Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cooking 1.0.1

My Kitchen during the first night of my cooking project.

I want to start this post with some background information. I don't believe in diets. I firmly believe that unless you have a true medical reason to do so, cutting certain foods (unless its sugar) from out of your diet completely usually does more harm than good. Obviously I'm not a doctor, but I have had countless friends go on crash diets where they'd cut out carbs or dairy for three months and work out like crazy. They'd wind up losing alot of weight but the second they started eating carbs again they'd not only gain the weight back at a crazy rate they'd also be left with metabolisms that were completely out of wack. So unless you plan on being on Atkins or being gluten free or Paleo for litterally the rest of your life (which lets face it, is nearly impossible) I would never advocate "dieting" this way.  This doesn't mean that I don't believe in eating healthy and taking care of your self. Since college I have made huge strides in incorporating more healthy choices into my diet. I still drink alot of alcohol and eat a fair amount of crap but I have become much more aware of the range of benefits a balanced diet can provide.
I, like many young people, have been plagued by anxiety for much of my adult life. This is something I'm usually reluctant to talk about but I feel like I need to bring it up in order to fully illustrate my motivation behind "Cooking 1.01.". About six months ago I went thru a bout of anxiety that was so bad that I actually felt incapable of doing normal things like going to work or getting on an airplane. I have no idea what triggered this sort of nervous breakdown but it was pretty terrible. And as you can imagine, I looked like total and utter shit.  It didnt take long before one of my bosses asked me if I was feeling okay. Fearing that he was thinking that I was an alcoholic or drug abuser I decided to be honest and tell him what was up. I explained that I was feeling pretty shitty but that I was reluctant to take any sort of medicine on a regular basis because of the all the risks, side effects, etc. Without any hesitation he simply said "whats your diet like".  When he first said this I was pretty taken aback. He is a very holistic person and follows a paleo diet plan and exercises like a nut so I thought he was using my situation as an excuse to pedal his psycho life style. However, as I listened to him alot of what he was saying made alot of sense. 
He started telling me about the benefits of "clean" eating. Most people my age simply view dieting or eating healthy as just counting calories. They will buy anything that's "low fat" or "fat free" or they will load up on frozen diet meals without ever bothering to look at the ingredients list. He told me that a very simple way to make myself feel better would be to try and cook things using the most simple and pure ingredients out there and to avoid the chemical shit storms that line the grocery store walls. I had already been dabbling in the idea of starting  some sort of cooking project, so Thus, my cooking 1.0.1 project was born.
I decided that in 2013 I would cook one hundred and one new recipes. Out of these 101, I wanted at least 75% of them to be focused on a more clean/pure/natural way of eating. I'll admit, its been more time consuming and expensive than I thought. I spend a good amount of time searching for recipes online and then doctoring the recipes to fit my style of eating (I never, ever follow a recipe directly to the T unless I'm baking. Whats the fun it that?). I also spend alot of time writing out grocery lists and planning ways to maximize my ingredients so I don't waste food. That being said, the benefits of this project have been pretty amazing. Right now I am three months into to my project with 28 dishes cooked and I feel healthier than I have in years. I have alot more energy, my skin has cleared up, I'm sleeping better, and my anxiety levels have gone WAY down. Making this change didn't cause me to lose any weight (I've actually gained about 2-3 lbs) and  I still spend about 2/3 of my time eating whatever I want with little or no concern, but simply focusing 1/3 of my diet on the "clean (er)" approach has truly benefited me in ways I would have never imagined. Here are some general guidelines I use when cooking/eating....I don't follow these rules all the time, but I try my best.

Little changes I have made

  • I will not eat anything labeled "fat free" and only occasionally will i go with "reduced fat"
  • I don't drink any kind of milk. I replaced it with unsweetened almond milk. But I still eat ice cream and eat cheese. Oops. 
  • Only fresh fruits and vegetables. No frozen. 
  • No frozen meals
  • No Gatorade or ice tea. Only coconut water or Steaze all natural tea
  • No splenda. Only Truvia
 Over the next few weeks Ill be sharing all the recipes I cook in my project. Of the 28 I have already cooked, I will chose a select favorites to post. Below is a full list of the recipes already made with the ones in bold being those I will share over the next few days. Happy cooking!!

