Saturday, January 21, 2012

Update: Goal 2012

I thought since January is almost over (gasp!), it might be a good idea to update everyone and check in with myself on how my resolutions are going. For those who are new, or for people like me who need to be reminded about what I actually promised myself I would do, here is the list (and the updates!):

  • Scheduling exercise into my weekly schedule: I have to admit, this one is probably the one I need to work on most. I have been using at least one break at work per day as an exercise time, which I'm glad about. However, I need to keep pushing for twice a day at work, and then include some activity time at home most days of the week. I will keep updating you on this. I am not giving up, though! I'm also interested in trying out some new activities, like Zumba! Any suggestions? What do you enjoy?
  • Planning meals and snacks each day: I have definitely improved in this area! I started bringing lunch to work most days of the week, which has been better for my health and also my wallet. I also bring breakfast, and sometimes snacks. I need to be a bit better about the snack planning, but I have done it to some extent. I'm finding other stuff I sliced bell peppers with a bit of dressing, or fat free yogurts. Also, I've found a fantastic new cookbook which has healthy, delicious recipes that we've been loving! I'll be reviewing it soon. 
  • Cutting back on sugar: I would put this in the success column, and I think it's also a work in progress. I don't eat sugar at work much anymore. There is the occasional treat, but I used to have candy in my desk and eat that stuff every day, and I don't feel the need to do that anymore. I also don't eat dessert every night, so I'd say things are improving. I am still working on this, but I feel successful, and I also don't feel deprived! 
  • Continuing my efforts in therapy and in my nutritional counseling sessions: I'm on a little break from counseling, since scheduling conflicts on both sides made it nearly impossible for me to get in for a session before February. But we both agreed that I would use this time to try some things out on my own and see how things go. I do have to see my nutritionist soon, and I'm really excited to show her how I've been logging my food on my phone! She told me about an app called Recovery Road, which was made for people with different types of eating disorders. It allows you to log food, feelings, how hungry you were, and so many other categories without focusing on calories and fat. Plus, for every meal/snack you log, you get closer to winning a free iTunes song! Got to love that.
  • Saying "no" more: I haven't had much to say no to yet, but I'll keep you posted. 
  • Making sure I have fun: I had a great girls night out last night with three wonderful friends, and we practically closed the place down talking and catching up! I've also been spending more quality time with Rob and my mom, and I have some fun trips planned in the next couple of months! I've also started putting in for my vacation time to make sure I get the breaks I need. 
That's it! I'll check in next month with my goals and let you know how they are going!

Source: via Tanyel on Pinterest

Monday, January 16, 2012

Settling and "The List"

I've been thinking lately that I ought to get on here and write a relationship-themed post. Yet I could not figure out what I would talk about. Then, a dear friend's blog post pushed me in the right direction.

I was reading A Little Bit of Life, my friend Karli's new blog (go check it out!) and her post really made me think. She was debating one of the age-old relationship questions: Do I settle for someone, or do I wait for someone who has all the criteria on "The List"? It's a tough question, and I'm sure everyone you talk to would have a different answer. But for me, I'd have to say the answer is: neither.

First of all, I don't believe in settling. I'm not a relationship expert, but I have realized something after being Rob's partner for five and a half years: settling is not worth it. But I see why it happens. You get to a certain point in your twenties and everyone starts asking The Question. When is the big day? When are you settling down? And it doesn't matter if you're with someone or not, you get The Question in one form or another. It's the nature of the world. In addition to the questions people ask, you're attending a lot more weddings. You're buying towels and dishes and deep fryers for your friends, and you're asking yourself: Shouldn't I be doing this too? I can see why settling would be really easy to do.

Then there's The List. I didn't make one, but then again, I met Rob at nineteen. But I have thought about what would be on my list, if I had one. I have to say, I would have put some things on there that just weren't necessary. I may have thought they were, but in the end, it turns out I didn't need to have them. For example, I probably would have said that I wanted a man who was really romantic. The type of guy who could be spontaneous and surprise me with a picnic or a candlelit dinner. I wanted what you see in the movies. But as it turns out, Rob is not that type of person. He's not a spontaneous guy, and routine is very important to him. And yet, he has his own way of being romantic that I would not have considered when writing my list. Sometimes he will pick a flower for me and put it in water on our dining room table. Or he will fold all of my laundry without me even suggesting it. He sends me texts when I'm at work just to say he loves me. None of that would have been on my list, but it still makes me happy.

