28 Days of Salads

No, this isn’t like that time I went tried to go vegetarian for a month.

I have been horrible and spending too much money eating at restaurants and/or ordering take out these past couple of months. It’s sad because I love to cook. Maybe it’s just winter doldrums.

I have recently started working out with a trainer again (Hiya Tracey!) and decided I should probably balance that with some healthier eating habits.

Enter 28 days of eating salads. Or, #28daysofsalads if you follow me on Instagram. I know that in order to make something a habit, you have to repeat it. So, I’m going to eat at least one salad every day this month. Now, that’s not to say that they will always be super healthy (c’mon, who doesn’t love a Caesar salad with extra cheese?)… but I’ll eat a damn salad every day and prove it to you by sharing a photo on Instagram and Facebook.

Here’s proof of days 1-3:

All of the produce is organic and from my favorite co-op.

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Have a suggestion for a salad? Let me know in the comments.

Recipe: Squash Pizza

Tonight, I posted a photo on Instagram of my dinner – a squash pizza. I got so many comments on Facebook and Twitter asking for a recipe. So, I decided to post it here on the ol’ blog. This is an adaptation of a pizza I had at a bridal shower a couple of weeks ago.

You should know, I don’t measure anything. So the quantities listed below are guestimates.

Ingredients:

  • Butternut squash
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • Grapeseed oil (EVOO would work, too)
  • Your favorite pizza crust (I used a piece of Naan bread)
  • White onion
  • Fresh Garlic
  • Mozzarella cheese
  • Gorgonzola Cheese

Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Wash, peel and slice the squash (see note below). Line a baking sheet with foil and spray the foil with cooking spray (I use canola oil spray). Place sliced squash on pan. Drizzle or brush a little oil on the squash and sprinkle sea salt and pepper on top. Bake for about 15 minutes.
  • While the squash is baking, it’s time for onions and garlic. I caramelized the onions with some freshly pressed garlic and some grapeseed oil (see note below)
  • Once you remove the squash from the oven, increase the temperature to about 450F.
  • Prepare your favorite pizza crust (I went the easy route and used a piece of Naan bread). You could brush a little oil on it, but I found that there was enough oil from the squash and onions, so the extra wasn’t needed.
  • Top your crust with the squash, onions, a sprinkle of mozzarella and gorgonzola and bake for 5-6 minutes. (I used approx. 1/8 – 1/4 cup of each cheese)
  • Enjoy.

NOTES:

  • I live alone, so I make a lot of meals for one (or two if I want lunch the next day).
  • I halved the squash, peeled it and scooped out the seeds. I cut half of it up into cubes, blanched and froze the cubes for later use. The remaining half I sliced thin (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) for this recipe. If you were making this for a family or some type of gathering, you might use the entire squash.
  • I caramelized three small onions along with about five garlic cloves. I only used a small amount for the pizza and have the rest for leftovers.

A vegetarian update and other stuff

A lot has happened in the last week or so. I hit the halfway point in my 31 day vegetarian challenge, I joined a Ragnar Madison-Chicago 200 mile Relay Team and I signed up for Weight Watchers Online (again).

Day 5: Field Roast Fajitas

The vegetarian challenge has been going well. I haven’t been keeping up with my daily photos/recipes (there’s quite the backlog). But, I have been eating fabulously. I’ve only slipped up twice and they weren’t on purpose. One was because I was an idiot (who knew Chicken in a Biscuit crackers actually had chicken in them?) and one was at a party – I had some dip and realized after the first bite that there was bacon in it. Of course, my sister taunted me last week with a huge juicy medium-rare steak. And I almost took the steak knife and stabbed her with it. But I refrained. Because I love her. And I don’t want to go to jail over a steak.

I saw Hood to Coast with my running friends last week and it made me realize that yes, I DO want to do the Madison to Chicago relay. Clearly, I’m insane. But so are they. And I <3 them.

