Thursday, January 24, 2013

30 Things I Did Before Turning 30

I just turned 30.

I was scared in the months leading up to it, I've always had a weird feeling when it came to my birthday and for the past several years have come to embrace the "birthday blues." I figured, if I felt that way at 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29, then turning 30 would be the worst blues yet.

I tried my best to enter my 30s with open eyes and an open heart. I didn't know if it would work, but if there is anything I've learned in my 30 years on earth is that you just can't control everything. I sometimes wish I could and I sometimes try, but I can't.

This birthday solidified this fact and taught me that letting go of a little of that control can actually be a great thing. Aside from the plethora of surprises from my boyfriend (he's awesome!), which showed me that I don't have to be in charge of everything in order for things to happen or for trips to turn out well, I had decided a couple weeks before my birthday to really TRY to have a HAPPY birthday.

I didn't think at the time that making the following list would have as significant of an impact as it did, but I suggest you try it. Making this list made me feel better about myself and helped the transition into my 30's go surprisingly well. This list showed me, on paper, how incredibly lucky I have been and how even when the day-to-day stresses seem overwhelming and even though some days feel like the WORST EVER, I really have done a lot in my short time here.

Being healthy isn't only about food and exercise, it's also about metal clarity and emotional sanity, which is really what this list helped me achieve. At least for now.

30 Things I did before 30

1.    Got a degree from UCLA
2.    Fell in love
3.    Had a speaking role in a Feature Film
4.    Had my own IMDB page
5.    Entered a homebrewing competition
6.    Bought a car
7.    Paid off a car
8.    Raised 4 chickens
9.    Seen Dave Matthews Band 13+ times
10.   Attended the Grammys
11.   Flown in a Private Jet
12.   Ate at Club 33
13.   Learned all the words to the Eminem song, “Without Me”
14.   Lived in LA
15.   Lived in San Francisco
16.   Moved in with boyfriend
17.   Attended Bay-to-Breakers (supposedly. Only pictures can tell the tales)
18.   Got a color photo of myself in Celebrator Magazine
19.   Shook hands with the POTUS
20.   Went to Japan
21.   Attended the Sundance Film Festival…twice
22.   Ate a fish eyeball
23.   Been told that I’m “very noble” by my High School Principal while being suspended
24.   Gained over 7+ years experience in a corporate setting
25.   Paid off a significant debt, then started a budget—now living debt free.
26.   Paid money to eat grasshoppers and ants at a restaurant.
27.   Got in a debate with Kevin Smith over whether Diddy Riese was the best ice cream sandwich ever (it is), then bought him French Fries.
28.   Attended a Hollywood Premier (more importantly, stood within hugging distance of Jude Law without fainting)
29.   Had several run-ins with MC Hammer---age 8: stared at his house from my bedroom window, age 10: wore a shiny purple jacket belonging to him, age 27: met him at a party in Hollywood. 
30.    Made it 3 decades without ever being admitted to a hospital (beside being born)

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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Salmon Scampi

I've always loved Shrimp Scampi, but my boyfriend doesn't like shrimp---so I decided last night to try out Salmon Scampi. Let's just say, it didn't suck! It was pretty f***ing delicious and while not the most healthy meal in the WORLD, I made a few adjustments from regular scampi recipes (ie. olive oil instead of butter) so it really wasn't that bad.

**This is also a good recipe for those trying to lower triglyceride levels.

Salmon Scampi with Cherry Tomato and Asparagus Spaghetti

1lb Fresh Salmon (locally caught is always better)
LOTS of chopped garlic (we're talking entire bulb)
4-5 tsp of dried basil (or more, go crazy!)
1 1/2 c. dry white wine (I used a Chardonnay--then drank too much of what was left. sigh.)
1/4 c. olive oil
1/2 Lemon
1 tbsp. butter
salt & pepper to taste

1 Package of Spaghetti
a few pinches of salt
1 tbsp. olive oil
2 1/2 c. whole cherry tomatos (don't cut them)
1 lb. fresh asparagus (cut the bottoms off then cut the rest into approx. 3 parts)
a few shakes of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
some chopped fresh italian parsley
some fresh basil

Note: with this recipe you will be doing a lot of things at once, so multitasking will come in handy! These are the steps, but you should be doing them mostly all at once, not necessarily in the order given, use this as a guide. 
1. Bring large pot of water and salt pinches to boil and add spaghetti (stirring occasionally and checking on firmness, boil for approx. 10 minutes).
2. In a large bowl, soak your Salmon Filets in the white wine for about 10 mintes, while you prep your veggies.
Drunk Salmon.

