Where Have You Been?

Sorry, folks! I can promise you that despite my lapse in posts, I have been keeping track of my creations. I am laying in bed, right now, and you guys are on my mind. So here is a recipe that has actually become a wicked stand by for a meal or a side dish, so much so that dad made me make another batch the same week!

It is quite simply, yet hearty. Its a bit sweet, but you can add some heat (of course, I did).

Beans and Greens

Make 7 (1/2 cup) servings

  • 4 cups chopped collard greens, ribs removed
  • ¾ cup chopped onion20160728_151116
  • ½ Tbsp minced garlic
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • Red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 ½ cup chopped button mushrooms
  • ½ cup honey BBQ sauce (40 cal per 2 Tbsp)
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • ¼ cup water
  • 15oz black beans, or any beans, drained and rinsed

Wisk together the tomato paste, BBQ sauce, and water. Set aside.

Combine greens, onions, garlic, water, salt and pepper (and optional red pepper flakes) in skillet, covered, over medium heat, for 10 minutes until greens wilt.

Add mushrooms, beans, and sauce to wilted greens. Recover the skillet and lower heat to low for about 5 minutes to warm the beans and sweat the mushrooms.

20160724_103454Grub as is or  add sausage, hot dogs, chicken, etc.

Per ½ cup:

Calories: 90, Fat: 0.4g, Sat. Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 246mg, Carbs: 18g, Fiber: 3.7g, Sugars: 6.5g, Protein: 4.4g

 

Where have you been, Sammy?

Well, I started an accelerated online program to get my next nursing degree. I am still working full time, I moved out of my moms (I really needed to, it became too toxic), a visited South Korea… Oh! and while I was there, this happened!

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Time to add wedding planning to the  To-Do List!

Golumpki

No, I did not make up that word, like I did with Wal-nana

You know what it is, you’ve eaten it, you probably just know it by another name. Each culture has there own way of doing things: Asian countries make dumplings, Italians make ravioli, and Polocks make pierogies. Greeks stuff grape leaves, and Polocks stuff cabbage leaves…

I have a cabbage problem, in that I love it! It is one of the most versatile foods in the world, in my opinion.

Golumpki

makes about 20 rolls

The Roll:WP_005595

  • 1 large head cabbage
  • 2 Tbsp quinoa
  • 1 lb extra lean ground turkey
  • 8 oz mushrooms
  • salt and pepper, to taste*

The Sauce:

  • 1 cup Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup
  • 1 cup red tomato pasta sauce, your favorite (50 calories or less)
  • 1 1/4 cup water

Bring the quinoa and 1/2 cup water to a boil. Meanwhile, carefully core the cabbage. I find that angling the knife toward the center of the head helps. This will keep the head in tact and allow the core to be removed (or at least most of the core). Fill a large pot with water, place the cabbage in, cored side down, and keep on high heat. As the cabbage cooks, you will be able to remove the leaves. Carefully remove the leaves off the head and transfer to a colander**.

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While the cabbage and quinoa are boiling, chop the mushrooms into bite-size to fine pieces. Combine with the ground turkey, salt and pepper. Set aside. Once the cabbage has been removed and drained, pour the cooked quinoa into the meat mix, along with any water remaining in the quinoa pot (at least 1/2 cup). Mix the meat well.

Lay the cabbage leaves out and scoop 2 tablespoons of the meat mix in the cabbage leaf. Roll the rib end over, fold the sides, and roll like a burrito. I like using tooth picks to secure the rolls.

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I know many people bake their golumpki, but this family has always used a pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker with enough water to cover the metal insert. Layer you cabbage rolls on top of each other to fill the cooker. Secure the lid on the pressure cooker, place the rattle on top, and turn the heat to high. In the meantime, combine the ingredients for the sauce in a small sauce pan on low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the the pressure cooker begins to whistle, time 10 minutes. Using an utensil, slowly depressurize the cooker by venting the rattle. DO NOT remove the lid of the pressure cooker until it has completely depressurized!

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on a serving dish. I like to use spoons to remove the rolled cabbage from the pressure cooker. Lay the cabbage rolls over the thin layer of sauce. Continue to do so until a layer of the rolls is made a pour a layer of the sauce over that. Continue with this technique and just dig in!!!!

*The leaner the meat, the more s/p is typically used.

**The trick is to ensure the rib of the leaf is cooked enough to fold, but firm enough to maintain its structure.

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I love these these babies! Its light and filling…and MMMMMM!

One head of cabbage makes so many rolls, but they are so yummy that its hard to share!

