Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween / Flu Confessions

Sunday was pretty uneventful. After an amazing Longhorn win, I got a pretty good night's sleep and woke up around 9:30am. I wasn't hungry until about 11 and when it hit, I decided to try a new hot cereal mixture. To my Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Hot Cereal I added: a sprinkle of raisins and dried cherries, cinnamon, and some maple syrup, and topped it all with peanut butter. It felt like fall and was delicious!!

The day was otherwise uneventful with some tv watching, book reading, and a nap. For dinner, i got a craving for Thai food so I decided to make my own chicken phad see eiw. It was pretty successful! I managed to stay up for the Next Top Chef, snacking on some cinnamon toast as I watched, and went to bed.

On Saturday, I had a quite different experience - I woke up at 8:15 this morning, ready for a good breakfast. I tried one of my new frozen waffles and had it alongside an egg white and a pear with PB. I had a glass of OJ as well as some green tea and that seemed to do the trick.

It was also Halloween, a holiday that gives children and adults alike the opportunity to prance around in costumes for fun, trick-or-treat for candy, and celebrate in a myriad of other ways. I had planned in participating in a Halloween bar crawl with friends, just like last year. However, because of my flu, my new celebration (in full costume of course) will be watching the Texas Longhorns beat the Oklahoma State Cowboys from the comfort of my couch. This game is a bit personal for me because my brother began his college career at OSU, thus creating a bit of sibling rivalry. The Longhorns have the winning record in the match up though and I'm sure they'll continue the streak tonight.

I've decided to compile a few confessions to make the blog more interesting while I'm on my flu-cation. Hope you enjoy!

Confession #1 - I really hate scary movies and all things scary. I don't do haunted houses, thrasher movies, and the like. I was that kid who got scared by Disney movie villains until the age of 6 or 7. So, while some delight in watching scary movies on this holiday, I'll be alternating between the football game and any rom-com that's on tv.

Confession #2 - I am not good at being sick. I hate feeling crappy and I also really hate the sitting still / laying around. I'm normally pretty active so spending a lot of time on the couch for multiple days at a time is hard for me. In fact, this morning, I decided my apartment needed tidying and my mirrors needed cleaning - partly because my apartment got a bit cluttered and partly because I needed to move for a bit. I'm now paying for this decision by being tired but it was well worth it!

Confession #3 - Even though fall means winter is coming, I LOVE the change of seasons and being able to enjoy the leaves changing. I think that this week was the peak for coloring and I snapped a few pics of trees in my neighborhood:

Trees lining Embassy Row:
The Indian Embassy across the street:

And finally, the rest of what I ate this weekend (at least what I took pictures of):

Tomato soup and rice for lunch on a rainy Saturday afternoon

What goes better with football than the last of my veggie chili and some Alexia oven-baked fries, complete with bbq sauce on the side?!

There were also some apples, pears, and European style plain yogurt for snacks!

What's your favorite rainy day lunch? What about your favorite french fry condiment?

Another one bites the dust

After 12 hrs of sleep and a midnight dose of Advil after my evil fever returned, this time at 101.8, I kind of struggled to get out of bed. The only reason I did was I was really hungry that for some reason. I made some toast with PB and cinnamon with some grapes (no picture) and parked it on the couch to watch The View. I knew I was sick because the next time I moved from my couch was at 1:00 when it was time to head to the doctor's office.

I decided to take the short walk (just a few blocks) to the doctor and was glad that I did. My legs needed to move a bit after being so sedentary for the past 24 hours. I did however, pay for this decision as the fatigue really kicked in once I sat down in the waiting room. I joined the army of smartphone users wasting time until their name was called and gave myself a thank you for continuing to make my COBRA health insurance payments so that I was able to see a doctor without a huge hassle.

I found out that my flu test was positive (seasonal) and that I needed to plan to stay home for the next 4 to 5 days to recover. She also prescribed Tamiflu yet said that I could use my own discretion for filling it or not, and I was on my not-so-merry way.

Because I had exciting Halloween plans for the weekend, I didn't have much food in my apartment, let alone the foods that I crave when I'm sick (and are recommended by friends, colleagues, and Jewish mothers alike): soups, juices, and plain grains. I made a very quick pit stop at the grocery store, touching as few things as possible, and brought myself home.

