Things Currently Making Me Happy! (Round 2)

I’m back to take another stab at Things Currently Making Me Happy with a round-up of ten things that have got me grinning!

1. Becca and Sammi’s New York Sports Day!

20130418-092604.jpg

A virgin to the Garden, I was BEYOND excited to have my first visit with a Knicks victory, friends… and Drake!

20130418-093456.jpg

After the Knicks game, it was on to the next one at Yankee Stadium to watch the O’s!

2. Season 4 of The Voice!

Need I remind you how obsessed with singing I am? I swear if I could sing… game over. I am beyond thrilled with the decision to bring on Shakira and Ursher, baby. I love that I get to drool over Adam and Usher weekly and live out my dream in my head of captivating an audience with my voice.

3. Joe Cross

Last night I watched the documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.  It’s a documentary about Joe Cross, a man who in an attempt to discover a healthy balance and come off medication challenged himself to a 60 day juice cleanse. The first time I tried to watch this I couldn’t make it through the first ten minutes. I thought, “this dude is crazy. There is no way I can relate to his story and no way I could ever do that… this film is not for me.” I am so glad I gave his story a second chance. Joe’s measures to regain control of his health are arguably extreme but demonstrate what will power and a high micro-nutrient diet can do for you. The fan favorite of the story is Phil Staples who Joe converts along the way. It is a powerful and moving story of the dangers of a path towards death by diet and the wonders of food as a healing drug.

4.  This random love note I found in a used book

20130418-100650.jpg

5.  This commercial

I have to say as impressed as I am with advances we’ve made in technology I’m partial to paper in certain aspects of my life (see paperback above). This commercial gets me every time!

6.  This short film

Words won’t do it justice, just click and smile!

7.  Teachers – conventional or not, we are all teachers and deserve a shout out!

20130418-101833.jpg

“Education is the key to success in life and teachers make a lasting impact on the lives of their students.” – Solomon Ortiz

I was fortunate enough to be able to read for a class full of first graders last week and on my way out I caught the above quote painted on the side of the school building.  We often underestimate the impact we have on other people.  We all have something to teach just as we all have something to learn.  Lead by example and be forever curious.

8.  This blog entry

Wise words and an important read, be your own success story.

9.  My makeshift standing desk at work

That’s right… take a couple of boxes and clear off the shelf in your cubicle and you too could stand at your desk all day!  My back has been bothering me lately and I’ve been feeling a little drained from sinking into my chair for the better half of my day so I’ve propped up my keyboard and taken to standing.  I’ve only made it through a couple of days like this but having the option is definitely helpful!  I’d recommend trying it.

10.  My brother

A couple of weeks ago, I was sorting through some things in my head…. I was feeling frustrated, uncertain, and overwhelmed with a couple of things.  I gave my big bro a call.   My brother is one of my best friends and biggest supporters.  He’s one of my favorite people to bounce around ideas or have a full on bitch session with because he always makes me feel better about myself and let’s me know it’s okay to follow my heart.  24 hours after our conversation, I received the below picture message, proof that he not only listened but that he supports me in whatever I decide.

20130418-102007.jpg

Advertisements

Lara (Bridal Bootcamp) Bars

I am currently sitting on an Amtrak train trying to distract myself from watching the minutes pass on the clock as I get closer and closer to the beginning of a weekend filled with family, friends and fun in the hometown and VA!

Let’s bring the focus of this post to my Saturday and the inspiration for my recipe of the week.

I’ve got a pretty lil former teammate and roommate who’s gettin’ hitched this summer! I was fortunate enough to be honored with the request to be in her wedding party and… SHE SAID YES!!! (She being me… yes, of course I said yes!) and this weekend I’ll be making my way to VA for her bridal shower!

I’d been racking my brian trying to think of the perfect gift. You know the one… the gift that so clearly represents you and the gift receiver’s friendship. Something sentimental, with the right amount of practicality. And standing in the check-out line at the grocery store it hit me… Lara bars!

…What?

Lara Bar

Lara Bars!

Okay, okay… Let me explain. It’s safe to say that being on a field hockey team for four years together the girl and I have bonded over our fair share of healthy habit tips and struggle discussions. You know what else we’ve bonded over? FOOD. She and I got our grub ON. In college, I often cooked little family dinners for her and her hubby-to-be and other friends and roommates. She would often stand in the kitchen while I was preparing the meals so she could later try out my recipes. Aaaaand I would often stand in the kitchen as she pulled rock hard brownies out of the oven and try to bite back my laughter. Okay, fine, that happened once, but I knew I wanted to supply her with a treat and recipe to carry with her into her marriage.