3. Place all of your chopped garlic, dried basil, olive oil and butter in a large frying pan on medium-low heat. Once butter is melted and garlic begins to smell delicious (about 2-3 minutes) add the white wine from your soaking salmon. Bring to a rumbling boil and let simmer for about 4-6 minutes, you want it to reduce by about half.
Took this photo, then added about another 1/2 cup of garlic.

4. In a separate frying pan, heat 1 tbsp. olive oil and add cut aspargus. Let cook, stirring for about 2 minutes (not more). Add whole cherry tomatos. Cook 1 more minute, stirring. Add cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper to taste. (This should be spicier than you think--when mixed with the spaghetti the spiciness will diminish greatly.) Transfer veggies to a clean bowl and set aside.
This photo proves that I am capable of cooking asparagus perfectly. 

5. Once your garlic/wine mixutre has reduced, add salmon and cook on one side for approx. 2 minutes, then flip and cook on the other side for another 2 minutes. It probably won't take any longer than that, but you judge for yourself--overcooked salmon is never good however, so use a fork to check for perfect flakiness!

6. Once Spaghetti is al dente, drain and add veggie mixture, a small handful of fresh chopped italian parsley and toss.

7. Plate your dish by placing filet of salmon on plate, put some spaghetti off to the side and put about 3-4 tablespoonfuls of the garlic/wine sauce over both the salmon and spaghetti, sprinkle a little freshly chopped basil on top of each.
The little white flakes are Parmesan. Duh.

8. Enjoy!

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Goodbye, my love: An Advisory

I know, I know. Its been a while. I have lots of recipes and ideas coming up, but greatness takes time. 

In the meantime....

I rarely go into Starbucks, because paying $2.50 for something that I can make (better) myself just never feels right, but laziness got to me this morning so I went in. I had been dreaming the whole way there about those Petite Vanilla Scones and how they really are the best thing in that food display case--PLUS, last time I got them I remembered them being 140 calories for 3 so how could I go wrong? 

Well, not knowing how to read is one way and subtle trickery is another. The sign says $0.95 for one, $2.50 for 3, 140 calories each. Yeah. Just like that. So last time when I casually ate 3 of them and practically bathed in the sweet goodness, smiling like an idiot because they were only 140 calories, I actually consumed 420 calories. 


I'm not going to rant   about calories or tiny deceptive writing-- this is simply an advisory to read signs and labels and then read them again. (Then, maybe one more time--just to be sure.) 

So long, wonderful, sweet, perfect little vanilla scones. We had a good run there for a while. May you rest in beautiful, sugary glaziness.

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Friday, June 22, 2012

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup

So… with the hot weather I’ve been really lazy about making dinners and since turning on the oven or stove is just about the worst idea I can imagine, we’ve been eating out a lot wayyyy too much.

Alas, last night, the wind showed up and the weather cooled, which meant it was the perfect time to use up all my fresh veggies that were close to going bad.

I call it “Fridge Soup,” however, admittedly, its not the most appetizing name, so for aesthetic purposes I’ll call it “Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup.” This recipe has a couple staple ingredients, but the rest is up to you, just use whatever you have in your fridge. It’s low-cal, super filling, and simply amazing with a couple slices of buttered French bread. Enjoy!

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup

Rice-A-Roni Summer Soup (Or-What-Have-You)

**Note: This recipe made enough for 3 meals for 2 people—I froze what wasn’t eaten, more on that later.

The Staples:
1 box of Chicken or Beef Flavored Rice-A Roni (I actually used the Trader Joes kind)
2 tbls butter
1 Qt. of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1.5 Qt. of Water
1 Chicken Bullion Cube
Roughly 6-8 cloves of garlic
1 tsp Thyme
Salt & Pepper
4 Bay Leaves

The Optionals:
The rest of the ingredients are totally up to you! I used EVERY veggie I could find, I figured, the more the merrier! Here’s what I used:

1 lb Ground Turkey (Ground Beef is great in this recipe too)
2 Carrots Chopped
½ Red Onion
1 Zucchini Chopped
1 Orange Bell Pepper Chopped
1/2 cup Chopped Green Onions
Some Cauliflower
Some Broccoli
Some Frozen Corn
Some Frozen Peas
A Big handful of Chopped Cabbage
Some more Garlic (because I’m a SUPER fan)
A few dashes of Cayenne Pepper

The Process:
1. In a GIANT pot I browned my ground turkey using a touch of olive oil on the bottom. Once that’s cooked, transfer to a bowl—but keep the pot on the heated stove.

