Did you know…?

July 17, 2010 § 14 Comments

I know, I know. I’ve been gone for too long. Two days in the real world is equivalent to 2 weeks in the blogland. Hah, I feel like I’m referencing Inception.ย  GREAT movie by the way. It really got my mind all out of whack when I left the theaters last night. I swear I was in some sort of daze for 20 min afterwards, just thinking about the complexity of the mind, the conscious, the subconscious, the super-subconscious, the super super-subconscious…

Personally, I think the mind has nth dimensions.

Well, I don’t want to give too much of a spoiler for those who haven’t seen it yet. It’s something that you must pay attention to for the entire length of the movie, or else you can get easily confused. I don’t think I’ve ever concentrated so hard on a movie before. Ever.

So two weeks two days away from the blogland naturally ended with me having way too many pictures to share, so I’ll just give ya’ll some highlight ;-).

Did you know that cottage cheese melts superbly when heated up?

Lunch #1: Frozen veggies and spinach thawed in the fridge overnight, topped with cottage cheese, and microwaved till melty when lunchtime came.

Did you know that thawed frozen spinach is delicious with marinara and cottage cheese (melted)?

Lunch #2: Spinach w/ cottage cheese and TJ's Garlic Marinara sauce.

Melty and cheesy!

Did you know that you can make pesto out of arugula?

Roasted Squash with Arugula Pesto

(Recipe inspired from here; the arugula pesto from the back of the package of arugula)

First blanch about 2 cups of packed arugula in boiling water. Immediately plunge into cold water to stop the cooking process. Drain and use your hands to squeeze dry the leaves.

Two squished cups of arugula into one fistful!

About 1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts.

Blend in food processor the arugula, toasted pine nuts, some salt and pepper, a dash of cumin. Blend till you get a mushy paste. Then add olive oil till desired consistency (I added about 1/3 cup)

Kind of chunky pesto...

Also roasted some butternut squash at 350 degrees for 45 min, sprinkled with cumin.

Golden.

Roasted squash says: "Gimme the pesto and more pine nuts please!"

Complete meal with a side of Swiss chard sauteed with onions, crushed red pepper flakes and garlic.

Tip: roasted butternut squash is also very good topped with butt loads of parmesan cheese!

Did you know that I got a tub of mini plums for $3 (~a dozen) at the Farmer’s Market at La Verne on Thursday evening?


Did you know that I am currently obsessed with anything cheese + fruit related?

Sliced up and ready to be sandwiched.

Plum with Laughing Cow cheese on Sandwich thin. Yum!

Speaking of the Farmer’s Market, there was some sort of “petting” area filled with goats, pigs, chickens, and bunnies there?

What can I say? It was a sight to see. I felt horribly sorry for the animals, because there were literally a dozen or more 3-8 year old kids in this tiny pen, all chasing after some animal or the other. Of course, there were lots of shrieking involved as the children ran after the bunnies.

At least this little girl seemed gentle enough to the chickens.

Did you know that Chai Spice totally blew my mind away?

Obviously, I needed something to munch on while I read this boring exhilarating paper. Upon first bite I was taken back to when I first tried chai tea. This bar totally captured the essence and the spice of a warm or cold cup of chai tea!

Needless to say, my last Kardea bar was pretty darn amazing too–the Lemon Ginger. I am now a sad little girl because I have finished all my Kardea bars :-(.

I loved all of the flavors of these Kardea bars. They are true to their words in terms of flavors. Each bar was unique in its taste and with each bite you always get hit by its intense aroma of either chai, ginger, almond, or banana. I am a satisfied taste-tester! ๐Ÿ˜€

Anyways…

Did you know that last night, my boyfriend and I went to a Thai restaurant, where we were constantly attacked by flies, and the waitress was swatting them just a table next to ours? Um…yeah. Not a very enticing atmosphere. The food sort of made up for it though, but I don’t think I’d go back to get attacked by flies or the fly-swatting lady again.

Hah! Dmitri was trying to act “Asian.”

My turn. I always laugh at the instructions on the chipstick slips.

I don’t know why I had that surprised look on my face. LOL I looked like a dork.

Thai salad: Iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, carrots, onions, hard-boiled egg, with spicy peanut sauce. Plain, simple. The spicy peanut sauce was good though!

Pad-see-ewe: flat rice noodles stir-fried with Chinese broccoli and tofu.

Vegetable medley with rice.

And this! My fav dish: rice biscuit stir-fried with bean sprouts, eggs, and came with hot sauce. The lady said it was house-specialty.

Chewy and sticky.

