Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya!

Alana getting into cooking/cleaning mode

Alana getting into cooking/cleaning mode


Yesterday we had the privilege of celebrating one of our favorite Americanized and distorted holidays. This year we were lucky enough to have it fall on a Sunday, so we decided to hold a little celebration since we are so far from our homes. I’ll try to make this brief because I’m still pretty full.
Kittens hoping for some scraps

Kittens hoping for some scraps

We woke up early and headed to do a few chores. Target for prescriptions, King Soopers for groceries, Marshall’s for another large pot, and Sprouts for produce. We already had corned beef from the day before. Five pounds of it… for three omnivores and four vegetarians. Whoops.
Our grocery trip

Our grocery trip

We cleaned the house and I threw the mixture of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes (not telling you the secret recipe) around 11:00 a.m. We started eating at 3:30 p.m. Alana made a very good Irish soda bread with her friend’s mom’s authentic recipe AND a spinach-feta pie-like dish. We also had some good Irish cheddar cheese, jack, and cranberry goat cheese with matzoh. That’s right… straight from Jerusalem.
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Our tunes for the day…

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For drink, we were provided with George Killian’s irish Red, a nice refreshing light tasting beer to compliment the dishes. (I know nothing about beer.) Afterwards, I made vanilla Bailey’s milkshakes for dessert. We Skyped with family, chatted and caught up with one another, and gave the kittens tons of attention. All in all it was a very fun time together. Thanks to everyone for coming and everyone that celebrated this holiday the right way!

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remnants of milkshake

remnants of milkshake

Kitchen hit by tornado

Kitchen hit by tornado

Even after a feast like this one, stay hungry and fit!

3 Ways to Cut Bad Energy from Your Life

We all have times where we get down, stressed, or angry. It happens, it’s part of life. Bad energy is all around us and can consume us. But there is a way to control the bad energy that is around us. We do have control over our lives and mostly who surrounds us. Can you think of that one person or place that seems to simply drown you in that negative energy? Is it really necessary? Let’s look it over.

Maybe you’re someone who doesn’t want to be rude in cutting someone out of your life. Or you just think it’s all in your head. Believe yourself–it isn’t. The feeling of being overwhelmed with negative energy is awful and it sucks the life out of you. Why is that ever worth it? No matter what your situation–working, retired, in school–you don’t deserve to be plagued with that bad energy. The kind that drains you, makes you tired, gets you grumpy, makes you unproductive, and changes you into a person you dislike. It makes you feel choked, cramped, and tied down. It even drives the hope out of you.

energy

energy (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Look back at that list. That is not how you want to live your life, even if it’s only part of the time. If you can immediately picture that person who drains the life out of you and smothers you with bad energy, think about if you really need them in your life. This may sound selfish, but sometimes to be truly happy and feel free, we need to be selfish and take the time to re-examine all components of our life. I have done this a few times and there are different ways to cut these people out:

1. Slowly release them from your life. Maybe it’s that one friend who complains about everything and makes you want to tear your hair out. Or that co-worker that nitpicks your everyday activities. You know that they aren’t necessarily trying to drag you down and throw bad energy at you, but–bottom line–they are. And because you know they aren’t evil people, you don’t want to straight-up shut them out immediately. So let’s be diplomatic and slowly cut the line. Maybe start declining outings they ask you on, spend less time near their cubicle, or make yourself busy and not available to chat. Don’t do all this immediately, do it nice and slow and before you know it, that connection will be dusty and you will feel clean and renewed.

2. Approach them and talk to them about it. This is risky, but worthwhile for both of you if you still want this person in your life. Do not be aggressive or confrontational about it. Have a private setting, maybe a small coffee shop, a lunch date, or simply a walk in the park. Bring up the topic slowly, saying something like, “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time, and I really feel dragged down when you do this, or when you say that [obviously interject your own things]. I want to find a way to make our relationship [whether it be family, friends, or lovers] work so that we can both be happy.” That is a good way to start the conversation. If you find yourself getting quick to anger, maybe it’s just not going to work out as the bad energy spreads.

