Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What's Baking Wednesday

I thought it'd be pretty fun to start a little weekly blog post about recipes I've tried or made that week. We'll see how this plays out after a few weeks, but for now I like the idea :)

Two things I have been missing since starting Paleo are sweet breads and the sweet crunch of cereal with berries in the morning. So far this week I've tried two new Paleo recipes:  Chocolate Zucchini Bread and Paleo Cereal!

So here's how it went down.

I stumbled across this recipe for chocolate zucchini bread and was dying to try it! I'm a huge fan of regular zucchini bread, so adding chocolate into the mix definitely appealed to me.

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

  • 1 medium zucchini, shredded (equal to 1.5 cups shredded zucchini)
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3/4 cup sunbutter (or nutbutter if you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup raw honey
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons coconut (or almond)  flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, pinch of salt

First step:  Shred your zucchini with a cheese grater. Once the entire zucchini is shredded, place onto paper towels and squeeze out excess water.

Second step:  Mix together all ingredients without the zucchini, once elements are combined well, then add in the shredded zucchini.

Step 3:  Pour into an 8x5 loaf pan and bake at 375° for 25-35 minutes. I checked mine periodically with a tooth pick to make sure it wasn't over baking.

The bread was so moist and delicious. I definitely recommend this if you're craving that sweet bread you've been missing!

I used to eat a bowl of Kashi Go Lean or TJ's bran flakes topped with frozen blueberries every single morning (I'm a creature of habit). Since Paleo took over, I have either protein pancakes or a turkey bacon omelette every morning. The pancakes take care of my sweet fix, but for some reason I've specifically been craving some cereal with milk.

Enter the Paleo cereal phenomenon.

Paleo Cereal

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1 tbsp sunbutter (or nutbutter of choice)
  • 1 tbsp almond butter (or nutbutter of choice)
  • Drizzle with honey and cinnamon

Mix together all nuts, nutbutters, honey and cinnamon.

Put in baking dish (I used a pie pan) and pat down mixture.

Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Side note, this makes your house smell delicious!

Add in some frozen or fresh blueberries and coconut milk (or almond milk) and enjoy!

I'm heading to workout at Crossfit. Today's workout is 200 double unders for time, and a 5 burpee penalty every time you mess up.. YIKES. It looks like I'll be doing a lot of burpees, which is never ever a good thing. 

Hope all of you are having a fantastic wednesday, we're half way through the work week!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Pleasing the World is Meaningless

How's that for some blunt truth? I've recently been reading through 1 Thessalonians and I am loving it, it is so full of simple truths with huge meaning. This chapter hit me over the head because I am so guilty in getting wrapped up in trying to please everyone around me. Not that there's anything wrong with being a "yes" woman, but sometimes it can get extremely overwhelming. In my case, I'll get so worried about pleasing others that I lose grasp on who I truly am as a daughter in Christ.

Sounds pretty intense right?

Verse 4 claims, Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts. Pleasing people (the world) is meaningless. Our purpose is to serve our Father and to ultimately do what is pleasing to Him. He knows the desires of our heart, so why would I not trust Him and do what is pleasing to Him, he has a plan for everything after all. Striving to please people leads to a dead end road. Sure it can be rewarding and self-satisfying, but then what? I'm speaking to myself here, but we should all try to strive toward living our lives out for Jesus, not for those surrounding us. Living to please God is fulfilling and satisfying, why settle for anything less?

Another verse that hit home for me was verse 8, We loved you so much that we shared with you not only God's good news but our own lives, too.

I'm not one to share all of my feelings, struggles, hopes, dreams, etc. I'm a "self-kept" kind of girl, I keep to myself until I can't handle it anymore. This is a struggle I've been working on for a while, and I've definitely gotten better at opening up thanks to the Lord's patience and persistence with me (including those around me, too). I've told my testimony to a hand full of people, and after reading verse 8 it got me thinking, why haven't I shared my story with more people?!

Sharing what the Lord has done in our lives is pleasing to Him, and brings Him so much glory! Talk about your trials and how God turned them into triumphs. I'm not the boldest, most outspoken, open human being, which makes it a challenge. However, isn't our purpose on earth to share the good news? I shouldn't hang on to all of the wonderful things the Lord has done in my life, He brought me through tough seasons to bring Himself glory and I am not ashamed to share that with anyone!

What has the Lord done in your life? Have you shared it with the world?

