Friday, September 13, 2013

Healthy Homemade Italian Dressing

Oh man.  I LOVE Italian dressing.  I do NOT, however, like it from a bottle.  My dear friend who gave this recipe to me once told me that once I start making my own dressings, I will no longer like any from a bottle and boy she was right.  So let's get down to it.

Here's what you'll need:

  • 1:3 ratio of white balsamic vinegar
  • 2:3 ratio of extra virgin olive oil  (I normally go for 1/3 and 2/3 of a cup as my ratios)
  • Pinch of powdered ginger
  • Shake of cayenne (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp of the following: basil, oregano, parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste (to be honest, I've never added salt or pepper but I'm sure it would be fine)
  • 1 clove of garlic or 1/4 tsp garlic powder.  I use garlic powder because that way I can keep it at room temp.  If you use the garlic, you need to keep it refrigerated

  1. Place all ingredients in a salad dressing mixer
  2. Mix well!  You will also need to mix well before every use as vinegar and water separate (science, kids!)

This lasts about 2-3 weeks at room temp.  A serving size is 1 tbsp and here is the nutrition info:

83 calories
9g fat
2mg sodium
1g sugar

FYI, the majority of the calories come from the olive oil - but remember EVOO provides good fats and good calories!  Just take a look at a nutrition label of a bottled dressing next time you go to a grocery store.  They're normally laced with ridiculous ingredients, tons of unnecessary sugar, and artifical colors or flavors.  Stick with this.  Natural and delicious!  I will for sure be trying some more homemade dressings in the future :)

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

(Almost) Caprese Salad

Pardon the poor picture quality, this was taken on my phone.  At work.  BECAUSE AMERICA!  And let's  be real - I don't have an SLR camera at home anyway so this is about as good as it gets.

ANYHOO, just wanted to share a super quick and easy snack that I LOVE.  As you can tell from the glorious photo above, this is basically a dumb downed version of a caprese salad.  No basil.  The balsamic isn't reduced just poured on.  But it's light, filling, and a great mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack.  Here's what you'll need:

  • 1 medium roma tomato (I got mine local.  For me, I would MUCH rather have local over organic)
  • 1-1.5oz fresh mozzarella (I got mine from Aldi)
  • 1-2 tsp balsamic vinegar, depending on your preference and size of your tomato
  • 1-2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (I think we have Star at the house but it honestly doesn't make a difference)
  • Salt + Pepper to taste
  1. Slice your tomato to your desired thickness.  I like to end up with an even number of slices to make the mozzarella cutting easier (This is also called OCD)
  2. Cut a slice of mozzarella about 1/4" thick
  3. Salt and pepper tomato if desired
  4. Cut that slice into 4-6 smaller slices depending on how many slices you got out of your tomato
  5. Place them sweetly on top of your tomato
  6. Drizzle oil and vinegar on top.  Since I packed this snack for work, mine was in a container so mine was shaken together
Voila! Delicious snack with super low calories!  For those health conscious folks like me, here are your nutrition specs*:

Calories:  165
Fat:  13g
Sodium:  105g
Protein:  6g


5 Foods Always at The Smithsonian

The Smithsonian is a museum I really wanna go to.  It's also what I call our house since our last name is Smith.  Anyhoo, as we have been endeavoring on (and actually really enjoying!) this healthy, mostly 'whole food' eating lifestyle, I have come to notice there are 5 things that are really healthy, versatile, and delicious that usually stay in our house at all times. FYI, none of these pictures weren't taken by me.  I Google image searched them.  Holla.

1.  Spinach

Baby spinach.  Adult spinach.  Frozen spinach.  Doesn't matter.  We use this for everything!  As I still love to juice, I mostly use this as a base for my juices.  Have a smoothie recipe?  Throw a handful in there - you honestly won't even taste it!  Also for sides and salads, the possibilities are endless!  And now that I found this that shows you how to freeze spinach in an ice cube tray for smoothies, GAME OVER!