3. Take yourself out of the situation. So, yes, you can cut people out of your life or you can talk to them and try to make them aware of it so they can change. But what about yourself? Give yourself a good think-over and run over any times where you exude bad energy and where or with whom. And maybe you need to take yourself out of the situation. Out of an apartment, a job, a location. I know those sound like big things, but this is about mental health. Take the time, take the step, take the move.

English: Good Energy logo

English: Good Energy logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Our mental health affects our physical health–nothing is by itself. If one is altered, then the other will be too. So never ignore your physical or mental health. Cut away the bad energy from your life and live free and happy!

Post-Workout Protein Oatmeal

So I came back from my workout at an odd time, around 11 in the morning. Hmm, I want something to sustain me for a bit, and smoothies never do. Wait, didn’t my protein powder bin say to try it in cereal? Well, oatmeal is a cereal…hmmm. And here we are with a oatmeal recipe loaded with protein. It was actually really good, once you got used to the texture. Really delicious and healthy. Try it out!

Prep Time7 minutes?

Ingredients

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup oatmeal
  • 1 scoop flavor-less whey protein [I use Jarrow’s]
  • 4 strawberries
  • 6 dates
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp agave nectar 

Directions

  • Get cup of water to boiling
  • In advance, cut up dates and strawberries

fruit

  • Add in oatmeal and turn down to simmer
  • Once oatmeal is starting to cook, put in some cinnamon
  • oatmeal w cinnamonAfter you stir in the oatmeal, pour in the whey protein powder and stir. By this point, you definitely want to keep an eye on it because it will stick much easier

whey oatmeal

  • Once you stir in the protein powder, pour in some of the agave nectar in for a touch of sweetness

nectar

  • Throw in a few dates and strawberries in (but not all of them) to heat into the oatmeal 
  • After a minute, take out and serve into bowl

ready to eat

  • Put the rest of the fruit on top and you’re done!

beautiful oatmeal

I think this took me about 7 minutes total and it filled me up with excellent nutrients: fiber, protein, and carbs! If you want, you could even try putting in a flavored protein powder, up to you!

Cheers!

Grandma Powell’s Iowa Casserole

I prompted my Grandma, who lives in Iowa, for a recipe called “Iowa Surprise.” However, she returned with a delicious, simple, very Iowan casserole recipe. I was definitely game to try it! I had most ingredients and the others I needed to buy only cost me $5. What a deal for a full casserole that is plenty to fill both of us! I made a few alterations, some by mistake and some on purpose. Big Note: I made half of this vegetarian for me, and half with meat.  Check it out and enjoy.

The Powell Family at our last reunion...you can find Grandma Powell sitting front and center

The Powell Family at our last reunion…you can find Grandma Powell sitting front and center

  • Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 50-75 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1#bulk pork sausage
  • 1 cup cheese [only for vegetarian edition]
  • 1 (16oz.) can cream-style corn
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup panko [I used panko instead of said recipe’s bread crumbs because all the others had high fructose corn syrup in it]
  • 1 cup 1% milk
  • 1/2 white onion
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • dash of pepper
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • red pepper

Directions

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Okay so I think I got this part wrong, but what I did is get raw pork sausage and just browned it, when I think I was supposed to get already-cooked pork sausage. Either cook the pork sausage, or start putting the cooked sausage in large mixing bowl[Note: If you’re doing the vegetarian step, ignore the meat and put 1 cup shredded cheese in, instead]

ground beef

  • Chop 1/2 white onion into finely diced pieces and throw them in with the meat.
  • Combine the salt + pepper, canned corn, panko bread crumbs, milk and eggs into the large bowl
  • Put mixture into casserole dish
half veggie/half meat. Doesn't look too appetizing at this point

half veggie/half meat. Doesn’t look too appetizing at this point

  • Cut the red pepper into rings and place upon half the casserole. At the same time, smear the ketchup across the other half

casserole rdy

  • Put into oven! Mine took about 65 minutes, just keep an eye on it after 50 minutes and test it for sturdiness
Hot n ready

Hot n ready

It was very filling and very enjoyable, and we have leftovers for tomorrow too! Thank you, Grandma!! Hopefully next she will send me her pie recipes…probably wishful thinking.

