Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Butter

Good morning! We made it through Monday! Anyone else a little too excited by that?

I have the promised “feared veggie dinner” coming right up…

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But first a little chat about emotional yoga!

For the vast majority of my life, I never was much of a crier. (I was definitely more of a screamer and door-slammer, but that’s a different matter entirely!) Throughout high school and college, I rarely cried. I can probably count on one hand the number of tears I shed prior to 2010. I had a lot of unhealthy ways of dealing with stress, and I realize now that I internalized far more emotions than I should have.

Fast forward to now. I cry a fairly good amount. I have realized that it’s a healthy way of letting out some of the frustration, sadness and irritation that would otherwise be floating around in your body as all sorts of ugly negativity. I don’t necessarily like crying – to me, it still feels awkward and dramatic – not to mention I am not a dainty crier. I’m talking Rudolph nose, swollen face, mascara dripping everywhere as I blubber…cute, huh?

Regardless, crying happens. I don’t mind letting myself let go of being scared or upset and crying it out. 

Cry it out is exactly what I did…last night on my yoga mat. Twice.

Working on our ugai breathing, the instructor has us breathe in aspects of the person we wanted to be and breathe out the negativity and the labels that didn’t serve us any more. He asked us to use our breath to smooth out our insides. While I’ve never been one for the calming/spiritual/mind-body aspects of yoga (as opposed to the physical side,) I found myself really getting into the breathing exercise, welcoming in positive adjectives and pushing out the disparagings labels that I’d fought with for years. Chubby. Not good enough. Not talented enough. Not pretty enough.

Although I am blessed to have worked through the self-esteem issues that haunted me and caused my eating disorder, thoughts like that are always able to sneak back in. Moving beyond an eating disorder does not mean that you will magically love yourself every minute of every day. Sure, you may no longer allow insecurities to trigger self-destructive havits, but on some level, there’s always the opportunity to harbor less-than-loving thoughts towards yourself.

In yoga yesterday, as I pushed out all of the ugly words that I didn’t even realize I’d been holding on to, the emotions came rushing out. I was good enough. I realized that I have never been anything less than enough, and that all along, I have been strong, pretty, intelligent, ambitious…I am good enough. Not just me, though: every single woman in that room, in this city, on the other end of the computer screen…we are good enough.

And just think – a simple little breathing exercise unlocked all of that in my brain! Who says yoga isn’t therapy?

After an emotionally intense practice, I was quite ready for an easy, delicious meal by the time I got home. Luckily, there were leftovers from Sunday’s dinner!

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Do you have time for another antecdote? I’ll make it quick, I promise. As a kid, I was forced to eat a ridiculous amount of Brussels Sprouts. (Who wasn’t, it seems?) In my seven year old mind, they were NASTY. Bitter, slimy, weird-textured…and although I don’t remember much of a flavor, my parents were quite fond of frozen veggies straight from the bag, so I’ll go ahead and guess there was little taste to the odd green balls of veggie-ness.

As I became a vegetarian, I became a much more adventurous eater. Things I never cared for or outright disliked found their way onto my plate – mushrooms, peppers, onions, zucchini, you get the picture…except for brussels sprouts. I was still convinced that they would be GROSS.

After finding a great sale on them at my market, however, I had to give them a go…childhood aversions or not!

Thankfully they were drop. dead. fantastic.

gnocchi and brussels sprouts

Lemon Butter Gnocchi and Brussels Sprouts

Vegan, Serves two

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag whole wheat potato gnocchi
  • 10-12 large Brussels Sprouts
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 tbsp Smart Balance Light (or other vegan butter substitute)
  • 2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning

Directions:

  • Cut your brussels sprouts into quarters (or halves if you would prefer larger pieces)
  • In a large pan, warm the olive oil and drop in your brussels sprouts, sauteeing until lightly browned.
  • Bring the water to a boil in a medium pot. Once the water is at a rolling boil, add in your gnocchi, cover, and reduce to medium heat. Allow the gnocchi 3-5 minutes to cook; once they float to the top, they’re ready!
  • Drain your gnocchi and add to the saucepan with the brussels sprouts.
  • Stir in your “butter” and seasonings – serve warm!