As you may know, I’ve been on and off the Weight Watchers program for years. I first joined in 2005 and was most recently a member in 2008 or 2009. I have been hesitant to re-join as I found the old Points program didn’t value fruits and “REAL” food the way I do. I felt it rewarded processed and highly-preserved food. But, ever since Weight Watchers announced the new Points Plus program, I have been intrigued. It holds fruits in a much higher regard and takes into account NOT calories, BUT fat, protein, carbohydrate and fiber content. That’s right… NO CALORIES INVOLVED. I’ve followed some blogs like Bitch Cakes and others who have really taken to the new program and figured, what the hell, I’ll try it again. Oh, and let’s not forget about my neighbor, Esther, who’s in a national commercial for WW!

I’m not going to weekly meetings, but instead relying on the online program and a support system made up of some lovely Tweeps like Sue! We’ve created a private FB support group. If you’d like to join our group, send me an e-mail! It’s been nice for my first few days especially to have a support system I can go to without 1) annoying my twitter followers 2) annoying my fb friends 3) annoying everyone around me. 😉

So that’s what’s going on with me. What’s new with you?

31 Day Vegetarian

In an effort to keep me more honest about what I’m shoving into my face, I decided that for all of January, I would become a vegetarian. I’ve flirted with the idea before, but could never get over the fact that to be a vegetarian, you can’t eat meat. Like, EVER. And, well, I love me some meat. I just don’t eat it very often. And, when I do eat meat, I make every attempt to ensure it comes from a good home (i.e. cage free/hormone free/antibiotic free/free roaming/grass-fed/etc). I don’t buy chicken or beef from the big companies you would typically associate with those foods, mostly because of how the animals are treated. Generally, when I buy beef, pork or chicken, I purchase it at a farmer’s market, Whole Foods or Outpost – places where I know where the meat came from. I wasn’t always like this, but then I started doing some research and of course, watching films like Food, Inc. solidified this choice for me.

So, here I am. Day #1 of vegetarianism. So far, so good. I almost screwed up, however, at 12:30 this morning while at a New Year’s party. There were bacon-wrapped water chestnuts as an hors d’ouvre and I had been eating them earlier in the night. Luckily, even a slightly intoxicated Amy was able to catch herself before eating it! I’ve been ok so far, but I’m sure that’s because I’m at home and I bought a bunch of vegetarian-friendly foods to aid in the transition to meat-free living.

Happy New Year!

For brunch, I had some leftovers from last night – crackers, beer bread and pizza dip.

For dinner, I had the veggie pizza you see below. MMMMMM (do you see a pattern here? Obviously, pizza is my weakness).

Day 1: Veggie pizza on Naan Bread

Day 1: Veggie pizza on Naan Bread by amykant

Here’s the recipe for my Veggie Pizza on Naan Bread:

Ingredients:
  • Whole Wheat Naan bread, pitas, tortillas or pizza crust
  • Veggies
  • Tomato paste
  • Cheese (I used fresh mozzarella and a little bit of a cheddar jack blend)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
Place crust on pizza stone, cookie sheet or pizza pan. Put a couple of spoonfuls of tomato paste on the crust and spread around. Top with veggies. I used spinach, carrots, broccoli and tomatoes. Then I sliced up the fresh mozzarella (about 3 small balls) and placed on the pizza. I topped with a sprinkle of the shredded cheese blend and baked in the oven for 10-15min (until cheese begins to brown).
I’ve done so many variations on this in the past. One of my favorite veggie mixes to use is broccoli slaw. MMMMM.
I won’t be posting blogs every day with updates, but my plan is to tweet using the hashtag #31daysofveg and to post pictures daily to Flickr. I’ll do a wrap-up post each week here, but if you’re interested in my daily adventures with vegetarianism, you’ll wanna follow my Twitter feed and check up on Flickr.

Chocolate Milk

Chocolate milk is my favorite post-workout beverage.

However, I think that the two huge glasses of chocolate milk post-workout tonight were a bad, bad idea.

Why?

I’m lactose intolerant.

Food Porn: Triple Berry Pie

It’s been awhile since I shared some food porn, but today’s food porn is quite magnificent (if I do say so myself).

Today I made a pie. From scratch. I even made the crust from scratch. I have mad skillz.