BONUS KITTY PIC

Sniper shot of Sajah asleep

Sniper shot of Sajah asleep

Peanut Butter Oat Bars

This is such an easy delicious recipe. Mary Kate sent this recipe to me–I altered it a little bit and boy is it goooooood. And it’s such an easy recipe, I whipped it up extremely fast. And there’s no added sugar that you have to pour in, making them healthy little things full of protein. Look below for the recipe and directions. This is one you won’t want to pass up and you only need about 25 minutes to do it.

  • Prep Time: 7 minutes
  • Bake Time: 18 minutes

ingredients

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups of oats
  • 1/2 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup of agave nectar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
  • small handful of chocolate chips 

Directions

  • Grease a baking sheet and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees
  • Mix the flour and oats together

dry

  • Go ahead and put the wet ingredients in (the egg, peanut butter, and agave nectar) and mix
  • Fold in some chocolate chips

mixing

  • Spread out on the baking sheet
Ready to bake

Ready to bake

  • Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes (mine took 18). You want it to bake until it starts to brown slightly

all done

  • Wait until completely cool to cut and serve.

bars

peanut bars

Enjoy! And as always…stay hungry and fit!

Our Saturday Adventure

We decided to utilize our apartment to its fullest and with our trip to New Jersey coming up at the end of the month, we wanted to free up some space. We are driving back to Colorado with some more of my stuff from back home, so the extra large futon that takes up our whole living area needed to go. It was our first piece of furniture here and we dragged it in from the garbage for something to sleep on our first night. I had serious lower back issues for the first month we lived here as a result.

futonbye

It’s a Saturday and there is a winter “storm” going on (but it ended up just being a miserable wintry mix the entire day). It’s snowing, but not sticking, so it’s just incredibly wet. So it all boils down to us going to the Salvation Army store early in the day and seeing that everything was 50% off. We chose a love seat, our of four options, that only cost $35. However, we needed to get it home and the Taurus (our car) is not big enough. I decided, with permission from a boss, to use a van from work.

Post-"storm"

Post-“storm”

The winter has been harsh and the van has been seldom used, so after just a few blocks… it died. It was in the 20s/30s and there was a wintry mix of large wet snow flakes. It wasn’t sticking to the ground, but the ground was soaked and, by the end of the day, so were we. As the van’s battery (or alternator) died in the middle of one of the busiest and largest intersections in Boulder, I had to push it out of the intersection. It weighed at least a ton but a nice mother and son helped us push it to the Target parking lot.

Then, since it was out of gas, we walked a half a mile to a gas station and they let us borrow a gas container so we could give it enough juice to help it get going. Then once filled back in the parking lot (we’re soaked and Alana is cold) we ask a nice man to help us jump the car. We jump it and get it back to the shop’s parking lot. Here we push the van in reverse while steering past tight turns to get it back into its parking space. Game over.

filling

fillingtank

That took about three hours, and laundry ended up taking five hours, costing $10.50, and leaving all of our clothes wetter and dirtier than when we started. Tough way to spend our one day off during the week, but we got to spend it together and we love adventures, even bad ones. We want to thank those two nice people that helped us push, the gas station attendant that let us borrow the container that we returned, and the man who helped us jump the car. We want to say thanks for nothing to the people who turned and sped past us while we pushed the van, and the people in the Target parking lot that cut us off while trying to turn a dead vehicle.