2.  Eggs
Dang.  First, I never realized how expensive eggs can be.  Second, I'm not sure what's gotten in to The Smiths, but we go through SO MANY TINY BABY CHICKENS in a week.  Okay, so maybe not THAT many, but still - it really is a lot.  After reading TONS of health blogs and consulting with my dietitian friend, there is nothing different from white eggs than brown eggs other than breed.  You hear me?  N.O.T.H.I.N.G.  That means when you see brown eggs next to white eggs and price difference is 40 or 50 cents different, save your change!  You just want your eggs to be high in Omega-3's.  Also, if you don't believe in chickens being in cages,  you can buy free range, too, but you'll be paying higher for it.  And again, no nutritional difference until you get into to the "No hormone fed, only vegan fed" crap, but honestly, I eat them for protein reasons and they're delicious!  Scrambled with a little Texas Pete is a personal fave.  I also have a go- to breakfast for on the run:
  • 1 Thomas Everything Bagel Thin
  • 1 slice Sargento Ultra Thin sharp cheddar
  • 1 egg white, cooked in the microwave (you heard me! MICROWAVE PEOPLE! 30 seconds per egg white - I just spray coconut oil in a microwave safe bowl, put my egg white in there, and heat for 30 seconds)
We also use egg whites a lot for cooking/baking too.  And honestly, the whole 'should I eat only egg whites or the whole egg' debacle is dumb.  The yolk is not that bad for you.  But whatevs.

3.  Greek Yogurt
To admit, I was TERRIFIED of doing the whole greek  yogurt switch out for mayo, sour cream, etc ... BUT I PROMISE YOU, I put this stuff on our healthy tacos we made the other night and I literally COULD NOT tell a difference.  It was incredible.  Smoothies.  Throw some cinnamon and mix it around and make a great dip for apples.  Exchange it out for oil, butter, or heavy cream by following these guidelines I found on Pinterest.

4.  Garlic
Or as I like to call it ... OMGarlic.  It's unhealthy how much I love garlic.  (Actually it's real healthy how much I love it because garlic is super good for you!)  We keep garlic ON DECK at all times.  Wrap it up in tin foil and roast it for a delicious smell and spreadable garlic you can use on your healthy whole grain bread! Throw minced garlic in vegetables and coconut oil and roast in the oven.  We usually have whole cloves as well as the minced stuff in a jar - it's like pennies on the dollar at Aldi and SO worth it!  I also get our garlic from Aldi, too, because you can get 3 cloves for 79 CENTS! Wheeeeee!  No vampires in The Smithsonian.

5.  Cucumber
My best friend HATES cucumber.  I still love her, but I think she's nuts.  I can do so many awesome delicious things with cucumber!  My fave is just to slice it up, add a touch of salt and pepper and eat away.  I love dipping cucumbers in hummus (side bar, I am not a carrot fan. Blech.)  I also saw recently on Pinterest to make little sammiches with them!  Save on your carbs!  I also have this recipe I'm DYING to try from Eat Yourself Skinny of Cucumber Cups stuff with Spicy Crab! They sound so freaking good.  I also eat a TON of salad (see #1) and love having cucumber as a topping - adds a crunch and a veggie serving instead of saturated fats and carbs with crutons. 

To be fair, we also have a lot of other things we keep on deck at home - avacados (which has to be an honorable mention for me because I LOVE LOVE LOVE them), tuna, and boneless, skinless chicken.  They're also healthy too, but in thinking of the top 5 staples we are never without, these things make the list every time!

Happy Thursday!

Juicing - Day 3

Head: Carmen, you're starving

Tummy:  Seriously. No you're not.  Feel how full you are.

So that was my day 3.  Literally.  ALL. DAY.  

We went to Ikea and hoping to try to occupy my brain, it only made me hungrier.  Over the loudspeaker they kept talking about their "delicious meals starting at $1.99".  2 of my favorite things - food AND a sale??? My husband was staring at the business end of a hissy fit.

