Wednesday, October 30, 2013

.:the new Fall fad - spaghetti squash:.

am i the only one who feels like spaghetti squash is everywhere right now, especially Pinterest?

well, i have officially hopped on the spaghetti squash train! i have always loved squash, specifically acorn squash served with butter, brown sugar and 'mallows, but spaghetti squash has intimidated me (and i NEVER thought drew would eat it). until now.

as i learned last night (and have been seeing on Pinterest), spaghetti squash is extremely versatile - whether, you want a low-carb substitute for your favorite pasta dish, create a fall favorite stir-fry or indulge in a new dessert.

fun facts about spaghetti squash:.

>> low calorie: 42 calories per cup of cooked spaghetti sqaush (compare that to a heavy 221 calories per cup of cooked pasta)
>> low carb: 10 grams of carbs per cup vs. 42 grams of carbs in pasta
>> nutrient-dense: beta-carotene, fiber, vitamin C, K and B-6
>> high water content - read this as "i get full sooner and not just by eating fast'
>> naturally gluten free
for more information on the benefits of spaghetti squash, visit

believe it or not, but spaghetti squash is just as easy to make as pasta (and as cheap too!) - there is only one extra step. i watched a youtube video and Google'd several times how to cook a spaghetti squash, so let me paraphrase what i found....

oven:. you can bake your spaghetti squash until it is soft, but it can be more time consuming. cut your squash in half (lengthwise) and scoop out the seeds/pulp. place the cut side down in a casserole dish or cake pan - whatever is big enough to lay them down FLAT. fill the bottom of the pan with at least 1/2 inch of water and bake at 350 for 45-60 minutes. i'll be honest and say that i tried to do this, but i did not have a pan big enough to lay the halves flat and it did not work, so i resorted to the...

microwave:. again, cut the squash in half (lengthwise) and scoop out the seeds/pulp. in one half, fill the hollowed middle with 1/2 cup of water. place the other half on top - essentially putting the cut squash back together. place it in a dish that will support the squash while it turns in the microwave - i used a loaf pan. microwave at 5 minute increments until the outside is soft (use an oven mitt to test squish it). i had a large squash, but after having it in the oven for 30 mins, it still needed 10 minutes in the microwave to soften.

i used a 'spork'...i have no idea where it came from
shredding:. once your squash is soft and 'squishy'on the outside, pull out the stringy flesh with a fork - it will naturally come out like spaghetti (hence, SPAGHETTI squash). feel free to shred right down to the skin, it's all good!  since the squash is already cooked, you just need add it to your dish or top it off with sauce and you're done!

last night, i sauteed garlic, pine nuts, mushrooms, broccoli and tomatoes in coconut oil while the squash was cooking. i also browned lamb sausage with garlic and basil in a separate pan - mainly for drew because he can NOT have a meatless meal, but i also added it to mine, it had great flavor! once my squash was done cooking, i pulled it out with a fork and threw it in my big wok with the sauteed veggies. once mixed, i squeezed in 1 lemon, added a blob of butter and sprinkled in parmesan cheese to add more 'sauce'.

that's it - it was incredibly good (a new favorite), cheap and made 4 LARGE servings. to put it in context for you, we ate this after getting home from the gym (hangry mode) and we both have a tupperware FILLED for lunch.

i have another spaghetti squash sitting on my counter at home and while i LOVED this recipe, i am trying to decide something fun and different to do with it - maybe mac n' cheese? i plan to pick up a few more while they are in season!

please share any of your favorite spaghetti squash recipes - this rookie needs more ideas!

always striving for more,
dee b.

p.s. i apologize for not taking more pictures throughout the process - i was in a rush to eat, i was STARVING after the gym.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

pumpkin goodness and goals:.

'tis the season, right?! for pumpkins, that is!  i am a big fan of pumpkin, but i can't go too overboard since drew doesn't help me eat ANYTHING pumpkin - it's just not his thing, yea, weirdo, i know! i have been anxiously waiting to have some free time to try these pumpkin muffins - my plans were pushed back even further when i realized the canned pumpkin in my cupboard was expired. i found this recipe thanks to Daily Garnish - a great blog that i found for recipes a couple years ago. most of the recipes posted on her blog are easy and all of them are healthy.

per usual, i adapted this recipe to better fit me (and my cupboard), but they turned out great and i am kicking myself for not making a double batch!

pumpkin pecan muffins:.

