Monday, February 10, 2014

Won't You Save Me a Place on the Medal Stand?

I took a break from blogging the past few days to enjoy the snowy winter wonderland here in Portland. Snowlandia, we like to call it these days. This weather made me feel like a little kid...beyond excited. Seriously.  And while I usually keep this space of blogdom for food, fun and photos, I just have had this post brewing in my head all day so I'm going to just type away.

{I know that I could blog about today's meals but it's not just going to happen. I did have a delicious curried split pea soup and veggie/hazelnut wrap today that was superb but that's all I'm going to say on that score.}

The Olympics are in full swing and it's been fun to watch the agony and the ecstasy of the competition. These athletes have trained so hard, for so much of their life and one little mistake and bam--they are out of medal contention.  I can't imagine the heartbreak.

Actually, I can.  While I haven't fallen on an alpine ski run or crashed to the ice after a doomed triple axle (with Scott Hamilton screaming in the background, no less), I have faced some pretty sizable disappointments and defeat in my life. Some of them so significant that there have been days/months/years when I really haven't felt like getting up and trying again. I know I'm not alone in feeling this way which is why I'm blogging this tonight.

Yet there have been moments, truly palpable, memorable instances when I I had to pick myself up, brush myself off and head down the slopes again.  And, you know what?  I'm proud of myself for being brave. For going against the grain and stepping out in faith into the vast unknown, an unknown that has, at times, seemed to be as big as the white-capped peaks of Sochi.  And while I'm not going to get a medal, I like to think that I'm on the medal stand in my own way.  And thankful for God's grace that has led me to this new life, greener pastures and new beginnings.

Maybe you are going through your own heartbreak today, this week, this year, the past ten years.  Maybe your life isn't turning out the way you had thought it was (or thought you deserved--oh, how I have been there and still struggle with that one).  I'm just writing these words in the hopes that you realize you aren't alone and you have people in your corner...just look and see, they might come from unlikely places.  Family, friends, co-workers maybe.  They are cheering you on from the sidelines and there to offer a shoulder to cry on, a hand to pull you up.

You can do it.  Be brave.  And one day, we'll be on that medal stand.

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
Robert Frost

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Short & Sweet (Day 4 of 28)

It's been an interesting day with the Portland Snowmageddon in full force.  Pity the weather makes such a mess of things...the snow is sure purdy!  Confession:  I wish I could post pictures of myself frolicking in the winter wonderland, you know, to document this momentous weather.  However, my "selfie" ability is lacking in a major way.  I took some pics of me in the snow but the result was weird-looking photos where it appeared I had snow coming out of my nose.  Not flattering.  In the slightest.

Here's a recap of my meals today.  I find that during the week I keep things pretty simple.  Usually I repeat the previous night's dinner as my lunch the following day.  Easy to just make a second helping, throw it in a tupperware and bam!  Lunch is ready.

Breakfast: Oat/bran flakes with almond milk and pomegranate seeds.

Mid-morning Snack:  Banana

Lunch: Hummus/kale/veggie wrap, graham cracker (honey version instead of sugar) with peanut butter for dessert.

Afternoon Snack: Quinoa/black bean chips

Dinner: Black bean soup (TJ's), chopped cooked sweet potato, avocado, tomatoes, squeeze of lime, sliced toasted corn tortilla.  Raspberry sorbet for dessert.

Small victory:  Another caffeine-free day!

Uh-oh:  Need to be drinking more water.  I do pretty well when I'm at work and have my big water cup staring me in the face.  But when I'm not at work, I kinda forget to drink water!


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Day 3 (That's a Wrap!)

Day 3 of the 28-day challenge is drawing to a close.  I'm blogging beside a cozy fireplace and while I had every intention of going shopping for running tights, I think staying put wins by a landslide.  Moving from sunny, season-less Southern California to the Pacific Northwest hasn't been bad at all given the fact that it's been unseasonably dry up here (not ideal but definitely helpful for this bird).  But this week the weather is giving me a run for my money!  They are forecasting snow tomorrow so hold on to your hats!

Down to business:  I think that bowls and wraps are one of the easiest things to adapt to being plant based.  And they are so yummy and quick to throw together.  I work full time so usually I don't feel like a big cooking extravaganza on weeknights.  The weekends are another story, however.

Tonight's wrap was a Mediterranean was tasty, filling and chock full of plant-strong goodness.

Mediterranean Wrap
Serves 1
Prep time: 5-10 minutes (depending if you have leftover baked tofu!)

