Wednesday, April 18, 2012

.:eating well for cheap:.

i have always enjoyed cooking and watching Food Network. i could spend hours watching Paula Deen, Emeril Lagasse, and maybe Rachel Ray (if it's not early in the morning--too perky for me). i will admit, i am the person at the gym who has the TV turned to Food Network (but will act like i don't care if you change it while cringing inside).

let's face it, it's fun to watch them make the food, but running to print off the recipe (FYI: they can easily be located under the scheduled time of the TV show on, then to the grocery store and trying to re-enact it, with perfect hair, makeup and smile, isn't as easy as they make it look. plus, most of the recipes call for crazy ingredients or spices that have to be bought in bulk and will never be used before it goes bad. not good for the storage in the kitchen (or lack thereof) or for my budget!

while i do appreciate the time and effort these professionals take for each detail of these recipes, i am not that tedious nor do the MF or i really take note of all the spice differences which is why i take the recipes that i see online or on TV and make them simple, affordable and maybe a bit more healthy!

i can thank my father for showing me as a little girl, that you can essentially throw anything on to a skillet, combined with the right things and VOILA, a meal is served at a low cost and most likely with leftovers! while i may be a little more picky with my food than my father (read: a lot more picky), his concept makes sense whether you have odd ends that need to be used up or you went to the grocery without a list or plan (epic mistake for me).

while struggling with outgoing bills outweighing incoming paychecks, the first thing i had to cut down was my grocery bill! as all of you may know, eating healthy, clean and fresh is EXPENSIVE even without going organic! i was willing to compromise (read: forced) a little on the healthy and fresh side in order to stay within budget, so i created a few traditional inexpensive dishes with a healthy boost.

BAM! (Emeril, anyone? anyone?)

frozen chicken breast (made stovetop, not ideal) glazed with buffalo sauce with steamed veggies on the side topped with (a little) butter and Parmesan cheese. i am a HUGE fan of steamed veggies because they are essentially effortless with the help of a steamer basket and it is a great way to get rid of veggies that may be getting old soon!

this happens to be brussel sprouts and asparagus (fresh) with broccoli and cauliflower (frozen).

not pictured: petite side of ranch. sorry, i'm not sorry. :)

bring Chipotle home to you! chances are, with a little effort put in to the cooking, this homemade option is going to be healthier than the chain version. this was the MF's idea, so i give him all the credit here. in this pile of goodness, there is cilantro whole grain rice (literally, minute whole grain rice with cut up cilantro), fajita veggies, black beans, tomatoes, salsa, chicken and steak (grilled), cheese, lettuce and yes, there is sour cream!

it may not have had the 'authentic Chipotle' taste, but it tasted fresh and awesome in it's own way!

 ok, this one is a little more complicated then the rest:.

Mexican Quinoa Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups black beans
  • 1 cup corn, thawed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey or agave nectar
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 avocado, diced

in a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, tomato and red onion. in a blender or food processor, combine lime juice, garlic, cilantro, olive oil, honey or agave nectar and sea salt. process until mixture is smooth. toss with quinoa mixture.

this quinoa may be a little more intensive, but it tastes good served hot, cold, with chips or on it's own! you can't go wrong! tip:. make a large batch, it will last for about 5-7 days refrigerated--leave the perishable veggies out until you are ready to eat it (avocado, tomato).

i feel like this dish should have a cool name, but honestly, this picture is saved to my desktop as 'veggie pasta'. lame.

however, this pasta is far from lame! (shameful pitch)
let's face it, carbs are cheap, but throwing in some veggies can make it less carb-dense. i started buying whole grain or quinoa pasta to feel less bad about eating pasta 2 times a week to cut down on the grocery bill. for this particular meal, i steamed veggies: peppers, asparagus, zucchini, onions and mushrooms to put on top whole grain pasta with red vodka sauce. i try to stray away from white sauces and use more red sauces that are less cream based.

who doesn't love chili, for reals? this was thrown together last minute last night when the MF and i decided we felt like comfort food and here is how we did it:.
he browned the ground beef while i combined in a big pot:.
-1 big can tomato puree
-1 big can diced tomatoes
-1 big can corn
-6 red potatoes cubed
-1 can kidney beans
-carton of baby portabella mushrooms
-1/4 onion diced
-2 green peppers diced
-1 red pepper diced
-packet of Chili seasoning

we ate what happened to warm up in a 1/2 hour and put the rest in a crockpot overnight to let it finished simmering (the potatoes needed to finish cooking). you could literally change this recipe up any way that you want to and it would work well!

ok, so to be honest with you guys, i really do try hard to eat healthy most of the time, but i do have a sweet tooth!

behold, my dessert plate from a brunch on sunday.....

picture courtesy of the MF

yes, that is a chocolate dipped oreo, wafer and rice krispie and yes, there is a waffle underneath all that whipped cream....somewhere. 

is all about balance, right?

always striving for more,
dee b.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

another day living life on the dee list

i have really been bothered lately that i haven't taken the time to religiously blog at least once a week....

i do find myself busy doing other things and when it comes time to sit down for the day, i don't think about blogging, but i feel like the excuse of 'being busy' has been worn dry. with that being said, i am taking the pressure off of writing lengthy posts and keeping it simple. who doesn't need more simplicity in their life?

 anyway, i figured i would fill you guys in on my day because if you are reading this, hopefully you care about it! :)

the past few months have been based around trying to find a solution to my knee pain and avoid further damage, whether the solution is permanent or temporary.

step 1: temporary fix=synvisc injection, also referred to as the rooster comb injection. the purpose of this injection is to put a gel-like substance in to help 'oil' my joint to avoid bone friction and further wearing down of the joint. essentially, adding life to my knee.

being me, i spent all day on thursday leading up to my appointment, 'googling' this injection and found nothing, but horror stories about how painful to injection was to get and that followed for weeks after. this was not helpful, my Dr. came in to find me sweating and feverishly try to calculate if this is is worth it.

needless to say, i survived the injection and was given a gold star for barely flinching. even though the needle was quite long, it was fairly thin which helped it sneak under my knee cap quite easily. plus, this Dr. kind of knows his stuff, so he knew exactly where the sucker needed to go.