Cooking 1.0.1
  • Cauliflower "latkes"
  • Kale Banana Smoothie
  • Sweet and Spicy Chicken Lettuce Wraps
  • Pineapple Angel Food Cake
  • Skinny Chicken Parmesean Sandwich
  • Corn and Scallion Quiona with Lemon Honey Butter
  • Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad
  • Cauliflower "fried" rice
  • Skinny Greek Yogurt Chicken
  • Chicken Parmesean Quiona Bake
  • Braised Cabbage and Onions
  • Crispy Black Bean and Green Chili Tacos
  • Vegetable Soup 
  • Spinach and Parmesean Quiona
  • Cheesy Artichoke Bread
  • Frito Pie
  • Panda Express Style Quiona
  • Greek Style Quiona
  • "Spanglish" Breakfast Sandwich
  • Feta, Corn, and Avocado Dip
  • Cauliflower Fajitas
  • Fig, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Grilled Cheese
  • Summer Vegetable Pasta
  • Mango Chicken Salad
  • Goat Cheese Almond Chicken Salad
  • Cauliflower and Cherry Pepper Salad
  • Zesty Lemon Pasta

Monday, March 25, 2013

Wanderlust Wishlist: Palm Springs

In Finland this would be shades of grey with a bit of burned birch for color. I'd like a environment more like this.

 It's no secret that I have some major jealously issues when it comes to my friends who live in California.  There are many things about California that spark my jealously. The palm trees, the warm weather, In N out.  Being from New York and Texas I always just assumed I wouldnt like California. Turns out, I love it. It's my happy place. Everytime I get off the plane in LA I feel an overwhelming sense of freedom and tranquility. For someone who has major travel anxiety this is an unparalleled luxury. Despite my love for California, I havent really explored much of it at all. I have still yet to go anywhere North of LA and none of my various trips to the sunshine state have lasted any longer than five days. While I've always had a desire to visit Santa Barbra and San Francisco lately I find myself oddly fascinated by Palm Springs.
Truth be told, I actually have been to Palm Springs. Twice, Actually. Anddddd I was pretty sure I hated it. 

Probably because my experience was Coachella based and was more like this..... 


....Rather than like this.... 


Or maybe it was because of my unnatural fear of wind power. Who knows.

My opinion on Palm Springs began to change over Christmas when my friend Kristinwhose family has a house in La Quinta, started texting me pictures like this from her backyard:

I started doing some research (Via posts like this from my favorite blogs) and discovered all the quirky magic that is Palm Springs. 

Like the insanely colorful Saguaro Hotel. I hear that this place is actually sort of Baits Motel esque.....but with those colors and those Palm Trees who the hell cares??

Or The Parker Palm Springs, which is famous for its lush grounds and ironic decor

The best part about Palm Springs is that it is actually a destination that is incredibly easy for me to go visit. It's short distance from LA makes it an ideal spot for me and my girlfriends to jet away to for a girls weekend, which is something we plan on making happen this year. I cant wait for sun, mountains, and arnold palmers (made with firefly vodka, of course) by the dozens. Bring on summer!


Friday, March 22, 2013

Weekly Round Up: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Happy Friday, everyone! This week has been insanely busy. We have been consolidating our office space at work for the past two weeks which basically means that I have been dealing with insane bullshit and manual labor for 14 days. While it's been stressfull, being busy at work usually gets me motivated to make more use of my personal time. This week was filled with awesome dinners with friends (more on that later), trips to thrift stores and the container store, and Europe trip planning. This weekend I have a happy hour with work friends to celebrate the end of the move (!!!), sushi with my girlfriends, and my first pure barre class! The weather is going to be awful so I'm looking forward to using the time I would normally spend drinking outdoors to get some much needed work done in my apartment. Here are some snap shots from this past week:

Insanely long bathroom line at Pat Green. It took my friends 30 mins just to get in the door. #TheBad

Corn beef and cabbage taco from Moontower for St. Patricks day. Yes, it looks gross but it tasted amazing. #TheGood

Mango Lassi from Bombay Bowl. So delish. #TheGood

Bruise Covered legs from moving boxes. #TheUgly

I found this little gem while cleaning out my bosses old office. Belen was kind enough to track him down and get it signed for me. #TheUgly

New amazing bar mixers. #TheGood

I can always count on my friend Mitch to make my Wednesdays ridiculous. #TheGood

My impressive burrito from big city. This is the "regular" size. Yes it was delicious and no I did not eat it all at once. #TheGood

This is a hipsters version of sexting? #TheUgly 

Okay, well this sign is clearly posted on the entrance to hell. #TheBad

My friend Ross' dog Truman. He looks like a viking. #TheGood

The last of my hoard to be moved out today. #TheBad

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Drinking and Jumping Hot Dogs

I'll admit it....I'm a total livingsocial/groupon junkie. I currently have 11 living socials and 6 groupons sitting in my inbox waiting to be spent. I have everything from botox to horseback riding to Peruvian food to car detailing. Despite my eclectic collection, I have yet to add an actual tangible item to to my arsenal. That is, until today.
 The second I saw the little gadget above I knew I had to have it. No, I'm not an alcoholic. And no I never drive drunk. Living in a city like Denver basically ensures that I will never be put in a situation where I have to worry about getting home safely  So although this purchase was totally unnecessary I simply could not resist the party game element of this contraption.  Not only is it so much chicer looking than your everyday Breathalyzer, its compatibility with Iphones ensures that you will never have to go thru the hassle of changing the batteries. And at the discounted price of $29 (marked down from $89) you'd honestly be a fool not to buy this. Cheers to drinking responsibly (ha), calling your friends out, and most importantly being a bargain shopper in this economy.

