Monthly Archives: August 2011

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Couscous with Goat Cheese

I have been craving goat cheese. I think it’s from reading others’ blogs and seeing their meals filled with the delicious cheese.  I knew I had to get my hands on it soon to satisfy my cheesy craving!

Good thing I had to make a pit stop at Whole Foods yesterday after work.  We’re putting on a Farmers Market at work tomorrow and the nice folks at my local Whole Foods are donating reusable bags for us to give out to the attendees.  So after loading my car with the boxes of bags, I grabbed a shopping basket to pick up a few items.  Goat cheese was #1 on the list!

Dinner

I’m not a huge fan of cooking, especially when it takes up too much of my time.  Therefore I typically only make simple meals with only a few ingredients.  Tonight was no different.  I literally picked things from my pantry and fridge, threw em’ together and hoped they tasted decent at the end.  This meal tasted more than decent.  It was freakin’ awesome! 

Roasted Tomato and Garlic Couscous with Goat Cheese

Serving Size: 2-3 entree portions or 4 side dishes

Ingredients:

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • Head of garlic (I love garlic…a lot.  Like I could eat it by itself, so by all means cut this down if it’s too much for your liking)
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 2 tbsp capers
  • 2 tbsp olive oil to roast the tomatoes and garlic (could omit and just use cooking spray)
  • 1 box of couscous (I used this brand and flavor)
  • 4 oz goat cheese
  • Fresh basil, chopped
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Optional: A good crusty bread to have on the side

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.  Dice tomatoes and head of garlic in large chunks.  Toss in olive oil and place on a baking pan.  Season with salt and pepper.

While the tomatoes and garlic roast (roughly 30 minutes), cook couscous according to package directions.

In a large serving bowl, mix the couscous, tomato and garlic mixture, onion, capers, goat cheese, and basil together until blended.

Slice up some delicious bread if you’d like…

Spoon out a hearty serving and enjoy!

Roasted tomatoes are seriously amazing and I don’t know why I don’t make them more often.  If you have not roasted a tomato yet, DO IT.  You will not regret it. It brings out the most delicious flavors.

I am already looking forward to leftovers tonight! 🙂

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A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

Last night as I finished up dinner (Chipotle Burrito Bowl thanks to Andy!), I started to think about how my life has changed over the last few years.  I thought about how my views on myself have especially changed.

When I was in high school I had virtually no care in the world.  I was fearless and definitely had a zest for life.  Also at this time, I didn’t have negative thoughts about myself or my body.

I honestly can’t remember ever being worried about what I was going to eat next and how it would make me feel.Will I feel fat and bloated? Will I feel gross? Will I vow to not eat this much again? Those thoughts were non-existent in my teenage mind.  That is until this point in my life when tragedy struck and I began using unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with life rather than actually working through things.

From about 18 years of age until my early 20’s, I was pretty food obsessed.  Sure, I still enjoyed myself and I have a lot of great memories from this period in my life, but I struggled mentally with self acceptance.

Freshman  year of college, 2004

I started an online journal on a fitness forum around this time and was excited to interact with others that shared the same passion for nutrition and fitness. The forum is now deleted…and I am thankful it is! I don’t think I could go back and re-read my posts.

But to be honest, this was a very unhealthy time for me. The interaction with most people was based on strict dieting and obsessive exercise habits.  Most everyone was after the “perfect body” and being at the “perfect weight” and so almost everyone’s journal was about being on a diet.

Source

I admit that I got sucked into this life (or perhaps the life was sucked out of me?) and I read everything I could get my hands on pertaining to dieting and fitness.

I even toyed with the idea of competing in a Figure Competition and ended up training and dieting for 6 weeks (read more about it here).  I ended up quitting(not ashamed that I am a quitter! Best decision I could have made).

I  went through a period of being depressed and down on myself, since I was suffering a terrible rebound. This filled me with anxiety and more negative thoughts about myself.

Food Obsessed

During this time in my life, I think that food ruled my world.  As much as I enjoyed it, I feared it.  I thought about it constantly.  What will I eat next? Am I getting enough protein in this meal? Should I be eating carbs this late in the day?

On the outside I looked completely normal (at least I think!) and didn’t really discuss food and dieting with anyone around me (only online).  But there was certainly a mental battle happening inside.