2 days have passed with minimal pain and stiffness, so far, i say that's a win! my Dr. is not exactly hopeful that this will last long or even fix anything at all, but hopefully at my follow-up appointment in August, i will be able to prove him wrong....

now, to put it to the test of a run....

i am very grateful for my life on the dee list, it's fun, unexpected, challenging and not similar to any other 22 year old's (but i have gained validity with my UCare seniors when they call in regarding this injection).

off to live my life, bad knee and all!

always striving for more,
dee b.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

.:happiness comes when you overcome the most impossible challenges:.

have you ever heard the phrase, 'when it rains, it pours'?

i am a 'glass half-full' type of person and really like to focus on positive things in my life, but in order for us to appreciate the good things, we have to have rainy days, right???

i haven't wasted a lot of energy thinking about these events, they happened, i am changed from them, but needed to move on.....but perhaps it would be good for me to write about them.....

you know those four-legged furry friends that act as children or siblings for 10-15 years? ya, i'm talking about dogs (sorry, Henry). but seriously, dogs have a way of adapting from 'just a pet' to part of the family. well, our little (but old) Maggie, was put down a few Fridays ago. she was a miniature schnauzer that we 'adopted' many years ago, 13 to be exact. she was our childhood dog.

we have many memories with Maggie from me dressing her up as cheerleader (with scrunchies on her ears, of course), letting all 18 lbs of her take over 3/4 of our beds, taking her on W-A-L-K s (yes, we had to spell it when she was around), to catering to her sassy-ness when we did something that was not to her satisfaction. she was an awesome dog who was extremely loyal and lovable. she demanded that she greets you at the door with whines and kisses when you got home, who cares if you only went out to grab the mail?

we all spend so much time, energy and money protecting our animals and help them thrive, but over the years our forever youthful, Maggie, was even feeling the effects of age. she was having troubles getting up and down the stairs, had those awful age bumps (gross), would whine in her sleep cause she hurt and even needed a very expensive new stomach a few years back because she decided to help herself to apples that had fallen off of our trees (there goes a college payment, thanks Maggie!) on the morning of February 10th, my parents could not get Maggie to wake up and stand up on her own, her vertebrae had collapsed, it was definitely a sign that enough was enough. as anyone knows who lost a pet, last pictures were taken and tears were shed.

my mom will eventually get a new baby (she is looking into adopting), but Maggie will always be our first dog and never replaceable. she will always be a part of our family and memories.....

RIP Maggie, we are sorry if you never thought you got enough treats....

as i have mentioned before, i have bad knees. not the 'my knees get achy when it's cold outside' bad knees(which they do), but i have 'what can i do to prevent a knee replacement at 28' bad knees. i was very excited to meet with a knee specialist at TRIA Orthopaedic Center and make a plan of action to preserve the knee that i have. did you catch that i said i WAS excited? excitement was over 15 minutes into the appointment. not only had he confirmed that my knee does indeed suck (i was hoping everyone else who had already told me that was wrong), but that he wanted to do another surgery in order to make a plan of action. the purpose of this surgery was to validate whether i was a candidate (i think he said 'great candidate') for a meniscus transplant along with an osteotomy. sound fabulous and intense? cause it is. being stubborn (or in denial), i don't want to go into details about it, but let's just say it would include 4 weeks bedrest and 8-10 weeks no walking, i would handle that well, right? the news got worse. surgery or no surgery, he said that i must give up running. i couldn't even call him an idiot because this was THE knee specialist who I had waited weeks to see. my first worry was the Lululemon SeaWheeze 1/2 marathon that i have already signed up, booked airfare and hotel for. i'm already tired of talking about this appointment and my knees in general, so to wrap it up, the Lululemon 1/2 marathon will be my last running hurrah. am i upset? hell yea. am i giving up? no. i have fought Dr.'s orders and the odds against my knees for many years and it is time to be smart. i am 22 years with a bad wheel. so, after the emotions settled and i was able to step back and realize that i want to have an active lifestyle for al ong time. running or no running. i do feel very grateful that my last hurrah will be at the greatest event that i have ever signed up for.

to date, it has been 5 weeks since i have ran (ok, i ran twice for 15 minutes each time), but i introduced myself to elliptical and stair master. we all agreed this 'love' triangle could get messy and complicated, but we are all in it for the long haul.

i am in the process of learning that there are a lot of other ways to get a good workout that doesn't include running (suggestions are appreciated). plus, i am able to dive more into my yoga practice, win-win! (kinda of....)

anyway, i am still smiling and realizing with the right mindset and the right people by my side, there are a lot more things to be grateful for than to feel misforunate about.

with the glass half full,
always striving for more,
dee b.