Thursday, January 9, 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions.... but this year... post baby....I have resolved to really start getting healthy. I have never been someone who had much of a sweet tooth. Carbs have always been my adversary-- pasta, rice, etc... but never sweets.... until Hannah. My sweet baby Hannah had me craving all kinds of sugar, which I guess is why she came into this world the sweetest baby that has ever lived. However, it has left me with some bad habits.

I don't have a very long attention span when it comes to making resolutions, so what I decided this year was that I would tackle one unhealthy habit each month and see which ones make a difference in how I feel and my overall health. I plan to tackle some easy things first and basically see which changes I can live with and which ones I will indulge in for a lifetime. Plus, it is not so overwhelming to look at changing a habit for one month. Anyone can do anything for 30 days. I hope to document this journey on the blog-- and hopefully my attention span will allow me to work through this until December.

January is my month with no red meat. I don't eat a whole lot of red meat anyways, so not overly difficult.... but I do enjoy a good burger or steak and bacon every now and again. So any ground meat will be turkey... and then we're just trying lean meats and proteins. Lots of fish- salmon and halibut are my favorites and then chicken and turkey.

Thanksgiving and Christmas always remind me how much I love Turkey. I wish there was a good way to enjoy turkey throughout the year without having to cook a huge bird. My husband and I could never eat a whole turkey worth of turkey just on a regular basis. So I found some boneless, skinless turkey breast and thought they would be perfect.... Not so perfect. Maybe I prepared them wrong, but I tried both baking them and boiling them and both ways I just had a really dense, dry piece of meat that bordered on inedible... I ended up feeding it to the dogs. That was a bummer. So if anyone has any recommendations on how to enjoy a turkey outside of the holidays let me know.


Monday, November 4, 2013

I have a confession.... I LOVE dishes. One of the whole premises of my blog was about eating beautiful, which to me, has always meant food + presentation. I love setting up a table full of beautiful foods on beautiful serving dishes. I own way too many sets of dishes... I had more boxes of dishes when I moved than I had clothes. It's a serious issue.

That being said... One of my favorite things someone bought me in the first few weeks after I left the hospital was disposable dishes. Post c-section with a newborn- the last thing you want is to be bent over doing dishes... Not to mention I am already washing a million bottles a day anyway.  So all that to say, I am still using disposable plates 3 months later and might never go back.

Tonight for dinner I made a grilled sea bass salad. I'm venturing out in my exploration of new proteins. The Whole Foods in Cool Springs is my favorite place ever and their sea food and meat guys are awesome. They've helped direct me to new meats.. Like dry aged beef products (see my last post) and now sea bass. I've had sea bass at a lot of restaurants but it is soooooo easy to make and to make delicious.

Sea bass is expensive (fair warning- like $30/lb)... But I get a good sized filet for $8-$12 that I would easily pay $22-$30 for in restaurant.... So it ends up being ok.

Heat oven to 450. Place aluminum foil on pan and spray. Place fish skin side down on the pan. I used garlic herb seasoning, sea salt, and pepper. Bake for 15-20 minutes. If you don't cook sea bass long enough it tastes like crap... You have to wait until it is semi firm and flaky. If you take it out and it's chewy or shiny... Cook it longer. Anyone else love sea bass? I think it's delicious.

Friday, October 11, 2013

How To Make A Delicious Burger at Home.

The key I've found to a great at home burger is buying the right meat. I have tried every kind of meat that exists for a burger-- different types of ground beef, bison, turkey, salmon....etc. And FINALLY I've found the meat my mouth loves--- Dry Aged Ground Beef from Whole Foods. I don't know if other stores sell dry aged beef, but the only place I've purchased it was from WH. They had a sample day when I was in there once where the dry aged beef was the feature. I sampled a burger and it was delicious. I asked the guys behind the meat counter about what made that burger different and I stumbled upon the story of how people dry age beef. Apparently steaks aged this way are amazing-- which I may have to try next.

Dry Aging beef is storing in an open air refrigerator for a period of time to let the meat tenderize and intensify flavor. The Meat:Fat content is higher than most of the meats I normally buy and cook with, but the flavor of the meat is so darn good I don't even care. So the next time you find yourself craving a good burger go give this dry aged beef a try. Apparently this technique is getting really popular among the gourmet burger joints around the country so maybe try it there first (but it will cost you a pretty penny). The meat from the store was on sale for $6.99/lb- which for ground beef is pretty expensive, but its definitely cheaper than a restaurant.

I love my burgers grilled on a charcoal grill-- however, I believe grilling is a man's job and unfortunately I married the only man in the south who doesn't enjoy grilling (which is ok because his great qualities totally make up for this little issue). So I have my little indoor grill and they still turned out pretty good.

I also like to jazz up my burger with fun toppings- like grilled onions, jalapenos, avocados, fried eggs, heinz57 sauce....etc etc. I could go on but you get the point. Break out of the box and try something new atop your burger every once in a while. What's the coolest most unusual thing you've ever put on your burger??