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This dinner was the perfect fresh, tangy, spring-y plate of deliciousness packed with vitamin A, C and K…not to mention a hefty dose of folate and fiber!

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Folks…you have just witnessed the official Brussels Sprouts conversion in the Lovely as Charged kitchen.

Perhaps…just maybe…they’re so delicious that I could cry?

Have you ever cried during yoga?

Do you have any foods that you swore up and down you would hate until you tried them? What about a food that your childhood ruined for your grown-up self?

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The Best Thing About Yoga

The best thing about yoga is that there is no “right” or “wrong”, no mistakes and no apologies. Your body is strong enough to carry you through exactly what you need to do, and in the end, your best is more than enough.

At the end of a long day, sometimes a good level three power yoga session is exactly what you need. I utilized my second class at Shine On Yoga for a fabulously sweaty hour and a half. I walked in feeling like a rock and walked out feeling like a rock star. That, my friends, is the marker of a good class.

Pre-class: Breakfast for dinner!

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You really can’t go wrong with a scrambled egg + toast combo. It’s substantial enough to power you through a workout due to its combination of protein, fat and carbs, but it doesn’t weigh you down.

This morning, I had sweets on the brain. Luckily, I’d made a version of overnight oats inspired by chocolate chip cookie dough.

chocolate chip steel cut overnight oats

My version was extra chewy from using steel cut oats (rather than the traditional rolled variety).

Steel Cut Overnight Oats

Technically, I cooked these beforehand and simply allowed them to chill/absorb overnight, but does it truly matter in the grand scheme of things? It still yielded a cool, chewy breakfast that was ready to eat straight out of the refrigerator!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Steel Cut Overnight Oats

Vegetarian (Vegan, depending on protein powder used), Serves One

Ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 cup steel cut oats
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used Tera’s Whey)
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 cup chocolate chips

Directions:

  • Bring water to a rapid boil; add in oats and banana. Cover pot and remove from heat. Allow the oats to set for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir in protein powder, chia seeds and vanilla extract.
  • Place pot (on a hotpad) in the refrigerator overnight. In the morning, dish up and top with chocolate chips.

chocolate chip oats

So simple, so delicious! Although I must say, it was a bit odd eating cold oatmeal!

Off to do the work thang. Hang in there, kiddos, it’s almost Friday!

What is your favorite thing about yoga? If you don’t practice, what is your favorite thing about your workout of choice?


Shine On Yoga – Orlando

Yoga Groupon

Does Groupon know how to hook a girl up or what?

Yoga for not even $1 a day? Just the deal I needed to bring me to my first Orlando yoga studio after going over a month without attending a single class.

Monday evening after work I headed over to Shine On for a Level 2 yoga class.

Shine On Yoga Orlando

The studio was tucked into a cluster of buildings in a small neighborhood only a few minutes from downtown (and my apartment!)

Shine On Yoga Studio

After presenting my Groupon, I settled into a spot near the center of the cozy studio and relaxed in child’s pose until the session began.

The Yoga 2 class at Shine On was a perfect segue back into my regular practice – none of the poses required an advanced level of flexibility or balance, but I was able to get deep enough into the postures to feel the benefit of the stretches. I walked away feeling lighter and more open than I had in weeks! I’m definitely looking forward to attending the Vinyasa Flow and Yoga 3 classes for a bigger challenge. They even offer a Healing Belly Dancing class – I’m still on the fence about that one!

Prior to the class, I squeezed in a quick dinner: dandelion greens, tomato and walnut salad topped with a liberal squeeze of 365 Organic Honey Mustard.

Dandelion Salad

Dandelion greens are one of the less common dark leafy greens on the market, yet I snagged them for just $1 at Clemon’s.

Dandelion Salad

While dandelion greens are less “rough” than kale, they are similar in flavor – slightly bitter, with a bit more “punch” than run-of-the-mill lettuce. The Whole Foods honey mustard (one of my all-time favorite honey mustards!) gave just the right touch of sweetness to balance out their semi-strong taste!

