Sunday, June 29, 2014

Instagram Favorites

The best thing about picking up photography and investing in a decent camera (I have a Canon Rebel T2i) is it has changed the way I see the world. I have become aware of beautiful light, especially at dawn and dusk, and am always looking for beauty in the outside world. I notice small things now like the color of a cherry tomato and the tiny fingers of a baby. Photography has also taught me to slow down, be quiet, and observe the world around me.

This week, there were just too many amazing photos on Instagram, so I made a photo collage and a quote collage. Wishing you all happy week!
this week's favorites from
  • tracyshutterbean {a pimm's cup with roasted strawberries and basil!!}
  • thevuvobandit {for mama, she loves sweet old trucks}
  • fitfluential {watermelon pizza!}
  • smpliving
  • cabotcheese 
  • lunchpailsandlipstick
  • womenshealthmag
  • yogainspiration

Friday, June 27, 2014

Virtual Book Club

I finished this book in three days, and just could not put it down! I rarely take my Kindle around the pool when I'm going for a dip with kids around, but I made an exception today if that tells you anything about this book. A couple people even asked me what I was reading because I was laughing out loud! I gave it 5 stars on goodreads and highly recommend it. 

Next up:

Monday, June 23, 2014

Instagram Favorites

This weeks favorites are brought to you from 
  • littlecoal {becoming my favorite photographer on Instagram - truly amazing!}
  • kingarthurflour {swooning over those nutella and strawberry crepes}
  • williamssonoma
  • thesmitten
The bottom right photo is dazzling. I look at it almost every day. There is something about the ocean, and sky, and that green umbrella that is just beyond beautiful. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

on marriage...

Josh and I are very fortunate to have folks in our lives that give us advice and encouragement on the challenges and joys of marriage. My grandma Shirley was the one who taught my mom to always put your husband first, which my mom shared with me before my wedding day. My dad taught me to support each others dreams, and he has quietly encouraged my mom in taking up oil painting and made custom frames for her best pieces. 

Josh's uncle Mike has also helped us a great deal. He frequently gives Josh tips and sends him little stories. His emails are honest and funny, and he's gently warned Josh that I will be a "little hormonal" at times in pregnancy and that he should be loving and patient with me. He won me over with that one. He recently taught us that love is the willingness to do anything for a single smile. 

Mike and his wife Tammy have been married for decades and have two amazing boys. Tammy is battling cancer again the third time, and you can imagine their emotions as they prepare for treatment. The other night, Mike found a way to make her smile when she feeling down. This was so sweet I've been thinking about it all week, and had to share. 

Mike turned his man shed into a concert hall. He wired some big speakers in there, pulled a chair into the middle, got Tammy out in that chair and then blasted her favorite Queen album. Now, you hear lots of stories of love, but to me that is real love. Doing something crazy just to see your favorite person in the world smile. He said after hearing a few of her favorite songs, she was laughing and dancing. We needed to be reminded this week that marriage is about little acts of love, so thank you Uncle Mike. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Virtual Book Club

In the midst of being "busy" - moving, unpacking, traveling, and working, I have pushed aside one of my favorite activities. I miss reading. I miss getting lost in a book, staying up late to finish one more chapter, and babbling to Josh about the story line. Today, I am putting myself on a summer reading program! One book a week. Here is a photo of my new reading corner - it houses the new Best glider I'm breaking in, a Bose bluetooth speaker, two great windows, and a ceiling fan whirring down on me. 
I'm starting with Tell the Wolves I'm Home

Summer Reading List

  • The Pecan Man
  • The Husbands Secret
  • The Vacationers
  • We Were Liars
  • Looking for Alaska
Any books I should add to my list? 

Monday, June 16, 2014

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint

Just like life can be boring without adventures and imagination, salad can be awfully boring and predictable. Please, resist a boring salad!  