So the basics of my hamburger making is make the patties (however you like them), marinate in Dale's low sodium for 30 minutes.... let the meat sit out for about 15 minutes to get it up to about room temperature.... then put them on the grill.... just a few minutes on both sides if you like it medium like me. And viola.... the key to the burger is the meat.... don't ever forget it.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dairy Free Food Week

One of the best baby presents that I got was a gift card to Whole Foods. I can't normally justify buying my groceries there... it is just too darn expensive. Maybe once I start working I will allow myself to go there more often. Especially since I am now "dairy free" (bc of little ones allergies, not for any other reason-- believe me, the minute I can have cheese again, watch out!) I felt like such a poser walking around looking for dairy free foods... which who knew how limiting that restriction is. There is dairy and milk in everything-- from breads to crackers, oatmeals, cookies, soups... and all the obvious things (butter, cheese, sour cream etc). I mean I literally can't eat 95% of all foods. So I am sticking with meat, homemade pasta, vegan butter & cheese, spinach, fruit (although apparently citrus fruit can upset a baby's tummy as well). So here is the last week's worth of food I made from my $100 Whole Foods splurge. It actually ended up being a lot of food for the money since I didn't buy any junk/snack foods... just meats and, well, unprocessed stuff. And what I love about Whole Foods- is they will cut anything into the portion size you want-- meats, cheeses, etc.

 I read this really funny Whole Foods article this week and I'm not gonna lie-- I chuckled while I walked through the aisles thinking about it. You should read it.... Click here to check it out.

Here are the groceries I bought:
Boston Butt (cut into a small enough portion size for 4 sandwiches)
Salmon
Ground Beef (1 lb)
Bacon Wrapped Filets
Rotini Pasta
Organic Whole grain Dairy free buns (no food should have to have this many descriptors)
Spinach
Cantaloupe (not pictured)
Onion
Tomato
Lemon
Vegan Butter
Vegan Cheese

(caveat: the rest of the $100 was spent on sushi and vegan chocolate- Justin's dark chocolate peanut butter cups are solid). Also I had italian dressing, bbq sauce and baked beans already at the house & the herbed pasta is made by the Amish and sold at the local farmers market)







Hamburger with Vegan Cheese, Grilled Onions & Tomato with baked beans and pasta salad over spinach. The ground beef at Whole Foods is so delicious. The pasta just has italian dressing, salt, and pepper.







Homemade herb pasta with sauteed spinach with bacon wrapped filet and grilled onions. I actually had forgotten how much I love caramelized onions. They add a lot of flavor to a meal. Some sweetness and flavor that doesn't require a dairy. Normally, I would put butter and cheese on my pasta, but instead I used well seasoned (olive oil, garlic salt, ground red pepper, black pepper and sea salt) spinach. Yum! (I didn't even miss the cheese)







So I used the same spinach and leftover pasta to make a pasta with baked salmon on top. My favorite salmon recipe is just putting a piece of salmon into aluminum foil with a little olive oil, sea salt, with sliced lemons on top.... I would normally use butter, but instead opted for the olive oil (dairy free!!!) This was a delicious lunch.













BBQ Sandwich. I made pulled pork. I love pulled pork but never make it at home. Mainly because I don't have a smoker and don't feel like its done well without a smoker. However, its getting to be fall time and so I pulled out my crock pot and threw in my boston butt overnight, and we had delicious BBQ sandwiches (using the same buns as we used for hamburgers).








And because I can't help myself, here is my little nugget all dressed up for Sunday NFL games.... she can be a Titans fan on Sunday as long as she is a Georgia Girl the rest of the week (go dawgs!)




Monday, September 9, 2013

The Moment Everything Changed

I had announced a few months ago on the blog that we were expecting our first baby! She has arrived. Hannah Cate Humphreys made her appearance on August 5th at 11:08 pm (one week after her due date). She weighed 8 pounds 6 ounces and was 19 and 1/4 inches long delivered via C-Section after 9 hours of (easy) labor. I went to the 41 week doctors visit early Monday morning and the doctor did an ultrasound and said that we should head to the hospital. At 1 week overdue, my fluids had gotten low enough that an induction was the best option for a safe and healthy delivery. So I panicked, but my sweet husband drove us home and we packed up our bags and headed for downtown Nashville. I checked in to the hospital, they started the pitocin and the contractions started. Not at all what I expected. Just like strong cramps that would come and go. They offered me an epidural pretty early on-- about 3 hours in and I accepted, despite the fact that I wasn't feeling a whole lot of pain yet.

I was terrified of the epidural. I told the anesthesiologist and she was a gem.... she walked me through it, went slow, and the nurse held my hand. I cannot say enough about how awesome every single person I came into contact with at the hospital was. Every nurse, every doctor, every person at a front desk, etc. I fell asleep after the epidural for a few hours and woke up when the doctor came in to check me (around 6.) I hadn't made much progress and he said he would go home and tuck his own kids into bed and come back at 9 and if we hadn't made much progress by then we would have a decision to make.

He came back at 9 and we were in the same place, despite the strongest level of pitocin they can give and the doctor gave me the choice of having the baby that night or waiting until first thing the next morning. One of the things I heard when I was pregnant was to not get super exhausted before delivery-- that having a c-section after hours and hours of labor was hard to bounce back from. I wasn't overly concerned with what type of "experience" my delivery was or any of that... I just wanted my baby to get here in the safest way possible. So we decided to go for it and get Hannah into the world.

I was terrified about the possibility of having a C-Section... and I am here to say that it really wasn't nearly what I had expected. Actually all of the labor and delivery process was not as bad as I had anticipated it being. Contractions weren't as painful, the epidural wasn't as scary, and the delivery was quick. My memory, however, may be cloudy because the amount of joy that came from the experience is immeasurable. To say I'd do it a thousand more times to have this precious gift is the truth. She is the most precious gift I have ever received.

Here is the video of Hannah's entrance into the world (not graphic). I think it's precious and I tear up a little each time I watch.



Immediately afterwards I was in a lot of pain and had a rough couple of hours... most of which I thankfully don't remember. Then I spent the next 4 nights in the hospital and it was awesome. All the nurses were awesome... the room was awesome... I was comfortable and cared for and I learned SO much. I had lactation specialists and baby nurses that answered a million questions and showed me how to take care of this new little baby. I am beyond thankful.

