Netflix has been good to me

Can I just say that Netflix has been so good to me this January?

New season of The Following.

New season of New Girl.

New season of Sirens.

Discovering Young & Hungry.

FINAL SEASON OF PARKS & REC. Tears, y’all.

I had an eventful weekend.

If that wasn’t totally obvious.

Couch

Yay, couch!

Cajun Chicken Pasta (5)

Recipe: Cajun Chicken Pasta

My husband is great at chopping, dicing, cutting, filleting…

I am not.

Which explains this poorly chopped green onion on the otherwise beautiful bowl of Cajun Chicken Pasta…

 

Cajun Chicken Pasta (5)

 

Knife skills are not my thing.

I’m better at breaking things apart and guessing what a tablespoon looks like.

So my husband chopped the yellow onion and the red bell pepper.

 

Cajun Chicken Pasta (1)

 

Look how perfectly diced that pepper is! I don’t have anywhere near that kind of patience. When I chop things, they’re usually… well, they turn out like that green onion.

He also cubed the chicken for me because, honestly, I didn’t want to touch it.

 

Cajun Chicken Pasta (4)

 

But I cooked it. (And I chopped the green onion. Poorly.)

Horrible garnishing skills aside, I love this dish.

Cajun Chicken Pasta
Ingredients

  • 2 cups uncooked pasta (I used rotini and penne because I had two open packages of both.)
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 Tbs. Cajun seasoning
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup chicken broth
  • 2-4 Tbs. milk
  • 1/2 Tbs. butter
  • a little white balsamic vinegar
  • a little olive oil

Directions
Prepare the pasta to al dente.

Mix the chicken in a bowl with Cajun seasoning, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, smoked paprika and cumin. Add a little white balsamic vinegar to make the seasoning sorta pasty.

Meanwhile, saute onions and red bell peppers with salt, pepper and olive oil until soft in a large cast iron skillet. Smoosh them to the sides of the pan, and add the chicken. Cook through.

Add the cooked pasta, chicken, onion and red bell pepper to the pot you cooked the pasta in. Set aside.

In the cast iron skillet, add the butter, tomato paste, milk and chicken broth. Scrape any good bits off the pan and bring to a slight boil. Kill the heat, and add the sauce to the pasta and chicken pot.

Stir to combine — the sauce will thicken as it cools — and serve with green onions.

Enjoy!

 

This recipe makes a BUNCH of pasta. Halve everything for a better single night meal for two. I always want leftovers. This dish makes for really good leftovers, btw.

#sundaysmoothieprep

#sundaysmoothieprep

On Sundays, I make smoothies.

I also visit family, clean my house, do laundry, go to the grocery store and order takeout because… after all that plus smoothies, I’m exhausted.

On the menu: Four blueberry kale, three cherry vanilla protein and one mango concoction that turned out to be really baaaaad… (the pink one)

Blueberry Kale Smoothie
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup beet juice
  • 1/4 cup kale-carrot juice (sweetened with an apple!)
  • 1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 1/2 Tbs. ground flax seed

Directions: Blend and serve – or jar! You will have a little more than 12 oz. so make sure you have a back-up jar to pour the extras.

Cherry Vanilla Protein
Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup Bolthouse Farms Protein PLUS Vanilla Bean
  • 1/4 cup Cheribundi tart cherry juice
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk
  • 1/2 Tbs. (I think) chia seeds
  • 1/2 banana

Directions: Blend and serve – or jar! These turned out to be about 8-10 oz. I still had extra after filling the little milk bottles I found at AtHome. Aren’t they adorable?

Mango Smoothie…

…no. It was disgusting. I think I might hate mango.

I had smoothies for daaaaays. Breakfast, lunch… My refrigerator looked ridiculous.

#justonejanuary is turning out to be very difficult.

Candy…

#justonecandy

– just one.

Cookie…

#justonecookie

– just one.

Wine…

Wine

– just one.

A really big one.

Like there were probably two in there.

So I’m not doing great.

However, by taking the time before consuming that piece of candy, or that chocolate cookie, or that rather full glass of wine, I recognize when I’m having a craving, when I’m actually in need of a sweet (<—this isn’t real) or when I eat/drink it because I’m a grown up and I can.

