HAIIIIIII-YA! to a productive Saturday

June 19, 2010 § 15 Comments

First of all, I want to give a shout out to my mom. It’s her birthday today! Well, technically yesterday since she’s in Taiwan. She reads my blog too, so HAPPY BIRTHDAY MOM! πŸ™‚

Summer of 2007, Disney World, Florida

Hope the rest of the family gave you a FABULOUS birthday!

In case you were wondering, yes I did watch The Karate Kid yesterday evening at the same drive-in theater. Having learned our lesson last time that arriving there at 8:15pm when the movie starts at 8:30pm is not a good idea.

This time, we raced to the line at 7:30pm, and the box office opens at 7:45pm. Great family movie, by the way. And can I not emphasize enough how cute Jaden Smith is?!?!?! ❀

Dmitri and I spent the majority of time while waiting for 8:30pm to roll around playing Mr. Egg. I totally dominated that game! If you haven’t heard of this game, basically one person thinks of a well-known or famous person (can be an artist, singer, actor/actress, writer, scientist, etc.). And the other person must ask yes or no question to lead him/her to guess the person. For example, the person I’m thinking of is Jennifer Aniston (which I did think of yesterday). You can ask me questions like: Is your person a male? Is your person an actress? Is your person blonde? So on, and so forth. It’s a game just for killing time’s sake.

Now let’s rewind a bit. Before the movie, we stopped by Souplantation–basically a big salad/soup/pasta/bread bar. I had never heard of this place till one of my friends told me about it when she visited me over my spring break this year. It’s now one of my fave restaurant!

Hidden under all the veggies included raspberry-walnut slaw. So yummy!

To-die-for honey-whipped butter.

Moroccan Tomato-Lentil Soup.

And of course, no meal is complete with some sweet ending.

Stewed apples and peaches, topped with apple mousse, cottage cheese, peanut sprinkles, granolas, and chocolate syrup.

Then it was movie time!

This morning started out like any other Saturday. Waking up to the sunlight streaming through my blinds, lying in bed for 20 more min, then rolling out of bed leisurely. Usually I’d go for a run soon after getting out of bed, but this morning I was feeling lazy. So I had a bowl of oatmeal and read some blogs. Ahhh…I love these kinds of leisurely mornings!

At 10am I stepped out for an easy run. I was tired today, and my legs just didn’t want to move fast. I stopped and walked two times, but still managed to finish 4 miles within 45 minutes.

Does anyone feel that after a good workout there’s no other perfect way to recharge but with a ginormous green monster smoothie?

❀ my Buddha bowl!

With chocolate cheerios!

Green, green, brown, and red!

And of course other snackage ensued.

Mini Chinese-styled steamed buns and Sweet BBQ Vegetarian Pork Buns. You can probably tell I got too excited and dug in before I remembered to take a picture.

Mini BBQ-vegetarian pork buns. With one bite taken.

Steamed buns!

Growing up, I loved the sweet BBQ pork buns, but turning vegetarian sort of worked against me. If you’ve ever had those BBQ Pork Buns at Dim Sum places, you’ll know what I’m talking about. When I went back to Taiwan last winter, I discovered these vegetarian versions! I loved them so much I brought about 1.5 dozens of them back here to California.

More food to come after this:

From the package Dmitri’s mom sent him.

Not bad. Does not have the most stellar ingredients list though. 😐

The rest of the afternoon was spent on doing productive stuff, including grocery shopping, baking, cleaning the apartment, prepping dinner, making Mama Peas Tofu Ricotta Gnocchi for tomorrow’s dinner.

Let’s talk about my favorite: baking!

You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate” Cookies from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. This is just like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. It’s amazing how soft and crumbly these cookies are, even without the butter! Dreena Burton once again made my day! πŸ™‚

After messing around more in the kitchen and cleaning the apartment, scrubbing bathrooms, the kitchen, etc., it was time to prep dinner. Since it was such a hot day, I decided on a chilled dinner.

