.

I need it to be spicy. I’m putting red pepper on everything and dousing all my food in spicier salsa.

I’m still no spice savant but the cravings have been noticeable and significant.

“Am I just getting old and my taste buds are dying?” I asked my husband last night.

“Maybe you’re dying.”

Ah, my husband. Such the beacon of positive light and love. 😉 Although, he does crack me up like nobody else can.

“Great. I’m putting this in my blog and people will think you’re a jerk.”

“Maybe you’re pregnant,” he suggested.

“Not possible,” I said.

So, what the heck gives?

Well apparently everyone has a different opinion.

One website said craving spicy foods means that I am low on zinc and suggests eating more leafy greens (which I already eat a ton of) and red meat (which I eat very little of, so this made some sense).

Another website was sure that craving spicy food means my body is trying to fight some kind of inflammation and reduce pain. Hmmm, interesting.  I haven’t been in any major pain except for some regular muscle soreness.

Yet another health website said craving spicy is your body’s way to try and cool down. It also said if you’re craving spicy “you love order, dislike wasting time and sweat the details”.  A little personality analysis with your health tips over at MSNBC.

The last thing I read said that spicy cravings possibly come on in response to a slowing metabolism. Capsaicin, which is found in some spicy foods like chili peppers, can briefly speed up your metabolism. Also interesting.

Well if all of these are true there seems to be a lot wrong with me.

I’d like to think it’s explanation No. 4 and my body is giving a big middle finger to the aging process. But it seems the zinc deficiency is more likely considering I have majorly cut down on red meat in my diet.

Guess I’ll down even more spinach than I do now. I sort of want to keep these spicy cravings because, I have to say, it’s been kind of a fun change!

Comfort for some

So right of the bat I will admit, this recipe isn’t for everybody.

I had a hankering for something really rich and really creamy last week and I found this recipe on Pinterest for a vegan Mac-n-Cheese.

Completely confused on how anything with cheese in the title could possibly be good with some kind of faux cheese substitute, I started to read.

The recipe didn’t call for any cheese substitutes at all, which I thought was interesting and weird.

Interesting because processed soy-cheese or other fake cheese kind of freaks me out. Weird because how can something taste like cheese when it is devoid of anything cheese-like fake or otherwise?

The answer: It doesn’t.

But it tries.

The secret is nutritional yeast.

You should’ve seen my husband’s face when I lifted up the bottle of this stuff. He looked utterly disgusted and completely wary of putting anything like that in his mouth.

While the nutritional yeast gives it a cheese-like taste it really wasn’t cheese-like enough to call this a Mac-n-Cheese. It was more like Mac with some sort of cream sauce.

My husband hated it. He said he thought it tasted too nutty.  I must note we didn’t have Dijon so we just left it out. That may have cut down on the nutty flavor.

I, on the other hand, enjoyed it and ate it for the next three days. 🙂

I realize this blog is not completely selling this dish but I’m telling you, it’s worth a try. It’s healthy and a good weeknight dinner. And in my opinion, very rich tasting. Yum!

Mac and Sort of Cheese
I have put in bold the little tweaks we made to the recipe. Find more of these recipes at Gluten Free Goddess.
1 package brown rice pasta
4 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons brown rice flour
2 1/2 cups plain almond milk
1 tablespoon  almond butter
2 heaping tablespoons nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1-2 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
A dash or two of Simply Organic Garlic Powder
A dash or two of Simply Organic Minced Onion
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 tablespoons white wine
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon paprika
For the topping: Regular bread crumbs (we didn’t buy special crumbs but you can buy gluten-free ones if you want), a dozen grape tomatoes cut in half and dried parsley and basil.
– Cook the pasta according to the package directions and set aside.
– Make a rue by heating the olive oil then mixing in the rice flour for about 10 seconds. Slowly pour the milk in and whisk. Let the liquid bubble and thicken some.
– Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
-Pour the sauce over the pasta in a 9X13 pan and mix gently.
– Sprinkle the bread crumbs and tomatoes on top and shake some herbs over the top to finish.
– Bake at 350 for about 25 minutes.

Ow, ow, ow

I feel like Chandler in the one where Monica tries to make him shed some lb-s.

The man couldn’t lift a coffee cup without the sweet, sweet pain of muscle soreness. Remember that episode? MonicaandChandler

If you’ve seen it, you know he complains about the incessant butt clenching Monica required him to perform at his desk.

Well, that’s what I’m doing. The clenching.  Right now.

But for different reasons.

Everything from my belly button down feels like I got smacked with a baseball bat. If I sit really still, and I mean statuesque still,  it fades.

Then my curiosity piques – have my worn-out muscles healed so quickly?

Even though I know the answer, I throw out a quick clench to test the waters.

Ow! Nope not so much. Still store as a mother f-er.

I love being sore because it means I challenged my muscles but I also hate the annoyance that comes with the dull pain. There is a very fine line between good sore and swear-off-exercise-for-a-month sore. We don’t want the latter. That’s no fun.

I think my ass is somewhere in between those two but edging on the side of good sore.

Here are my favorite tips for curing, or at least temporarily relieving, muscle soreness. Before you do these make sure you didn’t actually injure yourself otherwise this could make your pain worse.

 Get moving: Probably the worst thing you can do for sore muscles is nothing. Get some blood flowing to help speed recovery. Take an easy workout, a walk, or a leisurely bike ride. I promise it will make you feel better.

Take a soak: Grab a magazine and get in the tub. Usually I would suggest a jacuzzi but it’s freaking cold right now and the thought of exiting a jacuzzi and walking the two feet to a towel sounds painful in and of itself. Soak in hot water and if you have it, throw some Epsom salt in there to help relieve soreness.

Stretch it out: Take a yoga class, but I’d steer clear from any intense Vinyasa or Bikram class. Take an easy or moderate practice to give your gams, or whatever part of your body is mad at you, a nice good stretch.

Oil it up:  Skip the chemical-filled Ben Gays of the world and apply essential oil to sore muscles. Combine lavender and peppermint oil to get the same effect as a muscle cream and rub it in good. I do this when a particular joint or muscle is extra sore. I wouldn’t rub this oil combo all over but it’s good for spot treatment.

Fill em’ up

Finding vehicles for vegetables can be fun.

There’s the staples that my hubby and I utilize weekly – Quinoa pasta, baked potatoes and corn tortillas.

But then there are times we want to get creative to keep things fresh and interesting.

The latest vehicle I attempted: crepes.

You can stuff them with anything and they taste so good. Plus, they sound fancy.

This recipe makes about 8 – 10  gluten-free crepes.

I stuffed them with roasted vegetables and topped them off with that vegan avocado pesto sauce I recently wrote about.

I had hoped this would be a quick and easy dinner but crepes are more time-consuming than I thought so definitely plan ahead. After you make the batter, each crepe takes about four minutes, then I popped them in the oven after they were stuffed so they were all toasty warm afterward.

Unfortunately, we stuffed our faces so fast I didn’t take any pictures.Fail, I know but I wanted to share the recipe anyway.

This one comes from Nicole from Gluten-free on a Shoe String. They are super good. I skipped the milk and used unsweetened almond milk instead, which worked well.

CLICK HERE to check out the recipe and find out how she fills them.

Enjoy!