Veggies and Vitamins

Wednesday

Since I could not squeeze in my cat nap, I took my (lack of) energy into the kitchen, along with my laptop, and channeled my racing mind into something constructive. I spent about 45 minutes sending out resumes before whipping up a fiberful and filling shake bowl, that kept me full for countless hours! It was just what I needed to power my 12 hour night shift.

Carrot Cake Protein Shake

(adapted from CCK’s Milkshake)WP_004311

  • 3 oz carrot, chopped and steamed
  • 1 frozen, very ripe banana (if not very ripe, use the frozen banana trick)
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 tsp Splenda brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • slightest pinch of salt
  • 1-2 packets Splenda, added sweetness, if desired
  • water, or milk (for richer taste)
  • ice
  • guar and xanthum (optional)

I was going to top the bowl with raisins and chopped walnuts. Sound delicious, right? Instead, I crumbled a quarter of a Cinnamon Raisin Gnu bar (Gnu makes a carrot cake bar, but I’m not a real fan of it). The bowl serious hit the spot and I wasn’t hungry for almost 8 hours!

Hard At Work

Hard At Work

My shift began a little rocky. Not because I had a tough assignment, just because I was still in a funk, dwelling over the missed job.  After getting my head back on straight, the night went great.

I brought the last piece of Eggplant Parm Frittata and topped it with Chipotle salsa. I brought a bundle of celery  sticks for snacking, and loaded up on raw veggies from the caf. I even had a bite of a butterfinger cake one of the nurse made. (Come on… did you really expect me to pass up anything with the word “butterfinger” in it?) But it only added to my  pride when I was one little sliver and done for the night! It was just enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and to say I had some!

WP_004313 WP_004314

Later in the night, I required something… I wasn’t hungry, but I couldn’t stop thinking about eating something. Rather than hitting up that cake in the fridge, I grabbed a dum dum sucker from the basket and few Teddy Grahams, and was completely unphased!

WP_004317On my drive home, all I wanted was stewed tomatoes. I know it sounds odd, but I could just burst waiting to get my hands on that can! Upon arriving home, there were no cans of stewed tomatoes. I could have sworn I had a can! Diced? NO! Crushed? No. Fire Roasted? Gah! Where are my stewed tomatoes? Alas, I pulled a pepper out of the refrigerator and bit into it like an apple, in disappointment and defeat. I went with the flow and here I am. I just finished my shift up and am blogging away, dipping bell pepper and romaine into one of my favorite brands of sauce, Rising Moon Organics!

Hopefully, looking at a computer screen will tire me out so I can catch some Zs before tonight’s shift!

Thursday

With the success of yesterday’s Carrot Cake shake, I decided to make it for dad, today! After his first swing he said, “Hey, thats pretty good!” Following another gulp, “Cinnamon… mmmm… and I can’t taste the carrots! ” Dad doesn’t like cooked carrots… at all… same as beets… so I love when I get those veggies and vitamins in him! Later, I received a text from dad, “Damn good shake.” I think he liked it!

I had a few beets left in the fridge and definitely wanted to utilize them before they started to go bad.

Beet Berry Burst ShakeWP_004321

  • 1 scoop vanilla protein shake
  • 1/2 beet, peeled, chopped, and steamed
  • frozen mixed berries and fruit
  • 1/2 tsp SF orange jello powder
  • 1 packet Splenda
  • cinnamon

I wasn’t hungry but, then again, I haven’t been hungry for two days, now. I needed to eat just to try to maintain normalcy. I topped it with pretzel sticks, shredded coconut… I was so indecisive. I wound up topping it with PB2, goldfish… I just couldn’t make up my mind. Probably because I wasn’t really hungry.

I got two call backs, today, for jobs. Guess what? I didn’t qualify because I don’t have experience! It so frustrating! I was getting really down on myself. I tried to channel my feelings into a brisk walk. When I arrived at Wawa, I grabbed a coffee

Since the jar of sauce was open, and today being National Pasta Day, I drained a bag of Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti, chopped up a bunch of spinach, and topped the lot with Garlic and Chantrelle Mushroom Pasta Sauce, and bit of Chipotle salsa for a bite! However, my body had other plans. My stomach started bothering me and I felt so out of it. Well, my dinner turned into rice cakes and crackers. I guess I have dinner for tomorrow.