Chilled Noodles with Peanut Sauce & Lentils
Makes 3-4 servings

  • 3-4 servings of noodles of your choice, cooked
  • two small carrots, or one large, chopped into small pieces (or pulse in food processor)
  • half a large cucumber, again chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup cooked lentils

The Sauce (makes about 1 cup)

  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter (I used chunky, but creamy is fine too)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1-2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp rice vinegar

Mix the ingredients of the sauce in a food processor until well blended.

In a large bowl, mix the noodles, lentils, carrots & cucumbers, and sauce until the noodles are coated in the sauce. Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

The results:

These may not be the most aesthetically pleasing noodles, but they were darn good!!! The noodles remind me of these traditional Taiwanese chilled noodles that is paired with sesame sauce, shredded carrots & cucumbers. It brought me back to my home country! When I was whipping up the sauce, I didn’t even have that Taiwanese noodles in mind, but the taste turned out exactly like that. I guess the sesame oil, peanut butter, and the lentils combined brought out the same nutty taste as the sesame sauce.

One more You Got Peanut Butter in my Chocolate Cookies later (I’ve had a total of 3 today!), I sat down in front of my computer and realized how tired I was! The running, errands, cleaning, baking, cooking sure got to me today! I also had a cheesecake that I planned to bake tonight, but I’m now debating whether I should make it tonight or tomorrow. Maybe I should take the night off πŸ™‚

Dmitri and I got some exciting plans tomorrow! Can’t wait! πŸ˜€

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+ What are some foods that remind you of your childhood?

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“The body is your temple…

June 12, 2010 § 6 Comments

…, keep it light and clean for the soul to reside in.”

— B.K.S. Iyengar (Founder of Iyengar Yoga)

This, along with a few other quotes by Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, is a quote I live by daily. It can mean so many things in one sentence. How one perceives to “keep the body light and clean” differs from individual to individual. For example, alot of fitnessistas/foodies circulating the bloggie world would maintain a healthy lifestyle by eating wholesome meals and exercising regularly. Others may meditate or pray daily to cleanse the mind and soul. Yogis observe their bodies by eating clean, mostly vegetarian, diet, along with body rejuvenating practices that allow the mind to declutter. Meditation is also often practiced daily by enthusiastic and serious yogis. Whichever category mentioned above you belong in, Iyengar has described you all. Because when your body is healthy, your mind is healthy, and consequently your soul is at peace. By maintaining a healthy body, you are not worrying about diseases that may plague you in later years,Β  your weight issues, whether you’ll be hit by another insomniac attack tonight, or having to drag your battered body through another day. You would feel energized, and face your everyday with a carefree mind, and hence a carefree soul.

“The rhythm of the body, the melody of the mind, and the harmony of the soul creates the symphony of life.”

–B. K. S. Iyengar

I consider myself an atheist, though my family leans more towards Buddhism. One of the reason why I love yoga is because it is not a religion, but rather a philosophy you embrace. Regardless of whether you’re Christian, Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish, atheist, etc, yoga welcomes you into its practice and art with open arms.

On that note, I hereby present you what nourishment I gave my body today! πŸ˜€

Btw, I loved reading what you guys put down as your fave types of movies to watch! It seems like most of us were in a consensus there that horror movies are a no-no, and thumbs up for funny, light-hearted movies! πŸ™‚ I love to curl up on a couch at home with some popcorn or a cup of tea and just relax with some funny movies to cheer me up after a long day!

At 6:50am, my eyes fluttered open, but my body lay in bed till 7:30am. Ahhh, love it when you get to roll around in bed on the weekends and just take your time to wake up! I made myself some blueberry-infused Green monster similar to the one on Thursday.

(Unashamedly recycled picture)

Yumm-o!

The mix included:

  • 1/2 frozen sliced banana
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup soymilk
  • 2 T plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1 cup frozen spinach
  • a splash of H2O
  • 1/4 tsp xanthum gum

I had to go into lab this morning to finish up some stuff, so I did. It was only an hour or so, no biggie on a Saturday morning! When I came home at around 9:40am, my boyfriend was still sleeping, so I busied myself with some blog-reading. When he finally did wake up at around 10:10am, he grabbed some breakfast (bread with nutella) and I drove him out to San Bernardino to pick up the bike he bought on eBay! a week ago.