Nutrition per roll (without sauce): Calories: 30, Fat 0.1g, Sat. Fat. 0g, Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 10.7mg, Carbs 2.2g, Fiber 0.7g, Sugar 0.9g, Protein 4.4g

Dangerous Cream Cheese

I slept. Boy, did I sleep! I fell asleep on the couch, like mid-conversation with my mom. Talk about a food coma.

I never plugged my cell in and it died, and therefore, no alarm for Sammy. I stirred a bit when I heard mom in the living room and asked her what time it was. “Ten of 11,” she said. What? I need to make breakfast! Dad’s coming over! “I called and told him you were sleeping.” Just as I reached for the phone to tell dad to come over, he was calling me! ESP! Yup, I’m up! I making pancakes! Get over here! 

I just have to say it. I was a culinary queen, today!

I prepped part of the pancakes last night before crashing. The pancakes were a hit and no one knew that there was a secret ingredient. This week hosts National Pancake Day, so I’ll share today’s beautiful pancakes with you then! Since today happens to be National White Chocolate Day, I added some white chocolate chips to a little less than half of the pancakes for Frank, my dad, and my little brother, Dom. Everyone enjoyed breakfast, even my picky mother! We all had our own cups of coffee, and since no white chocolate was in my pancakes, I made sure a little SF white chocolate syrup made it into my coffee mug.

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I was inspired, while cooking pancakes, this morning. I kept thinking about that yummy Panera Honey Walnut Cream Cheese! I kept thinking how good it would taste on blueberry pancakes. I had half an 8oz container of fat free cream cheese in the fridge and went from there.

Advisory: This is the most dangerous and ridiculously delicious cream cheese you will ever eat.

Healthy Panera Sweet Walnut Cream Cheese

makes 16 Tablespoons

  • 1 8oz container non fat cream cheese
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free pancake syrup
  • 2 packets Splenda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp diced walnuts

Combine all ingredients together until smooth and enjoy!

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Needless to say, I topped my pancakes with my cream cheese!

I asked my mom to test it, since she loves the original stuff. “If I didn’t know better, I would swear it was directly from Panera.” “That’s damn good,” dad said at the dining room table. “Frank, try this!” Its always a pleasure to here compliments like that!

Following breakfast, my godfather and cousin swung by for a quick visit and then dad and I were off to the park. We decided to take the pup with us for a little fresh air. It was brief but an absolute fun filled morning with my dad, shooting hoops. I love getting Beauty out in the fresh air! She always crashes when we get home, but when shes out, she really enjoys herself. And I got some great pictures of her today! I think dad just liked our trip to the park because he beat me in a game of Horse- only by ONE, though!

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Frank and I ran some errands today, and by the time we got home, we were both chomping on the grapes in the car. Neither of had eaten since brunch, and with the sun dried tomato wraps I just bought, a felt a wrap was the way to go. Frank said he had some chicken breast and then we decided to add some shrimp. Oh man! Frank, mom, Dom, and myself loved these wraps. I through the sliced chicken breast and shrimp, about 4 1/2 oz of each, in to a skillet and then topped it with the following and covered it, only tossing it a few times:

  • WP_0039971 1/2 oz broccoli slaw
  • 3 oz spinach,
  • 1 oz sun dried tomatoes
  • 1 scallion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp oregano

After dividing the mixture among 3 wraps, I topped each with a little fat free shredded cheddar, 1 oz a roasted red peppers (each wrap), and a leaf of ice berg lettuce. I served them with sliced cucumbers for a side dish. Frank kept saying how much he enjoyed it, and he could have eaten another.

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WP_004002I must also admit that I created a monster, this morning. I went with an after dinner snack of celery and cucumbers. I always heard how celery and cream cheese went so well together. Well, I have never enjoyed this combo, but having made my Healthy Panera copy-cat, I get the combo another try.

THIS STUFF MUST GO ON EVERYTHING!

Its a winner!

Nurse Cake

WP_003707As my night shift was coming to an end, my stomach began to growl around 5am. I ignored this feeling the best I could. Around 530, I caved to a sugar free fruit cup. So sue me. A 45 calorie, sugar free fruit cup is whats going to upset me? This is ridiculous.

Around 6am, some nurses began to feel the hunger. Some toast english muffins, other trail mix, but it helps me to know that I am not the only one that gets thst end of shift hunger, and it makes me feel even better to know that I made a light and wise choice of food.

Arriving home about 2 and half hours later, the 45 calorie fruit cup had worn off. I snacked on half a slice of the left over Chicken Cheesesteak Pizza, another 45 calories. How can I hate myself for that? Its like I ate a 90 calorie snack bar, but instead of it being cereal and granola based, it was fruit and veggies! Get with the program, Sammy!