Dr. Thomas, Hannah & Dustin

Dr. Thomas (pictured above) is the best doctor I have ever met in my life. Clinically, I pray he is as skillful as he is at the bedside. I have never felt more cared about or taken care of in my whole life by a physician. Honestly, a gift from God and answered prayer came in the form of this man and I am beyond grateful and honored that he brought Hannah into this world. (This is high high praise coming from a person who generally dislikes most doctors)

I anticipate that the blog will now have some more "baby" posts. I learned so much and like other people, I feel this need to share them with everyone. I have relied on other people's blogs and commentary to help give me advice that I needed. I honestly am not sure how babies or parents made it before google, webMD, and wikipedia.

I am ready to get back in the kitchen. I was not able to cook much during the pregnancy due to my lack of interest in food. Now though, nursing a baby, I am starving all the time. My first "mommy lesson" is that I found out little Hannah is allergic to the protein in the dairy that I have been eating. I heard that what you eat/drink doesn't affect the little one much, but in my case, apparently my diet has seriously upset the little one's tummy. So doctor says, cut out the dairy. I said, "no problem, I don't really drink much milk." What I didn't think about is the cheese, butter, chocolate, sour cream, cream cheese, etc that I eat. I mean, I might die. But it will all be worth it as I give my child a better immune system (fingers crossed, prayers prayed).


Monday, July 15, 2013

Despicable Me Themed Party


My husband and I went to see the new Despicable Me movie last week... and I will have to say, something about those minions-- I just love them. How can you not?!


It reminded me of a Halloween event we did at my husband's school last year. Dustin is a high school chemistry teacher and they have a "trunk or treat" event where you picked a theme, decorated your room, and the young kids from the community came in and got some candy! I ended up doing most of the decorating and baked some for the event. I think some of the ideas we had could easily be adapted for any kind of party.

Because my husband is a chemistry teacher we went with the "Despicable Lab" theme and made a minion lab. While I wanted this event to be cute, I also didn't want to spend a fortune on it. So we did things very affordably. I might've splurged a little more if it had been for a birthday or some other event. Here are the pictures below:

We used beakers with colored water, some table cloths and confetti (all from the Dollar Store). I went and printed out super hero minions that we posted around the room. I used blue and yellow posterboard to make some minions. We did a large print of Gru and the moon for the door. As far as food-- we used twinkies and icing to make some minions and then did some cupcake minions.

Despicable Me Minion Twinkies



So these are the twinkies. It was as simple as buying a box of twinkies and decorating them with icing. You can use sweetheart candies or altoids for the eyes. The brown was just melted chocoalte from a piping bag.




These are funfetti cupcakes with yellow icing, chocolate piping, and sweetheart candies. All the little facial expressions are what make minions fun!!



This was in the lab. You can see all the candy we gave out to the kids (yes, we used ALL of it). The beakers, and chemistry models and food all went onto this table.


Naturally, being a dentist I had to give out some toothbrushes as well. So here were some fun colored tooth brushes for the kids to enjoy.
















The overall look. We turned some tables on the sides to put the minions on and streamers from the ceiling.



So fun.... and the minions are adorable!!!


Thursday, June 6, 2013

The BEST Scrambled Cheese Eggs

This might sound a little bit weird.... but I love Waffle House Cheese Eggs. I had almost forgotten how much I loved them, but pregnancy has been a BIG reminder as I crave them all the time. I can't tell you how many times I've wanted to drag my husbands butt out of bed to go to Waffle House (I've only actually gone once because I KNOW better). So I started looking into what they do to make their cheese eggs and why the taste so good. I knew that the cheese was key. I initially thought it was just that they added a lot more cheese... but that is not the case- its how they incorporate it.








Step 1: Scramble the eggs.
Put as many eggs as you want into a bowl. I use a little worcestershire sauce, a little bit of milk, garlic salt, regular salt and pepper. Then, scramble those eggs with a spoon! My whole life I have used a fork or an egg beater, but it turns out (and I don't really know if this is true) scrambling with a fork can bruise the eggs. I don't know the reason, but scrambling with a spoon makes a difference.

Step 2: I use one pan because I have the perfect size non-stick pan for this. But if you are making a lot of eggs, I would recommend two skillets. Heat a pat of butter in both skillets.

Step 3: In one pan, lightly cook your eggs and mix them with your spatula. While, at the same time, you place a piece of cheese (I like Kraft American Singles, and I think Waffle House uses an off brand version) into the other skillet and let it begin melting. Keep the cheese at low heat so you don't burn it. After the eggs are partly ready (solid, no more liquid) you are going to pour the eggs on top of the cheese in the other skillet and incorporate it. 





This really is the best scrambled egg recipe. It's worth trying. I promise. 

Anyone else into Waffle House scrambled cheese eggs??? Or is it just me? I have to believe that this is healthier than Waffle House at my house because they turn out less greasy, which I like even better!!!

Panko Breaded Chicken

I love panko breading. I love that you can use it for any type of breading and I think that it gives you the best adherence and browning in oil. I have learned a few tricks along the way about how to make this successful and delicious, so I thought I'd pass a few along.

Step 1: Boneless skinless chicken breast
Take your sharpest knife and cut through the chicken breast to make a thin chicken breast. This is really not very hard to do. Place the chicken slices into a large zip lock bag and get ready to take out some frustration. Beat that chicken with a mallet, or the back end of a frying pan. This terrifies my dog usually, but it makes me feel really happy. Beat it until its thin.

