vegetarian

is there anything better than a summer barbeque?

I’m feeling a little under the weather today, so let’s look back to happier times, shall we? This past weekend I was home in the suburbs for a friend’s birthday and some family time, and thanks to some perfect Sunday weather my family put together a fun bbq. Take notes, because this was my perfect meal.

IMG_7929IMG_7931IMG_7933IMG_7937IMG_7940IMG_7941Veggie burger, oven fries, and grilled asparagus. Why can’t it be summer all year? Everything’s better on the grill.

I also used the weekend home in the burbs to get in two runs and a long walk, because I happen to think I live in the cutest, quaintest town in America (I’m not biased at all).

IMG_7944Perfect perfect perfect.

And now it’s cloudy, rainy and cold in Chicago so I’m just sitting here on June 11th confused out of my mind. What is HAPPENING, weather?!

Sorry for the lack of writing this week but between moving, some news (I’ll share tomorrow!), work and Zain’s mom visiting, I’ve been in a total time-warp this week. Don’t think that means I haven’t been checking your blogs out though – it’s what keeps me sane 🙂

Have a great Wednesday!

Question:

  • What’s your favorite bbq food?

 

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Skinny Spanakopita (recipe)

If you want to really confuse people working at the grocery store, all you have to do is ask one question:

“Where are the wonton wrappers?”

I had the hilarious experience last night of being passed from employee to employee, all claiming to have an “idea” where they were but ending up confused and embarrassed enough to hand me off like a football to another coworker.  It was like “Hey, here’s wonton wrapper girl, she’s your problem now.” (For the record they are often kept in the produce section near the tofu).

For something so tricky to find, wonton wrappers are a hidden gem of cooking.

It’s easy to assume wontons are only suitable for Asian tastes, but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Wonton wrappers are simply the Chinese answer to ravioli–they are made of eggs, water, and flour, and have great nutritional stats.  On average, 8 wraps have 155 calories, 0.5 grams of fat, 1 gram of fiber and sugar, and 4 grams of protein.  All alone they have no taste, so it’s totally up to the chef to decide what to do with them.  I remember my first time eating wonton wrappers casually–a friend in college had stuffed them with chicken, tomatoes, and spinach.  It was a simple recipe that tasted amazing, kept well in the fridge, and didn’t cost an arm and a leg.

With my constant desire for comfort food during the winter months, I’m always looking for things to make me feel like I’m indulging but are actually on the healthy side.  After a little searching and modifying, I made some skinny spanakopita.

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Traditionally, spanakopita is a Greek dish made up of spinach, feta cheese, and onions, all layered between buttery pieces of phyllo dough.  It’s basically Greek lasanga and it’s incredible (I suspect the butter has quite a bit to do with its popularity.  People don’t often go ham over spinach-filled entrees unless they’re full of butter, sour cream, or cheese).

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With this recipe you get the best of both worlds: cheesey, garlicky spinach stuffed into crunchy wonton wrappers just waiting to be dipped into a hot bowl of marinara. It’s perfect for a quick, easy meal during the week when you don’t have a lot of time but are sick of making more spaghetti or grilled cheese. Plus, it sneaks vegetables into your day in the most delicious way!

Skinny Spanakopita

recipe adapted from Slender Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 package of wonton wrappers (usually contains 24 wrappers. This recipe won’t use all of them, so feel free to double the recipe to use up the rest of the wrappers)
  • 10 oz bag of fresh spinach
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (I use full fat–more satisfying, less mystery ingredients)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 egg white (to be used as an egg wash)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  1. Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, and red pepper flakes.
  3. Once the vegetable mixture is fragrant (you’ll really be able to smell the garlic), slowly add the bag of spinach and stir until the spinach has cooked and wilted.
  4. Place your spinach and vegetable mixture in a medium-sized bowl and add the feta cheese. Stir until combined.
  5. Lay out the wonton wrappers on two cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.  They should be laid out in squares
  6. Fill a bowl with warm water and get your egg white into another bowl.  Place both bowls by the cookie sheets.
  7. Assemble the skinny spanakopita by scooping a tablespoon or so of the cheese/spinach mixture on the middle of the wontons.
  8. Using the back end of a spoon or a pastry brush (if you have one), line the edges of the square wonton with warm water.  Once the edges are all wet, fold the wonton in half diagonally so you are left with a triangle. Press all the edges down to close. The warm water should help seal the stuffing in. Repeat with all the wontons.
  9. Brush each wonton (now a triangle filled with stuffing) with your egg wash.
  10. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until crispy.
  11. Serve alone or with marinara sauce, and enjoy!

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Question:

  • Have you ever tried spanakopita?
  • Have you ever used wonton wrappers in a recipe?

 

doctors and smoothies (recipe)

what do these two things have in common? nothing, except both made appearances in my life yesterday!

After my workout yesterday I had to fast because I knew I’d be getting blood work done at the doctor. Pure misery, I tell you.  My body does not do well not eating for 5+ hours. I am the epitome of “hangry” (just ask Zman–he’s often the victim of my hangry wrath).

However, I knew if I wanted to get to the bottom of why I was feeling so crappy, I had to go to the doctor.