I stood in the shower, praying, deep breathing, almost like I was trying to wash the eating disorder and anxiety away. I finally laid down and slept until about 4pm, Thursday (8/29)

WP_003710I woke knowing I needed to eat despite my current feelings about my body. I went with a Dannon Light&Fit Greek Key Lime yogurt and topped it with some Special K Protein cereal. Although the cereal didn’t add loads of pizzazz of flavor to the yogurt, I enjoyed the crunch and texture, and the added feeling of being full. I paired it with a large glass of sparkling water.

The remaining afternoon was spent wallowing in my own depression, laying on the couch, curled under a blanket, until Barry came over after he was done work. He spent a few hours with Frank and me watching movies. I know it wasn’t the way he hoped to spend his evening, but it was nice to have the moral support.

My dad expressed some more concern about me today. I can’t help the way I feel. The last 3 days, I have not eaten more than 600 calories. Frank suggested this could be a reason why I’ve been so tired lately. I was in the bathroom and looked at myself. All I could see, at first, was my stomach. I kept poking at at it like it was somehow pop like a balloon and deflate. I went to the scale that read 131 lbs. I like that number. I went back to the mirror to figure out why the number just didn’t seem match the body. I stared long and hard and realized that my face was beginning to thin out, again.

With an annoying headache, which I suspected to be from low blood sugar, I stir-fried some bok choy and mushrooms in 1/2 Tbsp of low sodium teriyaki sauce,1 tsp chili garlic sauce, and a splash of water. It was filling and helped rid of my headache, which was definitely what I needed before going to work.

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I headed to work, coffee in hand, still feeling like I was dragging. Its funny how as soon as I walk onto the unit, I change. I’m so lucky that I am one of those blessed people that loves their job and the people they work with! Speaking of which…

These ladies I work on night shift with completely took me by surprise! After finishing the first rounds of my 8 hour shift, I went to the break room to grab a drink. As I opened the door, the nurses were setting up a party… for Heather and me in honor of us passing our boards!

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The first thing I saw was the cake and covered my instant terror with a smile, saying, “You guys are so sweet!” They even got gluten free goodies for Heather! But then, I saw the veggie platter and salsa and fruit bowl. Heather mentioned that she could tell I had lost weight and that she was worried about me. Heather is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. I would love if Heather and I both got the newly available nursing positions for our unit.

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WP_003717After finishing up some rounds, I decided theres no harm in enjoying fruits and vegetable. An the the veggies with salsa! MMM so garliky! I continued to snack on the goods all night and even had the hot and sour soup I brought with me. I was stuffed by 3 am and stayed that way! I felt great! Like I had been revitalized! Suddenly, although I was full, I felt invigorated and was on a roll at work! I love that Heather was so honest with me. You know what? I even had a bite of cake. I’m not a cake fan, but ShopRite done good! The night shift crew put a good hurtin on the cake and fruit!

The shift ended strong and confidently and I cant wait to hit the sheets!

Eggplant Pie

It was nice to sleep in yesterday and not have anything to do! I spent all day studying for the NCLEX, filling myself with brain food, like Saturn peaches, sugar free chocolate pudding, and a delicious dinner! (recipe to follow) My family has really been lucking out these past few weeks. Since I’ve found an outlet in cooking, my family has been eating really well. During my studying, I reward myself with breaks to cook, or prep to cook. Yesterday the result was baking Strawberry Muffins, and Eggplant Pie. Both were so good! Frank, my biggest critic, said the muffins were very good and the Eggplant Pie was,”Outstanding!” Having the word “outstanding” come from him was definitely a treat!

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The muffins came in handy when I woke up this morning to find a tray of donuts on the table from an apparent late night craving they had while out on the town… To resist the urge, I warmed up a strawberry muffin, sliced it in half, and added to the already gooey strawberries inside it with some sugar free strawberry preserves. Take that, donut!

After dinner, and along day of brain overload, I rewarded myself with Zumba. Unfortunately, my booty shaking was cut short when a girl got light headed and fainted. I ran to help her. Behind me, I hear my girlfriend yell,”It’s okay! She’s a nurse!” It was thrilling hearing someone yell that so close to my exam!

WP_003511Following Zumba, I got really hungry. Thank goodness Zumba is early on Monday nights and I went home to enjoy an Orange Cream Dannon Light & Fit Greek, with cheerios for crunch. I got antsy and wound up finishing a head of romain with salsa, filling up on water. I’m such a bunny rabbit…

I headed to bed with a mug of chamomile tea and fell asleep in NCLEX-mode.

After Sunday’s adventure at the Ren Faire, and my brief time at Zumba, last night, my calves we starting to feel it today. I began the WP_003512gloomy day with my normal routine of a shake. Since my vanilla protein powder has been replaced, I began with an Apple Eggnog Shake:

  • 2 scoops Vanilla protein powder
  • 1/2 md fuji apple, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp sugar free Eggnog Da Vinci syrup
  • spinkle apple pie spice
  • water
  • ice

A total winner that Barry didn’t think would work! I made Frank a very bright Watermelon Shake.