Keeping conscious of my inability to keep my fingers out of the batter bowl when baking and her own fitness goals for the wedding I wanted to make something both healthy, sweet, and satisfying. So I went with the Lara Bars… an added bonus that there’s something in the name!

I looked through a couple different recipes for homemade energy bars and in the end decided to go with my own recipe… Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter. They turned out better than I could have imagined – I even did a little custom wrapping to provide my signature touch! See the recipe below.

What do I need?

  • 1 cup pitted dates
  • 3/4 cup almonds (or nut of your choice)
  • 2 tbs PB2 (could use peanut butter here as well)
  • 1 tbs water
  • 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips (I used Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate and “chipped” it myself)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Lara Bar Ingredients

And then…?

Start by adding the almonds to your food processor. Process until the nuts are about the size of peas. Next, you want to remove the nuts and pulse the dates in the food processor. Give these a good 15 second processing.

After it looks like you’ve hit them all you want to add the nuts back into the processor and the additional flavoring (in this case PB2, water, chocolate chips and vanilla extract). Blend until everything is mixed evenly (see below).

processor

The ingredients should be mixed enough where you could grad with a hand and make a ball. Once you’ve achieved this consistency, take what is in the food processor and roll it out onto a piece of wax paper. Pop it in the fridge overnight and slice in the morning! I cut mine into 6 rectangles (about the size of chewy bars) but you’re free to cut them as big or small as you’d like!

That’s it?

That’s it! Simple as that. I ended up making some custom packaging to add a signature touch for my bride to be using wax paper and some tissue. I had a chance to sample the bars as my perfectionist counterpart trimmed the edges and they were delicious – can’t wait to see her reaction! I’m going to have to make a couple of these to keep in my kitchen as a healthy grab and go treat!

Bridal Bootcamp Bars

I have blurred the packaging for privacy of the bride.

What are your favorite homemade grab and go treats?

B easy’s Burgers

Last night a few friends from high school came over for dinner.  As I mentioned before, I’d been trying to figure out just what I wanted to make that would be a crowd pleaser and relatively easy.  Feeling nostalgic for high school tailgates and late night fast food runs (when my metabolism could support it) I opted for burgers!

Being as I’m trying to keep healthy, I went with my own personal recipe to trick these boys into eating their veggies and keep me from feeling like I strayed too far from my goals.  Follow below to see what I did!

What do you need?

1 package ground turkey (roughly 1 lb)
1/2 zucchini squash
1/2 yellow squash
1/4 cup of mushrooms
1 egg white
Mrs. Dash seasoning (or seasoning of your choice)
1/2 avocado
1 tomato
Cheese of choice (we used munster and cheddar)
5 Hamburger buns
OR the wheat free option? Bib lettuce 

 Where do I start?

Begin by mincing the vegetables into small cubes.

Chopped Veg

You may allow your expert chopper to take the blade on this step. In my case, my sue chef and roommate, Samantha did the chopping while I prepped our side salad and potatoes.


Next, take a large mixing bowl and place the meat on the bottom.  Add in the chopped vegetables, egg white, and dry seasoning.

I added fresh basil to the mix this round, get creative with your seasoning!

I added fresh basil to the mix this round, get creative with your seasoning!

Now for the fun part!

Get your hands dirty and mix the ingredients in the bowl together.  Knead the meat to collect all of the vegetables and distribute seasoning evenly, add as you go if necessary.

Once everything is mixed together, you can start making your patties.  One package of ground turkey should make about five 4 oz burgers.

Bring the heat!

Spray your skillet with cooking spray and place your patties on the stove.

IMG_3781

Cook at medium heat.  I cover the pan with tin foil to ensure that the meat cooks all the way through and flip the burgers when they start to brown.

Once both sides of the burger are browned, I begin to toast the buns and add the cheese.  Allow the cheese to melt while you slice tomatoes and avocado to top the burgers.

Plate and serve!

wheat free!

Because I’m not eating wheat, I ate my burger on a slice of bib lettuce and made myself a lettuce wrap – it stayed together surprisingly well!

We served our burgers with a side of garlic roasted potatoes and a salad.

We digested during a couple friendly rounds of Boggle before we moved on to homemade chocolate and banana milkshakes.

Not a bad way to attack a Monday!

What are your favorite burger toppings?  How do you like to set the tone for the rest of the week?  Comment below!