A healthy habit to keep in mind…

Hi there, hope you are having a good morning!

So I wanted to bring up a topic today that is near and dear to my heart when it comes to living an all around, healthy lifestyle: the topic of awareness and/or the act of paying attention when it comes to food/eating.

The act of paying attention is one of the best “lessons” I learned when I crossed over to the “healthy living lifestyle” (clean, whole foods most of the time, focusing on whole grains, veggies, etc…). It is one thing that I NEVER used to do or even thought to do when eating/cooking, but now it is something I keep in mind all.the.time. and  is something I try to practice as much as possible.

I actually learned this tip from Bethenny Frankel in her book, Naturally Thin (I love this book, by the way), and I really feel it is SO IMPORTANT in regard to healthy living/living a healthy life in general. It’s like a light bulb went off in my head when I realized how interconnected this act is to so many aspects of life. Paying attention seems to be obvious task, but it can be really eye-opening if it’s not something you’re used to doing.

Paying attention can mean A LOT of things, but in regard to food, a few things that make up the concept include:

  • tasting your food! (aka not shoving it in your mouth or zoning out when eating)
  • recognizing when it is time for a meal – and stopping other activities
  • making a meal an ‘event’ (food presentation, making food look “pretty“) – you eat with your eyes first!
  • being aware of flavors/food combination, textures, food temperature….

When I started adopting this habit into my life (which was HARD at first…. mindless eating is often very second nature and NOT paying attention is much easier to do), I started to become more aware of when I was hungry and when I was full. I started to notice when foods didn’t taste so great (which is surprisingly hard to tell when you shovel food into your mouth… who would have thought?), started eating more slowly, and started to care more about what my food actually looked like. Food became more about quality and less about quantity. The “art” of food and the act of sitting down to a meal became more important to me.

Basically, the simple act of paying attention to what I was eating changed how I viewed food and the act of eating.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that I sit in silence every time I eat and savor each and every morsel that goes into my mouth. Sometimes I eat in front of my computer or in front of the TV. Sometimes I have to eat quickly or have to throw dinner together in five minutes. Last week, for example, I had to eat dinner in my car (eating a kale and cucumber wrap out of a Tupperware container is an interesting obstacle, by the way). I understand that it is not always possible to completely unplug and give all your attention to a meal.

While paying attention can be mean various things to different people, to me, it is not about analyzing your food or making food more than it needs to be (like spending hours preparing it or making sure to taste every bite that you take), it’s about refocusing your attention to the present and unplugging from life.

I felt the need to bring this up since it is something that I have been trying to do, even when I am super busy and have to eat on the go. I feel like there is always some way to refocus yourself when busy or stressed (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!), and for me, enjoying a meal – even if its something simple –  is a built-in window of opportunity in which to do so. I refuse to let my busy schedule get in the way of my ability to disconnect for just a bit.

I hope I don’t sound crazy, but I truly believe that the simple act of paying attention to a meal (focusing on who your with, what your favorite part of your lunch is, what tastes the best/worst, etc.) can be a great way to refocus a moment or day. We eat at least 3x a day, why not take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy ourselves? It’s a great way to refocus and truly live in the present moment.

Do you think paying attention when eating is important/do you pay attention to it?

How do you refocus yourself when stressed/busy? How do you “live in the moment?”



WIAW #3 (February 8, 2012)

Good morning! Can you believe its already Wednesday! This week is going by quickly…. and I am not complaining.

So today is a rather busy day for me  between work, class and lab (I have my first Bio test today ahhhh), but I am going to try to remain as positive as possible. I am feeling a bit sleepy at the moment (never a good sign…) but its nothing that a grande Starbucks coffee can’t fix. Does anyone else ever feel like they are on crack when they drink it (or what I assume crack would feel like)? It makes me so productive/talkative….

Anyway, since it is Wednesday, it  is time, once again, for another installment of WIAW! These are all my meals/snacks  from Tuesday, and since I had the day off from work yesterday (which was SO nice!), my activities were a bit more varied and you may see more photos that were taken other places than my office….