I get in a salad rut from time to time, and use Pinterest to spark my imagination. That usually leads to making my own vinaigrettes, and adding exciting toppings like quinoa, pepitas, berries, avocado, hard-boiled eggs, or nuts. Here is the link to one of my all time favorite salad posts by Andie Mithchell on how to keep a salad FUN and under 400 calories. 
I brought this salad to a neighborhood gathering, and the flavor was perfect. The dressing balanced the sweetness of the watermelon. If you want to make a watermelon salad with more greens, check out Ina Garten's arugula, watermelon and feta salad. 
Instagram Favorites of the week:

  • wrightkitchen (my favorite foodie pictures AND you can order prints on her website)
  • bevcooks (again the cutest baby pictures)
  • yogainspiration
  • kimsunee (famous food writer)

Watermelon Salad with Feta and Mint
adapted from Paula Deen

1 (5 pound) watermelon
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint (I added more because I LOVE mint)
Feta cheese (4 ounces), crumbled
Whole mint leaves, for garnish

Cut the flesh from the melon and cut into bite size pieces, removing and discarding the seeds, and set aside. 

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, salt, pepper, and whisk until the salt is dissolved. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, a few drops at a time. Add in the chopped mint, taste, and adjust seasonings. 

In a large bowl, combine the melon and feta. Pour the dressing over the melon mixture and toss gently. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Friday, June 13, 2014

White Pizza with Tomato & Basil

Give me a crunchy freshly baked baguette, fluffy pancakes drizzled with maple syrup, or brick oven pizza and I will swoon. I love carbs. Yet I believe that moderation is the key to health and happiness, and these foods are special treats and not daily indulgences. That way, when I do splurge on a real bowl of pasta, I savor every bite. 

Many of our cardiac patients are looking for ways to clean up their plates, and in search of simple advice. I put together this list as a grocery store guide. Print the list, and keep the white stuff out of the shopping cart. Shop on the perimeter, and be mindful of the sugar content in "low fat" foods - often the full fat option is actually healthier. Splurge on occasion, and when you do, enjoy every delicious bite!
Tonight I made this white pizza and used fresh basil from my garden for the pesto. Instead of pizza dough, I used a flat-out wrap for a healthier version that still had delicious flavor and toppings.

White bread substitutes
- Flat-out wraps, triple health or whole grain english muffins, Joseph’s lavash wraps
- Arnold's whole wheat sandwich thins
- Ezekiel bread (sold in Organic frozen section of grocery store)
- Lettuce leaves or a “burger bowl” instead of burger buns

White pasta substitutes
- Whole wheat pasta or low-carb pasta (dreamfields)
- Veggie ribbons – make zucchini noodles or squash noodles (I have this Paderno for spiral 
   veggie noodles and love it)
- Spaghetti squash
- Soba noodles

White rice substitutes
- Brown rice
- Quinoa
- Cauliflower rice

White Pizza with Tomato & Basil
1 flat out wrap
3-4 Tbsp pesto (I used the basil pesto from prior post)
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Mascarpone cheese (a few dollops)
5-6 slices of tomato
Freshly ground black pepper
Basil, julienned

*these may be my all time favorite summer pizza toppings, and would work on homemade dough, naan bread, or any pizza. I discovered mascarpone cheese in Italy and they often dollop the cheese on pizza, and it was life changing! 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees with a baking sheet or pizza stone inside the oven. Bake flat-out wrap for 2 minutes, then add toppings. 

Spread pesto evenly over pizza crust, leaving a 1 inch border around the edge. Sprinkle the crust with mozzarella and evenly dollop the mascarpone cheese by teaspoons around the pizza. Top with sliced tomatoes and black pepper. Slide the pizza onto the baking sheet and bake until the cheese starts to melt (3-5 minutes). Remove pizza from oven and top with fresh basil prior to serving.

Basic Basil Pesto

Fresh pesto is the epitome of summer goodness. After I made this batch, I sat by the window with the spatula and the bowl of my food processor and licked up every last drop while watching the birds visit my feeder. Every year I forget how amazing a simple pesto tastes, and every year I am reminded as I sample the first spoonful.
This year is special because I have my very own garden with three thriving basil plants, and I picked the basil right before I made this batch. A few words of advice: keep pesto simple. It's better when you stick with a basic recipe like this one because the simplicity is what makes it elegant. In the past, I have used half spinach and half basil, but that was only because I couldn't get my hands on enough basil to make a real batch. Splurge on good parmesan cheese and good olive oil, you can taste the difference. 
I am currently reading a book that is changing the way I think about food and cooking. It's called An Everlasting Meal by Tamar Adler, and every chapter is driving home the point that good food is often not fancy or fussy. It's simple and fresh and honest. She mentions making a batch of salsa verde first, and then finding inspiration to cook meat and vegetables to drench in that sauce. I'm going to do the same with this pesto this summer. I'll just make a big batch every week and see what follows!
Basic Basil Pesto