Record: He lost his bike TWO TIMES within the past year.

And of course, he rode home from San Bernardino, all 21 miles, while I drove back for some lunch. Just some leftover Chipotle salad from yesterday that I didn’t finish. I am sparing you guys the picture because you wouldn’t want to be turned off by the slightly blackened guacamole! 😐 No no, can’t do that to Chipotle!

For snackage, it was half a mango and 1/4 cup cottage cheese.

This has got to be the best mango I’ve had in the United States! Hah, but I got this from an Asian Market. Does that count? My encounters with mangoes here have been sour, dry, cardboard-like. Mangoes in Taiwan are the REAL mangoes! Oh. My. Gosh. I can probably eat 2 lbs of mangoes in one sitting.

It was cold today (63 degrees) so I fancied myself a cup of Yogi Detox tea.

Then it’s errands time: Trader Joe’s then Sprout’s Farmers Market. Yum yum I got La Tortilla wraps again! πŸ˜€ Also restocked with plain yogurt (I see more Greek yogurt making in the future!) and a dozen bananas! I go through bananas sooo quickly. Those green monsters, banana soft-serves, and just plain frozen bananas…I can’t get enough of those!

I puttered around a little after I got home, and ate a snack:

10-grain toast spread with PB2 and blackberries, topped with cottage cheese and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Because cinnamon just makes everything tastes better. I was opting for a PB&J sandwich, but made this healthier version instead. Does that remind anybody else of shortbread and custard or cream?

decided to go out for a run seeing that the weather has warmed up a little bit more. It was only 63 degrees the entire morning! Brrrr…SOOO not So-Cal!

I managed to cover about 5 miles in 46 minutes. Woohoo! I think this is my new record, as I’ve never ran a full 5-mile before, and this is just under 10 min/mile (I usually run 10 min/mile…yep slow runner here)! I felt great. I felt rejuvenated.

A leisurely shower after, I leisurely strolled to the kitchen and leisurely prepared a fantabulous dinner. Just before I headed out for a run, I put a spaghetti squash into my oven to bake for an hour at 375 degrees. I instructed Dmitri to take it out of the oven when the timer goes off. He obeyed accordingly. πŸ™‚

I’ve never had a spaghetti squash before, so this was all fun and new to me!

Look at that heapin’ pile of strings!

Next, I got to work with the sauce. First, I chopped up 1/2 onion, 1 small zucchini, and about 9 cremini mushrooms. Threw in a handful of fresh basil in the last minute. Because, like cinnamon, basil makes everything tastes better.

Next up, it was the pan. I heated some olive oil and sauteed the onions until golden.

Then I threw in the other veggies.

I deglazed the pan with some white wine vinegar while sauteeing. When they’re almost cooked, I stirred in about a cup of TJ’s Tomato Basil Marinara and added pepper to taste.

Let it simmer for a few minutes to let the flavors blend together! Just before turning off the heat, I threw in the bunch of basil leaves. Annnnndddd……

Ring, ring, ring. Dinner’s ready!

Topped with some more peppah and served with a side of steamed asparagus, drizzled with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and a dash of salt. Tell me that looks delicious!

Despite the fact that it was a superb dinner, and we both had a heaping plate of spaghetti squash, the plate was still full of veggies. My body and stomach was in post-run mode, and Dmitri in a post-bike mode. We were still hungry for carbs. And becauseΒ  I got lots of tortillas today from my grocery run, we both decided we wanted home-baked tortilla chips. I went for sweet ones while he favored salty.

We first cut the round tortillas into triangular shapes. For the salty ones, I lied the tortilla triangles onto a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray, covered ’em with another coat of spray, and sprinkled salt all o’er. For the sweet cinnamon ones, I pretty much adapted the method from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan. Pop ’em into a preheated oven to 425 degrees, and bake for about 15 minutes, flipping in between, or until starting to get crispy. Let cool slightly before digging in!