Notice the lattice crust? Oh yeah baby. I cannot wait to eat this pie later tonight with my sister (not the whole pie, but a good sized piece of it for sure).

How did I make the pie? Well, I searched the Internets for some recipes — which I sort of followed.

Crust

Oil Pie Crust from Allrecipes.com:

  • 2 3/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil (I used 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup grapeseed oil)
  • 1/2 cup milk

Sift flour into bowl, add salt. Pour milk and oil into one measuring cup – do not stir – and add all at once to flour. Stir until mixed and separate into two flat balls. Refrigerate for 15-20 min. Roll out on lightly floured surface.

Pie

I took much liberty in following this recipe: Bridgid’s Blackberry Pie Recipe from Allrecipes.com:

  • 2-3 cups fresh blackberries
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1.5-2 cups fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 3/4 – 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 tablespoons butter melted

I put about 2 cups of blackberries, 1/4 cup blueberries and 1 cup strawberries and pureed them using the Magic Bullet. I added the puree to a saucepan with the melted butter. Then I added 1 cup of sugar, 1/2 cup flour and the salt to the pan. I let the sauce get to a slight boil and turned off the heat. In a separate bowl, I mixed the rest of the berries, sugar and flour. I slowly added the sauce mix to the bowl. Then I poured the mixture into the pie pan and baked for 55-60 minutes at 350F.

I ended up with extra filling, so I made some mini tarts:

I had a bit more of the filling left, so I stuck it in the freezer. You never know when you might need some pie filling. 😉

Obviously, I don’t like to measure when I cook. I’m more of a stream of consciousness cook/baker. I go with the flow and make modifications along the way. MMMMMmmmmMMMMM Can’t wait to eat it all!

I’m lactose intolerant, but I refuse to give up dairy

I know I’ve talked about my myriad of health problems before, but here’s one I don’t think I’ve mentioned. I’m lactose intolerant. Lactose intolerance is “the inability to metabolize lactose, because of a lack of the required enzyme lactase in the digestive system. It is estimated that 75% of adults worldwide show some decrease in lactase activity during adulthood” (Wikipedia).

Basically, when I consume lactose (milk, ice cream, custard, yogurt, cheese, sour cream, etc) I get sick. And not in a good way. I can usually tell within 20 minutes if something is going to make me sick. Yes, it comes on that fast. This ain’t no joking matter.

The biggest culprits (for me) are:

  • Milk: No cream in my coffee, no pudding, no heavy cream, no milk with dinner. Milk is lethal to my digestive system.
  • Ice cream/custard: I rarely crave ice cream, shakes, malts or custard anymore because I don’t want to deal with the repercussions. It’s that bad, people. I’m not one of those girls who wants to go get ice cream on a first date. Been there. Done that. It wasn’t pretty.
  • Yogurt: This one is in the “iffy” category for me. It’s really hit or miss. As long as I don’t have a huge portion of yogurt, I’m usually ok. Usually.
  • Cheese: Cheese is one of those things that it depends on the kind. The harder cheeses, like Parmesan, Asiago, Romano, etc don’t get me sick. If it’s in a small quantity, the softer cheeses (mozzarella, swiss, cheddar, etc) are ok.

How do I get around this, living in the dairy state?

Well, this is hard. I grew up around dairy. My grandfather was a dairy farmer. I love cheese.

I didn’t develop lactose intolerance until I was 20 or so. Apparently, this is very common to develop as a young adult. So I could enjoy all the ice cream, milk, cheese, pudding, custard, etc. that I wanted without the fear of, well, you know.

Now I try to eat dairy in moderation. I stopped drinking milk all together, and have drank Silk (soy milk) for years. If I’m really craving ice cream or custard, I make sure I’m going to be home for the night. Same thing goes for cheesecake.

I’ve used pills like lactaid in the past, but it’s a huge pain to carry those pills around just in case you want some ice cream. It’s a great excuse for not eating those fatty foods! “Sorry guys, I can’t get custard with you, I’m lactose intolerant.” If someone questions it, my response is, “Do you really want to know what happens if I have ice cream? Trust me, you’ll know it when you smell it.”

