blue diamond

Chard from our neighbor

HOW!?!

Seriously, how do SAHM / bloggers do it?

I’m only 3 days into Kyle’s 10 days out of town and pretty sure I’m going to turn into an almond by day 5 at the rate I’m pounding through this Costco tub of roasted nuts.  And I haven’t written a single new post aside from this one I’m working on now.  Which may or may not go live before Kyle returns.

Suffice it to say, I’m not exactly excelling in either the cooking or the blogging area.  Hopefully I’m doing better in the mom department, but I’m not so sure.  P is now totally sick of the pack n play and I’m totally sick of the music on his entertainment center.  We are at an impasse.

Or at least we were…until I decided to put him on the floor to “play” and let Sesame Street assist me in distracting him.  I feel like a totally horrible mom for admitting that (tv and media screens are the devil right?).  But omg I’m really impressed with Sesame Street!  And I’m not alone – my little monkey is all about it, too.  I guess there’s a reason they’re on their 40th season.  Bless you Netflix.  Bless you PBS.  Bless you Elmo.  Thanks to you I can actually eat food in peace.  The rest of the day’s entertainment is on me.

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This coffee is frothy because I made my own almond milk.  Not by choice.  We ran out and I didn’t have the energy (read: I was in PJs and looking like a hot mess) to go to the grocery store for more.  So I added a few tbsp of marcona almonds and water to the magic bullet, whizzed away until it was as smooth as it was gonna get, and strained it through a sieve right into my mug.

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Overnight oats + chia seeds.  Blank canvas.

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First comes love, then comes marriage peanut butter, then comes raisins.

Then comes the spoon!

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Lunch was this plate x3 because I was grazing while parenting.  Is it just me or did something change about Daiya’s wedge cheddar?  It was softer than I remember it being in the past and tasted different somehow.  Not sure.

The strawberries from the farmer’s market are insanely juicy.  I can’t believe how good they are.  I’m ruined from all other berries now.

Speaking of produce straight from the plant…

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Last weekend on our walk, one of our neighbors hooked me up with a TON of arugula and swiss chard from her garden.  You can’t tell by the photo but it was a lot lot lot of greens.  So nice having neighbors with green thumbs!  Her garden is really amazing, so I’m pretty stoked.

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Anyway, I already had a lot of greens in the fridge, so in order to keep these fresh I used this cool bag.

I thought the concept sounded bizarre at first – you wet the bag and wring it so it is just damp before adding your freshly washed veggies in the bag.  Then you just store them in the refrigerator (keeping the bag damp by sprinkling it every few days).

There’s something about the humid environment that keeps the greens hydrated without getting slimy.  And it really works!

I didn’t get around to using the chard until almost a week later and they were still crispy and looked the same as the day they were picked from the ground!

Holler for the vejibag.

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I started prepping the chard before I really even knew what I was going to do with it.

P was napping so I was taking my time, but of course the second I poured the olive oil into the pan he woke up.  Figures.  So my dinner got sidelined while I changed and fed him.

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But afterwards, I made myself this beauty.

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This isn’t so much a recipe as a process…so I’ll just tell you what I did.

First I added a couple of tbsp of olive oil to the pan along with cherry tomatoes.  Then I added in the chopped chard and cracked three eggs on top.  My intention was to let it wilt a bit and then scramble it all together.  But instead, I placed the lid on the top, turned the heat down real low, and waited for the eggs to barely turn white on top.

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No stirring at all.

Once the egg whites weren’t clear, I slid the whole pan full onto my plate.

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Added a dollop of plain lactose free yogurt on the side.

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Since discovering I tolerate goat’s cheese I’ve been eyeing other products to test on my gut.  Green Valley makes lactose free kefir and yogurt, plus they are local and sustainable and a really awesome company.  Happy to report this didn’t affect me negatively at all and I had zero symptoms.  Mind blown.  As you can see above, the ingredients are completely clean and pure and FODMAPs friendly.  Win!

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This dinner was legit.  The chard was soft and flavorful, with a crispy underside thanks to the olive oil.  The tomatoes gushed hot seedy yum.  And the yolks were perfectly runny.  With an accent of yogurt, it was a doozy of delish for my mouth.

