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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

One Squash was Harmed in the Making of This WIAW

It's that time of week again!

I have totally fallen in love with the idea of WIAW!  Jenn, thanks so much for organizing this!  

Today was an especially chaotic day and I didn't get to take pictures of all my eats, but I do want to share some of the lovely meals I've been enjoying these past few days!  My oatmeal this morning was perhaps the most delicious breakfast I've ever had: 

Coconut chocolate chip cookie dough oatmeal

This beautiful creation consisted of:
1/3 cup quick-cooking oats
2/3 cups water
Splash of almond milk
Cacao nibs
Unsweetened coconut flakes sprinkled on top
Dollop of Justin's hazelnut butter

It was especially good once the hazelnut butter was all melted and swirled in

Yesterday I decided to try something new and experiment with cooking seitan.  It's one of my favorite things to eat while I'm out, but I've never actually tried to cook with it.  

I was really nervous 

I'm so glad I decided to try it, because it was delicious!  

Bok choy, shitake mushrooms, and seitan simmered in vegetable broth with fresh ginger

Last night I had a totally CCK inspired dinner, and it was SO good and also so much fun to cook!

That stuffing was so good, I could eat it for every single meal and never get tired of it.  In fact, I think I'm going to cook up a double batch in a few days and eat it throughout the week!  

For dinner tonight, I decided to make some roasted squash.  Now, I am a vegan for purely ethical reasons and I know that the choices I make help prevent unnecessary cruelty and slaughter of animals, but I couldn't help but feel guilty chopping up the beautiful butternut squash that has been gracing my kitchen this past week.  

May he rest in peace.  :(

But, let me tell you, he was delicious.  

Roasted to perfection!  

I enjoyed my squash with quinoa, prepared with just about every leftover vegetable in my fridge, half a can of diced tomatoes, and an obscene amount of nutritional yeast. 

I am also currently addicted to chocolate covered cacao nibs!  They're a chocolate explosion!  

Happy WIAW, everyone!  

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Lessons Learned the Hard Way

It's ok to make mistakes.  In fact, it's a necessary part of learning.  So in the spirit of laughing at your mistakes and not beating yourself up for them, here are four recent lessons I've learned the hard way:

1. I am prone to a bad case of the rest-day blues.  
It was so beautiful yesterday and I wanted to run SO badly, but I listened to my aching legs and took the day off.  It's ok - nothing that can't be made better by the most delicious cookie ever!

That chocolate raisin oat cookie was seriously SO good, especially dipped to coffee with soy milk.  I found it at a really cute coffee shop called "The Bean" just south of Union Square, and it was made by This Chick Bakes.  They several different kinds of vegan cookies.  I definitely need to go back and try some more!  

2. Yoga pants are not running pants!
All of my usual running clothes were in the wash, so this morning I set out in my comfy purple yoga pants.  At first I was amused with my choice in color combination:

But it led to the most embarrassing run ever!  After just five minutes I realized these pants were definitely NOT made for running because they kept falling down!  Anyone who saw my running today was treated to the sight of me frantically pulling my pants up every few seconds.  So embarrassing!  

3. When I do not properly refuel after workouts, I become a bottomless pit of hunger.   
Everything seemed fine yesterday until after dinner when, despite eating more than usual, I felt like I was starving.  So I devoured a vegan zucchini scone I picked up from the Union Square farmers' market, covered in almond butter.

Later I had about a thousand chocolate-covered cacao nibs and a huge piece of left over chocolate bar pie.  It did not feel good to have to eat so much simply to not feel sick, and I do NOT want to go back to my ED ways, so I'm going to try harder to listen to my body and refuel properly!  

4. Fresh spinach does not stay fresh for very long.  

I bought that bunch on Saturday, and this is what I found this morning.  


Good thing there's an awesome supermarket that's only slightly out of the way on my walk home from the gym!  

And now, time for a lesson I learned the not-so-hard way:  I.  LOVE.  SPIN.  Seriously.  I always have so much fun in spin class!  It's like being on a carnival ride... plus added endorphins!  Can't wait for early morning spin class this Friday!  