WP_004318

Brunch and Dinssert

Kicking It With Christ:

What a nice Sunday! It began with 8am mass with my mom! Whenever we go to mass together, we are peachy for the rest of the day and we are both in great moods. My dad told her she needs to go every Sunday! Hahah

I was a bit puzzled by today’s Gospel, but Father’s homily cleared it up. It was entertaining, amusing, and kept my attention all the way through, and it really made me examine my life. I knew from the time he started I wanted to share it with you. Even if you’re not Catholic or Christian, its a universal message we can all apply to our lives.

He made me laugh as he began to discuss the criteria for a good husband, wife, sister, etc. “I can’t just say I’m a good priest because I show up to mass on time.” What’s the universal criteria that makes us do good? Father is an ex-cop and he mentioned the rewards that are offered for information about a crime. As helpful as the tips are, why should we have to pay or bribe someone to do the right thing? The Gospel, in short, was not just about doing good or the right thing. These are simple and innate obligations that Christ, as well as the community, expects from you. Christ is constantly challenging us to take it a step further. Not to remain stagnant in our lives and morals. I loved the analogy Father used… “Don’t just be please with yourself because you refrained from punching that guy in the head. Take it a step further and remove that hatred from your heart.” Not only did this make me chuckle, but it really made me think about my everyday actions, the roles of daughter, sister, nurse, friend, etc. that I play in life.

Am I really taking things a step further? Or am I simply fulfilling my obligation? 

Following mass, I talked to Father, who was an absolute outlet and source of strength during my recovery. Our conversation was followed by a proud hug and congratulations when I told him that my 1 year anniversary of beginning recovery was quickly approaching!

Great Homily, Father Hurley! And thanks for everything!

Brunch, Baby:

I have been loving brunch on the weekends I do not work. I would love to start making a tradition of it! This morning was the perfect brunch food: a frittata. I mention in my last frittata post the beauty of these things: the ability to throw anything you want in them. Like, when you have left overs, and either don’t know what to do with them or don’t have enough for another meal… throw it in a frittata!

The broccoli rabe that I used in my Sicilian-Inspired Rabe was grown by my uncle’s neighbor and was already blanched for me. I had so much left over that I could only remember how delicious the last frittata was! Oh, and then theres that eggplant from the fish wraps from the other night. I got this!!!!

Eggplant Parm Frittata

serves 8

  • 11.75 oz eggplant, 1/4 in slicedWP_004142s
  • 2 cups cooked broccoli rabe
  • 1/3 cup onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 4 1/2 cup liquid egg substitute
  • 1/2 cup flax milk, or milk of choice
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 1/2 cup pizza sauce
  • 1/2 packet Splenda
  • 2 Tbsp reduced-fat grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 to 1 Tbsp dried chopped or minced garlic

Spray a skillet with non-stick cooking spray and lay the eggplant slices over high heat and brown. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 F. After you flip the eggplant and both sides have been browned, transfer the slices into a sprayed 9 in x 13 in pyrex. Layer the eggplant slices along the bottom, cutting and fitting the slices to fit the bottom of the pan. Respray the skillet, and add the cooked broccoli rabe, onions, and minced garlic. Cover with a lid, and heat on low.

WP_004133 WP_004135 WP_004136

In the meantime, whisk the egg, egg substitute, milk, water, crushed red pepper, Italian seasoning, and black pepper. Flip the broccoli rabe. Pour 1/4 cup of water over vegetables and cover, steaming over low heat. Measure out 1/4 cup mozzarella and finely chop, and add to the egg mix. Remove the broccoli rabe, onions, and garlic and transfer to cutting board. Roughly chop the vegetables into 1/2 in pieces or so. Add to egg bowl.

WP_004137

Ensure the pyrex side are well sprayed with non-stick spray, and pour the contents of the egg bowl in the dish. Finely chop the remaining 2 Tbsp mozzarella, and sprinkle over top casserole. Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes.  While baking, combine the pizza sauce with Splenda.

After the 30 minutes, turn the casserole 180 degrees and continue baking for 15 minutes. After the 15 minutes, evenly spread the frittata with the sweetened sauce, then Parmesan. Lastly, sprinkle the top with garlic spice according to your taste. (We love garlic!) Return to the oven for a final 15 minutes.

WP_004139 WP_004140

WP_004141

Slice the frittata into 8 slices and serve!