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I snacked a little more later on.

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These Blue Diamond chips are decent.  They taste like a cross between a corn nut and a rice cake, if that makes sense.  It’s confusing for my taste buds, but I would probably buy them again.  They were on sale (I’m a sucker for the displays at the end of the aisle) so I thought why not.

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I’ve checked out the other GF Blue Diamonds products (namely their crackers) and they all have this weird butter flavor ingredient in them.  Total turn off.  These, however, have a nicer ingredient list with only things I recognize.

After I did bath time, story time, and nursed P to sleep, I went to the kitchen to try to get ready for the next day.

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I made a strata (recipe coming), prepped overnight oats, and set up the coffee maker with decaf.  It’s nice to make a massive pot for me while Kyle’s gone, as opposed to using the French Press.

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My recent dessert plates look like this (and rarely get photographed for some reason).

Chocolate + nuts + fruit.

In the fruit department, frozen grapes and oranges from the neighbors tree are on rotation.  Although I just bought a cantaloupe, so maybe that’ll be a new addition.

I’m worried I’m going to OD on nuts because I snack on them ALL.  DAY.  LONG.  Like there is literally a 1 cup minimum in my daily diet.  I’m obsessed and they are easy to munch on while I’m doing stuff with the PAC man.  So I tend to eat fewer nuts at night because I prefer treating myself with other things, like chocolate.

The Bissinger’s bar is going fast (it’s probably gone by the time you read this).  It was a Valentine’s Day present from Kyle when I was in the hospital.  It must have gotten lost in the post-partum shuffle, but I found it after our move and it’s really good.  Just the right amount of cacao for me (aka a person who prefers milk chocolate but doesn’t tolerate dairy and therefore uses dark chocolate as a crutch).

I’ll leave you with a photo of my cutie pie. 🙂

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Loving on his monkey.

Hospital, take-out, & home-made (food from the first two weeks post-partum)

The first couple of weeks have flown by.  It’s what everyone said would happen, and it is definitely the truth.

The food in the hospital was okay.  [I work at the same place I gave birth to P so I know exactly where the menu and cafeteria excel and fall short]

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Whoever told me the first meal after birth would be the best thing I ever ate lied.  I didn’t take a photo of it, but I got two slices of french toast and a banana.  Remember how much I adore the hospital’s french toast?  Anyway, after nearly 24 hours of nothing but ice chips (I did have a few sips of OJ as well), you’d think it would taste like magic, but it was not great.  And made my GI tract go nuts.  I ate tiny bites, slowly, over the whole morning; but my stomach was still churning.  Truth be told, this probably has more to do with the fact that my baby boy was in the NICU after a really traumatic arrival (more on that later when I have the energy and ability to discuss).  I was so distracted and stressed out and in shock I probably shouldn’t blame the food for how my gut felt that first day.

I spent two other mornings in the hospital, and I did take pics of those breakfasts (see above).

Left: oatmeal with add-ins (granola, peanut butter, raisins, cinnamon, banana) and vegetarian sausage [they told me to pack on the protein to help with my milk supply] and coffee and soy milk (I brought my own almond milk as well)

Right: scrambled eggs, home-style potatoes, and vegetarian sausage with coffee and soy milk

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My family was really awesome and brought me goodies from Whole Foods too. 

Upper Left: quinoa, vegan gardein curry salad, Kombucha (from Kyle’s parents)

Upper Right: Uncle Eddie’s vegan cookie from my cousin (making sure you eat enough to keep up your breast milk supply is a great excuse for late middle of the night kcals)

Lower Left: hospital cafeteria salad bar (made by Marie)

Lower Right: hospital tofu & vegetable stir fry with brown rice (the chocolate cake was for Kyle)

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I brought lots of bars and snacks to the hospital also (and Kyle got me chocolate & treats from Whole Foods as my Valentine’s Day present). 

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Grazing eats (that I remembered to take pics of):

Justin’s dark chocolate PB cups (I had a LOT of these – so good)
Two Moms In The Raw cranberry nut bar (yum!)
Love Grown granola
18 Rabbits bananas foster bar
Uncle Eddie’s cookies
bananas & nut butter
almond milk

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Hospital veggie burger.