A Look into the Mind of the Food Obsessed

I’ve tried to dive deep into my memory to show what it was like for a period in my life.  Here is what I have come up with. So let’s take a walk down memory lane into the mind of the food obsessed:

Alarm goes off, I wake up and go to the bathroom.  I pee first because I need to weigh myself.  Surely my pee weighs a few pounds and I want to get an accurate reading.  I see the number on the scale and hate it.  I should not weigh this much.  Why don’t I weigh 135lbs or less? I am 5’7 and I should weigh 135lbs, not 140lbs.

As soon as I wake up, I instantly think: When am I working out today? What will I eat for breakfast? It needs to have the perfect combination of fat, carbohydrate and protein.  And I need to make sure I am getting at at least a gram of protein for every pound that I weigh.

My workout will either be lifting heavy (no more than 6 reps because higher reps are useless) or I will be doing a 25 minute HIIT session on the treadmill.  Steady state cardio is for the birds.

I pack my lunch and snacks before heading off to work as a Graduate Assistant Heaven for bid I am without a snack or without a plan. I’d be lost without my protein shake. I need that protein!!

I am starving by dinner time.  But how could that be? I am eating enough (5-6 small meals a day..it’s the only way to eat) and a 300-400 calorie meal should be more than filling.  I had a tablespoon of peanut butter for God’s sake! That good fat should be filling me up. But I begin to daydream about pizza, cereal, and ice cream.

I eat the ice cream. Then the cereal. Then I lose it and eat whatever I can find. Toast with peanut butter? Sure, why not! I’ve already ruined my day. Oatmeal? OK! I am a loser and can not control myself therefore I will stuff myself senseless and go to bed upset.

I repeat this sequence of events for years…

During this time in my life, I still felt like I was a happy person. But my idea of happiness was all wrong. I believed I was supposed to feel this way about myself.  I believed that happiness came when I reached a certain weight and could maintain it.  I believed that if and when I competed in a figure competition everyone would praise me and announce that, yes, she has the perfect body! Hip hip hooray! I believed that happiness was based upon looks and appearances.

This was my food obsessed mind at a glance.  Luckily, things have changed.

Star of the Morning

I had big plans to accomplish a lot on my “to do” list yesterday, but didn’t really get much done! I spent a little too much time reading blogs, writing a blog post, and ultimately watching too much TV.  Oh well, it was a Sunday.  Sometimes ya just gotta relax!

Sunday Recap

One thing on both Andy and I’s “to do” list was attending a friend’s BBQ.  We spent a few hours chatting and catching up with friends, eating and drinking while enjoying the nice weather. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

We got home around 7PM and just in time for a new episode of Jersey Shore! I have been forcing Andy to watch it with me, and bless his heart he does. He doesn’t understand why I am interested in half the shows I watch.  I don’t know why I am either, but ultimately I feel relaxed watching mindless reality TV.  I guess it’s only fair that I watch a Cleveland Brown’s Football game with Andy this season!

After Jersey Shore we watched the MTV VMA show.  I really enjoyed what I saw (I fell asleep at 10:30) and appreciated Lady Gaga cross-dressing for the evening.  I swear, she keeps everyone guessing! I was not expecting that.  The girl has some serious pipes and a world of talent, so I enjoyed it! But I enjoy anything she does really, I’m a huge fan.

Monday

I awoke today feeling completely refreshed. I slept like a rock! Nothing beats a good night’s sleep.  I can eat as clean as I want and exercise an hour a day, but if I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like crap.

To start the morning off, I took these two hyenas for their morning rabbit hunt walk:

I refuse to look at you after calling me a hyena

It was a nice morning, the weather has been just beautiful lately.  The temperatures have been in the mid 70s and just so pleasant! I’ll take it while I can before it turns into a Winter Wonderland around here!

The pups and I walked for about 25 minutes around the neighborhood, then they played in the fenced-in back yard for a while.

Having a fenced in yard has been amazing.  When I lived in Georgia I didn’t have one and I had to constantly leash them up.  Now they are free to roam and play!

Whenever Andy and I decide to buy a home or have to move again, a fenced yard will be a must-have!

Unless you have steak in your hands, we ain't coming!

Breakfast

After playing with the pups for a bit I headed in to make breakfast.  Cereal and coffee were on today’s menu!

Fresh strawberries that I got at Whole Foods Saturday were the Star of the Morning.  They were so sweet and delicious.

Strawberries are definitely my favorite fruit.  I never get sick of them. I seem to get sick of other fruits, such as bananas and apples, after so many days of eating them.  But I could probably eat strawberries multiple times per day.  In fact, I am having them again tonight as part of my evening snack!