What was your most embarrassing running/workout moment?  

Do you ever pick up more fresh produce than you can use?

What lessons have you had to learn the hard way?  

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fabulous Foodie Finds: CHOCOLATE Edition!

Hi, Friends!  Hope you're all have a great weekend!  I feel like I've spent the past few days doing nothing but grocery shopping, because... it's true!  It's slightly embarrassing, but I'll admit it: I have been to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's two times EACH in the past three days, as well as haunting several specialty foods stores and farmers' markets around the city.  What's even MORE embarrassing is that the vast majority of what I picked up over the course of the week was... CHOCOLATE!!  Here is the proof: 

Cocoa powder, cacao nibs, Justin's chocolate hazelnut butter, vegan chocolate chips, a Jocolat bar, a chocolate/PB chia bar (so excited to try this!) and chocolate covered cacao nibs.  

Ok, so maybe I went a little overboard, but now I have enough chocolate to last at least a few weeks!  And as a result, my kitchen has been literally chocolate-covered!!  Last night I got home late and was super exhausted, but after dinner I got the sudden urge to cook up some of Katie's delicious recipes:


I'm so lucky to live in a neighborhood where I can run out to buy oat flour, vegan chocolate chips, dates, and tofu at 9:00 at night!  

We were having guests today, so my grandma helped me whip up a second batch of cookies this morning.  

Of course, I haven't been eating only chocolate these past few days!  I discovered my new favorite breakfast which I call: Cinnamon-Maple Banana Bread Oatmeal!  

(1/3 cup quick-cooking oats, 1 small very ripe banana, a TON of cinnamon, a splash of soy milk, and Nature's Path Crunchy Maple Sunrise cereal on top)  

I also picked up a huge amount of fresh produce from farmers markets and have been experimenting with new ways of cooking my veggies!  

Baby bok-choy, shiitake mushrooms, and tofu with soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, and dried scallions

I promise it was more delicious than it looks!  I also had the best lunch ever today, made with some rare but wonderful finds at Zabar's on the Upper West Side! 

Steamed string beans with lemon juice and almond slices with whole wheat toast and tofu/scallion spread

So, what will I be doing with the rest of the food I bought?  Well, I have some BIG plans for this squash: 

And I'm quite sure everyone I know will be sick of chocolate after I share with them the wonderful things I'll be baking!  

I've also had some AMAZING runs and workouts recently, which I will write about tomorrow!  For now, I leave you with this picture of my nails: 

Buddy seems to think he is a rug

Bye for now!  

Thursday, February 16, 2012

WIAW: Better Late than Never!

My first ever WIAW!  Which is unfortunately coming to you on a Thursday, because I got home late last night and needed to SLEEP!

For years I've been eating oatmeal or cold cereal for breakfast, but this morning I woke up with a huge craving for some toast.

Whole Wheat toast with almond & flax seed butter with banana

So that's what I had!  And it was so good.  

Seriously, if you're anywhere near a TJ's you MUST buy this stuff.  It might just be my new favorite nut butter.  I promise you'll be thanking me later.  

It was cold and rainy outside and I did NOT feel like going for a run, but I am SO glad I did.  I ran further than I ever have before with fewer walking breaks.  And feeling the cold breeze while watching the beautiful Prospect Park scenery go by was an amazing, freeing experience.  I think I've been bitten hard by the running bug, and it's not going away any time soon.  :)

On my way home I got super thirsty, and lucky for me I was passing the gym.  So I stopped in and drank from the water fountain for about ten minutes (it's ok, there wasn't a line of people waiting behind me!) and decided to do some upper body/ab work while I was there.  I felt bad for the other people in the weight room because they had to listen to my constant sniffling... but what can I say?  I was just outside and it was COLD!  I decided to run home from the gym instead of walk (it's almost a mile from my house) because I felt like I was going to freeze to death.

Good thing I had this warm, fuzzy face to come home to!  

Post workout, super proud!  