Here's what I ate today:

Breakfast - SunnyG
Lunch - Lemon Lime (this is one of my faves)
Dinner - Cinnamon Apple Squash (omg. add the cinnamon. if not, it tastes like buttfeet.  which is a scientific thing, just ask scientists)

Happy Mother's Day to all mamas! :)

Juicing - Day 2

So today was hard.  I don't know if it was just that I was at home most of the day instead of work or what but I could NOT stop thinking about food.  And to make things worse, my best friend of 20 years sent me a picture of her delicious sushi takeout she got for dinner >:(

Yea. My sweet gentle Jesus.  

I did try to occupy myself since my husband got called in to work today.  I took Tiny Sir and Fat Madam (that's nicknames for our pupchildren - yea, we're gonna make great parents one day) to the dog park today.

Yea, he cute. Ignore the ridiculous COWHIDE RUG my husband insists on keeping on our floor.  Ugh.  

Anyway, today was hard, but here were my meals for today:

Breakfast:  Orange Sunrise
Lunch:  Veggie Garden
Dinner:  Good Morning Juice (breakfast for dinner, I guess?)


Juicing - Day 1

So, day 1 done. Under ze belt.  That's pretty cool.

Today was honestly a lot easier than anticipated.  I never felt "hungry".  I did not have any "detox" symptoms.  For me it was more of a mind game because I never realized how much I thought about food.  Like, I'm talking all freaking day.  ALL DAY (in my best Schmidt voice.  New Girl fans out there?  Anyone?  Mmmmmk).  I am a meal planner so normally I'm thinking of what I will be cooking when I get off.  I'm constantly on Pinterest trying to find new recipes.  I'm subscribed to a ton of food/home recipe blogs so I'm constantly reading about it.  So today was hard because I had to distract my mind.  I have a wonderful job that I sincerely love.  A perk of my job is a lot of down time.  Especially on Fridays.  So I played a LOT of Candy Crush, looked at a LOT of deal websites for stuff at bargain basement prices that I'm not going to buy anyway, and refreshed Twitter every 3 and a half seconds.  And I kept thinking about the "before" pictures we took of my body today and how phenomenally disgusting I looked. VOM.COM you guys.  It's outta control.  That's enough to motivate anyone.

For my husband on the other hand, today for him was awful.  After he threw up (but before he passed out asleep) he has already told me he's quitting.  We both knew the first 3 days would be rough especially for him because of the detox, but if he can JUST make it through, he will be fine.  I know it and he knows it.  But after having a migraine all day and not being able to sleep because he's so uncomfortable, he's not into it.  My husband's not the "I'm up for a challenge" kinda guy.  Sinful, but he's working on it and I'm loving him through it.

Oh, and a disclaimer: My husband did seek the approval from a family physician because he is a tad overweight and diabetes runs in his family.  One of my very good friends is a dietician and I have been consulting with her as well.  All systems a go and everyone approved for takeoff.

For those of you who may care at ALL, here wre my meals today:

Breakfast - Super Defender (Kale, Carrots, and an orange)
Mid morning snack - Grape & Green (Kale, Spinach, Celery - which I omitted - and a grapefruit)
Lunch - Green Lemonade
Dinner - Apple Lullaby (Red apples, Lettuce, and a Lemon) *the lettuce is supposed to have a 'sleep inducing' effect. Not seeing that yet but whatevs.

Failed It: Homemade Almond Butter

You've seen the pins.  I have too.  They're beautiful.  Creamy, delicious almond butter "so easy a 2 year old can make it".  Well ... I guess I'm only 18 months old cuz this fell apart.  Literally.  I fell apart.

So, after seeing these pins hereherehere (oh, and also here), I thought it couldn't be that hard.  This many people wouldn't be posting about it if it wasn't doable.  We keep raw unsalted almonds on deck at our house because we need healthy snacks so I don't drown my emotions in Trolli Sour Gummi Worms.

Enter my Memorial Day morning.  And all afternoon.  And the beginning of the evening.