Step 2: Set up your breading station.
1 plate of regular white flour, egg wash (lightly beaten egg), a plate of panko bread crumbs and I use sea salt.


Step 3: Pat chicken breasts dry, dredge in flour, dip in egg wash, and cover in panko breading.

Step 4: Heat up oil in a nonstick skillet on the stove. This is the difficult part. I prefer vegetable oil. About half an inch or so. You want the whole bottom side of the chicken to be covered. You are also going to want some kind of lid or splatter guard to keep from making an oily mess. Because I was going Asian inspired, I added a little sesame oil as well for flavor. So in heating oil you want it to be hot... but you don't want splatter or burn. So low/medium heat.

Step 5: Place chicken into oil. Place lid on pan. Leave chicken in oil for 4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 4 minutes. I am weird about cooking chicken, so I usually cook it a little bit longer. The longer you cook it for the more likely it is to have the breading come off, so keep a careful eye on it. You also don't want it to burn.... although I like mine a little more cooked than the average person- I like more of a brown than a gold (but to each his own)

I also cooked some lo mein noodles with a little stir fry sauce and some edamame. Pretty delicious meal if I do say so myself. YUM!!! You can use panko breading with parmesan cheese and make chicken parm or use it for chicken tacos. Pretty much any type of breaded chicken can be made with the addition of different types of seasoning.

What's your favorite way to use Panko Breading?? I'd love to hear something creative to try. Leave me a comment and let me know.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day Food

So this is something I made not for Memorial Day, but for Fourth Of July last year. However, as I was looking for a patriotic dish to make for tomorrow I came across it and realized there aren't very many themed dishes for this food filled holiday. So if you need a healthy, refreshing idea for your holiday get together, try this watermelon and feta salad. Simple as cutting up the fruit and cheese and lying it out on a serving platter in the shape of a flag. I added some blueberries to complete the look and framed it with mint. I love watermelon salad. It is so delicious with a variety of cheeses, red onions, balsamic reduction.... its really delicious with the more bitter type greens, especially if you get a really sweet melon. Anyways, its a fun little app to use for our more patriotic parties.

Patriotic Appetizer

Friday, May 24, 2013

Free Breast Pumps for Pregnant Women with Insurance

I can think of so many times in my life that I would have given anything to be bored. I mean anything. During the busy years of high school, college, and dental school, I used to think "if only I had free time I would be.... a runner, a painter, a writer, volunteer, etc etc. All these meaningful hobbies that I would do "if I only had the time..." Only right now, I have the time, and my time is spent lying around, watching tv, watching movies, and just in general being lazy. I've only been out of school for like 20 something days, and I've exhausted all my entertainment possibilities. (any recommendations would be awesome-- movies, books, shows, hobbies.... shoot me a comment!!) I have some excuse being 7.5 months pregnant-- I mean right now is not the time to become a runner or train for a marathon or in general anything super exercise related (other than walking and yoga-- I know pregnant women can do these things). I could work on honing my cooking skills or try new recipes, but I don't have any money to buy groceries (because I am not working yet and am saving for a baby!!) and for the most part, all I want to eat is french fries. Ok, ok excuses excuses complaints complaints. All this to say, I really need to start cultivating some hobbies. And I mean hobbies that I really enjoy and want to do.

One thing I have done and that I really encourage people to do is look into programs that your health insurance offers that give incentives. I have Anthem Blue Cross of Kentucky and they have reward programs that are simple to participate in that give you gift cards in return. I think the allowable benefit on my insurance gives me like $600 a year in incentives and its to stores I like to shop at like Whole Foods. The program I recently participated in was even pretty helpful. They have a future moms program where you complete 3 phone calls with a registered nurse and they answer your questions during each trimester. They give you 24 hour access to a nurse line so you can ask a nurse anything day or night, even if you want to just ask them if you need to call your doctor about something. They sent me books and information and were a great support service informing me about resources available to pregnant women...... like this one: your insurance is now required to cover a breast pump for you because of the Affordable Care Act. I had to look into this a little bit more, but found out my insurance company is going to provide me 100% free of charge a brand new pump. And its not just some cheap free crappy thing... I can choose from three different types, retailing between $100-$200. Anyways, I never would've known about it without this program. So double bonus-- I got paid for talking to them and then saved money from the advice they gave me. Win, win. See what happens when you have a lot of free time?


Here is some information about the legislation (although I won't get into my agreement/disagreement with the principles of it).

Supply Company that my insurance covers click here.
Information from Medela about the Affordable Care Act.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

1 Week: Breakfast Lunch & Dinner

A had someone contact me and ask for more of lunches etc. I prepared some today during Sunday prep and actually took some pics. They also asked for a grocery list- so get ready for the longest post ever. I always plan my list according to the set up of the grocery store, which allows me to be efficient and not get side tracked wandering down aisles buying things I don't need. I have been using pregnancy as an excuse (sort of) to pig out. After the nausea subsided, the appetite and cravings kicked in like crazy and I think I ate french fries every day for a week. So I had my indulgence and now I am getting back to being a little more healthy with a few treats every now and then. We'll see how this goes. First the plan, then the grocery list. I made most of this ahead of time today and set it aside. The plan is set up as breakfast, morning snack, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, late night snack. If I don't keep my stomach full, I get sick.... so I plan to eat... ALL DAY.





Monday: 
Banana Nut Muffin. 1/2 apple. Orange Juice
Cashews + Dried Cherries
Pasta Salad on Mixed Greens*
Celery w/ Low Fat Ranch
Filet + Sweet Potato + Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Fresh Fruit

Pasta Salad: rotini noodles with light italian dressing, garbanzo beans, feta, tomatoes, cucumbers, diced onions, salt and pepper. YUM.






