Where did I go wrong

Somewhere along the way I feel like I missed something. I missed out on a class. I missed a step somewhere. I overlooked something along the way. All of the people around me have been able to find someone that they like, someone that likes them, someone who loves them for their flaws as well as for their greatness. I feel like I either missed that person or perhaps I missed out on some secret that everyone else knows, but is keeping from me. Now, I know that’s not the truth, but that’s how it feels. 

I’ve been single since I was 19. That’s 17 years. And even then, it was only a 6 month relationship. My longest one yet. So the majority of my life has been spent alone. Don’t get me wrong, my friends and family have been very loving and have kept me going, but it’s just not the same. 

Since I was a little girl, I’ve always had crushes. First it was a family friend’s son. He was a cute, blonde haired, blue eyed surfer who loved Vans. Then it was a blonde haired, blue eyed quarterback (go Bengals!), then it was a bunch of school girl crushes throughout the years. I’m that kid who always had a crush, but it never materialized. Ever. 

I remember back in junior high/high school days, my best friend and I would read those teenage magazines and in the back pages here was always an ad for that book on how to get a boyfriend. We pitched in our allowances and bought it. We were so excited to get it and start applying the lessons learned towards our crushes. They didn’t work. Lol. But we tried! 

Fast forward 20 years and I’m still clueless. Maybe it’s my personality. Maybe it’s just not the “right time”. But when will that be? I’m closing in on 36 and I feel like it’s never going to happen. I’ve tried online dating…Match, eHarmony, Tinder, Bumble, etc… haven’t been successful with any of them. Perhaps I need to have my buddy, Jon Vaughn, the creative mind behind the blog, Full Time Daddy, and the brains & muscle behind the best custody software out there, Genesis, write my dating profiles for me. Maybe my person isn’t out there yet…if that’s the case, hurry up dammit, I’m getting bored here. 

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Smokey Goodness In A Bowl

This everlasting heat in the valley has worn out its welcome in my book. I’m ready for sweatshirts, blankets, and soups, already! So much so that I’ve bumped my AC down a notch and decided to attempt a black bean soup. I’ve never made one before, but after doing a little research I had a plan.

My mom uses hickory smoked salt in our poquito beans recipe, so that inspired me to make a smokey black bean soup.

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SMOKEY BLACK BEAN SOUP

1 lb dry black beans
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 each: green, red, yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or shaved
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 Tbsp hickory smoked salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
Salt & pepper to taste
6 c stock or broth (I used chicken, but for a vegetarian meal, vegetable stock would work)
Avocado, cilantro, sour cream or plain greek yogurt for garnish

Rinse and sort the beans – remove any bad beans and rocks. Soak beans overnight in about 8 cups of water. Or do the quick soak method: put beans and 8 cups of water on to boil. Boil rapidly for 2 minutes, remove from heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour. RINSE WELL when they’re done. This will remove a lot of that unwelcome toot juice.

In a large soup pot, or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Sauté the onions till translucent. Add peppers and garlic. Sauté until soft. Add chili powder, cumin, smoked salt, and cayenne, stir. Add the beans and broth to the pot. Add salt and pepper to taste. Heat over medium low heat, covered, for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until beans have reached your desired tenderness.

Remove from heat. I like to use my immersion blender in the pot to blend the soup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, get one. Just kidding! (But really, though, they’re awesome) So if you don’t have an immersion blender, put a few ladles of the soup into a blender and blend till smooth. Do this for as much as you want blended. Be careful about blending hot liquids – only do a little at a time.

*Note: if you want to make this a more hearty meal, grill up some chicken, dice it and throw it in with the soup at the end.

Nutrition:
(4 – 2 cup servings)
Calories – 138
Total Fat – 8 g
Cholesterol – 0 mg
Sodium – 1708 mg
Potassium – 184 mg
Total Carbohydrates – 15 g
Dietary Fiber – 6 g
Sugars – 4 g
Protein – 6 g

Dilly Cukes

I’m all about Greek yogurt lately. Dipping Doritos’ Salsa Verde chips in it is my most recent guilty pleasure snack. So for a healthier option, I thought I’d make a dish similar to one of my favorite Polish dishes.

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Dilly Cukes Recipe

1 hothouse cucumber, seeded and chopped or thinly sliced
3 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp white vinegar
Salt to taste

Combine all ingredients. Refrigerate for a couple hours to let the flavors meld, or enjoy as soon as you want!

Ruff’n it today!

So the other day at the grocery store, I was talking to the guy at the seafood counter and he convinced me to try something different… White Ruffy. It’s a very mild fish that’s similar in texture to tilapia. And it’s quickly become my new favorite!

I prepared it my favorite fish prep way… Crusted with either toasted wheat germ or flax seed meal. It was SUPER delicious and quite healthy!

