Thursday, March 31, 2011

Look, I made something!

I'm kind of notorious in my family as being a hot mess in the kitchen. And I'm really not sure why. I've never expressed great joy in cooking but I've also never caught the stove on fire or cooked something totally inedible. I think it's because my younger sister is very into cooking, so I just got pegged as the one who's not. Oh, comparisons are so great. 

Since I've started losing weight and trying to get a grip on my eating habits, it's become very clear that I need to start cooking and eating home more often. Before January (when I started "the diet") we would eat out maybe four nights a week or more. Multiple times on the weekend. As I've made an effort to buckle down and cook at home, I've realized that I kind of like cooking. I still have the slightly feminist view that I shouldn't be expected or obligated to cook every night. But if I'm doing it on my own terms, I enjoy it.

When I'm cooking, I rarely follow a recipe to the T. I substitute ingredients that I don't have or like better, I try to sneak in extra vegetables or flax seed to up the nutritional value. So the other day I decided to try the ultimate test and create a recipe from start to finish. I'd throw in some ingredients, taste, throw in a few more, taste, try something else. And what I ended up with was the perfect tasting and nutritionally packed soup! 

I entered the recipe into in order to find out the nutritional breakdown of the recipe. It earned a "Grade A" for nutritional value. Check out all that protein!

Emily's Chicken and Chickpea Soup

This tastes like homemade chicken noodle soup with less guilt.  I've taken out the noodles and added fiber and protein rich garbanzo beans (chickpeas). You won't miss the noodles! This soup is packed with so much chicken and vegetables that it is almost like a stew.  I use a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store because it saves time and has a great blend of white and dark meats.

Ingredients (makes ten servings):
6 cups chicken stock
1 Chicken bullion cube
1 cup celery
1 cup carrots
1/2 onion
1 rotisserie chicken
1 can garbanzo beans
5 oz plain Greek yogurt
juice from 1/2 a lemon
6 cups fresh baby spinach
3 garlic cloves
salt and pepper
1 tsp ground thyme

1. Dice the carrots, celery, onion, and chop the spinach. Mince the garlic cloves.

2. Add the chicken stock and extra bullion cube to a large pot and begin heating at a medium-high heat.

3.  Add the vegetables, garlic, and can of garbanzo beans to the broth.

4. While the vegetables are cooking, chop up the chicken.  Remove all the skin and fat and separate meat from the bones.  Chop or shred the chicken to the size you prefer. Add it to the soup.

5.  Add the juice of half a lemon to the soup.
6.  Add the yogurt to the soup.
7. Stir well and let the soup simmer for twenty minutes or longer.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
1 serving (265.9 g)
Amount Per Serving
Calories from Fat
% Daily Value*
Total Fat
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Total Carbohydrates
Dietary Fiber
Vitamin A 72%Vitamin C 14%
Calcium 7%Iron 12%
* Based on a 2000 calorie diet
Daily Values (265.9g)
Nutritional Breakdown
Daily Values (based on a 2000 calorie diet)


It also freezes well, so if you don't have a big family, just freeze half for later. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

House Tour: My Office

My office is usually pretty sad looking. It becomes a dumping ground for everything that I don't know where to put. However, I've recently gotten back into using my office to work in, because I'm more productive. It feels like I'm actually sort of "going to work". So I decided to clean it up and get a fancy new bookcase from IKEA to help organize. I think this might be my favorite room in the whole house. This is probably because the room is totally me. I don't worry about design or making it look "grown up". I just do what I want and surround myself with things that inspire me.

Okay, this is the view you get when you're standing in the doorway. The color is way off, I'm not sure why, but the colors in the next photos are pretty accurate. Wilbur demanded to be in a lot of pictures.

Let me explain everything you see here. The desk is one of my favorite pieces of furniture. It is an antique and was owned by my great grand grandmother (?) or maybe it was an aunt. I can't remember. But we do have a photo of her sitting at it, wearing a corset and a giant feathered hat, looking rather intimidating. It was a deep mahogany color but I stripped it, sanded and refinished it, painting it white. It even has little claw feet, one of which had snapped off but I was able to reattach it with wood glue.

My sister in law bought me the chandelier from Southern Living at Home. I strung the fake crystal beads and strung them around it to make it look fancier. I also hung a piece of ribbon on the wall and I'll attach art postcards, magazine clippings, photos and artwork to it. You can't really see it, but there's a lumbar pillow on my cheapo Walmart desk chair. I made it by taking the stitching out of one side of a Pier One clearance cloth placemat and stuffing it.
A closeup of the pimped out chandelier. I bought these natural fiber birds from Pottery Barn. They were supposed to be Christmas decorations but landed up here.

Here's a closer look at the ribbon and postcards.

More randomness on a bulletin board above my desk. Sometimes you need a photo of a guy eating a flower for inspiration :). 