Today was so gloomy that my dad’s boss told him not to come to work because there was so much flooding! It was also gloomy in my kitchen when my spare Magic Bullet bit the dust. I’m glad I had my smoothie maker to fill in.

Before heading to work, I filled up on some watermelon and I’ve really been digging the beet scene lately. I actually made another beet salad for dinner tonight, for work. I even used some Fakin’ Bacon Tempeh! And what goes well with bacon? Bleu Cheese! I steamed together sliced onion, chopped tempeh, sliced petite carrots, and chopped, sliced beets and served it over a bed of spinach, topped with crumbled reduced fat bleu cheese. The warmth from the vegetables warmed up the cheese and this salad was “no dressing required!” I’ve been trying to talk dad into trying beets, but I haven’t quite gotten there. Maybe I’ll sneak it into something one day. What can I say? You can’t beat beets!

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Usually, being clerk at work makes me want to eat. Not because I’m hungry or burning calories, but because I’m bored. Tonight was great because I ate my delicious salad for dinner, and had some grahams and PB for a snack! Plus, with studying and all the paperwork at the desk, I kept busy!I’m serious! As soon at 7pm hit, this place went crazy, like full moon crazy! Eureka!

I picked up a pack of sliced eggplant from the farmers market last week and wanted to use it up before it began to turn. My intent was to make an eggplant parm pizza, but then this brain of mine began to crank some gears and this little beauty was born. Its like if eggplant parmesean and spaghetti pie had a baby…

Eggplant PieWP_003507

Serves 4

1 large eggplant, sliced 1/8in
1/2 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 medium onion, chopped
2/3 cup bell pepper, chopped
2 tsp garlic, minced
1/4 cup fat free ricotta
1/4 cup liquid egg substitute
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 pkg Fettuccine Tofu Shirataki noodles
3/4 cup fat free shredded mozzarella, divided
4oz 96% lean ground beef
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh spinach, packed (25g)
1 Tbsp reduced fat grated Parmesan

Peeling the eggplant is your preference. Over high heat, in a skillet, cook slices of eggplant until they begin to shrivel from the water loss, flipping to ensure both sides cook. Transfer to a paper towel while cooking the remaining slices of eggplant. While eggplant is still pliable, lay the eggplant strategically in a sprayed 9in pie pan to create a pseudo-pie crust (about 7 slices). Sprinkle the bottom on the pan with 1/4 cup of mozzarella.

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Empty the noodles into a colander, rinse, and snip through the noodles with scissors, as these these noodles can be pretty long. In the hot pan, after the eggplant has been cooked and removed, briefly toss the noodles in the pan, tossing constantly to remove excess fluid, and return to the colander.

Spray skillet with non stick cooking spray and briefly cook down onions, garlic, and bell pepper, until onions are
mildly translucent. Transfer warm vegetables into a bowl with uncooked mushrooms, ricotta, spices, and egg. Then add the noodles to the ricotta mix. Transfer into eggplant crust and distribute evenly.

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Brown the ground beef. Once crumbled and browned, add the can of diced tomatoes. Stir together and top over the noodles in the crust. Sprinkle a pinch on mozzarella and the grated cheese. Add the chopped spinach and cover with the remaining eggplant (about 5 slices). Top with remained shredded mozzarella and bake in a preheat oven  at 350 F for 15-20 minutes.

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Slice and enjoy!

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Nutrition (1/4 recipe):

Calories: 149, Fat: 0.8g, Sat. Fat: 0.1g, Cholesterol: 22.5mg, Sodium: 294mg, Carbs: 15.8g, Fiber: 3g, Sugar: 4.7g, Protein: 16.8g

Shout Outs

Shout Out to my mama:

I finished up my Zumba class, last night, and found a voicemail on my cell from my mom, raving about the meatloaf! About 9 years ago, my mom had the gastric bypass surgery and ever since, she has had a difficult time holding pretty much any real food down. Its amazing, really. You would think her body would crave protein, but the only foods that settle are things like chips and pizza. Its pretty bizzare.

So one of my nutrition goals is to cook food that my mom will and can eat. She devoured last night’s Honey Mustard Crusted Poultry Loaf! I think the trick with her is lean protein. When I cook soy products for her, she enjoys it. Last nights meatloaf was super lean!

Then, she began to tell me how much mashed potato she ate! She couldn’t believe it, either, that is was cauliflower!

At this time I was in the Walgreens, grabbing a bottle of water, crying in the middle of the story. I felt like such a goof, but I had never heard my mom talk about my cooking like this!