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I ended up being discharged before my baby was 🙁 , so we got take-out from the Veggie Grill as a quick option before spending the worst night ever in the hospital (“sleeping” in a cube on a office chair).

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Kale salad with blackened tempeh & mac ‘n cheese.

Finally we got to go home! 

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My parents treated us to Thai take-out for our first meal at home.

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I used the back of the order to wipe off what I bulb sectioned from P’s nose.  This is now my life.

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My parents stayed in town another day so they were able to help out with cooking big time.  The next night we had a legit feast.

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My dad BBQ-ed salmon, my mom made a quinoa dish & salad, and we also had steamed broccoli and fresh bread.  Pull up a chair PAC man! 

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We had leftovers, too, which we enjoyed over the next few days (after my parents headed back home).  I actually baked the tofu to go atop those salad leftovers (love old soggy salad!).  I let Kyle have the broccoli since I’m playing it safe(r) with certain foods while breast feeding (broccoli is typically gas inducing and I need I’d like as un-fussy of a baby as possible as we work on breast feeding).  It’s going really well by the way, but I’ll get into that in a separate post.

In addition to baking the tofu, I’ve been making lots of other quick and easy meals.  Because even though I don’t feel the most up-and-at-‘em, I don’t want to eat crap.  I did so well during pregnancy, I’m certainly not going to give in during the post partum period.

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Random meals:

Fresh bread with Earth Balance and fried egg (some things haven’t changed since pregnancy, eh?)

Tortilla espanola (made by Kyle)

Chai chia oat pudding

Quinoa with tempeh (I baked it after marinating it in Follow Your Heart’s tamari miso dressing)

Creamy grits with avocado

Van’s GF waffle with fried egg

Quinoa with cheesy (nutritional yeast + plain almond milk) sauce

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I’ve been relaying wayyyyy more on bars and such for quick snacks.  I am eating frequently – often in the middle of the night – so having things that I can grab (with one hand) is totally necessary. 

Some fave snacks:

Handle Bar (?) dark chocolate cherry almond bar

Clif seasonal flavored bars (iced gingerbread & cranberry orange nut bread)

Justin’s dark chocolate PB cups (yes, more)

Cocomo Joe’s eggnog granola

Equal Exchange chocolate caramel crunch (OMG, this is heavenly stuff)

And to prove I’m not super mom (or doing much budgeting), here are some of the take-out meals we’ve been splurging on.

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Sushi King: rolls and rolls and seaweed salad

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Fresh Brothers: daiya pizza (half had tomatoes, mushrooms, and bell peppers & the other half was just daiya)

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the Veggie Grill: Thai chop salad with tempeh & mac ‘n cheese

So there you have it.  I’m trying to pay attention to what I eat and how P reacts to it.  Sometimes he’s pretty gassy and it clearly makes him uncomfortable.  As if my own GI tract wasn’t enough of a mess to deal with, now I have to manage two digestive systems.  Ah well.  If there’s anything I feel confident tackling, it’s dietary tweaking. 

I’ll try to be back soon(ish) with the stuff I know everyone wants to read about (birth story, updates on our family, and baby photos). 

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In with the new!

Well, I’m not in love with the number 2013, but oh well.  365 days of this odd number (it’s not prime, but it may as well be).

Don’t worry, I have ZERO desire to list out resolutions for the new year.  I don’t know about you but I hate that crap*.  I try to (self) reflect and examine how I can improve my lifestyle throughout the year.  January 1st is just another rabbit rabbit.  Your body can’t tell the difference between this day and April 16th, so make good choices whenever you figure out what they are.  Right?!

Plus, If I were to write out my 2013 goals, they might look something like this:

Gain another 5+ lbs
Go to the hospital

Not exactly the typical list, huh.  Ok, ok, there is one thing I can put down that’s real.  Figure out work/family balance.  But it’s not really a resolution because it’s not yet an issue.  Plus it’s something I’m going to try and be mindful of for years to come (as opposed to just this new year).

