Monday, February 28, 2011

Good Morning

What did you have for breakfast today?

When I worked as a wellness/fitness counselor my clients were always asking for ideas for healthy meals and snacks that were also easy to prepare.  If you are looking for a healthy breakfast, lunch, snack, or even dessert, this one is great.  It is tasty and sweet, yet full of vitamins, fiber, and protein.  You can do many variations of this but here is what I like to do.

Layer Kashi Go Lean Crunch! cereal, plain yogurt (without added sugar), and berries (fresh or frozen).

That's it.  Easy peasy.

Of course, you could always use granola or any variety of fruit.  Try it out!  I know you will love it.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

Yesterday, this blog posted a recipe for Orzo Stuffed Peppers.  Their photos almost always make me salivate, and this one was no exception. I had to make it as soon as possible.  I didn't have all the ingredients the recipe called for and I really didn't want to go to the store, so I just did what I could with what I had on hand.  I think they turned out fabulous! 

The point I want to make here is that we often feel like we have to follow recipes exactly as they are written.  You don't.  Especially with general cooking, breads and things like that may be a different story.  Be creative and don't be afraid to add your own flair to a recipe. 

Here is the recipe I ended up doing.  But make sure you check out the inspiration, which I'm sure is amazing as well. 

Orzo Stuffed Peppers

1/2 of a small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
drizzle of olive oil
3 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)
1 cup orzo pasta
1- 14 oz can of diced tomatoes (Italian style could be good)
3/4 cup Pecorino Romano cheese, shredded
3 bell peppers (yellow, red, and orange are definitely the prettiest and taste best, but green could be fine)
1/4 cup fresh basil or 1tsp. dried
salt a pepper

Cook the orzo in broth for about 5 minutes or until partially cooked.  It will finish cooking as it bakes.  Save the broth in the baking dish you plan to use for the peppers.
Saute the onion with olive oil and salt and pepper until tender.  Add the garlic and cook for one minute more.  When it is done, add the mixture to bowl.  Add the tomatoes, orzo, cheese and basil and stir to combine.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Cut off the tops of the peppers and remove the membranes inside.  Cut a thin slice off the bottom of the pepper so it will stand up on its own (don't cut so much that you make a hole).  Spoon the mixture into the bell peppers so they are very full.  
Place the filled peppers in the baking dish with the broth.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes.  At that time, top them with extra cheese and bake for another 10-15 minutes or until a nice golden crust forms on top.  Enjoy!

What They Wear

Confession:  I am way behind on my photo class I'm doing.  It's okay though, the class is just via email, so I'm saving the emails as they come and will get to them as I have time.  I actually took this photo on the day it was assigned, but finally processed it today. 

The theme was "What They Wear."  The day I took this I flew alone with Abby to Boise for the weekend.  Unfortunately, we found out just minutes after we made it through security that our plane was delayed three hours.  So... I had some down time at the airport and was able to do my photo assignment.  These jeans are one of the first things Landon and I bought when we found out we were having a girl.  Landon picked them out, which makes me love them even more.  I think it is so fun to capture them in this way, something I wouldn't have thought to do on my own.


Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts on Homemade Baby Food

I made the goal to make my own baby food at least once.  Well, as it turns out, I have made all of the fruits and veggies for my baby up to this point.  I have been happy with it and thought I would share my experience in case someone out there has questions about it.

Here are some pros for doing it:
  • It is cheaper than buying premade baby food.  I haven't done a cost analysis on it or anything, but unless you are really good at coupons, I'm confident it is cheaper.  It would be even cheaper if you got most of the foods from your garden or fruit trees (either during the season or frozen from your garden previously).
  • Making large batches and then freezing them is very convenient.  If I were to make the food each day for each meal, there is no way I would do it.  Thank goodness for freezers!  I freeze about a tablespoon in each space of ice cube trays.  The foods are best if you use them within a month, but you can keep them up to 3 months. 
  • It doesn't take much timeMaking baby food isn't like making a meal at all.  All you really have to do is some peeling and chopping, then let it bake or steam, and then puree.  I probably make a food two times a week on average, which hasn't been too overwhelming.  
  • Lack of jars and plastic containers.  Maybe this isn't a big deal for most of you, but I have a hard time getting rid of containers that could be used again.  Therefore, I could definitely see myself stashing away those jars and not knowing what to do with them.  I'm glad I don't have that clutter to deal with (believe me, I have enough as it is).
  • Costco frozen produce.  Sometimes it can be hard to find good produce out of season, so that is why I have discovered I love Costco's frozen bags.  They are a pretty good deal and that way you have a large quantity in your freezer ready to go. 
Here are some cons I have found.
  • Freezer space.  If you don't have a lot of freezer space, it could be harder to do.  The ice cube trays don't take up much space, but if you are buying a bunch of frozen produce, then a lack of space can occur.  We don't buy a ton of other frozen foods, so it has been fine.  But... I still can't wait for the day when I can have an extra freezer!
  • Time.  Even though it isn't much time, it does take up time and requires some preparation.  And for mothers who have way busier schedules than I do, I can definitely see why you wouldn't bother making baby food.  Convenience is a powerful thing!
  • Produce out of season.  You may not have as large of variety when you make your baby food because you can't always get some foods.  Or you can, but they are expensive and don't taste great.  Frozen foods, and even dried foods such as prunes, are a good way to combat this. 
Would I do this for my next child?  I am pretty positive I will.  Especially if I have that extra freezer I dream about.  

Friday, February 18, 2011

The Overload Principle

 One of my favorite professors from college taught by emphasizing definitions.  This is one of his favorite phrases to define. 