Pre-workout snack: 5:45 am

I planned to take a 6 am BodyPump class yesterday (to incorporate more strength training into my life), so I got up at 5:30ish, ate half a banana with some peanut butter and headed to the gym only to find out the class was cancelled! I was a little disappointed, but I did stick with my weight training goal of the month and did 20 minutes on the elliptical (2 miles) and 35 minutes of strength work + abs (!) that looked like this ( I did each move for 15-20 reps and repeated the sequence 3x):

  • Bicep curls (10lbs, 15 reps)
  • Lateral Raise + shoulder press (10 lbs, 15 reps)
  • Chest press (12 lbs dumbbells, 20 reps)
  • Back rows (12 lbs, 20 reps)
  • Tricep extensions (12 lbs each side, 20 reps)
  • Lunges + lift (15 each side – 1st set), squats (30) + alternating lunges (15 each leg – 2nd set) alternating lunges ( 15 each leg – 3rd set)

Abs: random moves for 5 minutes that included bicycles, reverse crunches, a plank, crunch pulses…. I always just try to stay moving for about 5 minutes

I won’t lie, I was pretty pleased with myself for sticking with the weights. I usually struggle to do 3 consecutive sets (which is why I love BodyPump for pushing me past my usual stopping point) but I pushed through and stuck with it. It felt SO good to have my workout completed by 7:00 am.

Breakfast: 8:00 am

I have been loving yogurt these days so I decided to have a yogurt bowl with some “fun” things added in for breakfast. I had:

  • 1/2 c greek yogurt sweetened with a squirt of honey
  • 1/3 (?) c pumpkin
  • 1/3 c oats
  • 1/2 banana
  • almond butter (1/2-1 tbsp)
  • raisins
  • cinnamon

I am still loving pumpkin and don’t see it ending anytime soon….

Snack(?) 11 am

I went to a baby shower for an old boss and picked at a few different things while I was there. I didn’t take any photos since I didn’t feel comfortable taking photos in the big group (maybe one day….?).

I had:

  • 4-5 bites of chocolate cake (butter and egg-less…. my friend/former co-worker Maggie’s go-to cake recipe)
  • a small scoop of quinoa salad (made with quinoa  and chopped raw veggies)
  • fruit salad
  • a bite of a cake pop… it was too cute not to try

Lunch 1:30 pm

After the shower I headed to the library to study for my Bio test. I packed myself   an “Asian-themed” wrap to eat while I studied. It contained:

  • edamame
  • veggies: spinach, cucumber, mushrooms
  • sesame seeds
  • a little teriakyi sauce.

I also had some carrot sticks and apple on the side.

The wrap was a little overstuffed (I always do this! I need wrap folding help…) so I ended up eating the insides out with a fork and then eating the wrap by itself afterwards (which ended up being pretty good since it soaked up the teriakyi sauce.)

Dinner 5:30

For dinner I tried a new to me veggie protein, TVP (Textured Vegetarian Protein)!  While I try to limit my intake of soy proteins to a couple times a week and don’t like rely on it too much, I do love eating tofu and tempeh from time to time and am always up to trying new things. I have heard of TVP before, but I never really had the urge to try it until I stumbled upon a recipe for BBQ TVP the other day. When I was at the store yesterday and saw it in the bulk bins, I figured it must be fate, and I might as well give it a try. Now or never, right?

Please excuse the unattractive photo. I had issues making this look appetizing... annnd my BBQ sauce exploded out of the container

I followed the recipe exactly, only adding some additional s+p and chili powder to the spice mix. I served it on top of some quinoa and had some sautéed kale (I love sautéed kale) on the side as well.

While it wasn’t bad, I found it to be a little bland… I think I maybe used too much liquid? I was unsure of how much I would like the texture (I usually don’t like “meaty” soy proteins), but it definitely grew on me as I ate it.  I am not going to say I am a huge fan, but I am not giving up on it quite yet. I loved the BBQ idea and it was really easy to make, so maybe I need to try again….Anyone  have some tips for me?

Dessert: 7:3o pm

I was really craving chocolate after dinner yesterday so I warmed a Chocolote Brownie ZBar for 30 seconds in the microwave, added a little almond milk, and ate it out of a mug… It didn’t look too appetizing so I’ll spare you and show you a picture of the wrapper. It ended up being delicious and exactly what I wanted. I love it when that happens.

So there you have it. I feel like my day was rather random yesterday, but I guess that’s what happens when you have a random Tuesday off….

Have a great day everyone!

Lentil Quinoa Soup

Hi! I hope you are having a lovely day so far!