ImageSelfies at the doctor so, yeah, that’s a new low… 🙂

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After a series of blood tests, my yearly physical, and getting a flu shot (yay killing three birds with one stone) I was ready to eat the cotton balls sitting on my doctor’s desk.  However, self-control and societal norms kept me from doing this and I was out of there pretty fast.

Funny story…when I was younger I used to HATE getting my blood taken. I’m talking cry-in-the-chair and scream-for-my-mom type hate. Nowadays I’m the weirdo who likes to watch the whole time! Call me crazy but I think the body is so cool and I love watching medical stuff like that. The nurse even said I may have missed my calling 😉 Eh I think there’s a big difference between watching my skin get pricked and being able to handle things like other people’s bodily fluids and open wounds. Just saying.

The diagnosis? Migraine.

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I’ve always thought migraines were fake. Is that mean? I don’t know but I’ve always had people in class or at work complain of a “migraine” and ask to go home or not perform work that they are supposed to do.  Luckily I have medication now that has helped tremendously and I feel so much better already after just one day! I promise I’ll never be “that person” who uses migraines as an excuse to get out of work, but I will definitely think twice before judging someone who complains of one. These are no joke! 

I sped out of the doctor’s office and went straight to my favorite sandwich shop just a few miles down the road.

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“Vegetarian Special”: 6 grain bread, swiss cheese, light herb mayo, lettuce, sprouts, tomato and red onion.

I ate that sandwich along with a bowl of cheerios in a total of about 5 minutes. Then I became human again and all was right in the world.

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Anyway, while the medicine helped, it killed my appetite for the rest of the day so I stuck with smoothies for the remainder of my meals.  A lack of produce at my house called for some creativity and I came up with a great new smoothie recipe!

Orange Mango Smoothie

  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 6oz container of plain greek yogurt, sweetened with truvia (sweetener is optional)
  • 1-1.5 cup(s) frozen mango chunks
  • Badass glass to drink from

The result?

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I felt like I was on a tropical island.

Happy Thursday! Have a great afternoon 🙂

Questions:

  • Have you ever had a migraine?
  • What’s your favorite kind of smoothie? I’d love some inspiration!

 

Hard Day + *recipe*

Today is one of those days when things just aren’t going my way.  When it rains it pours, right?  I do consider myself lucky because these days are few and far between!

Today I woke up and saw peaches in the freezer. I knew I had to make oatmeal with them! Seriously guys, peach oatmeal is so good because if you add the right stuff, you can make it taste like peach cobbler (one of my all time favorites).

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I boiled 1 cup of almond milk on the stove, added 1/2 a cup of oatmeal, and stirred in a bunch of flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, peaches, blueberries, and cinnamon. So comforting and it sat like a rock in my stomach for a few hours, which did a lot of good helping me fuel for my run.

I headed to the gym to attempt a “non-stop” 5 mile run. Success! I love setting a fitness goal and accomplishing it.  It’s a great feeling!

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I’ll be running the Big Ten 10k in just two weeks so I’m glad these 5 miles are getting easier.  I can’t wait to run in the city–it’s one of the best things to do.  That, plus running in huge groups–it’s an endorphin high like no other.

I made a quick lunch before running off to work.

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I sliced up some grilled chicken, tossed it in jalepeno bbq sauce and red onions, and served that over mixed greens.  I have so much spinach to use up!

Finally, I decided to ACTUALLY cook something that I pinned on Pinterest 🙂

I think most people who are active on that site know that it’s easy to pin a hundred things in one sitting, but actually doing them? That’s a whole other story.

I tackled a Black Bean and Quinoa casserole! I left out the cheese because of my dietary changes this week but when it was done I topped it with some plain greek yogurt and sliced avocado with sea salt and it was delish!

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Black Bean Quinoa Casserole (adadpted from Pinch of Yum.com)

  • 5 garlic cloves
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 4 bell peppers chopped (I used 2 green, 1 yellow, and 1 orange)
  • 2 small jalepenos, seeded and minced
  • 5 cups cooked black beans
  • 1.25 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin

Instructions

  1. Black beans: Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeno, sauteing for 4 minutes and stirring occasionally. Stir in broth and black beans. Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 7 minutes. The mixture should be thick, not watery. If you still have a lot of moisture, let it cook out by keeping it on the heat for another few minutes. Taste and season with salt.
  2. Quinoa: In a dry nonstick skillet over medium high heat, toss and toast the cooked quinoa with the cayenne, chili powder, cumin, and salt for 1-2 minutes. Taste and season with salt. Set aside.
  3. Peppers: In the same dry nonstick skillet as the quinoa, over medium high heat, place the diced peppers and do NOT stir. This allows the peppers to get a brown roasted look on the outside. Wait for 2-3 minutes before stirring, then let them “roast” for another few minutes before removing from the heat.  Add the peppers to the quinoa that is set aside.
  4. Assemble: Preheat oven to 375 . Put black bean mixture into a 8X8 glass baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with quinoa/pepper mixture. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Top with whatever you’d like–avocado, greek yogurt, sour cream, cheese, tortilla chips, etc.

Enjoy!!

Question: does having a bad day motivate you to work out more or less?