Dandelion tea

My only memory or thing to relate to when it comes to dandelions is when I was a kid and we’d rub it on other kid’s arms to make it look like pee. I don’t remember why this was so entertaining, as it really looks absolutely nothing like pee. But nonetheless, I would squeal and wheeze in fits of laughter over it, who knows. I was am a strange kid.

Well now I’m learning that all those hours of making fake pee was a complete waste of what is actually a super beneficial green vegetable. Is your mind blown? Dontchya just wish you could go back in time, sit yourself down and be like “Look, little Lydia, I know pee is literally the most hilarious thing ever for some weird reason, but one day you’re going to be drinking this stuff because Instagram told you to. So don’t be wasting all those dandelions, aight? Here’s a Flintstone vitamin. Go on, little Lydia. Oh hey and also, Ask Jeeves about Google and start investing your allowance in it. Just throwing that out there.” And then I’d skip off and become a millionaire. Anyhoo, I hinted at this tea infusion into my nightly routine in my Instagram Rabbit Hole post, and I know it’s been killing you.

I told ze boyfriend about ze tea, and he was into it too (he’s also started drinking lemon water in the morning, so proud). So during his trip to Central Market one day he called for tips on what he was looking for. After no success, he instead bought some chocolate chip cookies that I proceeded to completely inhale two times daily. Not quite the nightly routine I was looking for (but oh my God it was a delicious one).

So during one of my all too often Whole Foods excursions, I hunted it down. Mission completed. Also why are women better at finding things in a grocery store? Another question for another day.

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Only because it was the brand featured on the Instagram post I saw about the tea, I went with Traditional Medicinals brand. They also had a PMS tea that the boyfriend suggested that I get, har har har. (But I do kinda want to get it)

I had low expectations as far as taste goes when I started on this venture and I suggest that you do the same. I’m sure I stuck a dandelion in my mouth at some point as a kid, and I don’t remember swooning over the taste. It doesn’t necessarily taste bad, but it’s not something that you’d crave if not for health benefits. It’s herb-y, but I kinda like it. It grows on you (pun intended). And it’s the correct taste for sitting in bed curled up with a book, if that makes sense.

Speaking of health benefits, “they” say there are a ton. I’m no scientist but here were the ones that drew me in:

  • Helps promote weight loss (can’t hate it)
  • Helps digestion (this seems like it’d be important before going to sleep, especially if you had a big dinner)
  • Improves liver function
  • Eases bloating
  • Helps achey joints & muscles (I’m 24 going on 60 some days)

If you’re interested, I got my facts here, and here.

I can’t lie, I didn’t feel much of a difference. I love an excuse to drink tea at night, and I think it’s a great way to calm down after a busy day, but my body didn’t feel too different. In its defense, I also haven’t been as strict with this habit and I don’t think “improved liver function” is something you can feel. Morning routines are easy for me to keep up with, but those nighttime ones are often much more difficult. My nights are less predictable. I stay at the boyfriend’s a lot and it that can throw me off, and if I go to a late yoga class I usually spend the evening hydrating and protein-ing to recover. There usually isn’t time or room to enjoy a hot cup of heaven.

So I wanna work on this. With the investment of a to-go cup, I feel like I could improve this routine. I need it. For instance, my back was killing  me all last week after some intense Monday evening back bends and I am sure dandelion tea could have helped me get passed it.

After I chowed down on a juicy burger and fries at Nick & Sam’s (I can’t eat clean all the time, that’s just boring), I enjoyed a hot cup of tea to apologize to my digestive system. I hope to keep up the habit, and then hey, maybe my liver will forgive me for college.

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Autumn quinoa bowl

I bought some quinoa seeeeveral weeks ago (maybe more than a month?) in the vain hope that I would find a recipe to cook with it, without even being fully confident on its pronunciation. Anyone who frequents a Whole Foods can likely relate to this feeling. I was fascinated by it. It looked like carbs.. but it was protein. How could his beautiful thing exist?