The salad filled me up until after class, when I made a green monster as a small snack. The class wasn’t what I would call “strenuous,” but I still enjoyed a little after-exercise fuel.

Fruit and Spinach Smoothie

I kept it simple with a banana, frozen blackberries, spinach, almond milk and a single scoop of Vanilla Bourbon Tera’s Whey.

Even though I wasn’t tired after the class, I slept like a baby. The session was very restorative(although I could definitely have done without the drawn-out crystal bowl therapy during savasana!) and it made me extra sleepy!

This morning, however, I could really feel the rejuvenating after-effects. I’m ready to tackle my Tuesday!

What is your ideal yoga class like? Hot and sweaty? Calm and meditative? Challenging or relaxing?


Statements and Questions

Statement: Jimmy Johns is crap.

(Good evening to you, by the way. Surely there was a more tactful way to begin this post but I am still bitter about today’s waste of a lunch.)

JJ

The quality of the sandwich was about on par with the quality of my cell phone picture. Skimpy avocado spread, 80 cent upcharge for wheat bread, three lousy vegetable choices? Jimmy Johns, I’m going to need you to have a better vegetarian option.

Question: Orlando residents/visitors: What are your favorite vegetarian-friendly restaurants in the area? Bonus points if they’re downtown!

Statement: I adore the lat pull down machine.

Question: What are your favorite at-home ab exercises? I hardly ever do ab work, and I really need to change that!

Statement: Pizza makes a wonderful post-gym snack. Especially when you’re so hungry it feels like your legs are hollow because no matter how much food you get into your stomach, you just. aren’t. full.

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Statement: Bikram yoga is perhaps the most boring workout I’ve ever done. Although it was challenging – especially for my quadriceps – I couldn’t stay focused on the series (especially the second time going through it!) I suppose I’m more of a power flow/ashtanga kind of yogini!

Question: Are you aware of any Orlando yoga studios offering introductory specials for new students? Orlando Power Yoga has a 40 days for 40 dollars special that I’m really interested in, but I’d love to hear about any other options out there!

Question: Those of you who have successfully switched a blog from wordpress to self-hosted on your own: is it really that hard? And what is this hosting business that wordpress wants $20/month for? Do I need to pay for hosting if I purchase my own domain? If I’m not incredibly technologically savvy, will I be in over my head?

Question: Those of you who live in an apartment: What sort of utility bills do you pay? I don’t need monetary amounts, I just want to compile a list so that in the event that I decide to move to Orlando in the near future, I’m able to budget ahead of time.

Statement: I gotta peace out. The new season of Tosh.0 premieres tonight and The Coach is headed over to watch it. I known well enough by now that I’m going to need to have food ready when he gets here, otherwise I’ll be dragged around the aisles of Publix in frantic search for couscous ingredients and/or ice cream.

G’night!


Well Hello, Weekend

What a difference a month can make.

Saturday mornings in December were downright miserable. I’d wake up around 9 AM, groggy and run-down, and try to face all the chores and assignments I’d been avoiding during the week. I had no desire to get up and get moving, and most often, the biggest thing I did was bake a batch of cookies.

What a wonderful way to live, no?

Yesterday concluded my first week at the new job. I swear, at some point in the near future I’ll stop reveling in the amazingness of it, but I just can’t believe what a huge affect following my heart has had on my whole outlook on life.

Until now, my weekends were a desperately needed time-out to catch up on life and have a few blessed moments away from screaming children and a tiny, windowless room. Friday couldn’t come soon enough and I’d haul ass out of the parking lot and do whatever I could to put distance between myself and the preschool. Just when I’d start to unwind, I’d realize it was Sunday night and that the whole cycle was about to start up again.

Today, 8 AM rolled around and I was rejuvenated and ready to enjoy two days of relaxation. It’s been a busy – but fulfilling – week of getting acclimated to my new environment, upcoming assignments and oh…you know…rocking two front page links on Google News 😉

mesothelioma - Google Search - Mozilla Firefox 162011 95307 PM.bmp

YEAH BABY! I wrote those 😀

When I came into work Wednesday morning and my topic for the day was a nutrition spotlight on garlic, I just about flipped. I had just a smeeedge too much fun researching and writing that bad boy 😉

Dang. Seeing something I wrote published on the web is just…weird. In the best of ways.