What gives us hope and joy, and what will be our proud reward and crown as we stand before our Lord when he returns? IT IS YOU!
1 Thessalonians 2:19

Monday, August 27, 2012

My Kind of Day

Braden is notorious for fun, elaborate dates that usually take up an entire day (which I don't mind one bit). Typically they're a surprise and I have no idea what we're doing or where we're going. That has always been one of my favorite things about our relationship, I love surprises no matter how big or how small! We spent the day on the lake again on Friday, but this time it was just the two of us. We love cruising around, looking at houses, and napping on the boat when it's just the two of us. It's definitely the most relaxing date you could possibly ask for and I love every second. 

We went back to the dock around 5 in the afternoon, I thought our day of leisure was coming to a close. To my surprise, Braden walks back down to the dock with a portable grill in hand. He said I had an even bigger surprise inside the grill - it was stocked with marinating chicken, pineapple, and asparagus. The boy knows the way to my heart.. good food! We had been talking about making BBQ Hawaiian chicken for a few weeks now, he just took the initiative to make it!

We anchored by a small little island that had a beach area. We got the grill going, then set up the marinated chicken topped with pineapple. Needless to say it smelled delicious! I had the idea to grill the remaining pineapple slices for dessert, probably the best idea I had of the night haha.

While waiting for the food to cook we spent some time skipping rocks. Bray makes it look so easy, I on the other hand struggle to make it skip more than two times. I guess we all have different gifts and talents right ;)

Our dinner was grilled to perfection, and although I didn't get a picture of the finished product, I did get a picture of our dinner "table" set up! The fish must have keen senses because as soon as we started eating a little school of fish hung out around Braden's toes hopefully waiting for us to drop some leftovers. This turned into an entertaining game on what we could get the fish to eat. I've learned they're fans of chicken but not pineapple haha.

We finished out the night with a sunset ride back to the dock. Sunsets are hands down the best showcase for the Lord's masterpieces, they are always so beautiful and breathtaking. This one was particularly beautiful. I may have been biased because we had such a great afternoon, but I'm thinking that it's definitely on my top 10 list.

Surprise dates are always fun. However, a surprise date in great company always takes the cake. I love spending time with Braden, especially when it feels like we're away from the craziness of reality. We both love to escape for a few hours and just enjoy each others company. 

This week marks the beginning of a crazy semester. Braden started back at his co-op today, which means less time to spend together. Although I won't see Braden nearly as much as I'd like to, I know that the time we do have together will be time well spent.  I'm confident that the Lord is going to use this season for His glory, and I'm excited to see what this semester holds for us!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Days in Pictures

Wednesday was the first day of my Senior year, which does not feel like it's real life. The first day of class was pretty normal, go to class, awkwardly introduce yourself, head to the next class, repeat. After class I got to hang out by the pool for a little while before heading to Crossfit. I also have a night class on Wednesdays, once that was over Bray and I headed to Anderson for dinner with his parents.

I'd say Wednesday was pretty average, with a twist of randomness.

Thursday is a different story. I'll let it speak for itself.

Seriously the most beautiful campus ever!

Ground turkey, sauteed mushrooms and green peppers, taco seasoning, and chili powder

Not from Thursday, but Bray and I experimented with cauliflower rice (put cauliflower in food processor, microwave for 8 minutes, voila!)

Friday, August 17, 2012

5 days. 4 locations. 1 big adventure with my best friend.

Braden and I had been planning a road trip to the beach for quite a while, but we had no idea where we'd be staying or what we'd be doing our entire trip. Taking trips like that are totally not in my character, I'm such a planner and everything always has to be organized. I don't know what came over me but I went into this trip with a completely open mind and with no expectations!

Our journey began on Saturday morning. First stop, Litchfield Beach for a Low Country Boil honoring two of our friends getting married in October.

We spent time hanging out with friends and meeting new ones while it poured rain outside. Despite the rain, the ocean view was still as beautiful as ever. We ate a delicious dinner of shrimp, sausage, corn, and potatoes (Bray and I stuck to the proteins) and followed it up with a game for the engaged couple. The rest of the night consisted of chatting and Q&A sessions for the two married couples who were there, it was a pretty entertaining evening!

The sunset over the marsh was breathtaking!

Next stop, Pawleys Island!

The next morning we had no idea where we were going to stay. We initially made a pact to not stay in the same place two nights in a row, so that made our trip pretty adventurous and kept us on our toes. We knew that Braden's aunt, uncle, and 4 cousins were staying somewhere in the area. We gave them a call, made a coffee shop stop, and headed to Pawley's Island to spend the day/night with them. The house they were staying in was seriously incredible, fully equipped with an elevator, movie theater, and workout room!