Did you know that this wrap made the perfect post-run breakfast this morning?

Banana + PB with cinnamon on a La Tortilla wrap, pan-fried till crispy. Side of yogurt for some dipping action!

Gooey and melty inside!

That pretty much sums up the past couple of days when I was MIA. We’re off whale-watching off the coast of Newport Beach this afternoon! Since it’s blue whales season, I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll get to see some blue whales! ๐Ÿ˜€

Have a great Saturday!

A taste of childhood, a taste out of the world and HOW WE SHOULD LOVE OUR KNEES

July 14, 2010 § 18 Comments

I’ve gone too long without Overnight oats, and I finally rediscovered my love for it yesterday morning.

The night before:

  • 1/3 cup oats
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup soy milk
  • a spoonful or two of yogurt
  • 1 tbsp flax seed
  • half a mashed banana
  • dash of salt
  • drops of vanilla
  • sweetener if you like

The morning of:

  • BANANA SOFT-SERVE!!!! (with half of frozen, sliced banana)
  • protein brownie batter
  • chopped almonds and walnuts
  • blueberries

A taste out of the world.

I’ve been seeing protein cakes everywhere on the blogworld since months ago. I don’t know why I waited so long to give it a try. I followed April’s recipe, but didn’t half applesauce nor pumpkin on hand. Therefore my recipe looked more like this:

  • 15 grams of chocolate protein powder
  • 1 tbsp 100% cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp of sweetener
  • 1 tbsp flaxmeal
  • 3 tbsp liquid egg whites (or 1 egg white)

I stirred everything together in a microwavable cup, as instructed, and microwaved for 1 min…

Out came moist, fluffy, chocolatey protein cake!

With some yogurt and almond butter, this dessert is out of the world.

My Kardea bar number two was the Cranberry Almond, sampled last night with the boyfriend being a taste-spotter too! ๐Ÿ˜€

His reaction: “Mmm..there’s a strong flavor! But I don’t know what it is!”

Me: “It’s almonds, silly. Haha.”

Upon first bite I was hit by the intense almond flavor. And by intense I really do mean intense. LOVE IT! I couldn’t really taste the cranberry part though. Perhaps the almond aroma was too strong that it masked the tangy taste of the cranberries. Or maybe I was enjoying the almond taste too much to really notice the cranberries. Conclusion: I MUST try it again to see if I can taste the cranberries, and also to chow down the almond-packed bar! This definitely was another taste out of the world!

It was unbelievably hot these past two days. We almost never turn on the air conditioner, but last night it was so unbearable that we just had to turn it on for 30 min or so to cool down after all that cookin’ in the kitch.

Today’s high was 100 degrees. 100 degrees!!!

I drove home from work in an oven my car that had been roasting in the sun all day (I really need to remember to put those shade on my windshield from now on). I stepped into a muggy, warm house. Naturally I had no desire to stand watch by the stove or the oven. All I wanted was something chill and sweet.

I started off with a slice of watermelon. Just then a lightbulb went on in m head.

Watermelon milk slush

  • 2 cups watermelon, large cubes
  • 1 cup milk (I used soymilk)
  • 1 tbsp honey (or any other sweetener; this step is also optional if you have super sweet watermelon)
  • LOTS of ice!!!

Blend in a blender till smooth. Pour in a cup/bowl (or just drink straight from the blending cup :-D). Smile and enjoy!

A taste of childhood.

This is something that reminds me of home (Taiwan) because you can see street vendors selling these all over the place during the hot summer season (along with banana milk, papaya milk, avocado milk). This drink definitely cooled me down effectively! ๐Ÿ™‚

Okay, so I liked about the not cooking part. I did bust out the pan and light some fire. Just for these eggs.

If you haven’t tried fried eggs with soy sauce yet, you MUST! It’s an order! My grandma and my mom would make these for breakfast all the time.

This is again a taste of childhood.

I also had some celery with olives and a wedge of Laughing Cow cheese and called it dinner.