Speaking of the best:

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Steel cut oats. Justin’s Chocolate Hazelnut Butter. Ain’t nothin’ better.

A leisurely breakfast in bed accompanied by the February Glamour and a plate of pineapple rings ensued.

Off to hot yoga! I’m warning you – it’s incredibly addicting! You may huff and puff (and cuss) your way through it, but ten minutes after walking out, you’re ready to do it again and take on the world.

Namaste!


I Almost Didn’t Live to See 2011.

Most of you will remember yesterday as the last day of 2010 (or some variation thereof), but in my mind, it will forever be thought of as The Day that Erin Tried to Kill Me.

Rather than lying in a pool of my own blood, I ended up lying a pool of my own sweat.

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Some of you slept in and relaxed your way into party preparations for the evening; instead, I melted my AZZ off – Wicked Witch of the West style – and crashed for the afternoon before doing the divalicious NYE thang.

The slaughter began with a disgustingly early 7 AM wakeup call and a new energy bar:blog 2096

This Blueberry Blast 3Bar reminded me a lot of a LaraBar in texture and flavor, but slightly bigger. It’s a shame that I find both LaraBars and these 3Bars dry and a bit bland :/

Within two hours, dry didn’t sound like such a bad thing!

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This was my first hot yoga class, and I didn’t know quite what to expect. I’m always cold, so at first the ninety degree room felt like a dream…but then I realized that we were expected to move around in said room, and the deliciousness of the heat instantly dissipated.

An hour and a half later, I was the true embodiment of hot mess! I felt a hundred times looser and lighter, though, just as the teacher promised. I felt like I’d sweated out the toxins of 2010 and I left everything that didn’t suit me this year in the studio.

In the name of the new year, I hit the bar – the Whole Foods hot bar, that is – and crashed for a few hours to revive my energy for the real evening ahead…

NYE

Happy 2011 all! Hope it’s not too rough of a morning for you all 😉


Show-off

Sometimes a girl needs a little zen yoga to help her forget about the fact that her mattress is soaked in cat pee; other times, a girl needs a class with a few challenging poses in order to show off a bit 😉

Is it completely dreadful of me to love the fact that I was able to get into side crow for the first time after working on it for almost a week…coincidentally on the same night I talked my football playing, yoga skeptic of an ex into attending a class with me?

side crow Source

Although the class was a beginner-level flow, the instructor decided to play around with a few more challenging poses. The Coach kept up with the standard poses and sun salutations quite well, but by the end he was admitting that it wasn’t a “softie workout” like he’d always assumed!

Next on my (devious) agenda: get him to a power vinyasa session 😉

One of the best parts about staying friends with The Coach is getting to pick his brain for strength training ideas! I finally bit the bullet and joined the gym, so I’m hoping to take advantage of the weight machines they have available. I picked his brain for a few ab and arm circuits and more than held my own during my reps! I’m not going to lie, I kind of beasted at chest presses!

I may not like having a running partner, but having someone to push you during a weight session is awesome!

Our post-workout re-fuel snackage were Vegan Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars. We were so hungry that we each had two!

These bars are a cross between chewy granola and a dense muffin. The Coach didn’t have a clue that I cut the “butter” with apple sauce and the reliable flax egg trick to make them even more nutritious for a killer snack or breakfast component!

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Vegan Peanut Butter Oatmeal Bars

Makes 6 medium-sized bars

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water, chilled)
  • 1/4 cup Smart Balance Light
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • In a medium bowl, combine all dry ingredients.
  • In another large bowl, combine wet ingredients; slowly add in dry and combine until thoroughly distributed.
  • Pour into a lined baking pan (I used two miniature loaf pans) and bake for 20 minutes or until top is browned.

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For such a modest recipe, they sure got a few compliments 🙂

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What’s something you can’t help but show off with? Any major achievements lately you want to toot your own horn for here?