It’s Thursday!

  1. Having an extra stressful week here.
  2. Trying to maintain my perspective and focus on the positive.
  3. There are LOTS of positives!
  4. I utilized my office building stairwell as a gym this morning. Climbed lots of stairs. It helped.
  5. Want to hear what really helped? I went to our staff meeting, where one of my coworkers brought rice krispie treats. I started reminiscing about having rice krispie treats in my special needs bag at Ironman. As some of you may recall, when I got to my bike special needs at IM Florida 2009 I told the volunteer that I wasn’t going to make it. I was behind my goal time and it wasn’t looking good for me to make the cutoff. But I persevered and you all know that I made the cutoff (by only 7 minutes, but wow, 7 minutes to spare.) It was a nice out of the blue reminder that I can bounce back and I am strong.
  6. I’ve been using Blue Apron occasionally over the past month. It is a service that sends you ingredients and recipes for meals you cook yourself at home. Overall I am very pleased with it. This week we’ve made two meals. One was stellar and one was just not for me. I couldn’t get the smell of it out of my nose for hours. Has that ever happened to you?
  7. The Knight leaves tomorrow. I’m bracing myself. It is only 8 days. Right?
  8. Last night was the first night in a long time where the Knight wasn’t home for the Prince’s bedtime (he went out with his buddies for a rare guys’ night). The Prince has gotten in the habit of having his daddy put him to bed (after mommy time, of course). It was a disaster. It took close to an hour and a lot of tears to get him to sleep. Hopefully the worst is over and future bedtimes will be easier. Cross your fingers, please.
  9. I am totally over winter! I know you know what I mean.
  10. I do love fires, though. There is at least one great thing about winter.
  11. Since last week I have attacked a few of those pesky to-do list items. I am making progress.
  12. I have made 34 posts to my MaxMemories blog so far! It has become a really fun project. I just wish I had started sooner. I highly recommend starting a project like this. Just start a blog, word document, jar or whatever where you post one memorable moment or thought per day. It is easy and so worthwhile.
  13. I have tried to respond to all comments recently. You can check the box for notification of follow-up comments

Thursday Thirteen 2014 – Third Edition

  1. I am on a ROLL with this blog thing!
  2. Our trip to Tampa this past weekend was terrific. We didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. Max had a blast and we all soaked up the sunshine and warm air. It was so great seeing old friends!
  3. Now that we’re back, I need to plan our next trip. I need to have the next vacation to look forward to. My anniversary gift to the Knight was originally going to be a guy’s weekend for him to visit his best buddy in Nashville. Then I thought that since it was an anniversary gift we should do a kid-free weekend away together. The Knight looked at me like I had two heads when I told him. He said we can’t go to Nashville without the little prince. Next up: a family trip to Nashville.
  4. Sunday is my 10-year job anniversary. Times flies – well, sort of.
  5. This month I’ve gotten back to lifting weights. I have resumed using heavy weights and it feels great. I’ve noticed a difference in how I feel.
  6. There are big decisions afoot. Trying hard to be grateful for options and not be overwhelmed.
  7. I did something little that has made a big difference. I organized my work bag using small zipper pouches. I can’t believe how much better this is and how happy it makes me. Now I can find whatever I need and more importantly, the little prince doesn’t create a disaster when he rifles through my bag.
  8. My current work frustration is my work email address. It spells out my first name, which is Catharine with an ‘a’ instead of an ‘e’. The problem is that when individuals outside the Agency email me and misspell my name they don’t get any kind of notification that there was an error. Therefore, they never know they haven’t reached me and assume that I have just not responded. Our IT department doesn’t see a problem.
  9. Apparently, I have not been clear about my involvement with Arbonne and the fact that I have become a consultant. I guess I need to be a little more assertive about this whole thing while balancing my desire to not pressure people or be annoying.
  10. It is SO cold out. 11 degrees when I left the house this morning. Brrrrrr!
  11. Fifty five days until Spring!
  12. It was really hard to get back into the work groove after having a few days off.
  13. With less than two months to go, it is time to start planning birthday festivities. I’m thinking spa…

Juicing and Blending – Part II (Blending)

In Part I we talked about juicing. Today we’ll talk about blending. I don’t think most people call it blending, but I do.