I know 2013 will be a crazy one in the hippie household.  There are a lot of variables we are trying to sort out right now with our jobs and the future of our family.  But there’s a lot of “wait and see” uncertainty too.  The good news is that none of that stuff stresses me out.  In the past it may have.  I like plans.  I like knowing what’s going to happen so I can ready myself.  But for some reason the type A tendency to hyper-manage the future vanished when I moved back to CA.  Maybe it was me growing up.  Or maybe I learned that letting go doesn’t mean everything will spiral out of control.  After all, Kyle and I both quit our rock solid Manhattan jobs in the worst economy to move across the country where we were essentially homeless for several months prior to our wedding.  And things worked out!  Duh.

So why try to make the future fit into a nice little mold?  We have a little baby on the way!  Life is good.  Things will happen, good and bad, and we will tackle them like we do.  And there will be three of us.  And that makes me happy.

What are your thoughts on resolutions?  Do you make them?

*Please note, I do think resolutions can be (and generally are) a good thing.  Examining ways to make positive changes going forward is totally healthy and normal and encouraged.  So don’t take my snarky writing at face value.  Go right ahead and analyze where you can improve things in your life and do the damn thang.  Just know if I see “go paleo” or “reduce carbs” on your list I’ll probably stop following your blog.  Kidding! [Kinda, but not really]

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I’m holding onto the holidays…just a little longer.  Because I got this adorable Almond Breeze hot cocoa package in the mail and was waiting for just the right moment to enjoy it.

I’m a huge AB fan and thought this was such a clever idea.

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I paired my cocoa with candied ginger and home-made chocolate nut toffee (my [parents’] neighbor makes this every year and I brought a few pieces back with me from home).  I don’t even mind the walnuts on top; it’s THAT good.

With this kind of diet, I’d say I’m on my way to tackling those 5+ lbs…who knows, maybe they will all go straight to my uterus (fingers crossed?).  Actually, I don’t really feel like pushing out a 10 pound baby, so I retract that statement.  I’ll take half of those pounds myself.

Four day weekend [part 1]

Is there anything better than a long weekend?  Yes.  And that’s a long weekend house dog sitting here.

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With sunny weather, golf course views, and a well stocked fridge, there’s no reason to venture further than the community pool.  Agreed?

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We drove down to San Juan Capistrano on Thursday evening and stayed through Monday.  Some friends joined us for part of the time.  We cooked.  We ate.  We drank.  We relaxed.  The weekend may as well be titled “blissful nothingness”.  It was perfect.

When we first arrived, the priority was dinner.  That’s what 3 hours of traffic will do to you.

Apps: Sabra’s roasted red pepper hummus and Mary’s Gone Crackers organic herb crackers

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These are two of my faves (and my in-laws know it).  Don’t think I don’t know how ridiculously lucky I am.  They spoil me rotten.

Dinner: Field Roast vegan sausage and wild rice

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Post-meal I was feeling inspired so I decided to bake cinnamon rolls for the weekend.

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I pulled up this recipe, gathered the ingredients, and got to work.

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It’s not easy baking in someone else’s kitchen!!  It took three times as long because every single thing took forever to find.

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But I still ended up with these beauties.

As much as I wanted to dig in right away, I saved them for breakfasts (and our friends).

Dessert: So Delicious vanilla bean coconut ice cream with strawberries and forte breakfast tea with Silk soymilk

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Our friends arrived after midnight, so I was up super late and ended up sleeping in ‘til 9 am on Friday morning.

I woke up to a text from Kyle saying they were almost within view from the backyard.  So I made my way out to watch them play a hole.

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Pretty cool thing to roll out of bed to see…

Breakfast followed.

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Breakfast: cinnamon rolls, coffee, & sunshine.

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Doughy. 🙂

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When the boys got back we went for a walk to the pool.

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As you can see we had a tight schedule to keep [that’s four days worth of “tasks”].

Once noon rolled around it was deemed an acceptable time to crack some beers.

I held off because I’m a light weight and starting so early in the day is a recipe to pass out by 2 pm.  Instead I made some lunch.

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Lunch: spinach salad with strawberries, avocado, and a quinoa & lentil salad (brought by our friends).

