Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika and Parmesan

So I live in Harrisonburg again. Ping ponging around Virginia just seems to be my lot in life, and I’ve just accepted that I’m a rambler and am seldom happy in one place for very long. The best part of this move is that I got to keep my job in Northern VA and am now a full time telework employee! I love the freedom this allows me, especially in terms of my meals. I appreciate the fact that I can easily make something healthy and cooked, rather than trying to subsist on salads or leftovers nuked in the microwave. I also got a pug named Mini, and she gets walked 4-6 times per day around our neighborhood, which is so much more fun than sitting in an office.

Now that I’ve unpacked most of my stuff and have settled in, I am finally cooking again and cooking well. South Beach is coming back in a big way in my life, so vegetables are where it’s at! One great thing about moving back to this area has been the availability of fresh produce, as well as the fact that I can walk to the farmer’s market. So even though I’m in a house that has mice, a tiny kitchen with no counter space, no dishwasher, and window AC units (I do not love these), I do have a lot of fresh food and that’s a big deal.

Today I arrived home after a wedding and didn’t feel much like cooking. The problem was, I ate like crapola all weekend because I was traveling. I needed vegetables. I looked in the fridge and realized I had two heads of cauliflower, which is one of the all time easiest veggies to prepare and is low carb and South Beach friendly! Necessity is the mother of invention, as they say, and within 20 minutes I had dinner ready to go. Try this the next time you have zero desire to cook but need something healthy in your body. I ate about half of it with some sliced tomatoes and cucumbers for dinner and feel completely satisfied. Cauliflower is a perfect blank canvas for the strong tangy parmesan and zippy lemon to play on, spiced up by the smoked paprika and garlic.

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower

Roasted Cauliflower with Smoked Paprika and Parmesan

1 head of cauliflower
Olive Oil
Salt
Pepper
Garlic powder
Smoked Paprika (I used Penzey’s)
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese
juice of half a lemon

1) Preheat oven to 350 F.

2) Trim the leaves off your cauliflower. Slice cauliflower into florets and spread on a baking sheet or a casserole dish. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and garlic powder.

3) Bake for 20-25 minutes.

4) Serve topped with grated Parmesan cheese and lemon juice. Try to save some for lunch the next day if you can stop yourself from eating it all in one sitting!

Ethiopian Spiced Coffee

My favorite thing that I’ve purchased for myself in the last year is a Keurig. It’s red and shiny and adorable. I especially love the little refillable loose coffee pod, because K-Cups are expensive. If you MUST purchase them, I highly recommend these through Vitacost, which I’ve also been able to find at my local grocery store. They are organic and more eco-friendly than regular all plastic K-cups, which is always good.

What I didn’t realize is that you really do, for real, need to clean your Keurig regularly. It will start leaking grounds into your coffee, your hot water will start to have a soupçon of coffee taste and smell, and you’ll get less than a full cup. Unacceptable, especially if you telework a lot and aren’t interested in Starbucks every morning. Also if you’re a grouchy pants in the morning. Which I am.

I remembered finding a couple pins through Pinterest about how to clean your Keurig and since I didn’t want to buy any of those little descaling pods, thought I’d try the method I found at A Few Shortcuts. It was worth the bottle of white vinegar and 35 minutes! I noticed a definite difference in how much water was coming out, and it was clear after the vinegar. Success is mine!

To commemorate my clean Keurig, I’m sharing a “recipe” for Ethiopian spiced coffee, which I first tried at The Blue Nile in Harrisonburg, VA. I’m friends with many of the bartenders and was able to find out what to add to my ground coffee to get the same spiced flavor.

 

Here's my grumpy pants morning face

Here’s my grumpy pants morning face

Ethiopian Spiced Coffee

Mix equal parts ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, ground cloves, and ground ginger ( I did about a 1/2 tsp of each) in a small dish or jar. Thoroughly mix until completely blended.

Fill a reusable Keurig cup with 1 to 1 1/2 tsp of ground coffee* and 1/8th tsp of the spice mixture. Brew normally. I doctor mine with cream and sugar to keep the morning grumpies at bay.

 

*Ground coffee, any dark roast that you’d like (I like Italian espresso!)

South Beach Phase 1 Cream Cheese Pancakes

Enough is enough, I thought to myself, as my heart sank into my toes. The 3rd person in a week, my normally very nice manicurist, had just asked when I was due. Fighting the urge to ask what the ugly lump three feet above her ass was (OH IT’S YOUR FACE?! I HAD NO IDEA!), I smiled, laughed and said “oh no, I’m not pregnant, just fat!” I am tired of uttering that phrase and cannot believe the number of people who think it’s totally acceptable to comment on my body.

I hold my weight around my midsection. I know it looks like a tiny person is growing there. However…not pregnant. Even if I were, I would expect NOBODY to ask when I was “due” until I brought it up myself. It’s just common courtesy.

Anyway, all that being said, it’s time to get back on the diet/exercise train. I had unexpected surgery about a month ago and then promptly got very sick with an upper respiratory infection/sinus infection for 2.5 weeks. Food wasn’t tasting good to me and I could barely drive, let alone work out. I am FINALLY all healed up and healthy and ready to go!

South Beach Phase 1 is my nemesis. I tried it before and had no luck, but I am going to give it another go. High protein, low carb, NO SUGAR. Arg. It’s so hard. The hardest part is no sugar, because oh my gosh, do I ever have a sweet tooth!! Especially when I’m upset or stressed. So the worst parts of the day are first thing in the morning and last thing at night. I scoured the internet for some good breakfast recipes that don’t involve eggs, because while I love them, eating them for breakfast every day WITH veggies makes me wanna barf.