This is my husband's lunch for Monday. He is on the same snacks, breakfast, and dinner as me, but he likes different lunch foods. So this is Mexican rice with grilled chicken + refried beans with cheese and corn.



Tuesday: 
Peanut Butter Toast + Fresh Strawberries
Lara Bar
Tomato + Mozzarella Salad on Mixed Greens with Basil*
Orange Slices
Spaghetti + Turkey Meatballs + Haricot Vert
Greek Yogurt

*I use a reduced balsamic vinegar on this that is delicious and easy. If you cook balsamic vinegar on low heat in a sauce pan it will turn from a watery vinegar into a thicker, sweet syrup like dressing. It is soooooo good.






Tuesday husband's lunch. Vegetable fried rice with chicken lo mein. Yum. (These are leftovers from Sunday!)
















Wednesday: 
Muffin + Glass of Milk
Almonds + Cherries
Mixed Greens with Veggies + Chicken Salad and Crackers
Sweet potato dip + Celery
Spicy Black Bean Burgers + French Fries (Splurge) + Brussel Sprouts
Lara Bar










Thursday:
Oatmeal + Fresh Strawberries
Lara Bar
Chicken Salad + Crackers
Celery + Ranch
LEFTOVERS FOR DINNER
Ice Cream












Thursday: Husbands Lunch
Mixed Greens + Mozzarella and Tomatoes, Pasta Salad, Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Brussel sprouts are my new favorite food. Seriously. The best thing ever. And people don't buy them much so they're always on sale. I got a whole package today for .79 cents. Can you believe it? Then you just add a little butter or olive oil, sea salt, garlic and pepper and cook at 400 for about 30-40 minutes. So simple, so delicious, and healthy.




Friday we will have a little of whatever is left so that we can save some $$ and not waste any food.

Now here is the grocery list:


milk
crackers
greek yogurt (flavors)
plain greek yogurt
feta
buffalo mozzarella
orange juice
peanut butter
rotini
mexican rice
spaghetti sauce
steak filet
chicken breasts
ground turkey
larabars
garbanzo beans
refried beans
dried cherries
almonds
apples
strawberries
orange
veggies: brussel sprouts, celery, mixed greens
tomatoes
parsley
cucumber
sweet potato
onion



Sunday, February 3, 2013

Let the Countdown Begin

I am back on the "morning all day sickness" train again and so walking into my kitchen is a no go. So rather than postponing blogging, I will blog some more about pregnancy & maybe add some old food posts. My friends all joke with me that my blog will slowly convert into one of those obnoxious blogs that share all the details of pregnancy, birth and motherhood. I will be honest for a second and say those blogs used to annoy me to no end, but have now become somewhat of a saving grace. There is nothing better in the world than finding out there are other people going through and/or that have survived what you are going through. Misery loves company-- thats the truest statement of all regarding being pregnant. I want to know there are other people in the world that spent the first 14 weeks as miserably as I have. And even better, maybe someone that was ever more miserable so that I can find something to be thankful for. I think that might make me a little bit evil. Oh well. I can still blame the hormones for the bad thoughts.


I did have these dollar store glass vases sitting on my dresser all summer with "Pounds Lost" and "Pounds Remaining." I was trying to lose a little bit of weight and get in shape before we tried to have kids in a few years. Needless to say, I didn't reach that goal before I became pregnant and now pounds lost continues to get smaller while pounds to go is becoming mountainous. And now, I obviously can't lose weight. So I converted these containers into Weeks Gone By and Weeks Until Baby. I just transfer a stone each week and have a little book I write in about what things happened that week, what I'm craving, how much weight I've gained, etc. Just so I can remember this one day in the chance that having a baby makes me forget how miserable this was and I somehow consider doing it again.
It is kind of fun to see progress and remind myself that time is actually passing. You can't see the stones from the front because when I'm sick I don't want to be constantly reminded how much longer I have, and when I am thinking about all that needs to be done before baby gets here, I don't want to be reminded of how few weeks I have to get prepared.

Other milestones coming up:

Our gender scan is February 22nd. I'm thinking girl all the way considering how sick I've been, the heart rate, and fruit/sugar cravings.

Also, only 12 weeks until I graduate from dental school!!! I can't hardly believe it.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Best Biscuits Ever!

Now that i can actually walk back in my kitchen without getting sick, I made a day of cooking. Feels so good to be back. A few months ago I found this biscuit recipe and it is AMAZING. I think they taste most  like cracker barrel biscuits. Basically its just your classic buttermilk biscuit, but super easy to make. You can make it with Bisquick or with regular flour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. I personally like the Bisquick version the best so that's the recipe I'll give you. I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer with the dough hook but you could definitely mix by hand.

Ingredients:
2 and 1/4 cups Bisquick
2/3 cup Buttermilk
1 tsp. Sugar
1 tbsp. Butter (+)

Mix the first three ingredients. Add 1 tbsp melted butter and knead biscuit dough. I usually work the dough on wax paper with a floured surface. I rolled it out to about 1/2 inch thickness and use the top of a cup as a biscuit cutter. The key to getting the biscuits to rise is placing them close together on the cookie sheet. The push against each other to make themselves rise. So place the dough circles in contact with each other, paint the tops with melted butter and cook for 8-10 minutes. Pull the biscuits out of the oven and brush some more melted butter on top. Absolutely delicious.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Big News.

This is the longest I think I've gone without posting a new blog article, but the truth is there hasn't been much cooking going on in our house. For the past three months, I haven't had much of an appetite. In fact for a few weeks, I couldn't even go into my kitchen without losing my saltine crackers. I've been sick to say the least.... but I think its the only kind of sick that can actually make you happy and give you some reassurance. The kind of sickness that reminds you there is a precious sweet gift growing inside of you!