‘Twas a beautiful, satisfying meal! ๐Ÿ™‚

~~~

So you saw my overkill of words in my title. I was only going to do a post about knees, but a post without food just seems…weird. I know I want to have some food pictures and talk about food, and I know that you want to see some food gossip as well. In the end I thought, what the heck, I’ll just make it an extra long post with an extra long title.

Hope you don’t mind.

Anyways, the story begins when I went on a run yesterday morning. I noticed a discomfort in my knees that I am all too familiar with. On good days, my knees wouldn’t act up, but on bad days like today, my knee joints felt like they need some gear oil.

Due to my excessive running and sports during high school, I have unfortunately worn down the cartilage in my knee joints. Being the skinny thing I was back then didn’t help either, since my muscles around my knees were not strong enough to offset the harsh impacts on my knees.

Yes, excessive running can cause some injuries to the knees, especially if you don’t let your body rest between your running days. However, little did most people know that healthy knees start with healthy walking.

Ever since we learned to walk as a baby, our feet and legs have been the main support of our bodies whenever we want to bring ourselves to places. We rely on our legs, and yet we take them for granted.

The Science Behind the Knees

Besides the dense bones that make up most of the structure and support of our bodies, we also have plenty of cartilage that help support and cushion, especially around the joints. For example, the bridge of your nose is made of cartilage, as are your ears and part of your knee joints.

The cartilage residing in the knee joints is called the meniscus. The meniscus helps stabilize the knee joint as well as provide cushioning between the joints.

What happens when you walk/run excessively or incorrectly is that you’re wearing down this protective shield between the tibia (your shin bone) and the femur (your thigh bone). The discomfort or pain that you feel when you run is caused by the two bones rubbing against one another.

One doctor that I went to (he was a practitioner in Traditional Chinese Medicine) told me that knee problems, regardless whether you’re a runner or not, usually start from how we walk. He said that most people embrace the “wrong technique” in walking.

To find out if you walk “correctly,” answer the following question:

When you walk, do you:
a) Take big strides and land on the back of your heels with your knees straight?
b) Take smaller strides and land on the front of your heels with your knees slightly bent?

If you answer (a), then you are probably walking incorrectly! When you land on the back of your heels when walking and with your knees straight, it causes too much impact and force on your knees. Alternatively, if you land on the front of your heels with your knees slightly bent, you lessen the impact.

Now after a year of no running and proper walking, I can actually start running again! Of course, I try to limit my runs to maybe two times per week, since I want to give my knees ample amount of rest between runs.

If you suffer from these knee problems, I suggest that you lay off running for awhile, and opt for low-impact exercises instead. I’ve listed below some great exercises that can help strengthen your knee muscles.

1. Chair knee lifts. This is by far the simplest exercise you can do to strengthen the muscles around your knee joints. You can do this while reading, watching tv, blogging, eating? Well, pretty much whenever you’re sitting down on a stable chair. Sit in a chair so that half your thighs are not resting on the chair and your lower legs are perpendicular to the floor. Your feet should not touch the floor. With both hands, grab the underside of your chair lightly for stability. Slowly raise your lower legs up until they’re parallel to the floor, then slowly lower them back to the floor but not resting on the floor. Do this until the muscles around your knees feel sore. This exercise helps build muscle and strength around your knees without putting any stress or force on the knees, which is what you want!

2. Biking, elliptical machine, or stairmaster. Pretty self-explanatory. You always feel that burn on your quads and near your knees.

3. Yoga. There’s a reason why some people turn to yoga as therapy for spine injuries, body misalignments, and such. This thousand years old tradition offers the most natural way of healing the body. Some poses that strengthen the knees include:

There are also a couple of poses that can help relieve some of the tensions in your legs and knees

Even if you don’t get discomfort in the knees, these exercises are also great for prevention! If you feel that you get discomfort in your knee everytime you run, perhaps it’s time to lay off on running for awhile and turn to alternative exercises (such as these!) that are gentler to the knees. Remember, your knees are going to have to last you for the rest of your life. Cherish them, protect them, love them.

Sometimes we take our bodies for granted, and before we realized it, we’ve already damaged it beyond repair.

Do not wait till you feel pain even when walking. We are all young now, but think about whether you still want to be active and healthy 50 years from now!

Chirpy Monday + Kardea Bar Review

July 12, 2010 § 19 Comments