After my blender fiasco of having a blender explode on me and have frozen berries stain our white cabinets >:( I very calmly threw the old blender out the window and immediately called my husband and told him we would be purchasing another one.  I really reeeeeeaaaallllly wanted the Vitamix, but we didn't have $400 laying around even though we're ballers.  (<---That's a lie.  We aren't ballers.  We're newlyweds.)  So after mucho research, I decided to go with the Ninja even though I had my reservations about it since they have their own (ridiculous) infomercial.  Whatever.  It was at Target and we had giftcards which made it about free.99 which I always love.

We got the Ninja that also comes with 2 single serve smoothie cups as well as a food processor since I'm starting to process more foods.  All you have to do is put these in a blender.  I read some things that said it was a test of patience and I'm all, "whatevs. I got this".

Freaking LOL.  So 10 minutes in, I got a bunch of powder.  Which is what I was told would happen.  Okay, that's fine.  Scrape it down the sides and start again.  Another 10 minutes in, I got a bunch of powder.  Mmmmmk...Starting to get a little worried but still it all says "you will  think you've done something wrong but the magic will soon happen when the almonds release their oils".  Okay, I thought.  Just gotta let the little buddies release their oils.  JUST LET GO LITTLE OILS!  So this time, I turned the food processor on again, took my little man out for a walk around the block for about 10 minutes because his ears were hurting I could tell from the loudness and came back.  I GOT  A BUNCH OF POWDER.  And the base of my Ninja was literally so hot I could barely touch it.  Which, again, it said may happen.

Well, since we just bought the thing, I was a little less worried about it because it's still within the 30 days at Target and it came with a year warranty.  But I did give it a break.  Watched a recorded TV show for about 45 minutes.  Then went at at it again.

This time, I switched it out to a small food processor....for a second, because the minute I turned it on, the plastic piece that controls the blade broke clean off.  OMG.  I HATE EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW!

So, I put it in the blender attachment of the Ninja instead of the food processor attachment.  Instantly, it got a little more "creamy".   YAY!  I should have done this the whole time.  So at this point, I started adding the salt and honey to sweeten it up.  And turned the blender on for about 15 more minutes and walked away.  Came nothing any different than when I'd left it.

By now it's lunch time and I'd started this around 9:30.  Seriously.  I timed all this.  So I decided to give the Ninja another break while my husband went and got Moe's for lunch since it was our "cheat (on your healthy eating, not your spouse) day".

Came back.  Put the almond "stuff" back in the food processor and turned it on it's lowest setting.  Maybe it was spinning too fast.  About 20 minutes of letting that sit, I furiously said "FORGET IT I'LL JUST BUY IT" ... turned it off, let the smoke dissipate from the heat of my Ninja (seriously, it was smoking), and threw it all away.  But not before I tasted it and snapped a couple of pictures with my phone.  The taste was mealy and not at ALL creamy goodness.  I was livid.  I'd literally spent all day to get this:

I know what you're thinking.  That doesn't look bad!  Which is why I took this picture:

To me that looks like this brown sugar body scrub I got from my best friend one time.  Ugh.

Literally HOURS of work later, a smoky Ninja (that does still work PS), and a broken mini food processor and all I ended up with was 2 cups of (freaking expensive) almonds in the trashcan.


Sippin' on {gin and} juice. But Really Just the Juice ...

After watching the ever moving Fat, Sick and Nearly dead, the husband and I (well, really just myself) were inspired to juice.

We bought a juicer.  This one.  We read reviews, did our research, but didn't want to splurge on a real expensive one because what if we didn't like it or didn't take it seriously.

Well, today we began a 3 day juice fast, to which we will then switch to juicing once or twice a day and then just making a lot more healthy choices.  Today we also spent a FACK ton of money on a more powerful juicer since we will be using it so often.  This one.  I spent days researching this time - watched countless videos and read countless reviews.  I chose the Omega 8004 over the Omega 8006 for 3 reasons.

1.  It was cheaper.  Duh.  Dolla billz y'all.

2.  It had a 15 year warranty instead of a 10 year (really, either is great but still.  I'm greedy and I'm workin' on it)

3.  The power switch on the 8006 apparently is near the opening of the juicer which can cause issues because of wetness of your hands and the produce.  Or something like that.  It's been a long day.  IDKMYBFFJILL?