>> 1.5 cups of whole wheat flour (or flour of your choice)
>> 1 teaspoon baking soda
>> 1/2 teaspoon salt
>> 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
>> 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
>> 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
>> 1/4 teaspoon allspice
>> 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
>> 1/4 cup brown sugar
>> 2 whole eggs
>> 1 cup canned pumpkin (or however you get your pumpkin)
>> 1/2 cup maple syrup
>> 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
>> 1 teaspoon vanilla
>> 1 cup chopped pecans (or walnuts)

preheat the oven to 350 degrees. start by mixing all of the dry ingredients from the flour to the sugar(do not add the chopped pecans, yet). in a separate bowl, combine the wet ingredients from eggs to the vanilla. be sure that you are ready to mix in the melted coconut oil as soon as you take it out of the microwave - it hardens pretty quick! add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until well mixed (obvi). add the pecans or walnuts. plop the mixture into your favorite muffin pan (or in my case, the cheapest muffin pan in the world). be sure to spray or grease the pan to make your life easier. bake for around 25 minutes - this may vary depending on the size of your muffins and oven.

that's it! the original recipe calls for walnuts, but i prefer pecans (they were also 1/2 the price of walnuts at Trader Joe's). the original recipe also calls for crystallized ginger - maybe someone can enlighten me, but i CANNOT find crystallized ginger. i have looked at Target and Trader Joe's before i decided it wasn't necessary - i know not very diligent, but i am not a big fan of ginger anyway.

i am slightly bummed that i wasn't able to taste these when they were fresh out of the oven - forgive me, i was very full from an awesome dinner of grilled teryaki chicken and sauteed, garlic-infused asparagus and green beans which was followed up with leftover cheesecake from date night at the Cheesecake Factory (wow). i promise that i did try these before i decided to post about them JUST to make sure they were as good as they sound (you're welcome) and let me know tell you, they are pretty darn good! they are filling, but not heavy like regular muffins. i may have to make this into a loaf of bread next time....

i haven't done or set any goals lately because, well, i haven't just haven't felt compelled. with the transition of seasons, i am feeling a little more motivated!

1. take care of my body:. i am obviously passionate about wellness and taking care of my body, but i need to take extra special care. i have been having back issues off and on for the past 2 months
along with an insane case of plantar faciitis. i resorted to buying a PVC pipe to roll out my IT bands at home, along with constant hip flexor stretches and breaking up my plantar fascia. glamorous
and sexy, i know, but if it is going to keep me on my yoga mat and in the weight room on a regular basis than i will ask drew to rub my feet with a butter knife every night - he truly loves me! :)

also, about this time last year, i was recovering from either my 3rd bout of strep or the stomach flu - remember this post? drew has already fired up our economy size humidifier, but i still need to be REALLY conscious of getting enough sleep, eating right, drinking fluids, the works - here is hoping for a much healthier hibernation season!

2. get myself on new budget - drew is REALLY good at budgeting and moving money. i used to be when i was at my old job, but i have let that slip. we have a big trip to Playa del Carmen this winter
for my brother's destination wedding (SO exciting!). we have the flights taken care of, but we are staying at an (expensive) all-inclusive. also, drew and i are staying a couple extra nights to have a mini-vacation. that is a main reason for getting back on a budget, but there are many other reasons (like, i still have an insane amount of student loans). for instance, every pay day morning, i pay ALL of my bills that are due during that period, put some in my savings and most likely, treat myself to a bottle of wine or something special. on monday, 2 short days after pay day, i wonder where my paycheck went and instantly start planning how i am going to make it through the next 11 days on scraps - getting KINDA tired of it.  to help jump start this whole budgeting thing, i just bought "Pocket Your Dollars" on my iPad. seems counterproductive to BUY a book on budgeting, right? well, from now until October 27th, the e-book is on sale at Amazon for $3.49. $3.49!!! i couldn't resist - plus, the author is local, from Mpls, so even better! i will let you know how this goes.....

3.  i may just be adding this to the list so i can immediately cross it off. i have been wanting to clean out our front hallway which stored all of our camping stuff, our bikes and our accumulation of "Goodwill" things. my girlfriend from college comes over every Monday to watch Teen Mom - do not judge - we have done it since we met our freshman year of college and it makes us feel better about our lives. anyway, for about the past 3 weeks, i had to warn her before she came over 'still haven't gotten around to cleaning up our front hall, good luck climbing over everything on your way in - i suggest stretching before!". drew and i tagteamed the hallway this weekend - i did my part while he played FIFA and he continued while i went yoga - we are so good at compromising. all of our camping stuff is in storage and the Goodwill bags are in my trunk (i promise i drop them off......tomorrow). doesn't it feel so good to get rid of 'junk'?!?!

4. give my blog some love - i would like to figure out how to categorize my posts (mainly, my recipes), so they are easier to find (mainly, for myself). i also have been working with drew on another cool feature - i don't want to give too much away, but it will help you put your own workouts together! i have had several people ask me to put a workout plan together for them - i'll be honest, i have a hard time putting my own workout routine together, but i'll see what i can do! and, i truly love talking about fitness or nutrition so here i just another avenue for it....

ok, that is all for now - geez, i don't post for a month and suddenly i think you want to read 'all about me'?!

i guess i will get back to work and check my ego on the way.....

always striving for more,
dee b.