Love is in the Air

On February 14, 2014 I took and thankfully passed my RD exam. Later that evening, Matt and I celebrated Valentine’s Day at The Grill at Highlands Row.

V-Day
Valentine’s Day 2014
love
An amazing celebration of passing my exam with my fav person!
Valentine's Day
Valentine’s Day 2015
goofy
I love being goofy with him!

This year, we decided to again enjoy our Valentine’s dinner at The Grill at Highlands Row. We chose to dine on Saturday, which allowed us to cook a nice meal at home on Sunday.

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Oatmeal with So Delicious unsweetened vanilla coconut milk, mango, pineapple + topped with plum, Good Habit Food Ginger Spice Topper, Qia Cranberry Vanilla, Earthly Choice Chocolate Almond, Smucker’s pb

 

Unfortunately, even though we set a 6:30 reservation, we were not seated until 7:00. Our dinner wasn’t prepared as nicely as we were hoping for, especially given the price. We decided to have dessert at home and snuggled on the couch to watch Bridge of Spies. Also, we couldn’t get a good photo due to dim lighting, so we ended up with none this year. Womp womp. Stinks.

Matt has been working hard to finish his car in time to attend his racing school this coming weekend. A fun weekend road trip that we’re both looking forward to!

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I stopped by his dad’s, where he works on his car, and saw our other little baby.

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I went by my sister’s place and was able to see Rachel and Mason. I love and miss them so much! People often think May is upset when he  has this expression, but he’s actually purring up a storm!

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Miss Princess – I love her sassy self.

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Jackson warms my heart so much. Look at that tootsie. He stands in such a precious way!

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On Sunday, Kaci and I met to attend a free class at Barre3 Knoxville. It was a killer workout and one that we really enjoyed!

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I decided to bake a whole chicken. It wasn’t quite as juicy as the previous birds, but it still is really nice.

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Served with homemade gravy, curry-roasted cauliflower and onion, sautéed zucchini and ‘shrooms with roasted garlic, parmesan polenta.

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Matt’s plate.

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We accidentally broke the last wishbone, but I managed to remove this one intact. I got to make the wish. 🙂

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We split a package of Justin’s dark chocolate pb cups.

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I had apple, KIND banana nut clusters, and an Earl grey latte.

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Matt made a delicious smoothie.

Overall, the weekend, while it didn’t go quite as I had hoped, it ended on an awesome note. I feel very blessed and only wish we could’ve had one more day!

Vulnerability

vulnerability

While I have always intended for this space to be fun, light-hearted, and inspirational, I did want to just briefly discuss a part of my past which has led to my present. Hopefully, it will prove useful to others.

When I made the decision that nutrition was *the* field for me all the way back in 2007, I felt so relieved and excited. My family and friends had quickly grown aware of how much I loved cooking. However, it began to function as a sort of crutch for me. “Wow, you eat so healthy.” “I wish I was thin.” “Do you ever eat anything ‘bad’?” While harmless enough, some of these statements and questions started to fuel my underlying need of control and perfection. My twin and I signed up for personal training at the gym. Certainly a smart and beneficial decision. The staff plugged my numbers into a system, which gave me a daily target caloric goal. Unfortunately, this started me down a negative path. I began to calculate every damn food that I ate, taking the time to write it all down in painstaking detail. Lists and notepads with daily numbers for each meal. Quite sad.

Eating outside of the home became a chore, a stressful event. You see, I wouldn’t have my control. I began to recognize my problem but didn’t want to admit it. How could I have a problem? I was eating “so well” while others seemingly were dieting all. the. time. It wasn’t until one evening when Matt seriously sat back and made a statement about how small and frail I had become that I was smacked square in the face with reality. In that moment I knew I had taken it too far. I was no longer myself. Numbers, weight, etc. don’t matter, but I can assure you I was way too small.