Moving along, this is the wall that is to your right if you're sitting at the desk. I love this new shelf/storage unit from IKEA. It's super sturdy, functional and was only $69. I needed something to fill up the wall space, so I stapled some scrap fabric to a big art canvas I had. I finally have a place to keep my sewing machine, and I plan on making a cute cover for it. There is some pottery I collected when we went to Mexico, a dessert rose which may or may not bloom, champagne flutes from my wedding, a picture of my sisters and I, and a painting of an artichoke that I never finished. Also not the random books that include my "work books" as well as some books that I was too embarrassed to keep on the book shelf in the guest room, like the Twilight series and diet books haha. Also, long overdue library books! That frame on the right displays some of my first published articles.

More storage space to the right of the door for some of my art supplies. I love IKEA storage stuff. Above is the banner that I made for Valentine's Day and didn't want to part with. 

That's everything. There's a closet to the right of the small bookshelf but it's a complete wreck and I won't be showing the inside of it! Add some Pandora, a cup of coffee, light a few candles, and this is the perfect place to get some work done. Or in most cases, distract myself on Facebook or Google Reader. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3 Months

A lot can change in three months.

One thing that has always bothered me about myself is my commitment level. I usually set goals and when the going gets tough, I quit. I haven't gotten around to writing the next great American novel. I'm too intimidated by editors to query for magazine articles. I started an Etsy shop and then quit after my first sale. I've quit South Beach, Clean Eating, vegetarianism, and lots of other diets. There's a long list of things I have quit.

But for the first time ever, I have set a goal and stuck with it until I accomplished it. Several goals in fact. I lost five pounds. Then I lost ten. Now I've lost fifteen. I ran a 5k and actually ran the whole time. I started lifting weights and stuck to at least two hours of lifting every week. I've recorded most of the food that's gone into my body. I've stopped drinking (for the most part!). I've learned how to eat healthy without feeling deprived. I've done all of this in three months.

It feels great to be skinnier. It feels great to be doing harder lifting exercises than most of the guys at the gym :) . But more than that, it feels great to have set a really hard goal and achieve it. It makes me feel like maybe there are more things that I can do, things that I've told myself I can't do. Like write that novel. Or at least write a magazine article.

Three months feels like a long time when you're doing hard work, but in terms of my life, it's a very short amount of time. And that is what scares me. I'm so afraid of falling off the wagon and going back to the way I was before. I'm afraid of this being "the time I lost 15 pounds and then gained it all back". But another part of me knows that there is no going back. I know things about how to change my health and my body that I didn't know before. I know what works for me. I also know what doesn't work. So I don't think I'll be able to go back to those old habits, because I'll know what I'm doing to myself.

I'll be the first to admit that telling yourself "no" to something really sucks most of the time. When you're a kid, you can't wait until you're grown up and can do whatever you want. College and the years following it were that time for me, when I could go out at 10 pm on a work night and have a beer and pizza with friends. Just because. But it is nice, as an adult, to be able to set some rules in your life for yourself. It gives you a feeling of self control.

So that's that. More fun posts and photos to come, I promise.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Wow, this post is going nowhere.

So I took a little hiatus from blogging, for no particular reason. Mainly, I was lazy. Also, my life is pretty boring lately. It consists of working out, eating and sleeping. I haven't been playing the cowbell lately. So because I don't have some monumental topic to blog about, I'll fill you in on some random thoughts and updates.

First of all, I am .2 pounds away from my original goal weight (I have since adjusted it and want to go five more pounds). It's been slow and steady since I've been lifting and replacing fat with muscle. I don't look that different to myself (because as a female, I'm obligated to see myself as ten pounds heavier than I am) but my clothes are looser and I had to go down a dress size or two when I was trying on dresses this weekend. Yay!

Speaking of eating, I picked these up in the grocery store yesterday. They are called "Magic Pop" and are kind of rice cakes from Korea. Check them out here, . From what the website says, they are made out of puffed wheat, rice and corn. But I think what makes them successful is that they make them right in the grocery store. There is a guy manning a Magic Pop machine and it makes this loud POP sound and out comes a perfect giant rice cake thing. But the smell. It makes the entire store smell like sweet delicious cake or something. So you're drawn in by the smell and have to buy a bag. And then you look at the nutrition facts and realize that God is real and unicorns do exist because HOLY CRAP, this dinner plate sized confection is only 15 calories! Yeah, so you're basically eating the equivalent of like five grains of rice but give me anything this size of my head that tastes carby and only has 15 calories, and I will kiss you.

Ok, next on the agenda. I always have this fear that my friends and family think that I'm unemployed and just stay home all day eating bon bons. You see, I don't go around talking about my work too  much. I feel braggy when I do that, because I don't have to deal with office politics and sit at a desk all day. I don't want to rub it in. It's boring to talk about work anyway. My husband says that I'm being paranoid. Well today, I was proven right. I am going through an annoying work thing right now and I wanted to rant. I put a post up on Facebook that said this: 

"I work with a lot of different companies and there is one thing i know for sure. Women 
are much more competent at running a business! That is the absolute truth."

Well, a few minutes later, a guy friend of mine (a pretty close one I might add!) commented: "You should start a business some day." Palm --> forehead. Thanks buddy, you're about two years late on that one. Thanks for being so interested and knowing what's going on in my life. So yes its true, everyone thinks I quit my accounting job so I could watch soap operas all day. Good times.

I promise a more interesting post next time, maybe.