For those of you groupon/living social junkies who don't like to engage in adult beverages, may I suggest you purchase this daily deal in lieu of the breathalyzer. Being the only sober person in a group of drinkers gives you a totally unfair advantage in life. You always remember everything. You never have to pay for cabs. You never send texts saying things like "biggest crush ever" or pocket dial your dads office. Generally speaking, you never look stupid. The only way to level out this playing field is for you to buy this "jumping hot dog" and ride it at all times when drinking is commencing. This might seem a tad unfair but atleast take comfort in the fact that no matter how silly you may look, you will never look anywhere near as creepy as the the ginger with the berry lipstick and come hither glance who is showcased in the picture above.  

Monday, March 18, 2013

Matchbook Monday

I am insanely and completely obsessed with the latest issue of Matchbook. Not only does it have a cheeky and colorful guide on "How to be a Southern Bell" ,it also features the homes of Sheridan French and Matchbook co-founder Jane Lilly Warren. Both Sheirdans Fort Worth ranch style abode and Jane's cozy Upper East side apartment are two of the most the most charming and bright homes I have ever seen. I have major envy for Sheridan's bright patterns, Jane's bar cart, and if we are going be totally honest, Sheridans Hair and Jane's puppy. Here are some highlights of the features (All images via Matchbook)

Jane's bar cart. I love her use of yellow! Pops of this color can be seen all over her apartment and she does an amazing job of making everything look effortlessly tied together.

Entrance to the livingroom of Sheridan French's home. I cant get over the mint chair or the huge gold framed mirror. Interesting fact: Every animal skin or head you see was actually killed by her husband on a hunting trip to Africa. I'm against hunting but you have to admit it gives their home alot of character!

Jane's living room. This wallpaper is hands down one of the coolest things I've ever seen. I liked it so much that I instantly sent a picture of it to my Mom so she could track it down and use it in my bathroom at my family's beach house. Amazing. Also please note the use of yellow again in those amazing zebra pillows.

Sheridan French chillin' on her awesome leopard stairs wearing one of the tunics from her spring line. I still cant get over how amazing her hair is.

This snapshot of Jane Lilly Warrens house might have been my favorite picture from the whole spread. I love love love the use of the old school tennis rackets. They add an east coast vintage feel to her otherwise modern apartment that makes me swoon. 

Friday, March 15, 2013

Office Space

How Things should end in my meeting today

How they probably will end

Happy Friday, Everyone!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Weekly Round Up: The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Yes this is a real movie. And its awesome. Check out the other St. Pattys inspired flicks here.

Happy Friday, everyone! I'm not going to guild the lily here. This week sucked. For many many reasons. I'm very very happy to welcome the weekend. My bestie arrives tonight from Dallas and im excited for a weekend to eating, concert going, wedding planning (her not me...duh), and most of all celebrating St. Patty's day!! Before I sign off here are a few snap shots from this past week. The good, the bad, and the ugly.

Really, Denver? Atleast pull my hair back if you are going to fuck me this hard. #TheBad

New tasty morsels in the form of Botkier and chocolate sea salt caramels. #TheGood

This message was sent at 2:06 AM. And yes I actually was out. I was at Tom's Urban 24 stuffing my face with fig and goat cheese pizza and barbacoa tacos. Name has been removed to protect the guilty. #TheGood #TheUgly

I made excellent headway in organizing my entire bookshelf. Hey, baby steps, okay? #Thegood

Honestly? 18 work voicemails? Yeah I dont want to subscribe to the wallstreet journal. Nor do I want to organize a free reflexology workshop for my employees. Thanks! #TheUgly

New make up brushes from Forever21. Only $3! #TheGood

Broken garbage disposal and drain. Sink full of dirty dishes. Landlord out of country till Monday. Calling my own plummer will be $75. No. #TheUgly

New Frenchie make up bag from Forever21 that I'm using as a lunchbox. Today there is a yogurt and sweet candies in it. #TheGood

Final notice. Thank God I'm getting a bonus at work....OH WAIT, I'm not. #TheBad

The joys of moving. #TheUgly

The best new flavor of blue bell ever. Tastes just like lemon pound cake! #TheGood

Speeding ticket. From the same cop who gave me my last one. On the same road. Going the same speed. #TheUgly

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Floral Code

I have sort of a love hate relationship with florals. They can be tricky. I often find that they look very juvenile or very tacky. In the past I would only really trust floral prints from designers like DVF or Lily Pulitzer. I don't know if it's spring fever or if I've just been hanging out with Belen too much but this season I have found myself highly drawn to the floral offerings of more affordable stores like Forever 21 and Urban Outfitters. I have already added a few of these little gems to my closet and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't craving more.