So meant to share a recipe/delicious meal I had with you last week, but somehow I forgot about it until now. I figure there is no time like the present, so I might as well share it with you now….

The thing is, I didn’t make this recipe. It was homemade, but I only took part in the eating of it. You see, my sister and her boyfriend tend to hang out/make dinner together about once a week and sometimes they invite me to join them. While I know I probably shouldn’t intrude on their weekly dinners, you can’t blame me.  Jared is a good cook and they are always making delicious food. Who am I to refuse a good meal? (thanks guys!)

Anyway, so far I have been lucky enough to be the third wheel and join in on the following meals:

1. Grilled ahi tuna with veggie spring rolls and Asian rice noodles

2. Homemade vegetable lasagna with spicy marinara sauce

3. Lentil Quinoa Soup

They made this lentil quinoa soup a couple of weeks ago, and it was so good (so good I felt the need to share)! It was slightly spicy and had so much flavor. I asked where they found the recipe, and it is actually  in the latest edition of Natural Health Magazine. The recipe is featured in an article called “Soup Rx.” After reading the article, I am pretty sure I want to make/eat every one:

  • Roasted Red Pepper Beet
  • Kidney Bean Curry
  • Butternut Apple Honey
  • Chipotle Cinnamon Pumpkin
  • Corn with Basil Oil…

How delicious do all of those sound? I had never even heard of Natural Health Magazine, but, I must say, they seem to know what they are doing.

I thought I’d share the recipe for the Lentil Quinoa soup in case anyone was interested.  While I can’t say much about how the preparation of the soup went… according to my sister, Sami, it was very easy to pull together.I definitely recommend you try it out. It doesn’t require any crazy ingredients and the final product is so good!

Lentil Quinoa Soup

(from Natural Health Magazine)

Ingredients:

1 diced yellow onion

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp minced ginger

2 minced garlic cloves

1/4 tsp cayenne

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp salt

5 c low sodium vegetable broth

3/4 dried red lentils

1 tsp dried thyme

29 oz can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes

2 c chopped carrots

3/4 c cooked quinoa

3/4 c unsalted cashews

juice of 1/2 a lemon

  • Heat olive oil in medium-high skillet, add onion; cook for 4 min
  • Add cumin seeds, ginger, garlic, cayenne, cloves, and salt; heat 1 min
  • Add vegetable broth, lentils, thyme, fire-roasted tomatoes, and carrots; simmer 20 minutes
  • Stir in quinoa, cashews,and  lemon

Do you ever “tag along” or join in on others meals (hopefully its just not me? hopefully….)? What is your favorite kind of soup to make? I’ve made Mama Pea‘s African Peanut Stew (from her cookbook) quite a few times and am always a big fan.

You eat with your eyes first – How to make food look “pretty”

Last week, I shared a few tips on how to make meal packing fast and cheap. Today, I thought I’d share some tips on how I make my packed lunches/meals look “pretty.”

This might seem like a pointless tip or something that isn’t worth your time, but I am a firm believer that you eat with your eyes first. Food that looks better, tastes better… I promise.

Now, I know when lunch packing already seems like a hassle, the last thing you  probably want to think about is, “How can I make this look “pretty?” or “How can I make this sandwich look better?”” I realize it can sound ridiculous, and I know it is definitely easier to throw things in some tinfoil and plastic baggies and call it a day.

I am not saying that it is necessary to spend hours upon hours on food presentation everyday, but with just a few extra seconds each day, it is possible for all of us average joes and Tupperware  packers to have Whole Foods salad bar worthy food(or insert your own “best looking food I can think of here”) .

I find that when I focus more on how my food looks, I focus more when I actually eat it (and don’t just shovel food into my face). Food becomes more important. It tastes better, and I appreciate it more. The simplest foods can taste amazing when you take the time to make them look nice.

So without further ado, here are some of my tried and true ways to make food look appealing. Please come back and tell me when you get asked where you bought your lunch…

1. Focus on color!

Colorful food is more exciting to look at and to eat. When you focus on adding color to meals, you are also guaranteed to be eating more healthy/nutrient dense foods as well (it is an idiot-proof way to incorporate more veggies in your diet!). I always try to include at least a few colors in each meal.

