Tuesday, April 30, 2013

30 Day {Green} Smoothie Challenge! - Health is Happiness

Happy Tuesday y'all! It's a dreary one here, but these are the kind of days that I like best (I know you're thinking -- what a crazy). 

Ok. I'm just gonna go ahead and say it -- my stress level is at a 2 out of 10 right now. For those that know me -- this is big. I have officially finished the didactic portion of my pharmacy schooling (3 years in the making, baby) and will tentatively begin my clinical rotations on June 2nd. I have been looking forward to this day since 2006. Upon starting my college career, my goal was to get a degree and get into pharmacy school. I never in a million years actually thought that it would all fall into place. Seriously. 

How come? Getting into pharmacy school is hard pretty much a 50/50 chance. These days, it's just as competitive (if not more) as getting into medical/dental school. I remember sitting in orientation for pharmacy school back in September 2010, and thought, "This is going to be the longest four years of my life." Well, they have been the longest three years -- no doubt about it. But . . . they're done. Behind me. Never will I have to step foot in a classroom again -- unless I decide that teaching torturing could be a forte of mine :) just kidding. But not really. 

The next year is going to fly by though, and I'm going to learn just as much as I have in the past three years. I'm most excited about starting my rotations because I can finally get back into a normal routine. A normal workout schedule any workout schedule for that matter. No more late nights with my hand stuck in the Cheez-It box. No more early mornings that could have been devoted to high intensity cardio, but instead were dedicated to mastering cardiac therapeutics. No more feelings of wanting to drown exam outcomes in food/alcohol -- well, that may not necessarily be true, but you get the idea. 

The point? I'm free.

Where's this going? I'm glad you asked. I was on IG the other day and stumbled across this:

I did a quick screen shot of it so that I could revisit it later. I kinda do that a lot -- screen shot, purge, look through them all, and add to my laundry list of favorites.  

How cool is this though? Who doesn't love smoothies?! 

Keiran definitely encourages green smoothies for the challenge, but slowly introducing greens is definitely a better fit for some. For many, the idea of putting greens (kale, spinach, arugula) in their smoothies is a complete and absolute turn-off. I totally understand that but if people understood that you don't taste them and that they are such a huge boost nutritionally -- they'd be on board. 

After I tracked down Keiran's Health is Happiness page and the Lululemon Facebook post, I decided this would be a great way for me to get back on track.

I registered for the emails on the HIH page and received my first one this morning. It was mostly just a list of tips for shopping/fruit storage so that you can successfully accomplish the 30 Day Smoothie Challenge.

I love green smoothies but when it's cold outside, it's hard for me to make them in the mornings. Totally a psychological thing -- spring and summer I have no problem making them everyday. Well, spring sprung in Virginia a couple weeks ago (still have a few lingering chilly mornings), so I started making them again. I don't know if it was just the timing of things (not being as stressed with school or being in the middle of a "cycle"), but my skin has been so clear the past few weeks. I definitely think that's due to the two handfuls of spinach and heaping teaspoonful of coconut oil that I've been putting in my smoothies every morning. 

Sooo who's in? Who wants to do the 30 Day Smoothie Challenge with me? If greens aren't your thing, I get it. Start small -- first, try fruit smoothies with minimal amounts of added sugar, then begin to introduce greens in small amounts. If for some reason you think you really can taste the "earthiness" associated with greens, try tossing in a teaspoon or so of a nut butter (almond, peanut, etc. with minimally added sweeteners). Nut butters have an awesome way of masking the taste of things, and they are an added nutritional benefit to your smoothies (fiber, protein, and "good fats" like your PUFAs and MUFAs = polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats). If you're worried about your blender not being good enough, don't. You don't need a super fancy/expensive blender to add these healthy smoothies to your daily routine! 

If you're stumped for recipes, I've done a little homework for you:
A personal favorite, Brittany's Green Elvis

I don't know what you're waiting on -- get your shopping list together and get to the store already! If you do decide to join the challenge and are on IG, make sure you use the hashtag #hihsmoothiechallenge and/or tag @healthishappiness. 

Sharing your concoctions with me is also encouraged :) 


Friday, April 19, 2013

Bratwurst Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Reduction - BMB Knockoff

Hey there! 