My shopping purchases:G2, Amy's Black Bean and Chunky tomato Bisque (low sodium) soups, 2 kinds of chicken and rice soup, brown rice, Trop50 OJ, Hot and Sour soup, and Autumn Mix candy corn :-)

I also got some toaster waffles because who really feels like cooking from scratch when you have the flu...
One of my favorite Halloween treats:

I unpacked my goodies, which included my special Halloween treat since I'm no longer to celebrate the holiday out with friends, and took up residence on the couch for a Say Yes to the Dress marathon. I did finally get hungry later on in the evening and had a simple and comforting dinner which consisted of:
Amy's Reduced Sodium Shepherd's Pie
baked sweet potato with cinnamon
3/4 c peas
OJ, G2, and lots of water
a few pieces of my Autumn Mix candy corn

I headed to bed early yet again. My head was pounding and I was exhausted. My body decided to protest all of the rest though and I laid in bed wide-awake until about 12:30am.

Down and Out

Well folks, I guess I should have known that something was up when I started feeling less than normal on Monday morning. I figured I was just recovering from an exciting wedding weekend, but when I woke up today, I felt like I got hit by a truck in my sleep. Since I knew that was pretty unlikely, I dragged myself to the medicine cabinet and took some Advil in hopes that it would relieve my symptoms.

I had an egg white with some toast with PB and some berries topped with yogurt. I was in the mood for something simple and kind of comforting. I headed off to work for a couple of my meetings and only made it through the early afternoon. That's when the Advil wore off, the fatigue kicked in 200% and I knew that I was really sick.

I spent the rest of the day / night on my couch, with a fever that reached over 102 degrees. No fun. I was in bed by 9, managed to watch most of Grey's Anatomy, and then fell asleep.

I had a quick lunch of veggie chili with some brown rice:

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Sweet End to the Day

I came home from my dentist appointment and needed some time to decompress. I have never really minded going to the dentist until today. It was not the most pleasant experience, mainly because I found the dentist to be pretty arrogant and not willing to listen to what the patient was saying.
I had a snack of a pear with crackers and some salad (not pictured) and watched some tv. I was able to motivate myself to head back out to the gym for yoga since I skipped class on Monday. After yoga, I rode the stationary bike for about 20 minutes and headed home.

My milage for the day:
2.5 mi walking, moderate pace
1.5 mi running
3.5 mi biking
Total: 7.5 mi plus 1 hr of yoga

I had a small salad when I got home and then made what I was really in the mood for - a baked apple. I still have some apples left from my apple picking adventure at the beginning of the month and am trying to eat them before they go bad. Here's the recipe for this delicious finish to the night:
2 small apples, cored and chopped
sprinkle of raisins
sprinkle of dried cherries
drizzle of agave nectar
drizzle of sugar-free maple syrup
sprinkle of cinnamon

Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees. Place chopped apple into a sheet of foil. Add the dried fruit then drizzle the syrup and agave nectar on top. Fold foil to make a pack, ensuring that it's well sealed. Bake for 20 minutes (depending on how tender you like your apple). Enjoy!

I ate my apple over some fat free plain Greek yogurt with a rice cake on the side. It was the perfect snack to eat as a watched Top Chef!

Have a good night!

Off to a better start

Even though this morning started a bit earlier than the previous two, it seems to be off to a pretty good start. I had a quicker breakfast before heading into work for an early meeting with my supervisor. I had a couple more things to prepare before the meeting and wanted to give
myself enough time.

I had a honeycrisp apple, toast with peanut butter, and an egg white with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese over a second piece of toast.

After a great meeting, I returned to my "office" for the day - the conference room and proceeded to be extremely productive for the next couple of hours. the next thing I knew, it was 1pm and my stomach was growling. I ran across the street to pick up some of my new favorite soup, Cilantro and Chicken, from a Japanese restaurant called Wasabi. I probably should have brought my lunch, but I knew I was leaving work early to go to a dentist appointment and wanted something quick and easy without many containers to schlep!