The biggest distinctions between juicing and blending are how you process the food and what you wind up with. As I explained in my previous post, juicing means you squeeze the liquid (including the fabulous vitamins and minerals) out of the food. Blending involves basically pureeing the food, including all of the fiber and solids.

What’s better? Well, neither is really better in my opinion. They are different.

The great thing about smoothies is that you can make yourself a meal in a glass. You can get your fruits, veggies, protein and even complex carbs in one easy-to-drink glass. The possibilities are endless. Blending is really easy to do, too. We have a Vitamix, and love it. Honestly, though, you can use a regular old blender and though the product might not be as smooth it will be perfectly sufficient.

We have smoothies pretty much every morning. Our latest thing, thanks to our friend Healthy Chick is actually to add green juice to our smoothie. Boom – a 2-in-1 treat. We get our healthy green juice along with the benefits of a smoothie. Awesomeness in a glass! What a fabulous, healthy way to start the day!

I think that just about everyone has heard about green smoothies. And I think that pretty much everyone’s first reaction is “Ewwwww! Spinach in a smoothie?” If you haven’t tried it, you must. I promise you, you don’t taste the spinach. You can use other greens (like kale) and yeah, you might taste it a little. How awesome is it to start the day with 2-3 servings worth of fruits and vegetables?

So, what do put in our smoothies? Our basic recipe is pretty consistent, but we vary it throughout the week.

Basic (approximate) recipe for 2 servings:

  • 1 frozen banana (or 1/2 frozen, 1/2 fresh)
  • 1 cup of baby spinach
  • 1 cup of frozen fruit (we usually use a combination of wild blueberries, cherries, strawberries and sometimes pineapple)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup liquid (we use unsweetened almond milk and/or green juice)

Blend the above ingredients. Then add protein powder and blend until just mixed. I find that if we put the protein powder in at the beginning it has a different texture/taste. We prefer it with the protein powder and chia seeds (see below) added at the end.

Variations:

  •  we usually add chia seeds along with the protein powder
  • you can vary your protein powder flavor
  • yogurt and avocado are both nice additions
  • we sometimes add peanut butter or PB2 (powdered peanut butter) for a different twist
  • we’ve done a creamsicle flavor using clementines/oranges along with vanilla protein powder
  • there’s a great recipe (I think I posted in before) for a pumpkin pie smoothie using canned pumpkin
  • A friend who is diabetic told me she uses raw almonds and ricotta cheese in her smoothies

Really, the possibilities are endless.

A couple of additional notes:

  • I love the Arbonne protein powder. It is one of the main products that sold me on the company. It has some added cane sugar and stevia (a natural sweetener) but no artificial sweeteners. I am very anti-artificial sweeteners. I am fine with a little sugar. Look at your protein powder. I am willing to bet it has a lot of junk including soy and artificial sweeteners. Arbonne is made with pea protein.
  • We love our Vitamix because it is fast, very efficient and easy to clean.
  • As for cleaning, we fill it 1/3 of the way with warm water, squirt a little dish detergent, put the lid on tightly (this part is imperative, trust me) and blend. Then rinse out the container. Easy peasy!
  • Another tip: When the Knight (aka the official smoothie maker) is away I take a few minutes over the weekend to make “smoothie packs.” It takes no time at all to portion out the ingredients and throw them in a bag. Then in the morning when I’m trying to get out the door with a toddler I just empty the bag in the blender, add the spinach and almond milk, blend and go.

max smoothiemax smoothie2

Juicing and Blending – Part I (Juicing)

Most of my friends know that the Knight and I are big fans of both juicing and blending. Actually, the Little Prince is a big fan, too. He has never minded the sound of the Vitamix and he loves to sit and watch the juicing process.

max green juice

Loving Daddy’s green juice!

Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor. This post isn’t based on extensive research or journal articles. It is just based on what I know as a health nut.

Juicing and blending are so beneficial. They are great ways to get lots of wonderful vitamins and minerals into your body.I’m just going to touch on the basics. Please feel free to contact me for more information or to discuss further.

There is a difference between juicing and blending, though many people inadvertently use the terms interchangeably. Juicing refers to extracting all of the liquid out of fruits and vegetables. Blending means taking whole fruits and vegetables and pureeing them into a drinkable liquid (aka smoothie).

So, what’s the difference though, really?

The Knight is responsible for most of the juicing and blending in our house. He is remarkably consistent about it and I am thrilled because honestly, I can’t say I would be as good about it. Juicing results in well, juice. Blending results in smoothies. One is usually  thin, one is usually thick. Smoothies are much more filling and lend themselves to many more additions like protein. I am going to talk more about juicing today and blending/smoothies another day.

*Juicing*

For juicing, the Knight follows a recipe from Alex Junger’s book “Clean.” Yes, this is the plan that what’s her name – blonde actress – I can’t remember – follows. Gwyneth Paltrow. Yeah, her.  Enough about that.

Really, you can do any combination of fruits and vegetables. The possibilities are endless. We are in somewhat of a rut on combinations. We typically do green juice (kale, celery, kale, cabbage, broccoli, cucumber and lemon (recipe at the end of the post) and carrot-apple.

When you juice, you get all of the nutrients of the veggies (and fruit) in any easy to consume, digestible serving. It would be really tough to try to eat all of these vegetables daily, let alone in one meal.  Blending them would result in a very big glass of stuff (which probably wouldn’t taste very good). So, you wind up with a liquid that is very concentrated in micronutrients in a very digestible form. The Knight and the little Prince LOVE this juice. I drink it but it isn’t my favorite thing. Lately the Knight has been adding a little pear for my sake and I like it a lot more.

There are pros and cons to juicing. The biggest pro are that you get a ton of nutrients in just a small glass of juice. It is very easy to get lots of health vitamins without a ton of calories. The biggest cons are that you don’t get the valuable fiber out of the food and you use a lot of input for a lot less output (so it is expensive, and some say wasteful).

I highly recommend the movie “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” It is available streaming on Netflix. Even if you’re not a big fan of documentaries, watch this movie. It is actually entertaining and inspiring, as well as informative. It even has some cute animations.

As for juicers, we highly recommend our Omega masticating Juicer (the J8004/8005/8006 series). Masticating means it slowly presses out the juice without heating it. Many other juicers use centrifugal force which can heat the juice and kill some of the essential nutrients/enzymes. Centrifugal juicers are also much louder, though they are usually cheaper. Frankly any juice is better than no juice but if you can afford a masticating juicer, go for it. Masticating juicers are also pretty easy to clean. At least ours is. Plus, it has a 10 year warranty (which we utilized and we were super impressed with the customer service).

Here is the recipe the Knight uses for his Green Juice:

Ingredients:
– 2 green apples
– 3 stalks celery
– 1 leaf lacinato kale (any variety will work)
– 1 leaf Swiss chard (we usually substitute more kale)
– 1/4 cabbage
– 1 head broccoli
– 1/2 medium cucumber
– 1/2 lemon

Directions:
1. Run all of the fruits and vegetables through a juicer. (We often strain the juice but it is not necessary)
2. Drink immediately or store it in the refrigerator for up to a day.

As a side note: my Christmas I gave the Knight the mason jar attachment for the Foodsaver. This has changed the way we juice. He now juices a double or triple batch and seals the jars for later. What a huge time saver!

Thursday Thirteen (Again)

Hi there! Thanks for the great comments and emails in response to my last Thurs13. I received encouragement on a variety of things as well as a ball chair recommendation. Woo hoo!