Sounds corny and not really my style, but the hormones are raging and PREGNANCY makes a girl a little nuts.

That's right, we're having a baby. The most unexpected surprise of my life. The story goes something like this- I'm not a dreamer. I don't normally have dreams at night when I sleep. I used to think it was because I was too exhausted to dream, and I am sure that has something to do with it. But November 20th, I had a dream. A dream that I was pregnant. Out of the blue, out of nowhere the most realistic dream I've ever had. I woke up and kind of brushed it off, but spent the whole day thinking about it. On my way home I stopped at the Rite Aid to pick up a prescription and thought I might just pick up a test just to see. I walked in and didn't even tell Dustin that I had the test or that I was going to take it. A few minutes later though when I saw the second pink line I had to get confirmation that my eyes were working properly. Dustin's eyes got big and we both said maybe its not right....maybe that line isn't there. I decided that I needed one of those tests with WORDS to be sure. I hadn't bought the one with words because it was more expensive (and I am cheap!!) but this seemed important at the moment-- so we went back and bought a couple more BOXES (yes, boxes) and 5 tests later reality started to hit.




We went straight to the doc for blood tests, I think because we were in denial... and it confirmed the truth-- Life as we know it has changed forever. (And at this point we were only at 3 weeks!!!)

We had a great time telling our family over Thanksgiving and Christmas break... I will post more about how we did that in my next post.

But for now, here is a picture of this little nugget @ 6 weeks.... approximately 7 weeks ago now.  Isn't she/he super cute?!?





Baby Humphreys-- July 31, 2013




Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Foodie Pen Pal!

Through the blog of a college sorority sister I found out about a new program called Foodie Pen Pals. Apparently over 1300 people do it! I am no expert as I am somewhat of a newbie but basically you send in your information. They send you a pen pal. Someone to send food to and then someone else gets you. They contact you and find out what you like or if you have any allergies/restrictions. Then you send a package to your penpal and receive a box from someone else. The total cost limit is like $15. Then, if you have a food blog you post about your experience.

I had a great first pen pal. Her name is Sarah (just like me). She is from Chicago and we had a great time emailing back and forth. And then I got her package- which represented both where she was from and the things we talked about. It was super thoughtful and a really fun thing to look forward to.

So in my box from her, I got a box of Chicago popcorn (which is perfect because I love popcorn), sweet & hot mustard with pretzel chips from Trader Joes (my favorite store; and as a tailgating food because I love football), some dried fruit to be healthy and some seaweed chips (which she probably didn't realize was one of my favorite snacks!). She dropped in a cute little note.

I sent my penpal some Kentucky stuff- 3 types of Bourbon, chocolate chips and walnuts with a recipe for Derby Pie. Some baked cheetos (which is also one of my favorite snacks), Mint Julep Jelly, Apple Jelly, and whole wheat crackers. I hope she likes it. I will link to her blog if she posts one!


The Lean Green Bean

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Healthy Tailgate

Being from the south & a huge football fan, I love to tailgate. This takes several different forms for me and since moving away from Georgia, most of my "tailgating" happens within the confines of my own home. I consider any preparation of food to munch on throughout a football watching session as a "Tailgate." Now that we're trying to be more healthy my tailgating goals have changed- create the same atmosphere of fun football food but without the high fat & calorie content that comes with snacking on unhealthy foods all day. I am a true football fan in the respect that I watch football 5 of 7 days a week during the fall. NFL, college, and high school- I don't discriminate. I get as much as I can in during the season because I know half of the year I will go without it completely.

I really look forward to the food aspect of football. But here are some tips for making a tailgate a little bit more healthy by showing you some of my favorite tailgating foods that can be modified for a calorie/fat reduction.

Spinach & Dip: Use fresh spinach. A healthy vegetable with low calories and lots of nutrients. This is the only healthy part of a Spinach & Artichoke Dip. I've read mixed reviews on the health of artichokes, so take that for what it's worth. The way to make this healthier is to emphasize the spinach and artichokes and de-emphasize the creamy, cheesy part. So I cook the spinach in chicken broth until it is tender. Then DRAIN DRAIN DRAIN. Make sure you get out as much water as you can. Put it back on the stove and add 1 pat of butter (rather than a whole stick, which some recipes call for), half of a cup of reduced fat sharp cheddar, 2 tbsp of reduced fat cream cheese, salt, white pepper, and reduced fat sour cream. Place this in a 8 X 8 dish and cook at 350 for 15-20 minutes. YUM! Then, I think the biggest key is serve your dip with veggies instead of chips. Red pepper sticks, cucumber sticks, and carrots.





Instead of chips, if you need a sweet/carb use air-popped popcorn. My favorite is Trader Joe's Kettle Corn- the perfect blend of salty and sweet. You can eat 2.2 cups of this deliciousness for only 130 calories, which makes it a good snack over chips or some other crunchy bread or whatever.

I also made turkey meatballs this week. Turkey meatballs can pack some major protein without major calories and fat. As opposed to hot dogs/hamburgers/brats, emphasize the turkey and you slash some major fat & calories. I made two types of meatballs- one with marinara and the other with Robert Rothschild pepper jelly. So a sweet and spicy with a savory italian. This adds variety and PROTEIN. A must have for a tailgate. Turkey meatballs are so easy- ground turkey, egg whites (this helps decrease fat as well), whole wheat bread crumbs, and italian seasoning. Loosely pack your meatballs and place them in a sauce pain at low heat with chicken broth or any kind of sauce and cook for about 25-30 minutes turning them every now and again.