The only reason being a grown up is better than being five.

Because I can.

Big Salad Bowl

Recipe: Big Bowl of Salad

I’ve recently discovered and fallen in love with oh she glows, a plant-based recipe blog featuring vegan, soy-free and gluten-free recipes.

…I am not vegan.

Evidence:

Ribs
This bucket of ribs.

I am not gluten-free, but the only soy in my house is sauce… so I might be that.

However, I am all about a salad when the day calls for a salad – and did I find one! I adapted her Big Vegan Bowl for dinner one night (adapted because I tend to fail at buying appropriate ingredients).

oh she glows’ recipe calls for greens – I give you spinach. It was on sale.

oh she glows’ recipe calls for a julienned carrot and shredded cabbage – I give you broccoli slaw. I am lazy.

oh she glows’ recipe calls for sweet potato, chickpeas, quinoa, hummus, avocado and hemp seeds!

I give you most of that – except I had sunflower seeds, the wrong quinoa and added kalamata olives. (My husband doesn’t like kalamata olives so he added sun dried tomatoes to his, which, I believe, are really only good on bread-based foods. Like pizza.)

Big Salad Bowl

This, however, is good.

Put it in your face.

Big Bowl of Salad
adapted from oh she glows (because, again, I’m bad at ingredients)

What I used:

  • 1 container Simple Truth organic baby spinach
  • 1 cup broccoli slaw (Good for you if you can find organic, or if you weren’t totally lazy and julienned a carrot.)
  • 2 too ripe avocados
  • 1 dollop of Simple Truth organic hummus
  • 1 15 oz. can Simple Truth organic chickpeas
  • 1 large organic sweet potato, cubed-ish
  • 1/2 cup cooked organic quinoa
  • 1/8 cup (ish) sunflower seeds (I think these might have also been “organic.”)
  • kalamata olives or sun dried tomatoes, if you want

How I did it:
Just FYI, Simple Truth is the “better-for-you” brand at my local grocer. You can use whatever label you prefer.

Follow oh she glows directions exactly for the sweet potatoes and chickpeas. I used one baking sheet, though, (because lazy) and I seasoned with some Italian herbs.

After that, it’s just putting it all together.

Sorta.

My avocados were too ripe to “slice” so I just mushed them in with the spinach and broccoli slaw. Salad dressing? Psh. Check.

My husband and I built our own salads with this recipe, and it was delightful.

Eat it.

Seriously.

It’s delicious.

Make her other food.

I’m sure it’s good, too.

I legitimately cannot wait for summer so I can eat salads from oh she glows every day.

AND I HATE SUMMER.

She has a cookbook.

zomg.

slad slad slad slad slad slaaaaaaaaaaad

:)

Slow Cooker Barbacoa… with deer maybe

I wonder if I could do this with deer…

We have two deer worth of meat in our spare freezer, which means two things.

  1. I don’t have to buy beef for a year.
  2. I do have to find interesting ways to eat it, or we’re going to get sick of it.

This delightful dish looks perfect.

I’ll let you know if it works!

cheers to twenty sixteen

Goodbye 2015, hello New Year

2015 was a great year

Anniversary #5

We started the year celebrating our fifth anniversary, and we’re getting ready to celebrate No. 6 tomorrow!

Haircut (6)

I got a spif new haircut,

Newman University (1)

and new job!

With Friends (3)

With Friends (1)

With Friends (12)

With Friends (18)

Wingnuts (2)

Spent time with friends,

and time with family.

With Grandpa (3)

With Mom

With Mom (2)

#shaecation (37)

I also learned my secret power!

Soup That is Too Hot

(One time, I made Black Bean Soup so spicy it couldn’t be consumed…)

Husband and I (and the creatures) really enjoyed 2015.

With Husband (1)

Christmas 2015 (11)

20151103_185321

(Although, Ivan and Zuzu were not into family picture time, and Moon Unit never comes out of the basement.)

2015 really was a great year

Here’s to another…

Happy New Year!

cheers to twenty sixteen

Untitled

#justonejanuary

How do you stop at just one cookie?

Sohee Lee of Sohee Fit wrote an article about the very subject, republished by Greatist.