So, I try to limit the dairy intake and, of course, always know where the nearest bathroom is. 🙂

Review: AJ Bombers’ #fitmke menu items

It’s official, the Fit Milwaukee team asked me to be a regular contributor at the blog and I’m super excited. They even have my bio posted on the site. 🙂

I just wrote my second post, and this time it was a review! AJBombers has three #fitmke menu items and I tasted them all (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it). Here’s a sneak peek:

Baked ‘Shroom Burger: 475 calories*, $5.50

The Baked ‘Shroom Burger isn’t your typical burger offering. It’s a big ol’ Portobello mushroom topped with cheddar and munster cheese, lettuce and tomato. It’s also my favorite item on the AJBombers menu. The Baked Shroom is juicy, flavorful and a little on the messy side, so make sure you have some napkins handy. I cannot rave about this burger enough. I’ve never been a big mushroom person, but you can hardly tell you’re eating a giant mushroom instead of beef. The Baked ‘Shroom is very filling and sure to satisfy your taste buds.

For the full post, head on over to FitMilwaukee.com. Oh, and yes, I did use the phrase “Don’t butter my buns” in this post. You’ve been warned.

*Note: I paid for all of my meals and was not compensated in any way by AJBombers for this review.

A test in self restraint

Today, a tasty cupcake sat on my desk for more than 3 hours before I ate it.

The fact that I was able to see it there, taunting me, for more than 3 hours without eating it is a huge accomplishment.

As you can see, it was a yellow cupcake with marshmallow fluff topping dipped in chocolate, topped off by a conversation heart.

I wanted to see how long I could go without eating the cupcake. So I took pictures and tweeted this morning. My goal was not to resist the cupcake forever… it was to see how long I could resist it. You see, normally I would have eaten something like this in less than 5 bites and I wouldn’t have savored every bite. I wanted to teach myself that just because something is in front of you, doesn’t mean you have to eat it.

  • #1: 9:15am Look at that beauty.
  • #2: 10:15ish I pushed in the heart candy so it wouldn’t look so appetizing.
  • #3: 11:15ish I bumped it (by total accident) and had to lick part of the fluff off my finger. darn.
  • #4: 12:00ish I ate the candy heart and squished that fluff so it would look gross.
  • #5: 12:20ish I licked one side of it.
  • #6: 12:40ish I couldn’t help myself, I licked the fluff and chocolate off the top of the cupcake. And then something magical happened. I didn’t feel like finishing it. So I threw the bottom part away.

Sure the marshmallow fluff wasn’t super healthy, but I don’t want to keep myself from eating the foods I enjoy, but just less of them. Sure, I ate the candy heart, the fluff and the chocolate, but I didn’t eat the cake.

Baby steps.

My workout tools and my aching knees

Here’s what I’m using right now – my brand new Asics Gel Kushon 2 running shoes, Jillian Michaels’ 30 Day shred DVD, a yoga mat and a pair of 2 lb free weights.

I just got the shoes yesterday at Kohl’s. Already I can feel a difference… the gel cushioning is great for shock absorption, which, let’s be honest… when you weigh 267 and you’re jumping around, there’s BOUND to be some stress to the knees and ankles. I’m hoping that these shoes will help alleviate some of that stress, because my knees are killing me.

I thought that a day of rest would help, but it didn’t. I tried just walking the past 2 days, but it hasn’t gotten better. I’m sure that standing for four hours on cement at the Pettitt didn’t help, but seriously, WTH.

I’ve been using biofreeze and that helps, but I’m not sure what else to do. Do I rest another day? Do I push through it?

I’m sure they just hurt because I haven’t worked out in so long and carrying around 267 pounds can’t be easy.

Le sigh.

Ok, enough complaining. Today I did day 6 of the shred and it was ok. I haven’t done the shred since Wednesday, so I feel like I went backwards a li’l bit. I will have to be more diligent with it to complete my 30 day shred challenge.

I’ve been doing pretty well as far as my diet goes… Friday night I went to Comet Cafe with my sis and I got the Baked Chili Mac… which was ahhh-mazing (see below). I ate less than half of it and felt sick the rest of the night. Lesson learned.