Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Smoothie of Mixed Feelings....

The Fruit and Vegetable Smoothie
as seen as part of a detox diet from Whole Living Magazine

I'll start off by saying this smoothie is the most glorious color I have ever seen. I had really high expectations for this smoothie because the ingredients are so packed full of flavor I couldn't imagine it being anything but a flavor explosion in my mouth! But alas this was not to be so.

Last night I steamed the beets and carrots (as seen below in all of their glorious jewel like colors), in preparation for making the smoothie this morning before work. I am not a morning person therefore I do not give myself enough time to get ready in the morning as is without having to chop and steam veg in the morn, so when I make smoothies or pack a lunch everything must be done the night before.
I got up 15 minutes earlier this morning so I could assemble and drink this before my normal morning ritual begins. I eagerly grabbed all of my pre-chopped fruits and veg and dumped them into the blender.
I pulsed that baby and watched as the ingredients combined together to the most beautiful raspberry, magenta color- this was exciting!! This is where I also became a bit wary.... "hmmm, I thought, "doesn't this look a bit thin and watery?" I poured a wee bit into a little juice glass and had my first taste. BORING! I mean just bland! I felt like I was drinking flavored water. So I added a banana, cuz you know, bananas can sweeten and thicken up any smoothie. So the below result is the smoothie after the addition of the banana.

My final thoughts? Well the addition of the banana helped but it was still too watery and still not packed with flavor. It wasn't the worst thing I'd ever had but also wasn't delicious. So what I'm thinking is this- this was included in a detox diet regime so I'm thinking that this isn't supposed to taste spectacular its just meant to fulfill the detox or nutritional side of that regime. After talking to some girls at my work about it we came to this conclusion- half the amount of water. I think the water just diluted the flavors of the fruit and veg and also made it the consistency that of amped up water. I would try this again but I would tweak it. So not an absolute failure but not a big thumbs up either.

Here's the original recipe:

1 small beet, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 med. carrot, peeled and coarsely chopped

1 sweet apple, cored and coarsely chopped

1 ripe pear, cored and coarsely chopped

2 cups water

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tsp. ginger

1. Steam beets and carrots until tender, about 10 minutes. Let cool

2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Salad For the Adventurous

Creamy Kale Salad
from a recipe as seen in Whole Living Magazine
Above you'll find a photo of all of the ingredients in this salad. Once again this came from the recent issue of Whole Living Magazine like my previous post: Subtle and Fresh. This salad looked amazing to me but I knew that there was a chance I wasn't going to like it. I've never been a big fan of using kale as a salad green, but it just sounded so interesting and healthy that I thought I'd give it a go. Plus I knew that I would use all of these ingredient individually if I didn't like them all together. (I've got a recipe from the same mag that is a fruit and veg smoothie that will also contain the beets- which will most likely be my next post). Below you'll find my review after the recipe itself. Here goes!

Ingredients list:
1 ripe avocado, halved, seed removed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil or Walnut oil
Salt and pepper to taste for dressing
1/2 bunch kale, stemmed and coarsely chopped
1 small red beet, peeled and thinly sliced ** Leah's note: I peeled this like an apple. My beet was hard as a rock so it was hard to slice it evenly. I decided to steam my beet to soften it up a bit- oh and beware- beets stain like the dickens!!! I now have a section of my cutting board that will forever be magenta!
1 sweet, crisp apple, cored and cut into thin wedges (I used organic Fuji)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts chopped.

Combine avocado, vinegar, mustard and oil in a food processor or blender. Pulse til smooth. (this will be thick) Season with salt and pepper. (*see photo below)
Stem the kale and chop or rip into coarse pieces. (note on stemming kale if unfamiliar. lay kale leaf bottom side up on cutting board. take a sharp knife and cut leaves along base where it meets the stem. for a visual of this see my Kale Chips recipe blog: I'm Dipping My Toes In )
In a large bowl (so you can toss the salad with the dressing) combine kale, beets, apple, and walnuts. Toss with the avocado dressing and season with salt and pepper if necessary. The below photo is the finished product without the dressing. After I tossed it everything was stained red from the beets and it wasn't very pretty! I did take a photo but my camera said it didn't recognize it when I tried to transfer.

Here's my review:
This salad was actually good and I would make it again! The mustard and vinegar help to balance the sweetness of the apple and beet. I found that eaten with every component on the fork it was delicious! I was unsure about how the apple and beet would be together but combined with the toasted walnuts they were really good! As I said in the title this salad is for the adventurous eater who likes to think outside of the salad box. I have some friends that are huge fans of kale as a salad green so this recipe is definitely for them. I'm not quite sure what I would replace the kale with exactly- perhaps peppery arugula?
All in all a good addition to my health food repertoire, my husband was all thumbs up as well!!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Subtle and Fresh!

