Veggie Out

I’ve been trying to eat healthier. I have always ate fairly healthy in terms of I rarely eat fast food, drink pop, and try to make homecooked meals instead of going out but I knew I could be even better. We love our craft beer and pizza is my spirit animal. I decided if I really wanted to get healthy and have my workouts take me further I needed to really cut back on some things (pasta…) and add some more.

Just some background info, I am a pretty picky eater. I am not nearly as bad as I was a child but I still am pretty bad. Specifically, I don’t really like veggies. I’m a fruit person. I could eat pounds of fruit all day. But unfortunately for me, fruit cannot provide all of my nutrients. Plus veggies usually last longer and are more often made into meals (you aren’t going to put blueberries with your tilapia).

Anyway, on my quest to be a healthier me, I did what I once thought impossible. I had an entire dinner of veggies.

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Now, I realize corn on the cob may not be the healthiest but hey, I was already stretching myself here.

So basically I just roasted sweet potato, squash, zucchini, and tomatoes with some olive oil and light seasoning. That’s it! And to my surprise, it wasn’t so bad. I was not a huge fan of the zucchini but the squash and sweet potato were very tasty. I used the recipes from this site and this one.

I’m so happy I pushed myself to try veggies a new way because since then I have been finding it easier to incorporate them into meals. I even bought squash and zucchini at the farmer’s market this past weekend because I was excited to try some recipes out! So to all you veggie haters, press on there is hope!

Sugar Wax

I hateeeee shaving. I hate how it grows back so fast and can leave bumps and cuts. Razors are expensive too! I started looking into more long lasting methods and I stumbled across sugar wax or sugaring. I’m not in a financial position to get waxed professionally every few weeks so I decided to give homemade sugar wax a try.

You can make sugar wax with just a few ingredients that you probably already have at home. Sugar, lemon juice, salt, and water.

I tried this recipe from Cacao Culture.

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The first time I made this I used 1 cup sugar, 1 tsp salt, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, and 2 tbsp of water. I put my baking sheet in the freezer before I started the wax so it would cool quicker. You cook the mixture over medium high heat until it becomes a yellow golden color. I would try to find a flat plan because mine bent slightly up in the middle making it hard to cook it evenly. Next you pour the mixture onto a baking sheet or a marble counter (I don’t suggest this). I also just put a little bit of water on the sheet (unlike the video) because water makes the wax melt and it becomes too wet and liquidy. Pull the mixture towards the center of the baking sheet with a spoon as it cools and becomes harder. You want to wet your hands slightly before pulling the wax, I suggest using an ice cube to do this. Have a couple cubes in a glass nearby. Once its thicker you can wet your hands with the ice and stretch it.

I also used some ideas for preparing my skin for sugaring from this video.
I showered first and completely dried the area before sugaring. You should also use corn starch or baby powder on the spot you want to wax to soak up any perspiration and to protect your skin from being ripped with the wax. You may also want to take Advil or Tylenol before you start if you have a lower pain tolerance. I chose to drink some wine instead.

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Okay, so the first time I made this I followed the steps above and made the wax. I immediately went and tried it out. It worked for a minute or so and then became too liquidy and was just sticking to my fingers and body. It was a hot mess. I decided to put the remainder in the fridge and try again the next day. It worked better the next day though it did not pull as many hairs as I had hoped so I kept going over areas. After about a half hour, it became too sticky like before.

The second time I made this was yesterday. I used almost the same amount of ingredients as the first time but I did not use a full cup of sugar since I was almost out. I also forgot to put the baking sheet in the freezer and use ice cubes on my hands. The mixture was more liquid than I had wanted so I stuck it in the fridge. About a half hour later, I decided to try it and again it only worked for a few seconds before becoming a sticky mess. I was frustrated so I tried just ripping it off with my finger and even cut a piece of t shirt to try to use a wax strip. Fail, fail, fail. I put it back in the fridge and decided to try again today! It worked a little tiny bit better but not like the first time. I also have some bruising from yesterday’s fiasco :/ I think that I did not use enough corn starch and that is probably why that happened. Alas, I had to return to shaving.

Despite my failure to achieve smooth skin, I think that I will continue to try this method altering the recipe each time until I get it right. I feel that I was close the first time and that using even less water might do the trick. Until then, the stubble continues.

What methods do you use for hair removal? Have you had success with homemade wax? Leave a comment below!

What’s for lunch?

As a graduate student, I understand a busy schedule. It can be hard to eat a healthy lunch when you barely have time to think. Last semester, I drove to campus (an hour each way), went to class all day, ate dinner, studied, and went to sleep. It took me a while to develop a routine but once I did, life became easier.  Before I went to bed each night, I packed my lunch and snacks for the next day. I also gave myself time in the morning to put together items that I didn’t want to get soggy overnight.

Here’s some tips to get you started!

1. Buy an insulated lunch box and freezer packs.
-It took me a while to buy one but once I did, so many more options opened up for me.

2. Stackable tupperware.
-I pack a lot of food so it can be a Tetris game fitting it all in. These make it easier

3. Pack what you can the night before.
-Put food into sandwich bags and put in fridge. Pack up plastic-ware and napkins.

4.Set out everything you need to make a meal the next morning.
-For PB&J’s, I set out the peanut butter, plate and knife so I don’t need to do any more thinking at 5 am.