And then I actually tried it for the first time two weeks ago in a salad at Whole Foods..LOVE at first taste. It was delicious and I absolutely could not get enough! But… I still hadn’t found a recipe that intrigued me enough to try (and was easy enough for me to try).

It’s really no secret that I’m ain’t a cook. But it turns out to eat clean you have to be able to cook clean. So, here we are. Me with two cups of dried quinoa and no idea what to do with it.

Then last week I stumbled across this recipe from Andrea Hood on Instagram, and honestly I can’t remember which account it was (more problems of the Instagram rabbit hole). But I mean it has dried cranberries in it so I was pretty much sold from the start. It’s taken me a week to gather the ingredients and NOW it’s time to actually prepare the meal, and ya’ll… I DID IT! And it was damn tasty.

Autumn-Quinoa (1)

Here are the ingredients/directions from Andrea’s blog post:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups organic Quinoa
  • 2 cups organic butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 1/2 bunch organic kale
  • 1/4 cup organic raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup pure organic maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • sea salt and pepper to taste

Direction:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Peel and cube the butternut squash into small bite sized pieces.
  • Place butternut squash on lined or greased cookie sheet and cook for 35 minutes, or until you can stick a fork into it with ease.
  • Cook quinoa on the stovetop according to package directions, and set aside.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, take a small skillet over medium heat and lightly toast the pepitas to really bring out their flavor. Make sure to move them around often so they don’t catch and burn. Toast them for about 5 minutes until they are just starting to brown and you can smell the “nuttiness” – again, don’t let them burn because that will ruin the flavor.
  • In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, and cranberries. When the quinoa and pepitas are finished, add them to the bowl and stir to evenly coat the quinoa.
  • While the quinoa is still warm, you want to take the kale and remove the leaves from the stems by tearing off bite sized pieces. Add the bite sized pieces to the bowl and toss to combine.
  • Lastly, once the butternut squash is cooked, add it to the giant quinoa bowl and lightly toss it to combine.
  • You can enjoy this dish warm or at room temperature – it’s delicious either way and it makes kick-ass leftovers.

To make the Quinoa, I used my girl Gwenyth Paltrow’s recipe found online at Goop.com. My only issue is how in the hell do people wash quinoa before you cook it? I’m gross and didn’t wash mine first out of pure confusion. It’s so tiny, what magical contraption exists that it won’t fall through (that I can find at Kroger)? And since I don’t know how to do anything, I also had to watch a video on how to peel a Butternut Squash (I also had to Google “Butternut Squash” at the grocery store to get the right stuff…so that’s where we are on that..)

I love this recipe. It’s just so simple. The only thing I wasn’t sure about was the pepitas. I’m prone to starting small fires in the kitchen, so I was so nervous cooking these that I don’t think I cooked them enough. No harm done though, you hardly notice.

The dish also smells kinda funky. Not sure why. But who cares, it tastes delicious especially considering how healthy it is! I had a small bowl post 5 mile jog and filled up supa fast. This recipe also makes A LOT. So when she she says it makes for “kick-ass leftovers”, it makes a ton of kick-ass leftovers.

My only other complaint is that I had to use like SO MANY dishes and pans. Is that normal for cooking something? Perhaps it is. Either way clean up was not that much fun, and I’m glad it made so much so I won’t have to clean it up again anytime in the near future.

All in all, I’m one happy full clean eating camper. Excuse me why I go dive into my leftovers…

Eating healthy, Eating Out, Eating Cheap and why those don’t go together

I am currently under going a strategic effort to eat healthier in my day to day life. Sometimes I am totes down for gorging on some pancakes from Company Cafe because I know I have the calorie space that day, but other times I need to opt for the granola and fresh fruit. This is starting to become fairly easy because I notice such a change in my body and how I feel when I eat better versus when I over eat and fill up on crap. It’s also especially easy because I simply can’t afford to eat out all the time so there’s way less opportunity for temptation. But as I mentioned in my last, this was a busy weekend. I ate out for virtually every meal. EVERY MEAL. And what I realized is how expensive it is to eat healthy. This pisses me off. 