Overload Principle:  the requirements necessary to bring about improvement in the various systems of the body.  As the body is subject to loads greater than they are accustomed to, the systems adjust and increase their capacity to perform physical work.
Definition from Strength Training 4th ed. by Philip Allsen 

This principle applies to cardiovascular and muscular training.  Basically, if you do the same exact workout all the time, your body will not adjust and increase its capacity.  Here are some ways you can mix up a workout so that you can continue to challenge your body and improve.

Muscular Training
  • increase the resistance
  • increase the number of repetitions
  • increase the number of sets
  • decrease the time of rest between sets for a given exercise (rest time should still be at least a minute, however)
  • increase workout frequency (go from 2 to 3 days per week)
  • switch up your routine (don't do the same exercise for each body part all the time)
  • try circuit training (alternating resistance exercise with short bouts of high intensity aerobic exercise like rope jumping, jumping jacks, running, etc.)
Cardiovascular Training
  • increase your mileage/time
  • increase your intensity by upping your pace
  • increase workout frequency (start at 3 days and gradually increase to 5 or 6 days per week)
  • incorporate hills into your workout (or increase the incline or resistance on machines)
  • interval training (where you alternate between high and low intensity)
  • try circuit training (alternating resistance exercise with short bouts of high intensity aerobic exercise like rope jumping, jumping jacks, running, etc.)
  • try a new mode of exercise (if you're a runner, mix in some biking, swimming, aerobic dance, etc.)
Hopefully these tips will help you incorporate the overload principle and get you out of your exercise routine rut!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Arugula Pesto

I had some arugula I needed to use and decided to make it into a pesto.  I had heard of such a recipe before  but just pulled this one together with things I had.  Both my husband and I thought it was really tasty.  If you don't have pine nuts, I think it would be good with almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.  I think it would also be great served with grilled chicken.  Here's my recipe.

Arugula Pesto

1 lb. pasta of your choice
2 cups arugula
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 lemon, zested
1-2 Tbs. lemon juice
2 Tbs. pine nuts
2-3 cloves garlic, minced (depending on how big and how much you like garlic)
1/3 cup parmesan  or Romano cheese
salt and pepper
1/3 cup olive oil

Cook the pasta until al dente and reserve a cup of the pasta cooking water.  

Add the arugula, basil, lemon zest and juice, pine nuts, garlic, cheese, and salt & pepper to a food processor.  Pulse a few times to get the ingredients incorporated.  Turn the food processor on and slowly pour in the olive oil.  Add enough so that is becomes a creamy texture.  

Add the pesto sauce to the cooked pasta and toss.  Add a couple of tablespoons of the pasta water if the pasta needs to be thinned out.  Serve with a little more parmesan cheese on top and enjoy!  

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

#6. Make Homemade Gifts for a Year

For this goal, I defined it by saying I will make a homemade gift for each member of our immediate family at least once during the year, either for birthdays or Christmas.  Yesterday was my cute sister-in-law's birthday.  I decided to make her this little coin purse/mini wallet.

 I had a lot of fun with this little project and will probably make more.  I especially liked picking coordinating fabrics and am in love with the ones I ended up picking.   

The finished product measured about 3.25 x 5 inches.  I put wallet sized photos of her adorable niece inside. 

I think it would also make a great gift card holder.  It's perfect for IDs, credit cards, coins, feminine products, etc.  It was such an fun and easy project and I am so pleased with how it turned out.

Monday, February 14, 2011

#7. Make Abby a Quiet Book

For Valentine's Day I decided to make Abby a book called, "Who Loves Abby?"  It maybe isn't technically a "quiet book," but I'm counting it to cross that item off my list.  I got pictures of my family as well as Landon's and put them in a little photo album for her.  I Photoshopped everyone's names on their pictures for fun.  I am so pleased with how it turned out.  I think it will be perfect for church and it will help Abby recognize faces.  Here are some pictures of the book.

Happy 1st Valentine's Day to my baby girl!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Then & Now

For Day 3 of my photo class, the assignment was "then & now."  I was supposed to take a photo that would show change from the past.  I decided it would be fun to document "the diaper change" change.

 The top one is from when Abby was 3 days old and still in the hospital.  I remember I was scared to change her diaper then because she was SO small and would scream when you took the blanket off.  The bottom picture was after I changed her diaper today.  She is about 10 pounds heavier!  Her changing table may have to be retired soon because she moves around so much.  I had to be careful as I took these because I was worried she would jump right off. 

My photo assignment also included "cropping in tight," which is maybe displayed better in this photo.  I could definitely crop it (in Photoshop) more, but didn't feel like the mostly blank wall was distracting.

This is my assignment from yesterday, which was "what they look like."  The idea was take a picture of a loved one as they really look, good or bad, and to position yourself so that the subject looks right.  This is a definite Landon face/posture. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

What They Do

I'm doing this free online photography class this month.  Thanks for telling me about it, Emily!  If you are interested, you can still sign up.  Today's assignment was to catch someone... doing what they do, and also to find good lighting in your home.  I love watching Abby read books and am so grateful I can now remember it forever.

Wedding Bliss

My favorite photo from this week was not one that I took, but one I edited.  In order to save some money, I hired a good friend to take our wedding photos.  We were pretty pleased with the way they turned out, but after he had edited a bunch something happened to his computer and he lost everything he had edited (or something like that).  He still had all the original files and at that point we just didn't want to wait any longer and took them as is.  

I recently decided it would be a good project for me to go through and edit them myself.  I'm mostly making minor changes to the majority of them so that they still look natural, just with a little more zing.  But for some of just the two of us I am doing more dramatic effects in addition.  I always wanted to like this picture, but our hands looked lifeless and dull.  I think I was able to bring some life into them and am much happier with the way it looks now.