Working on my Fitness

As I mentioned yesterday, I have been trying to work out almost every single day. There are several things that I have motivated me to make fitness a priority in my life now:

1. I have Scoliosis (my spine has an s-shaped curve).
I used get excruciating back pain because of it. Keeping my core strong prevents that pain from coming back.
2. I’m almost 30.
I want to slow the aging process as much as possible.
3. I want to love the way I look.
I’m at my ideal weight, but I’d like to have a more toned and defined physique. 🙂

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I just started a preworkout and postworkout routine to help me reach my goals.

Before I workout, I drink a small cup of coffee and take a 5-HTP and a Vitamin B supplement. The combination ramps up my energy and lifts my mood; making it much easier to workout.

After working out, I drink a protein shake. Drinking the protein should help me to build muscle faster.

I also drink green tea whenever I can. It’s full antioxidants and other good stuff.

I can already feel a difference!

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Just Another Reason to Put Down that Soda

I came across this news article today about a recent study on how sugary drinks and sugar in processed foods may greatly increase your risk of fatal heart problems!

If you were looking for motivation to cut down on the soda/daily cookie…here’s a good one. We may not know exactly why sugar is so bad for us…but it’s hard to ignore all of the evidence.

Full disclosure: I love sugary treats/sauces/etc. and I have no intentions of cutting them out of my diet completely…but this is a good reminder that sugar should be eaten in small doses!

http://www.chron.com/life/healthzone/article/Sugar-tied-to-fatal-heart-woes-soda-s-a-culprit-5202960.php

Chicken Bacon Quesadillas

If you’re in need of a fairly easy but delicious Super Bowl party appetizer, I have just the thing. Pair with some ice cold beer and everybody’s going to have a fantastic day no matter what the score is.

Every once in a while, I just throw something together for dinner and it turns out to be a total win. These quesadillas are the result of such an occasion.

Chicken Bacon Quesadillas

Ingredients

1 thin cut chicken breast
3 uncooked tortillas cut in halves
Shredded pepper jack cheese
4 strips of thick cut bacon
Red pepper flakes
Salt
Fine black pepper (like powder fine)
Chili powder
Garlic salt and parsley
Cumin
Fresh squeezed lemon juice
Canola oil

Directions

1. Rinse chicken and pat dry with a paper towel.
2. Rub both sides of chicken in spices.
3. Heat a small amount of canola oil on a pan and add chicken once hot.
4. Reduce heat to medium-low, flipping chicken only once to cook each side. (I have a sort of sense of when to turn it over)
5. Once chicken is white on both sides, squeeze lemon over chicken. Cook for a few minutes, flip, and squeeze lemon on the other side. You can check that the chicken is cooked all the way through by cutting in half. If its white and the juices are running clear, it’s done. Don’t over cook it!
6. Cook bacon and set aside.
7. Cut chicken into strips and then shred it further with your hands.
8. In a separate pan, heat a small amount of canola oil and lightly cook each tortilla half.
9. Put shredded pepper jack, shredded chicken, and bacon pieces on one side of the tortilla and fold in half.
10. Put back on pan and heat on each side until cheese is melted.
11. Serve with plain Greek yogurt or sour cream.

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Breakfast Taco

I promised myself that I wouldn’t go grocery shopping this week. Mission accomplished. I didn’t think this left me with interesting menu items, but last night I came up with something pretty tasty for being so basic.

That’s right. I made breakfast for dinner again. But this time, I kept the focus on the veggies and less on the fried. Couldn’t resist throwing in a couple pieces of bacon though.

While this basically just an omelet thrown into a lightly fried tortilla, my boyfriend made a simple cooking suggestion that really perfected the overall texture of this meal.

Instead of mixing the sauteed veggies into the eggs, I cooked the veggies around the edge of the pan with eggs in the middle. This helped the veggies to stay a little crisp, which was really nice.

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Mini Lasagna with Tomato Cream Sauce

Pinterest is a great resource for recipes, but sometimes direct links are missing or lost. When that happens, you’ll see a great picture and description, but when you click on the image, it doesn’t link directly to the recipe. Sometimes it doesn’t link anywhere at all.

That’s what happened when I found this great step by step photo of mini lasagna on Pinterest. No link. But since there was a picture guide and I had the ingredients, I decided to give it a try.

Mini Lasagna

8-10 Lasagna noodles
1/2 cup cooked spinach
1 container Ricotta cheese
1 handful grated Mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1 egg
Salt and pepper

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1. Cook lasagna noodles al dente
2. Mix cooked spinach, cheeses, egg, and seasonings in a bowl.
3. Drain noodles and cut in half. Spoon on mixture and spread thinnly all over one side.
4. Roll up noodle.
5. Bake at 375 F for 20 minutes.