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Who needs the golf channel when you can watch the games live from your backyard?

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After noon snacks: chips and guacamole.

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Salt is just so addicting.

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This chip had a death grip on the bowl.

Lazy days.

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Despite the kilos of chips and booze we all consumed, we ended up putting together a pretty legit dinner.

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It was a team effort, with Kyle on the BBQ…

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…me on the veg fare…

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…and the rest of the party on chopping and food prep.

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Maggie and Buck were on scrap patrol.

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Ready, set, dig in.

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Dinner: grilled pineapple and onions, Field Roast vegan sausages, corn on the cob, quinoa & rice pilaf, and a simple green salad

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I made the quinoa and salad, and added the same dressing to both.

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • lemon juice & zest
  • apple cider vinegar
  • water
  • honey

Light and summery with a bit of tang.

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Even though our friends aren’t vegan, we all shared the Field Roast sausage.  The three flavors include:

Italian – made with fresh eggplant and packed with fennel, red wine, garlic and sweet peppers

Mexican Chipotle – a spicy-hot blend of smoked Chipotle peppers, Chili de Arbol peppers, fresh chopped garlic, sweet onions seasoned with cumin seed and oregano

Smoked Apple Sage – a savory combination of apples and sage anchored with yukon gold potatoes with a subtle hint of hickory smoke

Funny enough, we all had different favorites.  I prefer the smoked apple sage.  It’s mild enough to go with or in anything but still packed with flavor.  Kyle loves the Mexican chipotle.  It was too spicy for everyone else though.  Todd and Kelly liked the Italian ones.

Dessert: fresh strawberries and So Delicious coconut ice cream (again)

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We ended the night with quality broadcasting, including Aziz Ansari’s stand-up and R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet.  Intellectual stuff.

Saturday was more of the same..sleeping in til 9…coffee…cinnamon rolls…etc.

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Our friends headed back to the Westside around noon, so we decided to be semi-productive and wash the car.

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I helped wash, but left the vacuuming to Kyle (during which I attempted to even out my hideous shorts tan from the day before).  Nobody need comment on the burn, I’ve already kicked myself for it multiple times.

Scrubbing the bugs off the windshield counted as my workout for the day (just go with it) which worked up my appetite ever so slightly.  Not really, but I’m trying not to feel like a total glutton since I subsequently pounded over 2 cups of Blue Diamond smokehouse almonds.

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Prior to this weekend I had never tried these…and OH MY GOSH they are so addicting.  It’s like salty, savory, BBQ flavor to the nth degree.  It’s pretty much impossible to have fewer than 50 in one sitting.  Freakin’ nuts.

The only way I was able to pry myself from them was by taking Buck on a walk.

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The views are outstanding, but I especially loved chasing the lizards.  No success.  I did see a few fuzzy caterpillars though.

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My phone was having a hard time focusing on them and kept doing this weird thing where it would flip around to take self pics instead.  Anyone else noticed this problem with their iPhone?  I ended up with a lot of these.

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Siri, please face the other way.

After the walk we went hot tubbing, both as a way of cleaning off the dog hair and stench.  Don’t worry, I showered too.  I’m not that lazy.

For dinner, I took advantage of the fridge’s produce drawers and made some buttery mashed potatoes.  That’s what happens when Southern Living catalogs are in your face all day long.

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I balanced it out with a big salad (from leftovers).

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Boil water.  Cut potatoes in chunks.  Once potatoes are soft (test by piercing with fork), drain water.  Add milk (I used Silk creamer because that was all we had) and Earth Balance.  Mash.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

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Perfection.

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I topped the taters off with even more Earth Balance.  The salad was the same as the previous night’s with leftover Field Roast sausage added in.

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I had seconds of the mashed potatoes, but practiced a little bit of self control after that.  Only because I knew that dessert was around the corner.

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Coconut ice cream!

The late night baking bug hit yet again, so I answered the call.

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Banana beer bread.

Similar to this recipe, but with sweeter ingredients added in.