2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 garlic cloves, peeled and quartered
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Blend the basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, pepper, lemon juice, lemon zest, and 2 tablespoons olive oil in a food processor until nearly smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula as necessary. Drizzle the remaining olive oil into the mixture while processing until smooth.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Instagram Favorites

Check out these folks on Instagram! 

  • fitfluential
  • australia
  • healthyaperture
  • wisslaren
  • mammachia

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Emergency Snacks

Let's chat for a minute about pregnancy and an increasing appetite. When I really became scared was when I started waking up at 6am with a growling stomach. Before, morning caffeine was my priority and food happened later.

Oh, how the times have changed. I now eat breakfast NO LATER than 7am, and then by 10am and ready for a snack. Lunch happens around noon and definitely not any later than 1 pm. I usually need an afternoon snack before dinner. I've taken to stocking protein bars in my glove box and purse to stay away from the McDonald's drive-thru, as I'm a sucker for hot salty french fries. 
With this giant appetite of mine, I've now created this emergency snack list so that I'm always prepared when hunger strikes.I've also tried to drink more fluids during the day since it's easy to mistake hunger for thirst.

In this list, my current obsessions are all things Vitalicious (found in the organic section of the store) including their chocolate desserts. I also love the BabyBel cheeses and a crunchy apple.  

  • Mini Babybel Cheese
  • Luna Protein Bars (chocolate peanut butter) and Pure Protein bars
  • Fuji apple with 2 Tbsp peanut or almond butter (barney butter is the best)
  • Dannon Light & Fit greek yogurt in Cherry
  • Sugar-Free Carnation instant breakfast (chocolate flavor) mixed with skim milk
  • Cucumber/celery/nut thin crackers with hummus
  • A small bag of trail mix with almonds/cashews/craisins
  • Vitalicous! (VitaTops) - the banana choco chip is my current obsession
  • Edamame
  • Cottage cheese with blueberries and honey
Please share your favorite healthy snacks with me! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Greek Pita Sandwich

I am so grateful to have moved to a beautiful house in a wonderful urban location, and one of the best perks is being just a few miles from the best Greek restaurant in town. The owners of the Veranda Bistro have brought back an intense craving to eat authentic Greek food on the regular, and to save myself money and calories I've been making this pita sandwich at home. We've been practicing frugality in our house, and eating lunch in is a big money saver! 

I follow a couple of inspiring weight watchers foodies on Instagram, and their photos recently have featured sandwiches made with Foldit flatbreads. These girls eat the most delicious looking meals, and make healthy substitutions to save calories. The bread I used here is my favorite Joseph's Bakery miniature whole wheat pitas that are sold at our local Walmart. 
This sandwich couldn't be easier! Start with hummus, then add spinach, red peppers, cucumbers, kalamata olives, and finish it off with a handful of feta cheese. I'm sure it would also be delicious with other veggies, grilled chicken, or red onions.
I've recently taken to putting this seasoning on top of everything, including hummus, grilled chicken, and this pita sandwich. It's called Cavender's and it's sold at most grocery stores. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Hello June!

I'm going to start sharing my favorite photos from Instagram once a week on the blog. I love waking up every morning and looking at gorgeous pictures and inspirational quotes. Every day starts with a cup of coffee and a few minutes on my favorite app. Remember what I said about how the little things are really what matter. Start every day with happy and grateful heart, for there is so much beauty in the world. 
Here are a few of my favorite folks to follow - 

  • BevCooks (cutest baby pics EVER)
  • ohjoy (Ruby is the sweetest!)
  • alaskafromscratch (the photography)
  • yogainspiration (the quotes are awesome)
  • etst (one of my favorite bloggers)
  • meetjulian
  • purposeofenvy
  • cabotcheese
  • davidlebovitz
  • boden_clothing
  • whatsgabycookin