Nutrition: per 1/8 of dish

Calories: 126, Fat: 1.2g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 25.9mg, Sodium: 430.5mg, Carbs: 8.6g, Fiber: 2.6g, Sugar: 4.6g, Protein: 18.3g

WP_004138Scrapple, by far, is in no way a healthy choice, even if one DOES eat the leaner cuts of beef scrapple. It is, however, a Bundo favorite! I sliced up a loaf of bacon scrapple (not impressive, by the way) for the crew, and we said Grace and dug into a delicious brunch! Argument free!

We were all stuffed until dinner! My dad raved about the frittata and couldn’t believe the creation and the taste, and how full he was even at dinner time. But I’m not surprised with almost 20g of protein per serving! Mom, dad, and I watched the Eagles/ Giants game, as we did some laundry (and blogging).

A quickie trip to the tanning salon (I have a wedding coming up and I’m a bit pastey), and I was inspired. I had “Brunch,” but pumpkin spice froyo is out… Dinner? Dessert? Dessert for dinner? Dinssert, it is!

Hey, Boo! Froyo at 5? “It’s a date!”

A quick text later, and we met up with one of my nursing school girlfriends! Yummy in our tummies! She text us awhile back asking for a froyo dinner dinner date and we had to decline since Barry and I were both working. I loved that I was able to return the favor, and that she, Aaron, and her kids could join us! My main agenda for the spur-of-the-moment dinner date was to attack the pumpkin spice soft serve! I repeated my mode of attack as I did at the Flyers game and grabbed a splash of each. And an extra splash of pumpkin. Next, come my favorite part! Topping! Mango, raspberries, strawberries, almond slices, toasted coconut, and an oreo all found their way to my bowl! Barry enjoyed his double-size PB and chocolate fix ,as usual.WP_004148WP_004149

So we had dinner. Whats next? Oh yeah! Ice cream for dessert! a scoop of Edy’s Slow Churned Salted Caramel and a decaf french vanilla coffee went down the hatch as we watch the FLyers pull out another loss. But guess what? My eating was controlled, I felt when I was full, and I felt no guilt!

I must say… good weekend!

Kung Pao Carmela

WP_003924I finished a small jar of roasted red peppers, left over from the Eggplant Parm, that I ate on a rice cake. I just loved roasted reds! I have to get another jar! With this pepper idea in my head, I grabbed a baggie of sliced bell peppers from the fridge, threw them in a pan with garlic and ate them with salsa. The smell woke Frank up. “Are you cooking steak?” No, peppers!

Veggies are fantastic! Its hard to feel guilty about eating tons of veggies, yet somehow I manage to do it….

I avoided the cake at work, worked my but off, and heck, I love peppers! Plus, I’m held over until my next meal which won’t be for at least 12 hours.

Today, I woke up early after a late night, for an 0845 appointment and then it was off to Reading! Barry was back from drill ( I haven’t seen him in a few days) and we decided to take today to visit his grandmother. She is such a sweetheart! We made some travel mugs full of coffee, and inspired by Dunkin, used our new White Chocolate and Pumpkin Pie Spice SF syrups.

The weather was a bit off today… sort of overcast, kind of sunny, definitely breezy, and some rain in the occasional spots. I really don’t think mother nature knew what she was feeling, today.

WP_003925On our way up, we stopped at a light and I had to take a picture of this road sign. Ummmm… Gesundheit?!? It was like some one sneezed when they tried to name this road. I just thought it was humorous!

After visiting with his grandmother, we headed back to Delaware. We were both tired. Not even our coffees were doing the trick. By the time we arrived home, neither one of us had eaten anything. It was 3pm and I was unsure if I should eat of wait until dinner. I need to eat, it was my stomach was telling me. Just wait is what the rest of me was saying. I listened to my stomach. Since I planned on cooking Chinese food to dinner, V__6C11Barry and I hit our local take out. I ordered a pint of hot and sour soup and an order of steamed dumplings. The hot and sour soup is a favorite, as you know, and Frank loves the dumplings. As much as I love dumplings, I love the dipping sauce even more! I had a cup of soup and two dumplings, and I was stuffed! I was pretty shocked by how full I was, actually, so I was glad that dad didn’t arrive for dinner until about 530. Barry must have been starving as he downed his order of sweet and sour chicken.