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Wheat Germ Crusted White Ruffy

1/2 lb white ruffy fillet, rinsed & patted dry
1/4 c wheat germ or flax seed meal
1 egg white
Seasoning of your choice

Heat a non-stick pan that’s been sprayed with non-stick cooking spray over medium-low heat.

Put the egg white in a medium sized bowl. Give the egg white a good beating with a fork, or use liquid egg whites. Put the wheat germ and seasonings on a plate large enough to handle the fish. Pass the fish through the egg whites and then press into the crust mixture, making sure to get both sides coated well.

Place fish in the pan. Cook for 4-5 min on the first side and then about 2-3 min on the flip side or until the thickest part of the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Enjoy!

Nutritional Info
Calories: 158
Protein: 22 g
Total fat: 6.5 g
Total carbs: 4 g
Dietary fiber: 4 g

My favorite seasonings to use for this dish is a family recipe that is made at Graveyard Vineyards in Paso Robles, CA. Best seasoning EVER if you ask me.

There will be days…

I recently lost a very good friend to breast cancer. She was a wonderful friend, amazing mother, beautiful wife, and just an all around incredible woman. She enjoyed life, sometimes more than the rest of us, I think. She had a heart of gold and would always think of others. It seemed like her mission in this lifetime was to make the people around her the best person they could be – leaving behind her an everlasting legacy.

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I realize that there will be days when missing her will be in the forefront of my heart, but it’ll never outweigh the love and gratitude I have for my friend. For her, I am thankful.

I’ll take it!

Well I’m doing it, y’all! Down 10 lbs so far from about 3 weeks ago, and I’ve lost 2.5″! This is exciting news.

The best part about all this is that I’ve been eating more and I know that the food I’m fueling my body and mind with is of good quality and is mostly wholesome. I’m not being super stringent with myself – I did have a brownie Sunday and today, but based on the calories I’ve consumed both days, I could afford it.

I’m learning to track all of my calories using the myfitnesspal app. It’s really making me conscious of the things I’m eating, and how often (or infrequent) I’m eating. Plus at the end of the day or throughout the day, I can check my overall nutrient levels so I can see if I need to go easy on the carbs, or pack on the protein during the last few meals of the day. It’s a pretty cool app that helps you stay accountable for what you’re eating. And really, that’s what I need the most… Accountability.

Envious Chicken!

Lately, I’ve been noticing that while I like eating fish, I don’t have that fully satisfied feeling after I’m done eating. Plus I’m not quite getting all the protein I’m aiming for each day. So I decided to switch things up a bit and make some chicken. Now, I’m not one of those individuals that can sit down and devour a whole chicken breast – I pretty much have to force myself to eat any more than 4 bites. However, I have discovered that if the chicken is “hidden” amongst other things, such as covered in a sauce, or wrapped in a tortilla, or in a salad, I will eat it.

This weekend I was trying to think of a way I could disguise some chicken in a healthy way and suddenly I had an idea! GREEN CHICKEN! It’s basically shredded chicken cooked in green enchilada sauce. So I went to the store to grab the ingredients and now that I’m more conscious of what I’m feeding my body with, I started looking at the nutrition labels. While I thought the green enchilada sauce would have been a good choice (or at least not a bad choice), I tried reading the ingredient list and was unable to get through the first 2-3 lines without running into some bizarre, unnatural ingredient that I couldn’t pronounce (and I’m pretty good with phonetics). So I started combing the shelves and that’s when I discovered Herdez’ salsa verde. I recognized every single ingredient listed and the calorie & sodium count was more in the appropriate range for my lifestyle.

Turns out the taste is definitely different than the green enchilada sauce I’m used to, but its still got great flavor. Next time I’ll add a few things to doctor up the sauce so its got a little kick to it. Once the chicken is cooked, you can use it in casseroles, enchiladas, tacos, taco salads, etc…

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Green Chicken
Serves 14 (4 oz servings)

3 1/2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast meat, rinsed (goodbye sodium!)
1 large jar Herdez Salsa Verde
1 Onion (yellow or white), sliced, diced, or quartered
1 tsp Cumin
1 Tbsp Oregano
Garlic Salt to taste

Put some of the onion in the bottom of a large crockpot, arrange the chicken breasts on top of the onion, then put the remaining onion in. Pour the jar of salsa verde over the ingredients, add the seasonings. Cook on high for 4 hours, or on low for 6-8 hours. Chicken will be ready when you can easily shred with a fork. It should just fall apart when pressure is applied.

Once the chicken is done, remove from the juices and shred chicken using 2 forks, or chop chicken into bite-sized pieces. Add to your salad, wrap up in your favorite tortilla, roll up in a corn tortilla and pour some of the sauce over the top to make enchiladas, etc.

One 4 oz serving contains:
124.7 calories
2.2 g fat
21.2 g protein
4.7 g total carbs
1.1 g dietary fiber
2.0 g sugars
344.5 mg sodium