5. Fill up your water bottle and place it in the fridge.
-Get a big one that shows the liters on the side so you can keep track of your intake. Get an infuser to mix it up!

So what I do I put in my lunch? I know if its early and I haven’t prepared, I’m going to make poor nutritional choices. I might end up buying lunch too which I try to avoid doing as much as possible. Here are some ideas.

First and foremost, leftovers are your best friend. Nothing is easier than just putting last nights enchiladas in tupperware. Try making more than usual for dinner so you can have some for the next day.

Sandwiches and wraps are fairly simple too. You can pretty much throw whatever you have in the fridge together. Here’s some ideas:

Chicken Avocado Pita- found at The Cookie Rookie

Grilled Chicken with Pesto and Sun-dried Tomatoes- found at Foodie with Family

Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad- found at Damn Delicious

Avocado, Turkey, and Provolone Wrap- found at Recipe Van

Homemade soup- just add hot water! Try this recipe here at Veggie Belly

Sides and snacks:

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– Greek yogurt with cinnamon honey nuts and fruit- I eat this almost every day.
– Hummus and veggies. Carrots, peppers, broccoli, whatever you like. Or just raw veggies if you prefer!
– Fruit. Banana, apple, peach, orange, kiwi, watermelon. I could go on forever.
– Hard boiled eggs. This requires a little more planning but if you make a batch you’re set for the week.
– Roasted chick peas, pretzels, pita chips. Here is a recipe for Roasted Chickpeas that I love!
– Smoothie to go. Try the Island Green Smoothie from an earlier post or Berry Green Smoothie
 Salads. You can buy Dole Salad kits or I like to take broccoli slaw and combine with spinach.
– Avocado, feta, chickpea salad found here at Homegrown and Healthy. This is so fresh and easy to make.

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– Almonds or other nuts.
– Cheese. I just cut slices off a block and pair it with pita chips.
– Energy bites like these at Crunchy Creamy Sweet or these at Gimme Some Oven.

I hope you are inspired to take control of your lunch! If you have more ideas to share for feel free to comment below!

Turkey Taco Skillet

I was bored of the same old meals I was making with ground turkey so I decided to mix it up. I found this recipe and decided to give it a try! It’s fairly easy to make and has lots of flavor!

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The original recipe only requires one skillet but I had frozen corn and also I did not have instant rice so I cooked those in separate pans. I guess I like to make things more difficult than they need to be!

I like to use Jennie-O or Simple Truth brands for the ground turkey.

Here is the original recipe!

Ingredients:

1 lb lean ground turkey

1 pkg taco seasoning

3/4 cup water

1/3 cup mild salsa

3/4 cup frozen corn

1 cup chopped bell pepper- any color works!

2 cups brown/white rice

Instructions:

1. Brown turkey meat in skillet over medium high heat. Break up turkey into smaller pieces.

2. In a pot, start cooking the rice (if you aren’t using instant). Follow instructions on package. Usually the rice cooks for about 15-20 minutes so start this while browning turkey meat.

3. In another pot, bring frozen corn and water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5-7 minutes. Drain corn.

4. Once meat has browned completely, add taco seasoning, water, salsa, corn, and peppers. Let mix come to a boil.

5. Add in rice and stir. Reduce heat and continue cooking for another 5-10 minutes.

6. Serve in bowls with any toppings you desire. I added Mexican cheese, sour cream, and green onion from my garden.

Island Green Smoothie

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My new obsession is the Island Green smoothie. I had this smoothie at Tropical Smoothie Cafe and I wanted to be able to make a slightly healthier and cheaper version at home. It is a great smoothie for those who aren’t big fans of leafy green veggies (like me!) but who are still looking to get them in their diet. It is actually quite filling and so I usually fill two tumblers and put one in the fridge. I think what I like most about this smoothie is that is does not separate overnight and get all watery. It’s also great after a workout or on the way to class or work.

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Here’s the recipe:

7.5 oz. water

1/2 cup mango

1/2 cup pineapple

1 half banana

1/4 cup spinach leaves

1/4 cup. kale

I found this recipe here.

I modified the recipe by removing the sugar and adding more spinach and kale. You could even add old fashioned oats to give it a little more substance and keep you full longer. I also tend to avoid putting the kale stems in the smoothies because I want it to be a smooth as possible. I blend the smoothie for about 2 minutes to really break down the leaves because I want to avoid eating a chunk of kale. I found that depending on how much of each ingredient I have, you can be flexible in the measurements. The versatility of smoothies is what makes them so great!

Hello!

Hi I’m Monique!

Over the past 6 months I’ve developed an interest in cooking and baking and so I wanted to create a blog to share recipes I’ve tried. I get most of the recipes from Pinterest and would like to share my results with others. I also will occasionally post DIY projects and crafts that I do as well as just random life experiences! I’m a graduate student so I will also share posts about saving money and controlling stress. I won’t claim that I’m an expert on of any these topics or that I have it all together. I’m just looking to share my journey of learning and growing!

Disclaimer: I do not claim to be the creator of any of the recipes posted, unless otherwise stated. I am simply testing out recipes and sharing my results with any changes I made. I will post links to the original blogs to make sure credit is given to the author.