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Tomato Cream Sauce

Butter
Flour
Chopped onions
Half n half
Tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Italian seasoning

1. Melt butter on a pan and sautee onions until translucent. Add flour and mix.
2. Pour half n half and whisk until sauce thickens.
3. Add tomato paste and seasoning. Stir until combined.

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Once the tomato paste is ready, top each lasagna roll with it and a little bit of shredded mozzarella. Bake lasagna for another 2-3 minutes.

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I served my lasagna with a salad with balsalmic vinegarette dressing and sauteed Japanese eggplant.

I think I like this dish better as an appetizer but it worked well as a Meatless Monday dinner.

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New Year’s Resolutions for the Kitchen

Eat Less Sugar

The holidays have made it easy to fall off the healthy train. Time to get back on track.

Make a Grocery Budget

In an effort to save some cash, I’m going to try sticking to a monthly grocery budget. As part of this goal, I am going to look for coupons, coupon apps, and other frugal tips.

Plan Week Night Meals

When I get home from work, I don’t need to worry about what I’m going to make and whether we have all the necessary ingredients. I’m going to be more prepared this year.

Less fries

When I do go out to eat, I want to start avoiding fries. Really, I need to avoid all fried foods. They’re delicious. But I can do with less.

Try new recipes

I’ve owned a few cookbooks for years and have barely cracked them open! It’s  time to change that. I’m also looking forward to new finds on Pinterest and of course from fellow bloggers.

More fish

Fish is a much leaner, healthier option for meat and I want to try to go for this option more often.

Meatless Mondays

I want to cut down the amount of meat I’m eating. Especially red meat. So in order to reach this goal, I will institute Meatless Mondays in my kitchen…maybe Meatless Wednesday too.

Throw Away Kitchen Junk

I have a lot of kitchen supplies from freshman year of college. Everything is rusted, broken, and unmatching– not classy. So this year, I resolve to give away or throw away crap and replace them when the budget allows.

Perfect Cupcake Decorating

What I mean to say is…I want to keep practicing, keep learning. My cupcake decorating skills are miles away from what they once were but I want to get even better in 2014.

Eat At Least 1 Serving of Veggies Per Meal

I pretty much do this anyway, but I want to be more strict about this when I eat out. I want to make sure I am getting enough vegetables in my diet.

Eat breakfast more often

I am not a morning person. I make it to work on time, but I usually don’t leave enough time for breakfast. I’m going to make homemade granola bars on the weekends and prepare sandwich bags with instant oatmeal to keep at my desk.

Replace candy with fruits

I do love my chocolate bars but it’s time to cut back a bit. Less processed sugar and more natural, healthy sugar.

No Soda

As a rule of thumb, I don’t drink soda. I don’t like drinking my sugar. But I do have a soda every once in a while. I think I want to cut that down to I almost never drink soda.

Organize cabinets

Over 2013, I’ve accumulated a bunch of new decorating supplies. I think it’s time that I get organized. Note to self: research organizing ideas.

What are your kitchen resolutions for 2014?

Carousel Restaurant – St. Nicholas Day

I don’t plan to blog much about my experiences dining out, but this is a special occasion. Today is St. Nicholas Day or for me and my sisters, it’s Shoe Day. 🙂 It’s tradition in my family to receive small gifts, chocolate, and coins in our shoes on St. Nicholas Day. It’s a Northern European holiday and is where the stocking concept and Santa Claus originate from. Why we celebrate it? Not sure. But I want to keep the tradition alive in my household.

So I bought my boyfriend a few small gifts and chocolate poker chips and left them in his shoes before leaving for work. 🙂 In return, my boyfriend took me out to Carousel. When we’re craving Turkish style cuisine, Carousel is the closest you can get.

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We order a lot of mezzes (small plates) so we can enjoy lots of different tastes. There’s some things I can’t quite replicate in the kitchen to my satisfaction. Some things are better left to the professionals.

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Feta cheese. How did I go most of my life before tasting this glory?

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Hummus. Nothing better.

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Turkish name is börek. Carousel called it fatayer. It’s basically fried cheese. Heaven!

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Crispy manti. I wrote about manti in a previous post. It is better than any ravioli you’ve ever had. I wish I could rewind and eat it all over again.

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Sucuk (soujuk) Flambe. Delicious seasoned beef sausage.

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The restaurant was all decked out for Christmas. So pretty!

It was a great, great night. We had to drive pretty far just for dinner, but it was so worth it! This place is a must try if you live in the area.