Cut it Out!

For the last five weeks, I have cut out alcohol, sugar (except for fruit), dairy, refined/"white" carbs (including white rice) and gluten out of my diet to detox and adopt a healthier baseline going forward.  I'm not cutting these things out forever, but so far, it hasn't even been hard - I think that's because for the first time, I'm not cutting things out for a diet or to lose weight.  I genuinely WANT to be eating healthier and avoid some of the unhealthier patterns I had fallen into for the past few years while I was in "study" mode.  I didn't think I could go a day without cheese, but honestly, I barely miss it.  It's really kind of crazy...

The last alcohol I had was a special bottle of wine we picked up on our trip to Napa to celebrate having taken my exam.  We drank it after finding out that I passed, and it was SO delicious, that avoiding wine hasn't been too difficult, thinking about how not many of my go-to weekday wines would hold a candle to that yummy Silver Oak!  Going forward, I'd much rather drink less frequently and splurge on tastier wines when I do :-)

In cutting out refined carbohydrates, I have been eating a lot more grains like quinoa, which is featured in this recipe for Moroccan Steamed Salmon with Quinoa and Carrots - the addition of chopped up carrots to the quinoa is absolutely delicious! It pairs so well with the salmon (which I baked in the oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes rather than steaming it).  I am a huge fan of cilantro (are you? or do you hate it?), so this easy-to-make sauce is just amazing to me too.  Recipes like this prove that eating healthy doesn't mean you have to sacrifice eating delicious food!!! Enjoy!!


Back and Relaxed!

The last time I posted was just before my exam... I pretty much shut down right after to decompress and just relax (when I wasn't thinking about my exam results of course, which, by the way, took 2 months of waiting for!).  I recently found out that I passed!!! All these years of hard work are now behind me and I can focus on other things.  I learned a ton and can't wait to put that knowledge to good use :-)

Now that I will have more free time, I am contemplating pursuing one of my lifelong goals of running a marathon.  I am a long way removed from my high school cross country days, and most recent attempts at running have all resulted in nearly immediate injury.  So I will be patient and ease into it this time, beginning with *gasp* walking - there's no shame in that!

My current obsession right now are unsweetened green tea lattes with Vanilla soy milk from Starbucks.  I just ordered some matcha green tea powder  to try and make these at home.  Use this simple recipe to make hot or iced lattes.  Rice milk is yummy too.


Dark Circles

I have naturally darker under-eye circles and late night study sessions definitely do not help.  The big test is coming up this Saturday, and I will be MIA this week studying every spare second and eating terrible processed foods to keep me going along the way...  That's just how it is.

I wanted to share my favorite under-eye concealer kit that my makeup artist for our wedding introduced me to: Bobbi Brown's Creamy Concealer Kit.  There's nothing else like it.  I have olive skin and use the "warm natural", but go in to your local department store that carries the line to get matched.  

Begin with the moisturizer base, dab on the concealer, and top with the finishing powder that is NEVER cake-y (how to here; I have yet to try the new "Corrector").  It looks amazingly natural and completely turns around and brightens your face.  It's sleep and magic in a bottle and just what the doctor ordered this week :-) Wish me luck! 


Outdoor Flooring

I'm embarrassed to say that we're coming up on 3 years of living in our place, and have yet to create a functional space out of our balcony.  For the first year, we sort of used it as storage for what was ultimately junk that we should never have moved with us in the first place.  We eventually parted ways with said junk in Year 2 and it essentially became a home for my husband's surfboard.  Once I am done taking this exam next weekend, Project Balcony becomes Priority #1 around the house!

First things first, the flooring.  I am debating several options... Any thoughts?  I would love to hear about what you've used/love or to hear of other options.  (I've realized to actually comment, you need to click on the heading of the post; trying to fix this!).  I want flooring that is easy to clean and maintain, yet still stylish and fun.

These decking tiles from Ikea seem like a potentially great fit and easy to implement, as does this Japanese decking:

When we were looking at our place, our realtor suggested artificial grass... I like the idea of seeing a green patch outside the window and simulating the effect of having a real "outdoor" space, but I worry that it will be difficult to keep clean.

Interlocking tiles made of pebbles seem like a unique and fun way to cover the floor as well:

A sleeker ceramic version is an option too:


California Eggs Benedict

This meal used to be a staple around our place for weekend brunch, and it had been a while since I'd made it.  Because I've been very short on time due to studying, and this is a quick and simple meal, I made it for dinner this week.  I cheat a bit and use a packet of Knorr Hollandaise sauce mix; it's easy to whip up and also probably healthier than making Hollandaise from scratch - you just add 1 cup of milk (I used 1%) and 1/4 cup of butter (I used half of that, although admittedly it tastes better with the full amount). 

I start with high-fiber low-calorie multi-grain english muffins, then top with sliced tomatoes and avocados:

I usually top with scrambled egg whites, but since I had some Omega-3 eggs, I used a 4 egg whites to 2 whole eggs mixture:

Top with Hollandaise sauce & eat!


Hearts of gold

I love all these pieces since they are off-beat interpretations of traditional heart shaped jewelry... Each one has a fun uniqueness and personality to it and the gold keeps them grown-up! :-)

1. Tribal Heart Gold Necklace
2. Gold Skull Earrings
3. Heart Scribble Ring
4. Gold Tone Heart & Arrow Skinny Bracelet


Griller's Vegan

Have you ever tried these Morning Star Vegan burger patties? They are awesome.  I think you could seriously pass them off as meat.  My husband thought they tasted like the meat he was served in elementary school from the cafeteria (ok, so that's not exactly a ringing endorsement).  These have been a staple for me while studying to throw together a tasty, quick, healthy and filling meal.  I will probably experiment with chopping these up and throwing them into a "meatless" lasagna.

For a quick lunch/dinner, just heat up a patty, then chop it up and top a pita with it, followed with low-fat shredded mozzarella.  Heat in microwave until cheese is melted and top with fresh avocado.

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