Quinoa for Breakfast?!?!

I’m sure you’ve heard of, and probably even tried, or LOVE quinoa….am I right? 🙂

Well….It has taken me a while to get used to the texture and smell of quinoa…but I kind of like it! My parents recently gifted me with a box of Trader Joe’s Organic Quinoa and I had heard all the great things about it (“it’s a perfect protein,” “super healthy,” etc.), so I decided I wanted to find some ways to use it.

Off to Pinterest I went…and as I pinned away, I wondered if there were any recipes to use quinoa for breakfast… you know, like oatmeal. I figured having it for breakfast would be a great way to start off the day and keep me full until lunch.

In my searching and pinning, I came across this recipe from Martha Stewart for Breakfast Quinoa.

I decided to give it a shot, but since it is only me eating it, I didn’t think I needed to make the full cup of quinoa (if you haven’t made it before…1 cup makes 4 servings! it EXPANDS a lot!).  The first time I made this recipe I tried to make it before I went to work, but I didn’t give it enough time to fully absorb all of the milk…so it was still a little crunchy and soupy. Not great. But OK enough that I’d give it another go.

Since my first run, I now make it at night and make enough for 4 servings, divide it into microwave safe containers and pop it in the fridge. Then in the morning all I have to do is pop it into the microwave for a minute or enjoy it cold!

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You may be wondering what that black stuff is on top of the quinoa in the picture….it’s Chia seeds. They are full of all kinds of HEALTHY GOODNESS and can be added to baked goods, yogurt, oatmeal, salads, and more!

What You’ll Need:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups milk or water
  • 4 tsp brown sugar (or other sweetner)
  • 4 tsp chia seeds (I got mine at Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 cup blueberries (1/4 cup per serving-added before serving; fresh or frozen; not pictured)

Rinse and drain the quinoa and add to a medium saucepan with milk or water.  Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed.  When cooked you can see the germ ring around the edges of the quinoa.  Divide into 4 equal servings, add 1 tsp brown sugar and chia seeds to each serving. Enjoy while warm with 1/4 cup blueberries on top, or refrigerate and add blueberries before serving. 

This is a great grab-and-go breakfast when it’s already prepped! It is also very tummy filling! 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂 

 

Easy Veggie Breakfast Hash & Eggs

I love to be in the kitchen. I mean…I LOVE to be in the kitchen.

The kitchen is where good things happen and delicious memories are made.

I have so many wonderfully comforting memories of spending time in my Gramma’s and mom’s kitchens baking and cooking old favorite recipes, and creating new favorites with love and laughter. I love the special little methods and techniques in cooking and baking that only moms and grandmas can teach you. I also love the wonderful smells and delicious vittles that come out of the kitchen and ROCK my taste buds! 🙂

One thing I have learned from both my mom and Gramma is to not be afraid in the kitchen.  Sure…start with a recipe, and maybe make it from the recipe a few times, but then….make it your own.  🙂

Missing a recipe ingredient? Find a suitable substitute and toss it in!

My mom is a pro at making up her own recipes…sometimes things don’t work out so great….BUT most of the time, it is AWESOME

Kind of like my Easy Veggie Breakfast Hash & Eggs:

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This morning I wanted something a little different from my usual green smoothie or my avocado & egg pizza for breakfast, and I had a bunch of fresh veggies in the fridge that I needed to use.

So, being my mother’s daughter…I decided to dice up and toss together the veg and cook up a couple of eggs to top it all off…AND it was AMAZINGLY yummy! (And super easy!! BONUS!) 🙂

You can really make this with whatever veg you have on hand…but here is what I used (it seems like a lot of veg, but it will cook down a bit):

  • 1 small eggplant, diced (roughly about 1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 large zucchini squash, skin on, diced
  • 1/2 large orange bell pepper, diced
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil, chiffonade, divided
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • garlic powder, crushed red pepper, dried oregano
  • 2 eggs

I diced up all of my veggies and tossed them into a skillet over medium heat with a little bit of olive oil. I seasoned the veggies with salt and pepper and let them cook for about 1-2 minutes.  I threw in a few dashes of garlic powder, a pinch of crushed red pepper, and a couple dashes of dried oregano. I gave it all a big stir and added in 1 tbsp of the fresh basil and let it cook another minute or so.  I piled it all into the middle of my plate and set aside.