I also mentioned I dropped dinner off to Barry at work, last night, and he sent me this:

“Dinner was excellent hun. It was finished before you text me. Superb!”

The time that elapsed between me dropping it off and texting him was under 15 minutes! Haha! I think he was just hungry! Haha!

Shout Out to all you carb-counting, comfort food loving followers! This is for you!

Garlic Mashed Cauli-TatersWP_003265

  • 1 medium cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 tsp minced garlic*
  • 2 tsp Brummel and Brown light butter spread
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp low fat original creamer
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sour cream, fat free cheddar, real lean bacon crumbles (optional)

In a microwavable bowl, add a splash of water, about 1/4 cup, and the cauliflower, cover with with plastic wrap, and microwave for 9 minutes. Carefully, spoon the cauliflower into a food processor and add all the other ingredients. Whip it up and occasionally vent the processor to relieve the steam pressure.

WP_003266Top with what ever you’d like!

*If resources and time allows, roast the garlic before adding it to the mix.

MMMM! For a carb-lover, such as myself, I was in heaven with its garlicy, creamy, potato faker goodness!

Shout Out to my girl, Alex!

Every week, you read about my time at Zumba. Well, now its time to meet the girl behind it all! Alex kicks some serious Zumba ass and I love her classes. She incorporates, not only Latin-style dances, but Indian and hip-hop. Having such a variety of styles, music, and Alex’s personality, keeps me coming back every week!

I asked her after class if I could share her Facebook page with you, so if you’re in the area, look her up, and come join the party!

After dinner, last night, I suited up and headed to Zumba. You know I’m about to go hard when the pink pre-wrap headband  comes out!

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Zumba with Alex always send me home hyped with energy and good vibes, and I sleep like a rock!

WP_003277And Alex must have worked me hard, too, because I was hungry when I got home! Yay, for Special K Chocolatey Strawberry 90 calorie cereal bars!

throwback to sophomore homecoming 2006

On the Food Front:

Shout out to my Sista from Anotha Mista (literally):

Caterina is my step-sister, Frank’s daughter. I recently found out that she began cooking. Growing up, I was always the one in the kitchen, but now, Cat has her own recipe blog with wordpress.com. Enjoy!

Soon enough, we will be teaming up for a “Sisters Who Cook” post. Keep an eye out!

As I laid in bed, last night, my tummy began to growl and I snack on a handful of pretzel sticks, which was quickly followed by a mild tummy ache. Maybe it was the duck tongue on the episode of Chopped I was watching. Either way, I tried my best to settle both my belly and my mind…

Yesterday, Barry bought me Kashi’s new cereal: Heart to Heart Nutty Chia Flax! This, topped with flax milk and a handful of freeze dried strawberries, hit my breakfast tooth, this morning. Its like cheerios with a sweetness with flax and chis seeds stuck to each “O”!

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After a late night and a very early morning, thanks to my brothers alarm buzzing for 40 minutes, I laid back down to see if a mid morning nap could happen. It didn’t, but I did give me the motivation to get myself up and going. I got changed, and took advantage of the nice breeze and went for a nice brisk 2 mile walk up to the store, where I, of course, took advantage of the discount produce!

Shorty after arriving home, I wrapped three dill pickles in some lean turkey lunch meat to replenish my sodium electrolytes. My walk made me feel a little less guilty about sitting on my tush for the next hour studying.

The tummy began to grumble, again, about 2 hours later, to which I responded with POPCORNERS (its terrible how good these are). I, then, realized a better, crunchier, more refreshing option! I felt like a genius! Celery!

WP_003278This leads me to admitting a very serious problem: My name is Sammy Bundo, and I am a salsa addict.

Yes, we know I’m a dancing fool, but I am referring to salsa of the chunky variety, especially the homemade stuff! “How filling and refreshing and yummy was my celery and salsa,” you ask? Yummy enough to account for majority of the missing salsa from this jar! New favorite health snack! 

Lunch time was not the last appearance of salsa for the day. After dinner, snacky Sammy kicked in and nibbling ensued. I introduced dad to the snack, and he couldn’t believe was good it was! We wound up finishing the celery and a bell pepper, that we used for dipping. The jar is almost empty! I’m serious when I say try this combo! It feels like your chewing and chewing and its sooooo good!

So, Tuesday was meatloaf, and potatoes, and tonight’s comfort food was pasta! Dad and I are both suckers for scallops, so when I came across this at Trader Joes, I scooped it up!

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Saucy Scallops with Mushrooms in an Emmental Cheese sauce! I didn’t know what emmental cheese was, but I was sold! (Emmental cheese is a swiss cheese, by the way).

I threw this in the skillet with salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, additional mushrooms and peas, and reduced fat Parmesan.