Five and a half years ago, I would not have been able to imagine the kind of love I have in my life. I almost didn't give our relationship a chance, because of my own fears. Love did not happen in the way I thought it would, and it doesn't always look the way I imagined it would appear. Yet, God had something much better, much more fulfilling, in mind for me. I could not have dreamed up the partner and the relationship I have now, and perhaps it's better that way. Had I picked the exact person I thought I wanted, I may never have found what I actually needed.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

Tonight's recipe gets two thumbs up from my favorite taste-tester, Rob. I've shared here before that Rob can sometimes be a little more...discerning when it comes to his tastes in food. He has his favorites, and while he graciously goes along with whatever dishes I want to try out (within reason), he also tells me what he really thinks, too.

These chicken nuggets are a dish he asks for again and again. They are easy to make, tasty, and also a healthier alternative to the chicken nuggets you might have purchased from the drive through or freezer aisle. They're great for kids of all ages. I can't take the credit for them, though. The credit for these nuggets goes to Jessica at How Sweet. She makes them as skewers, but I make them as nuggets. The original recipe can be found here, since I have altered it to some extent for my own use. I hope you enjoy these as much as we do!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

You Will Need:
  • 3 - 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (depending on the crowd you're serving!)
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 c whole wheat (or regular) flour
  • BBQ seasoning (I use Mc Cormick's)
  • 3 egg whites (or Egg Beaters)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Delicious sauces to dip your nuggets in! We like BBQ and honey.
How It's Done: 

Preheat the oven to 450F. Next, get yourself set up. I like to grab a bowl (salad bowl size) and a large plate and set them side by side on the counter. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set that nearby. 

Put your egg whites (or Egg Beaters) in the bowl. Combine the flour, BBQ seasoning, salt, pepper, and panko bread crumbs (in a bowl or right on your plate) and and pour onto the plate. Now, you may have noticed that I didn't include a specific amount of BBQ seasoning. That's because I like to put a good amount in. The original recipe calls for a tablespoon, but I probably put in 1.5 tablespoons or more, depending on my mood. Do what you think you and your family will enjoy. 

Cut your chicken breasts into cubes. Just think of how big a chicken nugget would be. When you have your chicken cut up, you're ready to make nuggets! Dip the chicken pieces into the egg whites and then roll them in the panko mixture until coated. If you're squeamish about touching raw chicken, feel free to use a fork to assist you. I won't tell anyone. When the nuggets are coated, transfer them to the baking sheet. Repeat until you've coated all the chicken pieces. Lightly spray the nuggets with cooking spray. This makes them crispy!

Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of your oven and bake for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off, flip the nuggets to the other side and bake for another twelve minutes. Serve immediately and watch them disappear! 


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Peanut Butter Brownies

There's been a lot of discussion about Peanut Butter Brownies here at A Recipe for Sanity lately, and I decided that it was time I delivered on my promise to post the recipe. Because - and I mean this with all sincerity - these are magic. Not only are they the best brownies I've ever made, they made me so dang proud I kept asking Rob, "Hey, how about those brownies, huh? HUH?" over and over. Lucky for me, he's a kind soul and didn't get annoyed. He just ate his brownie, agreed they were frickin' amazing, and let me go on gloating.

Please, try these for yourselves. You won't be sorry.

You will need:

  • 8 oz of semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 4 oz butter
  • 3/4 c egg substitute or Egg Beaters (you could use 3 eggs, but I think egg substitute makes brownies more fudgy)
  • 1.5 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 c cocoa powder
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/2 c peanut butter (I used crunchy, but you can use smooth if you prefer!)
How it's done:
Preheat the oven to 350 F. 

On the stove, melt the butter and chocolate together in a pot over low heat until combined. Remove from the stove and whisk in the eggs and vanilla. The mixture will be glossy-looking and you may be tempted to taste some. I won't judge you if you do. Next, add the flour, cocoa powder and sugar. Mix well. Pour into a greased 8x8 baking pan. 

Finally, take spoonfuls of the peanut butter and drop them into the brownie mix in different areas. Stir the mix so that the peanut butter swirls around the mixture. This can be a bit difficult, but just have patience. Even if you mix it and you can't see the swirls, they will be there underneath and they will still taste fantastic! 