I wasn't honestly planning on blogging about this because that's not really what I created my blog for but I may as well.  Ain't got nuttin' else to do on account of NO FEWDZ.

I swear most of my posts won't be this long in the future.

No thanks, Pinterest!

A common thread I see among posts with friends and others who find stuff on Pinterest is that Pinterest gets all the credit.  That's incorrect.  Pinterest is the OUTLET in which you are linked to numerous wonderful and awesome bloggers who create what you see on Pinterest.

Yes, if someone asked me in the past where I got a real cool tip, trick, or DIY idea, I'd be all "I got it on Pinterest!" but that's not true! I found it on Pinterest, yes, but I actually got the idea from blogger x, y, z.

So, just for future reference, here are some blogs you will probably be seeing come up a LOT in my future posts:

A Bowl Full of Lemons - the most beautifully organized blog ever

iHeartOrganizing - Jen.  She's my hero.  Gorgeous house and brilliant organizing ideas.

Six Sisters Stuff - Tons of great recipes! Especially easy and/or Crock Pot related

Shanty 2 Chic - ZOMG. This woman. She's super handy and makes tons of cheap and easy crafts using wood scraps and simple tools. Of course she makes other real fun cheap crafts, too, but you know what I mean :)

Now, I subscribe to a zillion blogs so there are many more that you'll see from me occasionally, but these for sure I can already tell you will make me sound like a broken record.

Long story short, I want to always give credit where credit is due.  And so should you! (don't mind me, just being Mrs. Dr. Seuss over here)

How I Use Pinterest

So I figured if this blog is going to be all about how Pinterest has turned me into a housewife, I need to explain how I use Pinterest.  I'm gonna be honest - I absolutely CRINGE when I see people not using it correctly.  Pinterest is a great thing, but for those who don't know how to use it or who aren't using it to it's full capacity, it hurts my little heart.

First, you can delete the captions for pins and write whatever you want!  So this means that when you repin a recipe and all it says in the caption is "OMG I made this for him last night and he just wouldn't stop asking when I was making it again" you can simply change it to "Crockpot Chicken and Rice".  There.  Wasn't that easy? :)

Next, don't be afraid to create numerous boards!  I'm very OCD and so I desperately NEED these boards to keep all my ideas straight!  So, while I have a "Recipes" board, I also have these:

One very important thing is make sure that your pin actually has a working, usable link attached to it.  That doesn't mean the link works but simply goes to the Google image you pinned.  This means if it's a recipe, the link is to the ACTUAL recipe, not a site you have to click on to get to the other site, to get to your aunt's house, to get to that site, to get to Jesus, and THEN you'll get the recipe.  

Also, I would point out that if it's a post from a person's blog website (as many many many of my posts are) make sure you are on the ACTUAL post, not just their home page that happens to have the thing you want to pin on it.  Wanna know why?  Because if the post is 'new' but is from December of 2012, then when someone clicks on the pin on March 25th, they won't see that because the page has now moved.  That's no fun.

Now that we have those basics down, here's how I really use Pinterest:

I utilize my 'like' button!  So here's what happens ...

1.  When I scroll through my hourly daily visit to the website, I see posts of stuff that I like/may cook/want to make, etc.  Since a lot of people don't know how to properly use Pinterest, they may have either linked to just a 'Google image' which means there is no recipe or instructions.  In that case the pin is utterly useless.  So as I'm scrolling, instead of going to the pin right away, I simply click the like button.

2.  After I have 'liked' all the pins I want since the last time I have visited the site, then I go to my 'likes'.  

3.  Here is where I click on each pin I have liked, review it, and clicked the pin to go to the link:

4.  In this case, the pin was to a successful link, but after reading the pin, I realized that it didn't belong on any of my boards because there wasn't anything more I could do with it.  In this case, I simply go back to my 'likes', unlike the pin and that's that.  If I DO want to keep the pin, I simply repin it.  

So...that's it.  Really. So simple!