Category Archives: I love this stuff!

Wrap it Up

I was super excited to be selected for YouCopia’s campaign to review some new kitchen products. My kitchen cabinets and drawers are always a mess so it was exciting to get a chance to use something that could help me get organized.

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I chose the StoreMore WrapStand for all my rolls of wraps and boxes of baggies. When it arrived I immediately put it together and got it set up on my kitchen counter. Right now, that is where it is living because it is a little too tall in its conventional position for my upper kitchen cabinets.

I’m deciding now if I’m going to keep it on its side or use it in one of lower cabinets (which would require a little reorganization). But, for now, I’m really enjoying it. I even had enough slots to store by box of gallon bags on its side. It makes it super easy to grab one without having to wrestle with a box in the bottom drawer of my cabinets.

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Now, here is the best part. I didn’t just get to try one, I get to give away a YouCopia product so you can give it a try for yourself.

Enter below for your chance!

Win one Youcopia product of your choice #4

How do you tackle your disorganized kitchen? I would love to hear about what you do!

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Perfecting Paella

Hey guys! Welcome to a guest post by my dear husband, Nathan. We treated ourselves with paella on Sunday night to celebrate (almost) 4 years together. Here’s the story!

This post has been four years in the making…

Back in the late summer of 2010 I was busy composing a new flamenco-infused percussion ensemble piece for the University of Oklahoma when I started dating this cute little someone from my running group. When I finished the piece, Katie & I joked that we should celebrate by eating paella, a popular Spanish rice dish.

Are there any places in Greensboro that serve authentic paella? No.
Did we own a paella pan to make it ourselves? No.

Fast-forward a few months to Christmas 2010…

I thought I was being clever and romantic buying Katie a paella pan & cookbook for Christmas. As we’re exchanging gifts during this, our first Christmas together, we simultaneously opened dueling paella pans. Katie even one-upped me by seeking out a much more authentic pan than the Sur La Table model I bought for her.

Can I get a collective “Awwwwwww”?

We decided to try out these new gifts on my family. Let’s call it a valiant yet failed attempt. I was trying to make do with a tiny kitchen and a crappy stovetop. Not optimal. And I haven’t tried since. Until now…

Paella Attempt #2

A couple of months ago we broke down and bought a gas grill after years of solely using charcoal. One of my reasons for this was to have a constant heating source with a large surface area to be able to make what? That’s right – paella!

Paella Ingredients

Step one was finding the right kind of rice for paella. Calasparra or bomba rice is recommended, as they can absorb much more liquid than traditional rice or even arborio (risotto rice). Paella is not meant to be creamy like its Italian friend risotto, so we wanted to get the rice right. After 3 failed searches at Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, and Cost Plus World Market, Katie tracked down some bomba rice at Sur La Table.

Here are all of the ingredients:

  • Bomba rice
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • seafood stock
  • white onion
  • tomato
  • garlic
  • fresh red bell pepper
  • roasted red bell pepper
  • parsley
  • capers
  • saffron
  • dried oregano
  • kosher salt
  • Spanish chorizo
  • shrimp
  • mussels

The traditional Valencian paella doesn’t mix seafood and meat, but I really wanted to include some Spanish chorizo with the shrimp and mussels for the occasional salty/smoky/spicy burst of flavor. I’ll let the photo collage walk you through the process.

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The flavor profile was spot on, but it was a little creamier than I wanted it. Next time, we’ll use a little less seafood stock.

We started with a deliciously light salad that Katie threw together with arugula, baby spinach, shaved manchego, and chorizo crumbles tossed with EVOO and lemon juice.

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We paired the meal with a delightful Spanish tempranillo wine.

Tempranillo

And the beautiful finished product…

Paella Mixta with Shrimp, Mussels, & Chorizo

Thanks for reading, everyone! Check out more treats this week over at Olives ‘n Wine!

Sweet Giveaways!

Just a quick post today, because I’ve found a couple of giveaways recently that I want to tell you about.

The first giveaway is from Essentia water. I switched to Essentia for my water during and after my runs and it has helped me feel so much better! I heard about Essentia from my friend Melanie, who wrote about it here.

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Anyway, they are doing an ultimate summer giveaway during which they are giving away a stand up paddle board, Jet Flow Hydration Packs, and bottles of Essentia water.  You should definitely enter here!