Lee said stopping at just one cookie has nothing to do with discipline. She eats what she wants, when she wants (I also do that), but she balances her sweets with protein (I don’t do that). Lee also delays her sweets and treats if she knows she’s going to indulge later in the day or the week.

balance + planning > willpower

Usually, I have no problem stopping at just one cookie. Except for doughnuts, I’m not big on sweets. I do, however, have a huge problem stopping at just one taco. I don’t think it’s which food you overeat but that you overeat.

For example, I like to eat – let’s say multiple – tacos and at least two doughnuts (I’m obsessed). There’s a good chance I’ll eat more than two…

Wichita Kansas Donut Whole Donut Hole

A sedentary office job and eating more than one doughnut put weight on me. Obviously, a more active lifestyle and eating no doughnuts will help take the weight off me.

But we all know I’m not going to stop eating doughnuts (again, I’m obsessed).

Wichita Kansas Donut Whole Donut Hole

And Lee doesn’t want me to stop eating doughnuts. Good woman.

“Ban no foods. Otherwise, it doesn’t end well. The point is to not obsess over what you’re eating.” – Sohee Lee

I honestly haven’t obsessed about my food in ages – unless, it’s a positive obsession about the glorious-ness that is the doughnut – which is probably why I’ve put on as much weight as I have. Sneaky hidden weight that doesn’t show up until I sit down or try to put on old pants.

Instead, Lee promotes allowing yourself to eat food when you want – even food you fear to eat because you might binge nosh until you hate yourself.

She also encourages you to keep your “cheat” foods in your house. If you want to EAT ALL THE COOKIES, you should keep cookies in your house. That way, the urgent desire to consume them isn’t as overwhelming.  I’m not sure about this one – I almost never have cheat foods in my house – but I might not have identified any cheat foods to keep out of my house, which is probably more accurate.

I already allow myself to eat what I want, when I want. Now, I just have to add Lee’s delayed gratification tactics by planning my treats in advance and balancing the sugar (or, in my case, salt) with sugar fighters (or salt fighters).

With planning, balancing and a little will power (I’m going to need it), in January, I am going to have just one:

  • Doughnut (Heaven, help me.)
  • Beer
  • Glass of wine
  • Taco
  • Cookie, cake pop, dark chocolate square, etc.
  • (I’ll think of more when I come to a situation.)

The “just one” attempt does not apply to the following:

  • Fruits and veggies
  • Triscuits
  • Tortilla chips
  • French fries
  • Meat balls
  • Other tiny foods meant to be eaten in multiples like those cute sandwiches and ridiculous small tacos

I will document #justonejanuary on Facebook and Instagram. Let’s see how well I do!

diced red onion

Black Bean Corn Salsa

I once came across a recipe for Black Bean Corn Salsa on the back of a can of black beans I was using in my Black Bean Soup.

It was a simple recipe: one can of black beans, one can of corn and one can of diced tomatoes.

I loved it.

I still love it.

But I beefed up the recipe.

Black Bean Corn Salsa
Ingredients

  • 1 15-oz. can organic black beans, BPA-free, drained and rinsed
  • 1 8-oz. can organic corn (steamed corn works, too, but you have to let it cool before adding)
  • 1 medium organic red onion, diced
  • 1 medium organic avocado, diced
  • 4 Roma tomatoes or 2 beefier organic tomatoes, diced (My supermarket doesn’t have organic Roma tomatoes, so I usually opt for something else)
  • 1 lime, juiced (or 2 Tbs. lime juice)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste

Directions
Chop it up. Mix it up. Eat it with your face.

 

diced red onion

diced tomatoes

Simple Truth Black Beans

steamed corn

black bean corn salsa spice mix

 

Fitbit floors “climbed” figured out

I woke Monday morning to ice-covered cars.

So I spent thirty minutes (probably more) doing laps around my vehicles scraping what felt like an inch of ice off the windows.

Notice when all my steps were…

Fitbit steps taken statistic chart

All of my “active minutes” were also recorded in the morning, except a few from a grocery shopping trip in the afternoon.

According to Fitbit, I passed 10,000 steps on Monday. (Yay, me! I got a badge!)

Fitbit badges 10,000 steps

Most of those occurred while I was scraping the windows, but quite a few were taken after 6 p.m., when I met with a few friends for a toasty beverage. During those 30 minutes of sitting in a chair at a table and not moving anywhere, I took 20 steps.