I added my eggs to the pan, seasoned with a little salt and pepper, and cooked them to a nice over-easy…or dippy egg (if you are from the East). I plopped the eggs right on top of that beautiful mountain of veggie hash and added 1 tbsp of fresh basil on top for garnish.

This is a low-cal, high-protein meal….and did I mention it was YUMMY!?!? 🙂

Enjoy! 🙂

Sunday Breakfast: French Toast! YUM!

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love sleeping in on a chilly Sunday (or Saturday) morning…snuggling close under the covers, and enjoying the lazy comfort of being together.

A chilly September morning like this calls for continued comfort after you finally decide to drag yourself out from under the deliciously warm covers and throw on your favorite pair of worn-in sweats and that old, ratty, full-of-memories sweatshirt…

Something that will keep your tummy comforted on this lazy Sunday, where you will lounge in your sweats and watch football (Yay! FALL!) all afternoon….

Something sweet…and savory…and DELICIOUSLY naughty.

Something that you might not have everyday, but as a special treat….

FRENCH TOAST!

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What could be more comforting than that warm, egg-soaked, cooked slice of bread, with melted butter and doused in warm maple syrup and a side of savory, salty bacon?!?! (Are you drooling yet??) 🙂

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You can’t go wrong with this recipe….so good and so easy!

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 Large eggs
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp. sugar (optional, or you can use sugar substitute)
  • Healthy Dash of Cinnamon (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 8 slices bread (you can use your favorite sandwich bread)

In a medium bowl, whisk all ingredients together except for bread. 

Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture until coated on both sides.

Set aside in a baking dish until all slices are dipped.

Pour extra egg mixture over the dipped slices in the baking dish, while you heat up your lightly greased skillet.

Cook each slice until golden brown on both sides over medium heat.

(**Note: I usually set a clean baking/serving dish in a warm oven (170 degrees) and place the cooked slices in the oven to keep warm while I finish cooking the rest of the slices)

Serve with warmed maple syrup and your favorite savory breakfast meat!

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This is a recipe I came up with after trying various different French toast recipes. This recipe is a crowd-pleaser with the surprising hint of Orange that comes through. 

 

One of my favorite breads to use for this recipe is Trader Joe’s Tuscan Pane, or sourdough bread.  The slight sourness in the bread works really well with the orange flavor from the orange juice in the egg mixture. 

Enjoy!

Happy Fall & Happy Comfort!! 🙂

Easy-Peasy (& Crowd-Pleasing) Taco Salad!!

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Do you love tacos or taco salad?

WE DO! 🙂

This is a staple recipe in our house and it was shared by my mother-in-law (and then tweaked by me). We love this and use this taco meat for tacos, taco salads, in burritos, etc.  BONUS: It’s even better as leftovers!! This is one thing my husband will eat as leftovers (IF there are any leftovers)!!

The recipe couldn’t be easier, too! 🙂

What You’ll Need for the Meat:

  • 1 lb. 90/10 or leaner ground beef (or you can use ground turkey or meatless substitute)
  • 1 can Rotel diced tomatoes and chiles 
  • 1 green long hot pepper (very mild), diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed or diced finely
  • 1/2-1 cup corn kernels
  • salt and pepper, to taste

In a medium skillet, brown up your meat and season well with salt and pepper. Once browned well, drain any excess fat/liquid.

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Add to meat your diced jalapeno, diced long hot pepper, and garlic. Cook for about a minute. (In these pictures, I used a 1/4 habanero pepper and 1 red jalapeno…both SPICY!!) 

Next, add your can of Rotel tomatoes and chiles and stir. Cover and cook on low-heat for about 30 mins, stirring occasionally.

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After 30 minutes, add the corn kernels and cook for just a couple minutes longer…just to warm the corn through.