Salty.

Sweet.

These are, HANDS DOWN, the BESTEST OF BEST tortilla chips I’ve ever had! And Dmitri agrees too! No salsa or dipping sauce required.

I also made myself a dessert version of my Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie.

This yummy bowl was topped with two slices of my last frozen bananas, fresh blackberries, and April’s protein brownie batter.

And now, we’re lounging in the cool evening before the sun sets, complete with homemade tortilla chips and a lovely strawberry dessert. Ahh…life can’t get any better can it? πŸ˜‰

Have a great weekend folks!

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+ Have you had spaghetti squash before? If so, what other ways have you eat them with? If not, what recipes would you come up with?

+ What do you do to keep your body “light and clean”?

Cirque du Soleil

June 3, 2010 § 7 Comments

When I opened checked my email this morning, I found this in my Gmail inbox:

I’m guessing it’s a baby seal? Whatever it is, it’s so friggin’ adorable! What a great way to start a day! I think my favorite marine animal would be sea otters. The way they roll on their backs and feed themselves just make me go awwww…

Which reminds me of this video…

Awwwwww….

Okay, so that picture was probably the highlight of my day. Yup pretty boring day for me huh. Lab was the same old same old. Ran some experiments in the morning, and was busy till 1:40pm. Funny, I wasn’t all that hungry for lunch, but I gobbled up what I packed nevertheless, which was leftover Sweet & Sour Chick’n from last night with a side of plain quinoa that I cooked up last night. I was hungry again not merely 2 hours later though, so I ate my apple and string cheese while doing some image scanning in a cold room. Technically I should be 10 feet away from any machines if I have food. But for the records, I was sitting right in front of the computer playing away with images of red and green neurons.

Ugh, I am so sick of looking at neurons. Spent part of the morning and the entire afternoon looking into the microscope. I’m seeing green and red dots now.

It’s a lonely room, that cold imaging room. So I brought my laptop down to waste my time on while the images were scanning. I went to Grooveshark, where you can literally listen to whole albums online, just to liven up the room ya know? And guess what I listened to? Cirque du Soleil soundtracks!

Sadly, my history with Cirque du Soleil is sparse. The first and only performance I’ve seen was in Tokyo last summer, where they had a new production called Zed. Some of the acrobatic moves were just out-of-the-world and impossible. Kind of like this one:

Did they just find a recipe to defy gravity or something?

So, let me tell you a secret. I say it’s a secret because I don’t normally tell people this and well…it’s slightly embarrassing. When I was in Middle School I was in a play production that was based on Cirque du Soleil’s Alegria, playing the small character of one of the dancers. Horrible play, horrible director, horrible costume and makeup. End of story.

Anyways, here’s something not so secret: Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies. The original recipe can be found here . I put 2/3 cup of sugar instead of a whole cup, and added 1/2 cup of oatmeal, because I like my cookies with some texture.

I admit I was kind of skeptical about this recipe at first, because 3 ingredients? How is it going to get a “cookie-like” texture? Miraculously, the cookies turned out suuuuuppppperr soft and chewy, slightly crumbly, and oh-so-addicting! I guess it’s the fat in the peanut butter and the eggs that are holding the cookies together. Next time I might add even less sugar, since I’m not one with a super sweet tooth.

So for dinner today I made something that I’ve been dreaming about for days. Again, a recipe adapted from Eat Drink & Be Vegan: Teriyaki Quinoa. Last night I cooked up a batch of quinoa, and today I mixed the quinoa with the necessary ingredientsΒ  for the teriyaki flavor. I also added a handful of chopped spring onions.

To make the meal more interesting, I decided to make stuffed bell pepper with teriyaki quinoa. I simply put the quinoa into a cut open bell pepper, sprayed the peppers with some cooking spray and baked at 425 degrees for 20-25 min, or until the bell peppers are slightly browned.

Prebaked.