I found this recipe on 3 Fat Chicks on a Diet, which might be my new favorite place on the entire internet. Cream Cheese “Pancakes” are the best! Since no fruit or sugar is allowed in Phase 1 of South Beach, I paired these with some Walden Farms Calorie Free Pancake Syrup. It’s sugar free, gluten free, and calorie free. I know I know…it’s not exactly an all natural organic product, but I really don’t care at this point since it helps me get a little sugar kick! The sweetener I used in the batter is erythritol, which I use rather than Splenda, stevia, etc, all of which I hate. If you haven’t yet, read about erythritol, it’s amazing and tastes great! Because you are supposed to have 1/2 a cup of veggies at breakfast (which is also hard for my sweet tooth to handle), I grilled up some tomatoes in the pan and ate those along side my pancakes with some salt and pepper. Yum.

I am going to add 1 tablespoon each of almond meal and garbanzo bean flour next time I make this to see if I can get a thicker pancake. These taste amazing but were a bit thin, and who doesn’t want more healthy protein in their pancakes?

I’ve had some questions about where I get a lot of my weirdo ingredients. I buy most of them through Vitacost.com, and here is a referral link if you’d like $10 off your first order :) 

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South Beach Phase 1 Cream Cheese Pancakes

2 oz. Neufchatel cheese
2 eggs
1 tsp. no-calorie sweetener
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1) Blend all ingredients together in a blender or food processor. Let batter rest for about 2 minutes to let the bubbles dissipate. The batter will be very thin.

2) Heat a nonstick pan over medium high heat with a tsp of coconut oil.  (Here’s why I prefer coconut oil)

3) Pour batter on skillet in pancake sized dollops and cook about 2 minutes per side or until golden brown. Serve with calorie free syrup (or berries if you’re out of phase 1)

 

Healthy Butters

You guys. It has been a bajillion years since I updated. Life got in the way, yada yada blah blah. The truth is that I really needed to focus on my freelance writing and the thought of writing for fun made me gag a little. But writing for money couldn’t keep me away forever, and here I am again!

So newsflash: I have gained about 40 pounds in the last year through a winning regime of couch sitting, night eating, and a lot of wine. According to Hailey’s Helpful Hints, I have a “spare tire tummy”. Caused by lack of exercise and eating the wrong foods. I’ll admit to too much wine, eating at night, and being lazy as all hell over the last year. I know what’s wrong. What I couldn’t figure out was how to fix it. I’ve tried many things at this point with no luck and was starting to get pretty depressed that I couldn’t shift even one pound. When the little Hispanic ladies in my building start asking if I’m pregnant…sigh. That’s a definite sign it’s time to get serious.

I went back to Kazaxe this week. I can’t even explain the amount of pain I was in after two classes in a row! But it was the good kind of pain, like “Hey! Way to not let your muscles atrophy from lack of use!”  Here’s what the class looks like:

It is the best, most fun work out I’ve ever done. I’m quitting the gym. It’s that fun. Friends in the DMV area: if you want to go, the first class is free. Check it out.

The other thing that is helping is my doctor told me to try the South Beach diet. So far I miss wine, sugar, carbs and fruit, but thankfully this part is temporary and some of that will come back soon. To get some healthy fats in my diet, I decided to make some treats.

Jars of hippie amazingness

Jars of hippie amazingness

So here’s some fun stuff I made this week. I love almond butter and I’m allowed to have almonds on the South Beach thingy, thank GOD. I decided to make my own the food processor!

Almond Coconut Butter
Makes one small jar

1 cup raw almonds
1 cup unsweetened coconut chips
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch of sea salt

1) Throw in food processor

2) Process for about 12-15 minutes or until it’s smooth.

3) Yes, that’s it!

Easy right? And it’s so good. If it’s too thick for you, throw a little melted coconut oil in it or something. If you want it sweetened a bit, add some honey, agave, brown sugar, whatever you’d like. You could also dry roast your almonds for some roasted flavor. Yums.

Amazingly, the coconut cream concentrate is even easier.

Coconut Cream Concentrate

1 bag of unsweetened coconut chips

1) Throw in the food processor and process until it looks liquid, about 15 minutes. Scrape the sides down periodically to help it all get processed.

Here is a great recipe to use this in. I honestly just ate a spoonful of it by itself…oops. might try mixing it with some unsweetened cocoa powder…this is getting dangerous.

So there you have it. Some healthy butters to use in your times of 40 pound weight gain! This week, one pound down, 39 to go. What kinds of diets have ya’ll tried?

Goodwill Fall Fashion

ImageNew purse. $11. BAM. I wanted something neutral but not white or brown or black…erm. Grey was perfect. I am in love, it’s in WONDERFUL shape. 

ImageThese Jeffrey Campbell heels were unfortunately not my size but my friend might like them. If she doesn’t, they’re going straight to ebay so that I can take a profit off them ;) 

ImageFinally, my new TOMs. And yes, they’re new! Tags still on. Go me. 

 

Happy Labor day weekend, my loves. I hope you’ve all managed to find some great deals and enjoy some QT with your families!

 

 

 

Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

All I can say about this dressing is YUM!!! I found it here.  If you have a ton of basil in your garden like I do right now, this is a great way to use it up and is a bit more interesting than pesto, of which I already have too much. It’s also a nice way to change up my salad lunch routine while keeping everything healthy!

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Basil Balsamic Vinaigrette

1/3 cup white balsamic vinegar

1 cup olive oil

1 cup basil leaves

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Just buzz everything up in the blender. That’s it. You’re welcome.

With the rest of my basil, I was thinking about trying a lemon basil dressing next week. Yum. Or maybe this. Or this. So many options! I love basil season.

You’ll love it. Promise. What yummy lunch choices have you made this week?