Lean cuisine egg rolls. These were a tailgating add this week as well. Chicken egg rolls by lean cuisine. Limit yourself to one or two and it feels like a fried little decadence that packs less calories and fat than some other tailgating treats.

Keep lots of fruit & veggies on hand as well so that when you keep going back to your tailgating table there is something to munch on with vitamins, nutrients and lower cals. I had raspberries, pineapple, grapes & oranges this week. This meets your need for sweet, without having cookies or any of that.





Finally, ants on a log. I modify this a bit. Celery sticks with reduced fat peanut butter and I use dates instead of raisins. Its mainly a matter of preference and I love DATES!








So that was our tailgate this week. As the season moves forward I will add some more ideas. We also had Cocktails that represented our favorite teams. My favorite is a low cal gin and tonic, which is gin, tonic water, a little simple sugar, one stevia pack and a little food coloring to show your team spirit. I also added some fruit. Our teams are Tennessee & Georgia- so naturally a little red & orange. Hope these help! ENJOY!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Key to Health- Preparation

I've been going on this new health kick for about 8 weeks now. Eating healthy (most of the time) and exercising. The key to being able to do this as a busy dental student is preparation. Every weekend I've been doing some key things that have helped maintain this new habit (6 pounds lost and counting). Some sound like typical cliche's but this really does work. So here are my new "rules":

1. Shop the outside aisles of the grocery store. You get fresher food & aren't tempted by the boxed cake mix, cookies, crackers etc. You end up with fresh veggies, fruits, fresh meat, and dairy products.

2. Pack your whole week ahead of time. This has included prepping breakfast, lunch and snacks for all 5 days of the week. I also do some dinner prep if I have time. This way there is no pondering what you will eat and you don't even think about stopping to get something from a fast food restaurant. I mean you can't waste your already prepared foods, you have to eat it. 

3. Drink a lot of water. I pour my water into various water bottles at the beginning of the week and add something to it: lemon, lime, cucumber, etc. Makes water a little more exciting. I also keep Trader Joe's natural lemonade packs around. While I don't think this is the same as pure water, its better than diet coke. 

4. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables. Low calorie, high yield foods. I find myself craving salt or buttery food and used to grab some pasta when what I really wanted was butter/salt or parmesan cheese. Now I choose different things like steamed broccoli and use spray butter and a little salt. Also fruits can meet your craving for sweets. Not sweet enough? Add some light cool whip or a packet of stevia (my newest favorite sweetener). You don't needs chips to eat hummus or any other dip. Use sliced red peppers or cucumber sticks. 

5. Season your food with something other than fat. It doesn't need butter and oil. Use chicken stock and water to saute. Use fresh herbs which have more flavor anyways. Use greek yogurt when you can as a cooking substitute. Use low fat cheeses (shredded mozzarella, or colby jack instead of cheddar). Use egg whites instead of eggs. Easy Substitutions; lower fat and calories and still meet your wants.  

6. Eat a lot of lean protein. Fish, Turkey, Chicken. No red meat for me anymore except on the rare occasion. Also learn to cook beans from the bag- black, pinto, lentils etc. I also supplement some protein because I don't like a lot of meat. I drink bolthouse farms chocolate protein shakes with some almond milk. These pack a lot of calories and sugar, but I just drink a little bit and dilute it with the milk. 

7. Ok, last thing. I keep my healthy stuff in pre-packaged serving sizes in a basket in the fridge. That way when I open it up there is no debate about where I go looking for snacks. I had to do this because my husband still keeps junk food in the house. This way, no temptation. Go straight for the blue basket and I can find any snack I want that will keep my healthy. 

I think its so important to allow your self to splurge every now and then. This weekend was the first college football games and I splurged with boneless buffalo wings and ranch dressing. Definitely a splurge, and definitely worth it. I just ran a bit extra. Not a big deal. I've learned to enjoy running and working out. It is what I do for myself during the week, and I feel like I deserve it. I never thought these words would come from me, but healthy living is a lifestyle and keeping that perspective helps keep me going.

Here are some photos from a typical week of prep:

This is the chaos before. Wash everything at once and then bring it over to table to slice and package.












The after. Sliced fruit, veggies in big containers for dinner; and the blue basket filled with individual serving sizes of carrots, celery, lemon slices, fresh herbs, string cheese. All the breakfasts and lunches which you can see on my site.
My husbands lunches

Almond Milk

I have been reading and reading and reading about Almond Milk on all these health blogs lately. I just lumped it in with soy milk or something for people with some kind of dietary restriction. But this little treat isn't just for those that can't enjoy regular milk- its delicious. And the best part- its healthy! No lactose, no cholesterol, with more vitamins and minerals than soy or rice milk. It is low fat, but contains healthy omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber. Low calorie/carb, high nutrition & antioxidants, and delicious- what's not to love?

You can grab a coupon for this at: http://www.silkpurealmond.com/ by registering.


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Football Season Started!

One of my most and least favorite times during the year is FOOTBALL SEASON! Favorite- because I love football. Everything about it. Just the feeling I get the first Saturday when college football starts and I turn on Game Day that morning- it's just amazing. Also, its the back drop of Dustin and I's relationship. Least favorite- Dustin being gone ALL THE TIME. I am hoping this season may be a bit easier for me because I can be more involved. My goal is to do something to encourage the players or coaches each game this season, and so far I am two for two. Besides enjoying the actual cooking part, I enjoy the creativity and I hope in some way that it is supportive. I have to find affordable ways to do this- so I look for what is on sale and what I can find coupons for.