Rainy Day

I woke up feeling a little bit better after another long night of sleep. Then, I opened my curtains and saw that it was raining - ick! I don't seem to mind the rain when I can lay around but I had a full day of work ahead of me. I whipped up some breakfast of a slice of GF toast, an apple with berries and some yogurt, and 1 egg white with broccoli. It hit the spot and I headed out to the door to my first meeting of the day.

As I was leaving my meeting, I got word that I did not have my desk to work at for the day but decided to go into the office to see what was going on. One department is using some cube space on our floor until their new workspace is ready (on Friday) so I didn't have any place to work. After 2 more meetings I heated up my lunch and did some reading in the work room, and then at another worker's desk while she was at a meeting. It was a bit frustrating but I was able to get some work done before I finished for the day.

Leftover veggie chili made for the perfect rainy day lunch!

I came home and was able to get some chores done and run errands before my cardio weightlifting class. I had a snack of some grapes and crackers and hummus to fuel me through my workout.

Class kicked my butt - we did something new by focusing on one specific muscle group a week (this week was biceps) and I was already feeling it by the end of class. I wasn't too hungry when I got home so I had a salad with veggies and kidney beans and had some yogurt and a slice of toast with cinnamon (not pictured) for dessert.

I'm hoping that things go a bit more smoothly tomorrow!

Monday, October 26, 2009

Getting back into the routine

In an attempt to get back on track this week, I spent the evening
making a veggie chili to have for meals throughout the week. I'm not sure if it's the weather, the traveling that I did over the weekend, or encounters with a couple of friends who have Swine Flu, but I've just been feeling crummy all day.

I woke up this morning after a glorious 10.5 hours of sleep feeling like I could have used quite a few more. This weekend was fantastic although it definitely wore me out. I spent the weekend in Houston, TX for a sorority sister's wedding which was fantastic! The bride and her groom looked amazing and it was wonderful to see some of my sorority friends for the weekend.

I arrived on Friday mid-day and spent the afternoon helping bake and prepare for the wedding weekend. A couple of other friends arrived at the bride's house and we immediately picked up where we had all left off. That night was the rehearsal dinner at Maggiano's which was delicious and I think that all 9 of us had a blast. That night we went out to a bar called Monnalisa and then headed back to the bride's house to get some sleep.

On Saturday, a couple of the early risers (myself included which never happens - see my 10 hrs of sleep comment) headed to the hotel early while the others slept in. My friend L and I had a nice leisurely breakfast, then headed to the bookstore for some time reading. I also used some of that free time to take a walk through the mall across the street. I needed to get a bit of exercise in! After a successful walk, I headed back to the bookstore where L and I relaxed until we met up with the rest of the gang for lunch. By that time, it was time to get ready for the wedding. The ceremony and reception were at a beautiful event hall and we were all excited to watch our friend marry her fiance. The food was yummy, the dancing was great, and Mr. and Mrs. W were beautiful! A big mazal tov to you both!!!

On Sunday we had brunch together as a group and then went our separate ways back to our various cities. All of us commented on how great it is that no matter how long any of us go without speaking, when we are together, we pick up where we left off and continue having an amazing time. As my place cruised towards DC, I realized how lucky I am to have that wonderful group of friends and to have shared our college experience together.

I was so exhausted when I got home last night that I unpacked, ate a bowl of soup, and went to bed. That meant that today I tackled my grocery shopping before heading to campus to work for a few hours. I decided to skip yoga since I'm not feeling great and try to rest up and give my body more time to recoperate after this weekend.

Tomorrow will be a full day on campus so as soon as I finish this post, I'll be able to finish getting ready for tomorrow in time to watch my favorite guilty pleasure, Greek!

I'm hoping that I'll be better about my blogging this week and feel much better after another good night of sleep.

Good night!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Getting the week started

The sun is finally out on this Monday morning and that makes me happy! I woke up a bit early so I could have time for my morning routine before I go into work for a few hours. I had an omelet with 4 egg whites, 1/4c chopped broccoli and a sprinkle of cheese.

I've packed some plain nonfat yogurt w berries for a morning snack and a grilled chicken salad with peas for lunch.

I'm looking forward to my weekly Whole Foods trip, a run, and yoga this afternoon / evening. All-in-all it should be a pretty nice (and sunny) day.