More randomness to share this week.

  1. I have a new iPad – the Air. I had been using my iPad with a broken screen for the last 3 months. Santa brought me a replacement. Long story but I just got it up and running this week. Holy cow! It is a whole new world. I am pretty excited about the new retina screen, the speed, and the lighter/smaller design.
  2. Speaking of Christmas, it was pretty obvious that my family knows my sweets preference. There was definitely a theme. I have always been a big fan of peanut butter filled pretzels, and I couldn’t believe that the Knight found dark chocolate covered ones. O! M! G! My sister bought my Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, which are on par with my favorite Trader Joe’s ones. Good thing I’m back on track with training.
  3. Back to the iPad thing. I discovered a new app that I am really excited about. I have been a huge fan of Evernote for years. Recently my biggest use is to store recipes. Well, whadayaknow. They now have an Evernote Food app. So far it is wonderful. It even automatically imported my recipes from my Evernote account and made a cookbook. Seriously cool stuff!
  4. February means two weeks without the Knight. Fortunately the weeks are spaced, but I am still not too happy about it. We do fine when he is away but he is seriously missed by both of us and it is just plain hard to solo parent. Hats off to the single and military mommas!
  5. For the past year or so I’ve been indulging myself in 5-10 minutes in the sauna after my workouts. This is as close as I get to meditation and I feel so great afterwards. Why did I
  6. We really want to become a “no shoes in the house” family but we just haven’t gotten there yet. I think the biggest obstacle is figuring out how to store our shoes downstairs or figuring out what to do if we want to continue keeping them in our bedroom closets.
  7. I recently made a big change to my hair, which pretty much no one noticed. 🙂 I stop highlighting it and started just dying it back to it’s natural light brown color. The salon is using a demi-permanent color which is less damaging. There is TON of grey on this head. For real.
  8. My mind is swirling with a long to-do list of relatively non-urgent items. I’ve written them down but it only helps a little. It is worst at night when I am trying to sleep.
  9. The biggest items on that list are 1) find a good accountant (my previous attempts have been unsuccessful); and 2) set up a 529 account for Max (we have a savings account but we need to get a 529. I can’t decide which one). I just need to do it.
  10. After being reminded of the 3 am wakeups involved in the Goofy and Dopey challenge, we are leaning towards the Wine & Dine for our next Disney race.
  11. Pie Night is coming! I’m so excited to be able to eat this year (although the fabulous Bob the Pie Man was incredibly kind to make me my own Chicken Pot Pie last year. Love that man!) If you’re not a friend of Bob’s and you want to attend, let me know. And if you’re a friend of Bob’s and you don’t get an invite by late February – oops. Let us know. 🙂
  12. I am seriously looking forward to Spring (and Summer, and Fall). How many more days? Not a fan of Winter.
  13. It was hard for me to come up with 13 things this week.

Broccoli Mushroom Quinoa Casserole

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am getting back into cooking. It is good for me in so many ways: I enjoy the process (usually), I get such a rush or satisfaction after making a healthy and delicious meal, and it is so valuable for me to have meals that I can reheat for future meals. This weekend I made this recipe for the second time and loved it just as much as the last time. It is really easy and very nutritious.

I am a big fan of the one-dish meal. I love getting carbs, protein and vegetables in one dish. Enter: the casserole. Casserole just screams cheese to me, and what’s not to love about cheese? This one is full of whole grains, protein and veggies. If you like spicy, the 1 teaspoon of crushed red pepper is perfect. If not, you’ll want to scale this back significantly or eliminate it.

I added chopped baby spinach this time for a little extra punch of green and it worked well. I probably used about 2 cups and added it in the last step before baking. I used a 13 x 9 pan and it made about 6 servings. My notes are in brackets.

