Valentine’s Day 2014

Valentine’s Day was full of good food and love for us this year.  My mom gave us a heart-shaped egg cooker, so Friday morning Andrew fried us some heart eggs to go with our banana muffins from earlier in the week:

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I met my good friend Kate for lunch at The Daily (the restaurant where Andrew and I had our awesome date night last week).  Kate and I realized that, for various reasons, we’ve had lunch together on Valentine’s Day for the last three years.  New tradition 🙂  We went to The Daily because I really needed some more of those Brussels sprouts:

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Mmm 🙂

After work I went for a 30-minute run–the first in my new running shoes that I bought last week!  I’m not usually a pink girl, but these are the best shoes for me, and this is the current color.  It’s tough sometimes, but I never pick running shoes based on the look!  It was festive for a Valentine’s Day run, anyway.

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Friday was a beautiful day here–I’m pretty sure the temperature was in the upper 50’s when I ran, but not all the snow had melted yet.  It feels a little funny to run in shorts with snow on the ground, but I’m not complaining!

After my run I took a quick shower and was getting ready for our Valentine’s date when Andrew arrived home with these goodies:

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Beautiful flowers and all-natural chocolate:  he knows the way to my heart 🙂

We turned to the Frank Sinatra station on Pandora and began prepping dinner.  While cooking, we enjoyed some festive pink cocktails that were quite delicious: cranberry-pomegranate juice, passion fruit rum, and lime (plus tonic water for Andrew).  Amazing.

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We tag-teamed the cooking and ended up with this very tasty dinner: steak, garlic green beans, and baked sweet potatoes.

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(I only ate about half of that giant steak :)) 

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After taking our time and really enjoying dinner and good conversation, we started watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s on Netflix.  Neither of us had seen it, and it was so good!  Midway through the movie, once our food had digested some, we brought dessert to the living room:

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Dark chocolate fondue with strawberries, marshmallows, bananas, and rice crispie treats

We made the fondue in our Crock-pot “Little Dipper”– chocolate chips + almond milk + vanilla.  We plugged it in while we were making dinner, and it was ready to go by the dessert course!

Overall it was a fantastic Valentine’s Day.  Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the day before V-day we did fulfill #4 on this list:

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Have a great Monday!

-How did you spend Valentine’s Day?
-What was the highlight of your weekend?

-When buying running shoes, how much does appearance affect your choice?

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Holiday Season Wellness Goals

Confession:  I’ve been hitting the leftover Halloween candy pretty hard this week.

As we move into the holiday season, where the sweets become even more abundant and most of the vegetables are cooked in cream-of-something soup, I’ve decided to set a few goals to stay focused, healthy, and feeling well.  Now, I’m a firm believer that wellness is the sum of the good stuff we do for ourselves rather than the absence of the bad stuff.  Along the same lines, I also believe in not depriving yourself if you really want something!  The following popped up on my Facebook news feed a couple nights ago, and I laughed and felt disgusted at the same time:

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Really, Health.com?  That’s the saddest little dessert I’ve ever seen.  That’s a garnish for a dessert, in fact.  There’s no way, if someone were craving pineapple upside-down cake, that that would satisfy the craving.  I commented, “#notdessert”.  😀

But I digress.

 Therefore, my wellness goals for the holiday season are cumulative and non deprivation-based.  If you count yesterday (when I intended to write this post) and Christmas day, there are 50 days until Christmas!  

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That means that I am aiming for an average of 6 servings of produce, 30 minutes of exercise, and just one dessert daily (my dessert goal is to not exceed 5o servings.)  The beauty of the cumulative goals is that they allow flexibility:  Run for an hour one day?  Take a rest day.  Enjoy a few desserts on Thanksgiving?  Forego a sweet somewhere else in the week.  A few days of poor eating here and there won’t wreck a person; these goals will help me make sure a few days don’t turn into the whole holiday season. 🙂

After day one, these are my stats:
-Fruits & Veggies: 6
-Exercise: 1 hour
-Desserts: 1

Be good to yourselves, friends!  And for the love of all things delicious, please don’t ever eat a pineapple garnish for dessert.