Happy Monday everyone!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Baked Apple to end the Weekend

In an effort to try to use all of my apples from my apple picking adventure, I tried making baked apples for the first time.

Baked Apple Pocket:
- 1 apple (here I used Golden Delicious)
- pinch of raisins
- pinch of dried cherries
- slivered almonds
- sugar free maple syrup
- agave nectar
- cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop apple into 1/2 in pieces. Place in the center of a piece of aluminum foil. Sprinkle apple with raisins and dried cherries. Drizzle with syrup and agave nectar. Shake cinnamon on top (I like a lot of cinnamon on mine). Fold the foil to create a sealed packet. Bake in over for 20 - 30 minues (depending on how soft you want the apple to be). Remove packet from oven. Open pack and put ingredients in a bowl and ENJOY! Its a perfect treat for breakfast or dessert!

Time for change to keep things interesting!

If you scroll down, you'll notice that there has been quite a gap in my blog posts. I'd like to say that I have some brilliant, compelling reason for not updating this more frequently, but I don't. Part of me hasn't been sure what to write about as of late, another part of me has been struggling with which parts of updates I'm ready to share with cyberworld. So, as we say goodbye to a weekend of winter and welcome, yes, welcome a sunny week of fall, I'm making a couple of changes of my own.

Last week I started work, on a part-time basis for now. I will share a few things: I'm working at a place were I can definitely see myself working for a longer period of time. This change will hopefully come soon yet for now, I'm welcoming the opportunity to ease myself back into the workforce. This job is in a field about which I am passionate and will give me experience being "on the ground" instead of coaching and teaching. It will definitely be a fun challenge to adapt and apply all that I learned at Hillel into this new adventure. I will make sure to keep you all posted as this opportunity develops and when it turns full time (and the craziness of the past few months is over)! So, my first change is that for the first time in a while, I spent a nice part of my evening preparing for the work week - wrapping up chores and packing lunches and snacks. It sure does feel good to have a new routine!

Over the weekend, I ventured out to Virginia for some quality time with my friend L. We had many activities on our to-do list: seeing Couples Retreat, the gym to get in our 6 mile workouts since it was cold and raining, watching Texas beat OU, and some shopping. Basically - your quintessential girls weekend. While we were at L's apartment, she was showing me some of her goodies from a recent trip to Trader Joe's. We got carried away and ended up doing a our of her cabinets, discussing which products were smarter choices, other products she could try, and so on. During all of this, I had a couple of epiphanies:

1) I will be shifting my blog to have more of a food focus (life events will of course still be included!). You'll notice pictures of things I eat throughout the day, new gluten-free / natural / healthy / interesting food finds, recipes, and more. If there's something you would like to see, leave a comment below and I will do my best to incorporate it!!

2) I absolutely love looking at the foods people keep in their houses. And, when those friends and family that I visit start talking about new food ideas, healthier options, etc. I love sharing the food knowledge I've acquired over the past few years. It would be great to find a way to make this into a part-time job of some sort, maybe as a grocery guide or grocery consultant. Someone who accompanies people on a trip to the grocery store to show them healthy, quick and easy, diet-specific (where applicable) products to help boost their pantries and the nutritional value of the foods they buy, cook and eat. What do we think? Any suggestions for people to contact for guidance? Anyone who may be interested in this? This idea is definitely still in the incubation phase, but it something I'd love to get off the ground.

So, as this blog continues to evolve (I guess as my activities and I continue to do so as well) I hope you'll let me know what you think and keep following my recent musings!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Don't stop believing!

Thanksgiving is less than 8 weeks away which means a few things: cooler weather, a trip home, our amazing Thanksgiving meal, AND... the Dallas YMCA Turkey Trot!

During college, the Turkey Trot became a Thanksgiving Day tradition and one that I always look forward to. That first year, it was just my family and close friend who ran (or walked) in the 3 mile fun run. Since then, my grandfather and a couple of family friends have joined the fun.

Since I completed the 39.3 Avon 2-Day walk with my mom in May, I started thinking that this year's 5K wouldn't be challenging enough. So, I began considering the Turkey Trot's longer event, the 8 mile run. Somehow, I convinced my parents to join me and it look's like we will be completing 8 miles on Thanksgiving morning!