When we got there we went straight to the beach and played a round of bocce ball (Bray and I dominated, just sayin') and hung out on the beach with his family. The rest of the night was chill. We fished for a little while, had a delicious seafood dinner, and watched a movie in the theater. 

The next morning we headed to a water park! We spent a few hours climbing stairs and shooting down the slides until we were exhausted. It was so fun to reminisce on our childhood, water parks are still so fun no matter what age you are!

Once we returned to the house we packed up and it was on to location three, Charleston.

First on our list when arriving in Charleston was to get dinner, after the days festivities we were pretty hungry! On our last visit to Charleston we tried an Italian restaurant called Blossom that is located downtown. The service there is wonderful and their food is off the charts! In natural Paleo fashion we stuck to the protein and veggie heavy meals. I ordered the North Carolina Rainbow Trout with haricots verts, crushed roma tomatoes, roasted garlic, and pistachios. It was so tender and flavorful! Braden had the Oven Roasted Salmon Mepkin Abbey mushrooms, sautéed zucchini, all served in a tomato broth. Both meals were absolutely delicious!

We love the atmosphere and neat lighting at Blossom - it makes for a great experience in addition to the wonderful food!

Our friend Sarah graciously let us stay in her very Pinterest worthy apartment near downtown Charleston. She had a few friends playing at Tsunami so we thought it'd be great to support them and hear some great music. Well.. we can't resist sushi.. so we ordered dinner number two with no shame. I ordered the cucumber salad roll (my fav and Paleo friendly) and Bray ordered sashimi. We learned that we're not super fond of eating raw fish in it's simplest form.. I don't think I'll be ordering that again any time soon!

The next morning we woke up and decided to do a Crossfit workout. Doing workouts while out of town usually is difficult for me, but having Braden there to push me and cheer me on always makes it more fun! We ran a mile towards the ocean, stopping every minute to do 10 air squats, then running again unitl the next minute. Oh my legs, we ended up doing about 110 squats, talk about jello!

We wanted to shop around so like typical tourists we hit up the downtown area. We walked up and down King street, went to the shops in Charleston Place, and through the market. We stopped in and ate lunch at a little cafe called Brents. We both ordered buffalo chicken salads and it was delcious! I loved getting to spend some quality time with my boy, in addition to seeing all of the neat places Charleston has to offer. We left with new tshirts, some pecan pralines, and other nifty little things.

It was so hard having these tagging along with us but not being able to eat them!

Sarah met up with us after we finished shopping and we headed out to the beach. Instead of going to a touristy spot, Sarah took us to Sullivan's Island. It was pretty windy but we still tried passing the volleyball around, needless to say that was quite the sandy venture. The view at Sullivan's Island is beautiful. Huge cargo boats are constantly passing by, and the beach was only accompanied by us and a few seagulls.

Sarah had plans later that evening so Braden and I decided to go out for a little date night. We have been dying to try some Thai food, and my little friend Alex has previously requested that we try a place called Basil Thai Restaurant. She's a trustworthy foodie so we thought it'd be a great idea! The restaurant itself is pretty small, but don't let that fool you, the foods flavor and spice are outrageously delicious.

I ordered the red curry chicken that is paired with basil and bamboo roots. It was the perfect amount of spice! Braden ordered the beef Pad Prik, which is paired with basil, bell peppers, onions, and Prik King curry sauce. Personally I think the name is kind of silly.. but it was still very good!

Red Curry Chicken in all its glory

Beef Pad Prik

I must admit, that meal definitely opens up the sinuses haha. We were both craving something sweet after such a savory meal, but since we are eating Paleo style that craving satisfaction was a little difficult. We thought Planet Smoothie would be a safe bet. We agreed on the Chocolate Chimp (cocoa, bananas, vanilla, and honey), we thought that was close enough. Well, to our surprise the cocoa was not powder, it was chocolate syrup. We exchanged a look of concern, but still agreed to give it a go. Not even half way through the smoothie we both asked if it was making the others tummy hurt.. yep you guessed it, our stomachs are no longer used to foods high in sugar since starting eating Paleo hardcore. We had to throw the smoothie away, but it was still worth a try right?