Time to get a little serious…

Today is the 5 year anniversary of my Nonna passing away. I can’t believe its been 5 years already. I remember the entire day so clearly. I just can’t believe its been 5 years. In honor of mommom, I made her favorite Chinese food. On the rare occasion that she would order out, she would only get one 1 dish: “The one with the peanuts.” As much as I love Chinese food, I have never had Kung Pao Chicken, so seasoning this was a bit tricky for me, but it turned out great! It is definitely one I will make again. I whipped up a side of brown ginger rice, that I seasoned with garlic, soy sauce, and sesame oil. I had found a 2lb bag of green beans on the produce discount rack for 86 cents!!! Sweet! I cut a bunch of those up and threw them in the rice.

While I was cooking, dad and I were reminiscing about mommom. Every holiday that we have family gatherings, we watch two videos. The first is when she was attempting to speak Italian. We had been trying for so long to nail a take. Each time, she would forget what she was supposed to say, or mess something up, but this time was a beaut! She just stopped and we all started cracking up! Its hard to hear the voice, but just turn the sound up. I love hearing her laugh at the end of the video because its so damn hearty! It was so genuine! Dad cracks up every time we watch it. He turns into a little kid, rocking back and forth with laughter, breathing just enough to squeeze out the words, “Play it  again!”

WP_003927I call it Kung Pao Carmela because Carmela is my Nonna’s name. I based my recipe very closely to Hungry-girl’s recipe. I must say that my dish looked much more appetizing than hers.  Follow the Hungry-girl recipe except for the following alterations, and you have

Kung Pao Carmela:

  • substitute 1 tsp. red chili sauce with 1 Tbsp Spicy Hot Kung Pao sauce, and add 1/2 Tbsp chili garlic sauce.
  • add 1/4 to 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes to the stir fry
  • substitute equal parts of sliced bamboo shoots for the water chestnuts

I served the meal in some left over take- out containers for some authenticity, along with the steamed dumplings.

WP_003926

We spent the next hour talking about mommom with my mom and snacking on the bag of discount green beans. I think between the two of us, we had to have finished off 3/4 of  lb. They were so crisp and fresh. I was so full but just couldn’t stop crunching away. I didn’t really mind though, since I hadn’t eaten all day. We showed mom a video of mommom from her last Christmas. We had gotten my little cousin some guitar game and she was having so much fun fooling around with this thing! My uncle’s commentary is hilarious and I love hearing her laughing, seeing her smile and having a good time, and hearing her voice. My favorite parts of all is when you hear her talk. At one point, she says, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m doing it!” And I love the end when she says, “I can play!”

Thanks for letting me share my memories with you! I miss you and love you, mommom!

Giving

The past few days I feel like I haven’t slept… I wake up tired…

Today, I hit the snooze alarm until the last possible minute. I finally got up, slammed a bottle of water and headed off to the blood bank. I try to make it a point to donate blood as often as I can… Mostly for the free Nutter Butters that follow…

I’m totally kidding! I am a universal donor and love feeling like I’m saving lives for the 1 hour I take to donate!

WP_003839 WP_003844

Following my donation, a little blurred vision, and getting my purple badge of courage, I meandered over to the canteen. The older volunteers are so sweet there! One of them showed me a variety of K cups to choose from and brewed me a Southern Pecan coffee. I sat down at one of the tables, and after examining the goods (ie. the snacks), I switched up my usual Nutter Butter craze for an adorable two pack of Oreos! Who doesn’t like chocolate in the morning??

WP_003840

Afterwards, I snuck into Barry’s house to wake him up to go to Cowtown. I know I was just there, but the day was beautiful, Barry had never been, and it kept us out of the house. We explored for about 2 hours, and I showed him around the barns. My last stop of the trip was to an older gentleman that I always buy gladiolas from. These are my moms favorite flower and since we have been getting along the last few days, I wanted to surprise her. The generous man, then asked if I like eggplant and gave me one for free along with a handful of jalapenos!  How nice!

Mom had picked up eggplant on Saturday when we went and now with all the eggplant in the house, it was time for Eggplant Parm (but we’ll get to that in a second)!

As we drove over the Delaware Memorial, Barry and I could both feel hunger approaching, as neither one of us had really eaten and it was much hotter day than we anticipated. I suggested Saladworks, one of my favorite places to eat out, and their was definitely no regretting this decision.