One way way I do this is by trying to add something green in my lunches and dinners (whether it be spinach, kale, broccoli, celery….).

2.Put food in “sections”

I do this all the time, and it is an easy way to make food look more “pulled together.” I always get compliments on my meals when I do this (and sometimes get asked where I bought them!), so this definitely works.

I usually will chop everything I am using at once ,and I then just put each item on the salad/concoction that I made in a different area. It is an easy, instant way to look like you are a meal packing pro.

3.Don’t underestimate the power of mix-ins/additional “fun” items

This is the fun part. A meal automatically looks better and tastes better when fun and/or “themed” items are thrown into the mix. If you make an “Asian-themed meal”, add sesame seeds or sriacha (if you like spicy foods); If you are making a more basic salad with veggies and beans, add some dried fruit and nuts to make it “fancier.” If you have a few extra items on hand you can really make any meal look and taste more exciting with this simple step. Some “extras” I like to have on hand:

  • a variety of nuts
  • seeds (pumpkin, sesame…)
  • dried fruit (apricots, raisins, currants, mango) I love to go to Trader Joes and the bulk bins at Whole Foods for stuff like this
  • additional veggies (my sister and I like to add “fun” veggies to our meals like roasted brussel sprouts, jicama sticks, shredded carrots, chopped peppers, chopped green beans, beets, cubed sweet potato chunks… the options are endless)
  • other (wasabi peas, a small sprinkling of cheese, crackers, condiments…)

4. Invest in simple, well-sized Tupperware containers

Your salad/sandwich only looks as good as the container it is in. It seems silly, but it is true. I used to HATE all my Tupperware and could never find what I was looking for when I was packing my lunches. As soon as I bought a 4-pack of salad-appropriate containers and a 4-pack of dressing containers, meal packing became SO much easier. Plus, it was so much easier to make my food look more appealing. It is hard to make a salad look good in an old yogurt container… trust me.  This applies to plates and dishes too. A simple, white square plate will make your food look better than a cracked, beat up plate any day. I love to go to Target for cheap dish options.

5. When in doubt… layer

I like to think that layering is always a fancy way to make food look nice. I mean, parfaits always look good, so why not apply the concept to other foods? I tend to do this with salads or with dinners. In a salad situation, I will prep all my ingredients and then just place them on the plate one at at time. For example, Ill lay out 1/2 my lettuce base, then add 1/2 of the veggies one at a time, then  1/2 of the beans, then 1/2 of the “extras”… then just do it all again. Its fun to do and always makes a meal look a little more “special.”

So, there you have it, some of my tried and true ways to make food look and taste better. I swear this is an important part of meal packing and in the enjoyment of meals – and it is so easy to do! Let me know if you try any of this out (or have any other tips to add to the list).

Do you focus on how your meals look? Do you think food presentation is important?

Best thing I packed this week (February 3, 2012)

So for a couple of weeks, I was showing and photographing all the meals and snacks I packed for work and school.

Exhibit A

Exhibit B

I wanted to do this to:

  • Show how it is possible to pack easy and healthy food  when you are on the go (It is possible to eat plenty of fruits and veggies on a daily basis!)
  • To avoid getting into a food rut and packing the same things all the time

Well, after doing this for a while, I have found that  my current method of showing everything I pack is a  little monotonous and not very useful in helping me brainstorm new meal packing ideas. I find myself taking more time photographing everything than actually focusing on what I care about – making fun/delicious food (This also gives me a whole new respect to the 3x a day bloggers out there…. they are good at what they do)!

Anyway, I think I have come up with an alternative. Instead of showing everything I pack, I plan to showcase or “spotlight”  the most notable or delicious meals that I pack throughout the week. This way, I can focus more on the food and less on documenting my not so beautiful array of Tupperware containers and tinfoil.

So to start things off, here are the “best things I packed this week:”

Best Lunch: Citrus Romaine Salad

This salad was kind of a odd mix of ingredients thrown together that ended up tasting really good.

The star ingredient in this salad concoction was some spaghetti squash that I decided to use last minute.  I usually only think to use this type of squash in Italian-themed dishes because of its “noodle-like” consistency, but the flavor of it is so mild, it worked rather well in this  less “traditional” way. While I am definitely  not one to shy away from weird food combinations, but I swear this was good! The squash soaked up the dressing very well and tasted delicious when paired with the clementine segments that I also added to the mix.