The other giveaway is a joint effort between Jill Conyers and Fitmark Bags. These bags are perfect for eating healthy on the go! In order to enter, simply take a photo the food you eat on the go, add the tags @fitmarkbags @jillconyers #nicebag and #theBoxToGo, and then share it on Instagram. If you don’t have Instagram, you can also share your photo on Facebook and tag @fitmarkbags and @fitnesshealthandhappiness. The challenge starts on August 1, so be sure to check out the full details here!

Good luck!

Product Review: Hemp Hearts

A few weeks ago I was sent a complimentary sample of Hemp Hearts courtesy of Swaggable. I really didn’t know what  to expect from them, but through doing a little reading, I discovered that Hemp Hearts are shelled hemp seeds. Removing the outer layer of the seed allows for a softer texture that is easy to chew.

When my sample arrived, I tasted them on their own first. The package recommends sprinkling Hemp Hearts over cereal, yogurt, or salad. After I realized how mild the flavor is, I decided to go with sprinkling the package into my yogurt to add a little bulk. They matched with my yogurt perfectly! The slight nuttiness of the Hemp Hearts added another dimension of flavor and the texture of the seeds made me feel like I was eating just a little more than my normal morning snack.

Great, high-protein snack option!

Great, high-protein snack option!

Now, let’s talk about the nutritional value of Hemp Hearts. I did a little research on both the Manitoba Harvest website and using the app Fooducate. Hemp seeds are a little higher in fat (just like other nuts and seeds), but hemp seeds are a great source of fiber and protein. A 3 tablespoon serving of Hemp Hearts provides you with 10 grams of protein. I don’t think my trial size was quite that large of a serving, but once I add in the protein from the yogurt, that’s a good serving of protein for one snack.

With all of that considered, these are a winner, but then also consider that Hemp Hearts are only minimally processed and are certified by the Non-GMO Project. That makes me personally very happy!  I’m planning to pick up a bag soon and figure out how else I can use them! I’m thinking some healthy baking might be in my future…

Giving Back: My Week With Mizuno Baton

You may remember that at the beginning of last week I mentioned that I was going to be spending my week running using the app, Mizuno Baton. Now that my week is over, I wanted to share my thoughts on the app.

First, let’s talk about the purpose of the app.  Mizuno Baton uses your phone’s GPS signal to track your mileage over the course of one week. In turn, Mizuno donates $1.00 for every mile you run to Back on My Feet, an organization that helps the homeless get their lives back on track using running. I understand what an integral part of my life running has become, but before I read more about the organization I wasn’t sure exactly how just starting to run could have this power.

Here’s how it works. In step 1, Back On My Feet visits facilities such as shelters and other facilities like missions and halfway houses to describe their program and recruit participants. Once people have elected to participate, they begin training to run. They run 3-4 days a week at a set time. After 30 days of participating in at least 90% of the group runs, participants move on to the next stage.  In this stage, participants work with Back On My Feet Staff to develop a plan for the future and are given access to educational and employment opportunities along with housing opportunities. Back On My Feet says that about 75% of their current participants are in this phase of the program.

Now, on to more about how this works for the runner:

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Step 1. Download the Mizuno Baton app from the app store.
Step 2. Activate your baton. I recommend that you wait until you are ready to begin your first run of the week before you do this. Once activated, the timer will count down from 7 days. This is how long you have to run your miles for Back On My Feet.
Step 3. Use “Start a New Run” to log your first run. Almost every time I started a new run, the app gave me a warning that my GPS signal was weak. I went ahead and used it anyway and it always counted all of my miles.
Step 4. When you finish a run, hit the “End Run” button. After that you can submit your run  or you can add on more runs before you submit. Totally your choice! And, if you submit, you can still add on more runs; it’s just an option.
Step 5. Keep running! Don’t forget your baton! At the end of the week, you will get to see the total amount you contributed.

So what did I think about actually running with the baton? That part was just okay. I love my Garmin, and run with it religiously. On top of that, I very rarely listen to music while I run, so it seemed a little silly to have to carry my phone with me while I ran, but not a horrible inconvenience. I have a SPI belt I used to wear all the time, and it’s stretch pocket was perfect for housing my phone on shorter runs. On my longer run, I stashed it in the pocket of my Nathan Speed 4 hydration belt (although the pocket on that one is a little small for the iPhone).