I cooked mine for about 25 minutes. My oven tends to run a little hotter than usual. I like mine to be fudgy, so I cook mine for as little as possible. I wouldn't recommend cooking them over 30 minutes. Allow them to cool, and cut into squares. 


Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Love Actually

Today Rob and I had appointments in the same office, one hour apart. I remarked last night that maybe we'd see each other in passing, and that I'd look for his car. I pulled into the parking lot and made sure to park near his car, so that even if we missed each other, he'd know I was around and that I'd attempted to see him.

I walked up the stairs and when I got onto the second floor, there he was, looking out the window.

"Hey!" I said. "You waited for me?" Rob turned around, and when he looked at me, his eyes lit up. He was so happy just because I was there. He wrapped me in a hug as if we hadn't seen each other in weeks and just held me in the middle of the hallway. It was the best thing that happened to me all day, maybe all week.

Sometimes I can't believe that after five and a half years, I'm with someone who is still delighted to see much so that he would wait and watch just to see me for three minutes. Sometimes, love feels miraculous to me.

Source: via Ashley on Pinterest

Monday, January 2, 2012

Goal 2012

I know, I know. I promised you peanut butter brownies. But you know, I know how this New Year's resolution thing works. Usually a lot of people pledge that on January 1, they will stop eating things like peanut butter brownies. It takes them a couple of days to come to their senses, so I thought I'd wait another day.

In the meantime, I decided to get on the blogger bandwagon and tell you about my New Year's resolution. I have one big one this year, and I intend to stick to it. This year, I am going to be my number one priority. A lot of times when we think about putting ourselves first, I think selfishness is what comes to mind. Let me be very clear that selfishness is not my intent. Rather, I am going to put my own oxygen mask on first so that I can be there for the people I love and the clients I serve.

The fall semester was extremely challenging for me. I went to a place of exhaustion and frustration that I have never seen before. There were days where I had a hard time driving from work to school because I was so tired that it was hard to concentrate. I skipped meals. I didn't pack healthy food. I wasn't exercising. I was drained, irritable, and one of the worst versions of myself. When the semester ended, I knew I could never, ever do that again. I realized that the reason it happened at all was because I made everything and everyone else number one in my life. Work, school, and my relationships came first. My own needs were somewhere down on the list.

So, here's how 2012 is going to be different. Ready?

  • Scheduling exercise into my weekly schedule: If I don't put it on the calendar, it isn't happening. I am going to pick two yoga classes per week to go to, and then schedule in activity throughout the week, whether it's walking during my breaks at work, getting on the stationary bike, or doing an exercise video at home. I need to be moving most every day. 
  • Planning meals and snacks each day: I'm starting to think that I need to be eating three smaller meals plus a mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack each day. I'm not a fan of eating a meal and then being really hungry for the next one...I just end up eating more. I plan to pack snacks and meals every day so that I am never super hungry. I think it's going to make a big difference. 
  • Cutting back on sugar: Peanut butter brownies aside, I am willing to accept that I probably eat way too much sugar. Dessert is just about my favorite thing on this earth. However, I recognize that I am never going to get where I'd like to go in terms of my physical health if I am always eating sugar. So I've decided that I will be eating fresh fruit most nights of the week if I have a craving for sweetness. I'm definitely going to enjoy a cookie or cupcake now and again, but not every single day. 
  • Continuing my efforts in therapy and in my nutritional counseling sessions: These will continue to be a priority in my life, and the above resolutions are really going to help me along in this area as well. 
  • Saying "no" more: Like most of you, I hate to say no to people and disappoint them. But this year, I want to start saying no more when someone asks me to add something to my schedule. If adding the extra activity will prevent me from doing any of the things listed above, I'm going to say no. If I need a break and a day to just chill out, I'm going to allow myself to have that. 
  • Making sure I have fun: In the fall, my idea of "fun and relaxation" was basically collapsing on my couch and staring blankly at the television, since I didn't have the energy for much else. I plan to have more energy this year, so I want to make time each week to do things I enjoy. I'd like to paint pottery, get away for a weekend, go to the library more, etc. 
I plan to share healthy, delicious meals with you all this year, including reviews of some healthy cookbooks. I'll also share how you can take some classic recipes and make them more nutritious for yourself and your family. I'm excited about what 2012 has in store, and I hope you'll join me on my journey this year! Happy New Year!
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