Today is one of those Mondays where I am absolutely upbeat, chirpy, and perky. While my research advisor and my lab mate were feelin’ the Monday blue’s, I was full of energy! Which is kind of weird since I only got 7 hours of sleep last night. Maybe it was the kite-flying on Saturday that lifted my spirits for the week, or the ample amount of rest I got on Sunday. No matter what it was, it was one of the best Mondays I’ve ever had! If that’s even possible..haha. ๐Ÿ˜€

Wait a minute, I think I know why. Nothing like a fantabulous breakfast to start a Monday!

A blueberry Alternative Bagel with rasperry jam, cottage cheese, and sliced strawberries.

Brekkie also included half a mango (unpictured).

Well, apparently my swellin’ mood didn’t stop after breakfast, because Christmas came early this year!!! I went to pick up my present at the campus mailbox during my lunch break.

Nutrition Bar Lemon GingerNutrition Bar Cranberry Almond
Nutrition Bar Chai SpiceNutrition Bar Banana Nut

A few weeks back, Nancy from Kardea Nutrition offered to send me some samples of their Kardea Nutrition Bars. Of course I said yes! I was particularly inspired by the history behind the origins of Kardea.

From the website:

Rob Leighton founded Kardea as part of a personal mission to lower his own cholesterol.

At 47, Rob found himself moving from โ€œborder lineโ€ high cholesterol to outright high cholesterol. Rob notes that โ€œit was not simply a matter of what I ate. It was a matter of genetics. Without medication, my momโ€™s cholesterol had exceeded 400mg/dl, and she found herself in early clinical tests for one of todayโ€™s leading cholesterol lowering medication.โ€

โ€œI was not ready to start down a pharmacological road.โ€ Rob recalls. Bringing a love of culinary creations and a belief in the science of natural cholesterol management, Rob founded Kardea to create great tasting, natural foods that enable daily compliance to heart healthy therapeutic nutrition.

Mission statement:

Kardea enables and empowers people to manage their cholesterol naturally and nutritiously.

We celebrate living life well and living life naturally. We create and market the delicious natural foods, quality supplements and educational materials that allow each of us to better manage our cholesterol levels and improve our overall cardiovascular health.

Weโ€™re committed to a deep and honest understanding of the evolving science supporting natural cholesterol management. To that end, we will actively partner with and support research that furthers the understanding of the power of nutrition to actively improve cardiovascular health.

There are four flavors, as picture above:

  • Cranberry Almond — recalls the taste of an almond croissant
  • Banana Nut — warmth of the home baked banana bread
  • Chai Spice — as flavorful as the tea, suggestions of pumpkin pie
  • Lemon ginger — with the zing of a lemon square
I’m also absolutely digging the nutritional stats of these bars! At 150 calories, one bar contains 7g fiber, 7g protein, 1 g of plant sterols (helps reduce risk of heart disease).
Other facts:
  • 2.5 Weight Watcher Points
  • 1 Diabetic Starch Exchange
  • Low glycemic
  • Kosher-Certified
  • Vegan

So which one did I pick as my afternoon snack today?

Warmth of the home-baked banana bread…”

They definitely got that right! It was very bananalicious and I love the nutty crunch and flavors from the walnuts in there. You can even see the walnut bits! The bar was also very dense, moist, and chewy–all things that I like! I think it might have even been more filling than a Luna bar :-D.

Down side? It kind of had a weird aftertaste though. But the pro’s definitely win the con’s! Over the next three days I will be sampling the other three bars as my afternoon snack, and I’ll be reporting back to ya!

So with a bomb breakfast, free Kardea bars, what else was in store for this already awesome Monday?

Dinner.

I first saw this sweet-potato and black bean ravioli on Jenny’s blog, which she got from Caitlin’s blog. Caitlin boiled hers like a ravioli while Jenny baked hers to crispy wonton-like raviolis. I opted for the second method ’cause I was in a crunchy

mood ๐Ÿ™‚

I used one large sweet potato and about 1.5 cup of black beans. After skinning and cutting the potato into bite sizes, I popped them into the microwave to cook. I was “too lazy” to mash the potatoes and beans by hand, so I whipped out my handy-dandy food processor to do the job.

Here was where I strayed from the recipe. I seasoned the mash with some salt & pepper, about 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, and this spice that my mom got awhile ago. I don’t remember what exactly it was, because I threw its original container away, but it’s red, a little spicy, and so good with veggies and whatnots.

Stuffed about one tablespoon-ful of the filling into a wonton wrapper and sealed with a little water. I got Dmitri to help me with this ๐Ÿ™‚

I baked ’em at 400 degrees for about 20 min till nice and brown.

Ta-daa! Topped with some fire-roasted tomato salsa and feta cheese.

Peek-a-boo!

This made alot! I think I ate about 7 of those and Dmitri about 12? We still had 7 left which I divided between the two of us to bring as lunch/snack for tomorrow. This recipe was no doubt worth the time.

Alright you lovely people, I’m off to devour some H2O melon! (yesyes, what a nerd I am)

————————————

+ Have you ever had a Monday that was just impossibly good?

+ Okay, this is important (to me)! I’m planning on getting a new phone sometime in the near future. I was considering getting the new iPhone 4, but have also heard great things about the HTC Aria and the Spring EVO 4G. Any suggestions/advices/comments? Any of you using one of those three phones or have friends who own them?

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