Fast forward to today: I’m not perfect, and that I know. I still love cooking and eating so much, but I continue to evolve. I try new foods, I incorporate new foods into my lifestyle. I do go to the gym, but now I truly love strength training. I do NOT count calories. I love seeing my muscles grow and for my strength to improve!

authenticity

While I know I have overcome my “battle” with what I believe was orthorexia, I realize I am who I am. Working as an RD is a blessing, hands down. But I am educated and as such, my own knowledge can sometimes be my own downfall. I hear numbers, read numbers, look at real-life case studies day in and day out. I recognize my susceptibility to become worried over things I cannot fully control. While I lead a balanced life (in my humble opinion), I realize I am only human. I am by default flawed. This is still something I am working to fully grasp. If I receive blood test results, visit the doctor for a routine exam, I now question a lot. I, unlike my sister, do not just take something for face-value. However, I do wish I could. But given my background, I now want to understand it all even when not everything medical makes sense. So, I am simply a work in progress.

inspire
This really hit home for me. 

Why share all this? Well, I can say that I never have wanted to. I feel as though if/when I tell people this, it’ll paint me as a failure. It makes me vulnerable. But I realize that this is the farthest from the truth. I’m me, and there isn’t anything to be ashamed of. I want to help others with my passion for food, and this blip, if you will, is part of my own past. Without digging for facts, students in the field of nutrition are at a greater risk for developing disordered eating patterns. I know I am one who got sucked into it, but I’m happy to say that with many things, it now serves as a lesson learned.

as you are
I love this a great deal!

I promise to not write many serious posts such as this. 😉 I want this to be a “happy place”, but this has been on my mind to share. Hopefully it will be well-received by my readers. Have a great Saturday!

Rainy Day Recipe

 

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In preparation to run a quarter of the Knoxville Marathon (6.5 miles total) as a member of a 4-person relay team, I have been trying to run several times a week at the Y. Yesterday, our weather was so incredibly and unseasonably warm that I laced up my shoes and  decided to hit the pavement. I ran in the neighborhood located above our home, and I managed to cover 3.07 miles while cutting my time in comparison to my 5k last May! I’m pretty certain this is a PR. It still felt like a struggle at times, and now I need to set goals to increase distance and endurance.

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After running and then stretching, Jackson wanted to be held and snuggled. Then the overhead light caught his attention, and just after I snapped this photo, he tried launching from my head to swat at it! He’s such a cute, funny baby! I bought new shoes, Asics Gel, and I have been walking around the house in them. They really seem like they fit very well, and can we just talk about the colors? My favorite!

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On to the food front. I found a quality 10-oz package of wild caught smoked salmon for 10 bucks at Big Lots a few weeks ago, and the other night Matt and I opened and began enjoying it. In one of my last trips to Aldi, I picked up their gluten free organic short-grain pasta, so my wheels began turning. I decided to combine a bag of frozen kale, fresh lemon and parmesan cheese, caramelized onion, roasted garlic, smoked salmon, and pasta to create a quick but filling weeknight meal. We both really loved it, and I hope you do as well!

Ingredients:
6 oz. short-grain pasta of choice

olive oil

1 medium onion, peeled and thinly sliced in half moons

about 1 tsp. mashed roasted garlic

dried thyme

freshly ground pepper blend

1 bag frozen kale, thawed slightly in the microwave

6 oz. wild caught smoked salmon

juice from 1/2 fresh lemon

freshly grated parmesan cheese

extra virgin olive oil

sliced cucumber

Directions:

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a medium sauté pan. Cook the onion and garlic on low-medium until soft and caramelized. Season with thyme and pepper. Meanwhile cook the pasta as the package states. Add the kale, salmon, and lemon juice to the pan to fully warm before folding in the pasta. Portion among four bowls, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil, top with grated parmesan, and serve with cool cucumber slices.

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Happy Hump Day!

 

Makers Gonna Make…Donuts That Is!

 

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I was on a mission this morning – to get down to Makers Donuts as quickly as possible. So I chose one of my fav vintage dresses that doesn’t require ironing. 😉 I do love playing around with winter layering and fashion!

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After much anticipation, Makers Donuts has finally opened their doors and welcomed us donut-hungry Knoxvillians in to enjoy a sweet confection!

 

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The owners and masterminds behind Remedy Coffee decided to venture out and also create a place where people can go to enjoy a quality, locally made donut. They have chosen to use local ingredients, and while they will make some of the classic, tried and true flavors, one can expect others like Maple-Bacon, Dark Chocolate Ganache with Sea Salt, and Matcha Green Tea with Black Salt to name only a few.

