Morning green.

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After my gallbladder revolted big time just before Thanksgiving I started thinking about needing to give my diet a little boost. Then, after I had that bad boy surgically removed I decided just because I could eat whatever I wanted pain free I probably shouldn’t.

When this little smoothie blender went on sale for black Friday I decided it was a sign. Green smoothies in the morning could maybe be a good thing.

Maybe.
What if they taste like grass?
Then, maybe not.
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I opted to get a smoothie mix from Jamba Juice, to use as a base and add kale to, to see how I’d like it.

Turns out I do like it!
Yay for green smoothies!

But, getting the mix is expensive so my next step was to concoct my own version…Lucky that little bag had an ingredients list, huh?
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Basics from the bag…
Orange Juice
Frozen Peaches
Vanilla Yogurt

It also says to add apple juice, which was good for blending when all the other ingredients were frozen, but my fresh ingredients could go without or use water.

I add…
Two large leaves of Kale, pulled off the woody stem.
Liquid vitamins, I get mine from Vitamin Cottage. (helpful because I frequently forget to take my multi)
Random other frozen fruit as the mood strikes.

Easy peasy.
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Adding blueberries and vitamins make it much more mud colored than green. It still tastes good though so I’m okay with that.

I like the way drinking a green smoothie makes me feel in the morning. More awake. More ready to get moving. Lighter.

So far this year there have been mornings I don’t drink a smoothie. Usually because I’m drinking iced coffee instead. (I love my new Chemex coffee maker!) But, I’m trying to make this burst of veggies and fruit a habit for at least three or four days a week.

I’m looking for easy feel-good changes this year. I’m looking forward to how my body changes without the inflammation and pain my gallbladder had been causing. I’m also looking forward to seeing if my green smoothies do more than just make me feel more awake in the morning.

Are you a green smoothie, or maybe juice, drinker? I know I’m a little (or a lot) late to the green smoothie party so if you have a favorite recipe please share it with me. I’m sure I’ll eventually get tired of my Fuzzy Navel inspired smoothie & it would be nice to change it up sometimes!

I’m raising my green-stained glass to 2014!

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{make} Almond Bark Popcorn

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What you need:

1 bag of microwave popcorn (Buttered or plain it all comes out delicious; although I prefer plain.) – popped, with unpopped kernels removed

3 squares of white ‘chocolate’ candy coating – melted (I do this in a glass bowl in the microwave: 30 seconds, stir, 30 seconds, stir.)

1/2 cup toasted, slivered almonds

Vanilla extract & Almond extract

Milk or dark chocolate for drizzle (half a Hershey bar works great)

Waxed paper

A helpful friend (Isn’t food always better when prepared with friends?)

What you’ll do:

Combine the popcorn and almonds in a large bowl; have your friend stir while you pour the melted white chocolate over the kernels.

Sprinkle the extracts over while it’s getting mixed. I didn’t measure this I just covered the top of the bottle with a finger and sprinkled till it felt right. It doesn’t take much. (I did try adding the extracts to the melted chocolate before we put it on the popcorn but it made the texture grainy and hard to mix.)

Once everything is evenly coated lay out a sheet of waxed paper and spread the popcorn out. Melt the milk or dark chocolate and drizzle it over the top.

Try and resist eating it all before it has had time to cool and set up. This might be the hardest part of the whole process! We found that repeating the recipe a few times and covering the dining room table in piles of chocolate covered popcorn helped us not eat that whole first batch right away.

Of course, once we were out of supplies that now cooled first batch didn’t stand a chance!

Devour & Enjoy!

On my plate: Beets!

So, I was in Whole Foods the other day and I came across a bunch of beets; I thought ‘Gosh, I just have to have those!’ Today, I finally got to have them. For lunch!

Mm. mm. Good!

Roasted beets with sauteed beet green salad.
Glorious.

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To roast my Beets I first gave them a good trim and scrub to get them squeaky clean. I didn’t bother to peel them because after they’re roasted the skin just scrapes off super easy with the back of a knife.

I lined a baking dish with foil; I’m lazy and like easy clean up. Then, I drizzled a scant amount of olive oil on my beets and sprinkled them with salt and pepper. I folded over the foil, put the lid on my dish and into the oven they went. I didn’t even bother with preheating since this was my lunch getting made at nine in the morning. I cranked the oven up to 350° and set the timer for an hour and a half.

Your beets are done when a knife will slide in easily. The roasting process gives them a sweet, earthy flavor. I love it. I hope you will too!
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For my sauteed beet green salad I washed the tops/greens I cut off my beets and pulled the leaves off the stems. I de-stem the same way I do for collars or kale because the stems are tough. Then, I tore the greens into smaller pieces.

To a saute pan sprayed with a little Pam I added:
a handful of my beet greens
a handful of kale I prepped the same way. (You can easily use all of one or the other but I had kale that needed to get eaten.)
1/3 of a large portobello mushroom, chopped
1/2 a medium zucchini, chopped
1-2 minced garlic cloves

I let that saute until the greens began to wilt, covering the pan with a lid for a few minutes helps that process. Then, I added a splash of Worcestershire sauce, a splash of Bragg’s liquid animos (you could use soy sauce if you prefer), and a bit of chopped red pepper.