I just bought a copy of Whole Living Magazine (formally Body +Soul) and was inspired by some of the recipes I found inside. Tonight I tried the Linguine with Toasted almonds, parsley and lemon. Here's the recipe and my review:

I added another ingredient to this recipe that it didn't originally call for: Greek Kalamata olives. My husband is not a big "nut" fan so I didn't think he'd want the toasted almonds on his, so I had to think of something else that would compliment the flavors that I knew he would like. It was a welcome addition and in the end we added the toasted almonds with the kalamata olives- it was a great combo!!!

Here's the recipe and ingredients list:
8oz of whole wheat linguine (I couldn't find linguine so I used spaghetti. I used Ronzoni Smart Taste pasta)
salt for pasta water
1 cup raw almonds toasted and chopped
1 cup parsley leaves, chopped
zest of one lemon
juice of one lemon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or almond oil
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup grated hard cheese- I used an asiago, parmesan, romano mix. delish!!

cook pasta according to directions on box with the salted water. Toss pasta with the remaining ingredients. Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cheese.

The above photo of the finished product is without the toasted almonds. This dish was subtly flavored and really light! The combo of lemon and parsley really made it taste fresh. It is a dish I would definitely make again.

A New Year, A New Me!! (or else!)

I feel like every year it's the same thing- I have a goal to lose weight. Sometimes I succeed and other years I inevitably fail. This is going to be a good year! I know because my attitude has changed. I'm not allowing myself to get discouraged like I would have once before. I started Weight Watchers again, this being the third time for me and the points system. Third time's a charm right?! It worked beautifully the first time around, 30lbs melted off in about 4 months (cue the above photo- me after my 30lbs weight loss and feeling healthy)- but I got lazy, went off of it and lived my life how I wanted, which in turn caused me to gain each and every pound back over a two year period. I didn't even notice it coming back on because it was so gradual. It took my clothes no longer fitting for me to realize what had happened.

So rewind to Jan of 2010. I started Weight Watchers for the second time, with really high hopes, as the first time was just one success after another! How wrong I was this time! Did I happen to mention that I had turned 30 in those two years and my already horrible metabolism was even worse??? I was having weeks where my weight loss was a measly half a pound AND I was working harder this time around!! The first time with WW my weight loss all came from food- no exercise (cuz I'm lazy and I hate exercise!!). The second time around I added exercise in for good measure when I saw such disappointing numbers. That didn't change a thing, then I came down with pneumonia- finally a big weight loss- OH but did I mention it was because I was so sick that I lost my appetite and it took me one whole day to eat 2 slices of toast!! So yes, I lost 6lbs in one week but not the way I wanted and certainly not the way that would make it last. I was so screwed up from the pneumonia (probably scar tissue or possibly I'd developed temporary asthma, with did happen when I was in the throes of the pneumonia) that I had a hard time catching my breath for simple things and I was tired all the time- which meant absolutely not getting back on my exercise plan!! It took me a good 8 months before I started to feel even kind of normal!!

And now we fast forward to November 2010. I had gained back all but 1 lbs of the original weight loss from the beginning of that year. I was despairing and needing inspiration. Enter my old friend Carey. We were friends in elementary school but lost touch after. I never thought I'd see or speak to her again, but alas Facebook is a wondrous thing!! She has been on her own weight loss journey for about a year now and has been so successful!! She really is amazing! I saw what she was doing and the big light bulb went on! Aha- here's the inspiration I've needed, wanted and craved!!!!!!!! She made everything pop into place for me and I made that critical mind adjustment that we all need when committing ourselves to a new way of life!

So I stared Weight Watchers again for the third time (just before the holidays which is dumb BUT when you're feeling it you have to do it!!!). I haven't lost much, I'm pretty much having a repeat of the second time but this time I'm not letting it get to me. Sure it's disappointing when I look at the scale and it's barely budged BUT my clothes are fitting better and most importantly I FEEL better!! I workout 5-7 days a week depending on what my work schedule has been and I'm challenging myself to do harder and longer workouts than I've ever done. I'm sore, I'm getting sweaty and I think I need a new pair of Ascics shoes already!! This feels GREAT!! For the first time in my life I'm not dreading exercise cuz I love the way I feel when it's over!

I know now that I work best when I have a specific goal or challenge (and I don't mean a weight goal but a life goal, like a vacation I want to look good for etc....) . So here's the challenge I have set up for myself (well there's 2 acutally)

1. walk and jog a 10k fun run that's happening locally in May. I know I can easily walk it, that's not a question BUT I'd like to jog a good portion of it and that's going to be the challenge for me. I'm not a jogger or runner- but that's the goal I'm setting for myself and I know I can do it!!

2. the above mentioned friend Carey is going to be visiting from Nashville where she lives, in the summer. We both want to be at our goal weight (or as close as possible- which by the way is exactly the same number for both of us!!) by then so we can wear bikinis (or in my case at least not be embarrassed to be in a bathing suit)

These goals are keeping me on track!!! I'm so excited for what this year is going to bring in my personal growth! I'm ready to be fit and to be healthy and to love the way I look!! I've been there before and loved every minute of it. It's hard to imagine I let myself get back here, but it happened and I'm not letting myself dwell on that!

So here's to a brand new year- pressing that restart button and embracing my new future!!!!!