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Now, as an RD, one might wonder how or why I stand behind a donut shop. I mean, sugar is the devil, right? Wrong. I do believe in, despite how often it’s said, many things in moderation. While I still have my beliefs and draw the line on some foods for myself, I do think that the *occasional* treat is necessary in leading a healthy, well-rounded life.

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Cruze Farm milk shot!

I, for one, am excited to be given the opportunity for another means in supporting the makers and hard-workers of our great city. It’s been fun to watch it grow and evolve over the last several years. While many big cities are known for their fancy cafes, donut shops, and the like, Knoxville can boast that we too have some of the very best right in our own backyard!

Friday Update

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Good Friday morning! So how’s the weather where you’re at? Wednesday we woke up to a beautiful blanket of snow, followed by even more snow. I haven’t seen that great of an accumulation in a long time! Unfortunately, now it’s melted, ugly, and we’re expected to get hit again. We’re all gearing up for round two.

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To back track a bit, I wanted to share our Sunday brunch because it was one for the books.

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The fluffiest scrambled eggs (trick is to add Cruze milk!), flipped in the pan by Matt and served over greens with a Food For Life brown rice English muffin split and topped with ricotta and Smucker’s Blueberry Lemon Fruit Spread with Honey + half a red pear each.

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Matt spoiled us both and made wonderfully seasoned and baked chicken complete with Roma tomatoes.

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We served it over greens (see a theme?) along with one half a Glutino corn English muffin topped with mashed avocado and steamed vegetables with a Romesco sauce from Aldi.

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After visiting a wedding venue and speaking with the owner on Tuesday, Matt and I decided it was perfect for us! October 22, 2016 is going to be a day I will always cherish. ❤ We decided to use our Christmas gift cards and treat ourselves to dinner at Bonefish Grill.

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This is seriously one of my favorite photos ever! Yes, we do love our food. Cilantro Lime Shrimp Salad to split as an appetizer.

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We rarely ever order the same entrée, but it sounded too good for either of us to pass up. White fish topped with crab, garlic lime sauce, and wilted greens. I chose broccoli and green beans to complete my meal.

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Matt went with garlic mashed potatoes.

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Thursday, January 21st was National Granola Day, so of course I had to celebrate. One apple cored and filled with Wild Friends Sugar Cookie Peanut Butter and KIND Banana Nut Clusters / Stash chai tea with a splash of Cruze.

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This morning’s creation: Van’s Multigrain Belgian Waffles enjoyed sweet and savory. Peanut butter, blueberries, pomegranates, and chia-hemp-buckwheat sprinkles on one and then wilted greens, pepper jack, and an egg on the other. Complete with Evocation Coffee. Mmmm so tasty!

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I hope you have a great end to your work week!

Put an Egg on It…Or In It

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Once Matt introduced me to his scrambler, I’ve been obsessed ever since. I’ve featured a few variations on the blog, and this latest creation I believe is very much worth sharing!

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For dinner Saturday night, we made Lentil and Bacon Soup using a recipe by Liz of The Lemon Bowl. Instead of cooking it in the slow cooker, I simply made the lentils with low sodium organic chicken broth (from Aldi at a steal of a price!), sautéed the vegetables (doubled the celery, carrots, and garlic), then I allowed it all the simmer together until it was time to enjoy.

Matt and I absolutely loved it! Per Matt’s suggestion, we had chia pudding with 5th Avenue crumbled on top for dessert.

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I made mine with chia and Cruze light milk.

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Matt made strong chai tea and allowed it the chill in the refrigerator with the chia seeds. Awesome idea! He then had mashed blueberries and banana in Fage yogurt, topped with crumbled candy bar. We then settled in and watched The Martian. It was great but loooong.

While we were eating on Saturday, Matt said that he believed the soup would make an eggcellent scrambler. Yea, I had to. 😉 So this morning we did just that!