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MMM! The sweet peas and scallops with the earthy tones of the mushrooms was absolutely delicious with the creamy white white cheese sauce! While pops prefers pasta, I topped a bowl of Fettuccine Tofu Shirataki Noodles with the saucy mix, and served both up with a glass of wine that I had gotten on my trip to San Jose and some garlic toast.

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WP_003279The wine was a Rose wine from Napa Valley, CA called Ménage à Trois. It was a complete combination of sweet and dry and refreshing and tart! Perfect for what a rose should be! We actually finished the bottle of wine, which is probably why I had the munchies. The wine was delicious! I’m going to keep an eye out for it on the east coast.

Continuing our guilt-free snacky adventure as we watched our Redbox movie, Flight, I serve up a big bowl of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Arctic Zero, sprinkled with Chocolate PB2, multigrain cheerios, for crunch, and jimmies!

The remainder of this night, I plan on sleeping, hopefully, and studying away.

Big news: I scheduled the date, time and location of my NCLEX exam! I had a hard time clicking ‘confirm,’ I was so scared! I can do this… maybe the munchies were wine induced and nerve-related… who knows, but please keep me in my prayers!

Lost Dog

This morning did NOT start the way I had intended. I planned on waking up, having an apple and PB, a cup of coffee, maybe a dip in the pool before heading back home from Barry’s house. Instead, I received a phone call from Frank saying that he can’t find Beauty! Barry and I jumped up, got dressed and bolted onto the highway to get to my parents house.

Has your pet ever gotten out?

It is absolutely the worst feeling! Beauty, my baby, who I’ve had since I was 6 and she was just 3 weeks old… My 15 year old baby… out in this 98 degree weather…. Is she okay? She needs water! Its too hot out here for her! Where is she? God, please bring her back to me. Please let her be okay!

Tears and sweat streaming down my face as Barry, dad, Frank, my neighbor, and I scoured the neighborhood….

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she digs her baths

I was beginning to loose hope as my anxiety and fatigue and dehydration worsened. At last, Barry called my phone and I expected to hear that she was no where to be found. “I’ve got her.” Oh, thank, God!! I ran down the road, back to my car and drove to pick her up. A neighbor put her in the house so she could cool off and had called the ASPCA, since my mom had removed Beauty’s collar. I could not thank the man enough for watching out for her.

I picked her up, thanked the man, profusely, and kissed her, repeatedly, as I carried her to the car. I thought it was funny that he compliment how clean she was…  She loves a good bath!

Exhausted, I grabbed everyone tall glasses of cold beverages, and whipped up pancakes to thank the guys for their help. I, on the other hand, found myself, nibbling on random items… a slice of pineapple, some cantaloupe, a few pieces of cereal, a glass of milk…

Once I ate a cookie, I knew I was emotionally eating. I diverted my attention to job search, going into the yard to weed the garden, studying for the boards, blogging, painting my nails… Anything to take my mind off eating and anything to keep me from feeling guilty…

By the way, Beauty is a bit tuckered out and is currently passed out right in front of the air conditioner vent.

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Once my emotions settled down, and I spent about two hours sending out resumes, I still found myself trying to nibble. I drank a glass of water and began to cook dinner. When I was at the farmers market the other day, I picked up two heads of bok choy. I eat the heck out of this stuff at Chinese restaurants and wanted to try my hand at it. I cut to base and gave the stalks a good rinse, and tossed then, along with a cup of quartered mushrooms and 1 1/2 cups of frozen broccoli florets into a skillet. I poured about 1/4 cup of water and 2 Tbsp of left over garlic sauce on top, covered it and let the vegetables steam over medium-low heat. I debated adding shrimp, which would have been spectacular, but kept it veggie style and dug in with my chop sticks! Delicious! I’m so making this again! And it was sooooo simple!

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By the way, bok choy is seen in many Asian dishes and is in the cabbage family. Here is some more info on the crunchy, cancer-fighting, weightloss veggie!

WP_003124Following dinner, I sugar free fruit cup and spoonful of cottage cheese became dessert.

I also owe, you, readers, an apology. Aside from Zumba, I have not been working out much. The heat, here, has been pretty intense, and I’ve been getting lightheaded a lot lately. I know its not a super excuse from drifting away from fitness posts, but I hope you can forgive me and still find the blog enjoyable and helpful.

Long Awaited

I’ve been working for 4 years, each year increasingly harder. I’ve battled eating disorders, lost and rekindled relationships,  traveled the country with Phi Theta Kappa, started this blog, and so much more! On May 22, 2013, all my hard work payed off and I graduated with my Nursing degree. Now comes the time to celebrate! The days leading up to the party were filled with excitement and a list of things to do! I have been cooking, cleaning , and preparing for 3 days straight! It all paid off! The food, the people, the environment… everything was a success!