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For Taco Salad:

Serve with lettuce, chips, cheese, sour cream, salsa, beans, guacamole (really whatever you like in a taco salad).

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For Tacos or Burritos:

Enjoy with your favorite crunchy or soft taco shells and taco toppings, or wrap up in your favorite tortillas with your favorite burrito fillings!

This is a GREAT recipe to use for parties and big groups (just double or triple the recipe) because everyone can make it the way they prefer! Just serve with a large variety of toppings!  It’s a real crowd-pleaser! 🙂 

Enjoy! 🙂

Easy Painted Striped Curtains

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Happy Post-Labor Day!!

I hope you all had a wonderfully relaxing, or productive weekend. My parents were here visiting us this weekend from PA and they brought us lots of stuff…including two things we cannot get here in MI.

We CANNOT find a good cheesesteak anywhere (it’s all about the roll!) and we also cannot find decent hamburger and hot dog rolls. We prefer Martin’s potato rolls…so here is what they brought us (all freezer-friendly):

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THANKS MOM & DAD!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 

So we spent our weekend touring around Eastern MI and relaxing…

You may have spent your weekend, as many people do, fixing up, organizing, cleaning, or doing other household chores!

I actually made these easy curtains a few weeks before Labor Day, but I thought they’d be a good post for today. I got my inspiration here.

What You’ll Need:

  • Curtains (I used 84″ panels that I bought at Target on Sale; I would have made my own, but I don’t own a sewing machine.)
  • Acrylic Paint (I used black and white to make gray)
  • Textile Medium (I found this at Michael’s Craft Stores)
  • Painter’s Tape
  • A yardstick
  • Fabric pencil
  • A small paint roller & tray

Step One:

Lay your curtains out on a flat surface (the floor), measure the curtains to double check the length (mine were about 83″ instead of the advertised 84″), decide on the size of your stripes (mine were just shy of 12″ a stripe).

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Step Two:

I used navy curtains and used a white fabric pencil and yardstick to mark off my stripes. I then took the painter’s tape and taped the OUTSIDE of each stripe that will be painted.

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Step Three:

 

After your stripes are taped off, mix your paint and textile medium according to the bottle (I think it’s 2 parts paint to 1 part textile medium).  Our bedroom colors are gray and navy so I mixed black and white paints until I got the shade I wanted.

(Ignore the DVD rentals in the background AND note my nifty-and FREE-paint tray!) 🙂

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Step Four:

Paint! Glob it on pretty thick because the fabric will absorb the paint and you may have to go back for a second coat if it’s not thick enough. (I put an old, flattened moving box under my curtains to protect from any bleed-through.)

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Step Five:

After painting all of your stripes, while the paint is still wet, SLOWLY peel the painter’s tape off.  (** This is when I started to squeal with glee because the lines were so crisp and it was so pretty!!) 🙂 🙂

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Step Six:

Allow to dry COMPLETELY.  I set mine up with a small fan pointed on it to speed up the process a bit.  Once the paint is completely dry, use your iron (dry-no steam) and a pressing cloth to iron over the painted stripes.  This will set the textile medium so that your curtains will be washable!!

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Step Seven:

HANG those beautiful curtains! 🙂  

(This took a while because I didn’t want to put big holes in the walls of our rented apartment and I thought I had a BRILLIANT idea…a stroke of GENIUS! I thought I could hang our curtain rod using the 3M Command velcro strips!! Well…sadly…it didn’t work and I ended up having to drill holes in the wall anyway.) 😦

(This picture isn’t the best…but you get the idea! They look much better in person!!)

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We LOVE our curtains! We love that the sun peeking through the blinds early every morning doesn’t wake us up anymore and we can sleep in a little on the weekends! I also love that they add a little something to our bedroom with it’s boring white walls.

I Hope you were able to have a productive Labor Day weekend!

Happy Crafting! 🙂

 

 

My Running Journey…

Ok…so I promised my cousin that I would write about how I got started with running…

Before I begin telling you about my running journey, I want to preface this by saying that everyone’s fitness journey is different and you have to do what is best for you, your body, and your life.  You need to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.  If your body doesn’t like something…it will tell you and there is a difference between challenging yourself and hurting yourself…so listen.