2. Put the butter in the bottom of the pot. Once melted, put the rice contents of the Rice-A-Roni into the Pot and brown (just like it says on the package). Once the vermicelli starts to brown, add your Chicken Broth, Water, Bullion Cube, and Rice-A-Roni Flavor Packet. Stir.

3. Add Thyme, Bay Leaves, Pepper (I advise not adding salt until after it’s close to being done cooking, as there is a lot of salty flavors in the broth, bullion and flavor packet.)

4. Add back your ground meat and throw in any veggies you can find in your fridge. 

5. Bring to Boil. Let mixture boil at a low rumble for about 20-25 minutes, until you can see that the rice is fully cooked.

Soup in zip-lock, on paper towel, on cookie sheet, ready for freezing.

Yay! Frozen Soup!

I love eating this soup fresh, but I think I love it after it’s been frozen even more. The flavors all meld together and rice takes on the broth flavor even more. It’s jut delish! I am generally cooking for 2 people, so I like to use the quart size freezer bags.

With the help of a friend, ladle the soup into the ziplock bag until it’s a little less than half full (see how positive that was?). Then fold over the top to get as much of the air out of the bag as possible without spilling the contents and zip ‘er up.

I like to lay them flat to freeze, so that once frozen, I can stand them up like books and they take up a lot less of my freezer.

Before placing the bags in the freezer I also layer them with paper towels so that if any water/condensation gets on the outside of the bags they don’t freeze together. Note: Putting the bags on a cookie sheet, then taking them to the freezer makes your life a whole heck of a lot easier.

It's just SO Pretty!

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Sodium: A Reality Check

For years I have had a general understanding of how many calories are in the foods that I'm eating, whether or not I am actively counting them. While this has become somewhat second nature for me, I've recently started looking at some of the the other things on the Nutritional Label. 

Now, I'm certainly no expert on the subject, but in my very limited knowledge I know that sodium is used in many processed foods to preserve or flavor. It is also what makes you look and feel bloated and one of the leading causes of high blood pressure. So, along with calories I'm starting to take a look at the sodium content in what I'm intaking. Just start taking a look at the sodium in your food--I think it will shock you! 

Just a quick example: I was in Trader Joes and I grabbed their Organic Free Range Chicken Broth and the Organic Free Range Low Sodium Chicken Broth and checked the labels... here's what I found:

And The Winner is....


Apologies for the CAPS, but SERIOUSLY?!? This really opened my eyes and I will absolutely be taking a look at sodium content as well as calories from now on. 

...and just for fun, check out the Worst Restaurant Foods In America (as of 2011). Note the sodium content of Wendy's Baconator *cough* 2780mg *cough*!!!! 

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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

I need S'more 100 calorie Cupcakes!

I LOVE cupcakes! I love them so much that I had to come up with a way that I could eat them without feeling like my whole blog/life is a lie.

This weekend I experimented with a lot of things I’ve seen on Pinterest and came up with a low-calorie (approx. 100 calories) S’more Cupcake. They are oil free and egg free and ACTUALLY taste like a cupcake version of a s’more! I couldn’t be happier with the outcome!  

100 Calorie S’more Cupcakes!

You’ll need:
1 box of Yellow Cake Mix
cereal, preferably Golden Grahams (I used what was in my cupboard—Trader Joe’s O’s)
at least 1 banana
baking powder
Coconut oil
Chocolate chips

OK… first things first, egg substitute:
1 whole banana mashed up so that it has as few lumps as possible. Add 1 teaspoon of baking powder and whisk together, making sure all is combined and there are little or no lumps. 1/3 c. of this mixture will be equivalent to 1 egg. 

Secondly, applesauce can be substituted on a 1:1 basis with oil in baking recipes.