Those who know me know that I am not much of a runner. I can do sprints (thanks to years of playing tennis) and I can walk for days (which I've also done) but the idea of running for an hour or two at a time really does not sound appealing. However, I know that on Thanksgiving morning, it will be hard not to attempt to run at least some of those 8 miles with tons of runners surrounding me. So, I developed a training schedule that should help me be able to run at least half of the distance, although it will probably be broken up by short periods of walking.

Yesterday's training goal was 6 miles, which I decided to walk after running the majority of a 1.7 mile distance to an abs class yesterday morning. I metro-ed out to Bethesda for the annual Taste of Bethesda festival and decided to walk home (6.8 miles to be exact).
Still full from my lunch a bit earlier, I got on my way shortly after I arrived in the Maryland suburb. About 1.5 miles in, I realized that I was walking much of the path that my mom and I completed on our 2nd day (13.1 miles) of the Avon walk. This may not seem like a grand epiphany, but on that Sunday morning, it was cold, raining, and I was soaked head-to-toe due to a malfunctioning poncho and rain jacket. Yesterday however, the sun was shining, it was quite a comfortable afternoon, and I saw that 4 mile stretch of Wisconsin Avenue in a completely different light.

As I walked, I continued to thinking about how we didn't let the thunderstorms stop my mom and me from completing our 13.1 miles that day and taking a stand against breast cancer. I was reminded of what I am capable of and that despite less-than-perfect conditions, we were able to accomplish something great. I was inspired by that reminder as I continue to seek out employment opportunities and contemplate, once again, a potential return home for a while. The job market maybe look dismal and unemployment may be rising across the country (and up to 11.1% here in Washington, DC) yet I know that I could be a lot worse off right now. I was newly inspired by my walk yesterday to keep fighting because I know that if I do, I will be able to accomplish my goals!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fall Nesting

Those who know me know that as soon as the weather starts to cool down, I begin searching for ways to warm up my apartment (and myself too)! So, as soon as fall really started to settle into DC, my urge for warm and comfy food kicked in.

Here are my first 2 recipes of the fall:

Butternut Squash Soup (adapted from a Weight Watchers recipe)

4 cups vegetable broth
12 oz. butternut squash, cubed into 1 - 2 in. pieces
1/2 small apple, peeled and cubed
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped into 1 - 2 in. pieces
black pepper

In a large stock pot, combine broth, squash, onion and apple; cover pot and bring to a boil over high heat. Uncover pot and reduce heat to low; gently simmer until squash is very tender, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Puree soup in the pot with an immersion blender and season to taste. If you don't have an immersion blender, let soup cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then puree in a blender. Be careful not to splash hot liquid on yourself!

This recipe yields about 12 1/2 cup servings. It's a delicious fall soup that's extremely filling, creamy, and low calorie and fat-free!

Hearty Veggie Chili (inspired by a Hungry Girl recipe)

2.5 c canned tomato sauce (I use salt-free)
1 can diced tomatoes (agian, I use salt-free)
1 small can diced green chilis
1/3 c canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 c canned pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 c canned corn, rinsed and drained
1 large bell pepper, chopped
3/4 c onion, chopped
1/2 c carrots, chopped
3/4 c portabello mushrooms, chopped
3/4 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
optional: hot sauce

Place tomato sauce, tomatoes, chilis, and chili powder in a large pot and stir over low heat. Once the mixture is heated, stir in garlic and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add carrots and continue to cook over low heat. Meanwhile, in a pan, cook onions, peppers, mushroom in 1/2c water over medium heat. Drain excess water and add veggies to the pot.

Add beans and corn and mix well.

Cook over low heat for about 2 hours, stirring every 15 to 20 minutes. Chili is done when carrots are no longer crunchy.

Serving ideas: I had my chili over 1/2c brown rice and topped with a sprinkle of cheese. It is great on it's own, with tortilla chips, or even pasta!

AND, coming soon - a peek into my weekly grocery store list, and which stores have the lowest prices (inspired by a conversation with a friend over lunch today)!