To begin your journey you will need:

1. A good pair of sneakers (running shoes, gym shoes…whatever you feel like calling them). When I started over year ago, I went to the Inside Track store in Mechanicsburg, PA where Jim (Shout-out to JIM!! Whoop! 🙂 ), who is extremely knowledgeable about fits of shoes for different foot needs and activities, helped me find the perfect shoes for my feet! (I have weird wide-toe-box-narrow-high-arch-feet and a neuroma in my right foot…so finding the right shoe is often difficult.) He explained to me that if I was looking for fashion, I came to the wrong place…to go with what feels right…instead of what is attractive. So a year later I went back and bought my second pair!

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2. Good Music, Audiobooks, Radio….something to listen to. I find that what helps me keep my mind distracted from constantly looking at the BIG clock on the treadmill is something good to listen to. Often I listen on my TuneIn Radio app to my favorite radio station from back home (SHOUTOUT to 92.5 WXTU!! Whoop!! 🙂 )!! But I also find that a good audiobook or playlist on my iPod does the trick.  The past few days I’ve just had ONE song looped on my iPod because I love the upbeat rhythm, the beat is good, and the lyrics and voice aren’t too bad to listen to either (Avicii’s “Wake Me Up”)!! If I’m distracted, before I know it I’ve run 40 minutes! 

3. A little bit of time EVERYDAY.  Schedule yourself 30 minutes to a hour everyday to exercise.  This is your time to do what is right for your body.  If you can’t run, throw on your sneakers and get a good 30 minute walk in, or do a 30 minute DVD in your living room with your husband or kids. I hit the treadmill 5 days a week for about an hour, but on the weekends I try to find active things that my husband and I can do together.  We walk our local river trail, or walk to the local park, or do a circuit workout together in our living room, or find a new town to explore on foot. If you plan, you will succeed.

4. Inspiration and goals.  Really, a healthy YOU should be your inspiration. But whatever it may be, your kids, your family, etc. think about that and use it to challenge yourself to reach your goal.  I set a goal over a year ago to lose 30 pounds and even though I’ve had a few set-backs, I’m almost there.  We all can’t be RGIII or Heidi Klum and whatever your goal may be it won’t happen overnight, but keep your inspiration and goals in the front of your mind and you will succeed.

 

So now that I’ve prefaced my running journey, here is my story…

I am going to say something I’m sure many people will say about themselves….

I NEVER liked running. Not as a kid and certainly not as I’ve gotten older.  

In fact, I hated it

I hated it because I knew I wasn’t any good at it. I wasn’t fast. I wasn’t even kind of fast.

Let’s face it….I was slow. Like a turtle. (I like turtles!) 🙂

So through middle school, high school, and college I told myself I wasn’t a runner.

In one of my earlier posts I talked about how I got started with my “healthy new me” about a year ago (see here).  I started my exercises with walking…that’s it. Plain ol’ walking.

Then I was introduced to Leslie. She inspired me to get moving a little harder. 

I got moving and feeling GREAT!

Until I sprained my ankle…and now I have to finally come clean about HOW I sprained my ankle.  I like to tell people that I was “jogging” or “jogging around the neighborhood” because it’s less embarrassing.  BUT the truth is that I was about halfway through a Leslie DVD, in my parent’s CARPETED basement, JOGGING IN PLACE!! 

It’s embarrassing….I know! 

So, after my 2 months of physical therapy…I got back into my exercise routine by starting with Leslie again. Slowly at first, as I was a little afraid that I would have a mishap again.

Then we moved to Michigan.

Since I have lots of time I decided to get up every morning and get my sweat on with Leslie….well, that’s not so easy in a second floor apartment. :-\

We have a free fitness center in our complex so I ventured over one day to see what equipment was available and guess what I found….

Some inspiration….and a treadmill! 🙂

Sooo…I turned to Pinterest (that’s where we all turn when we need help figuring something out, right??)!! 🙂

I’m sure those of you who pin-away daily have seen some of these fitness ideas and maybe have even pinned a few of them….