1 whole wheat tortilla
1-2 Tbsp hummus
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1 Tbsp chopped olives
1/2 avocado, sliced and chopped
1/4 cup red cabbage, shredded
1/4 cup baked tofu cubes
1 handful basil leaves
Balsamic glaze, healthy drizzle (I get this from Trader Joe's and it is a staple in my pantry!)

Ready, set, go!
1. Lay tortilla on plate and spread on hummus
2.  Add veggies, tofu and drizzle with balsamic glaze
3.  Roll and devour!

Colorful veggie kaleidoscope = Awesome

Today's recap of meals/snacks:

Breakfast: Slice of whole wheat toast with peanut butter and banana.  Amazing!

Mid-morning snack: Little bag of chopped almonds.

Lunch: Rice and beans with tons of veggies, spinach and corn salsa.

Afternoon snack:  I had a huge cup of herbal tea when I got back from my lunch break.  It was so cold outside!  Also a Fuji apple.

Dinner:  Mediterranean wrap and steamed kale. And a couple spoonfuls of pomegranate seeds for dessert!

Small victory:  No caffeine today!  Nothing, zip, zilch.

Uh-oh: Actually I think I had a fairly great day today!  Plus, I'm learning the less I focus on my mistakes, the better.  Life is about forward steps.  We all have days/moments where we take some steps backwards.  But if we've got momentum in the right direction, that's what counts!


Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Day 2 of 28 (baby, it's cold outside!)

Day 2 down.  26 days to go!  For those of you who might not be familiar with the plant-strong movement or the folks at Engine 2 Diet, check out my Plant-Strong tab!  Also, the Engine 2 Diet website is a great resource if you are interested in learning more about plant-strong eating or are interested in doing your own challenge.  You can start your 28 days whenever you feel ready!

If anyone is doing the 28-day challenge or just has a plant-strong tip, trick, suggestion, frustration, victory...please comment at the bottom of these posts!

Here's what what I ate today:

Breakfast: Oatmeal with raisins, blueberries and a sprinkle of almonds.  I added a teensy drizzle of honey and some unsweetened almond milk.  Interestingly, I found that I was hungrier mid-morning today than I was yesterday when I had my peanut butter toast. The high-fat nature of the peanut butter no doubt contributed to that but I only had less than a tablespoon...will have to do some more reconnaissance on that one.

Oatmeal, I love you.  But you are awfully hard to photograph.  Too many beige tones going on here.
Mid-morning snack:  Nada.  I got really busy and forgot how hungry I was until lunchtime.

Lunch:  Woo-hoo!  I packed my lunch last night!  Leftover tofu/rice/veggie bowl.  Delish.  No photo because I left my phone at home on accident.

Afternoon Snack:  Sweet potatoes with balsamic glaze.  I ate this about 4:45 today and it really filled me up.  Oh, and that soy chai latte this afternoon.  See below for full details.

Dinner:  Whole-wheat tortilla, refried beans (healthy TJs ones), shredded carrot, chopped tomatoes, cilantro, corn salsa, spinach and pomegranate seeds.  The pomegranate seeds were an amazing addition...a lovely juice, crunchy sweetness brightened the whole dish.  I'm pretty much obsessed with them and could eat them by the fistful.  Pity they are so expensive!  Oh, and I totally made another half burrito after this one.  It was that good.

Pomegranate seeds...shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Victory lap: Packed my lunch last night!  Loved just grabbing that on my way out the door this morning.  Now if only I could put my keys in a place I'll remember.

Uh-oh (I hate the word fail so am renaming this category to something more friendly):  Left my phone at home so couldn't take pictures of the beautiful snow flurries on my lunch break!  Also, indulged in a soy chai latte today.  Hey, I'm keeping it real ya'll.  I'm keeping you apprised of the nitty gritty.  I have trouble when doing things socially (work, weekends, etc.) and sticking to the plant-strong diet.  I could have just gotten an herbal tea on my break with a co-worker today but somehow the latte sounded so good and I was breathing in the amazing aroma of Starbucks and my willpower went out the window.  I also chickened out and did the elliptical instead of my outdoor track workout tonight.  I blame my weak-sauce California blood that is still acclimating to this brisk Northwesterly cold and wind.  It is freezing (literally) and soooo windy!  However, it is a win in that I actually DID my elliptical workout.  Of course an episode of Alias really helped the time go by.

On a totally non-food-related note, it's nice watching a TV show that has already come and gone so the hype isn't there.  I mean, please don't talk about what's happening on Downton Abbey right now, at least not in public.  Please don't consider me rude if I plug my ears on the elevator or run the opposite way in the grocery store.  It's not you, it's me.