We decided to head back to my house in Columbia to spend a little time with my mom before heading back to school. I thought that I wouldn't make it home again until later this fall but I was so happy to visit one more time. We spent the day hanging out and taking it easy, and then had lunch with my mom at Texas Roadhouse. Mmm talk about some salad, steak, and sweet potato deliciousness!

It's back to reality for us, but it was so fun to have one last adventure before everything starts up in full swing. I'm always thankful for time I get to spend with my boy, friends, and family. It's a pretty laid back week on this end. I am going to spend that afternoon with Braden's family, I'm pretty excited to see all of them, it feels like it has been weeks! The rest of this weekend will be time well spent with newly married friends and our wonderful Crossfitters.

I hope you all have had a wonderful week, but I hope you have an even better weekend :)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Paleo On The Go

Since starting Paleo I've been trying to make recipes that Braden would enjoy, and ultimately gain his approval for Paleo-esque foods. After a few weeks he finally jumped on the bandwagon with me, so we are doing our Crossfit gym's 30 day Paleo challenge. Naturally, as soon as we decide to do a whole foods only diet we also decide to go on a week trip to three different beaches.

At first I was a little intimidated because food for me is usually a task, but making food for two.. and for someone who eats twice as much as me, now that was a challenge!

Friday night before we were leaving for beach stop #1 we went on a food shopping spree. We decided that breakfast and lunch meals were crucial, but dinner could be more flexible since we were going on vacation after all.

We packed a few of the usuals. 

After putting together the obvious essentials we needed, we embarked on our cooking extravaganza! I've never really made food in bulk but I've got to admit that I was pretty excited. We bought a montage of things at the grocery store, and we decided to make a few recipes I've mentioned in previous posts.

We started out with egg, sausage, green pepper, and spinach fritattas. These were super easy to make! I got the idea from Katie's recipe and modified it a little to add in some more protein.

We made a big batch of protein pancakes. These ended up being eaten at every point in the day.. breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks! They're so good cold or reheated. The next trip we take I know to make more pancakes, they're essential for travel ;)

We also went round two on the sweet potato and spinach turkey burgers. These were great reheated, we had them for lunch one day while at Pawley's Island. Still great paired with some dijon mustard ;)

Last but not least, I heated up a large spaghetti squash and packed half of it for the road. I made a turkey marinara from tomato paste, basil, oregano, garlic salt, and ground turkey. We never ate any of this meal which is kind of disappointing, but I know that it would have been delicious!

It was so great knowing that we always had food on hand, and that we were also saving a ton of money by not eating every meal out. Each night we ended up getting dinner out with friends, but we still stuck to our strict Paleo style eating. 

I'm glad we prepared all of our meals, but I was happier about spending some time with Bray and getting to have some quality cooking time with him!

That's all for tonight, be on the look out for a recap of our 4 day road trip to South Carolina beaches!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Be Still & You May Learn Something

What a week! It's already Thursday and I'm on the Tuesday track.. don't you love when that happens? After being home for a few days, and traveling, I'm taking a chill day and I'm not ashamed to say it :)

One of my favorite parts of this summer has been the amount of time I've had to relax. Although I was busy when I was working full time, working out daily, taking a summer class, and being involved in two small groups.. I still had so much time to be still. That is seriously one of the most important lessons I've learned, whenever I get caught up in all that is going on around me is when I feel most distant from God. I have learned so much this summer, and that wouldn't be possible if I had not taken the time to be still.

Like I've mentioned before, I've been reading through 1 John and it has been so great. This morning I ventured into 1 John 3. One of my favorite verses from reading chapter 3 is verse 2, He has not yet shown us what we will be like when Christ appears - but we DO know that we will be like Him.

Exactly what I needed to hear.

I have been so anxious about what the future holds, and what's to come in the next  year. While reading that verse it dawned on me, God has never really given me a clear picture of what His plan is for me, but I can be reassured that whatever steps he has me take will make me more like Him. That's so comforting, especially when I get stuck in "should I do this, should I do that, do I need to do anything?!" I'm sure I'm not the only one who gets caught up in that rut, especially since we're all human and we're all about some instant gratification and clarification.

Although it sounds so simple, just trusting His plan isn't always cookie cutter. One thing I've learned this summer is that he always leads us in the direction we need to go, even if at the time it seems crazy. Sometimes I find myself trying to follow my own plan, and it never fails, I always end up in some sticky situation that seems to have a dead end no matter which route I take.

So, what's the obvious answer here?

TRUST HIS PLANS. Plain and simple.