This particular salad contained:

Veggies/Fruit

  • spaghetti squash (it was on the bottom of the container so you can’t really see it)
  • romaine lettuce
  • yellow and orange pepper
  • carrot
  • clementine segments

Protein/Grain:

  • black beans
  • quinoa

Dressing: Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar

Best Dinner: Sweet + Savory Pita Sandwich

I actually forgot to take a photo of this, but lets just say it looked like this (just pretend the chicken is tofu…)

For dinner before class on Wednesday, I packed myself a sandwich using an Arnold’s 8 Grain Pocket Thin (a new product that I heard about from my friend that works for the company!). I saw the Pocket Thins at the store this past weekend and, even though I would probably buy them for myself anyway, I, of course, had to support my friend and pick up a pack.

I packed myself 2 halves (the serving is 100 calories for 1/2…. but I needed a bit more for a meal) with 2 different types of filling; One sweet, one savory.

Half #1 = savory

  • tofu
  • broccoli sprouts
  • cucumber
  • Trader Joe’s lentil masala spread

Half #2 = sweet

  • goat cheese
  • balsamic strawberries (I soaked some chopped strawberries in balsamic vinegar overnight…)
  • spinach

This dinner ended up being so good! The Pocket Thins are so soft and doughy (they have the same sweet/doughy taste that I love so much about sandwich thins), and I loved having two different sandwiches in one.  I ended up eating the savory half first and then the sweet. It was like I had dinner and dessert all in one!  I will most likely be doing this again….

What was the best lunch/dinner/snack you packed (or ate) this week?

Sweet + Salty Combinations

Hi everyone!

So when I packed my meals for school last Friday, I mentioned that I made myself a goat cheese and jelly sandwich for dinner. I just wanted to share that it was so good! I am thinking it was because:

  • I am a big fan of the sweet/salty combination
  •  It reminded me a lot of my favorite childhood breakfast (cream cheese and jelly on a plain bagel…try it if you never have. so good.).

Since I know I am a big fan of the particular combo of salty/savory + sweet (I love sea salt caramels and sea salt chocolate bars, trail mixes…), I started to brainstorm  more salty/sweet sandwich combinations.

So far I have thought of…

“salty” additions

  • cheese (goat, cream cheese, cheddar, provolone, etc.)
  • tempeh
  • beans
  • peanut butter/almond butter (?)

“sweet” additions

  • jelly
  • fresh fruit
  • honey/agave

Which led me to brainstorm these sandwich ideas:

  • goat cheese and jelly (cream cheese and jelly, etc.)….
  • tempeh/cheese and jelly (I’ve seen this combo on Kath and Meghann‘s blogs before but never tried it myself)
  • goat cheese, honey and strawberries (I may or may not be trying this out this week…)

annnd that’s all I’ve got so far. I know there has to be other options than  the “protein+ jelly” combo, but so far I’ve got nothing.   Beans would be an easy “salty” sandwich addition, but for some reason no “sweet” ingredient seems very fitting (beans + jelly? No thanks). Anyone have any ideas/suggestions?

Anyway, moving on to the food for the day (Meal packing day 3):

Lunch

For lunch I packed a spinach salad topped with carrots, zucchini, brown rice and a baked tofu/sweet potato/green bean mixture that my sister’s boyfriend brought over to our apartment (he is a pretty good cook, and I get to reap the benefits by getting to eat some of the food he brings my sister). I packed some balsamic vinegar to top it off and also plan to have a granny smith apple.

Breakdown:

1. brown rice (grain)

2. tofu (protein)

3. Spinach, carrots, zucchini, green beans, sweet potato (veggies)

Dinner

For dinner I have an “Italian-themed” sandwich that  includes meatless meatballs (from Trader Joes), hummus and spinach with some basil and oregano sprinkled on top. Kind of like a spin on a meatball sandwich/sub I suppose?

On the side I packed some veggies (peppers, carrots, celery) and a few clementines, which are not that great. I bought  “Cuties” at the store the other week and loved them, but my most recent Costco ones just don’t compare. Why are the “Cuties” better (anyone know what I am talking about)? It must be the cheesy commercials that win me over.