Don't mind my GIANT windbreaker.  It does it's job and keeps me from freezing!  

Recovery was soy hot chocolate and a honeycrisp apple.  

I spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV in my PJ's before fixing myself some lunch.  

Lemon hummus with crushed red peppers and cucumber on a bed of greens.

Strawberries and cashews

Then I headed off to Target to meet my mom, where we bought an assortment of lovely hand soaps.  I love that now I get to smell mango every time I wash my hands!  I had myself a cup of decaf Starbucks coffee with soymilk and picked up a box of these: 

I had a Lemon Zest flavor, which is delicious!  I can't believe I never had it before! (Actually, yes I can... I always choose the chocolate or PB flavors).  

By the time we got home it was getting late and I was exhausted, so dinner was nothing particularly special: 

Baked butternut squash with rosemary, steamed broccoli, and a leftover half of an Amy's black bean burrito.  

That was my day!  Can't believe how great I felt after that run.  I am so excited to continue training.  It's only going to get better from here!  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Feeling the Love + 20 Random Facts

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!  Yesterday I mentioned that I was spending today with a special date.  Somebody who I’ve known for a long time but have never really taken the time to get to know. 


I had a great day, and the spirit of the holiday was definitely alive! 

I started off the day by adding some beautiful red strawberries to my overnight oats.

I wore pink socks to the gym!  It also felt great to wear my new workout clothes. 

I was definitely feeling the love for this honeycrisp apple with PB as a post-workout snack!

Since today was all about me taking steps to learn more about myself, I decided to bring back a web tradition from a few years ago.  So without further ado, I give you…

20 Random Facts About Me! 

1. I have the craziest, poofiest hair.  I used to hide it in a ponytail everyday, but somewhere along the way I decided to set it free. I really love my hair!  I rarely straighten it because the way it is naturally is one of the things that makes me, me.

That picture is from a few years ago, but I promise you the hair has not been tamed!

2. Many of my friends also have poofy hair, in varying shades. 

I guess I have some sort of subconscious bias. 

3.  I have NO idea what ethnicity I am.  Over the years I’ve heard Russian, Ukrainian, German, Austrian, and British, but no one in my family seems to know so I never get a clear answer.

4. In second grade I decided to teach myself how to write with my left hand (I’m right handed).  I still practice from time to time. 

5. I love cats. 

A lot.  

6. Puffin (in the picture above) and I have developed a form of communication through blinking.  We frequently express our love for each other this way when I’m too busy to stop and pet him. 

7. I cannot stand boredom. 

8. Purple would be my favorite color but it can’t be, because my best friend’s name is Violet.  She therefore has all the rights to purple. 

9. If I could eat some combination of oatmeal, cereal, peanut butter, and bananas for every meal, I would.  (Some days I do!)

10. I’m afraid of libraries.  Every time I go into one, I feel the intense urge to giggle and/or scream.  I’m horrible at returning books for this reason. 

11. I’ve never broken a bone. 

12. I have relationships with musical instruments the way most people have relationships with people.  Piano was my first love interest, but I found myself in a love triangle once flute came into the picture.  Flute and I were serious for a time, but when he found out I was having an affair with singing, we went through a bitter breakup (piano and I still remain very close friends).  Singing and I fell passionately in love and were VERY serious in high school.  Though there were heated arguments and a lot of heartache, things moved quickly and by the time I graduated we were formally engaged.  During that time I had a brief fling with classical guitar, but we just didn’t seem to have much in common.  Singing and I moved in together (aka I went to conservatory for classical voice) but things became too intense and we both became very bitter.  I had been flirting with cello, and singing and I didn’t think we could handle an open relationship.  We tried to work things out to no avail.  We are now undergoing a trial separation and seeing other people.  I’m currently going out with viola.  We’re still just getting to know each other but, dare I say it… I think I may be falling in love!

13. I have over 700 bouncy balls from those $.25 machines.   

That's just a fraction of my collection.