On the side, my boyfriend sauteed up some TJ’s Beefless strips in Organicville’s Island Teriyaki Sauce. And while the peppers were baking, I steamed some cabbage. Cabbage is soooooooo good just steamed or blanched with water! Sprinkle some salt on and voila!

The complete meal:

Can you guess which one’s mine? πŸ˜‰


Satisfying!

Okay, time for some coupon opportunities! I get a daily email from Livingsocial that features daily coupons up to 50% off for restaurants, spas, hotel stays, etc. in the local area. So for me it’s Los Angeles. When I saw today’s deal I knew I had to grab this!

Cayenne Cafe

Cayenne Mediterranean Cafe offers its patrons an unbeatable combination:Β  a relaxed, informal atmosphere and a wide selection of mediterranean dishes.

They work together harmoniously in creating a fusion of flavors from the Mediterranean region. Exquisite meals are prepared from fresh organic ingredients seasoned with garlic, mint, parsley, cumin and olive oil.Β  Noura learned much of what she knows from her travels and from her greatest inspiration:Β  her mother, who currently bakes luscious cakes and desserts for Cayenne Cafe.

The $20 coupon is equivalent for $40 worth of food & drink at the Cayenne Cafe. I looked at their menu, and O-M-G it’s heaven. So if you’re living in the Los Angeles area, this is your chance too! Just follow this link to get yours: https://livingsocial.com/deals/2389?ref=conf-jp&rpi=344085.

Hurry, the clock is ticking! You have approximately 8 hours!

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+ Have you ever been to a Cirque du Soleil show? If you haven’t, I highly recommend it if you get the chance!

+ What’s your favorite marine animal?

Color me pink

June 1, 2010 § 5 Comments

When I was small I used to be a very girly girl. I played with barbie dolls, loved wearing dresses, liked to don on princess constumes and run around the house or to the playground in them, adorned myself in all sorts of fake (toy) jewelries I could get my hands on, and would sneak into my mom’s makeup bag and smear lipsticks on my tiny lips.

Needless to say, my favorite colors were red and pink to represent my ultra-femininity. Or girliness, if you will.

Since my girly childhood years, I’ve grown to embrace other colors as well, alternating between blue, teal, purple, and pink. Nowadays, I like all sorts of colors. One day I would be totally obsessed with yellow, and the next week I’ll be adoring purple, then maybe switch to a soft green the next.

Today, I’m feeling pink (has anybody else wondered how they ever ended up with so much clothes?!). I think in my heart, I’m still a little girl who adores pink. And so, I dug through my wardrobe and found this:

Pardon the spotty mirror! Look it alsoΒ  matches my water bottle! Ironically with my yellow bag in the background.

I also used to own a pair of K-Swiss shoes that had light pink bottoms and I even replaced the white laces with hot pink laces.

See those shoelaces? ❀ ’em! This picture was taken 2 summers ago (2008) while I was vacationing in Canada with my family. Look at that wild long hair! πŸ˜€

Did you know that different colors have different meanings?

For example, pink usually symbolizes:

  • happiness, and sometimes seen as light-hearted
  • youthful, fun, and exciting
  • romance

The effects of the color pink:

  • stimulates energy
  • increases blood pressure, respiration, heartbeat, pulse rate
  • encourages action & confidence

And…a very interesting one…

  • used in prison holding cells to effectively reduce erratic behavior

Here are a couple of fun facts that I found highly amusing:

  • Some studies of the color pink suggest that male weightlifters seem to lose strength in pink rooms, while women weightlifters tend to become stronger around the color.
  • Pastries taste better when they come out of pink boxes or served on pink plates (it only works with sweets). Pink makes us crave sugar.

If you’re a pink fan like me, read more about the color pink here, which even includes the history and origin of the color! In my opinion, pink retains the sexiness that red evokes, but adding a little more playfulness (think Victoria’s Secret). Did I get that right, ladies? πŸ™‚

Anyways, on to eats. I had something brown for an afternoon snack:

A Caramel Nut Brownie Luna Bar. I’m usually not one to like super sweet stuff, and Luna Bars tend to be on the super sweet side. However, I seem to be able to take on Luna Bar’s taste. I also really like the Blueberry Bliss flavor πŸ˜€

I would love to have me some pink dinner, but besides salmon and half-cooked chicken breast, I couldn’t think of anything that is pink and dinner food-esque. Being the vegetarian that I am, salmon and chicken are out. Maybe I’ll have a pink smoothie made with frozen strawberries as dessert?