I had a vision on my party, the OCD was kicking in, and it worked out just the way I wanted it to! Friends and family surprised me and brought deviled  and pickled eggs, cookies,  huge tray of broccoli rabe, and my grandma’s  yummy coleslaw to the party. I, on the other had, was a cooking machine! I laid out veggie platter with non-fat onion dip, POPCORNERs (delicious) and fat free pretzels with homemade black bean and corn salsa (recipe to come), and homemade honey mustard dip (always a hit at the Bundo parties). I also prepared two trays of tomato pie, Hungry-Girl’s I Can’t Believe Its Not Potato Salad (crazy good), my moms seafood macaroni salad (recipe to come), a simple garden salad, and a big fruit salad!

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I was even surprised by how much my brothers helped out, too! Dom was cleaning the house and preparing the yard, and James made lime seasoned tortilla chips for the salsa I had made.

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The day before the party, dad and came over, and together, we made some incredible food! Dad grilled 20 lbs of sausage on the grill, while I sliced up endless onions, peppers, and mushrooms, and minced a ton of garlic! I love cooking with color! As the sausage settled, I cubed up chicken breast, seasoned it, and seared it.

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The end results were 3 trays of Sausage, Peppers, and Onions, and 2 trays of Chicken Spezzato! All of it went!

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My Aunt Dona contributed her famous deviled eggs, grandma, her coleslaw, Aunt Chrissy, a small lunch meat platter, Penny, Spicy Thai Noodles, and Uncle Eddie, his famous Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Gwyn, a woman I used to work with at my old job, brought pickled eggs (the only pickled eggs I’ll eat) and 5 bottles of Spumante! She said she wanted something for everyone to toast with!

My Aunt Cathy, and godmother, the baker in the family, asked what type of cake I wanted. I love her carrot cake and her cream cheese frosting, but not everyone likes carrot cake. So what did she do? She made cake pops! Not like that ball of batter on a stick… These were like push pops! She arrived early for the party, and we assembles small cupcakes sandwiched with frosting and berries and jimmies (or sprinkles, as many call it). Chocolate, vanilla, carrot cake, strawberry! Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries! She went all out! They were delicious and the perfect size to touch that sweet tooth! She is crazy talented! (If you’re in the area and want her contact info, message me or leave a comment).

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My dad said a toast, thanking everyone for coming, for their support throughout all my highs and lows, and how proud he was of my accomplishments! Gwyn surprised ma n jumped up, stating she wanted to make a toast, as well. Her toast was more of a blessing, to have God guide me through my nursing practice to care for his children. It really meant a lot to  me!

The house was decorated with the typical graduation gear, as well as various shades of green, my school color, and a couple pictures from the past year.

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Drinks included various beers, water, sodas, and the occasional margarita. What really made me laugh was my grandma. She got pretty tipsy on the Spumante and was saying the funniest things! I had to help her to the car when she left! I was cracking up at some of the things! She also insisted that Barry ask me to marry him at the party! She apologized for being so wobbly as she walked explaining she had to take her meds differently today since she was going for blood work in the morning. She then explained she was going to get a mammogram done, exclaiming, “They want to play with the ol’ tits!” She and I stopped dead in our tracks, and just laughed! Shes a trip sometimes! When I called her this morning, she told me how much she loved the sparkling wine. She was in luck that I had 2 bottles left. I’m going to bring her one up on Friday.

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It was an amazing day, filled with special family and friend. My Uncle Eddie invited Harry, one of his friends from grade school, who I love! Hes a hoot. In fact, I go to his birthday party every year, and when we have reunions for our grade school, we jitterbug! I was shocked when he came. Another special guest was Mrs. Miller. Iv’e kept in contact with this woman for about 16 years. Why so long? Because she was my kindergarten teacher.

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The evening ended with a the neighbors and us socializing on the porch, sharing in stories and laughs.

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It was raining most of the day… but the porch and house sufficed. A lot of work went into this party, but it was most definitely worth it!

Like a Skyscraper

Today’s Anthem:

I went to sleep late last night, but I woke up around 0830 with a feeling of renewal! Like anything was possible.

Running and music used to be outlets when I was healthy. So I laced up my sneaks, popped on some music and downloaded to couch to 5K app on my phone. I knew that this was what I needed! I opened the from door,and its raining. I looked up, said “Really?! Rain?!”

This was my cue to stick it to the universe. Half way through the run, Skyscraper came on my phone and I felt empowered. I typically don’t care to run to slower songs because it slows me down, but WOW! Today, this song was just what I needed. Demi and I are close in age and have both struggled through depression and eating disorders. I think this song is supposed to be about the media, or applied to a lover, but today, I was talking to myself, this disease. It keeps trying to tear me down. “I will be rising from the ground like a skyscraper.”