me sad

Cold Alana during the process

In the end, after some more struggles with stairs and the futon, we got the futon and all of its padding to the garbage (along with an old pillow), and the new mini-sofa in the apartment. The clothes are laid out everywhere air drying (I want my money and time back, Realty Company) and we got one tough workout so the muscles are sore. The apartment has a lot more room, we saved about 13 inches in length and 18 in width, and now we can move some new things in at the end of month. We’re aiming for a cardio machine like a spin bike and our PowerBlock adjustable bench for some home workouts.

outside

New couch with laundry everywhere

New couch with laundry everywhere

Using Other Cultures: Being Smart with Food

I’m going to draw upon two cultures to make up a smart food philosophy. They can either be put together or separately, whichever you choose. I simply think it is good to keep an open mind to other cultures to see how they deal with food and use the opportunity to look at our own food habits. The two cultures I will focus on are Spanish (as in from Spain) and Japanese (as in from…Japan). Let’s look.

Spanish

The Spanish have many different eating habits, including a tiny breakfast, but I’m going to focus on their lunch. The Spaniards have a time called a “siesta” around noon or a little later. This means lunch time. And lunch time is a big deal in Spain. Shops will close down for a few hours and many Spaniards will go out to restaurants for a few hours for up to three courses. I’m not saying–ditch your work for three hours and go get a five-course meal for lunch, no! You can pack a big lunch, I know that I sure do.

And this more so points to the focus around the middle of the day when our metabolism is in full gear, ripping and roaring through the food we give it. In America, most of us have our biggest meal at the end of the day, when our metabolism is starting to slow down and our body is beginning to tire. This is what I want to adopt from the Spaniards. Move the biggest meal of the day to LUNCH where your metabolism has plenty of time to break everything down rather than waiting until dinner to stuff your face and leave yourself overnight to try to digest it all. The Spanish may be wild party-ers, but they sure do know how to eat.

Japanese

Another polar opposite of the typical United States eating culture, however instead of time of eating it is PORTION CONTROL AND SIZE. If you don’t know, Chris and I have a big love for the Japanese culture and plan to live in Japan for a period of time pretty soon. And that means a big love for Japanese food. Now, of course, the United States has turned small Japanese portions into all-you-can-eat sushi (opposite of portion control), and we are lovers of that too. But for everyday life, everyday eating, the Japanese set a beautiful example of eating the right nutrients in the right portion size. Why do you think the Japanese obesity percentage is so much lower than the United States’?

Protein. Vegetable. Carb. Have you heard of the bento box? Click here for an excellent blog with tons of creative bento boxes. A bento box is basically a Japanese lunch box, usually packing in rice, some kind of vegetable, and some kind of  protein (usually fish or tofu). It isn’t very big, and has no high fructose corn syrup packed into it. So instead of jumping to the supersize (a beloved American meal size), let’s try the “Bento” size. It has all the nutrients we need without stuffing ourselves to the brim. And maybe we’ll just drop the obesity rate to a more reasonable number for the US.

So let’s open our minds and our mouths and try different habits from different cultures. Who knows–it could be your next favorite thing. I sure know that I’m transfixed by the bento box. I love eating, but I love eating without feeling extremely full afterwards as well. So try it out! Cheers! Salud! 万歳 !

BONUS KITTY PIC 

sajah fire

Sajah’s first fire

Alana’s Almost-Tropical Smoothie

Since Chris got me some flavorless protein powder for V-Day, I was ready to hit up the smoothie-making business. One day after a workout, I decided I wanted to break the seal and use the new protein powder, instead of a new expensive gross (in my opinion) one that Chris got. Unfortunately, we didn’t have a ton of smoothie fruit in the house (I mean strawberries, bananas, blueberries, etc.), but we still had some of our staples. So I whipped this together, giving Nymeria and Sajah scraps of fruit along the way.