Week 1: Cookies. I did two different kinds of cookies- chocolate chip and funfetti. For those of you who haven't had funfetti cookies, definitely do it. So delicious, so easy, so cheap. Easiest cookies ever. Use 1 box of funfetti cake mix, 1/3 of a cup of oil, and 2 eggs. Mix together into dough and then form the cookies. Bake @ 375 for 6-8 minutes. Voila!





Week 2: Cupcakes. Not quite as easy. Definitely not easy, but more fun for sure. I have a Wilton Cake Decorating kit, which is the best thing ever and super useful for things other than cakes (deviled eggs, cake balls, anything requiring drizzling). I had to go with a football theme. I made vanilla, chocolate, and funfetti cupcakes. I made large cupcakes and mini cupcakes to make a higher quantity. A long day- but hopefully worth it as long as they make their way from my house to the school in one piece. No easy task. I learned a couple of things about decorating cupcakes that I will share.




The worst part of decorating is cleaning the pastry bags. Especially when you use different colors and you only have a few bags. So I used the Ziploc perfect portion freezer bags. Put the connector into a regular pastry bag. Twist one corner of the freezer bag. Slide the bag into the connector and fill the plastic bag with icing. Take the bags at the top and tie a rubber band around the top. Use the icing in the bag and then grab the disposable bag and throw it away. No mess and the bag is clean for the next color you need. You can do this with saran wrap too. Check out this demo on youtube (ps this is not me)

 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Homemade Italian "Lite"

I bought homemade pasta from a local pasta company in Lexington @ the Farmer's Market on Saturday. It's $1 per ounce and worth every penny. I had some leftover tomatoes that were getting ready to go bad so I decided to make some homemade pasta sauce. It was actually pretty easy. Here are instructions:

Ingredients: Tomato Sauce
1 package of tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
1 can of tomatoes
onions
olive oil
garlic
Italian Seasoning
salt/pepper

Ingredients: Turkey Meatballs
lean turkey
any type of bread
egg whites
parmesan cheese

Bring a pot of water to boil on the stove. Get a bowl of ice water next to the stove. Boil tomatoes for about 2 minutes. Remove from boiling water with slotted spoon and put it into the ice water. When cool, remove the skins and seeds from the tomato (I just used my hands and peeled them off). It's not that hard. Drain water from the pot. Add a swirl of olive oil to the pot and brown some garlic. Then add tomatoes and crush them with a wooden spoon. I added some seasonings too: fresh basil, oregano, thyme, minced onions, chopped onions, salt, pepper and simmered for about 2 hours with a lid on it. I added a tsp. of sugar and 1 package of stevia sweetener and simmered for another hour. I did this during the morning while I was doing my other prep-work for the week, so I took my sauce and placed in the fridge until dinner time.

I put the pot back on the stove @ dinner time and added tomato paste and 1 can of tomatoes. I brought that up to a medium heat while preparing the meatballs (be careful, don't let it burn.) I made turkey meatballs: I was just making for two people so I used 1/2 pack of lean ground turkey, 1 crumbled slice of sourdough bread, egg whites, low fat parmesan cheese, parsley and salt. I mixed it by hand and then formed a few meatballs. After reading a few recipes online, I learned the secret to good meatballs is to not make them too dense. Roll them gently enough to hold together, don't squeeze them together in your hands. Add the meatballs to the sauce and cook at medium high heat for approximately 20 minutes. I turned them over several times and kind of stirred the sauce. While it was cooking, I prepared the pasta.

This really turned out quite nice. The sauce was really delicious and authentic and the meatballs were the right consistency. I always love a nicely set and decorated table. These flowers were from the farmers market. BEAUTIFUL.

The pasta & sauce with meatballs = 500 cals

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Packed Lunches for Adults.

By now everyone has seen the websites with creative lunch ideas for kids. Call me crazy, but I still pack my own lunch. I am almost 27 years old and because of budget concerns, lack of time for lunch between clinic times (in dental school), I need something quick and ready to eat. Also because we are trying to work on being a bit healthier, it helps with portion control and allows me to get all the nutrients I need. This is my first weeks lunches and hopefully I will stick with it and have lots more ideas for lunch ideas for adults. To see more lunches: CLICK HERE

Cherries/Grapes+ String Cheese + Pasta Salad

I cooked almost a whole bag of egg noodles on Sunday and then used them during the week for different things. I just threw 1/2 cup noodles in there with my Spaghetti Jar Veggies, which you can read about here. I paired this with a bag of Trader Joe's kettle corn popcorn, which is DELICIOUS.

292 calories.



Cut Veggies: Cucumbers, Celery, Peppers +
Trader Joe's Three Layer Hummus (YUM!) +
1 cup grapes

162 Calories
(not enough for lunch so I added Bolthouse Farms Chocolate Protein Shake w/ milk)




Spinach Salad with Spaghetti Jar Veggies
+ Cherries + String Cheese


112 calories


Chicken Salad + Oranges + 1/2 tortilla + Pickle
307 calories

I made my own chicken salad and I feel like I've gotten this down to an artform. It's so delicious and healthy (No MAYO!!) I cook 2 bone in chicken... I boil it in water with a little salt for about 60 minutes. I run it under cold water. The chicken falls off the bone in big pieces. Into the kitchen aid mixer on high until shredded. In another bowl 8 ounces of plain greek yogurt, a little white wine, some dill, seasoned salt, black and white pepper, lemon juice. Add to kitchen aid mixer and mix on slow speed. Add grapes and walnuts. Easy, easy, easy, and HEALTHY. Protein packed, low fat, delicious chicken salad. I put it in a large yogurt container with a date and use it all week.