Breakdown:

1. whole grain bread (grains)

2. meatless meatballs, hummus (protein)

3. spinach, peppers, carrots, celery (veggies)

Snacks

My snacks of the day include

  • a trail mix that includes: cashews, apricots and Kashi Honey Sunshine cereal (this cereal used to be my favorite study snack in college, but I haven’t had it in so long)
  • an Iced Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Clif Z Bar –If you haven’t tried this flavor yet, DO IT. I just bought an entire box of them at Target yesterday and am pretty excited…
Everything together…

So that concludes my meals for the day! I am excited to try out my sandwich later, so this healthy/exciting meal packing plan is going well so far. Let’s just not take into account that I am excited to eat a sandwich at 8:00 in the morning…

I hope you have a great day!

Do you like the sweet/salty combo? Any sandwich suggestions?


Lunch packing day 2

Happy Friday! Anyone else excited for the weekend?

Although this week was only 4 days, it has felt so long! I am definitely excited to have a couple of days off. This snow that seems to be happening better stop though. I have come to the conclusion that snow is no longer fun when you join the “real world.” All the anticipation and hoping for the school announcement of a snow day is gone (I used to love when my mom would come in my room and tell me to turn my alarm off..). Now it is just an inconvenience  (it might also not help that I am NOT a fan of cold weather… annnd my negativity is probably stemming from the fact that my fingers are all numb from getting the ice off my car). 

Anyway, moving on….

 Before my weekend begins I must first:

1. Get through the work day

2. Go to my first chemistry class…

So with another day of class comes another day of meal packing!  I actually got  lucky today because I am going to a training session for work at noon and lunch is provided.  That means one less meal to pack….

So  meal prep for today was a little easier since I only had to have dinner and snacks prepared:

Dinner:

For dinner tonight, I packed myself a goat cheese, jelly, and spinach sandwich. Typing that out makes it sound a little weird, but I am a big fan of salty/sweet so I think it should be rather delicious. I also packed some veggies on the side (carrots, snap peas, celery) and an apple.

(1) whole wheat bread (grains)

(2) goat cheese (protein)

(3) spinach, carrots, snap peas, celery (veggies)

Snacks:

My snacks options of the day:

  • cashew cookie larabar
  • some clementines
  • a trail mix combo I made

I usually go in snack “phases,” and right now I am definitely in a trail mix phase. It is fun, yet filling (the combination of nuts and dried fruit always keeps me full for a while), and I love mixing and matching ingredients.

It is probably one of my favorite snacks, and I am a big fan of making my own. I like to keep a bunch of different types dried fruit and nuts at my apartment, as well as a few different cereal options(I typically buy HUGE bags of almonds, walnuts and pecans at Costco and get my dried fruit from Trader Joes).  Pre-made trail mix tends to be pretty expensive,  but making them yourself is fun and cheap. Plus, you can switch up the combination whenever you want!  This combo has:

  • banana chips
  • dried apricots
  • golden raisins
  • walnuts
  • almonds
  • Cheerios

So that concludes my meal packing for the day. Still going strong!

I hope everyone has a great Friday!

Anyone pack anything exciting to eat today?

First day of school

So today is officially my first day of school (I am starting night classes for prereqs to get into grad school). Is it weird that I am kind of excited? I always did enjoy being a student (I love getting new school supplies, taking notes, organizing…), and I love to be busy/productive, so maybe it is fitting after all (ask me about this in a few weeks and I may give you a new answer…)?

So other than the fact that today is my first day, it is also the start of my new lunch packing adventure that I previously mentioned. I am going to be on the go a lot more than I am used to, and I am determined to keep my meals and eating habits as healthy and varied as possible. While pb&j and hummus and veggie sandwiches are delicious, I want to make sure I switch it up a bit,  focus on including whole grains, proteins, fruits and veggies in my meals, and make sure meal prep isn’t too time consuming (I will be busy, after all). I want to prove to myself that staying healthy when extremely busy is not only possible, but can be fun/exciting as well.

So moving on to the food for day 1…

Lunch:

For lunch I packed myself a big greek-inspired salad that contains,

(1) brown rice (grain)

(2) chickpeas (protein)

(3) spinach as my base plus cucumbers and carrots (veggies)

I also added some goat cheese (I love goat cheese, but  will pretend its feta to stick with the Greek salad theme…) and will top everything off with some greek salad dressing. I also plan to have an apple on the side (love my daily apple…)

Dinner:For dinner I stuck with an easy pb sandwich, but made it interesting by using Peanut Butter & Co’s “The Heat is On” peanut butter (which is super spicy and really delicious). I also added some spinach and cucumber to the sandwich for some additional green (which might seem odd, but it works with this pb I swear!), and packed some veggies (carrots, snap peas, celery) and a couple clementines on the side.