I'm off to pack my running clothes for my running group tomorrow night.  If someone could send me my Nike Epic running tights via carrier pigeon, that'd be awesome.  Everywhere seems to be out of them and my usual running capris aren't doing the trick.

Have a great night!


Monday, February 3, 2014

Day 1 of 28!

We kicked off the national Engine 2 Diet 28-Day Challenge today.  I've been thinking about this challenge and what I want to accomplish.  Since my scale is still in storage (how convenient!), I have decided that this challenge is not going to be about weight for me.  It is a time where I can focus on eating consciously (and conscientiously to boot) and I'm excited to see how I feel at the end of it instead of what I weigh. Everyone is different and I think that's the beauty of doing the challenge.  It's about you and the changes you want to make.  

I had to make a quick stop at my beloved Trader Joe's on the way home.  I love that fruits and veggies are such a beautiful blank canvas!

A TJ's stockpile is a thing of beauty.
Here's a recap of my day's provisions:    

*Breakfast:  Slice of whole grain (and I mean whole grain--it's amazingly delicious too!) toast with natural peanut butter.  I wasn't super hungry so that did the trick.
*Snack:  Red pear (delicious!)
*Lunch:  Salad (sub-par as I threw it together this morning...see note below.  Actually looking back it was downright awful...just a bunch of leftover veggies that needed a bit more TLC than I had time to give them).

Sad little salad.  You did your best.

*Dinner: A-maz-ing rice/veggie/grilled tofu bowl with a drizzle of satay sauce and a sprinkling of cilantro.  Side of mashed sweet potatoes with almonds and balsamic glaze.  The sweet potatoes are in the frozen section at TJ's.  They will change your life.  This was almost reminiscent of pumpkin pie and totally plant-strong.  I love when that happens!
This lasted about 2 seconds before I inhaled it.
Small win:  Really needed some coffee today.  I was struggling and realized that I have been treating myself to a little caffeine most afternoons (interesting how changing things up can show us some bad habits!).  But I powered through and had a lovely cup of tea around 2:30 and that helped immensely.  

Fail:  Not packing enough food for lunch!  This is something I do far too often...I will pack a salad and nothing else and end up ravenous by dinnertime which can lead to bad food choices.  The good news is that I didn't have any healthy options for snacks so I just suffered through.  I don't have a good excuse for not packing my food at night.  I just need to buckle down and do it.  Tomorrow's lunch is already in the fridge. Just need to pack my snacks.  

Somehow getting day 1 out of the way makes the rest of the 27 days seem doable.  I need lots of energy and motivation since it's supposed to get super cold this week.  Tomorrow's track workout should be a doozy in the freezing temperatures!

For all of you 28-day-ers out there...stay strong!  You can do it!  If you are just reading the blog for the first time, make yourself at home.  I hope we can be friends!


P.S. Rest assured, the pretty photographs will come back before the challenge is over.  I'm in the midst of moving so the phone photos will have to do for now!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Great Scott! It's 2014?

I always say that one should never start New Year's resolutions in January.  And now it's February and I haven't sat down and wrote down my resolutions or anything.  But this year I'm cutting myself some slack as I've had some big changes (good, exciting things!).  I do recommend writing down goals, though.  I wrote some back in 2012 and it was awesome to look back and see I actually achieved some of the goals!  One of them was launching AmiableKitchen and, well, here we are.

I ushered in 2014 by migrating north to the verdant hills and pewter skies of Portland, Oregon.  I'm loving my new life here and exploring all that the beautiful Pacific Northwest has to offer!

Food and cooking still play a big role in my life and I'm so pumped to be in this great culinary land we call Portland!  I managed to get over 50 posts written last year (yes, I'm literally patting myself on the back right now) but have ambitions for more this year.  I think the focus of my recipes is going to be more on quick and easy ideas for the working folks who doesn't have a lot of time/energy to spend in the kitchen (ahem, aka me!).  Of course we'll keep it healthy too!  I have a Trader Joe's literally around the corner so expect to see some more TJ's love on the blog this year.

To kick things off, I've been selected to blog about eating plant strong for 28 days by the folks at Engine 2 Diet!  I am so excited and this is just the incentive/motivation I need to get back on the plant-strong track.  The past few months were tough and between holiday festivities, moving from California to Oregon, coming down with the-most-horrible-flat-on-my-back-and-sick-as-a-dog-flu-of-all-time, changing jobs, and generally my life being very topsy turvey, the healthy eating got pushed to the back burner.

But, by golly, it's 2014!  Let's do this thing!

Oregon winter wonderland!  It snows here, apparently.  Loving it!