14. My thumbs are double jointed. 

15. I hear music in my head CONSTANTLY.  It NEVER stops.  Even if I’m completely focused on something else, it’s always there.  I have no idea if this is normal or not.  The first time I noticed it was in fifth grade, and since then it’s become a problem.  This worst is when I’m studying a score and it gets stuck in my head.  It could keep me up at night for hours

16. Up until age eight, I ran from room to room just in case there were people under the furniture who would surely catch me if I simply walked like everyone else. 

17. To this day, I talk out loud to my hands when I’m practicing piano. 

18. I love warm, soft blankets.  And pretty bowls and plates.  If I had money, I would collect them forever.  When I grow up, that’s what my house will be filled with: dishes and blankets (and bouncy balls.  And peanut butter, of course!).

19. I consume more fluid than anyone else I know.  It’s a habit I developed as a singer.  Water, seltzer, coffee, tea… there is almost always some kind of beverage going into my mouth.

20. I frequently work out to baroque music.  Nothing keeps me going like a good continuo!  

That's it for now!  One other exciting thing that happened today: I went into Trader Joe's to see if the daily free sample was something I could eat, and it was almond butter with roasted flax seeds.  SO GOOD!!!!!  I had to get some.  

With love,
Saranna :)

A Bad Day Turned Good

It started out like any other day: I woke up way too early for someone who has nothing to do, ate breakfast, and sat around with nothing to do.  As someone who loves activity and excitement, I HATE having nothing to do.  So, by my standards, it was a bad day.  

It seemed like I was going to spend the day in bed all bored and sad.  

But then, something changed.  I decided it was finally time for me to start a blog of my own.  I've been reading blogs for weeks now, and I want in on the fun!  And then I made another decision.  It was the perfect day to go to my favorite place on Earth.  It is a most magical place, where wonderful things of all kind gather to enchant me.  Whole Foods!  And not just any Whole Foods, but the one on the Upper West Side with the GIGANTIC bulk food section and the best salad/hot food bar.  What started as a bad day was suddenly looking pretty good! 

Before going in, I stopped in Modells to buy some warmer workout pants so I don't freeze on the way to the gym or when running outside.  Then I stopped in Home Goods to look at beautiful kitchen accessories I sadly cannot buy because they would have no place to live in my already-packed cabinets.  :(  And finally, my mom and I went in TJ Maxx, where I got some spring dresses, which I won't be able to actually have until I complete Operation De-clutterize (more on that later!)  

Then... the moment I had been waiting for!  I started out with dinner from the hot food bar (seitan, steamed cabbage, carrots, and mushrooms, and fresh spinach with wheatberries.)  After eating, like a kid in a candy store, I hit the bulk foods section and stocked up on nuts, dates, seeds, and grains.  I made sure to get extra cashews and dates, as I have big plans for them - more homemade Larabars!  After bouncing through the rest of the store (that's how excited I was) I had a cart full of wonderful things!

There was only one problem.  Getting a full cart of groceries from the Upper West Side to my Brooklyn apartment is no easy task.  Good thing Whole Foods was selling HUGE insulated messenger bags for only $10!

Of course, I didn't exactly enjoy lugging it on the train and carrying it almost a mile to my apartment.  

But it was well worth it, because when it was all over, I my kitchen table looked like this: 

In order to fit everything in the cupboard, I had to clean out an entire cabinet.  I found about a zillion bendy straws, and tons of cupcake wrappers.  And they're going to come in handy (the wrappers, at least) now that I've made it my mission to bake yummy vegan deserts and impose them on everyone I know!  

One last thing I bought today that I'm super excited about: 

I picked up a new set of measuring cups!  I especially love that it even comes with four tiny spoons to measure a precise dash, tad, pinch, and smidgen.  I definitely had way too much fun preparing my overnight oats with these.  

Tomorrow is Valentine's Day, and for some reason I'm really feeling it.  Love's been on my mind recently, because I'm on a quest to fall in love.  Not with a person, but with life!  And I have a special date with someone all day tomorrow who I'd really like to get to know.  Can't wait!