Been a little off the grid lately -- super busy doesn't begin to explain the past month or so of my life. Mostly involved things like exams, Easter, family time, the Monument Avenue 10k, brewery visits, cooking a few yummy meals here and there, trying not to cut jerk my nose off my face because of the pollen that decided to finally make its appearance this year, andddd a whole lot of other boring stuff for the in between moments -- ya know, like sleeping, driving, etc. 

So I mentioned breweries (a whole post to come with deets). Last weekend I paid a visit to Devil's Backbone Brewing Company, Bold Rock Cidery (officially in love -- cider is about to be the new craft beer -- mark my words), and Blue Mountain Brewery. If you're not familiar with these, that's ok. Their beverages are yummy, but their views are even better! Seriously -- this part of Virginia is one of, if not my absolute favorite (mountain momma at heart, remember?). 

From what I gather, once breweries have been around for a little bit, it's only natural to introduce food/restaurant flare into the mix of things. This can be good and bad, depending on the person in charge of your menu/kitchen. I didn't taste anything at Devil's Backbone {besides beer}, but by the time I made it to BMB my tummy was ready for some yummy. I got the crab dip and it was pretty decent. I definitely want to feel a fierce presence of crab in my crab dip and I didn't with this dip -- nonetheless, still good. 

After finishing off the crab dip, I continued to peruse their whole menu and stumbled across a pizza (Bratwurst w/Apples and Onions) that kept me coming back -- I seriously considered ordering it over and over. I didn't order it but I did snap a pic of the description so that I could make it at home. 

Monday evening came and here's the result:

Bratwurst Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Balsamic Reduction - BMB Knockoff

What You'll Need

  • Pizza crust -- I bought mine from Whole Foods because I needed easy, not hard (work smarter, not harder).
  • Sauce -- also purchased from Whole Foods -- ditto on the easy.
  • Two bratwursts (or a package) -- I bought two from the case at WF becuase I cannot control my actions when I buy bratwurst, and would put them all on the pizza if I were forced to buy an entire package.
  • 1 package of mozzarella
  • 1-2 oz. of cream cheese
  • Blue cheese crumbles
  • Pepper
  • 2-3 tbsp.vinegar (white or white balsamic)
  • 1/2 - 1 C regular balsamic vinegar
  • 1 yellow onion
  • Olive oil

How To Make It 

  • Rub olive oil on a pizza stone and roll out your pizza crust on the stone.
  • Slice yellow onion and sautee in a bit of olive oil until caramelized.
  • Preheat your oven to 400F.
  • Next, you'll make a blue cheese whip. That's right. I said whipped blue cheese. Mine was more of a sauce than a whip becuase I didn't want to pull out a food processor for just a little bit of whip (if you do want to go all out, then follow this recipe for the whip). 
    • So for my whip/sauce -- Just put an ounce or two of cream cheese in a bowl and melt it in timed increments in the microwave. Then add blue cheese crumbles to the warm cream cheese (however much you want) -- stir to melt/distribute. Add a dash of black pepper and white vinegar (about 2 tbsp to the mixture). Stir and heat again if needed. Honestly, just make this to taste and to the consistency of your choosing . . . or not at all if you're not a blue cheese lover addict. 
  • Squeeze your brats out of their casing into a skillet, separate into crumbles and brown until almost cooked through (kinda like ground beef for spaghetti).
  • While you're cooking your brats, pop your pizza crust in the oven for about 8 minutes.
  • Next, put ~1/2 C of balsamic vinegar into a sauce pan and heat over medium heat (don't boil) to make a reduction (like this).
  • Once crust has cooked for about 8 minutes, take her out and dress her up! 
  • Spread sauce over somewhat cooked crust, sprinkle mozzarella over sauce, sprinkle brat crumbles over mozz, add dabs/drizzle blue cheese whip, place onions all over pizza, then finish with balsamic reduction drizzle.
  • Pop her back in the oven for about 20 minutes, broil for 1 minute before taking her out.
  • Enjoy!

I don't know how BMB's pizza is, but I'll have to order it next time so that I have something to compare my own to. 

I promise -- deets to come about the breweries.