My prayer for the next year is that I don't get caught up in what the world has to offer, and what I want to happen. God has this, and he knows the desires of my heart. He will ultimately fulfill his plan in my life, and I pray to have an open heart and an open mind to all that he throws my way.

Take some time today to reflect on what God is doing in your life, I promise you'll be blown away!

A little sidenote: I'd love to hear from those of you who are the avid or occasional readers, I'd love to make this blog more conversational!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Hometown Showdown

Although I feel like I've traveled all over South Carolina, NC, and GA this summer - I haven't made it home more than once! With classes starting in two weeks I really felt the need for some quality time at home. It was so refreshing to visit some of my favorite places and getting to hang out with my mom and old friends.

Here's a simple little recap of a few of my adventures the past few days.

Madre and I visited the new house and then headed to one of my favorite places to eat, Red Bowl. When I go home I usually have Red Bowl for at least one dinner meal.. and lunch one day. Ask my why I love it so much, I honestly have no idea, but it is so good! I got my usual, steamed shrimp with fresh veggies.

After dinner we headed to my second favorite hot spot at home, Yumilicious. Seriously, I have a mild obsession with froyo. This particular stop included some Dulce de Leche, peanut butter, and some vanilla topped with heath bar pieces and strawberries. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!

The next morning I made a coffee stop and then headed to my old gym to get in the WOD for Crossfit. It's always so great visiting the Bodyshop, I can always count on a warm welcome! 

I ventured into the back corner of the weights room to do my Crossfit workout. The workout consisted of a 20 min AMRAP: 5 hollow rocks, 10 push ups with hand release, and 15 squats. I seriously couldn't feel my arms after I finished!!

That night my mom and I wanted to make a delicious dinner, and we decided to invite Paige to join us. Madre had been telling me about the local meat market's crab stuffed flounder, so we thought that would be perfect for dinner! We paired it with asparagus and a baked sweet potato, needless to say I couldn't have asked for a more delicious meal!

The crab stuffed flounder was SO good, and so low maintenance. You literally take it out of the package and stick it in the oven frozen at 450° for 30 minutes. The meat market preps and seasons it prior to packaging it, talk about an easy meal. I stopped by and picked some up to bring back to the upstate with me :)

After dinner Paige and I went to her small group through Radius Church. Paige had previously told me that my small group leader Katie also goes to small group, so naturally I thought it was a great idea to show up and surprise her! It was quite the success with lots of hugging and catching up.. we were kind of a distraction for the rest of the group - whoops! It was so good to see her!

We read through Galatians 1, I really enjoyed being a part of a small group that mixed girls and guys. It's cool to hear a guys point of view, plus they are much more confrontational and love to argue points which was pretty entertaining.

The next morning started off right, with a Thanks A Latte coffee!

When I worked at the Bodyshop I would always stop by this little coffee stand before work. The woman who runs the stand knows all of her customers, I love the fact that even when I don't stop by for a few months while I'm away at school she still remembers me. I always order a sugar free hazelnut coffee, seriously the best coffee ever!

Although contradictory, I got my coffee to go and headed to iHop to meet up with my great friend Lachlan. He attends the University of South Carolina so I rarely get to see him. We took the time to catch up and I enjoyed a little fruit bowl paired with my coffee. 

Later that day I had a coffee run numero dos. I met my friend Macall at Starbucks and we both got cold coffees. I chose the Caramel Light Frappucino.. mmm. We both had the intention to catch up a little, but that "little" amount of time turned into 3 hours sitting and chatting. I would not trade time with that girl for anything, she is so wise and so easy to talk to. I'm totally okay with hanging at Starbucks for 3 hours when it's time well spent!

In natural fashion, Madre and I made one last dinner date to Red Bowl. This time we decided to get side salads with cucumber ranch and a bowl of egg drop soup, of course this was in addition to my steamed shrimp and veggie bowl!

This morning I had breakfast with Paige at my last and final favorite place to visit at home, The Other Pancake House. We chatted about reuniting next week and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. I ordered the "Bodyshop omelette" which is an omelette made with veggies and egg beaters, and I added in some turkey bacon and a fruit bowl. 

I think it's pretty obvious that I make a point to enjoy all of my favorite places while I'm home, while accompanied by a few of  my favorite people. I loved being home and seeing everyone! There's never a way to gauge how often I'll get to travel home, but hopefully it won't be too long from now.

I'm heading to Crossfit around 6 and I'm hoping this huge storm passes before then! 

I hope all of you are having a wonderful week so far!