Now I realize I have no right to be angry. I’m aware that everyone knows it can be expensive to eat healthy. You can get a whole meal of grease at McDonalds for like a penny, versus packing your lunch full of pricey veggies, fruits and hard boiled eggs  (plus these take time to prepare – obnoxious) OR paying $15 for a decent salad. 

Since I was very aware I would be eating out so much that weekend, I was armed and ready to fight against tempting fatty foods full of sugar and cellulite. Saturday morning, post the boyfriend’s triathlon, we stopped at a breakfast place and I had to say no to the 900 calorie eggs benedict (sometimes I really hate when restaurants post the calorie counts…) and yes to the oatmeal with fresh fruit. Granted, it was delicious. But I refused to even look at my boyfriend’s hollandaise sauce for fear of drooling all over his heavenly plate. The oatmeal was an $9 event, my boyfreind’s eggs benedict was $8.  Just a few hours later, I was at brunch for my roommate’s birthday at Cedars Social. Yet another place chock full of delicious menu items. The French Toast was begging me to order it. It teased me with its hot maple syrup and fluffiness. I managed to mumble to the waiter that I’d have the fruit plate and two egg whites on the side. A meal that cost me $14 but was significantly smaller and less complicated than all the other menu items. The French Toast was $10, for example. 

I guess what I am getting at is that I HATE that eating healthy is so expensive. To me, the hard part was just making the healthy choice and fighting my eternal sugar cravings. But now, in addition, I have to consider the economic effects of eating healthy when I eat out. Even now when I go to the grocery store and load up on fruits and veggies, my grocery bill comes to an easy $60 without even trying. So I eat healthy, lose weight, but then can’t afford to treat myself to a new dress to celebrate my good eating habits. Where is the justice in that? For now, I’ll settle for a good Vogue or Cosmo to get me through these trying times [ha]. But my credit card is just not as happy with my diet change as my yoga practice (and my yoga pants) is. 

Adventures in Quinoa

gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly sugar-free apple crisp dessert recipe

Somehow my busy weekend managed to feel slow-paced, which brought some much needed de-stressing to stop my lungs from attempting to squeeze my sternum right out of my body (…too graphic?). After some sunny, windows-down drives listening to my 90’s Pop Pandora station and admiring the buildings through downtown Dallas, I settled in for another one of my favorite stress-busting activities – baking. I put in a DVD from The OC: Season 1 and got to work.

While apple crisp is commonly a fall dessert, the lemons in this recipe make this a refreshing dish. Plus the fact that it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (okay, so there’s maybe just a tiny bit of optional honey) make it a light treat that also happens to be relatively healthy.

healthy, vegan apple crisp dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (Ex: Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • Oil spray

Quinoa

Combine rinsed quinoa with the water, vanilla, honey, one squeezed lemon juice, its lemon zest, olive oil and a dash or two of cinnamon. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. After 15-20 minutes, test-fluff the quinoa. If it’s still a little wet / clumpy, just recover, turn to low and let sit until dry. When ready, turn off stove and leave covered.

healthy dessert recipe

Prep

Very lightly coat pan with oil spray. Peel apples (I only partially peeled mine to get a little mixed texture from the apple skin). Thinly slice apples – the thinner, the easier they’ll cook through. Fill the pan halfway.

Dust with a handful of flour then with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Squeeze a little of the second lemon and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the apples.

Mix cooked quinoa with flour then sprinkle the mixture evenly until all apples are covered. Spray one light coat of oil over the top.

Bake

350 degrees until top is crispy and edges are starting to brown (25-35 minutes).

healthy apple crisp recipe

Enjoy!

