Sunday, September 12, 2010

Operation Active

I've been working hard over the last couple of weeks to be more active. I wanted a goal to work toward so that I would feel more motivated, so I signed up for a 5k in October and have been working through the Couch to 5k Running Plan. I was chugging along pretty well, but on Monday I started week three with terrible shin splints. I ran a little more than I was supposed to during week two, which I felt great about at the time, but now I'm definitely regretting it. I finished the first run of week three and went to my usual Zumba class after, but I had to leave after twenty minutes because my legs hurt so badly. I've been trying to take it easier and stretch this week, but I'm really disappointed that I'm not on schedule. But I don't want to let this little bump in the road deter me. My ultimate goal is to complete the 5K in October in 30 minutes, but if that doesn't happen it's OK. Really, this is about being healthy, making some lifestyle changes and losing some weight.
Last week as part of the "get active" effort, Leon and I went canoeing at the FSU Reservation. We had a little picnic before we got out on the water. Last time we went we each had individual smaller canoes, but this time they gave us a big metal canoe. The individual canoes were really stable, but the big one we got this time was NOT. Thankfully we didn't flip, but it got a little touch and go :)
It was a super hot day, we went in the afternoon and it was 95 degrees, but a little breeze coming off the water made a huge difference. There are some cute houses bordering the water, but what I really love are all the crazy trees. They have this beautiful swampy quality, and I love how they grow right out of the water.

Taking a quick photo break, isn't it gorgeous?

Me, feeling zen out on the water.

Leon, clearly not feeling so zen.

I wish I could have brought my good camera out, but you get the idea.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Vegan, One Ingredient, Low Calorie 'Ice Cream'

I've made this several times and I must say, it's pretty amazing. I know the title of this post sounds humorous, and me saying that it's "amazing" may take it from humorous to hysterical. But it's true! So, what is this amazing single ingredient that contains no animal products or by-products, yet can magically form a substance quite comparable to ice cream? It's that breakfast staple that comes in its own vibrant packaging: the banana.
Ok, so it doesn't magically taste like Chubby Hubby, but the texture is pretty well spot on. This is a great low-calorie, healthy way to treat yourself. Oh, and did I mention that it's super cheap!
So, all you need to do is peel a ripe banana, cut it in about four pieces and freeze it. When the banana has completely frozen, throw it in your food processor and pulse for a couple of seconds at a
time. The banana will probably not be smooth and will look fairly crumbly. Fight your desire to blend it for too long and use an ice cream scoop to remove it. Voila! You have a satisfying frozen treat.
I added a mixture of equal parts almond milk and nutella, which I microwaved for around thirty seconds until it was warm and mixed. I used about two teaspoons of each.Enjoy!

Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese

This is a highly adaptable recipe with so many possibilities that I want to make it again, like, now. You can certainly forego the mushrooms entirely, switch them out for caramelized onions, add in a couple handfuls of spinach, mix in some fresh grated parmesan - they would all work well. Regardless of how you do this, it's a perfectly light, flavorful dinner to pair with a cold glass of white wine on a warm summer night.
I bought organic mushrooms, which I found to actually be of better quality than what I generally get at the grocery store. I cut them fairly wide so that they would be substantial enough to stand up on their own in the dish.

Spaghetti with Mushrooms and Goat Cheese


1 pkg. spaghetti or other long pasta
1 pkg. cremini mushrooms, sliced
4 oz. herbed goat cheese
1 tsp. lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Olive oil
Herbes de provence
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
Basil, for garnish


1. Begin cooking pasta according to package directions.
2. Saute the garlic in a pan with a bit of olive oil. When garlic becomes aromatic, add the mushrooms and more olive oil as needed. Season mushrooms with salt, pepper and herbes de provence. Cook until soft.
3. In a large bowl, mix the goat cheese, lemon juice, lemon zest and a tablespoon of olive oil. Add the pasta and mushrooms and toss to coat.

Notes: My lemon was particularly juicy and the dish was a little more lemony than I would have liked. I would suggest only adding a bit, tossing the pasta and tasting it to see whether more lemon is desirable. The lemon zest is much more flavorful than the juice, so be careful to not add to much of that either. Roll your lemon on the the counter for a few seconds to make it easier to juice.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Extreme Makeover, on the Cheap

Over the last year my apartment has been a major work in progress. I moved down here with two pieces of furniture in my possession: an office chair and a mattress. It has been a slow process over the last year turning this apartment, with its many quirks, into home. The place isn't so bad, but the main reason we moved here is its proximity to the law school. It's probably a one minute walk, but for obvious reasons I haven't timed it. The bedroom has never felt quite right, but I gave it some attention over the summer and I'm pretty pleased with the result. The room has always felt a little too bare and asymmetrical to me, but changing up the color scheme and adding some decor to the walls has made a great difference. It was fairly inexpensive - I got the new bedding set for around $80 on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond, a featherbed from purchased the frames above the bed for $1(!) each at Wal-Mart and printed out some of my own photos to put in them, which was only around $3.00.
The blue, white and black scheme is much more zen than the bold red and the featherbed makes my bed feel so much more luxurious. You definitely have to fluff it up every few days, but it's definitely a great way to make a less than perfect mattress feel a bit better. I would love to paint, especially since I'll be here for another two years, but the walls aren't in the greatest condition and I don't know if it would be worth the effort.



Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms

Mushrooms are one of my favorite things, but I have always been too cheap to buy portabella mushrooms. But I was in the grocery store recently and realized that they weren't really all that expensive. I only paid a few dollars for two, and if you use it in place of meat the meal isn't all that expensive. You can really switch this recipe up quite a bit - mozzarella, feta or bleu cheese would work instead of the goat cheese. I used A LOT of onions, so if you're not crazy about that tone it down. I really liked how these turned out, and they were relatively simple and quick to prepare. The meaty, savory flavor of the mushroom paired with the sweetness of the onions and the creaminess of the cheese makes for a really amazing combination of flavors, I know I'll be making this again.

Stuffed Portabella Mushrooms
Yield: Four


Four portabella mushrooms, stems reserved
1 red onion, medium dice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 shallot, minced
1 bag spinach
1 small tomato, diced
4 oz. herbed goat cheese
Olive oil
2 tbsps. sugar


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel; washing them will cause the mushroom to absorb too much water. Cut off any dry portions of the mushroom stem and roughly chop.
2. Sauté the minced garlic and shallots in a pan with a bit of olive oil. When the garlic and shallots become aromatic, add the mushroom stems, onions and sugar. Keep the burner at medium heat so that the onions can slowly caramelize. Add some salt and pepper depending on your preferences. When the onions are fully cooked, add the spinach and stir until the spinach is all wilted, probably around a minute.
3. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil on the mushroom caps to keep them moist and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put an equal amount of the spinach and onion mixture among the mushroom caps. Top with crumpled goat cheese and tomato.
4. Bake the mushrooms for around fifteen minutes, until the cheese is slightly melted and browned and the cap is cooked through.