(1) whole grain bread  (grains)

(2) peanut butter (protein)

(3) veggie bag of sugar snap peas, carrots, celery (veggies)

Snacks

I always like to have snacks on hand, since I never know how my hunger levels will be, and you do not want to be around me when I am hungry. I packed a mixture of almonds, walnuts and raisins as well as a couple of bars to snack on through out the day/night if I need them.

All together:

Everything packed and ready to go...

So that concludes my meal  packing for my first day of school. I must say that it is rather weird for me to be so proactive and have a whole day of food planned (I usually am not a big meal planner – other than for lunches – and tend to just go by how I am feeling/what I am craving). I’m assuming this will just take a little getting used to….

Anyway, I hope you are havely a great morning so far! Anyone else doing something new/exciting today?

My Food “Non-Negotiables”

One show that I hate to admit that I love is The Millionaire Matchmaker on Bravo. There is something so enticing about watching first dates go well (or crash and burn…). Plus, I think Patty is pretty hilarious.

One thing that Patty always tells “her millionaires” to do is to write down their non-negotiables when it comes to love and relationships. A non-negotiable in this sense is basically a trait , quality, or value that a person must possess in order for you to want date them (e.g., humor, be of a certain religion, want to have kids….).

Since I tend to always have food on the brain, I thought this could be kind of fun to do in regard to food/healthy living, as in,  what  non-negotiables do you have in regard to food? Basically, what food “rules” (I am using this term lightly) do you follow/must you follow on a normal basis?

As for me, a few food “non-negotiables” that I have are:

1. I must have 20-30 minutes each morning to eat breakfast

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I have a little routine I follow every weekday morning. I like  to set myself up on my living room couch to watch the news as I catch up on blogs on my phone/computer. I love having this quiet time to myself before I start the day. Regardless of what time I have to go into work, I always make sure I have at least 20 minutes planned for breakfast.

2. I have to drink a glass of water every morning before breakfast

I started doing this about a year ago (probably when I realized that I am awful at drinking water through out the day), and now it is something that I routinely do. I don’t know if it is really beneficial at all, but I find that I am thirsty in the morning now (which is weird because I used to hate the taste of water in the morning). I can’t decide if this is a good or bad thing…

3. I eat ranch on pizza

If I have had one too many drinks on a Friday or Saturday night, it is guaranteed that I will want a snack/snacks that night (ask any of my friends… I am a bottomless pit). Most likely, I will want pizza. The thing is, pizza is not complete in these instances unless I have ranch dressing to dip the pizza into.

I don’t even really like ranch dressing, and I really don’t eat that much pizza on a normal basis… but for some reason these two go together perfectly on those certain nights at 2 AM. I first discovered this at Penn State and now  it is just a fact of life. The ranch is mandatory.

4.  I pack my lunch for work every day

This is definitely a non-negoitiable for me. It first of all, saves me so much money, and also guarantees that I will always have a healthy/filling/delicious lunch during the week. I admit that it does take a little more time and effort to plan/pack my lunch (chopping veggies can take time), but with a little bit of prep work at the start of each week, I have pretty much streamlined the process.

5.  I must eat grilled cheese with yellow mustard

This one is kind of random, but if I eat a grilled cheese sandwich, I HAVE to have yellow mustard to dip it into (I am starting to notice that I have a weird dipping habit with certain foods…). I also prefer it to be French’s, but as long as it isn’t spicy/Dijon, etc. I’ll accept it. I guess I was raised to do this (I’m  pretty sure my mom/sisters do this as well), but grilled cheese isn’t the same without mustard to me. I probably would choose to eat something else if it wasn’t available. Anyone else do this?

So some of my “non-negotiables” are healthy habits while others are a bit more random I suppose…. I know we all have them though.

I am always interested in hearing what other people like to eat or how others eat on a daily basis (I suppose there is a reason why I love reading food blogs so much), so do you have any food “non-negotiables?”