Workout

Today’s workouts were the two classes I taught today: Step, Jump and Pump and Cardio Pilates (read more about the classes I teach here!).  Since I teach two classes on Monday’s and Wednesdays, I don’t do anything extra besides walk. I get plenty exercise from the classes.

In today’s Cardio Pilates class I decided to take the class outside for The Hill Workout.  It was perfect weather for it and we all worked up a sweat climbing up that sucker!

After about 30 minutes of being outside walking/jogging, we took it back inside for the Pilates portion. I included one of my favorite exercises in today’s sequence: The Rotating Side Plank

Start in a push up position:

Do a push up:

Rotate into a side plank, stacking your hand directly under the shoulder and stacking your hips on top of one another.  Hold for a couple seconds.

Do another push up then rotate to the other side:

Repeat for as many as you desire.  Today we did 10 total push ups (5 side planks on each side).  These are tough, but fun! 🙂

Have a great night everyone!

Questions:

Did you watch the MTV VMA show? Who was your favorite performer? I didn’t see all of them, but I enjoyed Lady Gaga’s (I love the song “You and I”!) and Chris Brown did really well too.  He’s got some serious dance moves! And Adele is seriously amazing!

What is your favorite fruit? Strawberries for me!

Pizza and a Movie

After doing some cleaning around the house Saturday morning, Andy and I headed out to grab some lunch and get some groceries at Whole Foods.

We’ve been shopping at Whole Foods rather than our regular grocery store, Giant Eagle, because we eat more organic foods.  We noticed that Giant Eagle’s organic selection is actually more expensive than at Whole Foods and they don’t even have a great selection.

Although organic is still more expensive than non-organic, I definitely prefer spending the extra money for better quality on the food Andy and I eat.

Lunch

We decided to stop at First Watch for lunch.

First Watch is one of my favorite restaurants.  They seem to really care about the quality of their food, which is a pleasant surprise for a chain restaurant.  I’ve found that some chains really lack in quality.  First Watch has never dissapointed me! Plus they have a pretty awesome menu selection and you can’t go wrong with any of their meals.

For lunch I decided on the open face chicken salad sandwich with the tomato basil soup on the side.  Andy went with a roast beef sandwich that came with a side of potatoes (home fry style) and a small salad.

I loved this meal, especially the chicken salad.  It had just the right amount of sweetness from the fruit and just the right creaminess from the dressing.  A definite winner! The soup was good, but not my favorite.  Andy seemed to enjoy his sandwich since he cleaned  his plate!

Shopping

After our bellies were full it was on to Whole Foods.

It was Saturday afternoon, so Whole Foods was rockin’ with shoppers.  But the good thing about Whole Foods is that they are usually spacious so I don’t feel too confined or uncomfortable shopping.

Plus, I’ve never had to wait in line to check out.  They always seem to have a lot of employees working and they even have someone that loads up your groceries into bags and into your cart. That seems like it should be typical for all grocery stores, but I’ve really seen such a decline in that type of service.

Whole Foods definitely steps up their customer service and I think they’re top notch.

We spent about $95, which is more than usual since we stocked up on some beer and wine for Labor Day weekend coming up.  Typically we spend around $75/week on groceries.

I picked up a new flavor of hummus that I have not had before: Caramelized Onion Hummus.  Wow, it’s super tasty! If you like the flavor of caramelized onions, you should try this.

Saturday Night 

Andy and I decided to stay in for the night and munch on some left over pizza from Pizza Friday.

I had some Greek Pizza which had chicken, feta, tomatoes, spinach, and olives.

Andy had a Hawaiian Pizza with pineapple, ham, onion, and bacon. We had ordered the pizzas from a local place called Revolution Pizza.  It’s become a favorite of ours!

While eating, we decided to watch a movie on Netflix.  Andy had wanted to see a documentary called Dear Zachary that his friend had recommended a couple of months ago.

I love documentaries, so I was all for it, but this one was extremely sad.  Although there were parts that were heartfelt and hopeful, it was still a very tragic story about loss. If you like documentaries, you will like this as it’s very well made, especially with the subject it’s about: death and tragedy.

Hurricane Irene

Thoughts and prayers to those on the East Coast and anyone who is being affected by this storm.

My parent’s home is in Emerald Isle, NC and was in the direct path of the storm.  I have not talked to them to see if they heard anything on their house, but luckily they had left town and headed back to Ohio last week.