Broccoli Mushroom Quinoa Casserole

(unfortunately I can’t find the original source, but the blogger adapted the recipe from The Best Remedy Blog)

1.5 cups of dry quinoa
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
1/2 pound baby bella mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 heaping cup broccoli, cut into tiny florets
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese (I used 2% Breakstone’s)
4 ounces (a small log) goat cheese (allow to soften)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

How to:

Prepare the quinoa. The ratio is typically 2:1 water to quinoa. So in a pot, combine 3 cups water and 1.5 cups quinoa. Turn on the stove and allow the water to start to boil. When it starts to boil, turn the heat down to low and cover. The quinoa should be ready in about 15 minutes. Set aside. [I cooked the quinoa in the rice cooker using about 1 cup of broth and 1 cup of water. Set it to the quick cooking cycle and voila.)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees.

Spray a baking dish [I used a 13 x 9 pan] with olive oil or butter spray and set aside.

In a large fry pan over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of oil. Then saute the onions until they are translucent.  Add in the mushrooms and allow them to brown a little and release some of their juices.  Stir every minute or so. Add the broccoli, and let it just begin to cook- it should turn brighter green!  Stir in the garlic, cook for another minute until fragrant and remove from heat.

Add the quinoa to the pan and stir until combined.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cottage cheese, goat cheese, red pepper flakes and salt.

Add the quinoa mixture to the cottage cheese mixture and stir until combined. Pour into your greased baking dish.

Sprinkle with 2/3 of the Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and place in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 20 or 30 minutes more, or until it is hot throughout and golden along the edges. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and serve.

 

Here’s your picture, Amanda:

quinoa casserole

Thursday Thirteen is Back

I love doing these Thursday Thirteen posts of total randomness. Enjoy!

  1. Posture: My mom sent me this little video which has had a huge impact on me. So much for thinking that my regular exercise counteracts my sedentary job/lifestyle!  I’m thinking about getting an active chair like a ball chair. I would love some suggestions.
  2. Marathons: Once again I have a little FOMO with the Disney races going on this weekend. I’m thinking that Wine & Dine *or* Dopey (not both) will be happening for me next year.
  3. Simple Pleasures: I believe in savoring life’s simple pleasures.  (Don’t get me wrong, big pleasures are nice, too. )
  4. Tea: Speaking of, I drink a cup of white Chai (Stash) every morning at work. That’s the only caffeinated beverage I consume.
  5. Swimming: As I posted on Facebook, I’ve gotten back to swimming. By “back” I mean I’ve swam (swum, swimmed?)  three times in as many months. That’s actually huge – and I plan to make it at least weekly from this point forward (and more often when the lake warms up). We figured out that the last time I had a true swim workout was two and a half years ago.
  6. Slowness: The first two swims were fun because the Knight and the little man came with me and walked next to me in the pool. So what if they walked pretty much as fast as I swam?!
  7. RIP: I haven’t really talked about this at all, but we lost my sweet kitty Earl Grey back in November. He was my first pet. He was 13 years old. 😦
  8. earlGetaway: We’re going to Tampa for a quick little weekend escape.
  9. Let’s Celebrate: Saturday is our three year anniversary. Nothing too exciting planned.
  10. Virtual Jar: I’ve started a new blog to record Max memories. The idea was inspired by this photo that was posted umpteen times on Facebook. Let me know if you want the link.jar
  11. Sunsets: Driving home while there is still some daylight, and sometimes pretty sunsets, has been such a nice improvement over the weeks prior. See #3 above.
  12. Big purchase: I bought a new car in August to replace the Honda I had driven for nearly 15 years. I am so grateful for it but I have mixed feelings. It has required emergency trips back to the dealership three times already. Yes, first world problems! My favorite thing about it is the backup camera. A life changer!
  13. Comments: I absolutely love it when I receive comments on my blog. Leaving comments has become harder lately. I try to leave them on other blogs but always seem to be blocked for one reason or another. (Hint: Please leave comments. They make me happy.)

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