Crazy, right?

Crazier?

Floors climb with Fitbit

That morning, while moving around on my flat driveway, I climbed 13 floors.

Ridiculous.

A lot more ridiculous than yesterday’s doubled floors.

I went back to Fitbit.

Your Charge detects floors using an altimeter, which is a sensor that calculates altitude based on atmospheric pressure. Though your Charge is designed to look for pressure changes based on elevation gains, pressure changes due to other causes – such as a gust of wind, a weather change or opening a door – can occasionally cause your Charge to register an extra floor or two.

Since the wind was more than gusting that morning, I guess Charge might have been confused… but by far more than a floor or two.

And I live in Kansas!

The wind gusts.

All. The. Time.

Oh well, problem solved! (Or understood, at least.)

Today, I’ve climbed the stairs three times, and Charge is on the dot. I’ve been inside all day with a headache and general malaise so I’m no where near reaching my 10,000-step goal or the gusting winter wind that might make my device think I’m working hard while I’m sitting on my rear.

I’m early to bed tonight.

Fitbit has also been detailing my terrible sleeping habits rather depressingly so I should fix that…

Fitbit Dashboard

Getting to know my Fitbit

My husband got me a Fitbit Charge for Christmas (because he’s a good husband – I asked for it).

Moments after setting it up on Saturday, I burned hundreds of calories, taken no steps, climbed no floors and entered no exercises. I figured it was the device warming up or getting used to being used, so I set it for sleep and prepared for a new day – my first day with Fitbit.

When I woke on Sunday, Fitbit told me I got six hours and 43 minutes of sleep – of which I woke twice and was restless nine times.

That’s depressing.

I’ll work on that.

My calories burned stat was still off the charts.

I read through Fitbit’s community forums and found out it includes BMR (basal metabolic rate) – which it knew because I entered my weight, height and age when I set up the device – in its calories burned calculation.

Fair.

BMR is the calculation of calories burned by existing. I didn’t think about those calories…

Using the dashboard, I set goals for weight loss and calories burned, which Fitbit decided should be 2,067 calories based on the medium level 20-pound weight loss plan I chose.

Yes, I need to lose 20 pounds.

No, you can’t tell.

Yes, I am considering fat loss not just weight loss, but, for the sake of this blog post and because I just got my Fitbit, we’ll just talk weight loss.

Fitbit Dashboard
Don’t judge me… I just started this thing.

I need a 500-calorie daily deficit, excluding my BMR, to lose one pound a week for a total of 20 pounds in five months – if Fitbit and I have done our math correctly. (I feel like it should be higher.)

I cross-checked with a few online BMR calculators to determine if Fitbit was correct – which, in hindsight, was silly because Fitbit is an online calculator.

Everything came out pretty much the same. I say we’re good to go.

Another stat is floors climbed, which was also inaccurate for me. At the end of the day, after my last climb to my upstairs bedroom, I climbed six floors.

Lies.

I know I climbed that flight of stairs – and only that flight of stairs – three times on Sunday. I went to the forums, but I didn’t really find a solution. My staircase is 15 steps up. Maybe that’s two floors to Fitbit.

I’ll keep an eye on it.

Fitbit’s claim to fame is its pedometer and the reason I wanted it in the first place. It sets the goal for you at 10,000 steps. I took less than 5,000 steps on Sunday, and I have no way of really knowing if I actually took that many steps, stomped my feet funny while sitting or swayed back and forth trying to decide what to wear.

I’ll take Fitbit for its word. Steps are its job after all.

The dashboard also features an exercise and food log, and Fitbit incorporates extra exercise entered into the overall calories burned stat – no math needed. The weight tracker, however, is manual – unless you get Fitbit’s scale thing – still no math needed.

Water tracking is manual, too, and it recommends drinking 64 ounces.

Overall, I’m excited to go to spin class and Power Yoga and walk around campus with my Fitbit. I am not going to make New Year’s resolutions this year… or ever again. Instead, I have a daily goal of 10,000 steps that I will reach on busy days at work without trying or by trying and taking a walk on campus twice a day.

…when I say it like that, it sounds easy.

Here goes!