I found this picture of Atlantic Beach which is only miles from my parents house and a town I spend a lot of time in when I am in North Carolina on vacation:

Source

The storm has moved out and is moving on up the coast, so be safe everyone!

Everything in its Place

The morning is my favorite time of day.  I love the quiet and peacefulness that morning provides.  I also love the feeling of a brand new day or a fresh start.

This Saturday morning was no different.  I awoke around 8am feeling refreshed and ready for the day.  I fed Boo and Sophia and then put them outside for one of their daily matches of tug-of-war:

After putting a fresh pot of coffee on, I had the sudden urge to clean and declutter the kitchen.  Strangely, cleaning my kitchen is quite the stress reliever and I always feel so good when my kitchen is spotless.

I started in the fridge, throwing out old food items that had been sitting around for too long or had expired (like old condiments).  Then I cleaned the counter tops and sink and cleared off the counter of odd items that just don’t belong (like batteries and recyclables) and put them in their proper place.

I love having clean counter tops.  I can’t stand having too many things cluttered around.

I get my cleaning habits from my dad.  He always said, “Everything in its place and a place for everything”.  I agree, dad! 🙂

Candle Lit Breakfast

After cleaning the kitchen and getting some laundry started, it was time for breakfast.  Andy was still sleeping, so I decided to surprise him with a candle lit breakfast.

On the menu:

  • Cheesy Eggs (2 eggs with a splash of milk + shredded cheddar cheese)
  • Whole Wheat English Muffin
  • Strawberries

Breakfast was served!

Surprisingly I was not in the mood for eggs this morning.  Maybe it was because I had breakfast for dinner the other night and had my fill of cheesy eggs.  Instead I made a bowl of cereal with fruit, a meal I don’t think I will ever be sick of!

In the mix:

  • Shredded Wheat
  • Flax Plus Multibran Flakes
  • Cascadian Farms Cinnamon Crunch
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Organic 2% Milk

Coffee with organic half and half rounded out my breakfast.

So far this Saturday is turning into a great day. Boo definitely thinks so too, as he’s spending the morning playing with his favorite toy (he even sometimes sleeps with it!)

I'll never let you out of my sight

Now Andy and I are heading to Whole Foods to stock up on groceries for the week then I need to tackle some more cleaning. Have a great Saturday everyone!

Question:

What is your favorite time of day?

His and Her Dinners

My lack of sleep from the bad storm and my 5AM wake up call yesterday finally caught up with me by the time I got home from work.  I was exhausted! I grabbed my pillow and blanket and headed straight for the couch to relax.

Andy had the same idea when he got home a couple of hours later and soon he was fast asleep on the couch while I watched the finale of the Real World Challenge (And yes, I realize I watch the same shows as high school age kids) 

I didn’t want to wake Andy up from his nap, so I headed in the kitchen to make myself breakfast for dinner.  I knew that Andy had wanted to use up some ground beef, so I figured we’d just have our own “His and Her” dinners tonight.

On my menu for the night: Waffles n’ Eggs!

I chopped up a tomato to fill in my omelet, which consisted of 1 whole egg and two whites plus a splash of milk.  Shredded cheese was also added to complete my omelet.

Dinner came together in a flash and it was oh-so-good! I love this combination!  Plus I love waffles topped with real maple syrup.

There was a time in my life when I tried to eat everything sugar free and get as few calories as possible from foods like syrup or creamer.  Long gone are those crazy days!  Bring on the real food! And what’s funny is that I used to eat enormous servings of the sugar free stuff and now that I eat the real thing, I only need a little bit to get all of that wonderful flavor.

Man Food 

Andy finally woke up after 2 hours of napping and was ready for some dinner. So he headed out to make some serious man food on the grill: Burgers!

Boo and Sophia were doing some serious begging for his burger (even after I gave them egg yolks…I guess a burger is more enticing!)

Let's make a deal...You can have some of my dry, I mean delicious, dog food and I'll have one of your juicy burgers...

For God's sake, drop something!

The rest of the evening was spent reading in bed. I’m currently reading The Help, which is such a great read so far! I wanted to read it before I saw the movie that is out.

Morning Run

I awoke today feeling well rested (finally!) and decided to take Boo and Sophia on a quick 2-mile run.  It was a great way to start the morning!

When we got back I attempted to take a picture with the dogs…

The pictures didn’t turn out so well…(although the overgrown weeds sure look pretty!)