Ingredients

  • 1 scoop Jarrow’s whey protein
  • 1/2 cup milk (I really didn’t measure this)
  • 1 banana
  • 4 clementines
  • ice

ingredients

Directions 

  • Put ice and milk in blender, ice crush!
  • Put in the scoop of protein powder
  • Break the banana and half and add in. Peel the clementines and add in, whole or cut
  • Blend until smooth!
blending blending blending

blending blending blending

And enjoy! Makes about two servings, I couldn’t finish all by myself so I saved it for later. I call it almost-tropical because we didn’t quite have the pineapple or guava or passionfruit to kick it into tropical gear. But this tastes great anyhow. Feel free to mix and match with whatever fruit or protein you have. Cheers!

yum

BONUS KITTY PIC

"Feed us!"

“Feed us!”

Quick Home Workout (Starting at Just 10 Minutes!)

So you really don’t have a lot of time, but you want to get some kind of cardio and strength activity in. Maybe you’re running off to see Jack the Giant Slayer in 15 minutes, but you want to get some muscle work in (hmm, sounds familiar…). This one ended up being a great core blaster with great upper body work as well.

home workoutAnd that’s my delightful chicken scratch! Do as many sets as you have time for. You can do one set in 7-10 minutes, depending on how long you last until failure. The weight for curls, rows, and press is up to you! You should get a light sweat and feel it in the abs and upper body, at least I did. Do them right, no rushing! If you have any questions on the exercises, feel free to comment and ask!

Cheers! And as always…stay hungry and fit!

Restaurant Rave: Mediterranean Market

This place is one of our most favorite places to go. It’s cheap, it’s filling, it’s delicious. Chris frequents it constantly during the work week and we usually hit it up every weekend or every other weekend. It’s just too good for just too cheap! And the guy who runs it is great. He knows us by now because we’re in there all the time. We’re still trying to figure out his nationality, we think Syrian. It is as its title suggests: a Mediterranean Market. It has everything you would need from out East, from Turkish Delights to Baklava to Pita to Middle Eastern Flour, they’ve got it all. Seriously, it ALL. And with the market comes a delicious eatery.

falafel sammy

It has a great relaxed atmosphere. You enter in with the market in front of you, four aisles or so of different Mediterranean goodies (I’ve wanted to buy this huge cheap thing of dates for a long time). Some regulars come in and get their groceries here. Others come for a special ingredient or treat. We usually always end up watching college basketball, because that’s what’s almost always on his television. There’s a pinball machine that captures the quarters of kids and enough treats, frozen dinners, and fresh ingredients to make anyone’s mouth water. All the money I spend there is absolutely worth it. 

I typically get the #4 for $7 which includes…a platter of baba ghanoush, hummus, pita, and a wonderful salad with olives, tomatoes, feta, cucumbers, and a delicious dressing. Oh and those are just the sides, the main dish is a huge falafel sandwich, stuffed to the brim with hot, fresh falafel, lettuce, tomato, hummus, and onions. Oops, I’m drooling (and we literally went there for dinner tonight, couldn’t resist). At least it’s healthy and full of great protein!

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Chris gets the same #4 for $7 but instead of baba ghanoush, he gets dolmas (and otherwise the same sides). And instead of a falafel sandwich, he gets a gyro sandwich. This sandwich, too, is stuffed to the brim with meat. And you can always sop anything up in the huge serving of hummus he gives us. We usually get a Xing tea to accompany our meals. And don’t forget dessert! We don’t always get it, but when we do, we either get baklava or kadaifi (or both). So delicious.

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It’s truly authentic, and we enjoy it thoroughly. For us, it really feels comfort food. I’m not sure why, we’re weird like that. We always have huge smiles on our faces and full bellies when we’re done. it’s truly a place to relax and enjoy the food. And it’s healthy! It’s always on the list of choices of where we want to eat a certain night of the week.

If you’re in Boulder, you have to hit up the Mediterranean Market, you will not regret it! It’s a wonderful meal that will fill you up without emptying your wallet. Truly excellent food.