Now, onto the cupcakes!
1.     Preheat the oven as instructed to on the box.
2.     Use the back of the box and make cake batter as instructed except, substitute ALL of the oil for applesauce and the egg(s) for the banana/baking powder mixture (1/3 c. of mixture = 1 egg).
3.     Line your cupcake pan with liners – for this recipe, since there isn’t any oil, you need to use cupcake liners otherwise your cupcakes will stick to the pan.
4.     Fill cupcakes liners ½ full of batter.
Batter with O's in them
5.     Put a few pieces of cereal in each—I made Mini cupcakes and put about 4-6 O’s in each cup—for larger cupcakes, I’d put about 8. (PS. The cereal adds that crunch that you need to really feel like it’s a s’more)
6.     Put a few chocolate chips in each cup. I put 2 in each for my minis, larger ones, I’d use about 4.
7.     Put enough batter on top of the cereal and chocolate chips to just cover them. If you have a few pieces of cereal sticking out still, that’s ok too. The cups should be about ¾ full.
8.     Bake according to the package, subtracting 5 full minutes from the baking time.
Cupcake cooling with Marshmallow
9.     Once your time goes off (with 5 more minutes of baking needed) take out the cupcakes and carefully place 1 marshmallow on top of each cupcake. Try to make sure they stay upright and don’t topple over. For mini cupcakes, I used small marshmallows, for larger cupcakes, I’d use Large ones.
10.  Place cupcakes back in oven and cook for remaining 5 minutes.
11.  Let cool completely before frosting.

My favorite part of s’mores is when the chocolate is partially melted, but you get a little bit of crunch from the parts that didn’t melt completely. This is precisely why I used hardening chocolate as opposed to a true frosting.

Hard Shell “Frosting”

1¼ Cup Chocolate Chips
½ Cup Coconut Oil (measured while solid)

Melt together 2 ingredients for about 1 minute in microwave. Stir until runny. You’ll have lots left over that you can save for next time—or to put on ice cream a la Magic Shell!

Dipping into "Frosting"
12.  Once the cupcakes have cooled, dip the top of each one into the Hard Shell “Frosting,” set it on a cooling rack and wait for it to harden. (I am aware that my “no oil” cupcakes have an oil based “frosting,” but it is applied in a very thin layer adding minimal calories—not to mention Coconut oil has a wide array of health benefits).
13.  Make all your friends try them and let them praise you, THEN tell them that they are pretty much as healthy as cupcakes can get.
14.  Enjoy! (I didn’t want to end the recipe on number 13.) 

**side note: the calorie content is my calculation based on the recipe's ingredients and how many cupcakes it makes.  Serving size is 1 regular sized cupcake with "frosting." (Mini cupcakes came out to about 60 calories each)

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Thursday, May 10, 2012

DROP and give me 80!!!

I’m trying out a new workout routine this month. It’s nothing special really, I just came up with it based on what I CAN do and what I think I actually WILL do.

It goes like this:

Monday: GYM, 35 Minutes of Cardio
Tuesday: GYM, 30 Minutes of Cardio, 200 Crunches
Wednesday: 80 Push-Ups, 20 Seconds of Planks
Thursday: GYM, 35 Minutes of Cardio
Friday: 80 Push-Ups, 20 Seconds of Planks
Saturday: Off Day (unless, I crap out on one of the days, then this is make up day)
Sunday: 80 Push-Ups, 20 Seconds of Planks

If you think Wednesday, Friday and Sunday seem easy, try to do 80 push-ups and 20 seconds of planks,then we’ll talk. I know it sounds easy, peasy, but I guarantee you’ll break a sweat and be hurting the next day.

If you are doing your push-ups correctly (see below), you should be giving your arms and abs quite the workout. Think of your push-ups like a plank that moves, nothing should be moving except your elbows—and the only way to do this is to engage your abs.

If your back hurts while you are doing push-ups, you aren’t doing them correctly, if you do 40 perfectly fine, THEN your back hurts, you’ve tired yourself out and are now doing them incorrectly—stop and take a break or just stop all together and try for another 10 tomorrow. Don't OVER do it, but do push yourself (no pun intended)

…and the 20 seconds of push-ups, you ask? Well, after 8 sets of push-ups (and I'll fully admit, I'm throwing in some girly knee push-ups in there for a couple sets), my arms just don’t have the strength for anymore, so I do 20 seconds of planks, since my abs have just about 20 seconds more left in ‘em.

Just remember, bathing suit weather has arrived, are your abs ready? Good Luck! 

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