This one was as good as it was going to get…

These two  were just more interested in cooling off on the patio instead…

Life is so hard

The rest of the morning was spent eating breakfast (Shredded Wheat and Peanut Butter Puffins cereal with strawberries and soy milk) and catching some of the Today Show before packing my lunch and heading off to work.

Almond Butter and Tomato Sandwich

I was inspired by Kelly when I made my lunch for work this morning.  The other day she talked about one of her favorite sandwiches: Peanut Butter and Tomato! This intrigued me, so I decided to try it.

I sliced up the tomato and seasoned it with salt and pepper:

I then topped two slices of bread with Almond Butter before packing it up in my lunch bag.

I packed the tomato and almond butter sandwich separately and then assembled it at work while on my lunch break.

I loved this sandwich and I think the salt and pepper on the tomato really adds such great flavor.  I’ll be making this combination again!

Gossip Friday

While sitting outside for my lunch break, I caught up with the latest US Weekly.

Fridays have become “Gossip Friday” for me since that is when the new magazine comes out.  I’ll admit, I enjoy reading celebrity gossip and just mindlessly flipping through the pages looking at the pictures.  It makes for a very relaxing lunch break too!

Have a great Friday everyone!

Question:

What are some of your favorite magazines to read?

Let's Talk Supplements

So this morning has been interesting. We had pretty bad storms last night with non-stop thunder which lead to quite the restless sleep.  Unfortunately I had to wake up at 5AM to get to work…with no power in my house.  Gotta love getting ready in the dark!

As you’d probably expect, I look completely glamorous today.

Staff Worker or Criminal?

Luckily I work in a gym setting so people don’t expect much from me (at least that’s what I tell myself).   This coffee is my best friend right now 🙂

On the positive side, I just read the weather forecast and we’re supposed to have a great stretch of sunny days coming up.

I need to soak em’ up while I can.  It is Cleveland, OH and soon enough it will be a winter wonderland!

Let’s Talk Supplements

Along with my coffee and breakfast (which was a mix of Shredded Wheat and Peanut Butter Puffins cereal with strawberries and soy milk), I also had my daily multivitamin.

Typically I take these specific brands that I talked about in a previous post.  I usually get them at the local Vitamin Shoppe or order online from them.

But when I ran out of multivitamins a couple of months ago, I figured I would try out a new brand.  I went with Trader Joe’s brand and I actually really like it.  It doesn’t have a full day of iron, which I also like.  Too much iron in a supplement does not agree with my stomach (which is common) and can ‘back me up’ so to speak. Not fun! 

Along with trying my best to eat a healthy diet full of variety and nutrients and exercising, I always try and remember to take my supplements.  I don’t know if they really do anything to be honest.  But I feel like it’s my “insurance” in a way.

Product Review

Recently I was asked to review some products by Sun Chlorella. I was familiar with the product since I did work in a supplement store for a few months while I was in between jobs, but I had never taken anything by this brand.

I was sent a package of Sun Eleuthero Tea along with some Sun Elethero Tablets.

From their Website:

Sun Eleuthero is an herb that can give your body a natural energy boost, decrease stress, and support your body’s fight against the ill-effects of modern living — without dangerous side effects. Eleuthero is an “adaptogen,” which is defined as “a non-toxic substance which reinforces the body’s ability to react to stress.” Eleuthero is considered one of nature’s most powerful, adaptogenic herbs.

When I worked in the supplement store last summer I learned a lot about vitamins and herbs and really found it all fascinating.  I had no idea so many herbs existed, eleuthero being one of them.

My Thoughts

I took the supplements daily (although I did forget a few times!) for the 20 days of tablets provided.  I also tried some of the tea.

I didn’t feel a difference in my energy, but that may be due to the fact that I already take a multivitamin, exercise regularly, eat well, and sleep enough.  I certainly didn’t feel anything extra, but I also don’t feel like I am lacking in energy to begin with (besides today of course!)

I liked the tea better than the tablets simply based on personal preference.  I love herbal teas.  Plus, the manufacturer recommends that you take 15 tablets a day.  Way too many for me. I’m a ‘one-a-day’ kinda gal.

I think the product is fine and the company seems reputable.  And although I would not personally buy this product in the future (mainly because supplements are expensive), I do think it can be useful for someone else who wants to use herbal products to supplement their diet.

Question:

What supplements do you use? Why?