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The 5 miles felt great!

As I ran back toward my house, the rain starting becoming a bit ice-like, getting ready for the Noreaster.

I was excite for breakfast. I poured a glass of Aloe and ate a Kashi 7 Grain waffle, with 1/2 T Brummel and Brown’s Yogurt Spread and 1/2 T of the most delicious Blueberry Jam of all time! This stuff is from Maine. My girlfriend Maggie goes there every year with her family and they bring this stuff back by the case-load!

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Yeah… its just that good!

After my run, I could tell today was going to be a good day!

I ran to the store today because I finished the last of the water the other day. I try not to use plastic bottles, but I’ve had to the last few days. Can lifting 3 five gallon jugs of water count as my strength training for the day? Just kidding.

I did a little tidying up around the house and sat down next to the fireplace to start watching a lecture. No success. This turned into nap time.

Next thing I knew, my dad was ringing the doorbell for dinner. I made a roasted vegetable and spinach salad. I did like last time and sprayed some cauliflower florets, baby carrots, and mushrooms with cooking  spray and tossed in some garlic powder and basil. I baked these in the toaster oven at 400 until the carrots start to dry out and the the cauliflower gets a mildly golden crust. Then I topped the warm veggies over a bed of spinach and drizzled some of the BBQ sauce for NY over it. To finish this beaut off, a sliced some onion and sprinkled some chia seeds.

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To complete the meal, I baked a VitaPizza, pepperoni supreme style. (I prefer the tomato and cheese one better). Yum!

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I’m really glad dad liked the salad because he most def is not a fan of cauliflower.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. The doorbell rang and there stood a man with a box of food. I looked at him, confused. It was Joe Reda, the district representative. He knows we are having some financial troubles, as most families are these days, and he and his wife brought us staple foods, like pasta, cereal, milk… I was floored. I did not know what to say. With everything we hear about the world, its hard to believe that there are still generous and chivalrous human beings out there.

Thank you, Reda Family! You’ll never know how grateful we are! God Bless You!

After the Reda’s left, dad and I dug into a fruit salad and some cottage cheese!

MMMMM

MMMMM

Venison Crock Pot: Recipe #1

I woke up in a major funk this morning! I hoped that a protein shake would help brighten my spirits a bit. My dad got me a big bag of Welch’s Four Berry frozen berries. I wanted to use some of my new sunflower butter to see how that would work in a shake but then I remembered I bought this little nifty cashew butter packet from Artisana the last time I was at Wholefoods:

I figured, “Hey! Berry on berry!”

Cashew butter isn’t like normal PB. Its so much smoother and creamier and the berry flavor is so light.

I still couldn’t shake the funk and heading off to class did not help…even though this is my LAST semester!

Apparently, the birds weren’t pleased with me either…

My car was completely bombed!
Okay… now onto the food:

So over the winter break, while visiting some family, I learned that my uncle hunts. My aunt offered me some venison, and never having cooked it, I gladly accepted the challenge. I scoured the internet for some recipes until I found one that my dad really wanted to try. Then I did a little research on preparing and cooking this roast. The followed this recipe and added some tweeks of my own… and thus this deliciousness was created!!

Creamy Onion Venison
serves 10

2 1/2 lbs venison
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Fat Free Cream of Mushroom soup
1/4 cup red wine
1 Tbls low sodium soy sauce
1 (1oz) package dry onion soup and dip mix
7 oz (large) onion
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 1/2 oz sliced raw mushrooms

Remove as much fat off the venison as possible. I learned that the more fat, the more gamey-er the taste. Cut a few slits into the roast and stuff with the minced garlic and lay at the bottom of the crock pot. Cover with sliced onion and drizzle the sauces.Sprinkle in the dry onion mix. Pour the soup in a bowl. Pour the wine in the soup can and swirl around to get as much soup out of the can as possible and pour into the bowl with the soup.Repeat with the 1/4 cup of water. Mix the ingredients in the bowl and pour over the roast and onions. Cook  on low from morning to dinner time.
30 minutes before serving, add the mushrooms.

We ate this stroganoff-style, over noodles. I’m a HUGE fan of House Food’s Tofu Shirataki Noodles. I prepared the fettuccine style noodles and topped with 4oz of meat and some of this deliciously light gravy.

My dad, and even my picky  step-dad went to town and raved about this recipe!! Enjoy, ya’ll!

PS          The next crock pot recipe I’m doing is also one I have never made before: White Turkey Chili.
Some recipes add corn and/or tomatoes, both of which would probably taste great in this… What are your thoughts?