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Ingredients:
1 serving of the Lentil and Bacon Soup + additional water

1 cup quick cooking (not instant) oats

garlic powder, paprika, chipotle chili powder – all to taste

2 eggs

butter for cooking

2 thin slices of pepper jack cheese

2 strips of cooked bacon

Directions:

Divide the soup and oats between two bowls, sprinkle with spices, and add enough water to allow the oats to fully cook. Microwave until oats have soaked up the liquid. Meanwhile, heat the butter in a small skillet. Cook each egg separately, gently scrambling while it cooks. Top each bowl with an egg, a thin slice of cheese, and one slice of crumbled bacon. Enjoy with an apple, and proceed to “mmm” through every bite!

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All stirred up! I’m thankful that Matt has introduced me to these savory breakfasts because as much as I adore oatmeal, smoothies, yogurt bowls, and the like, sometimes savory just hits the spot!

Maple Brown Sugar Oatmeal with…Bacon

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For those mornings when you’re craving something a little sweet, a little salty, and with a whole lotta flava – this oatmeal is for you! You start with a base of old fashioned oats cooked in equal parts milk and water, then you add sliced banana, a sprinkle of dark brown sugar, a drizzle of real maple syrup, a drizzle of natural peanut butter, and then finish it with crumbled bacon. I promise you’ll be “mmm’ing” through every spoonful!

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Ingredients for 2 servings:

1 cup old fashioned oats

1 cup milk of choice

1 cup water

cinnamon

1 banana, peeled and sliced

2 tsp dark brown sugar

2 tsp maple syrup

2 tsp natural peanut butter

2-3 slices bacon, crumbled

Directions:

Combine oats, milk, and water in a medium saucepan. Cook until oatmeal reaches desired consistency. Divide between two bowls and top with banana slices and 1 tsp each brown sugar, maple syrup, and peanut butter. Finish with the bacon and proceed to enjoy every last bite!

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The Best is Yet to Come

2015 really was such an amazing year. From running a 4k and a 5k, paddle boarding for the first time, walking a 5k with Matt, joining the Y, trying new foods and continuing to evolve my cooking, securing a new job, Matt and I finally moving in together, and last but not least getting engaged (!), it’s going to be a hard year to beat. But 2016 already looks incredibly promising.

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Unfortunately, I was lucky to catch a mild cold that set it on Wednesday. Even still we had a nice New Year’s Eve. We made Bob’s Red Mill’s 13-bean soup with leftover Christmas ham, sautéed onion and celery, spices, and chicken broth. We enjoyed it with mixed cooked greens and homemade cornbread dressing that we froze from Thanksgiving.

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Black-eyed peas and greens for good luck and prosperity!

For dessert, we each made hot tea and a smoothie. We curled up on the couch and watched Trainwreck. It had its funny parts but wasn’t the best.

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Mason loves a good smoothie!

2016
*credit given to Zazzle*

On the morning of New Year’s Day, we took our time getting ready. I enjoyed a banana with Wild Friends Sugar Cookie Peanut Butter while Matt had a small smoothie and coffee. We then got ourselves all cleaned up for brunch.

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I had to sport my new tee by Eat Healthy Designs – it’s so cute and comfortable!

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Attempting to use our selfie stick. We need to get in plenty of practice so we’ll be pros while on our honeymoon. 😉

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We decided to enjoy OliBea as we did this past New Year’s, and again they did not disappoint.

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Black Stumptown Coffee for me / hot tea for Matt

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A very pretty piece of artwork.

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I love spotting owls!

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Matt ordered their Carnita Tostada, which is confit cheshire pork shoulder, frijoles, queso fresco, eggs, and salsa roja.

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He added a side of squared potatoes.

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I chose their buttermilk lemon pancakes, which are made with Cruze Farm buttermilk. I only ate one, so have two more breakfasts! I added a poached egg to my order. It hit the spot.

We ran a few errands and then came home to relax. He helped me choose two new nail polishes, so I had to try them out already.

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I love them!

I hope you all had a wonderful time ringing in 2016, and here’s to wishing you a great weekend!

2015 in review

I am so thankful that I began this blog and had the opportunity to share thoughts, events, recipes, and all things food with others. I’m looking forward to 2016!!

 

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.