Found Tiffany’s?

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The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance, the wise grows it under his feet

– James Oppenhiem

I had a very Finding Tiffany’s moment the other day. My dad emailed me something about an impending family trip we are taking in May and referred to it as happening in “a few weeks.” I scoffed and said to myself “in a few weeks? There’s absolutely no way…”, my parents and their forgetfullness is just totes adorbs. And well, as it turns out May 11th is in fact just a few weeks out and as always, my dad was right.

Why is this moment so great? Maybe it’s all the yoga, new relationships or new work responsibilities  but I feel like I’ve been so lost in the today that I am no longer constantly waiting for what’s coming next or counting down the days to the weekend. There’s so much happening in my life right now, right this second, that time spent where I’ll be in five years seems wasted. Each day is presenting its own challenges, its own quirks, its own joys and its own sorrows. I feel I’ve been lavishing in each and every one and working each day to its fullest. Perhaps I should be planning a little more than I am (no need to remind me, Bank of America), but I’m okay with taking some time off from a plan to plan. Maybe I’m still on “Spain time” but this week I’m just continuing to focus on the here and now and loving each and every minute of it and those I choose to spend it with.

So, Tiffany’s found? Blog over? Not quite. The effort to live in the now while planning for the future will always be a juggling act. Plus, there’s always something to improve, something to strive for and something worth working towards. Which brings me to goal numero dos.

My other goal for the week is a bit more taboo in a sense and I actually considered not posting about it. I have come to the conclusion that I wish to lose weight. I’m not necessarily overweight nor chubby, in fact according to most BWI measurements I’m right smack dab in the middle. But there’s always been that extra 5-15 pounds that I just don’t think belongs on my body. So, I’ve decided to make a valiant effort for the first time in my life to make it go away. My desire to trim down has stemmed from several events. The first is Europe. I ate like a king and the walking tours simply didn’t provide me with the calorie burn I needed for all that pasta. The second is because my metabolism will actually let me shed some pounds (and with my 24th birthday rapidly approaching…) it’s only going to get harder as I get older. The fourth is well, I have several family and friend events coming up in the next few months and frankly I want to look damn good for those photo opps. And third because I want to see if I can do it.

The “I want to see if I can do it” is really my strongest motivator. Ever since New Years I’ve experimented with a multitude of tests for myself. The first was giving up all sugar, including the kind in breads, deli meat, past sauce etc. This wasn’t that difficult but mostly I found myself eating almost worse because if I found something with no sugar, but still high in calories, I decided that I deserved it. I also tested out the giving up of desserts. I tried this for a few months but when Valentine’s Day rolled around and I was on a first date, I simply couldn’t say no to a Lavender Vanilla milkshake and risk cutting the night short (which I have never regretted since the milkshake was the best dessert I’ve ever had and the guy turned out to be well worth the extra calories). And then it was just downhill from there. I enjoyed these little challenges to test my will power, something I thought was in the pits due to my escalating love of sweets. But I found that saying no was easy, and that days I ate well and put good nutrients in my body I felt amazing. Furthermore, I do not wish to be controlled by food nor cravings. I am also not a foodie nor a cook (and I can’t afford to eat out all the time), so eating to me is a means of getting energy and not being cranky, so I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on anything. A craving for chocolate simply should not result in maybe one, okay two, well maybe just four more halves, Snickers minis. I want to be able to think to myself ‘yes, I do want chocolate, but no it isn’t worth the calories or the terrible run I’ll have later.’

So for the next month or so I’m going to be eating cleaner. I have no real time table on this as I hope it will turn into an all over life change. And I just hate the word diet, as it leaves me with the bad taste of no carbs, starvation and desperation.

Plus, fruits and veggies are way more fun than buying a pair of Spanx. Now, I’ll be honest, I will be keeping some prosecco in my diet. I’m not a miracle worker here people.