Also, since I’m not used to carrying something extra, I forgot to wear my phone on two of my 1-mile runs. At least they were short ones! I kind of made up for that by leaving it on after my long run while we walked back across the Wilson Bridge after Sunday’s run. All told, I ended up donating $27.53.

Basically, I really like this concept. People get to do something that  is super easy for one week to give back to an organization that does so much for others.  The only way it would be better is if I could someone import data from my Garmin to cut down on the number of devices I need for a run.

However, I think everyone shoud consider spending a week with Mizuno Baton! You can find out more about the app at http://ifeverybodyran.com!

Making a Good Thing Great: Cherry Espresso Brownies

When you find something you really like, it’s easy not to mess with it. For example, I really like Ghiradelli’s Double Chocolate Brownie Mix. Generally, I’m not a fan of boxed mixes for baked goods, but these are pretty amazing.

However, at some point in my life, I don’t even remember when, I started messing with them. And now, I like them even more.

To make these amped up brownies, you start with a few simple things: the brownie mix, oil, water, an egg, cherry preserves, instant espresso, and dried cherries.

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Generally, you just follow the directions on the box, but when you measure out the water, add a couple of heaping teaspoons of instant espresso and dissolve before adding it to the oil and egg. Then, when you add the brownie mix to the bowl, throw in a handful of chopped cherries. Mix everything together.

Now, here comes the best part. When you go to pour the brownie mix into the pan, only add about half the batter. Then, dot the top of it with small spoonfuls of the cherry preserves. Swirl it just a little bit and then add the rest of the batter to the pan.

Follow the baking directions on the box. I’ve found that sometimes I need to to add just a few minutes more than recommended, so use the toothpick test to check that they are done. However, it should be said that because of the preserves, the toothpick won’t come out completely clean even when the brownies are cooked.

I usually make these brownies in an 8×8 glass pan, but because they are so rich, I cut them into 16 squares. Every time I make them, they go like crazy!

Enjoy!

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VegWeek 2014: Day 2

Since I started VegWeek a day early, here is a brief summary of my Day 2.

Breakfast: Veggie Scramble (onion, red bell pepper, and spinach) and half of a grapefruit
Morning Snack: Black Cherry Chobani and a banana
Lunch: Split Pea Soup and Fresh Strawberries
Afternoon Snack: Almonds, String Cheese, Baby Carrots
Dinner: Grilled Veggie Salad and part of a Chocolove bar
Somewhere in there: More peanut M&Ms than I would like to admit…

20140422-062205.jpgLet’s talk about that Grilled Veggie Salad.  While we were planning our menu for the week, I hit Pinterest and some of the vegetarian blogs I read and came across a couple of different grilled veggie salads. Nathan was inspired, but since he doesn’t eat mushrooms or tomatoes, we knew we would have to think of some different veggie options.  He knew he wanted sweet potato and asparagus and I wanted bell pepper and red onion, but we felt like we needed something else. Once we saw how beautiful the fennel was this week, we knew we had stumbled on the final ingredient.

We prepped the veggies for the grill by snapping the woody ends off of the asparagus, cutting the onion into thick slices (they hold together a little better that way), cut the pepper into 8 large chunks, cut a sweet potato into slices a little thicker than 1/4 inch and parboiled the slices for about 5 minutes, and sliced the fennel vertically.  If you want the fennel to hold together, only trim the core, don’t remove it completely!  Nathan brushed all of the veggies with some olive oil and threw them on the grill. The asparagus and onion went on a few minutes before everything else because we knew those would take a little longer.

While Nathan grilled, I constructed the rest of the salad.  We used a combination of spinach and baby arugula for the bed of the salad.  We usually buy these items separately so we can mix in as much or as little arugula as we like depending on our dish.  I made a simple dressing of white balsamic vinegar (2 Tbsp), Dijon mustard (1/2 Tbsp), olive oil (3 Tbsp), and a little salt and pepper.  It was a little thick, but it had a great flavor so I left it that way.

When the veggies were done, Nathan arranged the veggies on top of our greens and I drizzled a heaping tablespoon of dressing over each of our plates.  After a killer spin class, it was the perfect end to our day! This dish just made it into our regular meal rotation!