I let all that saute until my zucchini got a little color but the peppers were still crunchy. I moved that off the heat and got my beet ready to add on top.

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Holding my still hot beet with tongs I scraped the skin off and chopped it into chunks. Oh, it smelled so delicious!

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Finally, I piled my plate with my sauteed salad and surrounded it with beets. Not too long later the plate is empty and I am one happy herbivore. 🙂

I saved my extra roasted beets, beet greens and veggies for another meal. I’m just cooking for myself here, but you could easily make this for a crowd.

Do you love beets as much as I do? If not this just might change you’re mind. If you’ve only ever had them pickled, you’re in for a tasty treat!

The beet is on!

On my plate: Pizza! (V, GF)

Vegetarian, gluten-free, easily made vegan, awesome veggie packed pizza!

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It is so good.

I saw somewhere that someone (don’t you just love my vague memory?) had used a portobello mushroom cap as pizza crust. I thought that sounded brilliant! So I did, too.

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First, I scraped out the gills of my mushroom because I wanted to fill the space with extra veggies. Then I broiled my ‘crust’, first on one side, then the other, to get it a little softened.

While the mushroom was in the oven I sauteed a little onion, bell pepper, zucchini, and chopped kale together. When they were sufficiently wilted I added a quarter cup of my favorite marinara sauce. I piled this saucy, veggie awesomeness into my mushroom, added some cheese, and put it back under the broiler.

Two minutes later I had this…

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Lunch is served.
Quick and easy.
Perfect for my low cal. diet with only 180 calories.
Did I mention it was so good?!
What happy munchies are on your plate recently?

Eat Realization

I’d like to say Revolution but it’s too early in the process for that. So, Realization it is.

My friend Chris told me about this app she’s using to help track calories and eat better. It called My Fitness Pal, and I decided to try it out. I’ve been using it two weeks and have lost five pounds. I’m pretty excited about that.

Is reaching my goal weight possible? I actually think so. That might be the biggest deal of all. What would it be like to fit into a size I haven’t worn since high school? Heck, I thought I was fat then, getting back there and feeling good will be some kind of awesome.

Its been quite the realization to log my food everyday. To realize what I had been eating was extremely eye opening. To make choices within my calorie parameters has been hard only a few times. In general I like good-for-you food and so eating it isn’t hard. The hard thing is that I like bad-for-you food too. Saying no when it’s in front of me is my biggest challenge. Willpower is not my strongest asset.

Keeping the log in my hand, by way of my phone, is helping me make better choices. I’ve even sat down to eat something I thought would be good and wasn’t then said ‘forget this’ and dropped it in the trash. When you’re looking to make every calorie count you quickly decide eating something you don’t even like is a waste. I don’t waste my calories on things that don’t make me happy. That’s an awesome way to eat.

It might sound crazy but it’s new to me to stop and think about my food so much. It starts with ‘How many calories is it?’ But quickly moves on to ‘Is it worth that many calories? Will I enjoy it? Am I excited to eat it?’

It has also been fun to see what restaurants are really great to go to when watching your calories (hello Applebees) and which ones are to be avoided (hello Red Lobster). Actually, Applebees inspired one of my favorite lunches. It’s a mass of vegetables in a red wine reduction sauce. The restaurant makes a chicken and vegetable meal that’s similar and tastes amazing but I’m super excited about veggies so I nixed the chicken and unloaded the fridge. Here’s a picture of the restaurant version…

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And one of my tweaked veggie lunch…

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That’s a dozen vegetables, salt and pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and red wine. Delicious. In fact, my only complaint about Applebees is that there’s not really vegetarian options on the under 550 menu. I’ve eaten meat the two times I’ve gone in the past two weeks. I actually ordered a steak for the first time in my life. I mean, I’ve eaten steak before but I’ve never ordered it in a restaurant. Mostly because there’s about a million others things I’d rather order off a menu.

However, at Applebees I did order a steak -so that I could get to a spinach stuffed mushroom side dish. I know that makes little to no sense. But, I’m really shy about asking for changes in a restaurant when it seems like it’d be annoying to the wait staff. I did take a picture of that meal -to remember that first and probably last steak order of my life. And, more importantly, to remember those delicious side dishes.

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The steak was ok. The mushroom was awesome! I’ll be making that for lunches too. I’m a big fan of spinach and mushrooms. It didn’t even need the cheese. I’ll probably leave it out and toss in extra veggies when I wilt the spinach, onion and bell pepper sounds like it would be great minced and thrown in. A little garlic maybe, a splash of Bragg’s, I’ll be good to go.

Ok, now I’m just making myself hungry! I also discovered a yummy low-cal soup in my Eating Well magazine this week —Quinoa and peanut. You can google it, it’s on their website. Of course since I’m the queen of never following a recipe I added a little mushroom and sliced sugar snap peas to mine. It was mighty tasty.

Well, that’s my latest getting healthy update. I’ve still been on the roller coaster, hopefully this time that I’ve gotten off I can make a permanent change. It’s a good thing to be learning to be more aware of what goes in my mouth and how much of it there is. It’s also a good feeling to finish my food log and have My Fitness Pal tell me if every day were like today I could weigh ten pounds lighter in five weeks. Watching that number drop is a good thing. One good choice at a time.

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