Couch to 5k Running

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Rainy Day Runner’s Workout

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Color Runner Beginner 5k Plan

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So with all of this “Pinspiration,” I decided to hit the treadmill running….(haha..get it? RUNNING!) 🙂

I actually started by WALKING….yes, walking…on the treadmill. I did this to get myself used to the way the treadmill feels, and how the controls work. (I was told by my physical therapist that you shouldn’t hold on when on the treadmill because you won’t walk/run naturally…so I needed to get used to the way this treadmill worked and felt.)

Slow and Steady…right? (It’s that turtle thing again…) 

I would walk 5 minutes at 4.0 (brisk) and then boost it up to 4.5 (very brisk) for 5 minutes. I would alternate 5 minutes at each speed for about 30 minutes total. (**Note: these are speeds that work for my body…go with speeds that work for YOUR body!)

Once I was comfortable with the treadmill and controls (after a day or two), I decided to try adding some running.  Again, I alternated between 5 minutes of walking (at speed 4.0) and 5 minutes of running (at speed 5.2-which is a comfortable jog/run speed for ME).

After I felt comfortable with this routine, I decided to challenge myself a little bit.

I would run longer and shorten my walks between runs.  Eventually, I could run 10 minutes and walk 1 minute between….

Then one day…I thought to myself during the last minute of my 10 minute run…

“Hey…I think I could go 5 more minutes!” 

AND so I did! 🙂

Each day I continued to challenge myself to run “5 more minutes” and now I can run a 5k distance in 35:53 and I usually run a total of 40 minutes with a 10 minute cool-down walk.

My goal is to run an actual 5k somewhere, outdoors, with a start/finish line, and hundreds of other people. But for now, I will keep working on my running and LISTENING to my body. 

Again, this is MY running journey….and I hope you find some inspiration here, but remember to do what is right for your body and always Listen to it….it’s a pretty brilliant machine.

I’d love to hear about your inspiration, goals, and fitness journey, so feel free to share! 🙂

Happy fitness!

Have You Had Your GREEN Today??

Hello, Monday!

After a fun and busy weekend with my husband I decided to get my week started with a nice long run….

Oops!

I forgot to put the wash that was in the washer last night in the dryer and I have no clean workout clothes…danggit. :-\

So, instead…I made myself a green smoothie and got busy with the rest of the 24379302479 chores and things I need to get done before my parents visit us this coming weekend.

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Now, I LOVE green smoothies!! 🙂

They are yummy and veggie/fruit packed and a great breakfast on the go!

You can customize them with whatever fruits and leafy greens float your boat for a protein and fiber packed punch!

I get a lot of my green smoothie inspiration from SimpleGreenSmoothies.com, but I kind of like to throw caution to the wind and make up my own flavor creations!

Here is what I made this morning:

2.5 cups of this into the blender,

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1 cup of this into the blender and liquefy, 

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1 container of this for protein,

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1 cup of this sweet mix,

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blend until SMOOTH…:)

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Pour into your favorite drink receptacle and sip till your heart’s content! ❤

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This is just one version that I’ve made…

but get creative…

Got berries: strawberries, blueberries, black or raspberries? Throw them in!

Got Bananas? Toss them in!

Got Kiwi or Melon? Give it a shot!

Got Kale or other deep leafy greens? Try with OJ as your liquid!

Throw in a tablespoon of Peanut Butter or almond meal for added protein!

SOOOO Go for it!

I’d love to hear what you’ve got blending in your GREEN smoothies, so post your faves below. 🙂 🙂

Happy Blending!

P.s. A Couple of Quick Tips for the BEST Green Smoothies:

  • Blend your leafy greens and your liquid FIRST! This will make sure it is nice and SMOOTH!
  • Use FROZEN fruit (or freeze your fresh fruit) to make the smoothie COLD (no ICE necessary)!
  • Rinse out your blender and cup right after blending and drinking with hot water…when the smoothie dries to the inside it becomes a pain-in-the-you-know-what to clean! 🙂