WP_003841 WP_003842

Both, Barry and I, got the “Create-your-own” option. Mine consisted of spring mix, egg whites for protein, roasted red peppers, corn and bean mix (so sweet), cucumbers, and chopped tomatoes with fat free Balsamic vinaigrette on the side. I like to load up on toppings with moisture and and high flavor so it limits the amount of dressing I need. I adored the colors and fragrant of my salad! Its so pretty! I omitted my beloved wheat roll, but I really didn’t need it. One thing I adore about the Saladworks website is that I can calculate everything on their without a hassle!

Barry and I were content with our meals and it really hit the crisp stop that was need to break up such a warm and humid day! We took advantage of an hour to watch some Twilight Zone in the new living room, at Barrys, after which we went separate ways… Barry to the firehouse, and I home.

I couldn’t wait to play with the Hungry-girl eggplant parm recipe. I was inspired by my salad today and decided to add roasted red peppers to dinner. I have grown up on eggplant unlike Barry who only recently tried it when I made stir-fry. My mom always double breaded and fried it. Don’t get me wrong… its delicious… but it pretty much takes every thing nutritious out! My mom would make eggplant parm layer upon layer of the breaded, fried goods, with lots of full fat cheese in between the slices. I have learned ways to stretch flavor, resources and calories, and this dish was created with huge portions!

Eggplant Parm

serves 4

  • 1 large eggplant

Breading:

  • 1 cup Fiber One bran cereal
  • 1/2 tsp reduced fat grated Parmesean cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • WP_0038511/4 cup liquid egg substitute

Sauce:

  • 1 cup jarred sauce, plus 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/8 tsp to 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

The Rest:

  • 2 oz jarred roasted red peppers
  • 3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
  • 2 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan, divided
  • 1/2 tsp basil

Preheat oven to 375 F. Cut the end off of the eggplant. Slice the eggplant in large coins, to produce about 10. Dab the sliced with a paper towel to try to grab some excess moisture.

In a food processor, blend all the breading ingredients, except egg, until the cereal becomes a bread crumb texture. Dip both sides of the eggplant slices in the egg and then coat with the bread crumbs. Transfer the coated slices to a well sprayed (with non stick cooking spray) baking sheet/ pan. Bake for 25 minutes. Flip the coins and bake an additional 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, over low heat, combine all the ingredients for the sauce. In the mean time, Further chop the shredded mozzarella cheese (this helps the cheese spread more). Then chop the roasted red peppers. Set aside until assembly time.

WP_003845 WP_003848

Spray an 8 x 8 baking dish with non stick spray and spread a thin layer (about 1/4 cup of sauce) evenly over the bottom. Lay half the baked and breaded eggplant on top. Sprinkle half the chopped, shredded cheese, and 1 Tbsp grated parm over the eggplant. Spoon about another 1/4 cup of sauce over this, and top with the remaining cheeses. Lastly, Pour the remaining sauce over the entire dish and sprinkle with basil.

WP_003857WP_003858

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Carefully remove the foil and let set for about 3-5 minutes. Cut into 4 squares and serve it up.

We paired ours with salad.

I love the sweetness that the roasted red peppers add to the dish! MMMM! I forgot how much I loved roasted red peppers!!

It was so good, nothing was left! Not a drop in the pyrex! With so much eggplant on hand, I made another, this one turning out even better than the first. Whats also nice about this is that it can be frozen.

WP_003861 WP_003862

Nutrition: (1/4 recipe)

Calories: 160, Fat: 1.5g, Sat. Fat: 0.2g, Cholesterol: 6.2mg, Sodium: 648.7mg, Carbs: 33.1g, Fiber: 14.8g, Sugar: 8.4g, Protein: 12.7g

A big topic of conversation at dinner was the madness that ensure in college town last night. Main Street was flooded with kids, jumping on cars, yelling, etc… I thought it was about the Eagles winner! I was wrong! Apparently, the cops broke up a huge party and the 1000 kids flocked to Main Street and swarmed! Thats just dumb! It caused enough of a ruckus, though, that not only did campus police get involved, but also, city, county, and state! Here one guys YouTube video of the events…

Blew my mind! I’m so glad I was in the safety of my home, last night, 20 minutes away from the mayhem!