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The Koko Brown Ale was the star of the show (we got a Costco variety pack of Kona Brewing Co. Aloha series and nobody liked the coconut flavor as a beverage).  So I decided to use it for baking!

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The bread was wet as a dough, but turned out pretty awesome.  Smelled like banana and coconut and brew.

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This post is getting fairly lengthy (which is surprising since it’s full of nothingness), so I’ll cut it off here and continue with the rest of the weekend later).

Nerding out

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So my latest hobby is going on long walks while listening to the Nerdist podcasts.  I am in love with any guests that are funny, but bonus points go to people from The Office, Mad Men, or The League (aka the best shows on tv netflix).  If they could get Tina Fey (and/or Alec Baldwin) on the show my life would be complete.  I’m a nerd.

In other news.

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I recently conducted my own almond milk-off between my all time fave Blue Diamond’s Almond Breeze and Silk’s (new) unsweetened vanilla almond milk.

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Silk previously had something like 60 kcals per serving, but now it’s down to 35 – just under the 40 kcals that it’s competition offers.  It makes me think of the 9 minute abs analogy.  What was once 10 minute abs became 9 minute abs, which then turned into 8 minute abs…and so on and so forth…

Makes you wonder if the next big thing is going to be 25 kcal almond milk.  Or non-fat almond milk.  Or 2 minute abs.  Crazy times we live in.  I digress…

Aside from the 5 calorie differential, there’s little else that varies when comparing each brand’s nutritional stats.  They both have 0 g sugar.  They both have 1 g of protein.  Neither are organic (which is a bummer but less important to me than it is in soy milk).  There’s slightly more calcium in Silk, but otherwise they are pretty much on par.  They both have the same thick, creamy texture too.  Flavor-wise, however, I have to say I prefer Almond Breeze – at least in comparing the unsweetened varieties.  I can’t quite figure out what it is that bothers me about the Silk flavor, but it’s somehow not as pleasing to my palate.  So that’s my two cents nerdy analysis.

Oh and as an FYI to everyone who loves Trader Joe’s almond milk, that’s next on my to-try list (because I’m the kind of loser who thinks conducting almond milk-offs is fun – and worth planning in advance).

I’m sure you’re on the edge of your seat awaiting my deep thoughts…

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I guess I’ll share another collection of hospital eats now.

Let’s start with breakfast.

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Brown rice + quinoa + banana + raisins + cinnamon + almond milk.  Not overly innovative, but different enough that I was looking forward to it by the time I got a chance to grub.

Next up, lunch.

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This is a what-do-we-have-in-the-fridge-that-could-be-made-into-a-meal kind of operation.

Cheesy pasta + butternut squash + spinach + leftover grilled zucchini + cherry tomatoes.

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The result was kinda good, but mostly just random.

I had made the bowtie pasta a few days before with vegan cheese (teese mozzarella) and organic wheat pasta.

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It wasn’t as great as the pizza I made though.  The cheese tasted plastic-y to me and I’m not sure if that’s because I opened it a few weeks ago (it doesn’t seem to go bad though) or the amount I used overpowered the other ingredients.  After the first serving, I ended up adding plain almond milk and nutritional yeast to it, in an effort to balance neutralize the cheese and create an alfredo-esque sauce.  It was okay, but not a recipe I will bother sharing.

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In this meal, adding the extra veggies definitely helped.  Especially the butternut squash.  Next time I’ll blend that into a sauce before combining it with the pasta.

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For snacks I had carrots, banana bread, and salty roasted nuts.  The cashews in this mix are the most massive beastly things ever.  Some were almost the size of my thumb!

It was a good day.  And then I came home and ate my weight in chocolate and toast with Earth Balance.  Slice after slice after slice after slice…  It’s been a while since I’ve gone balls to the wall with a loaf of bread (I used to do it at least once a month, but in the past year(s) or so I’ve gotten much better about moderation and mindful eating).  What can I say, these things do happen.  I like food.  I like carbs.  C’est la vie.

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By the way, I finally figured out how to get a “pin it” button (hopefully you can see it at the end of the post?).  So even though I’m not on pinterest myself, you can now share my hippie eats (and super insightful thoughts about almond milk brands) with whoever you want.  Or not.