Do you have any wellness goals for the holiday season?
What would you add to my three categories?

Rainy Day Beef Stew

Rainy days call for hearty dinners.  Last night that hearty dinner was a simple beef stew.  While we typically don’t eat a lot of red meat (and lately I’ve had one foot even more firmly in the vegetarian camp, as Andrew puts it…but more on that another day) we had a package of Simple Truth organic stew meat in the freezer just waiting for such a day as yesterday.

Simple Beef Stew

1 lb stew meat
5 carrots, peeled & sliced
4 celery stalks, sliced
3 Russet potatoes, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 c chicken broth
2-3 c beef broth
1 tsp dried rosemary
Worcestershire* sauce (a splash)
Pepper
1-2 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in equal amount cold water
Red wine vinegar (a splash)

(*I spelled that correctly on the first try!  My trick is to say in my head: “Wor-chester-shire” and take out the “h”.  😀  It’s the little things.)

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add beef and brown all sides.  2.  Reduce to medium heat, add garlic, and cook until fragrant (about a minute).  3.  Add all remaining ingredients except vinegar and stir well, making sure broth is covering all veggies. 4.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for about an hour.  5.  Add splash of red wine vinegar.  6. When vegetables are tender, the stew is ready for you to enjoy!

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It was quite good :).  And for someone who regularly brings home the baby carrots she packed in her lunch that morning with great intentions, it’s a great way to eat the vitamin-A-packed roots.

Andrew’s review:  “This is really good, baby; two thumbs up… even though it isn’t Stewsday!”

What else tastes great on a rainy night?  Freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, of course.

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Speaking of eating, I’m now off to eat my words from yesterday–specifically the words, “I don’t mind running in the rain.”  😉

Have a great Friday!

-Rainy day meals: what’s your go-to?
-Raw carrots:  love them, or love them in theory, hate them in taste unless dipped in Ranch dressing?

Squash, Tennis, and Homemade GF Cookies

Something tells me I will need to find an abundance of new squash recipes soon…and that something is that our zucchini and yellow squash are growing faster than the weeds surrounding them!  Yesterday we harvested (and ate) three, and we have three more that are ready to be picked today.

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Aren’t they beautiful? 😀  It is unbelievable how fast zucchini grow.  This particular one increased its size by almost 1/3 literally overnight.  We checked on it yesterday morning and thought, “Whoa!  Where did that come from?!”

For dinner, we kept the squash prep simple–sliced, tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, and dried thyme, and roasted in the oven.

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…Plus baked pork chops and brown rice noodles with garlic and basil.  As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t love squash, but this was actually very tasty!  Again, I am fairly certain food tastes better when it’s homegrown.  It’s not too late to buy a few vegetable plants! 😀  You can grow them in pots, and you wont regret it.

After dinner we went to a local public school to play tennis.  My quad is still giving me trouble from our softball game ten days ago–fifteen or twenty minutes into my runs, it starts feeling really tight and achy.  I was happy to do a non-running cardio workout!

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My husband has skills.

We played for just over an hour, and as we were driving home, Andrew reminded me of my promise to bake him something.  Wednesday afternoon I’d baked a few desserts for a meeting at church, and when Andrew got home the house smelled like cookies, but there was nothing he could eat, so I promised to bake him something gluten-free and delicious on Thursday.

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There’s a decent selection of gluten-free all-purpose flours and baking mixes these days, but the best stuff we have come across is Arrowhead Mills GF all-purpose flour.  The first few times I baked with it, I double checked the box to make sure the flour was GF after tasting how good the final product was.  More than once I did that!  We have even served GF baked goods made from this brand to our friends without them being able to tell they were GF.  That’s the true test. 🙂  Anyway, these chocolate chip cookies, made using Arrowhead Mills GF all-purpose flour, did not disappoint.  I’d need to do a side-by-side taste test, but I think I prefer these to regular chocolate chip cookies.  We may have eaten seven between the two of us (it’s okay… we eat our veggies too :-D)

Now, I’m off to pick some more squash before they grow too large to eat!

What’s your favorite squash recipe?  Do you have a gluten-free flour that you really love?