My little helper got to work for dinner:

While my hardworking elf is concentrating on his dish, I made Lemon Garlic Pasta that I saw from Dreena Burton’s Eat Drink & Be Vegan book. After about 30 minutes of tinkering around in the kitchen, we had our finished products.

First up, Dmitri’s garlic bread:

And my Lemon Garlic Pasta:

The garlic bread was really good. Beats restaurant-style garlic bread! πŸ˜€ The pasta was also very light and refreshing, and I especially like the added crunch from the toasted walnuts that were tossed in there. I think some fresh basil or parsley would add to the flavor, but I only had dried parsley at hand.

Dmitri and I are now comfortably seated on the sofa and watching 17 Again off his laptop. Not a big Zac Effron fan, but the movie is something light and does not require the brain. Ahhh, so is vegging out on the couch!

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+ What is your favorite color? Does it change according to your mood?

Packages, packages, packages

May 18, 2010 § 4 Comments

I love gettin’ packages, even though most of the time they’re stuff that I ordered online through Amazon :-D. But it’s always a nice surprise to come home to find a package sitting at your doorstep, or that yellow slip in your college mailbox notifying you that you have a package that needs to be picked up.

Today was one of those days! I came home with a brown, padded manila envelope at the door. I knew immediately what it was!

Eat, drink and be vegan!

I’ve seen alot of bloggers referring to this recipe book, and all the dishes look so delicious! Being a vegetarian myself, I thought I could give vegan recipes a try. I haven’t read through it thoroughly yet, but just by skimming through some pages I can already tell I’m going to love this book! It includes nice pictures, easy to read recipes, detailed instructions, tips & advices on the side columns, and constructive blurbs about each dish. It also has descriptions of ingredients (e.g., olive oil, butter, vinegar, etc) and what effects they have on the outcome of the food. Hopefully I will be able to use alot of these recipes throughout the summer! Some of the recipes include alot of ingredients and some hard to find though…hmm.

Remember how my blender broke the other day while I was moving? I ordered a Black & Decker blender. Hopefully it’ll make awesome smoothies! I don’t know whether I should also get a food processor?I guess I’ll see how the blender works when it arrives, hopefully tomorrow!

Another thing that’ll be arriving soon is my PB2 & Chocolate PB2 Combo pack! I ordered these back in March, but Bell Plantation has been having backordering issues. So today, I finally got a notification from UPS telling me they’ve shipped my orders! Hopefully I’ll get them next week!

Now, on to food!

This morning I had an amazing bowl of oats for breakfast! Since I scheduled a 2-hr Ashtanga yoga in for this morning, I wouldn’t really have time to make breakfast. So I made overnight oats and heated it up in the microwave this morning. Breakfast in 2 min!

All mixed up:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/3 cup vanilla soymilk
  • 2/3 cup H20 (aka water, hehe)
  • 1 tsp flaxseed
  • 1 tbsp unsweetened applsauce
  • 1 tsp sweetener (sugar, stevia, whatever you like)
  • 1 scoop BioChem Chocolate Fudge Whey Protein powder

On the top, I added 3 sliced, thawed frozen strawberries.

Not the most aesthetic picture, but I already dug in before I remembered to take a picture. Anyways, holy yum! This was one FREAKINLICIOUS bowl of oatmeal! I actually just made another bowl of overnight oats when I was prepping for dinner. Can’t wait to devour it again tomorrow morning! πŸ˜€

Gonna go catch up on Chuck now. Pretty tired now since I’ve been standing/walking around in lab all day today. Night!

+What are your view on food processors vs. blenders?

+Have you ever tried overnight oats (whether plain cold, or warmed in microwave)?

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